Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Lipstick Picks: Jelly (Bean) Shades

It's spring here! It's warmed up considerably, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and I've dived into Easter candy.
Sour Patch Kid jelly beans, you guys. YES.

Also, jelly (bean) lipsticks - lipsticks in cheerful, bright (but not neon, with the exception of MAC Toxic Tale) shades that have a nice, glossy, jelly finish. Er, again, with the exception of Toxic Tale - it's a matte. And way bright. The others are softer, less saturated shades in their respective color families.
L-R: Clinique Flirty Honey Αlmost Lipstick, MAC Crosswires, Dior Addict Extreme in Délice, Shu Uemura Sweet Devil Rouge, MAC Toxic Tale.

I just picked up MAC Crosswires as my Back to MAC lipstick, but it's exactly the kind of coral-pink-red-je-ne-sais-quoi shade I lacked. It's a cremesheen and the texture is tolerable, though not the most comfortable (almost a bit sticky). It's standard MAC fare, though, I think, and it was free!

Are you feeling sheer or jelly lipstick finishes right now? What's your favorite Easter candy?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Scientist's Take on the Appeal of "The Food Babe"

A recent article that appeared in a popular beauty/fashion site has reignited scientists' complaints about a particular "food activist," The Food Babe, because the article claimed to feature "a point of view," and...we take issue with that.

I tweeted a few comments about this, but then I remembered that I have a blog, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write an informative piece that clarifies most scientists' objections to this sort of chemophobia and fearmongering that this particular woman seems to capitalize on.

You see, when we say that it's not "a point of view," we mean: water is composed of H2O molecules - two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Is this contentious? Hundreds of years of research suggest that it is not. Thus: not a "point of view."

The scientific procedure used to promote and publish research findings internationally is not without its flaws, but this is how it goes. A research group (at a university, in industry, in a government lab) completes an objective or establishes a result, and they seek to publish it and make it known to the world. They do so by drafting an article and submitting it to one of many scientific journals (e.g., Science, Nature, ACS or RSC) based on the type of science (e.g., medicine, biology, chemistry, physics, math, narrowed down into further niche fields forever and ever) it is. These journals are rated by their impact factor (generally, the higher the impact factor, the more prestigious and reliable it is) and staffed by editors who are, themselves, scientists, or who have had a graduate level education in a relevant scientific discipline.

If an article is selected, it undergoes peer-review. That is, the editor discreetly sends it to a handful of other experts in the field (other scientists and professors) and have them evaluate it based on a set of criteria: is it new and noteworthy? Is it valid and credible? Does it make a point and is it relevant? Corrections, clarifications and additions are requested, and submitted, and then the article is printed and knowledge is shared.

This sometimes gets bogged down in politics, biases, etc., but for the most part, it is successful and important. Nothing gets published without first being vetted by other scientists. We wouldn't expect claims to be accepted without substantive evidence, in the form of experimental evidence (or theoretical, if you happen to be a computational scientist, but I digress). We cite all references to previous work or studies that lay out background (all those tedious footnotes and endnotes - one paper can have a hundred citations. We are damned serious about it.) So we don't really take people seriously, if they do expect that kind of ready acceptance to their claims. 

The very basis of science is that we are continually discovering new phenomena and pushing boundaries. With that kind of premise, it's really hard to accuse researchers of being absolutely and resolutely close-minded or not open to new ideas and challenges to old ideas. That's how the field grows. Sure, people can be stubborn (there are famous debates about established scientists' refusal to accept quantum mechanics) but we're not rejecting other statements purely out of hand or without some good reason.

I can see the appeal of some of the Food Babe's advice. Eat more greens, eat less fast food, read labels, eat less sugar - essentially, pay attention to what you eat. What I do not appreciate, however, is the lack of evidence and lack of basic science understanding that accompanies most of her tirades against the food industry and the FDA. I think targeting these large, nebulous corporations can be easy if you are struggling with something and can't find a direct reason for it - you want someone to blame. However, environmental stimuli coupled with the variety of our nutritional intake makes for a tangled, intricate system of effects on our bodies, and it's hard to pinpoint all of that on exactly one factor, which is what "activists" like this woman would have us believe.

