Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beauty Abroad, Part 10: Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips

I have a very specific packaging fetish: I like things in small round tins. But really, could you resist this particular tin?

Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips is only the latest in a series of Tins I Have Loved. My first makeup products, when I was a young teenager, were Perfumeria Gal redcurrant and violet lip balms in domed Art Nouveau tins:

One of my most vivid memories from my first semester of college is of eating Les Anis de Flavigny rose- and violet-flavored pastilles in my dorm room overlooking the campus lake (I was a foppish 17-year-old):


So it's no wonder that the little discs of Vaseline Lip Therapy caught my eye at a grocery store the other day. There were three colors: blue (original), green (aloe vera), and coral-pink (rose). I'd never seen them in the States, so I barely hesitated before buying a tin of Rosy Lips for £2.19, despite my misgivings about the formula: I've been known to smear Vaseline on my lips on especially dry winter days, and it's never pleasant.

But as it turns out, Lip Therapy lacks that thick, squidgy Vaseline texture. It's thin and emollient, with a strong but natural rose fragrance and, at least in the tin, a warm pink color. Though suspiciously similar to Smith's Rosebud Salve, Rosy Lips is more heavily perfumed and colored. It looks and smells like liquefied Turkish delight--a confection much on my mind since last week, when I encountered (and plundered) this shop at the Borough Market:

 If you don't like tasting roses for several minutes after you apply your lip balm, you shouldn't buy this; my own tolerance for good rose scents, however, is limitless. (Which explains why I bought both rose-walnut and rose-pistachio Turkish delight.)

Ah, that jelly-smooth coral surface! Make no mistake, though, this is a practically clear lip balm. There's little point in posting an arm swatch, but never let it be said I'm not a completist:

Bare vs. rosy lips--as this low-budget diptych shows, the real difference is in the shine, not the color.

I do see a very slight pink cast, but despite the tin's promise that Rosy Lips "gently tints and cares for lips," it shouldn't be mistaken for a genuinely tinted balm like the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments. (That said, I'd rather have Rosy Lips, as I find the Fresh balms to be melty and ineffective and generally overrated--but that's a subject for another post, or not.)

Finally, here's the tin in my hand for scale, plus the ingredients list:

I've been using Rosy Lips for a few days now, both in the morning before I put on makeup and at night before I go to bed. I'm reluctant to take it with me on my London adventures, as the city grit always makes my fingers feel dirty, and the thought of sticking them into a pot of lip balm and transferring the particles to my mouth is unbearable. Victorian London would have made me a hermit. I've noticed a definite improvement in the softness and smoothness of my chronically dry lips, but I've had similar success with other brands of lip balm. The real difference with Rosy Lips is that the cuteness of the tin and the fragrance of the balm help me remember to apply it regularly. Who said packaging was merely decorative?

Rosy Lips has potential for other uses, too. It would make a decent, if one-note, solid perfume in a pinch. And after reading this interview with model Ashley Smith, who likes to use Rosebud Salve as luminizer after a flight, I wondered if Rosy Lips would have a similar effect. So I tried it on both lips and cheeks after my lipstick and most of my blush had worn off:

It works, sort of! Though I confess I need very little help looking sweaty ethereal on a daily basis.

Finally, I've had to add a sad footnote to my recent review of Milani's Bella Charcoal and Bella Navy eyeshadows. Not even my fetish for disc-shaped things will tempt me to buy another product from that range...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Because You've Always Wondered How Often I Wear False Eyelashes...

I still haven't had a chance to take decent blog pictures in London, so here's a beauty meme, taken from the lovely Teresa at brush and bullet! (I'm retaining the Commonwealth spelling because I'm in the Commonwealth as we speak. It's only fair.)

ETA: I just realized that I forgot to copy and paste questions 17-30! I've been so distracted recently. Updated 9/13. 

1. Is your hair naturally curly or straight?
It's very wavy, but not quite curly.

2. What is your natural hair colour?
Dark brown with a few auburn highlights.

3. Do you dye it yourself or go to a salon?
I have virgin hair!

4. How often do you wash your hair?
Every day. My hair is quite fine, and it looks limp and greasy if I go more than 36 hours without washing it.

