What’s behind the scenes for a makeup blogger?

Makeup Wars small but necessary

I love the fun of Makeup Wars. The group brainstorms ideas to share together but since we are so diverse in our taste we all have different thoughts on how to execute the idea. This week we’ve chosen to share what makes our beauty world spin. The items we don’t routinely talk about but we can’t live without. No makeup allowed today but where would I be without these?

some samples*affiliate links

Let me start with Tweezerman. I’m obviously a Tweezerman junkie though I admit to loving other tweezers too but where would I be without my Tweezerman I-Lashcomb and slanted tweezers? A hairy unkempt mess if you want to know the truth.

My partial Tweezerman collection

Next I’m onto eyelash curlers. Having short stubby lashes that are stick straight isn’t the most fun. I love mascara and feel unmade up without it. Therefore one of my most necessary tools is an eyelash curler. My favorites are Tweezerman’s Rose Gold Classic*, Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler, and Shiseido’s Eyelash Curler. These are the ones that fit my eye shape best. I hate when I pinch myself with an eyelash curler which is why some days I need to stay away from one of these.

eyelash curlers: Shiseido, Tweezerman, Kevyn Aucoin

Since we’re still on eyes I need to talk about eye makeup remover and everyone who reads this blog knows I’m a huge fan of the Mary Kay one. I buy two at a time even though it lasts forever. But I don’t want to be without.

Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover

That leads me into other makeup removers which makes me think of Micellar Water. (I feel like I’m writing the makeup version of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”.) My number one pick for years has been Bioderma Sensiblo H2O Micellar Water. To save money I started buying Simple Micellar and now I’m into Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water in the pink all skin version.

Bioderma Sensiblo H2O Micellar Water, Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

So if you give a mouse woman a micellar water she needs something to use it with and I have 3 I use. I’ve talked about the DHC Silky Cotton Pads forever so you are probably sick of that but I also like the ones from Kleenex and Shiseido for different reasons. The DHC Silky Cotton are both absorbent and sturdy. The Kleenex Soft Cotton Pads (not moistened) are big and are great for your whole face as well as eyes. But it’s not the most absorbent so sometimes I have to use more water than I prefer. Now that Amazon has them though I’ve bought them again since it made it easier than their website. Shiseido Facial Cotton is so soft that it sets the standard for makeup wipes. For really stubborn mascara I prefer the DHC but for soft effective eye makeup removal Shiseido feels the most luxurious.

Shiseido Facial Cotton, DHC Silky Cotton Pads, Kleenex Soft Cotton Pads

I can’t forget about makeup brush cleaner. We all get lazy and forget to clean our brushes often enough but it really is essential. I have a stash of MAC Brush Cleaner because I stocked up before I lost my discount. I am loving my new PUREbrush* cleaner since it’s easy to clean a brush instantly with it even if I’m not near a sink.

PUREbrush Cleaner, MAC Brush Cleaner

One more item that I don’t want to be without is Invisibobble*. I remember hearing my friends talk about Invisibobble Traceless Hair Rings and wondering what the heck it was. Now that I know I have them all over – drawers, purse, cosmetic bag. I love these little things and love the variety of color and sizes they have. They come in sets of 3 which at first I thought was overload. I gave one to my sister and instantly wanted it back. These phone cord rings stretch and hold, then they bounce back into shape. My granddaughter with her silky hair looks so adorable when I put the Nano Invisibobble in for a little pony on the top.

Invisibobble regular and Nano

Invisibobble regular and Nano

There are so many more but these are the ones that this mouse blogger uses all the time. What’s behind the scenes for you?

Check out what the team has chosen as their necessities.  —  Marcia

Beautylish Mystery Lucky Bag – I love it, would you? #luckybag2016

Beautylish Lucky Bag 2016

Beautylish Lucky Bag 2016

I’m sorry but you can’t have this so I apologize in advance but I’m so enamored with this Lucky Mystery Bag from Beautylish that I had to share it so you can take advantage of this next year.

In December 2015 I received an email from Beautylish that their Mystery Bag was on the way and to put my name on the waiting list. As soon as it became available to order I did so and this beautiful package arrived in early January. Beautylish does this once a year and the cost is $75 plus $5 shipping to the US. It’s available to other countries but the shipping charge would be higher. I first noticed this in 2014 and was sorry I hadn’t participated so last year I jumped on it and purchased the mystery bag (see my review here). Obviously I did again. I’m overjoyed with this purchase since my products are outstanding.