I really invite discussion and questions on the structures of science research and anything else related to this topic. I think there isn't enough emphasis placed on creating an environment that encourages a basic understanding of chemistry and biology fundamentals, even as we call for more STEM here, there, and everywhere. And to be quite frank, scientists aren't always the best at communicating details to the general public, either, which is also a mistake, but one that is trying to be addressed. Science and scientific research are not some closed off, obscure things in an ivory tower somewhere. Scientists shouldn't be elitists; we just spend more time on research and have a larger background in a specific field. We're not smarter or more intelligent, and we don't look down upon those who choose other careers and callings. We should and can endeavor to make our findings readily available to the average person, too, so you can make your own informed decisions.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The (Ridiculous) Beauty Scenario Tag

Well, this is just the kind of light-hearted thing to keep us moving in the middle of the week, right? Lily tagged me, so here goes.

1. You have to get rid of all of your foundations and only keep one high-end and one drugstore; which do you keep?

Fortunately, I'm really only using one of each, if I do wear foundation (which is rare these days). High end: Diorskin Nude BB Cream. Drugstore: Vichy Idealia BB Cream. Although maybe I won't keep either and get that new Bare Minerals Tinted Hydrating Gel, hm? Take that, cruel question-writer.

2. You go for an interview, and the lady interviewing you has lipstick on her teeth. Do you approach the subject or ignore it completely?
Ahh, I don't know! I'm really shy about things like this. I mean, I would want to know. But then I'm embarrassed for both of us. I would probably just not say anything and pretend I didn't notice. Does that make me a horrible person? Eeep.

3. You're not feeling yourself and need a pick-me-up lipstick. Which do you go for?
Dior Trafalgar. Lovely formula and there's just something about that Dior tube... My other super-model favorite is NARS Mascate, but lately I'm feeling brighter shades.

4. You go back in time for a day to your teenage years; how would you do your hair or makeup differently?
Not by much, really. I can't really remember what I did with my hair - probably a ponytail every day, and sometimes a bob. I didn't wear a lot of makeup until college because it wasn't really allowed, although I dabbled with colored mascara and some eyeshadow toward the end of high school, when mum started letting me do so.

5. You ask your hairdresser for a shoulder length Pixie Lott haircut but they hear wrong and give you a pixie cut - what would you do?

A) Smile, say thank you, call your mum and cry hysterically
B) Cry in the chair and things get awkward
C) Complain to the manager and demand a refund

You mean, like it is now?

But also, Pixie who? I don't really foresee this happening, though, because if I'm going to change it up, I always take a photo - usually something I pinned or saved on my phone. I'm also super picky about my stylists, because I'm not picky about my hair, if that makes sense. I keep the same one until I move or they move. I like having someone I trust so that I can just come in, let them do their thing, and go about my day.

6. Your friend surprises you with a 4-day city break and you have one hour to pack. Which 'Do it all' palette do you pack in your makeup bag?

I don't own any, because I don't like them. I don't even have an eye-cheek one. I have a daily tray, though, so I'd just pop all of those things into a makeup bag and fish out a few lipsticks to throw in, as well. The more important question - what skincare can I throw together? Who is this bitch, anyway? Can you pack in an hour?

7. Your house has been robbed. Don't worry, everyone is safe, but your beauty stash has been raided. What's the product you really hope is safe?

What kind of stupid robber was this? Skipped the laptops and such, did we? But they did skillfully avoid the dogs, so I suppose that's something.

I'm sorry, what was the question? I don't really care, I guess. It's all replaceable. Might be nice to start fresh and end up with less, since I couldn't possibly replace all of it.

8. Your friend borrows makeup and returns it in awful condition. Do you:

A) Pretend you haven't noticed
B) Ask them to re-purchase it
C) Secretly do it back to their makeup

I don't really think I would let someone borrow my makeup. Not because of selfishness, but, well, can we just go get you something? Shopping is fun. I guess if she really needed it for an event or something, but still...that's kind of weird to me. I guess I'm not really into the whole sisterly bonding type of thing. More about shared experiences than shared things.

