Smashbox Step-by-Step Contour Stick Trio defines beyond belief

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

When you know nothing about contouring but you do know that it’s the hottest game in Beautyworld, then you need to find out how to contour so you can be part of the in-crowd. Smashbox sent the Step-by-Step Contour Stick Trio probably to test me out and see if I could step by step my game up.

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

The set consists of 3 creamy pencils and a pencil sharpener to fit the larger size. Earlier today I wrote about contouring and highlighting and I gave a small hint to this product. I like it so much that I wanted to elaborate on it.

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio - Contour, Bronze, Highlight

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio – Contour, Bronze, Highlight

•    Contour: A darker shade that sculpts by creating shadows
•    Highlight: A light shade that pulls features forward
•    Bronze: A transition shade that eliminates harsh lines by blending the contour and highlight shades

One way Smashbox really helps is with an informational pamphlet inside that shows 5 different face shapes and where to place each of the three sticks to get a look that will contour and highlight without looking like you did. The finished look isn’t obvious; it makes a subtle difference that makes me feel so polished.

Smashbox Stick Trio direction pamphlet

Smashbox Stick Trio direction pamphlet

Not only do they show the face charts but they explain how to determine which shape is yours. For example on a round face they’ve written “Your cheekbones are the widest part of your face. Your jawline is round and curved.” Directions always start with the contour shade with a diagram to show exactly where to apply that pencil. Next they want to give your face some warmth with the bronze shade. The highlight shade is to help you change the shape every so slightly. Since my face is round they suggest using the highlight to help give an illusion of length by applying it to the center of my face. Of course after you use each of the three crayons you need to blend and for me that’s best done with a facial sponge.

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio swatches

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio swatches

The colors are basically universal because the key to this is not seeing the crayons, just to create the illusion, blend well, and then apply your foundation without rubbing it. I like a liquid foundation that I can apply with my Beauty Blender sponge. It takes practice, or it did for me, but it’s worth it to finally understand contouring and highlighting.

•    Sides of nose
•    Under cheekbones

•    Above contour shade on cheekbones

•    Bridge of nose
•    Middle of forehead
•    Under eyes
•    Chin

While the Smashbox Step-by-Step Contour Stick Trio isn’t going to be for my everyday look, it’s fun to use these when I’m going out for the evening and want to look my best.

What do you do for contouring? Or do you skip it like I used to? — Marcia

*sent for editorial consideration

Favorite highlighters & contouring products

Top Ten Tuesday is into highlighting and contouring. I’m just learning about contouring and it’s a slow but interesting process. But it’s slowly coming along because, as they say, practice makes (almost) perfect. Now highlighting is something I love so it was easy to find what I wanted to share with you. Though my college shows 9 products, it’s actually 10 which I’ll mention below. What highlight & contour products do you like?? — Marcia
1429474283_luxlight-revitalizing-foundation1-315x315EDDIE FUNKHOUSER LUXLIGHT HYDRATING PRIMER * ($14.99) is what I often start with when I want a more glowy look. I have other illuminating highlighters but this is the one I grab. The price is right, as is the Candlelight shade which gives a peachy radiance.
1429474197_mi-01-2tDEX COSMETICS MINERAL ILLUMINATOR ($33) is the unknown brand. No one talks about DEX, it’s more of a cult brand. When Lisa and I went to IMATS once she fell for the line, therefore I bought several items. This mineral illuminator is the one to find if you love a soft beautiful glow wherever you’d highlight. It brightens up the undereye area and looks great at the cupid’s bow to help your pout.
1429473863__82371DIOR SKINFLASH RADIANCE BOOSTER PEN ($38) is available in 6 shades. I bought 002, Candle Light, during a makeover. The makeup artist aka my sister loves this more than my favorite Touche Eclat. I still prefer TE but Dior did a great job on this pen. I mostly use it to soften the look under my eyes.
1429473386_luxlight-illuminator-315x315EDDIE FUNKHOUSER LUXLIGHT ILLUMINATOR PEN* ($11.99) has the best price and it’s very close to the original Touche Eclat, Luminous Radiance, shade. Mine is in Candlelight for cool skintones and it’s also available Arclight for warm skintones. This stands out from the crowded field because of its excellence and price.
1429473252__9457300CHARLOTTE TILBURY THE RETOUCHER ($35) is the first CT product I bought when it came to Nordstrom. I’m still deciding what else to buy from the brand but I wanted to see if I could find something better than Touche Eclat. I bought it in shade 1, Fair, which is lighter than my TE so it works great as a highlighting concealer.
1429473050__5813776YSL TOUCHE ECLAT, RADIANCE ECLAT ($42) is the first highlighter that I ever bought. Since then I’ve bought dozens of other brands but this remains my favorite. It is now available in 10 shades but I’m still in love with the original, Luminous Radiance. There’s just something about this that I can’t describe.

