Favorite Beauty Products, Volume 2: Lips & Cheeks

For this week’s Work It Wednesday, and the second in my series of Favorite Beauty Products post, the focus is all on lips and cheeks. This means we will be discussing my favorite blushes, bronzers, highlighters, contouring products, etc., as well as my favorite lipsticks, balms, glosses, stains, treatments, etc. There are a ton of products to discuss for each of these areas, and a ton to say about each of them, so let’s get started.

The cheeks are an odd area of the face to discuss because, to many people, they seem like such an afterthought of a look. This can be true in a lot of cases, yes, but I definitely feel like the cheeks are one area of the face that can absolutely never be neglected. The reason I say this, as I have learned from experience, is because they can make such a subtle but dramatic change to your entire face. No matter how beautiful a look you may do on the eyes or the lips they still can’t pull all of the elements of your face together in the way a simple cheek color can. I really can’t stress the importance of a good blush enough – it can make your entire complexion appear so much more youthful and bright. It is extremely rare that I will ever do a look with bare cheeks. If nothing else, at least a bronzer is necessary. To begin with, let’s discuss bronzer. I have noticed that many people will use a bronzer to contour their face, which does work quite well for fairer skinned people, but it is not something I ever do myself. The only thing I can really say about using bronzer as a contour is that you should absolutely never use a bronzer with any sort of shimmer as a contour. It comes out looking really silly. When it comes to bronzer the best application method is to lightly dust it over the high plains of your face with a duo-fiber stippling brush – this means the tops of the cheekbones, brow bone, forehead, nose and chin. Not only does this give you that natural sun-kissed, tanned look but it also adds a really healthy looking glow to your complexion. My favorite bronzers are Revlon Beyond Natural Blush & Bronzer in Peach, Tarte Mineral Bronzer Powder in Park Avenue Princess and Hard Candy So Baked Bronzer in Hula Hula. The Revlon Beyond Natural Blush & Bronzer is a completely matte bronzer, packaged as a duo with a gorgeous matte peach blush. These two look absolutely gorgeous when used together. The Tarte Park Avenue Princess is a much more shimmery, light golden colored bronzer. This one is perfect for adding a gorgeous sheen to the skin. The Hard Candy So Baked Bronzer is actually kind of a perfect combination of the two – it is primarily a matte bronzer but has tiny veins of a shimmery golden color laced throughout it, so the shimmer shows but is much more subtle than in the one from Tarte.  This Hard Candy Bronzer is actually very reminiscent of the Urban Decay Baked Bronzer but for a fraction of the price.

As far as products for contouring there is one product that I am completely obsessed with: The Sedona Lace Contour & Blush palette. Before my go to contouring product was the Stila Contouring Trio but I always felt that the darker, contour shade in that palette was too light for my skin tone and I had to use too much of the product to build up enough to make a noticeable difference. The highlight shade always seemed to not be pigmented enough, either, and the third shade was a shimmery highlighter which always seemed kind of superfluous. I also tried the Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit, which was beautiful but, at $45, far too expensive to be a product I would replenish when I ran out. Then I stumbled upon the Sedona Lace palette, which was only $17.95 and included 6 massive pans of 3 highlight shades, a contour shade and two gorgeous blushes. Once I received this palette in the mail, I was blown away by it – the contour shade was absolutely perfect for my skin! The more golden colored highlight shade was also absolutely perfect for me and both of the blushes were extremely flattering to my skin tone, too! I use this palette pretty much on a daily basis since I received it a few months ago and have yet to even come close to hitting pan on any of the shades. They are all strongly pigmented but easy enough to blend out to get the exact intensity you want from them. This is pretty much the main product I use for any highlighting needs I may have but since the shades in the palette are all matte and sometimes you just need to add a little shimmer, there are a couple of other products I love for highlighting. The main thing I use to highlight when I want to add a little more shine to those key areas of the face is Smashbox Loose Shimmer Powder in Burlesque, (from their tie-in collection for the movie “Burlesque,”) although I will also often use the NYX Tango With Bronzing Stick in Tango & Highlight for a more golden colored highlight.

