Monday, May 23, 2016

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Lavender Jam

I own between 55 and 60 lipsticks, more than a few of them purple. It's rare that a mainstream brand releases a lipstick unlike any I own, and even rarer that a mainstream brand releases a purple unlike any I own (yes, I'm using a lipstick junkie's definition of "unlike," but still). So when Bite Beauty announced that it was expanding its newish Amuse Bouche line with six new shades, one of them a luminous blue-toned lavender that looked like no purple lipstick I'd seen before, I took notice.

Bite's "Sweet and Savory" collection for Summer 2016 comprises three dark "savory" shades (Kale, a blackened green; Squid Ink, a navy blue; and Whiskey, a deep brown similar to MAC Antique Velvet) and three purply "sweet" shades (Taro, a dark grayish purple; Thistle, a lilac-taupe in the ColourPop Trap family; and Lavender Jam, an "electric blue-violet"). So far as I know, all of them are permanent except the two purples, Taro and Lavender Jam. People have been complaining that these shades are better suited to fall than to late spring, but the cool, cloudy spring we've been having on the East Coast has altered my expectations of spring and summer colors. I've barely touched my corals and pinks in the past month, reaching instead for deep berries like MAC Eugenie and moody purples like MAC Up the Amp. (For that matter, seasonal color analysis dictates that "summer" colors are cool and muted, which means that people with summer coloring would be best suited to the three "sweet" shades.) The six Bite colors spoke to the gloomy gothy witchy spring/summer vibes I've been feeling this year, and Lavender Jam spoke loudest of all.

Here's the thing about Bite, though: it's one of those brands that I feel I should like more than I actually do. On paper, Bite is ideally suited to my tastes. A cruelty-free brand that makes nothing but lip products, uses food-grade ingredients, and gets rave reviews from most bloggers—what's not to like, right? But I hesitated for nearly a week before ordering Lavender Jam, because no Bite product I'd tried so far had really impressed me. All of them, no matter how opaque, had distinguished themselves by their infuriating slipperiness. The "matte" purple lipstick I bought at the Bite Lip Lab in NYC came out shinier than most of my cream-finish lipsticks, with a distressing tendency to settle into my lip lines after 30 minutes of wear. The few Luminous Creme lipsticks I tried in Sephora ranged from semi-sheer to opaque, but with so much slip that I never seriously considered buying one. My deluxe sample of the new Amuse Bouche in Radish was richly pigmented, but it never set on my lips, and every sip from a coffee cup left a vibrant lipstick stain. 

So I was understandably skeptical of Lavender Jam, but that color. I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's the sort of color that can look unnatural on a human face but is found abundantly in nature, especially at this time of year: morning glories, irises, hydrangeas, and pansies come to mind. Here are some flower photos I've taken around town in the past year—clearly, I'm drawn to this particular shade of luminous blue-purple:

So pretty, right? I'm sad to be missing hydrangea season on the East Coast this year. Ironically, I think of lavender flowers as pinker than Lavender Jam.

Anyway, I finally got tired of my own dithering and ordered Lavender Jam. Each lipstick from the "sweet" line comes in a matte gray tube with two little "bites," one larger than the other, taken out of the top. I won't lie, the tube resembles a travel-sized vibrator, but at least a classy high-tech one:

I was gratified to find that Lavender Jam was indeed different from my other purple lipsticks. In blueness it's about equal to NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst, but Amethyst is of course much darker: indigo to Lavender Jam's periwinkle.

L-R: NYX Castle, MAC Up the Amp, Bite Lavender Jam, NYX Amethyst, Maybelline Brazen Berry.

Lavender Jam looks semi-matte in this photo, but make no mistake, it's a cream formula with a noticeable shine. It's not quite opaque in one coat; the lip swatch below is two:

I'll end the suspense now: Lavender Jam is as slippery as all the other Bite lipsticks I've tried. Damn it. It transfers onto absolutely everything. (I was trying on dresses yesterday and was terrified that I'd find smears of purple on them when I was done.) And because Lavender Jam is lighter than my two other Bite shades, I have to reapply it every time it transfers. I have to reapply it after sipping once from a cup. This would be egregious in a drugstore lipstick, but it's beyond egregious in a $26 lipstick. I even tried applying it over my neglected ColourPop lip primer, but that did nothing for the longevity (granted, that might say more about the lip primer than about Lavender Jam). The best method I've found is the one I use with other slippery and/or streaky lipsticks: putting some product on my finger and working it into my lips as a stain, then applying a second coat straight from the tube. I applied Lavender Jam that way almost three hours ago and have drunk half a bottle of water since then, and the color has worn away from the center of my lower lip but looks decent otherwise. Still, this slipperiness is ridiculous, and I know it's going to annoy the shit out of me if I keep Lavender Jam. I need my lipsticks to have my back. I need to trust them not to fade or feather on me if I dare to talk, sip water, or breathe. And I don't trust Lavender Jam.

If it were a less hard-to-find color, or if the formula had any other flaws, I'd return it to Sephora without a second thought. But I love the color. And the formula hydrates my dry lips, which is rare. I even like the citrus scent of the Amuse Bouches. So...yeah, I'm not sure what to do. I feel like I've hit a streak of bad luck these past few months: I've had to return about half the makeup I've bought. Which makes me feel wasteful (returned products just get thrown away) and question my instincts. Have I become pickier about the products I let into my collection, or have I just stopped being able to tell good ones from bad at a glance? I'm leaning toward keeping Lavender Jam, but maybe that's a terrible idea. Ugh.

Anyway, here are some photos of Lavender Jam on my face! Yesterday I got more experimental with makeup than I'd been in a while. I decided to copy this eye from Jill Stuart Spring 2016, but in lavender instead of pink:

Bless Japanese makeup brands. I love seeing bold eyeshadow looks that are radically different from the same old blown-out warm-toned halo eye with heavy winged liner.

