Friday, March 25, 2016

Glossier Generation G Lipstick in Jam

Into the Gloss has been one of my daily reads for at least four years, but I'll be honest: I've never loved it wholeheartedly. In fact, it's probably that frisson of irritation that keeps me coming back day after day. Where else can you find an endless string of naturally stunning women claiming that they're "super low-maintenance" and "don't wear much makeup"? Or Shailene Woodley explaining that "clay is great for you because your body doesn’t absorb it, and it apparently provides a negative charge, so it bonds to negative isotopes"? Or the obviously wealthy owner of an LA juice bar attributing its beginning to "God's grace" and not, you know, money? Or a French jewelry designer praising '70s-influenced makeup and adding in the next breath that eyeshadow is "so outdated" and shine on the lips is "not chic"? '70s Maybelline lady says what's up:

But for every article on "toxins" or no-makeup makeup or chakra-attuned rose-quartz dildos, there's a gorgeous makeup tutorial or an enlightening interview with a beauty-industry insider, and so ITG draws me back again.

The launch of Glossier in late 2014 marked a new phase in my ITG love/hate-reading. The website quickly metamorphosed into a Glossier advertorial, which didn't exactly surprise me (why shouldn't ITG promote its own products?) but, at least for a time, dampened my reading experience. As if by magic, almost all of ITG's interview subjects—even the people living in countries where Glossier was unavailable—began singing the praises of the Perfecting Skin Tint and Balm Dotcom. ITG has since admitted that they "send out complimentary products to people we cross paths with who are inspiring to us, so they can see if they like our brand." Again, not surprising, but I wish they'd been more transparent from the beginning. I was also put off by Glossier's emphasis on "effortless" beauty (a concept I've discussed in more depth here), especially after CEO Emily Weiss revealed her pre-wedding regimen of cleanses, colonics, and microcurrent facials, all of which made her only "8/10 happy with how [she] looked." Kudos to her for being honest, but I wasn't the only reader struck by the disconnect between her brand and her actual lifestyle. If nothing else, it was a salutary reminder that the beauty industry is built on illusion.

Despite my skepticism, I couldn't deny that Glossier's branding was on point: emoji-style stickers, three-eyed smiley faces, and that signature shade of powder pink. Had I been the sort of person to try new skincare for the hell of it, I would probably have bought something from Phase 1, but I decided to wait for Glossier's makeup. It was a long time coming, but Phase 2 launched earlier this month. And Phase 2 contained lipstick. And in case you haven't noticed, I really like lipstick.

Glossier's Generation G lipsticks are meant to provide sheer but matte coverage for a "soft, popsicle-stained flush." They come in four colors: Cake, a beige; Like, a rosy pink; Crush, a raspberry; and Jam, a purple berry. Sheer lipstick is not my usual thing, but I do go through phases of wanting less-than-full-impact lip color, and I'm in one of those phases now. After watching the demo videos on the Glossier site, I felt myself drawn inexorably to Jam. I mentioned wanting it on Instagram, and guess what? Renee SENT ME ONE, along with the Glossier stickers and a tube of Balm Dotcom. I am truly #blessed. (She just reviewed Jam and Like, as well as Glossier's new Stretch Concealer, on her own blog. Check it out!)

I am a sucker for a good box lining (see also MAC x Giambattista Valli):

So sleek, so pink:

I want to know the story behind that typeface. Also, my advisor signs his emails with a period after his name (is that a British thing?), so "Glossier." makes me think of receiving criticism on my dissertation chapters. Great.

Let's get the criticism out of the way first. There are two areas in which I think Generation G falls short (literally): size and packaging. First, these lipsticks are very pricey for their small size. Each Generation G is $18 for 0.04 oz, or 1.1 grams:

By contrast, a MAC lipstick ($17) is 0.1 oz, or 2.8 grams. That's right: 2.5 times larger than a Generation G at the same price point. The ColourPop Lippie Stix are about the same size as the Generation Gs (0.035 oz, or just under 1 gram), but they retail for $5. Now, there are lots of reasons why you might want to purchase a Generation G lipstick instead of a MAC or ColourPop: the sheer matte formula, the Glossier branding, a particular dislike for MAC or ColourPop, whatever. But you should know that though Glossier has mid-end pricing per unit, it has VERY high-end pricing per ounce. And because the sheerness of the lipstick means frequent reapplications, I can see myself reaching the bottom of this little tube quickly.

