Wednesday, April 29, 2015

(Dior) Lucky Squared

Suckered in by the promise of Dior, eh? Now you have to read my personal update post, ha!

(Oh man, I am so tricksy. Like a hobbit, even.)

These are oldies but goodies, and reflective of my current favorites in terms of colors and finishes. I won the super cute mini Dior Addict Extreme in Lucky from a giveaway that Lily hosted some time ago. I actually might be almost done with it - I really love the color and finish. So PINK. So JUICY. It's still available at Sephora and other counters, I think.
Dior Addict Extreme in Lucky.

The matching polish is actually a little more red in most lighting, and it was also a gift, from someone else. It's a great red-pink in my favorite finish for nails - cream. I think it can only be purchased on Dior's website now, though. I love wearing makeup that has been gifted - makes you think of the person, you know?
Dior Lucky squared...lips & tips.
Anyway, as luck would have it (oh yes, you knew I would), I a job. It's a post-doctoral research fellow position, which is a transitional position for Ph.D level scientists (2-5 years as "preparation" for a more permanent future position). I'm going to be doing really cool research, and I'm pretty excited.

The caveat being, of course, that it's a job on the east coast, i.e., way on the other side of the country. Also: S. is staying here in WA, continuing on with his current job, until he can also get a position in my new city (or else we just repeat the whole cycle again - someone gets a job, everybody moves, other person is jobless and frustrated). So it may be a while. But we can handle that. It's unfortunately becoming the norm for people in our positions (partners who both have extremely specialized degrees); a lot of our mentors, former bosses, and peers have undergone or are going through the same sort of temporary separation. But this is preparation for ultimately ending up in the same city!

On the bright side, this means we're taking a road trip! S. is driving across the country with me to help me get settled, and then he's flying back (the dogs are staying with S., so they'll be boarded). Neither of us has done this before, and though I am not the hugest fan of long car rides (I'm the worst passenger. "Are we there yet? What's that? Are we there yet? Why are there so many cows?"), I'm kind of excited about seeing so much of the country, and of course, eating all the things.

We're leaving very soon, so I am hoping to schedule some posts in advance. Things may be slow while I move and adjust to my new work schedule and home, but I will definitely be updating my Instagram feed frequently (I'm an addict, what can I say?), as well as tweeting (follow buttons on the right side bar!). If you have any recommendations for sight-seeing or great eats (we'll be going the shortest route - through Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania), let me know!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Brow Battle: L'oreal Brow Stylist Plumper vs. Benefit Gimme Brow

[Both products were purchased by me.]

So, here's the thing. I bought Benefit's Gimme Brow in Light/Medium, and L'Oreal's Brow Stylist Plumper in Medium/Dark. But, hear me out!

I probably could use Gimme Brow in the darker shade, but when I bought it, I was still growing out a dye job and moving through eyebrow product shades, so I chose the lighter option. My hair is at its darkest (natural, not sun-bleached) shade right now, so when I bought the L'Oreal, I bought the darker option (also, the lighter L'Oreal looks way too warm).
I'm sorry the comparison of shades, then, won't be too helpful, but I'm going to show it to you anyway. I was worried that the L'Oreal would be too warm, but it isn't. Colorwise, I am satisfied with it.

The L'Oreal still looks warm here, but once applied, it's not overly obvious. However, if your brows are less dense, it would be more apparent if the color is not close to your natural brow color, so that merits consideration. Texture-wise, both products are similar; they both contain little fibers that cling to existing brow hairs. So, both of these products really only work if you have moderately full brows already - they'll add volume, and the fibers will have something to stick to. The gel will help keep hairs in place, and its tint will help fill in gaps and give the appearance of fullness. If you have really sparse brows, this isn't what you're looking for - you should opt for a pencil or something that will help you shade in your brows more evenly.

