Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Beauty Obsessed Tag

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

1. Do you remember your first makeup item?

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Favorite high-end brand?

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

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

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

5. Favorite drugstore brand? 

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

6. Do you wear fake lashes?

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

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

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

8. What is your most cherished makeup product? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. What is your favorite eyeshadow color?

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

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

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

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

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

15. Favorite bath and body brand?

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

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

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

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

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

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

18. Which celebrity always has great makeup?

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

19. Do you belong to any online makeup communities?

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

20. Five favorite beauty/lifestyle influencers?

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

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

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

22. Are you clumsy while putting on makeup?

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

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

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

24. What do you love about makeup?

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

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Formula X Lively and a K-Pop Microtrend

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

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

Mamamoo, "You're the Best":

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

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

I.O.I, "Crush":

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

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

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

And, guys? It kind of sucked. 

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

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

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

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

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

And my favorite sunglasses:

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

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

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, and Some Brow-Related Bloviation

It's been so long since my last post! I've just been too busy to blog, despite having a pile of things to review and the desire to review those things. It's really a terrible feeling. The science-fiction class for which I'm a TA had two paper deadlines in two weeks (don't ask me why), so I was doing what felt like nothing but grading for what felt like forever. But now that my grading is done and classes are almost over, you can expect more frequent posting in the weeks to come! First on my to-review list is a product I'm very excited about: Glossier Boy Brow in Brown.

I haven't written much about my eyebrows on this blog, because I don't like doing much to them. I'm very grateful to my past self for not overplucking my naturally thick, dark brows, as so many girls and women did when thinner brows were popular. I'm young enough to have missed the heyday of sperm brows, but their baleful influence lingered for years. When I was a teenager and young adult, the socially acceptable brow was much thinner than it is today. My natural perversity ensured that I refused to pluck my eyebrows at all, even after a college friend literally held me down and removed my stray brow hairs to prove how much better I'd look with cleaner brows. I didn't have a lot invested in being a ~nonconformist~ or whatever, but I liked my natural brows and disliked beauty rituals that caused physical pain. So I continued to shun tweezers, and then, about three years ago, a miracle happened: thick brows came back into fashion. Suddenly the eyebrows my father's entire family inherited from some hirsute French ancestor were cool. I couldn't believe it.

For a while, I didn't feel the need for brow products or any kind of maintenance, but around 2014 I noticed that it wasn't just thick brows that were in fashion, but thick, well-groomed brows. I also realized that my college friend had been right: my whole face looked better when I cleaned up the stray hairs that lay outside the natural arch of my brows. I bought a clear brow gel from Milani and experimented with filling in my brows with different brown eyeshadows, eventually settling on Primal from Urban Decay's Naked2 Basics palette (second from right below).

And that was my routine until very recently: dab a bit of Milani gel on both brows, use a different spoolie to brush the gel through (the Milani one deposits way too much product), and do a quick fill-in job with Primal and an angled brush. This method gave me the effect I wanted, but it wasn't terribly convenient: if I was taking a short trip, I had to bring the entire Naked2 Basics palette with me, even if I didn't plan to use it for anything but my brows. So when Glossier's Boy Brow came out late last year, I took note: here was a single product that promised the same subtle effect that I tried to achieve every morning with my clear gel and powder shadow. But I never got around to buying Boy Brow: the $16 price tag was a factor, as was the fact that it sold out eventually and returned only last month with Phase 2, but the biggest factor was that annoying name. (For the record, I find the faux-French pronunciation of "Glossier" equally annoying.)

As you know, I've long been skeptical of Glossier's emphasis on "effortless beauty." I resent the brand's continual insinuations that true "cool girls" should look perfectly smooth and dewy and disheveled with minimal effort. Not only does this position fetishize extreme youth, it also dismisses as "uncool" the real effort that so many women put into their appearances, often because society gives them no choice. The phrase "Boy Brow" goes even further by holding up men as paragons of effortless beauty. Yes, most men have thicker, wilder brows than most women, and one of the reasons is that they face no social pressure to groom their brows. A beauty product that promises to make women look more like men is just as insulting as a beauty product that promises to make women more attractive to men. Why do men have to be part of the equation at all? Why can't women have natural-looking messy brows that aren't "boy brows"? You may think I'm overanalyzing a silly phrase, but, well, overanalysis is kind of my job. Also my eyebrows are much thicker and darker than my boyfriend's, just saying.

