Friday, December 30, 2016

Hiatus and Happy New Year

There were so many posts I wanted to write before the end of this year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Trump. So many! I wanted to post a roundup of my 16 favorite beauty products of 2016, and a plan for my 2017 low-buy, and a review of two Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks, and a collection of the best k-pop makeup looks of the year. But what with jetlag and a cold and stupid family drama, I've had less energy than usual for writing, and I've had to spend what energy I do have on finishing a dissertation chapter and preparing for an upcoming interview. I'll be able to return to blogging after the first week of January, but for now, I think it's best to call this an official hiatus.

I can't let December end, however, without thanking you for your support in 2016 and wishing you a very happy new year. It's been one hell of a year, but it's almost over, and there's still a lot of good in the world. And a lot of makeupwhich means Auxiliary Beauty will be around for the foreseeable future.

Have a fun and safe holiday, and see you in 2017!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

FOTD: Game Face

The annual Academic Job Conference of Doom fast approaches (this is my second year preparing for it), and yesterday I had a dress-rehearsal practice interview with my advisor and another professor. This gave me an opportunity to test my interview makeup as well as my answers to questions like "But Machiavelli and Polydore Vergil are very different historians; why did you mention them in the same sentence?" I've written before about makeup in academia, and I still think there's a widespread prejudice against women who put obvious effort into their appearance. I know about the studies showing that women who wear neutral makeup come off as more competent in the workplace than women who wear no makeup at all, but I'm not sure that rule applies in academia, where both men and women often assume a negative correlation between femininity and intellectual seriousness.

But I also don't see the point in angsting over this until I get a job, you know? This isn't exactly the hill I want to die on, at least not yet. The job market in the humanities is horrible and I'd like to maximize my chances of making a living wage next year, thx. I'm not going to show up barefaced to an interview, but I'm not going to wear purple lipstick and my most metallic highlighter, either. I actually enjoy the challenge of making myself up for a specific role: in this case, the role of unimpeachably professional and competent young scholar. When putting on my job-market game face, I have three major concerns:
  • Appearance. I don't want my makeup to distract my interviewers from my answers, so I'm going for an overall effect instead of spotlighting one feature or product. However, I have high-contrast, cool-toned coloring that doesn't do well with toned-down shades all over. (See Kate's great post on "the workplace conundrum" for more on this issue.) A pale pink-brown lipstick will make me look washed-out and mousy; I need eye and lip colors that are neutral but saturated. (I realize, by the way, that many academics are completely oblivious to visual cues and won't notice any makeup short of glittery teal eyeshadow and black lipstick. Still.)
  • Comfort. I'd advise anyone preparing for an academic interview to stick to their usual level of made-up-ness. If you never wear makeup, the morning of your interview is not the time to start experimenting with eyeliner. Likewise, if you wear a full face every day, stripping it down for the interview will make you feel exposed and uneasy. I'd recommend tweaking the colors and finishes of your makeup instead of the amount. I'd also err on the side of simplicity: last year, my hands were shaking so badly before my interview that I could barely blend my eyeshadow. The look below contains three eyeshadows and an eyeliner, but I recognize that this may be ambitious.
  • Performance. This applies to lipstick more than anything else. An interview lipstick needs to stand up to an hour of talking. If it fades, it should fade gracefully, without leaving that awful ring around the lips. A liquid matte lipstick might seem like the obvious solution, but I suspect that the ultra-flat texture, even in a neutral color, could read as odd or unprofessional to some old-fashioned types. I wouldn't recommend a shiny or glossy finish, either. A matte or semi-matte bullet lipstick strikes me as the best choice.
For yesterday's look, I used my everyday base makeup, eyebrow goo, and mascara, plus this color makeup:

Clockwise from top left: Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette, UD 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, Seventeen Eyeshadow Mono in Statuesque, ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Lunch Money, UD Afterglow Blush in Rapture.

After putting down a layer of Urban Decay Primer Potion, I applied Seventeen Statuesque to the inner 2/3 of my upper lids and Urban Decay Primal to the outer third, then blended Urban Decay Cover into the crease, up to the browbone, and along the lower lashline, and tightlined with UD Whiskey eyeliner. I applied a very small amount of ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, but might not use it at all for the actual interview. My interview lipstick last year was Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture, but this year I went for Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, which is more matte (hence longer-lasting) and a bit darker. The final look wasn't much different from my usual makeup, honestly:

Ignore the Bernie-esque lint on my dress.

I feel weird about wearing warm eyeshadow with silver earrings, but that's just a brain problem, right?

