Friday, July 15, 2016

FOTD: #SummerGoth

My tastes in makeup have shifted recently. I've noticed myself gravitating toward different colors, textures, and undertones, and caring less about "seasonal" makeup. Spring was so cold and dreary this year that I didn't feel like making my usual switch to coral and pink tones. But even now, with the hot, swampy Mid-Atlantic summer in full swing, I find myself drawn to murky, gloomy makeup: browns, dark purples, grays, that sort of thing. I'm still too much of a traditionalist to wear, say, NARS 413 BLKR in July, but I'm finding the summer-goth aesthetic more and more appealing. You might argue that this too is an expression of seasonal rules: only someone who cared about them would care about breaking them, right? Well, maybe so. And maybe I'm not even breaking them: black plums, thunderstorms, and blackberries all belong to summer. So let's say that I'm complicating the usual summer palette. Yes, that sounds pretentious enough for this blog.

The beauty world isn't abandoning dark colors this summer, either. Some people grumbled at Bite Beauty's collection of six lipsticks for Summer 2016, which included a dark brown, a navy blue, a gray-purple, and a blackened green. But I don't see many complaints about Anastasia's new Modern Renaissance eyeshadow palette, an assortment of deep browns and berries, or Kat Von D's jewel-toned Serpentina palette, the ideal gift for the Slytherin in your life. Instagram is still dominated by brown lipstick; fashion is still drawing inspiration from the '70s. Even k-pop has joined the summergoth game—I love Hyelim's vampy makeup in the new Wonder Girls MV (totally worth a watch). Modern nostalgia for '70s nostalgia for the '20s—is there anything better, makeup-wise?

Technically speaking, "goth" might be the wrong word for the aesthetic I'm pursuing right now (plus, I hear that bona fide goths don't take kindly to casual appropriation of the word), but "Jazz Age Hollywood meets k-pop's dream of the '70s meets '90s teen witch" takes so much longer to type. 

Really, this FOTD was born of my desire to wear MAC Antique Velvet before September. I found myself missing it while I was in England (yes, I miss specific lipsticks when I travel), and once I returned, it seemed silly to ignore it for the sake of a seasonal propriety that no one else gave a shit about. I mean, I paid $17 for this lipstick; I have the right to wear it whenever I please. So here's the face I put together two days ago. That dark background makes me look a bit—but only a bitpaler than I really am.

And here are the products I used, clockwise from top: MAC Antique Velvet, ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter (still haven't hit pan despite using it several times a week for the past few months), Illamasqua Zygomatic cream blush, the dark brown sparkly shade from my theBalm custom palette, Seventeen Statuesque eyeshadow.

A better look at Lunch Money (and my new moonstone earrings from an outdoor market in Oxford):

I felt trapped in a makeup rut before I left for the UK, but traveling forced me out of my usual routine, and now I'm creating looks that I'm actually happy with. I suppose this particular look is a disheveled version of Instagram trends (come to think of it, almost everything I do, makeup or not, is a disheveled version of something else). I've got the dark matte lip and the highlighter, but my eyes are less defined, my brows are messier, and I'm not glowing like a cyborg wrapped in Christmas lights, not that there's anything wrong with that. In retrospect, I could have made my eyes a bit smokier: the dark brown eyeshadow is smudged along my upper lashline, but it doesn't show up well in photos. Still, I like the casual feel of this version; I also like how well the dark lip goes with my very '90s-influenced new sundress. I want to unearth my tattoo choker from 2000, though if you're old enough to have worn it the first time around...

But I was 12!

Have you accepted the #summergoth aesthetic into your heart?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Beauty Abroad, Part 20: Barry M Nail Paints in Butterscotch Sundae, Damson, and Vintage Violet

I thought I'd post more after returning from England, but instead I've spent most of my time agonizing over a dissertation chapter that I'm revising (well, basically rewriting). You know that feeling when you read over an unfinished piece of writing one too many times, and suddenly it seems to dissolve before your very eyes, and you're no longer sure whether you've made an argument or even written coherent, grammatical sentences? And then you start questioning the very foundations of your knowledge and reach the conclusion that you don't know how to write about anything and in fact have never known? Yeah. Experience has taught me that the only thing that helps once I reach this point is taking a break, and I'm lucky enough to have the liberty of taking breaks when I need them. Here's hoping that writing about nail polish will clear my head.

