Friday, October 20, 2017

Gentle Clay: Review of Freeman Sparkling Pear Pore Cleansing Mask

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Review of Freeman Sparkling Pear Pore Cleansing Mask

In my previous post I mentioned that I'm going to finish up my current clay mask before I repurchase my old favorite. The product I'm currently working on in the Freeman Feeling Beautiful Sparkling Pear Pore Cleansing mask, which is described on the tube as "whipped clay." When I googled this stuff to find the ingredients, I found that it's no longer available on ULTA or the other usual spots, though you can still find it on Amazon, and you can get the small packet version from Walmart. This is what happens when I take months to test something before reviewing it. But I took photos, so I'm going to post them, damnit! I'll try to keep it brief.

The texture of this mask is certainly lighter than most clay masks, and you can see in the photo below why. It's definitely "whipped"--there are little air bubbles throughout.

Review of Freeman Sparkling Pear Pore Cleansing Mask

The texture makes it easy to spread, but it also means that I need to use more to get the same even layer I would from another mask. As a result, I've been going through this tube pretty quickly.

The lumps below are bubbles, not chunks.

Review of Freeman Sparkling Pear Pore Cleansing Mask

It doesn't feel bubbly or anything on the skin (i.e. no "sparkling"). It feels like your usual oil-absorbing clay mask, except it never quite dries completely, and you don't get that tight feeling in your skin as it dries as a result. On the plus side, I also don't get the sting in my eyes as the moisture evaporates that I get from many other masks. It's also easier to rinse than a really dry clay mask.

So the application is pleasant, but because it's not as dry, I haven't found it as effective as some other options. It does absorb surface oil and make me feel less greasy for a while, but it doesn't quite suck out the dark goop from my pores the way Freeman's Avocado and Oatmeal mask does, for instance.

It's also highly fragranced. I was expecting (i.e. dreading) a fake apple/pear scent, but fortunately for me, it smells more like rose. That might be a deal breaker for some, although the fragrance rinses away with the mask.

Overall, if you can find a tube of this, you might like it if you find most oil-absorbing masks to be too aggressive. Personally, I much more highly recommend the Freeman Avocado and Oatmeal clay mask (reviewed here), for the same price, to get more effective oil absorption and temporary pore minimizing, without drying out your skin.

Have you tried any new masks lately that I should know about?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More empties

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It seems like I just wrote an empties post, but I took the rather uninspiring photo above back at the end of August. So it's time to write about this garbage (literal garbage, I mean--some of the products are great) before I forget all about everything. The main function of these posts for me is to keep a record of things I've tried, so that I can remember what I should and shouldn't buy again. I have a terrible memory! I hope they're at least somewhat useful and/or interesting to you too.

(I'll move from left to right in the photo, top row and then bottom row.)

Note: I used referral credits to buy the Paula's Choice products listed here, in case you're wondering how I could so cavalierly dispose of some of this expensive shit.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day In Shower Styler (mini): I got this as part of a Sephora Favorites kit and ended up loving it. I've already got a full size. If you have little-to-no wave in your hair like me, you can get little-to-some wave with very minimal effort using this stuff. You just apply it to your wet hair and barely rinse it in the shower, and then air dry (while occasionally scrunching, if you remember). Simple! (I think it enhances curl and wave in other hair types too, but I can't speak from experience.)

Sephora Gel Serum Concealer in Buttercream: Swatched here. This is my favorite concealer formula, and this shade is a good match, but I replaced it with Fondant (reviewed here), because for whatever reason the coverage and application seems better in that shade. Oh, and if you tried this stuff a year or two ago and hated the applicator, they've changed it.

John Frieda 7-Day Volume: Reviewed here. I'm on my third or fourth bottle. Good stuff! (It's much, much cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else I've seen it, for some reason, so I always get it there.)

Paula's Choice 8% AHA Gel: A lot of people love this product, but I've found that glycolic acid just doesn't seem to have any effect on my skin. Lactic acid (like the mask reviewed here) works much better for me. So I used probably a quarter of the bottle on my face, then started mixing it with body lotion for my legs, etc., for a while, and then finally when I moved, I tossed the rest, because I didn't want to pack it.