L'Oreal's Brow Plumper is a bit more fluid; Benefit's Gimme Brow has a less runny consistency. The L'Oreal also "sets" more stiffly and rapidly. You have to work quickly, and if you apply too much product in one area, it can get a little messy and needs to be fixed right away. The larger brush also makes it a little more difficult to apply (read: easier to color out of the lines), and can make it harder to evenly shade in your brows - there can be gaps. It cost me $8, vs. Gimme Brow's $24 price tag. Gimme Brow has a much better brush (tiny and dense), the finish is a bit softer (less stiff to the touch), and there is more margin for error - you can fix it up a little bit before it "sets."
You can see the little fibers on the L'Oreal brush, which is considerably bigger and not as dense. Gimme Brow has fibers, too, but this tube is almost at the end of its lifespan, so there aren't as many on the brush.

Overall, I'm torn. I like Gimme Brow's brush a lot better; it has an overall softer, fuller effect (partially due to the brush). However, L'Oreal's formula is close to the mark, and with a little practice, I think I can achieve a similar effect. The $16 difference between the two is significant, and although I would pay for Gimme Brow if I thought it was that much better, I'm not sure that it is. I shade in gaps with a MAC Brow pencil either way (I usually keep one on hand for this purpose, or if I want more dramatic brows), so that's not a huge concern. Some people have suggested using the Benefit brush with the L'oreal product, but then I'd have to constantly be washing it and whatever, and that sounds like work.

Here are FOTD shots of the two:
Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium on brows.

L'Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper in Medium to Dark on brows.
I think that I would probably repurchase the L'Oreal over the Benefit, because they are very similar and $16 could get me a MAC lipstick, or, you know, three milkshakes. If you're in the market for a brow product (or love Gimme Brow but would also rather have three milkshakes), I would consider this L'Oreal option.

L'Oreal ingredients: aqua, styrene/acrylates/ammonium methacrylate copolymer, alcohol denat., butylene glycol, acrylamide/sodium acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, isohexadecane, ammonium polyacryldimethyltauramide/ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, rayon, nylon-12, steareth-20, polysorbate 80, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium dehydroacetate, disodium EDTA, panethol, tetrasodium EDTA, potassium sorbate, silica, [+/-]

Benefit Gimme Brow ingredients: Water, Mica, Glyceryl Stearate, Polypropylene, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Peg-100 Stearate, Polyacrylamide, Phenethyl Alcohol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Laureth-7, Panthenol, Glycerin, Silica, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate. [+/-: CI 19140 (Yellow 5, Yellow 5 Lake), CI 42090 (Blue 1 Lake), CI 77000 (Aluminum Powder), CI 77007 (Ultramarines), CI 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride), CI 77288 (Chromium Oxide Greens), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green), CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77510 (Ferric Ferrocyanide, Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Because the Internet Needed One More Swatch of MAC Crosswires

Of course it did.
Ooh, matchy matchy nails (Zoya Maya).

Just like I needed another lipstick.

Though technically, this was free. It was my Back-to-MAC reward: MAC Crosswires, which is a cremesheen lipstick. This finish isn't typically my favorite, but I think it's pretty standard MAC fare. A little sticky, but nothing terrible, and the color is great. I swatched it here.
MAC Prolongwear Concealer NW25
Dior Aurora
MAC Fresh Honey
YSL Afrique
Sephora 10 Matte Brown Black
L'Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Medium/Dark
MAC Crosswires
MAC Crosswires is pretty opaque, but still has that nice sheen that keeps it from veering off into Amplified territory. It can look a bit frosty initially, but after a few minutes it looks much better.

Poking through old photos made me pull out Dior Aurora again, because holy hell is it awesome. Also, I really like that YSL quint, and if I wasn't swimming in eyeshadows, I would get another one.

I am on a blogging roll, you guys. Except that this is the end of said roll. I ate it.

Just kidding. Will try to post about the L'Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper thing soon, because it's good and $7.99 at Target; this means I can have eyebrows and a milkshake for less than Benefit's Gimme Brow, which is excellent.

Also - Crosswires reminds me of watermelon shades...what's your favorite watermelon shade?

(Yes. It's all food around here. All day, erryday.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Now and Then: Pastels

I was cleaning up the iMac and poking through my old photos, and found a pastel look that I had tried. I quite liked it, even though I'm not sure MAC Peachstock works in real life - it seems like more of an editorial thing to me, every time I try it. I've tried toning it down with gloss, but I'm not sure I love that, either.


