Monday, September 28, 2015

New Palettes From Tarte, BH Cosmetics, and BECCA

I'm a sucker for holiday purchases. They are always such great values, with cute, travel-friendly packaging. In the past couple of weeks, I jumped on these exciting new palettes from Tarte, BH Cosmetics, and Becca.

Tarte Bling It On Blush Palette. I've always been a fan of the Tarte 12 Hour Blush formula--they offer great pigmentation and lasting power. This palette features 5 practically full-size blushes, which is a rarity (although palettes are usually a good deal, it's hard to find things in full size). There's a nice variety of colors, with some pinks, neutrals, and corals. They are the same formulation as the regular ones and come with a large mirror. My only complaint is the packaging itself--the outside has a tacky black and gold glitter that sheds. But for only $44 and basically 5 full size blushes, snap up this limited edition baby while you can.
BH Cosmetics Carli Bybel Eyeshadow & Highlight Palette. This is my first purchase from BH Cosmetics and definitely the most budget friendly. I've never heard of Carli Bybel, a famous Youtuber, but the internet was buzzing when news of this palette released. There are 10 matte and shimmer eyeshadows in colors similar to the Naked 3. They're all quite buttery and pigmented, but the star of the show is the highlights. They're amazing and sparkly without chunky glitter. It's great to have both highlighters and shadows in one palette, so it's perfect for travel. Plus at only $14 it's truly a steal. I had to wait a couple of weeks for mine to come, as the site crashed when it launched. It's currently out of stock but keep checking back because if you buy any of the three palettes, this one is it.
Becca Afterglow Palette. Although this palette has the tiniest pans, it's also slim and portable and the easiest to bring along for travel. It offers three of the famous Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors in light, medium, and dark shades (although they work for any skintone). There is also a neutral and pink blush, so pretty much all of your cheek needs are met. All five blushes/highlights are about the same price as one regular Skin Perfector or Blush, and it's the same price! This is great for someone who wants variety and a chance to sample all the different skin perfectors or blushes for the price of one.

Tarte L-R: Fetching, Dollface, Prim, Smashing, Beaming 

BH Carli First Row Eyeshadows

BH Carli Second Row Shadows and Highlighters

L-R: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Moonstone, Rose Gold, Topaz, Wild Honey, Flowerchild

These are my current favorite palettes for the holidays, but I'm sure as we get closer my list will grow! I believe all three are limited edition, so grab them while you can. Have you already grabbed any holiday palettes? Share below!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Two New Killer Shows

Fall is my favorite season not only for the weather, but also for the return of all of my favorite shows. While I have 5 or 6 I watch regularly, I'm always looking for a new show or two to add.

Just this week, I started watching How To Get Away With Murder. This show is fantastic. Viola Davis just won an Emmy (and was the first black woman to do so--you go girl!) for Best Actress. The show is centered on defense attorney Annalise Keating, and the five students she takes under her wing to work at her firm. Besides the amazing class on criminology she teaches (sign me up), each episode focuses on a case she takes. In addition to this, there are flash-forwards to the murder of her husband and her students covering that up. Don't worry, that's not a spoiler--it's given away in the first two episodes. But that's not the point. You wonder why he is killed, why the students are involved, and whether Annalise is. I love a good legal drama, but this isn't filled with boring legal drama--it's fast paced and exciting with only the crucial details of the case. This is for fans of Damages, Criminal Minds, or anyone who loves a strong female lead and mystery. Season 1 is available on Netflix, and Season 2 started yesterday.

The other show, which should come as no surprise, is Scream Queens. I was excited for this show the moment I heard of its conception. American Horror Story is one of my favorite shows, and a dark comedy horror show just called my name. It premiered on Tuesday, with a two-part episode (can we agree that all shows should do that?). Emma Roberts stars as Chanel, playing an amazing bitch/stereotypical sorority present who tells it like it is. There's of course the dean who hates sorority life, cute heartthrobs, new freshmen who want to rush and are outcasts, and plenty of murder. But the murder isn't even the big deal. I love Ryan Murphy because he knows his pop culture and isn't afraid to satirize it. What could be a cheesy or overdone concept is given a breath of fresh air by clever writing, acting, and enough suspense. Think of it like Heathers meets Scream. For a full recap of the last episode, check out this accurate and hilarious recap from Betches Love This.