Second, the packaging. If I'm buying a lipstick that's $450 per ounce (no, seriously), I expect the tube to be both aesthetically pleasing and practical. The Generation G tube is mediocre in both respects. Yes, it has that minimalist Glossier sleekness and it snaps shut securely. But to my eyes, it looks more like a prototype than a finished product. Both the tube and the cap are actually translucent: you can see the bullet through the white plastic.

I'm kind of shocked that Glossier didn't put more effort into the packaging, given that the rest of its branding is so coherent. I'm all for beauty brands eliminating wasteful lipstick packaging (looking at you, Guerlain), but I doubt environmentalism was the motivating factor here.

The lipstick itself, though? Overall, I'm impressed. Jam applies smoothly and can be built up to near-opacity, though the texture of your lips will always be very apparent, for better or worse. Even at full strength, it doesn't do much to conceal flaws, but that also contributes to the breezy "natural" effect. Jam would qualify as an "unscented" lipstick, but I detect a very faint smell and taste that's halfway between herbal and plasticky, though not unpleasant. Here's one, two, and three coats of Jam on my (very dry, sorry!) lips:

Basically, Generation G has the visual effect but not the lipfeel of a stain. It's sheer and matte like a Korean lip tint (though with a slight sheen), but it's much less drying than a tint or stain. The tradeoff is that it doesn't last as long as a stain: in fact, it has the longevity of your average sheer lipstick. Jam feels comfortable on my lips (if slightly gummy when I press them together) and is neither drying nor moisturizing. Below, I've swatched Jam alongside two other sheer plummy things. L-R: Revlon Lip Butter in Sugar Plum, one coat of Jam, two coats of Jam, Revlon Balm Stain in Crush:

Jam and Crush are somewhat similar, but the Revlon Balm Stains are glossier (lol) and more opaque than the Generation Gs, at least when first applied. Crush fades to a bright pink, while Jam retains its color as it fades. It looks very vivid on some of the Glossier models, but it's a fairly muted plumberry on me. Jam is a nice spring plum, I think: not vampy or super-saturated. Below, I went for a Glossier-style messy-casual look: Maybelline Bad to the Bronze on my eyes, Illamasqua Zygomatic on my cheeks, and three coats of Jam on my lips.

Then I tied my hair back because it was hella frizzy:

Do I like Jam? Yes! Will I wear it often? Yes, it's a great throw-on-and-go lipstick. Is it worth $18? That's harder to answer, because I didn't spend my own money on it. I think the matte stain effect is cool and kind of sloppy-sexy (which is Glossier's whole thing, of course), but the packaging is not what I'd expect from an $18 lipstick, let alone one that would cost almost $50 if it were MAC-sized. I doubt I'll buy another Generation G, but that's mostly because Crush is very similar to Jam, while the two lighter shades don't look like they'd show up well on my lips. I'd give Jam a 3.5 out of 5: it's a decent product, but not quite as revolutionary as promised ("no lipstick in the history of lipsticks looks like this").

But even if Jam isn't revolutionary, Glossier is. It's one of those beauty brands that capture the pop-culture zeitgeist of an era, like Mary Quant in the '60s or Biba in the '70s or Bobbi Brown in the '90s. My mom still talks about the pastel Mary Quant lipsticks she wore in high school, and I suspect we'll still be talking about Glossier decades from now, and perhaps ColourPop in the same breath. Despite their superficial differences (no-makeup makeup vs. Instagram-tastic glitz, model endorsement vs. YouTube guru endorsement), both brands have harnessed social media for product development and publicity, and the results have been astonishing. Love them or hate them, Glossier, ColourPop, and other web-based brands are taking the beauty industry in new directions, and I'm curious to see what will happen next.

