Saturday, January 21, 2017

Updates and a Question

How's that for an uncreative title? Just popping in to let you know that I've wanted to post in the last week, but my aged computer has stopped connecting to wifi AND the wifi in my apartment isn't working, so I'm using data to type this on my phone. I hope to get both situations sorted out in the next few days, ugh.

Also, I have such a large backlog of products to review that I thought I'd ask your opinion: what would you like to see me review first, after my roundup of 2016 favorites?

  • ABH Modern Renaissance palette
  • New liquid matte lipsticks from Milani and Wet n Wild
  • Urban Decay Vice lipsticks in Backtalk and Roach
  • ColourPop eyeliner in Fast Lane, highlighter in Might Be, and Lippie Stix in Let's Play
Finally, let me send my love and support to everyone marching today; I wish I could be out there too. Women's rights are human rights!

Friday, January 13, 2017

First Lipstick Inventory and Destash of 2017

I don't know about you, but I find it much easier to destash makeup when I'm in a foul mood. The angrier I feel at the world, the more readily I can accept that a certain lipstick will never work for me and doesn't deserve a place on my shelf. In that spirit, I'm removing nine lipsticks from my collection today:

The three Topshop lipsticks and the mini Givenchy are fairly recent acquisitions, but the other five have been kicking around for years and are very well-loved. In fact, all five were favorites of mine at one point or another, but have outlived their usefulness in my collection. It's hard to part with those lipsticks, but I know from experience that decluttering the makeup I no longer wear makes my collection less visually overwhelming. From left to right, we have MAC Pink Nouveau, Topshop Plastique, Topshop Boardroom, Maybelline Vivid Rose, Topshop Motel, Revlon Primrose, and MAC Creme Cup:

And two stragglers, Revlon Red Velvet and Givenchy Noir Révélateur:

Swatches, same order, minus Pink Nouveau:

And a quick word about each one. I don't want to destash MAC Pink Nouveau, a perfect medium pink for my complexion, but it's clearly gone off: the texture has changed and the scent isn't quite vanilla anymore. Topshop Plastique is a lovely color that just doesn't work on my face, and the formula is a bit patchy and chalky. Topshop Boardroom is the lipstick that won me over to greige, but its formula is even worse than Plastique's: uneven and prone to sinking into lip lines. Maybelline Vivid Rose was my JAM in the summer of 2013, and I have many fond memories of wearing it on date nights with my boyfriend, but I haven't reached for it since last JanuaryI'm just not into non-matte bold lipsticks anymore. Though Topshop Motel was one of the lipsticks I resolved to use up this year, I wore it the other day and didn't like anything about it. The formula is weirdly grainy and slippery and drying, and the shade washes me out and doesn't fit into any one color category: it's too dark and warm to be an MLBB, yet too light and nude to be a true brown. Revlon Primrose is a lilac-y nude that was another 2013 favorite, but I genuinely can't remember the last time I wore it; same with MAC Creme Cup. There was a point early in my makeup-collecting life when I thought I needed a couple of pinky nude lipsticks, because everyone seemed to have a couple, but I discovered eventually that they weren't to my taste. Revlon Red Velvet is too soft and smeary to be as opaque as it is. Givenchy Noir Révélateur has a horribly strong floral fragrance, and let's be real, I'm never going to layer it over another lipstick. I do plan to keep the Pink Nouveau and Creme Cup tubes for the Back 2 MAC program, which gives you a new lipstick in exchange for six empty tubes. I should qualify for that free lipstick by, I don't know, 2020?

Here's my collection post-destash:

Finally, a quick inventory of that collection, because I'm desperate to distract myself from demoralizing academic bullshit. I've put an asterisk next to the shades that are no longer available.

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Let's Play
Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Rei of Light
Maybelline Colorsensational Bolds in Smoking Red
NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in 413 BLKR
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella (mini)
NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco*
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red
NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in 69*
Total: 10

Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Radish (mini)
MAC Matte Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum
NARS Audacious Lipstick in Angela (I can't bring myself to get rid of such a pretty color!)
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow
Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia*
Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Backtalk
Total: 7

Oranges and Corals:
Maybelline Colorsensational Vivids in Vibrant Mandarin*
Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple*
Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Coral Sunset
Topshop Matte Lipstick in Rio Rio
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Streak*
Total: 5

Berries and Plums:
Glossier Generation G in Jam
Kat Von D Studded Kiss in Mercy (mini)
MAC Matte Lipstick in Eugenie*
MAC Satin Lipstick in Rebel
Milani Matte Fearless
Milani Amore Matte Metallic in The Ultimatte
Revlon Balm Stain in Crush
Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Get Me Bodied
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture*
Total: 9
& Other Stories Droguet Purple
Bite custom lipstick
Bite Amuse Bouche in Lavender Jam
NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst
NYX Round Lipstick in Castle
Total: 5

MAC Matte Lipstick in Antique Velvet
NYX Liquid Suede in Brooklyn Thorn
Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce
Total: 3

Nudes and MLBBs:
Bourjois Rouge Edition in Beige Trench
ColourPop Ultra Matte in Trap
Glossier Generation G in Cake
Milani Matte Naked
NARS Cinematic Lipstick in Last Tango*
Revlon Sheer Lipstick in Pink Truffle
Total: 6

Unconventional Colors:
NYX Velvet Matte in Midnight Muse
NYX Liquid Suede in Stone Fox
Urban Decay Vintage Vice Lipstick in Roach
Total: 3

