Friday, August 25, 2017

NYX Faux Blacks Eyeliners in Blackberry and Burnt Sienna

When Urban Decay released the Naked Heat collection earlier this summer, the product that really tempted my resolve was not the Naked Heat palette itself but one of the two limited-edition 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils: Torch, a rusty orange. (Okay, the palette was also tempting, but slightly less so.) I swatched both eyeliners, as well as the three Naked Heat lipsticks, at Ulta:

Eyeliners: Alkaline (L) and Torch. Lipsticks, top to bottom: Heat, Scorched, Fuel. Photographed in direct sunlight.

However, I balked at the idea of paying $20 for an orange eyeliner that I might not wear often. I didn't search actively for dupes, but a week or two later, I came across this post by Killer Colours, featuring two of the eyeliners from the NYX Faux Blacks collection. I'd never paid much attention to the Faux Blacks and Faux Whites, but Linda's beautiful looks sparked my interest. I knew I liked the formula of NYX's Slide-On eye pencils, which are obvious (though slightly inferior) knockoffs of Urban Decay's Glide-On pencils. The Faux Blacks and Whites don't belong to the Slide-On lineup, but the formula looked similarly soft and smudgy, and Burnt Sienna seemed like an unintimidating way to ease into the ruddy-eyeliner trend. Once at Ulta, I also found myself drawn to Blackberry, a deep plum. At $7.99 each, they were financially unintimidating, too (though my mom bought them for me, lol).

I've already sharpened each one a few times.

While photographing the eyeliners yesterday. I made an embarrassing discovery. As I've mentioned a couple of times before, I have ADHD, which means that I'm bad at filling out forms, following elaborate recipes, maintaining a skincare routine with more than three steps, and scrutinizing labels on beauty products before buying. Case in point:

The labels on the Faux Blacks (and, I assume, the Faux Whites) identify them as "Inner Eye Liner": that is, pencils for the waterline, where I never wear liner. Whoops. In my defense, I've never come across another eyeliner meant solely for the waterline, and the NYX website describes the Faux Blacks only as "striking eyeliners" that are "creamy and go on smooth, which makes drawing a precise line or smudging it out totally simple": no mention of where that line is to be drawn. Still, I have to take these liners on their own terms, so you should read this review with one huge caveat in mind: I'm not actually using the Faux Blacks as they're meant to be used. I wish I could try them out on my waterline and report back, but I wear contacts and feel squeamish about putting makeup near my eyeballs, and I don't care for the look of a lined waterline. For what it's worth, I do think the Faux Blacks would be nice on the waterline, as they set immediately and last all day. However, I think they work decently as lashline products too.

Blackberry is a dark, slightly grayish purple that looks very neutral, almost charcoal, on the eye. Burnt Sienna reminds me of Mexican chocolate: a rich reddish brown with a hint of plum. Here's Blackberry on the left and Burnt Sienna on the right; Blackberry is somewhat patchy, while Burnt Sienna is almost opaque in one swipe.

Brown eyeliners, L-R: Urban Decay Torch (yes, I bought it eventually), Burnt Sienna, UD Whiskey, UD Demolition. I worried that Torch and Burnt Sienna would be dupes, but they're not even close. I probably should have sharpened my liners before making these swatches, but oh well.

The Faux Blacks formula is soft (I have trouble sharpening the pencils on a hot day) but, despite the website description, not at all smudgy. This is a drawback for me, as my deeply creased eyelids are a terrible canvas for sharp, precise eyeliner looks, and I find a slightly smoked-out style to be easier and more forgiving. With Whiskey and Demolition (and NYX's own Slide-On formula, for that matter), I can draw a more or less messy line across my upper lashline, smudge it out a bit with my finger, and go about my day. But if I do the same with Blackberry or Burnt Sienna, the formula just crumbles off my lid. To give you a better idea of what happens, I swatched Burnt Sienna between Whiskey (left) and Demolition (right), then rubbed them with my finger. See the darker spots where Burnt Sienna has balled up on itself and started to crumble? Not cute, and not "totally simple."

The liners tend to look a little crumbly on my lashline even when I don't smudge them, which makes me wonder if they'd behave similarly on the waterline. Here's Blackberry on its own, with Topshop Chameleon Glow in Holograph on the inner corner and ABH Warm Taupe in the crease:

And here's Burnt Sienna. I drew a thicker line than normal, so it would be more apparent in photos, but going over the line caused the formula to crumble a bit.

Instead of wearing the Faux Blacks on their own, I prefer to incorporate them into a full eye look and draw a very thin line, almost a tightline, on my upper lashline. Burnt Sienna in particular is a perfect complement to warm-toned eyeshadow. Today I wore Burnt Sienna with ABH Warm Taupe in the crease and Antique Bronze on the lid, as well as Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, Wet n Wild Precious Petals highlighter (review to come!), and Urban Decay Amulet lipstick.

