Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017 Makeup Bag

Is there some reason why it takes me a freaking year to document my current makeup bag? This is definitely an alternate collection of products from what I was using at the start of 2017, and seeing the transition would've been really fascinating. Why am I so bad about writing these posts?

Ah, whatever. "What's in my makeup bag" posts are always so voyeuristic in the best way possible, so even though this is long overdo, hopefully it'll still be interesting.

Bear in mind that these are not the only products I'm using right now. This is just the collection of makeup I'm currently favoring and using very frequently. Also, this is a theoretical bag of makeup I'd take on a trip if I had to be gussied up while I was away.

The perfect sheer base: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly (1), Buxom Show Some Skin Foundation in Tickle the Ivory (2), YSL Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting Pen in #2 Luminous Ivory (3), and Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam (4) -- I spend more time on my base than on most parts of my face because I'm funny about how my skin looks. That said, I like to stick with products that are comfortable on my dry skin and easy to apply. You're seeing two repurchased base products here, Buxom Show Some Skin and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. The foundation provides light coverage, subtly perfecting and staying skin-like, while the concealer softens my undereye circles and hides my blemishes. I'm still fiddling with the Touche Eclat Pen, and I don't think I'd call it a holy grail yet, but it's certainly useful for subtle highlighting. The Glossier Cloud Paints are goof proof, so I can slap them on on the go and never look overdone. Beam is probably my favorite of the bunch.

A simple, fuss-free eye: Milk Makeup Ubame Mascara (5), Glossier Boy Brow in Clear (6), and the Catrice Long Lasting Brown Definer in 040 Brow'dly Presents (7) -- I'm lazy about eye makeup in general, but especially when I'm traveling, I don't want to deal with liner smears or shadow fallout. Instead, I tend to focus on a lashy look, which the Ubame mascara does perfectly. For my brows, I'm still loving the look of brushed up hairs and a not-too-precise fill in. The Catrice brow pen makes filling in your brows quick and easy, and while Boy Brow isn't my absolute favorite brow gel on the market, it does a nice job of grooming the hairs without feeling crunchy.

A statement lip: NYX Lip Pencil in Auburn (8), Besame Lipstick in Portrait Peach (9), Glossier Generation G Lipstick in Jam (10) -- Peach, plum, and burgundy are cliche colors for autumn, yet I think there's something to be said for switching up your textures. With a lip pencil, for instance, you can get a really precise application of color and a variety of finishes: slide it over balm for a stain, fill in your lips for a matte look, or add a dash of gloss on top for some shine. NYX Auburn is probably my favorite pencil for this because it's such a flattering red shade. For plums, I often like to move away from the vampier options and go for a sheer shade, like Glossier Jam. And while there are many peach lipsticks I love, Besame Portrait Peach is my current favorite because of its smooth satin formula.

Fall-friendly fragrances: Hermes Ambre Narguile (11) and Dame Perfumery Dark Horse (12) -- Sorry about the tacky alliteration, but cold weather fragrances do funny things to me. While warm, spicy, sultry scents are my favorites and I therefore own a wide variety of them, these two are my current favorites. Ambre Narguile is sometimes described as a "spicy apple pie" scent, which is both somewhat accurate and overly simplistic. There's an incredible warmth to this fragrance; dabbing it on is like wrapping my body in a warm blanket while I sit at the edge of an apple orchard. It manages to be thick and sweet without being cloying. Dark Horse screams fall to me, too, but in a different way; there's a dryness to this fragrance that carries the spicy notes like leaves on the wind. Purple prose aside, these are damn good scents that deserve every bit of love they get.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

REVIEW: Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses

If a cream shadow is going to impress my lazy, I-don't-really-wear-eye-makeup self, it's got to give me tons of impact with minimal effort. For years, that's meant relying on the cruelly discontinued Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadows, which look like actual metal on my lids. I never thought I could find anything that could truly compare. Then Lyn posted this swatch and Ulta had its 21 Days of Beauty sale. I was armed with a gift card, friends, and I was desperate for a new cream shadow love.

