Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My Best No-Buy Tips

Since I'm moving this month and need to limit both my spending and my accumulation of new crap, I've put myself on a replacement-only beauty no-buy until the end of August. It's been pretty easy so far: I've been so consumed with other problems that I haven't had much brain space for makeup. But since there's no telling what temptations I'll face in the second half of the month, I thought I'd write up a list of the techniques and mantras that have helped me through previous no- and low-buys. (Disclaimer: I don't have a shopping addiction, which is a serious disorder, and I'm not qualified to counsel people who do. This advice is designed for those who, like me, occasionally impulse-buy things they can live without.)

1. Know your triggers. 

Here are mine:

a. Feeling (even) more broke than usual. I've spent my entire adult life as a graduate student and underemployed academic, so money has always been tight. But I've noticed that when it's particularly tight, I feel the near-constant urge to treat myself to a new lipstick or nail polish or enamel pin. Being poor is exhausting, not least because you're constantly reflecting on all the basic amenities you can't afford, so it's tempting to buy yourself a little luxury that you can afford. Which I don't think is a bad thing in itself (cue Republican outrage that people on welfare dare to buy beer and ice cream, as if saving that $5 will help them afford a house). But it can easily get out of hand.

b. Uncertainty about my future. Like many people who came of age during the recession, I'm getting by on contingent employment and have no idea what my life will look like in the long term. For the past two or three years, I've been unable to plan more than a few months ahead, and that's taken a significant mental toll. Ordering a treat online and using USPS tracking to monitor its progress toward my house is an easy way to ensure that I can look forward to something, even if my long-term prospects feel grim. But the pleasure is fleeting and illusory. (Wow, this post got real pretty quickly. Sorry.)

c. Anxiety from overwork. I'm never so tempted to impulse-order makeup as when I'm completing a bunch of job applications on a tight deadline. It's like, I'm already doing six things at once, and all six are agonizingly stressful, so why not add a seventh that's at least somewhat fun? For me, those impulse purchases almost always result in regret.

2. Turn to new techniques and inspirations, not new products.

If you feel like you're in a makeup rut, and you're bored and dissatisfied with how your looks are turning out, new products will only do so much. Your skills and your range of inspiration will stay the same, and instead of doing a halo eye with orange, peach, and light gold eyeshadows, you'll be doing the same old halo eye with red, pink, and champagne eyeshadows. If you own enough makeup to be undertaking a no-buy, there's no way you've exhausted the potential of all that makeup, I promise. Watch old movies or new kpop videos.* Binge Lisa Eldridge tutorials. Take another look at the Pat McGrath editorial photos you saved on your "makeup inspiration" Pinterest board three years ago. Practice your blending skills right before you shower.

*Yes, that link is a shameless attempt to make you fall in love with my precious daughter Song Yuqi and her group, whom I narrowly and tragically missed seeing in NYC two weekends ago. The makeup in that music video is really good, though.

3. Mix and layer colors to create your perfect products.

I've watched YouTube videos by professional makeup artists and by social-media influencers, and I've noticed a stark difference between the two kinds of videos. Whereas beauty gurus tend to create the same looks over and over with a constantly changing array of trendy products, real makeup artists mix and layer the same products over and over to create a constantly changing array of looks. In other words:

Makeup artists: narrow range of products -> wide variety of looks

Beauty gurus/influencers: wide variety of products -> narrow range of looks

When I realized this, my perspective on my makeup collection changed dramatically. I'm more familiar with my coloring and tastes than any brand is. Who has a better chance of creating the perfect brownish peach lipstick for my skintone: me, or some committee in a boardroom? (For the record, my perfect brownish peach is Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nudist Peach layered over Milani Color Statement Lip Pencil in Nude.)

4. Look up reviews of products you already own.

This will serve a twofold purpose. Not only will it remind you of the reasons why you bought the products and the excitement you felt when you first used them; it will also lead you to blog posts and tutorials that will give you new ideas for using those items.

5. Keep track of all the shades you own in your favorite makeup category.

For each of the past two years, I've maintained a list of all my lipstick shades (current total is 45, plus eight glosses), putting an asterisk next to a shade whenever I wear it and starting the list over at the beginning of the year. I keep the document in my Google Docs so I can view and update it on my phone when I'm out and about. This exercise reminds me just how infrequently I get to wear my favorite lipsticks, even the ones I think I wear often, because my collection is so damned large. It also gives me pause when I contemplate buying another, because that will be just one more lipstick that will prevent me from wearing the others!