5. Do you wear the same style every day or change it?
At its current length, there's not much I can do with it except leave it down! When it was longer (about chin-length), I'd occasionally pin it into an awkward "bun" (more bobby pin than hair), or twist part of it back and secure it with combs, like so:

In early college, I'd often put it in a half-hearted and -assed bun, using a scrunchie from the late '90s:

I've cropped out my biology professor, but I wish I could also crop out the astonishingly shitty Talbots blazer I was wearing. 2005 was kind to none of us, fashion-wise, but it was especially unkind to me.

6. Do you do your own mani/pedi or go to a salon?
I always do my own: I'm possessive of my personal space and don't like the thought of a stranger touching my hands or feet.

7. How often do you change your nail polish?
About twice a week.

8. Do you polish your toes in the winter, too, or just in the summer?
Why does this question take for granted that everyone polishes their toes in the summer? Anyway, I didn't start giving myself pedicures until last year. I'm very self-conscious about my misshapen feet (courtesy of years of ballet, plus genetics), and I never wear sandals unless it's oppressively hot. It took me a while to realize that painting my toenails was something I could do just for myself, so that I wouldn't feel awful when I looked down at my feet. These days I try to keep my toes polished year-round, but I definitely slack off in the cold months.

9. How long does it take to put on your makeup?
About ten minutes.

10. What do you do first? Face or eyes?
In order: moisturizer, sunscreen, concealer, eye makeup, blush, lip color.

11. Do you “collect” makeup or just buy what you need when you need it?
Depends on the kind of product. I find mascara totally uninteresting and never have more than one bottle at a time, but I'm a die-hard lipstick collector. Blushes and eyeshadows fall somewhere in the middle. In general, though, I'm more of a collector than an as-needed replacer. I mean, duh: I have a beauty blog.

12. How often do you wear false eyelashes?
I've never worn them, with the exception of a pair of silver tinsel eyelashes I bought one Halloween. As I recall, I couldn't get them to stick to my lids longer than five minutes, but for those five minutes I looked awesome. I'd like to try lash-colored false lashes one of these days, but I really have nowhere to wear them.

13. Do you do a full face of makeup every day?
I've never been sure what the phrase "full face of makeup" means. If it means "foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, five shades of eyeshadow, two eyeliners, lip liner, lipstick, and gloss," then I never do a full face. If it means "the greatest amount of makeup I ever wear," then I do a full face almost every day: concealer, eyeshadow (usually one neutral shade all over the lid), mascara, understated blush, and lip color. I often forget to put on mascara, though; see 11. It's just. so. boring.

14. Do you wear makeup when you are home alone (or with family)?
When I'm home alone, I almost never wear makeup, though I sometimes like to slap on a crazy color of lipstick for fun. When I'm with family, it depends: I won't put on makeup specifically for them, but I will if I'm doing something else later.

15. Will you leave the house without makeup?
If I'm running an errand or going to work out, the most I'll put on is a neutral lip color (I always wear sunscreen, though). But honestly, I wish I were more comfortable going out with a bare face. I don't hate the way I look without makeup, but the ritual of applying it is so important to me that when I do skip it, I feel like I'm missing out. Leaving the house is an occasion! I need to celebrate it! (I also need to get a life, apparently.)

16. How many high-end products do you have?
Assuming that "high-end" means non-drugstore (e.g. MAC, NARS) and not just prestige/designer, I have about 20.

17. How often do you wash your makeup brushes?
I wash my eyeshadow and blush brushes every couple of weeks, and my lip brush as often as I use it, so a few times a month.

18. Do you plan your OOTD every night or decide when you are getting dressed?
There's not much to plan, as I have a uniform from which I rarely deviate: v-neck t-shirt, blazer, dark skinny jeans, and black flats. In the summer I lose the blazer and replace the jeans with one of four pairs of J. Crew shorts.

19. How often do you change your handbag?
I don't own a real handbag. Since I have to carry my laptop and books so often, I just use a black canvas tote bag from the Strand; for fancy occasions, I switch to a small black Kate Spade purse (with polka-dot lining!) that I've had for two years.

20. What time do you get up and go to sleep?
I usually go to bed around 11 and wake up between 7 and 7:30. When evening rolls around, I become practically narcoleptic--I often pass out in my clothes with all the lights on and sleep through the night.

