Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Favorites!

Where has April gone?  It seems like just yesterday I was trying to write the March Favorites (and failed, miserably.  By the time I was trying to get it together, it was mid-April and I decided it wasn't worth it :P  Maybe that's why it feels like it was just yesterday?  Aiya).  Here are the things that made my April happy:
  • I've worn Zoya Marley several times - I can't get enough.  I love how its cool tone looks against my warmer skin, and I like that it's not just a lavender cream - it has a subtle shimmer that gives it added depth.  Love!
  • MAC's tinted lip conditioner has ended my quest for a comfortable lip balm that contains SPF.  That's it.  The end.  At $14.50 for a crap ton of product (that's the technical term, I'll have you know), I'm happy.  Yeah, I have to dip my finger in it, but it's okay. 

  • My Clarisonic Mia!  Mine is a lovely mint green color.  I didn't use it very often in the winter because my skin was already overwhelmingly dry at that point, but now that the weather is warming up, my skin is a little less flaky and this is a good tool to have.  I use it once a week with my usual Clinique facial soap, and I can always tell the difference afterward.  Cleaner, fresher skin - less clogged pores, more brightness.

  •  Tarte blush in Blissful: Love.  Love.  A beautiful peach color with no shimmer, that lasts all day and gives a beautiful glow.  I already have more sitting in my Sephora shopping cart (Natural Beauty and Exposed).

  • My Banana Republic Trench Coat in black (seen here).  Now that the weather's warming up ever-so-slightly and the rain is slooooowly letting up (as in, every other day instead of every day), this trench has become the perfect lightweight-but-still warm jacket to wear around.  I love trench coats - the cut is generally so flattering, especially for those of us who hover at a, um, towering 5'3".

  • Daniel Merriweather's not new to the music scene, but he's fairly new to me.  I love the r&b + jazzy vibe - his album's been on repeat.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tarte Mascaras: Yay!

Since I'm actually wearing mascara today, I thought I'd do a post on it.  It's hard to find a good mascara - I want one with volume and no flaking, smudging, or stickiness.  Length doesn't matter as much to me, though holding a curl is a big bonus. I don't wear it every day (prolly just a few times a month, haha, which makes mascara purchases extremely silly), but sometimes I want that extra oomph, so I need to have a good one in my, uh, arsenal.

But where does one start in the quest for the ultimate mascara?  There are so many, at so many different price points.  There are some that I have tried and loved, though.  Before the whole allergy problem, I loved the intense drama and volume of the original DiorShow, and Clinique's High Impact.  Even with a primer (I always use mascara primer when I wear mascara), both smudged very slightly on me by the end of the day, but in general they were long wearing and there was a big difference in volume, lash thickness, and color intensity between my lashes with and without mascara.  Both were also noticeably heavy and stiff, though - I was always aware that I was wearing mascara.

Within the paraben-free range, I've tried just a couple: Smashbox's Bionic (a VIB bonus sample from Sephora), and Tarte's Multipleye Natural Lash Enhancing Mascara, and their Lights, Camera, Lashes.  The Smashbox smudged like crazy on me (even with a primer), and it didn't seem to have dramatic curling, volume, or lengthening effects.  The Tarte ones are another story; I love both.  I prefer the Multipleye simply because it feels less stiff/sticky, though both really aren't so bad in that department.  They don't budge, either, which is wonderful - I hate the wandering mascara effect.  And they do add that extra "oomph!" in lash volume, which is really what I'm looking for when I wear it.
I've only tried the sample sizes (both as bonuses from Tarte), but I will buy a full-sized Multipleye when I run out (less sticky = winner).  I can't really pinpoint any further distinctions between the two, however, so if you don't mind stickiness, try both.  The brushes are simple and easy, and the formula is great.  Both also remove easily with my Clinique Take the Day Off makeup remover (and, more recently, my Boscia, which I will be reviewing shortly).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sephora Long-Lasting Eye Liner

I think Sephora just revamped their liquid liner formula, because they have some older ones selling for $5 each (with the original price listed as $10) with limited colors left, and then they have a new set selling for $10 each.  The new formula is paraben-free, which is what enticed me.  And $10!  That's rivaling drugstore brands, at this point, so I ordered a few with my CHIC week order.  I picked up 01 Black, and 13 Fancy Blue, and I want more.  More!
They have a thin, pointed brush (not a flat brush like Benefit's Magic Ink) which is stiff and yet fairly easy to work with.  You do need to shake the bottle well before use, though, to prevent it from being excessively thick.
Over primer, it lasts all day - I'm not brave enough to test it without primer (I've had quite enough of walking around with raccoon eyes, pre-UD primer days, thank you very much) and really, I would never wear it that way, so it's kind of a moot point for me. (I will mention that the hand swatch I did disappeared after washing dishes, but, I'm not sure you'll expose your eye to liquid detergent and a sponge...?)

Both dry down to a nice, matte finish; the blue is very vibrant (the same color as my Sally Hansen nails!), and the black is, well, black.  They are nice and dry after roughly half a minute - I didn't have any problem with immediate smudging when I was putting liner on (though some did end up on the tips of my eyelashes, and it was actually really pretty!)
Bottom line: if you're looking for a new liquid liner, I'd definitely recommend trying these.  $10 for 0.082 fl oz at Sephora.  So far they come in 13 colors (black, grays, golds, browns, greens, blues, purples; a few of those are glitter versions) and I like that they offer such a variety - I love colorful eye liners.  I want the metallic gold glitter one for sure. Also, this was S. approved :)

A note: I do have a special place in my heart for UD's 24/7 pencil liners, but sometimes they still smudge ever-so-slightly, even with a primer.  And there's also no beating liquid liners for clean, precise lines - especially if I want a winged eye.  Also, confession: I had a fear of liquid liners for a very long time, because they seemed so...wet.  And permanent - the possibility for disaster seemed huge.  But I got over that fear, so you can too!  (If you're plagued by things like that.  If your fear is earthworms and slugs - like mine - then I'm afraid I can't help you.  Let me know if you find a good remedy for that, though.  Slugs.  Are.  Gross.).
image source: OregonLive.com
See?  Your other fears can't be that bad, right?  Now go out there and tackle the world!