6. Don't beat yourself up if you buy something.

Guilt is counterproductive. First, because it can lead to even more spending: "I've already broken my no-buy," you think, "so what's one more purchase?" Second, because brands use your guilt as a marketing tool. A glance at the Instagram account of pretty much any social-media-based brand will reveal as much. Brands love posting those "hiding your makeup orders from hubby" and "spending your therapy money on lipstick" memes, because they tap into the undercurrent of guilt we all feel as consumers. And there's nothing quite like feeling the very people who are trying to sell you more makeup. Third, because how many things does our society tell women feel guilty about? Eating. Not eating. Being girly. Not being girly. Wearing makeup. Not wearing makeup. Having feelings. Not having feelings. It's enough. Break the cycle. When you slip up, get right back on the wagon; more importantly, reflect on why you slipped up, what triggers got you there, and how you can resist those triggers in the future. Then move the fuck on.

7. Remember that the feeling of shiny newness always, ALWAYS fades. And soon.

Think about the last few products you bought. How long did your excitement take to wane? A few hours? A day or two? The pleasure of new makeup or skincare is real, and it's not worthless, but it's not even close to permanent. During your no-buy, focus on things that can improve your life in the long (or, at least, slightly longer) run.

And that's it! Wish me luck for the next two weeks, and let me know your own no-buy and low-buy tips!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Anti-Haul: Mauve/Plum/Purple Eyeshadow Palettes

Despite the flood of new eyeshadow palettes in the past few years, I own just a few: Modern Renaissance, Naked2 Basics, a nine-pan custom theBalm palette, and a magnetic palette containing, among other things, slightly less than half (five shades) of a depotted theBalm Nude 'Tude. The newest palette in my collection is Modern Renaissance, which I bought in December 2016; the others are all at least three years old. Of course, by normal-person standards, this is a lot of eyeshadow. But by beauty-blogger standards (which is what we're using here, right? cool), it's almost nothing.

No, actually, this is a lot.

There are a few reasons for my (relative) restraint in this category. First, though I wear eyeshadow almost every day, I'm more of a wash-of-one-neutral-color person than a seven-different-shades-plus-liner-and-falsies person. I also prefer cream and liquid formulas to powders, especially in the current heat and humidity. And even if I were someone who made time to play with multiple eyeshadows every day, I doubt I'd own many more palettes than I already do, for the simple reason that the eyeshadow trends of the past few years haven't been kind to cool-toned people. Most orange, red, and warm brown shadows make me look ill, yet it's been difficult to find anything else.

However, the last couple of months have seen a trend toward purple and plum tones in palettes. This is very exciting for me: I'd be all over a palette full of plum, dusty rose, and mauve shades in matte and shimmer finishes, sort of a cooler-toned Naked 3. So far, none of the new offerings has embodied my ideal, but it's still been hard to resist settling for something not-quite-perfect. So in the spirit of not settlingand in the spirit of our much-missed Lady of Consumption Reduction, Kimberly ClarkI'm going to write up a good old-fashioned anti-haul for some of the palettes that have come out in recent months. I know I'm not the only one who's been wanting a purplish palette, so perhaps this post will help you as well. (All images taken from brand or Sephora websites; pardon the potato quality, but I wasn't going to steal from Temptalia, so.)

1. Natasha Denona Mini Lila Palette ($25)

This one grabbed my attention immediately. Five Natasha Denona eyeshadows for $5 each, when her ten-pan palettes retail for $95? In exactly the color range I've been looking for? Sign me up! And I find huge palettes overwhelming (more on that later), so the small size was appealing, too. The more closely I looked at the shades, though, the clearer it became that this wasn't exactly the color range I'd been looking for. First, the two browns are...weird. The matte brown has a yellow tone that doesn't harmonize with the purples and plums; it seems like a lazy attempt to placate the YouTube beauty gurus who need that WARM TRANSITION SHADE, damn it! I wish this shade were a cool pinkish brown, like ABH Buon Fresco, or a taupe. The shimmery brown is a little better, but still not cool-toned enough for my taste. For that matter, the three purple shades look odd together, even excluding the browns. You've got a practically magenta matte, a purple-blue duochrome, and a brownish plum matte. I just can't imagine many looks in which all five of these shades, or even a few of them, would play well together. It's kind of extraordinary that such a small palette manages to be so disharmonious.

