Wednesday, August 15, 2018

REVIEW: House of Besame Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks

For as long as I can remember, my mother has been obsessed with costume dramas. Does she actually care about the plot of The Age of Innocence or Downton Abbey? Well, kind of, but she openly admits that her primary attraction to those sorts of shows is the lavish clothing wealthy people wore at the time. Even after discovering that the sort of people she's looking at didn't bathe too often and, therefore, said lovely clothing probably had a bit of a stench to it, she's drawn to anything that promises corseted women swooning over their beaus.

Despite the fact that I hate even wearing a bra and get most of my ratty black t-shirts from the thrift store, my mother's love of costume dramas rubbed off on me, as did my brother's interest in history. This prompted a fascination with cultural norms and beauty expectations throughout the ages, particularly the Revolutionary War era and the 19th century.

So you can imagine how deliriously happy I was when Besame, one of my all-time favorite brands, released a picture of their new Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks, which feature the Gibson Girl on the box. After I posted the picture on my Instagram story with the shrieking caption "OH MY EDWARDIAN GODDDDD," Besame messaged me and said they had actually sent the new lipsticks to me.

How excited was I for these new lipsticks? So excited that I immediately made my mother promise to forward the box to me ASAP if it arrived after I'd moved. After several stressful weeks of moving in to our new place a thousand miles from home, receiving these lipsticks was a treat.

The Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks are advertised as part of the new "House of Besame" line, which seems to be inspired by turn-of-the-century luxury beauty routines. They arrive in matte, pink tubes with the traditional Besame flower logo. At $22 per 0.12oz tube, they are the same size and price as Besame's breakout Classic Color range. The main difference, of course, is that these are meant to be sheer. These also have a different scent: the original Besame lipsticks smell very faintly of vanilla to me, but the Debutante range uses peppermint oil for a light mint scent.

There are currently three shades in the range. Berry Red is, as the name suggests, a relatively neutral, popsicle-stain red; it's slightly less brown and more vibrant in real life than it looks in this swatch picture. Mint Rose is a soft pink. Chocolate Kiss is a sheer version of the same warm brown shade from the Classic Color range.

While these lipsticks are more sheer than anything from the Classic Color Range, they're not as barely-there as some sheer lipsticks, ie Glossier Generation G. One swipe will net you visible color. Mint Rose and Chocolate Kiss are very slightly glossy, but only slightly, and this easily rectified with a quick blot if you prefer a more matte look. Berry Red has more of a traditional lip stain look to it.

From left to right: Chocolate Kiss, Mint Rose, Berry Red.

I fully expected Mint Rose to be my favorite of the three shades. But while it's certainly the one I'll wear most frequently, being so work-appropriate and my-lips-but-better on y skintone, I think the shade that impresses me the most is Chocolate Kiss. I love the original, full-on version of this shade, but it can be a bit tough for me to wear brown lipstick past autumn. This sheer alternative seems like it will be more wearable on different skintones throughout all four seasons.

As far as wear goes, these perform about the same as most sheer lipsticks: they last for a good 3-4 hours if you're gentle with them, but they will fade quickly if you eat a full meal or drink a lot.

I have two problems with these lipsticks. My first complaint is honestly a bit petty: the names of the lipsticks are on the bottom of the tubes and on the white barcode stickers on the boxes, but they're not on the box itself. I always loved the "This shade is a true replica of a shade from ____" stickers on the Classic Color boxes; it felt like it fit right in to the aesthetic. Having to locate the name on an obtrusive white sticker makes the experience feel a bit less lux than I'd expect.

My more substantial quibble is that Besame claims these lipsticks are moisturizing, but I can't agree; I actually found that they could be ever so slightly drying by the end of the day. I think this is caused by the peppermint oil, which dries my lips out a bit; your mileage may vary.

While the Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks are never going to usurp the many Classic Color Lipsticks in my collection, they've earned the right to sit in the same drawer. They're easy to wear, beautifully packaged, and have me excited for whatever else Besame is planning for this new range.