Grand Total: 48

That's not counting my six lip glosses (four full-sized, two minis), two lip tints, and four lip liners. That's also not counting MAC Up the Amp, which is practically empty. My grand total has shrunk by three since last March, but it's worth noting that 19 of the shades on my list are new. My tentative goal for this year is to bring the total between 40 and 45, either by using up some shades or by destashing. And I'm going to be a lot pickier about the lipsticks I let into my collectionor so I say now. Oh, well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My 13 Least Favorite Beauty Products of 2016

Welcome to the first, and saltier, of my two 2016 roundup posts! A few notes before we begin:
  • There are 13 products on this list simply because I was disappointed by 13 products last year (not a large number, considering how many I tried). 
  • As always, the products are listed in chronological order of purchase, not from best to worst or vice versa. I've linked to my original reviews where available. 
  • I returned several of these products, sometimes too quickly to take photos. In those cases, I've used the brands' product shots. I also lost a number of my photos while clearing my phone's memory last year.
  • Not all of these products are total fails. I kept and still use a few of them, since I don't subscribe to the KonMari doctrine of getting rid of anything that I don't absolutely love. Especially in the case of color cosmetics, if a product fulfills a specific purpose but isn't perfect, I'll often keep using it instead of buying yet another product in the same category. The more "niche" that specific purpose is (e.g. purple blush, not red lipstick), the more likely I am to try to work with it.
  • Can I draw any lessons from this lineup? You'd think "no more impulse purchases" might be one lesson, but it's actually not. Some of my favorite makeup of all time has been bought on impulse, and as you'll soon discover, some of my least favorite purchases of 2016 were planned carefully. "Buy less drugstore makeup" strikes me as a good resolution for 2017, thoughand of course, my larger goal is to reduce my consumption overall.

1. Smith & Cult Nailed Lacquer [no, seriously] in The Bee Side


If you're going to charge $18 for nail polishes and fire up the hype machine to create an aura of luxury and exclusivity around them, the least you can do is ensure that they take less than an hour to dry and aren't patchy after three coats. Pastels are hard for any brand to get right in any product category (nail polish, lipstick, eyeshadow, you name it), so I'd ordinarily be more forgiving, but my $8 Formula X nail polish in Lively is far better quality at less than half the price.

Look, I love a well-considered brand aesthetic. But there's something about Smith & Cult that just rubs me the wrong way. The nail polish bottles are twice as wide as an Essie or Zoya, as if Smith & Cult is asserting that its polishes are twice as good as any other and therefore deserve twice as much space on your shelf. The website is so fancy that it stalls my browser, and the giant gifs splashed all over the page make it almost impossible to focus on the words. Which might be a good thing, because the product blurbs sound like they were excerpted from a trust-fund kid's "satirical" short story in her undergrad literary magazine: "It's all about everyone spending the entire time strongly insinuating that they are elevated and evolved because they eat organic uncultured Echinacea balls of green mulchy purity." The whole brand feels like a lazy rich-person vanity project aimed at other rich people. I mean, one of the polishes is literally named "Feed the Rich." Oh, and the "add to cart" label reads "add to swag," as if you needed another reason to bypass this brand.

2. ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Rain 

I don't hate this blush, but its texture has always annoyed me. I expected a ColourPop blush to have the same moussey, spongy texture as the brand's eyeshadows and highlighters. Instead, Rain feels like one of those softer products left open for a few days. I don't know if I got a dried-out product or if this is just what ColourPop's blushes are like, but it's only become more difficult over the past year to extract color from the pan. I was so excited to find an affordable purple blush, too!

3. Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

It wouldn't be an Auxiliary Beauty worst-of list without a mention of Glossier. My Instagram pal Amanda was kind enough to send me some Glossier mask pods from the holiday 2015 release, and here I am about to repay her generosity by shitting all over the Moon Mask. I will admit that the other mask in the set, the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, is one of the most effective masks I've ever tried. The Moon Mask,'s not terrible, exactly, but I don't get the point. It's too thick to work as a night moisturizer (even for skin as dry as mine), yet too emollient to work as a normal wash-off mask. It left my skin feeling greasy but not unusually hydrated. I didn't break out or get hives or anything, but meh.

4. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Lavender Jam

It pains me to put Lavender Jam on this list, because I adore the color, an almost neon blue-lavender reminiscent of the hydrangeas that bloom all over town in June. But my relationship with Bite Beauty over the years can be summed up by Samuel Johnson's description of a friend's second marriage: "the triumph of hope over experience." I ordered Lavender Jam sight unseen, knowing that no Bite formula had ever worked for me but hoping that the new Amuse Bouche lipsticks would be less slippery than their Luminous Creme predecessors. Alas, it was not to be. Lavender Jam slides off my lips within an hour, a sin that I might forgive in a less wacky shade. As it is, I've used almost half the tube because I have to reapply it constantly. I've given up on Bite for the foreseeable future, despite feeling just a bit tempted by their new Edgy Neutrals collection, a quartet of yellowy browns guaranteed to make me look like hell.

5. Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Wink

Almost every time I break my "no ordering before swatching" rule, I come to regret it. After my disappointment with Marc Jacobs So Sofia, I decided to order Topshop's coral Matte Lip Bullet, which was so new that I couldn't find any swatches online. The product shot above is very inaccurate: Wink turned out to be a faded beigey coral, far less pigmented than the other Matte Lip Bullets I'd tried, with weird gold sparkles throughout. Not shimmer or frost, but discrete particles of gold glitter. And I couldn't even return it. I threw it away after wearing it twice and felt so wasteful. Never again. 

