You’re Makin’ Me Blush: NARS Orgasm, Milani Dolce Pink and Benefit Sugarbomb

Ever since I heard that NARS Orgasm was a universally-flattering coral blush for any skin type, I was bent on trying it out. Unfortunately, when I did it was practically translucent on my skin. No matter how much I (and the Sephora sales associate) tried to layer it on, it wouldn’t show.

Annoyingly, when swatted on the back of my hand, the flattering rumors about NARS Orgasm proved true. Instead of this cosmetics staple, I was advised to try Benefit Sugarbomb. It was an acceptable substitute — nowhere near similar to Orgasm — but it added a lively shimmer to my cheekbones that did the job. While I went on my MAC lipstick dupe hunt, I decided to also try Milani Baked Blush in Dolce Pink. This hue is definitely more impactful than Orgasm and Sugarbomb, in a more punchy, pink glitter kind of way.

Below are swatches taken outdoors in the shade:

NARS Orgasm-Milani Dolce Pink-Benefit Sugarbomb

Swatches in natural sunlight. Here you’ll see that Benefit Sugarbomb gives more of a highlighting effect:

NARS Orgasm-Milani Dolce Pink-Benefit Sugarbomb-Natural

I used to be exclusively an eye makeup fiend, but lately lipstick and blush have worked their way into my collection. I’m looking for more blush colors to try, and have already ordered:

e.l.f. Studio Blush in Gotta Glow (allegedly a NARS Albatross dupe)

e.l.f. Studio Blush in Twinkle Pink (another NARS Orgasm/Super Orgasm dupe)

e.l.f. Studio HD Blush in Headliner (Make Up For Ever #5 Nip Slip liquid blush dupe)

Reviews for my e.l.f. haul to follow soon!

Suite 707


MAC Lipstick Swatches and Dupes

Lately, I’ve been fixated on lipstick.

As more of a lip balm and gloss kind of gal, I confess that when I used to think about lipstick it seemed like a dated, matronly part of the makeup world– something that survived cosmetics counters only because 50-somethings relied on them for the perfect pout.

Despite the aversion I had for lipstick, the cult following for MAC Cosmetics piqued my interest. Although I enjoy buying, testing and blogging about makeup, I’m far from a cosmetics expert. Sure, I once bought a one-off Dior Addict lipstick for $30 (I’m a sucker for packaging), but for whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to buy MAC lipstick. MAC was a brand that was financially out-of-reach, at least, I thought it was.

I came across another blog called, LipstickDupe, and learned with great delight that there are well-known MAC lipstick dupes from drugstore brands, like e.l.f., Maybelline, Milani and Wet n’ Wild.

I was ecstatic.

Popular MAC Lipstick Dupes

Being completely unfamiliar with the MAC cosmetics line, I first sought to find out which colors were most popular and which hues could compliment my skin tone. I have warm, olive skin and based on my late-night web browses, I settled on testing these colors:

MAC Angel (dupe: Maybelline Born With It), MAC Rebel (dupe: Milani Uptown Mauve), MAC So Chaud (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Purty Persimmon), MAC Ruby Woo (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Red Velvet), MAC Cherish (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Bare It All), MAC Creme Cup (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Think Pink), MAC Mehr (dupe: Rimmel Kate Moss #104)

MAC Lipstick Swatches

All colors in natural lighting.

When I wore MAC Cherish, MAC Angel and MAC Creme Cup, all three looked nearly identical, with Creme Cup being the brightest pink of all three. Overall, I thought MAC Mehr was the better everyday option for my skin tone, but Angel gave off a nice pinky nude on my lips. The latter three colors (So Chaud, Rebel and Ruby Woo) were also fun, bold hues for special occasions.

Here’s where the fun really starts. I looked into common MAC lipstick dupes for all colors above and a couple were flops in my opinion, but some were admirable copy cats:

MAC Lipstick Dupes Cherish Angel Creme Cup

All colors in natural lighting.

Bare It All ($2) vs. MAC Cherish – Very similar color comparison. I found that many of the Wet n’ Wild dupes had very creamy (almost drying) formula that made me want to lick my lips or slap on a layer of lip balm. Regardless of the formula, Bare It All is a nice, muted nude that I can wear to work (with gloss), so it’s a keeper.