21. How often and when do you work out?
When I'm at home, I make it to the university gym two or three times in a good week, and I take a yoga class every Saturday.

22. Left-handed or right-handed?

23. How tall are you?
Just under 5'6", but I like to round up.

24. Do you speak a foreign language?
Yes, I studied Japanese for nine years. I haven't had a conversation in Japanese since college, but I think I could still get by if I visited Japan. I also read Latin, but I'd never attempt to speak it.

25. How many pets do you have?
None, unfortunately. All three of the animals that I considered my pets (my childhood cat, my father's and stepmother's cat, my boyfriend's dog) have died in the last two years. I'd love to adopt a cat or dog, but I'm not in a situation that allows me to have a pet right now.

26. How often are you on Blogger?
If this means writing posts, I try to post every three days, though life often gets in the way. If it means reading other people's blogs, maybe 45 minutes a day, give or take.

27. Do you keep a list of products to try as you see other posts?
Yes, on Pinterest, though it's not a full list--I'm a little ashamed of revealing to the world the number of products I want to try. I should really just keep a list in a Word document or something, but I never think to do that.

28. How did you come up with your blog name?
"Auxiliary beauty" is a 17th-century slang term for "makeup." I found it in a dictionary of London thieves' slang from 1699.

29. What kind of camera do you use for photographs?
iPhone 5.

30. What is your favorite beauty/fashion magazine?
I don't read a lot of magazines, though I like buying Elle before I take a flight, and I try to pick up the Sunday Times every time the fashion issue of T magazine comes out. I've been a fan of Chandler Burr's perfume reviews since high school.

And that's that! Posts might be sparse for a while, since I'm doing a lot of sightseeing and article revision, but I'll do my best to update. I miss my regular blogging schedule!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

La Vita è Bella, Take 2: New Milani Eyeshadows in Bella Charcoal and Bella Navy (Updated with a Tragic Footnote)

Greetings from Londinium! I've been trying for the last few days to write a post about the makeup I brought to England this time, but I'm never at home during prime picture-taking hours, and I'm very picky about color accuracy. Today, though, I remembered that I wrote most of a review of Milani Bella Charcoal and Bella Navy a week ago, but put it aside because I hadn't yet worn Bella Navy. Now, though, I have! So here you go:

I made an interesting discovery recently.

Here are the four Milani Bella Eyes eyeshadows I've purchased in the past month:

And here are four of the five Maybelline Color Tattoo eyeshadows I've purchased in the past year:


And the sad thing is, I don't have many more eyeshadows than the eight pictured above. Am I really that devoted to silver-grays, taupes, navy blues, and reddish plums? I swear I thought I was branching out!

Yet here we are, with a quick review of two more eyeshadow singles from the Milani Bella Eyes range: Bella Navy, a navy with electric-blue shimmer, and Bella Charcoal, a dark gray with multicolored sparkle. Milani classifies Bella Navy as a "satin matte" (false) and Bella Charcoal as a "shimmer" (true).

You may be wondering why, after giving Bella Taupe and Bella Rouge a largely unenthusiastic review, I picked up two more from the line. Let's just say that the flesh is weak and the wallet is weaker, especially under the influence of payday, a BOGO sale, and $5 in CVS coupons. Plus I wanted to replace my Maybelline Color Tattoos in Audacious Asphalt and Electric Blue, which were stiff, dry, and unblendable even when new. And these are fine replacements; in fact, I'm more impressed with them than I was with the first two.

I'm especially enamored of Bella Charcoal. In my last Milani post, I despaired of finding complex eyeshadow shades at the drugstore, but Bella Charcoal has just about proven me wrong.

Swatches, in indirect natural light (Bella Charcoal on left, Bella Navy on right):

In direct sunlight for SPARKLE:

Despite its name, Bella Charcoal isn't a conventional charcoal gray. It has a taupey warmth to it, as well as that intriguing multicolored pastel shimmer--pink, green, and yellow seem to be the dominant colors. If you look closely, you can see that Bella Navy has a similar shimmery overlay, with flecks of pink and green in addition to blue. This complexity is much less evident on the lids, but, sparkle geek that I am, I like ogling eyeshadows in the pan almost as much as I like wearing them.