Remember, though, I'm viewing the palette from the perspective of a pale, cool-toned person. Makeup Withdrawal just posted a review of Mini Lila, and it looks great on her because the browns read almost as nudes. If warm browns don't turn as orange on you as they do on me, this could be a decent option.

2. Anastasia Beverly Hills Norvina Palette ($42)

This is the big one, of course. It's even featured on the cover of the Ulta catalog I received yesterday (side note: why is Ulta sending me physical catalogs? is it 1998?). I get a lot of use out of my Modern Renaissance palette, so I was excited to hear that ABH was making a purple-toned palette, but my heart dropped when I saw the first photos. Norvina has the problems of the Mini Lila palette on a larger scale: ABH just can't jettison those warm brown transition shades, and the overall color scheme suffers as a result. I think the lavender packaging has fooled people into seeing the palette as cooler-toned overall than it really is, but it's just Soft Glam with a couple of purples and plums thrown in. I'm also not a fan of ABH's metallic formula, which is too thick and clumpy for my textured eyelids, and this palette contains seven metallics. I love Volatile and Passion, though, and it would be cool if they were available as singles (they're not; I checked).

Also, do I really want an eyeshadow palette bearing the name of a woman who, when she received perfectly valid criticism about the Subculture palette, accused her customers of not being able to use makeup? Nah, I'm good.

Update, 8/17: I swatched Norvina at Ulta last weekend and was really disappointed in the matte shades. Not only are most of them even warmer-toned than they appear above, but some of them are also very patchy and/or powdery. From left to right, we have Soul, Incense, Love, Volatile, Passion, and Eccentric:

3. Lorac Pro Palette 4 ($44)

I've never tried anything from Lorac, mainly because I have a few irrational prejudices against the brand. First, "Lorac" is the founder's name, Carol, spelled backwards; that's lame. Second, Carol wants us to pronounce it as "luh-ROCK" instead of "LOR-ack." Sorry, Carol, but I'm not going to disregard the conventions of English phonetics for you. Third, Carol did a bizarre, tone-deaf Reddit AMA a few years ago. (I'd highly recommend reading the ONTD post I've linked; it's hilarious.) Fourth, I'm not sure what Lorac's overall concept is supposed to be, and that bothers me. The packaging is drab and boring, and there doesn't seem to be much imagination or creativity behind the products. Try harder, Carol!

Bias aside, though, this isn't the palette for me. At 16 shades, it's the largest on this list, and I find large palettes overwhelming. How anyone uses those 35-shade Morphe palettes without developing decision fatigue in 30 seconds, I have no idea. And I feel like a broken record here, but this is yet another "purple" palette with a bunch of warm-toned brown shades. Most of the shades are around the same level of saturation, too, and I can imagine them blending into a muddy wash. Then there's that baffling matte black with glitter. I thought we weren't doing matte blacks with glitter anymore. Shame on you, Carol.

4. Lime Crime Venus 3 Palette ($38)

The problem with any Lime Crime product is, it's Lime Crime. When I first got into makeup, Lime Crime was notorious for the shady behavior of founder Doe Deere. I don't think many makeup consumers these days are aware of Lime Crime's sordid past, so here's an EXTREMELY long list of Doe's misdeeds, with receipts. (Selling repackaged pigments! Wearing a Hitler Halloween costume! Telling her followers to send nasty messages to Temptalia's personal email! Releasing an offensive "China Doll" palette!) As recently as 2015, Lime Crime's website was hacked and its customers' credit card information stolen, but LC did nothing about the problem until it became public. Doe has stepped back from the brand in the last couple of years, but I'd still feel weird buying anything from Lime Crime, even in 2018. They just seem generally unwilling to acknowledge, let alone make amends for, their many mistakes.

So there's that, but there's also the weird color scheme of this palette. I realize that weird color schemes are Lime Crime's thing, but what is that bright coral doing in an otherwise purple-toned palette with several muted colors? And a larger question: why do brands seem so eager to put bright blue-toned purples and brownish plums together in palettes? Those are two completely different color families, and I'm not crazy about how they look together.

