Saturday, April 13, 2019

Spring Cleaning: Products I'm Purging

The beautiful card catalogue Kirby made me only has so much space, and it forces me to keep only what I love. That means I've got to get rid of some products to make room for the new stuff I've tried and loved. I'm actually a bit surprised that I'm getting rid of some of these things, to be honest, because there are some gorgeous products here. But if you're not using something, it's just going to waste.

So let's talk about the really amazing products I'm getting rid of! At the top of the list are these Face Stockholm cream blushes. I stand by my belief that these are some of the best cream blushes on the market; they have a slightly "jelly" texture that blends easily and provides a natural highlight. But I always, always reach for more hygienic liquid blushes in tubes or slap-it-on-and-go stick blushes. Another beautiful, but rarely worn, product is the MAC Amplified lipstick in Nicki's Nude. As pretty is it is, on the rare days when I wear a beige nude, I reach for NARS Raquel.

The list of makeup that's really lovely, but just not my style, includes the Marc Jacobs Dew Drops in Dew You, the Milk Makeup Holographic Highlighter in Mars, and the Fenty Mattemoiselle lipstick in Freckle Fiesta. The highlighters are a tad too sparkly and "makeup-ish" for my tastes, though most people with less ghostly skintones will probably find them natural and beautiful. As for Freckle Fiesta: I absolutely ADORE the color of this lipstick, but I think I have to admit that it isn't flattering on me at all. I keep telling myself it'll be better if I tan up to NC20, but that's turning out to be a lot harder than I thought.

Now for the epic fails. Look, there have been some rave reviews for the Kosas Tinted Face Oil, and it's SO up my alley and I SO want to love it...but it just doesn't work on me. It deserves a better home. The Sephora Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer came highly recommended, too, but I found it pretty "meh." It has zero staying power on my dry skin and it can look a bit chalky on my undereyes.

The new Glossier Generation G formula is an abomination, so I won't linger on that. But can we talk about how every other brow product on the market seems to turn bright red on me? I had high hopes for the expanded Colourpop Precision Brow Pencil shade range, but nope, every shade is still too dark or too orange on me. And don't even get me started on the Urban Decay Brow Beater gel. Woof. Maybe if you have decent brows, this will look nicer, but it just made me look like Groucho Marx.

Speaking of brows! Sephora is finally releasing some freebies I want, so I'll be purchasing that brow powder and brush I mentioned this coming week. Beyond that...there's not a lot I want to buy with my birthday gift cards. Don't get me wrong; there's plenty of stuff I'd be interested in trying! But even after this purge, I've got plenty of products in my collection that I'm rediscovering. I think that's one of the best parts of being on a no buy: you have to be creative and use what you already have.

Friday, April 5, 2019

I Refuse to Buy This Until the Freebies Stop Sucking

Apparently, I am one of three people on Earth who actually likes the Sephora rewards program. Granted, spending around $75 to earn a deluxe sample is a bit rich, but at least Beauty Insider points don't expire. Getting actual cash back a la Ulta's rewards program is definitely preferable, but I will never spend enough money in a year for it to be worth it to me. So I do most of my shopping at Sephora, and I wait to push the "checkout" button until there are samples I really want.

Now, I've wanted the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo off and on for several years, and I decided to buy it back in February. But I have a birthday in April, so I waited until this month to place my order so I could use the credit from a return and cash in on my free birthday gift. That's already a big win for me; I never could have waited months to place an order in years past.

Annnnnnd I'm still waiting because the samples suck. One of the weirdly satisfying things that's come out of my downsizing and more conscious spending is that I'm very picky about what samples I'll settle for. It has to be a product I'm genuinely interested in, and it has to be in a shade or a formula I know I'll use. Currently, there's a red Laura Mercier lipstick available with a coupon code. There was a time when I would have just used that code and been done with it, because hey, free lipstick from a nice brand. Now, however, I know that I already have a ton of Besame reds I love, and I'm not actually interested in the formula. I'm actually quite interested in several of the foundation samples they've offered recently, but they're not offering a shade that will work for me. Nope. I'll wait.

Will I eventually just buy the ABH products and get the birthday gift if the samples never improve? Sure. But those Milk Makeup minis will be free to me until the end of April, and that store credit isn't going anywhere. I can wait. And the longer I wait, the more I feel like I'm breaking away from this endless need to BUY BUY BUY.

Speaking of my birthday! If you're interested in getting me a present and you have $3 to spare, donating to my Ko-Fi would be absolutely stellar. This spring's charity of choice is the DNA Doe Project, an organization that uses emerging DNA technology to identify John and Jane Does. While I have mixed feelings about law enforcement and medical organizations accessing genealogical DNA, I am all for it being used to give these people back their names and bring closure to families. You can read more about the DNA Doe Project on their website.