Here's a FOTD with Bella Charcoal, from two weeks ago. I applied Milani Bella Taupe all over my upper lid, added Charcoal to the outer corners and the lower lashlines, and finished with Maybelline One by One mascara. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla under eyes; Illamasqua Zygomatic on cheeks; Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon, a blood-orange matte lipstick I don't wear as often as I should, on lips.

And the prettier of my two cocktails from that night (a blackberry bramble: gin, blackberry liqueur, muddled blackberries, and lemon).

Yesterday I wore Bella Navy for the first time, in a standard placement: NARS Lhasa on the inner two-thirds of the mobile lid; Bella Navy blended into the outer third of the upper lid and the outer third of the lower lashline. It's less pigmented on the lid than it is in an arm swatch, but I don't actually mind. I don't set much store in zomgperfectlyopaque eyeshadows, especially in dark bold colors; I'd rather have a slightly sheer formula that I can layer to opacity. So long as it builds up smoothly without turning coarse and powdery, I'm happy.

Full face, with NARS Mata Hari blush and NYX Round Lipstick in Perfect, a rosy mauve that I neglected unfairly for a year:

My hair has reached yet another infuriating stage of growth, in which the ends of the longest layers flip up and out, creating a Farrah Fawcett feathered effect up and down my head. It's now been five and a half months since my last pixie cut, and four months of bad hair days. Remind me never to cut my hair that short again. D:

In better news, some photos from London! The cat we're looking after has taken a fancy to sleeping on my suitcase:

My favorite architectural bit so far: a monument from 1835, commemorating the abolition of slavery. What a disembodied neo-Gothic spire inlaid with pastel tiles has to do with slavery, I'm not entirely sure, but I love the gingerbread bizarreness of it.

We're staying near the Beefeater Gin distillery, so we took a tour yesterday. Here's an ad from "Asia, 1972," though something tells me it appeared in Japan, specifically...

The catchphrase, "the gin for people in the know," contains a cute play on words: jin (人), or "person," is homonymous with jin (ジ ン), or "gin."

Later today: the Victoria & Albert Museum, devoted to decorative art and design. I can't wait. And if you have any London recommendations, please leave them below...

Updated, 9/14: This morning I opened my Milani Bella Charcoal eyeshadow and discovered that the domed portion had detached from the rest of the pan. Scandal!

I bought Bella Charcoal just two weeks ago and never dropped it or mistreated it, so I'm pretty annoyed. Maybe I can look up depotting methods and press the detached part into another pot? I like the shade enough to try and salvage it, but my experience with Milani Bella Eyes hasn't done much to cure my general distrust of drugstore eyeshadows. Feh.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NARS Audacious Lipstick Swatches and the Allure of Audrey

Today, as a reward for finishing an article draft and setting up a meeting with my adviser, I headed to the local Bluemercury to check out the new NARS Audacious lipsticks. I limited myself to seven swatches (as many as would fit on my hand), since I'm not audacious enough to swatch a collection of 30 lipsticks all over my upper body. These were the seven that caught my eye when I first looked at the display. The testers had been very lightly used, and many of them were still pristine. Is there anything more satisfying than being the first to use a lipstick tester? Probably, but let me keep my low bar for satisfaction, at least for now. I'm a grad student. Our pleasures are few.

Outside, in shade. Left to right: Liv, Audrey, Grace, Vera, Annabella, and (barely visible) Fanny and Bette. Liv is a deep reddish purple; Audrey is a rich plummy red; Grace is a hot pink coral, similar to MAC Impassioned; Vera is a reddish raspberry, similar to Revlon Cherries in the Snow; Annabella is an almost glowing coral-red; Fanny is a berry-fuchsia; Bette is a dark brick-red.

Same light, different angle: Liv, Audrey, Grace, Vera, Annabella, Fanny, Bette. This photo makes them look slightly cooler than they are.

