Monday, April 16, 2018

Spring Lipstick Destash

Destashing makeup is emotionally hard for me year-round, but it becomes a little easier in the spring, as do most things. The lengthening days bring a new zest for self-improvement: I exercise more, I consume less sugar and alcohol, and I grow more decisive about streamlining my makeup collection. I recently decided to destash eight (!) neglected lipsticks, as well as a lip balm and an eyeshadow. Here are most of the victims:

In this post, I'll outline my reasons for parting with these products, as well as the lessons each one taught me. I've linked to my original reviews where available: brace yourself for some potato-quality photos from 2014! (Not that my current photos are Temptalia-level clear, but they're a little better.)

First, the lipsticks. L-R: NYX Amethyst, Maybelline Gunmetal, NYX Alabama, Kiko Chocolate, Revlon Fuchsia, & Other Stories Droguet Purple.

Swatches, same order:

Next, MAC Candy Yum-Yum (left) and Rebel. These are missing from my other photos because I took advantage of the Back 2 MAC program and traded them in, along with four empty MAC tubes, for a new lipstick. More on that in my next post! However, I scooped out the product and put it into a couple of tiny jars before I returned the tubes, in case of returner's regret. (I'm not going to regret trading them in. I'm just crazy.)

Since I'm always curious what people do with their destashed makeup, a word on that. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to throw this stuff away. In an earlier destash post, I mentioned sending used makeup to Project Beauty Share, but I'm an idiot and didn't read the instructions carefully enough: the organization does not accept used lipstick. I'd feel silly selling any of the lipsticks, since some of them are quite old and none of them was particularly expensive. As someone who grew up without much money (and still doesn't have much money), I find it kind of excruciating to throw away perfectly good makeup, but it has to be done. Let this be a reminder not to add products to my collection willy-nilly!

1. Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia (Summer 2013)

When Revlon discontinued its glossy, moisturizing Colorburst formula in 2013, I bought a backup of Fuchsia, my favorite shade in the range. Well, here we are five years later, and I have yet to wear my backup more than once or twice. (I didn't finish my initial tube, either, but tossed it because I'd bought it circa 2011.) The Colorburst formula is indeed great, but I just don't wear bright colors in shiny formulas anymore, and I rarely wear hot pink lipstick at all. I wish I'd bought one of the MLBB Colorburst shades instead.

Lesson: Don't buy backups of color makeup. Like, ever. Trends and personal tastes change constantly, and your holy grail at 24 will almost certainly not be your holy grail at 30.

2. MAC Matte Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum (Summer 2013)

Another hot pink I bought in 2013. Candy Yum-Yum is a striking color in a comfortable, opaque matte formula, but I've come to realize that the shade's white base clashes with my cool olive undertones. I tried on Candy Yum-Yum recently with no other makeup, and my undereye circles seemed to double in size and darkness. This isn't a great photo, but it gives you some idea:

Plus, as I mentioned above, I don't wear hot pink very often these days. When I do, I prefer a more reddish pink in a matte formula, like NARS Let's Go Crazy.

Lesson: Avoid any lip color with a white base. (I've learned that lesson many times over, but I keep going back for more.)

3. NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama (Summer 2014)

It's amazing how dramatically lipstick formulas have improved in four years, and how dramatically my standards have risen along with them. What seemed like an exemplary drugstore lipstick in 2014 seems mediocre in 2018. I wore Alabama yesterday and, though I still loved the color, I was struck by how heavy and slippery the formula felt on my lips. The tube is as cheaply made and difficult to use as every other NYX lipstick tube in existence (the bullet twists down during application, for instance). And because we're heading into spring and summer, I won't have much use for a dark brick red in the near future. If I do find myself wanting a similar color, NARS Cruella will do just as well. I might buy a brick red in a better formula this fall, but for now, I feel okay about letting Alabama go.

Lesson: No more NYX lipsticks. (I've learned that lesson many times over, too. Maybe this time it will stick.)

