Monday, April 30, 2012

From the Perfume Box: Spring-Summer Smells

Compared to the rest of the country, summer in Seattle is kind of muted, I suppose. I love them, and think they are the best part of the year, but our version of summer is a clean, happy 80 degrees, with low humidity, rampant sunshine, and a day spanning 5 AM to 10 PM. The Pacific Northwest is truly a glorious place from May through September. Usually. I don't know what the weather will be like this year; last year we didn't get any real warmth until late July, and while it did stop raining for most of the usual summer months, I kind of like being dry sometimes.

With that said, however, it's easy to see how our spring bleeds into our summer, or perhaps our spring is our summer - at least, by everyone else's standards. So already in April, with just the slightest hint of warmth and sunshine, I'm hauling out the "summer" scents. Because, really, it doesn't actually get much warmer than the beautiful, calm 75 degree days we've had recently. So here is a snapshot of the scents that I'm loving now, and will continue to rotate through until the rainy months start again in October.
I really like that hat. :)

In general, during the summer, I prefer light florals, crisp citrus, beachy marines, and once in a while, faintly herbal greens - the ones with the sharp, clean, medicinal tendencies, not the stuff that smells like it comes out of an old, mysterious, dusty shop. No incense for me, please. Here are my current summer standbys, in no particular order. I've reviewed them all before (click the names for the original reviews), but here are snippets of descriptions, to give you an idea of what they might be like.

Scent by the Sea Fiori di Roma: A light, lovely floral; not candy sweet and not powdery at all. I feel ultra feminine when I wear this one, and since their description calls back Roman Holiday, I feel like I'm channeling Audrew Hepburn when I wear it, which is always a good thing.

DKNY pureDKNY Verbena Scent Spray: This is really strong, so I usually spray a cloud, wait a few seconds, and then dash through it, while S. laughs at me. It's the typical summer scent: clean and crisp, with strong citrus notes and a splash of verbena. It reminds me of the stronger men's scents without being too spicy.

Sweet Anthem Lizie: Here's that herbal I was telling you about. Clean, green, faintly medicinal - Lizie smells of live green plants and fresh air: it's the embodiment of nature's cresting warmth and the peak of growth and glory.

Scent by the Sea Egyptian Honey: I guess you might not associate a "honey" scent with summer, but really, it's perfect. A sweet honey scent with a richer musk that grounds it. Comfortable, soft, feminine, but still light, not sticky.

What kind of scents do you wear during the warmer months? Do you stick to a favorite, or do you go through several, like I do?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bronzed, Baby

The weather here this month has fluctuated between wildly warm and sunny (well, for Seattle), and dreary and wet. It's not quite summer here yet, but I've been really loving the bronzed, beachy look lately - I'm trying to channel summer anyway, damnit! - so I thought I would show you what I've been using to achieve this effect.
This may seem like a lot of stuff, but rest assured, I don't use all of it at once! 

I wear Clinique City Block SPF 40 every day, over Clinique's moisturizer. But after that, I start with Dior's tinted moisturizer, because it gives my skin that dewy finish, is ever so slightly darker than my actual skin color, and provides good coverage. Since I don't really like the "glistening" skin look, I buff a little bit of MAC MSFN in Medium all over my face, to tone down the dew.
Bare Escentuals Kiko also makes a beautiful - if unorthodox - cheek color.
And then it can go in two directions: metallic eyes, or shimmery cheeks. Not both, because I don't want to overdo it. If eyes, I spray a bit of MAC Fix+ (thanks, Tracy!) on my brush; this turns the Sephora baked shadows into cream shadows. They apply beautifully with a metallic sheen. I finish with black winged liner and something like Urban Decay Bourbon. For a simpler look, I just put a single wash of Bare Escentuals Kiko all over the lid (a great, shimmery gold), and top off with winged liner. If the eyes are the focus, I just gently sweep Dior Aurora all over my face, with perhaps an extra bit of Tarte Hotel Heiress on the apples of my cheeks.
All swatched heavily with a finger.

If I'm going with bronzy, shimmery cheeks, I keep the eyes matte and simple. Then I contour with Tarte's Hotel Heiress, and highlight the cheekbones with MAC Whisper of Gilt. I also highlight the bridge of my nose, and dust my forehead and chin lightly for an all over glow. Alternatively, I stipple a bit of Guerlain's Terracotta Blush Sun Shimmer in Sunny Pink on my cheekbones for color + glow.
These are the brushes I use. The fluffy Sephora brush is used with the MAC MSFN. The Sephora agld blush brush is for, well, contouring, with bronzer, and also with the golden highlighter. The Ecotools blush brush is for applying bronzer/blush to the apples of my cheeks and along my cheekbones (which is actually where I take my blush). I've also used it for highlighting, so really, which brush I use for what depends on what kind of mood I'm in.

I usually keep lips simple here, which is why I haven't featured any lip products, as this look is more about the rest of the face. Sometimes I'll go with just simple balm (Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment), or sometimes I'll go with my MLBB lipstick (Dior Primrose Crystal). You can also go bolder; MAC Heroine would be a fun choice.

Last thing. I have been trying to dust Dior Aurora all over my face for a golden, warm, glow, but this is a recent experiment; I do have to confess that I'm a bit confused by bronzer. I gather that I am supposed to put it all over my face in this manner, to create that warmer skin tone, but even if I take it down onto my neck...my arms and legs are still going to be pale pale pale. Am I supposed to be using an all-over-body tanner? I refuse. Does that defeat the purpose, then? As I've said, I've been trying it and it doesn't look so bad, but I apply it all over the face with an extremely light hand. Normally, I just use bronzer on the cheekbones and bridge of my nose. I would love to hear your thoughts on this! How do you feel about the "bronzed" look? What are your favorite products to achieve this effect?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Revlon Photoready 3D Volume Mascara

Um, so, how can a mascara be "photoready" or not? I would like to know. I can understand how they can tack that on to their foundations, but mascara...is mascara. It either does what it says, or it doesn't, but it doesn't get any "photoreadier." Also, as I was shopping for this (because I tossed out two of my old ones - they were dry and funny smelling - and Fred Meyer had a $3.00 off Revlon coupon, and a girl should have at least one tube of the stuff on hand, right? Even a mascara hater like myself?) I was utterly confounded. This is "001 Blackest Black", versus "002 Black." ... ... ... W.T.F.?
It comes with a stopper on the actual mascara tube and the brush packaged on the side.

