Best Stuff: Kat Von D High Voltage Eye Primer in Smoky

I can’t believe I’ve been holding out on you with this product.  I’m sorry.

Kat Von D’s makeup line has consistently wowed me (with the exception of her Foiled Love lipstick in Forever & Never, but that was just a color issue.)  I have never been in love with Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, but it’s better than nothing, so I use it.  When Kat Von D’s smoky eye primer went on sale (now $7 at Sephora), I branched out… and I’m glad I did.

At first glance, this is a little intimidating.  The formula is dark charcoal grey, super thick and creamy.  Also, the amount pulled out on the wand is way too much for one application.  I usually smudge a bit on my hand and paint it onto my eye lids with a cream shadow brush.  I’ve tried using my finger, but the result is smoother and more even with a nice brush.

I usually don’t spread this above the crease too much because it’s very visible, unlike a skin-colored primer.  For the crease to brow area, I stick with Urban Decay Primer Potion.

I think Kat Von D’s formula is overall better than Urban Decay’s because it’s thicker, stickier, and longer lasting (look forward to a few extra minutes scrubbing raccoon eyes off before bed.)  The grey base color really backs up dark shadows, maximizing the pigment without layers of eye shadow.  My absolute favorite thing about this primer is that it makes a smoky eye look unbelievably easy and fast.  It saves me a solid 30 minutes of building up, blending, and wiping off fall-out particles.


In this picture, I swatched two layers of Gunmetal and Creep from the Naked palette on bare skin, over UDPP original, and over the Kat Von D primer.  Check out the COLOR!

I completely love this product and I’d buy a back-up, but with so little needed each time, I know this tube is going to last me well over a year.  At $7, this is a major steal and a total time-saver!

You and me forever, KVD.

M

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Butter at Coterie

I know I’m not the first blogger to rave about the new beauty flash sale site Coterie, but it’s rocking my world with a Butter London sale, so I need to share.

Coterie.com is a members only site that is currently running sales on Butter, Mor, and Kevyn Aucoin, but promises more brands like Stila and Perricone in the future.  I know I just hoarded a few Butter polishes for the holidays, but I couldn’t resist this sale (what buying ban??  Shameful.)  It’s never too early to get the gift list whittled down, though, and when the price is right I stock up.

Anyway, here’s the sweet deal on Butter London: 3 shades of polish (pick from Pillar Box Red, West End Wonderland, Wallis, All Hail The Queen, Bluey and Knackered)  plus their Hardwear top coat for $36.  Combined with a $25 off code (ZOEREPORT), you’ll get the set for $11 plus shipping.  Now you know why I broke the rules.

M

Color Club & e.l.f. at Hautelook

Another sale post?  I know, I’m sorry, but my buying ban has somehow heightened my sale sense and since I can’t shop, I have to at least share the opportunity!


Color Club nail polish is on at Hautelook today until Monday with single bottles priced at $5 and duo sets for $8!  There are also a few mini sets that would make great gifts.  Each bottle is normally around $8, so it’s a decent deal.  I haven’t used Color Club personally, but I did receive a bottle in my August Birchbox and the color looked great!  I had a similar shade, so I gave it to my sister.  I noticed it on her nails recently and loved it – the color is a lot brighter and more saturated than it looks in the bottle.

e.l.f. cosmetics go up tomorrow, and I don’t know what kind of products they’ll feature, but I’m astounded they’re even doing a flash sale!  Could they BE any less expensive?  I’m not the hugest fan of e.l.f.’s makeup, but I do like their brush shampoo and facial whips (creamy highlighters that look beautiful mixed with body lotion).  It won’t break my heart to miss this one, since the brand is so affordable already.

Bargains all around.

M

Butter London BOGO at Ulta!

I may be a little late in reporting this, but if you haven’t heard the internet-wide shrieks of delight, there’s a huge Buy One, Get One free sale on Butter London nail lacquers at Ulta!

I am completely ashamed to admit it, but I broke my buying ban for this sale.  I DO, however, have the best intentions – I’ll be stashing these away for holiday gifts in a couple of months!  (Am I still considered a rule-breaker if the makeup isn’t for personal use?)  While these polishes are normally $14 each, the BOGO sale means each bottle ends up being about $7 – less expensive than Essie!

I haven’t tried Butter nail polish yet, but I’ve heard great things about it and I’d be thrilled to get one as a gift… so my friends and fam are lucky this year.

Haul away, fellow polish fiends!

M

August VIB Perks

Sephora VIB’s (and VIB-curious): Have you checked out the August promos?  Killer deals!

