Sunday, June 26, 2016

Beauty Abroad, Part 18: Ancient and Modern Beauty in London


A lot has happened since I last posted. I'm still stunned and depressed at Britain's decision to leave the European Union. It was surreal to watch the whole thing unfold around me, and painful to have no way of affecting the outcome. It's not my nation or my fight, but I'm still heartbroken at what this means for Britain and Europe in general. It's clear by now that we live in an age of paranoid nationalism, and if you can think of anything good that paranoid nationalism has ever produced, do let me know. I'll just be over here reading Hobbes and glancing obsessively at the BBC.

You know what? Let's talk about makeup.

I've been in London for the past week, and have found myself wearing less makeup than usual. My boyfriend's parents and sister are visiting, and they're no-makeup WASP types who can go from pajamas to out the door in ten minutes. Since they've been generous enough to let me travel with them for nine days, I've done my best to adapt my morning routine to theirs, which has meant stripping down my makeup significantly. For the past few days, my daytime look has comprised Glossier Boy Brow, mascara, undereye concealer, two swipes of Illamasqua Zygomatic blush on each cheek, and a lip color. I can slap all that on in under five minutes, and it's been refreshing to take a break from more involved looks. Here's the combination yesterday, featuring NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red (not the ideal lip color to wear to Borough Market, where I consumed black-truffle tortelloni, Pimm's, and a raspberry-cream donut in quick succession):

No, my eyes aren't as defined as I'd prefer, but I'd rather have ten extra minutes to wander the streets of London than spend those ten minutes blending out eyeshadow. That said, I haven't neglected makeup in my peregrinations, though I've bought only one item in London (Topshop's duochrome eyeshadow in Holograph). Last weekend we went to Harrods, where a quotation from Shelley's "Ozymandias" frames the entrance to the womenswear section, and if that's not ironic I don't know what is:

Here's the perfume hall on the ground floor (not to be confused with the sixth-floor Salon de Parfums, which we didn't get a chance to visit):

Fornasetti candles, which I can't afford but wish I could:

Harrods has two cosmetics sections on the ground floor: one with mid-range brands like MAC and Shu Uemura, and another with high-end names like Chantecaille, La Mer, and Suqqu. Here's the daunting Christian Louboutin display in the latter section:

I'll just say it: I would never pay $90 for a lipstick. Having tried quite a few brands over the years, I do think you get what you pay for with lipstick, but only up to a certain price point—and in my experience, that price point is between $20 and $25. A NARS or Urban Decay lipstick is probably, but not definitely, going to have a higher-quality formula than a Wet n Wild or Revlon lipstick. But beyond the mid-range price point, you're paying for brand name, pretty packaging, and an overall aura of luxury. To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with paying for those things, if you can afford to do so. The entire makeup industry is based on illusion: a Rouge Louboutin might not be "worth" $90, but I don't think a NARS Audacious lipstick is "worth" $32, either, or a MAC lipstick "worth" $17. I'd wager that almost all makeup is vastly overpriced if you take into account how much it costs to produce. That said, a $90 price tag for a lipstick pisses me off. It's insulting. And I don't want my lipstick to resemble a heavy gold sex toy, you know? It's just not practical.

Out of curiosity, though, I did swatch a few shades. And they were nice! But not $90 worth of nice (though I don't know what "$90 worth of nice" would look like, tbh). Top to bottom: Survivita, Zoulou, no idea, Private Number (?), Loubeach, Miss Loubi, Pluminette (?). Apologies for weird indoor lighting and faulty memory.

Harrods has the only Marc Jacobs Beauty counter I've seen in the UK so far, so I couldn't resist swatching a few Le Marc Lip Cremes I hadn't examined before. L-R: Je t'aime, Rei of Light, Blow, Editrix, Willful:

Editrix and Willful are new for summer 2016; Editrix looks like MAC Antique Velvet and Willful like NARS Angela. Incidentally, I wore Angela today and was reminded of how incompatible I am with the NARS Audacious formula. It's drying, it stains my lips so badly that I have to scrub them with a washcloth, and it somehow manages to creep outside my liplines. If I get around to selling any of my makeup this summer, Angela might have to go, much as I love the color.