Arguably, my attitude toward mascara isn't the greatest, but this didn't do much to improve it, I have to say. It promises "volume" (it's in the name, right?) but I think it just painted my lashes black. Still spindly, just black. Oh, I'm sorry. Blackest black. (Oooh, that was snarky, wasn't it? I'm not sorry).
Sorry they aren't *exactly* the same shot, but you can see that although my lashes do look "slightly" thicker, they're mostly just darker. Which isn't a bad thing, I suppose. Disappointing, though. I've gotten better results in the past with other brands.
As far as mascara goes, I'm definitely a curling + volume girl, but "volume" is probably at the top of the list. I like oomph in my mascara. Unfortunately, I would also prefer that it not smudge, and this one smudges. Smudge city, even. I guess I may have to try a waterproof one and see if that is noticeably less smudge-prone.

The brush is functional and the long spikes means it does get closer to your lashline. It also doesn't clump. That's good, right? Whatever. I'm not a mascara expert. I think I may have owned a grand total of four tubes in all of my life, and two of those were sample sizes.
Click for bigger.
This was $8.99 at Fred Meyer, but I had a $3.00 coupon for Revlon, so I got it for $5.99. It's not bad, but it's not fabulous, either. I'd skip.

What other drugstore mascaras would you recommend? I wanted to try Maybelline's new falsies one, but that one had parabens in it. Boo. The others on my list are not drugstore; NARS Volumizing Larger than Life mascara, Sephora's Volumizing, and Estee Lauder's Sumptuous Volume (can you see a trend here?).  Have you tried any of those? What is your favorite mascara?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Thursday Post

Cee Lo Green: I Want You (Hold on to Love). Cee Lo is a little bit creepy without his glasses on. Cee Lo, I love you and your crazy clothing, but keep your glasses on. Thanks.

I'm usually not into cutesy-sappy, but this is a really cute comic that I found through a friend. I especially liked this one, haha.

Bag pr0n!

Watch. Just watch.

I love soba. This sounds delicious and perfect for summer. It's going to show up on our meal plan, for sure. Here's another summer-worthy recipe.

This is really cool to me, because I am also an NMR - nuclear magnetic resonance -spectroscopist (or at least, one in training). See? Scientists are not completely devoid of creative talent or inclination.

After the ban, I need to pick up another Rouge Dior. They don't seem to get a lot of love in the blogging world (I hate "blogosphere," not sure why) - why is that? They are hands down my favorite lipstick formula, and I need a bright color for spring. I have a lot of reds, not a lot of other brights (besides orange). It's happening.
Hahahaha.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tarina Tarantino Jewel Eyeshadow Palette in Wonderful

So, I'm pretty sure that if I stopped reading Temptalia, I would stop buying makeup.

Maybe. I'd also prolly have to stop reading the rest of the Lipstick Bandits' blogs, and various other ones. It's prolly a lost cause, actually.

But Temptalia's review of this palette is what made me purchase it (a loooooong time ago. Why do we do that? Let things sit around?). I'd never paid much attention to Tarina Tarantino's makeup collection before, because it just looks all pink and sparkly and...that's not quite my thing. It seems like the line has been revamped, though, and now there are actually a lot of items that tempt me: the lip conditioners, the liners, the Jewel Eyeshadow palettes...I'll stop there.

It was a toss-up between this one and Dreamy, but I decided I'd rather have the greens. I like greens. And this palette does not disappoint. The texture is very soft, but not powdery, and the pigmentation is incredible. I wore this over NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base (I never wear shadows without primer) and it lasted all day. Well, a day for me is about 12 hours, but it's not like it was on its last legs when I removed it. Here are the swatches.
Swatched with a finger on bare skin. The dark green shade is perhaps not as silky smooth as the others, but it is still easy to use and applies nicely.

And then, an EOTD I did with the palette.
NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base
Tarina Tarantino
Wonderful palette (light gold shade, light green, dark green)
Stila Natural Beauty palette (highlight shade)
Sephora Long-lasting liner in
01 Black
Urban Decay 24/7 liner in Mildew

This palette is gorgeous, and the quality really is superb. Greens are also very lovely on brown eyes, I find, and I simply have a soft spot for them. I don't know that there's really space for all of the palettes in a collection; a lot of them seem to have similar colors. However, if you find one with colors you like, I'd go for it. The quality is right up there with other shadows I've tried, like Dior (I'd say better and smoother than the Dior quint I have, actually).

The palette is $32.00 for 0.32 oz at Sephora. If you're not overloaded on shadows (oh jeez, who isn't?) and are looking for a nice palette, I'd snap one up! Also, if you're feeling green...give me a couple of days. Green eye looks are on the way.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Orange: For Your Eyes

Regular readers will know that I do not shy away from color (most of the time). For the past couple of months, I've been a bit uninspired, which explains the lack of EOTD posts around here. I blame the weather. The sun has finally begun to show its face, though, and the weather is slowly warming up, so I've been feeling happy and cheerful again, and ready to play with more colors. Orange is one of my favorites for eyes, and I know a lot of people avoid it because of its brightness, so I decided to do a couple of orange looks to show you that you can do it! It can be subtle, even. Here are four, perhaps you'll give one a try?