Born With It ($7) vs. MAC Angel – Hands down identical color. For me, both products offered similar pigment, with Maybelline’s version offering added moisture. Some beauty blogs I’ve read also said that e.l.f. Classy was an exact match, but I’ve yet to try that MAC dupe; in the meantime, I’m very impressed with Maybelline Born With It.

Think Pink ($1) vs. Creme Cup – Oh, boy. This one is definitely a return in my books. First of all, Think Pink is a lot more neon/bright/opaque pink than Creme Cup, making it a poor dupe. Secondly, this is a wildly unflattering color on me. I got Think Pink on a BOGO 50% off sale at CVS; maybe I’ll try something else post-refund.

Kate Moss #104 ($6) vs. MAC Mehr – Side by side, the two colors look similar, and as a swatch, are practically the same color. Personally, I find Rimmel’s Kate Moss #104 a deeper mauve than Mehr, but are exact dupes on the lips. I actually wore Kate Moss #104 when swatching at my local MAC store. When I asked a MAC associate about Mehr, she said it would actually look like the color I was wearing– and it did. Victory.

MAC Lipstick Dupes Mehr So Chaud Rebel Ruby Woo

All colors in natural lighting.

Purty Persimmon ($2) vs. MAC So Chaud – Holy crap, these two are so identical my frugal feels are tingling. I love the orangey-red on my lips, and the pigmented color and finish of the cheaper Wet n’ Wild dupe can’t be beat. This is a great springtime color for a night out, particularly for my skin tone.

Uptown Mauve ($6) vs. MAC Rebel – A color that so many makeup fanatics swear by, there are actually a few MAC Rebel lipstick dupes available in drugstores for less. I tried to find Wet n’ Wild’s Sugar Plum Fairy, which I hear takes the lead among Rebel copies, but it was out of stock. Womp Womp.

Then, I heard that Milani offers two dupe-worthy colors: Sangria and Uptown Mauve. Sangria looks like the same color as Rebel from the tube, but I decided to try Uptown Mauve, because I’m a wimp when it comes to dark colors and Uptown Mauve appeared lighter compared to Rebel. When swatched on my skin, however, the two colors became one. I’m thrilled with my pick; it’s a gorgeous color that mocks MAC Rebel, seamlessly.

Red Velvet ($1) vs. MAC Ruby Woo – While I loved Red Velvet on my lips, it’s distinctly different from MAC’s Ruby Woo when swatched and worn. MAC’s version is said to be a universally flattering red, with its bluish undertones. Red Velvet is staying in my new lipstick collection, but I can’t bring myself to say it’s even a contender among other MAC lipstick dupes.

With all said and done, I spent about $25 for seven drugstore brand MAC lipstick dupes. Not a bad experience!

Let me know if any of these dupes worked for you, or if you have other suggestions in the comments below. 🙂

Suite 707

Sephora Haul: Those Highbrow Kids

Winter has finally decided to show its mug in L.A., and for some, it’s a face that only a mother could love. It’s nowhere near the kind of winter that much of the country is facing, but it’s ours. It’s rain.

There’s a saying here: “People get crazy in the rain.”

And that’s what’s happened. I went nuts… at Sephora.

Sephora Haul

I’m obsessed with thick caterpillar eyebrows, so I was all over the Anastasia Beverly Hills display. No one wants spidey-brows, but everyone wants Cara Delevingne‘s furrow (cause they’re beautiful and Cara is many woman’s girl-crush at the moment).

I’ve usually don’t fill in my brows, just because they’ve always seemed fine in the mirror. That was before I noticed the pictures. My brows are somewhat sparse at the tail, so this is happening.


In addition to a strong brow, I’ve decided to change up my skincare regimen. I currently use Lift Lab Purify and Clarify Daily Cleanser (thanks TPOLA!) and Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer. That’s pretty much it.

I’m still sticking with Lift Lab, since it lathers well, smells like its straight out of a luxurious spa and washes clean. My new routine includes Origins United State Balancing Tonic after cleansing, which is a good thing considering I still see grime after my Clarisonic. Yes to Tomatoes was a fair drugstore moisturizer and I like that it was all-natural, but it was too heavy at times no matter how sparingly I applied. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy feeling.

