Sunday, December 16, 2018

REVIEW: Surratt Surreal Skin Foundation Wand

I've lusted after the Surratt Surreal Skin Foundation Wand for over a year now, but I couldn't bring myself to pay $130 per ounce for a foundation. Then Sephora put most of their Surratt products on sale, including this foundation, and I decided that I could stomach $32.50 to test a half ounce of Japanese-aesthetics-inspired luxury. That sale was only temporary, of course, so the question remains: is this product worth that $65-per-wand price tag?

The Surratt Surreal Skin Foundation Wand is described as a "medium-to-full coverage and long-wearing" foundation that "instantly melts into skin." It comes in a plastic tube that looks solid black on the website, but actually has this elegant bluish-green, sparkly gradient color at the top. You press a button at the end of the tube to dispense product through the attached brush. Makeup artist and brand founder Troy Surratt has claimed that he wanted the Surreal Skin Wand to be your primer, foundation, and tool in one package.

 Natural light on top, flash on the bottom. From left to right: Surratt Surreal Skin Foundation Wand in Surreal Skin 1, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, Sephora Bright Future Concealer in 03 Fondant.

The shade I purchased is the lightest in the range, Surreal Skin 1. It's described as being pale with beige undertones. I actually think it has a bit of the cool yellow undertones I go for, though it's not as pale as the NARS concealer or as yellow as the Sephora concealer. Overall, I'd say this is an NC/NW10-15 foundation that can be used by people with neutral or moderately yellow undertones. I don't know if this shade will be pink enough for people with strong pink undertones.

So how does the foundation and the applicator work? I have to be honest: I didn't expect it to work at all. I've always been leery of products packaged like this because I'm fussy about the cleanliness of my tools. (I've been cleaning the brush with Dr. Bronner's soap every couple of uses.) I also didn't think it would work very well, since, in the video I just linked, Troy Surratt applies the foundation and blends it out with the attached brush, then goes in with a Beauty Blender.

"Sure, Troy," I said snidely. "This is the only tool I need, asterisk, and a Beauty Blender." I'm happy to report that the foundation always comes up through the center of the brush after a few clicks, and it's easy to manage how much you get, but swiping the brush on my face for my first test run didn't fill me with hope. The brush isn't the absolute softest tool out there, and the foundation felt a little stiff.

When I started buffing the foundation in to my skin, however, I realized that the brush actually works just fine. In fact, I was able to cover my entire face in a thin layer of foundation in about two minutes. Okay, Troy, I stand corrected. I'll put my Beauty Blender and my shitty comments away.

Now, I'm not usually happy about having a cystic pimple on my face, but looking at these before-and-after photos, I'm glad this zit came to visit. Surratt claims that this foundation is "medium to full coverage," and I can't fathom why. This is definitely a light coverage foundation: you can see that it covered up my discoloration and gave my skin a more even look, but it barely softened the angry red zit on my chin. In my experience, a medium coverage foundation will cover a zit at least partially, and a full coverage foundation will work about as well as any concealer. That's not what's happening here.

In terms of finish, the Surreal Skin Foundation looks like skin. It does cling slightly to dry patches, though this softens up a bit throughout the day; as promised, it sort of "melts in." Also, it's worth mentioning that my skin was at its absolute driest when I took these photos. Buffed over less parched skin or a moisturizer, you'd have to get right up against me to see any dryness or clinging.

The picture on the left is 15 minutes after application, and the picture on the right shows 6 hours of wear. (I didn't take a later picture because it looked roughly the same at the 9 hour mark.) The foundation stays skin-like and beautifying, but it does start to fade a little from my nose, the one oily part of my face. However, you can reapply the foundation without making it look cakey or dry, which I tested one day: I threw the wand in my bag and buffed it back over my nose during my lunch break. Lastly, this foundation was comfortable all day and did not make me itch or break out.

On the whole, I really enjoy this foundation. I think it will be a better fit for me in the summer, when my skin and the air around me are less dry, simply because this isn't as dewy as what I normally reach for and it can emphasize my dry patches a little. It's not the sort of product I'd recommend to very oily skin, either, given how it performed on my nose. That doesn't change the fact that people looking for easy-to-apply light coverage with a skin-like finish will really enjoy Surreal Skin. Is every ounce worth three full days of my teaching salary, though? Eh...I'm on the fence about that one. I can see myself using this up, but unless it becomes my go-to in the warmer months, I'm not sure I'll repurchase.

RATING: 4 out of 5
You can purchase Surratt products at Sephora.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Inventory and Review for 2018 and No Buy 2019 Prep

One of my most-repeated "stop buying shit" tips is to pull out everything you own and really look at it. You can arrange everything in neat rows and count it, or you can pile it up like a dragon's hoard. I like to do both: the organized method helps me calculate exactly how much I have, and the pile o' stuff is just a fun visual. I mean, c'mon, look at this picture! Isn't that quite a lot of frivolous stuff? Just call me Smaug.