What new shows are you loving for fall?

Monday, September 21, 2015

5 Tips For Blogging

Although my blog might not be the most "successful", I've come a long way since starting and can only envision more growing in the future. I started out my blogging by writing for my school's chapter of Her Campus. This is an online magazine geared towards women, and I did anything from beauty reviews to interviews to study tips. After writing for them for two years, I created Makeup Music Books last June and voila. If you're just starting a blog, or feel like you're stuck in a rut, here are five tips I've found to be helpful when it comes to blogging.

PS: My name's obviously not Emily (it's Rachel) but my sister took this of me sitting at her desk last year and it's the only picture of me writing :0

1. Find your inspiration. For me, it was watching YouTube videos, which led to reading those people's blogs. I found myself compelled by their advice and was strongly influenced whether or not to buy something, and I kept returning every day. They also follow the rest of the tips I've listed below. There are about 5-10 blogs I have bookmarked, and have used many of their types of posts for inspiration (fall lipstick colors, brand focus, etc.)

2. Be consistent. I'm not saying you have to post every day--I strongly admire people who can do that, especially when it's good! Now obviously you shouldn't post content just to post it. And you're not perfect--real life should always come before blogging and the world will still be there if you don't post. But in order to attract readers, be consistent. If this means posting every Monday, or three times a week, stick to it. It doesn't have to be the same day every week, but I find that at least once a week is enough to keep the blog fresh and on my mind. Otherwise, you may fall behind and out of someone's mind. It's sad but unfortunately true in this day and age.

3. Interact with your community! The reason I've built up what little following I have is because of interactions. As I mentioned, I read many blogs and I make sure to comment! Usually it's not something like "Great Post!" or "Cool Blog", but rather something specific to the post. It can be as simple as "Love the lipstick!" but including some detail lets the author know you're truly reading the post and not just trolling for comments. Make sure you include a link to your blog, so others can visit you, but don't let that be the only thing you're commenting. In the online community of your blog's topic, the best readers and followers are people doing the same thing as you! If you consistently comment and read a blog, hopefully that person will do the same to yours.

4. Make things personal. Anyone can write a review on something, so why are we drawn to certain ones over others? It's all a matter of tone and voice--obviously competency and knowledge are important, but do you want to read something dry or filled with personality? I like getting to know little tidbits about other author's lives, whether it's a casual comment in the post, or even more personal separate articles. Although my blog is mostly makeup reviews, I do tend to write more personal posts occasionally. If I feel like something exciting or relevant is happening in my life, I also include that in a post, because I want to share my life with my followers!

5. Be patient. A consistent following won't happen overnight--it takes work. Utilize your other tools, like posting about your blog on twitter, Facebook, etc. Having your friends share posts increases your following. Don't give up if you aren't getting as many posts as you hope--there are so many blogs out there that it's hard to stand out. But after you start to consistently post and interact with others, you'll develop loyal readers. Reaching out to companies, tagging them in your posts, or making your actual site pop (with the help of a graphic designer or on your own) are great ways to draw attention to yourself.

Do you have any tips for making your blog successful and staying passionate? Share below!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Contouring Is A Breeze Thanks To This Palette

I'm kind of sick of seeing the contouring trend everywhere--team strobing all the way. I still like to add a subtle contour to add some definition to my face, but often have time blending out products. I really don't want to look muddy, which can often be a problem, but I don't have to worry about that at all with this gorgeous palette from Velvet 59. I'd never even heard of the brand until Dulce Candy mentioned it in my favorites, so I knew I had to snap it up.

The Contour Is A Girl's Best Friend palette is just under $50, but with six shades, this seems to be around standard pricing for most higher-end contour palettes. I love the texture of these -- although they're a cream, they're definitely softer and more blendable than the Anastasia cream one. The shades are more universal and dry to a powdery finish. I particularly like the middle highlight to use under the eyes and the top right shimmer one for a strobing-esque highlight. The first two contour shades work better with my skin tone and both work well for a subtle contour--the dark one doesn't have any orange though and could work for a super intense contour. My favorite brushes for contouring are the Nars Kabuki Ita Brush or its cheaper cousin, the Tarte Contour and Bronzer Brush. Both have a great handle that's easy to hold so you can get a defined line with the bush that is wide and flat to get in the hollows of the face.