The Thursday Post

Natalie Walker: Uptight.  Her voice is ethereal, and this is one of those smooth, easy-listening pieces that still draws you in with its smoky sexiness.

image from Amazon.com
 I read The Lover's Dictionary, and it was good.  Short, but in a concise, effective way.  Each vignette is written as a dictionary entry.  They aren't trite words like "kiss," and "happiness," or whatever, either. 
image from Sephora.com

I have seen so many great reviews (CafeMakeup, The Beauty Look Book) of this, and I must have it: DiorSkin Nude Glow Healthy Glow Summer Powder in 001 Aurora (how many times do you need to say "glow?")

I've also been rocking liquid eye liner a lot this week...Benefit Magic Ink.  I love the clean lines from liquid liner.     
And, my Sephora order (purchased pre-ban, thank you very much :D) came in on Monday, so I have all sorts of goodies!  There will be reviews (I already played around with Mash-up; I couldn't wait).  (And I'm still pleased as punch about ordering them before the buy-ban, and receiving them during the ban!  I realize this only means that I succeeded in outsmarting myself, but you know, I'll take what I can get).

Finally, for something cool:  Have you ever played Epic Mickey (video game for Wii)?  Well, it doesn't matter - do you like cool photography?  Read this.  Think of the gnome travel photos in the movie Amélie, except with a little Mickey Mouse figurine, instead.  Super cool!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gleek Out? Sephora by OPI: Mash-up


I'm not a Glee fan, so I had no interest in Glee-inspired products.  However, I was told that I had to buy the "Mash-up" color from the Sephora by OPI Glee collection.  So, I did.
It's very, very beautiful and shimmery and purply-green-gray, with tiny flecks of glitter.  But it's also not terribly unique, and actually The PolishAholic has a comparison with the also fairly recent "Not Like the Movies" from the Katy Perry collection (tsk tsk, OPI) so if you have that one, you can skip this - or if you can't find one, the other will substitute just fine.  It also brings Zoya Adina to mind, but that one seems lighter in swatches - and more purple.  However, I don't actually have Adina, so I can't tell you just how close it is.  Mash-up, though, is a silver-based green-purple duochrome.  And I really do like it, since I don't have anything close in my collection.  It's subtle, and it catches the light in different ways.  I am easily distracted.  It also applies well - smoothly and in thin coats.

(Incidentally, if you're going for a full-on, intense silver polish, Zoya's Trixie is the way to go - it is a beautiful mercury color, and definitely one of my favorite nail polishes.  Of all time.)

And in the spirit of things, I did my own mash-up; that is, I took five polishes and layered them with Mash-up.  I was trying to see if I could get the purple-green shades to come out more - or at least, what it would look like over greens and purples and silver, etc.  These are the five I used:
Here they are swatched on an extra nail plate I had (from Zoya); this is two coats each:
And then two coats of each color + one coat of Mash-up on top:
Mash-up over Trixie looks a lot like Mash-up on its own, though it's slightly more opaque.  Over Freja, it runs darker (given that Freja is a gunmetal color), and it gives a pearly finish to the jelly Casey.  It gives Gemma more of a pearl finish, and is actually kind of how I wish Gemma would look on its own; I think it's gorgeous over the Sinful Fiji shade.

Hopefully this gives you some idea of what Mash-up looks like over different colors.  This is also part of my no-buy initiative; I can mix and match my own colors and finishes!
Here's how I decided to wear it - with a coat of Cover Girl's Boundless Color in Disco Dazzle (a clear polish with glitter chunks).  I felt like being girly.

Monday, April 25, 2011

We Really do Need Standardized Women's Sizing

Please read this article.  It really frustrates me that women constantly have to guess at their clothing size, because it varies so much from store to store.  This is a result of vanity sizing, as they call it, and the fact that different stores seem to have different ideas of what a valid size range should be.  Why can't we be like men, and just have our measurements as sizes?  I understand the reason behind this: maybe a woman doesn't really want to be hit over the head with a "40-in" waist size tag on her pants, but wouldn't she be so much happier if she at least knows not to bother with the arbitrarily assigned size 8, or 10, or 16, or whatever?  Isn't that even more demoralizing?  You have to go through the agonizing - and time-wasting - practice of trying on a full range of sizes, just to see where you fall in this store's schema. 

I won't pretend that I know my own measurements - I've never bothered to have anything tailored, and so I have never had my measurements taken.  This will prolly change very shortly, when I have to start shopping for a wedding dress (I'm putting it off as long as possible), but I really do feel like it's something I should have done - get my measurements, I mean - I just haven't gotten around to doing it.  However, if all of my clothing was dictated by these measurements, I prolly would know them. 

It's a lot easier to shop for men's clothing, you know.  Look for the proper waist size (in inches, here), proper length (also in a tangible, standardized number), and shirts - also regulated by arm length, etc.  Whereas we have to deal with "XS, petite XS, XXL, M, size 8, size 2, size 16."  What do those numbers/labels even mean?  I like to shop, but I hate trying things on (especially if I'm wearing jeans tucked into knee boots, or something.  Come on.  Do you know how irritating it is to take those off and put 'em back on in a hurry?) and it'd be nice to know that something would just fit, damnit.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have trouble finding your size across stores, or do you have it all down pat?

MAC Quite Cute Sakura Mineralize Blush

This is the reason why I didn't want to get into MAC.  I did not need to get sucked into yet another makeup brand.  Damn, damn, damn.

But even before I decided to foray into MAC with the lipsticks and the tinted lip conditioner, I saw promo pictures of the Quite Cute blushes and could not get over how freaking cute they were.  With the little heart in the middle?  Is that not just adorable?  Gah.  Killed by cuteness, I was.

