Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 in Review, Part 1: My 14 Most Disappointing Beauty Purchases

Well, I guess that was an eight-day hiatus! It crept up on me, as such things do. First the weather was gloomy for days on end, so I couldn't take decent photos. Then I took an overnight trip to visit a friend in another city. Then I spent a couple of days in DC for research, which was very pleasant until Wednesday afternoon, when I tripped over a curb in Capitol Hill, face-planted on the sidewalk, slammed my knee against the concrete, shattered my phone screen, and started sobbing, mostly from embarrassment. Now I'm back home, nursing my various bruises and preparing to leave for winter break tomorrow.

In addition to the physical clouds that have interfered with my photography, I've had a cloud of writer's block hanging over me for at least a month now. The writer's block is mostly academic, but it's also cast a shadow over my beauty blogging. In both cases, it's not so much that I don't know what to write; in fact, I have all too many ideas. The problem is that I don't trust myself to put those ideas into words. I write a sentence, think, "There must be a better way to say that," delete the sentence, and never write a new one. I start a post, save it as a draft, start yet another post, save that one as a draft, and never finish either draft. With regard to my academic work, my impostor syndrome is nothing new; but it's strange how I slip into that mentality even while blogging, given how low-stakes the process is. I don't know whether the solution is to take a break and hope for inspiration, or to plug away sentence by sentence and force myself not to hit the delete key, no matter how my writing sounds to my inner critic. At the moment, I'm opting for the latter. Let's see how this goes.

I've had a series of year-in-review posts planned for a while now. To ensure that I end the series on a high note, I'm starting my retrospective with a bit of a downer: 14 beauty purchases that disappointed me in some way or, indeed, in all ways.

Not all of the items on my list are pictured above, because I've returned or given away a few. Most of the things I've kept have at least some redeeming qualities (and I'm not sure why I still have the ones that don't...). I can't find a clear pattern to my disappointing purchases, unless it's that I didn't have a chance to test most of them in person. But there are plenty of great products that I bought this year without swatching, so I don't know what to tell you. No more drugstore eyeshadows, is the only rule I can take away from this.

Below, I've listed the items in the order in which I bought them throughout the year, and linked to my own reviews where possible. Let's begin with my second beauty purchase of 2014...

1. Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Streak 

Am I the only lipstick fiend in the world to have been disappointed by Urban Decay's wildly popular Revolution Lipstick? I think I might be. Streak is a beautiful peachy pink, but it's more sheer than I was expecting, it clings to dry patches on my lips, it wears off within an hour or two, and despite its creaminess, it's drying over time. The lipstick rattles around within the metal tube when I apply it, and I detect a half-musty, half-metallic scent and taste every time I put it on.

What really frustrates me is that I actually tested Streak in Sephora before buying it. I wore it around the city! I gave myself a whole week to contemplate the purchase! And yet, somehow, I struck out. My experience with Streak has dissuaded me from buying any of the other Revolution Lipsticks, even though I've been tempted by Jilted for over a year now.

2. Maybelline Color Elixir in Vision in Violet 

Maybelline's Color Elixirs are trendy lipstick/gloss hybrids along the lines of Dior's Fluid Sticks and Revlon's HD Lip Lacquers. I actually like the Color Elixir formula, which is opaque, non-sticky, and hydrating, though I could do without the strong floral scent. The problem with Vision in Violet is the color. It's my own damn fault: I wanted an opaque blue-toned purple gloss, and I got it. I just don't look very good in it.

Vision in Violet gave me my first inkling that I might not be unambiguously cool-toned. I kept it in case I ever needed a vaguely science-fiction-y makeup look for a costume party, but so far I've used it solely to scare my boyfriend.

3. NYX Hot Singles eyeshadows in Dayclub, Burlesque, and After Party

I've maligned these eyeshadows ad nauseam over the past nine months, so I'll keep this short. The Hot Singles are a recent reformulation of NYX's eyeshadow line, which meant that I couldn't find any detailed reviews of them back in March. I decided to take a chance and order three. Not only did the colors not match their descriptions on the NYX website (go on, tell me the middle one looks like an "iridescent dark purple"), but all three shadows were coarsely milled and practically invisible on my skin. I missed the return deadline and had to toss them. So it goes.

