Sunday, February 7, 2016

Changes to Revlon Balm Stain, Lacquer Balm, and Matte Balm Lineups

After reviewing Revlon's newish Matte Balm in Fierce, I realized that I hadn't yet seen a comprehensive roundup of the recent changes to the popular Balm Stain, Lacquer Balm, and Matte Balm lines. So I returned to my local CVS today to do some reconnaissance, and here's what I discovered:

Revlon is now referring to its Colorburst Balm Stains, Lacquer Balms, and Matte Balms as the "Revlon Crayon Collection." Instead of being separated by finish, the three lipstick ranges are all jumbled together on the shelf and arranged roughly by color instead. There are now ten Matte Balms, eight Balm Stains, and just four Lacquer Balms. That "new shades" boast is hilariously misleading—far more shades have been discontinued than added, and the new additions are all in the Matte Balm line.

The current lineup of nudes and pinks (again, these are the Balm Stains, Lacquer Balms, and Matte Balms):

L-R: Enchanting, Demure, Elusive, Honey, Cherish, Sweetheart, Showy.

The current lineup of plums, oranges, reds, and browns:

L-R: Passionate, Smitten, Crush (though that's actually a tube of Unapologetic), Fiery, Sultry, Standout, Rendezvous, Unapologetic, Striking, Provocateur, Romantic, Enticing, Adore, Fierce, Coy.

The shades that have escaped the purge, listed by finish:

Balm Stains:

Lacquer Balms:

Matte Balms:
Enchanting (new)
Fierce (new)
Fiery (new)
Passionate (new)

This means that Revlon has discontinued the following shades:

Balm Stains: Charm, Darling, Lovesick, Precious (I know some of these were discontinued less recently, but I'm not sure which ones)

Lacquer Balms: Coquette, Flirtatious, Ingenue, Tease, Vivacious, Whimsical

Matte Balms: Audacious, Complex, Mischievous, Shameless

Why the sudden changes? Well, here's a clue. Revlon has been struggling financially for years. The brand expanded into China in 2013 (thus losing its longtime cruelty-free status), but pulled out of the Chinese market by the end of the year. This Forbes article notes that Revlon reported revenues of $2 billion in 2014, as opposed to $10 billion for Estee Lauder and $30 billion for L'Oreal. Color cosmetics is not Revlon's only concern, but it's the most public, and we've seen Revlon introducing and discontinuing products like mad in the last year or two. The Matte and Lacquer Balms were only just released in the fall of 2013! Every beauty brand does this sort of thing occasionally (Bite Beauty has just discontinued its entire Luminous Creme line, for instance), but Revlon's products have seemed particularly prone to upheaval recently. I'm curious what will happen to the brand going forward, and whether we'll see more discontinuations this year. I'm not above stockpiling Sultry if I have to.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce

I kept reasonably good tabs on new makeup releases last fall (self-destructively good tabs, even), but there were a few that escaped my notice. One new development was the addition of four shades to Revlon's line of Colorburst Matte Balms. The new colors are Enchanting, a pinkish beige; Fierce, a warm cinnamon brown; Fiery, a reddish berry; and Passionate, a purplish berry. The new additions make sense to me, since the Matte Balm line has always been short on neutral shades, but Revlon also discontinued a few colors to make room for the new ones. Dark purple Shameless and bright orange Audacious are missing from the website, and I've heard that pastel orange Mischievous is gone too, along with a few of the Lacquer Balms (my beloved Coy is safe for now).

Though I much prefer brown and berry lipstick to orange, it's always bittersweet to see color trends change. Remember when orange and coral were the trendy lipstick colors? When I first started paying attention to makeup, in the spring of 2011, all the beauty sites were singing the praises of orange as a more playful alternative to red. One of the first lipsticks I ever bought was Revlon Orange Flip. The original Matte Balm lineup featured three shades of orange. And now all you hear about is taupe, greige, and mauve (and soon, no doubt, other muddy portmanteaus like "grauve" and "maupe"), and meanwhile 99% of the world goes on its way completely unaware of these revolutions in taste. "You told me that brown lipstick was back," said a friend recently, "but I have yet to see anyone actually wearing it." Frankly, I'm not sure I have, either. It's hard to argue that a color is "back" when your only evidence is in cyberspace. Well, here's yet more online evidence:

I was excited to hear about the new Matte Balms last month, because I'd had my eye out for a '90s reddish brown for some time. I couldn't find many swatches of Fierce, let alone full reviews, but I had reasonably high hopes for the formula: the best Matte Balms seemed to be the medium-saturation reddish shades like Sultry, Standout, and Unapologetic, and Fierce was another such color. So I searched in vain for my CVS coupon for $2 off a $10 Revlon purchase, cursed the forces of entropy that have always governed and will always govern my living space, and paid over $11 for a lipstick that goes for less than $7 at Target. Whatever.