At least, my wallet was.  Why are these blushes $23?  I mean, that's two dollars less than my Tarte blush loves, but MAC generally seems to be slightly more affordable than some of the other things I tend to purchase (cough cough Guerlain).  Oh well.  Whatever.  Obviously, it didn't stop me.
Click for larger
Sakura is the only one I wanted, because of its decidedly cooler tone and the fact that I don't have a purple-y blush, while I do have a pink and a peach one.  The MA at the MAC store applied some to my cheeks, and I was smitten!
Direct sunlight
Indirect sunlight.  I know.  I'm pale. 


It's a bit chalky, but I don't have any other MAC mineralize blushes, so I can't compare.  I do pick up quite a bit of product with one brush swipe, though, and it blends into my skin beautifully.  I'm not sure I'll be rushing in for any more MAC blushes, but I <3 this one.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Warm Weather = No More Blues!

Unless they're absurdly bright ones, like this Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Pacific Blue.  This is my favorite blue polish, and it's a shame that it's not a 3- or 4-free formula.  Oh well.  It applies beautifully and smoothly and evenly- not too thick - and is practically opaque in one coat (thought I always use two).  And how can you not love this blue?
Direct sunlight.  It's a beautiful, beautiful cool blue cream.  I've gotten so many compliments on it.
Indirect sunlight.  Still very bright!
The weather was warm and the sun was shining yesterday morning - it was almost like we woke up in a different city.  So we cleaned the apartment - spring cleaning! - and I dug out my bright nail colors.  Of course, it's rainy and gloomy again, but we take what we can get.  At least my nails are cheerful!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eye Look: Teal and Gold (Stila Pro Artist Palette No. 1)

Eye Look = iLook?

Just kidding.  I don't want Steve Jobs coming after me with a stick.  Or a lawsuit.

Anyway, I'm trying to be better about controlling my impulse to shop for new makeup, especially when I know I already have similar products.  Case in point: Estee Lauder's Bronze Goddess Island Oasis Shadow Palette:
Image from esteelauder.com
Gorgeous, yes, but necessary?  Prolly not.  Especially when I own this:
Stila Pro Artist Palette No. 1
They're not exactly the same - the EL is warmer, with more red and bronze - but they are similar, with their theme of golds and browns and then a pop of color.  The turquoise shade in both also looks quite similar.  Of course, EL is decidedly more luxe, but Stila shadows are also lovely - soft and silkily smooth, they blend well, are strongly pigmented (usually true to pan, in my experience), and last all day (with a primer).  The major complaint with this Stila palette is the awful packaging.  Cardboard is fine, but it has this slit to slide the cover into place, and it's not very well executed at all.  I feel like I almost have to bend the palette to get the cover in place - I don't really, but it feels that way.  Still, this is $18 at Sephora right now, and the EL is $42.

I also use this palette for one of my favorite eye looks.  I do wear a lot of bright shadow, which is prolly why I shy away from any lip products (besides barely tinted balm).  I have seen a lot of people pair bright shadows with appropriate lip colors, though, so that'll be a new area of experimentation.  For now, though, here's just the eye look.
Here's what I use: Benefit Magic Ink, UD 24/7 liners in El Dorado, Flipside, UD Eden primer, Stila Pro Artist No. 1 Palette, Sephora angled shadow brush, Sephora shadow brush

Eye photos = SO HARD.  I have a half dozen shots of half an eye, an awkward corner, etc.  Sheesh.
Sorry, this one's a little blurry, but I wanted to get a shot of the closed eye.

So.  Here's what I do:

1. Apply primer all over the lid.  I use my ring finger, but um, feel free to use a brush or whatever suits you.
2. Apply gold shadow (the farthest left in this palette) all over the lid with the shadow brush, and partially above it - depends on the fold of your eye.  I'm Asian, but I do have a fold, so this is what I do.
3. Apply teal shadow into the outer corner and outer crease with the angled shadow brush.  Blend back into the gold with the smaller brush so that you have more of a gradient and less of a "two blocks of color bwahaha" look going on.  
4. With the Benefit Magic Ink - or any black liquid liner - line your upper lid, winging it out at the end.  
5. With the El Dorado pencil, line the first half of your upper lash line - from the inner corner to the midway point where the gold shadow meets the teal.  You'll be tracing along your black line, overlapping it.  The black will still serve to define your eyes - it'll be a stronger look than if you had left it out (I've tried it both ways; I prefer layering over black eye liner, and liquid liner is cleaner than a black pencil).
6. With the Flipside pencil, finish the other half of the upper lash, ending right before the winged tip.  You may want to go back with either colored pencil to blend the middle line a bit (I usually blend gold into teal a little bit).
7. Ta-da!  Clean up a bit (though I didn't, haha, because I wasn't planning on going anywhere after this) around the eye area, and apply mascara if you want - I usually skip.  

Hopefully the instructions weren't too confusing - the pictures are prolly easier to follow, anyway.  It's brighter in person (the gold stands out more), and it's one of my favorite looks.  I'm an earring fiend, and I often pair my eye makeup looks with my earrings, so this is the inspiration:
Well, what do you think?  Would you like to see more eye looks, or should I stick to product reviews?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

MAC Syrup - Mmm, Syrup!

Going crazy with the MAC lipsticks, I know.  I own a grand total of TWO lipsticks now.

This is Syrup, a Lustre finish lipstick.  This is another mostly-sheer shade, because I'm still not that brave.  The MA picked it out as a soft, every day color.  It closely matches my natural lip color, enhancing it slightly and adding a bit of sheen.  I like.

Here's the ingredient panel (click for larger):


It applies very sheer, but evenly :)

It does have a sheen to it, but otherwise it's really just an enhancement of my natural lip color - it evens out the tone of my lips (this is in natural light).

I love this color: in person, it's a slightly creamy - though not matte - pink and very subtle.  When S. came back from his run, I asked him what he thought.  He peered at my face closely (with a mildly bemused expression), and finally gave up. "What do I think...about what?"  He usually notices things, and is pretty helpful in general with fashion/makeup choices when I ask (although he is partially shade blind, which makes it difficult sometimes, haha), so that just kind of shows how subtle the lip color is.  It's not a show stopper, but I do appreciate the light pink color - it adds a bit of brightness and freshens up my face.  And sometimes I don't want show stopping.  Carry on!

