Smith & Cult Following.

By: Jen Shoop

Let’s talk beauty today, mah friends.  Summer has come and gone and it’s time for many of us to retire our tinted moisturizers and settle into our foundation routines — and to double down on moisturizing.  Below, I’m sharing my latest beauty discovery (nail polish!), reviews of the new wave of products I bought a few weeks back, and items on my radar.

New Beauty Obsession: Smith & Cult Nail Polish.

I have full-on converted to Smith & Cult for my weekly manicures.  I find the formula much gentler on my nails (they seem thicker and in better shape than I’ve seen them in years), the color lasts about six days (I am really hard on my nails — a standard Essie or OPI will only last 3-4 without chips), and I flip over the color options.  I’m especially partial to Regret the Moon, a milky, opaque white-pink, and Kundalini Hustle, a glossy Coca Cola red.  I think I’ll go ahead and order a bottle of each just so I have them for touch-ups — and to bring with me if I’m frequenting a salon that is not my own/does not carry them.

Honest Beauty Reviews: Embryolisse & More.

+La Neige Water Sleeping Mask.  I love this stuff.  It glides on like gel, smells like clean laundry, and hydrates your skin while you sleep.  I have a feeling I’ll be using this throughout the winter, when I am prone to dryness.  I wouldn’t say I wake up, look in the mirror, and rub my eyes in disbelief at the effects — but my skin certainly feels soft and moisturized in the morning and I know it’s doing its job.

+Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter.  My favorite product I’ve tried out of the latest crop.  It took me awhile to figure out how to use this — I thought at first that I could use it like a foundation or tinted moisturizer, but that’s a bit much (and you’d go through a lot, and quickly).  Instead, I use tinted moisturizer first and then apply a few dabs of this along the cheekbones, forehead, nose, and anywhere there’s an uneveness in tone.  The effect is gorgeous — skin looks luminous, glowing, “smoothed over.”  I’m a huge fan.  (Does anyone else use this differently?)

+Ole Henriksen’s Banana Bright Eye Cream.  Solid.  I still believe the best eye cream known to man is La Mar, but I only permit myself to indulge in it every now and then.  It is so expensive!  But it does work.  This eye cream does a nice job of hydrating and brightening the eye area, and I like its texture — it blends in easily with no greasiness and it feels cool to the touch.

+Guerlain’s L’Or Radiance Primer.  Sigh, I’m not sure if I believe I need a primer.  I’m not like skiing in a full face of foundation or finding myself in high intensity situations where I need my makeup to look picture perfect for ten hours straight.  BUT.  This stuff smells great and ensures that makeup glides on like a breeze.  It’s a good base layer and it smells like heaven to me.

+Dior’s Browstyler.  This is a really good product if you can afford to be precise — meaning, if you have the patience and inclination to basically draw individual eyebrow hairs into place.  I am usually too harried for this kind of activity but on the occasions I have taken the time, this stuff is really excellent (the tip is super-fine).  You simply cannot tell the difference between the browstyler strokes and your own hairs!  It is incredible.  That said, I am already missing a chubbier pencil style that I can use with less attention to detail.

+Elf Clear Eyebrow Gel.  A reader suggested I look into this and OH MAN AM I HAPPY I DID.  It costs $3 at my local Duane Reade and I’ll never not use this.  It goes on clear (duh) and keeps brows in place without making them crispy.  Love.

+Bare Minerals Gen Nude Liquid Lipstick in Swag.  I actually went into the Sephora at Columbus Circle to buy Tilbury’s highly-touted matte lipstick in “Pillow Talk” only to discover that my store did not carry Tilbury’s products.  I got sidetracked by the Mare Minerals collection instead and went home with a gorgeous “blushing mauve” color that I have been wearing on the daily.  It is the perfect natural-looking pink and I love the formula, which glides on, dries matte, BUT does not leave lips parched!  (I also love Stila’s All Day liquid lipsticks — such good colors! — but find that they dry my lips out excessively!)  Also, it tastes like mocha.  Never a bad thing.

+Marc Jacobs Highliner.  I love this product when I want something super easy to apply with a kind of smudgy/smoky finish.  (If you’re looking for a laser-sharp edge, look elsewhere.)  This product glides on like butter and the color is super saturated.  Love.

