Monday, December 5, 2016

Is Sephora's Formula X nail polish discontinued?

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How did I not notice this before? It looks like there are now only 5-6 shades left on the website, and everything is marked down. Boo! I've liked all the polishes I've tried from the brand and they had really unique options. Maybe they should have priced them lower to begin with. I know I never bought a bottle at full price, personally.

Has anyone seen the display in the store recently? I'm wondering if there are still more options on sale there. I might pick up the set with the top and base coats for half price.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Cheap Favorites: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipsticks in Cherries in the Snow, Berry Haute, and Fire and Ice

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Review of Revlon Super Lustrous Lipsticks in Cherries in the Snow, Berry Haute, and Fire and Ice

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipsticks are hardly new--in fact, they are probably one of the oldest products still going strong at the drugstore--but I only got my first one (Cherries in the Snow) less than a year ago. It hasn't taken long for them to reach favorite status, unlike most of my other favorites, which I've been using for several years. Honestly, if these had been the first lipsticks I'd tried, I might have been one of those people who was really into lipstick from the beginning of their makeup-using lives, rather than being frustrated with it most of the time. They're really comfortable and easy to use--at least the three shades I have now: Cherries in the Snow, Berry Haute, and Fire and Ice. Most lipstick formulas either dry out my lips or, at best, don't help my already dry lips any. These actually seem to moisturize them a bit! That's very rare in my experience.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipsticks come in four finishes: crème, matte, pearl, and sheer. These three shades are all crèmes, so I can't say how the other finishes perform. They're all very pigmented in a single coat and not prone to smearing. To me, the formulas they're most similar to are the Urban Decay Vice cream lipsticks and the Bite Amuse Bouches (reviewed here). The latter are more pigmented (at least the shades I've tried), so you can get full opacity in a thin layer, but they feel about the same. They're as good or better than most higher end lipsticks I've used. I even like that old-fashioned gold and black tube, and the window on the top of the lid is useful.

And they are very cheap! The lowest price I've found for them is $4.99 at Target and Meijer. At CVS in my area they are $8.99, so the range is pretty fucking wide (and that motivated me to write about sales and price discrepancies). (If you have the right combination of coupons you might get it for the same price at CVS.) On Amazon, the prices vary depending on the shade from $4.99 to $16.12 (random!). (Remember when people used to call everything random? It was the "literally" of the early 2000s.)

Anyway, I really, really recommend at least these three shades from Revlon, even though none of them turned out to look exactly the way I expected on my face, as I'll explain.

First, Cherries in the Snow, which in a lot of online photos looks like a pink-red (i.e. a red lipstick with some pink in it). On me, it's definitely pink. Very little red. But flattering, I think!

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow

Monday, November 28, 2016

What beauty blogs do you read?

This week is shaping up to be a crazy one (grading and job applications, and blah blah blah). Though I have a lot of photos squirreled away for reviews, I doubt I will have an open window of time sufficient to write the detailed reviews I have in mind (Revlon Super Lustrous lipsticks, Do I Need This? mascara primer edition, Urban Decay Vice Sheer F-Bomb lipstick, comparisons on blush placements, etc.). But I probably will have a few minutes here and there when I need a break, and one of my favorite ways to use up those minutes is by reading beauty blogs.

So please tell me which blogs you're reading these days! And feel free to plug your own blog, too. Some of my current favorites are: auxiliary beauty; Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick; Lab Muffin; Makeup Withdrawal; My Darling Clementine; Rocaille Writes . . . ummm, and I'm sleepy, so if I haven't mentioned your blog here, it doesn't mean I don't read it and love it. Remind me in the comments!

Non-beauty blog recommendations always welcome, too.

Friday, November 25, 2016

So Choix membership $10 a month today only

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I've reviewed a few months of my So Choix membership so far (here, here, and here), and I'm having fun with it. I signed up when it was $120 for a year, which makes it $10 a month instead of the usual $15. For me, that's about the right price. Right now they have the same deal (seems to end at midnight Pacific time). So if you've been interested, but balking at the price, this might be a good time to go for it. From what I understand, you can cancel at any time and get a refund of your remaining months.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Free" makeup from Macy's

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I don't plan to post a whole lot of Black Friday sales, because there are a ton of other resources for that, but if I come across something special, I'll let you know. Like this:

Macy's had free shipping/returns on all beauty purchases. And if you choose "no hurry shipping" at checkout, you get a $10 credit. You can do this on an order that is $10 or less, so you basically make your money back (and maybe then some). I'm not sure if the no hurry shipping works on anything other than the Black Friday specials (I tried a regular NYX Matte lipstick and it didn't show up, but it did show up with the set of three). In addition to NYX sets for about $8, there are some Burt's Bees, mini MACs, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Esteé Lauder products under $10. You have to wait until Nov. 30 to use the credit and it expires Dec. 15.