4. & Other Stories Lipstick in Droguet Purple (Fall 2014)

I've held on to this lipstick for so long not because I enjoy wearing it (it's given me trouble from the start), but because it reminds me of September 2014, when my boyfriend and I spent a halcyon few weeks house- and cat-sitting for his friends in London. The weather was perfect almost every day, we visited Borough Market once or twice a week and played lots of table tennis in Kennington Park, and I decided for some reason that I needed a dark purple lipstick. I decided to get one in a non-matte formula because I didn't want to emphasize the dryness of my lips, but I erred in the other direction. Droguet Purple is slippery and a bit sheer, which would be fine in a lighter color but is not cute in a vampy purple. Also, despite my love for dark lip colors, I'm not a huge fan of straight-up dark purples. They're not unflattering on me, but I prefer a little more warmth.

Lesson: Don't buy dark lipsticks in shiny formulas, don't buy dark purples period, and don't let a lipstick take up shelf real estate for three and a half years because it reminds you of a nice time in your life. (Or maybe do. I'm not the boss of you. And it was a nice time.)

5. NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst (Spring 2016)

I love this color, but it's screamingly bright and I never reach for it. I've worn it out of the house maybe three times in two years. I considered saving it for Pride this year, but let's be real: I hate crowds and have gone to an actual Pride event twice in my life.

Lesson: At this point in my lipstick-wearing career, it's silly to buy a crazy color "just to try." I've tried pretty much every color that I'd actually wear in public.

6. MAC Satin Lipstick in Rebel (Fall 2016)

This was a gift from a good friend from grad school, who sent me a lipstick of my choice in exchange for my shipping her some books. I requested Rebel because of my longtime love for magenta, and the color was indeed perfect, but the formula just never worked for me. Rebel's top layer transferred and smeared everywhere, while its bottom layer stained my lips hot pink for a day or two after I removed it. I once spent ten minutes talking to my advisor in a coffee shop only to realize after he'd left that I'd had a smudge of Rebel on my forehead the whole time. How did it even get there?

Lesson: Be wary of magenta lipstick in general: this is the third magenta that's behaved badly on my lips (the other two being NARS Angela and Revlon Crush). And avoid the MAC Satin formula.

7. Kiko Velvet Passion Matte Lipstick in Chocolate (Spring 2017)

I had no opportunity to swatch this color, but I fell in love with it online despite various bloggers' warnings about patchiness. And...yeah, I should have listened. The bizarrely named Chocolate is a dusty brownish purple that complements my coloring (as you can see, it's gotten some wear!), but it doesn't apply smoothly and it clings to every dry spot on my lips. And now that I have Pat McGrath Madame Greige, I don't need to keep a similar shade in an inferior formula.

Lesson: Don't order a lipstick you can't swatch first, unless it's in a formula you trust, and it's probably a bad idea even then.

8. Maybelline Matte Metallic Lipstick in Gunmetal (Winter 2018)

I've never mentioned this lipstick on the blog. Never even worn it out of the house. Everything about it fills me with embarrassment, not least the manner in which I purchased it: in the middle of my lipstick no-buy, because it was only about $2 with CVS coupons. The name "Gunmetal" led me to believe it would be a dirty silver, but it's actually a grayish teal. It's exactly the same color as NYX Stone Fox but with chunky shimmer, and it looks clumpy and unattractive on my lips. This is one of those "what was I THINKING" purchases that I assumed I'd grown out of. I guess not!

Lesson: Again, stop buying wacky colors like this. If I'm going to wear a shade just once or twice a year, I'd rather mix my own using products I already have. And don't buy makeup just because it's cheap. This is some Makeup Rehab 101 shit.