I dropped almost $2000 worth of makeup on my office floor because I've decided to go through with my no buy in 2019, and before I start that, I need to get a handle on what I currently own and how I did with my 2018 goals. Frankly, I didn't do well, but I'm not the least bit upset about it. Why? Because I absolutely underestimated how taxing it is to move to a new place and start two new jobs. I was up at 7am and working by 7:15am most weekdays, and I worked until 5pm, then made dinner, then cleaned...reading and wearing makeup took a back seat to so many things these last few months.

I will not read 50 books this year.

I will not finish $200 worth of makeup.

I spent too much money these last few months on things I didn't need.

That's fine. I've got this. I'm settled. We're looking forward to a brighter, better 2019.

First up, let's look at some numbers! Here's what I had at the start of the year versus what I have now.

Concealer 4 4
Foundation 2 4*
Powder 2 1
Spray/Mist 1 1
Brow Pencils 3 5
Brow Gels 1 3
Eyeliner 2 1
Powder Shadow 16 3
Cream/Liquid Shadow 5 12
Eye Primer 2 2
Mascara 3 5
Lip Gloss 1 2
Lipstick 18 26
Lip Pencils 6 7
Blush 11 12
Highlighter 4 6

Note the * next to my foundation number: I just bought a foundation I've been wanting for over a year from Sephora, but it disappeared from the website ten minutes after I placed my order, so I have the sneaking suspicion Sephora will cancel that item. Also, I'm not too upset about where my numbers went up, since a decent amount of that is going to get used up pretty soon. For instance, I'm almost done with my Milk Makeup Gel Brow pencil. That drop in my number of powder shadows is pleasing. Lastly, I have a small pile of products I plan on purging: I've set them off to the side, and if I don't miss them in the next month, away they go.

Now for my official plans for my 2019 No Buy! First, the exceptions. I am allowed to:
  • Purchase replacements of staple products, like MAC Face & Body foundation or Jordan Samuel Hydrate Serum.
  • Buy new things if I have gift cards or store credit.
  • Receive products as PR or gifts.
 To stay on track with my goals, I plan on:
  • Collecting all of my makeup and skincare empties for the year. This might be easier said than done, since we only have so much space, but I can try to squeeze a bag under the sink!
  • Keeping all of my receipts AND keeping a list of my purchases. If I buy something with a gift card and end up paying a few dollars for taxes, I need to keep track of it.
  • Writing down what I wanted to buy, then calculating how much I saved by not buying it. I already have a sticker in my planner for this!
  • Doing regular update posts and/or videos. (Would posts or videos be better?) I think a monthly post in the same format would be a bit dull, but I could probably do something no-buy related each month.
  • Forcing myself to be more inventive with the products I have. As I've gotten older, I've grown away from heavy eye makeup, but isn't it worth revisiting?
So what new stuff do I plan to bring to the blog? Well...
  • It would be great if I could bring my day jobs in to the blog from time to time. There's a slim chance of that happening, since I work in education, but my career is incredibly important to me. 
  • I want to write about food from time to time, particularly as it relates to my health. I've been somewhat shifty about this because it's so personal, slash, some people hate hearing about it, but I try to eat a certain way 90% of the time because I have irritable bowel syndrome and I work weird hours. So the occasional meal prep, what I ate today, food challenge-type stuff seems interesting and worthwhile.
  • Kirby will probably come back for another video. He's funnier than I am, so, you know...worth it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lipstick Diaries, Round Three: Glossier Like and Fenty Freckle Fiesta

Glossier recently reformulated and repackaged their Generation G lipsticks. I want to be less wasteful, so I'm holding off on replacing the shades I already own, including Glossier Like. This color is, no joke, just about the exact same shade as my natural lips, perhaps a hair darker and more mauve. On the one hand, wearing it makes me feel a bit silly because there's so little impact, but on the other hand, it's easy to apply without a mirror and it makes me feel put together. This is my second and likely last tube of Like, just because I prefer other shades that actually change the color of my lips.

The quality of that second picture is far below my usual standard, I know, but I won't be retaking it because I've decided to purge Fenty Freckle Fiesta. As beautiful as the color is, it just doesn't flatter me much, and I never reach for it of my own volition. It doesn't help that the round bullets are not my favorite; I'm sloppy and find it difficult to get a smooth, straight lipline with them. At the end of the day, if I can't see myself eventually finishing a tube of lipstick, I shouldn't keep that tube around, no matter how pretty the color is.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

What's your price ceiling?

Makeup artist and YouTube goddess Lisa Eldridge recently launched a line of three red lipsticks in a "true velvet" finish. Not surprisingly, some people saw "red" and "velvet finish" and rightly assumed I'd be interested in these lipsticks. I've been eyeing these since they were announced, and I'm even more intrigued now that a Reddit user has posted a macro shot of her bullet's unique texture.

But no, I won't be buying them any time soon.

Truth be told, part of my reasoning is that I own more red lipstick than any one person should. I've tried just about every red Besame has produced and own a solid 75% of them, I decided to buy my first Pat McGrath lipstick in a red shade on Black Friday...really, I need another red like I need a hole in the head. But more than that, the price is too far beyond my "okay I'm comfortable with that" ceiling.