For my lavender version, I knew I wanted to use Kiko 251, a blue-toned lavender with some shimmer. But since 251 is a bit sheer, applying it over primer didn't give me the pastel pop I wanted. So I washed it off and tried again, this time putting down a layer of ColourPop Cowboy, a near-white matte lavender, over the primer. Cowboy is not opaque either, but it made the perfect base for 251. I was so pleased with how my eyes turned out—the look gave me Pris-from-Blade-Runner vibes:

With ColourPop Rain blush and Lavender Jam:

And here are the products I used:

Clockwise from top: Lavender Jam (duh), Kiko 251, ColourPop Rain, ColourPop Cowboy.

And here's Lavender Jam today, with more toned-down makeup elsewhere: NARS Lhasa, ColourPop Eye Candy, and a matte plum theBalm shadow on my eyes, and Illamasqua Zygomatic blush and ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter on my cheeks:

Overall, my impression of Bite remains the same as it was before I tried Lavender Jam: a nice brand in theory, but not for me. I've given it plenty of chances, but nothing from the brand has blown me away. Have you had a better Bite experience than I have? Am I insane to consider keeping Lavender Jam? Let me know! And many thanks to everyone who left such kind comments on my last post—your support means a lot. <3

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Lately I've had the desire to blog, and the time to blog, and a bunch of products to review (ask me about that eyeshadow palette I bought in August), but that combination hasn't quite translated into actual blogging. The main culprit is what I like to call "depression brain," which tells me a lot of things, none of them grounded in reality. It tells me that my posts aren't worth writing if they're not absolutely perfect, and that no one will care about them if they're brief, straightforward product reviews. It tells me that staring vacantly at the internet for two hours while putting off academic work is better than spending those two hours doing something I actively want to do. It tells me that my makeup technique sucks and I'd better not post anything until I can achieve an Instagram-level halo eye with ten different shadows, never mind that I prefer simple, undone-looking makeup. It tells me that my interest in makeup is grounded in shallow materialism, not creativity or self-expression. Worst of all, it tells me that if I mention these difficulties in a post, I'd better give up any hope of an academic job because All the Search Committees will magically find my obscure, anonymous blog on which I've never even mentioned where I live or go to school. One of the worst parts of depression is the feeling that everything will fall to pieces if you make one wrong move, coupled with the suspicion that you've made that move already.

This is not exactly my first bout of depression, though, so I know what I can do to help myself while I wait for life to start feeling less shitty. And one thing that always seems to help me is making concrete plans. In this post, I want to work out a tentative blogging schedule for the next little while. I leave for the UK in two weeks, and there are seven (!) products that I'd like to review before then. All of them are lip products, because I have a problem:

Clockwise from top: NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu, Bite Amuse Bouche in Radish, Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss in 765, Bite Amuse Bouche in Lavender Jam, Urban Decay Revolution Lipgloss in Scandal, Too Cool for School Milk Tint in Milky Lavender, OCC Stained Gloss in Dune.

I keep putting off discussing these products, convinced that I can't make my reviews "good enough"  (whatever that means) right now, and that I need to wait indefinitely for some thunderbolt of inspiration. But you know what? It's just makeup. It's just fucking makeup. I don't have to live up to my makeup or do it justice; it's a bunch of tinted goo, and it's mine to do with as I please. So, in the next two weeks, I'm going to write a series of short, direct, low-pressure reviews. Four posts in total, because I can group together the two nude glosses and the three pink deluxe samples (why are deluxe lip samples always pink?). If I'm inspired to write more, that's great, but I won't expect anything from myself beyond description and discussion. I don't mind reading no-frills reviews from bloggers I like, so why should I be so reluctant to write them? I'm hopeful that once I reestablish a regular posting schedule, I'll start feeling like I deserve to devote time to my blog and other things I love. Because I do, right? Right.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sea Witchery with NYX Liquid Suede in Stone Fox

I didn't learn to swim until my first year of college and still can't traverse more than two lengths of a pool without having to rest. Strictly speaking, I'm the last person who should be laying claim to sea witchery of any kind. But that's the great thing about makeup: it allows us to put on and take off as many characters as we wish. And come to think of it, do sea witches even do much swimming? I tend to picture them sitting in murky grottoes surrounded by their eel and seahorse familiars, not doing the backstroke from point A to point B. In any case, I wish I could give you a photo of NYX Liquid Suede in Stone Fox amid drifting seaweed, but the best backdrop I can muster is an old volume of Bakhtin:

I mentioned in my review of Amethyst (which I'm wearing as I type this) that the NYX Liquid Suede range is oddly limited: there are some very bold colors and some very drab ones, and little in between. So despite my love for the formula, I wasn't tempted to add to my Liquid Suede collection until last week, when a sale on NYX combined with a $3 coupon meant that I could score one for about $2.50. Now, any regular reader of Makeup Rehab will tell you that allowing a sale to influence your spending is a rookie mistake. No matter how deep the discount, you're still spending more than $0 and committing to yet another lipstick that you probably won't finish before it expires. I knew all this, but like...whatever.