On Monday I had a very different beauty experience at the British Museum, where I spent a lot of time in the galleries devoted to Roman Britain. Rome governed Britain from 43 to 410 CE, leaving behind walls and roads that still survive today, as well as countless artifacts of daily life. I was particularly fascinated by these "cosmetic grinders":

So many! I wish the museum had given us a diagram of how they actually worked. I guess the pigments were ground between the two pieces?

Not makeup, but check out this badass gold body chain found in Hoxne, Suffolk. The two chains are joined in the back by a coin from the reign of Gratian (367-383):

On Wednesday we did some shopping in the Regent Street area, and I swatched four Surratt lip colors at Liberty. L-R: Automatique Lip Crayons in Séductrice, Mahogany, and P.O.C.; Lipslique in Lady Bug. Pretty colors, but I didn't see anything truly original. I think I've come down with lipstick ennui...

...which explains why I didn't bother swatching lipsticks in the giant Oxford Circus Topshop! L-R: Mono Eyeshadow in Holograph; Glow Highlighters in Polish and Gleam; Glow Stick in Heat.

The Glow Highlighters are dense, pigmented cream highlighters in glass pots. The texture is thick and gooey, and a little goes an extremely long way. I was briefly tempted by Gleam, the dark gold, but it looked straight-up yellow on my face. Polish is a bit pinker than it looks here, and the Glow Stick is a bronzer with large sparkles. The Mono Eyeshadows are sparkly duochromes, some more opaque than others. I also swatched Spaceport (below), but it was very sheer. 

Holograph, on the other hand, is dazzling! Its pinky-blue flash reminds me of NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Cassiopeia. I can't wait to use this color on my inner corners:

I've been in the UK for almost a month and have already bought six pieces of makeup: a lipstick, an eyeshadow, and four nail polishes. So I doubt I'll be picking up any more before I head back to the US, though you never know: that Barry M black lipstick is tempting. I'll try to review some of my new products once I'm back to a less hectic schedule, which should be soon, since we're leaving London tomorrow. I might also write a post about my travels: I feel a bit silly blogging about lipstick swatches when I've also been photographing 16th-century tapestries and 2,000-year-old lighthouses. Would that interest anyone?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Beauty Abroad, Part 17: The Great British Swatch-Off

(Apologies to a show I've never actually watched. I'm told that I should!)

I've noted before that the average British woman seems to get more excited about makeup than the average American woman does. I stand by my original conclusion: "In my experience, Americans pay more attention to the overall effect of their makeup, while the British pay more attention to individual details." Drugstores in the UK offer more shade variety per brand, and it's not unusual to see people wearing red or fuchsia lipstick when out and about.  Experimenting with makeup is part of British culture in a way it's just not in the US; there's a sense of play here that I find so refreshing. I took this photo (faces blurred for privacy) at the MAC lipstick display at the Selfridges in Birmingham two weeks ago:

I lingered in the Selfridges makeup department for about 15 minutes, and the MAC section was like this the entire time. I'd occasionally try to approach and swatch Chili (still searching for that '20s burnt orange), but the crowd was impenetrable. There wasn't even a new collection to get excited over; it was just business as usual on a Saturday afternoon.

Oh, and here's about 2/3 of the beauty selection at the Superdrug in the same mall:

The giant wall of makeup isn't even all of it: there's also a shelf of brushes and other beauty tools to the right, and a standalone display of theBalm, of all things. I've never seen theBalm in an American drugstore or anywhere else in the UK, yet there it is in a Superdrug in Birmingham.