+Chanel Eyeshadow Primer.  I was a bit underwhelmed by this product.  What I was looking for was an eye primer with its own hue — something like Laura Mercier’s Eye Basics, which I often use on its own, without a “top coat” of shadow.  I just want something easy to swipe on that evens out the eyelid and brightens the eye area — and that can extend the life of eyeshadow when I do feel like getting dolled up.  Chanel’s product is clear and kind of…unctuous.  It feels more like a lip gloss than anything else, and I can’t say I feel it extended the life of my eye shadow when I did wear it on top.  So, all in, underwhelmed.  I’ll be going back to Laura Mercier’s staple (I buy it in the linen color).

+Embryolisse Lait Creme.  I was super excited to try this “wunderproduct” with a massive cult following, but my skin HATED me when I used it.  I developed a rash all over my face — tiny little bumps!  Horrifying.  I immediately discontinued use and my skin went back to normal in about 24-36 hours.  Interestingly, a few readers said they had the same reaction — maybe there’s some ingredient that we are allergic to?  A friend of mine in the beauty industry mentioned that most allergic reactions in beauty products pertain to fragrance ingredients!  I was disappointed as I had thought this would be a great addition to my travel dopp kit since it can be used as a primer, makeup remover, moisturizer, shaving cream, or even after-shave balm.  Eh well.

+Caudalie Elixir Eau de Beaute Spray.  Another “French drugstore” classic.  I could take this or leave it.  I found the scent overpoweringly strong, and I’m usually that weirdo who prefers strongly-scented products.  I know some are super sensitive to smell, but I like when a cream smells like rose petals or a primer smells like peppermint.  This smelled like mint and…gasoline?  I don’t know how to describe its smell but it is POTENT.  I love using sprays like this to prime and then set my makeup.  Again, not sure how necessary this step is in my own life, where I rarely am out and about for long enough to anyone notice if my makeup has withered by hour eight, but I do like the way a spray can “soften” the edges of your makeup after you’ve applied it.  This Caudalie product does the trick, but if I’m honest, my absolute favorite spray for setting/hydrating is Chantecaille’s Pure Rosewater, whose price tag is tantamount to highway robbery.  It smells like heaven on earth, the applicator is divine (a light, airy spritz that perfectly clouds your face), and I’m a sucker for the packaging.  PSA: Many say that this inexpensive Mario Badescu facial spray achieves the same effect for $7.

+Bare Minerals Mineral Veil Setting Powder.  OK, this came as a surprise in a little gift set from Sephora and I am IN LOVE.  I use it on top of my undereye concealer (I use this brush to apply) and occasionally sweep it across my whole face if I’m really going for a full look.  It is super light, non-cakey, and somehow leaves skin looking bright and radiant and non-powdery.  So good.

Beauty Discoveries.

Whew.  It’s been a busy few weeks of testing products so I’ll probably pump the breaks for awhile — I usually refresh my beauty routine twice a year, as I run out of things.  But, a few things I wanted to mention that have come highly recommended:

+Belif Water Bomb.  The last two makeup artists I’ve gone to have used this gel cream on my skin and it is WONDROUS.  So refreshing and hydrating and I can’t believe the price tag.  I’m thinking I will swap this in when I’m out of my Ole Henriksen facial moisturizer.

+These makeup towels are too cute!  I might add these as a gift in my mom’s stocking, or to accompany a cosmetics gift for a girlfriend this holiday (I love giving my favorite cosmetics away as gifts — see more present ideas here).

+I’ve never used Nars’ The Multiple, though I know it has its own tribe.  I’m thinking this could be the kind of thing I carry with me in my purse for quick touch-ups — a swipe on the cheeks and lips and BOOM, instant pick me up.

+I’ve heard REALLY good things about this skin cleanser, in case my favorite (Tata Harper) didn’t cut it for you.

+I use my Truffle clear pouches to organize cosmetics when traveling, especially by air, since the size is TSA-approved — but they are admittedly spend-y for what they are.  I found this $10 Sonia Kushuk style that would work just as well.  A little less styling, but the same effect: easy to find what you’re looking for!