The two Liquid Suedes that most appealed to me were Stone Fox, a dark teal-gray, and Soft Spoken, a trendy pinkish brown reputed to be a dupe for Kat Von D Lolita (though I couldn't tell you which of the 57 batches of Lolita it's supposed to dupe). I initially bought Soft Spoken, thinking I'd get a lot more wear from it than I would from Stone Fox, but trying it on made me realize that it was meant for warmer complexions than mine:

The lighting isn't great here, but you can see that Soft Spoken pulls very brown and drab on me, tamping down my coloring and making me look even paler than usual. Looking at this photo, I'm reminded of Kate's recent post on "work-appropriate" makeup. She argues that the "natural" colors generally recommended for the office look best on warm, muted complexions, while people with high-contrast coloring look "washed out and weakened" in the same colorshardly the impression anyone wants to give in an interview or presentation. As someone with similar coloring to Kate's, I agree completely with her suggestion that "there's a difference between what's sold as natural [nude lips, soft, neutral eyeshadows, etc.] and what appears natural on an individual." I'm done trying to find my perfect pink-brown lip color, because I don't think it exists. Wearing a lipstick like Soft Spoken, I look soft-spoken, as if I want to fade into the background of whatever room I'm in. Screw that. 

Before returning Soft Spoken, though, I made a few comparison swatches out of curiosity. L-R: Revlon Matte Balms in Fierce and Sultry; Soft Spoken; Topshop Lip Bullet in Motel. It's odd that Soft Spoken looks so dark here, because it seemed much lighter on my lips.

Back went Soft Spoken to CVS, and I picked up Stone Fox instead. It was a momentous purchase: the first lipstick in my collection that contained no red whatsoever. Even my most daring shades—Amethyst, & Other Stories Droguet Purple, MAC Antique Velvet—have a bit of red, which makes them distant cousins to my natural lip shade. Stone Fox, though, is a dark gray with hints of both blue and green, a far cry from anything else I own. Here it is swatched next to Amethyst:

They look identical in opacity here, but Stone Fox's formula is superior to Amethyst's. I have to fiddle with Amethyst to get it perfect: work the first coat into my lips as a stain, add a second coat, wait for that to set, then touch up any bald patches. Stone Fox is opaque straight from the tube. That aside, Stone Fox performs similarly to Amethyst: it takes about a minute to set, after which it feels soft and a bit tacky, but not sticky. It doesn't transfer much, it's non-drying, and it stays more or less pristine until I eat. Can't ask for much more than that. Unfortunately, the doefoot applicator isn't the best for achieving a clean outline, as my lip swatch of Stone Fox makes very clear. It's a learning curve!

And just for fun, here's OCC Stained Gloss in Dune over Stone Fox:

In these photos, Stone Fox seems to pull blue (which it does on most people, I think), but in the context of my face, it looks decidedly greener. Here it is with no other makeup except concealer:

At the risk of sounding completely insane, I'm tempted to say that Stone Fox looks more natural on me than Soft Spoken. It harmonizes with my complexion and eyes, and it provides the same level of contrast that my hair and eyebrows do. It also feels appropriate for the unseasonably gloomy weather we've been having.

Full disclosure, though: I have yet to wear Stone Fox out of the house. I can't help but be influenced by my surroundings, and I live in a stuffy suburb that's far less quirky than most university towns. This doesn't mean that I wear pearls and yoga pants every day (or at all), but it does mean that I'd feel self-conscious wearing Stone Fox on my daily perambulations. 

To the left is the makeup I wore yesterday to the library: NARS Habanera eyeshadow duo (the mint green always makes me think of the ocean), Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, and ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Trap. To the right is the same makeup with Stone Fox in place of Trap. The makeup on the left is already bolder than 95% of the makeup I see on a daily basis, but for some reason I can't take that final step and wear Stone Fox to a place where there's any chance of seeing my students. Maybe I'll just wait until I visit the UK next month: I feel much less awkward wearing eccentric lip colors there.

By the way, I discovered while writing this post that NYX just released a dozen more Liquid Suede shades! I knew it was only a matter of time before they expanded the line a bit. Here's the entire lineup, and here are some swatches of the 12 new ones. Lots of purples and blues, if you're into that sort of thing. Truly weird lip colors—blues, greens, grays—are trickling into the mainstream this year (see also Bite's new shades for summer), and I couldn't be happier. Sea-witch vibes for all!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Glossier Grab Bag: Generation G in Cake, Balm Dotcom, Face Mask Duo, and Priming Moisturizer

At this time two months ago, I had no firsthand knowledge of Glossier. I've now tried seven different Glossier products, at no cost to myself and with no affiliation with the brand, because I'm lucky and people are nice. I've already reviewed two of those products, Generation G in Jam and Boy Brow in Brown; today I'm going to give you mini-reviews of all the other products.

First, though, a caveat. I rarely blog (or read) about skincare for the same reason that I rarely blog or read about perfume: everyone's experience of these things is so personal that I'm not sure how much my opinion on a moisturizer or mask will benefit anyone else. Yes, I can specify that my skin is on the dry side of normal, but that doesn't mean that other dry-skinned people will love my skincare staples. There are so many other factors at work: climate, allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients, etc. I just don't want to give anyone hives, you know? Plus, I'm not the most informed source. I don't know a lot about skincare because I don't do a lot of research on skincare because, honestly, I find it kind of boring unless it's a Korean sheet mask with a cat face on it. There, I said it. Either a product works for me or it doesn't, and if it works for me, it may or may not work for you. I also don't like the magical thinking encouraged by skincare brands (omg antioxidants!), or the fearmongering that happens in certain skincare-focused circles, as if your entire epidermis will melt if your face comes within two feet of a lavender plant. I'd rather just think about lipstick.

So here's a compromise: a skincare post because most beauty junkies don't share my weird distaste for reading about skincare, plus a lipstick review to keep me happy. Today we're looking at Glossier's Balm Dotcom, Priming Moisturizer, mask duo (Mega Greens Galaxy Pack and Moisturizing Moon Mask), and Generation G lipstick in Cake. The moisturizer was a sample that came with Cake and Boy Brow, and the masks were the mini pods from last year's holiday set: mythofmirth sent me three of each kind. The pods are supposed to be single-use, but I got about two and a half uses from each (granted, I have a pretty small face).