4. Milani Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss in Sweet Grapefruit 

Returned this without a second thought. I don't like thick, sticky glosses, and this one was the thickest and stickiest I'd ever tried. When I wore it, I could actually feel my lips gumming together (ew ew ew I'm cringing as I write this). Sweet Grapefruit was one of my first Milani disappointments, but it would not be my last. FORESHADOWING.

5. Boots No. 7 Poppy King Lip Gloss in Seduction

Earlier this year, my school store abruptly stopped selling Clinique makeup and started selling Boots No. 7, an odd choice for an American university. I bought Seduction in May, when the Poppy King glosses were on sale. What could go wrong, I thought, with a gloss bearing the imprimatur of the Lipstick Queen herself?

Quite a lot, it turned out. I couldn't bring myself to wear Seduction for more than a few minutes, due to its strong orange-spice scent. It was also much sheerer than it had looked in the tube, and it barely darkened my lip color.

This one goes on the purge list, I'm afraid.

6. Barry M Nail Paint in Shocking Pink

Having tried a few Barry M polishes during my stay in England, I confess that I don't get the hype. Yes, Barry M is a very cheap brand with a wide range of colors, but some of its formulas straight-up suck, and it's impossible to predict which ones will disappoint. Shocking Pink is an unexceptional fuchsia creme that chipped within a day.

7. Rimmel ScandalEyes Eyeshadow Stick in Blamed Blue 

This wasn't technically a purchase, since I got it for free in a 3-for-2 sale at Superdrug, but I still regret choosing it over, I don't know, ANYTHING ELSE. It's a beautiful shimmery teal, but it's too thick to use as eyeliner and too stiff to use as eyeshadow, and it will. not. wash. off. It tints your skin turquoise for a whole day. If you make a mistake with it--which, due to the uncooperative formula, you almost certainly will--there's no way to erase that mistake. Plus, it turns out that I don't like how teal looks against my complexion. Another future purge, since I can't in good conscience give Blamed Blue to anyone I care about. Or, for that matter, anyone I don't.

8. Topshop Nail Varnish in Clique 

This creamy avocado green looked so pretty in the bottle, but it turned more yellow than green on my nails. Every time I glanced down at my hands, I half-thought I had a fungal infection. Luckily I have a friend who likes ugly-pretty polish colors more than I do, and she was happy to adopt Clique.

9. Revlon Matte Balm in Mischievous 

As I commented on Liz's recent review of MAC's silver-taupe Viva Glam Rihanna 2, "I've been seeking out strangeness in my lipsticks recently, too. I think it might be that I have every normal color at this point, and now there's nowhere to go but weird." This was certainly the impulse behind my purchase of Mischievous, a pale creamsicle orange. Instead of listening to the reviews that panned Mischievous for its unevenness and tendency to settle into lip lines, I decided I had to have it. Surprise: it applied unevenly and settled into my lip lines. It looks all right when my lips are perfectly smooth, but that happens about twice a year. What is it with pale orangey lipsticks and weird formulas? Is it just my luck, or is it some indelible pattern in the tapestry of the universe?

10. Milani Bella Eyes Eyeshadows

When you have a beauty blog, you sometimes feel a responsibility to test new makeup releases "as a favor to your readers," i.e. "because you have an addiction and can't justify it any other way." Such was my reasoning when Milani released Bella Eyes, a range of 30 eyeshadows in three different finishes. (I guess 2014 was the year of mediocre eyeshadow reformulations or something.) The Bella Eyes shadows are much better than the NYX Hot Singles, but they're still coarser and less blendable than I'd like. Even worse, the domed bit is prone to breaking off in transit, as evidenced by the cratered remains of Bella Charcoal above.

11. & Other Stories Lip Colour in Droguet Purple

It pains me to put Droguet Purple on my worst-of-2014 list, because I think the color suits me and I feel nostalgic for the day I visited & Other Stories in London. But the lipstick is just too patchy and slippery to wear without a liner underneath, and even then it fades quickly--and longevity is essential when you're wearing a just-shy-of-black purple.