Despite all my cavils, the product itself continued to tempt me. I'm not sure how long this ridiculous internal standoff would have lasted had Renee not sent me a tube of Boy Brow in Brown (one of three colors, the other two being Blond and Black) and a Generation G lipstick in Cake, a peachy beige. I got the entire iconic Glossier package this time, complete with the brand's debatable but catchy tagline and one of those coveted pink bubble mailers:

The package included more stickers, as well as a sample of Glossier's Priming Moisturizer with about three uses' worth of product (spoiler alert: nice but nothing special)...

...and a poster featuring an extreme close-up of a dewy-skinned model's face (complete with nose hairs: full points for gritty realism). I am not entirely sure why this poster exists.

Glossier describes Boy Brow as "not an eyebrow gel or mascara—it's the first-ever brow pomade." That seems like a matter of semantics to me, but there's no denying that Boy Brow does what Glossier promises it will do: "thickens, fills in, and shapes hairs all at once." The bottle is tiny, but it holds 3.12 grams, making it almost three times the size of Glossier's Generation G lipsticks. Here's Boy Brow next to a Revlon Matte Balm for scale:

The brush itself is very small as well, with short, stiff, densely packed bristles. Here it is next to Milani's brow gel spoolie:

I'd describe Brown as a neutral medium brown. It's lighter than my natural brows, but not by much (plus, you want to use a product slightly lighter than your brows). The formula itself is thin and translucent; you get a good amount of product per swipe, but not an overwhelming dose of pigment.

It's been said before, but it's worth reiterating: Boy Brow is good for people who have naturally thick brows and/or people who want a subtle effect from their brow product. This pomade (I prefer to call it goo) will not give you on-fleek Instagram power brows, though it can be built up for more opacity. Personally, I think most people look great when they embrace their natural brow thickness or thinness, but if you have sparse brows and want a dramatic change, you should look elsewhere. I have a lot of brow to work with and I don't want super-filled-in brows, so Boy Brow is perfect for my needs. Here are my brows without (top) and with Boy Brow (and no other makeupsay hello to my dark circles):

Not a huge change, but a noticeable one, and exactly the amount of change I want. Boy Brow softly shapes and tints my eyebrow hairs and colors the skin below my eyebrows (keep in mind, I'm extremely pale), and it lasts all day. I can't ask for much more than that.

And for some context, here's today's aggressively boring face, inspired by, uh, having only a few minutes to do my makeup before going to teach Watchmen:

In addition to Boy Brow and my usual concealer and mascara situation, I'm wearing a shimmery theBalm taupe shadow, Illamasqua cream blush in Zygomatic, ColourPop highlighter in Lunch Money, and Milani Matte Naked lipstick. I've been wearing Lunch Money almost every day: adding a little extra light to my face just feels right for this lovely spring weather.

Another shot of Boy Brow with a slightly more interesting look featuring NARS Lhasa and Habanera eyeshadows, the same Zygomatic/Lunch Money combination, and ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Trap. As you can tell, I'm wearing a lot of off-nudes these days.

I don't have much more to say, except that I'm definitely going to repurchase Boy Brow when I run out. Fine, Glossier. You win.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst

The NYX Liquid Suede lipsticks didn't spark my interest when they first came out last year. So many NYX products have disappointed me that I tend to approach the brand with skepticism, and the Liquid Suede line seemed like a hasty attempt to capitalize on the liquid-matte trend of 2015. And since NYX had been making matte liquid lipsticks for years (the Soft Matte Lip Creams, which I'd never bothered trying), it was unclear what niche NYX wanted the Liquid Suedes to fill. The NYX website touted their "soft matte finish," but blog reviews described them as not quite matte, and indeed their full name was "Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick." The shade range was small and divided awkwardly between brownish neutrals and weird NSFW shades like greenish gray and fluorescent lavender. And shortly after the Liquid Suedes were released, NYX followed up with a zillion new shades of matte lipsticks and Soft Matte Lip Creams, plus a "Lip Lingerie" line composed entirely of liquid mattes in trendy gray-brown shades, and a "Full Throttle" line of matte bullet lipsticks that were somehow different from NYX's original matte bullet lipsticks (??). The poor Liquid Suedes got lost in the shuffle, and the reviews I did happen to read didn't rate them very highly. So I felt confident that I could ignore them for the foreseeable future, and then