I ended up buying two of the Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses, which were half off during 21 Days of Beauty but normally retail for $24 each. I decided to buy the blue-brown duochrome Lyn had swatched, Oil Slick, and Unicorn, a newer shade comprised of pastel glitter in a clear base. The pots look tiny to me, but they actually contain 5.5g of product, which is pretty standard. For comparison, a MAC Paint Pot contains 5g of product and a Maybelline Color Tattoo contains a little less than 4g.

The pots are hard plastic. Inside, you'll find a little plastic cover with a tab that covers the shadow; you'll want to hold on to these covers to keep the air out. In fact, you'll want to keep the covers and screw your lids on tightly, since cream eyeshadows dry out quickly in general and I'm told these shrivel up super fast.

I did try to do old fashioned hand swatches of these cream shadows. Unfortunately, while they looked great on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, I couldn't seem to capture a decent still photo. Oil Slick looked flat and Unicorn disappeared completely. What gives?

Well, these aren't really eye glosses, insofar as they don't stay wet on your eyes and give them that "glazed" look. They're actually super sparkly cream shadows; up close and in some photos, you'll see straight up glitter. But the shimmer is refined enough that, from a distance, these actually look glossy.

Since they wouldn't swatch on my hand, let me show you some full face photos to give you a better understanding of what I mean.

On the left, we have two layers of Oil Slick. On the right, we have one layer of Unicorn on top of the Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadow in Unforgettable Oriole. (I always use Too Faced Shadow Insurance as well, since my eyelids can get very oily.) In both cases, I used the tiniest amount of product possible and blended it with my fingers. And in both cases, I think the Butter London product is the standout. Look at that shine! Look at that GLITTER! They're even prettier in real life.

Here's an obligatory blurry shot to better demonstrate the glitter in Unicorn:

There are other benefits to this formula beyond the sheer sparkly goodness. It has a very thin, gel-like texture that's weightless on the eyes. The Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses also dry down almost immediately, which means you'll have to work fast, but the upside is that they don't really crease and there's next to no fallout. Unicorn did drop a couple of specks on my face throughout the day, but when it comes to glitter, "a couple of specks" is nothing.

So do the Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses replace the Josie Maran liquid eyeshadows? Technically, no. The Josie Maran product is very metallic, whereas these are very sparkly. But are they absolutely beautiful and highly recommended? Uh, yes! Dummy proof, long lasting, absolutely gorgeous glittery cream shadows? I am ready.

RATING: 5 out of 5
The Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses are available at Ulta.

Friday, October 6, 2017

1P2L: Powder Blush with Tarte Paaarty

Confession: I haven't really used a powder blush in almost three years. Don't believe me? Just look back on old posts that demonstrate how I organized and downsized my collection. The last time you clearly see several powder blushes is in 2014. As time went on, I owned fewer and fewer products, and much of what left were my powders. After buying and trying mountains of makeup, I eventually reached the conclusion that creams and liquids worked better on my dry skin and were easier for me to apply.

I own a powder blush right now, though, because I got one free from Sephora for my birthday: Tarte Paaarty. I only recently started using it because...well, I hate typing the shade name, to be honest, but mostly because I'm still devoted to my cream blushes. And when I did decide to use it, it was as an eyeshadow--thanks, Pat McGrath! A blush is a blush, though, and I did used to love some of my powders, so why not give this guy the full treatment?

On the left, we've got Paaarty used as a traditional blush. Frankly, I didn't like this shade on my cheeks; despite the fact that I'm quite fair, I had to do quite a bit of building to get the color to show up. It did blend very easily, though, and I think it works well with the red lip.

I definitely prefer using this as an eyeshadow, though. Blended in to my crease, Paaarty adds some warmth and depth to my eyes. I'm pretty lazy about eye makeup these days, but I love the look of this so much, I've kind of gotten more in to eyeshadow. If I weren't so hyper-aware of my spending habits, I'd probably pick up another powder blush in a different shade at the drugstore just to use it on my eyes.

As with the last 1P2L post, there's a lot of unintentional product crossover here: I've been testing the YSL Touche Eclat, Catrice Long Lasting Brow Definer, and Dior DiorShow mascara for the last week, so without thinking about it, I used all three products in both looks. I also used Glossier Boy Brow and the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly in both looks, but that's mostly because I'm in the mood for brushed up brows lately, and because the NARS concealer is a staple for me.