Here are the old photos - you'll notice the old 'do. I thought I'd give it another shot and update it a bit, and also to see if I could do the same look twice, ha.

The first time, I used NARS primer before setting down the lavender shade from the Shiseido VI308 trio; look how vibrant that lavender is! I finished with black liquid liner and mascara. For blush, I used YSL Red Agate, because the cream texture doesn't compete with the powdery satin of the pastel eyes, and the warm, reddish tint contrasts the cool lavender and keeps the look from veering into Easter bunny territory. It also helps to tie in MAC Peachstock, as well. I finished with some highlighter, as you can see.
This was post-summer, obviously. I miss that tan. *sobs* Also, I'm not sure why the eyelashes of one eye hold a curl much better than the other. Life's mysteries, you guys.

This time around, I skipped the primer - the shadow still comes across beautifully, but has more of a sheen and softer effect, since it blends into my skin a little more. I used the same blush (and Diorskin Nude BB Cream) and MAC Peachstock once again. I try to tone down Peachstock by applying it over balm, but I think the problem here is that it looks way better when I have a little more color. Will try it with some bronzer next time. I haven't been wearing powder or highlighter lately, either, because I think it just emphasizes how pale I am right now. BRONZER.
This photo emphasizes the need for bangs on my face shape, ha!

I think this experiment has convinced me to give MAC Peachstock a few more chances, because I think it actually is a decent "concealer lips" shade for me, especially when I have a little more color (i.e., not right after dreadful winter). Also, this reminded me that I love Shiseido trios ever so much, and I will eventually have all of them. If you ever need to get me a present - you know what to do. Ha!

Ok, I've paid my dues to spring with all the proper pastels and muddy browns. TIME FOR SUMMER. Except I'll be in a humid place this year, so I'm kind of afraid. Mosquitoes. Ew. I moved off a tropical island for a reason, you guys.

How do you feel about pastels and concealer lips? Are you as hopeful for summer as I am?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Building on Brown Basics

[No affiliate links.]

Because I am boring. 

(Ah, alliteration.)

Just to add variety to all of the "spring!" going on, here are some browns. Two of them were LE (*ducks*) but I think you can definitely find similar shades out there, so all is not lost.

These are products that I use to compose a "basic face," - something neutral that works equally well with understated, MLBB-type lip colors, as well as brighter ones.
L-R: Maybelline Creamy Beige Color Tattoo, MAC Moleskin, Sephora 10 Matte Brown Black, MAC Spiked, Lingering.

Maybelline Creamy Beige Color Tattoo was a gift from Liz; I was initially worried that it would be too dark for an all over lid color (I usually prefer brightening neutrals like these), and I also hadn't had much success with the Color Tattoo Metal that I had. But this one is nice! It's creamy and stays on lids without much creasing (I don't use primer under this), and is a nice, muted, shade that matches really well with MAC Moleskin (gifted by another fabulous person). I layer the two - lightly buffing the powder shadow over the cream base - for an easy-peasy eye look that still retains dimension.

I finish that eye look with a Sephora Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner in 10 Matte Brown Black; this is my third shade from the line and I really like it. There is a little flaking once in a while (on application only), but otherwise it stays put all day. I know I always tout the glories of liquid liner, but lately I've been favoring the more natural effect that this dark brown pencil has. The other end of the pencil has a smudge tip and also a sharpener, which is handy, although I don't find it really needs to be sharpened that often.

Finally, two MAC brow pencils: Lingering and Spiked. I use my Gimme Brow every day, but sometimes I like to fill in spare patches or do a little more shaping, and I opt for either of these (the color depends on whatever look I'm going for that day). Both are great, and I've gone through a couple - they are accepted as Back-to-MAC empties, which is excellent.

Here's an example wearing Maybelline Creamy Beige, MAC Moleskin, and Sephora 10 Matte Brown Black; eyebrows are just Gimme Brow, I think.
Lipstick is Laura Mercier Baby Lips.

I've been wearing a lot of either MLBB or BRIGHT lip shades, and this easy look suits both, which is great for me - I just need to change up the blush and lip color, and I'm done.