116 Blush Brush
Until recently, I'd favoured other brands over MAC brushes and most of my collection is from Real Techniques. I still love Real Techniques, but it wasn't until I lost their Contour brush (which isn't sold separately), that I was dying to find a brush similar. My friend Lauren let me try her 116 brush, and it was love at first blend. The 116 is small enough to fit the contours of my cheeks perfectly, but isn't overly dense so any powder is easily blended. The MAC 116 brush also has a longer brush handle than the Real Technique contour brush. The longer handle allows for lighter application - hold the handle nearer the end for less pressure. The one downside to this brush is that it's prone to casting bristles and leaving them on my face. I'm hoping after continuous use or washing, it will eventually stop shedding.
Pro Longwear Concealer
I'd been experimenting with a few high street concealers from ELF to Rimmel with good results, but longed for something with better coverage. I've used MAC concealers in the past including their Studio Fix, and Mineralize concealers. I found Mineralize to be a good concealer but wanted something with more coverage, and although Studio Fix covers basically anything, it was quite drying and cakey around my eye area. However, in my opinion their Pro Longwear concealer combines the best of both. Its provides a good buildable coverage, isn't drying or cakey and perfect for the under eye area. It also comes with a handy mess-free pump. I went for shade NC20, a shade lighter than my foundation.
Lip Pencils - 'Stripdown' and 'Oak'
I've been on a search for the perfect nude lip pencil for what seems like forever. I prefer lip liners over lipsticks purely because of the precision on application and I find them a lot longer lasting. Lean towards a liner if you're after that Kylie Jenner overdrawn look. I fell in love with Collection 2000's bargain lip liner in 'Nude Rose' which is the perfect pink shade without being frosty in colour, but can be a bit drying. After many Instagram and Google searches for swatches, I narrowed it down to 2 MAC pencils and couldn't pick between them. When the 2 shades arrived, their tips where basically identical and it's only on application that you can see a shade difference.
Oak is my go-to day time shade. It's light enough for a natural look, but not so light that my nude lips look covered in foundation (awful teen makeup flash backs). Think of it as a 'your lips but better' kind of shade. Stripdown however, is slightly darker and warmer in colour. It's one that I would wear mostly at night and is neutral enough that it can be paired with almost any eye makeup. I'd describe both pencils as to put it frankly - shades of brown, but I remember reading somewhere that apparently brown lips suits everyone. The pencils are on the more expensive side but the quality and length is well worth it.
Left, Oak. Right, Stripdown.
Studio Fix Fluid (Sample)
Studio Fix Fluid - the first high end foundation I tried and loved in my teens. I've used Studio Fix for years and only recently switched to Estee Lauder's Double Wear (you can read a comparison of the 2 here). Receiving this sample made me doubt why I had ever switched in the first place. However, after wearing it for a few days I noticed my skin got drier than usual and the foundation never lasted a full 8 hour shift in work, back to Double Wear! Shade NC25 is perfect for me and I tend to stick to yellow based foundations because I find them to be more flattering.