And then what, exactly? I don't even know. I wrote that paragraph as if it were leading to a turning point (a volta, in sonnet speak),  but the fact is that I can't remember how I first developed my lust for NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst. A chance hashtag search on Instagram, probably. The "turbid ebb and flow" (apologies to Matthew Arnold) of online consumerism. I just know that at some point during the academic conference I attended last week, my curiosity about the intense blue-purple of Amethyst sharpened into desire. (Not every conference paper can hold the attention of every listener, I'm afraid.) What most attracted me, I think, was the challenge: could I work it into a wearable look? Could I muster the confidence to wear it outside the house? Armed with a $2 CVS coupon, I bought Amethyst last week and dared it to do its worst. CVS was having a buy one, get one 50% off sale on NYX, but I valiantly resisted leaving the store with more than one item. 

I was gratified to find that Amethyst came sealed with a plastic sleeve, which was, alas, as difficult for me to remove as every other lipstick sleeve: 


And, you guys? I LOVE IT.

Damn it, this is why I can't quit NYX. Every time I tell myself that I've developed real adult standards and will no longer settle for trendy mediocrity, they lure me back in with something like Amethyst. LOOK AT IT.

The black cap has a cute beveled top and, inside, a longish squared-off doefoot applicator:

The Liquid Suede formula is unscented (save for a very slight chemical smell that vanishes quickly). In terms of application, Amethyst's formula isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than I was expecting; it just takes a bit of work. For whatever reason, it's almost impossible to find a dark purple lipstick in an opaque formula. One coat of Amethyst looks very streaky, and even two will give you this if you're not careful (in Amethyst's defense, this was an unusually hasty application):


The method I've figured out after a few uses is finicky and not for the impatient, but it does work. First I use my finger to stain both lips with a thin coat of Amethyst. After that, I apply a thicker coat with the doefoot, wait about a minute for it to dry, then fill in any lighter patches if I need to (which I often don't). This process gives me a much better result:

As for the finish, my sense is that some Liquid Suedes are more matte than others. Someone I follow on Instagram has Sway, the aforementioned bright lavender, and reports that it transfers all over the place and never seems to dry down. With Amethyst, I get an all-but-matte finish and no transfer whatsoever. It feels a bit tacky if I press my lips together, but it's on until I eat a full meal (and I like to remove my lipstick before meals anyway). It doesn't come off on my coffee cup, or on my partner if I kiss him on the cheek. And it's not drying! It feels comfortable and moves naturally with the lips, instead of sitting on top like a coat of tempera paint, as matte liquid lipsticks often do. Well done, NYX—now I'm regretting not taking advantage of that BOGO deal.

Amethyst is a very blue-toned purple that looks straight-up cobalt in particularly cool light. (It makes my teeth look so white!) I don't have anything like it, and the closest color dupe I've seen (is it a "dupe" if it's significantly more expensive?) is MAC Matte Royal. Here's Amethyst with some of my other purples, L-R: Bite custom lipstick (close to MAC Heroine), Amethyst, & Other Stories Droguet Purple, Maybelline Brazen Berry.

Full disclosure: I still haven't worn Amethyst out and about (except to do the laundry in the building next door, which hardly counts). But I think it suits my coloring quite well:

I mean, yeah, it's a Look, but it's a Look that I think I can pull off. I'm having a hard time coming up with a cultural reference point for this lipstick, which is bothering me more than it should. The color certainly looks very sci-fi or Effie-Trinket-esque; let's live with that for now until we find something better. My other color makeup here is NYX Jumbo Pencil in Iced Mocha and theBalm Sleek on my eyes, and Illamasqua Zygomatic blush and ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter on my cheeks. 

I decided to keep the rest of my makeup simple and neutral for this look (as if I ever do anything else...), but Amethyst would also look great with different tones of purple all over. I think I'll try that tomorrow and update this post then.

Update, 4/10: Purple face: theBalm lavender-taupe eyeshadow with ColourPop Eye Candy in the inner corners, and a few layers of ColourPop Rain blush. Not as adventurous as it could be, but I can't bring myself to do a bold eye with this lipstick. I just can't.