L-R: Generation G in Cake, Moisturizing Moon Mask, Balm Dotcom.

 Generation G Lipstick in Cake ($18 for 0.04 oz/1.14 g):

Glossier describes its two lighter Generation G lipsticks, Cake and Like, as shades that "subtly enhance your natural lip tone." Cake, however, is a warm peachy beige that's a far cry from my natural pink-mauve lip color. There's almost no pink in it at all. On my lips, Cake is not a nude or an MLBB but a muted, toasty peach that contrasts with my coolish undertones and feels very '60s. I'm into it.

One layer of Cake on the left, three on the right—not much difference, as you can see:

L-R: Milani Matte Naked, Maybelline Nude Lust, Cake x 1, Cake x 3, NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu:

Top, my natural lips; bottom, my lips with a few coats of Cake. Honestly, I don't apply discrete layers of the Generation Gs so much as I rub them back and forth across my lips until the opacity is to my liking. 

In my review of Jam, I shared my detailed thoughts about the Generation G lipstick formula, but here's the concise version: it's a sheer matte formula that looks like a lip tint (it won't hide the texture of your lips at all) but fades as quickly as your average sheer lipstick. With a few coats, even Cake can be built up to a fairly intense color (see above), but it's never going to be fully opaque. I don't find the Generation Gs to be either drying or moisturizing, despite Glossier's comparison of the lipstick to "a tinted balm." There's a faint smell/taste that reminds me of clay, but I don't find it unpleasant.

Here's how it looks in context. I'm wearing my Inglot eyeshadow duo here, plus Sleek Life's a Peach blush to warm up my complexion:

A more recent look, with theBalm Stubborn (frosty pink) and Sexy (matte burgundy) on my eyes, NARS Mata Hari blush and ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter on my cheeks—if you're going to act like winter, May, I'm going to wear my winter makeup:

Cake hasn't altered my overall opinion of the Generation G lipsticks: they're not for everyone, but I quite like them, despite the ridiculous pricing per ounce. I hope Glossier expands the shade range eventually: I'd love to see a true brown, a bright purple, or a coral.

Balm Dotcom ($12 for 0.5 fl oz/15 ml)

Glossier markets this balm as a "universal skin salve" that moisturizes lips, cuticles, and elbows and can even work as a luminizer for cheekbones. I have very dry lips and cuticles, so I was excited to try Balm Dotcom, but it wasn't at all what I expected. BDC is an extremely thick balm containing petrolatum (good old Vaseline), lanolin (sheep wax, basically), castor oil, and some extracts that supposedly have antioxidant powers. It's hard to squeeze this balm out of the tube, let alone persuade it to absorb into my lips. It sits on top of my mouth instead, imparting a whitish cast, and it doesn't seem to have much longevity: it vanishes when I eat or drink. Balm Dotcom is unscented, but it does have a distinct petrolatum smell (though there's also a coconut variety for which Glossier had to do a photoshoot in Tulum because of course).

Balm Dotcom isn't the worst lip balm I've ever tried—it doesn't dry out my lips further, for instance—but it's much thicker than I prefer. It works well to moisturize my cuticles, but leaves my fingers feeling greasier than my trusty Burt's Bees cuticle cream does. I haven't tried using BDC as a luminizer, but it seems too dense for that; I'd rather smear some rose Vaseline on my cheeks and be done with it.
Mega Greens Galaxy Pack

Yes, you've seen this photo before.

This light clay-based mask is one of my favorite Glossier products. Unlike other clay masks I've tried, the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack has the fluffy texture of whipped cream cheese, and some of it gets absorbed into the skin as it's worn. Here it is freshly applied, right, and after 20 minutes, left:

Glossier describes this mask as "a juice cleanse for your face," which...whatever, I kind of tune out Glossier's marketing claims at this point. The Galaxy Pack contains a "superfruit antioxidant blend," because the benefits of putting antioxidant-rich foods on your skin for 20 minutes have been demonstrated in multiple peer-reviewed journals, OH WAIT. But even if you're a snarky bitch like me and you roll your eyes at Glossier's mentions of açaí and bilberry extracts, you might end up liking Mega Greens. Because it's lighter than most kaolin-based masks, it doesn't dry out my face, but it does minimize the look of my pores (no, there's no product that can "shrink" your pores), and it leaves my skin feeling softer and cleaner than before. It has a pale green color and a light herbal scent, and there's a pronounced tingling, cooling sensation when the mask goes on, though that fades after a few minutes. As an adherent of the "hurts so good" school, I quite like that sensation, but I know it's not for everyone.

My one major objection to this mask: the random bits of orange peel scattered throughout. Glossier claims that they exfoliate the face, but they're too big to be effective exfoliating particles, and citrus is a known skin irritant. I'm considering buying a full-sized tub of the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, but I'd welcome any other suggestions for clay masks that aren't too drying.

Moisturizing Moon Mask:

I'll be honest, this mask confuses me. The website copy implies that it's a 20-minute wash-off mask just like the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, but it looks, feels, and acts like a thick moisturizer. Its key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, shea butter, honey, and aloe; it also contains lemon extract for "brightening," though I've heard from multiple sources that lemon should never go near the face. I've used this mask all of five times, so I'm not worried, but I'd think twice before using it as a nightly moisturizer, which some people seem to do. The Moon Mask has the consistency of yogurt, and most of it absorbs into the skin soon after application. This suggests to me that it's closer to a "sleeping pack" than it is to your typical wash-off mask. For curiosity's sake, I've used it both ways: a light layer as a night moisturizer and a slightly heavier layer as a 20-minute mask. As a leave-on moisturizer, it left my skin hydrated, but no more so than my usual CeraVe PM does. Applied more heavily, it had a pronounced cooling effect, but felt uncomfortably greasy until I removed it. I did like how my skin felt once I'd washed off the mask, but eh, I could say the same about most masks I've tried.