Beautylish Mystery Lucky Bag 2016

Beautylish Mystery Lucky Bag 2016

What makes this even more special is that everything in the package are new products that are for sale on Beautylish and other websites. It’s not outdated items, they are all things you’d buy in a heartbeat. I’ve seen a few blog posts on the bag and while no one received the same exact products, every one I read was wonderful.

This year’s Mystery Bags was called the Lucky Bag in honor of a Japanese New Year’s custom. Fukubukuro is a Japanese New Year custom in which merchants and retailers make grab bags filled with unknown random contents and sell them on a substantial discount. They’re called “lucky bags” or “mystery bags”.” My Lucky Bag has a value of $162 which is 2X what I paid.

What’s inside? Let’s start with BECCA OMBRE ROUGE EYESHADOW PALETTE ($40)

Becca Ombre Rouge Eyeshadow Palette

Becca Ombre Rouge Eyeshadow Palette

Becca Ombre Rouge Eyeshadow Palette

Becca Ombre Rouge Eyeshadow Palette

This is one of Becca’s most sought after eyeshadow palettes. The five coordinating shades are all warm colors. The texture of these shadows is phenomenal. I sent this to a good friend since it’s too warm for me and I could practically see her jumping up and down from afar.


Kevyn Aucoin Matte Bronzing Veil

Kevyn Aucoin Matte Bronzing Veil

Kevyn Aucoin Matte Bronzing Veil

Kevyn Aucoin Matte Bronzing Veil

You are reading this from a very pale woman who rarely uses a bronzing powder but this is the exception to the rule. There are two shades of this incredibly silky bronzer and I’m so lucky that I received the lightest one. I can use this for the subtle type of contouring I like, a subtle bronzer, or a blush.

Kevyn Aucoin Matte Bronzing Veil in Desert Days

Kevyn Aucoin Matte Bronzing Veil in Desert Days

WAYNE GOSS brush 05  ($20)

Wayne Goss brush 05

Wayne Goss brush 05

Wayne Goss brush 05

Wayne Goss brush 05

What makes this most exciting for me, besides the fact that I adore brushes and Wayne Goss brushes, is that I really wanted this brush. 05 was in their original set of brushes but they’ve revamped it and this is the new improved version. It’s a detail brush that works on lips and lids. I may have a ton of brushes but this is fabulous and I’m thrilled.


rms beauty skin & lip balm

rms beauty skin & lip balm

rms beauty lip & skin balm

rms beauty lip & skin balm

rms beauty is a beauty lovers secret. It’s not a brand that’s talked about that often but it’s the real thing. It’s a cruelty free organic brand with the best products. I’m lusting after their Living Luminizer and one of these days I’ll take the plunge. The Lip & Skin Balm is available in two scents – Simply Vanilla and Simply Cocoa. I received Simply Vanilla which has a light vanilla scent. I love it. I wish it wasn’t a pot but I use it at home. “RMS Beauty Lip & Skin Balm is made of superior food-grade biologically active ingredients that support natural skin functions, giving you a visibly healthier appearance. Each ingredient in this must-have skin-rejuvenating formula has been carefully selected for its traditional healing abilities. Use regularly to heal, protect and hydrate skin, soften fine lines and give skin a smooth texture.”


Biorderma Sensibio Micellar Water and IT Cosmetics Hello Lashes

Biorderma Sensibio Micellar Water and IT Cosmetics Hello Lashes

As if the Lucky Mystery bag could get any better, there were two of my very favorite products in it. I’ve purchased both over and over. Having the travel size of the Bioderma Micellar Water is fabulous. I love this size for travel and for home use. And do I have to extol the virtues of IT Cosmetics Hello Lashes or have you heard me talk about it at least a dozen times before? These two are staples in my life and I am thrilled to find them in my bag.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O (also known as Créaline H2O) is a no-rinse micellar cleanser and makeup remover specially formulated for sensitive, normal to dry skin types. It can even remove water-resistant face and eye makeup! A soothing emollient thanks to cucumber extract, it clears up irritated skin and produces a feeling of instant freshness. Fragrance-free, alcohol-free, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic.”