Oh, and let me mention the fate of the stickers. God, I love stickers. I still have my Sanrio sticker books from the mid-'90s, full of glittery, fuzzy, and iridescent stickers that I received from other kids during impassioned trading sessions. Glossier has tapped into that '90s-kid nostalgia with its own stickers, some of which I tried to put on my lipstick tube. They didn't stick (the tube was too narrow), so I moved them to flatter surfaces:

I also put a few on the back of my iPhone case, but I can't photograph that because I take all my pictures with my iPhone. My last name begins with G, so I was particularly happy to stick the G sticker to my phone. INSTANT MONOGRAM. Thanks, Glossier. And many thanks to Renee for her kindness! <3

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Coral Conundrum: Marc Jacobs So Sofia

It's the vernal equinox! It's also the coldest day in about three weeks, and it's snowing as I type this, just as it snowed on last year's vernal equinox. But I still think the first day of spring is a fine day to review a bright coral lipstick, so meet my newest beauty purchase: Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in So Sofia.

Earlier this week, I went to the Upper West Side Sephora in search of a coral-pink lipstick, something cooler than Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin and darker than Urban Decay Streak. My go-to coral-pink lip color used to be Milani Flamingo Pose (now discontinued), but I eventually tired of the drying formula and cloying watermelon scent. I entered Sephora fairly certain that I'd buy Bite's new Amuse Bouche lipstick in Pickled Ginger, but it turned out to be the Bad Kind of Coral, at least for me: too bright and too warm and just nope nope nope get it off my face. The Amuse Bouche line had a few other coral-pinks, but they were either too warm or too close to Streak. The formula seemed good, though: firmer and more opaque than the discontinued Luminous Cremes, with a light lemon scent.

After our Bite experiments, my Sephora companion had to go work on her dissertation, so I walked her to a coffee shop across the street. Then I returned to make a quick circuit of Sephora, and suddenly I saw it: the exact shade of coral I'd been looking for, beckoning to me from the Marc Jacobs display. I'd never tried a Marc Jacobs product, but I knew the brand was cruelty-free and its lipsticks had received good reviews. I tried on So Sofia, felt 85% positive about it, decided that I could always return it if it proved unflattering outside the store, and handed over $30. Can you believe they were out of the much-vaunted 100-point perk, a mini Amuse Bouche lipstick in Radish? I have never managed to get a lip product as a 100-point perk. In fact, I haven't redeemed any Sephora points in ages because the good rewards are always gone. *sob*

The semi-matte Le Marc Lip Crèmes, of which there are 20, were released last summer. I thought they were meant to replace Marc Jacobs' original lipstick line, the Lovemarc Lip Gels, but you can still find those on the Marc Jacobs website (though not Sephora). The Lip Crèmes retail for $30 each, and Marc Jacobs does a pretty good job of making them feel like lipsticks worth $30 (whatever that might mean). The branding is elegant, if kind of unremarkable: a sleek black box with silver and white lettering...

...and a heavy black tube with silver accents. Like the NARS Audacious lipsticks, the Lip Crèmes snap shut with a magnet. Speaking of magnets, the shiny black lid attracts fingerprints irresistibly, so bear that in mind if that sort of thing annoys you. It doesn't really bother me.

The tube is neither square nor round, but a distinctive squared-off ellipse. The name and color of the lipstick are printed on a handy label on the bottom:

So Sofia is an intense pinky-red coral, along the lines of NARS Grace and MAC Relentlessly Red. It's almost too cool-toned to be considered coral, but there's an undeniable hint of midcentury orange to it. Like many lipsticks, it looks quite a bit lighter in the tube than it does on my lips.

So Sofia is named after Sofia Coppola, and the shade actually resembles Kirsten Dunst's lip color in Coppola's 2006 film Marie Antoinette. I wonder if that was the inspiration!

I still have Flamingo Pose hanging around the apartment, so I decided to do some comparison swatches. So Sofia (left) is darker and redder, but the two are definitely in the same family:

And here it is with a couple of my other hot pink and coral shades. L-R: Maybelline Vivid Rose, So Sofia, Flamingo Pose, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin.