My other two destashes are Glossier Balm Dotcom in Birthday and ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Eye Candy. After almost a year of occasional use, I have to face facts: Birthday's buttery vanilla fragrance is just too strong for me. And I think I'm sensitive to some ingredient in the Balm Dotcom formula (lanolin, maybe?), because Birthday and the original Balm Dotcom not only fail to hydrate my lips, but actually dry them out further. Eye Candy is a nice lilac-pink glitter that I should have used more, but it's now over two years old and completely dried out. Let's hope I wear Ladybird more often before it suffers the same fate.

That leaves me with a fairly manageable stash of 43 lipsticks. And for the record, I'm still effectively on a lipstick no-buy. If anything, thinning out my collection has made me more excited to stay on my no-buy and enjoy what I have, which is exactly what destashing should accomplish.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

ColourPop Butterfly Collection, Part 2: Lux Lipstick in Dream Easy and Super Shock Shadow in Ladybird

(Part 1 here.)

Coral was the trendy lipstick color when I first got into makeup around 2012, and I must have imprinted on that cultural moment, because I've been searching for a flattering coral lipstick ever since. So far, I've had the most luck with muted, brownish corals like Maybelline Naked Coral, which I bought almost exactly a year ago. But sometimes I want to wear one of those bright, juicy pinky-red corals, something like Marc Jacobs So Sofia, which I bought almost exactly two years ago and returned soon thereafter. My heart and soul belong to vampy lip colors, but there are days when I crave the vivid retro pop that only coral-pink can deliver. So my search continues.

So Sofia wasn't my best color, but it was a beautiful color, and I probably would have kept it if it hadn't cost me $30. So when I noticed that one of the $7 Lux Lipsticks in ColourPop's spring collection was almost identical to So Sofia, I pounced. Despite my mixed (generally bad) luck with ColourPop's lip formulas in the past, I was curious about the new, slightly pricier Lux formula, which had received positive reviews overall. The initial Lux launch didn't contain many colors that appealed to me, and I was on a lipstick no-buy anyway, but I couldn't resist Dream Easy two months later. (That was shortly before my no-buy ended on March 31, but hey.) In this post, I'll be reviewing Dream Easy along with Ladybird, one of the Super Shock Shadows from the spring collection.

The Lux Lipsticks are only $2 more than ColourPop's original lipsticks, the Lippie Stix, but CP spent that $2 well. Each lipstick is 0.12 oz, as opposed to 0.04 oz. per Lippie Stix. That means the Luxes are actually cheaper per ounce, with much nicer packaging: sturdy rose-gold plastic tubes with star-embossed bullets. (I wonder if the rose-gold coating will rub off with time. We'll see!) The Lux Lipsticks in the Butterfly Collection come in beautiful blue-and-white-striped boxes printed with butterflies.

ColourPop describes Dream Easy as a "soft coral red." Like most ColourPop color descriptions, this is not strictly accurate. If this coral is "soft," I can't imagine what a bright coral would look like. However, it does lack a pronounced white base. There's some white in there, but Dream Easy doesn't quite slip into neon territory, which is good news for me.

As I suspected, Dream Easy is very close to So Sofia: a rich, bold, warm reddish pink. In fact, I'd even venture to call it a dupe. It's a little redder than So Sofia on my lips, but no one needs both. Dream Easy has great pigmentation, with full coverage in one swipe:

And here's Dream Easy swatched between Maybelline Naked Coral (left) and Topshop Rio Rio (right). It's much pinker than Rio Rio, and not even in the same reef as Naked Coral.

I'm very impressed with the Lux formulamore than I thought I'd be, frankly, given my history with ColourPop's lipsticks. The formula is practically scent- and taste-free, with an almost undetectable vanilla fragrance. Dream Easy has a subtle, appealing shine when first applied, but it sets to a semi-matte finish. It lasts several hours, through drinking and talking, and most of it remained on my lips even after ice cream. It was comfortable and non-drying. Like, I have no complaints. I definitely want to try more shades in this formula. Here it is just after application:

But how does it look on my face, you ask? Like this:

I freely admit that this is not my most flattering color. It's not unflattering, exactly, but it does tend to give me the dreaded "floating lips" effect. But also? I don't really care. This shade of coral makes me happy, damn it! No other color of lipstick feels quite as summery and carefree as a bright coral. I haven't been wearing Dream Easy much because it still looks and feels like winter here, and I don't think coral lipstick looks its best on gloomy, rainy dayssomething about the quality of the light when it's filtered through layers and layers of cloud. But once the weather brightens, Dream Easy will get a lot more wear. In the future, I'll try balancing it out with bolder eye makeup, which I think will lessen the wax-lips illusion.