Well, that was entertaining. C'mon y'all, do the tag! You know you want to. (Also, based on Liz's and Lily's answers, that makeup thief is gonna be in rough shape).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Currently Loving: March 2015

Palouse Falls, WA. We hiked there a few weekends ago. The falls are gorgeous and huge!
Haven't done one of these in a while, so I thought it'd be fun (the last was May 2014!).

1. Hiking!
The weather has turned unseasonably warm here, so we've been trying to take advantage and experience the sights around the area. We hiked Palouse Falls a few weekends ago (I shared some of these photos on Instagram) and have plans to go hiking again in a new place this weekend. The dogs really enjoy it, although Dennison does make me nervous sometimes - he is practically a mountain goat, but forgets that there is a human on the other end of his leash!
You see? He just bounds up to cliff edges and peers over curiously, wanting to go go go! Sheeba is a bit more prudent so I don't have any perilous cliff photos of her.
He could be like that gnome in travel photos.
2. Pink.
I'm usually all about red and orange, but lately most of my lip choices have been pink - particularly these five.
L-R: Lancôme Lip Lover in Framboise Étoile, Maybelline Lip Elixir in Intoxicating Spice, Breathtaking Apricot, MAC Patent Polish Lip Pencil in Pleasant (a gift - thanks, you!), Marc Jacobs mini Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Sephora BI perk).
Swatched in not the same order, because why would I do that? L-R: Maybelline Breathtaking Apricot, MAC Pleasant, Lancôme Framboise Étoile, Marc Jacobs Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Maybeline Intoxicating Spice.

3. Coffee Break French.
I'm still poking about with Duolingo (it's awesome if you want to learn a language!), but I've also started listening to Coffee Break French (a podcast) again. I tried it a few years ago and didn't stick with it, but now I listen while baking, or knitting, or sometimes even when working out at home, and am making more progress. They're short, ~20 minute episodes that really help with pronunciation and listening comprehension, which are my weak points when it comes to learning a language. And, they've got Scottish accents, which makes it just that much more fun.
4. Changing up the fitness routine.
I mentioned that I need to mix it up pretty often, or I get bored. Also, changing it up usually produces better results, since your muscles can adapt to any one exercise over time and the benefits are reduced. I've made 2015 the year for shaping and strengthening arms, so I have been looking for new free weights exercises to add to my usual routine. This list is pretty great, and after adding just a few, I'm already getting back that beautiful, post-workout ache.

What fun things have you been focusing on lately? What's your favorite pink lip product?

Friday, March 6, 2015

FOTD: Marc Jacobs Kiss Kiss Bang Bang & Two More "Enigmatic" Looks

[Products marked * was a Sephora BI perk and ** was a gift from a friend. Everything else was purchased by me.]

I actually brought more FOTDs like I said I would! I am so proud. Both of these looks feature Marc Jacobs The Engima. 
Marc Jacobs The Engima palette and mini Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.*

This first one also features Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang*; the mini version (squee, mini lipstick!) was a 100 pt. perk at Sephora. It's a deep rose shade with a thin texture and satin finish; it's not for those who want lipstick to smooth out textural issues on lips or require a thicker lipstick for lip line defintion. I prefer satin lipstick finishes to super creamy ones, so I do like this. I wore it on Valentine's Day for date night. And I'm wearing it here!
Wearing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Enigma on eyes. I *think* I was trying out a sample of the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue (02 Vanilla) as well, and the blush is Tarte Stellar.**

For the eyes, I used Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Amethyst as a base before applying the glitter bronze shade (sixth from the left in the palette) all over the lid. I added a bit of the pearly pink (4) on the inner third of the lid to brighten it and finished with liquid liner and mascara.

For another look, I tried to do a vertical gradient, which doesn't really work out since I have hooded eyes, but I wanted to try, ok? I used the pink, bronze, gunmetal and black, starting with the palest shade all over the lid, and then adding darker shades toward the lashline. I kind of liked how it looked, even though it turns out I only have bad photos, ha. But I've done it a few times and it's easy.
Sorry for lighting changes. I use natural light and it's a fickle thing, here in the PNW.