Outside, direct sunlight:

Same light, different angle:

Indoors, indirect natural light:

Same light, different angle:

I was really impressed with the formula of these. The only shades that weren't intimidatingly opaque at first swipe were the darkest ones, Liv and Bette, and even those built up nicely. I tried on Audrey, and it felt extremely soft and comfortable on my lips (though I removed it 15 minutes later, before eating lunch). I came away uncertain whether to buy it, though. I'd anticipated a soft, faded berry red, but Audrey looked darker, more purple, and more intense on me than online swatches had led me to expect. That might be the fault of my pigmented lips, which tend to pull every lipstick cooler and darker. There really is no substitute for seeing makeup in person!

Here's a lip swatch indoors, in natural light:

And a full-face photo, same light. As you can see, I didn't plan today's eye makeup to coordinate with a dark red lipstick, but I actually like the interaction between Audrey and the mint eyeshadow from the NARS Habanera duo...

What do you think? Does Audrey look too similar to Rimmel Across the Universe or YSL Belle de Rose? Should I go for a different color? Fanny is undeniably beautiful, though I can't help but associate the name with a certain 18th-century novel...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wishlist: Early Fall Edition

I keep a running beauty wishlist over at Pinterest, and I thought I'd wax poetic about a handful of those items on the blog.

1. NARS Audacious Lipstick in Audrey

Image from NARS.

For the past few weeks, I've been zealously hunting down reviews of the NARS Audacious Lipsticks, which became available online in mid-August but didn't show up in stores until today. That is, today was their official launch date, though I saw a few of them in the window of a San Francisco NARS boutique two weeks ago. Apologies for my reflected Strand tote bag and yellow paisley torso. I would have gone into the store, but I was in a hurry, so this will have to do...

The lipsticks have received almost nothing but praise: Temptalia gave As to 32 of the 40 shades, and as we all know, there's no grade inflation on her blog. I confess I'm a little disappointed in the overall shade range, though. I'm not the only one who has noticed many dupes and near-dupes within the Audacious line. By my count, eight of the 40 lipsticks are warm reds or oranges, while there isn't a single blue-red shade à la Dragon Girl. There are also two near-identical fuchsias (Fanny and Janet) and six different peach-pink-beige nudes.

Luckily, NARS also included some interesting and sui generis colors. One of those is Audrey, a faded red berry. Believe it or not, I don't have a comparable lipstick in my stash: my berry lipsticks tend toward the purple side, while my red lipsticks lean either blue, orange, or brown. Other Audacious lipsticks that have caught my eye include Vivien, a dusty plum; Vera, a raspberry red; and Grace, a hot coral-pink. Here's Vivien, which is exclusive to Barneys and the NARS site:

Image from NARS.

2. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Scorch

Image from Urban Decay.

I've swatched this lovely bronze eyeliner at Sephora, and it does indeed glide on. However, it's also $20, which to my mind is a shocking price for a pencil eyeliner. I'd have no shame about buying a dupe from NYX's equally shameless Slide-On line, but the closest NYX match, Golden Bronze, is almost orange. Will AB shell out for the overpriced UD or leave well enough alone? Only time will tell.

3. Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy

Image from Ulta.

I'm not going to pretend that my attraction to this lipstick has nothing to do with my favorite 17th-century poem, Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress." But I also find the color perversely intriguing: it's a deep, shimmery brown. Something in my brain is challenging me to pull this color off, just as something in Marvell's brain challenged him to write really fucking weird poetry.

4. A true vampy lipstick in a glossy or satin finish

The darkest red I have right now is NYX Alabama, and I want something that leans more purple, but it's so hard to find a dark red-purple that isn't patchy. And I worry that such a color might make me look sickly and haggard, though I hope that avoiding matte finishes will prevent that fate. Hmm.

5. A metallic indigo lipstick

Indigo lips seem to be everywhere this season! Candidates include OCC Lip Tar in Technopagan, Kat Von D Studded Lipstick in Poe, and Portland Black Lipstick Company's Indigo Bridge. I might go with a sample of the PBLC, since I don't anticipate wearing this color often enough to justify a full tube of it.

ETA: I forgot that I made a swatch of Poe at Sephora last month! That unevenness isn't the lipstick's fault; the tester had been used so aggressively that I had to scoop the product out of the very bottom of the tube with one of Sephora's disposable lip brushes. The formula itself felt fine, if a little dry.  Didn't want to test it on my lips after half the population of San Francisco had had a go at it...