Instagram types love to refer to their beloved greige lipstick as "'90s" or "grunge," but trendy grayish taupes like MAC Stone are very mid-2010s. Most brown lipsticks in the '90s had a healthy dose of red or rose. To quote Cindy Crawford's 1996 makeup book: "The most flattering lipsticks bear some resemblance to your natural lipsnudes, roses, berries, and soft browns." That's soft browns, not purplish-gray zombie browns or almost-black browns. But it's interesting that most of us have this impulse to situate our makeup within a historical tradition. We don't want to admit to making things up as we go; we describe our looks as "mod" or "vintage" or "grunge" even when we're being thoroughly 2016.

Writing this, I'm reminded of the historian D. R. Woolf's reflections on historical thought in 17th-century England. (Can you tell I just turned in a dissertation chapter and am trying to decompress by blogging about lipstick?) "To suggest that something was an improvement was, generally speaking, insufficient," Woolf writes; "it had to be shown as a manifest return to a socially sanctioned past whose authenticity was not in doubt." I think our culture still retains this impulse, whether in politics or in makeup. I know I do; there's something comforting about feeling connected to the past, if only by a lipstick color (see also Essie's "Retro Revival" collection in honor of its 35th anniversary). I was eight for most of 1996, so forgive me if I'm wrong, but I think Fierce is the most truly mid-'90s of all the brown lipsticks I've tried. And I've tried an embarrassing number in the past year.

It turns out that Fierce is not quite as opaque as Sultry. This is one swipe; I find that I need two for full lip coverage, but no big deal. And speaking of an embarrassing number of brown lipsticks...

...these are just my medium browns. L-R: Maybelline Crazy for Coffee, Fierce, Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy, Topshop Lip Bullet in Motel. Fierce and Crazy for Coffee look almost identical when swatched on my arm, but Fierce is much more of a statement lip for me (especially when built up with two coats), while Crazy for Coffee is a deep MLBB. That said, I've never been crazy for Crazy for Coffee: it washes me out a bit, and I think I'll be destashing it now that Fierce has made it somewhat redundant.

Under artificial light, for differences in finish:

Fierce is the matte-est of the four, but like the other Matte Balms I've tried, it's not completely matte: it has a slight sheen when first applied, and it does transfer onto cups. If you're looking for a flat, transfer-proof matte brown, feel free to pick up one of the 938,574 brown liquid matte lipsticks released in the last year. Fierce isn't terribly long-wearing, either—maybe three hours before it needs to be touched up, which is about average for me.

Here's two coats applied over a bit of balm; as you can see, we're far outside MLBB territory. Fierce is one of those shades that just suit me; any lighter or warmer and it would look terrible, but through some trick of undertone, it escapes disaster.

And here it is in the context of my whole face. Three shades from theBalm Nude 'tude on my eyes: Stubborn (shimmery neutral pink) all over the lid, Sexy (matte burgundy) on the outer third and in the crease, and Sophisticated (shimmery cool brown) on the lower lashlines. I've been diligently wearing Nude 'tude several times a week but have yet to hit pan on any new shades, which feels unfair. My blush is Sleek Flushed; one day I'll wear enough blush that it will actually be visible in a photo, and then we'll all celebrate.

I rediscover cool pink makeup every February without fail, so I'm not sure how much more wear Fierce will get before spring sets in. In fact, I've already paid a visit to my local Bluemercury to swatch two NARS cool pinks: Gaiety blush (left) and Roman Holiday sheer lipstick.