12. Tony Moly Cristal Blusher in Milky Violet

Where on earth can I find a purple blush that is 1) actually purple, not cool pink, and 2) not practically invisible? Tony Moly Milky Violet fulfills the first criterion but not the second. Having seen it worn by another pale person here, I assumed it would show up just as clearly on my own face, but Alyssa's warm complexion seems to provide a sharper contrast to the white-based lavender than my cool-neutral skintone does.

13. Revlon Lip Butter in Lollipop

A million times meh. This sheer, shimmery fuchsia just wasn't special enough to keep. It did feel quite moisturizing, though, and I might have held on to it if I didn't already have several superior fuchsias. ("Superior Fuchsias" will be the name of my glam-rock band, which I will found once I teach myself to carry a tune and play an instrument.)

14. Revlon Moisture Stain in Barcelona Nights

It's moist, but it's not really a stain. It's a very pretty color, though, so I've kept it. That might turn out to be a mistake. It's the end of the post and I'm running out of words. I should probably stop typing.

I'll try to post regularly from now on, though I can't count on having reliable Internet access for the next few days, and it's not easy to take photos with a phone whose screen is shattered to hell. Luckily I'm due for a new phone soon! In the meantime, let me know, because I'm curious: what was your most disappointing beauty purchase this year? Indulge my schadenfreude! It's almost Christmas, after all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lipstick Chronology #30: Milani Sangria

Name: Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Sangria

Date Purchased: August 2013

Grade: C+

Notes: In my experience, sangria is almost always a mistake. I can't stomach the taste unless I'm tipsy to begin with, which means that when I find myself drinking it, it's already too late to escape a hangover. The first time I tried sangria was at a tapas restaurant on Little Clarendon Street in Oxford. A guy spent the entire evening hitting on me in front of his girlfriend, presumably to make her jealous. I guess it worked, or didn't work, because they're still together nearly seven years later. Men are the worst. So is sangria, but you don't see anyone using the hashtag #notallsangria.

Buying Milani Sangria, a bright matte plum, was only slightly less of a mistake than drinking its namesake. I'd already tried two other Color Statement lipsticks, Flamingo Pose and Sweet Nectar, and had found them both drying. But I wanted a dark matte lipstick for fall, and I reasoned with myself that because Sangria had a different finish from the other two (matte, as opposed to creme), it might be easier on my lips. Never mind that matte finishes are not, as a rule, a welcome break from other lipstick finishes. What, you expected me to be reasonable when a plum lipstick was involved? You expected me to base a purchase on my personal experience? I don't think so. Plums and dark fuchsias will always be my weakness.

I was somewhat disappointed on both counts. Because Sangria's formula isn't entirely opaque, it becomes a deep bright fuchsia when swatched or worn, and not the witchy vampy shade I had hoped for.

Sangria also has a dry formula, as the lip swatch below makes painfully clear. The lipstick drags when I put it on, and it clings to every dry spot: I might as well be applying a glue stick to my lips. And despite all this, it's not even a true matte! Semi-matte, yes, but not very different in appearance from Milani's creme formula. Oddly, I do find Sangria less drying than my two other Color Statements, but it's still uncomfortable to wear, and it has the cloying watermelon scent common to all Milani lipsticks.

That said, I showed Sangria a lot of love last fall and winter: in fact, I used up about half the tube. I put it aside for spring and summer and didn't pick it up again until I was preparing to write this post, at which point I decided to wear it for a day to see if we had been unfairly estranged. My standards for lipstick comfort have evidently gotten higher in the last year, because I couldn't bear to wear Sangria for more than a few hours. Nor is it terribly unique in my collection: I have three similar plums, all of them more comfortable on my lips. Left to right: Revlon Plum Velour, Topshop Get Me Bodied, Milani Sangria, YSL Belle de Rose.

Sangria is the brightest and pinkest of the four, but it doesn't look dramatically different from a sheered-out Get Me Bodied when worn.

