Category Archives: Makeup Tools

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Face - Makeup Tools - Travel Beauty

Travel essentials: The Perez Beauty Case is the best thing to happen to me.

January 17, 2013

I’m not what you would call…the most organized of peoples. I hate to admit that, but there are many layers of “organized chaos” in my life. People think I’m joking when I dedicate almost all my Friday nights to just cleaning out my closet– without it ever completely being done. It’s a big priority for me every weekend though. So you can iamgine how my makeup stash(es) look like. I finally resigned to having a random bag just dedicated to traveling so I won’t have to pack and re-pack my makeup for every trip, but it usually ends up a mountain of a mess where I can’t find jack when I need it. Recently, however, I’ve been introduced to a game-changer: Mocha Moon’s Perez Beauty Case. You just have to see to understand:

Perez Beauty Case by Mocha Moon, $39


I can see everything I have and make sure I take everything I need at a glance. Here are some of the deets:
1) Two transparent removable pouches that fit easily in your purse, handbag, or carry on for touch ups
2) Soft, sleek faux leather for the ultimate product that looks good and feels good to the touch
3) Lightweight design holds all your makeup and saves some serious space in my carry one
4) Organization Bands that eliminate digging and put makeup and makeup brushes at your fingertips, and helps ensure you don’t leave anything behind!
5) Compact size: 4″ x 7 ½” x 4″

And in case you’re wondering what makes up my essentials for a bachelorette party weekend in Miami:

Perfumes, glosses, eye makeup essentials...


From left to right: 1) Benefit See & Be Seen Sasha perfume vial; 2) Benefit Laugh with Me Lee Lee perfume vial (BOTH which I’ve already gotten a ton of compliments on..these smell heavenly and are a perfect size for travel); 3) Buxom mini lip polish in April; 4) Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in RS 404 – Disco (magenta) and 5) RD 203 – Portrait (nude beige)


From top to bottom: 1) Laura Geller Inkwell Waterproof Gel Liner (This does NOT smudge — even after a day at the pool); 2) Bobbi Brown lip liner in Soft Rose; 3) It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer in Tan; 4) Japonesque Heated Mini Lash Curler; 5) BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener; 6) Laura Geller WOW Factor All in One Mascara in Black (you have no idea — this gives so much gloss to lashes and body without getting clumpy…love); 7) Joey Healy Brow Structure Clear Set.


Assorted: 1) Lancome Hypnose Star (another mascara that coats lashes like no other); 2) Nanoblur (a European-craze that’s come stateside: pore-blurring and line-reducing in one); 3) BeautyRX Skincare by Dr. Schultz Gentle Exfoliating Eye Therapy Cream; 4) Reach total care plus whitening mint floss; 5) Laura Geller Lip Pops Lush Waterproof Lip Gloss in Palazzo (this tastes like candy too!)


Left to right: 1) Bare Minerals Precision Face Brush; 2) Smashbox blush brush (was part of a set); 3) Benefit High Brow Glow; 4) Lise Watier Feline Eyeliner HD; 5) LaVaque Tweezers; 6) Anastasia Covet Waterproof Eyeliner in Noir (new obsession and the latest from the brand!); 7) Joey Healy Duo Brow Brush; 8 ) Anastasia Covet Waterproof Eyliner in Azure; 9) It Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Eyeliner in Brown


Assorted Mess: 1) BareMinerals READY SPF 20 Foundation in Golden Tan; 2) Laura Geller Dream Creams Concealer & Highlighter Palette in Regular/Tan; 3) Laura Geller Ombre Baked Blush in Peach Blossom; 4) Lise Watier Portfolio; 5) Joey Healy Luxe Brow Powder in Raven; 6) BareMinerals Correcting Concealer SPF 20 in Medium 1; 7) Benefit Hellow Flawless Oxygen Wow Brightening Makeup in Beige; 8) Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in 1; 9) Ruby Kisses HD Set N Forget Setting Powder in Banana; and 10) Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Shine in Wink (the latest from Burt’s and something you all NEED to own…post on this soon!)