6. The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Peel Off Clay Nose Mask 


It struck me just now that the quality of a beauty product might be inversely proportional to the length of its name. Have I hit upon a foolproof method for avoiding bad makeup and skincare? Let me know. And don't buy this mask. It's supposed to dry on your nose and cleanse your pores, but it did neither of those things. It had the color and texture of chewed bubble gum, and it was just as ineffective as a skincare product.

7. Bioré Pore Strips 


I should have known better than to buy these. I should have known so much better. But about midway through the year, I reached the point where all I could see when I looked in the mirror were the pores on my nose. So after trying a couple of gentler remedies, I went for the hardcore option, or what I thought would be hardcore. As it turned out, the pore strips were fiendishly difficult to use, and all they did was remove the top layer of skin from my nose. I feel so dumb. 

8. NYX Matte Lipstick in Up the Bass

You've likely had the dispiriting experience of buying a product you've wanted for the better part of a year, eagerly trying it on at home, and discovering within a few seconds that it sucks. It's unpleasant to reflect that this is what you spent so much willpower on—and this, too, is what broke that willpower and opened your wallet. I wanted so badly to love Up the Bass, despite (or because of) its lolariously vulgar name. The deep gray-purple was the first shade that caught my eye when NYX expanded its matte offerings at the beginning of 2016, and because I'd had such good luck with brick-red Alabama, I assumed that Up the Bass would have a similarly opaque, comfortable, long-lasting formula. Instead, it was patchy, slippery, and given to fading within an hour of application. I'm not always glad I live in America, but it certainly is nice to be able to return shitty makeup. In December, I took Up the Bass back to Ulta and used my store credit toward a far superior product: Urban Decay Vintage Vice Lipstick in Roach, a metallic bronze.

In 2017, I'm going to be a lot more wary of drugstore makeup, and of NYX in particular. There's a certain thrill in buying a weird cheap product that might disappoint or might be a hidden gem, but let's be honest, it's usually the former. The Russian-roulette mentality leads to a lot of wasted time and money, and I'd rather not buy a product in the first place than run the risk of having to return it. Reduce consumer waste 2k17, people.

9. Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit

You had one job, Lipstick Queen: making good lipstick. Instead, you took the Smith & Cult route, crafting elaborate stories around your expensive products to obscure their mediocrity. Black Lace Rabbit had such promise, but I couldn't make it work. It was patchy on its own, giving me less of a "smoky lip" than a "post-burger lip." Layered over other lipsticks, it reduced their longevity dramatically. Again: so glad I live in the land of easy makeup returns, even if the tradeoff is President Trump, unaffordable healthcare, and no gun control to speak of...oh, wait.

10. Essie Playing Koi

I read several enthusiastic reviews of Playing Koi before buying it. I wonder how the reviewers reached that conclusion: anyone who tried the bottle I got would notice that it's still patchy after three coats. It's also darker and browner on the nails than I expected. And I spilled half the bottle all over my desk one night, which is really my fault, but I'm going to blame Essie anyway. Clearly this polish is cursed. If you're going to buy a shade from Essie's fall 2016 collection, go for Udon Know Me, a dusty light aqua that lasts several days without chipping on my nails.

11. Floss Gloss Donatella

It's rare that I give up on a brand entirely, but I've more or less given up on Floss Gloss. I've now tried four of their polishes—BritBrit2000, Dimepiece, Dinge, and Donatella—and haven't been terribly impressed with any of them. The worst is Donatella, which is a beautiful gold-shimmered pumpkin color for the 12 hours it lasts on my nails before it begins chipping. Made in Brooklyn, Floss Gloss has an exuberant, emoji-filled social-media presence ("👯 💕🏁MADE 4 THE BAD GRLS🏆💵") and a temptingly eclectic color selection, but its formulas just suck and there's no getting around that.

12. ColourPop Creme Gel Liner in Fast Lane 

ColourPop is the Russian-roulette experience of drugstore beauty shopping taken to the nth degree. Because ColourPop's products are nonrefundable unless they arrive damaged (and even then it's iffy), yet also impossible to try before buying, you know you're taking a risk every time you place an order. And that's a problem, but it's also part of the appeal. Yes, your new eyeliner might be a total waste of $6, but what if it proves to be the best $6 you ever spent? This kind of thinking is addictive in the same way that gambling is addictive, and like gambling it does nothing but drain your bank account. Of the ColourPop products I've tried over the past two years, I've loved maybe a third, felt indifferent to a third, and actively disliked a third. Those aren't great odds, and I'm going to try very hard to resist the siren song of ColourPop in 2017.

I started wearing eyeliner regularly last summer, and after switching between black and brown pencils for a couple of months, I decided to expand my color horizons. ColourPop's eyeliners had received a decent amount of praise, so I ordered Fast Lane, a dark teal. I realized later that much of the praise had come from people who had used the eyeliners on their waterline, which I never do (I wear contact lenses and the thought of placing pigment practically on my eyeball squicks me out). Instead, I tried Fast Lane on my upper lashlines, which wasn't a success. It looked decent at first, but after two hours the color had faded and transferred to my undereye area. Not a good look for a teal eyeliner.

13. NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner in Brooklyn Thorn 

NYX has released a zillion new lip products in the past year, and this relentless focus on NEW NEW NEW ALL THE TIME has inevitably produced some duds. The lip liners in NYX's original formula are fabulous—creamy, opaque, and long-lasting—and I don't understand why NYX didn't add trendier colors to that range instead of releasing a totally new, and vastly inferior, formula. To be fair, Brooklyn Thorn is the only shade I've tried in the Suede Matte formula, but it's bad enough that I have no desire to buy any more. It's patchy, it drags so hard against my lips, and it doesn't even sharpen smoothlythe exposed wood is all rough and spiky.  