I initially wrote off the MJ line, but there are some items that I am really liking. The eye shadow palettes, in particular, have great color stories and I am always drawn to them. The Lip Crèmes are nice, too, and the next time I want a lipstick, I'll give the line a browse. Satin, matte and juicy finishes are my favorite, so I also might look into the new Nudes Sheer Lip Gels for something natural and shiny. I'm waiting for more reviews of the new contour items, as well, even though I never contour and don't know how. But makeup purchases have been slow here (the mini lipstick was redeemed with a boring, boring replacement concealer purchase) and I'm not really in the mood to shop.

What fun Marc Jacobs items are you loving, or thinking about? What kind of eye looks, too? I need more inspiration!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

FOTD: Soft Winged Eye (Marc Jacobs Enigma Palette)

Remember my favorite things?

I already reviewed The Parisienne and The Siren, and this isn't going to be an in-depth review of The Engima - just an FOTD feature. I have two more coming up, as well; Enigma has been getting a lot of use, as it's a lovely palette with a great mix of cooler neutrals, brilliant for daytime AND nighttime looks (for swatches, visit The Beauty Look Book or Temptalia).

I tried to do a soft smoked wing look, using shades 1, 2, 4, 5 (from the left of the palette); the pink shades went all over the lid (matte 5 first, then shimmery 4 just over the inner corner with a fluffy brush), followed by a deepening of the crease with 2 (gunmetal), and then a more graphic winged liner with 1, the matte black. I finished with mascara. I don't typically use shadows for liner because they don't always stay put in neat lines, but I didn't have a lot of trouble with this one. I did use a primer to really bring out the color of these shadows, and that probably helped.
I think this is one of my favorite looks, lately. I've really been feeling the soft pinks!

I wish I could remember what lipstick that is. I think it's Laura Mercier Baby Lips (which is kind of a creepy name, you guys), and I think the blush is Dior Capri. In lieu of foundation, I'm just wearing concealer and the Bobbi Brown powder, which has been a staple.

I didn't have neutral-smokey shades before (The Parisienne is more jewel-toned, I'd say) and I'm really happy with The Engima. The glittery bronze (shade 6) is absolutely stunning; I like to use that one all over the lid for a really fun take on neutral (that's one of the looks coming up). This exaggerated wing is a little more artsy than I normally go for, but it's fun to play around with a palette and see what you can come up with. What kind of looks have you been experimenting with, lately? 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Take a Step Back...and Be Kind to Yourself

Lately I've found it hard to review products, mostly because it takes a level of scrutiny that I've been admitting is unrealistic. Example:

The scene: Slightly fudged my lipstick application - the line around my lips is wobbly in parts.
Reaction: Peer closely at said wobbly line in mirror, with my eyeballs an inch away from the mirror, breathing heavily as I inspect the mishap. (Now I must wipe the mirror.) Is it okay? Must I redo it? (Because, hello, lazy). Second opinion time!

Me: "Look at my lipstick. Can you tell that it's super messy around the edges? Should I redo it?"
S (standing a normal distance away): *looks at my face for a moment* "No. Looks fine."
Me: "Are you sure? What if you look at it closely?"
S (doesn't move): "It's fine. If anyone gets that close to your face, you have other problems."
Me: ...

Verdict: Fuck it. MESSY LIPSTICK STAYS. Life is too short.

You see? Now, I won't be taking blog photos of that (or will I? Muahaha. Ha. Ha.), because up close and personal - like everything is on the blog - it's a bit much, and readers may wonder how I ever made it out of kindergarten without learning how to color in the lines. But the average other person, out and about? Won't even notice. So I'm learning to let it go.

(Er, unfortunate choice of words. I am not, and will never be, a "Frozen" advocate.)

That is, I have been making an effort to take a step back from the mirror after applying products. If it looks good from there, it looks good. All it needs now is a smile. Here's the cheesy reminder to be more forgiving of ourselves and the faces we see in the mirror. Especially as beauty bloggers and beauty aficionados, who spend a lot of time critiquing and scrutinizing every detail or skin flaw - be kind!

(Goes great with a pinot gris, this cheese. Enjoy your Monday.)