Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Manicure

Around here the holidays means preparing menus well above my level and painting tacky, festive things onto my nails.

I found these nail decals at the dollar store, and they actually stuck on better than some of the more expensive ones I've tried.  The result is pretty thrilling:

I realize that in the photo the thumbs look like they have flowers on them, but they are, in fact, snowflakes.  The teeny-tiny ridges around the edge of each "petal" got kind of overwhelmed by the topcoat so they don't show up in the photo.  (Please also pardon the weird shape of my thumbnail - I ripped half of it off a week or two ago and it still hurts to think about).  The smaller dots are also supposed to be snowflakes, except I used them to create Santa's beard as well.

Base colours are all OPI: 

Red - "I'm Not Really a Waitress"
Green - "Green on the Runway"
White - "Angel with a Lead Foot"

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bobbi Brown "Bronze Glow" Review

The Internet made me buy this.  But I'm not mad about it.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I regularly read blogs and watch vlogs and check in with various brands' websites and get emails announcing new collections and such, but somehow I still didn't hear about Bobbi Brown's "Scotch on the Rocks" 2014 Holiday collection.  Which was particularly unfortunate considering this collection included a Limited Edition highlighter, "Bronze Glow".  Highlighters are my weakness.  By the time I realized what I was missing out on, these were sold out pretty much everywhere.  Fortunately a friend of mine managed to track one down and I made a special trip to go get it.

My Christmas present to myself.

And good lord was this thing worth the trouble.

Just look at this.

My oh my.

Some of the reviews I read made me a bit concerned it would be too dark, at least in the winter.  Also, when I swatched a sample in store, I gained new concerns about it being too glittery.

Sephora swatch comparison
Left: Becca "Topaz" / Right: Bobbi Brown "Bronze Glow"

At-home swatch.

Now that I've actually used it on my face, my concerns are completely gone.  It's a copper-leaning gold, not a dark bronze.  The texture of it is such that you can blend it out or build it up to make it work no matter what.  It's a snowy December day today and this doesn't look at all out of place on my skin.  (I have slightly medium skin, but I do think a fair-skinned person with a careful hand could pull this off).

I hope you can see it there.
I used a light hand with the highlight and went rose gold with my makeup to ensure it would melt right in to the look.  (It might be a bit hard to see in that photo because I was so gentle with it and blended like nobody's business - if only you could see it in motion, it really does glow).  I'm very much looking forward to going full-on bronze come my summer tan.  It's gross how much I'm in love with this product.  I've got a new face brush under the tree and the first thing I'm going to do with it on Christmas morning is stick it right into this highlighter.  Prettiest Christmas ever.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Manicure

My absolute favourite holiday is upon us!  Naturally, I celebrated with a matching manicure, because that's how I do.

I had the idea to do an accent nail over orange or yellow with a web or bat silhouettes, but then I remembered how much I suck at drawing on my nails and went looking for decals I could use to do this.  Instead of decals, I found these nail stickers from Sally Hansen with bats and haunted houses, which were absolutely divine.  And as the perfect added bonus, these bitches glow in the dark!

The downside is they apply like shit.  I have used nail stickers before without issue, so I know I'm not the problem here.  I also wasted a sticker trying to redo one nail to make it perfect, but had the same puckering every time.  The strips themselves are just too thick to stretch out smoothly, and even if you can pull them tight enough to smooth out, they aren't sticky enough so they just pop back up again.  Not cute.

I am heartbroken over this.  I was so excited to find these, and they just won't work properly.  The gaps around the edges are like little tunnels for water to get in - they peeled half off my nail and looked like crap after my very first shower, and I had to remove them.  Why is it brands that are perfectly capable of making good products always half-ass the specialty items?  False eyelashes are thick plastic, costumes are $70 for single-ply polyester.  Just because it's "only Halloween" stuff does not mean it's okay for it to be crap.  If these stickers had been as good as regular nail wraps, I would have bought out the entire stock and used that shit year round.  People like me exist, Sally H.  And we hate you today.

Anyway, here is the best I could do.  Happily, even though they are puckered and only lasted a day, they looked cute as hell anyway during that time.