Next up, my favorites of 2016! Did any beauty products disappoint you last year?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2017 Low-Buy Plan and Beauty Resolutions

I returned last night from the academic job conference and felt so drained today that I didn't leave the house once, which almost never happens unless I'm sick. (Today's high temperature was about 12°F, too. That was definitely a factor in my laziness.) Now that I have some more time, I'm looking forward to writing a couple of 2016 roundup posts. In today's post, I'll look back at my low-buy plan for 2016, concoct a (better, let's hope) plan for 2017, and make a few miscellaneous beauty resolutions.

At the beginning of 2016, I vowed to "maintain a low-buy of no more than two new products (makeup, nail polish, and fragrance) and/or $40 per month, with at least two no-buy months." The devil was in that "and/or." In the interest of simplicity, I decided after a couple of months to pay more attention to the "under $40" half of that resolution than the "no more than two new products" half. That was a mistake. There were indeed some months when I spent under $40 and bought no more than two new products, but because much of the makeup I buy is drugstore, it turned out that $40 could get me a lot of stuff. In the end, I bought more or less the same amount of makeup in 2016 as I did in 2015. Oh, and I completely forgot about that "at least two no-buy months" clause until just now. I told you I have a bad short-term memory.

Now for the successes. I did manage to stick to a monthly low-buy progress report for every month except December (check out those posts under the "low-buy 2016" tag), and I was more conscious in general of the emotions behind my material desires. I also got better at experimenting with products I already owned. Though I didn't hit pan on any more shadows from my Nude 'Tude palette, I did force myself to use it in several new ways. I used up one lipstick and almost used up another (more on that later), and hit pan on a non-lipstick makeup product, ColourPop Lunch Money, for the first time since December 2014. Here's my empty tube of Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy:

I also focused on improving my application skills, particularly with eyeshadow. I can usually silence that "buy new stuff" voice in my head by reminding myself that makeup isn't about the products I buy, but the looks I create with those products. I have enough makeup to achieve pretty much any look, and researching new aesthetics and techniques is freeand ultimately more fulfilling than buying a lipstick. 

That said, I bought a lot of lipsticks in 2016. 14, to be precise. Plus two glosses. Plus the 10 lipsticks I received as gifts or free with purchase. That's 26 new lip colors, on a supposed low-buy. Seriously? I did destash several lipsticks that I no longer wore, but I still have more lipstick now than I did on this date last year. Look, I've never claimed to be a minimalistI love having a good selection of lipstick. I love lipstick more than most things and people. But enough is enough, and it's clear that my monthly limit of $40 was way too generous. So, without further ado, my 2017 resolutions, including a new low-buy plan:

1. Buy no more than two new products per month.

By "products" I mean "makeup and nail polish," since I don't seem to buy too much of anything else. I'm not going to set a monetary budget, because my problem is less with overspending than with, shall we say, overaccumulating. If I stick to my goal of two new items per month, I'm pretty sure I'll stay well under $40 most months; it's not like I'm going to run out and buy a $250 Natasha Denona eyeshadow palette. For the record, the only product I've bought so far in 2017 is Milani's new Amore Matte Metallic Lip Creme in 15 The Ultimatte, a metallic plum. It feels pretty dry on my lips, but who cares because THAT COLOR:

2. Buy no new nail polish for the first half of 2017.

I have so much nail polish, guys. It is truly the last thing I need more of. I want to get a bottle of polish thinner to revitalize some of my old bottles, so if you know of a good one, please let me know!

3. Have at least two makeup-free days per month.

I love applying and wearing makeup. I love choosing a different aesthetic every day. I love bonding with strangers over lipstick colors. I love blending eyeshadows into a neat gradient (not that that happens every time, but that's why we practice). But despite all my feminist protestations, I don't wear makeup solely for creative purposes; I also wear it because I think I look better with it. When I wear light makeup or go barefaced, I'm often mistaken for a much younger person, which is more annoying than gratifying: I'm not an undergrad anymore, damn it, and I'm extremely glad that I'm not. I'm also self-conscious about the dark undereye circles I've had since childhood. In (flattering) natural light, with no makeup at all, I look like this:

There's nothing wrong with this face (my hair could be better brushed, but hey). This was the face I showed the world every day for 23 years. I want to feel comfortable with it again. I probably won't go barefaced to professional events, but I'm looking forward to forgoing makeup during some weekends. I've already had one makeup-free day this month, when traveling back to the East Coast from San Francisco, and it felt surprisingly nice to wear nothing but sunscreen on my face. I didn't wear makeup today, either, but I'm not counting days on which I don't go outside!

4. Finish at least six lipsticks.

To make things easier for myself, I'm including MAC Up the Amp in that number. I don't think there's more than three days' worth of lipstick left in that tube, so that's one almost crossed off the list. My five others are ColourPop Trap, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin, Topshop Motel, Glossier Jam, and Urban Decay Streak, all of which are small and/or already well-loved. I doubt I'll be able to finish Vibrant Mandarin, but because it's showing wax bloom and I prefer matte lipsticks these days, I plan to toss it after this summer.

L-R: Trap, Vibrant Mandarin, Motel, Jam, Streak.

5. Continue improving my eyeshadow skills.

I sank into a sheer-wash-of-one-color rut for the last few months of 2016, but my ABH Modern Renaissance palette has made me excited about eyeshadow again. I'm not naturally talented at applying makeup, and my weird foldy eyelids will always prevent me from achieving an Instagram-flawless blended-out eye, but I know I can improve from my current level.