Then again, I've been enjoying this brown-lipstick phase, so you might see Fierce in a few more FOTDs before the weather warms up. Brown lipstick is back, right? Or has the entire Internet pulled a massive prank on me?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

From the Archives: Maybelline Color Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk

Last summer, while working in the university archives, I wrote a post about some treasures I'd unearthed from the "archives" of my own makeup collection. In the spirit of my 2016 low-buy, I've decided to turn "From the Archives" into an ongoing, if not regular, series. Let's get better acquainted with a product I wrote about back in 2014 (yikes, those washed-out iPhone 5 photos): Maybelline Color Tattoo cream eyeshadow in Pomegranate Punk. Is there anything better than discovering an eyeshadow that forms a complete eye look on its own? Yes, in fact: discovering that eyeshadow in your very own stash, where it's languished, largely untouched, for more than two years.

I often wonder how much thought goes into naming drugstore beauty products. My guess is almost none: Right, it's dark red. What else is dark red? Uh, pomegranates. Okay, let's go with "Pomegranate" something. What else begins with P? "Pretzel"? Damn, I'm hungry. How is it only 10:30? Focus, focus. "Punk," I guess. "Pomegranate Punk"? Yeah, good enough. But believe it or not, "punk" is actually a perfect name for an eyeshadow. Did you know that the word originally meant "whore"? 17th-century literature is littered with references to London "punks" who frequent taverns and playhouses, and whores were often associated with "painting," or cosmetics: The Rebellion, a tragedy from 1640, mentions "the whoremaster tied to a painted punk." And there's something rather 17th-century about Pomegranate Punk's little glass pot and its gold-flecked bordeaux color:

This Restoration noblewoman is wearing very similar shades on her lips and cheeks, as well as in her clothes:

Anna Maria Brudenell, Countess of Shrewsbury, by Peter Lely, c. 1670. That lip color would fit right in with current trends...

And of course early modern painters loved pomegranates:

Still life, Roman school, 17th century. Via Sotheby's.

Yeah, all this is a stretch. But it's less of a stretch than associating a burgundy eyeshadow with the Sex Pistols or whatever.

Arm swatches--one pass, then blended out:

As you can see, this eyeshadow doesn't deliver ColourPop-level single-swatch opacity (keep in mind, though, that it's over two years old). Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on your personal taste. As I've said before, I prefer an eyeshadow that can be built up to opacityand no, that's not the same thing as a streaky, patchy, or poorly pigmented eyeshadow.

I bought Pomegranate Punk at the end of 2013, but only recently—like, in the last few weeks—figured out how best to use it: as a one-and-done color, blended out for a rose-gold effect or built up to emphasize the burgundy base. Here it is worn more sheerly, with some brown smudged into my lashlines to counteract the rabbit-eye effect of reddish shadow. Blush is Sleek Flushed; lipstick is Milani Matte Naked, my favorite (well, only) matte nude.

Today I wore Pomegranate Punk layered more heavily, with no brown on the lashlines. Blush is Flushed again; lipstick is Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce (review coming soon!). I took this photo with the back-facing camera on my phone instead of the front-facing camera, and it came out clearer and more color-accurate (the front-facing camera always pulls my complexion warmer, for some reason). As you can see, the sparkles are very apparent. There's some fallout, but the cream base does a pretty good job of holding the glitter in place, as well as staying put on my lids. I've worn Pomegranate Punk through a workout and seen only negligible fading.

Have you made any discoveries in your makeup archives recently?

P.S. It turns out that my low-buy progress report for January was premature, because I bought one more nail polish yesterday: Urban Outfitters 11:59, a white, fuchsia, and gold glitter topcoat. I'd been eyeing it since November, and yesterday I noticed that it had been marked down from $5 to $.99 and there was only one left on the shelf. I mean, come on. It would have been rude to leave it there.

The name suggests that it's meant to be a New Year's Eve sort of thing, but I think 11:59 would be a nice spring glitter if layered over a pastel creme, or a year-round glitter atop a neutral base (black, gray, beige, whatever). Maybe I'll even get around to reviewing this one, despite my odd aversion to writing blog posts about nail polishbecause, really, what is there to say? I guess it's my job to figure that out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #1: January

To keep myself accountable to my 2016 low-buy, I've decided to do a progress report on my blog at the end of each month, recording how much I've spent on beauty, my reasons for buying each product, and whether certain moods, events, k-pop videos, etc. have affected my spending. I know January isn't over yet, but I don't plan to buy any more beauty products in the next four days, so let's round up my purchases for the month! For the price of each item, I've rounded the total to the nearest whole number but haven't included sales tax. If I order anything online in the coming months, I'll include shipping costs in the total. By the way, I also keep track of my beauty purchases on a dedicated Pinterest board, if you'd like to indulge in financial schadenfreude over there.