I got a haircut! Not a day too soon.

If you prefer to wear your pencil liner on your lashlines, I'd point you toward NYX's original Slide-On eye pencils instead of the Faux Blacks, though Burnt Sienna is a beautiful and unique brown that I'm happy to have in my collection. If you're more of a waterline person, these could well suit your needs. Either way, learn from my mistake and read the fucking label.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Urban Decay Metallized Vice Lipstick in Amulet

Though I was skeptical of Urban Decay's decision to pull its entire Revolution lipstick line last year and replace it with the even more extensive Vice line, I've come to appreciate the wisdom of that move. The lipsticks are now $5 cheaper ($17 vs. $22) and 0.6 grams larger (3.4 vs. 2.8); the bullets no longer have the wide, flat tip that made application so challenging; and I haven't noticed an overall dip in formula quality (though I can't say I've swatched all 120 shades). The packaging is lighter, but in my opinion, the functionality has improved: the thinner Revolution lipsticks often wobbled in their tubes, while the Vice lipsticks feel secure. Fine, Urban Decay: I'm a cynical bitch, but you win this one.

I now own three Vice lipsticks, one in the Comfort Matte formula (Backtalk, which is apparently the most popular shade) and two in the Metallized formula. My first Metallized lipstick was Roach, a deep bronze from the LE 20th-anniversary collection last year. Oddly, many of my favorite beauty products have been impulse purchases, and so was Roach. I quickly fell in love with the formula: moisturizing, almost opaque in one coat, creamy but not slippery. So when NYX Liquid Suede Metallic Matte in Modern Maven proved disappointing, I wondered if I could find a similar metallic brownish plum in Urban Decay's lineup. The Vice collection is so enormous that I don't have a mental catalog of names and colors, as I do with other brands' lipstick offerings. But there's something satisfying about approaching a huge display of lipsticks with an open mind and gazing stupidly at the rows of shades until one catches my eye. Perhaps it's the thrill of serendipity, or the comforting reminder that no matter how much of my precious hours I've devoted to memorizing lipstick names, I could have wasted even more time.

(Correction, 9/1/17: Roach is actually a Cream lipstick, not Metallized, but its formula is almost identical to Amulet's. By the way, Urban Decay just added Roach to its permanent lineup!)

The two shades that immediately stood out as candidates were Conspiracy, a "plum-bronze shimmer," and Amulet, a "metallic brick-rose." Here's Amulet on the left and Conspiracy on the right, in direct sunlight:

"Plum-bronze shimmer" was exactly what I wanted, but that description actually seemed better suited to Amulet, which I ended up buying toward the end of my San Francisco stay. (The name may have influenced my decision, too: amulets feature in some of my favorite Adventure Time episodes.)

Do you like my new photo background? I bought this beautiful paper at the Maido stationery store in SF's Japan Center.

I couldn't resist putting on my new lipstick before I got home from my shopping trip, so here's a shot of the unspoiled tube near City Hall, right after I devoured some excellent Vietnamese vermicelli with tofu from the Little Green Cyclo truck.

Amulet is a very shifty color, appearing more plum outside and more copper-brown under warm artificial light. Why am I so attracted to lipstick colors that defy description? Here's a lip swatch of Amulet in indirect natural light:

And in direct sunlight:

Needless to say, I didn't bring my full lipstick collection on my travels, but here's Amulet swatched next to a few colors I have on hand. Amulet looks very similar to Wet n Wild Rebel Rose here, but it pulls noticeably warmer on my lips.

L-R: Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Rebel Rose, UD Amulet, UD Roach, MAC Pale Rose.

I've read mixed reviews of Urban Decay's Metallized Vice formula, but I find Amulet just as impressive as Roach, if not even better. It's creamy, comfortable, and not at all drying, and it lasts several hours without the need for touch-ups. It seems to cling to my lips, almost as if it's bonding with them. Amulet isn't blindingly metallic, but it has an unmistakable sheen.

Here it is on my face on a very cloudy day. I have no idea what my other makeup is, but I'm clearly not wearing anything exciting.

Here's Amulet inside, with ABH Antique Bronze eyeshadow and NYX Burnt Sienna lipstick on my eyes. I think my blush is Urban Decay Rapture, not that it matters when you can't really see it on my face.

