Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Red: ColourPop Lux Lipstick in Liquid Courage

Inspired by Renee's recent post on her upcoming yearlong no-buy, I've been thinking about how to reduce my own beauty consumption in 2019. I was particularly struck by Renee's observation that her "interests are varied, but the blog is relatively linear--how might that change if I created more of the kind of content I really wanted to create?" This resonated with me because, while I do enjoy reviewing beauty products, those aren't the posts I have the most fun creating. Review posts are formulaic, and though there's nothing wrong with having a formula, it can get old. My real passion lies in writing bigger, more holistic posts about cosmetic history, or trends in the beauty industry, or Glossier's ridiculous marketing gambits, or whatever. As a result, I currently have a backlog of at least fifteen products that I bought in 2018 but have put off reviewing because it felt more pressing to, say, snark at length on Bite's zodiac lipsticks. I probably won't do a no-buy for the entirety of 2019, but I think purchasing fewer new products will push me to be more creative with my blog content (and with the makeup I already own).

In the meantime, how to blog about the stuff that has piled up on my shelf in the last six months? I've considered different formats for reviewing these new products (group them into posts by brand? review one lipstick a day for seven days?) but laziness and entropy have had their usual effect, and I've decided to just write the reviews in whatever order and at whatever rate takes my fancy. So, basically, no change whatsoever from blog business as usual, except that I'll try to keep the rambling to a minimum so I can post more often. (I'm off to a great start with this review, clearly.) 

Today is Thanksgiving, and if there's one makeup item that encapsulates late fall and its revelry for me, it's brick-red lipstick. It's a little more aggressively festive than most fall makeup, but less sparkly and dramatic than traditional holiday makeup. For almost four years, my go-to brick-red lipstick was NYX Alabama, but I destashed it earlier this year after its texture changed. I didn't want to repurchase it when there were so many other tempting reds out there (plus, I'm over NYX's cheap lipstick packaging), so when fall rolled around, I began searching for the perfect brick red. One of my favorite makeup purchases of 2018 was ColourPop Lux Lipstick in Dream Easy, and there happened to be a promising-looking brick red in the Lux Lipstick formula, so I ordered Liquid Courage on the last day of my August no-buy.

I like the Lux Lipstick packaging a lot. It's a sturdy rose-gold plastic tube with little stars all over, and the lid snaps on securely. I'm a little worried that the rose-gold coating will rub off eventually, but I've carried both Dream Easy and Liquid Courage in a crowded makeup bag several times each, and both tubes still look almost new.

The bullet is fairly wide, but with a rounded tip that makes it easy to outline lips. Oh, and it's imprinted with stars as well! That's the thing about ColourPop: sometimes they totally half-ass packaging and design, even in their pricier products (exhibit A: the blush/highlight duos from this spring), and sometimes they put a surprising amount of thought and effort into a $7 lipstick.

(The star design brings back strong memories of the Hollywood Hair Barbie I got when I was five, in 1993. She came with a hair stencil so you could spray-paint pink stars on her hair. The neon/rhinestone/lamé wardrobes of my childhood Barbies had more of an effect on my adult aesthetic than I feel comfortable admitting.)

To my relief, Liquid Courage turned out to be exactly the color I wanted: a bold red with a slight brown undertone. (As every veteran ColourPop customer knows, website swatches mean nothing, and you never know exactly which color will pop out of the box. I assume that's the origin of the brand name.) In direct artificial light or sunlight, Liquid Courage looks close to a true red...

...but otherwise it's a perfect '40s brick red, perfect for wearing with a houndstooth suit and a shiny shoulder-length mullet-y hairstyle that doesn't move when you turn your head (I watched The Third Man recently). I wish I'd kept Alabama so I could do comparison swatches, but if my memory doesn't fail me, it was basically identical to Liquid Courage. Here's Liquid Courage swatched with four other dark and/or brownish reds, in direct sun (left) and shade (right):

Top to bottom: NARS 413 BLKR, Maybelline Smoking Red, ColourPop Liquid Courage, NARS Cruella, Marc Jacobs Rei of Light.

The Lux Lipstick formula is one of my favorite beauty discoveries of 2018. In finish, lipfeel, and longevity, it reminds me very much of the Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme formula. Liquid Courage is opaque in one swipe, with a faint cake-batter smell. It's quite shiny when first applied, but it sets within ten minutes to a semi-matte finish. It's also very long-lasting: I wore it to dinner last night and it looked almost intact after drinks, salad, fish, and light blotting with a napkin. Unfortunately, Liquid Courage's extraordinary longevity comes from the fact that it stains the lips for hours. I went through several tissues and applications of lip balm trying to remove it last night. (For the record, Dream Easy doesn't stain at all.) Like most very pigmented lipsticks, Liquid Courage isn't moisturizing, but it's not drying, either. Here are a couple of lip swatches in different lighting:

And some full faces! Outside, with nondescript makeup on eyes and cheeks, sorry:

In bright artificial light, with ColourPop Tea Garden (a fabulous duochrome that I promise I'll review before the end of the year) and ABH Golden Ochre on my eyes:

Finally, a rare well-lit photo taken inside my apartment, in natural light. My eyeshadow is Glossier Lidstar in Cub.