There are two different shades of MAC Face & Body foundation in these photos as well. On the left, I'm wearing N1 and C1 with White, since I was trying to use up the last little bit of N1 I had. On the right, I'm wearing just C1 mixed with White. I thought the latter mixture was reading a bit dark on me, but seeing these photos confirms that the switch was probably a good idea. N1 has always been a hair too pink for me; I've just been able to get away with it because Face & Body is so skin-like.

Oh, and see that Butter London Glazen Eye Gloss? That review is coming soon! Spoiler alert: I think I'm finally out of the disappointing products rut.

Monday, October 2, 2017

VIDEO: First Impressions - Catrice, YSL, Dior, Ciate

(NOTE: To watch in full screen, start the video, then click the "YouTube" icon.)

Being on a no buy can be tricky, even for a month, so I decided to grab a bunch of products out of my "to try" box and give them a go on camera. In this video, I'm giving you my first impressions of the Catrice Long Lasting Brow Definer, Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat, Dior DiorShow Mascara, and Ciate Lip Velvet.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Budget: August and September

We're over halfway through the year, and the budget is showing it. To be totally honest, I'm pretty sure I'll end spending closer to $300 cash on new products this year. That's still better than the $1000+ I spent in 2016, but it's a good bit above my goal.

Let me explain why I think I'll break my budget.

What happened in August and September?

At the end of August, I obtained a second job that provides more consistent pay than teaching. I decided to resubscribe to Sephora Play! because this new job would support the $10.60 a month, and because I figured it'd bring new items in to my collection without requiring a big expenditure on my part. This violates one of my goals for the year ("unsubscribe from Sephora Play"), but because my work situation has changed, I'm not horribly offended by that. Besides, the quality of the boxes has started to improve again--if that trend keeps up, it's worth the ten bucks to me.

I've also been busy creating inventories and downsizing some of my products, especially my fragrance collection. While I've still brought plenty of new products in to my stash, I've also paid off every bill ahead of time; namely, I finally got around to buying a passport, which will be necessary for air travel starting in 2018, and I'll have my credit card paid off at the end of October. (To be totally honest, there isn't much on the credit card; I'm just trying to stick to the "minimum payment" every month to build my credit, and the minimum is pretty low.)

What did I buy?

As I said in my previous budget post, I wanted to make August a No Buy month. I succeeded pretty well. The only things I purchased with cash were staples (although I tried the Verb Sea Texture Cream to replace my previous texturizing products and ended up feeling meh about it) and gifts. I got MAC Rebel lipstick via the Back 2 MAC program, wore it twice, quickly realized the shade looks awful on me, and purged it.

Again, I renewed my Sephora Play subscription in September; I decided to include the October box's cost in this budget review since they charge me on the first of the month. I also used store credit to purchase Glossier's new Body Hero products. And since I'm one of three beauty bloggers who doesn't really care for Ulta, I only participated in one day of Ulta's yearly sale. I used a gift card to get two of the Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses (which I'm very excited to review!) and two Catrice brow products. I used PayPal credit to cover the extra shipping costs.

Because several big sales are coming up, and because I have this sample box full o' stuff to try, I'd like to try another month-long No Buy this October, with the obvious exception of the Sephora Play subscription. Honestly, I don't think it'll be tough. I have to buy a plane ticket, and I'd like to start saving up for a new camera, and those two things will really lock up my account.

Even with this No Buy, I think I'll end up going over the $250 budget because I'll be tacking on another $20 for Sephora Play, and I only have one gift card at the ready for the Sephora VIB sale this November. I'm not upset by the idea of going over by $10-20, since shipping costs and taxes alone can tack that on, but I will be a bit miffed with myself if I don't stay near $250.

How are my other goals going?

I'm down to three mini lipsticks in my collection, so I don't know how well that Project Pan goal will go, but otherwise, we're moving along swimmingly. I expect to be done with both the Glossier balm and the Maybelline concealer come Christmas. I may finish the Milk Makeup Blur Stick even sooner because I've been taking it to work for no foundation days.

I've slowed down on the number of foil samples I'm going through, mostly because I'm left with samples of actives and moisturizers, and I'm busy testing similar products in full size. A friend gave me a jar of the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, for instance, and I only use half a pad each go, so I'm not using my other acid samples. However, I have no doubt that I'll finish at least 50 foil packets by the end of the year.