The texture is a little heavier than the glaze finish, but still comfortable on the lips.  In short: a keeper!  So I'm done buying lipstick for now.  I have a few other colors that I'm interested in - enough to establish a sort of "basic set" of lipsticks (a coral color - MAC Vegas Volt or Gotta Dash (sheen supreme), a nice bronzy red, like the Bobbi Brown Treatment Lip Shine in Sunset Bronze, or the MAC sheen supreme in Can't Resist, and a vampy dark color), but I can wait on those.  Maybe I'll buy a coral in time for summer.  Any suggestions?  Most popular lipsticks that I've seen are paraben-free, with the exception of older Chanel formulas and some drugstore brands.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Thursday Post

Awolnation: Sail.  I'm a sucker for songs with hot and heavy bass lines, and this just makes me want to chill with a glass of wine and a the lights down low.  Sexy.

Also, did any of you get the little Sephora fragrance booklet in the mail?  It had sealed fragrance patches, and it was almost like a scratch-n-sniff booklet!  I had so much fun, hahaha.  I have the heart of a three year-old, I know.

And, finally: I'm not exactly loving this, but I put myself on a no-buy until May 18 (it started on April 18, so it'll be for a full month).  My General Exam is scheduled for May 18 - that's my advance to candidacy exam, i.e the reason for upcoming panic.  I knew I would want to reward myself after it's done (assuming all goes well - crosses fingers), and I just poured a ton of money into Sephora, so I am cutting myself off until then.  I'm actually kind of excited about it; it'll force me to go through all of the products that I already have, and maybe create new looks.  I've been in a bit of a rut lately.  And of course, my Sephora order will come in sometime soon, so I'll be getting new things in the middle of my ban anyway!  (Is that cheating?  I already paid for them before the imposed ban!  Haha).

The ban also extends to other frivolous items: accessories, clothes, other random things that I don't need.  The exception is if I need to buy a new outfit for my exam (I have to give an oral presentation, and while it's not required that we dress up, it's generally the standard.  And it never hurts to look your best, right?)

Anyway, that doesn't mean that I won't have anything to blog about ;)  I have a bunch of nail polish colors that I haven't even touched yet (though of course, that doesn't stop me from wanting more - I am crying a little bit inside about Zoya's Earth Day Exchange promotion), and like I said, the Sephora order should be here sometime next week.

And, I can live vicariously through you!  What fun item (makeup, clothing, accessories, kitchen gadget, new album, whatever) are you coveting?  Let me know! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bright Pink: Smashbox Radiance

Once upon a time, I wanted a bright pink, matte, bubblegum colored blush.  So I trooped down to Sephora and had a MA help me out; we tried NARS Desire and Smashbox Radiance.  I initially bought the former (it was brighter, a faint touch warmer on my skin, and beautiful) but then I found out that I had a paraben allergy, so I returned it and picked up the paraben-free Smashbox blush.  They are not exact dupes, but they are very close. 
Has a pull-out mirror, which I've never used, but it is a handy feature.
Natural light.  Pink!  :)
It's a powder blush, which I apply with my handy EcoTools blush brush.  It's not as finely milled as I would like - but I can still manage to pick up quite a bit of product with a few brush swipes, and it's enough to give me a nice bit of pink glow.  I do think that I will prolly turn to Tarte blushes from now on, but they weren't around when I purchased this, and there are surprisingly few brands out there with this shocking pink color.  Of course, sometimes I feel that no matter what color of blush I apply, it all turns out looking the same after a few hours.  Am I crazy, or do you sometimes feel this way too?

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Finally Bought a Lipstick, and it's MAC

This is my first lipstick purchase.  Well, first purchase with the intention of actually wearing it (I think I bought lipstick for prom once.  I'm going to go ahead and say that doesn't count, because I have no idea where it went and I never wanted it again.) And it's from MAC.  This is noteworthy for two reasons:

1. I'm afraid of lipstick, and
2. I am indifferent to MAC.

I know a lot of people swear by MAC etc etc etc, but up until last week (ish), I had never met a MAC MA who could be bothered to give me the time of day (which is weird, considering it's their job to sell makeup, yes?) and all of their constant releases/promotions/limited editions/etc just feel ridiculous to me.  With that in mind, I do appreciate their charity efforts and the diversity of their campaigns (we'll ignore the Rodarte fiasco for now, shall we?).  I was just never that interested in the brand.  Plus, I couldn't be certain that their products were paraben-free (when will companies start to post full ingredient lists online?) and from what I've seen on beauty blogs, there's so. much. MAC.

This was confirmed for me last week when I actually walked into the store.  There are like, fifty lipstick "finishes."  Okay, that's a slight exaggeration.  Maybe just thirty.  But seriously.  If the kind MA hadn't taken pity on me, I would still be lost in lipstick limbo, trying to figure out the types of finishes and what that means for a girl who has super dry lips, several allergies (including several undiagnosed ones, see this post) and absolutely no idea what kind of lip color suits her.  I wear eye shadow, eye liner, and blush.  And foundation, if I can be bothered.  Lipstick is a whole other thing.  I don't wear gloss, either, because it's sticky.  All of that stuff gets in the way.  And you know, I like kisses.  Boys don't appreciate colored, sticky lips.

Anyway.  I do own a lipstick, but it's the Korres liquid lipstick and it's not your traditional lip...stick.  It is applied with a doe foot applicator, it's moisturizing and wet, and not sticky or waxy at all.  It does have a pretty noticeable color, but I've worn it all of, um, twice.  At night.  In the dark.  You get the idea.