Zoya "Storm" and Sally Hansen Salon Effects

You can see that they kind of look shitty at the edges.  The thickness of the strips also made it difficult to file off the excess, so they're rough at the tips as well.  But they're just so cute, it's hard to be very mad. 

Dat glow!

Better luck next year, I hope!

Anyway, I replaced that with this:

Colours are OPI "It's My Prague-ative" and "Black Onyx".  The Jack-O-Lantern is Sharpie.

As an added bonus, my Halloween "costume":


I have these ears at home, I wear them sometimes.  I actually am not even sure why, but whatever.  I do it.  So when my costume idea didn't work out, my partner suggested I could be a cat and then he remembered my ears were not the right kind for a cat.  Challenge accepted!  Lion.  (Someone at work pointed out I could also have gone cheetah, so maybe I'll try that another year).

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014


I'm going to count myself lucky today, because it turns out I haven't wasted a whole ton of money on shitty products.  I went through my collection looking for things I wish I hadn't bought, and I really couldn't find much.  In fact, most of the things I don't use are things I can't use, for whatever reason.  Which is pretty good, I think.

One of those things is this travel-sized retractable kabuki brush from Sephora.

I bought this when I was still getting back into the swing of things and thought I was being so clever saving myself the cost of a $70 bronzer brush by buying this for only $22 instead.  (Which, now that I think of it, is probably more than it's worth even had I liked it).  But it's really not the brush's fault I can't use it.  See, I have this thing called haptodysphoria.  Certain textiles just give me the willies.  For example, I absolutely cannot abide fleece.  Velvet?  No thanks.  Felt?  Kill me now.  Rubbing this brush on my face?  Pure.  Fucking.  Torture.

The problem isn't even actually the brush.  The brush itself seems totally normal.  Until I brush it on my face, and it starts building up static and THAT is what sets me off about this brush.  The fact that I bought it to apply bronzer around my hairline just made it worse - rubbing the brush against my hair like that just made the static absolutely unbearable.  I don't particularly enjoy any brush on my face, if I'm to be perfectly honest, but none of my other brushes have this added problem and are thus infinitely more tolerable.

My experiences with this brush have actually conditioned me Pavlovian-style to be afraid of it.  I didn't even realize it until writing this post, but I keep this brush in a different place away from all my other makeup, somewhere I will never even have to look at it.  I'm cringing just thinking of it now, lurking nefariously in its lonely corner of the bathroom cabinet.  I should probably just give it away to someone non-haptodysphoric who might actually like it.

While browsing in that bathroom cabinet I also found this:

Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in "Vintage Black Gold"

I want to make something clear here: I actually love this shadow.  I think it's really pretty, and the metallic finish is unmatched by anything else I currently own.  That said, I have only used it twice and never will again.  Because this shadow is a literal pain to use.

What I mean is, it hurts.  I wouldn't consider myself someone who has particularly sensitive skin, but both times I used this shadow my eyelids STUNG.  The first time I thought it was just a fluke, but then it happened again the next time I used it.  I'm still occasionally tempted to use it, but I refuse to allow myself to go through with it because I know it's not a good idea. 

This is particularly unfortunate considering the outrageous cost of this shadow.  ($42!)  Even with the small discount I used when I bought it, I'm kind of pissed about this one.

Next up is Too Faced's Lash Injection mascara.

Too Faced "Lash Injection" mascara

This is the worst fucking mascara I have ever used in my life.  I am not exaggerating even a little.  I loathe this product.  And even though I only paid $6 for it I regret every penny.

This mascara is sticky.  Actually sticky, like glue or something.  When I use it, my eyelashes stick together into these weird points, which I need to use a safety pin or tweezers to separate (PS: don't do this - it's totally dangerous).  And the top lashes stick to the bottom lashes, so I have to separate those too and then keep my eye really wide long enough for it to dry so they won't just stick together again next time I blink.  Which they totally do anyway because this mascara is the worst.

As if that weren't enough, it's also this weird plastic rubber type substance, so that when I separate my lashes or pull off a clump, it stretches I swear to God like mozzarella on a cartoon pizza.