Paula's Choice Hydralight Lotion: Reviewed here. This moisturizer was a favorite of a lot of people, myself included, and so Paula's Choice got a lot of flack for discontinuing it this year. Thankfully they listened to feedback and brought it back!

Paula's Choice Resist Oil Booster: It's a decent, light skin oil, I guess, but it's nothing special for the price. I ended up using it mostly on my cuticles and as the last step in this excellent masking routine.

Paula's Choice Moisture Boost Cleanser: I have said many times that you can get cleansers that are just as good as those from Paula's Choice for a much lower price, but of theirs this is probably my favorite. I don't even have dry skin, but it's still effective, gentle, and non-drying.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir: So this is pretty much just scented alcohol and water with a bit of glycerin in it. A lot of people love it, but I don't know what they experience when they use it, because it did nothing for me. I ended up using it as a (very pricey) body spray--fortunately it was in a Sephora Favorites kit, too, and the kit was marked way down, so I didn't actually spend much to try it.

Wet N Wild Mattifying Powder: This is a decent powder. It has a fine texture and it does mattify. But I have never emptied a powder so quickly in my life! I think I finished the whole thing between about April and August, and that wasn't using it every day. My brush picked up a lot, and the pan is barely more than a millimeter deep, despite the unnecessarily large packaging. It's fairly cheap, but you can definitely find an equally affordable and effective powder out there that will last you five times as long. I wouldn't buy it again, needless to say.

Batiste Tropical Dry Shampoo (mini): Smells like piña colada, works just as well as all the other Batiste dry shampoos.

Freeman Avocado & Oatmeal Clay Mask: Reviewed here. This is my favorite mask ever. It works so well, it's cheap, and the tube contains a TON. I didn't actually finish it, because of that whole containing a ton thing, but it was getting very old and I had certainly got my money's worth. I'll definitely buy another tube once I finish the new clay mask I'm trying now.

Dr. Brant Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner: This is a thin mask that works pretty well, but it's much more expensive and less effective than the Freeman mask above, so I'd recommend that instead.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt (mini): I got this in a Sephora Play! box. I liked it--it did make my roots/scalp feel cleaner. It definitely needs to be followed up with conditioner if you don't want super crunchy hair. I figured I could DIY it by mixing a bunch of epsom salts (I had some Aloe & Rosemary salts from CVS that had a very similar scent to this) with shampoo, but the salt turned the shampoo really watery and it wasn't the same at all. I still don't think I would spent the million dollars they want from me to put some salt on my head, though.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream (travel size): You can buy this cheaper in giant tubs, but I mainly only use it as a heavy eye cream or on whatever part of my face needs some extra moisture, so the tiny jar lasts me about a year. I got mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but I can't find this little jar online anywhere for you. And now I'm reminded that I have a new replacement jar at home that I haven't opened yet, and I should dig that out. It's great if you want something thick but simple to layer over other products.

So that's it for this round! Have you finished up anything exciting (or terrible) lately?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Is No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder a dupe for Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder?

Review of No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
Left: No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder; Right: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
Translucent powders are hard to review. If they work well, they look like nothing at all. I got a mini jar of Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder as a Christmas gift last year, and I liked it enough that I considered spending the $38 to get the full size. But that's a lot of money, so I needed to think carefully about why I liked it.

No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
Top/Left: No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder; Bottom/Right: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
It's truly invisible on my skin, no matter how much I apply. I use it to set my concealer and I've used it on bare skin and over foundation. It never looks powdery and it doesn't cause what's under it to get dry and weird. Now YMMV on this aspect, because I've read reviews in which people have said that this powder looks cakey and obvious on their skin no matter what they do with it. I don't know for sure what the cause is, but I'm guessing it has to do with the color. It's very pale and on the yellow side of neutral. Translucent, sure, but if you have darker or cooler skin, it might not be translucent enough. In fact, I'm pretty certain that's the case, because Laura Mercier recently added a second shade called Translucent Medium Deep--the original is just called "Translucent." (Of course, the mini jar only comes in the lighter shade. Sigh.) Since I'm pale and neutral-toned, the lighter shade works well for me.

