Review: tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Lip Gloss in Energy Noir

I’ve been obsessing over tarte Fall 2015 Energy Noir collection for quite some time. I’m a huge fan of the company and lust over every new item they launch, especially the new lip colors in this collection. My favorite piece from this limited edition launch is the tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Lip Gloss in Energy Noir.

Here’s what tarte has to say about the product:

Image from
Image from

“Channel your unique “energy noir” with the newest skintuitive™ shade to join tarte’s energy family for a mega-watt pout in your own custom pop of sheer berry. Powered by tarte’s proprietary skintuitive™ technology, the high-performance formula responds to lips’ natural energy and pH to deliver an exclusive berry shade that’s all your own. Like a drink of water for your lips, the hydrating, antioxidant-infused formula helps smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while it wraps lips in moisture, shine and a sheer berry hue that pairs perfectly with the coordinating LipSurgence™ lip tint in energy noir.”

This gloss is a sort of sequel to tarte’s original Skintuitive lipgloss. The color adjusts to your own pH leaving each wearer with a unique color. In energy noir, the color is a versatile berry. It starts off as a a sheer gray tone and within 30 seconds transforms into a beautiful berry-pink. It’s so natural and chic looking. The gloss also smells divine, sort of like creme brulee!

The packaging is a beautiful light plum color with tarte’s signature metallic cap. The gloss applies with an interestingly shaped, sponge-tipped wand, but it glides on my lips so smoothly.

Layered on my lips
Layered on my lips

I’ve been experimenting with layering this gloss over other lip colors. My favorite combination is Benefit Benetint to stain my lips and then a coat of the gloss over it. It adds more color but still offers that chic flush.

This is a must-have for the season, or really for anytime. It will set you back $19. It’s available at Sephora, Ulta, and on tarte’s website.

What do you think of the pH technology in tarte’s Skintuitive collection?

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Closeup: Makeup for the Selfie Generation

Do you read the NY Times? Today in the style section, an article entitled “Makeup for the Selfie Generation” was published. I love reading about makeup and cosmetics in the news, especially the times. For those who haven’t read it, the article discusses this trend of HD makeup and makeup created specifically with your iPhone camera in mind.

With New York Fashion Week finishing up, it makes sense why camera-ready makeup is being talked about. The models were constantly being photographed, and not only does their wardrobe have to be perfect, but their hair and makeup does too, and not just in natural light. As we all know, our foundation could look flawless in our dimly lit bedrooms, and when we step outside, it looks melty, too warm, too cold, or too sparkly. Companies are now testing their products not only in different lighting, but through different camera lenses.

What is HD makeup anyway? According to WebMD, (yep, WebMD apparently has makeup tips!) HD makeup covers blemishes, cover up imperfections, and contain either mica, silicone, crystals, or quartz that reflect light and make the product really flattering in the camera’s lens. HD foundations usually have a demi-matte finish, but are also somewhat hydrating as to not make your makeup cakey or flaky. I like NYX High Definition Foundation, but Make Up Forever also has a very well liked one and powders to match.

As Rubin says in her article, warm tones aren’t always the most flattering, especially when it comes to your makeup, photographed. To sculpt my face for photos, I look for a gray-brown shade that looks like a true shadow. I use Smashbox Contour Kit (exclusive to and Sephora) because the colors are beyond gorgeous. The shades (contour, bronze, and highlight) work so well together and look natural on the face. The highlighting shade also lacks shimmer so I don’t look shiny in pics.

Image from Pinterest.

How about for your lips or eyes? For lips, I find that matte crayons and lipsticks look best in pictures. This prevents too much light from bouncing off the product and making your face look shiny in its path. MAC matte lipsticks are great and look oh-so flattering in photos. I love wearing a bold, neutral red lip in pictures. Try MAC Ruby Woo. Ruby Woo-hoo! 😉 For eyes, keep the shimmer at a minimum. Urban Decay Naked Basics palettes are wonderful for photos due to the lack of shine.