So, prodded along by certain bloggers, I went to buy a lipstick.  The MA was extremely sweet and helpful, and she picked out a few colors that I actually liked: Syrup, and Hot Tahiti.  And a tinted lip conditioner, in Fuchsia Fix.  I ended up with the lip conditioner and Hot Tahiti - I didn't pick up Syrup because I figured that the tinted lip conditioner would be good for every day, and the more pigmented Hot Tahiti was a nice "going out" color, and really, does a girl need more than one lipstick?  (Hahaha.  It's a joke.  Mostly).  So, without further babbling on my part: Hot Tahiti.
Ingredient panel!  Click for larger.
Hot Tahiti is a "glaze" finish.  It's a permanent shade...I wasn't going to run the risk of falling in love with a limited edition shade!
Looks very different on the hand than on the lips.
 Um, you have no idea how long I hedged on the idea of a lip swatch.  My thoughts: Do people really want to see my lips?  They're not perfect.  How do I even do a lip swatch?  What kind of "lip face" do I make?  Eek.  But then I decided that lip swatches are the most helpful for me when I am looking at lip products...so.  My desire to be helpful won out over my shyness.
I wore this on a couple of date nights, and um, it's gorgeous.  Love.  I don't know that it's enough to convert me to a true lipstick fanatic (eye shadow is still my first love), but I do love the light texture and the color.  On my lips, it is a slightly glossy, sheer red that pulls faintly coral.  It's not too strong so it doesn't scream "lipstick!" and actually is a nice finishing touch to whatever eye makeup I'm wearing.  When it fades (during meals, for example), I'm left with a nice tint without feathery lines, which is also nice.  I have applied it two ways: to bare lips, and over my tinted lip conditioner (review here); it goes on smoothly either way, but I like the extra moisture from the lip conditioner, so I typically apply both.

As everyone prolly already knows, lipsticks run $14.50 per at MAC.  Their lipsticks are lightly scented (vanilla) and come in a multitude of finishes.  (And I like this so much, I went back to get Syrup last Saturday night.  I'll let you know how that goes at some future date.  I guess a girl does need more than one lipstick.  Sigh.  And the collecting begins.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Travel Kit: The Evaluation

This is the bag I usually throw all my travel makeup in:

Here is a shot of the contents of my travel kit (with a few omissions):
Stila Pearl Palette, Boscia Makeup Breakup Cleanser, UD 24/7 pencils in El Dorado, Zero, Flipside, Crash, UDPP Eden, Benefit Magic Ink, BE shadows in Night Owl and Silk Stockings, EL Double Wear Stay-in-Place Powder in 2N1 Desert Beige, Smashbox Radiance Blush, Tarte Bronzer, CoverFX Conceal FX Camouflage concealer

I also packed Bliss eye cream, and mini versions of the Clinique moisturizing gel and facial soap (not pictured).  Since it was a conference and my only goal was to look presentable (rather than trying to dress up, etc, like I would if I were on a real vacation), I prolly could have skipped the eye palette and just taken the two BE shadows.  I ended up not using the EL powder and concealer (good skin days?), but I think just having them makes me less nervous - what if I wake up in the morning with a blemish?

I could have left the blush at home, since I just used the bronzer (and it goes better with my eye shadow choices), and limited myself to just one extra 24/7 liner.  I did use the UDPP and the liquid liner, so those would find a place in my kit the next time I travel.  The Boscia was also really good (review soon); at home, I typically use two Clinique products to remove all of my makeup, and this was far easier.  I think I will be making a permanent switch.

And if you were curious to see how well Zoya Reva held up:

Beautifully!  Minimal (if any) noticeable tip wear over 6 days, and just a small gap by the cuticle due to growth.  Granted, I didn't do any of the things I normally do this week (wash dishes, climb rocks, wear boxing gloves, clean the apartment - erm, not usually in that sequence, but you know what I mean), but I still think it's pretty impressive.  It's also good to note that I can now use Zoya and the color lock system on future trips, without worrying about having to suffer through an entire trip of chipped/worn down nail polish.  I guess the easy solution would be to have bare nails for the duration of a trip, but mine are paper thin and unsightly and I would rather keep them painted.  Best foot forward, and all that.

Zoya Gemma

The last of the Zoya Intimate collection!

I think Gemma is unique and pretty in theory, but I didn't love it on my nails.  It's an olive green with a purple sheen - really quite beautiful - but it just didn't "wow" me today.  Maybe it's just not what I'm in the mood for?

Base coat (OPI Strengthening), 2 coats of Gemma, plus top coat (Zoya Armor):

Natural light. 

Also natural light, but you can see more of the purple sheen in this one.
Anyway, it applied nicely, and this is two coats.  I can still sort of see bare spots, so for full opacity you may want to try three.

I'll prolly be climbing today, so I think I'll do my nails again afterward.  I'm feeling something bright - maybe Zoya Maya?  We'll see.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

MAC Tinted Lip Conditioner Fuchsia Fix Review

I know there are a lot of posts about lip products here, but this is because I have such a hard time finding one that I like and will actually use.  I don't have much tolerance for sticky or waxy textures, or weird colors, or products that settle into my lip lines.  I don't mind reapplying, I suppose, but I think that's generally because I like products that don't carry a lot of pigment to begin with, so I never have to deal with the strange look that a faded lipstick will give you.  I prefer not to have glitter in my lip products (gritty gritty gritty, ew) although a subtle, glossy look is sometimes nice.

I typically have dry lips, and when I went to get a lipstick (yes, I bought a lipstick - that's for next time), I mentioned this to the MA.  We duly avoided mattes and frost finishes because of this.  And then she suggested that I pick this up to go with my lipstick purchase.  SPF, a tolerable smell (it has a light vanilla scent) and a barely-there color - I was sold.  So I've been giving it a try.

My thoughts?

I really like it.  I feel that the product delivers on its claims.  My lips don't dry out (though they can get a bit sticky toward the end of the day...I'm not sure what kind of behaviors contribute to this, because sometimes it's not sticky at all.  Does anyone have any ideas?) and the color is subtle, a nice, slightly more fuchsia (i.e. cooler rather than warm pink) enhancement of my natural lip color (though my lips are fairly pigmented on their own).  The form of the product may give some people pause (it's in a little flat jar), but I keep it on my desk along with tissues and a Bath & Body Works Pocketbac, so sticking my finger into the pot doesn't bother me so much.  Germs, I know, but lip brushes are not my thing.  I think that would work though - if you had one of those lip brushes with a cap that you could just keep with your balm.  I also carried it around in my purse during my conference, and reapplied after washing my hands in the bathroom, whenever I happened to go.  I think I like the pot.  It's not deep, but it's flat and wide, so that even when you're getting toward the bottom of the jar (which I think would take me forever), you won't be getting gunk all over your finger as you try to get product out.