Other elements of this look: Kiko Infinity Eyeshadow #251 (lavender glitter) over NARS Lhasa; NARS Mata Hari blush; cold December morning light. I look disgruntled because I haven't had my coffee yet.

Writing this post has made me decide to give up buying Milani. (Except for the occasional nail polish: I like their recently discontinued formula and have been wondering about their new one.) I've tried quite a few Milani products over the last two years, but have yet to be deeply impressed by any of them. It's a shame that I can't continue to support one of the only cruelty-free drugstore brands, but so it goes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

FOTD: Marsala Monday

Yes, I know it's Tuesday (Wednesday, in some time zones), but I wore this makeup yesterday. Deal with it.

Last week, Pantone revealed its color of the year for 2015: Marsala, a soft plummy brown. Pantone's color of the year is supposed to predict trends in fashion, makeup, and interior design, though these days it seems more cause than prediction, given how quickly beauty brands jump on the Pantone bandwagon every year. I'm anticipating a host of "how to wear Marsala for spring" articles come February: let's be honest, it's a decidedly A/W color. But the weather is A/W as we speak (more W than A this wet, gusty evening), so I'm all for it.

Marsala already has its detractors. Tanya Basu of the Atlantic argues that the color evokes "rust, the grimy, gag-inducing type that lines corners or frat boy dormitory-style bathrooms," or "the '70s-era carpets that lined offices and industrial spaces, created to disguise wear-and-tear from foot traffic and errant crumbs from desk lunches." Personally, I rather like Marsala. It's a nice break from the saturated brights that Pantone has given us for the last few years, and it's only the second brown-inflected color of the year since Pantone started the tradition in 2000. You can see the earlier colors here; I find it strange that three of the 16 shades have been variations on turquoise, while 2004's and 2012's oranges are almost identical. In fact, Marsala is my third-favorite of the 16, behind 2001's Fuchsia Rose and 2007's Chili Pepper. (I have a soft spot for Radiant Orchid, too.)

Both friends and enemies of Marsala have mentioned its culinary overtones. Pantone named the shade after a Sicilian fortified wine often used for cooking, which prompted the Cut's Kathleen Hou to describe it as "a color that makes you want to go to Olive Garden." I think that's awfully harsh, especially since the photo accompanying Hou's article features meat in an orangey sauce. Marsala is a cool-leaning purplish brown, not an orange-brown: that's what makes it interesting. Instead of food, it makes me think of the rich, glowing, muted browns of Baroque art. You can spot plum-brown backdrops and draperies in innumerable 17th-century paintings, especially portraits.

Elisabeth of France, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1628. Did you know that Rubens married his 16-year-old niece when he was 53? Now you know. Yeah, I wish I could unlearn that, too.

George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol, by Anthony van Dyck, c. 1638-9.

Dice-players, Georges de La Tour, c. 1651. De La Tour's chiaroscuro paintings influenced my favorite film of all time, Peter Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract (1982).

..speaking of which.

I don't own a lot of Marsala-hued makeup, but I still happen to have eye, lip, and cheek products in the shade. Clockwise from top left: theBalm Sexy (from the Nude 'tude Palette), Maybelline Color Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk, Sleek blush in Flushed, Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet, Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy.

 Now that my lips are feeling better than they did last month, I've been wearing Coy quite often. If you'd told me a year ago that a shimmery brown would be one of my most-worn lipsticks this fall, I wouldn't have believed you, but look at me now!

Yesterday I put together a Marsala-inspired face using a couple of the products above.

On my eyes, NYX Jumbo Pencil in Iced Mocha on the inner two-thirds of the mobile lid and the plum side of NARS Habanera on the outer two-thirds and the lower lashline. Despite my lack of enthusiasm about Iced Mocha when I first tried it, I've been wearing it a lot in the last few weeks. It's a great workhorse color for autumn, a toned-down version of Maybelline's Bad to the Bronze, and it pairs perfectly with plums and reds. On cheeks, Sleek Flushed; on lips, Revlon Coy, my Marsala-est lipstick. I forgot mascara, which was just as well: it was so cold yesterday that my eyes watered whenever I stepped outside.