New makeup/polish:

MAC matte lipstick in Antique Velvet: $17
Floss Gloss polishes in Dinge and Dimepiece: $8 each
Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce: $11 (thanks, CVS markup!)
Total: $44

So, yeah, I went $4 over budget and bought four new products instead of two. I still think that's decent for my first month after a no-buy, but I plan to be more frugal next month. Antique Velvet was a lemming of six months' standing; the other products were closer to impulse purchases. I bought Floss Gloss Dinge, a dusty pink nude, and Dimepiece, a silver holographic glitter topcoat, at Little Paper Planes in San Francisco. I was flying straight from SF to Austin for the MLA convention and had brought Zoya Normani from home to be my "interview polish," but paranoia set in at the last minute: what if a mauvey taupe color was just too edgy for an academic search committee? Dinge was my solution to this irrational worry. Dimepiece, on the other hand, was my consolation for not having bought Smith & Cult Vegas Post Apocalyptic. Throughout my no-buy, I'd told myself that Vegas Post Apocalyptic would be one of my first purchases of January; when it came down to it, though, I couldn't bring myself to drop $18 on a glitter topcoat, no matter how beautiful the bottle or how impeccable the branding. Dimepiece was less than half the price, and the small size of the bottle meant that I actually had a chance of finishing it before it went all gooey. Look how much of Dinge I've managed to use already!

As for Fierce, I'd been half-looking for a medium brown lipstick for a while. When I heard that Revlon had released a reddish brown shade in its Matte Balm formula, I couldn't resist. I did wait a couple of days before buying it, though, to make sure I really wanted it. And now that I own both Fierce and Antique Velvet, I'm declaring a moratorium on brown lip colors for the rest of the year. I have more than enough!

Beauty tools:

Glass nail file: $6
Medium Z Palette: $15
Total: $21

(I assume you all know what a black Z Palette looks like.)

I forgot to make a budget for beauty tools in my resolutions post, because I don't buy them often or compulsively. Should I count them in my $40 per month for new items? I don't know. Anyway, you know how everyone tells you that once you use a glass nail file, you'll never go back? It's true. And look how adorable! The store in San Francisco where I bought this had a bunch of ombré colors, but I can never resist fuchsia.

New skincare:



None. I do need a new mascara (I can't remember when I bought my current one, which is a bad sign), but when I went to replace it earlier this month, I made a horrible discovery: CoverGirl has discontinued my beloved LashBlast Length! I'm now on the lookout for a new drugstore mascara; any suggestions for something that gives subtle length without crazy spidery fullness?

Monthly total: $65.


I'm proud of myself for not going too far over $40 for new makeup, because January was an especially difficult month. I don't usually talk about my professional life on this blog, but let's just say that the academic job market is pretty brutal and I didn't get any of the tenure-track jobs I applied for. I knew I'd probably have to go on the job market more than once (almost everyone does), but expecting a bad outcome doesn't make it hurt any less. Combine this with the depression that often sets in during this gray, slushy time of year, and you get an emotional state that has prompted bad purchasing decisions in the past. Now that I'm conscious of my weakness, though, it's a lot easier to manage. I've been distracting myself by cooking new vegan dishes (last night I made gnocchi with a tasty cashew-based creamy sauce), attending "dissertation boot camp," and experimenting with my Nude 'tude palette. Let's hope that I can maintain my frugality, or "frugality," in the months to come. Maybe it's a bad sign that I already know what I'm going to buy in February: ColourPop eyeshadow in Eye Candy and possibly Telepathy, and blush in Rain. But that's it! Probably!

I mentioned k-pop videos at the beginning of this post, so here's the song I've had on repeat for the past few days, GFriend's "Rough":

I can neither confirm nor deny that I teared up more than once while watching this video. Like I said, it's been a rough month. If you will.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

AB Insists on Antique Velvet

Yesterday looked like this...

