Beauty Review // Highlight Palette Comparison & Review

Guys, highlighting is the best.  Beside all make up products, highlighters are the best thing in the world.  I've got 3 highlighting palettes for you to today that I wanted to do a quick comparison on - the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, the Balm's Manizer Sisters trio, and the Elf Illuminating Palette.  Like, for real guys...I love all three of these, but I'll go ahead and spoil it for you if you're looking for an affordable highlighting palette Eyes Lips Face has you covered.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here
But lets talk about them all...

From the Website
Create your perfect light with this palette featuring three shades of Ambient Lighting Powder, which utilize Photoluminescent Technology to filter out harsh light and refine the appearance of the complexion. Each of these high-tech, soft-focus finishing powders recreate an exquisitely flattering light source. The powders can be applied individually or layered to imbue skin with a multidimensional glow.  Cost: $58.
taken from the website here
The Balm's Manizer Sisters
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this trio of Manizers has been found guilty - of being gorgeous. Designed for girls on the run, this highlighting trio enables you to emphasize your finest features. This palette contains three triple-milled multi-tasking highlighter, shimmers and shadows. These champagne, rose, and golden-bronze shades are flattering on all skin tones and easy to use so you can take your glow on the go. Cost: $28
taken from the website here.
Elf Illuminating Palette
This beautiful illuminating palette holds 4 gorgeous complementary shades to mix and match for a custom blended radiance that captures, diffuses, and softens the way light reflects on the skin. The soft-focus powders are great for highlighting around the eyes and on cheekbones to enhance the skin with a luminous effect. Perfect for all skin tones.  Cost: $6
taken from the website here.
First Impressions & Application
So let's get too it, and this is going to be hard.  Each palette is filled with highlight powders that are very pigmented.  Not one of these palettes has a dud.  While I would say each palette has unique colors, there are some that are comparable.  The textures vary between each palette - the smoothest texture being in the Ambient palette\ - but none of them kick up too much powder.
The Ambient Lighting palette has one satin shade - the Dim Light - and two other shades - Incandescent and Radiant Light - that seem to have a bit of shimmer in them.  That didn't pick up on the swatches but there's definitely some glittery brightness (and not in a bad way).  The texture is velvety smooth, and it really does feel luxe.  For the price, the texture is what I'd expected.
The Manizer Sisters trio is a bit more bold with the pigmentation.  Each has a little bit of that shimmer though the Cindy-Lou Manizer has more of a satin finish.  In person it also has sort of an iridescence to it as well.  The texture of these remind me of an eyeshadow rather than a face product, but that doesn't affect the application or my over all opinion of it.
The Elf Illuminating palette has all satin finish shades. Any thing that looks like it might have a little bit of that shimmer blends out to be a purely satin finish.  These powders are very, very soft and have the texture of a face product.  This $6 palette impressed me more than the Manizer Sisters being that the Manizer set is the middle end product here.

Honestly if you had these pans out, unlabeled, I would choose the Elf powders as the middle end product.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette Swatches

I applied each with a tapered brush - the Elf Small Tapered Brush - and was impressed with the glow of each.  The Small Tapered Brush is great for laying down product but also blending it out.  I love the point and the density and find it perfect for highlighting in general.  For a more subtle look either the Elf Illuminating palette or the shade Dim Light could be used but the Elf palette can be built up to give a bolder look.  For a bright pop the Manizer Sisters and the shades Incandescent and Radiant light are perfect.

Wear Time
I was impressed with the wear time of all of these.  I can get a little bit longer wear from the Ambient  Lighting Palette but both the Elf Illuminating Palette and the Manizer Sisters lasted a good amount of time.  I would say for the latter two I'd still notice the highlight about 4 hours into the day but I did notice the Ambient Palette to stay slightly longer.
The Manizer Sisters Swatches

I do like using the Manizer Sisters palette as an eyeshadow as well and I notice that the more concentrated the color is the longer it is visible.