Speaking (vaguely) of culinary endeavors, I made biscotti a few days ago, using this recipe. This was my third or fourth time making the recipe, and the cookies turned out beautifully. Since I don't have an electric mixer, I ended up kneading the extremely thick dough by hand--this whisk proved ineffective, if photogenic.

I added chocolate chips, dried cherries, and toasted sliced almonds...

...and look, now I can save money and bring my own biscotti to the coffee shop in the morning! Yeah, I'm shameless.

...anyway. What are your thoughts on Pantone's new color of the year?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Empties, Fall 2014

I've used up quite a few products, mostly skincare, in the last month or two, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to write my first empties post. I've been wondering why so many people (myself included) love such posts. Maybe because it's the closest the law-abiding among us will ever come to the thrill of rifling through someone else's household trash. Maybe because it gives us all hope that we, too, will someday have the excuse to buy a bunch of new things. In the world of beauty addiction, the optimist's glass (or tube, or pan, or jar) is always half empty. I wanted to delay this post until I'd used up Revlon Plum Velour, so that I could have an exciting empty tube of lipstick, but the empty containers of everything else kept piling up...

1. Burt's Bees Royal Jelly Eye Creme

Eye cream is the Pascal's Wager of cosmetics. I suspect that most eye creams are placebos, but what if they're not? Once you start using eye cream, there's no way to tell what you'd look like if you hadn't started, so you might as well keep going. I like this one because it's $15 and it smells like honey and cucumber. At the very least, it's delivering some extra moisture to my eye area, which can't be a bad thing.
2. Deep Steep Honeydew-Spearmint Body Butter

This lotion was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend's mother last year. I'd never heard of the South Carolina-based brand, but I was very impressed with the body butter, which smelled like a summer cocktail: minty and fruity, but not at all artificial (no flashbacks to middle-school Bath & Body Works visits). The formula was thick but not greasy, and unlike other scented lotions, it didn't irritate my sensitive leg skin. Plus, the company is cruelty-free. An all-around win.


3. e.l.f. Nail Polish Remover Pads

My mother picked these up at Target and included them in the little birthday package she sent me this year. Not much to say about these: they're convenient, they do exactly what they promise to do, and they smell like orange and grapefruit. They also leave my nails feeling more hydrated than they do after I use regular polish remover.

4. Eucerin Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

This is my daily SPF moisturizer. It's fairly lightweight, its conventional sunscreen smell isn't too strong, and it doesn't make me break out. Not a game-changing product, but I'll probably repurchase it mindlessly until I can afford something fancier.

5. Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye

I'm cheating here, because I haven't quite finished using this cult-favorite eye cream, a sample that came with a Nordstrom order. (I also got some YSL Touche Eclat samples, which I'm eager to try.) The package, which bears an unfortunate likeness to a condom wrapper, promises "fresher, younger looking eyes by morning." I've used it for two nights now, and it does seem more effective than my Burt's Bees, but it also stings slightly and makes my eyes water when I pat it onto my orbital bone. That can't be good. I don't plan to buy the full-sized version, but it does make me wonder if some eye creams out there aren't placebos.

6. Lush Angels on Bare Skin

I reviewed this lavender-scented, clay-and-almond-based exfoliating cleanser in my skincare post back in April. This is the second pot I've finished, and my opinion on it still stands: it's messy and slightly drying (I never use it more than twice a week), but effective. I haven't repurchased it though, because its shelf life is so short: only two months, according to the label. I confess I used it for another month or two after the expiration date, because it looked and smelled just as it had when new, but I didn't feel great about doing so. I'd like to find another gentle exfoliating cleanser, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

7. Lush Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly

The apartment where I lived until August of last year was tiny and charmless, but it did have one feature that my current apartment lacks: a bathtub. After especially stressful days, I'd drop a sparkly Lush bath bomb into the tub (my favorites were blackcurrant Space Girl and apple-cinnamon Phoenix Rising), mix myself a bourbon and ginger ale, light a beeswax candle, and spend some time in the bath reading the New Yorker or a China Miéville novel. I now have a shower stall, which means no more fizzy purple baths, but Lush has provided for unfortunates like me. Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly is a dark purple jelly soap with a dash of navy glitter and a cherry-coconut scent. The jellifying ingredient is agar, not gelatin, which makes it suitable for vegans. I bought my first tub of Sweetie Pie over a year ago and was so dazzled by its appearance in the pot that I not only took pictures, but also kept those pictures on my phone for 15 months. I am a pack rat of pixels.