Bottom line: like.  My first MAC product, and it's a win.  (I'm not much for MAC.  I don't have good reasons.  I'll go more in depth on this in my upcoming lipstick post).  I do think that if you're going for strong color, this isn't the way to go - I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that all the tints of balm prolly show up the same on most lips (but maybe they don't), but it's good for layering under your lipstick, or wearing alone on days where you want a more natural look.

Look, paraben-free! :)

Ingredients: Petrolatum, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed oil, Polybutene, Microcrystalline Wax\Cera Microcristallina\Cire Microcristalline, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Fragrance (Parfum), Silica, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Astrocaryum Murumuru Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Cholestero, Lecithin, Squalane, Polyethylene, Polydecene, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, triethoxycaprylylsilane, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Saccharin, Vanillin, BHT, [+/- Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI77492, CI 77499), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 30 Lake (CI 73360), Red 33 Lake (CI 17200), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Yellow 10 Lake (CI 47005)] <ILN31120>

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sales!

I've tried to be good with limiting purchases recently, but sometimes you just feel like a splurge.  And you need to take advantage of good sales!  Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, and the factory store are all doing 40% in stores or online.  The code for Ann Taylor is Spring40, and the code for Loft is Take40.  I love their petite items, and everything is so chic and feminine without being ultra girly. 

Sephora is also doing 15% off right now.  I left my code at home, but you can be sure I will be putting in an order as soon as I get back.  I want some of the new Sephora liquid liners ($10 each, a variety of colors, and paraben-free!), more Boscia makeup remover, and the Glee OPI Mash-up color of nail polish, for sure.  And UD Woodstock, since the newer eye shadows seem to be paraben-free.  I owned Woodstock at one time, but then I gave it to my mother because I no longer had the box, and UD's site listed paraben as an ingredient in all of their eye shadows at the time.  So now I need another one.  It's a great color.

So, go forth and shop!  Are you planning on grabbing anything?

(Also, Ebates is doing 3.0% back on AT and 4.0% back with Sephora orders.  If you haven't signed up yet, here's my referral link, or you can just go to Ebates and make an account.  I think we both get $5 if you sign up and make a purchase.  Let me know if you have any questions!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This Made Me Smile

And I needed it.  Conferences are boring.  S. emailed it to me this morning.  Not a recent comic, but a cute one.

Angular Momentum
From xkcd.com
(Sorry.  I don't usually go in for romantic or gushy, but some things make me smile regardless.  And I like xkcd.  Check them out if you haven't; self-described by the creator as a "webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language."  Updated every MWF.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Travel Kit

I like to travel, but I don't like packing.  Or unpacking.  I'm sure I'm not alone.

I'm leaving for a conference this week (actually, by the time this posts, I will be in CA), and I hope it'll be sunnier there than it is here.  I'm only taking a carry-on and a purse, which means I have to put all my liquids/creams/gels in a quart-sized zip-top bag.  This is annoying.  Seriously, what kind of person is going to disguise an explosive in their concealer tube?  Who knows what that will do to your face?

Anyway, rant aside, this means I had to severely streamline my makeup/skincare kit.  I like to think that I don't use that many products on a daily basis, but who knows?  You can tell me if you think my list is ridiculous.  I'm not including pictures because everything has been packed, but when I get back I'll let you know what worked and what didn't, and what I could've survived without- or what I may have missed.  In an attempt to pare down my kit, I figured I would go foundation-less for the most part, with just some powder foundation and concealer if I feel I really need it.  I like liquid foundation, but I already have too many liquids/gels in my little quart bag.


Skincare
-Travel sized Clinique facial soap
-Travel sized Clinique gel moisturizer
-Bliss eye cream (reviewed here)
-Clinique City Block - SPF 40
-Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil mini (part of a Sephora 500-point bonus, review coming soon)

Makeup
face:
-Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Powder in 2N1 Desert Beige
-CoverFX Conceal FX Camouflage concealer (review here)

eyes:
-BE Silk Stockings mini, BE Night Owl, Benefit Magic Ink, UD 24/7 Zero, Crash (shown here)
-UD 24/7 liner in Flipside, El Dorado
-Stila Pearl Palette
-UD primer potion in Eden

cheeks:
-Tarte bronzer mini (here)
-Smashbox blush in Radiance (review coming soon)

lips:
MAC tinted lip conditioner in Fuchsia Fix (review coming soon)

Sephora Collection Deluxe Antibacterial Brush Set

I feel like this is the bare minimum.  I could stand to take out a few of the eye items, but I love eye makeup and it's hard to let go, haha.  The pearl palette is tiny, and the liners are all mini versions from various sets, so they don't actually take up that much space.  Everything is packed into one of those Clinique GWP bags - Clinique always has cute ones in handy sizes.  This one happens to have a side pocket that's useful for storing the brush kit.  I love it.

So, what do you travel with?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Zoya Reva

So many Zoyas, so little time.

I am leaving for a conference tomorrow, and I wanted a fresh coat of polish on my nails and toes.  I initially tried Caitlin on my fingers, but it's kind of finicky.  After a base, two color coats and a top coat, it looked...messy.  It's kind of a sticky formula, by which I mean it doesn't smooth out entirely at the tips, and drags on your nail a bit.  I've had it on my toes, but having a messy paint job on your toes is not as bad as on your fingers.  It bugged me.

So after dance class I took it off.  I thought I'd go with Dove, or another pastel (I've been really feeling the pastel love lately), but in the end I used Reva, from the summer collection.  It applies beautifully - every stroke is smooth and clean. I did two coats (and a base and top coat, of course).
I'm not sure why the Anchor bottle doesn't have a label.  This is the order I applied the products in.
It actually pulls darker red in person...more cool-toned for sure.
Sorry for the bad picture - there's not a lot of light to work with, but I wanted to show the difference in shade here versus in artificial light.