6. Perfume samples

I want to try my hand at fragrance reviews on the blog, but my budget doesn't permit me to buy a full-size bottle of L'Artisan Safran Troublant, Delrae Coup de Foudre, or Comme des Garçons Avignon. And I've been swooning over these perfumes for, what, three years now? Certainly three for Coup de Foudre. Plus, Liz's Pinterest has alerted me to the existence of a $20 L'Artisan sample set from Luckyscent:

 Image from Luckyscent.

Before I order anything, though, I have to review Fresh Citron de Vigne and the trio of Lush samples I bought in February. That's only fair.

7. Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Facet or Melange

Oh, hey, did I mention that I'm going back to England this month? This time we'll be cat-sitting in London. It's a shorter trip than last time, and I don't want to go crazy with makeup hauling, but Facet caught my eye the last time I was over there. It's a gold-flecked gray, the sort of polish a cyborg would file under "neutral" and wear to an important interview. Very Illamasqua, in other words.

Image from Illamasqua.

I'm also intrigued by Illamasqua's Fall 2014 collection, Once. The collection, according to Illamasqua's website, is "inspired by the gentle and exquisite point when a flower starts to fade and becomes impossibly beautiful in its complex decline. Combined with the subtle opulence of faded gilt layers that reveal themselves the more you blend and search." A few too many adjectives there, but the ancien-regime-in-decline aesthetic evoked by the product photos is very much My Thing. Check out this lady's collapsed rococo coiffure:

The products themselves feature a neutral brownish-rose palette, with the exception of Melange, Facet's teal cousin:

From the handful of swatch photos I've seen (here and here, for instance), Melange's base color is lighter and brighter than it appears in this image. It still has that tarnished-splendor effect, though.

The only one of these items I'm fairly certain I'll buy is Audrey (and if I do, expect a review!). The others, well...we'll see.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August in Nail Polish

Since all but one of the nail polishes I wore in August were new to me, I thought I'd write up a month's worth of mini-reviews!

My first polish of August was Zoya Normani, which I bought at the Birmingham Ulta in July. The darkest shade in Zoya's nude-based Naturel collection, Normani is a brown-gray-purple taupe. It belongs to the same family as OPI You Don't Know Jacques and Chanel Particulière, though it's rosier and less gray than either of those. Normani didn't catch my eye when I was looking at swatches of the Naturel collection online, but the color leaped out at me when I saw it on the shelf. Further proof that I need to limit myself to makeup I can see in person first (of course, I'm lucky enough to live in a country overflowing with Sephoras and Ultas and such).

Normani turned out to be a three-coat nail polish. On my nails, it was darker than I'd expected, but I loved it no less for that. It looked clean and modern and elegant, and I have a feeling I'll be reaching for it a lot this fall. Even my dad, the least likely person in the world to notice the cosmetics I'm wearing, complimented me on my "brown nail polish." This stuff is good.

Normani showed tipwear after two or three days, which is average for me; I don't understand how some people get their polish to last for a week. I try to do everything right: applying basecoat and topcoat, waiting for each layer to dry completely before adding the next, blah blah blah. I just have weak nails, and my habit of peeling off my polish once it's chipped certainly doesn't help. It's a terrible vicious cycle: because my nails are so weak, my polish chips; because I can't stand the look of chipped polish, I peel it all off before I can get to a bottle of nail-polish remover; because I peel it all off, my nails get weaker. I was so proud of myself last year for overcoming (more or less) my lifelong nail-biting habit, but because I didn't overcome the anxiety that produced the biting, I just replaced one nervous hand-based habit with another. Sigh.

Next in my retrospective is Butter London Wallis, the official nail polish of Slytherin House.

Wallis looms large in my personal makeup mythology. I'd been admiring it for two years before I finally bought it. When you hem and haw over a product for that long, you half-convince yourself that it's as mythical as the Golden Fleece and you, small pathetic you, couldn't possibly obtain it. Plus, I wasn't certain that I'd wear it, since I don't usually favor nail polishes with such pronounced shimmer. But when I saw it on the shelf, in all its olive-gold glory, I decided that enough was enough.