My scattershot swatches have been mainly of the drugstore variety, since most of the mid- and high-end brands available here are also available for less money in the US. That's not to say that I haven't done my share of browsing on the makeup floor of Selfridges, though. It's easier to find some high-end Japanese brands in the UK (Suqqu, RMK, and Shu Uemura come to mind), but their representatives in Selfridges were very attentive and I didn't feel comfortable swatching freely in front of them. I also looked at some Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks (the brand is available in the US, but not super-widely), and I can't say I was impressed. The shade range was kind of unadventurous and the formula didn't seem like anything special, and I can't un-read that Into the Gloss interview in which Tilbury revealed that her husband has never seen her without makeup.

I felt more comfortable playing at the Illamasqua counter, since I was there specifically to make a purchase (Facet nail varnish!). As usual, I made a beeline for the lipsticks:

The one that immediately caught my attention was that marbled fuchsia/teal lipstick, which turned out to be Lava Lips in Activist (£19.50), new for summer 2016. So far as I can tell, Activist is the only Lava Lips currently available, though I assume Illamasqua will bring out more eventually. The pink and turquoise are supposed to blend together on the lips to create a "deep purple," though swatching told a different story. L-R: Illamasqua lipsticks in Underworld, Posture, ESP, and Activist (what, you thought I wouldn't gravitate toward the purples?):

I mean, sure, Activist approximates a deep purple, but it looks awfully muddy to me. Maybe there's a trick to applying it, but the real allure of this lipstick is obviously the gorgeous swirly bullet. The other lipsticks above felt dry and looked a bit patchy, though Underworld might make a beautiful opalescent topper for another lipstick. I was also tempted by the glosses in Stranger (left) and Opulent (with two pink Shu Uemura eyeshadows below):

Opulent in particular is stunning: fine pink and gold glitter in a sheer taupe base. But I know perfectly well that I don't wear gloss enough to justify the purchase. Over the years, I've learned that sometimes it's enough to be grateful for a product's general existence.

Of course I can't pass a NARS counter without having a look, though I don't plan to buy any NARS in the UK. This time I wanted to see if I could find any burnt-orange lipsticks. The Audacious lipsticks in Jane and Marlene were close to what I was envisioning, but I don't like the Audacious formula enough to pay $32 for another lipstick. L-R: Dominique, Belle de Jour (part of the original lipstick line), Jane, Marlene:

And while we're back on the topic of Lili Elbe lipsticks, I returned to Selfridges on a weekday to try MAC Chili. The MAC area was still bustling, but at least I got to make physical contact with a lipstick. Here's a weird lip swatch of Chili (don't worry, I sanitized the lipstick obsessively and applied it with a Q-tip):

I'd forgotten how much I love MAC's matte formula, and the color is just about perfect. I'm still looking for a cruelty-free alternative, though. Candidates include Marc Jacobs Rei of Light (but $$$), Kat Von D Chula (but KVD is kind of a shitty person), and Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Hitch Hike (but it's more brown than orange).

SPEAKING OF, the Urban Decay Vice lipsticks finally crossed the Atlantic! I left the US just before they launched, so I saw them for the first time yesterday. The feeling of encountering 100 almost-fresh lipstick testers...holy shit, you guys. I don't plan to buy any of them in the UK, but it was nice to swatch the shades I'd had my eye on. Check out this insane leaflet the saleslady gave me (who decided that 69 was a "yellow-based red"?):

And some swatches! L-R: Wired (Cream), Perversion (Comfort Matte), Nighthawk (Cream), Hex (Mega Matte), Temper (Comfort Matte), Seismic (Sheer Shimmer), Heroine (Cream):

L-R: Firebird (Cream), Psycho (Comfort Matte), Alpha (Mega Matte), Hitch Hike (Comfort Matte), Twitch (Cream), Tryst (Cream):

 Closeup of Firebird, Psycho (look at that sparkle!), Alpha, and Hitch Hike:

The quality seemed to vary from shade to shade, even within formula categories. Hex and Alpha are both Mega Mattes, but Alpha is smooth and opaque, while Hex is noticeably patchy. Wired and Twitch are both Creams, but Twitch seems streaky and slippery. The two shades that spoke to me were Alpha and Hitch Hike (dudes, IT'S ONE WORD), but Hitch Hike might be too close to Revlon Fierce. Psycho is beautiful as well, but the sparkles make it less suited to everyday wear.