The formula is scent-free, taste-free, and very opaque. It starts out satin, then quickly sets to all-but-matte. It does transfer onto cups, but not egregiously, and it lasts several hours without drying out my lips. It does not, however, do a great job of disguising the dry patches on my lips, and it also stains a bit (as I'd expect from such an intense color).

Here's the deal: I can't decide whether So Sofia suits me. I think it looks a tiny bit off against my skintone, but I'm not sure whether that's because it's actually unflattering or because I'm not used to wearing similar colors. Here it is with neutral eyes and Milani Coral Cove blush for added warmth:

See what I mean? It's not a bad color on me, but I'm not sure it's me, either. And for $30, shouldn't I be sure? 

But I'm also fairly certain that if I return it to Sephora, I'll spend more mental energy searching for another, better coral-pink lipstick. I'm not going to be in the vicinity of a Sephora for another two or three weeks, so at least I have some time to deliberate. I posted about my conundrum on Instagram and got both "yes it looks great" responses and "you should return it if you're not sure" responses, so...hmm. Thoughts?

(Update: I've decided to return it next month, but I'll leave this post up, because the more lipstick reviews in the world the better. This is a great lipstick, just not a color that I personally need in my life.)

(Update #2: I just ordered Topshop's Matte Lip Bullet in Wink. I couldn't find reviews or swatches of it online, but I know I like the formula and it's 1/3 the price of So Sofia. Oh, and my mom doesn't like So Sofia on me because she thinks it makes me look "washed out," which is her criticism of any lipstick I wear that isn't a plum, purple, or red.)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Great Lipstick Inventory of 2016

Wow, it feels like it's been forever since I last posted here. And indeed it has been forever—well, 11 days in Earth time, but forever in blog time. March has been a trying month so far, due to various academic stuff that I won't get into here because this is a beauty blog and not a bitch-about-grad-school blog, but this week is spring break and I'm trying to be aggressively nice to myself. Yesterday I took the train into New York for brunch with a friend I've known for almost ten years (!), and we ate delicious lemon-ricotta pancakes and speculated about the feasibility of burning down the academy. Then we went to the Upper West Side Sephora, conveniently located a few blocks from the brunch place. My friend bought a Bite Amuse Bouche lipstick in Sangria, a rich fuchsia, and I bought my first Marc Jacobs lipstick in So Sofia, a pinky-red coral. (I tried on a few pink and coral Amuse Bouches as well, but none of them flattered me. It was weird.) And then I got an iced coffee and a haircut in Brooklyn, and wandered around Williamsburg enjoying the early-spring sunshine, and eventually made my way back to Penn Station before the city could suck more money out of my bank account. If there's a better way to spend a March afternoon, don't tell me; I'm not sure I want to know.

Today I sorted out a couple of academic issues that had been hanging over my head for a while, and now I'm drinking a gin and tonic and blogging, so life could be a lot worse. I'm especially excited for this post, since I've been planning it for months: an inventory of all my lip colors! Most of them are lipsticks, but I've included glosses and stains in my inventory because I have too few to justify a separate post. Plus, there are so many liminal formulas these days that there's no point in maintaining the stick/gloss binary. This is 2016, people! Lipstick can be liquid and matte. Gloss can be opaque and long-lasting. Open your mind.

These are all the lip colors I currently own. In the big box on the left, we have warm-toned lipsticks; in the big box on the right, cool-toned lipsticks; in the sorbet container on top, glosses, liners, and one liquid lipstick; in the sorbet container on the bottom, chubby lip crayons. The lipsticks outside the containers are the ones I'm planning to get rid of after writing this post, though a few in the containers are candidates for destashing, too.

One of my motives for doing this inventory (besides inviting you to ooh and ahh at the pretty colors with me) was to reduce my stash by at least a little. I'm not opposed on principle to large makeup collections, but I've reached the point where the size of my collection blinds me to individual productsa case of missing the trees for the forest, let's say. Of the dozens of lipsticks I've listed below, I wear maybe half regularly, and by "regularly" I mean "a couple of times a month." The others exist in a kind of limbo that reminds me of China Miéville's novel The City & the City. It's a tale of two cities that are also one: the European city-states of Besźel and Ul Qoma occupy the same geographical area. But the inhabitants of Besźel have carefully trained themselves to notice only the buildings, people, and landmarks of Besźel, and to ignore or quickly "un-see" those of Ul Qoma, whose citizens give the same treatment to Besźel. "Breaching"—that is, passing from one city to the other without going through the building at the official "border"—is a serious crime, and "breachers" are whisked off to a mysterious fate. The lipsticks I wear several times a month, such as Urban Decay Rapture and Revlon Sultry, inhabit a sort of mental Besźel: they're more visible to me, more "real," than the vaster, vaguer Ul Qoma of my neglected shades. This inventory is my attempt to breach.