Here are the products I used, with a few exceptions (Fyrinnae Fire Opal and Pixie Epoxy aren't pictured; I used those for the "smoky" look. Urban Decay's El Dorado is also missing.).
Stila Natural Beauty palette (orange shades in the top left), Sephora Long-lasting Liner in 01 Black, Urban Decay Bourbon pencil liner, Shiro Cosmetics Charmander, Darling Girl Cosmetics Yule's Angel liner, Bare Escentuals Kiko.


Look #1: Almost Peachy.
NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base
Stila
Natural Beauty Palette (matte orange, brown)
Sephora Long-Lasting Liner,
01 Black
Urban Decay 24/4 Glide-on pencil, Bourbon
If you start with a pale orange shade - something almost peachy, and matte - the effect is much subtler than the bright "Tangerine Tango" shade. I also find that strong liner keeps things looking clean and well, I wing my liner every day, because I like the shape it gives my eyes.

Look #2: Orange and Gold, Orange and Gold.
NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base
Stila
Natural Beauty palette (peachy shades)
Shiro Cosmetics
Charmander (shimmery yellow-orange)
Bare Escentuals
Kiko (yellow gold)
Sephora Long-Lasting Liner,
01 Black
Darling Girl Cosmetics Yule's Angel (metallic gold)
This one looks a bit patchy in the photo, but it looked fine in person (ugh, frustration!). I used the gold liner to brighten things up a bit, and to give it a more, er, festive spin.

Look #3: Citrus Twist (it's hard to name these damn things, okay?)
NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base
Shiro
Likelike (pearly white), Charmander (yellow orange)
Sephora Long-lasting Liner,
01 Black
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Pencil, El Dorado (gold)
I like this one - the white really makes the orange pop, I think. High contrast, for the win! I also love blending my colored pencil liners into slightly wet liquid liner, because it gives a nice molten look. I think. It also seems to help lasting power.

Look #4: Smoky Orange.
NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base, Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy
Shiro 
Charmander (shimmery yellow orange), Fyrinnae Fire Opal (blackened bronze gold)
Sephora Long-lasting Liner, 
01 Black
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Liner, Bourbon


Because everyone should have a smoky eye in their arsenal, and you can do it with any color. Keeping color off of the bottom lashline keeps it from going over the top (and honestly, I hate lining the lower lashline).  Not sure why the photo looks extra greenish, sorry!

And there you have it! Four looks to try, using mostly the same colors. If you only have one orange eye shadow that flatters your skin tone, that's all you need. What's your favorite orange shadow? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Beauty No-Buy: Update #4 and a Confessional

I've been a bad, bad girl. This was the third month of the beauty ban, and I admit that I slipped up a bit. The past month has been filled with so many temptations! I will show you what I passed on, and what I caved to. Sit tight, let's go.

"Fluff" purchases (i.e., big  no-nos on the beauty ban front)
Dior Nail Vernis in St. Tropez, $23: I've been obsessed with this color ever since it came out in limited quantities last year, and ban or no, I wasn't going to pass up the second chance to grab it. It's mine. I have no regrets. The formula is true-blue Dior (you see what I did there? True blue?) and spectacular, and this is the kind of teal I can get behind. I'm picky about my teals. This one is it, the end-all. Done and done!

MAC Viva Glam V lipstick, $14.50: Purchased for the Lipstick Bandits post. The total price of it goes to charity so I don't feel that bad. Also, if I had been thinking clearly when I made up my rules, I would have made an exception for LB-related things anyway, so...*shrug*.

MAC Extra Dimension Whisper of Gilt Highlighter, $29.00: I wanted a gold highlighter. Um, yeah. I jumped mostly because it's LE and true gold highlighters are hard to find.

MAC Heroine lipstick, $14.50: Because I like purple lipstick, and my other one grew mold.

Basics and borderlines
Smashbox High Definition Concealer in Light, $20: I picked this up with the Studio Skin foundation during the Sephora VIB sale. I don't really own a concealer, so I decided I should try one out. Concealers are basics, right? And I got it on sale! Eep. I also really like it, so it's a fabulous addition to my basics.

MAC Brow Set, in clear, $15: This thing is fairly standard but new to me, and reliable. It's made doing my brows a snap.

Wedding: ban-exempt!
Smashbox Studio Skin foundation, $42: The winner of my foundation tests, I'm keeping this baby around for the wedding and just for days when I want to look fabulous and natural. It's a great foundation, and I was going to pick it up regardless. So, better do it during the 15% off sale! I will do a full review of this and the concealer soon.

Okay. So, that's a bit embarrassing, but I decided that I skipped my exemption in March, so...that softens the blow a little bit, right? In total, my "naughty" purchases comes out to $81, which isn't *so* bad...right? Right?

Passed on
Anyhow. Here's a look at all of some of the items I really wanted to buy, but passed on. Proudly. A few of them have earned spots on my wishlist, but I've learned to wait and really think about permanent items.

1. Rescue Beauty Lounge IKB:2012 nail lacquer, $20. It's BLUE, so blue. You know how I feel about blue nail polish. I was very close to pre-ordering it, but somehow I prevailed. I'm not sure what the status of this will be once it's released for general sale, and I may need to rethink my decision at some future point, but perhaps that will be after the ban.

2. Sephora+Pantone Color of the Year Eyeliner Set, $22. They were also selling the orange eyeliner separately for a while, though I can't find it now (it was $12). The idea of an orange liner seems fascinating, but I swatched it in store and it was kind of meh. Also, I could not get the swatch off with Sephora's makeup remover, and that kind of scared me. It's a twist-up pencil as well, and so far those have not been my favorite for eye liners. A happy pass.

3. Sephora+Pantone Apricot Brandy Prisma Chrome Blush, $16. Swatched this in store, far too powdery, chunky, glittery. Total, total pass.

4. MAC Extra Dimension Modern Pewter shadow, $20. I die for olive greens like this, but I swatched it in store and decided that while it is pretty, it's not startlingly unique or a must-have. I skipped, especially because $20 for a MAC shadow is a bit hard to accept.