It also creates a natural, flattering finish on my skin. It mattifies but not so much that it looks dry and powdery. It has a very subtle blurring or softening effect without any shimmer at all. And while it doesn't exactly make my makeup wear all day under sweaty conditions, it works well enough to set everything.

It's great and I like it a lot, but it's not exactly magic or anything. So when I read somewhere that No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder was a $13 "dupe" for the LM powder, I decided to give it a shot. I'm admittedly not terribly picky about powder, so I figured that even if it wasn't perfect, it would be adequate for the time being.

(You might note that the LM powder contains 1 full oz., while the No7 has only 0.7 oz., but that still makes the No7 significantly cheaper either way you look at it.)

The main difference between the two powders is the color. While they are both light and translucent, the No7 powder is quite a bit pinker.

No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
Left: No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder; Right: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
As I said, my skin tone is just on the warm side of neutral, but while I guess the LM powder is technically a slightly better match, they both work equally well for me in practice. Here are heavy finger swatches for another comparison:

No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
Top: No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder; Bottom: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
No shimmer, as you can see.

I also blended out the swatches, but the photo isn't very helpful. I guess you can see why I didn't bother to show you a photo of the powder on my face. They both turn invisible on my skin.

No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
Top: No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder; Bottom: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
But maybe you can see a little of the softening effect I described? Maybe not.

Other than the color, I haven't noticed any real difference in performance between these two products, so I'm quite satisfied with my budget option.

I will say that the packaging for the No7 is a little overly bulky and also slightly messier than the LM powder. Powder tends to settle on that sort of ledge around the edge of the jar and then scatter from there (you can see what I mean in the second photo above). Neither of these powders is so light that it flies all over the room and up my nose, fortunately (looking at you, MUFE HD powder). Both jars have annoyingly domed lids so that you can't stack anything on top of them--the No7 is almost but not quite flat, just to rub it in. And they both came with very nice powder puffs inside, which, in both cases, I promptly lost, because I use a brush--so no photos, sorry.

My suggestion is that if you are similar to me in coloring, just go with the cheaper No7 option. It's available for the same price at Ulta and Target. If you are pale but very warm, and you're concerned that the No7 might not be a good match, the Laura Mercier powder might be a better bet--but honestly I would still probably gamble that the No7 would be translucent enough to work for you. If you have darker skin, it's probably going to be worth your while to purchase the darker Laura Mercier shade. And let's hope that No7 and other brands get their shit together and realize that even if something is translucent, a light shade is not going to work for everyone. Is it really so hard to produce two fucking shades?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I don't need this: Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% and The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% and The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Yes, I just wrote a post about over-consumption in skincare, and now I'm reviewing a couple of products from one of the trendiest brands of the moment. But this is also a post about not trying to use things you I should know won't work for you me. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes, since I obviously can't.

The first of the two products I'm reviewing here is The Ordinary's Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. Emi from Project Swatch kindly gave me her tube when I expressed interest after her review, in which she found she didn't like using it because of the grittiness. For some reason I wanted to test my mettle against the unappealing texture, since I can usually stand weird products so long as I use them at night. I won't go into all of the technical details of how this product is supposed to work, but I will direct you to this excellent and thorough review of 27 products from The Ordinary. You can also read about them on Deciem's website (the company that makes The Ordinary), but I will point out that that they often make little attempt to provide really accessible information--and in fact, I think this is part of their marketing plan. Is there a word like "greenwashing" for marketing that presents everything in a very technical, scientific way, to make it sound more advanced and unique? I mean look at the product names. Broken down to basics, maybe, but hardly ordinary.