And now for some drugstore swatches!

I'd never paid much attention to Bourjois before this year, but I kept hearing great things about the Rouge Edition Velvet liquid lipsticks (£8.99), which are liquid-to-semi-matte lipsticks reminiscent of the NYX Liquid Suedes. (NYX just arrived in the UK, by the way, at a serious markup.) Bourjois also makes a range of 18 Rouge Edition bullet lipsticks (also £8.99), which have a satin finish with nearly opaque coverage and a slightly slippery formula. L-R: Rouge Edition lipsticks in 05 Brun Bohème, 02 Beige Trench (which I bought), 41 Pink Catwalk, and 03 Pêche Cosy; Rouge Edition Velvet in 10 Don't Pink of It:

Top to bottom: Rimmel Kate Moss lipstick in (I think) 110 Vibrant Coral; Bourjois Rouge Allure Velvet liquid lipsticks in Peach Club, Hot Pepper, Olé Flamingo, and Frambourjoise:

L-R: Beige Trench again, some Rimmel coral whose name I forget, Rimmel Coffee Shimmer, and Bourjois Rouge Velvet in...ugh, sorry, I'm useless. Coffee Shimmer is apparently an iconic '90s lipstick, the equivalent of Revlon Coffee Bean in the US. Lately I've been half-wanting a frosty nude lipstick, I think because of my recent viewing of the Kill Bill movies. Coffee Shimmer is too dark to qualify as a nude for me, but it's a striking color nonetheless. I have mixed feelings about the imminent Return of the Frost.

Bourjois Rouge Edition in Brun Bohème again (left) and Rouge Edition Velvet in Beau Brun. I hoped that one of these might be my elusive burnt orange, but alas.

Barry M is a British drugstore brand best known for cheap nail polish (I've bought three Barry M polishes in the last two weeks, actually), but they also make lipstick, highlighters, and other affordable delights. Below we have Barry M Matte Lip Paints (lipsticks, they're lipsticks) in 37 Black and 129 Palest Lavender (£4.49 each):

That black lipstick has impressive opacity, especially given its price—it seems every bit as pigmented as Urban Decay Perversion. I'm tempted to pick it up in case I ever need a black lipstick, but then I've
never needed a black lipstick in the past 28 years, so I doubt I'll need one in the future.

Barry M has also joined the rest of the world on the strobing train. The brand has just released two cream highlighters housed in chubby sticks: the Illuminating Strobe Creams in Frost Pink and Iced Bronze (£4.49). These highlighters apply smoothly but without much pigmentation (though that's not necessarily a bad thing in a highlighter). Frost Pink is a cool-toned pink, but Iced Bronze is nowhere close to bronze—it's a pale gold that reminds me of ColourPop Lunch Money. They seem decent, but not worth seeking out unless you own zero highlighters.

If you follow beauty YouTubers at all, there's a good chance that you've heard of another British drugstore highlighting product: the Sleek Solstice palette (£9.99). Hyped to high heaven recently by Jeffree Star and his ilk, Solstice comprises four highlighters in three different formulas: two baked powders in peach (Equinox) and lavender (Hemisphere), one finer powder in pale gold (Subsolar), and one cream in shimmery beige (Ecliptic). L-R: Equinox, Hemisphere, Subsolar, Ecliptic (which I keep mistyping as "Eclipstick"):

Honestly, this palette doesn't strike me as anything special. The two baked powders, Ecliptic and Hemisphere, are too chunky and glittery for my tastes. Subsolar is a very generic color (yet another Lunch Money dupe). Ecliptic is nice enough, but keep creams out of my powders thx. If all four colors had come in Subsolar's formula, though, I might well have bought Solstice.