P.S.  My top beauty picks of all time.  I added the $3 ELF brow gel to this list, so that should say something.

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12 thoughts on “Smith & Cult Following.

  1. I have super sensitive skin and use the Caudalie Beauty Elixir, plus the grape water, religiously to zap redness in the morning before I apply my makeup. That being said, the scent is definitely something you have to get used to and is not for everyone. I prefer to set my makeup with Fresh Rosewater spray, spritzed from an old Beautycounter rose water bottle, because I don’t like the spritzer that comes with the Fresh.

    1. What a good tip! Am I an idiot for not thinking about just saving the Chantecaille bottle and refilling with rosewater spray from elsewhere?!! DUH. Thanks for the tip. xoxo

  2. Thank you for all these recs and candid reviews! Decisions, decisions. I purchased the Elf brow mascara as well based on that same reader recommendation. It’s a keeper!

    I also swear by Verso Super 8 retinol serum for eyes. It works magic.

    I’m obsessed with Environ C Quence serum chock full of vitamins A & C. It’s a goodie if you’re ever looking to switch things up. I’m up to the level 4 and needle roll first for better absorption.

    Great to know about the LaNiege Water Sleeping Masque. I’ve heard some many great things about their lip masque and now I want to try both!

    1. Wow! New names to me here — thanks for sharing these. I’m intrigued by the serums in particular…and glad you agree on the ELF brow mascara! A $3 win!! xo

  3. I read somewhere online about mixing the Flawless Filter with foundation/tinted moisturizer before applying. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I am going to try your method for a few days – thanks for the tip!

  4. I tried to Embrolissye and like it so far, but I don’t use it straight. Rather I mix it with some of my other more expensive face lotions (it mixes so well with my favorite Yonka phyto 52 which is firming and more matifying) to add a little extra moisture.

    I’m not sure if you tried the Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial yet, but it was amazing for me for 3-4 months and then I had some crazy reaction and am still trying to get rid of the red, dry patches. I’ve heard of others having similar reactions, so proceed with caution.

    1. Hi Amy – Envious, as I’ve heard such good things about Embrolissye and really wanted to like it. Smart to mix it! I’d never heard of Yonka before!

      Thanks too for the caveat on Drunk Elephant — yikes. Will be steering clear I think. xo

  5. Oh my word, I love the Bare Minerals lipstick in Swag! I wear it every single day. I thought nothing would ever take the place of my beloved YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick in Rose Bergamasque (the loveliest nude and my wedding day lipstick) but this did. For the holidays, please try the Bare Minerals statement matte in Fire, it is just as perfect.

  6. Thanks for reporting back! It’s comforting to know that Embryolisse had the same effect! I don’t know what it is, either, but I do notice my skin really doesn’t like when a product has fragrance.

    I love most Caudelie products, but the few new ones I’ve tried lately have been misses. I wonder if they’ve changed the formula in the beauty elixir? I loved it so much a couple of years ago that I ran out of it. When I got a second bottle, I had to return it because it was almost burning my skin. I bought the Tatcha mist and I have been happy with that so far.

    A salesperson once tried to get me to buy the Dior eyebrow pencil, and while I thought it was good, I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much. Most pencils I find are just as good from the drugstore as they are from the department store.

    I have also found that Marc Jacobs beauty is pretty good! I’ll have to give that product a try. I also fee that Lancome is an unsung hero in the beauty department. I’ve been using certain products for years and they rarely let me down.

    Last, while you take a break, how about some hair product recommendations? Maybe that don’t include Kerastase (which are amazing, but with prices that are hard to swallow, too)? I’m also thinking of asking for the new Dyson curling iron for Christmas this year 🙂

    1. Hi April! Agreed on Lancome — I’ve used their products here and there and find that they are super reliable and do what they say they will. Need to revisit next time I’m low on supply of something. Thanks for the reminder!

      That’s such a shame, too, about Caudalie! I hate when manufacturers change their formulas once you’ve gotten into a groove. So frustrating.

      I will do a post on hair products soon, but in the meantime, I received some samples of Ouai products and have been VERY IMPRESSED. Especially the leave-in conditioner (so good for my dry hair!) and the texturizing hairspray. 10/10!


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