This is not something that has happened just once.  This is a normal property of this mascara.  Look, I bet I can get a photo of it:

Like this, but on my EYES

How fucking gross is that?

Probably for the same reason, this mascara comes off in pills when I wash my face.  Little rubber balls of mascara.  I think the rubberiness is meant to coat the lashes like an outer shell or something, to give the appearance of extra thickness.  (A quick look at Sephora's website confirms that it is indeed supposed to "build lush tubes" around each lash).  So I guess these issues might not bother me as much if at least this mascara looked awesome on my lashes.  But it can't even do that.

This photo is the best I could get of this mascara, I swear I tried.

So boring.  So not worth it.

The lipstick in this photo is Kat Von D's Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick in "Vampira", by the way.  I initially thought it would end up on this list of regrets because I bought like 30 lipsticks last month (why?!) and a few of them were mildly similar.  On the same day I bought this and MUFE's Rouge Artist Intense #48, which is basically the same colour except glossier, and with a slightly more purple lean (this one leans a touch more brown).  I get so many compliments on the MUFE one every time I wear it that I never wore this one and forgot what it looked like.  I thought maybe I should return it, but that I'd be fair and give it one more shot before doing so.

Kat Von D "Vampira"

Yeah, I am never returning this shit ever.

(And yes, I am sticking my tongue between my teeth in that photo.  It's a habit I've always had - I have an overbite - and usually I remind myself not to do it but clearly I forgot here and didn't notice until it was too late.)

So those are my few regrets (and one almost-but-not-even-a-little-bit-a-regret).  In total less than $70 over the year.  I try to be pretty careful about what I purchase, so it's nice to know I haven't wasted a bunch of money on bad buys.  Kudos, me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Out, Damned Pot

Today I tried something I never thought I would.  I depotted my makeup.

I didn't used to understand this.  A part of me still doesn't.  Why move makeup out of one package into another package?  Especially when the original package is a lot cuter than a bunch of randoms floating around in a plastic tray?

I guess I've reached the threshold at which things like this begin to make sense.  I have enough makeup that I can't keep it all close at hand.  I've bought storage.  And sometimes I forget about the things I have in that storage.  (Or am just too lazy to go get them when I do remember, which actually happens more often than I should probably admit).  And this is where depotting actually turns out to not be completely nuts.

See, I had this one, lonely MAC eyeshadow single laying around.  When I buy my own shadows, I buy the individual refills so I can put them into a custom palette, but this was a gift so it came as a normal shadow pot.  Just a lonely shadow hanging out in my samples and backups drawer, never getting used.  That drawer also had a couple of Benefit's boxed sets, which are just so bulky I can't keep them stacked with my palettes on the coffee table (yeah, I do my makeup on my living room couch).  So I decided to liberate them.

Benefit's kit packaging is actually pretty adorable.  I ripped up the Feelin' Dandy Lip and Cheek kit before I thought to take photos, but it looks basically like this except pink.

The Bronze of Champions

Because of the cute, I felt mildly weird about busting it up for a couple of days while I was thinking this over.  But once the decision was made and my flat iron was heating, I tore into that shit with zeal.  The Benefit ones were easy, since they're just cardboard.  A bit of ripping and peeling and prying and done.

Benefit "Dandelion" 
Don't do it this way

I cracked Hoola a little, so I decided to come at the shadow a bit differently.

You can see in the photo that the hard cardboard underneath is just stacked, so I peeled back those layers until I had the shadow in view, and then pried it off.  Then I scraped off the glue and was done.  Somehow I still managed to gouge the shadow a little, I don't know.  I'm a klutz.

For the MAC single, the process was a little more involved.  First I had to pry the tray holding the shadow out of the pot.  I used a pin because my kitchen knife was too thick.  Consequently, there is no photo of this step because it is impossible to use a safety pin as a pry-bar one-handed.  This is what it looks like once it's out, though:

MAC "Beauty Marked"

Then I stuck everything into a flat iron to melt the plastic and glue.  This is Hoola.