5. Urban Decay Backtalk Palette ($46)

Oh man, was I ever excited about this one when I first heard about it. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Backtalk, a dusty cool pink in the Comfort Matte formula, is one of my favorite lipsticks ever. It also happens to be the most popular lipstick in the massive Vice lineup (though as a lifelong hipster, I'm not super thrilled about this). As you can see, my tube of Backtalk is well-loved:

What could be better suited to my tastes than an entire palette based on Backtalk? Well, a lot of things, it turns out. The palette skews much warmer than I would have expected (WTF, the warm brown second from right, is aptly named). The quality of the eyeshadows also seems to vary: the shade Backtalk, i.e. the flagship shade of the whole palette, got a D- from Temptalia. And then there's the fact that UD chose to make Backtalk an eye and face palette. This is apparently the post in which I reveal all my irrational prejudices, so let me confess that I have a prejudice against products that try to do more than one thing. Some people might find it convenient to have three blushes and a highlighter attached to their eyeshadow palette, but it just makes the palette look bulky to me. And why three blushes? Most of us, I'd assume, already have at least three blushes that go with the color scheme of this palette. And, if three blushes are really necessary, why are they all medium pinks? I have so many questions, but knowing the answers would probably just baffle and frustrate me further. ANYWAY.

6. Viseart Amethyst Theory Palette ($45)

Let's end with the palette that comes closest to my ideal. Viseart (another brand I've never tried) released Amethyst Theory in April of 2017, which is several geological eras ago in beauty-industry time, but I wasn't aware of it before I started doing research for this post. To be honest, I'd probably buy this palette if it had good reviews. Unfortunately, the few reviews I've been able to find don't speak highly of the formula. Temptalia gave the palette a B overall, and one of the shades received a D-. I still want to swatch this next time I'm at a Sephora that stocks Viseart, but I certainly won't order it without seeing it in person. (Really, I'm just holding out for a ColourPop knockoff.)

From this survey of current palettes, we can conclude that brands just aren't ready to let go of the warm tones that have been selling so well these past few years. (The exception is Viseart, which I see as less trend-driven than the other brands in this post, though I could easily be wrong about that.) This means that we're seeing lots of palettes that feature an awkward combination of warm browns and cool purples/plums. I have a feeling that this transitional stage will be short-lived and the pendulum will continue to swing toward the cooler side of things. For now, all I can do is wait.

Have you picked up any of these palettes? What are you anti-hauling at the moment?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Bite Beauty Spice Things Up Collection: Smoked Za'atar and Star Anise

Oh, Bite Beauty. The intensity of my love-hate relationship with this brand is second only to that of my love-hate relationship with Glossier. On paper, Bite is my ideal beauty brand. It makes nothing but lip products, offering a wide range of complex, well-balanced colors. It releases thoughtful, interesting limited-edition collections, most of which are available for months. Its lipstick formulas are comfortable on my often-dry lips. Yet I've had consistently bad luck with Bite lipsticks, due to their slipperiness and tendency to transfer absolutely everywhere. (See my review of Lavender Jam, which I ended up giving away.) So when Lena of Faceonomics got sent Bite's Spice Things Up collection and very generously offered to give me the two coolest-toned shades, I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I said yes (I mean, obviously), but I was prepared for disappointment.

The Spice Things Up collection (what a lazy name, honestly), inspired by "the warm shades of toasted spices," contains eight lipsticks in Bite's standard Amuse Bouche formula. Like the permanent Amuse Bouche lipsticks, they retail for $26 each. It would be cool if each lipstick smelled like the spice it represented, but all the lipsticks have Bite's usual sweet lemon scent and taste, which I don't mind at all. (It reminds me of lemon bars, one of my favorite desserts.) This collection is limited edition, but it was released two months ago and is still fully in stock, at least on Sephora's American website. The lipsticks come in Bite's standard dark-gray matte tubes, but the boxes, printed with mounds of colorful spices, are genuinely beautiful.

The two shades that Lena sent me are Smoked Za'atar, which Sephora describes as a "plum-chocolate," and Star Anise, a "muted lavender."

Smoked Za'atar on the left, Star Anise on the right.

And just for fun, here are Sephora swatches of the other six shades in the collection. Top to bottom: Pink Salt, Toasted Cardamom, Lit Turmeric, Hot Harissa, Crushed Chili, Saffron Fire.