I was happy with how this turned out (less happy with my performance at the practice interview, but I guess that's why you practice), but let me know if you have any suggestions!

Also! My boyfriend's parents were kind enough to give me a $35 Sephora gift card as a holiday present. I'm thinking of using it toward the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette, which I've been coveting on and off for months, but I'm not sure I can trust myself to use a 14-shadow palette when most of my eye "looks" feature one or two shadows. And I worry that the color scheme might be too warm for my complexion and/or go out of style within a year. Thoughts?

Monday, December 12, 2016

NYX Liquid Suede and Suede Matte Lip Liner in Brooklyn Thorn

One of the best lipstick formulas that I've discovered in 2016 is the NYX Liquid Suede formula. I generally prefer solid to liquid lipstick, but I've somehow collected three Liquid Suedes: Amethyst, Stone Fox, and most recently Brooklyn Thorn, one of the 12 new shades released this past spring. I have no idea what the name "Brooklyn Thorn" means—Googling the phrase brings up nothing more than the lipstick—but maybe one of you can enlighten me. During a visit to Ulta last month, I came upon a display of the new Suede Matte Lip Liners, which NYX debuted this year in shades that match the Liquid Suedes and some of the original matte lipsticks (e.g. Alabama, Aria, Maison). Out of curiosity, I picked up the Brooklyn Thorn lip liner as well. Here are the two together—I've already sharpened the lip liner twice:

The Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede is a very trendy amalgam of gray, brown, and purple, along the lines of ColourPop Kapow or Jeffree Star Scorpio. Accordingly, it seems to be the most popular of the new Liquid Suede releases. I looked for it at San Francisco's Ulta in the summer, but it had sold out almost immediately. Three months later, when I requested Brooklyn Thorn as a birthday gift from my mom, she reported that she had to comb three different Targets before she had any success: "I feel like I found a million dollars!" The color of the tube is significantly lighter and warmer than the color of the actual lipstick. Here are some comparisons:

L-R: ColourPop Trap, Topshop Boardroom, Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede, Brooklyn Thorn Suede Matte Lip Liner, NYX Up the Bass.

The Liquid Suede and lip liner don't match exactly (the liner is quite a bit warmer), though they look more similar on my lips:

When I put on a lip color, I usually manage to connect it to some era or pre-existing aesthetic, and that act of connection makes me feel safer in any risk I might be taking. Brooklyn Thorn, though, reminds me of nothing but the mid-2010s. I suspect I'll look back in five years and cringe at these photos—but honestly, who cares? There's no such thing as timeless makeup, so we might as well embrace trends if they appeal to us, and this one appeals to me. 

The Liquid Suede formula is somewhat contentious. In particular, I've read a lot of complaints that it doesn't dry down completely. It's true that the Liquid Suedes are never going to be completely matte—their full name is "Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick," after all, and you can see a slight sheen on my lips above—but in my experience, the formula dries down within a few minutes to a finish that's pretty damned close to matte. If I press my lips together, they do stick together a bit, but if I tap my lips lightly, my finger comes away dry. The Liquid Suedes will transfer a bit onto cups, but less than most bullet lipsticks do. 

They are, however, fiddly to apply. The applicator picks up a good amount of product, and it's easy to make the mistake of swiping on all that product in one go, which will produce a thick coat that never dries down (hence, I think, the complaints I've read online). As with nail polish, it's best to apply multiple thin coats instead of one thick, goopy layer. Of the three Liquid Suedes I own, Stone Fox is the most opaque, Amethyst is the patchiest, and Brooklyn Thorn is right in the middle. It's not opaque in one swipe like Stone Fox, but I don't have to work the first coat into my lips with a finger or lip brush, as I do with Amethyst. I apply one thin coat, wait a couple of minutes for it to dry, and then add a second. The real problem for me is the stiff paddle-shaped applicator, which makes it annoyingly easy to overdraw my top lip and fiendishly hard to fill in the outer corners of my lower lip:

I took the FOTD photos for this post almost a month ago and failed to write down what else I was wearing on my face, so...yeah, sorry. Here's another one; all I know for sure is that one of my eyeshadows is the plum half of the NARS Habanera duo. The front of my hair is not actually going gray, though after the past few months I wouldn't be surprised if it were.