highlighting pens

highlighting pens

highlighting swatches - YSL Touche Eclat, Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher, Eddie Funkhouser Candlelight, Dior Skinflash, Dex Minerals Illuminator

highlighting swatches – YSL Touche Eclat, Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher, Eddie Funkhouser Candlelight, Dior Skinflash, Dex Minerals Illuminator

1429472802_2264104__detail_?1429472802IT COSMETICS HELLO LIGHT ANTI-AGING CREME ILLUMINIZER (and Hello Light Anti-Aging Illuminizer, the powder version*) ($24) is aaaamazing. I love creme products so that’s why this is the one in the collage. I can get this exactly where I want it to be and blend it with my fingers. As with all IT Cosmetics products for me, it’s the cat’s meow.
1429472649_2264092__detail_?1429472649IT COSMETICS MY SCULPTURED FACE ($38) has been in my collection for a long time. After I bought it though, I was afraid to use it. When I see dark colors for contouring I run. Once I started using it, I saw that IT Cosmetics only had my best interests in mind. The tones in this give you everything you need for highlighting, concealing, contouring and bronzing. It’s the perfect travel companion.

It Cosmetics The Sculptured Face

It Cosmetics The Sculptured Face

1429472501_smashbox-step-by-step-contour-stick-trioSMASHBOX STEP BY STEP CONTOURING TRIO *($45) is the best concept of all of these items. Three separate crayons that Contour, Highlight and Bronze

•    Contour: A darker shade that sculpts by creating shadows
•    Highlight: A light shade that pulls features forward
•    Bronze: A transition shade that eliminates harsh lines by blending the contour and highlight shades

A full review is coming up tonight.

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

Smashbox Contour Stick Trio

Now that you’ve seen my mostly highlighting choices, which of these 9-1o products would you want to try? And what others would you recommend? I know my other blogger friends have some ideas for us all and I’m ready to check them out.  — Marcia
*products were pr samples

Further reviews on these can be found on Beauty Info Zone
IT Cosmetics Hello Light Anti-Aging Creme Illuminator