Let me introduce you to the three Barry M nail polishes (sorry, "Nail Paints") that I bought in England last month. L-R: Vintage Violet, Damson, Butterscotch Sundae.

Vintage Violet comes in the original ("Classic") Nail Paint formula, while Damson and Butterscotch Sundae belong to the "Gelly Hi-Shine" line, which is shinier and longer-lasting (and slightly more expensive) than the core line. The Classic Nail Paints retail for £2.99 (that's a mere $3.89 in these post-Brexit days), while the Gelly Hi-Shine polishes are £3.99 ($5.18), though I got Damson and Butterscotch Sundae in a 2-for-£5 sale. Barry M bottles are on the small side: 10 ml (0.35 fl oz) each, as opposed to 15 ml for OPI and Zoya, 13.5 for Essie, 13 for Chanel, 12 for Formula X, and 11 for Butter London (might as well be thorough).

It's worth noting that the Classic shades have a normal-looking round brush, but the Gelly Hi-Shine shades have a wide flattened brush. My nails are quite narrow, but I still find the flattened brush convenient for covering the nail in fewer swipes than usual. That's the brush for Vintage Violet on the right, and for Butterscotch Sundae on the left.

While mulling over the direction of this blog post, I realized that all three shades seemed quintessentially English to me. Butterscotch Sundae and Damson reminded me of two colors I'd seen repeatedly during my visit: the warm off-white of clotted cream (I ate a lot of clotted cream) and the brilliant blue of stained glass. I don't associate Vintage Violet with one particular object, but its bruised-plum hue recalls the constant cloud cover and the overall political mood of last month in the UK. (I hear it was a particularly wet June, not that I needed independent verification.) I'm thinking of scenes like this one, from the Winterbourne Botanic Garden at the University of Birmingham:

Vintage Violet is a beautiful color, a somber taupey purple, but it pulls darker and grayer on the nails than it appears in the bottle. I was hoping for a lighter shade than my two other murky purples (murples?), but Vintage Violet is pretty similar to them when worn. I need to buy one of those plastic nail-swatch wheels, because photographing a bunch of bottles together isn't particularly helpful, but this is the best I can do for now. L-R: Vintage Violet, Zoya Normani, Essie Smokin' Hot.

Vintage Violet needs three coats for full opacity. It's a bit closer to true purple than the other two, but only a bit:

The bigger problem is that Vintage Violet is as chip-prone as the other Barry M Classic shade I've tried, Shocking Pink. I've worn it only once, but it chipped after a day and a half, so I wasn't exactly tempted to wear it again. I wouldn't say I regret this purchase, exactly, but it turned out to be less unique than I thought. It's good to keep in mind that the minuscule shade variations that we beauty junkies obsess over are invisible to 99.9% of the population. If I wore Vintage Violet on Monday, Smokin' Hot on Tuesday, and Normani on Wednesday, no one would notice that I was changing my polish every night like a weirdo. And while I don't really care who notices that I'm changing my polish or lipstick or whatever, the fact is that when I'm out and about in the world, I don't notice those shade variations either. A bright pink lipstick puts me in a certain mood, and it doesn't really matter whether that lipstick is MAC Candy Yum-Yum or Maybelline Vivid Rose, even if Candy Yum-Yum is brighter and more matte than Vivid Rose. You know?