(yes, I wore Cherries in the Snow in the snow) I think it's a good time for another winter story:

Like many girls, I grew up reading Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. One of the most memorable chapters in the first book, "Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves," concerns the orphaned Anne Shirley's first party dress. After twelve-year-old Anne has lived with the elderly siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert for a year, Matthew has an epiphany: "Anne was not dressed like the other girls!...Marilla kept her clothed in plain, dark dresses, all made after the same unvarying pattern." The school's Christmas concert is coming up, and Matthew decides that Anne needs a dress with puffed leg-o'-mutton sleeves, the height of fashion in the mid-1890s:

Augusta Auctions

Suspecting that his puritanical sister will "throw cold water on his project at once," Matthew goes behind Marilla's back and enlists the help of his friend Mrs. Lynde, who promises to make the dress: "I believe a nice rich brown would just suit Anne, and William Blair has some new gloria in that's real pretty." The brown gloria dress becomes Anne's Christmas present, and Anne goes into raptures at the sight:

"Oh, how pretty it wasa lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleevesthey were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon." 

I read the books after watching the 1985 Anne of Green Gables miniseries, in which Anne's coveted dress is a very '80s light blue:

TV Tropes

So when I came to Montgomery's description of the dress (the equivalent of erotica for eight-year-old me), I was taken aback: this elaborately puffed and ruffled confection was brown, of all colors? Who would get excited about a brown dress? My aesthetic sense had been formed in the late '80s and early '90s; when I thought party dress, I thought soft pastels—and so, apparently, had the costume department at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1985. But Lucy Maud Montgomery, writing in 1908, had not. "Pretty," "lovely," "dainty": all those words had struck her as perfectly appropriate for a brown dress. It was something of a watershed moment for me. I was no longer just reading a book about a little girl like myself; I was also reading a book about a little girl who belonged to a past that was palpably other, down to the smallest material details. 

I can't help but notice that this lady is a redhead, like Anne—clearly Victorian gingers were encouraged to wear brown.

It's unlikely that the people at MAC had Anne of Green Gables in mind when they created Antique Velvet, a dark cool-toned brown released in the Matte Lip Collection in May of last year. But some long-lost memory must have flared when I looked at the swatches of the twelve new matte lipsticks, because I was attracted instantly to Antique Velvet, despite never having felt the need for a dark brown lipstick.

The collection had a few colors more to my usual taste—"lavender violet," "dirty rose," and "deep blackened plum," to quote MAC's product descriptions—but it was Antique Velvet I couldn't stop thinking about. It was different from the many other brown lipsticks released in 2015: there was a depth and richness to it, a slightly plummy coolness. Though my conscious mind didn't make the connection between Antique Velvet and Anne's brown gloria dress until I started writing this post, my subconscious certainly did. And isn't that how most of our material desires arise?

But instead of buying a $17 tube of Antique Velvet right away, I tried out a series of cheaper dark browns that reminded me why dupe-hunting is usually a bad idea. As I've written before, I think the concept of dupes is helpful only if you already own a dupe of a product that has caught your eye. But if you own neither desired product X nor dupe Y, and you can afford X, odds are good that buying Y won't satisfy your yearning for the product that originally piqued your interest. I say this with smug assurance now, but I fell into precisely that trap after Antique Velvet came out. "I won't wear a dark brown enough to justify spending $17 on it," I thought, so I bought Milani Crush instead, and we all know how well that turned out. When it became clear that I couldn't wear liquid matte lipstick without destroying my lips, I picked up NYX Enamored. Despite coming in traditional solid form, Enamored managed to be even more drying than the liquid matte Crush. I'd bought both lipsticks for the fall season, but I ended up wearing neither; instead, during my no-buy in November and December, I looked up swatch after swatch of Antique Velvet and deplored my cheapness. I even tried it on during a visit to Nordstrom, and of course fell deeper into lipstick lust:

When NYX released new additions to its matte lipstick line at the end of December, I briefly considered buying Goal Digger, a dark brownish plum that reminded me of Antique Velvet. Then I came to my senses. Another dupe, ordered sight unseen? What was I thinking? So when my no-buy ended earlier this month, I decided to put an end to my regret as well. I went to the MAC store in San Francisco's Union Square and finally bought the real thing. Matthew Cuthbert didn't settle for cotton or burlap for Anne's brown dress, did he?