RATING: 4 out of 5
House of Besame products are available at

These lipsticks were sent to me by Besame. As I made clear to the company, I only write honest reviews. I do not accept financial compensation for my posts.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

VIDEO: Why I Don't Want Children

My blog's formula is usually 90% beauty, 10% miscellaneous junk. Clearly, this video sits in the miscellaneous bin. However, it's something I've wanted to talk about for a while, and there was a surprising amount of interest when I mentioned it on Instagram before going on hiatus. So here we are: the eight reasons why I don't want children.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Replacing My HG Powder

This smeared, rubbed bare, looks-like-my-cat-got-hold-of-it compact is actually the Dolce & Gabbana powder foundation I've loved for years. It's the softest, most natural, most finely-milled powder I've ever dusted over my dry skin; the shade 50 Ivory was perfect for me, and I could use the product sparingly as a setting powder or apply it a bit heavier in lieu of foundation without looking like a sheet of sandpaper. Unfortunately, Dolce & Gabbana hates my happiness and decided to discontinue the product when my back was turned. Even if it was still in production, I don't know how comfortable I'd feel repurchasing it now that I've discovered that they've done some shit.

So I'm on a quest for a new powder! There's no critical rush, since this compact will still last me a while. (I don't wear makeup every day, and even when I do wear makeup, I tend to skip powder in the cooler months.) But you see, I need to start a list of potential replacements nowbecause I am Hella picky. My short list:

  1. It must be pressed. I've tried loose powders, and while I like how some of them look, the mess and the inability to throw it in my purse for touch ups is a downer.
  2. It must be light coverage. Again, I like a powder that I can use lightly to set makeup or instead of foundation, ie, if I'm wearing sunscreen and concealer and just want a bit more evening out.
  3. It needs to be an NC5-15 shade that doesn't oxidize. Because I have dry, dehydrated skin, I use a lot of rich skincare. I've discovered that moisturizing ingredients can make powders turn a few shades darker within an hour. While I'd prefer something that leans lighter, I'll go for an NC15 shade if it can be sheered out.
  4. I shouldn't have to sell my kidney to afford it. $50+ was pushing it for this guy, but it was so damn perfect that I was willing to pay it. But frankly, I'd hate to pay more than $50 for a powder these days.
  5. It cannot emphasize dryness or look powdery. I know, I know: it's kind of absurd to insist that a powder not look like powder. But the D&G powder foundation always had the smoothest, most invisible look on my skin while still slightly mattifying and providing a hint of coverage. There HAS to be other powders that can do that for me.

The powder that seems like the best possible replacement is the Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder, which gets nothing but rave reviews, especially from fellow dry-skinned people. However, I'm told that there's not a lot of product in the pan (Nordstrom says it's 0.28oz, which is half the size of the D&G powder), and that what's in the pan is relatively loosely pressed. Pictures showing almost-empty compacts after a mere three months of use are enough to make anyone nervous. What are your favorite dry skin friendly pressed powders? 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hi, I'm back. Here's some stuff in our new apartment.

We've got our place about 95% set up, so it's time to come off of hiatus and post the obligatory shelfie picture! I'm aware that this isn't the most attractive arrangement of products, but we have a massive vanity in our bathroom and I've yet to find a bathroom organizer I like, so...product pile! Fun fact: roughly a third of these products have been living in a drawer in my fiance's old place for years. You can tell how long we've been dating by the bottle of Pssst dry shampoo, since I made the switch to Not Your Mother's years ago.

I have more products, by the way, but they're in a bin under the sink or in the vanity drawer. I'd be more apt to show this stuff off in an apartment walk-through if I lived in a place that was truly #aesthetic, but no joke, friends, almost every piece of furniture in our apartment came from a family member's garage or a local rummage sale. We're very function over form here. Case in point: the beat-up desk and bookshelf in my office were in Kirby's undergrad basement apartment.

That's not to say we haven't fancied things up a bit. The chair in my office reading nook came from Kirby's late grandmother's house, yes, but the pillows and the picture are new-ish: my parents bought the poster for me when I was a teenager and my mom made me the pillows several years ago, and they stayed wrapped in their plastic until we had a home of our own. Insert a lamp here and we're pretty much done with this section of the apartment, which I think is quite cute.