On to a purchase I'm happier with: Damson, a bright blue that I bought as a replacement for my dried-up OPI Eurso Euro. In the bottle, Damson is just a bit lighter than the storied International Klein Blue, but like Vintage Violet it turns darker on the nails, and it could pass for IKB in bright sunlight:

A damson, by the way, is a true British delicacy: a small, sour fruit related to the plum (its name comes from the Middle English damascene or "Damascus plum"). It's used mainly in jam and flavored gin, and its color has nothing in common with its Barry M namesake:

Far closer to Barry M Damson is the blue used for stained-glass windows in cathedrals all over the UK. Here's a stunning example from Canterbury Cathedral:

And a watery stained-glass reflection in the Jacobean chapel at Wadham College, Oxford (students there are actually called "Wadhamites," lololol):

And here's an unflattering photo featuring Damson in action at London's Borough Market, just before I sank my whole face into a raspberry-cream donut from Bread Ahead:

Opaque in two coats, Damson lasts about three days without chipping, which is average for me. More importantly, it's a color that makes me happy every time I glance at my nails. As you know, I'm obsessive about seasonal makeup and polish, but medium and dark blues are year-round shades for me. I'm wearing Damson on my toes right now, because even ugly ballet-veteran feet deserve pedicures.

Finally, my favorite of the three: Butterscotch Sundae, an all-but-white beige. This will be a hard one to write about, since I've been vegan for the past week and have three days to go before I can eat an actual butterscotch sundae (don't worry, this one from a fancy pub in Kensington was shared between five people):

Butterscotch Sundae is one of Barry M's four new Hi-Shine shades for Spring 2016 (see the other three swatched here). Three of the four verge on white: along with Butterscotch Sundae, there's Pink Lemonade, a very pale pink, and Cream Soda, a cool-toned off-white with a hint of yellow-green. I've long fantasized about some brand releasing a collection of non-streaky almost-white polishes: there could be a white with a hint of gray, a blue-toned white, a slightly creamy yellow-white...Until that happens, Barry M's new collection is the closest we'll get.

Butterscotch Sundae needs three coats for opacity, but it goes on smoothly and isn't streaky at all. It lasts about as long as Damson, though the formula is a bit thicker, as pastels often are.

I love how this shade looks against my skin—so clean and calming. It's also a great base for glitter, as I discovered a few days ago. I put down two coats of Butterscotch Sundae (not quite opaque, but close enough), followed by two coats of Mod Lacquer Nonpareils, a rainbow glitter in a sheer white base:

I ordered Nonpareils from Mod Lacquer's Etsy shop about three years ago. Mod Lacquer later reformulated Nonpareils to have more glitter per swipe—not that that information is much good to anyone now, since the brand sadly closed up shop last year. They had a nice assortment of bright playful colors with contrasting glitters (yellow with teal glitter is a combo I remember coveting), but I guess there's a lot of competition out there for any indie brand. Nonpareils is a great layering polish for whites and pastels because its base is so sheer, but it does take a looooong time to dry—like, 30 minutes per coat. Luckily, the result is worth the faff:

But let's talk about clotted cream for a second. For those who have the ill fortune to be unacquainted with this delight, it's full-fat cream that has been heated and cooled to produce a stretchy, gooey, almost chewy consistency. Originally from Cornwall and Devon, clotted cream is served with scones and (usually strawberry) jam for the traditional British cream tea. Wikipedia notes that "the regular consumption of clotted cream is usually thought to be bad for health," which is right up there on the understatement scale with "the Scots are a tiny bit irritated at the Brexit result," but there's no denying that clotted cream is very good for mental health. Look at this perfect orb of dairy from London's Savoy Hotel:

As I discovered after posting a photo of a cream tea on Instagram, the order in which cream and jam are placed on a scone is a divisive issue. I favor the Devon method (cream first), but the Cornwall method (jam first) has its merits as well. Jam first means that the cream smears the jam around and the two get mixed together, which is inferior aesthetically but produces a nice blend of flavors. This cream tea à la Devon is from the Edwardian Tearoom at the Birmingham Museum of Art:

Yes, Butterscotch Sundae is a tiny bit pinker than clotted cream, but I think of cream tea whenever I wear it. I don't know, guys, I may not be cut out for veganism.
£ 2.99

Monday, July 4, 2016

Beauty Abroad, Part 19: Seventeen Eyeshadow Mono in Statuesque

Seventeen is a British beauty brand that had never sparked my interest prior to last month's UK trip. It doesn't get much press in the blogosphere, probably because it's exclusive to drugstore giant Boots and so lacks a solid brand identity. Boots has two house beauty brands: the more famous and extensive Boots No. 7, which also offers a range of skincare, and the smaller, trendier Seventeen, which is geared toward younger shoppers. Having turned 17 almost a dozen years ago, I assumed that Seventeen had little to offer me: the name evoked images of brightly colored, poorly executed kiddie makeup. But one day I decided to swatch a few of Seventeen's eyeshadow singles, and though some were indeed patchy and cheap-looking, I came away very impressed with the shimmery neutral shades. Two in particular caught my eye: Rose Quartz, a purplish taupe, and Statuesque, a coppery rose gold.