I often feel disappointed in a product that I've wanted for months, but I'm pleased to report that Antique Velvet has lived up to all my expectations. The color is positively luxurious: a very dark, almost black, cool-toned brown. You see a lot of gray-toned taupey browns these days, but rarely do you come across a brown with so much purple in its base. It's not quite the color of dark chocolate, but it comes pretty close. Yes, it resonates with the current '90s revival, but there's also something '20s about a deep, rich brown lip—and given the choice between '90s and '20s, I'd choose the age of Theda Bara any day.

Many dark lipsticks apply patchily, so I'm impressed with Antique Velvet's evenness and opacity.

Comparison swatches, L-R: Topshop Boardroom, NYX Enamored, Antique Velvet, Milani Crush, NARS 413 BLKR.

Enamored is a little cooler than Antique Velvet, and it has burgundy shimmer that isn't showing up in this photo (and doesn't show up well on my lips, either). Crush looks much warmer than Antique Velvet here, but it's fairly similar on the lips; if you already own Crush and like the formula, you probably don't need Antique Velvet too. And now that I've made these comparison swatches, I think it's time for Enamored and Crush to leave my stash for good. Antique Velvet is the only vampy brown lip color I need.

MAC makes one of my favorite matte lipstick formulas: soft, comfortable, easy to apply, and more or less non-drying. There are exceptions to this rule (Eugenie is almost impossible to apply without a lip brush), but Antique Velvet isn't one of the exceptions. I do have one quibble: I find that it needs a touch-up every couple of hours, because it looks a little gruesome on my lips when it fades, as if I've been eating a brownie too enthusiastically. A lipstick in a conventional color can look appealing once faded; a dark brown lipstick, not so much, at least on someone as pale as I am.

It's surprisingly easy to find colors that pair well with Antique Velvet. The hint of plum in its formula makes it especially amenable to purples, light or dark. Last week I wore it with lavender on my eyes (Kiko 251) and cheeks (Tony Moly Milky Violet). To balance out the lipstick, I also filled in my brows a little with Urban Decay Primal eyeshadow from the Naked2 Basics palette, applied with an e.l.f. angled brush over Milani clear brow gel.

251 is a sparkly blue-toned lavender sheer enough not to show up as a stark pastel, even over primer. To further neutralize the lavender, I blended theBalm Sophisticated, a cool-toned, shimmery medium brown, into my crease and outer V and along my upper and lower lashlines. As ever, I wish Milky Violet were more pigmented (I slapped at least three layers on my face before taking these photos), but I like the subtle lavender glow it imparts.


Of course, Antique Velvet also works well with other browns, but I love how well it sets off fairylike cool-toned pastels. In the future, I might try it with ColourPop Monster highlighter, the cool pink eyeshadow I have yet to buy, or the mint shade from the NARS Habanera duo. Or a bright purple blush—one day I'll order ColourPop Rain. As Anne Shirley would say, Antique Velvet offers "scope for the imagination," and isn't that what we all hope our makeup will do?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pan That Palette 2016: Nude 'Tude Revisited

It occurs to me that I was a little unfair to the MakeupRehab subreddit in my resolutions post. Yes, there are a few things I dislike about that community. I don't think people should force themselves to finish or pan products they detest; all that means is that they neglect the products they do like and come to see makeup as a grim chore. Nor am I fond of the scolding, self-righteous tone of some MakeupRehab commenters, or the consumerism disguised as minimalism (obsessing over X aspect of makeup is no more virtuous than obsessing over Y aspect of makeup). But let me be clear: I'm still glad that MakeupRehab exists. It's a refreshing alternative to the YOLO BUY ALL THE THINGS mentality that exists elsewhere in the beauty blogosphere.

For that matter, I'm not opposed on principle to Project Pans and the like, though I do raise an eyebrow at some people's reasons for using up products. If something is unflattering or flawed and there's no way to make it look better or perform more effectively, is it really worth finishing? I mean, maybe it is! If you get satisfaction out of panning a disappointing product, more power to you. But because I don't see the logic in that, a panning project motivated by guilt over sunk cost wouldn't work for meI'd give up in disgust within a few days. What does make sense to me is a panning project based on finding the hidden potential of a product or using it up before it goes bad. Hence my MakeupRehab-inspired Pan That Palette project for 2016! My victim: theBalm's Nude 'tude palette, reviewed here and here.