Alas, not all the shade names correspond exactly with the spices that inspired them. As you probably know, real star anise looks like this:

I mean, fine, creative license and all that; Bite wanted to make a lavender-tinged lipstick and there aren't many lavender-tinged spices. But the name "Smoked Za'atar" doesn't even make sense on its own terms, because there's no such thing. I did a quick Google search and found that the word "za'atar" can refer to a specific herb related to oregano and thyme (Origanum syriacum) or, more commonly, a Middle Eastern spice mixture including that herb. Like masala, za'atar differs in composition from region to region, but there's one constant: the spices are toasted or sun-dried, not smoked. You can't go into a store and buy "smoked za'atar" as you can smoked paprika. Sure, this is a small detail, but it makes the name of the lipstick feel like lazy orientalism. At least Bite got the color semi-right:

Source: Savory Spice

Sephora's color descriptions for these two lipsticks are accurate for warm-toned people: on Christine of Temptalia, for instance, Star Anise and Smoked Za'atar do indeed look like a "muted lavender" and "plum-chocolate" respectively. Combined with my cool grayish undertones, however, both shades lean much warmer. On me, Smoked Za'atar is a deep neutral brown with hints of yellow and purple, while Star Anise is a gray-toned true nude, close to my skin tone and almost identical to my previous HG nude, Bourjois Rouge Edition in Beige Trench. This was an exciting discovery: I destashed Beige Trench earlier this year because I hated the chemical-floral fragrance, but I was hoping to find a similar nude lipstick eventually. Here's Star Anise swatched on the left and Smoked Za'atar on the right, first in shade, then in direct sunlight:

Let's start with the review for Smoked Za'atar, since it was the one I tried first. Photographed on its own, it does indeed look like a plummy brown...

...but when it's swatched next to other brown lipsticks, its yellow tones come through. Below, L-R: MAC Antique Velvet, Smoked Za'atar, Revlon Fierce,  and Maybelline Raging Raisin, in shade and sun. If you look closely at SZ, you can see a bit of yellow at the edges of the swatch.

I've now worn Smoked Za'atar twice, with a lip liner and without, and I'm sad to report that it suffers from the same weaknesses as the other Bite lipsticks I've tried: it's a tiny bit streaky on my lips (as dark lipsticks often are), and it transfers very easily. As you might be able to tell from my swatches, it has a shine that Star Anise lacks, which unfortunately translates into slipperiness. Here's a (slightly out of focus, sorry) lip swatch; you can tell that it feathers without a liner, a problem that I don't usually have with lipsticks.

And here's SZ (can't help thinking of the Barthes treatise, lol) with ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Taurus, which makes the lines look a bit cleaner:

The formula isn't a dealbreaker by any means, but I think I'll wait until the fall to wear Smoked Za'atar regularly. Both in the tube and on the lips, Bite lipsticks tend to soften in heat and firm up in cold, and SZ will probably transfer less in cooler, less humid weather. In the meantime, here's an FOTD with mustardy eyeshadow and nightmarish humidity hair:

And with tamer hair and a reddish eye look (all I can remember is that I was wearing ABH Red Ochre in the crease):

Star Anise, on the other hand, is an absolute delight. It might be my favorite new lipstick of 2018 so far, and it's certainly made me rethink my entire relationship with Bite.

I couldn't have found a more suitable nude lipstick if I'd asked Bite to design one especially for me. I worried that it might be too similar to my other nude-ish lipsticks, Milani Matte Naked and Pat McGrath Madame Greige. But next to Star Anise, Matte Naked looks almost peach (and it's one of the cooler-toned nudes at the drugstore!), while Madame Greige looks straight-up purple:

L-R: Matte Naked, Star Anise, Madame Greige.

Here it is on my lips; it's less shiny (thus less slippery) than Smoked Za'atar, but it still has a definite shine. I have yet to see a truly matte lipstick from Bite.

SA lasts a surprisingly long time for a nude lipstick: three or four hours of everyday wear (with drinking, talking, etc). And because it's so close to my skin tone, it looks perfectly natural as it fades. Both Smoked Za'atar and Star Anise are extremely comfortable to wear; they're not actively moisturizing, but they don't leave my lips feeling dry, either.

Here's Star Anise on my face just yesterday, with a few Modern Renaissance shades on my eyes and Glossier Storm on my cheeks:

And a few weeks ago, with Glossier Lily on my lids and Illamasqua Zygomatic on my cheeks. I've been meaning to write a quick review of Lily and Slip, but there's been so much Glossier on my blog this year that I wanted to give it a rest for a few posts.