More reviews to come soon! Until then, happy Thanksgiving, enjoy the upcoming sales if you're planning to take advantage of them, and stay strong if you're not!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Shady Witch (and a New Wave Halloween)

In the past five years or so, I've owned at least one dark lipstick in almost every color family: red, purple, pink, plum, brown, even blue and gray. Until this year, though, I had never bought a true black lipstick. Black lips were a little too predictably goth, too Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way. A dark brown or dark red was arty, my hipster brain told me. It was historical, because I could point to the same colors in illustrations from the '20s. Dark shades of traditional lipstick colors made me feel more mature: that is, as mature as an overeducated, underemployed, indebted millennial could feel. By contrast, black lipstick evoked nothing so much as a My Chemical Romance concert in 2006.

But my prejudices vanished one late-September Sunday in the beauty section of Target, when I came upon Wet n Wild's Halloween collection and spotted a sparkly black liquid lipstick. I had resisted non-sparkly black lipsticks by dozens of brands, but I was powerless against black plus glitter, and the Liquid Catsuit in Shady Witch came home with me.

So far as I can tell, Wet n Wild releases a Fantasy Makers collection (featuring untraditional colors, costume-friendly products, and sp00ky names) every September. This year's collection contains several dozen items, including a glitter palette, face and body stencils and gems, a color-shifting "zombie blush," and over ten new Liquid Catsuit shades in both metallic and matte finishes. Admittedly, my Shady Witch review comes a little late for Halloween, but the collection is still available and we're still deep in Scorpio season, damn it.

I've sung the praises of the matte Liquid Catsuit formula ad nauseam on this blog. I own six (!) matte Liquid Catsuits, most of which apply beautifully and feel comfortable on my perpetually dry lips. But I'd heard that the metallic formula wasn't as good as the matte, so I was curious to see how Shady Witch stacked up to my other Catsuit shades. When I swatched it, the first thing I noticed was that it wasn't quite opaque in one pass:

In indirect natural light.

Seeing the arm swatch, I braced myself for a patchy gray mess on my mouth, but I should have had more faith in the Liquid Catsuit formula. It's easy to build up the color to near-opacity: I need two coats, sometimes even three, but the lipstick doesn't get clumpy or sticky when layered. If I look very closely at my lips after application or shine a light directly on them, I can still see a tiny bit of streakiness, but the lipstick looks totally opaque at a normal conversational distance. This formula also seems to dry more quickly than the matte Liquid Catsuits do, but it doesn't feel drier. In fact, I've worn it for several hours on pretty severely chapped lips with no ill effects.

More annoying than the opacity issue is the fact that the lipstick starts flaking off the inner part of my lips after a couple of hours, even if I don't eat or drink anything. Luckily, touching up is simple: again, no clumping or bunching. And I bought Shady Witch as a costume lipstick, so I don't hold it to the same standards that I'd use for a workhorse MLBB shade. But I think it's indeed fair to say that the metallic Liquid Catsuit formula is inferior to the matte one. I have yet to encounter a metallic liquid lipstick that truly blows me away; it just seems like a difficult product for any brand to perfect. And black lipsticks are notoriously hard to perfect, so I consider it a minor miracle that Wet n Wild managed to produce a good black lipstick with glitter.

The only real problem is sketching out a precise lip line with the doefoot applicator. Here's Shady Witch on my lips with no liner; as you can see, the sparkle is very visible on the lips, though I wouldn't call this finish "metallic" (as Wet n Wild does). Because the base color is slightly sheer and the glitter particles are quite large, I consider this a glitter finish (see my lipstick taxonomy flowchart).

And here I am wearing Shady Witch with no other makeup except mascara and undereye concealer:

You may have noticed that the glitter in Shady Witch has a slight blue tint. The base shade is true black, but because the glitter itself isn't black and the base isn't totally opaque, Shady Witch leans slightly blue in direct light and will looks even bluer as the base color wears down.

Thinking Shady Witch might need a liner, I consulted the collective wisdom of Instagram and picked up NYX's retractable liner in Black Lips. It's...fine. It helps me get a neat lip line with the applicator, but it doesn't do much to stop the crumbling; if anything, it crumbles faster than the lipstick itself. The next photos all feature Shady Witch with Black Lips, but I'm not sure the liner makes it look much different.