A few notes before we begin:
  •  I believe in thoughtful, careful consumption, but I have no interest in purging my collection for the sake of some abstract ideal of minimalism. I wear MAC Candy Yum-Yum, for instance, just a few days a year, but I'd rather enjoy the hell out of it during those few days than get rid of it while it's still perfectly good.
  • Just as I have some liminal lip formulas, I have several liminal colors that could easily be slotted into two or even three different categories. Is NARS 413 BLKR a red, a brown, or a plum? Yes! And also no! In such cases, I've been pragmatic: I can fit only eight or nine swatches onto my forearm at one time, so I've filled out less populated categories with in-between lipsticks. I've also classified lipsticks according to the colors they turn on my lips, not their colors in the tube or in arm swatches.
  • To reflect use, I've twisted up all my lipsticks to their full extent. 
  • There are some lipsticks here that I decided to destash before I took my inventory, but I swatched them anyway because more information is better than less. After each color category, I've written up a little overview with a note of which ones I'm destashing; I'll go into greater detail about that in my next post.
  • Sorry about the weird lighting in a few of these photos. The weather has been extremely variable recently, and it's rare that I'm home to take photos during a long period of uninterrupted sunshine. Though the white balance is off, the lipsticks look pretty true to color in the photos, I promise.
  • I've put asterisks next to my current favorite shades. Sometimes I fantasize about winnowing down my collection to just those sixteen, but I know I'm so fickle that I'd end up repurchasing the missing colors anyway.
Reds (9):
  • Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in 69
  • NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella (mini)
  • NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red*
  • Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice
  • NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama
  • Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Across the Universe
  • NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in 413 BLKR*
  • Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet (discontinued)
  • NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco (discontinued) 
L-R: 69, Cruella, Mysterious Red, Fire and Ice, Alabama, Across the Universe, 413 BLKR, Red Velvet, Flamenco:

    I think of myself as someone who doesn't like to wear red lipstick, yet I've somehow amassed nine, and that number doesn't even take into account the five I recently threw away or gave to friends. As you can see, I prefer dark, muted, slightly "dirty" reds to bright, clear ones. NARS 413 BLKR is the red I've worn most often in the last few months, and it's barely even a red; I have to be feeling very bold indeed before I'll consider wearing 69 or Fire and Ice. But the only red I might get rid of (though not before trying it again) is Across the Universe. Not coincidentally, it's my only liquid red. The color is flattering and the formula opaque and long-lasting, but it's so damn hard to apply the stuff evenly.

    Corals and Oranges (9):

    Revlon Moisture Stain in Barcelona Nights
    Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia
    Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Streak*
    Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in Vibrant Mandarin*
    Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple
    Topshop Matte Lipstick in Rio Rio
    Wet n Wild Megalast in Purty Persimmon
    Revlon Matte Balm in Mischievous (discontinued)
    NYX Butter Gloss in Peach Cobbler

    L-R: Barcelona Nights, So Sofia, Streak, Vibrant Mandarin, Candy Apple, Rio Rio, Purty Persimmon, Mischievous, Peach Cobbler:

    I also think of myself as someone who doesn't own a lot of oranges or corals, but here we are. I'm going to keep all of these except Barcelona Nights and Purty Persimmon, which are both showing signs of expiration.