Some people use a candle to do this part, but that seems unnecessarily involved and dangerous, especially for someone as clumsy as me.  Speaking of which, do NOT try to grab the pans off the iron when you think they're done.  I burned myself no less than three times, because I just kept forgetting that they'd be hot.  Wtf, brain?  Get tongs or gloves or something.  Don't be like me.

For the MAC shadow, I just put that whole tray on there and let the bottom melt away from the pan.

Then I stuck my pin up through the melty bottom to pop the pan up enough to pull it out of there.

And then it was free!  I gouged this one too, because I guess I suck at doing simple things.

I put both the MAC and Benefit shadows into a MAC custom quad that just so happened to have two empty spaces.  You can tell which ones they are because they're the ones that are all fucked up.

Clockwise from bottom right: MAC "Aquadisiac", "Beauty Marked",
"Goldmine", Benefit "Thanks a Latte"
Weirdly, the MAC shadow didn't properly fit in there.  The pan is a bit shallower and the magnet wouldn't grip it properly.  I had assumed the MAC singles were just refills in individual packaging, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  This shadow is also a bit older than the others, so maybe MAC's packaging has changed in that time.  MAC's website says they have the same amount of product, so I don't know exactly what the issue is here.  The Benefit shadow also looks like it fits, but it's actually a tiny bit smaller diameter-wise, and again, there were issues with the magnet.  I had to stick magnets onto the bottom of both depotted pans to make them hold.

The Benefit blush and bronzer went into an empty MAC palette.  Both also needed magnets glued on to help them stick securely.

They look so lonely.

I put the empty MAC shadow tray back on the iron for long enough to make it soft, so that I could un-deform it enough to click it back into the pot.  It still looks a bit funky, but I'm hoping the store will let me Back-2-MAC it anyway.

And that's that.  Hopefully I'll get some more use out of these now that I can keep them with the rest of my daily stuff.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Give Me (Even) More Lip Review

This time last year I owned one lipstick.  ONE.  That one made me curious and so when I saw the "Give Me More Lip" Sephora Favourites set, it seemed like a great way to branch out and try more.  It changed my life.  Since buying that set I have been obsessively amassing lip colours.  I have so many that I probably didn't need to buy this year's kit.

But I did anyway.

Sephora Favourites "Give Me More Lip" 2014

Since I'm not a complete headcase, I did the math to make sure it was still worth my while to buy it.  For one thing, there are at least four samples in this year's set that I already own - two of those because they were also in last year's kit.  Frankly, I think that's kind of lame.  On the one hand, I can understand that these kits are meant to reach out to people who don't already own a lot of lipsticks (ahem - last year me), so putting a few tried-and-true samples in the box is probably to their benefit.  On the other, even those of us drowning in lip colour still have a few brands and colours they might not be familiar with, and as such buy this kit every year, so putting repeats in the box completely defeats the purpose of getting to try all new things.

I'm going to list all of the lipsticks in the set, along with the full-size price and what the price for the sample would be to buy it in that size separate from the kit (assuming that you could, which for most of these you can't).  I'll highlight the ones that are full-sized as well.  The ones in italics are the repeats from last year's set.  Hopefully this list will be of some value to anyone who is on the fence about whether or not it has value for them.

bareMinerals Marvelous MoxieTM Lipstick in Speak Your Mind
Full size: 0.12 oz for $23 ($191.67 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.05 oz
= $9.58

Benefit Cosmetics Hydrating Tinted Lip Balm in Posiebalm
Full Size: 0.10 oz for $22 ($220 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.01 oz
= $2.20

Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick in Palomino
Full Size: 0.15 oz for $28 ($186.67 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.07 oz
= $13.07

Buxom Mini Full Bodied lipstick in Menace 
Full Size: 0.13 oz for $26 ($200 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.04 oz
= $8.00

Fresh Sugar Berry Tinted Lip Treatment
Full Size: 0.15 oz for $26 ($173.33 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.08 oz
= $13.87

Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon
Travel Size: 0.03 oz for $12
Sample Size: 0.03 oz
= $12.00

(Note: this sample is actually available as an 0.03 oz travel size that is sold on its own for $12, so I used the $12 as my measurement toward the total.  The strict per-ounce cost based on the full size is $9.90 - I assume the travel size costs a bit more than that because of the packaging - but since you can't actually buy the sample sans packaging for the true per-ounce cost, I felt is was more realistic to use the travel size price as the total.)