The quality products that Beautylish sent are beyond my wildest dreams. It’s hard to put out $75+ and not know what you are getting but as you can see Beautylish came through. Sign up for Beautylish emails so that next December you can get on the list too. Which products in here would you be excited to own?  — Marcia

*affiliate links

Looking for a little luxury for the holidays? Look at these incredible beauty products

TOP TEN TUESDAY is all about Luxury today. We’ve all done our affordable wishlists, stocking stuffers, and helped you pick out some new items. So now it’s time to make a real wish for luxury. You never quite know when those wishes will come true!!

1450057833__11337282TOM FORD LIPS AND BOYS 10 LIPSTICK SET ($350). Tom Ford lipsticks are my all time favorite brand. They do keep raising the price on these but I can’t seem to resist them. The Lips and Boys lipsticks luckily are less money at $35 each but they are a lot smaller. I don’t really care. I never use up a lipstick and if I can wear one that makes me feel this good, I will splurge on it. For a limited time Tom Ford came out with this 10 Lipstick Set that contains Ian, Beau, Julian, Addison, Leonardo, Demsey, David, Egon, Daniel and Theo. You’ll get a touch of everything with this luxurious set.

1450057884__10998098CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN SILKY SATIN LIP COLOR ($90) is the lipstick that dreams are made of. It was certainly a revelation to the cosmetic world when Christian Louboutin chose to charge $90 for a lipstick. I wouldn’t wear it as a necklace even though it comes with a black satin ribbon for that purpose but I sure wouldn’t mind pulling this lipstick out at a soiree.
1450057940__9515423CHARLOTTE TILBURY THE UPTOWN GIRL SET ($230) will bring you a touch of so many products that Charlotte Tilbury gets raves for. There are several sets and all are gorgeous. I chose The Uptown Girl since it has colors I know I can comfortably wear. Inside this lovely set are The Uptown Girl eyeshadow palette, eyeliner in Audrey, Full Flat Lashes Mascara, Cheek to Chic Blush in Love Glow, Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pink Venus, K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Bitch Perfect, Lip Lustre Lip Gloss in Sweet Stiletto all nestled in a Charlotte Tilbury Cosmetic Bag.
1450058003_kevyn-aucoin-the-legacy-paletteKEVYN AUCOIN THE LEGACY SET ($165) reminds me of how much I loved Kevyn Aucoin’s amazing talent and products. This new palette includes the Celestial Powder in Candlelight, The Sculpting Powder in Medium, The Essential Eye Shadows in Ice Gold, Champagne, Wheat, Camel, Coco, Dark Chocolate, Beige, Peach, Light Grey, Pewter, Espresso, and Black. Kevyn Aucoin was before his time when he came out with the Candlelight Powder which was the first luminizing powder I ever bought.
1450058060_wayne-goss-the-anniversary-setWAYNE GOSS THE ANNIVERSARY SET ($225) is the brush set that I really want. Anyone in my family reading this please take note!! The Anniversary Set includes an updated release of the popular Brush 01 (limited edition) and introduces the new Brush 05 which will become a permanent addition to The Collection. Sigh!
1450058153_charlotte-tilbury-complete-brush-kitCHARLOTTE TILBURY THE COMPLETE BRUSH KIT ($320) is something that would also make my heart go pitter patter. I love brushes and in spite of owning more than anyone could use, I still covet them. This set contains a CT makeup bag, lip brush,  eyeliner brush,eyeshadow smudger brush, eye blender brush, foundation brush, powder & sculpt brush, blush brush and bronzer brush. There’s nothing like luxury brushes.

1450058321__9413718CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN ROUGE COLLECTION NAIL LACQUER is available in a dozen colors and I’m sure they are wonderful and luxurious but they are $50 each. If someone wants to buy me one, I’m game! I promise to wear it often too.

1450058449__11271685LA MER THE TREATMENT ESSENTIALS ($415) is a limited edition set that contains Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Cream, Regenerating Serum, Eye Concentrate, and the Treatment Lotion. When I first started using Creme de La Mer it blew my budget and now I realize it’s not the most expensive brand out there. So consider this as the “save”.