    Light/Medium Pinks (5):

    MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Creme Cup
    Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Primrose
    Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Make Me Pink
    MAC Satin Lipstick in Pink Nouveau*
    Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Plastique

    L-R: Creme Cup, Primrose, Make Me Pink, Pink Nouveau, Plastique:

    Not my favorite lipstick category, clearly, but Pink Nouveau is one of my very favorite lipsticks. I've had Make Me Pink forever and I love the color—a neutral lilac pinkbut the formula is a bit drying and has no lasting power. I might keep MMP around, though, until I find a color dupe in a better formula. Or I might throw it out because life is too short for this kind of ambivalence. I haven't worn Creme Cup in over a year, but I'll give it another chance for this spring.

    Hot Pinks and Fuchsias (8):

    Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Adorned
    Urban Decay Revolution Lipgloss in Scandal (mini, omg look how qt)
    NARS Audacious Lipstick in Angela*
    Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia (discontinued)*
    Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in Vivid Rose
    Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow
    Revlon Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie (discontinued)
    MAC Matte Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum

    L-R: Adorned, Scandal, Angela, Fuchsia, Vivid Rose, Cherries in the Snow, Raspberry Pie, Candy Yum-Yum:

    Closeup of Adorned (left) and Scandal:

    This category is my favorite to look at, but not my favorite to wear: the only lipsticks in this category that get regular wear are Fuchsia (my current tube is smelling a bit off, but I have a brand-new backup) and Angela. Why am I so afraid to wear Adorned out of the house? It's gorgeous, but it appears on this blog only when I'm lamenting how little attention I give it.

    Purples (9):

    Maybelline Rebel Bloom Lipstick in Lilac Flush
    NYX Round Lipstick in Castle
    NYX Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart
    MAC Amplified Lipstick in Up the Amp*
    Maybelline Vivids Lipstick in Brazen Berry*
    NYX Intense Butter Gloss in Spice Cake
    Bite Lip Lab custom lipstick
    Milani Moisture Matte Lipstick in Matte Fearless
    & Other Stories Lip Colour in Droguet Purple

    L-R: Lilac Flush, Castle, Raspberry Tart, Up the Amp, Brazen Berry, Spice Cake, Bite custom lipstick, Matte Fearless, Droguet Purple.

    Yessss I love purple lipstick. Honestly, I'm surprisedand a little disappointedthat I don't own more. My first purple lipstick is still my favorite: MAC Up the Amp, which is almost gone after almost four years of faithful service. (I just realized that I forgot to include it in the photo, ugh. I'll have to retake that one tomorrow.) But I'm not crazy about MAC's Amplified formula, so I'll probably buy another medium purple, like Bite Spritzer or Urban Decay Bittersweet, instead of repurchasing Up the Amp. My second favorite purple is Brazen Berry: that tube looks so new because it's my second one! I was planning to get rid of NYX Castle, which I bought for my Effie Trinket costume for Halloween 2014, but it's so wonderfully weird that I just can't part with it. Plus it fits into the gray-purple lip trend that's happening right now (NARS Dominique, ColourPop Marshmallow, NYX Up the Bass...).

    Plums and Berries (9): 

    Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry*
    Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Get Me Bodied*
    MAC Matte Lipstick in Eugenie (LE)
    Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Embellished
    Revlon Balm Stain in Crush
    YSL Rouge Pur Couture in 08 Belle de Rose
    Revlon Shine Lipstick in Plum Velour
    Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture*
    Revlon Lip Butter in Sugar Plum (discontinued)

    L-R: Sultry, Get Me Bodied, Eugenie, Embellished, Crush, Belle de Rose, Plum Velour, Rapture, Sugar Plum:

    Do I need all these plums? No. Have I worn them all this past winter? Yes, except for the most expensive one. I'm attached to Belle de Rose because it was my first high-end lipstick, but it's drying and I have a nearly identical color, Get Me Bodied, in a formula I like better. I think it's time to say goodbye to BDR. I'm also tossing Plum Velour because it's been aaalmost empty for over a year now and I'm so goddamn tired of looking at it. 