This weekend (Aug 17-19), Very Important Beauty Insiders have the hook-up with a sample-packed clutch with purchase.  Spend $35 in store or online (way, way too easy) and enter VIBCLUTCH at checkout.  If you bulk up your cart to $50, free shipping too!  Here’s what’s inside:

  • Benefit POREfessional (0.25 oz)
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara (0.14 oz)
  • Sephora Instant Moisturizer (1 oz.)
  • Smashbox Hydrating Primer (0.25 oz)
  • L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream (0.34 oz)
  • Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel (0.33 oz)
  • Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream (0.5 oz)
  • Stella McCartney Stella (0.05 oz)

Promos like this are why I’m probably too spoiled for Birchbox.  Buy some thing(s) you know you love for $35, AND get a bunch of generously-portioned freebies, PLUS three free samples, AND a points perk, if you’re a frequent shopper.  Deal$.

Also, while I was in the store last week, I picked up a VIB August schedule flyer I hadn’t seen before.  I tucked it into my purse feeling sly as hell – insider info!  I’m sure they have these out all the time, but this is the first one I’ve noticed… so allow me to share, if you’re a little unaware, like I was:

Aug 17-19 VIB Event Weekend – Special events with complimentary express service looks for fall.  Exclusive gifts for VIBs with minimum $35 purchase.  I’m really DIY about my makeup, so I won’t be taking them up on the service – but hop in, if you’re into that!

Aug 20-26 VIB Double Points – Double Points on every merchandise purchase, online or in-store.  Now’s the time to splurge!  Picking up one Urban Decay Naked palette ($50) will get you 100 points – meaning an instant gift with purchase.

Aug 27-31 Free Shipping – Online orders ship for free with no minimum purchase, enter code VIBSHIP.  The bummer with this promo is that you have to use a code.  Sephora famously allows only one promo code per transaction, so you can’t cash in on any other freebie offers.

If you’re not a Sephora Beauty Insider, definitely consider signing up!  If you spend $350 in a year (again, TOO easy), you’re automatically upgraded to Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB) status, which gives you access to crazy events and deals like these.

I realize I probably sound like a Sephora corporate drone sometimes, but I promise you, I’ve got no affiliations with the company (aside from being a die-hard fan for life).  I’m an avid shopaholic across the board, and this store has the greatest customer loyalty program I’ve ever seen.  Aside from the freebie offers, points with every purchase, birthday gifts, and in-store events, their return policy is simply the best.  I may spend a lot at Sephora, but I know that if I don’t love a product, I’ll absolutely get my money back.  Even if I’ve tried it on.  Even if I’ve just changed my mind.

But I’ll end my enthusiastic love letter now.  Enjoy your August perks!

M

Essie Mirror Metallics

I posted my polish picks for August yesterday, and mentioned Essie’s Penny Talk from the Mirror Metallic collection.  This is a great color, and no photos can do it justice.  The finish is uniquely metallic – the most mirror-like lacquer I’ve ever tried!  But it took me some serious trial and error to get a good mani, this is a really different formula than most.

The mirror metallics are super tricky, because they dry really quickly, and they show every imperfection on your nail surface.  It’s a very unforgiving polish, and I had to restart three times to get a finish I was happy wearing.  It’s a daunting task, but hopefully I can help you out with my experience.

  • First, start with squeaky clean, absolutely polish-free nails.  Any residue will show up as bumps and bubbles.
  • Buff the surface of your nails with a very fine buffer block.. the smoother, the better.
  • Start with a good base coat (or a top coat AS a base coat – more on that later), painted on as evenly as possible.  I used Essie’s Feed Me, after Orly Bonder caused problems.  (I think the sticky base was holding the polish too strongly.)
  • Paint from one edge to the next, with full strokes from the cuticle to the tip.  I normally polish in little half-strokes, starting in the middle and working outward.  This polish will SHOW if you have any short strokes.  It dries so quickly, there’s very little time to blend brush strokes together.. so they build up into unsightly little dunes.
  • Be FAST!  If you hesitate or go back to the bottle for a dip, your brush will pull at the existing polish and leave gaps.
  • Don’t use a top coat.  As soon as I added Polishield (usually a lifesaver) to my manicure, I knew it was a mistake.  It somehow deflected the light, and rather than blending the polish, it emphasized brush strokes and imperfections.  BUT Polishield smoothes surfaces like a dream – which gave me the perfect canvas for one last layer of Penny Talk.

All-in-all, one layer of basecoat (although next time I’ll probably start with Polishield), two coats of Penny Talk.. and if there are any uglies, another coat of Polishield followed by polish.  It sounds like a hassle, but the finished look is totally awesome – and worth it.