1450058747_giftsets_superdeluxe__35755.1430427073.380.380ERA AGELESS LUXURY SET – I might as well go for the top of the line. I reviewed the ERA AGELESS EYE SERUM and loved it enough that I’m craving the line even though it’s out of my current budget. But since this is a wishlist then this $2165.99 set (on sale from $2549.95) would make me quite happy. It contains the Firm & Lift Serum, Age Defying Moisture Cream, Elastin and Beta Carotene Mask, Triple Thermal Mask and the Powerful Deep Wrinkle Filler. ERA Ageless has other less expensive sets too that would make me just as happy.

What’s on your Luxury Wishlist? Do any of these items pop out at you and say “I WANT THIS”?  — Marcia

Read to see what other items can blow your budget.

Lisa’s new and improved top ten primers list

I wrote my original ‘Top ten primers‘ post back in 2010, a few years after my primer obsession began. Finding an excellent primer was life-altering for me because for the very first time my makeup actually lasted all day.  I’ve always had strange skin, products don’t last long on me at all – I put blush on and an hour later, it’s completely gone.  For a long time I thought there was nothing I could do about it – until I found a primer that actually made my makeup (and most happily my blush) last a whole day.  I think I bought every primer on the market for the next few years after that. I have owned and used so many different primers I am ashamed to put a number on it. 

Lisas top ten primersThis list is a long overdue update of my personal choices for the top ten primers – each one is unique, they all have their advantages, and they are all excellent.  Which primer I choose is determined by the condition of my skin that day, my skin tone, and the foundation I am going to use. (A side note – I was astounded by the price increases when I updated them!)

My top ten list is not in any particular order – these are my top favorites, but they are all equal in terms of play time they get.

Kevyn Aucoin The Primed Skin Developer

Kevyn Aucoin The Primed Skin Developer

1.  Kevyn Aucoin The Primed Skin Developer ($68)

The earlier version, called The Sensual Skin Primer, was actually the primer that began my obsession.  I used it one day and could not believe how vibrant and fresh my makeup was 10 hours later. The new version is even better – I use the Normal to Oily one.  The texture has slip but it doesn’t feel extremely silicone heavy.  It dries quickly to a satin finish.  It keeps makeup on like no other.  There are some drawbacks, though – it is an expensive item, so expensive that it hurts to buy it.  I tend to use this on special occasions only to try to make it last as long as possible.  And while I love the hygienic pump bottle, it drives me crazy that I never know how much I have left.  Regardless, I will never be without a bottle – and a back up.

Grand Central Beauty Skin Perfecting Primer

2.  Grand Central Beauty S.M.A.R.T. Skin Perfecting SERUM+PRIMER ($68)

I like to say that the only time I have ever been wrong was that one time I thought I made a mistake.  Unfortunately, in reality I have been wrong on a few more occasions than that…and I was completely wrong about the S.M.A.R.T. Skin Perfecting SERUM+PRIMER.  While it has a slew of cool ingredients, including squalane from brazilian sugar cane, apple, watermelon, lentil, rice and soybean protein, I initially thought it worked better as a serum than a primer…totally incorrect.  This is a kick ass primer.  It keeps makeup looking totally perfect for 12 hours.  Every time I use it I think, “How could I have been so wrong??”

Reviva Labs Makeup Primer

Reviva Labs Makeup Primer

3.  Reviva Labs Makeup Primer ($19.50) This is absolutely one of my favorite primers of all time.  It has silicone, but it isn’t super thick.  I find that it works best if I apply the primer and then let it sit for about three minutes.  It has a slightly wet texture at first that will collide with your concealer and foundation application. If you wait a few minutes it dries down to a beautiful finish that helps concealer and foundation apply and wear perfectly.  It does everything a primer should do:  makes skin super smooth, allows even application of concealer and foundation, and increases longevity.  

Pur Minerals green_primer

4.  Pur Minerals Colour Correcting Foundation Primer in Green ($31):

This is the primer I reach for when I’m broken out.  The green color balances out redness from acne, broken capillaries, and rosacea.  It doesn’t make me look like an alien – the green transforms into a beautiful, even skin tone color.  Less is more with this primer. You don’t need much to neutralize redness and create a perfect canvas for foundation.

