Sunday, November 26, 2017

YouTube Made Me Buy It: Wet n Wild Megaglo Highlighter in Precious Petals

Earlier this year, as I sat watching a YouTube makeup videoa review of some gimmicky product, maybe Farsali Unicorn Oil or Ciaté Glitter Flip lipsticksmy boyfriend walked past and wondered, "Do you actually buy anything you see on YouTube?" With some pride, I said no. I'm generally immune to YouTube hype, since most influencers gravitate toward products and looks that aren't even close to my style. I use their reviews and tutorials as a brain break, a 15-minute period during which I don't have to think about my dissertation defense (Dec. 7, bitches!) or Trump or Harvey Weinstein or whether I'll have a source of income next semester. But let me not be too smug. Watching consumerist videos for fun means participating in consumerism. It means that I come home from a day of passively absorbing the advertising that we all encounter as we move through the world, and I voluntarily expose myself to yet more advertising. And, inevitably, some of those messages worm their way into my cranium. If not for the gushing praise of YouTubers, I wouldn't have bought one of the most hyped-up products of 2016: Wet n Wild's Megaglo Highlighting Powder in Precious Petals.

Yes, I said 2016. I have yet to encounter a single Wet n Wild limited-edition display in the wild (if you will), so when the brand released Precious Petals and a darker peach highlighter, Crown of My Canopy, as LE products for spring 2016, I didn't even bother searching for them. It wasn't until Wet n Wild made the two shades permanent this spring that I began to consider buying Precious Petals. At $4.99, it wasn't exactly a big-ticket item, but I'm picky about highlighter. I don't wear it more than a few times a week, and I prefer cream formulas to powder ones. So I spent a month wearing an eyeshadow of a similar color on my cheekbones, and when I was satisfied that a peachy powder highlighter would fit into my makeup routine, I bought Precious Petals. (If only I were this discriminating about lipsticks.) I've now been using it for a few months, so I thought I'd use the waning hours of my Thanksgiving break to write up a review!

The Megaglo highlighters come in a cheap-looking square compact, though who cares when you've got that beautifully embossed pan? The lid doesn't snap shut as securely as I'd like, but since I don't travel with it (I prefer cream products for travel), no harm done.

Precious Petals has a slight duochrome effect, with a peachy pink base that shifts to a lighter, yellower peach. In the pan, it looks a little dark for me, but it sheers out nicely on my skin.

Here it is swatched with a finger on my arm. The formula has a stiffer, more powdery texture than I expected, but it's still workable.

And here's Precious Petals between theBalm Stubborn eyeshadow (top), which served as my practice peach highlighter, and ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Lunch Money.

Precious Petals is more opaque and metallic than either Stubborn or Lunch Money, and it's easy to see why YouTube types love it: a few layers of Precious Petals applied with a small round brush will produce that coveted BUH-LINDING shine. The thing is, I don't want to blind my enemies or send signals to Mars or whatever other metaphor YouTubers like to use. I prefer a subtle, diffused glow that's not immediately identifiable as highlighter. And that's the danger of succumbing to online hype: you end up with a product that might be perfectly fine in the abstract, but doesn't work for your own lifestyle or preferred aesthetic.

To sheer out Precious Petals, I apply it with my Sonia Kashuk fan brush. However, a fan brush (or perhaps just my fan brush?) isn't the best implement for this formula. The bristles don't pick up the product very well, so I always find myself applying more than one layer. Part of the problem, I think, is that the formula is quite granular. You can see the individual specks of shimmer in a swatch or on the cheekbone, and some of those specks are larger than others, which makes them less willing to cling to bristles. That brings me to another quibble: in direct light, especially artificial light, Precious Petals is not just shiny but sparkly. Here's two layers under fluorescent light:

Of course, it's not like I'm nuzzling up to a fluorescent beam in my daily life, so here's a closeup in indirect natural light. We're not talking full-on glitter, obviously, but trust me when I say that it's noticeably sparkly IRL. Say hi to my poorly blended concealer!