Now for the lip liner, a far more disappointing product. The Suede Matte Lip Liners are (obviously) supposed to be more matte than NYX's original lip liners, but that's an odd distinction to make: almost every lip liner I've tried has been more or less matte. And does it really matter whether a lip liner is semi-matte or super-matte when it's just going to be covered by lipstick anyway? Here's a swatch of the Brooklyn Thorn liner (right) next to Cabaret, a lip liner in NYX's original formula:

I had no trouble getting Cabaret to cover that patch of skin, but I really had to work with Brooklyn Thorn, and the swatch is still patchy. If it's that hard to draw on the smooth underside of my arm with this liner, you can imagine how hard it is to line and cover my actual lips. In creating a "matte" lip liner, NYX has done nothing but resurrect the old-school liner formula that should have been left in the '90s. The only way I can come close to coloring in my lips with the Brooklyn Thorn liner is to scribble on my fingertip and then use my finger to spread the product around. And NYX has the nerve to charge $1 extra for these liners ($4 vs. $3)! I will say that when I washed off these swatches with soap and water, Cabaret came off immediately, but I really had to scrub to remove Brooklyn Thorn. Still, I know from experience that Cabaret lasts a long time on my lips, and it doesn't matter how long-lasting a lip liner is if I never wear it because it sucks in every other way.

I do like the Brooklyn Thorn liner for tidying up the edges of the Liquid Suede, though, and I've also tried it under two problematic lipsticks: Topshop Boardroom, a greige, and NYX Up the Bass, a grayish purple. Here's Boardroom alone (top) and over liner:

It turns out that you can get a pretty nice result from layering a patchy lipstick over a patchy liner. But that's not always the case—here's Up the Bass alone (top) and over liner:

My biggest issue with Up the Bass is that it almost never adheres to the inner part of my lower lip, and you can see that the liner did nothing to solve that problem. It also drained most of the purple from Up the Bass, turning it into a duller version of the Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede. This combination felt heavy and gummy on my lips, so I doubt I'll layer Up the Bass over the liner again. Honestly, I wish I'd never bought either one. It's frustrating that I know (or think I know) so much about lipstick and still end up with disappointing lip products now and then. 

The Liquid Suede in Brooklyn Thorn is a winner, though, and the Liquid Suedes remain some of the best drugstore makeup I've tried. I'm not sure Brooklyn Thorn is my best color, but I'm enjoying the experiment.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #11: November

Surfacing briefly from the dissertation abyss to give you my November update! I'm proud to say that I made only one beauty order on Black Friday—I bought some new clothes that I really needed, so I couldn't justify splurging on makeup too. And November was my birthday month, so I received a few makeup gifts, including a lipstick I'd wanted for a while. But I did yield to temptation a few times, and here are the results:

New Makeup & Polish:

L-R: NYX lip liner in Brooklyn Thorn, ColourPop Let's Play, Sinful Colors Nice Guise.

NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner in Brooklyn Thorn: $4
ColourPop Lippie Stix in Let's Play: $5
Sinful Colors nail polish in Nice Guise: $2
Zoya nail polishes (not pictured) in Aubrey, Jules, Serenity, and Troy: $3 each plus $6.95 shipping = $18.95
Total: $29.95

NYX recently released a bunch of lip liners that match their Liquid Suede lipsticks. Since my mom sent me the Liquid Suede in Brooklyn Thorn for my birthday (more on that later), I picked up the matching liner, though I really bought it to use with two other lipsticks: NYX Up the Bass, a gray-purple, and Topshop Boardroom, a greige, both of which apply patchily and fade quickly. The Suede Matte liners are (obviously) more matte than NYX's original lip liners, but that makes them harder to use. I'm going to write a review of the Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede and liner soon, but I should note that they're not actually the same color: the liner is lighter and warmer than the lipstick.

Let's Play is a lipstick from ColourPop's freaking ADORABLE Hello Kitty collection. I'm proud of myself for buying just one item, though there weren't many shades that appealed to me: the lip products were all red, pink, and nude, and the eyeshadows and blushes didn't look like anything special. Let's Play is a pinkish red with matching sparkles, but it's not so glittery that you can't wear it outside a drunken end-of-semester holiday party.

Brooklyn Thorn (top) and Let's Play.

I found Nice Guise at the supermarket where my boyfriend and I were stocking up on food and drink for election night, back when there was a good chance that an overgrown toddler in a Cheeto suit wouldn't become president. Since Nice Guise was a sparkly Democratic blue, I bought it as a special election-day polishand I haven't been able to wear it since. Which is a shame, because it's gorgeous:

Maybe in a month or two it will no longer be the polish of shattered dreams for me. We'll see.