I have not received any donations for the past few months, so my recent donations will remain private.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Companion Piece: 2019 No Buy and Goals Check-In

Buying fewer beauty products means less to review and more time to brainstorm new post ideas. That's how I came up with "Companion Piece," a new series that will combine a blogpost and a video on a related topic. I figure this is the best way to please a variety of my readership, since some of them prefer to read and others prefer to watch or listen to a video. Fair warning: the video cuts off very suddenly because the last piece of the file was corrupted, but I'd love to hear about how your 2019 goals are going!

What did I want?

There have been a ton of great new releases these past few months, like the YSL Touche Eclat High Cover Radiant Concealer I've been eyeing, but I've also found myself looking in to more "established" products, like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo, the Jillian Dempsey Lid Tints, and the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand. I talked myself out of the contouring product because, quite frankly, I will never be the sort of person who contours, and I just have to admit that to myself. I have a thin face; contouring isn't going to do me too many favors. I'm also pretty sure I won't buy a Lid Tint anytime soon, just because they're super pretty on other people, but not the sort of makeup I'd fuss with on the daily.

That said, I do plan on buying the Anastasia Brow Duo and a brush to go with it. Don't worry, I won't be breaking my no buy! I returned the Laura Mercier foundation I tested earlier this month (it's beautiful, but I don't have a shade match), and that plus my leftover gift cards will more than cover the cost of the brow products. April is my birthday month, so I'll use the opportunity to get the yearly birthday gift and whatnot on the same order.

What did I buy?

As is usual for a 2-3 month period, I had to replace some staples; in this case, it was my favorite Paula's Choice BHA. I've used their 2% BHA liquid for years and have never been disappointed.

Also, Glossier decided to launch their new sub-brand, Glossier Play, and I used my store credit to order (and review) quite the haul. That slew of products and Kirby's bout of shingles kept me preoccupied for most of the tail end of winter.

How am I feeling?

To be totally honest, I'm feeling better than I ever expected re: No Buy 2019. I've been wearing makeup a little less than usual due to my odd work schedule, some exhausting traveling and conference-attending I've had to do, Kirby's illness, etc. So every time I've found myself wanting to jump online and buy something "for fun," I've opened the drawers of my card catalogue and said to myself, "Well, here are these 20-some lipsticks I'm barely wearing right now. Do I really need another one?"

As for how I'm feeling in general? That's...a bit different. I've struggled with depression a lot this month, especially at the beginning of March. There have been far too many days when I've felt useless and unhappy with myself and my choices. A large part of the problem is that there are several huge life changes looming on the horizon, but they're not guaranteed, ie, I won't know if my life is changing in these massive ways any time soon. I hate uncertainty. The realization that it's not safe to fly my cat across the country has also affected me. She's my cat and I want her with me, but I also want her to be happy and healthy, and a long-haul flight just isn't in her best interests.

Anything else?

Something that people always mention is how quickly a no buy can lead to overspending in another hobby, and I really experienced that this past month. Living in a rural, relatively isolated area means there are limited shopping choices in-town, so traveling for work becomes an opportunity to shop. Last week, I walked in to a Joann Fabric for the first time in months, and...well, let's just say it's a miracle I only spent $40 on planner supplies versus $100. My planner supplies drawer is full now, so even though I want some new pens and more washi tape, I'm telling myself, "No no no, use what you have."

To keep myself on track, I'm limiting my allowance to $10 for April. That sounds crazy, but really, what do I need? Nothing. $10 will buy me a Steam game or a nice new pen, and that's more than enough combined with what I already own.

Video: 2019 Goals Check-In

Sunday, March 17, 2019

1P2L: Pencil Eyeliner with Glossier Colorslide + Glossier Play Mini-Reviews

Like most beauty bloggers, I assumed Glossier was about due for a "more full-on" makeup range, and I figured Glossier Play would be it. When they launched a range that prompted some excitement and a slew of criticisms, my initial feelings toward the four new cosmetics and two new tools were relatively mild. Yes, I was excited for the highlighters, but my reaction to highlighters is as instinctual and simple as my two-year-old niece's response to french fries. The lack of professional swatches on multiple skintones--something Glossier has been relatively good about for the past few years--leads me to believe that the launch was a little rushed.

All of this said, I received a slew of Instagram messages and emails when this line was announced, so clearly there's been some hype and interest surrounding the range. And frankly, a fun, colorful cache of products I could buy with the store credit you lovely people have earned me (thanks!) couldn't have at come at a better time. Between Kirby fighting a nasty bout of shingles and me being whacked with the depression hammer, the first half of March reminded me just how important fun and relaxation are.

Now, a lot of people have complained that this launch doesn't suit the "Glossier look." I can't entirely agree. For starters, there's a reason why they're launching these products under a sub-brand: they know it's not their usual no-makeup-makeup. But more importantly, this strikes me as "cool girl" party makeup, the kind of stuff naturally pretty people slap on their faces when they go out and want to try something a little different. None of it is designed for precise cut creases or stage-worthy Instaglam looks, and in my opinion, that's very Glossier.