Overall, I feel lukewarm about the Moon Mask. Since I'm satisfied with my current moisturizing products, it doesn't really have a place in my skincare routine, and the presence of lemon in the ingredients list doesn't thrill me.

Priming Moisturizer (sample size):
You've seen this photo, too.

This sample packet of moisturizer came with my Boy Brow and Cake lipstick. It's a thin, runny moisturizer that's supposed to prime skin for makeup, specifically Glossier's Perfecting Skin Tint or another kind of base makeup. Since I don't wear base makeup, I just slapped on the Priming Moisturizer a few minutes before applying my sunscreen. Honestly, I don't have much to say about it, positive or negative. Yes, it gave my skin that dewy Glossier finish, but so would any light moisturizer. It also made my skin feel a bit greasy, and I have fairly dry skin. Damn, writing about moisturizer is boring.

By the way, I discovered on my trip to New York last month that Glossier has absolutely plastered the downtown subway trains with ads. I wonder how much those ads cost and why they couldn't have used some of that money to make better lipstick tubes, but if I knew anything about marketing I wouldn't be a literature grad student.

Finally, a word about the snarky tone of my Glossier reviews. Most of the Glossier products I've tried are solid, and I have no judgment for people who love the brand and the aesthetic it puts forth. Hell, I like that aesthetic myself. But I can't help but roll my eyes when Glossier touts itself as "the beauty brand that wants to be friends with you—mostly because we’re not so much a brand as we are real people over here just trying to rethink the beauty industry and have a good time doing it." That is such obvious pandering, guys. They're not your friends; they're trying to sell you stuff. We live in a culture that conflates commerce with friendship and corporations with people, and that's a real problem. It cheapens the idea of friendship and makes brands less accountable to their customers. You shouldn't feel obligated to be as nice and considerate to Glossier as you are to your loved ones. If Emily Weiss is your friend, she's that long-lost high-school friend who shills Younique mascara on Facebook, not someone who will go for a bubble tea with you and listen to your relationship problems.

If this aspect of Glossier's brand identity weren't so strongly articulated, I wouldn't mention it or poke fun at it. But Glossier grew out of a blog, and now Into the Gloss wants to have it both ways: the profit margins of a successful beauty brand and the goodwill of a community of loyal blog readers. Hence ITG's habit of deleting polite but critical comments or delaying posting them for several days. If ITG were a personal blog, I wouldn't care about that; but it's not just a blog anymore, or even a beauty site. It's a vehicle for Glossier, which means that its readers are now potential consumers, not potential friends. There's a difference, and we need to keep that difference in mind, because we're more than what we buy. That's all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #4: April

I'm told that it's May, though you wouldn't know it from the weather, which has been utterly miserable for over a week and promises to carry on being utterly miserable for another week to come. Every day is the same: between 45 and 60 degrees, completely overcast, raining on and off, humidity around 90%. After one glorious week in mid-April, I thought I could settle into the certainty of not having to wear pants again until my UK visit in June. Then nature said "lol j/k" and I found myself fumbling in my closet for my down coat and pulling MAC Eugenie out of retirement. (I really have been loving Eugenie recently, as a complement to my leather jacket and end-of-semester scowl.) But the calendar proceeds apace even if the weather doesn't, and it's time again for my monthly roundup of beauty purchases!

New Makeup/Polish:

NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst: $5.50 (with CVS coupon)
Formula X Lively: $11
Too Cool for School Milk Tint in Milky Lavender: $8
Glossier Generation G in Cake: gift from Renee
Glossier Boy Brow in Brown: ditto (thanks, Renee!)
Total: $24.50

Swatches of (L-R) Amethyst, Milky Lavender, and Cake:

All right, so I bought one more lip product after declaring a lip-product no-buy for the rest of April. And it was another purple liquid lip product. But I didn't exceed my budget or my item limit, and I love everything I bought, so no real harm done. As for Cake, I thought I'd find such a warm beige challenging to wear, but the color became less daunting when I started thinking of it as a muted peach instead of a would-be nude. Reviews of Milky Lavender and Cake to come soon!


Four sheet masks (Berrisom Collagen, Tosowoong Pure Snail, Skinfood Super Nut, and Pure Smile Pink Flower): $13
Skinfood Black Sugar Honey Mask Wash Off: $12
Total: $25

I've used the Black Sugar Honey mask three times now, and I like the exfoliation it provides, though it does get very messy. The Tosowoong mask made my skin soft and matte, but I wasn't totally comfortable in the the knowledge that there was snail mucus on my face, and I'd rather not have snails die for my beauty regimen.

Replacements (no photo because these products are boring):

Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin facial spray: $10
Burt's Bees cuticle cream: $5
Revlon Multi Care Base + Top Coat: $8
Total: $23

Total (makeup, skincare, and replacements): $73.50

Overview: For the second month in a row, I stayed well under my makeup/polish budget of $40. I'm proud of myself for that, especially because April was a rough month emotionally. The less I buy, the less I want to buy, and I'm increasingly aware of what a commitment each new lipstick or nail polish is. I also successfully resisted two tempting sales: Urban Decay slashed the price of its soon-to-be-discontinued Revolution Lipsticks from $22 to $11, and ColourPop had a sitewide 20%-off sale a few days ago. Urban Decay Rapture and Streak are two of my favorite lipsticks, but I have a strict no-backups policy these days: I know that if I ever manage to finish a lipstick, the last thing I'll want to do is buy exactly the same one (unless it's NARS Dolce Vita). Plus, the new colors I was considering were all bold, and the bold shades of the Revolution lipsticks are almost impossible to apply without a lip brush. As for ColourPop, there were only a few things I wanted, and saving $5 wasn't worth dealing with a crashing website, an hours-long online queue, and the near-certainty that I'd have to wait ages for my items to ship. Frankly, I sympathized with this person on Instagram:

Disco nuts, n.: the testicular condition that results from wearing a Parisian nightsuit.