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Marketing Showdown: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water vs. MAC Studio Waterweight

For this Marketing Showdown, we’re checking out two products that are nearly identical.

Smashbox and MAC are both owned by The Estee Lauder Company. The two companies are both leaders in pretige beauty. One of the two companies, Smashbox, is sold in prestige beauty retailers, like Sephora and Ulta, and the other is exclusively sold in its own MAC boutiques and in department stores. They both have sleek, black packaging and innovative products. Both companies have cult-like followings and constantly have great product launches. This week, we’re looking at two products that following the current water-based foundation trend, Smashbox BB Water and MAC Studio Waterweight Foundation SPF 30. The one catch is they both contain the exact same ingredients. Which product would you rather buy?

MAC Studio Waterweight SPF 30 

You can check out my news post here!

Taken from | @sarapassing
Taken from | @sarapassing

-$33 for 1 fl. oz.

-available in 23 different shades

-Key claims:

  • SPF 30
  • works for all skin types
  • ulta-fuild, thin, elastic gel-serum formula
  • non-acnegenic
  • non-caking and streak resistent
  • oil free
  • dermatologist tested

-The bottle is made of glass and has a hard plastic dropper top


Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water

Taken from @Smashbox on Instagram.
Taken from @Smashbox on Instagram.

-$42 for 1 fl. oz.

– available in 8 “forgiving” shades

-Key claims:

  • SPF 30
  • blurs out imperfection
  • sheer-to-medium coverage
  • buildable
  • liquid-silk consistency
  • quenches skin
  • oil and alcohol free

-Smashbox is marketing this as perfect for that “off-duty model look”

-The bottle is made of plastic has a chunky, plastic dropper top to dispense drops of product


So why does MAC have such an extensive range of shades and Smashbox doesn’t? Smashbox claims it’s 8 shades are forgiving and there’s one to match every skin type, yet MAC has 23 shades. Interesting!

The two companies make mention of two different technologies. MAC mentions its “Moisture-Fusion Complex” for all-day hydration, and SBX boasts its “Photoset Polymer” technology to help the foundation last all day.

MAC’s product is $9 less than Smashbox’s, but putting price aside, I’m more excited by the way Smashbox presents the foundation. Their marketing copy talks about having a perfected look, not camouflaged face, which really strikes my fancy. While both lines market their product as hydrating and sheer, MAC makes much mention of the gel-serum formula while SBX uses the term “BB.”  It’s interesting that SBX calls it a “BB” (beauty balm) and MAC makes no mention of those letters.




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Wish of the Week 9/16/15

With so many new makeup sets and exclusives coming to market, there are so many things I’m eyeing for fall. Here are my top picks for this week.

blotterazzi TM by beautyblender ($20)

I’m such a fan of the original beautyblender. I use it nearly everyday, and not just for foundation, but also contour products and blush. It’s a holy grail product for me! The blotterazzi is made of the same spongy material that the original makeup sponge is made of. It claims to absorb unwanted oils on the skin and it’s compact enough to keep in my purse. This could take away the need for blotting papers, and it’s reusable and washable! The sponges are supposed to be stay fresh in the compact. I’m sold! I’ve seen some mixed reviews on the blotterazzi but I want to give it a try since my skin gets so shiny throughout the day.

Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop ($38)

I’ve never used any of Becca’s beautiful highlighters and skin perfectors, but have heard so much about them. I’ve swatched them all over my arms at Sephora but never took the plunged and purchased one. Typically, I only loveLook at that GLOW! shimmery highlighters in theory. My shine-prone skin prefers matte highlighters…or at least shimmer in moderation. My inspiration for this wish is Lupita Nyong’o. This beauty has some serious shine to her skin. Every time I see a picture of her, she looks so naturally flawless. Somehow, even when she’s wearing more dramatic makeup, she still looks so naturally beautiful. Her skin always has a champagne glow to it. I’m ready to glow like Lupita!