    Nudes and MLBBs (8):

    Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle
    NARS Cinematic Lipstick in Last Tango (LE)
    NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu
    NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien (mini)
    NARS Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita*
    Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Nude Lust
    Milani Moisture Matte in Matte Naked*
    ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Trap

    L-R: Pink Truffle, Last Tango, Tiramisu, Rikugien, Nude Lust, Dolce Vita, Matte Naked, Trap:

    My favorites from this category are Dolce Vita (never absent from my purse), Matte Naked, and Trap. The obvious destash candidate is Rikugien, which is just too drying and frosty for me, but I think I'll give it one more chance. I'm no longer crazy about Pink Truffle either, but I have so little left that I might as well try to use it up. However, I reserve the right to toss it if I don't fall back in love with it.

    Browns (7): 

    Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy*
    Topshop Lip Bullet in Motel (mini)
    Maybelline Color Sensational in Crazy for Coffee
    Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce
    Topshop Matte Lipstick in Boardroom
    NYX Simply Vamp Lip Cream in Enamored
    MAC Matte Lipstick in Antique Velvet*

    L-R: Coy, Motel, Crazy for Coffee, Fierce, Boardroom, Enamored, Antique Velvet:

    I bought all but two of my brown lipsticks in the past six months (!), which explains why most of them aren't showing much wear. Motel, Crazy for Coffee, and Fierce look almost identical in these swatches, but I swear they're different when worn. I'll probably get rid of Enamored (too drying) and Crazy for Coffee (too blah).

    Gold (1):

    Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Stained Gloss in Dune (discontinued)

    The Stained Glosses and original-packaging Lip Tars are currently $5 (reduced from $18) on OCC's website! I've been looking for a shimmery layering gloss, so I couldn't resist ordering Dune, which OCC describes as a "light beige with gold shimmer." The gloss does look beige in the tube, but the shimmer is far more pronounced than the base color in arm swatches and on the lips, so I decided to create a separate color category for Dune. (I also didn't want to retake the photos of my nude lip colors. Sue me.) The shimmer separates a bit in the tube, but it mixes with the base color as you squeeze it out. Full review to come!

    Finally, here's my tiny lineup (if you will) of lip liners, which I practically never use. L-R: Milani Nude, Barry M Plum, NYX Pumpkin.

    Here's the final count, pre-destash:

    Lipsticks: 56
    Glosses: 9
    Liners: 3
    Grand Total: 68

    Maybelline Crazy for Coffee
    Maybelline Make Me Pink
    NYX Enamored
    Revlon Barcelona Nights
    Revlon Plum Velour
    Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon

    Which brings the final totals to...

    Lipsticks: 51
    Glosses: 8
    Liners: 3
    Grand Total: 61

    This was fun, if very time-consuming! I actually have fewer lipsticks than I thought: I was expecting a figure in the realm of 75. (No, this does not mean I'm allowed to go out and buy 25 new lipsticks now.) Let me know if you have questions about any of them!

    Sunday, March 6, 2016

    Pre-Spring Brights: ColourPop Eye Candy, Rain, and Shop

    In addition to the Ultra Matte Lip in Trap, I bought three potted products from ColourPop last month. After a few weeks of playing with them, I'm excited to finally write a review! I'll start with an overview of each item, then post a few looks I've put together.

    Clockwise from left: Super Shock Cheek in Rain ($8) and Super Shock Shadows in Shop and Eye Candy ($5 each).

    L-R, one finger-swipe per swatch: Eye Candy, Shop, Rain.

    When I ordered Eye Candy, an "ethereal lavender drizzled with tons of pink and silver glitter," I knew from experience exactly what I would get: an unabashed glitterbomb. 

    Eye Candy's base color looks like a sheer dusty pink in the pan and in arm swatches, but it pulls more lavender on my lids. That sheer base is crammed, not drizzled, with fine pink glitter and chunkier silver glitter. You really have to squint to see the pink glitter, and only the silver comes through when the shadow is worn.

    Eye Candy has the same bouncy, moussey texture as the other Super Shock Shadows I've tried, but the base color is less pigmented and the large glitter makes the texture a bit gritty. I don't actually mind the sheerness: it means that Eye Candy works well as an accent color over a variety of base shades. I would not, however, recommend wearing it all over the lids. I did that yesterday, with NARS Lhasa blended into the crease and outer V, and the base shade faded quickly, leaving me with almost nothing but glitter. N.B.: if you want to avoid fallout, don't even think of wearing Eye Candy without a primer, which I also did yesterday for experiment's sake. Four hours after application, there was almost as much glitter on my cheeks than on my lids. I was returning from a Baroque concert (Monteverdi, you guys!), but I looked more like I'd spent the afternoon at a "sixth-grade dance in 1999" theme party. With primer, there's less fallout, especially if you use Eye Candy just as an inner-corner or mid-lid highlight.