Seriously, these are all some of my current favorites — what are some of your travel essentials? And let me know if you have any questions about the products above :).

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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Makeup Tools - Product Review

Mirabella Beauty, how I love thee

February 10, 2012

By Nicci Jordan Hubert

Mirabella Signature Brush Collection

You may recall the last time I posted about Mirabella—only because it was as squeaky as a teenage girl; as if I was gushing over Brad Pitt circa River Runs Through It. But seriously. From the moment I “met” the line of makeup, I was smitten. There are several things to love about this brand, so I shall count the ways:

1) They focus on chemically responsible products and are paraffin free when it works. They call their products “clean luxury,” because although they care about making clean products, they won’t sacrifice the quality of the product just to make a vague “green” statement. Love.

2) The products work beautifully. I have used several of the Mirabella products, including the Madame Rouge lip pencils, which I will marry; their blushes; and their liquid eyeliner, which is in pen-form. My one complaint about the liner is that my eyes get particularly watery in the winter, and it is not waterproof, so it smudges for me. But the application is flawless and allows for any range of thickness.

3) It’s certainly not cheap, but it’s also not the most expensive makeup brand out there. And even better, I feel a bit ahead of the curve using it. They’ve been a top salon brand for years, but they’ve only recently started marketing to the general public. They’re kind of like that underground bar you love, that serves the best cocktails. Of course, in that case, you don’t want anyone to find out about the place. With Mirabella, I am more than happy to share the secret.

4) They’re not snotty. I enjoy the fact that they don’t really try to be super trendy, they don’t feature avant-garde makeup looks (nothing wrong with avant-garde makeup, it’s just not typically my bag). Mirabella is focused on making women just look pretty. There aren’t a lot of gimmicks, not a lot of glitters or neons, not super-duper-tricked out Swarovsky-tiled cases. Just attractive, unfussy packaging and colors.

Mirabella brushes

5) … and this is the important portion of the post. Their BRUSHES are amazing. Dear Lord, I nearly croaked when I tested their gorgeous collection of brushes, which, back in the fall, they were announcing but weren’t releasing until Jan 2012 (which means they’re available now). Not only are they as high-quality as MAC brushes, they are so aesthetically pleasing. Just look at the photos below. The long, brushed-silver stems. The perfect-sizes. The clear labels (I love MAC, but I don’t need the brush to have a number to feel fancy). And back to the quality: I’ve been using the brushes for a little while now, and I can confirm that they work just as well as advertised. They hold product almost too well—I had to be careful to tap off excess eyeshadow before moving on to another color– at one point I dipped a brush that I had previously used in a dark color into a light color, and with a quick swipe on the eyelid, I looked like I had been punched. The upside of how well the brushes retain the color is of course that there is much less fallout and you need to use much less product.

To celebrate the official launch of the brushes, Mirabella is doing a promotion! If you buy their entire brush set, you receive a really cool brush roll for free. I’ve seen the roll, and it’s substantial. Of course, for the casual makeup user, you may not feel as though you need the entire set. But if you’re a makeup freak or a makeup artist, I definitely recommend the collection. It’s an investment. But it’ll make you look good, literally and figuratively.

You can buy the whole set here, and you can find the individual brushes here.

Anyone out there using Mirabella? Thoughts?

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*Product samples were provided for review

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Makeup Tools - Product Review

If you don’t know about them, you SHOULD: It Cosmetics

January 13, 2012

My friends often ask me about my favorite brands, and I gladly rattle off on the topic. I experiment with so many things that I tend to stumble upon a lot of brands that are not always found on the shelves of Sephora or at your drugstore. One popular up-and-coming brand in particular I’ve been obsessing over in the past year is It Cosmetics (you may remember, I profiled founder Jamie Kern in a past Beauty on the Streets feature). It boggles my mind why more people don’t know about them yet!