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Blossom (Pink Violet) ($26)

I’m always drawn to blushes and cheek stains. Stila doesn’t market this as a cheek stain, but rather a long-wear, waterproof, water-based gel. The texture is amazing and the colors are so beautiful in the jar and on the skin. These would have been great for summer, especially since they’re lightweight and waterproof, but they will be beautiful in the colder months to give cheeks a natural flush of color. I love all 5 colors the blush comes in, but Water Blossom is so different from any blush I own. It has a soft magenta/purple tone to it. The colors are all so bright when at first look, but I bet they will all look so pretty on the cheeks.


What’s on your wish list this week?

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New! MAC Studio Waterweight Foundation SPF 30

 Have you heard the news? MAC has a new foundation for Fall 2015! I saw it on their website a few days ago and started happy dancing in my mind. I was still in bed, after all.

Introducing MAC Studio Waterweight Foundation SPF 30!

image from

MAC describes this new gem as:

Introducing an innovative foundation that delivers colour in an ultra-fluid, elastic gel- serum formula. With a virtually weightless feel, this hydrating formula is extraordinarily comfortable, lasting for hours. With stay-true colour and sheer medium buildable coverage, it softly blurs imperfections such as pores and fine lines. The unique dropper provides you with a drop of perfection. Use the new 196 Slanted Flat Top Foundation Brush for a naturally flawless finish.

Oooo! A new brush too! As if I need any more brushes. (Or foundation, for that matter.)

I’m excited for the foundation, and so is my combination-oily skin. I’m constantly testing out and researching new foundations that could both hydrate and keep my shiny skin at least somewhat matte.

This type of foundation formula certainly isn’t new. I’ve been seeing “water” foundations for some time now, but even more so recently. Tarte has it’s new Rainforest of The Sea Foundation (available at QVC only right now), and Smashbox has its Camera Ready BB Water Foundation. I haven’t tried either of these out, but as a MAC foundation fan, I may have to dole out the $33.

There are 25 shades, both NC and NW. Wait a second… where are the shades for the neutral toned guys and gals? I wear N3 in Face and Body and assume I might need the same shade in Waterweight, but I won’t know until I stop by the counter later this week. On that note, I wonder how the formula will compare to my beloved Face and Body Foundation. Though F&B is marketed as a sheer, natural finish, I have a feeling they may be similar.

What do you think about this new foundation? Have you tried any water based foundations before?

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Clay Is Not Just For Art Class

I remember my first day of preschool. I remember molding animals out of blue-colored clay. I remember the chalky texture and how it would get stuck under my finger nails. That was the same reason I hated the purple clay included in the Cranium game. After playing a few rounds, I’d have to go wash my hands and scrape the stuff off my skin. Now, I want the stuff on my skin, but in a very different form. Clays in cosmetics are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reasons, too.

Kaolin clay is probably the most common used clay in cosmetics. Kaolin, also known as China clay, has been used in porcelain and china for years, and is what gives paper it’s whiteness. It’s rich in the nutrient kaolinite, its namesake, and offers skin many benefits. According to Lush, kaolin clay exfoliates the skin and removes dead cells from the surface. I have found kaolin clay to mattify my combination-oily skin. Lush uses kaolin clay in a lot of their face masks, cleansers, dusting powders, and even soap. Try Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin cleanser. It’s ideal for all skin types and is very soothing. Glamglow also has several mud mask treatment (though it’s a total splurge) that will leave your skin clear and clean! I’ve only used a sample of the original mask, but I loved it.

image from


Perhaps Tarte’s claim-to-fame is their use of Amazonian clay, which I’ve recently learned is also kaolin clay. According to the brand’s website, Amazonian clay is the ultimate gift of nature. The clay reduces surface oil, nourishes and hydrates skin, and improve the appearance of skin clarity and texture. Tarte has so many products that use this clay, which is sustainably harvested from the Amazon’s river basin. I first started using Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation in 2012 and have been a fan of their whole clay line since. I can’t recommend this foundation enough for all skintypes. I wear shade fair-light neutral. I can also recommend their Amazonian Clay 12-Hour blushes and Gifted, their Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara. I feel so good about wearing this line.