Top to bottom: eyeshadow monos in Magenta (note that the matte formula is much less pigmented) and Rose Quartz, along with two matte lipsticks whose names I forget: 

Eyeshadow monos in Brown (seriously, guys, are you even trying?) and Statuesque, first in indirect light, then in direct sunlight. For some reason, probably prolonged exposure to air, Statuesque swatched darker from the tester than it did from my new pan:

Rose Quartz was very similar to an eyeshadow in my theBalm custom palette, but I didn't have anything quite like Statuesque, so that was the only one I bought. Why does so much British advertising rely on painful puns like "eye eye"?

This looks like your typical manicure-ravaging drugstore eyeshadow pot, but it opens with a clever mechanism:

Push down on that latch, and the lid pops openno need to wedge your fingernails into an evil little crack. Nice work, Seventeen!

The eyeshadow itself looks pinker in the pan than it does on the lid (this is after three weeks of frequent use):

It occupies a nice middle territory in my eyeshadow collection: darker and more bronzey than my true pinks, but pinker and lighter than my bronzes. Top to bottom: finger swatches of theBalm Stand-offish, theBalm Stubborn, Statuesque, Maybelline Pomegranate Punk, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze:

Blending out Pomegranate Punk produces a color similar to Statuesque (see this post for proof), but the large gold sparkles make Pomegranate Punk less subtle than Statuesque. I also don't think my pot of PP is long for this world: it's getting dry and hard to blend. By comparison, Statuesque's formula is very soft and blendable, but still opaque. (I don't buy many cream eyeshadows these days—I don't want to have to worry about them drying up and becoming unusable.)

Statuesque impressed me on first swatch, but it was my own absent-mindedness that revealed the extent of its versatility. For our nine-day visit to London, I left much of my eyeshadow in Birmingham, bringing only my Urban Decay Naked2 Basics, my theBalm custom palette, and Statuesque. I promptly misplaced my custom palette in our rented flat (it turned up on the last day, hidden in a stack of books on the nightstand), depriving myself of my usual grays and taupes, as well as some quirkier colors. I had to adapt to an entirely brown-based color selection, with Statuesque my only non-matte shade. It soon proved its worth both as a one-and-done shade and as the point of interest in a brown smoky eye. It also proved its durability, clinging to my lids (over primer, of course) throughout the long muggy days. 

Here it is today, applied all over the lid (again, over NYX HD primer) and blended into the crease—no other eye makeup here except mascara:

And the rest of my Independence Day look: Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, which I've been wearing for about a month straight, and Urban Decay Revolution lipstick in 69. (I'm also wearing shorts that match the lipstick exactly. AMERICA! And I bought those moonstone earrings at an outdoor market in Oxford last week.)

Something a little more complex, from last week: Statuesque on the mobile lid, Urban Decay Primal (a cool-toned medium brown from the Naked2 Basics palette) in the crease, and Urban Decay 24/7 liner in Demolition on the lashline. Unfortunately, I have such a light hand with eye makeup that all my "smoky" looks end up boringly work-appropriate (though I promise this looked smokier in person).

And here's the full look. My blush is Zygomatic again, and my lipstick is Bourjois Rouge Edition in Beige Trench, which I'll review next.

Wearing Statuesque for almost a week straight revealed not only its own versatility but also the versatility of the products I wore with it. Until last month, I'd never quite unlocked the potential of Demolition or the Naked2 Basics palette (note that I still haven't reviewed either one). Now, though, I feel a lot more confident with both products. It was useful to have my options limited so dramatically for a week, even if my chronic forgetfulness was to blame.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! (And happy belated Canada Day to those of you who don't have to worry about Donald Trump becoming your next president.) If you're still seeking the perfect summer cocktail, I highly recommend this bourbon slush punch from Smitten Kitchen: you squeeze some oranges and lemons, mix the juice with bourbon and strong black tea, and blend the mixture with crushed ice. We made it yesterday and have lots of punch mix left over for future revelry.