When it comes to blush it is very difficult to pick a favorite because there are so many different options, so instead of selecting an individual favorite I will just name a few different products that I love for different reasons. First of all, I cannot discuss blush without mentioning the Stila Convertible Color Lip & Cheek Creams. These are a wonderful, innovative product that is a cream that can be used as a cream blush or a lip color. I will say, though, that these products are not great when it comes to using them on your lips. They are not bad but they are somewhat drying to the lips and do not hold up great against the elements. As a blush, though, the Convertible Colors are brilliant. In particular, there are three shades that kind of stand above all of the others: Peony, Gerbera and Orchid. Peony is a gorgeous, natural, nude pink that looks just like the natural flush of your face. Gerbera is a very soft peach shade, which would normally seem too light for my skin tone but it actually looks beautiful on. My favorite by far is Orchid, which is a beautiful, deep plum/berry color. When paired with a very natural eye or simple winged liner or just mascara this shade looks absolutely perfect. When blended out just right it reminds me so much of the color ones cheeks turn in the winter when they live somewhere that actually gets cold weather or snow. One of my favorite looks ever is to do a simple winged liquid liner and mascara on the eyes, with Orchid on both the lips and cheeks. The lips and cheeks play beautifully off of one another with this product and a simple “nude” eye to allow the eye to be naturally drawn to the rest of the face. It is gorgeous! Another favorite blush of mine is the Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights in Tease, which is a beautiful, bright pink shade with a soft touch of shimmer that gives the cheeks the most beautiful, subtle sheen. Another product that gives this same effect, but in a peach shade, is Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Wonder; this is definitely another favorite product of mine. I don’t generally like to add a whole lot of shine to the face, except the tops of the cheekbones and the natural highlight areas, but both of these blushes are the exceptions to the rule. Another favorite, more inexpensive, blush of mine is the Ulta brand Ulta Cheek Color in Girlie. Girlie is kind of like a longer wearing, powdered version of Stila’s Peony Convertible Color. The colors are very similar and both provide that same ultra natural flushed color. Lastly, I also wanted to mention my very favorite coral blush, the Stila Make Me Blush palette, which is one of those “palettes” that is all one pan that can either be swirled together or used individually. I can’t recall ever using any of the colors individually, which is probably because they come out so beautifully when just swirled together. The “palette” is all different coral shades, some with shimmer, some with pearl and some just matte, so when you swirl them together you get a very cool finish that is very subtle amounts of both shimmer and pearl. I absolutely love the look of it. Sadly, I believe that this product is discontinued at this point although I will say that, only in terms of color, the coral shade in the Sedona Lace Contour & Blush palette is very similar to this and is definitely worth checking out.

When it comes to lips, the most  important place to begin is taking care of the lips. The first step I take every single day is to exfoliate the lips. This is as simple as lightly scrubbing the lips with your toothbrush, (after rinsing the toothpaste off of it, of course!) This is a very quick, easy step to remove any dry. flaky skin remaining on the lips from your sleep. There are a couple of other products I will use to exfoliate the lips, as well. My favorite is the Pop Beauty Sweet Good Morning Kiss sugar scrub. It is a pen-style product with a foam applicator at the end that the product comes out of. It is a simple gel with tiny sugar granules in it that gently rub away the flaky dried skin off of the lips. Another one that I love is the Lip Scuff from The Body Shop. This comes in a lipstick style tube and is a very creamy green product with the same small sugar granules in it to scrub the dried skin cells away. Both of these products are amazing and leave the lips feeling smooth and conditioned and ready for whatever products you will be putting on them. The next step is something to moisturize the lips. There are several different lip balms that I love. The most frequent one that I use is the Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, which leaves your lips with a cool, tingling sensation. I also love the Nivea Kiss Of Moisture lip balm and The Lip Care tube from The Body Shop. These are both products that do not leave you with that cool, tingling sensation but leave the lips feeling velvety soft and extremely moisturized. One other lip balm I wanted to mention is the Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Balm in Peach Crystal. This is a fun product because it is a lip balm that also adds a very sheer wash of glossy color to the lips, so it is great for on the go or days when you are going for a quicker, more natural look. It is really cool because it easily removes the rest of the steps you would generally go through for your lips while still giving a gorgeous look to the lips. The next step, depending on the look you are going for, would be a primer. As I mentioned in last week’s Favorite Beauty Products post, in discussing primers, I generally use either MAC Lip Erase or Pop Beauty Lip Magnet Primer, both of which create a beautiful, smooth surface for whatever products you may be putting on your lips.

