Beauty Review: NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette

Drugstore Beauty Review: NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette | Candidly Kelsey

In a sneaky little Ulta haul from last week, I picked up the NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette.

I am constantly looking for new make-up tutorials, and how to apply make-up properly.  After contouring and highlighting with a mish-mash of random make-up items (matte or shimmery eyeshadows, anyone?) I really wanted to try my hand at a real contouring palette.  Jaclyn Hill made a recommendation for this palette in one of her older videos, so I basically took her word as law and ordered it almost immediately.

The palette comes with 4 highlighting colors and 4 bronzing/sculpting colors.  The names of each shade are listed on the back, which turns out to be really handy.

For the highlighting shades, left to right, we have Ice Queen, a very shimmery pearl white, Soft Light, soft matte nude, Cream, a matte yellow, and Nectar, a soft shimmery peach (which my camera is not picking up and making it look so yellow, for some reason!).

Drugstore Beauty Review: NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette | Candidly Kelsey
The contouring colors are much more similar to another (and again, my camera is being a little fickle, sorry!), the first being Tan, a warm matte brown, Toffee, neutral matte brown, Sculpt, a soft matte brown, and Hollow, a dark, cool toned matte brown.

Drugstore Beauty Review: NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette | Candidly Kelsey

What I immediately noticed is that you can pop the pans out of the palette, and after a little investigating, discovered you can order individual refill pans for the palette online from  Remember how I said the names were listed on the back? They actually have a larger selection of colors for the individual pans, so if you really hate one of the colors in the palette, there are a few other shades online to try instead.

The good thing is that this palette is very pigmented.  I was shocked the first time I used it.  I actually made the mistake of applying too much at first when I tried to contour, and ended up looking like I had some super cool side burns.  I could have nailed a Joe Dirt impression with how I looked.

My only complaint is that the formula is very powdery.  If you’re not careful, there can be a lot of fallout, and a lot of powder residue on the actual palette.  So not only do you have to be careful when applying it because it’s so pigmented, but it can be hard to blend if you’re too heavy handed.  However, as soon as you figure that out, and adjust how you are applying it, it works just fine.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this palette.  For the $25.00 price tag (and with the buy 2 get 1 free NYX sale that was happening at Ulta at the time), I feel like I got a good value. Eight different shades, the ability to replenish them, and they’re super pigmented. It is definitely not as creamy of a formula as higher-end contouring palettes, but for comparison to other higher end palettes, you get more color options with this one, which makes this a far more versatile product for better value.

Have you tried this palette, or have another ride-or-die highlight & contour palette?  Let me know!


Bright Nails for Fall

Favorite Bright Nail Polish for Fall |

Essie Cream Nail Polish by Essie in “Hip-Anema”

I love a good bright nail polish for fall. Usually fall nail polishes are synonymous with dark, brooding colors: oxblood, navys, deep greens, and neutrals.  I love a good dark blood red polish as much as the next gal, but if you have tiny nail beds like mine, dark polishes can make your fingers look short and stubby.

And now that I live in the big city, short-stubby fingers will totally hinder my future back-up career plan as a hand-model. So I’ve been trying to stay away lately.

I’ve been steering towards oranges and orange-reds as the weather has changed.  Dark reds and navys have me thinking of Thanksgiving and snowfall, instead of crunching leaves and layered sweaters.  I can’t wait until Christmas, but there is something magical about October that has me wanting to stay living in it as long as possible.

essie “Hip-Anema” was an impulse purchase last winter, and I fell out of love with it almost immediately after I got it, and it fell to the back of my collection.  It wasn’t until I was looking for more autumnal colors that I finally picked it back up, and have been using it since August.

Though it’s bright, it has an orange-y undertone that I think works well with the cooler weather, and the anticipation of Halloween.  It makes me think of happy, warm fall days instead of the dowdy, overcast ones we’ve been having in Chicago.  If I squint really hard at my nails, I can see crunchy leaves instead of spitting rain.

As an added bonus: I love the formula.  It has a thin texture that goes on very easily, and doesn’t goop up.  I go for 2-3 light coats, and end with a good opaque manicure that lasts awhile with minimal chipping.

Have you tried it, or have any other favorite autumnal brights?


Current Skincare Routine (For Acne-Prone Skin!)

Cetaphil, Dermadoctor, Boots No.7, Mario Badescu, Simple Skincare, Origins | Candidly Kelsey

It just hit me that for how much I have talked about my skincare and acne woes on my blog, I have yet to share what my actual daily skincare regime is.

Though I’m always trying new things, and there are a few that have stayed tried and true through the long haul.  And as my skin is probably the best that it’s been in a while– due partly to one of my new favorite products, and partly because I’ve gotten on birth control to help control the hormonal acne –I think this is my best routine so far, I thought I’d share!

Cetaphil Gentle Facial Cleanser/Generic for Cetaphil (I’m using Kroger brand at this moment!).  A dermatologist recommended this, as opposed to acne-specific cleansers I had been using.

I swap between the Mario Badescu Special Cucumber Lotion toner at night, which is specific for further cleansing the skin as part of their acne line.  And the Gylcolic Acid Lotion toner, usually in the morning, which is more for gentle exfoliating.  I like to swap them out like this so I’m not overloading my face with different treatments all at the same time, because I like the acne-treat at night.