I've started to come up with some potential goals for 2018. I don't think I'll do another cash budget, but I do have some other interesting goals in mind, like "get down to 5 individual cream blushes" and "don't buy any mascara." If you have any ideas for interesting goals I could try to meet, let me know!

How are your goals for 2017 going?

Monday, September 25, 2017

REVIEW: Colourpop No Filter Concealer

The internet damn near broke when Colourpop announced they were releasing concealers. Colourpop has released a wide range of cheap makeup (some more successful than others), and now they were stepping in to the complexion product ring. Personally, I've yet to find a concealer that truly wows me, so I wasn't too interested in trying out the No Filter Concealer until I caught sight of their shade range. Yes, there's still a drop off in the variety of shades and undertones at the darker end of the spectrum, but at least there is a darker end of the spectrum. As soon as I snagged a great coupon, I bought both the lightest warm shade (Fair 5) and the darkest shade available (Rich 75).

The Colourpop No Filter Concealer retails for $6 a tube. I feel the need to point out that, yet again, Colourpop has created a product that is cheap per unit, but at 4 grams, each unit is a bit smaller than the standard 6-ish grams I've come to expect from a liquid concealer. Still, it's definitely a drugstore-priced product.

The concealer arrives in a sturdy plastic container with a white lid that scratches easily and a flattened doefoot applicator. I don't detect any fragrance, so yay!

I actually swatched both Fair 5 and Rich 75 against a range of products for my Glossier Wowder review, so I'm going to reuse those swatches. Please notice how these No Filter Concealer swatches are darker than you'd think from looking at the tubes; that's because this concealer turns 1-2 shades darker as it dries down on the skin. This is really important to consider when you're trying to get your perfect shade match.

From left to right: NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia; Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint in Sand; Colourpop No Filter Concealer in Fair 5; Glossier Wowder in Light/Medium; Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 001; Deciem The Ordinary Coverage Foundation in 1.0N; Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Light Warm.

 From left to right: Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint in Deep; Colourpop No Filter Concealer in Rich 75; Glossier Wowder in Rich; Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 302 and 303; Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Dark Golden.

Again, there's some color changing as the concealer dries down and limited undertones at the darker end of the shade range, but overall, we're definitely covering the very fair to the very dark here. I'm totally impressed with the shade range.

On the day I photographed the Colourpop No Filter Concealer, I was testing it on top of my favorite foundation, MAC Face & Body. The picture on the left is my face with a thin layer of Face and Body; it definitely evens out my skin, but you can still see my undereye circles, the dark pigmentation from a healing blemish on my chin, and a bit of redness from a patch of hives between my brows. Concealer to the rescue!

I was initially a bit miffed by how light the concealer looked against my skin, but then I remembered that it darkens up within ten minutes, and it certainly did after I took these photographs. The Colourpop concealer has a smooth, thin texture and a weightless feel that worked wonderfully on my undereyes by softening up the darkness. On my blemishes, however, this product was less successful. I had to reapply the concealer to my chin three times to get any texture because it would pull up as soon as I tried to blend it out. It's almost like this concealer has a hard time sticking to foundation. In the end, I got medium coverage on my undereyes, light coverage on my redness.

I thought the concealer might soften up after it sat on my skin for a while, but while the color darkened and became a better match for my skin, the texture just got worse. Look above my eyebrow on the right side of this picture, and at my chin on the left side. See how weirdly dry and makeup-y those parts of my face look? That's the Colourpop concealer. It also drifted in to the fine lines under my eyes very quickly, as you can see in this picture, but that's fairly normal for me. I tapped it out with my finger and it looked fine.

Sadly, the concealer on my blemishes didn't fair so well. By the three hour mark, my forehead looked like a scaly mess. The Colourpop No Filter Concealer hadn't just faded, it'd taken the foundation underneath with it. I tried to reapply the concealer because I'm a glutton for punishment, but nope, it once again wouldn't stick to my skin properly.

I thought it might be an issue with MAC Face & Body, so I tested the concealer with other base products. I had better luck with this concealer sticking to bare skin on a no foundation day, but over other foundations? I had the same problem. And no matter how I applied it, the staying power of this foundation was pretty much garbage.