Eddie Funkhouser Hydrating Primer and Illuminator Pen

Beauty Trends of 2015 – Makeup Wars edition

MAKEUP WARS is getting trendy. We decided to look into some of the trends we see for 2015. I’ve chosen 3 trends: Micellar Waters, matte lipsticks and contouring. These are the things I’m seeing over and over in blogs, on cosmetics sites and in magazines. I haven’t used a lot of these products but they all appeal to me in one way or the other.
First let’s talk about Micellar Waters since that’s not a term most people know. I’m no expert on it but the way I see these is that they are a form of cleansing. It can be a water or a lotion. They micro-emulsify impurities so that your skin is left both soft and cleansed.
1425153019_300SIMPLE SKINCARE MICELLAR CLEANSER WATER Simple® Micellar Cleanser Water is our most advanced yet gentle cleanse to date.  It is made with skin-loving ingredients, including Vitamin B3 and C, and Triple Purified Water, our purest possible water, to help remove contaminants known to irritate skin. I found this at but I’m sure it’s available at other retailers that sell the Simple Skincare line. At $6.99 for a bottle it’s a great way to find out if this is a product you want to introduce into your life.
1425152959_2236353__detail_?1425152959LA ROCHE-POSAY Physiological Micellar Solution ($20.99) is a 3 in 1 product since it cleanses, tones and can be used on a cotton pad as a makeup remover. There is no soap in this micellar solution and La Roche-Posay is a well known trusted brand. What makes this one unique is that they use their thermal water as the base for this solution.
1425152891_16030430801BIODERMA SENSIBIO (Crealine) H2O MICELLE SOLUTION is the hottest brand around when it comes to Micellar Water. This has gotten raves in Europe for so long and travelers always made sure that it was in their suitcases when they came home. It’s available on and will be back in stock at soon. Because this is also recommended for sensitive skin you can use this as an eye makeup remover as well as a cleansing solution.
1425152684_0000038_micellar-lotion_450EMBRYOLISSE MICELLAR LOTION – This is the one I have. The last time I was at IMATS this was one of the featured items from Embryolisse and I was so anxious to finally try a Micellar Water. This is a little thicker than the typical one and it does have a fragrance yet it can be used for eyes, lips and face. “This Micellar Lotion is so gentle it is suitable for even the most sensitive skin – it contains micelles (gentle cleansing agents) in solution in cornflower, camomile and witch-hazel water, combined with glycerin to soften, soothe and tone the skin.”
1425152566_2226183__detail_?1425152566NYX COSMETICS MATTE LIP CREAM – NYX also makes matte lipstick but I’m more attracted to the lip cream since it doesn’t show lines quite as much. At $5.99 (and often sales) NYX is a good way to find out if you like a matte lip. My one warning about wearing mattes is that your lips need to be exfoliated and prepped with a lip balm.
1425152493_265x265xlovely_off_copy.jpg.pagespeed.ic.gz-vsnrxx9ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS LIQUID LIPSTICK is the talk of the town. Instagram is loaded with pictures and talk of this liquid matte. Many people bought them early at IMATS and that started the buzz. It’s a very intense and highly pigmented product. ($20)
1425152435_82JORDANA COSMETICS MATTE LIPSTICK is the one to try if you are taking baby steps. There are 35 shades available at $1.49 each. Yes, slightly more than a Snickers bar.
1425152379_0607845024576NARS VELVET MATTE LIP PENCIL is my favorite of any matte lip product. I’ve had some for years. It combines my love for lip crayons with some terrific Nars shades like Roman Holiday, Sex Machine and Red Dragon. There are 18 shades ($26).
1425152326_0607845010111NARS SEMI MATTE LIPSTICK – Nars is popular for lipsticks in general and their matte lipsticks stand out from the crowd. The Semi-Matte lipsticks aren’t quite as drying in my opinion and have a little more life to them. The 13 shades ($27) are hydrating and highly pigmented.
1425152274_0607845035091NARS PURE MATTE LIPSTICK is their newest addition and these are truly matte and truly pigmented. Better have exfoliated and smooth lips with these beauties to let them do their job well.  They contain wild mango butter, known to provide advanced moisturizing properties to repair dryness and scaling, and Vitamin E and açai oil for antioxidant benefits. ($27, 18 shades)
CONTOURING is going to take over the world in 2015. Every brand is coming out with a contouring palette or repromoting them. What has Kim Kardashian done to this world??
1425152201_282NYX HIGHLIGHT CONTOUR PRO PALETTE ($25) has a little bit of everything since it has both highlighting and contouring shades.1425152116_web_cocoacontour_composite_2TOO FACED COCOA CONTOUR ($40) has that cocoa scent that people are going crazy over. Too Faced is well known for their bronzers and they’ve expanded that to a contour set that has 4 shades (3 shades of cocoa and a pop of light) and that cute little buki brush.
1425152075_265x265xlight_med_main.jpg.pagespeed.ic.unscl4upwkANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS CONTOUR KIT – Anastasia has a Contour Kit that you can find at places like Sephora and Ulta ($40). It’s available in 3 shades: Light to Medium, Medium to Tan, and Tan to Deep. In addition on their website they have a $150 Contour Book with all 29 of their shades that would normally sell for $14 each.
1425152029_cover-fx-contour-kit-g-light-mediumCOVER FX CONTOUR KIT ($48) is available in 6 different palettes. The consistency of this is creamy and is supposed to be very easy to blend because of that. It comes with a card showing placement that is quite helpful. Each of the 6 combos have a Highlight Shade (1): brightens and enhances features. Illuminating Highlight Shade (2): reflects light for added glow. Contour Shade (3): defines and visibly slenderizes. Deep Contour Shade (4): offers a more dramatic effect.