But I shouldn't feel too smug about avoiding those sales: my overall beauty spending was up about $25 from March, and $25 was exactly the amount I spent on new skincare at oo35mm in New York. I don't feel too bad about stocking up on masks: I almost never go to Chinatown (oo35mm is right off Canal Street, a crowded, noisy nightmare), so I probably won't be back to the store anytime soon. Still, I think I should keep an eye on my spending habits lest skincare replace makeup as my priciest vice.


Top: Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle
L-R: OPI Ate Berries in the Canaries and OPI...Eurso Euro!; Essie In the Cab-ana and Stylenomics; Butter London Russian Navy.

My experience with Pink Truffle mirrors my changing standards for lipstick in general. This is actually my second tube (I bought my first around 2012), and I started feeling dissatisfied about halfway through it. Despite its creamy formula, Pink Truffle is quite drying, and something about the color doesn't sit well with my complexion. It's too warm and brown to be a true MLBB for me, but it's too pink to be a statement brown like Topshop Motel. I've been lowkey trying to pan Pink Truffle for a few months (wearing it to yoga, etc.), but it's no longer giving me any pleasure, so I think it's time to say goodbye. At least I can feel good that I have more exacting standards for color and formula than I did in 2012, or even in 2014 when I repurchased Pink Truffle.

I hate to get rid of the nail polishes, all of which were favorites of mine, but four of them are almost completely dried up. The fifth, Essie Stylenomics, stained the hell out of my nails last fall, and it took months for them to recover completely. I just can't see myself wearing Stylenomics again, as much as I love that severe dark green. Royal Navy was my first Butter London, by the way—I bought it in June 2012.


ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Mars ($6): It's still on my wishlist after a month, which means I'm allowed to get it.

ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Marshmallow and The Rabbit ($6 each): Of course, the problem with ColourPop is that you can never order just one thing. I'm curious about ColourPop's Ultra Satin formula, and two shades in particular are calling my name: Marshmallow, a grayish lavender, and The Rabbit, a rich fuchsia with a blue sheen. The thing is, I don't need them. I really don't. Every time I start to fantasize about wearing these colors, I hear Kimberly Clark's voice saying, "Don't need it, not gonna buy it." I might buy them anyway, but not after some thought. By the way, if you're not familiar with Kimberly Clark's "anti-haul" videos, you're missing out.

(Update, 5/4: There have been reports of a security breach on the ColourPop website. I'm definitely not purchasing from them until this gets cleared up.)

Sleek i-Divine Palette in Sunset ($11.99):  

I'll probably hold off on this until my trip to the UK next month, but I might as well mention it now. I'd like to have some more pinkish and warm-toned shades in my eyeshadow collection, and Sleek's i-Divine palettes receive almost universally positive reviews. That website photo is inaccurate, by the way: the reviews I've read indicate that the colors are much brighter IRL (what looks like ochre above is actually lemon yellow, for instance). I doubt I'll end up using every shade, but the reds and pinks are so pretty, ugh.

Finally: can we talk about the fact that Urban Decay is releasing 120 new lipsticks on June 5? It's a bold move, but my first reaction was annoyance, not excitement. The new Vice lipsticks will be $17 instead of $22, which means that quality has been cut somewhere (certainly in packaging, but I hope not in formula as well). More importantly, a lineup of 120 is overwhelming, and not in a good way (that said: OMG SO MANY PURPLES). I had enough trouble choosing Angela from 40 NARS Audacious lipsticks; now Urban Decay is presenting us with three times that number! Picking a couple of favorites will require a lot of research, and I just don't want to let Urban Decay take up that much space in my brain. Not yet, at least. Get back to me on June 4.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Beauty Obsessed Tag

I just did some day drinking with a friend to celebrate our last day of teaching this semester, so it's fair to say that I won't be getting any work done this evening. But a single dark & stormy (yes, I'm a lightweight) hardly prevents me from blogging. I've done a lot of product reviews recently, so I thought I'd break up the monotony with a tag I found on the blog Chic Dabbling. Some beauty tags have weirdly farfetched questions ("what would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and a thief was making off with your nail polish collection?"), but this one is refreshingly straightforward! Warning: it's a long questionnaire and I'm as wordy as ever. You might need your own dark & stormy to make it through this post.

1. Do you remember your first makeup item?

I'm not entirely sure which makeup item was my very first, but it may have been the clear Revlon Moon Drops lipstick my grandma bought me when I was 12 or 13. It came in the green Moon Drops tube and had that heavy floral smell, but it was more of a balm or stick gloss than an actual lipstick. When my grandma was growing up in Brooklyn in the '30s, her parents forbade her to wear makeup, and I think she felt that she was giving me a freedom she never had. I couldn't have cared less about makeup back then, but I must have appreciated the gesture, since I still remember that lipstick.

Another candidate for first makeup item was the set of seven mini Pochacco nail polishes I received for my 13th birthday in 2000. Again, I wasn't interested in beauty at the time, but the bottles were so cute that I kept them—in fact, they're still at my mom's house today! The polishes all have a slightly frosted finish, and there's a red, orange, yellow, lime green, light blue, dark blue, and purple. On the bottles, there are pictures of Pochacco doing various sports. Very cute.