Makeup from It Cosmetics

“IT” cosmetics stands for Innovative Technology Cosmetics. The company works with the top plastic surgeons to create high-performance makeup with anti-aging technology. I feel this is one of those small brand has been growing like crazy because the stuff they make is AMAZING. Last year, they won the prestigious Cosmetic Innovator of the year Award and I wouldn’t be surprised if they stacked up more. I met Jamie last year when I was first introduced to the brand, and since then, her makeup has remained some of my staples favorite staples, beginning with her Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer.

Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer, $24

Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of liquid concealer, but this one is rich in texture and (what I love) brightens at the same time. The color match (I use Tan) is amazing and a little goes a long way. I don’t really have a huge dark circle issue, but I like to use this just to lighten up around my eyes on occasion. (This comes with a retractable concealer brush for $26 on

Hello Lashes 5-in-1 Volumizing Mascara Duo, $30

I will fight for their Hello Lashes 5-in-1 Volumizing Mascara Duo. It’s truly one of the most unique brushes I’ve ever seen in a mascara (and trust me, I’m a mascara junkie). The tip reminds me of Givenchy’s Phenomen’Eyes, but I love this one way more because the rest of the brush gives you lift and volume. The tip also makes it easy to get into those itty bitty lashes. The formula is infused with a conditioning primer and lash-enhancing serum (yes longer lashes without mascara too yaay!). Not to mention, it’s free of parabens, fragrance, pthalate, and sulfates. Stuff you don’t want near your eyes anyway.

Luxe High Performance Eye Shadow Palette, $35

Their High Performance eyeshadow palette is serious stuff — the shadows have great color pay-off since they’re so highly pigmented. I think it’s a great inclusive palette as a basic set to create day time or smoky eyes. The brush it comes with is a dual liner/shadow brush that makes it super easy to apply them as eyeliner too. I played with it a bit myself ;).

Using It Cosmetics shadows, mascara, and concealer

Using It Cosmetics

I used their Cashmere (matte creme) all over first, then a little bit of Earth Angel (matte beige cashmere) on the lid, and a mix of Ipanema (golden beige pearl) and Espresso (matte deep brown) in the crease. Heavenly (pearl white) on the brow bone and Azure (midnight navy) as a liner. Finished off with their Hello Eyes mascara.

I can’t write a IT Cosmetics post without mentioning the wonders of their Brow Power pencil — it’s an award winning universal brow pencil that is so subtle but helps shape your browns so beautifully. One end is the brow pencil and the other is a brush:

Brow Power Universal Brow Pencil Duo, $32

AND finally, I JUST started experimenting with their Bye Bye Pores Micro-Finishing HD Powder. It’s definitely on par with a lot of top makeup brands as a traceless setting powder. It’s infused with silk and vitamins for a perfecting finish. If you’ve never tried it before, TODAY is the best time to look into it because for one day only, they’re giving their Complexion Perfection Anti-Aging Collection for less than half the price. That includes the basics: Their full coverage concealer, the Bye Bye Pores Silk HD Micro-Powder, their Heavenly Luxe Powder Brush and dual Airbrush foundation/Concealer brush — all for $50 (value $186):

Complexion Perfection 4-piece collection

Check out the whole collection at!


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*samples provided for review but these are my real opinions

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Face - Makeup Tools

Add this to your makeup arsenal now: The Beautyblender sponge

July 15, 2011

Beautyblender sponge

I know what you’re thinking: What is that? An unda?! (For my non-Urdu-speaking readers, that means “egg”). Well, if it were an egg, it’d be the prettiest one I’VE ever seen.

But seriously, I’ve been hearing about this pink makeup sponge from Beautyblender since like FOR.EVER. Practically every interview I’ve ever read of the pros giving us the routine “check out what’s in my makeup bag” would not fail to mention it. Just recently in fact, when I was at The Makeup Show, I randomly overheard so many people raving about it too. At this point, I was so intrigued about what makes it so special, I finally decided to try it.

Beautyblender and cleanser

I got the sponge with its cleanser…and had no idea how to use it. I never actually use a sponge when I apply makeup — they usually eat up most of my product than anything. So this was gonna be fairly new for me. I went to their website, and literally sat there and watched the whole five-minute video tutorial.