After my positive experience with the Spice It Up collection, I'm going to be paying more attention to Bite's future releases. I'm already contemplating buying one of the Prismatic Pearl glosses, possibly Rose Pearl (which I've swatched in Sephora: it's gorgeous) or Oyster Pearl. For now, though, I'm just happy to have two reasons not to dislike Bite anymore.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Making Up with 95% Humidity

If there's one thing I've learned from living in central New Jersey for the better part of a decade, it's how to choose humidity-resistant makeup. (I would say "humidity-proof," but nothing is truly humidity-proof except mosquitoes.) In a part of the world where the humidity index routinely hovers above 90% and occasionally creeps up to 100%, it's essential to know which formulas won't slide off my face before I even leave the house—or, at least, will look semi-decent as they slide off. In addition to living in the muggy armpit of the United States, I'm also a person who sweats a lot, particularly on my face and scalp. After my 20-minute walk to work, my face is dripping and my hair is as wet as if I've just showered. All this is to say that if I vouch for the tenacity of a formula, believe me: it's tenacious.

When choosing my makeup on particularly humid mornings, I look for formulas that a) stain the skin, b) dry down completely, or c) fade gracefully. (I'm talking about color makeup, by the way: I have yet to find a humidity-resistant concealer, but please enlighten me if you know of one.) Because I don't wear foundation, powders don't blend out properly when my skin is damp, and brushes don't glide across my skin as smoothly as usual. And let's be honest: now that I'm working a 9-to-5 job, I have a newfound appreciation for products that I can mash into my face with my fingers when half-asleep. On summer weekday mornings, I gravitate toward liquid or cream eyeshadow, liquid or cream blush, matte liquid lipstick, and sheer lipstick. This post will be an overview of my favorite formulas and shades in those categories!

1. Liquid and Cream Eyeshadow

My OG humidity-resistant holy-grail shadow is Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, one of my summer staples since 2013 (this is my second one):

Bad to the Bronze is cooler-toned than most bronze eyeshadows on the market (I'd even venture to say it verges on taupe), with a formula that blends out smoothly but sets quickly. This stuff is apocalypse-proof. Unfortunately, none of the other Color Tattoos I've tried have impressed me as much, but I will repurchase Bad to the Bronze as long as it's available. It's one of the very few products that I discovered early in my makeup journey and still wear frequently today. For proof of its incredible longevity, look no further than this (rather gross, sorry) photo from earlier this week:

I took this after walking home from work on an afternoon when the heat index was about 100°. I was more sweat than woman, as you'll see more clearly if you enlarge the photo, which I encourage you not to do. And yet, incredibly, neither my eyeshadow nor my lipstick budged. (The lipstick is Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia; more on that later.)

The Glossier Lidstars are a newer discovery. (Disclaimer: I purchased all the Glossier products in this post with store credit earned through my affiliate link.) Glossier is known for sheer, barely-there makeup, but many of their sheer products are surprisingly long-lasting. I've now tried every Lidstar except Herb, and I wear four of them regularly (Moon is a lost cause, and I actually sent it to an Instagram pal just yesterday):

L-R: Fawn, Cub, Slip, Lily.

Obviously, the packaging leaves much to be desired: the caps crack after a few weeks of gentle use (par for the course with Glossier, I'm afraid). But the formula is so tenacious that I can forgive the cheap packaging. These shadows dry all the way down and can be removed only with oil-based products. Sweat and tears will leave them unscathed.

Top to bottom: Lily, Slip, Cub, Fawn.

Cub and Fawn are pigmented enough that I can apply them with my fingers. Slip and Lily are sheerer, and they look patchy when finger-swiped across my lids, so I prefer to dab them on with their doefoot applicators and blend them out with a synthetic brush (I bought a cheapo one from e.l.f expressly for this purpose). This creates a beautifully smooth finish, even on my deeply creased eyelids. Here I am wearing Slip recently, as well as Glossier Cloud Paint in Storm (more on that later, too) and MAC Metallic Lipstick in Pale Rose. Slip matches my skin unnervingly well; it's the slightly shimmery my-lids-but-better color that I've wanted since my earliest days of wearing eyeshadow.

2. Liquid and Cream Blush

Another longtime holy grail is Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic, a pinkish beige that matches every makeup look. I've owned this blush for four years, which makes me think I should toss it soon, but it hasn't gone bad in any perceptible way. I guess I'll just keep using it until it does? (I notice that I bitched about the Jersey humidity in my original review of Zygomatic. Some things never change.)

Zygomatic is my only cream blush, but I've recently discovered the glory of liquid blush, in the form of Glossier Cloud Paint. I own four Cloud Paints, and I've been wearing them almost every day this summer. In fact, I can't remember the last time I used a powder blush.