This is Pochacco, by the way, if you're less immersed in Sanrio lore than I was in 2000:

First answer and I'm already rambling. Must be the coffee I'm drinking to counteract the rum.

2. What kind of coverage do you prefer from foundation?

I've never worn foundation (never even tried it on), but I'm curious about the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, which is supposed to be very sheer. So I guess I prefer very sheer coverage? I don't have perfect skin by any means, but I've never liked the thought of covering every pore with makeup.

3. Favorite high-end brand?

I haven't tried many high-end brands, if by "high-end" you mean Chanel, Guerlain, Dior, etc. They're out of my budget, and I still favor cruelty-free makeup. My favorite non-drugstore brand is NARS, though that would probably be considered mid-end.

4. What cosmetic brands have you always wanted to try but still haven’t?

I'm curious about Japanese brands like Addiction, Three, and Suqqu, as well as newer high-end Western brands like Charlotte Tilbury and Surratt. (A lot of this is Belly's fault.)

5. Favorite drugstore brand? 

I haven't encountered a drugstore brand that does every product category well, so I have different favorite brands for different products. For concealer, I like CoverGirl (I've been using the same concealer since high school). For mascara, Revlon. For blush, Milani and Sleek. For lip products, NYX, Revlon, Milani, and Maybelline. For eyeshadow and eyeliner, I tend to go higher-end, though I do love Maybelline's metallic Color Tattoos.

6. Do you wear fake lashes?

Nah. Seems like a lot of trouble, and I've never understood the appeal.  

7. Is there any kind of makeup you can’t leave the house without? 

I almost never leave the house without applying a lip product, even if it's just a balm. I think I'm addicted to the feeling of having something on my lips. And when they're in especially bad shape (right now, for instance), I like to be able to conceal the dry bits. 

8. What is your most cherished makeup product? 

I...don't think I have one? Maybe my NARS Audacious Lipstick in Angela because of that cool magnetic tube, but I don't love the Audacious formula, so I wouldn't say I "cherish" Angela. I got really attached to NARS 413 BLKR over the winter, but again, I'm not sure I cherish it so much as I enjoy wearing it. I guess I do cherish my lipstick collection as a whole!

9. Do you utilize coupons, rewards cards, and sales when you shop for cosmetics? 

I don't follow sales religiously (too much temptation, ironically), and I don't buy enough at Ulta or Sephora for my points to matter. I used to take more advantage of sales at CVS, but now I do so only when there's something I already want.

10. What type of product do you buy the most of?

LIPSTICK. I have about 60 and can rattle off at least five more that I'd like to try: ColourPop Mars and Botanical, MAC Whirl, Marc Jacobs Je t'aime and Sonic Truth...

11. Do you like colorful shades of makeup (lipstick, blush, etc.) or neutral ones?

In general, I prefer neutral eye makeup and colorful lipstick, though I've been wearing a lot of neutral lip colors in the last few months. With blush, I can go either way: my most-worn blush is Illamasqua Zygomatic, a pinkish beige, but I also love more colorful blushes like purple or peach. The makeup I wore today is a good example of my usual preferences:

12. What is your favorite eyeshadow color?

Gray! Exciting, right? I also love plum shades. (And plummy grays, and grayish plums.)

13. Is there a brand that you absolutely can’t stand?

Like Chic Dabbler, I've never bought from Lime Crime and I never will. It just doesn't make sense to me that anyone would. These days, there are dozens of brands selling wacky lipstick colors with whimsical packaging—why buy from someone who dressed as Hitler for Halloween, asked her fangirls to attack Temptalia for giving her lipsticks mediocre reviews, and failed to notify customers about a huge security breach on her website? Come to think of it, I'm not crazy about most personality-driven brands (Kat Von D, Jeffree Star, Kylie Jenner). They feel a little cultish to me. 

14. Do you like trying new skincare products or do you keep a certain routine?

My basic regimen (cleanser, moisturizer, toner) usually stays the same, but I love trying new masks! Earlier this month I bought four different sheet masks at oo35mm, along with the Skinfood Black Sugar Honey mask. I've also been loving my samples of the Glossier Mega Greens mask:

15. Favorite bath and body brand?

Lush. I know they're less ~natural~ than they pretend to be, but I love their bath bombs, soaps, and lotions.

16. If you could only buy from one brand, which brand would you choose?

NARS for sure. Its use of color is innovative but not off-the-rails wacky, its overall standard for quality is impressive, and it offers a wide range of products without being as overwhelming as MAC.

17. What brand do you think has the best packaging?

I'm currently crazy about my Too Cool for School lip tint, also from oo35mm. It came in a tiny cardboard box that looked like a milk carton! And the tint itself has a picture of a milk bottle! Why can't Western brands do packaging that's whimsical but not childish (looking at you, Too Faced)?

Overall, though, NARS is the first brand that comes to mind. I know a lot of people complain about the rubbery finish of NARS packaging, but I don't mind itI think the matte black looks sleek and modern. I also like the gold gaudiness of YSL, honestly.

18. Which celebrity always has great makeup?

Fan Bingbing and Lupita Nyong'o have reliably great makeup, but I don't follow celebrity makeup very closely.

19. Do you belong to any online makeup communities?

I have an account on MakeupAlley, but I haven't used it in years. I also read a few beauty subreddits but have so far resisted making an account, which would just encourage me to waste more time on Reddit than I already do.

20. Five favorite beauty/lifestyle influencers?

In general, my makeup is more influenced by films, art, and overall aesthetic sensibilities than it is by specific people (wow, that sounded pretentious). Kate of Drivel about Frivol had a huge influence on my beauty philosophy, though. Oh, and I hate the word "influencer."