In general, vitamin C is supposed to "brighten" by fading extra pigmentation, and to prevent or repair sun damage. Here's a great explanation of antioxidant effects from Lab Muffin (still sciency, but a much better presentation than Deciem's). And here's where I went wrong. How many products do I own that claim to "brighten" skin? I don't even want to count. How many times have I actually noticed a difference in my skin as a result of using a brightening product? Rarely-to-never. I don't have hyper-pigmentation or dark spots or the usual things that brightening products are meant to brighten. And so while I don't think that it was completely useless to use this particular product, because I probably got some invisible preventative effects from the antioxidants, I didn't see any noticeable improvements in my skin while using it. That doesn't mean that it doesn't work or that you won't love it! It means I didn't need it, because I already use other good antioxidant products.

Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% and The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Left: Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%; Right: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

I can tell you something about my experience of applying the Vitamin C Suspension, however, since it is an unusual product. You can read on the product page about why it feels the way it does, but I would describe the texture as feeling like a small amount of baking soda mixed into a lotion. Deciem says that it "tingles," but I would describe the sensation as more of a mild burning. I don't recommend using this stuff if you have any broken skin on your face, like a recently scabbed-over zit, because it will sting like fuck. As I hoped, the texture doesn't bother me too much. I apply a thin layer and leave it for 15-20 minutes, and then lightly apply moisturizer on top. By the time I add the moisturizer, most of the grittiness has gone away, but I still prefer to add another layer, because it's quite greasy. In fact, I can still feel the oiliness on my hands even after washing them with soap. With a more pleasant moisturizer over it, however, it feels ok while I sleep, and it washes off easily in the morning. The product itself doesn't have any fragrance when I apply it, but by morning my face smells like it has fake tanner on it, which is interesting. That smell washes off with the product. Also, if you happen to get any of it on your lips, it has a very sour taste.

My story with the Caffeine Solution is similar. I purchased this stuff myself from Well.ca ($10 off with code brutallyhonestbeauty), and had it shipped to my sister in Canada along with a few other products from The Ordinary. I'd read a few brief reviews from people who said it really helped with their dark circles, but apparently I didn't pay close attention, or I would have known it wasn't likely to help me. It works by constricting blood vessels to reduce puffiness and it also reduces dark pigmentation under the eyes. My dark circles are not caused by either of those things--instead, the skin under my eyes is translucent, which makes it look purple-blue. (You can see what I mean here.) In addition, quite the opposite of puffy, my undereye area is somewhat sunken (you can see here). So in fact, I would benefit more from increased puffiness and pigment, not the opposite!

But I tried the serum anyway for about a week, since I had it, after all. I was curious. It didn't improve my dark circles, as I should have expected. I don't know if it made the sunken, shriveled skin under my eyes worse, but it certainly didn't help. Let me advise you to READ THE FUCKING PRODUCT DESCRIPTION BEFORE YOU BUY SOMETHING. Honestly, I don't think there are any products other than concealer out there that can help my ghoulish blue circles, though I'm trying some eye patches to see if they will plump up the skin temporarily (recommended by Mimi from Makeup Withdrawal).

The texture of the Caffeine Solution is lovely, by the way, in case it's the kind of thing that might be of use to you. It's a thin serum that absorbs quickly. The bottle ought to last forever, because you'll only need a drop max for each eye.

I need to stop using things simply because I'm intrigued by reviews, and think carefully about what will actually benefit my skin. I do that most of the time, but my curiosity got the better of me this time. The Ordinary is an interesting line of products, and I have a few more to test out in the coming months. It's a cheap way to try fairly basic formulations and ingredients and to rule out what doesn't work for you (I guess I've accomplished that), which can be difficult to do with more complex, often more expensive, products. I haven't done a price-per-ounce analysis here, and I might attempt one in the future, though I'm not sure exactly what would be best to compare these types of products to. Suggestions?

Have any of you have good luck with skincare from The Ordinary?