L-R: 1,2,3,4,5,6 (shades don't have names)

I'm quite impressed with this and will definitely check out the other products from the (sadly limited) Velvet 59 line. This contour palette is worth the money for its unique cream-to-powder texture, easy blendability, and shades that work with a variety of skin tones.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kiko Romantic Rebel Eyeliners

I've coveted Kiko Cosmetics for the longest time. When they finally launched an online US website a couple of months ago, I went a bit nuts. All the products are quite affordable, with great quality and innovative collections. The newest collection, Rebel Romantic, launched a few weeks ago and I was hooked. There's beautiful rose gold packaging and a variety of items, so let me know if you want to see a post on those! But today I'm talking about the eyeliners.

I have a black liquid liner from Kiko and I use it all the time, so I wanted to check out some of the more fun colors that are part of the Rebel Romantic collection. I wanted to try some colored liquid eyeliner, so I got the Liquid Intense Eyeliner in Brown and Purple. The brush is a little stiff at the end and can be make it a little difficult to apply the color, but as you can see it's quite pigmented. Unfortunately this doesn't transfer as well to the eyes, and it might require two coats to build it up. I always feel weird when I don't wear liquid black eyeliner but these are still fun to wear when I want to be more daring. They're a shiny finish but you still won't look like a member of Twisted Sister.

On the other hand, I'm always willing to experiment with colors on my lower lash line/waterline. The Color Definition Eyeliner and Kajal is a perfect product to do just that. It's pigmented and creamy, but not so creamy that it will smudge away. I love the color selection -- Marsala is a perfect red-brown and I don't own anything like it in my collection. The purple is great to bring out brown eyes, and I definitely went out of my comfort zone with the emerald color (but in a good way). The tip is a bit stiff when you first apply it but after the first use or two it glides on like a dream. 

L-R: Brown and Purple Liquid Eyeliner, Cuddly Marsala, Warrior Violet, Splendid Emerald

If you're looking for a fun new liquid liner, or want to spice up your waterline by trying something different than black, I highly recommend trying out the eyeliners from the new Kiko Romantic Rebel collection. At under $10, they feel way more expensive and won't break the bank.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tanya Burr Cosmetics Eyeshadows

I started watching Tanya Burr on Youtube for about a year and think she's absolutely adorable. She also got married this past weekend, so congratulations! She previously had a small cosmetics line, with some lipglosses (I own one and it's pretty good) and some nail polishes. It was recently reformatted and re-released, with new packaging and some new products. As you know, I'm an eyeshadow junkie so I picked up all 3. I got them on and they're quite affordable at less than $10. Normally shipping takes about a week but this time it took two weeks and had me kind of freaking out since you can't track your order. They're currently on a 3 for 2 sale, so pick them up now if you're interested!

The compacts are cardboard, with a cute heart-shaped mirror. I love the mirror and the size of the eyeshadow, but feel the packaging is a bit bulky and could be slimmer/easier to travel with. The Fairytale palette has a cream shade, nude shade, gorgeous sparkly grey shade (my favorite), and a black. All 3 except the bottom left are matte and this is the best for every-day. My favorite is the Hollywood Palette, which has golden tones. The Galaxy Palette is perfect for a light smoky eye. I'm really impressed with the quality of the shadows--for the price, they're quite buttery and decently pigmented. Each palette has a unique design on the shadows which corresponds to the name, which I think is a cute touch (like hearts for fairytale).

Hollywood Palette

Fairytale Palette

Galaxy Palette

Each palette was watched clockwise, starting in the upper left corner. As you can see, Fairytale and Galaxy are quite similar, but the Galaxy shades are a bit more pigmented and the last black shade is sparkly not matte. Overall, these are quality eyeshadows that support an amazing Youtuber who made a dream come true! Congrats Tanya!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminators

These babies were teased for months on social media, but didn't get an official release date until about a month ago. I was counting down the days until last Monday, the 31st, when they launched exclusively on Macy's. Originally I was only going to get one or two, but figured it would be worth getting all of them to do a complete post. Plus I'm a sucker for highlighters and I couldn't resist.

The Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminators retail for $28 each, which seems to me like a reasonable price. The packaging feels secure and you get a large mirror. There's a lot of product in each pan and they have a cool overlapping tile design. I'm so impressed by these. The powder is finely milled, although there's almost no fallout. They remind me of slightly more pigmented Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders, as those can be used all over and these are definitely just highlights. Each swatch was only one swipe, so you can see they're incredibly pigmented and reflective. They don't emphasize  pores or look frosty at all and I just love them.

Peach Nectar is, of course, a peachy shade and the darkest of the bunch. Starlight is the lightest and although it's white in the pan, it doesn't appear frosty. So Hollywood is a golden tone, while Riviera is my favorite, with a more bronzy pink glow. Peach Nectar and Riviera would probably be the best for darker skin tones, although as these can be built up or sheered out, they can work for any skin tone.

Have you tried any of them yet? Share your thoughts!

L-R: Peach Nectar, Starlight, So Hollywood, Riviera

I wanted to do a quick #humblebrag and note that my post from last week (The Case Against Binge-Watching) was featured on Thought Catalog. I submitted it on a whim, as I love reading other posts on the site, and it went up the next day! I might do more of these thought-provoking pieces on here in the future, so let me know if that's something you would like to see.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Case Against Binge-Watching

This summer, I watched all of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in less than two weeks. That's over 100 episodes. I've done this with numerous shows and it's an easy way to occupy time and quickly become invested in a show. It's nice to put it on when you're getting ready, doing homework, eating dinner, etc. You keep letting Netflix know you're still watching because, yes, watching eight episodes (or more) in one day is perfectly acceptable. And it is. Whether there are only two seasons or the entire series available somewhere online, it can be nice to establish a quick relationship with a show and become hooked. But sometimes when you binge-watch a show, you can miss out on a lot of things.

Live TV is a dying thing. Let's face it, when you can find a show online and watch it anytime at your convenience, why would you want to rush to the TV at 8:00 PM on a Wednesday when  you could be doing something a lot more productive? I remember before the invention of DVRs that I would actually make a commitment to watching the show at its scheduled time, commercials and all, or (way old school) taping it on VHS. I love DVRs and am not hating on them at all -- skipping commercials and watching things online is a blessing. But the point I'm trying to make is that when you watch a show as it airs, week by week and year by year, you build a true connection with it. And although that month that I binge-watched Buffy on Netflix resonates with a certain part of my freshman year, it wouldn't be the same if I followed the show for the years it actually aired.

Just like you mature as the years go by, so do the characters. As you may cut your hair right before a new school year starts, your favorite character might also have gotten a makeover. With only one episode a week, you have something to look forward. It gives you time to ruminate on that episode and, most importantly, appreciate it in its singularity. Each series has its dud episodes, but then the week with the truly special episode stands out. There are so many times when I've binge-watched a show, just to keep wanting to find out important plot points. But in saving myself time, I've almost lost the essence of the shows. All the episodes blur together and you can't quite connect the same. Now with the rise of social media, as each episode airs, there are live-tweets, buzzfeed articles, discussion posts, etc. Each weekly episode and the developments that come along with it become way more important than if you had watched an entire series that week. Also, let's not forget the amount of time and effort that go into making just one episode. Writers and actors want you to take time and appreciate their work, not just mass-consume it.

It's definitely frustrating to wait each week if something crazy just happened, but that's just part of the fun! I'm not a part of the show's journey when I binge-watch and you really miss out on the journey that comes with watching a show as it airs. I definitely still binge-watch things, especially because if an entire series is online and I know I can watch as many episodes as I want at a time, I'm not going to wait each week to watch one. It's really tempting and difficult. As much as I love Netflix, the true magic of following a series just isn't there anymore. Think about that next time you decide to start a new show.

*I know this post has nothing to do with makeup but occasionally I post things that were rambling around in my mind. If you enjoyed this, let me know! And if not, then stay tuned for more beauty-related posts soon.