It was expectedly simple: just wet the sponge first, dip in your favorite foundation, and apply. When you’re finished, just pump the top of the cleanser, dip your unda-sponge in it (the top of the jar is super conducive for easy dipping), rub the soap in the sponge, and wash out any remaining foundation under water.

Application: Unlike other makeup sponges, this one doesn’t “eat” up all your foundation. Instead, I can dab it on my face and it blends it like a second skin. The application is fool-proof and the end result is flawless (no stripey mess to speak of). It has this uncanny “bounce” to it so you can easily spot-on your makeup. The shape also makes it easy to get into hard-to-reach areas like around your eyes and nose. Also, SO CLUTCH that it works just as well on liquid foundation as it did for my creamy-solid ones (like my Mehron foundation, or TheBalm TimeBalm and CoverGirl concealers).

Cleansing: The other thing I lu-huv about this is that you can get it with the cleanser and it will keep it free of bacteria (another problem with regular sponges). And it’s super fast.

Storage: The plastic packaging it comes it doubles as a sponge stand, so it’s easy to just put it back after you’re done to dry. Genius.

Price: For a single sponge, it’s $20 ($35 total with the cleanser which goes a long way). But the life of the sponge lasts WAY longer than a regular sponge with the cleanser (and the quality far exceeds one too), which makes it worth it to me. Plus, it has a very airbrush-ey effect, and those can cost upwards of $200.

Since I started using it, it has come with me on all my travels, and a mandatory companion when I’m applying makeup for all these weddings I’ve been going to (speaking of which, am I the only one who had 10,000 weddings to go to this summer?).

Anyway, the point is — not all undas makeup sponges are created equal and this one is decidedly the best.

Have any of you tried Beautyblender’s makeup sponge? What do you think? Worth it?


Beauty - "The Lovely" - Body - Eyes - Face - Hair - Lips - Makeup Tools - Tips and How-To's - Travel Beauty

My travel makeup bag…

May 22, 2011

I can’t claim to be the best packer, but I can say that I’ve made significant strides in overcoming the need to pack my entire apartment for a trip. When it comes to rounding up my makeup and skin products, I stress. For one, sifting through all the different products and shades while you’re still trying to figure out what exactly you’ll be doing on your trip is just not fun. Second, I used to think this whole “all your liquids have to fit inside this little baggy if you want to take in on board or else we’re gonna throw it away right in front of you and crying won’t help” was just crap. But I realized that it forces me to pick and choose what I really need. And for my current trip to Miami, it kinda looks like this:

My travel makeup bag

{What? I’m a beauty writer. Leave me alone} Anyway, since it’s a combo of some of my old and new faves, I thought I’d share.

Travel face products

Left to Right:
1. CERAVE AM and PM moisturizers (in little travel capsules), $14 each
2. MAKE UP FOR EVER Uplight Face Illuminizer Gel, $29
3. MARIO BADESCU Enzyme Cleansing Gel, $12 for 8 oz.
4. SMASHBOX Photo Finish Primer, $16 for .5 fl oz.
5. MD SOLAR SCIENCES Tinted Mineral Screen sunblock, $24
6. MEHRON Celebré HD Pro Cream Foundations, $9 each

I already told you all how much I love Mario Badescu and CeraVe face products. I think these little travel capsules are so clutch for a short trip. You can fit a lot of cream in it and it’ll last you longer than you think. I was sent Make Up For Ever‘s Uplight to experiment with and what I found was the only illuminizer I ever liked using (that doesn’t look tacky, doesn’t crease, and since it’s water-based, won’t irritate my skin). More on this soon! I usually like to take one primer with me too, something I can wear under my makeup to help it last longer and look more even. I decided to go with Smashbox Photo Finish (good for pics!), and the small size was perfect for traveling. I also recently got introduced to MD SolarSciences when they sent me their Tinted Mineral Gel. It’s perfect for Miami because it’s not greasy AT ALL, water-resistant, goes on super smooth, and doesn’t make anything I put on top all gooky. I’m pretty particular about my sunblock, and I’m putting this up there with Neutrogena (another fave of mine).