(I really would like to get up to two posts a week, instead of just one, but I haven't quite got the hang of my new schedule. Working on it!)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

ULTA Holographic Eye & Cheek Palette: My alternative to the Kat Von D Alchemist and Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Palettes (and all the others)

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ULTA Holographic Eye & Cheek Palette

This is really just a post about something fun and shiny I've been playing with lately. Tons of photos, so be prepared! I got this Holographic Eye & Cheek Palette recently using some ULTA points (it's normally $16, but on sale for $8 right now). I'd been moving the Kat Von D Alchemist palette in and out of my Sephora cart for a few months. I love anything duochrome or shifty, but I had a hard time justifying $32 when I don't wear noticeable highlighter very often, and I doubted how much I'd actually use it as an eyeshadow transformer. I'm more of a 1-2 shades of eyeshadow person. For while I considered the BH Cosmetics Blacklight Highlight Palette, which contains 6 huge pans of iridescent highlighter for $17--but then I remembered that I was trying to minimize the amount of makeup I traveled with, and carting around an enormous highlighter supply probably wouldn't help me achieve that goal. (I'm not going to do a whole price-per-ounce analysis right now, but I can tell you that in the BH palette, you'll get a lot more product than in the ULTA palette for close to the same price, and in the KVD palette you'll get significantly less for twice the cost.)

So I settled on this ULTA option, in part because of my points, and in part because I've had good luck with ULTA brand products in the past. I think they're pretty underrated--the eyeliners are particularly great--and they always have some sort of sale on the store brand, so that you should never have to pay full price for anything.

As it turns out, I'm very happy that I bought this palette and equally happy that I didn't buy Alchemist, because while it's a lot of fun to play with, my predictions about how I would or wouldn't use it were accurate.

ULTA's Holographic Eye & Cheek Palette includes, as you can see, four iridescent, shifty, sheer highlighters. Have another look at the pans, and then I'll show about a million swatches after the cut.

ULTA Holographic Eye & Cheek Palette
It looks really pretty in the bathroom lighting, ok?

Butter London Glazen Eye Gloss 50% off today

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I have a real post almost finished that should go up later today, but in the meantime, I wanted to alert you to just about the only interesting thing I've seen so far in the ULTA 21 days of beauty sale, which is the Butter London Glazen Eye Gloss, which is on sale for $12. I have the shade Oil Slick (below, swatches here), and it's great. Have any of you tried the other colors? I'm tempted.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Thoughts on skincare, aging, and indulgence


A recent move from Michigan to Texas (which is my excuse for the prolong hiatus here) has me thinking a lot of about skincare, beginning with how I need to adjust my usual routine to suit the new climate I'm now living in. Thinking about my goals and preferences when it comes to looking after my skin leads to all sorts of other tangential pondering about skincare in general. For instance, my skin has actually been quite good since I arrived at my new (temporary) home, and yet I'm still motivated to use all sorts of products and to try new things.

And what exactly constitutes "good skin" anyway? Or "good enough" (if such a thing exists)? For instance, I haven't been breaking out much, to the extent that I was a bit surprised to get my period, since I hadn't had my usual harbinger of cystic chin acne this month. So less acne = good, for me, ok. The texture of my skin has also been pretty nice: soft and smooth, pores aren't too enlarged. So I guess those are also things that matter to me for some reason.

On the other hand, I've been noticing lines more, whether or not they are more pronounced than they used to be or it's just because I don't have other issues to distract me from them. In a particularly ridiculous moment, I found myself browsing Instagram for closeups of faces of women younger than me to confirm that the wrinkles under my eyes weren't abnormal.

Skincare is obviously a hobby and a fascination for me, but I don't approach it without a generous amount of ambivalence. When you start looking at skincare products and reading about skincare routines, you realize that if you adhere strictly to much of the advice out there, you'll discover that there is apparently not a single person on the planet whose face doesn't have a flaw to fix. Whatever happened to "normal" skin? We're too oily or too dry--or both. Too much redness or dark spots. Pores are too big or too much acne. Too flaky or too shiny or not shiny ("dewey") enough. Too saggy or not soft enough. Too light or too dark. Too dull and not bright enough. Too many lines or too much puffiness. It's endless. It can be really hard to conclude that your skin is just fine.