I looked at the Lush website just now and noticed that in addition to Sweetie Pie and citrus-scented turquoise Whoosh!, they have a seasonal shower jelly called Snowman. It's also citrus-scented, which seems like a missed opportunity, and it...resembles...something that is not a snowman.

8. Lush 9 to 5 Cleansing Lotion

Also reviewed in my skincare post. I have no idea why the bottle looks so dirty: that just seems to be the color of the plastic. I've lost count of how many bottles of 9 to 5 I've gone through in the year since I discovered it. Despite the moniker "cleansing lotion," it does leave my skin feeling a bit dry, but that's nothing a moisturizer can't fix. Which reminds me, I'm almost out of my favorite moisturizer, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. Is it just me, or does everyone run out of all their skincare products in the space of about a month?

9. Sephora Brightening Rose Mask; Tony Moly I'm Real Sheet Masks

I've now used up all the sheet masks I bought on my trip to New York a month ago: three Tony Moly masks and a Sephora-brand mask that I first tried back in August. Alas, I forgot to keep all the empty wrappers, so your consolation prize is a photo of me doing Serious Academick Worke while wearing the Sephora mask.

Sephora's version (a rather steep $6) is still my favorite of the sheet masks I've tried, but I also liked Tony Moly's "vitality" broccoli mask, and the Tony Moly masks ($3 each) certainly win for adorableness.

I hope you've enjoyed this tour of my trash; now I can throw out the plastic bag of empty containers that has been hanging on my closet doorknob for the past month, making me feel like a hoarder. Have you used up anything exciting recently?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pinks for Winter: Revlon Moisture Stain in Barcelona Nights and Lip Butter in Lollipop

I was planning to wait until spring to buy these two bright pinks, but I had a $7-off-$17 coupon for Revlon burning a hole in my wallet, and there were no other Revlon products I really wanted. So here we are: my first Moisture Stain, Barcelona Nights, and my sixth Lip Butter, Lollipop. (Seventh, if you count the tube of Pink Truffle I lost earlier this year and had to replace.) Because I'm a past master at justifying lipstick purchases, I concluded that Barcelona Nights and Lollipop would help me escape my seasonal rut of brick-plum-wine. We'll see if that happens. I'm wearing Revlon's Matte Balm in Sultry as I type this, so maybe not.

The latest drugstore answer to YSL's Glossy Stains, Revlon's Moisture Stains came out this past spring. I held off on trying them for a few reasons, the first one entirely irrational: I find the phrase "moisture stain" disgusting. "Oh, that's a pretty color on your lips. What is it?" "Thanks, it's a MOISTURE STAIN." Also, my sensitive diva lips react badly to many long-wearing formulas, and I just don't wear glosses very often. But after reading positive reviews from Lena and Liz, among others, I decided to buy a Moisture Stain in a color underrepresented in my collection: Barcelona Nights, a bright, warm reddish pink. Lena mentioned that it reminded her of Dior's Fluid Stick in Wonderland, and having swatched Wonderland a few months ago, I think that's absolutely right.

Here's Barcelona Nights compared to two vaguely similar pinks: Maybelline Vivid Rose (left) and Milani Flamingo Pose (right). Vivid Rose is cooler, appearing almost purple next to Barcelona Nights, while Flamingo Pose is softer and warmer. Barcelona Nights is slightly too cool to be considered coral, but only slightly. It reminds me of one of my favorite nail polishes, Chanel Tapage.

Like the Glossy Stains, the Moisture Stains come in a vial with a doe-foot applicator. Unfortunately, the Moisture Stain vials are opaque, so it's hard to know how much you've used.