I had such high hopes for this concealer because of the low price, inclusive shade range, and lightweight texture. Unfortunately, I was totally let down by its staying power, coverage, and appearance on the skin, especially over foundation. You get props for the feel and the shades, Colourpop, but my praise stops there.

RATING: 2 out of 5
This concealer is available at

Friday, September 22, 2017

Recent Disappointments

I go through this weird cycle with products: I'll try five or six new things and will be impressed with damn near all of them, or I'll try five or six new things and toss out 2 star ratings like it's going out of style. I've been in the latter category for the past couple of months, and this time, some of the disappointment shocked me. These are, without fail, products I fully expected to adore.

For the record, this is not necessarily a post about awful, useless products that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. It's just stuff like that left me...well, disappointed.

Glossier Body Hero Daily Perfecting Cream - While it's difficult to get me hyped over cleansers and lotions, the inclusiveness of the Body Hero campaign suckered me in to buying both of their new products. I fully expected to dislike the cleansing oil and adore the body cream, but to my surprise, I've enjoyed the oil and felt quite meh about this lotion. I probably should've noticed that the second ingredient in the Daily Perfecting Cream is silicone, which is usually a signal that a product won't be moisturizing enough for me. Sure enough, this cream has a lot of slip to it, but provides only a little moisture. Running my hands over my body after applying this, I get the weird sensation that there's a film on my skin, almost like I've been shrink wrapped. And while this does add a bit of a glow to your skin, it's a short-lived effect. I'd call this "MAC Strobe Cream for the body," but that wouldn't be fair to Strobe Cream's awesomeness.

MAC Lipstick in Rebel - No, I did not break my lipstick no buy! I took advantage of the Back 2 MAC program to get this tube for free. Because this was a free lipstick, I decided to go with a shade I've wanted to try forever, but haven't been able to pay for with my own money: Rebel, a saturated purple. I've worn it twice, and while it's a beautiful color supported by a solid lipstick formula, I...just don't like it on me. I think if I'm going to go with a cool-toned purple, I have to go for something less bright and a bit deeper.

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Verb Sea Texture Cream - My overall positive experiences with Verb hair products and a parade of "look at my fabulous curly hair on sea texture cream!" Instagram posts had me rushing to Sephora to snag this stuff ASAP. My hair is either a 2b or 2c texture, depending on which hair dresser you ask, and I have an awful time taming the frizz and maintaining curl texture. Using this cream on days when my curls already had a bit of definition gave me more volume and a slightly more defined look, like above. But when I woke up on days with my curls mangled? It did nada. Actually, that's a lie: it pumped up the frizz in my hair times a dozen. Even when the Sea Texture Cream works, it doesn't work for long; you'll lose the effect as soon as you comb through your hair. I've managed to lose my receipt for this product, so I'll have to finish it up, but it's going to take a while to hit that many good hair days.

Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara -- Every time I've mentioned my search for the perfect "no makeup makeup," uber-natural lash tint, I've received countless recommendations for Maybelline Lash Discovery. I've been testing it for a couple of weeks now, annnnnd...why do people love this? It has a very thin brush that makes it easy to get every lash, that's for sure, but what else shines here? Nothing. The formula is weirdly sticky and actually seems to cling to my lashes as I pull the wand through them. It's easy to get clumped together spider lashes. Throughout the day, wet flakes dropped on my cheeks; trying to remove them with my finger led to awful gray smudges. Maybe I made a mistake buying a non-waterproof mascara for once, but this experience doesn't exactly tempt me to try the waterproof version.

Isehan Sunkiller Perfect Water Essence -- It's hard to beat Japanese sunscreens when it comes to lightweight, pleasing textures and great protection. Unfortunately, it's also hard to beat Japanese sunscreens when it comes to the Denatured Alcohol-Laden Formula Olympics. I managed to find a small handful of sunscreens sans SD alcohol and snagged them on eBay. This offering from Isehan seemed like my perfect match at first: it feels like water when you apply it, has zero flash back, is invisible on the skin, and doesn't dry out my face. Alas, something in this formula definitely broke me out; using it for even a day would prompt patches of pimples before the week was through.