In the evening, I will move on to my current favorite acne product: DERMADoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Medicated Acne Control Serum.  Ho-ly crap, guys.  Though I’ve raved about Mario Badescu acne products in the past, this has by far surpassed those in effectiveness and ease (SORRY MARIO!! STILL LOVE YA, KISSES).  I will do a whole post on this in the future for any other acne sufferers who are interested, but let’s just say this is my savior and I will bow down to the DERMADoctor Gods for the rest of my life.

In the morning, however, because my active breakouts are mostly gone at this point (knocks on wood), I skip the DERMADoctor and go straight for eye cream, which is the Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream.  I’m not a giant fan, but I’m using it up while looking for something else.

In the evening, I use the Boots No. 7 Youthful Eye Serum.

Then I top it off with my favorite moisturizer, which is the Simple Skincare Replenishing Rich Moisturizer.  It is so calming, and just the right amount of richness for me, so I don’t wake up in the morning with an overly oily face.

Aaaaand that’s it.  Simple enough, but working for me really well at the moment.

Got any skincare favorites I should know about? Let me know!




My Favorite Acne Products

I’m a big fan of Mario Badescu products. I’ve been using the Cucumber Lotion and Buffering Lotion for awhile, but recently added the Drying Lotion to my nightly routine. The combination of the two really seem to help keep the gross little spots at bay.

acne, acne treatment, blemishes, pimple, zit, treatment

I’ve had problems with hormonal acne for years, battling with any over the counter medication I can find. I switched out of acne-centered cleansers for something more gentle, and have added serums and other treatments so that I can control how much of a treatment I am actually putting on my face.

After washing my face at night, I apply the Buffering Lotion while the Cucumber Lotion is still fresh on my face, after reading that toners help serums soak in better. I follow up with my eye cream, and moisturizer. After my moisturizer is completely dry, I dab on a little bit of the Drying Lotion over my blemishes.

The lotion is a little trick to apply. Whatever you do, do not shake it.  And especially do not shake the samples in the store and then read the giant “do not shake” on the back and walk away very quickly. Whoops! The pink goop at the bottom is what you want to apply to your face.

zits, acne treatment, zit spot treatment, spot treatment, Mario Badescu, Mario Bedescu, blemishes

Using a cotton swab, scoop a little bit of the pink solid at the bottom out. Let the excess liquid drip off, and then gently apply to your blemishes. It’s helpful to use a cotton ball or some tissue to catch the extra liquid from dripping down your face.

Warning: this crap stings.  Especially if your skin is broken or dry.  Use it as a spot treatment only as it’s very potent, but holy crap does it work wonders. After the stinging subsides, I forget I have it on at all and go to bed. It’s not a miracle worker, and depending on the size of the tiny rat bastard  blemish on my face, I usually still have a pimple the next day, but the appearance is greatly reduced.

My best results usually occur when I use a combination of the Buffering Lotion and the Drying Lotion, and then skip the acne products the next morning to give my face a chance to relax.  Again, it’s no miracle product, but it’s my little savior until doctors somehow find a way for hormones to not create tiny volcanos on my face, then I’ll take it.

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“No Make-Up” Make-Up Look

I always kind of rolled my eyes at the “natural” or “no make-up” looks that a lot of people boast about.  If you don’t want to look like you’ve got make-up on, then why not just wear no make-up and be done with it?

Then I turned 20, my face started breaking out, developed some super cute acne scars, and I suddenly realized why people seek out this “natural” look.

Last week I stumbled upon my own super natural make-up look by accident.  I had to be at work at the crack of dawn (8am) so I just slapped on a few things to make me look less haggard, and ran out the door.   That make-up look earned me two “How do you look so good without make-up?!” compliments that day.  Jackpot.  I immediately made a mental note of everything I put on that day and plan to recreate this look often.

MAC Cream Color Base, make-up primer, mascara, milani, maybelline, make-up, natural make-up,


I started with the my current favorite primer, the Maybelline Master Prime Blur + Illuminate Primer all over my face.  A light layer of my current go-to foundation, Revlon Colorstay for Combination/Oily Skin on just where I need it for redness and blemishes– my cheeks, chin and a little bit through my forehead– and the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser underneath my eyes.

A light sweep of the Milani Baked Blush in Rose D’Oro across the apples of my cheeks.

Then, for a little bit of highlighting glow, just a sweep of a subtle highlighter.  Last week, I just used  a little bit of “Virgin” eyeshadow from the Naked palette *gasp* because I hadn’t been able to find a highlighter I liked enough to make the purchase.  However, this weekend, I treated myself to the MAC Cream Colored Base in “Hush” that I mentioned in my Birthday Wishlist.  A little tap of that right above the apples of my cheeks and it’s a very dewey glow that I am loving so far.

For eyes, I blended the Mayebelline Color Tattoo shadow in Creamy Beige all over my lid and into the crease, and topped it off with the Covergirl Lashblast Fusion mascara.

And with my favorite EOS balm for the lips, I officially looked natural and radiant with a full face of make-up!  Magic.

Also, apparently I have a fetish for Mayebelline products at the moment, huh?

What is your go-to “natural” make-look?

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