Even our old gurus, like Paula Begoun for instance, who used to say that "not everyone needs a moisturizer," are going to try to sell us all moisturizers (and eye creams and essences . . . ). I'm not immune to this. When I was younger, I never used moisturizer, and my skin felt fine. Now I moisturize with different products a couple of times a day. Sure, skin often gets drier as we age, but do I really need all that? Or have I just got used to it? My mother almost never moisturizes, and her skin is neither dry nor oily. Again, remember "normal" skin?

But I have all these products, and they're fun to use (most of the time) so I use them. The pleasure we derive from our beauty routines isn't a bad thing. It's no more frivolous to have this as a hobby than to tinker with cars or knit or play video games. But it's a slippery slope from hobby into luxury and self-care. These are not always bad things either. Getting myself ready for work in the morning could be considered a form of self-care, because I get to sit quietly for 20 or 30 minutes and carry out my routine and start the day in a less stressed and more focused state of mind. But I think there's a difference between that and feeling like my problems can be alleviated with a little consumerism and that if I've had a rough time I deserve to treat myself to a new purchase. (I've written about self-care and consumerism before, and also see this Buzzfeed article about self-care and influencers.)

I try not to judge people who collect things, whether they're Funko dolls or exfoliants. But outside of those people who have the disposable income to collect one of every enticing skincare product, there's definitely some worrying overconsumption happening. Again, I'm not immune or exempt from this--I am quite aware of how much perishable shit I own, because I had to pack it up and move it with me across the country (THREE backups of PC 2% BHA liquid? Really, bitch?). If you follow skincare enthusiasts (or collectors, as you could call them) on Instagram, however, you're likely to be confronted with #shelfies of dozens of products and to see their morning and evening routines consisting of 5-8 products each, which change significantly every day. Again, they're obviously having fun, but seeing that over and over can create the impression that a "proper" skincare routine requires a lot of purchasing.

There are also, of course, the trendy and exorbitantly-priced products and brands that tend to appear regularly in these photos alongside glowing reviews. I've found, nevertheless, that there's little correlation between effectiveness and price when it comes to skincare. Some expensive things are great, and some are terrible. Some cheap things are great, and some are terrible. But the self-care, "treat yourself" mentality suggests that you're doing it better if you buy something luxurious (i.e. pricey) than merely something that's effective and pleasant to use, but cheap. In reality, you can have beautiful, well-cared-for skin (according to whatever definition you choose) even if you only own a handful of affordable products. Say sunscreen, moisturizer, and a serum in the morning, and cleanser, exfoliant, and moisturizer in the evening. Or less. Maybe you don't need to moisturize!

Returning again to that definition of good skin, it's a tricky concept. Most skincare products seem designed to do one of two things: to make skin "clearer" (less red, smoother, smaller pores, fewer pimples) or to reverse/prevent aging (again with the pores, fewer lines, tighter skin, fewer dark spots, etc.). Obviously there is significant overlap between these categories. But I wonder, did you ever notice someone's pores before you got interested in skincare? Did you ever notice your own pores? All faces have pores of varying sizes! Try looking at images of beautiful celebrities that aren't airbrushed to death and allow yourself to feel some relief that porelessness is not an achievable (or desirable!) goal.

Natalie Portman, Hollywood Reporter, May 2015
Saffron Burrows in Mozart in the Jungle

Anti-aging rhetoric is even more insidious and polarizing. (Allure magazine recently made the choice to cut it out.) A lot of the things we try to "fix" with skincare are things that happen naturally and inevitably to our skin as we age. And there are a lot of factors that affect them other than which or how many skincare products you use: genetics, skin type, time spent in the sun, environment, stress, and so on. What's wrong with looking your age anyway? Part of the problem is that it's hard to know exactly what "looking your age" means, because we are now used to seeing celebrities in their 70s who look younger than Audrey Hepburn did when she died at 63, because of all the subtle (or not-so-subtle) clinical procedures they've had done. And increasing use of sunscreen, probably. There's also the gendered/sexist aspect of anti-aging pressure, which tells us that men look better with a few wrinkles and women don't. Women don't get to be rugged. So when I slather on the sunscreen every day, there's a part of me that feels shitty for buying into all of that (I could pretend I'm doing it solely to prevent skin cancer, but let's be real--plus that doesn't explain the rest of my skincare hoard).