(I have this NYX Butter Gloss set, and all the colors are really nice, in case you're wondering. I should probably review them one of these days.)

If you manage to get the credit on something not from the Black Friday section, let me know, and I will update the post!

ETA: I forgot to mention that you can also get 12% back from Ebates right now for Macy's.

I need eyebrow help!

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Avon has gone and betrayed me by discontinuing my favorite eyebrow pencil. It was the perfect not-too-soft, not-too-warm blonde pencil. Swatches and reviews here, here, and here. I only have half a pencil left, so I know that means only a couple more months of bliss. Then I'm going to have to find something new. (There are a few of them still available on Amazon, but because the seller used my photo for the listing without my permission, I don't want to buy from them.)

I am conducting on my own search, but just in case: does anyone have suggestions for neutral-to-cool taupe eyebrow pencils that are easy to use? Most of the blonde options I've tested have been on the warm side. I'd prefer something not too expensive, since I go through them pretty quickly. And I'm too lazy to fuss with formats other than pencils, for the most part. I'd appreciate any help I can get!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Two Tinted Moisturizers: TheBalm Balm Shelter in Lighter than Light and Maybelline Dream Pure BB in Light

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Review of TheBalm Balm Shelter in Lighter than Light and Maybelline Dream Pure BB in Light

Base products aren't one of my favorite things to review, because they aren't one of my favorite things to use. In fact, I never used to wear foundation at all, because I found it too much trouble to bother with. I had a bottle of L'Oreal True Match foundation that must have sat in a drawer for at least 5 years before I threw it out in about 2007. I was holding on to it in case I needed it for a special occasion, but even on special occasions I didn't use it.

Once I started to look for a base that I actually liked a few years ago, however, I got hooked on the hunt. But I still tend to put off reviewing them, partly because I am fully aware that my expectations are unreasonable. I want something that looks exactly like my real skin so that it's undetectable, and yet makes my skin look flawless, and also doesn't fade until I take it off. That's not a thing. I will settle for a product that is a good color match, makes my skin look better than it does with nothing on it, isn't too fussy to apply, doesn't wear off or break down immediately, and doesn't create an ugly mess when it does break down. That's still a tall order, apparently.

The other reason that I don't love reviewing foundations and such is that I find them hard to photograph in a helpful way. In a close-up, all base products look either too cakey or too sheer or both. Flakes and pores are visible in a way they aren't in person. In a full shot of my entire face, on the other hand, just about anything looks decent. For instance, in this photo I'm wearing Revlon Colorstay, which on me looked really thick and cakey and unnatural . . . and it looks pretty ok here. So it's hard to illustrate what I actually experience.

Some people can make full coverage foundations look amazing. I am not one of those people. They always end up looking mask-like and heavy on me. I'm just not a fan. So I tend to go for sheer to medium coverage in a base. Among other things, if the oil in my skin breaks down the product, it won't look as patchy and uneven as it would if it were very opaque, and so I don't have to keep checking it to see if it needs touching up. But the downside of sheerer bases is that they rarely wear very well, especially if you have oily-combination skin like mine.

I've had TheBalm's Balm Shelter Tinted Moisturizer for a little over a year. For most of that time I haven't liked it much. I'd try it, get frustrated and put it aside, and then try it again a couple of weeks or months later. When I got it out to test it again a few times before writing this review, I found that I actually liked it a lot more. I think that what happened is that my skin has been much better lately--which I attribute to lowered stress, at least up until the election, and increasing niacinamide in my skincare routine. (I've been using the Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, but CeraVe's PM Lotion is another good source at 4% niacinimade, since the PC booster is something you mix/dilute with other products). 

The main problem I'd had with TheBalm's tinted moisturizer was that it sat weirdly on any flaky patches on my face, which in my case were usually chin zits. I actually think that calling this a tinted moisturizer isn't entirely accurate, because in my experience it's not very moisturizing at all. In addition, it has a rather matte finish, not a dewy one like I would expect from most tinted moisturizers. The combination of sheer and matte can be tricky for problem areas on my face. You can see in the photo below that the dry skin near my mouth is highlighted by this stuff, and that it doesn't cover the redness on my nose. Additional concealer is definitely needed. If, however, you're in a good skin place, it does provide light, natural-looking coverage that will even things out without drawing attention to itself. 