I don't want to make more resolutions than I can keep, so I'll stop here. If all goes according to plan, my next post will be a roundup of my favorite and least favorite beauty products of 2016!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 25 Coral Sunset

Surprise! I'm allowing myself to write one quick post during this hiatus. Today I'll be skipping over my backlog of unreviewed products to take a look at my most recent purchase, a new product that hasn't yet received much attention online.

Sephora massively expanded its Cream Lip Stain range last month, adding 27 new shades, mostly trendy browns, purples, and taupes, plus some offbeat colors like black and teal for the goth mermaids out there. The Cream Lip Stain formula has been around for at least a few years (you've probably heard of Endless Red and Marvelous Mauve), and it tends to garner positive reviews. Being generally indifferent to liquid lipstick, I'd never taken much interest in the Cream Lip Stains, but that changed during a visit to Sephora at the end of December. While glancing over the new shades, I found myself drawn to one in particular: 25 Coral Sunset, which looked a lot like my platonic rusty orange. A swatch proved me right. Forth reaching to the fruit, I plucked, I bought.

The Sephora Cream Lip Stains are $14 for 4 ml. Their packaging makes them look smaller than they are; here's Coral Sunset next to a NYX Liquid Suede, which actually contains slightly less product (3.8 ml):

I think it's cool that Sephora has minimized the amount of plastic per unit; this also means that the Cream Lip Stains are lighter and more portable than other liquid lipsticks. The cap twists shut very securely, with an extra little catch to hold it in place. The applicator is a small, slanted doefoot that would make it easy for a less clumsy person to get in all the corners, but I'm just not great at applying liquid lipstick and I don't think any shape or size of applicator would change that.

The name "Coral Sunset" is rather misleading. Coral isn't the easiest color to define, but I think of it as containing at least some pinkness and some brightness. Coral Sunset, however, is a deep russet, sitting squarely on the border between orange and brown. I expected it to be similar to Marc Jacobs Rei of Light (another milestone in my quest for the perfect rusty orange), but Rei of Light is brighter and redder. In fact, Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce is the closest match for Coral Sunset in my collection:

L-R: Revlon Fierce, Coral Sunset, Marc Jacobs Rei of Light, Topshop Matte Lipstick in Rio Rio.

I've heard great things about the Cream Lip Stain formula, specifically its longevity, but Coral Sunset has disappointed me on that front. Having worn it twice now, I can conclude that it looks like a matte liquid lipstick but doesn't quite act like one. Though it dries down to a flat matte finish within a minute, it transfers onto cups and doesn't stand up to food at all. On the plus side, it's not patchy, I don't find it particularly drying, and it's easy to remove before eating. Basically, it has the same longevity and lipfeel as my MAC matte bullet lipsticks, and that's fine; it's just that I expected something different.

(Update, 1/9: On a suggestion from reader Clara, I tried applying the thinnest coat possible of Coral Sunset, and I'm pleased to report that it barely transferred at all onto cups and glasses. However, it did still feel a bit tacky when I pressed my lips together, and I could still smear it easily with my finger. It may be that the new shades have a different formula from the original ones, or just that the formula varies from shade to shade.)

Today I wore Coral Sunset with some orangey shades from my new ABH Modern Renaissance palette, which I'll review eventually. For now, suffice to say that I'm delighted with it so far, and grateful to all of you who encouraged me to get it! I blended Burnt Orange and Realgar into the crease, then placed Antique Bronze on the outer half of the lid and along the lower lashline, and finally added Raw Sienna to the inner half of the lid. I'm also wearing Illamasqua Zygomatic blush and ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter on my cheeks. (I wore Zygomatic for about two weeks in a row while traveling last month, and never once felt the need for another blush. Now, that's a holy grail.)

That's my collection of enamel pins held up by a pants hanger. Classy. My earrings are from American Apparel.

And a closer look at the eyeshadow:

Orange is still a difficult color for me to wear, but it's clear that I do better with dark, earthy oranges than with bright, white-based ones. I love how easy it is to diffuse the Modern Renaissance shadows into a relatively subtle wash of color.

Overall, Coral Sunset is a nice lipstick, but I'm not exactly dashing to my nearest Sephora to pick up more Cream Lip Stain shades. I bought Coral Sunset specifically for the color, and if there's a shade you love in the CLS range, I wouldn't discourage you from getting it. But don't order the 40-piece vault, people. Come on. You know better.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hiatus and Happy New Year

There were so many posts I wanted to write before the end of this year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Trump. So many! I wanted to post a roundup of my 16 favorite beauty products of 2016, and a plan for my 2017 low-buy, and a review of two Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks, and a collection of the best k-pop makeup looks of the year. But what with jetlag and a cold and stupid family drama, I've had less energy than usual for writing, and I've had to spend what energy I do have on finishing a dissertation chapter and preparing for an upcoming interview. I'll be able to return to blogging after the first week of January, but for now, I think it's best to call this an official hiatus.

I can't let December end, however, without thanking you for your support in 2016 and wishing you a very happy new year. It's been one hell of a year, but it's almost over, and there's still a lot of good in the world. And a lot of makeupwhich means Auxiliary Beauty will be around for the foreseeable future.

Have a fun and safe holiday, and see you in 2017!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

FOTD: Game Face

The annual Academic Job Conference of Doom fast approaches (this is my second year preparing for it), and yesterday I had a dress-rehearsal practice interview with my advisor and another professor. This gave me an opportunity to test my interview makeup as well as my answers to questions like "But Machiavelli and Polydore Vergil are very different historians; why did you mention them in the same sentence?" I've written before about makeup in academia, and I still think there's a widespread prejudice against women who put obvious effort into their appearance. I know about the studies showing that women who wear neutral makeup come off as more competent in the workplace than women who wear no makeup at all, but I'm not sure that rule applies in academia, where both men and women often assume a negative correlation between femininity and intellectual seriousness.