OCC Skin Primer

5.  OCC Skin Primer ($27.50):This is a really cool primer.  Not only is it great for the face, but you can also use it as a lid primer for mineral eyeshadows.  It’s unlike most primers.  You HAVE to shake the bottle before squeezing some out – and then be careful when you do, because it has a thin, liquid consistency.  Once applied, wait until it dries because it applies quite wet, but does dry down to a super smooth, satiny finish.  And boy does makeup stick to this stuff!

Paul and Joe Protecting Foundation Primer

6.  Paul and Joe Protective Foundation Primer ($32)

This is, by far, the strangest primer I have ever used.  And I love it.  It has an SPF of 30.  It’s also super watery – it must be properly shaken before squeezing the product out.   It has a very thin consistency that dries down to a satiny finish.  It also has super fine, really tiny microshimmers in it, which gives skin the best natural looking glow.  The primer looks really yellow, but it goes on colorless – aside from the glow.  Makeup lasts and lasts with this primer.  I find that I reach for it when I am using very matte, oil-inhibiting foundations like Clarins Truly Matte Foundation because the microshimmers counteract the flatness.

Cle de Peau Correcting Cream Veil

7.  Cle de Peau Correcting Cream Veil ($76)

I have a love-hate relationship with Cle de Peau.  Some products I adore and will buy despite the exorbitant price tag.  Other products I can’t stand, and I get offended at the price of items that do absolutely nothing for you.  This primer, however, is well worth the price.  At the same time, I get the sample sizes at the counter when I can…they are great for travel and give several weeks of use. This primer is a thick, creamy lotion.  You don’t need a lot of it – a little goes a very long way.  In fact, if you use too much you will get a distinctly white cast to your skin.  Use the right amount and it sinks into your skin nicely, leaving no white or greyish cast.  Skin is super smooth, lines are filled in, and makeup goes on beautifully and lasts all day.  Pores look smaller and it lessens oil production throughout the day.  Get a sample at the counter before investing, but I’ll bet once you try it, you’ll want the full size version.  I love this under cream foundation.

IT Cosmetics Feel the Moment Primer

8.  IT Cosmetics Feel the Moment Anti-Aging Primer Serum ($38)

The Feel the Moment Anti-Aging Primer Serum is a thick, super hydrating primer that makes skin baby smooth.  Ingredients include caviar extract, hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, hyaluronic acid, vitamins A, E, and C, argan and jojoba oils, and avocado.  The serum is in glass jar with a dropper,  and two drops is more than enough to prime and hydrate.  It goes on slightly tacky then dries down to create a perfect canvas for makeup. This is just what I need for perfect makeup when I have dry skin.  I have gone through two bottles of this and am halfway through my third!

Algenist Pore Corrector Anti Aging Primer

9.  Algenist Pore Corrector Anti-Aging Primer ($42)

This primer comes in an opaque airless pump which keeps the product integrity and effectiveness safe and sound.  It does everything a great primer should do – it reduces the look of pores, creates a satin finish for easy makeup application, and it keeps that makeup in place and reduces fading throughout the day.

Ingredients include Alguronic Acid, which ramps up the anti-aging quotient. I am thrilled that over time it actually improves my skin – but I am even more thrilled with the immediate results of perfectly primed skin. And, of course, not looking like a sad clown with melted makeup at the end of the day is a huge plus!! The Pore Corrector Anti-Aging Primer has a beautifully lightweight texture that doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. While liquidy, it dries quickly and truly makes that beautiful canvas you need to happily play with all the rest of your cosmetics art supplies.

Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy

10.  Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy ($7)  So this is a bit of a cheat…it’s not a face primer, but it is such a fantastic eye primer I had to put it on the list.  If you like pigment eyeshadows, you need this.  If you have oily lids, you need this.  Heck, it’s only seven bucks…try it out!  A tiny dab makes eyeshadow not only cling to your lids for dear life, it also brings out a vibrancy you never knew the eyeshadow had in the first place.  I think of my Pixie Epoxy as liquid gold.

The biggest difference I notice between my original list from five years ago and the one I have now (beside the price increases!) is the addition of primer/serums.  Primers don’t just prime anymore, they also treat the skin.  Most people probably only need or want one, maybe two different primers.  I happen to be just a *little* obsessive about makeup, so my collection is extreme – but if you are looking for a primer, I am sure you can find something perfect for your needs on this list.

Ok ladies, what is your favorite primer?  Is there another amazing primer out there that I just have to try??  There’s always room for one more!  – Lisa