21. Do you like multifunctional products like lip and cheek stains?

I'm weirdly prejudiced against products that claim to have more than one use. I want each of my products to be very good at one thing, you know? I don't like ambiguity. And yes, I know this is totally irrational.

22. Are you clumsy while putting on makeup?

I'm clumsy while doing everything. As my friend Alex once put it, I'm "not good at existing in three dimensions."

23. Do you use makeup base/primer for the eyes?

Yes, I use NYX's HD primer for my eyeshadow. It's pretty good, but I'd like to find a more effective one. I don't use a primer for my whole face, though.

24. What do you love about makeup?

I love that I can use it to evoke specific moods, aesthetics, works of art, and historical periods. I love that we live in an era in which electric indigo lipstick is readily available at a low price point. I love the geeky online community that has grown up around makeup. I love that I can establish an instant bond with another woman by complimenting her lipstick. Makeup can be either social or intensely individual, and best of all, it washes off at the end of the day. What's not to love?

As always, feel free to do this tag if the mood strikes!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Formula X Lively and a K-Pop Microtrend

Yellow is an underrepresented color in most people's makeup collections, including mine. Deservedly or not, it has a dismal reputation:

The Googlers have spoken: yellow is the most "visible" and "noticeable" color, but like many highly visible and noticeable things, including the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Lime Crime, and Donald Trump, it is also perceived as "annoying" and "depressing." (Actually, the most visible color to the human eye is yellow-green, due to its location in the middle of the color spectrum, but let's not be too picky.) Yellow is notorious for being unflattering to most complexions, and it's the rare eyeshadow palette that includes even an understated mustard, let alone a chartreuse or daffodil. So imagine my surprise when I started noticing yellow nail polish in what seemed like every other k-pop girl-group video released this spring. Here's some proof, arranged chronologically by release date:

Mamamoo, "You're the Best":

CLC, "High Heels" (seriously, don't follow that link, the song is awful):

Red Velvet, "One of These Nights" (yellow eyeshadow, too!):

I.O.I, "Crush":

AOA ft. Takanori Nishikawa (T. M. Revolution), "Ai wo Chodai" ("Give Me the Love")

J.Y. Park ft. Conan O'Brien (no, really), Steven Yeun, and Jimin Park, "Fire":

The trendactually, let's call it a microtrend, since all of these videos came out in the last two monthsstarted with pale butter-yellow polish, but quickly moved into bold safety-vest yellow. I was intrigued. My only yellow nail polish was a sparkly orange-yellow from CoverGirl's Hunger Games collection two years ago (I know), and I wondered why I'd never embraced the delicate vintagey prettiness of light yellow. As luck would have it, Smith & Cult's spring collection included The Bee Side, a nail polish in exactly that color. I knew that pastels were hard for any brand to get right, but Smith & Cult kept Instagramming photos of pale-yellow manicures that looked perfectly smooth and opaque, and their polishes were $18 a pop—they had to be decent, right? After dithering for a few weeks, I bought The Bee Side at my local Bluemercury and tried it out excitedly. 

And, guys? It kind of sucked. 

The formula was watery and streaky, it took forever to dry, and I couldn't get opaque coverage even after three coats. I might have done better with four, but in my view, any "opaque" nail polish that requires more than three coats is a dud. The Smith & Cult bottle was beautiful, but it was twice as wide as any of my other polish bottles, which made it difficult to store. It was basically the manspreader of nail polishes. I returned it so quickly I didn't even have a chance to take pictures. 

With that $18 back in my bank account, I resumed my search. The next butter-yellow polish to catch my eye was Lively, a new spring release from Sephora's Formula X collection. (That microtrend isn't confined to k-pop, apparently.) I'd been impressed by Enigma, my first Formula X purchase, so I picked up Lively on my trip to NYC earlier this month. It was a more palatable, though still somewhat pricey, $11.

Lively is the lemon-curd-mixed-with-whipped-cream yellow of my dreams. It's almost identical to The Bee Side, though perhaps a hair darker.

It applies more smoothly than The Bee Side and dries very quickly. After three coats, a few nails have a tiny bit of streakiness, but only if you really squint. I think this is the closest I'm going to get to a flawless light-yellow polish, though I do have one strong word of caution: DO NOT remove this polish less than a day after application, or it will stain your nails yellow even with basecoat. I learned this the hard way. If you wait at least two days before removal, you should be fine. (Honestly, I tend to peel off my nail polish, which is terrible for my nails but does help prevent staining. I can't believe I just confessed that on my blog.)

With a basecoat and topcoat, Lively lasts 2-3 days without chipping, which is about average for me. I assume that if your nails don't reject nail polish like it's a faulty organ, Lively will last a bit longer on you. It also matches Watchmen:

And my favorite sunglasses:

To truly follow the k-pop microtrend, though, I think I need a bright dandelion yellow as well. Any suggestions?

P.S. In case you weren't aware, all of Urban Decay's Revolution lipsticks, including the matte and sheer versions, are now 50% off wherever they're sold. This seems to confirm the rumor that Urban Decay is planning to discontinue the entire Revolution line later this year. It's been less than three years since the lipsticks were released (the mattes and sheers are even newer), and they've received almost universally positive reviews, so I have no idea why Urban Decay has made this decision. In any case, now seems to be the time to stock up on your staple colors. I've been good and haven't yet taken advantage of the sale, but I might end up trying Bittersweet or Jilted. Hmm.

Update, 4/28: I've heard another rumor that Urban Decay is planning to keep the existing Revolution colors and formulas but revamp the shape of the bullets so that they have a slanted top, which would be amazing (and would make more sense than discontinuing everything out of the blue). I'd own a lot more Revolution lipsticks if they didn't have that annoying flat top, so here's hoping the rumor is true!