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Outlaw 
Full Size: 0.22 oz for $24 ($109.09 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.10 oz
= $10.91

Laura Mercier Lip Glacé in Blush
Full Size: 0.15 oz for $29 ($193.33 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.09 oz
= $17.40

Laura Mercier Crème Smooth Lip Colour in Red Armour
Full Size: 0.14 oz for $32 ($228.57 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.09 oz
= $20.57

Make Up For Ever Waterproof Lip Liner Pencil in 3C
Full Size: 0.04 oz for $23 ($575 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.025 oz
= $14.38

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Black Dahlia Lip Tar: Matte Test Tube 
Full Size: 0.33 oz for $22 ($66.67 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.08 oz
= $5.33

(Note: this is a full size test tube at 0.08 oz, but I couldn't find an individual price for those as they're sold in kits of three tubes.  The value here is based on the full size tubes.)

Sephora Collection Rouge Infusion 
Full Size: 0.152 oz for $18 ($118.42 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.068 oz
= $8.05

Stila Stay All Day® Vinyl Lip Gloss in Nude Vinyl (FULL SIZE)
Full Size: 0.14 oz for $32 
Sample Size: 0.14 oz 
= $32.00

Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tint in Moody
Full Size: 0.1 oz for $29 ($290 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.06 oz
= $17.40

Tarte Lipsurgence Power Pigment in Flush (FULL SIZE)
Full Size: 0.04 for $29
Sample Size: 0.04 oz 
= $29.00

Too Faced Cosmetics La Creme Color Drenched Lip Cream in Naked Dolly 
Full Size: 0.11 oz for $26 ($236.36 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.05 oz
= $11.82

Too Faced Cosmetics Melted Liquefied Long Wear lipstick in Melted Fuschia
Full Size: 0.4 oz for $25 ($62.50 per ounce)
Sample Size: 0.16 oz
= $10.00

TOTAL: $235.58

Sephora's site claims this set to be a $230 value, which is accurate based on my math (even if you use the actual per-ounce cost instead of the travel size price for Hourglass "Icon").  The products included in last year's set were the Hourglass in "Icon", and Buxom in "Menace", so if I subtract those two the total value for the set is actually $215.58.

Last year's set included four full-sized products (one in each shade family), and this year there are only two. However, this year also included a sample-size lip liner as an additional product, which was not in last year's set, so that evens it out a little bit.  Just a little.

For myself, I also subtracted the colours I already owned (OCC "Black Dahlia", Bite Beauty "Palomino", bareMinerals "Speak Your Mind"), which brought the value to $187.20.  I also looked at what it would cost to buy the few I was most interested in separately in full size (Fresh Sugar Berry, the two from Tarte, and the liquid Too Faced) which was $109.  Since the retail cost for the entire set was $70, and the fun to be had with it is priceless, I'm pretty thrilled with this despite my very few petty grievances.

Another petty grievance:

Sad tuba noise

What the hell?  The lipstick was turned most of the way up before the cap was put on, so the tip was all mooshed.  I think this is actually a manufacturing defect, so it's not really anyone's fault, but it's still annoying and sad.

But how are the lipsticks, you ask?  I've got swatches:


Sephora "Rouge Infusion", Kat Von D "Outlaw", Laura Mercier "Red Armour", Hourglass "Icon"

The Sephora lipstick went on pretty sheer, I had to build it up for the swatch.  The colour itself is kind of unexpected and odd... There's a hint of dark orange or brown or something in there that I find intriguing.  I wish it was more opaque, because I'm interested in what that will look like on my face.  The Kat Von D went on opaque in one stroke.  It's a bright poppy red that I probably already own ten of, but I'm hoping will outlast some of them on the lips.  The Laura Mercier also went on well in about two strokes, but the lipstick itself appears to be a bit of a sheerer shade in general.  The Hourglass is also opaque in on one stroke.  It's a darker red, which I love.