In a coffee-shop bathroom (classy, I know), under (I think) fluorescent light:

Overall, I'm absolutely delighted with my third Urban Decay Vice lipstick. Here's hoping it's the lucky amulet I need for this fall!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

FOTDs: The Lowcountry

Hello from Alabama! I just returned from a weekend that combined several discrete types of awkwardness. There was the mundane "socializing with your significant other's extended family" awkwardness, compounded by the "associating with people far above your own family's socioeconomic bracket, with a totally different lifestyle and set of values" awkwardness, plus some jetlag and Yankee-in-the-South culture shock for good measure. In my boyfriend's words, it was perhaps the most "off-brand" way I could have spent those three days (my brand being, roughly, "soft-goth dirtbag academic"). Let's put it this way: what makeup would you wear to hang out with immensely rich people who live seven miles inside a gated community that contains two entire golf courses? I'm not sure I came up with a decent answer to this question, but I came up with an answer (or three), and I might as well record them here for posterity. Let me apologize in advance for the quality of some of the FOTD pictures: I didn't have many chances to take high-quality makeup selfies in flattering lighting. And for much of the weekend, I looked like this:

I admit, driving a golf cart is a lot of fun. Oh, another bit of awkwardness: I had to borrow my boyfriend's mom's shorts for tennis because I forgot my own. No makeup, no filter, no dignity.

Though the Southern-woman stereotype tends to involve big hair and false eyelashes, the women in my boyfriend's family are dressed-down, preppy types who wear little to no makeup. When I visit, I tone down my own look accordingly. My own aesthetic is far from preppy (I figured out a decade ago that polo shirts aren't made for busty women), but I usually save my weird statement lipsticks for San Francisco. For this particular weekend, I brought a smaller-than-usual selection of makeup and didn't even touch most of it.

First, my road-trip look. Since we left very early on both days of driving, I started the morning with a bare face and added to it throughout the day. Below, I'm wearing Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara (a new purchase that I'm liking so far, except that the brush dispenses way too much product), NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla, Illamasqua cream blush in Zygomatic, and NARS sheer lipstick in Dolce Vita. I didn't need a brush for any of these products, which I generally prefer when I'm doing my makeup at 70 mph on the interstate.

Here's a closeup of the mascara. The fan-shaped brush gave my lashes a nice overall shape, but the excess product clumped a few lashes together and I didn't have a clean spoolie on hand to separate them.

On the second night of our trip, we had dinner at a country club with a dress code that was described to me as "well, the men usually wear khakis and golf shirts." Uh, cool. I wore a simple dress in my second-favorite color, chartreuse. It's hard to choose makeup that harmonizes well with chartreuse, but I went for an overall peachy look. I'd brought my ABH Modern Renaissance palette, so I applied Warm Sienna in the crease and Antique Bronze all over the lid, with NYX Faux Black eyeliner in Burnt Sienna on the upper lashline. (I recently bought two of the NYX Faux Blacks; review to come!) I also wore Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, and Glossier Generation G in Cake.

I swear my eyelids develop new folds and creases every week. I'm curious how long it will be before I can no longer wear powder eyeshadow at all.

On the last full day, we toured Savannah, Georgia, on an afternoon when the temperature rose above 100°F. It had been far too long (five days!) since I'd worn a non-neutral lipstick, so I went for ColourPop Blotted Lip in Bee's Knees, a sheer reddish fuchsia that can be built to near-opacity. Since I wrote my initial Blotted Lip review, both lipstick bullets have broken off at the base, which is very annoying. I'm also of two minds whether to keep Drip, which dries out my lips badly almost every time I wear it. Oddly, I find Bee's Knees much less drying, and it's such a pretty color: it acquires a kind of luminosity after three or so coats. On my eyes, along with mascara, I wore ABH Warm Taupe in the crease and Urban Decay Demolition liner smudged along the upper lashline. My blush was Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff (I think I want to order Haze for the fall!), and my highlighter, as usual, was Lunch Money.

Founded in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Its historic district is a Southern Gothic spectacle: Corinthian columns, balconies of iron scrollwork, Spanish moss dangling from trees like giant clumps of spiderweb, cemeteries dating back to the American Revolution, and a humidity index perpetually over 80%. What's that, you want to see a bunch of tourist shots I took? COOL.

Spanish moss in the cemetery:

A Masonic temple:

Like many pre-Revolutionary cities, Savannah was built around a series of leafy public squares. Here's the statue of General James Oglethorpe, founder of the English colony of Georgia, in Chippewa Square:

Many of the Savannah College of Art and Design buildings are restored historic structures. Repurposed abandoned buildings are very much My Shit, but I didn't get a chance to explore this one because no one else wanted to dawdle in the oppressive heat. Philistines!

SCAD has a shop full of student- and professor-designed jewelry, which I couldn't afford...

I loved these earrings by Sam Norgard.