Oh and Mehron! I was introduced to the brand by makeup artist James Vincent, who was raving about these cream foundations (only $9) at The Makeup Show’s blogger preview and how they’re the best thing ever. I bought a couple at The Makeup Show, two different shades (one lighter, one darker), and kind of mix the two depending on where I need coverage. It blends well and it’s buildable in case you need a little extra coverage in certain places (so it’s kind of a concealer/foundation in one). I wouldn’t recommend it if you have particularly dry skin, but it works for my combo skin. What’s also cool is that it’s not a liquid so you can stick it in your regular makeup bag instead of a baggy so they won’t be annoying about it at the airport.

Travel eye products

Top to Bottom:
1. SENNA Form A Brow, $45
2. MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Eyes eye pencil in Mat Black, $18
3. ANASTASIA Brow Duality, $21
4. L’ORÉAL PARIS Voluminous Original mascara, $5

Ok, I don’t REALLY need help with filling in my brows or anything, but I like this because you can add a very very subtle shape (and learning how a little goes a long way from Elke von Frudenberg of The Model Brow, I figured everyone should have a brow kit in case). Also the brown shadows in this kit by Senna double as smokey shadows you can apply around your eyes (like I did last night). I also like Anastasia’s Brow Duality because you can add a little highlight right under your brow to give it a lift. I use the pink one because it looks more natural during the day, and switch to the gold at night when I could use a little sheen. Make Up For Ever‘s Aqua Eyes pencil is just a staple in my makeup bag because it’s the easiest way for me to apply and it stays put for most of the night. When I add it to my inner rim, it can smudge a bit at the end of the night, but you can’t expect it to stay like a gel liner. The original Voluminous mascara from L’Oreal Paris is just one of my all-time favorites — one swipe for a little definition, two for drama.

Travel cheek products

Clockwise from top:
1. COVERGIRL & OLAY Simply Ageless Sculpting Blush in Plush Peach 200, $10
2. KOHGENDO Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder, $42
3. CARGO Bronzer in Medium, $28

I decided one blush/one bronzer is fair. CoverGirl‘s Simply Ageless Sculpting blush blends so well…sometimes I can just put a little of this blush and nothing else. My go-to bronzer has remained unchanged for years. I experiment with many but Cargo‘s has a pretty orange glow that looks great on already tan skin. I save KohGenDo‘s finishing powder as the last step because it doesn’t come off matte (looking like you’re 10 years older).

Travel lip products

Left to Right:
1. INGLOT Freedom palette (customized), $25
2. NAPOLEON PERDIS Lip Pencil in Pink Slip, $18
3. BARE ESCENTUALS BUXOM lip gloss in Dani, $14

I’m going to talk more specifically about this fabulous palette I made at Inglot in a future post. Mine has a customized a concealer, shadow, and three lip colors. It’s AWESOME because it has the basic essentials if you just need to carry around ONE palette. Napoleon Perdis‘ lip pencil is a basic flesh-toned nude to keep your gloss in place or to wear alone. And the Bare Escentuals Buxom lip gloss in Dani is something I carry with me everywhere because it’s the prettiest pink and kind of has a refreshing, minty feel to it. Love.

Travel hair and body products

Left to Right:
1. PHILIP KINGSLEY Shampoo and Conditioner in Moisture Balancing (from Soft & Shiny Jet Set kit), $35 for kit
2. TIGI BED HEAD After-Party smoothing cream (purple top), $10
3. THIERRY MUGLER Womanity body lotion (in blue case), $45
4. SECRET Scent Expressions in Ooh-La-La Lavender, $4
5. MEMOIRE LIQUIDE body oil in Vanilla (custom-made), $65
6. JESSICA SIMPSON Fancy Love perfume, $25 (for full size)