Inspired by draping queen Lena of Faceonomics, I've changed my everyday blush placement as well. I used to apply blush to the tops of my cheekbones, where highlighter usually goes, but now I like to blend it below my cheekbones for a more contoured look. This placement is especially effective with darker blushes like Storm and Dawn, the new Cloud Paint shades. (I still apply light blushes to my cheekbones or the apples of my cheeks.) Storm is a deep rosy brown, close to the color of dried blood, and Dawn is a bold, slightly burnt orange. Here they are at full strength and blended out, in shade (top) and sun (bottom):

 Dawn is the perfect shade for replicating an amazing look from a k-pop video I saw recently:

I'm not brave enough yet to go quite as bold as Taeyeon (or Lena), but this is my best attempt at sunburn-contour so far. I really like it! As always with blush photos, it looked bolder in person, I promise.

3. Matte Liquid Lipstick

As regular readers know by now, my favorite matte liquid lipsticks are the Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuits. Comfortable, long-wearing, cruelty-free, and $4.99 a pop: what's not to love? I own five:

L-R: Rebel Rose, Nudist Peach, Missy and Fierce, Nice to Fuchsia, Goth Topic.

They also work well as sheer stains, which I learned from Julia of Spiders and Caterpillars. My favorite Catsuit for this purpose is Goth Topic, which I bought last fall but never got around to reviewing. At full strength, it's a very dark brownish plum that's a little much for everyday wear, especially during the summer (though my commitment to summer goth remains strong). Sheered out, though, it's a moody plum that delivers a desaturated goth vibe. To apply, I use the applicator to dot a few drops on my lips; then I blend out the pigment with a finger, adding more color as necessary until I reach my desired intensity:

4. Sheer Lipstick

Of course, I also own several bona fide sheer lipsticks. Yes, these fade quickly in the humidity; but at least they fade nicely, which is all I ask. What I really like to avoid on hot, humid days are opaque cream lipsticks that smear when I try, pointlessly, to wipe the sweat off my face. (Glosses are also a little more smeary than I'd like, though I do wear gloss occasionally during the summer.) Here are all the sheer lipsticks I own currently:

L-R: Urban Decay Seismic, Urban Decay Lawbreaker, Glossier Like, ColourPop Bee's Knees, NARS Orgasm, NARS Dolce Vita.

Swatches, same order. (That's three [!!] swipes of Glossier Like and one swipe of every other shade.)

L-R: Seismic, Lawbreaker, Like, Bee's Knees, Orgasm, Dolce Vita.

And that's it! What are your favorite products to wear on humid days? Do you have any tips for making makeup last when the air is almost too damp to breathe?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Glossier Lash Slick: My Platonic Mascara?

Disclaimer: I bought this product with store credit earned through my Glossier affiliate link (thank you to those who have clicked on it!). I am not a Glossier rep.

Glossier has existed for three and a half years, and I've been searching for the perfect subtle mascara for almost that long: that is, ever since CoverGirl LashBlast Length got discontinued.  I figured that if anyone could make a good no-mascara mascara, it would be Glossier, since they seemed intent on perfecting the negative version of every category of makeup (no-lipstick lipstick, no-foundation foundation...). So when they finally announced the debut of Lash Slick about six weeks ago, I was very excited. Of course, that was shortly after I discovered Wet n Wild MegaLength, which gave me a lash pretty close to my ideal; my only complaints were that the formula was on the watery side and took a while to dry. Would Lash Slick give me my desired length and subtlety with a drier texture? I couldn't wait to find out, and ordered it about a month ago. I've worn it almost every day since, which tells you something.

As I mentioned in my MegaLength post, I'm reluctant to pay more than drugstore prices for a product as short-lived as mascara, and Lash Slick is $16. I probably would have ordered it even without store credit, given the difficulty I've had in finding a good subtle mascara, but the price point is a little steep for my usual taste. That said, Lash Slick is cheaper than other mascaras from mid-priced brands: Too Faced Better than Sex is $23, while Benefit Roller Lash, MAC Haute and Naughty, and Urban Decay Perversion are all $24. Lash Slick gives you 0.29 oz. of product compared to Benefit's 0.3 and Urban Decay's 0.4, so it's a comparable size for significantly less money. I'm really pleased about this, given Glossier's record of charging mid-range prices for deluxe-sample-sized products (looking at you, Generation G).