...and enamel pins, which I could:

Finally, another photo of that day's makeup, taken in a golf cart because that was the only way to traverse the vast distances of the aforementioned gated community. God, it was weird. I felt like Trump (not a good feeling, for the record).

My nail polish for the trip was Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine in Damson, which is opaque in two coats, has impressive staying power, and looks especially luminous in summer sun. It takes a lot of courage to say this, guys, but Damson might be my very favorite nail polish.

I'm going to be writing my dissertation introduction for the rest of August, so I'm not sure how many posts I'll be able to make this month, but I'm hoping it will be at least two. See you soon!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

NYX Modern Maven and a Liquid Suede Metallic Matte Anti-Haul

The only makeup store close to where I live is an especially snobby Bluemercury, so when I visit my mom in San Francisco, I tend to spend more time than strictly necessary in Sephora and Ulta. During this particular visit, I was excited to check out the NYX Liquid Suede Metallic Matte lipsticks, which debuted online in early July but didn't come to Ulta stores until July 30. The original Liquid Suede formula works well for me (I own Amethyst, Stone Fox, and Brooklyn Thorn), so I couldn't wait to try the metallic version, which allegedly delivers "high-impact metallic color" in "a shockingly creamy" formula. Spoiler: I was disappointed. But, in the spirit of a Kimberly Clark anti-haul, I might as well share my experience on my blog. I was of two minds whether to write this review: I swatched all the shades but wore only one, and for only a couple of hours, and I didn't get a great photo of myself wearing it, and blah blah blah. But entire presidential campaigns have been launched on a more slender knowledge of government than my knowledge of the Metallic Liquid Suedes, so here we go.

I'm only a little ashamed that at 11:30 am on July 30, I was in Ulta asking the SA where I could find the Metallic Mattes. She was just putting out the new NYX displays (NYX has released about four new lip formulas in the last month; I'm not even attempting to keep track), and she very kindly opened the box of Metallic Mattes and set out some testers for me to swatch. Since I didn't want to be too annoying, I confined myself to the three that had caught my interest online: Go Rogue, a dark gray with greenish shift; Modern Maven, a brownish plum; and Neat Nude, a dark taupe. Here they are in that order, in shade (top) and sun:

On a later visit, I swatched the other seven shades: Bella, New Era, Exposed, Mauve Mist, Pure Society, Biker Babe, Ego. In the same order, in shade and then sun, as before:

Two details might jump out at you from these photos. First, this formula is very different from the original Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick, which sets to a semi-matte finish and can be wiped off the lips easily. The word "cream" is absent from the full name of the metallics, and the NYX website notes that the new formula is "inspired by" the OG Liquid Suede formula. That tricky turn of phrase makes sense now that I've tried the metallics: they dry down completely matte and are difficult to remove, much like the Milani Amore Matte Metallic lipstick I have. Second, you might have noticed that a few of the shadesparticularly Biker Babe, Mauve Mist, Neat Nude, and New Erafall short of full metallic glory, while Exposed is more glittery than metallic. The shades that stood out to me as both metallic and opaque were Bella (which seems to be the Instagram favorite), Go Rogue, Modern Maven, and Pure Society. Ego is pretty, but it looks a little streaky; I assume it would need at least two coats for full opacity.

I was briefly tempted by the cyberpunk coolness of Go Rogue, but having worn Stone Fox all of three times since May 2016, I couldn't imagine I'd reach for a metallic off-black more often than a matte dark gray. So I bought Modern Maven, assuming it would look the same on my lips as it did on my arm. I expected a medium pinkish plum, the metallic equivalent of Urban Decay Rapture, which was how it looked in lip swatches I'd seen online.

Ignore the decades-old comforter that my cat used as a scratching post in 1997. #lifestyleblogger

Yeah, no:

Modern Maven pulled darker and browner as it set on my lips, transforming into a sickly taupe that resembled my arm swatch of Neat Nude. The shimmer turned an odd frosty silver. The formula felt uncomfortably drying, and the metallic finish made my lips look even drier than they were, as if my mouth had suddenly aged 50 years. The fuck? I've tried some disappointing makeup in my time, but I tend to have good instincts: it's rare that something I anticipate so eagerly turns out to be so catastrophically bad. I wore Modern Maven for about 90 minutes before removing it in frustration (at myself as much as at NYX), and I returned it to Ulta the next day.

At the end of the day, these lipsticks are related to the Liquid Suedes in name only. The Liquid Suede Metallic Mattes could work for you if 1) your lips are in better condition than mine, 2) you don't mind a very dry matte finish, and 3) you realize that not all the shades are true metallics. There are some beautiful colors in the lineup, and had Modern Maven not flopped, I might have gone back eventually for Go Rogue or Biker Babe. Now, though? Don't need it, not gonna buy it (again).