Friday, September 1, 2017

A Highlighter for Special Snowflakes: Topshop Glow Stick in Otherworldly

One of the less charming aspects of being an American millennial in 2017 is getting called a "special snowflake" by old bigots on the internet. From my occasional perusal of right-wing Twitter accounts (I discovered last year that my mild-mannered undergrad Shakespeare professor is an alt-right paleoconservative asshat, and I'm still not over it), I gather that special-snowflakery consists of wanting a living wage, universal healthcare, Nazi-free public discourse, and a modest decrease in mass shootings. In that spirit, I nominate Topshop Glow Stick in Otherworldly as the official highlighter of millennial special snowflakes, not only because of its color (white as the driven, pre-dog-pee snow) but also because it's as jankily constructed as our government these days. And because Topshop is a British brand and Brexit was the first event that made me wonder if Trump really could become president (though I do think that's a false equivalence in many ways). And because millennials love space-themed stuff, perhaps because we dream of a better world than this one. Wow, this metaphor is spinning out of orbit. Let's move on.


There are precious few reviews of Topshop makeup in the beauty blogosphere. (The only Otherworldly review I've found is from Bella Noir Beauty, whose post proves that white highlighter looks lovely on dark skin as well as light.) So when I asked my boyfriend to bring Otherworldly back from England this past spring, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting. But I knew I wanted a cool-toned neutral highlight, and Otherworldly seemed like a decent candidate.


Otherworldly is a white cream highlighter in chubby stick form. The packaging looks cute and should be portable, but I had the same disappointing experience as Bella Noir Beauty: the first time I pulled off the cap, the product popped right out of the tube. I was able to jam it back in, and I've been very careful with it ever since, but I don't feel comfortable traveling with it. And on short trips, I wear cream products almost exclusively (I like to save myself the hassle of brushes), so there goes one huge opportunity for me to get some use from this highlighter.

Also, the cap developed a huge crack shortly after I started using Otherworldly. I don't know when exactly this happened, but I do know that I hadn't handled it roughly at all. Last month I saw some beautiful vintage makeup at a thrift store on Haight Street, and it really brought home the flimsiness of modern beauty products. Did you know that Revlon powder used to come in metal compacts?


It's a shame that I had to begin my review with complaints about the packaging, because the highlighter itself works well for me. It does contain a lot of oil (note the oily residue on the tube in my second photo), but it blends out beautifully and hasn't made me break out. I'm also impressed by the formula's longevity on my skin (keep in mind, though, that my cheekbone/temple area is very dry in general). And the white sheen suits many different makeup looks, though I use Otherworldly most often with cool-toned ones.


Here it is swatched on my arm (left) and blended out (right), first in shade, then in direct sunlight:



All my highlighters, L-R: Otherworldly, NYX Twilight Tint, ColourPop Lunch Money, ColourPop Monster, Wet n Wild Precious Petals.


As you can see, the formula delivers an even shine without any specks of glitter, and it diffuses into a subtle glow, though you can also build it up for a more metallic look. Because I have a small face and I need to be careful with the busted packaging, I don't swipe the highlighter directly onto my cheekbones; instead, I put some on my finger and dab it across my skin to blend. Keep in mind that I don't wear foundation, so I can't speak to how well Otherworldly performs over it. I've heard that some cream highlights do break down or smudge foundation.

I just returned to my apartment after six weeks away, and I'm so dorkily excited to be reunited with my full makeup collection! So, for yesterday's look, I brought out a few of my oldest products. I used Urban Decay Whiskey on my upper lashlines and smudged it out with Primal shadow from the Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette. My blush is NARS Mata Hari (I've had it for five years and still haven't hit pan), and my lipstick is NARS Flamenco (now discontinued), which I'd like to use up this fall. Here's an awkward angle to show off the highlight:


Unlike the powder highlights I've tried, Otherworldly doesn't seem to emphasize my pores or fine lines. If anything, it has a slightly blurring effect.


Ugh, I'm of two minds whether to recommend this product. I can't in good conscience endorse anything with such badly constructed packaging, but Otherworldly's formula has been a hit for me. I do find myself wishing I'd taken Clementine's recommendation and asked my boyfriend to pick up one of the Topshop Glow Highlighters, which come in beautiful glass jars and are more *beauty-guru voice* BUH-LINDING than the Glow Sticks. Oh, well: I wouldn't be a special snowflake if I didn't experience fairly constant disappointment. I wonder if I could depot Otherworldly into a small jar or something?

(Update: I did!)

9 comments:

  1. (I enjoyed reading the first part of this review so much - I am not a millennial but do want a better world and more metaphors of yours are welcome ;))

    I think the color of Otherworldly is nice and you look beautiful wearing it, but packaging is quite important for something like this even if you don't plan to carry it around. If the cap is cracked, it will soon dry up. Putting it in a nice small jar wouldn't be a terrible idea (how soft is it, though?).

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    1. All generations welcome! :D

      You're right, the problem with depotting it is that the formula isn't very soft. I guess I could melt it down in a double boiler and pour it into a jar, though! I've never done anything like that, but it might be fun.

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  2. Millennials, man. What jerks, wanting to have rooves over their heads but eating all the avocado toast. (Being the resident millennial in my workplace can be really annoying. Lots of "but you're not like THOSE millennials!" Bitch, please.)

    Otherworldly is pretty, though it's such a shame that the packaging is so bad. I think you could melt down to go in a jar - maybe try melting a smaller piece and letting it harden to see how it would perform before going whole-hog?

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    1. Don't forget all the industries we've killed in our ruthless pursuit of brunch!!

      That's a good idea. I'm going to scout around town today to see if I can find a small glass jar (maybe a spice jar?). I'm weirdly excited to play mad scientist and melt down a highlighter...

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  3. Hahaha, the whole time I was reading this I was ready to mention the Glow pot. Such a shame about the packaging issue, because it does look beautiful. It's strange that Topshop has a highlighter with such sturdy and attractive packaging and one that's so flimsy. It's not as though stick products can't be well-constructed at an affordable pricepoint - I have a Revlon stick highlighter that's held up very well.

    The term "special snowflake" gives me utter secondhand embarrassment (secondary only to the rage directed at the asshole who said it...). I don't know how anybody can say it and expect to be taken seriously. It's almost a caricature of itself by now. And yet almost daily I see people saying "Lol are you triggered special snowflake?????" Like... if you're going to be super edgy when defending racism/misogyny/classism at least come up with a better line.

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    1. Ugh, I'm consumed with regret at not requesting a Glow Pot instead! I swatched one in London last year and it was by far the most pigmented highlighter I'd ever tried. In my defense, all three shades of Glow Pot looked pretty similar to highlighters I already had.

      The best part of the "special snowflake" discourse is that Trump is by far the specialest snowflake of all. God, I really need to stop reading my ex-professor's wife's deranged twitter, but I can't look away...

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    2. Ha, what gets me about all those conservative MRA types is that they are so easily offended and need the world to cater to their every whim. The irony is amazing.

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  4. Whenever I get called a Millennial Special Snowflake, I'm actually really flattered that they think I'm young enough to be a millennial. You kids are alright.

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    1. Haha, that's a good point! I'm an older millennial (born in '87), so I know what you mean.

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