I wear a full face of liquid foundation and a setting powder everyday and found that this canvas worked well with these powders.  The texture of the Ambient Lighting Palette and the Elf Illuminating palette allows for blend-ability - meaning you'd get a more even glow with less work.  These powders are able to blend into the skin more evenly with less effort creating that tale tell lit from within glow.  The Manizer Sisters palette takes a little more effort (save the Cindy-Lou Manzier) to get a clean, even application.  It's not terrible - because I really do love all three of these palettes) just in comparison I find this palette take more work.
The Elf Illuminating Palette Swatches

Overall Impressions and Recommendations
Honestly, I would recommend all of these palettes.  However, if you are looking to only spend $6 you will get your money's worth in the Elf Illuminating palette.  While you can tell by the swatches that there are comparable shades in each palette, I would not say that any are dupes.  If you have $58 to spend, do go ahead and pick up the Ambient Lighting Palette.  (Better yet, see if Santa will pick it up for you!)  All in all I am most impressed with the quality of the Elf Illuminating palette - every other one lives up to the price tag, but the drugstore equivalent really gets me!

If you are thinking about getting some of these, don't forget to check out Ebates to see if you can get any cash back on your purchases!  Currently, as I'm typing this - Elf has 5.5% cash back, Nordstrom has 6% cash back (you can find Hourglass and Mac on the Nordstrom site), and Khols has 6% cash back.  That's pretty awesome.  Don't forget that Black Friday is also coming up!

You can sign up for Ebates here to earn cash back on your purchases - seriously, there's no catch!

Do you have a drugstore alternative to a high end product that blew you away?  Have you tried any of these?

xoxo, Moe


Make it Monday // PicMonkey + Zazzle for the Perfect Gift

It is nearly Thanksgiving which means we all really need to be on top of our Christmas shopping.  Mine is nearly done - I picked up a lot of things on one of our mini trips to northern Michigan - I just have to pick up a few things mainly for people that are hard to buy for in my family.  If you have some of those hard-to-buy-for-people on your list, I have an idea to share with you today.
this post contains affiliate links, please see my full disclosure here.
Have you ever heard of the site Zazzle?  Not only is this site great for invitations, announcements, and more (check my shop here), Zazzle.com has an amazing array of personalized gifts.  Not only can you choose from customizable designs but you can also create your own!  There are tons of blank canvases to work on and tons of inspiration.  I chose to go with creating a vanity tray gift since I thought it was super unique. 

I decided to work in PicMonkey even though I know Zazzle has some fun design tools.  PicMonkey offers some clipart, backgrounds, and fun fonts to play with.  I'll be using one of the brand new fonts available on PicMonkey!  They've added 7 new fonts and some of them are the ever popular calligraphy style.
First start off with an 8x10 canvas.  Crop it to the 16x9 selection to get the closest ratio to the small vanity tray.  This will give you a canvas to start designing on.
If you'd like to do a new take on a monogram, add a label overlay.  There are plenty free options to choose from but the Royale (or paid option) from PicMonkey offers more fonts, more overlays, and way more fun creating!  The cost of Royale is totally worth it - $4.99/mo or $33/year!  PicMonkey is an awesome design tool.
After adding the label overlay, use a fun calligraphy font to add the last name of the family you are creating for.  Under the Overlays tab, there is a floral option.  Use this option to place some flourishes on the scrip text.
There are a few floral overlays that play well with this design.  Adding them to the corners works great for a feminine touch!  Save your design, but don't close out of your PicMonkey window in case you need to make any changes.
Now it's time to move over to Zazzle.  Choose the small vanity tray and using the Add Image button, upload the design you've created in PicMonkey and saved to your computer.
For the most part, your image should fit in the constraints of the tray but you can also use the crop to fit button to trim off a little excess on the left and right sides of the image.
View your tray from multiple angles to make sure you like the way your design is displayed.  Then add to your cart!