And that's it for now! Reviews of a couple of new purchases to come soonish, I hope. I've been posting some photos from my travels on Instagram, if you're curious about the non-makeup aspects of my time in England!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

What I Brought for a Month in England

Packing makeup for a month away isn't an exercise in minimalism unless you choose to make it one, which (surprise) I didn't. But I did have to limit myself somewhat in what I brought to the UK, so perhaps my not-quite-capsule collection will be of interest to others. I'm proud to report that my entire suitcase weighed in at 39 lbs, well under United Airlines' 50-lb limit! Given that my suitcase was routinely overweight when I traveled back and forth to Oxford in my junior year of college, that's quite an achievement. I guess I'm no longer terrified of being temporarily separated from my books. If there's one thing that will make you less precious about books, it's a doctoral program in literature. Seriously.

Anyway, let's rummage through the contents of my giant makeup pouch (giant head included for scale). Excuse the tea-towel backdrops and overcast British lighting throughout.


L-R: Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin in mini CVS spray bottle (complete with Glossier stickers!), CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, mini Lush 9 to 5 cleanser, Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence. I also brought Skinfood's Super Nut sheet mask to use after my seven-hour flight. Yes, I bought Super Nut mainly for the name.


Clockwise from top left: NYX eyeliner in Golden Bronze, Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette, Topshop Chameleon Glow in Wax + Wane, NARS Lhasa, Urban Decay Demolition eyeliner, NARS Habanera duo, Revlon Volume + Length Magnified mascara, NYX HD primer, theBalm custom eyeshadow palette.


Clockwise from top left: NARS Mata Hari, Sleek Life's a Peach, ColourPop Lunch Money, Illamasqua Zygomatic, ColourPop Rain.


Clockwise from top: NARS Dolce Vita, Glossier Cake, Urban Decay Streak, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin, NARS Mysterious Red, Bite Radish (mini), NARS Angela, MAC Eugenie, Glossier Jam, MAC Up the Amp (almost gone!), Bite Lavender Jam, NYX Amethyst, NYX Stone Fox, Milani Matte Naked, NYX Tiramisu, ColourPop Trap, Revlon Sultry.

Note to self (and others): never twist up your Glossier Generation Gs to see how much you have left. I did this with Jam and the bullet snapped off and fell out of the tube! This has never happened to me with any other lipstick. The Generation Gs are so delicate because they're so thin, and they're so thin because they're so damn tiny. If they were the width of an average lipstick, they'd be about as long as my tube of Urban Decay Streak above. Could Glossier truly not afford to make their $18 lipstick a tiny bit larger? I've read ITG comments about other people's Generation Gs breaking, which assures me that I'm not uniquely clumsy and this really is a design flaw. Maybe Glossier should put a little more money into product design and a little less into moodboard photoshoots.


Clockwise from top: two Target kabuki brushes, leftover spoolie from Milani clear brow gel, Sephora lip brush, Sephora eyeshadow blending brush, e.l.f. small angled eyeshadow brush, NARS pencil sharpener.


L-R, top-bottom: Butter London Bossy Boots, Floss Gloss Dinge, Essie Lounge Lover, Essie Altitude Attitude, Revlon Quick Dry Top Coat, Illamasqua Melange, Zoya Kristen, Revlon Multi Care Base + Top Coat.


L-R: Fresh edp rollerball in Citron de Vigne, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla, CoverGirl concealer in Ivory, Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula lip balm, Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips.  

Not shown: DevaCurl B'Leave-In gel, Lush shampoo bar in Jason and the Argan Oil, Lush solid conditioner in Big.