Wallis is a dark olive green with abundant bronze-gold shimmer--so abundant, in fact, that it gives an almost foiled effect on the nails. It leans more green in shade and more gold in direct light. Like most of the shimmer polishes I've tried, Wallis requires three coats for full opacity; but once it's on, it stays and stays. I think it was about four days before it developed noticeable tipwear, which is almost unheard-of for me.

I have, of course, painstakingly documented all of Wallis's color shifts. Left to right: indoors, natural light; outdoors, indirect light; outdoors, direct light.

I have nothing bad to say about this polish, except that it's named after a controversial public figure who probably held Nazi sympathies and definitely associated with the notorious British fascists Oswald and Diana Mosley. Butter London's apparent ignorance of British history aside, Wallis is dazzling--the perfect summer-to-fall transition color.

The absurdly named Essie Bikini So Teeny was a hand-me-down from my mom, who bought it for herself but turned out not to like it. It's a pale cornflower blue with silver microshimmer.

Alas, everything that's traditionally wrong with Essie polish is wrong with Bikini So Teeny. Formula that's still slightly streaky after three coats? Check. Shimmer that looks beautiful in the bottle but disappears on the nails? Check. Short wear time? Check. I don't know why anyone buys pastels from Essie anymore.

This is three coats, and you can see that it's still translucent in parts. It's a pretty color, but I didn't love it on myself--I'm not a fan of most stark pastels. It lasted for about two days before it began chipping.

My boyfriend was coming to San Francisco for a few days in mid-August, and since we were going to be exploring the city all day, I wanted a polish that wouldn't need constant touch-ups. I should have gone with Wallis again, but I was attracted by Essie No More Film, another gift from my mom. No More Film is a deep blue-leaning indigo creme from the Resort 2012 collection. I've seen it described as a "blurple," but can we all agree that "blurple" needs to vanish from the beauty-blogging lexicon? It sounds like a portmanteau of "burp" and "blurt" and "gurgle," and don't we already have the word "indigo" to signify "blue/purple"?

Seriously, to hell with this nail polish. It's a beautiful color with a smooth application and two-coat opacity, but it chipped WITHIN 24 HOURS. I was counting on you, No More Film! I was counting on you, and you betrayed me! It had chipped so badly after two days that I had to remove it entirely. I kept the bottle, because I needed a replacement for my dried-up Butter London Royal Navy, but it was only grudgingly that I gave No More Film a space on my nail-polish shelf. If it didn't promise to look so good under every glitter topcoat I own, I wouldn't be so lenient. Hmph.

Before I went to LA, I decided that I needed one more fling with a bright summer shade, so I pulled out Chanel Tapage. I've reviewed it here; it's a warm pink-red that applies like a dream (two coats, self-leveling, quick-drying) but chips like a nightmare. Not as badly as No More Film, but I do expect tipwear in one to two days. The bottle looks the worse for wear after its international and transcontinental travels these last few months...

Tapage looks slightly warmer and more corally on the nails, but it's still as cool as coral gets before crossing the line into fuchsia.

Finally, the polish I'm wearing as I type this: Zoya Zara. Remember the order I made from Zoya two months ago, when they were having their Independence Day 3-for-$12 sale? It took them forever to send out the polishes (three weeks, and I was told on the phone that it might even be five weeks), which meant that the package arrived the day after I left town in late July. Not knowing where it had been left, I accepted that it might not be there when I returned, but it turned out to be tucked safely into my mailbox, along with four issues of the New Yorker and a belated tax-return check from the government. I can't think of better mailbox contents to greet me on my return home.

Of the three Zoyas I had ordered, I was most excited about Zara, a midtone lavender with gold pearl.

Zara is so beautiful, you guys. It's like fairy polish. It also looks surprisingly autumnal, despite its pinky-purple base.

Like fairies themselves, Zara is hard to photograph, its gold overlay slipping in and out of focus.The camera likes to meld the purple and gold layers together, but they're more discrete (thus more magical) in person. This was the most color-accurate photo I could manage:

As I expected it would be, Zara is a three-coater; I've been wearing it for just over a day, so I can't speak to wear time yet, but it's doing fine so far. I can't wait to try my other Zoya picks: Neve, a metallic navy, and Yara, a gold-flecked olive (very different from Wallis, I promise).

 And that was my August in nail polish. What were your favorites this month?