If you'd like to make similar designs for multiple gifts, keep your PicMonkey Screen open and design as many as you'd like.  If you'd like to have something similar to this design, click here to download the floral image.  Then open it in PicMonkey to customize your design.  You can read more of my PicMonkey tutorials here....you know you want to!

Be sure you check out if there are any coupon codes going on with Zazzle at the time of your purchase and don't forget to use Ebates to get money back on your purchases!  This a great way to whip up a custom gift after you've stuff your face with a delicious Turkey dinner!

You can check out the stationery, invites, announcements, and more in my Zazzle shop here.

Who in your family is hard to shop for?  Would they like a personalized gift?

xoxo, Moe


Wednesday Decor // The Importance of the (Cleaning) Routine

So, you'd think with my obsession over cleaning schedules/routines/etc I'd have an immaculate home right?  WRONG!  I'm obsessed with cleaning schedules and routines because I suck at keeping a clean and tidy house.  It is the one thing I struggle with that really bothers me.  Not good at cooking?  No problem.  But not being able to keep things tidy is really annoying to me.  It has never been a priority - the thing I'm doing now to make the mess is the priority.  Then before I know it there are little pieces of crap laying around and I don't understand why.

So this post is just another post on what I'm doing to keep my house tidy - yet as I write this the house is a wreck!  Zach just left for another work trip, so rather than worry about the dust we wanted to spend time together.  So don't come over today......you might not like what you see.

I created a routine
I can't remember when I came up with this routine, but it's been a while - 30 min of cleaning/tidying a day in a different zone.  I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time this has been done either.  I have a blog post here about the 4 questions I asked myself in order to make my perfect cleaning list and those questions have pretty much framed my routine. (I plan on having a video on routines in my planner up in the next few weeks as well!)   I decided to clean only Monday - Thursday, 30 min a night, in one of four zones.  I have a post that goes more in depth here.  

I made the routine a priority
How can you do something regularly if you don't find it important?  I decided to track my cleaning schedule using a habit tracker.  I made it a priority to clean each day.  It was a personal goal for myself to stick to my cleaning schedule.  Keeping the routine a priority slowly meant that I was getting a better grasp on what I could do in that time.  I'd set a time and the first few days of cleaning (like I know these next few days will be) the whole 30 min was spent tidying/cleaning.  Priorities are to vacuum and to pick up the clutter.  We have a dog so the hair is what gets on my nerves though I've gotten used to it and know there is no way it's going to go away any time soon!  Eventually it would take me 15 min to clean and declutter and the rest of that time could be spent on a deep cleaning task - like the baseboards in the bathroom, or moving things around to dust/vacuum more thoroughly.  I loved that part!  Keeping up with the routine meant the chore got easier.

The routine made it less daunting
Cleaning one thing a day means I'm only focusing on that one task.  I don't stand in a room and am completely overwhelmed making me want to stop before I've even started.  In previous posts I've mentioned that I choose three things to focus on each of the days and make those the priority of the day.  As long as those are done I can feel satisfied.  By being super specific the task is narrowed and I can feel more confident in my ability to complete it.  Even if it's been a busy week like the passed one focusing on three things means something is getting done to make the next time I'm in that zone easier.

A less daunting tasks is a task that gets done
Because I'm able to break my cleaning list into the most basic parts, I feel I can get more done.  Like I mentioned above - eventually, from week to week and day to day, there's very little that needs to be handled and that leaves time to focus on things like deep cleaning.  30 minutes of something I feel like I have a handle on is totally different from standing in a room freaking out!

The biggest thing for me was making cleaning the priority.  It's not going to get done if I don't do it.  I would say I'm still a messy person but I try to be more aware of it and actually do something about it.  When I'm making a mess I make an effort to clean up afterwards.  If part of the thing you're doing is making a mess, part of finishing that thing is cleaning up.

If you haven't checked out the etsy shop recently, each printable kit has 6 habit trackers and there's even a full page of habit trackers!

How do you tackle your cleaning or any task that you hate doing?  Are there any tips you have?