    ColourPop describes Shop as "rusty coral in a matte finish" and adds, "shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist!" Not to poke holes in this flawless logic or anything, but my psychiatrist's copay is exactly the same as the free-shipping minimum on ColourPop's website. And if you buy dozens of ColourPop products at a time, as some people seem to do, well. Allow me to take this opportunity to say that retail therapy is not an appropriate treatment for mental illness and, in many cases, it's far more expensive. Come on, CP.

    Problematic description aside, Shop is a great eyeshadow. It's an unusual color for a shadow: an intense but muted orange-leaning coral. Because it's not neon, as so many corals are, it pairs well with neutral shades. It's the most pigmented of the three products I'm reviewing today, and the color applies smoothly and wears for hours without fading. It's actually hard to wash the orange off my fingers after application! (Just as a reminder, ColourPop recommends applying its cream products with fingers instead of brushes. Once they're on the lids, though, it's pretty easy to brush-blend CP shadows into other brands' powder shadows.)

    Shop appears very matte in this photo, but direct artificial light tells another story. In fact, Shop is sprinkled with fine gold glitter! Instead of sparkling on the eyelids, it provides more of a vague sheen. I suppose if you want a subtle satin finish from ColourPop, you need to order a "matte" shadow.

    Finally, here's Rain, my long-sought purple blush.

    I'm a little skeptical of that 4.2g claim (NARS blushes, by contrast, are $30 for 4.5g). I've seen photos indicating that ColourPop's blush pans are just as shallow as their eyeshadow pans, and I wonder if ColourPop sneakily included the weight of the packaging in the 4.2g figure. I wish I had a scale so I could find out for myself.

    Rain is my first ColourPop blush, and I was surprised to find it drier than the shadows and highlighters I'd tried. It feels slightly more like a powder than a cream, yet I wouldn't recommend applying it with a brush: when I tried that, the color stuck to the bristles without making the leap to my skin. My cheeks are quite dry in general, and even when I'm applying Rain with my fingers, I feel like I really need to work it into my skin so that it doesn't just sit on top. I'm also a little disappointed in Rain's pigmentation: I need two or three layers for the look I prefer, and I don't even like wearing a lot of blush. However, the sheerness does make Rain more versatile, which I appreciate. It's not a costumey blush at all, yet it can easily be built up to opacity. It's not exactly a mindblowing product, but it's very workable and I anticipate wearing it a lot this spring.

    I didn't bother making comparison swatches for the eyeshadows because I own nothing else like them, but Rain has a few distant cousins in my blush collection. L-R: Tony Moly Milky Violet, one layer of Rain, two layers of Rain, Urban Decay Rapture, NARS Mata Hari.

    On my cheeks, Rain has exactly the pastel-candy effect I wanted from NARS Gaiety, which means that I can cross Gaiety off my wishlist for now! Here's three layers of Rain concentrated on the apples of my cheeks; I'm also wearing Urban Decay Frisk (pale matte gray) and ColourPop Cowboy (matte lavender) on my eyes and MAC Pink Nouveau on my lips.

    Here's Shop as the focal point of an eye look: I smeared it all over my lids and blended it out, then lined my lashlines with a bit of theBalm Serious, a matte black. Blush is Sleek Life's a Peach; lipstick is NARS Dolce Vita, which usually looks less peachy than this.

    Lhasa (I think? why don't I take better notes? or any notes?) and Eye Candy on my eyes, a lighter application of Rain on my cheeks, and ColourPop Trap on my lips:

    March promises to be a busy month (applications, grading, a conference in Boston, and maybe my own work if I'm lucky), so I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post here. At least we're well on the way to spring, the season when hope returns to us all—that is, if we don't pay too much attention to the presidential campaigns.