I've said this before, but I am trying to move in a new direction with my beauty shopping. This, however, does not apply to everyone else - just me - so don't worry, I'm not judging! Everyone has the right to handle their hobbies the way they like.

For me, though, I'm trying to be more focused. I know we all love fabulous packaging and innovative textures, but I'm trying to focus on me, not the product, if that makes any sense. When I see something new, I have to think - how is it going to look on me? Do I like the effect it would have? Is that what I'm going for? It sounds fairly obvious, but I think it's really easy to lose sight of those things when I see a new product in some new swanky compact or bottle. If I don't think it's going to flatter me in a very specific way, then I move on, because if I think about what products I truly need, the list is very short. Also, at this point, new products have to be unique, in texture or shade or function. That isn't to say that I won't still collect blue nail polish, but as you've seen, they are still all quite different. And I'm not talking, "Oh, if you squint at these swatches on my wrist you will see that there are three more sparkles in this shade versus this one." No, that kind of thing really frustrates me as a consumer. I don't care if it has three less sparkles on your wrist; on my face, or wherever it's supposed to go, do these two products look more or less the same? If yes, pass on the second one. Unless it's going to be an improvement on what I already have (meaning I can ditch the old, junk, non-functional one), it's not coming home with me. The end. We are going to be ruthless, baby. And hopefully not hypocritical.

In addition, I'm also trying to focus on skincare a lot more, and since those items can be quite pricey, it's not leaving me a lot of room for frivolous purchases. I need a new eye cream, and a new night treatment. I also plan on switching over to SLS-free shampoos and soaps, which I know will also be quite pricey. If you have any recommendations for these skincare and bath and body products, please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know how you're doing with your respective bans, low-buys, etc., as well. We can cheer each other on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Thursday Post

Snow Patrol: Called Out in the Dark. I like Snow Patrol. The end.

Creepy, and kind of gross, but also kind of cool.

These photos are beyond gorgeous, and kind of surreal in a way.

My Facebook friends have been sharing awesome stuff lately.

Blue for brown eyes. Don't be afraid of color!

I need to try this someday, when I have a lot of time.

Gorgeous, so breathtakingly gorgeous. I want a room like this!
Dennison went on his first hike this past Sunday! Well, his first hike with us. I got him a backpack. When I first put it on him, he looked unhappy and I nearly fell over laughing while S. shook his head. When we got to the state park, though, and I put it on him again, he took no notice of it - he was OUTSIDE AND THERE WERE THINGS TO SMELL. He carried his own water bowl (collapsable) and doggie bags.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thinking About a Favorite Color

Top row, L-R: A England Tristam, China Glaze Skyscraper, Dior Tuxedo, Zoya Kotori
Bottom row, L-R: Dior St. Tropez, Zoya Kristen, Zoya Breezi, Dior Electric
Looking at this photo, it may be obvious that I have a problem. Or well, perhaps I won't have a problem, when it comes to that whole "something blue" thing. Unless it's: which do I wear? I love them all.

Many of you already know that I have soft spot for blue nail polish, although I am drawn to some shades much more than others. The bright, royal blue of Dior Electric, for example, is my favorite, and I wish it showed up more often in makeup. I understand that it can be a bit over the top on one's face, though, and it is very bright. In terms of nail polish, I tend toward true blues rather than teals, but there is one blue that I always avoid - that bright, yellow-toned blue, like A England's Order of the Garter. It's a beautiful, beautiful shade, but on my skin, it is unattractive and tends to look both sallow and shallow.


As I mentioned in yesterday's outfit post, I'm kind of in love with the color right now, and I have come to the realization that it really may be my favorite color - a good reliable standby. Sometimes you need a bit of brightness in your day - or your outfit - and I like this brand of blue. I do have some bright blue items in my wardrobe - the Target dress you saw, the coat in this post, a blue bracelet - but here are some other things that have caught my eye.
Blue
created with Polyvore
What about you? What color have you been loving lately?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What I've Learned From Fashion Blogs #5: Mix Your Brights!

Belted dress: Mossimo Juniors Dress from Target
Cardigan: LOFT
Bag: Nine West
Sandals: BCBG
Sunglasses: Burberry
Or can you? Before, I would have paired this bright blue dress with neutral sandals and neutral - or blue - earrings. This time, though, I decided to go with red. Red earrings (you can't see them in this top photo), and red sandals. And red lipstick, of course.
Lip color: Dior Red Serum
I have found Target to have a few clothing pieces that are worth it; they're only trend pieces, after all, and I'm hardly going to spend $100+ on a dress that I will only wear for one or two seasons, at best. I prefer to invest in staples (shoes, outerwear, classic pieces like pencil skirts, slacks - that kind of thing) and then go very casual for my other items. Of course, it's not worth it if the dress is going to fall apart in a few washes, but I've purchased some other items from Target, and they seem to last fairly well. This dress was $18.00 - score!

Also, this dress has aided in my recent revelation; I've never had a favorite color, even though I've had colors that I've preferred. I change my mind too often to pin down a true favorite. But you know, I think royal blue might be it. After all, I collect things like this. A blue post is coming up - hold on to your hats.

Anyway, what do you think? Would you mix red accessories and a vibrantly blue dress? Should I have stuck to neutrals?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish


SUCCESS. I have restored my data from my dead laptop onto our iMac. Thank you so much, RoboZelda (of Beauty Raid) for your detailed instructions! I managed to do things from Time Machine, but I will definitely try to salvage my hard drive later. I finished all of this around 11 pm last night, but I did have a few posts lined up and ready to go, so there will be some fresh reading material here today at least! Hopefully I'll get back to my photos and such shortly. Thanks for your kind words, everyone, and for your patience!

Here's the Fresh lip polish that I got as part of the Sugar Lust set last year. Let's ignore the severe tardiness of this post, shall we?