I'm equally happy with Ladybird, a Super Shock Shadow in the Ultra Glitter finish. First, look at that box. The eyeshadow is the beetle's body! Reminds me of the Victorian craze for beetle jewelry.

Ladybird has a very sheer peachy-gold sheer base packed with finely milled white-gold glitter. Nothing about that color combination says "ladybird" to me, but we're all familiar with ColourPop's nonsensical shade names by now. I can only assume that their naming system involves drunken games of Mad Libs.


It's almost impossible to photograph an arm swatch of Ladybird, but here's my best attempt. Because the base is so sheer, most of the pigment that you see on my skin comes from the glitter.

Swiped on (right), then blended out (left):

Below, I used Ladybird as the centerpiece of the laziest possible halo eye: I applied ABH Warm Taupe everywhere but the center of the lid, then used my finger to dab Ladybird on top and blend it into the matte shade. My lipstick is Maybelline Raging Raisin.

Ladybird also works as an all-over lid shade, though I prefer it as a topper for more opaque shadows. Here I'm wearing it with just a bit of NYX Brown Perfection liner smudged on the upper lashline.

Ladybird has some fallout (I mean, of course it does: it's almost pure glitter), but because the glitter is so light-colored and tiny, it's not very noticeable on my face. Otherwise, I can't think of any drawbacks to this shade. Because it's so sheer and neutral-toned, I can imagine it cooperating with almost any combination of shadows, cool or warm.

Before this order, I'd long since given up on following ColourPop's flood of new releases, and I didn't visit their website more than once a month or so. But my experience with the spring collection may have drawn me back in. Which is dangerous! I'm still going to limit my ColourPop purchases, since I'm not a huge fan of ordering beauty products that I can't swatch first or return, but I'm feeling a lot more positive about the brand than I was even a month ago.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ColourPop Spring 2018 Butterfly Collection, Part 1: Face Duo in Winging It

For the past few years, I've been performing two beauty-related rites of spring. The first rite involves destashing a bunch of lipsticks (more on that soon). The second rite consists of searching for a pinky-red coral lipstick and a lavender blush. Those searches usually end in failure, though for different reasons. There are thousands of coral lipsticks on the market, but only a small percentage of corals flatter me. Most lavender and lavender-pink blushes flatter me, but only a small percentage of blushes are lavender. I've tried so many coral lipsticks that made me look dead and so many blushes that promised lavender but delivered neutral pink. I should have learned my lesson by now. Yet every spring, without fail, I take up the quest again.

This year's coral lipstick and lavender blush come from the same source: ColourPop's Spring 2018 Butterfly Collection. Like many ColourPop collections, it comprises an overwhelming number of new products: eight Lux Lipsticks, six Lippie Stix, 14 Super Shock Shadows, a few sets of different combinations of those shadows, and three blush/highlighter duos. I ordered the Lux Lipstick in Dream Easy, the face duo in Winging It, and the Super Shock Shadow in Ladybird, a sheer pale gold with silvery glitter (still haven't abandoned that fantasy of k-pop-worthy sparkle). I also bought the Super Shock Shadow in Muse, a metallic rose gold, which is from the permanent collection. This post will focus on Winging It, and I'll review Dream Easy and Ladybird in a second post, which should go up over the weekend.