The one I forgot to put in my collage is from IT Cosmetics and it’s MY SCULPTED FACE

IT Cosmetics My Sculpted Face Contour Palette

IT Cosmetics My Sculpted Face Contour Palette

My Sculpted Face is the first contour product I ever bought ($38). It’s said to be a universal kit. It uses IT Cosmetics anti-aging formula and it comes with a guide to help you along.

What do you think are the trends of 2015? Are you a fan of contouring, matte lipsticks and/or micellar waters? I’d love to know. — Marcia

I’m curious to see what my fellow makeup war bloggers think are the new beauty trends. I have a g.c. waiting in the wings!!

Side by Side: Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Illuminator and FirmX Contour Color Stick

The Peter Thomas Roth line is well known for its excellent clinical skin care, but they have terrific cosmetics as well.   Marcia recently raved about the Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For:  The Mascara.  The BIZ had a lot of fun discovering that PTR has even more than great mascara, there are many other wonderful products that are worth checking out.  Here are two of Lisa and Marcia’s favorites, the Un-Wrinkle Illuminator and the FirmX Contouring Color Stick.

Lisa’s Side:

Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Illuminator

I adore products that multi-task, and the Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Illuminator ($68) tackles tasks that definitely get my attention.  Not only does it work as a highlighter, instantly brightening and luminizing, it also battles fine lines and wrinkles with i’s Un-Wrinkle blend of peptides and vitamins.

love the sanitary squeeze tube

It comes in a nice size tube that has a wonderfully hygienic squeeze top.  You just shake this up, then apply a thin layer over your face before or after applying makeup.  You can also wear this by itself.


The moisturizer has a pinkish cast to it, but it’s actually a combination of three colors specifically chosen for their brightening qualities:  gold to counteract redness, violet to counteract dull grey skin tone, and rose to brighten.

spread out, applied heavy

Put it all together and it’s a brightening powerhouse, instantly luminizing the skin without looking fake or frosty.

gives a pretty glow!

Illuminator ingredients (click to enlarge)

I like to use this under my makeup for overall brightening and because the moisturizing ingredients help fight wrinkles.  Then I also use it on top over any particular areas I’d like to highlight like the tops of my cheekbones.  And the major bonus is that while my skin immediately looks brighter and better, it’s also got all kinds of unseen action going on while those Un-Wrinkle ingredients duke it out with my wrinkles.  Both instant and long lasting results?  A highlighter and a wrinkle fighting moisturizer??  Sign me up!!

Marcia’s Side:
While I’m reviewing the Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Contouring Color Stick I first have to give a shout out to the Un-Wrinkle Illuminator. It’s a wonderful product doing all that Lisa said – brightens, moisturizes and works as a powerful skincare item.