M

August Polish Picks

August Polish Picks

Left to Right:

August is a tricky summer/fall month – I can’t get into jewel tones and dark polishes just yet, but neons don’t seem right either.  Right now, I’m totally feeling neutral blush and copper colors.. rich, grown-up and unbeatably easy to wear.  I also love a matte finish (especially over a metallic polish) – it’s unexpected but not outrageous.   And if I start feeling old and boring, I stick on a couple of back-to-school decals.  Nerdy cute, these look great over clear polish or Decades of Dysfunction.  (And for my noncommittal ladies, they peel right off for unexpected business meetings.)  The Hello Kitty nail stickers aren’t the highest quality I’ve used – they tear pretty easily – but use tweezers and some extra caution, and you’ll be fine.

M

Splurge, Steal, or Skip – Conditioner

The Splurge: Bumble & Bumble Creme de Coco Conditioner

It’s no secret that I’m deeply in love with Bumble and Bumble’s Creme de Coco scent.  I love the Hair Masque, and this conditioner is equally fantastic.  While I don’t see the dramatic improvement I do with the mask, I get smooth, soft, and deliciously scented hair without the time commitment.  Perfect for the everyday shower routine.  $24 at Bumble & Bumble (and buy one get one free at Target!)

The Steal: Aussie 3-Minute Miracle

Surprisingly effective for the low, low price, Aussie 3-minute Miracle delivers “deeeeep conditioning.”  There’s a noticeable difference in my hair texture after one use.  It’s not as softening as Bumble & Bumble, but it’s the nicest drug store conditioner I’ve used.  The scent is a little bit like a strong, cheap fruit punch, but it’s not unpleasant.  For the $4.29 price tag (at Ulta and drug stores), it’s worth smelling like the Chiquita lady.

The Skip: Terax Crema Conditioner

Insultingly priced at $24.99 at Amazon, this ‘luxury conditioner’ was surprisingly lackluster.  I’ve read about its cult following, and checked out the rave reviews… but for me, it did almost nothing.  It has a truly bizarre scent – a little bit fishy with hints of plastic and play doh – but I rubbed it into my hair anyway.  (Seriously, why did I do that?)  I gave it a few minutes to get to work.. then a few more minutes when it didn’t feel any different.. then eventually I had to get out of the shower.  Nothing.  Even after a few tries, I’m struggling to see what this fish paste does to my hair.  I don’t know what the hype’s about, but this bottle’s been lonely in my shower for a few months now.  Skip.

M

Orly, Supergoop and Alterna at Hautelook

Heads up – it’s a beauty extravaganza over at Hautelook!

If you’re not familiar with Hautelook.com, it’s a great flash sale site, similar to Gilt.  Right now (and I mean RIGHT now, these sales will be over in the next two days), their beauty section is killer – Alterna hair products, Supergoop sun protection, Tweezerman tools and Orly nails.

Orly polishes are on sale for $4.50 each, marked down from the usual $8-$8.50.  It’s a good time to try out the brand, if you haven’t, and experiment with new colors at about half the price!

Alterna hair products are going for 50-70% off, and Supergoop’s not too shabby at 30-40% off retail prices.  I haven’t tried either brand yet, but I’ve read great reviews, so I picked up a couple of things on the cheap.

I’m excited to share my haul when it gets here.

M

Splurge, Steal, or Skip – Lip Balm

The Splurge: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15

If you’re fancy enough to drop $20 on lip balm, this is the one to buy.  It’s nourishing and smooth, like rubbing a warm stick of butter on your lips… if you’re into that kind of thing.  I most certainly am.  This lip balm is not at all waxy or sticky, and there are tons of great colors to choose from.  Luscious as hellll.  $22.50 at Sephora

The Steal: Maybelline Baby Lips SPF 20

Baby Lips should really have its own Best Stuff post, it’s so good.  For being such a cheapy cheap lip balm, it out performs almost every other brand.  Baby Lips skips the waxy chapstick feel, and soaks into my lips comfortably and quickly.  It’s a must-have in every purse and car compartment, especially since it’s cheap enough to replace if/when it melts.  Quenched and Peppermint (both clear) are my two favorites – I didn’t realize the other four kinds are tinted, and picked up Cherry Me and Peach Kiss also.  The tint is noticeably cheap; the colors are Bonne Bell awkward and they apply unevenly.  Save yourself the patchy peach lips, and stick to clear.  $3.99 at Ulta and drug stores

The Skip: Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

I know I’ll probably be one of the first official Burt’s Bees haters, but hear me out.  A few years ago, Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm was in every one of my jacket pockets.  It was my miracle drug – smooth, but a little waxy, with a soothing minty tingle.  But over the past two to three years, something at Burt’s Bees has changed.  I was thrilled when I saw the lip balm in grocery stores and gas stations, but when I picked up a replacement tube, I noticed it was hard.  Like a solid beeswax candle.  It wasn’t a fluke, I received more tubes as holiday gifts, and they were exactly the same.  Solid, waxy, and almost impossible to rub on my lips.  So I gave up on Burt and every single one of his bees.  Farewell, old friends, you were loved.

M