Most of the Butterfly Collection's packaging is adorable, with embroidered-looking butterflies and beetles on bright backgrounds. Even the Super Shock Shadows have tiny butterflies printed on the lids! I appreciate the attention to detail, especially from a brand with a low (though steadily rising) price point.

Clockwise from top: Muse, Ladybird, Winging It, Dream Easy.

Of the four products in my haul, Winging It ($16) excited me most. I would have preferred to buy the blush without the highlighter, but since I didn't own a lavender highlighter, I was happy to try that as well. Winging It is called a "Pressed Powder Face Duo" on the ColourPop website and a "Highlighting Cheek Duo" on the packaging, which is confusing; I hope ColourPop makes up its mind about the name before releasing more duos.

I was disappointed to discover thar the cute butterfly packaging is a removable sleeve. Slide it off and you're faced with a boring white cardboard compact resembling a factory prototype. For $16, I'd expect at least a half-assed metallic butterfly stamped on the lid.

On the bright side, the blah packaging gave me an excuse to use one of the cute stickers I hoard. This one is by Joanna Behar, who also makes adorable enamel pins.

Winging It consists of a satin-finish blush called Whirl, a "soft lilac," and a powder highlighter called Swirl, an "icy metallic lilac." As we all know by now, ColourPop's product shots are comically inaccurate. On the website, the two shades look very pale and very similar to each other; in real life, they're significantly deeper, and Swirl is warmer-toned and more muted than Whirl. The face duos deliver a hefty amount of product: 0.25 oz per pan, 0.5 oz total. (By contrast, Urban Decay blushes are 0.23 oz and NARS blushes are 0.16 oz.) A mirror in the compact would have been nice, but we can't have it all.

A closer look:

In action, the two shades resemble one another more closely. They lean pinker on my cool-toned skin than they do in the pan, but they're still comfortably within lavender territory. On warmer-toned people, they'll probably pull more violet.

And here they are swatched alongside a few other blushes that let me down in past springs by not being lavender. L-R: Swirl, Whirl, NARS Mata Hari, NARS Threesome, Glossier Puff.

This photo (taken in direct sunlight) is less color-accurate, but it does a better job of showcasing Whirl's slightly shinier finish compared to the other blushes:

Whirl has an odd texture, one that I see more often in eyeshadows than in blushes: soft, loosely pressed, and almost crumbly, with intense pigmentation. I'm not devastated about this, given that my last true lavender blush was practically invisible on my skin, but I do have to be careful with my brush. One small tap is all I need, and I have to blend out the product hard if I don't want doll cheeks. However, I'm delighted to report that Whirl is exactly the color I was looking for all those years! Below, I'm wearing it without highlighter, along with Glossier Lidstar in Fawn and Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Backtalk.

Despite my usual preference for cream highlighters, I'm enjoying Swirl as well. It's almost as pigmented as Whirl, so I have to be careful while building it up on my skin. Like other powder highlights I've tried, it does emphasize texture on my cheeks, and it's a little more metallic than the highlighters I usually wear. But it's really pretty! In natural light, it looks more silvery than lavender, but in artificial light, the purple comes through. Because it's on the dark side for me, I like applying it a bit forward on the cheekbones, so that it functions as a blush topper. (Ugh, I hate that phrase and never thought I'd use it except to complain about it. Forgive me.)

Here's Swirl in natural light, with a nude cream blush (Illamasqua Zygomatic). Excuse my daft expression; it's not easy to take good closeup shots of a sliver of your face. I'm also wearing Glossier Fawn (again! I can't stop!) and Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia.

Same day (today, in fact), in bright artificial light:

Finally, here's Swirl layered on top of Whirl for the perfect fairytale cheek. My lipstick is MAC Rebel, which I'm thinking about destashing: I just don't get along with the formula, which feels weirdly thick and slippery and stains my lips something fierce.

Anyway! Quibbles with formula and packaging aside, I'm very pleased with the Winging It duo (even if ColourPop did use the phrase "first thing's first" [sic] in the product description). My search for lavender blush is over...well, until next spring.