When removing, Kat Von D "Outlaw" and Hourglass "Icon" held on to the bitter end - I had to really scrub to get them off.


Bite "Palomino", Benefit "Posiebalm", Too Faced "Melted Fuschia", Tarte "Flush"

The Bite lipstick went on smooth and opaque in one stroke.  This colour.  This.  Colour.  The Benefit balm is pretty sheer, obviously, because it's a balm.  I think I was hoping it would be more like what Clinique thinks a balm is and it would have more pigment, but it doesn't.  But it's a nice sheer pink shade.  The Too Faced applicator is a bit gimmicky, and I felt like I had to do a lot more swipes than was strictly necessary because the sponge kept wiping the colour back off.  But the pigmentation and colour seem nice in the swatch.  The Tarte "power pigment" is effing powerful.  It went on really thick and opaque in a single stroke.  It's a very dark pink, but I like those so I'm good with it.

When removing, Bite "Palomino" was the last to go.


OCC "Black Dahlia", Tarte "Moody", Fresh "Sugar Berry", Buxom "Menace"

The OCC lip tar goes on very strong.  It comes down to a very dark merlot shade, which I absolutely love.  (That's why I already owned it).  The Tarte tint is just that - a tint.  I need to learn to read, because again I was expecting more colour payoff than I got.  The shade is a bit less wine-y than the other three, and I think it gives you some extra variety in the total set.  The Fresh "treatment" is gorgeous and smooth.  It's also a sheerer balm, but I don't mind that with this one for some reason.  (Just don't keep it in your pocket - I melted mine).  The Buxom lipstick is a dark purple-red that went on opaque in one stroke.  I do know that it's a bit more sheer on the lips than it looks in the swatch.  (You can see for yourself here).

When removing, the lip tar and Buxom "Menace" held on the longest, but that's to be expected since the other two are balms.  This won't give any hints about their longevity, sorry.


Nudes + lip liner
Make Up For Ever "3C"
Stila "Nude Vinyl", Laura Mercier "Blush", bareMinerals "Speak Your Mind", Too Faced "Naked Dolly"

The Stila gloss is very opaque - not truly a gloss at all, I think - and sticky.  I actually don't mind slightly sticky lip stuff, it makes me feel like it won't slide around and reassures me that it hasn't worn off.  Some people hate stickiness though, which is why I mention it.  The Laura Mercier gloss is less sticky, and slightly less pink.  The bareMinerals lipstick goes on smooth and creamy in one stroke.  It's a kind of dusty bubblegum shade.  The Too Faced lipstick is a pink-tinged nude, which was very creamy and needed a couple of strokes to show up well enough for the swatch.

The liner was a great add for this year's set.  Depending on the colour of your lips, a nude liner like this can be used under most of the lipsticks in the set, which allows someone who doesn't already own a lot of lipstick and liner to properly try them all out without going shopping. 

Stila was the only holdout during removal.  It was a bit horrible - like when you're trying to get off the last of the sticker glue when you remove a price tag from something.  I wore this yesterday and it wore off slowly and much more smoothly in real life, which is a relief, in hindsight. 

As a last note, the reason I put quotes around "nude" for this section is that none of these are really nude at all.  They're all pinks.  It's kind of like having a slightly less bright pink section rather than true nudes.  Whch I actually think kind of sucks.  For comparison, last year's set included proper nudes:

Smashbox "Nylon Nude", Stila "Dolce", Laura Mercier "Bare Naked", Buxom "White Russian"

I still use most of these regularly (the Stila lipstick is a bit too brown) and I was looking forward to expanding my nude horizons.  I guess it isn't a huge deal, since the Smashbox from last year is basically the perfect nude lipstick so maybe there's really nowhere left to go from here anyway.  And I've got nothing against light pinks, especially since I actually did need a few more options there.  So this is not a gripe.  Just a gripe-like observation.

Overall I'm very excited about this set.  I'm always excited about lip colours. I looked forward to this release all year and was not disappointed.