When it comes to adding color to your lips, there is a plethora of options available depending on what you are going for. For the first and simplest option, there is the lip stain. Lip stains are generally a liquid product that, as the name implies, leaves the color stained on your lips. These are great for a simple wash of color that doesn’t rub off and takes much longer to fade. I, personally, am not a huge fan of lip stains but I definitely feel like they have their place for a more on-the-go pop of color added to the lips. As far as lip stains go, I do have a few favorites that I will whip out from time to time. First of all, there are the Stila Crush Lip & Cheek Stains. Much like Stila’s Convertible Colors mentioned above, this is a product designed to be used on both the lips and cheeks. The main difference is that while the Convertible Colors work better on the cheeks and not as well on the lips, the Lip & Cheek stains actually work much better on the lips than the cheeks. I mean, they do work well on the cheeks but not near as well as they do on the lips. It come in pen form with a brush tip applicator to apply, much like those found on Stila’s Lip Glazes. My favorite shades are the Cherry Crush, Pomegranate Crush and Mango Crush. In particular, Mango is a really gorgeous coral shade with a slight amount of pearl to it that gives a really beautiful finish. Probably my favorite lip stain is the Tarte LipSurgence Natural Lip Tints. These come in a self-sharpening, twist up “pencil” form and glide on the lips so easily and leave the lips feeling very moisturized and natural, as if you weren’t wearing anything at all. My favorite shade, especially for the fall, is Moody, which is a gorgeous berry red shade. I also really like the Revlon Just Bitten lip stain in the shade Passion. This is a gorgeous, bright pink that, in the form of a stain, is subtle but just bright enough. I also really like the Covergirl Outlast Lip Stain in Berry Wink for a more dramatic but still natural look.

Now on to the bigger topic of actual lipstick. There are so many options when it comes to lipstick it is difficult to narrow it down or figure out even where to begin to discuss them. I guess I will begin by mentioning my two very favorite lipsticks: L’oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in Fairest Nude and MAC Viva Glam Gaga II. These are the two lipsticks I reach for most frequently, regardless of the look I am going for. They are both nude shades but very different shades. The L’oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in Fairest Nude is a very fair, natural looking pink shade that really tones down the pigmentation of my lips, (as they are naturally pretty dark,) whereas the MAC Viva Glam Gaga II is a gorgeous peachy-beige nude shade. These are my two favorite shades to use for a nude lip look, which is a look that I tend to go for more than any other. Another favorite lipstick of mine, or favorite line of lipstick, is L’oreal Infallible Le Rouge. In particular, I love the shades Forever Fuschia, (a very bright matte fuschia shade,) Opulent Organza, (a creamy peachy brown shade,) Beyond Blushing, (a slightly frosty natural pink shade,) and, my very favorite, Ravishing Red. Ravishing Red is my favorite red lipstick of all. It is a blue-based red shade that has a creamy finish and is the most flattering red I have ever found for my skin tone. The thing I love about the Infallible Le Rouge line is that they are a long-wearing formula and last for ages on the lips without rubbing off too much with normal daily actions, like eating, drinking, smoking, etc. I love that shade. I am also a really big fan of the L’oreal Endless Lipstick in In The Buff for an alternate nude shade, as well as the discontinued L’oreal HiP lipsticks in Charming, Daring, Driven, Ecstatic and Effervescent. Effervescent is my favorite of these shades. It is a slightly darker rosy pink shade with slight amounts of shimmer. I have also recently fallen in love with the E.L.F. Lipstick in the shade Gypsy, which is a gorgeous creamy fuschia rose shade. The only other thing I wanted to discuss, in terms of lipsticks, are the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. These are a fascinating product, as they are kind of like a lipstick and a lip stain at the same time but in a tube with a doe-foot applicator and the initial texture of a lip gloss. They go on like a gloss but seem to sink into your lips like a stain yet somehow wind up with the look of a medium coverage matte lipstick. These products are pretty great, although they do eventually start to feel very drying on your lips. My favorite shades of these are Monte Carlo, (a darker blue-based red,) Milsn, (a very pretty, Barbie style pink,) Addis Ababa, (a very bright, hot pink,) and Antwerp, (a more coral/peach shade with a hint of pink to it.) Due to the drying feeling these get after a while, they can be difficult for all day wear but are incredible for going out to dinner or out for the evening or anything where you don’t have to worry about the feeling of wearing them for too long.