tarte gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara. image from

Rose clay, or pink kaolin clay, is fairly less common in cosmetics than it’s grayish counterpart. The pink tint comes from its high iron-oxide content. It’s a mild dusty rose-colored clay, and is ideal for sensitive or dry skin. I’ve been using Lush’s Rosy Cheeks face mask to sooth my skin after spending a lot of time outside this summer. The mask’s first ingredient is rose clay! I found this mask to leave my face demi-matte and GLOWING! It feels tight on the face at first, but a little bit of warm water fixes that. Another mask to try is Origins Original Skin TM Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay.

Lush’s Rosy Cheeks face mask. image from,en_US,pd.html

The last type of clay we’ll talk about is rhassoul mud. This Moroccan mud is so jam-packed with nutrients. Moroccan women have been harnessing its power for centuries. According to Lush, rhassoul mud has both foaming and de-greasing qualities, which are ideal for oily skintypes. It also draws impurities out of the skin, which everyone can cheer about. Lush’s Cupcake face mask was originally formulated for oily and breakout prone teen skin, but anyone wanted to calm down shiny skin will benefit. Rhassoul mud has even been shown to ease upset stomachs (though you shouldn’t eat your face mask, even if it does smell like chocolate cake).


Lush’s Cupcake Fresh Face Mask. image from,en_US,pd.html

Brittany Hoops Signature

Have you tried any amazing clay cosmetic products or tried any of my recommendations?

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Review: Lancome Flash Bronzer Body Tanning Gel

If I wanted to truly test this product, I was going to have to go all out. There’s no point in swatching a little section on the underside of my arm or leg. That wasn’t going to test whether or not the average person could successfully tan without stepping a toe outside.

I’ve self tanned before, mainly my legs so they don’t look so purple-y and pasty. I’m a rare breed who doesn’t like the sun. I’ve managed to use a self tanner with more than okay results before, but I always end up with a streak of some kind.

Since I like Lancome’s powder bronzers and love their Flash Bronzer face gel. Lancome’s Flash Bronzer Body Tanning Gel seemed like an obvious solution to the streaky problem. $40 is a lot for a self tanning product in my book, but it could be well worth it if it provided my legs with a faux glow. I applied the gel the night before I went back to my University for my first day of my senior year. I wanted to look like I just got back from Italy….which I did, but my still-light skin didn’t show for it at all.

There are a ton of guides online from beauty bloggers, YouTube-ers, and beyond. For this trial, I ignored everything anyone had to say and just followed and just followed the instructions on the bottle. This had to be fool-proof, right?

Well, it wasn’t. My legs are splotchy-polka-dotty. I applied with just my hands and fingers and stood around sans clothes for a while to let it dry. I loved how the product glided on my legs and had a caramel guide color to see where the product was soaking in. I used my daily moisturizer around my knees and ankles to help prevent too much color from sticking. This worked well and there are no mistakes on those parts! For the parts where there aren’t any bronze geometic shapes, the color is beautiful. It’s not orangey, it’s not too dark, and it’s not very artificial-looking. I guess practice takes perfect. I am proud that I didn’t end up with any of the tanner on my hands and in between my fingers! I want to try Lancome’s Flash Bronzer again, especially if I can easily scrub off the mistakes I made. Next time I may mix in moisturizer to the formula and see how that works.

I’m willing to try the gel again when I won’t be wearing shorts anymore in case I get the same results.

For reference, Lancome describes the product as follows:

“If you’ve been craving that come-hither Cote d’Azure tan, this “auto bronzante” is the immediate answer without ever reaching for your passport. A formula featuring DHA and Natural Caramel Extract guarantees a gorgeous golden color in just 30 minutes, while antioxidant-rich pure Vitamin E helps keep free radicals from doing future damage, And moisturizing ingredients leave skin feeling satiny-soft and altogether irresistible.”

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