It's a beautiful dark red with delicate gold microglitter.  It's not quite spring-like, but I find these finishes are also more forgiving as they wear down (i.e. tip wear is less obvious), and since I won't be able to do any removes or touch-ups for the next week, I think it's a good choice.
Image from the Wikipedia entry for "Ruby Slippers"
The color reminds me of the Wizard of Oz - the ruby slippers!  (Speaking of which, did you know they did this?  So awesome!  The Jimmy Choo version is sexy).

On a side note, Zoya's Remove + is amazing.  Everything comes off so completely and easily, and it doesn't smell quite as bad as other removers.  It also doesn't turn your fingers the color of the nail polish you're removing (I hate this when I'm removing a strong color like red or blue).  I can't see myself ever using anything else now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Thursday Post

I find the whole "follow a celebrity!" thing kind of weird, even with the widespread use of Twitter, etc.  I don't know that I really want to be involved in that way, you know?  I mean, they're celebrities, sure, but we're all just people - live and let live, and leave well alone, you know?  Plus...how do you know it's really them?  I guess you don't.  Does it matter?

Anyway.  Having said all that, I do subscribe to Dianna Agron.  I think she's gorgeous; her makeup and fashion choices are always spot on (wait,  "spot on?" When did I turn British?) even though I'm not a Glee fan.  Mostly, though, I subscribe to her Tumblr because she has fantastic taste in music.  See her here.  I'm loving that Plan B song, by the way.

I want Stila's new "sparkle waterproof" liquid liners - I hope they're paraben-free.  I thought Stila posted ingredients for all products, but I guess it's only for most products.  Annoying!  The waterproof scares me a bit (I don't need waterproof, gah), but they are pretty and I love liquid liners. (edit: according to Sephora's website, these contain parabens.  Boo!)

Zoya Caitlin
I put Zoya Caitlin on my toes^.  It's a gorgeous color, and since I don't think you want to see my toes again, I'll just send you over to Karla's beautiful swatches.  Caitlin's a lovely dark counterpart to the Marley on my fingertips.  I'm going to repaint my nails this weekend (Marley's finally chipping), and I think it's gonna be Gemma next.  Woohoo - that's the last of the spring collection!  I've got some from summer's collections next.

Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tokyo Milk: Feeding The Perfume Habit

Have you heard of Tokyo Milk?  I had seen their products before (mostly balms, I think), but then I stumbled upon a display of their perfumes at the Fireworks Gallery store in the local mall.  I.  Want.  The packaging is lovely and the fragrances are unique and divine.
(image from Tokyo Milk)

On the list?  Sugar Sugar, and Kabuki.  They also have a Tokyo Milk Dark collection, but I didn't like any of those scents - far too strong, and more musky - even though the bottles were sexy.

Have you tried any of these?  What do you think?  I'd be curious to know what the lasting power of the fragrances are like.  They are cute little bottles - 1 oz for $28.00.  A little bit goes a long way for perfumes, though, so I'm not really concerned.

Versatile Blogger Award

VijiiS over at Fierce Nerditude tagged me for this - thanks, lovely!  You should really go poke around on her site - lots of fun product reviews and helpful advice.  I also really love bloggers (like VijiiS) who take the time to answer questions and comments on their site.  I know we're all busy, but it is really nice and helpful.  Cheers :)

So I think I'm supposed to link back and thank the award-er, and then tell you seven things about myself, and pass the award on to fifteen other bloggers (fifteen is a lot, I may not have that many).  Um, I'm shy and it takes me a while to comment on someone's site, and I'm even more hesitant to pass on awards to people who've never even heard of me and my little blog, so I'm just going to list some blogs that I love and that you should visit.  If this comes out of the blue and you never even realized that I read your blog...sorry for being a creeper. :( 

Here are seven things about me:

1. I like Irish Whiskey.  It's not a typical girl-y drink, but it's strangely satisfying, and I like the complex flavors of it.  I'll take some Redbreast on the rocks over a Cosmo any day.  Actually, I don't think I've ever had a Cosmo. 

2. I never played sports as a kid - didn't like 'em - and only really started exercising (running, lifting) as an adult.  Initially I did all of it in order to improve my appearance, I suppose, but now that I have found activities that I enjoy (rock climbing, Muay Thai kickboxing, aerial arts), I actually really enjoy the physical aspect of them, and the challenge of pushing yourself physically.  It's also nice to feel strong and healthy :) 

3. I love to bake.  I think I like making treats more than eating them, though, and prefer to give them away (I have happy coworkers.  So does S.).

4. I don't like chocolate.  It tastes funny, the texture is weird, and the smell typically gives me a headache.  I do drink hot chocolate, and I eat white (aka "fake") chocolate, but I could live without them, and I pass on brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, fudge etc.

5. I minored in French and studied abroad for a summer in Annecy, France.  It is a gorgeous place, and I miss the language.  If I had more time, I'd try to focus on it some more, but I don't have time.  (see below)

6. I'm a graduate student in chemistry, working on my Ph.D.  This means I have limited free time, though it is nice that science graduate students typically receive free tuition and are paid a stipend (enough to live off of, if you can manage a reasonable budget).  Still, whenever I say I am in chemistry, people wrinkle their noses, so I think this makes me lame.  It's okay.  Geek out, yes? :)

7. I love tea.  I think I currently have at least ten or so different varieties (flavors of green, herbals, etc) and I buy most of them from Lupicia.  The quality of their tea is excellent.  There is a shop back home, so whenever I visit my parents, I stock up!

Aren't I boring?  :)

Here are some blogs that I love, all based around various subjects; they're numbered because I like numbers and order and lists, but the numbers don't mean anything except...that I can count.  :D

1. TheNotice: Rae's a dear.  She does thorough product reviews over a wide range of budgets, and also comes up with a lot of beautiful looks using them.  And, all of her posts are injected with equal doses of sincerity and humor.  One of my favorite beauty blogs, for sure.  (She's also responsible for my venturing into the land of lipstick...more on that later).