So all this rambling thought leaves me wondering why exactly I enjoy playing around with skincare products as much as I do when the whole concept can be so fraught. I have to admit to myself that vanity is a part of it, but I don't think that explains it all, because if I really just wanted to look better, surely I'd learn to style my fucking hair already.

I've narrowed it down to two other things: science and control. I like that skincare is a kind of experiment I can perform on myself. I like learning about all the many ingredients out there and what they can and can't and might do. I'm a researcher by profession and by nature. I especially like debunking the bullshit claims that brands and their devotees make--that's really what got me interested in all of it in the first place (see, again, Paula Begoun).

But another motivation that's been increasingly evident for me is the desire to try to exert control over some aspect of my life. That's something most of us need, and if, like me, you've been on the academic (or any!) job market during in the last decade, you might feel it more than others. I can't control what I will be doing or where I will be living or how I will be living a year or even 6 months from now, most of the time, but maybe I can control what happens to my face. (Maybe I can't. But it's somehow gratifying to try.) This is different from my interest in makeup, which I see as more of a low-stakes, low-energy creative outlet.

Anyway, if you've managed to follow my stream of consciousness here, I'd love to hear your perspective. Do you even give a shit about skincare? (I don't assume that everyone who reads here does.) Why or why not? Are your feelings conflicted at all, like mine clearly are? If so, what is it that bothers you the most about the marketing and conversation and media that surrounds skincare? If you're 100% into the whole skincare thing, what is it about it that fascinates you?

To reference an outdated meme, [my] fave is problematic.

(I'm also open to suggestions for adjusting routines to hotter and/or dryer climates. Ahem.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Midsummer Empties

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Nope, it's not midsummer anymore, but that's when I took these photos, so that shows you how far behind I am on posting things. Everything's in flux--I moved from my previous apartment to a 6-week sublet, and I'll be moving from here to Texas in a week and a half with only as much stuff as I can fit in our car. And on top of our car in one of these strap-on bags. Deciding what to take and what to store for the next year has made me more brutal than I might otherwise be when it comes to culling my hoard, so I've split my empties here into three categories: full-size empties, mini-empties, and shit that wasn't empty but I threw it away anyway.

As always, I'll give you a few words about whether or not I liked the product and/or link you to previous reviews.

Full-Size:

Midsummer Empties

(Starting the the top left:)

O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet Foot Cream: Love it! Reviewed here. I've got the version in the squeeze tube now.

Batiste Dry Shampoos in Bare and Neon Lights: Batiste is my favorite dry shampoo (reviewed here), and I liked these scents, though not as much as the cherry fragrance.

Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water: I ended up liking this quite a lot, even though I never got around to reviewing it. I used it as a second cleanse when double cleansing. I'm now trying the Simple micellar water, which works ok, but I find it to be a bit more drying. I haven't decided if I should buy another bottle of Bioderma when I finish that one, or if I should try the Garnier stuff that people say is the same. Suggestions?

Tree Hut Shea Moisturizing Body Wash in Almond and Honey: Another favorite. Reviewed here. Maybe I should try one of the other scents next time?

e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner: This took me years to finish. It's basically just alcohol in a spray bottle, so I'd recommend using that instead.

e.l.f. Blotting Papers: These also took many years to finish, mostly because I kept misplacing them. They work.

A'Pieu NanCo Tea Tree Spot Patches: I'm not sure these actually did anything for me, even though tea tree oil is usually a good spot acne treatment for my skin. (Emi from Project Swatch gave these to me to try out--thanks!)

CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patches: Reviewed here. I like these things a lot. My skin was pretty shitty last month, and so I went through three packets of these in quick succession. I still have a couple left, and I'm thankfully using those up more slowly.

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel: Briefly reviewed here. I've been using this moisturizer for about a decade now, and I still love it. I'm sad that it's become so expensive, and that the closest cheap alternative I'd found seems to have been discontinued. I've moved on to a new tube of this stuff now, but when it runs out, I'll have to think carefully about whether or not it fits into my budget anymore. (By the way, cutting the tube open to get a few more uses out of it doesn't work very well, because it will dry out over night.)

Minis:

Midsummer Empties

Smashbox foundation and concealer sampler card: I tried the lightest shade of each of these, and neither of them really impressed me. Mind you, it's pretty hard to tell much about a foundation from a sample that size.

Nars Audacious Lipstick in Audrey: This was a sample from the now-defunct So Choix. It was a nice lipstick, but not so amazing that I plan to buy it.

Paula's Choice BHA 9: I didn't notice any real results from using this as a spot treatment, even though it tends to be well reviewed.

Origins Modern Friction Scrub: I don't know. It was fine. Chunky. Nothing special.

Fragrance samples: Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance, Mad Madame, and Miss Charming. Also Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme. All poorly reviewed here. I bought a full(ish) size bottle of Lady Vengeance.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Corrector sampler card: I bought the yellow corrector after trying one of these samples (reviewed here). I like the pink too, but the others don't do much for me.

Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circle Eye Cream: I can't say I noticed any lightening of my very dark circles while I used this sample, even though it seemed to last forever. It didn't give me any milia, though, which more than I can say for most eye creams.

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream: This stuff has an extremely strong eucalyptus/menthol fragrance and corresponding tingle. I used it on some dry spots on my knees. It worked fine.

Non-Empties:

Midsummer Empties

Paula's Choice Resist Weekly Resurfacing 4% BHA: I really didn't notice any better results using this weekly than just using the 2% BHA liquid daily, so in over a year, I never managed to finish it.

e.l.f. Makeup Lock & Seal: I have no idea how many years I've had this, but I discovered it forgotten in a drawer, and since I apparently hadn't missed it, I reasoned that I didn't need to keep it.

pür Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Powder: I finished a whole full-size compact of this stuff before buying this mini. Unfortunately, they reformulated it, and while the new version is easy to apply, it wears terribly on my combination skin. I got tired of being horrified when I looked in the mirror at the end of the day. Bye.

Maybelline The Falsies Mascara: This mascara looked pretty--until it flaked all over the place, starting in the first hour of wear. I know that flaking and smearing are related to individual body chemistry, so you may not have the same problem. Usually I use even mediocre mascaras until they dry up, but I didn't make myself suffer through this.

Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer: This stuff works great (reviewed here), and it lasted forever. I didn't manage to finish it all before it started to get a little funky. I've bought a new tube since.

e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal: Reviewed here. There was nothing wrong with this stuff when it was new, but I've been trying to finish a Benefit High Beam for about a century, and so I haven't touched it. It didn't need to come with me.

So Choix samples of Smashbox matte liquid lipstick and Lancome Juicy Shaker: Just didn't like them enough to keep them around.

theBalm Time Balm Concealer: Reviewed here. Very, very old.

LA Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer: Reviewed here. It wasn't the worst, but the issues with separating that I mentioned in my review got much worse over time. The last time I opened it and tried to squeeze some out, a geyser of clear liquid shot into the air. Fuck that.

L'Oreal Telescopic Mascara: Reviewed here. Again, an ok mascara, but I stabbed myself in the eye with the tiny bristles three times in a row and threw it out in a fit of anger. Life's too short, etc.

So that's all my July garbage, and I'll toss a bunch of other shit before I leave the state next month! In the meantime, I actually have a review of something shiny lined up, so here's to trying to get that written up in a reasonable amount of time.

Tell me about products you got fed up with and threw away before they were finished!
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