And here's my full face from today. I tried to use products I've been neglecting, so in addition to Precious Petals, we have two shades from Urban Decay Naked2 Basics (Skimp and Cover) on the eyes, with NYX Brown Perfection on the upper lashline and Cover on the lower lashline; Sleek blush in Flushed (not a neglected product: I use it multiple times a week in the fall!); and Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Mercy layered over NYX lip pencil in Cabaret. What do you know, I wrote my review of Mercy exactly a year ago! Wearing it today, I was reminded of its tendency to emphasize dryness and its extreme unwillingness to stick to the inner part of my lips. I have half a mind to destash it, actually.

Despite my complaints, I think Precious Petals is a good highlighter, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants an intense shine. For me, though, PP has been most serviceable as a reminder to think selfishly when I shop for makeup. Regardless of how a product works for a blogger or a YouTube reviewer, I need to consider how it will work for me. Will it suit my complexion and my lifestyle? Will it play nicely with the products I already own? Or is the person reviewing it so far from me in style, profession, and taste that I should think twice before snapping up a highlighter she loves? These days, I'm better at asking myself those questions before making a purchase. It's taken me years to reach this point, but it's a nice point to have reached.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lipstick Project Pan Update #1

Since my last post, I've crossed a few thresholds: the autumnal equinox, my 30th birthday, and my dissertation deadline. (For the record, 30 feels exactly like 29, and I was so busy in the weeks leading up to my birthday that I didn't even have time to freak out over becoming an Old.) Now that the worst of the semester is over, I think I'll have more time for blogging, though I doubt I'll be able to post more than once a week. At least that's better than never.

I thought I'd ease back into my posting schedule (if it even deserves that name) with a quick update to the Project Pan post I wrote two months ago. In early September, I resolved to pan four lipsticks by the end of the year: Glossier Generation Gs in Cake and Jam, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, and NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco. On September 8, the lipsticks looked like this:

L-R: Cake, Jam, Sultry, Flamenco.

Almost exactly two months later, they look like this:

As you can see, I've made significant progress on Jam and Sultry, each of which has maybe two days of wear left. I'm teaching a lot this semester, and Sultry is a great lipstick for situations in which I want to look as professional as a dirtbag grad student possibly can. I wore Sultry about twice a week in September and October and never felt that I was forcing myself to do so. I switched to darker lipsticks closer to Halloween, but now that fall break is almost over, I think I'll be able to finish Sultry in the next week. Here it is on a recent teaching day; I can't identify any of my other makeup except the eyeshadow on my lids, which is Seventeen Statuesque:

I rarely wear Jam as part of a full face, but I do like it as an "in-between" lipstick: sometimes I'm wearing a higher-maintenance color that I don't have time to reapply after it wears off, so I'll swipe on Jam and wear it until I find a chance to put on the bolder color again. Jam is also a good choice for running errands on days when I'm too lazy for anything but lips and maybe brows.

I've been having more trouble with the other two. Cake was simply a bad choice for a fall panning project, since I prefer deeper shades this time of year. I think I'm going to set it aside and try to pan it in the spring. And though I've worn Flamenco a few times since I started this project, it just doesn't work for my complexion or the looks I prefer. It's a little too bright and warm to flatter me, yet it doesn't quite commit to being a bright warm red. It has a hint of brown, yet it's not a brick red. It leans cool in most lights, yet it's not a pinky red. And while all this might indicate that it's a perfectly balanced neutral red, it's somehow not that, either. I can't believe I used to wear Flamenco almost every day (this is actually my second tube!). Funny how tastes change.

See what I mean? It just looks off. While I was scrolling through the photos on my phone yesterday, I stopped at the one above and thought, "Whoa, what's that awkward-looking red?" It was Flamenco, of course. Much as I hate to get rid of lipsticks in good condition, I decided at that moment to destash Flamenco. It's not terrible, but I have dozens of lipsticks that I absolutely love; I'm not going to waste my time on a mediocre one that's almost five years old.

I'll do one more update next month; by that time, I'll probably have finished Sultry and Jam!