theBalm Instain Blush in Swiss Dot Review & Swatches

I reviewed theBalm's Instain Blush in Toile a while back (post here), and today I have another in the shade Swiss Dot to share with you. These long wearing, 'staining' blushes will regularly cost you $22, but when theBalm goes on Hautelook you're able to get them for just $11.

As always, the packaging is adorable and comes in a cardboard compact with magnetic closure. The outside features what looks like a magazine cover and the inside is decorated with the pattern each shade is named after; Swiss Dot, obviously, is decorated with dots. As for the shade, it's described simply as a 'peach' and is absolutely beautiful. Here's some swatches:

Heavy Swatch // Blended Out
Isn't it nice? The pigmentation is great, and the finish has a nice, subtle sheen to it. Like Toile (and theBalm's products in general), the quality of Swiss Dot is fantastic. The texture is firm yet smooth, it applies and blends easily, and the wear is awesome. It doesn't literally stain, but the long wearing claims are most definitely true. Overall, Swiss Dot gets two big thumbs up from me; I love it so much that it's currently the only blush I want to wear!

Avon AeroVolume Mascara Review & Photos

I haven't had that much luck with Avon mascaras in the past, but their new AeroVolume mascara seemed promising so I decided to give it a try. They claim that their "new lightweight formula contains hollow fibers to add volume without the weight" and will "keep the lashes lifted and volumized all day". It's also supposed to be smudge-proof, waterproof, and clump resistant.

AeroVolume comes with what looks like a very traditional brush, but Avon claims that it's a unique star shape that "creates vertical lift and even formula deposit". As for the formula, it seems like a happy medium between wet and dry. Let's move onto the performance now, shall we?

The above photo shows what two to three coats of AeroVolume looks like on my lashes. It gives decent volume along with some length and separation, and is also quite clump resistant just as it claims. Application was easy enough (although I did find it a bit difficult to get to the lashes near the inner corners of my eyes) and I was able to wear it all day with no smudging or flaking. It's a pretty good mascara all around and I actually like it quite a lot!

theBalm Nude 'tude Eyeshadow Palette Review & Swatches

When theBalm was last on Hautelook I decided to grab their Nude 'tude Eyeshadow Palette to add to my kit, and today I'll be sharing my thoughts and swatches with you. This palette contains twelve neutral shades that range from satins, to shimmers and mattes, and also comes with a small, dual-ended brush. Regularly it would cost you $36, but I was able to get mine for just $18 off of Hautelook. As usual for theBalm, the packaging has that cute, retro vibe going on.. especially on the inside:

The packaging for Nude 'tude comes in two styles: 'Naughty' (pictured above) and 'Nice'. The only difference between the two is the inside design; the outside design as well as the eyeshadows themselves remain the same. The 'Naughty' version, as you can see, features six pin-up girls with the eyeshadow pans covering their, ahem, more private parts. I personally think it's pretty cute and clever, but if it's not your thing the 'Nice' version has no pin-up girls and instead features the same picture from the outside of the palette (see here for comparison). Let's get onto the swatches now, shall we?

Here's the top row of shadows! From left to right is Sassy, Stubborn, Selfish, Sophisticated, Sexy, and Serious. The first four swatches are just one swipe each, while the remaining two matte shades are two swipes each.

And here's the bottom row of shadows! From left to right is Snobby, Stand-Offish, Sultry, Seductive, Silly, and Sleek. Again, the first four swatches are just one swipe while the last two are three swipes for Silly and two swipes for Sleek. Overall I think that you get a pretty nice shade selection, but some of the shades do perform better then others. I don't want to make this post too long, so instead of talking individually about each shadow I'm going to group them together based on their performance...

Group one includes Sassy, Stubborn, Selfish, SophisticatedStand-OffishSultry, and Seductive. Each of these shades had a nice, buttery texture, great pigmentation, and were easy to work with. All of them were fantastic, and out of the four mattes Sultry is definitely the best.

Group two includes the remaining three matte shades: Sexy, Serious, and Sleek. They all had a smooth texture without being stiff or powdery and were decently pigmented for mattes. While they weren't quite up to par with Sultry they're still good and were also easy to work with.

The third and final group includes the remaining two shades: Snobby and Silly, which both left me feeling disappointed for different reasons. The texture of Snobby was buttery yet.. powdery at the same time, and while the pigmentation was pretty good when swatched it didn't translate well to the eye. Applied with a brush it  becomes powdery, sheers out to mostly shimmer, and causes fallout; when applied with my finger however I don't get these problems so it's not a total letdown. Silly on the other hand was much more disappointing..  It looks so nice in the pan but it just wasn't at all what I was expecting. The pigmentation was sheer even with multiple swipes and it just seems like more of a layering kind of shade then something you'd use on its own.