Finally, I took advantage of Zoya's amazing Black Friday sale: 70% off the entire website! Zoya is my favorite nail polish brand, and their polishes normally cost $10, so I kind of lost it. I'd wanted Troy for a while, and I couldn't resist buying myself three more—Aubrey, Jules, and Serenity—plus a fifth as a Christmas gift for a friend. That was nine days ago, though, and my order still hasn't shipped. Its status on the Zoya website has been stuck at "Picking/Scan Verification" for a few days now. A helpful Redditor tells me that Zoya received 400,000 orders on Black Friday and hers shipped this past Friday, so I'm hoping it won't be too much longer now. 

New Skincare:

2 Innisfree sheet masks: $5 total


NB: My hand is on the large side.

 Urban Decay Primer Potion (mini tube): $12

I bought the NYX HD eyeshadow primer in March 2014, and though I never came close to running out, I did start to wonder if using the same doefoot tube of eyeshadow primer for two and a half years wasn't a little gross. Because it apparently takes me so long to go through primer, I bought a mini bottle of Primer Potion in that area near the Sephora cash register that's crammed with tantalizing minis. I was surprised to discover that the primer has a doefoot applicator, which is a bit awkward to pull out of the squeeze tube every time. But I've been liking the formula so far: it's a lot more effective than its NYX predecessor. (The NYX tube cracked dramatically right after I bought the Urban Decay replacement, as if it finally felt free to give up the ghost.)


L-R: Wet n Wild Plaid to the Bone, Essie Udon Know Me, Sinful Colors Nirvana, NYX Brooklyn Thorn

Lyn very kindly sent me the Wet n Wild eyeshadow trio in Plaid to the Bone after I whined about not being able to find it. The lesson here: always whine. (Seriously, thanks so much.) The two nail polishes and Liquid Suede are gifts from my mom: I asked for Brooklyn Thorn, but she chose the polishes herself. I've worn them both already, and I'm especially impressed with Essie Udon Know Me (from that cringily named Japan-themed fall collection), which lasted several days without chipping. Sinful Colors Nirvana is much cooler-toned on the nails than it looks in the bottle: it comes out closer to taupe than to warm brown. The Sephora birthday gift, as everyone knows by now, consists of two minis from Marc Jacobs Beauty: a Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and a pencil eyeliner in Blacquer. I haven't even used them yet, since I have a black eyeliner and a nearly identical rosy lipstick (Revlon Sultry), but it's nice to have backups for both of those much-loved products.

Swatches of all my new lip products, L-R: Let's Play, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Brooklyn Thorn Liquid Suede, Brooklyn Thorn lip liner.

Total for November: $46.95 (let's call it $47)

Overview: I think this is the lowest monthly total I've had so far! I didn't have to replace anything except my DevaCurl B'Leave-In hair goo, and I've stopped counting haircare in these posts because I never overbuy it. I own three hair productsLush solid shampoo and conditioner and B'Leave-Inand I repurchase them only when I run out. If I took the same approach to makeup that I do to hair, I wouldn't need to write these low-buy reports. Which reminds me: didn't I swear back in October that I wouldn't buy any more lipstick this year?

I've had a couple of epiphanies while contemplating my resolutions for 2017. The first is that my budget of $40 per month is too generous. Most of the products I buy are from the drugstore (or have drugstore price points), so the $40 limit isn't doing much, if anything, to reduce the volume of makeup that enters my life. I set a "$40 and/or two products per month" rule early in the year, but couldn't seem to adhere to both. Next year I'll do away with the monthly price limit and enforce the two-items-per-month limit, which will keep me well under $40 most months. I could also set myself a yearly budget, as Renee did recently. My second epiphany: it's too easy to feel virtuous by reminding myself that I buy only a small fraction of the products I covet. If I covet 15 things per month and buy just 1/5 of those things, that's still three new items! I don't receive promotional emails from any brand, but I still need to do more to curb my awareness of new releases. I've unfollowed some Instagram accounts that focus on swatching new products; let's hope that helps.

Wishlist for December:

1. Makeup Geek Duochrome Highlighter in Moon Phase ($20):

Yeah, speaking of new releases. Moon Phase is a white highlighter with blue and lavender reflects, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. It's also 2.5 times as expensive as my ColourPop highlighters, and it's a blue highlighter. I don't know, man.

2. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Tampered:

Tampered, a Sephora-exclusive shade, is a "deep mauve" in the Comfort Matte finish. The image I've used is really inaccurate: it's more of a plummy brown. I'll have to see this one in person, though: it looks different on everyone who swatches it, and I suspect I have at least one similar shade, possibly Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce. (My review of Fierce, written in February, is still one of my five most popular posts. I should really update it with better photos.)

And that's it! There's also a chance I might buy nothing in December, which would be a nice way to end this absolute shit cyclone of a year.