While I’m far from full-blown crows feet, my grandmother always told me that splurging on skincare was worth it. Youth lasts a three decades max, if you don’t take preemptive steps to take care of your skin. So I’ve transitioned into grown-up skincare by investing in a $40 night cream. The price almost made me gag.

Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins caught my eye. Not only was the name cute, but it received rave reviews. First impression? Pretty damn good.



Hopefully losing the hundies won’t all have been for naught.

Suite 707

‘Tis the Season for Yelp’s “Nifty” Boutique

It’s a Thursday and I’m 27, so naturally I’m inclined to stay in after a long day at work to trudge through the same old routine: eat dinner, mindlessly thumb through Facebook on my iPhone while in bed, and fall asleep with the TV on around 10:30 p.m.

But every now and then, I shake things up a bit and socialize during the work week and thanks to Yelp’s “Nifty Under $50” event, I got the chance to cross a gift off of my Christmas shopping list.

Yelp Nifty Under 50 Holiday Event

The event was held at the Mack Sennett Studios in Silverlake, CA. (Which I’ve driven by countless times always questioning whether the building was an auto repair shop or a burger stand — apparently, it was neither.)

Here are a few of my favorite small businesses from the event.

Charlie and Marcelle Jewelry

These ladies were so sweet! They took to time to answer all my questions about their beautiful pieces. I bought a friend a couple things (don’t worry– no gift spoilers here). Check out their Etsy shop! Super reasonable prices, and really great stuff for those who like dainty, stackable jewelry.

Charlie and Marcelle Jewelry

Charlie and Marcelle Jewelry 2

Winey Guys

This is pretty cool stuff. Their featured material of choice are repurposed wine barrels and liquor bottles. Too bad I’m the biggest wino I know, or I’d have bagged a few of these as gifts.

Winey Guys

The fiancé bought a balancing wine glass holder for just $15.

Winey Guys 2

Pet Pigeons

Pet Pigeons designer Veronica shared that she self-mined some of the stones used in her pieces. Her wire-wrapped jewelry were truly a work of art. I caught myself gravitating back to her table, fascinated with how she composed each item.

Pet Pigeons

Dear Doggy

Pets need love, too. Which is why our very own household brat, Bailey, will be rocking a new Christmas scarf from Dear Doggy. They had an assortment of bow ties that could turn any dowdy pup into a dapper dog.

Dear Doggy

Bailey will be wearing the grey scarf! (left)

Dear Doggy 2

Krave Jerky

Last but most delicious is Krave Jerky. We bought five bags: chili lime, black cherry pork, basil turkey and doubled-up on garlic chili pepper. Everything was so so so good. I can’t stand it. Good (or bad) thing for us, they say they can be found at Whole Foods, Albertsons and other big grocers in L.A.

Krave Jerky

I’m new to Yelp events, but this experience has gotten me amped for the next shopping blitz. Guess I should review the event on Yelp???

Suite 707

Winter Is Coming: A Search For Knitted Everything and THE Brown Boots

Southern California weather is a finicky gal.

One day she has a mellow temperament that’ll warm you up even on your moodiest of days, the next she a cold, face-chapping bitch. There’s no real in between.

I’ll probably get nasty stares by saying this, but man, is it hot this November. Earlier this week it was a solid 90 degrees in some L.A. cities, but I’m happy to report that today is a balmy 64.

Welp! That’s my cue to bring my “winter” garb to the front of my closet.

This time of the year always calls to the east-coaster within (or what I envision east coasters to look like, as I’ve never been…)

My hit list includes:

Knit Beret

Knit Beret

Something in a neutral color like the sandy colored one pictured above, plus a fuzzy pom.

Hopefully no bunnies were harmed in the making of that photo.

Military Jacket

Fur Military Coat

Fur-trimmed hood, lots of pockets, badass olive green hue. Yes, please.

I also like that this jacket isn’t super bulky. It gets chilly here in Los Angeles, but there’s really no reason to wear a damn PARKA!