This is a mini version (0.28 oz); the full version is $22.50 for 0.6 oz. I think it's well worth it, though, as this is still a substantial amount, and you only need a little bit for every use. There are no instructions for use anywhere on the packaging or on the box, but Sephora's site says: "Apply Sugar Lip Polish to the lips and gently massage away dull skin. Leave on for 5 minutes, and rinse with warm water. Recommended use is two to three times a week for irresistibly kissable lips." I can't really get back to you on the "irresistibly kissable" part, as I feel I can't be an objective judge, and S. says it's a loaded question (prompting "Does that mean my lips aren't always irresistibly kissable? Huh? Huh?") so he refuses to participate.

I don't know how mind-blowing something as purely functional as a lip scrub can get, but I like this one. It's granular but the little bits are small and not too sharp or harsh. I don't usually leave it on for five minutes (maybe just a couple, because I'm impatient and leaving all this stuff on one's lips is pretty uncomfortable...what are you supposed to do for five minutes with gunk all over your lips, I ask you?), but it works well. My lips are never raw afterward, and it's the perfect thing to use to prep lips for a particularly fussy stain or lipstick. Bonus? This little pot is gonna last me forever.


I use a little spatula to dig some out (less than pea-sized, honestly), rub it around my lips with one finger, wait a bit, and then rinse off with water. My lips feel as if I have already applied balm afterward. Ta-da! Easy enough, right? I use it once a week or so, or as needed. It does have a faint lemon-y smell, but this is a rinse-off product and it's not bothersome.

I guess I'm kind of in love with Fresh lip products. I could do without the lemon-y scent, to be honest, but they do work. For something reliable like this, I'd fork over the money.

Try it if: You're looking for a non-stripping lip exfoliator.
Skip it if: The thought of paying $22.50 for a lip scrub (full size) pains you. I don't blame you. They often come in sets, though, so I'd try to track down one of those!

The full size runs $22.50 for 6 oz at Sephora.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Quick Update

You may have heard me wailing about this on Twitter, but my computer has begun the dying process. I say this, because first the LCD screen tanked, and now it appears it is slowly degrading, piece by piece. The trackpad has since ceased working, and when I peer very hard at the screen, I see something that is definitely not the usual desktop. This is causing a major panic in my life, as I'm not as good about backing up my work as I should be, so uh, I've got Time Machine plugged in and set to on and am hoping for the best. If it doesn't work out, well, that loud cry of anguish you hear sometime within the next twelve hours - yeah, that's me.

We do have another computer that's newer (mine is about 5 years old, so while this is not unexpected, it's inconvenient) and I recently got an iPhone, so I am connected to the Internet. And I don't have to replace it immediately. With the wedding saving going on and everything else, I'm not sure what kind of computer I can afford at the moment - and what kind of computer I want to get. Even when I make a decision, it's likely I'll wait until after the summer releases before I actually purchase anything. I do need to be able to write a thesis somehow, and for presentations and talks I need to have some sort of portable thing. I can borrow S.'s for that, and I feel that since I have an iPhone, I don't really need a bigger version of said thing, still lacking a keyboard (iPad). So the decision is between an Air and a Pro...but enough about that.

All this means is that while I am going to try to get everything backed up and running again on the iMac, at the moment, things are up in the air. I'm currently sitting here with my fingers crossed, praying desperately to the computer fairies to get my stuff to work. Photos and everything for the blog are on my Macbook, so I can't do any blogging right this minute. I do have some fun stuff planned (a blue post, some attempts at outfit posts, orange eye looks, purple lipstick) so...thanks for your patience and for sticking around! Hearts and puppies and stuff.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ebates!

This is not a sponsored post, although I do have a referral link at the bottom, which is labeled as such. You don't have to use it, of course. However, I've been using Ebates for over a year now, and I now try to shop through them whenever possible. I'm not sure how many of  you use Ebates, but you should! Especially when buying makeup or other products online. I do a lot of online shopping, and I figure, since I'm going to order it anyway, I might as well use Ebates to get the most out of it. They have varying cash back percentages for different stores and companies, but usually, Nordstrom, LOFT, J. Crew and Groupon (!) are around 3%, Sephora, NARS, DSW Shoes, Bobbi Brown, and Ulta are at 4%. Even the Apple Store is there (1%). I shop at these places quite frequently anyway, and sometimes there are coupon codes that you can add on top of your Ebates, as well. You can also bookmark your favorite shops so that they are easily accessible.

How does it work? You just click through Ebates when you shop, and that opens a tracking ticket. Then you shop and check out as normal, and that's it! You'll get an email telling you that cash is pending, and you can choose how you want to receive it (check or Paypal); it comes back to you four times a year. I don't shop *that* often (contrary to popular belief, ha!) but every little bit back counts, you know?

This is my *referral link,* which gets both of us $5 if you buy something through Ebates. But feel free to simply go to the site, check out their About page and sign up on your own. I do believe that there are a few stores for Canada, as well. I found out about this from all of the fashion bloggers, who, it seems, check Ebates quite often for new deals, etc.

I Broke The Ban (with MAC Goodies)

...but I don't feel bad. I've been looking for a gold - not rose gold, not bronze, not pale champagne - highlighter for a long time, and when swatches of MAC's Whisper of Gilt came out, I knew this was it. I was also intrigued by descriptions of its "hybrid" texture, and the packaging is pretty. So, when the collection came online, I ordered it. I also picked up MAC Heroine, because my favorite purple lipstick (MAC Bust Out, which is less than a year old) has grown mold. Um, ew, right? It was stored well and capped and all of that, so I'm not sure what the hell happened to it, but mold is gross and that's the end of that. Today I have swatches of Whisper of Gilt for you, and I'll try to get Heroine up later this week or early next.
MAC Whisper of Gilt Extra Dimension Skinfinish.
There are three in the collection - Glorify, Superb, and Whisper of Gilt. I passed on Glorify because I already have a couple of bronzers, and I can't for the life of me think how I could pull off that dark, bronzy, metallic copper shade (it is gorgeous, though!). I also passed on Superb, because I own Laura Mercier's Rose Rendezvous highlighter, and though they are not exactly the same, they are close enough for me (NaturalnChicmakeup has a comparison post here). Whisper of Gilt fit my "gold highlighter" qualification, so that's the one I picked up.
Left: indirect sunlight. Right: direct sunlight. Swatched with a finger.