Amethyst certainly isn't a lipstick I'm going to wear every week, but I don't think there's anything wrong with having a few just-for-fun lipsticks in weird colors for those days when I'm feeling especially futuristic. $5.50 well spent, I think. Life is short; paint your mouth indigo. That said, I've decided to go on a lip-color no-buy for at least a month. Oh, and did you notice that I didn't use the word "blurple" in this post until just now? That was on purpose.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #3: March

I went to Boston for a Renaissance-studies conference on Wednesday and just got home last night, so my monthly roundup post is a bit late. I was born in Boston and lived there until I was almost eight, and I've returned periodically since then, but the city still feels foreign—the more foreign for being slightly familiar, I think. (One familiar thing: insanely high winds. I had to stop walking at one point for fear of being blown over.) Most of my time in Boston was taken up with attending academic papers, delivering my own paper on a 17th-century antiquarian treatise, and navigating an awkward Q&A session (you haven't been mansplained to until you've been mansplained to by an elderly Italian art historian). I also created and promptly began neglecting a professional Twitter account. Livetweeting academic conference panels has become very much a thing in the last year or two, but my brain is incapable of listening and tweeting at the same time, so I'm afraid I won't be sitting with the digital-humanist cool kids anytime soon. 

By the way, I have two enthusiastic Boston recommendations: Ribelle in Brookline for French onion soup and grapefruit-vodka-Peychaud's cocktails in the cutest mismatched glasses...

 ...and, obviously, the Museum of Fine Arts. Their permanent collections are stellar (and overwhelmingly huge: so many John Singer Sargents!), and they currently have a cool exhibit called #techstyle, about the overlap between fashion and technology. The irony of America's most proudly unstylish city sponsoring a fashion-focused exhibit is not lost on me. I say this with love. 

Have a Manish Arora:

And now to our monthly business!

New makeup:

NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu: $3.70
OCC Stained Gloss in Dune: $5 + $3 shipping = $8
Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Wink: $10
Total: $21.70

This is, of course, excluding my $30 splurge, Marc Jacobs So Sofia. But since I'm planning to return So Sofia to Sephora in April, I decided not to count that purchase. That's fair, right? My favorite of the three products above is Tiramisu: I'd been without a nude gloss for over a year, and had forgotten how much I liked both nude glosses and the Butter Gloss formula. Dune has turned out to be a disappointing layering gloss—the formula is so viscous and the shimmer so dense that I can't apply it over lipstick without smearing the base color—but I really like it on its own, so no harm done. My experience with Wink has been a helpful reminder that I shouldn't blind-order products with no reviews or swatches online. I thought I was safe because of my love for the Matte Lip Bullet formula, but Wink is unaccountably crammed with glitter. Not just shimmer, but big-ass glitter particles that stick to my lips after the color wears off. Oh, and Topshop doesn't accept makeup returns. I don't hate Wink, but like...why? The only other glittery matte lipsticks I can think of are NARS La Paz and Peloponnese, which have understandably mixed reviews. It's an unpopular combination for a reason, Topshop.

New skincare:

3 Tony Moly sheet masks: $9
Aura Cacia cold-pressed rosehip oil with Vitamin E: $15
Total: $24

I'm proud to say that I'm not one of those sheet-mask hoarders you find on r/asianbeauty: I used all three masks within a few weeks of buying them. I don't think I'll buy more Tony Moly masks in the future, however. They're cheap and convenient ($3 each at Urban Outfitters), but they just sort of dampen my face without imparting any lasting moisture or glow. And the tea-tree one has a horrible antiseptic smell. Beware!

I bought the rosehip oil to wear under my CeraVe PM at night. In the first couple of days, I went a little crazy with it (morning AND night applications) and I broke out slightly, but I've scaled back my usage to every other night and it's been working well for me.


e.l.f. Shadow Lock: $2 

I forgot my NYX eyeshadow primer at home when I went to Boston, so I picked up this one at a CVS near my hotel. I was excited at the prospect of having discovered a $2 gem, but this stuff is...not great. It's better than nothing, but only just. Come to think of it, the NYX primer isn't stellar either. Should I try the $12 Urban Decay Primer Potion mini from Sephora?