But I also don't see the point in angsting over this until I get a job, you know? This isn't exactly the hill I want to die on, at least not yet. The job market in the humanities is horrible and I'd like to maximize my chances of making a living wage next year, thx. I'm not going to show up barefaced to an interview, but I'm not going to wear purple lipstick and my most metallic highlighter, either. I actually enjoy the challenge of making myself up for a specific role: in this case, the role of unimpeachably professional and competent young scholar. When putting on my job-market game face, I have three major concerns:
  • Appearance. I don't want my makeup to distract my interviewers from my answers, so I'm going for an overall effect instead of spotlighting one feature or product. However, I have high-contrast, cool-toned coloring that doesn't do well with toned-down shades all over. (See Kate's great post on "the workplace conundrum" for more on this issue.) A pale pink-brown lipstick will make me look washed-out and mousy; I need eye and lip colors that are neutral but saturated. (I realize, by the way, that many academics are completely oblivious to visual cues and won't notice any makeup short of glittery teal eyeshadow and black lipstick. Still.)
  • Comfort. I'd advise anyone preparing for an academic interview to stick to their usual level of made-up-ness. If you never wear makeup, the morning of your interview is not the time to start experimenting with eyeliner. Likewise, if you wear a full face every day, stripping it down for the interview will make you feel exposed and uneasy. I'd recommend tweaking the colors and finishes of your makeup instead of the amount. I'd also err on the side of simplicity: last year, my hands were shaking so badly before my interview that I could barely blend my eyeshadow. The look below contains three eyeshadows and an eyeliner, but I recognize that this may be ambitious.
  • Performance. This applies to lipstick more than anything else. An interview lipstick needs to stand up to an hour of talking. If it fades, it should fade gracefully, without leaving that awful ring around the lips. A liquid matte lipstick might seem like the obvious solution, but I suspect that the ultra-flat texture, even in a neutral color, could read as odd or unprofessional to some old-fashioned types. I wouldn't recommend a shiny or glossy finish, either. A matte or semi-matte bullet lipstick strikes me as the best choice.
For yesterday's look, I used my everyday base makeup, eyebrow goo, and mascara, plus this color makeup:

Clockwise from top left: Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette, UD 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, Seventeen Eyeshadow Mono in Statuesque, ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Lunch Money, UD Afterglow Blush in Rapture.

After putting down a layer of Urban Decay Primer Potion, I applied Seventeen Statuesque to the inner 2/3 of my upper lids and Urban Decay Primal to the outer third, then blended Urban Decay Cover into the crease, up to the browbone, and along the lower lashline, and tightlined with UD Whiskey eyeliner. I applied a very small amount of ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, but might not use it at all for the actual interview. My interview lipstick last year was Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture, but this year I went for Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, which is more matte (hence longer-lasting) and a bit darker. The final look wasn't much different from my usual makeup, honestly:

Ignore the Bernie-esque lint on my dress.

I feel weird about wearing warm eyeshadow with silver earrings, but that's just a brain problem, right?

I was happy with how this turned out (less happy with my performance at the practice interview, but I guess that's why you practice), but let me know if you have any suggestions!

Also! My boyfriend's parents were kind enough to give me a $35 Sephora gift card as a holiday present. I'm thinking of using it toward the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette, which I've been coveting on and off for months, but I'm not sure I can trust myself to use a 14-shadow palette when most of my eye "looks" feature one or two shadows. And I worry that the color scheme might be too warm for my complexion and/or go out of style within a year. Thoughts?

Monday, December 12, 2016

NYX Liquid Suede and Suede Matte Lip Liner in Brooklyn Thorn

One of the best lipstick formulas that I've discovered in 2016 is the NYX Liquid Suede formula. I generally prefer solid to liquid lipstick, but I've somehow collected three Liquid Suedes: Amethyst, Stone Fox, and most recently Brooklyn Thorn, one of the 12 new shades released this past spring. I have no idea what the name "Brooklyn Thorn" means—Googling the phrase brings up nothing more than the lipstick—but maybe one of you can enlighten me. During a visit to Ulta last month, I came upon a display of the new Suede Matte Lip Liners, which NYX debuted this year in shades that match the Liquid Suedes and some of the original matte lipsticks (e.g. Alabama, Aria, Maison). Out of curiosity, I picked up the Brooklyn Thorn lip liner as well. Here are the two together—I've already sharpened the lip liner twice:

The Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede is a very trendy amalgam of gray, brown, and purple, along the lines of ColourPop Kapow or Jeffree Star Scorpio. Accordingly, it seems to be the most popular of the new Liquid Suede releases. I looked for it at San Francisco's Ulta in the summer, but it had sold out almost immediately. Three months later, when I requested Brooklyn Thorn as a birthday gift from my mom, she reported that she had to comb three different Targets before she had any success: "I feel like I found a million dollars!" The color of the tube is significantly lighter and warmer than the color of the actual lipstick. Here are some comparisons:

L-R: ColourPop Trap, Topshop Boardroom, Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede, Brooklyn Thorn Suede Matte Lip Liner, NYX Up the Bass.

The Liquid Suede and lip liner don't match exactly (the liner is quite a bit warmer), though they look more similar on my lips:

When I put on a lip color, I usually manage to connect it to some era or pre-existing aesthetic, and that act of connection makes me feel safer in any risk I might be taking. Brooklyn Thorn, though, reminds me of nothing but the mid-2010s. I suspect I'll look back in five years and cringe at these photos—but honestly, who cares? There's no such thing as timeless makeup, so we might as well embrace trends if they appeal to us, and this one appeals to me. 