Slouchy Sweater

Oversized Knit Sweater

Chunky (and slightly clunky). Doesn’t this sweater make you want to grab a cup of hot cocoa and just kick back?

Brown Boots (and Leg Warmers)

Brown Knee High Boots

Yes, both. But not a 2-in-1, because that’s just sad. I already have a pair of low-heeled, knee-high brown boots by Born that I purchased at a discount Mexican store for $55 (what? I like fancy things, but hate paying a fancy price).

But alas! My beloved boots are torn up, and I need a new (more polished) pair.

The hunt has begun, my friends.

Suite 707

I Sure Am!

It’s been a minute since my last post,

but now I actually have a minute to share all the reasons I’m on cloud nine.

I visited Sequoia National Park

I’m 27-years-old, California born and raised, yet the closest I’d been to a Sequoia was my Pinterest board of places to see before I bite the dust. On August 23rd, my bf of eight or so years (we don’t really keep precise count) went on a getaway trip to take a peek at this world wonder.

We stayed at the amazing Rio Sierra Riverhouse in Three Rivers, CA along the river.

It had this view.

Need I say more?


The day of our visit into the Sequoia National Park on August 24th, we took the Congress Trail to check out the bigger Sequoias in the area and wow, were they spectacular.

No joke– when walking up to one of these trees you can’t help but feel a sense of reverence. These were around for thousands of years and are the largest living things in the world.

They’ve seen some pretty gnarly things in their day.




The last stop along the trail led us to a Sequoia grove called, The House. It was a great way to end our secluded tour, and it’s here where I received the biggest surprise ever.


wait for it…

I’m fucking engaged!


That’s right, ladies and gents– the show you’ve all been waiting for– coming soon to a theater near you in 2015:

The future Mrs. Coates

Planning is underway, so expect more (and more) wedding posts.

Suite 707

Sephora Haul: Laura Mercier, Benefit and Sephora Collection

Sephora Haul

For lunch today,I had a makeup pow-wow at Sephora and it was glorious.

I had to grab a couple much-needed essentials, but the other half of my purchases were completely impulsive– what can I say? I live on the financial edge (ever so slightly).

Here’s are the goods:

Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Bare Beige

Laura Mercier Lip Glace Bare Beige

Lip color of any kind is not usually in my daily regiment, but I decided it was time for me to transition out of my lazy-college-days routine and actually try to spruce my smile up every morning.

After a frustrating exchange with a snobby Sephora associate — I finally found the perfect nude lip color for my olive skin tone (all by my lonesome).

Benefit Sugarbomb Blush

Benefit Sugarbomb

Benefit Sugarbomb 2

I desperately wanted to get all kinds of crazy manic about NARS Orgasm blush, but it went completely sheer when I applied it– no matter how much I layered it on. Eventually, I caved and accepted the reality that me and the big-O just don’t mix.

Thankfully, a second (much friendlier) Sephora chick helped me find a better alternative: Benefit’s Sugarbomb blush. The end result mimics the typical look of Orgasm, which is fine by me.

Yippie skippy!

Sephora Waterproof Contour Eye Pencil in Love Affair

Sephora Contour Eye Pencil 12HR Wear Love Affair

(Photo: Sephora)

This eyeliner goes on super silky– at least the sample did. I haven’t opened mine yet, because I still want to savor the fuzzy feeling of my hasty purchase. The color is closest to plum, so it’s funky in a subtle way. I’m in my late 20’s– no room for crazy, neon-rainbow shenanigans!

Sephora Pro Eyelash/Eyebrow Brush

Sephora Pro Eyebrow Brush(Photo: Sephora)

Ok, so maybe I need a little neon in my life. I’ve been obsessed with colored mascara of late so I bought a tube of Maybelline’s Limited Edition Great Lash in Vision in Violet (more on this another time). Early morning, running late to work problem: my eyelashes looked like gross furry tarantula legs, and I couldn’t find my lash comb. Long story short, I used a 2″ boar hairbrush to separate the clumps.

It was a curious sight to say the least.

Anyway– in comes Sephora’s Pro Lash and Brow brush to save the day.

Good stuff, IMO. Having a $50 Sephora gift card– even better stuff.