And by "future" I mean "imminent." Byeeee.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #6: June

The title of this post is misleading, since I took a break from my low-buy during my month in England (I'm writing this on my last evening here). I'll just say it: I bought 11 12 new pieces of makeup and nail polish in June. This is going to be a haul post. Which is okay! I planned for this hiatus, I could afford it, I'm happy with what I bought, and I'm eager to get home and start experimenting. I'm also going on a replacement-only no-buy for the month of July, just to give myself some time to enjoy my new stuff. In August, I'll resume my low-buy regimen.

As I'm sure you've heard, the pound has taken quite a hit in the last week. I bought seven of my new products pre-Brexit but am using the current exchange rate ($1.33 to £1) for the conversions in this post, so my total in dollars will be a little lower than what I actually paid.

New Makeup/Polish:

Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Facet: £14.50
Barry M Nail Paint in Vintage Violet: £2.99
Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paints in Butterscotch Sundae and Damson: 2 for £5 (usually ‎£3.99 each: how could I resist?)

L-R: Vintage Violet, Damson, Butterscotch Sundae, Facet.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick in 02 Beige Trench: £7.99

It's VERY hard to take a color-accurate photo of this grayish pinkish beige. This is almost right, but imagine it a bit pinker.

Topshop Eyeshadow in Holograph: £7.00
Seventeen Mono Eyeshadow in Statuesque: £3.89

L-R: Holograph, Statuesque.

 Wait, that photo doesn't quite convey the duochromey glory of Holograph...

...ah, that's better.

Kiko High Pigment Wet & Dry Eyeshadow in 22 Satin Bright Rose: £6.90
Kiko Infinity + Sparkle Eyeshadow in 405 Magenta: £2.80 (marked down from £5.90: the Infinity line has been discontinued)
Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 36 Golden Mauve: £4.80 (marked down from £6.90)
Kiko Intense Colour Long Lasting Eyeliner in 16 Black: £5.20

Clockwise from left: 22 Satin Bright Rose (cooler IRL: it's not peach!), 405 Magenta, 36 Golden Mauve, 16 Black.

Magenta, you guys! The internet tells me it's not quite opaque, but I doubt I'd want to coat my entire lid in opaque magenta glitter anyway.

Oh wait, I almost forgot the best beauty purchase of all. "Lip Saviours" from the Canterbury Cathedral shop: something like £4.50.

Much as I admire Canterbury Cathedral's willingness to have a bit of fun at its own expense, I have to wonder: what's with the nun? Couldn't they have found an Anglican lip-balm trio? I mean this is a bit high-church even for Archbishop Laud.

Total (New Makeup + Polish): about £66 ($87.50)

New Skincare:

Lush Mask of Magnaminty: £5.75 ($7.62)

Replacements: None

Total for June: $95.12 (deep breaths, deep breaths)

Wishlist for July:

No, I don't plan to buy anything in the next month, but there are a couple of products on my radar. I've been wanting a peachy highlighter, and since I've had good luck with ColourPop Lunch Money and Monster, I've been thinking of picking up Teasecake as well:

Until today, I also wanted to buy Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Alpha. This was stubborn self-delusion: I have a long and well-documented love-hate relationship with raspberry-red lipsticks. They look so retro-sassy in the tube, and they should flatter my pale, coolish, high-contrast coloring, but instead they pull out the olive tones in my skin and make me look slightly ill. I tried on Alpha today and it had that exact effect:

It's not terrible, and that sickly green wall may be as much to blame as Alpha, but there's just something off about the color against my complexion. The Mega Matte formula felt nice for the hour or two that I wore it, but it had trouble covering a couple of dry patches on my lips (not that you can see them in this photo). I'm sure I'll develop another lemming in the Vice collection before long, but for now I'm kind of relieved that Alpha didn't work out. And that's it for my wishlist, I think!