I'll also have more attractive organization for my beauty products soon, but I'm hoping to use a certain antique that Kirby is refinishing for me. In the meantime, my makeup lives in this post office box and these Glossier mailers. Trust me: the wait for my new organizer will be worth it.

As a post-script, I've considered starting a second blog for posts about budgeting, food, books, and other miscellany stuff, mostly because I think it would frustrate people if that content started popping up here. If you've got an opinion on that, leave it in the comments!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Moving = Downsizing Tool

I will never forget moving back to Pennsylvania with this collection. It took up an entire checked bag and several post office boxes, and some of it still arrived damaged. Now, this was partially my own fault: wrapping hundreds of items quickly wore on my patience, and as a result, I didn't pad everything as much as I should have. But it's also just a simple fact of life that, if you're packing a boatload of makeup and putting it in the hands of people who have to move very heavy things as quickly as possible, you're going to experience some casualties.

I've downsized all of my possessions gradually over the last few years, but things really kicked in to overdrive at the start of 2018 because I knew I was moving across the country. As compared to my post-grad school move, which cost me thousands, I was able to fit almost everything I wanted and considered irreplaceable in three checked bags, two large USPS flat rate boxes, one medium flat rate box, and a bookbag. True minimalists could obviously move with much less, I'm sure, but a computer and a camera set up take a lot of room (the computer had its own checked bag, actually), and I'm not willing to give up the tools I need for my hobbies and career for the sake of space saving.

In fairness, I was not moving any furniture: nothing in my bedroom was especially precious to me, and my fiance and I knew we could furnish our apartment with rummage sale findings and leftovers from friends and family. (One of our goals for this coming week is to move and scrub an old loveseat and armchair set his parents had packed away in a trailer for the last five years.) This will obviously not be the case if you have, say, a very expensive couch or a family heirloom of a coffee table, or if you're moving to a place with no friends or family present. There are also things that just made zero sense to pack, i.e., I now work from home and therefore do not need dozens of dress clothing items. And most importantly, my cat has a safe place with my parents until I can figure out the safest way to move her. I know not everybody has those luxuries.

That said, makeup is a very different beast from pets and loveseats; in theory, it should be easy to move. And being able to fit all of my makeup in to one 12" x 12" x 5.5" box and ship it for less than $20 felt like such a coup. There are several thoughts and realities that guided me as I downsized, e.g., "It's okay to get rid of products I like if they're not being used enough. It does not mean I like the product any less." But the big question I asked myself--and the one that really worked for me--was, "Do I really want to go through the hassle of moving this a thousand miles?" If I asked myself this question and my response was anything less than, "Duh, I love this thing," I realized it likely wasn't worth keeping.

I kept saying this to my mother, actually, because she would ask me if I was packing $20 pans or every single $5 thrift store shirt I owned: it's not worth paying for more post office boxes or checked bags. She eventually caught on to what I was doing and didn't even bat an eye at the 4+ trash bags full of donation items I gathered. I mean, can you imagine if I'd tried packing all of that stuff? What a mess.

I suggested that my fiance try asking himself this question, and he said, "Yeah, my imagination isn't that strong; I know I'm not moving a thousand miles right now and I can't pretend I am." (We moved to his home state, so all of his possessions are a short drive away.) So I suggested he try a variation: "Do I really want to go through the trouble of packing this for my new apartment? Am I going to make sure it has a place, that it's stored properly? And when I move out of this apartment, will I want to pack it?" Remembering that we dream of settling down in several other states has helped him much more.

If you're a visual person, try getting a small-ish box or plastic tote and pretend it's the only space you have to pack your makeup. If you hesitate to put something in the box--if you start thinking, "Well, but that will take up space, and then..."--put it off to the side. When you're done, look at the products you've set aside and ask yourself if you really love and regularly use those products. You can also put those set-aside products in a box and hide them somewhere, like under your bed or in your closet, and see if you miss them over the next few weeks. Context is important, of course; if you only wear burgundy lipstick in the colder months and you live in Texas, well, that's likely why you aren't reaching for that lipstick right now. But I think most people have the critical thinking skills to keep that in the back of their mind.