The Liquid Suede formula is somewhat contentious. In particular, I've read a lot of complaints that it doesn't dry down completely. It's true that the Liquid Suedes are never going to be completely matte—their full name is "Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick," after all, and you can see a slight sheen on my lips above—but in my experience, the formula dries down within a few minutes to a finish that's pretty damned close to matte. If I press my lips together, they do stick together a bit, but if I tap my lips lightly, my finger comes away dry. The Liquid Suedes will transfer a bit onto cups, but less than most bullet lipsticks do. 

They are, however, fiddly to apply. The applicator picks up a good amount of product, and it's easy to make the mistake of swiping on all that product in one go, which will produce a thick coat that never dries down (hence, I think, the complaints I've read online). As with nail polish, it's best to apply multiple thin coats instead of one thick, goopy layer. Of the three Liquid Suedes I own, Stone Fox is the most opaque, Amethyst is the patchiest, and Brooklyn Thorn is right in the middle. It's not opaque in one swipe like Stone Fox, but I don't have to work the first coat into my lips with a finger or lip brush, as I do with Amethyst. I apply one thin coat, wait a couple of minutes for it to dry, and then add a second. The real problem for me is the stiff paddle-shaped applicator, which makes it annoyingly easy to overdraw my top lip and fiendishly hard to fill in the outer corners of my lower lip:

I took the FOTD photos for this post almost a month ago and failed to write down what else I was wearing on my face, so...yeah, sorry. Here's another one; all I know for sure is that one of my eyeshadows is the plum half of the NARS Habanera duo. The front of my hair is not actually going gray, though after the past few months I wouldn't be surprised if it were.

Now for the lip liner, a far more disappointing product. The Suede Matte Lip Liners are (obviously) supposed to be more matte than NYX's original lip liners, but that's an odd distinction to make: almost every lip liner I've tried has been more or less matte. And does it really matter whether a lip liner is semi-matte or super-matte when it's just going to be covered by lipstick anyway? Here's a swatch of the Brooklyn Thorn liner (right) next to Cabaret, a lip liner in NYX's original formula:

I had no trouble getting Cabaret to cover that patch of skin, but I really had to work with Brooklyn Thorn, and the swatch is still patchy. If it's that hard to draw on the smooth underside of my arm with this liner, you can imagine how hard it is to line and cover my actual lips. In creating a "matte" lip liner, NYX has done nothing but resurrect the old-school liner formula that should have been left in the '90s. The only way I can come close to coloring in my lips with the Brooklyn Thorn liner is to scribble on my fingertip and then use my finger to spread the product around. And NYX has the nerve to charge $1 extra for these liners ($4 vs. $3)! I will say that when I washed off these swatches with soap and water, Cabaret came off immediately, but I really had to scrub to remove Brooklyn Thorn. Still, I know from experience that Cabaret lasts a long time on my lips, and it doesn't matter how long-lasting a lip liner is if I never wear it because it sucks in every other way.

I do like the Brooklyn Thorn liner for tidying up the edges of the Liquid Suede, though, and I've also tried it under two problematic lipsticks: Topshop Boardroom, a greige, and NYX Up the Bass, a grayish purple. Here's Boardroom alone (top) and over liner:

It turns out that you can get a pretty nice result from layering a patchy lipstick over a patchy liner. But that's not always the case—here's Up the Bass alone (top) and over liner:

My biggest issue with Up the Bass is that it almost never adheres to the inner part of my lower lip, and you can see that the liner did nothing to solve that problem. It also drained most of the purple from Up the Bass, turning it into a duller version of the Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede. This combination felt heavy and gummy on my lips, so I doubt I'll layer Up the Bass over the liner again. Honestly, I wish I'd never bought either one. It's frustrating that I know (or think I know) so much about lipstick and still end up with disappointing lip products now and then. 

The Liquid Suede in Brooklyn Thorn is a winner, though, and the Liquid Suedes remain some of the best drugstore makeup I've tried. I'm not sure Brooklyn Thorn is my best color, but I'm enjoying the experiment.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #11: November

Surfacing briefly from the dissertation abyss to give you my November update! I'm proud to say that I made only one beauty order on Black Friday—I bought some new clothes that I really needed, so I couldn't justify splurging on makeup too. And November was my birthday month, so I received a few makeup gifts, including a lipstick I'd wanted for a while. But I did yield to temptation a few times, and here are the results:

New Makeup & Polish:

L-R: NYX lip liner in Brooklyn Thorn, ColourPop Let's Play, Sinful Colors Nice Guise.

NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner in Brooklyn Thorn: $4
ColourPop Lippie Stix in Let's Play: $5
Sinful Colors nail polish in Nice Guise: $2
Zoya nail polishes (not pictured) in Aubrey, Jules, Serenity, and Troy: $3 each plus $6.95 shipping = $18.95
Total: $29.95

NYX recently released a bunch of lip liners that match their Liquid Suede lipsticks. Since my mom sent me the Liquid Suede in Brooklyn Thorn for my birthday (more on that later), I picked up the matching liner, though I really bought it to use with two other lipsticks: NYX Up the Bass, a gray-purple, and Topshop Boardroom, a greige, both of which apply patchily and fade quickly. The Suede Matte liners are (obviously) more matte than NYX's original lip liners, but that makes them harder to use. I'm going to write a review of the Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede and liner soon, but I should note that they're not actually the same color: the liner is lighter and warmer than the lipstick.