Ten days into my trip, I'm proud to report that I've used almost everything pictured above. In fact, it's easier to list what I haven't used: NYX Golden Bronze, Topshop Wax + Wane, NARS Habanera, NARS Mata Hari, NARS Angela, NYX Stone Fox, Revlon Sultry, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin, ColourPop Trap. Yes, that means I've worn 12 different lipsticks in ten days. In fact, when I started writing this post three days ago, I had already worn 12 lipsticks! For the last few months, I've often found myself using at least two lipsticks per day, starting with something sheer like one of my Glossier Generation Gs and graduating to a bolder color for afternoon or evening. I say this as if I have a lifestyle that involves multiple dramatically different environments per day, which I absolutely do not, but...I don't know, I'm fickle and moody, and switching my lipstick helps me transition from one mood to another. Incidentally, the lipstick I've worn most often in the UK is none other than Bite Lavender Jam! I'm so glad I didn't return it to Sephora. I still haven't brought myself to wear NYX Stone Fox in public, but I swear I will before I leave. Maybe in London next week, though my boyfriend's family will be visiting and his mother and sister don't wear makeup at all...

I haven't done much makeup experimentation since arriving here, I'm sorry to say. I tend to wear less makeup overall while traveling (even if I'm staying in one place for a few weeks), and the lingering effects of depression have taken their toll on my creativity. I did step outside my comfort zone last night, though, with a smoky eye and nude lip, and  I really liked it! More on that in another post. If I could change anything about my makeup selection for this trip, I'd probably switch out a couple of the nude/MLBB lipstick shades for a brown (something like Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy) and a vampy purple. I'm usually all about the pinks and corals by late spring, but this year I've been clinging stubbornly to my gloomy winter shades, and I wish I'd brought one or two more. I'm happy with my selection of blushes and eye products, though. And I'm absurdly proud of myself for unconsciously choosing lipsticks with 16 different packaging schemes: the only two with identical packaging are the Glossiers. Makes it so much easier to find the lipstick I'm looking for in my cavernous pouch.

I was planning to end this post with a series of makeup swatches I've made in the past ten days, but I think I'll save that for my next post. Frankly, I'm hungover and not at my most eloquent. So let me end instead with one of the most bizarrely punctuated signs I've ever seen:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #5: May

Hello from the UK! I've spent the last two days recovering from jet lag, with the help of some delicious scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and herbs (imagine me pronouncing the H):

Overview: This roundup is going to be brief, because I bought almost no new makeup in May. After several months on this low-buy, it's become easier to postpone purchases, and even to postpone them indefinitely. No matter how much I want something, I can usually persuade myself that at least one of four things is true: 1) I already own a similar product; 2) even if I don't, the shiny new product will still be around in a month; 3) even if the product is limited edition, something similar will be released eventually; 4) even if I don't end up with the product or a dupe, life will carry on exactly as before. Granted, it's also easier to avoid buying new makeup when I'm depressed, and I was fairly depressed last month. But I'd like to believe that depression isn't the only explanation for my restraint, and that I'm finally internalizing healthier spending habits.

That said, I do expect to go over my usual budget this month, given that I'm in the UK and have access to so many brands I can't get at home. But I trust myself not to go crazy, and it's nice to be able to trust myself, even when confronted unexpectedly with a huge shelf of affordable nail polish from an unfamiliar brand (I bought nothing!):

New Makeup/Polish:

Essie Lounge Lover: gift from my mom
Bite Amuse Bouche in Lavender Jam: $27.82 (including tax)
NYX Liquid Suede in Stone Fox: $4.60
Total: $32.42


Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss in #765 Ultradior:

Your standard sheer warm pink gloss, enlivened with some very large sparkles. The gloss is supposed to be "plumping," which made me worry for my poor sensitive lips, but there's no tingling sensation: the plumping effect, such as it is, comes from hyaluronic acid instead of an irritant.