PTR FirmX Contouring Color Stick

FirmX Contouring Color Stick ($36) also has the wonderful skincare ingredients that Peter Thomas Roth is known for. It not only contours as a cosmetic but it firms skin at the same time. It comes in just one color that you can see below. I find that this makes a perfect contour for my fair skin. I love cream products as you may well know. I find them very easy to work with and this is no exception. I’m not a pro at contour but Peter Thomas Roth makes me seem like a pro. It blends in so seamlessly that I never look like I’ve done something unusual to try to slim my chubby cheeks. I’ve used it with both cream and powder blushes and it always works like a charm. For a natural look I’ve also used FirmX Contouring Color Stick as a blush. It reminds me a lot of Nars Penny Lane on my skin.


direct lighting



indirect lighting swatch


Direct lighting swatch

arm swatch indirect lighting

The Contour Coloring stick contains amazing ingredients:

*Fx NeuroComplex – helps activate skin’s natural repair mechanisms telling skin to look and act younger

*Hyaluronic Filling Spheres – instantly plumps lines from within the skin for an immediate filling effect
*Dermaxyl – helps smooth visible wrinkles
*Kalpariane – preserves skin elasticity and suppleness
If you read Beauty Info Zone often then you already know that I’m a fool for anything with hyaluronic acid so I love that this contains it too.  While it’s very light it could be built up and it’s recommended for all skin types.

Contour Coloring Stick ingredients (click to enlarge)

FirmX Contouring Color Stick

If you are looking for a natural flush of color for blush, contouring or illuminating, look no farther. Peter Thomas Roth, the amazing skincare company, has found a way to incorporate their unique and effective skincare ingredients into a line of cosmetics that will make you as happy as it makes us at Beauty Info Zone.

*pr samples

Cargo Contour Palette – review and swatches

As much as I love makeup and as much as I play with it, contouring isn’t something that comes easy for me. So when I was sent Cargo’s Contour Palette I will admit I was a little intimidated. Cargo couldn’t have made this any easier for me or for you though. There are 3 shades that work perfectly together plus they are nice enough to spell out what each one is used for.  At the top is a highlighter, next is blush and on the bottom is the actual contour color. This is available in two shades – Monaco for warm skin tones and Malibu for cool skin tones.

image of Malibu Contour Palette from


image of Monaco Contour palette from

The colors in this are matte which is best for contouring. The idea of contouring is to change the look of your features but not in an obvious way. You want subtlety unless you are someone like Lindsay Lohan at a court date. Cargo’s three matte shades give you the subtleness you need for the job. Plus they are pretty to boot.

Malibu Contour palette

Cargo is nice enough to give us simple directions on the back so that even those of us who don’t normally contour know exactly what to do and how to use the palette. I’m not one to keep my products in the box so having this information on the very back is the best. I have a Contour brush from Real Techniques that is the perfect size for the job. I use a very very light hand when applying the contour and blush. I don’t know if I’m doing it right but I prefer to put on the contour first, then the blush on the apple of my cheek and last the highlight shade. Then I take the brush with the highlight shade remnants on it and blend, paying particular attention to the edges  to soften the look.

Cargo Malibu Contour palette swatches

The shades in Malibu are a light cool toned cream, a true pink and a mauve brown. None of the colors swatch darkly on my fingers but the brush seems to pick them up easily. I’m surprised at how long lasting the colors are in this palette. I still have blush and contour at the end of the day. I’ve only used the contour shade a few times along my chin and the contouring works there just as well. I use an even lighter hand along my chin line than I do on my face since I think you can make contouring look too obvious if you aren’t careful.

swatches for Malibu

the contour shade

It’s nice to have an easy means to do a job that the counters work magic with and be able to do it myself. This is a palette I’d travel with too since I can use the blush even when I don’t feel like contouring. There’s a full size mirror too that’s very handy to have. Check out the Cargo Contour Palette to bring out the professional artist in yourself. — Marcia

My Top Ten Niche Makeup Lines…and favorite products from each

I love ‘niche’ lines.  These are lines that are small companies that typically specialize in several areas.  I find that most of my stash is from niche lines – I love to support the independents, and I find that the quality and the amazing customer service just can’t be beat.  Here are my top ten niche lines, and my favorite product from each.

1.  Dan Read Cosmetics

Dan Read makes the best foundation there is, period.  I first discovered this foundation about four years ago, and I wrote a review of it for Emakemeup.  You can read the full review here.

