Monday, May 18, 2020

An Old-Fashioned Lipstick Destash Post

One of the reasons I decided to resurrect my blog is, frankly, nostalgia. I never thought I'd feel nostalgic for the second half of grad school (or the first half, for that matter), but 2020 has made me nostalgic for almost everything before it. When I started Auxiliary Beauty in 2014, Obama was president, I had a vague hope of someday obtaining a tenure-track job, and the population of good beauty blogs on the internet numbered in the double digits. I worry that my new enthusiasm for blogging is no more than regression, but if there's any moment when regression is permissible, it's this one. And if I can create some content for other people while I regress, all the better.

Remember destash posts? Remember the Platonic ideal of a perfectly edited lipstick collection, with no unwieldy tubes or oppressively floral fragrances or once-a-year metallic greige shades? I've grown a bit more cynical about destashing in the last few years, and before I remove anything from my lipstick box, I ask myself very sternly if I'm doing so merely for the excuse to buy another, similar lipstick. In the case of the four lipsticks in this post, though, the answer to that question is no. I think.

L-R: Matte Naked, Nice to Fuchsia, Rio Rio, Like.

Close-up of the tubes (note the beat-to-hell condition of Rio Rio):


L-R: Like (two swipes), Rio Rio, Matte Naked, Nice to Fuchsia.

And justifications for each destash, with links to my original reviews:

Glossier Generation G in Like (old formula):

This is the newest lipstick of the four, purchased two summers ago on my visit to the Glossier showroom. The second incarnation of the Generation G formula has a shatter-prone cap, a leap-onto-the-dusty-floor-prone bullet, and a formula that smells of old donut-frying oil. I could overlook all of those issues if Like were a flattering color, but the very sheer pink always makes me look sickly, no matter what other colors I'm wearing. I've tried wearing Like a few times this year and have switched it for a different lipstick every time, which is a pretty clear sign that I can do without it.

Milani Moisture Matte in Matte Naked (discontinued):

Oh man, I LOVED this lipstick when I first bought it...back in February of 2015. The advanced age of Matte Naked is one reason I'm letting it go, though I'd probably keep it if I still wore it often. I just don't care for a matte nude lip anymore, even in a formula as comfortable as this one; that look feels a bit dated in 2020. Also, Matte Naked is neither strongly warm-toned nor strongly cool-toned, and those shades (in any color family) always make me obsessive and fussy about how to incorporate them into a look. That's my own personal neurosis and no fault of Matte Naked's, but it is what it is.

Topshop Matte Lipstick in Rio Rio:

Another 2015 purchase. Rio Rio's most obvious problem is the gross-looking, slightly sticky tube, which is just a bummer to use, especially in public. The formula is nice (though not really matte), and the shade is the only bright orange-red that has ever looked semi-decent on me, but my records tell me that I've worn Rio Rio just once in the past two years. Clearly, I don't need a bright warm red in my life. This is an important lesson I've learned since I started my makeup journey: sometimes there are gaps in your collection for a good reason.

Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia:

Of the five Liquid Catsuit shades I own, Nice to Fuchsia has the patchiest formula, which certainly hasn't improved in the three years since I bought it. The color is great, but I have an almost identically colored matte lipstick in a formula I prefer (Maybelline Loaded Bold in Berry Bossy). Nice to Fuchsia performs better when sheered out, which is how I generally wear my Liquid Catsuits, but I also have an almost identically colored sheer lipstick in a formula I prefer (Maybelline Shine Compulsion in Berry Blackmail).

L-R: Berry Blackmail, Berry Bossy, Nice to Fuchsia.

This destash brings my lipstick collection to forty-nine, a number that makes me a little ashamed, since I spent a few years hovering around forty. I've bought five lipsticks this year, which I'm also not proud of, and writing this post has persuaded me that I need to go on a lipstick no-buy until the fall. (Remember no-buys?) A no-buy seems especially reasonable now that my lips are covered by a mask whenever I interact with people. (Remember displaying your entire face at the grocery store?)

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Partial Resurrection of Auxiliary Beauty

Last September, I wrote what I thought would be my final post on Auxiliary Beauty. I had a few reasons for ending the blog: my demanding schedule, my increasingly utilitarian approach to makeup, and my desire to focus on other kinds of writing. The next six months gave me no reason to regret my decision. I adjusted to my full-time teaching job and finished a long essay that I'd like to get published this year. I decided to leave academia (well, the job market decided for me), and I looked forward, sort of, to figuring out a new career path. I enjoyed trying out new makeup without photographing it extensively or coming up with a hot take for a blog post. I wrote occasional short reviews on Instagram, but I felt no need to make those reviews exhaustive.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic, which upended all my expectations for this year. As the weeks of lockdown passed, I found myself missing my blog and wondering if I could resurrect it while maintaining the mental freedom that its absence had produced. Beauty blogging hadn't taken time away from other creative writing, exactly, but it had occupied valuable mental space. It had become an unneeded source of (entirely internal) pressure and expectation, and I didn't know how to start blogging again without allowing the pressure and expectation to creep back in.

Last night, while mulling over these questions and absent-mindedly scrolling through '70s makeup looks on Pinterest, I came across this photo:

Barry Lategan for Vogue UK, June 1972.

I was struck by the unexpected combination of bright coral and deep rust. It made me want to pair my new coral blush, Fenty Strawberry Drip, with autumnal shades on my eyes and lips. But I wanted to do more than copy the look. I wanted to write about it. I wanted to analyze the Biba-meets-Baroque aesthetic of the photo. I wanted to review Strawberry Drip in the context of the photo. I wanted to discuss the other images and artworks that the bright watermelon coral of Strawberry Drip evokes for me. And I couldn't do all that in an Instagram post. So this morning, after submitting my final grades for the spring semester, I opened Blogger and started to write, just to see how it would feel. It felt good. I kept writing.

I don't know how long this incarnation of Auxiliary Beauty will last, or how frequently I'll post, but I'll try to keep it as low-key as possible. I'm curious whether blogging can coexist with the new habits of writing I've cultivated since last summer. If the answer turns out to be no, or if I catch myself feeling blog-related stress or guilt, I'll stop again. But for now, I think posting occasionally will bring me pleasure, which is in short supply these days. I hope my posts bring you pleasure, too.