2. The Beauty Look Book: beautiful, well-written reviews and comparisons and swatches.  One of my favorite reads.

3. Closet Visit: Isn't it interesting to see what other people have in their closet?

4. How Sweet It Is: I love baking blogs, and Jessica is so sweet.  She comes up with awesome recipes (both savory and sweet), has a great attitude toward food and health, and she has a killer shoe collection.

5. Carrie Fabulous: She creates great montages of clothing, accessories, etc, based on themes or colors or certain motifs.  Love!

6. The Diversion Project: The photos are gorgeous.  Architecture, scenery, interior design - all breathtaking.

7. Damn You Auto Correct!: Who hasn't been thwarted by the dastardly auto correct function?  Most of these are hilarious, though be warned that some are PG-13 +, if you're worried about that kind of thing.

8. The Way the Cookie Crumbles: Another food blog.  Bridget's photos are beautiful, and she does a lot of recipe comparisons, offering advice from a scientist's perspective - baking is a science, so it helps.

9. Flights of Fancy: A wedding planning site, but...I am slowly planning a wedding, so forgive me this one.  It's not overflowing with vendors and advertisements and bad advice like so many other ones, though - Flights of Fancy has beautiful inspiration boards that can be used as inspiration for all kinds of events and occasions.

10. The Demure Muse: She is so cute.  Cute outfits, fun posts, lots of creative projects.  Cuuute.

Okay, I'm gonna stop at ten because I need to get back to work (eep!).  Let me know what you think about these, if you get a chance to check them out :)  Cheers, and have a happy Tuesday!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cute and Pretty: Hello Kitty Perfume

I know I've mentioned this over and over again, but I really like this perfume.  I am not a perfume connoisseur, and know nothing about the science behind fragrance-making, and I don't know anything about fragrance notes - the layers, the dry down, etc.  I do know, however, that this bottle is beyond cute.  I love the atomizer!  I am normally pretty indifferent to Hello Kitty, but the atomizer gives the bottle a sweet charm.  And I love the smell.  It's floral, but with a sweeter note that lingers without being overpowering or too strong.  S. also approves, and you know that's a good thing ;)  $55 for 1.7 fl oz at Sephora.  They also sell a rollerball and a solid version ($18 and $39, respectively; the solid version is housed in a bedazzled necklace thing).

Sephora's description:
Notes: Cassis Sorbet, Italian Mandarin, Apple, Magnolia Blossom, Freesia, Orange Flower, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Musk.
Style: Sweet.  Sparkling.  Pretty.
(from Sephora.com)

The problem I have with perfume descriptions is that I don't necessarily know what a Magnolia blossom smells like.  Or a Tonka Bean.  Or a Freesia, even.  I didn't grow up with a lot of these flowers, and even if I had, I was never much for going out to smell them all.  I suppose the descriptions are useful for when you actually know what the perfume smells like; you can then start to associate smells and that helps you look for new ones.  I will say that "sweet, sparkling, pretty" does an excellent job of summing up this fragrance.  It's not exactly sophisticated, but I like it.  Starting to collect perfumes was a dangerous move - they're expensive.  But the bottles are so pretty, and I like having different fragrances for different moods.  I have my eye on some Guerlain bottles next.  We'll see how long my willpower lasts!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Zoya Color Lock System and Zoya Marley

With Zoya's last BOGO coupon (promoting their summer collections), I decided to finally pick up the Zoya Color Lock kit, which has gotten rave reviews on a lot of other beauty blogs.  I was really excited about the quick-drying drops, because I hate waiting for coats to dry!  Base coats are usually quick (I'm using OPI's strengthening base coat at the moment), but the color coats - I usually do two - and the top coat take forever.  What if you have to go to the bathroom?  Or want to eat a cookie?  Or need to eat dinner, or something?  (Yeah.  Food's a big part of my life.  There's a lot of eating.)

The first thing: this kit is a LOT bigger than I expected!  Look at it!  I pulled it out of the box and my only thought was, "Where the heck am I going to put this thing?" (S. already said we need a whole other room just for my nail polish... -__-).  Aside from that though, it was pretty exciting to see all the cool stuff in it.   And I needed to give my nails a fresh paint job (Jules has finally chipped and begun to show wear...though honestly, it's mostly from climbing.), so it was the perfect occasion to put some of this to use.

I did my nails with Zoya Marley, because I was in the mood for a nice pastel.  I initially hadn't given Marley much thought, because it looked like a pretty generic pinky-lavender cream, but once I started applying it, I was smitten.  It looks really pink and flat in the bottle, but on my nails it's definitely a pale lavender with the most beautiful pearly sheen.  Unfortunately, this little nuance is extremely hard to capture in pictures, even though I tried three kinds of light (natural direct, indirect, and with flash).  You can kind of see it in the flash picture.  (Please forgive my sloppy paint job.  I was in a hurry.)  The only problem I have with this polish is that it is a little streaky and a little sticky - even after two coats, some of my nails had visible streak marks.  Of course, that is prolly just due to the handler, not the product, but this polish didn't feel as forgiving as the others I've tried so far in this collection (like Jules, Dove, Dannii).

 
My fingertips are peeling - gross, I know, but when your fingers are covered in chalk and shoved into rock crevices...not much you can do about it.  I'll try to maybe just take single finger shots next time?  Of non-peeling fingers only. :)
I used the Zoya armor coat after two coats of Marley, and then the Hurry Up drops.  The drops are amazing.  It feels oily and slippery, and some will prolly get on your fingers, so beware.  But my nails dried so quickly!  And there were no weird smudges or nicks after drying, too.  I was so excited.  We'll have to see how it holds up over the next few days, but I'll be climbing on Tuesday and my nails get shot to hell during climbing sessions, so I'll prolly be doing my nails again very soon.  I have more Zoya to go through, anyway.
Bottle of win!
Have you tried this system?  What do you think?