I have a thing about hotel shampoos and conditioners. It’s just that…they suck. I received this mini Philip Kingsley shampoo and conditioner in a gift bag when I went to visit their hair clinic last week. It’s easily one of my favorites right now (I love a lot of his products, including the Maximizer I wrote about earlier). The mini size also fits easily in my baggie. I figured I’d pack a few dollops of TIGI‘s smoothing cream in case the humidity gets the best of me. I just put a little after a shower and my wavy hair turned into smooth beachy waves…I didn’t have to even use a hair dryer (which I’d want to avoid anyway in this weather). I also told you about my obsession with Womanity‘s body lotion and how fantastic it smells. In fact, a guy awkwardly stopped me today to ask me whattt I’m wearing because it smells so good. Totally serious. I found my tiny bottle of travel-friendly Memoire Liquide body oil (in my beloved vanilla fragrance), and surprisingly enough, Jessica Simpson’s Fancy Love perfume is the refreshing blend of peach blossom, jasmine, peony, and amber.

And yes, no trouble packing all the liquids in a little baggie for the plane. What do you like to pack when you travel?


Beauty - "The Lovely" - Breakfast/Brunch - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Makeup Tools

A Green Table Brunch with EcoTools

March 31, 2011

By Nicci Jordan Hubert

EcoTools Eye Makeover On-the-Go set and Alicia Silverstone for EcoTools Train Case.

Makeup applicators can be a tricky business — not all are not created equal. When they’re too cheaply made, they shed and splotch. When they’re too expensive, well, they’re somehow heavier…as if just shelling out all that moola suddenly prohibits the enjoyment of their use (especially if the expensive brushes turn out to be cheaply made arghhh). So last week, when I had the pleasure of attending EcoTools’ launch their new spring lineup for BATF, I was stoked. I’ve long been a fan of EcoTools brushes because I found them like Goldilocks found her porridge — after testing many a brush, I found EcoTools’ weren’t too expensive, they weren’t too cheap… they were just right.

Spring flowers and mimosas at The Green Table in Chelsea Market

Luckily, the breakfast not only featured a gift bag (perks of the job…) but it was also hosted by The Green Table in Chelsea Market, a lovely nook well-renowned for its sustainable, delicious food. The space was bright and beautiful— just look at those flowers!!—and the ever-flowing glasses of Mimosas on a Thursday morning weren’t too shabby either. Who was I to turn them down?

After gawking at the menu and beautiful plate of pastries already on the tables, we were treated to a presentation of EcoTools’ new ventures, including an EcoTools by Alicia Silverstone line, launching in April. The line features some revamped EcoTools classics like their adorable Train Case, and some newbies like their 6-piece brush set & bag. All the bags are made out of natural hemp material and recycled PET lining.


...and biscuits

But the question remains: was it the presentation that had us sighing in bliss, or was it the ooey gooey spring-vegetable frittatas and mind-blowing cinnamon rolls we were scarfing during the presentation?

The food had a slight edge…until the presentation moved into EcoTools’ upcoming “Choose to Live Beautifully” campaign, which had us just as mesmerized. The campaign is designed around not only creating sustainable tools, but also using recycled products to do so. EcoTools is offering, to anyone who mails in their old beauty tools like brushes or loofahs, a coupon for up to $7.99 worth of product wherever EcoTools are sold (primarily: Target and Walgreens). That coupon actually goes a long way… Go to to find out more.

Which takes us to, in our opinion, the most remarkable reason for EcoTools’ appeal: apart from their high-quality, Earth-friendly products is the price point. Their brushes are surprisingly durable and extremely soft, but shed very little and apply makeup quite smoothly. I asked our hosts how EcoTools managed to sell such quality brushes at such a low price and the woman quipped with a wink, “Magic.”

The accessibility of the brand is admirable. It was clear at every moment of their presentation that although they’re incredibly proud of their brand, they have no need to be elite. They want everyone to have access to the right beauty tools. And to that philosophy, we raise our Mimosas.

Anyone other EcoTools fans out there? Tell us about your favorite brushes!