So, what's the verdict? While I don't think Nude 'tude is a must-have it's still a great palette with excellent quality (save for two shades) and a nice selection of neutrals. The only thing I think this palette is missing is a matte highlight shade to really bring things together, but otherwise it gets a thumbs up! If you own Nude 'tude let me know what you think of it, and if not, is it on your wishlist?

GOSH Lip Lacquers in 'Hot Lips' and 'Flirty Lips' Review & Swatches

I've been testing these new Lip Lacquers by GOSH Cosmetics for a while now and my verdict is that they're pretty awesome! They come in eight long-lasting shades that range from full coverage to light coverage, and claim to pamper the lips with shine and moisturizing color. The two shades that I have here are Hot Lips (left) and Funky Lips (right), which are both perfect colors for spring!

First, let's quickly go over the packaging.. These Lip Lacquers come in what look like little nail polish bottles and have doe-foot applicators. The cap of each bottle is decorated with the names of kisses (ex. summer kiss, sweet kiss etc.), and while it's cute I personally would have preferred the cap to be just plain black. Anyway, onto swatches:

Here are both shades swatched on the inside of my wrist with one swipe each. Hot Lips (left) is a pretty coral, and Funky Lips (right) is a bright, hot pink. The beauty blogging gods blessed me with a warm, sunny day when I took these pictures (hallelujah!) so I also have some lip swatches for you:

Wearing 'Hot Lips'
Wearing 'Funky Lips'
Perfect spring colors, am I right? Hot Lips is the more sheer of the two, while Funky Lips is more opaque (especially with an additional layer). Application was easy, and the formula feels light, comfortable, and nourishing on the lips. As for wear time, it's pretty good. The product stains so even though it does transfer if you give a cat a kiss the color sticks around; it's not until about three and a half hours that I would probably reapply.
Overall, I like these Lip Lacquers a lot! I think my favorite of the two that I have is Hot Lips, but I can see myself wearing both of them quite a lot throughout the spring and summer. Do you think that you'll be trying one out? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Maybelline Pumped Up! Colossal Volum' Express Mascara Review w/ Before & After Photos

When I saw a display for Maybelline's new Pumped Up! Colossal Volum' Express mascara I was instantly intrigued. It claims to "pump up lashes for up to 16x the volume", and if you've read my blog for a while you would know that I love a good volumizing mascara! Maybelline generally makes good mascaras (The Colossal is actually one of my favorites!) so I was pretty confident about purchasing a tube despite not seeing any news or reviews prior.

According to Maybelline, Pumped Up! has "the first double shot brush that scoops up an extra shot of plumping formula for the most pumped up, volumized lashes ever". As you can see in my photo, the brush is made of traditional bristles and is rounded with a tapered end. Even though the brush is on the larger side it's still quite easy to work with; just be careful not too bump it against your eyelids!

My lousy, naked lashes
Wearing Pumped Up! mascara
I'll say it right now: I really like this mascara! It offers pretty nice volume along with a fair amount of length, which I appreciate since other volumizing mascaras I've tried can sometimes leave my lashes looking a bit short. I'm wearing two to three coats in the photo above, and experienced no clumping. The formula is neither too wet nor too dry, but between the two I would say it leans a little bit more to the dry side. As for wear time, Pumped Up! lasts all day for me with absolutely no smudging or flaking. While it may not offer quite as much volume as Maybelline makes it seem (it wouldn't be the first time a brand exaggerated haha), I'm still really impressed regardless. I recommend it!

Wet n' Wild Mega Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum Fairy Review & Swatches

I've heard many good things about Wet n' Wild's Mega Last Lip Color over the years, so I finally got one to try out in the shade Sugar Plum Fairy, a supposed dupe for MAC's Rebel (which I don't own). The tube is pretty cheap and basic, and while I don't necessarily like it I don't hate it either.. what I do hate however is that the bullet doesn't fully retract. The cap is a bit tricky to take off, and it's almost impossible to remove it without nicking the actual lipstick which drives me insane.

Packaging issues aside, I really like this lipstick. Sugar Plum Fairy is a gorgeous, bright plum that I wasn't expecting to love as much as I do, and while it looks a bit intimidating in the tube it becomes much more friendly when applied. The color is nice and opaque, the texture is smooth, and it's pretty comfortable to wear as well.

Here's an awkward picture of me wearing Sugar Plum Fairy on the lips (my selfie game is weak lol). As you can see, it's much more wearable then you might have previously thought! As for wear time: excellent. I guess you could say it's mega lasting, heheh. I did my eat/drink/kiss(a cat) test like I do with all of the lip products I review, and while the color did transfer you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at my lips. The color still looked nice and fresh until about three and a half hours of wear when it finally began to fade. This lipstick does leave a stain though, so you'll probably get an even longer wear time if you're not eating and kissing cats like I was. Overall, this is a great lipstick - especially for under $3! I definitely recommend and I plan to get my hands on Cherry Bomb next (a supposed dupe for MAC's Diva)!