You can see that it is quite gold on me - not bronzy or rose or any of that. I'm quite delighted. I think it's probably the most unique color, of the three. The texture is not really that odd, in all honesty. It's a very smooth, soft powder. Perhaps cream-to-powder. But none of that magic nonsense that they seem to go on about. Though it is very nice, very easy to apply, and very pigmented, so I suppose that is magic, in a way. On my face, when I apply with a fluffy brush, I get a very sheer wash of, er, glow - that's the best description I can think of for it. I want to play around with brushes (or maybe I'll have better luck with my fingers?) to see if I can get the metallic, golden sheen in the above swatch to show up on my face. That's probably a more editorial look than you'd want to go with daily, though.
This is a page out of Nordstrom's most recent catalog. I want the shoes, and the model's face is beautifully made up. I felt like the colors suited, so I snapped a shot.

These are $29.00 and limited edition, so if you want one, you'd better scoop one up! I think my store was already out of Superb, but these are also on Nordstrom's site as well as MAC's site.

As for the ban, don't worry. I'm back on the wagon. I think my shopping habits really have changed (and I'm also realizing that I need to work on my closet instead of my train case!) so hopefully, other than one more teeny tiny exemption, there will be no more ban-breaking. I only have to last until the end of June!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Thursday Post

Little Dragon: Twice (DJ Twist remix). I think you'll like it or you won't. Her voice is interesting, and I don't mind it, but I can see some people being turned off by it. I do like the beats and the piano, though. Give it a go.

It's National Poetry Month and I have a soft spot for poetry. And cocktails.

Swank, baby, swank. I want that dress.

This is such an interesting concept. I kind of want to give them a sniff!

I love lists like this. Bookmarked. I'm adding some of these to our menu, too.

Thank goodness for Pixiwoo.

What to do with your leftover ham and eggs?
"Why yes, I would love to steal your pillow. Thank you." Lest you think we spoil him immensely (well, okay, we do, but not that badly), this is the spare twin bed that we have moved to the living room to lounge on. He has, erm, acquired it. It's funny to watch him circle around on the tiny pillow to try and find a comfortable spot.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sweet Anthem Spring 2012

I like to buy the Sweet Anthem seasonal sets, because even though I know I may not like all of them, it's a good way to train my nose, and experience notes that I normally wouldn't pick out for myself. Sometimes I am happily surprised, sometimes my initial wariness is validated, but either way, it's a good experience.

This spring, when I ordered the Springtiming sampler, I received a set of solid samples, which is nice - I don't have much experience with solid fragrances, and I've been meaning to give them a try. In the sample clamshell packaging, they take a little bit of work to warm up with my fingers; I have to rub my finger vigorously into the disc to get anything out of it. However, there is an option to get a 5 mL twist tube, which I think will work wonderfully and be very easy to apply.

The fragrances are Corrin, Esther, Gwendolyn, Margaret, and Rowena, a nice quintet of ladies. I went through them in reverse alphabetical order, so that's how I'm going to list them here, just to change things up a little. Official perfume notes and descriptions are taken from Sweet Anthem's website.

Rowena: Cassis, Cognac, Green Tea, Golden Champa, Lavender, Pink Grapefruit, White Champa
"Hypnotic: white and golden champa, green tea infused with lavender, all adorned with a trio of quintessential citrus notes — cassis, cognac, and grapefruit."

Rowena is fruity and citrusy and girly. On the dry sniff, I get a lot of cassis, which almost smells tropical when paired with the citrus notes. It's sweet but not syrupy, which makes it spring-appropriate. However, Rowena is a little too tart for me; the citrus notes are definitely the champions here, lasting through the drydown, tart and strong in their own right.
MargaretGuava, Rose Otto, Vetiver, White Tea
"When the war is too much to bear, find comfort in this ancient melange of rose and vetiver, and settle into the evening with a guava-sweetened white tea." 

At first, it's rose, rose, rose. I learned what Rose Otto is (it reminded me of my undergraduate days in o-chem lab and I shuddered). I don't get a lot of fruity guava, but I get a sweetness, which seems to be characteristic of the fruit notes in many of Sweet Anthem's blends. I do get the vetiver on first sniff, though; it hit me before I even realized what vetiver was. It's green. Grassy, earthy green. You'd think that'd make this a green rose scent, but that earthly combination lives and dies like real flowers do, and at the end of the day, Margaret is wholly tea. Sweet, lovely tea, with a hint of roses still wafting in the air. All that, while remaining light and green and fresh; I like it.
A Study for the Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (image source)
GwendolynAmber, Black Tea, Lily of the Valley, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth, White Ginger
"A friendly springtiming tea suitable for any queen we know – steeped with wild, aldehydic florals, a dash of soft ginger, and a slightly tepid musk to leave our heads swimming." 

This one is my absolute favorite of the Springtiming collection. It's subtly sweet, with a faint fruitiness - almost like candy, but not syrupy. It's a sweet floral, and not at all what I expected from simply reading the notes and description. The honeysuckle is there, the hyacinth is there, and there's a slight musk to keep everything real and grounded. It reminds me of fairy queens, wrapped in garlands of white flowers...
EstherAlmond, Coconut, Honey, Lychee, Orchid, Sandalwood, White Chocolate
A gourmand meeting of sweet chocolate, flowers, and candies. Flirtatiously yummy with a fluffy white chocolate-sandalwood dry down. 