Total beauty spending for March: $47.70 

Bonus: Gifts!

In March, two different people sent me unsolicited makeup and skincare. I am the luckiest. First, I received Glossier's Balm Dotcom and Generation G Lipstick in Jam from Renee:

And earlier this week, my Instagram pal Amanda (mythofmirth) sent me six Glossier mask pods, the Bite 100-point perk that eluded me on my recent Sephora visit, and STICKERS:

So excited to try all this stuff! I'm going to use one of the Mega Greens mask pods tonight.

Overview: I made two mistakes this month: I bought a $30 lipstick without being totally sure that I loved it, and I ordered a lipstick I'd never seen except in an obviously inaccurate product shot on the Topshop website. Frankly, Dune was also an impulse purchase, but it happened to be a good one. I kept my overall expenses low, but I can feel myself slipping into BUY ALL THE LIP COLORS mode. It's no coincidence that March was a high-stress month. In fact, this entire semester has been a real bummer in a number of ways. I'm still not sure where I'll be living in six months, or whether I'll need to defend my dissertation before then, or whether I'll be able to get my current fellowship renewed for next year. Ironically, if I were less worried about finances, I'd probably be less tempted to buy makeup. But here we are, and all I can do is keep a close eye on my spending habits, because I really can't afford to neglect my budget.

I'm also going to keep pursuing methods of self-care that have nothing to do with materialism. Getting my work done on time, for instance, is self-care because it reduces stress in the long run. Exercise, pleasure reading, and phone calls with friends are all forms of self-care. Experimenting with the crazy amount of makeup I already own is self-care! As is finishing this blog post, so:


ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Bill: I loved the pink-lavender-taupe color of this eyeshadow, but it dried out in just a year. I'm going to be all the more diligent about using up my remaining ColourPop potted products now that I know what a brief shelf life they have. Bill looked truly tragic before I tossed it—look how it's pulling away from the sides of the pan:

Face Stockholm cream blush in Paris: This was such a good product, but the color just didn't suit me—it was the blush version of So Sofia. So when Renee mentioned wanting more Face Stockholm blushes, I sent Paris to her. Now I don't have to feel guilty every time I notice it on my shelf.


NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst (~$7):

Instagram indicates that this bright blue-purple looks weird on 99.9% of human beings, so of course I've persuaded myself that I'll be in the lucky 0.1% who can pull it off. I went to CVS just today to buy it, but it was out of stockand it was the only Liquid Suede out of stock. It was sold out in the CVS near my hotel in Boston, too. And let me assure you, intense blurple lipstick is not a common sight in either town. Who is buying this color?!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Je T'aime ($30):

Je T'aime is on this list not because I expect to buy it anytime soon, but simply because I want to try it on. I had So Sofia tunnel vision during my last Sephora visit and didn't notice Je T'aime, which is more of a muted, toasted reddish coral (Marc Jacobs describes it as a "rum raspberry"). But a reader mentioned it in the comments of my So Sofia post, and now that I know I like the Le Marc formula, I want to check out Je T'aime when I go to Sephora to return So Sofia.

Shiro Custom Lip Gloss ($9-$13)

Did you know that the indie makeup company Shiro, best known for its loose eyeshadows with geeky pop-culture themes, also makes custom lip glosses? You choose from a long list of lip-safe eyeshadows, then pick an intensity (sheer, moderate, or opaque) and, if you wish, a flavor. Pricing varies according to intensity and flavor, but an unflavored opaque gloss would be $10, which is really not bad. The color I'm leaning toward is The Largest Moon of Still Not a Planet, a "rose-tinged taupe with intense turquoise shift and copper-gold sparkle":

I understand that Shiro has an anniversary sale every April/May, so I think I'll pick up a lip gloss then.

ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Mars ($6):

Someone I follow on Instagram has been wearing Mars a lot recently, and the nearly fluorescent reddish pink is so tempting to me for some reason. I'll probably hold off on making a ColourPop order for at least another month, though.
There are a few other things I kind of want, but in the interest of not reminding myself of my kind-of-wants when I reread this post, I'll leave them off the list. Though perhaps putting them on the list is the key to not buying them: I didn't buy anything from last month's wishlist! Weird.