Glossier describes Lash Slick as "the perfect everyday mascara," water-resistant but not waterproof. It "curls and sculpts as it lengthens, enhancing the look of your natural lashes instead of clumping them together or spackling them in product." This effect is the result of "teeny-tiny fibers [that] coat lashes from root to tip to create a lengthened baby-extension, while flexible film-forming polymers lift and lock each fiber into place." (Indeed, the Lash Slick box advertises its contents as "film form mascara," whatever that's supposed to mean.) In other words, this is a fiber mascara that's made to look subtle but still deliver the look of "lengthening baby-extension[s]," a phrase that, like much of Glossier's copy, could have used some editing for clarity. Awkward wording aside, that description sounded promising, given my taste in mascara.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Lash Slick tube thicker and heavier than other Glossier packaging I'd encountered. Here's Lash Slick between a Lidstar eyeshadow (left) and a Generation G lipstick:

Lash Slick is a little bulkier than Wet n Wild MegaLength, though at least it doesn't bulge out in the middle like other mascaras I've tried. It slides nicely into the glass jar I reserve for mascara, eyeliner, and stick/liquid eyeshadows.

The Lash Stick brush is long and straight, with short, densely packed bristles:

Note that there's a perfect amount of product on the bristles. As Renee pointed out, there's a really good stopper in this tube. I wish the Boy Brow tubes had equally good stoppers; I hate getting too much product on the brush and having to wipe it awkwardly on the lip of the tube.

By contrast, the MegaLength wand is shorter and slightly convex, with more space between the bristles. Also, whereas the Lash Slick bristles are staggered, the MegaLength bristles are lined up in vertical columns:

Lash Slick comes in just one color: black. While that certainly simplifies the decision process and spares me the usual stress of having to choose between "Black," "Black Black," "Blackest Black," and "Noir Black," I find it odd that Glossier doesn't offer any other shades. Boy Brow debuted in black, brown, and blonde, and you'd think Lash Slick would offer a similar range.

I don't find mascara reviews very helpful without direct comparisons, so I spent a day wearing Lash Slick on one eye and MegaLength on the other. First, here are my lashes without mascara. They're decently thick, but the tips are so light as to be almost invisible, which is why I prefer lengthening to volumizing mascara.

And here's Megalength on my right eye (your left) and Lash Slick on my left eye (your right):

Obviously, MegaLength is darker and more dramatic (I have the darkest shade, Very Black), and at least in this photo, it seems to have done a better job of lengthening. However, when you look more closely at the Wet n Wild eye, you notice that some of the lashes are clumping together or bending in strange ways. (Ordinarily when I wear MegaLength, I use a clean spoolie to separate and straighten out my lashes.)

And here's a closer view of Lash Slick. You can see here that it's lengthened my lashes just as much as MegaLength has, but without sticking them together. Only one lash looks a bit wonky:

Here are my closed eyes. MegaLength has left some flecks of product in my crease, which often happens because the formula takes a minute or two to dry. Lash Slick has a much drier formula.

And a full face. Again, Wet n Wild on your left, Glossier on your right:

My lipstick is MAC D for Danger, which I still need to review, damn it.

Glossier claims that Lash Slick lasts all day and comes off easily, and I've found both of those claims to be true. It does start to flake off in tiny fibers around the eight-hour mark, but it holds up almost perfectly until then, and I can attest that it stands up to sweaty workouts, 100% humidity, and long crying sessions. (Sidenote: what do you call the crisis between quarter- and midlife crises?) I had some trepidation about the concept of a fiber mascara (a phrase that evoked nightmare visions of Younique spider lashes), but Lash Slick is pretty similar to other mascaras, including MegaLength, in the way it comes off. (MegaLength has about the same wear time, though it's less resistant to sweat/tears/Jersey humidity.) Here's Lash Slick looking pretty rough after 11 hours, but I have yet to find a lengthening mascara that doesn't look like thisor worseafter 11 hours.

MegaLength reaches a similar level of flakiness after just six and a half hours (granted, the flakes are smaller):

And here is where I set aside my usual Glossier snark, because Lash Slick is really fucking great. A+. 4.98/5. It's not only the best Glossier product I've ever tried, but also the best mascara I've ever tried. It's just about perfect, and you know how much it pains me to say that about a Glossier product. Now all Glossier needs to do is expand Lash Slick's shade range, and we'll be all set. For now, if you're looking for a subtle mascara that lengthens and separates lashes, look no further: you've found it.