This one is foodie all the way. It smells familiar to me, a heady combination of the sweet almond, coconut, and honey, brightened with a splash of floral orchid and tempered by white chocolate. It's all there, but it's not crowded; it melds together beautifully, like one of those black teas that is mellowed out with a chocolate note. It's delicious, but sweet, and something I'd use sparingly on myself, as I am not the biggest fan of chocolate scents (as I don't like eating it, either). If you've a sweet tooth for gourmandy delights, though, I'd suggest you take a sniff.
CorrinBlack Tea, Civet, Cherry Blossom, Moroccan Rose, Myrrh, White Ginger
"Hey, don't you wanna buy her candy? Fruity strawberries, a smoky rosy center, an old trade route tea and expensive resins in between." 

Okay, maybe Gwendolyn and Corrin are tied for my favorite of the Springtiming collection. With Corrin, the solid perfume smells like strawberries and rose, but once it's on my skin, it transforms in tendrils of wispy, curling smoke into something subtler, and almost herbal. I get a fresh wash of tea - iced, cold tea - with a cool, almost minty sense of myrrh and cherry blossom. It's all delicately balanced and I really, really like this one, though I admit I'm happier when the strawberry fades away. This is a spring-summer scent, for sure.

The collection as a whole is full of florals and tea, with subtle variations throughout - a sweet note, a whisper of candy, a mellow chocolate coating, a strong citrus backbone. They're different enough to merit owning several, though there is a thematic entwinement of roses and tea; these notes are subtler in some, stronger in others. It's a lovely spring release, alternately ethereal and heady in the right ways. I can't say I'd wear all of these, but I always enjoy the experience of smelling them and feeling the way they evolve. With any collection, I think I usually find one or two that were meant for me (sometimes there aren't any, sometimes there are more) but it's not necessary to fall in love with all of them. They were probably all not even meant for me, you know?
Sylvia is not a spring release, but this is just an example of the "twist" solid packaging. I find these more convenient than compacts.

As for solid perfumes, I'm not sure why I was previously wary of these, though I suspect it's because I don't like getting my fingers into things. However, once I resigned myself to the situation, I found myself rather pleased with them. The sillage is obviously not as strong as with the perfume oils or the alcohol sprays, but if you're into a subtler scent trail, you'll probably appreciate that. As I mentioned above, they do take a bit of warming up; when I store them in my perfume box, they remain a bit hard, but once I start carrying the clamshell around or rubbing my finger against the surface of the solid perfume, the substance warms up beautifully and then it's quite easy to handle. I've been using these as a cuticle balm, too, which I'm sure my cuticles are happy about - they are often neglected. The idea of delicately perfumed fingertips delights me, for some reason. In general, I'd say that these are good for softer days, when you want just a hint of a scent, but don't want to go the whole nine yards with it. They don't last as long, so you'll have to reapply. It's nice to have variety and ways of toning down the intensity of my, erm, aural scent cloud, though on the whole I think I prefer the ease of roll-on oils and sprays.

If any of these have caught your eye (nose?), you can find them at Sweetanthem.com, but only for the remainder of the season or during a Sweeps week. They are available in a variety of formats: oils, solid compacts, or alcohol-based sprays. I may pick up Gwendolyn - and/or Corrin, ha! - just to have them in one of my preferred forms. Are you tempted by any of these? Which?

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Guerlain Gem

Guerlain runs a giveaway on Twitter, called Tuesday Tips. You tweet a question during the allotted time, and that enters you into the giveaway for a random Guerlain prize. A few weeks ago, I won one, and was quite ecstatic. I was even more thrilled when I received my prize: one of the new Terracotta blushes for summer. The full name appears to be, "Terracotta Sun Shimmer Highlighting Blush" (a mouthful, to be sure); I received Sunny Pink.*

It's a liquid blush and comes in a slim pump, which is delightful. The pump is easy to control, so you don't have to worry about squirting out insane amounts of product. You can get as much or as little as you want. The consistency is light and fluid, but sets down quite nicely after a few moments. It's not so quick that you can't blend it out, but it does dry down so that you don't have to worry about it looking, er, moist. Moist is not a good look, you know?
On the left, a heavy swatch, blended out some. On the right, simply smeared out so that you can see the color of the liquid when it's first pumped out. It's quite shimmery.




Sunny Pink is a rather coral-esque, peachy pink, with lots of tiny gold shimmer. It reminds me a bit of NARS Orgasm, I suppose, although I've never swatched that personally, and the shimmer here is far finer than in that powder blush. This is also more pink. I suppose it's just the peachy-pink + gold shimmer idea that reminds of the (in)famous O-blush. Really, with the amount of shimmer in Sunny Pink, and the way you can sheer out the color, I think this product probably qualifies more as a tinted highlighter than as a blush.
Blended out fully, in direct sunlight. You can see all the shimmer!

At first I was a bit startled, because holy moly, it's shimmery. If you apply with your fingers, it will look pretty much like the above swatch on the left (that's a bit heavier than I'd use for my cheeks, but it's the same general ratio of color + shimmer). I've taken to applying with a stippling brush; I still get the pink color, but far less of the shimmer. If I wanted to amp up the drama, though, I'd apply with perhaps a foundation brush or fingers. Either way, it's very lovely. It starts off relatively sheer, but is buildable. However, adding on more color also adds on more sparkle, so there is a limit to how boldly pink it can be.

Because of that, I initially wasn't really impressed with the color (aren't there enough NARS Orgasm wannabes out there?). However, the texture and ease of use elevates this one; it's fluid and not sticky, easy to apply and the sparkles aren't chunky or flaky like they can be in powder blushes. After using it a few times, I've decided that it's one of those products that just kind of completes the look, if you know what I mean. The shimmer is just right and highlights my cheeks so that I look a bit more sculpted. I've tried this alone, and over another blush, varying the intensity, and I'm quite pleased. It's the perfect summer item.