I bought Nude 'tude in August 2012; it was my first eyeshadow palette and my first venture into wearing more than one color of eyeshadow at a time. The palette taught me which neutral colors I liked (taupes and cool-toned browns) and which were of no use to me (matte warm browns, frosty highlights). With these preferences in mind, I began to expand my collection. A few of the shades I bought were meant to be improvements on specific Nude 'tude shades: Maybelline Bad to the Bronze, for instance, was a cooler-toned alternative to theBalm Seductive. But as my stash of eyeshadows grew, I started neglecting Nude 'tude, even the colors I'd previously loved. I came to view Nude 'tude as my "starter palette" and rarely experimented with the color combinations it could provide. After a while, I stopped noticing it on my shelf, though its meek beige packaging may have had something to do with that. Another reason was that after years of use and abuse, it looked like this inside:

Better pictures of the current state of each shade:

Recently, though, I've been wanting to give Nude 'tude some more attention. It's three and a half years old now, and while the shadows still look and feel normal, I'm not sure how many more years of normalcy I can expect from them. I'm also in a back-to-basics mood these days: my eyeshadow technique could stand some improvement, and the more I practice, the more problems I run into, most of them having to do with my weird eyelids:

For instance: I don't think I have hooded eyes, because a good deal of mobile lid is visible when my eyes are open; but then why are my creases so deep, and why does any color I put in them end up on my browbone? How do I prevent powder eyeshadow from collecting in my extra eyelid folds? Are the bits of the folds that extend out from my eyes always going to fuck up my blending-out attempts? (I don't think I'll ever be able to achieve those perfectly crisp, perfectly rounded halo eyes you see on Instagram.) And how am I still asking these questions after more than three years of eyeshadow practice? I don't know, but I hope this most basic of eyeshadow palettes can help me out of my difficulties. I can't get a huge number of looks from the palette alone, but now that my eyeshadow collection is larger, I have plenty of mix-and-match possibilities.

In order to make the shadows more visually appealing (not to mention safer: I don't want broken glass near anything I put on my eyes), I ordered a medium Z Palette from Amazon and embarked on my first depotting project! It was ridiculously easy: I just used a metal nail file to wiggle each pan free from the cardboard packaging. The shadows look a lot more appealing in their new, clean setting. Too bad I was a dumbass and bought the medium Z Palette instead of the small one—I have so much extra room!

I've never actively tried to pan eyeshadow before, so I don't know what kind of timeline to lay out here. But seeing that these shadows are quite small (though deeper than you'd think) and I'm just a few microns away from hitting pan on three of them, let's say that in the next six months, I want to do the following:

FINISH: Sophisticated, Selfish.

PAN: Sleek, Serious, Silly, Sexy, Seductive, Stand-offish, Stubborn.

IGNORE (OR WHATEVER): Sassy, Snobby, Sultry.

Yeah, these three colors are lost causes. Sultry is the worst possible brown for my coloring, Snobby isn't much better, and I don't know what to do with an opaque frosty white. Use it as a highlighter, maybe? If I can make a visible dent in any of these, I'll count it a victory.

Finally, a couple of looks I've put together in the last few days. Here's Stubborn all over the lid, Sexy in the crease (not that you can see it), and Sleek on the upper and lower lashlines:

My lips were especially dry that day, so I wore a lip gloss for the first time in ages: Revlon Embellished, a sheer, sparkly berry. GDI why do I have wet hair in so many of my selfies.

I'm very interested in pink eyeshadow these days, thanks to Christine's recent Instagram FOTDs featuring Suqqu's Akanezora quad. Stubborn is a nice neutral-warm pink, but I'm on the lookout for a pale cool pink with a slight shimmer. Any ideas? Urban Decay Heartless is the most promising candidate so far, and I'm also considering ColourPop Eye Candy for a more aggressively sparkly option.

And today's look: Seductive all over the lid and Sophisticated in the crease and outer v:

I still think Seductive is a bit too warm for my skintone, so I'll have to keep experimenting with color combinations. A purply plum like the right half of NARS Habanera might make the bronze look less stark against my coolish complexion.

What do you think of Pan That Palette and similar projects? Are you trying to hit pan on anything currently?