The Lisa Eldridge True Velvet Lipsticks are £26 each. At the current exchange rate, that's roughly $33.34. Add to that the shipping costs (since my broke ass would likely purchase just one tube), and the total price comes to £34.50, or $44.24. And I just can't stomach anything over $25 for a single lipstick.

Which got me wondering: how did I come up with that number? What you consider "too expensive" obviously varies from person to person, after all--this isn't universal. To some people, $25 is cheap for a good lipstick, while others think anything over $10 a tube is ludicrously expensive.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my personal "price ceiling" is decided by my favorite products. Let's look at lipsticks as an example: Besame makes my favorites, and they're usually $22 per tube. Not surprisingly, most of the lipsticks I buy are in the $18-$25 range. Anything more expensive than that immediately makes me go, "Ehhhh, is it worth it? Probably not." Heck, I wouldn't buy that Pat McGrath lipstick until it went on sale for $26 because the usual $38 makes me "NOPE" right off the webpage. $38? Nyoooo. $26? Sure, no problem; that seems reasonable.

I went through my collection to confirm my theory, and yep, it's pretty much completely accurate. My favorite foundations are $30 and $39; I don't get squirrelly about foundation prices until we hit the $45-a-tube mark. The Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencil and Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz are $25 each, which is my max for most brow products. $38 for a Charlotte Tilbury highlighter almost killed me because I'm so used to spend $25 or less for my other favorites. So on and so forth, the formula holds pretty well through my entire collection.

My ceiling is also greatly impacted by my career. As somebody who has worked at least two part time jobs for years, always making less than she was worth, I'm very leery about tossing my money around and will wait for months for a sale. Now that one of my jobs has made some odd changes to my schedule, I'm even more cautious about spending my paycheck. I've actually gotten to this point where I think of products in terms of hours worked, e.g., "That Lisa Eldridge lipstick costs X hours of work. Is it worth that much of my time and effort?"

So I'm curious: what is your price ceiling, and what decides it for you? What impacts that ceiling--for instance, would you pay more for a Lisa Eldridge lipstick because it seems unique, or less for a mascara because it should be tossed after 6 months?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Inspiration: I Heart Dana Scully

Image from

Like many feminists who consumed media in the 90s and went to college after Y2K, I've come to realize that the feminist icons tween-me adored can be somewhat problematic in the year 2018. This includes Dana Scully in The X-Files. Rewatching the series has made me horrifically aware of how often she got her ass in a sling compared to Mulder and how lazy the writers could be about developing her personality. Discovering there was a pay discrepancy between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny made it all the more real.

That said, I still think it's important to look at these things in context: we no longer live in the world of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." Some networks have learned from the mistakes they made in past decades, starting with "gee a team of all white guys doing the writing is fine." And while we can certainly critique shows like the X-Files on where they fell short, we can still enjoy them and be proud of the things they did well. The Scully Effect is real, and as someone who has taught many young women who strive to become scientists or doctors thanks to characters like Scully, I'm beyond grateful for it.

And of course, Scully's power suits and great lipstick made her a fashion icon for me.

Googling "Dana Scully" makeup is a bit of a drag, because most of the products the makeup artist used on her have been long-discontinued. These include MAC Shhh lipstick and Shu Uemura Cake Foundation. That said, there's a general trend to her makeup that's easily replicated with the slew of products on the market today: pink, mauve, or rose-toned lipsticks, tawny blush, a bit of smoky liner around the eyes (sometimes it looks dark brown and other times it looks burgundy), and a sheer, matte foundation that lets your freckles shine through. Scully sometimes had a shinier or more bold-colored lipstick, namely when she was gussied up--see the bottom left picture for an example.

Scully suit appreciation post! I wish I was this good at matching patterned shirts with solid-colored staples. I especially love that star shirt she's wearing at the bottom.

A vain but noteworthy impact Scully had on me: I stopped trying to cake concealer on my undereyes to blank out my dark circles. Granted, I've always tried to lighten that area up, but now I think a bit of undereye circle makes your makeup more natural and kind of sexy. I thank Gillian Anderson for that. Also, I'm so glad that those 90s-style round glasses are back in style, because I've always wanted a pair. They would definitely look stupid on my face shape, but OH WELL.

Because I'm blatantly obsessed with vintage hairdos and red lipstick, I had to take an entire set of screenshots from this season 6 time warp episode. Her hair here is Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I spent a solid 10 minutes looking at my Besame lipsticks and figuring out which shade would be the best match for her lipstick here. (Since this part of the episode is set in 1939 and it's a more vibrant, not-very-warm red, I'm guessing 1920 Besame Red or 1946 Red Velvet.)

As a final note, Scully's makeup did change a bit toward the end of the series. They make her brows more sculpted, lightened up her eye makeup, and often went for lighter lipsticks. You can see just how pink and shiny the lipstick in the top two pictures is. I wonder why this was--a shift toward trends from the new millennium, perhaps?