A few days before Halloween, I decided to lean into the mid-2000s-emo aesthetic and pair Shady Witch with a reddish eyeshadow. I was inspired by my favorite passage from the iconic 2006 Harry Potter fanfiction My Immortal, widely considered the worst fanfic of all time (and probably the creation of one or more trolls, though no one knows for sure):
I was wearing black lipstick, white foundation, black eyeliner and red eye shadow. I was walking outside Hogwarts. It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was very happy about. A lot of preps stared at me. I put my middle finger up at them.
Which, revamped for a 30-year-old in 2018, turned into this:

On my lids, I used ColourPop Jelly Much shadow in Half Moon, which I keep meaning to review. (Spoiler: despite the "all-new!" hype and the amusing gelatinous texture, it's a pretty standard cream shadow. My only objection is that it's far from the purplish plum depicted on the website.)

While I was out and about that day (waiting in line at Old Navy to return a shirt, to be precise), I had an interaction that, in my humble opinion, confirmed my status as a high-powered influencer. Just in front of me in line were a sixtyish woman and a girl of two or three, probably her granddaughter. The following dialogue ensued:

Little girl to her grandmother, attempting to be discreet: WHY DOES THAT PERSON HAVE BLACK LIPS
Me: It's for Halloween! It's spooky!
Grandmother: Yes, it's a good lipstick for dressing up!
*several seconds of silence*
Little girl: I WANNA DRESS UP
Grandmother: What do you want to wear?
Little girl: I WANT BLACK LIPS

I just don't think you can call yourself an influencer until you've convinced a toddler in a suburban mall to want black lips.

However, the real purpose of this rambling post is not to boast about the vast sphere of my influence but to show off my Halloween costume, which I'm calling "New Wave Witch." This was the second Halloween for this costume, which features an '80s or early-'90s black velvet dress that I bought for $10 at Mission Thrift in San Francisco last year. This dress is one of the best-fitting garments I own, and I wish I could bring myself to wear it on occasions other than Halloween.

I'm a goth (in case you couldn't tell) and I wear mostly black. I love Hot Topic and I buy all my clothes from there. For example today I was wearing a black corset with matching lace around it and a black leather miniskirt, pink fishnets and black combat boots.

For makeup, I wanted dark, fuzzy-looking eyebrows; messy, smoky eyeshadow in a cat-eye-ish placement; neon blush blended just below the cheekbones and into the temples and hairline; hair slicked back with hairspray. These days, makeup tends to be either bold and crisp (the Instaglam look) or subtle and messy (the Glossier look), but never bold and messy. I love that '80s makeup is bold and messy; it's fun to put on and fun to wear, and the average person can approximate it without a million YouTube tutorials or special tools (though I did watch this great Miss Fame video for inspiration). I think I nailed everything except the hair: my natural wave fought too hard against the hairspray, but I was afraid to wear more, fail to wash it out, and have to teach the next morning with nightmare '80s-hangover hair.

The next day I woke up in my bedroom. It was snowing and raining again. I opened the door of my coffin and drank some blood from a bottle I had. My coffin was black ebony and inside it was hot pink velvet with black lace on the ends.

A few more angles for my New Wave album cover:

"Why couldn't Satan have made me less beautiful?" I shouted angrily.

Some fucking preps stared at us but I just stuck up my middle fingers (that were covered in black nail polish and were entwined with Draco's now) at them.

Tom Riddle gave us some clothes n stuff 4 free. He said he wud help us wif makeup if he wunted koz he wuz relly in2 fashin and stuff (hes bisezual).

And the makeup I used:

Brows: Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, with Urban Decay eyeshadow in Primal (from Naked2 Basics) to fill in the gaps for an '80s power-brow effect.

Eyes: I relied heavily on the Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette for the crease, lid, and outer-corner shades. I also used ColourPop Dragonfly, a dirty plum, in the crease. (I thought it was a very cool-toned color, but it looks quite warm next to the other shades. Oh, well.) The glitter on the inner half of my lid is ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Ladybird. My eyeliner is NYX Slide-On eye pencil in Gunmetal, smudged out with Urban Decay Undone from Naked2 Basics. Mascara is Glossier Lash Slick on upper and lower lashes (I almost never wear lower-lash mascara).

Cheeks: Blush is NARS Coeur Battant from the 2013 Guy Bourdin collection, draped just below the cheekbones and blended up to the temples and hairline. Highlighter is NYX Twilight Tint. I'm not sure how '80s a blue duochrome highlighter is, but I couldn't resist.

Lips: Wet n Wild Shady Witch, of course, with NYX Black Lips pencil.

This look felt so oddly natural that whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface the next day, I was surprised to no longer be an '80s goth. I might have to start wearing smoky eyes more regularly. Or black lipstick. Or both! Though probably not at the same time...until next Halloween.