Let's Play is a lipstick from ColourPop's freaking ADORABLE Hello Kitty collection. I'm proud of myself for buying just one item, though there weren't many shades that appealed to me: the lip products were all red, pink, and nude, and the eyeshadows and blushes didn't look like anything special. Let's Play is a pinkish red with matching sparkles, but it's not so glittery that you can't wear it outside a drunken end-of-semester holiday party.

Brooklyn Thorn (top) and Let's Play.

I found Nice Guise at the supermarket where my boyfriend and I were stocking up on food and drink for election night, back when there was a good chance that an overgrown toddler in a Cheeto suit wouldn't become president. Since Nice Guise was a sparkly Democratic blue, I bought it as a special election-day polishand I haven't been able to wear it since. Which is a shame, because it's gorgeous:

Maybe in a month or two it will no longer be the polish of shattered dreams for me. We'll see.

Finally, I took advantage of Zoya's amazing Black Friday sale: 70% off the entire website! Zoya is my favorite nail polish brand, and their polishes normally cost $10, so I kind of lost it. I'd wanted Troy for a while, and I couldn't resist buying myself three more—Aubrey, Jules, and Serenity—plus a fifth as a Christmas gift for a friend. That was nine days ago, though, and my order still hasn't shipped. Its status on the Zoya website has been stuck at "Picking/Scan Verification" for a few days now. A helpful Redditor tells me that Zoya received 400,000 orders on Black Friday and hers shipped this past Friday, so I'm hoping it won't be too much longer now. 

New Skincare:

2 Innisfree sheet masks: $5 total


NB: My hand is on the large side.

 Urban Decay Primer Potion (mini tube): $12

I bought the NYX HD eyeshadow primer in March 2014, and though I never came close to running out, I did start to wonder if using the same doefoot tube of eyeshadow primer for two and a half years wasn't a little gross. Because it apparently takes me so long to go through primer, I bought a mini bottle of Primer Potion in that area near the Sephora cash register that's crammed with tantalizing minis. I was surprised to discover that the primer has a doefoot applicator, which is a bit awkward to pull out of the squeeze tube every time. But I've been liking the formula so far: it's a lot more effective than its NYX predecessor. (The NYX tube cracked dramatically right after I bought the Urban Decay replacement, as if it finally felt free to give up the ghost.)


L-R: Wet n Wild Plaid to the Bone, Essie Udon Know Me, Sinful Colors Nirvana, NYX Brooklyn Thorn

Lyn very kindly sent me the Wet n Wild eyeshadow trio in Plaid to the Bone after I whined about not being able to find it. The lesson here: always whine. (Seriously, thanks so much.) The two nail polishes and Liquid Suede are gifts from my mom: I asked for Brooklyn Thorn, but she chose the polishes herself. I've worn them both already, and I'm especially impressed with Essie Udon Know Me (from that cringily named Japan-themed fall collection), which lasted several days without chipping. Sinful Colors Nirvana is much cooler-toned on the nails than it looks in the bottle: it comes out closer to taupe than to warm brown. The Sephora birthday gift, as everyone knows by now, consists of two minis from Marc Jacobs Beauty: a Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and a pencil eyeliner in Blacquer. I haven't even used them yet, since I have a black eyeliner and a nearly identical rosy lipstick (Revlon Sultry), but it's nice to have backups for both of those much-loved products.

Swatches of all my new lip products, L-R: Let's Play, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede, Brooklyn Thorn lip liner.

Total for November: $46.95 (let's call it $47)

Overview: I think this is the lowest monthly total I've had so far! I didn't have to replace anything except my DevaCurl B'Leave-In hair goo, and I've stopped counting haircare in these posts because I never overbuy it. I own three hair productsLush solid shampoo and conditioner and B'Leave-Inand I repurchase them only when I run out. If I took the same approach to makeup that I do to hair, I wouldn't need to write these low-buy reports. Which reminds me: didn't I swear back in October that I wouldn't buy any more lipstick this year?

I've had a couple of epiphanies while contemplating my resolutions for 2017. The first is that my budget of $40 per month is too generous. Most of the products I buy are from the drugstore (or have drugstore price points), so the $40 limit isn't doing much, if anything, to reduce the volume of makeup that enters my life. I set a "$40 and/or two products per month" rule early in the year, but couldn't seem to adhere to both. Next year I'll do away with the monthly price limit and enforce the two-items-per-month limit, which will keep me well under $40 most months. I could also set myself a yearly budget, as Renee did recently. My second epiphany: it's too easy to feel virtuous by reminding myself that I buy only a small fraction of the products I covet. If I covet 15 things per month and buy just 1/5 of those things, that's still three new items! I don't receive promotional emails from any brand, but I still need to do more to curb my awareness of new releases. I've unfollowed some Instagram accounts that focus on swatching new products; let's hope that helps.

Wishlist for December:

1. Makeup Geek Duochrome Highlighter in Moon Phase ($20):

Yeah, speaking of new releases. Moon Phase is a white highlighter with blue and lavender reflects, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. It's also 2.5 times as expensive as my ColourPop highlighters, and it's a blue highlighter. I don't know, man.

2. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Tampered:

Tampered, a Sephora-exclusive shade, is a "deep mauve" in the Comfort Matte finish. The image I've used is really inaccurate: it's more of a plummy brown. I'll have to see this one in person, though: it looks different on everyone who swatches it, and I suspect I have at least one similar shade, possibly Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce. (My review of Fierce, written in February, is still one of my five most popular posts. I should really update it with better photos.)

And that's it! There's also a chance I might buy nothing in December, which would be a nice way to end this absolute shit cyclone of a year.