I put on Barcelona Nights just as I do Rouge Gouache: one layer that I work into my lips slightly with my finger and allow to set for a minute, then another layer applied with the brush to add gloss and full color. The formula feels sticky and gooey when it first goes on, but it sets within a few minutes. For the look below, I kept the rest of my makeup minimal and matte: Milani Bella Taupe on my eyes and Sleek Life's a Peach on my cheeks.

Despite the vibrancy of Barcelona Nights, the color can look uneven when applied: it's especially hard to get a smooth application on the upper lip. The brush is stiff and a little awkward, and I find myself using my fingers to wipe away smudges and corral the color inside my lip lines. But for me, the effect is worth it.

I'm a compulsive toucher-upper of lipstick and gloss; it always makes me feel calm and focused. But in order to put Barcelona Nights' longevity to the test, I forced myself not to reapply it for several hours. Here it is freshly applied:

I LOVE THIS COLOR. It's like a jellied rose. But does it stay vibrant throughout the day? Alas, no. This is just an hour later, after coffee and half a muffin. The color has faded dramatically, but the shine still lingers.

And a few hours later, after lunch:

Yikes. I would expect this kind of fading from an ordinary lipstick, not from a product whose name promises long wear. I can vouch that the final stain does hang on for a while longer, but why would I want it to? It looks hideous. In fairness, my YSL Glossy Stain also wears off after a full meal, but it does stay put through a drink and a snack.

To sum up, Barcelona Nights is definitely more long-wearing than most glosses and even some lipsticks, but it will need to be reapplied unless you eat or drink absolutely nothing all day (and if that's the case, you have bigger problems than the longevity of your lip color). Despite its name, I didn't find that it imparted any moisture to my lips; in fact, it seemed slightly drying. I'm going to keep Barcelona Nights because I love the color so much, but I doubt I'll buy another Moisture Stain anytime soon.

Now for a cooler, slightly more wintry pink: Lollipop, a semi-sheer fuchsia with sparkle. I've seen the sparkle described as blue (in fact, I was hoping for a sheer version of Urban Decay Jilted), but it looks more silver to me. On the lips, the glitter melds into an overall shine.

Left, one layer; right, two layers. This is one of my less pigmented Lip Butters.

 I have several lipsticks that resemble Lollipop, and I've swatched them below to shame myself for buying another goddamn fuchsia provide you with some comparisons. Not only are these similar pinks, they're also similar Revlon pinks. Left to right: Colorburst Gloss in Adorned, Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia, Lip Butter in Lollipop, Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie.

Two layers of Lollipop on my lips:

Another dark, rainy day, another bad lighting situation, another full face:

I've mentioned before that the Lip Butter formula varies from shade to shade. Some of the shades, like Candy Apple and Red Velvet, are delightfully comfortable on my dry lips; others, like Pink Truffle and Raspberry Pie, either do nothing for my lips or dry them out further. Luckily, Lollipop falls into the former category. It feels soft and squishy and, dare I say it, even moisturizing. That said, I'm not sure whether to keep it. I have several similar colors, and Lollipop failed to deliver that longed-for blue sheen. Plus, like most of its Lip Butter brethren, it has next to no staying power. Look how patchy it gets after half a cup of coffee:

I titled this image "lollipoop.jpg."

Yeah, I think I just talked myself into returning Lollipop. But I have several other bright pinks that I neglect every winter (doing the swatches above reminded me how gorgeous Adorned is!), and I need to find a way to use them. So I turn it over to you: pink for winter, yea or nay? If yea, do you wear it with other colors or with neutrals? I rarely pair bright pink with eye makeup that isn't gray or black--easy, but awfully predictable. Maybe this can be my makeup challenge for December: finding chilly looks for fuchsia lipstick. It is technically a winter color, after all...

P.S. No matter what I do, I can't fix the wonky formatting that makes a couple of lines from Herrick's "Delight in Disorder" dribble horizontally across this post. I like to think it's a graffito from Herrick himself. He was that kind of guy.