Edit: I just discovered that my favorite YouTube personality, Kimberly Clark, has explained better than I could why she's not going to buy the Vice lipsticks (at 2:50). I agree that the appeal of this line lies in its largeness and newness, not in its uniqueness. And she's right that I have dupes of Alpha! How did she know? Revlon Cherries in the Snow and Bite Radish are almost identical in color to Alpha, and I almost never wear them, so what made me think I'd wear Alpha so often? Thank you, Kimberly Clark.

Overview: I have to go to bed soon in order to wake up early for my flight tomorrow, but let me type up a few quick notes. Illamasqua Facet was the only purchase that wasn't more or less impulsive, but a few others fit into color categories I'd had in mind for a while: a cool pink eyeshadow (Kiko Satin Bright Rose), a duochrome eyeshadow similar to NARS Cassiopeia (Topshop Holograph), a Bite-Cava-esque gray-toned nude lipstick (Bourjois Rouge Trench), and a black pencil eyeliner. Yes, eyeliner. After seven months of ignoring Urban Decay Demolition, the cool dark brown liner I bought back in November, I found myself using it over and over while in England. I was finally forced to acknowledge that eyeliner, even smudgy eyeliner, wears so much better than eyeshadow smudged along the lashline. I determined to get a black one, and the Kiko version seemed smudgeable yet long-wearing, so here we are. All the other products were sweet, sweet impulse buys. I'm not proud of spending almost $100, but I am proud that I came away with just one lipstick.

Since I have yet to use Topshop Holograph or any of the Kiko products, I'm going to follow some advice I found on Makeup Rehab and open just one new eyeshadow per week in July, so as to extend that feeling of shiny newness across the entire no-buy month. I'm also planning to go vegan for two weeks this month and start working out again, so expect me to be thoroughly self-righteous by July 15! Get excited.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Beauty Abroad, Part 18: Ancient and Modern Beauty in London


A lot has happened since I last posted. I'm still stunned and depressed at Britain's decision to leave the European Union. It was surreal to watch the whole thing unfold around me, and painful to have no way of affecting the outcome. It's not my nation or my fight, but I'm still heartbroken at what this means for Britain and Europe in general. It's clear by now that we live in an age of paranoid nationalism, and if you can think of anything good that paranoid nationalism has ever produced, do let me know. I'll just be over here reading Hobbes and glancing obsessively at the BBC.

You know what? Let's talk about makeup.

I've been in London for the past week, and have found myself wearing less makeup than usual. My boyfriend's parents and sister are visiting, and they're no-makeup WASP types who can go from pajamas to out the door in ten minutes. Since they've been generous enough to let me travel with them for nine days, I've done my best to adapt my morning routine to theirs, which has meant stripping down my makeup significantly. For the past few days, my daytime look has comprised Glossier Boy Brow, mascara, undereye concealer, two swipes of Illamasqua Zygomatic blush on each cheek, and a lip color. I can slap all that on in under five minutes, and it's been refreshing to take a break from more involved looks. Here's the combination yesterday, featuring NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red (not the ideal lip color to wear to Borough Market, where I consumed black-truffle tortelloni, Pimm's, and a raspberry-cream donut in quick succession):

No, my eyes aren't as defined as I'd prefer, but I'd rather have ten extra minutes to wander the streets of London than spend those ten minutes blending out eyeshadow. That said, I haven't neglected makeup in my peregrinations, though I've bought only one item in London (Topshop's duochrome eyeshadow in Holograph). Last weekend we went to Harrods, where a quotation from Shelley's "Ozymandias" frames the entrance to the womenswear section, and if that's not ironic I don't know what is:

Here's the perfume hall on the ground floor (not to be confused with the sixth-floor Salon de Parfums, which we didn't get a chance to visit):

Fornasetti candles, which I can't afford but wish I could:

Harrods has two cosmetics sections on the ground floor: one with mid-range brands like MAC and Shu Uemura, and another with high-end names like Chantecaille, La Mer, and Suqqu. Here's the daunting Christian Louboutin display in the latter section:

I'll just say it: I would never pay $90 for a lipstick. Having tried quite a few brands over the years, I do think you get what you pay for with lipstick, but only up to a certain price point—and in my experience, that price point is between $20 and $25. A NARS or Urban Decay lipstick is probably, but not definitely, going to have a higher-quality formula than a Wet n Wild or Revlon lipstick. But beyond the mid-range price point, you're paying for brand name, pretty packaging, and an overall aura of luxury. To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with paying for those things, if you can afford to do so. The entire makeup industry is based on illusion: a Rouge Louboutin might not be "worth" $90, but I don't think a NARS Audacious lipstick is "worth" $32, either, or a MAC lipstick "worth" $17. I'd wager that almost all makeup is vastly overpriced if you take into account how much it costs to produce. That said, a $90 price tag for a lipstick pisses me off. It's insulting. And I don't want my lipstick to resemble a heavy gold sex toy, you know? It's just not practical.

Out of curiosity, though, I did swatch a few shades. And they were nice! But not $90 worth of nice (though I don't know what "$90 worth of nice" would look like, tbh). Top to bottom: Survivita, Zoulou, no idea, Private Number (?), Loubeach, Miss Loubi, Pluminette (?). Apologies for weird indoor lighting and faulty memory.

Harrods has the only Marc Jacobs Beauty counter I've seen in the UK so far, so I couldn't resist swatching a few Le Marc Lip Cremes I hadn't examined before. L-R: Je t'aime, Rei of Light, Blow, Editrix, Willful:

Editrix and Willful are new for summer 2016; Editrix looks like MAC Antique Velvet and Willful like NARS Angela. Incidentally, I wore Angela today and was reminded of how incompatible I am with the NARS Audacious formula. It's drying, it stains my lips so badly that I have to scrub them with a washcloth, and it somehow manages to creep outside my liplines. If I get around to selling any of my makeup this summer, Angela might have to go, much as I love the color.

On Monday I had a very different beauty experience at the British Museum, where I spent a lot of time in the galleries devoted to Roman Britain. Rome governed Britain from 43 to 410 CE, leaving behind walls and roads that still survive today, as well as countless artifacts of daily life. I was particularly fascinated by these "cosmetic grinders":

So many! I wish the museum had given us a diagram of how they actually worked. I guess the pigments were ground between the two pieces?

Not makeup, but check out this badass gold body chain found in Hoxne, Suffolk. The two chains are joined in the back by a coin from the reign of Gratian (367-383):

On Wednesday we did some shopping in the Regent Street area, and I swatched four Surratt lip colors at Liberty. L-R: Automatique Lip Crayons in Séductrice, Mahogany, and P.O.C.; Lipslique in Lady Bug. Pretty colors, but I didn't see anything truly original. I think I've come down with lipstick ennui...

...which explains why I didn't bother swatching lipsticks in the giant Oxford Circus Topshop! L-R: Mono Eyeshadow in Holograph; Glow Highlighters in Polish and Gleam; Glow Stick in Heat.

The Glow Highlighters are dense, pigmented cream highlighters in glass pots. The texture is thick and gooey, and a little goes an extremely long way. I was briefly tempted by Gleam, the dark gold, but it looked straight-up yellow on my face. Polish is a bit pinker than it looks here, and the Glow Stick is a bronzer with large sparkles. The Mono Eyeshadows are sparkly duochromes, some more opaque than others. I also swatched Spaceport (below), but it was very sheer. 

Holograph, on the other hand, is dazzling! Its pinky-blue flash reminds me of NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Cassiopeia. I can't wait to use this color on my inner corners:

I've been in the UK for almost a month and have already bought six pieces of makeup: a lipstick, an eyeshadow, and four nail polishes. So I doubt I'll be picking up any more before I head back to the US, though you never know: that Barry M black lipstick is tempting. I'll try to review some of my new products once I'm back to a less hectic schedule, which should be soon, since we're leaving London tomorrow. I might also write a post about my travels: I feel a bit silly blogging about lipstick swatches when I've also been photographing 16th-century tapestries and 2,000-year-old lighthouses. Would that interest anyone?