Last, but definitely not least, is the topic of lip glosses. There are so many different options out there for lip gloss and so many that are absolute crap. It’s a shame but I have tried so many different lip glosses that I absolutely hated or felt did absolutely not but add an oily look to the lips. In spite of all of the unimpressive crap out there for lip gloss, there are also a lot of really beautiful, brilliant lip gloss options out there. My very favorite brand for lip gloss is Smashbox. Smashbox has developed a really amazing formula for lip gloss with both their Lip Enhancing Gloss and their Limitless Long Wear Lip Gloss SPF 15. My favorite shades in the Lip Enhancing Gloss are Afterglow, Brown Sugar, Flash and, my most frequently used lip gloss, Illume. Illume is a pale nude shade with a good deal of iridescent sparkle to it. It works perfectly all on it’s own or paired with either of my two favorite lipsticks, (L’oreal Colour Riche in Fairest Nude and MAC Viva Glam Gaga II.) It is really just a sheer gloss that does a beautiful job of adding a gorgeous shine to whatever color you lay it over, even if that color is just your natural lips. My favorite of the Limitless Long Wear Lip Gloss shades is definitely Endless, which is a very sheer plum color. It is subtle but gorgeous and adds just the right amount of color along with a ton of shine! I also love the shade 24/7, which is actually very similar in color to Endless, only much brighter and more on the pink side. It has the same effect, though, with adding just the right amount of color. I definitely recommend wearing the Limitless Long Wear glosses all on their own, as opposed to over a lipstick or something, because these colors just seem to work their very best alone. Another favorite lip gloss of mine is Tarte Vitamin Infused Lip Gloss in the shade Serenity. This is another that works out the best all on it’s own. It is an absolutely gorgeous bubblegum pink shade that just seems to sit on the lips absolutely perfectly with the brush applicator it comes with. Another great lip gloss option is the Stila Lip Glaze. These give such a gorgeous, glossy look to the lips and come in the form of a click pen with a brush tip applicator that works perfectly for applying just the right amount. The one thing I will say about these, though, is that most of them do not have much going on in the way of pigmentation. While they do provide you with a gorgeous, glossy shine, most of the shades do absolutely nothing for adding color. I definitely recommend using these over a stain or lipstick or something along those lines, unless you are just looking to add shine to your natural lip color. As far as more inexpensive lip glosses go, there is one brand that stands above all the rest, in my opinion. This brand is Revlon. In fact, my very favorite lip glosses I have ever used are the Revlon Colorburst collection. My favorite shades in this collection are Peony, Rosegold, Bordeaux and Fire. Fire and Bordeaux are both very creamy solid shades without any sort of shimmer or glitter that I love to wear all on their own, Fire is a bright, yellow-based red shade that I like to call the “no fuss red lip” product, because the color doesn’t ever wind up feathering or smearing in any way that can’t be easily corrected. Most red lip shades require a lot of maintenance throughout the day but this one avoids all of the issues that most red lips have. Bordeaux is probably my favorite shade of this lip gloss. It is a gorgeous, deep plum/burgundy shade that I like to wear all on it’s own. Much like Fire, it is a dark, berry sort of lip shade that would normally come with a lot of maintenance throughout the day but very little is required with this. Peony and Rosegold are both more sheer, glittery shades. I also wanted to mention another favorite lip gloss of mine from Revlon, which is their Super Lustrous gloss in the shade Coral Reef. With the orange/coral trend of the summer, this gloss was absolutely perfect. It is a more yellow-based orange shade that is very high on shine and looks gorgeous all on it’s own, or over a great orange lipstick, like Revlon’s Super Lustrous lipstick in Siren.

You may have noticed that in this post there is one lip product that I did not mention – lip liner. The reason for this is because I don’t really use lip liner often and when I do, there are only two that I ever use: MAC Lip Pencil in Stone, which is the perfect shade to define any lip line, and Prestige Cosmetics lip liner in Plum, which I only ever use paired with a red or fuschia lipstick to add a darker, purple effect on the outside of the lips. Aside from that, though, I don’t really ever use lip liner so I don’t have much of an opinion on which ones are best.

That is all for my favorite cheek and lip products. Stay tuned to this blog, though, because next week’s Work It Wednesday post will be the biggest of the Favorite Beauty Products posts: EYES. There is so much to cover and so many different fun products to discuss in that post, I am already excited to get started on it! In the meantime, I wish you all a beautiful rest of the week and a beautiful life!



2 thoughts on “Favorite Beauty Products, Volume 2: Lips & Cheeks

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