TheBalm Balm Shelter in Lighter than Light over bare skin, no other makeup.
Below is my face at the end of the day, about 7 hours later (in artificial lighting), and the tint is pretty much completely gone. But at least this comparison demonstrates that it did tone down redness and unevenness and mattify my skin in the first place.

I don't know where the glitter came from. I suspect Urban Decay Midnight Cowboy.
Conversely, when I started using the Maybelline Dream Pure BB this past spring, I liked it a lot, but lately I've been less impressed by it. The best part about this stuff is how easy it is to apply. You can pretty much just smear it on like you would a regular lotion and it looks absolutely fine. With most base products I prefer to apply them with my fingers using a patting motion, similar to how you're supposed to use a Beauty Blender (but using my fingers means that there's no sponge soaking up product). Then I blend the base some more using the same motion with a dry sponge. There's no need for any special technique with the Dream Pure BB, though. It also has a very natural, skin-like finish.

This stuff seems to skim over the pores a bit, though, as I said, the effect is much less apparent in person.
The Dream Pure BB is a bit sheerer than the Balm Shelter, however, and it really doesn't last. Thirty seconds of sweating and it's gone. I didn't notice that so much in the summer, oddly enough, probably because I was working from home and as a result not paying that much attention to how long my makeup lasted (because I didn't really care). But these days it's more obvious to me, because I'll check out my face in the bathroom mirror before I go into the classroom or a meeting. Even though the "Pure" version of the Maybelline BB is meant for oilier skin (as opposed to the "Fresh" version for drier skin), I think this would work better for someone with dry-to-normal skin. I don't hate it on myself, but it's a bit disappointing. 

The Pure BB has exchanged the SPF from the Fresh BB for salicylic acid. I could do without that, personally. I already have skincare products with BHA in them, and I don't like having to think about whether or not the ingredients in my makeup will interact in a bad way with my skincare. Plus, I really doubt that it has much effect in this format, though who knows. 
I could do without sunscreen in my base products too, actually. TheBalm's tinted moisturizer is SPF 18, but probably lower in practice due to the small amount of product you're likely to apply. And layering a lower SPF over a higher SPF can supposedly lower the SPF of the stronger product, which is annoying. I guess for people who aren't going to wear sunscreen, some is better than nothing, but for me, it's unnecessary.


Here's a comparison of the two products next to Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, because I figured that might be a recognizable point of reference for some of you.


Swatches of TheBalm Balm Shelter in Lighter than Light, Maybelline Dream Pure BB in Light, and Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly.
Swatches of TheBalm Balm Shelter in Lighter than Light, Maybelline Dream Pure BB in Light, and Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly.
They both look a little too peachy in the heavy swatches, but when they're sheered out, they're a good match for me. The Maybelline BB is a closer match, though, being more neutral, which counteracts redness better as well. I was a bit surprised to find a good match in a product with only five shades. Both of these products cover a relatively decent shade range (i.e. not just light-medium to medium), even though they don't provide a huge number of options.

I'm happy with the Balm Shelter for now, while my skin is cooperating. It's actually a decent value, too, if you think you can finish the whole tube. It's regularly $25 for 2.15 oz., making it about $12 per ounce. You can get it a bit cheaper on Amazon, which is where I got mine, and Overstock has a few tubes for about $12 each right now. The Maybelline BB is normally about $7-9 for 1 ounce, but also a little cheaper on Amazon

I'm trying not to get obsessive about finding something magically perfect that doesn't exist in real life, buuuuuuut if you have any suggestions for low maintenance base products on the sheerer side, I would love to hear them. Also, how many other people are like me and prefer to not wear foundation or another base all over their faces? I definitely don't use these things on a daily basis.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Glossier's weird way of approaching beauty bloggers

This article from Racked talks about those strange emails Glossier has sent to bloggers asking us to post about a certain topic, because . . . I have no idea. They are not asking for sponsored posts or even, necessarily, mentions of their products. Just like, "Hey, why don't you write about your routine? Or your eyebrows?" Yeah, thanks, I don't need basic suggestions for subject matter from brands. It's kind of baffling. When asked for more information, they either don't respond, or in my case, send a vague message basically repeating the original request.

If you have a blog, have you got these messages too? Apparently they've stopped sending them when they also realized that they were weird.
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