Bioré Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+: free with an Amazon gift card (usually about $10):

Revlon Volume + Length Magnified Mascara in Blackest Black (~$7.50, can't remember exactly):

Total: $7.50

Let's do some mini-reviews! I actually ordered the Bioré sunscreen in April, but it took about three weeks to arrive from Japan and I didn't start using it until mid-May, so I'm including it in this roundup. Why can't American brands make lightweight, non-greasy facial sunscreen? My usual Eucerin is fine for winter, but when the weather warms up it's a disaster. It actually seems to make me sweat more than usual, and it turns into a nasty mess within ten minutes outside. The Bioré has more or less solved this problem. It has a nice mattifying, priming effect (it's designed to be worn under makeup), it gives more coverage than the Eucerin (SPF 50 vs. 30), and it actually stays on my face in hot weather. It also lacks that distinctive sunscreen smell, delivering a hint of lemon instead. The only obvious drawbacks are the small size of the tube and the high alcohol content of the formula. I probably won't use this sunscreen in cold weather when my skin is unusually dry, but it doesn't seem to be drying me out right now. I did get a few small pimples during the first couple of weeks of use, but that seems to have settled down, so I'm going to chalk it up to an adjustment period.

I bought the Volume + Length mascara, one of five new Revlon mascaras, to replace another from the line: the Super Length mascara, which performed beautifully for about a month, then started flaking all over my cheeks. I've been using Volume + Length for just a week now, so I have no idea whether it will start flaking eventually, but so far I'm very impressed. I was wary of the volumizing claim, since I prefer natural-looking, well-defined lashes, but this mascara is even closer to my ideal than Super Length. As you can see, the brush has a large number of close-packed bristles, which help separate and define my lashes. 


Sephora Flash membership: $10

Total beauty spending for May: $49.92 (let's call it $50)


1. Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Facet (£14.50):

I've wanted this dark gray polish with gold flecks for over two years now. It's sold out on Illamasqua's website, but I'm hoping I can find it at the Illamasqua counter in Selfridges.

2. MAC Intoxica (£15.50) or similar:

Image via Temptalia.

I still haven't bought ColourPop Mars, due to my uneasiness at ordering from the ColourPop website after its security breach during April's sitewide flash sale. But I more or less forgot about Mars after seeing Temptalia's swatches of Intoxica, part of MAC's limited-edition Blue Nectar collection (why this collection includes no blue lipsticks, I couldn't say). Intoxica looks roughly identical to Mars, but with the addition of a subtle shimmer that gives the color some depth. I'm not sure I can bring myself to spend the UK price for a MAC lipstick when it's $17 in the States, but the collection is arriving in stores on June 9 and will probably be gone by the time I return home next month, so...we'll see.

3. A dupe for the lipstick Eddie Redmayne wears in The Danish Girl

I saw The Danish Girl for the first time on my transatlantic flight two days ago. It's adapted from the diaries of Lili Elbe, a Danish painter and one of the first transgender women to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, from which she died in 1931. Though I think the film has some glaring flaws (does Lili have a personality and inner life beyond her gender identity? why suppress the fact that Lili's wife Gerda was openly lesbian?), it's aesthetically gorgeous. I was particularly taken with Lili's lipstick, a faded, burnt orange:

I assume the lip color for the film was a custom mixture, but there must be something similar in an existing lipstick line. MAC Chili is the first lipstick that comes to mind, but given the popularity of brownish lip colors these days, I'm surprised I can't think of more. Suggestions welcome!

4. A bright, deep purple nail polish

Something similar to Smith & Cult Check the Rhyme, but less than $18. This shouldn't be hard, but my casual browsing has yet to yield the perfect color.

Finally, I'm still contemplating Sleek's Sunset Palette, but I'm not convinced I need it. In fact, I'm not convinced I need any of these things, because guess what: I don't! It's nice to feel material desire that stops short of urgency. Who knows whether my restraint will last, but I hope it does.