The foundation ($31.00) was developed for TV and film, and it’s amazing – perfect colors, so easy to apply, and it truly lasts all day.  This is my go-to foundation for any special occasion, or for any day that I want to look flawless for the entire day without fail.  I think everyone needs a pot of this fabulous foundation in their arsenal.  I have purchased and repurchased this foundation a ton of times – I will never be without it.  They have a new version out that has shimmer, I can’t wait to try it.

2.  Beaute Cosmetics

Everything in this line is fabulous.  My favorites, though, are the Liqui-Gel Stains ($29.00).  You can read my full review here.

I have so much trouble getting my blush to stay on all day, and this stuff actually lasts and lasts for me.  Plus, it doubles as a lip stain.  Love it.

3.  Senna Cosmetics

This line has amazing lip products, foundation, concealer, blush…heck, all their makeup is fabulous.  But my most favorite product from this great company is the Brow Guru Kit ($43.00).  You can read my full review here.

It has truly changed my look, and in a good way.  I am never without perfect brows now.  I take this when I travel, even if it’s only for over night – if you don’t have it yet, buy it.  Trust me.

4.  Cat Cosmetics

This is a line I feel I have only begun to discover…everything I try seems so fabulous, I can’t believe the wealth of truly amazing products all in one place.  You can read my review of this line here.  My absolute favorite – so far, anyway! – is the Diva Lash mascara ($20.00).

This mascara lengthens and thickens and doesn’t smudge at all.  What else can a girl ask for?  Great stuff.

5.  Classified Cosmetics

Yet another foundation must-have, this line introduced us to the first spray on foundation.  You can spray it onto a sponge then apply, or spray it directly onto your face, which is my favorite method.  I reviewed all the foundations here on Emakemeup, and while I love them all my most favorite is the original – ERA Face Foundation ($55.00) .

It gives a totally flawless look that lasts through anything.  Plus, it takes about three seconds to apply.  Fabulous.

6.  Besame

It was very, very tough to pick a favorite from this terrific retro line, but I would have to say that my top choice would be the Sweetheart Balm ($18.00).

I reviewed this line, including the Sweetheart Balms, here.  I think both colors are must-haves.  I hate pot lip gloss, and yet I am never, ever without at least one of these.  The pinky color is fabulous by itself, or tremendous over any lipstick.  The red gloss is so beautiful, it’s the perfect soft red that would look great on anyone.  The texture is just fabulous, and it’s not sticky in the least.  Total love.

7.  Covermark

The foundation is fabulous, as well as so many other products…but I would have to say my top pick is the Shade Cream ($14.00).

It’s just the best product out there for contouring and shading, and it’s super easy to use.  My full review is here.

8.  Ellis Faas

No one does lips like Ellis Faas.  Not only do the products look amazing in that space-age packaging, they perform like crazy.  My favorite is the Creamy Lips ($35.00).

Here’s L106, such a gorgeous color.  The Creamy Lips applicator is a sponge tip, the color comes out through the sponge which makes application a dream.  The lipstick is super creamy but long-lasting, and the color choices are superb – different, and in a good way.

9.  It Cosmetics

So many great products!!  But my most favorite is the Bye Bye Undereye Concealer ($24.00).  Marcia first introduced me to this amazing product, you can see her review here.

I love how you need the tiniest bit, and it covers like you wouldn’t believe.  This is my most favorite concealer of all time.

10.  Lips2Kiss

I have thin lips, and was getting these very annoying vertical lines on my top lip.  Lips2Kiss changed all that for me.  I first reviewed this line on Emakemeup, you can read the review here.  The lip system is amazing, but I think my most favorite product is the Upper Lip Line Eliminator ($79.95).  I reviewed the ULLE for Emakemeup here.

This is such a wonderful, elegant moisturizer and it does miracles for my lips.  If I could take a bath in it, I would.  And readers of our blog get a special discount, enter beautyinfozone at your checkout and save $5.00 off your first order.

So those are my top ten niche lines, with my favorite product from each.  What are some of your top niche line favorites? – Lisa