If you're not a fan of shimmer, I'd definitely skip; I don't think this is in any way a must-have. At $41, it's right up there with Guerlain's other luxe, pricey items. It also has the signature Guerlain cosmetics scent (which I actually like, it appears), though it fades upon application. But if you like liquid blushes - and highlighters, because it really is more of a highlighter - and are looking for an exquisite summer treat, this might be it.


*Item was received as the prize in a sweepstakes-style Twitter contest sponsored by Guerlain. This is not a paid or prompted review.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

An Easter Egg NOTD

So, this is not what I'm really wearing on my nails right now. I've got a combination of the very black and glittery Butter London The Black Knight and Revlon's Facets of Fuchsia on right now, because I'm...not festive, and I'm a vampy nail girl at heart. But this is the manicure I was sporting a week or so ago when I was feeling brights. It reminded me of Easter eggs!
Yup, that's Dennison! 
This is Zoya Pippa (a bright yellow cream that I adore and got on sale at Ulta a while back), under Wet n' Wild's Born Into Privilege, which is an LE polish that's out now. S. bought it for me because I was feeling sad about the ban, haha. He offered to buy the others, but I only wanted this one - it's a green glitter with all kinds of colorful, tiny glitter chunks. I love. I used a Zoya base coat (the ridge-filling one), and a new Essie top coat.

We are having an Easter brunch at home - I made cinnamon rolls yesterday and S. is going to cook up some eggs and sausage. Which coffee and orange juice, it will be fantastic and quiet and cozy. Hopefully the sun will be out and we can take Dennison to the dog park, too. What are your plans for the day? Did you color eggs?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

DG Oh My Darling - an Orange Love Affair

So, um, I know Saturdays have been Wedding FOTDS recently, but I haven't had the time to come up with one this past week. So I decided to bring you another FOTD! And maybe we'll have the wedding one up...some other time.

I reviewed the newest Darling Girl Cosmetics Kiss You Off Color Rich Balms a little while ago in this post (Sanctuary and Tan Lines lip swatches are coming, I promise!), but I thought it might be nice to use them in a few looks. I'm doing this one because I've been pulling it out a lot lately - I really like it. It's also right on trend with all of that Tangerine Tango nonsense going on. I do like orange, and I do appreciate the fact that it's now trendy and hip and whatever, but I think people tend to beat these things into the ground.

Rant over. This is an easy-to-wear orange, easier than MAC Neon Orange and more affordable, too. The official description on the Darling Girl site is "gorgeous bright ripe peachy orange with some fine coppery peach shimmer," with "opaque" coverage and a "lustre" finish. If you're concerned about "shimmery," I'd say that it isn't really shimmery; it has a slight sheen - almost a gloss - and that actually makes it more wearable than something creamy, like MAC Neon Orange. Don't get me wrong - I like Neon Orange. But it is a little more mod and takes a little more effort to wear. Oh My Darling is easier to throw on without as much careful planning.

Lip swatch: Oh My Darling Kiss You Off Color Rich Balm.

I've already featured an orange lip focused FOTD, but this one is a little different. It's a little softer, I think. A little. To make orange more wearable, I think, it's best to keep eye makeup simple but well-defined - you need something to balance out the boldness of your lips (same rule applies to red lipstick, for me). Then I go for a complementary cheek color - usually something orange or peachy, but not too pink. But hey, play around with it. Sephora has a great video on fabulous ways to play around with the color of the year. I need to try that orange and black winged eye.
Perfect with MAC Fresh Honey as a complementing cheek.
I like orange! It's fresh and summery all at once. What do you think? What's your favorite way to rock orange lips?

Oh My Darling is $4.75 at Darling Girl Cosmetics.

Friday, April 6, 2012

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium

I don't always want a full face of foundation, and on lighter days I tend to wear just a powder over my sunblock and moisturizer. I wanted a new powder (this was back in January, pre-ban, for those of you keeping track) and I'd heard good things about this , so I went to get matched. Medium is my shade. The SA said if I wanted a more bronzy glow I could go one shade darker, but I prefer to use a separate bronzer for that kind of thing, and get a powder that is a better match for my actual skintone. I do think that since the powder is quite sheer, it wouldn't be terrible if it wasn't an exact match; if I were to tan during the summer (ha! Not in this city!), it would still be okay, I think.

It's not intended to be a heavy coverage powder, but it does even out my skin and keeps oil at bay. I'm not particularly oily (at least not during the colder seasons), but if I don't wear anything at all, I do notice that I get little shiny throughout the day; this eliminates that problem. I've also noticed that it photographs fairly well (you can see it here), and though I don't really feel like it makes my skin particularly radiant, it gives a natural finish, as opposed to looking too powdery or too matte. I'm not sure that it lasts more than 8-10 hours in terms of coverage, but I don't become oily throughout the day, which is more of a concern to me. It's not a very heavy coverage powder anyway. But I've been wearing it all winter, and I'm very happy with it.

If I'm feeling lazy or if I just don't want that "full face of foundation look," I'll just wear moisturizer, Clinique Super City Block, and this all over the face. I use my EcoTools Kabuki to buff it all over my face in a few seconds. Easy breezy...oh wait, that's another brand. You get the idea.

Ingredients:
Try it if: You're looking for a light, pressed (ish?) powder that can be used either as a very light foundation or as a setting powder.
Skip it if: This is just one option of many (even just at MAC), so if you're not in the market or already have your HG powder, you can safely continue on with your lives. For what it is, I think it is quite excellent, though it does seem to be at a higher price point than some of their other products; for example, the Studio Fix powder is $27 for 0.52 oz, while this is $29.00 for 0.35 oz. The price hike is true for the mineralize vs. powder blushes, too, though, so I suppose it is not that surprising.

$29.00 at MAC counters or stores.