There's also been a lot of debate about the design and environmental impact of these products. This delightful post from Auxiliary Beauty sums up most of my feelings about this. I'll add that I thought the 1970s-as-seen-by-Y2K-teenagers fonts and boxes were very cute. They hit me right in the "oh fuck that was middle school" nostalgia. However, like most people, I think wrapping each product in an extra piece of foil, then putting in to a box, is a wee bit excessive. It's also suspicious to me that Glossier claims they spent two years preparing this brand, yet they didn't think to use biodegradable glitter. Their consumer base is almost all Gen Z and Millenials, and we're groups that tend to worry about climate change and plastic consumption. To their credit, Glossier has listened to the criticisms; they will phase out the foil packets and plan on reformulating their products with biodegradable glitter.

Since I'm ranting, may I also point out that Glossier is STILL doing that "this is so unique and there's nothing like it" marketing, and it just doesn't work for them? Colorful pencil eyeliners and glitter gel have been around for decades, but they're releasing ad copy like this:

For the millionth time: there are more marketing tactics than the appeal to novelty. Customers like me are drawn to how easy and effortless Glossier's range is, and some are drawn to the "cool factor." But I'm not seeing a single, not-a-Glossier-rep person gushing over how "new" and "original" these products are. Play to your strengths, Glossier.

Enough complaining; let's get on to the swatches, looks, and reviews!

As mentioned, Glossier Play was launched with four new makeup products and two tools. The first makeup product is Colorslide, a range of colorful eyeliners. I got five shades: Adult Swim and Disaster Class for day-to-day wear, and Early Girl, Nectar, and Jumbo for experimentation and fun. All of these shades are matte, but there are metallic colors in the range, if that's more your gig. The Colorslide pencils are $15 each.

I've also sharpened them with the Blade sharpener. I get that a sharpener isn't something most people are going to lose their shit over, but this is a pretty nice one at an agreeable $4. It comes with a purple "cleaning stick" that you can twist in the sharpener to clean out the blade.

Next, we have those not-yet-biodegradable Glitter Gelees. I have three of the four shades: Glass Bonsai, Phantasm, and Firewalk. They're all technically suspended in a clear base and are, therefore, meant to be layered or used as sparkle rather than as full-on eyeshadows. But you can see that some of the shades contain a bit more of the fine shimmer, which makes the base seem less clear; this is most obvious with Firewalk. Phantasm, meanwhile, contains no fine shimmer and is all larger, more obvious holographic glitter shapes. Glass Bonsai is somewhere in the middle as far as opacity goes.

The product I was least excited for, shocker of shockers, was the Vinylic Lip. Yes, a liquid lip product in a click pen with a spongey applicator takes me right back to my first order from ELF, I'm not gonna lie. But I'm not a huge gloss person, and I find clicky pens a bit of a pain to use. It took me 41 clicks to get product out of Pony, and a whopping 71 clicks with Baby. I also find Glossier's color descriptions a little weird: Pony is less "taupe" to me and more mauve, and "Baby" reads more like a strawberry pink than a saturated, blue-based red.

By contrast, I was beyond hyped to see that they were releasing more full-on highlighters, because...highlighters. I purchased the two lightest Niteshine shades, the yellow-based Pale Pearl and the pink-based Platinum Rose.

Here are two looks I created with my Glossier Play products. (The only one not shown here is the Glitter Gelee in Glass Bonsai.) On the left, we have my attempt at something a little more full-on. I used the Jumbo and Disaster Class liners as bases, then added Glossier Lidstar in Cub to the center of my eye and topped it with two layers of Firewalk Glitter Gelee. I lined my lower lashline with Nectar. On the whole, I enjoy the eye look:

Interestingly, neither the Colorslide pencils nor the Glitter Gelee applied the way I expected. Glossier describes Colorslide as a "technogel eye pencil," implying it has a smooth gel formula. I actually found these pencils very waxy, and they tugged at my lids a little as I applied them. Disaster Class was especially difficult to use and applied patchy when I tried to use it as a base. Also, while I was able to get some intense color out of the Colorslide pencils, it took at least two layers to reach full saturation, sometimes three. And using these all over your eyelid when they're a waxy formula that catches? This can happen:

Yeah, that's frustrating.

In short, you can use these as eyeshadow bases, but it's a real pain in the ass, and some of the shades work better than others. These also take a little more effort to transfer to your waterline as compared to a true gel or khol-type pencil. If you're going to get these, go for the more pastel, interesting shades, like Nectar and Easy Girl, which are perfectly serviceable and can be tough to get in a decent formula. As a whole, though, I don't think these eyeliners are particularly special.

I had much better luck with the Glitter Gelees. Now, some people have complained these glitter gels made a huge mess on their face and left a ton of fallout all over their cheeks. In video reviews that stated this, I noticed that the person would apply the glitter to their eyelid, then immediately start blinking and moving their eyes all over the place. A product like this needs a minute to dry, so just be patient and keep your eye as still as you can right after application. I had absolutely zero glitter fallout or movement from all three Glitter Gelee shades after they'd dried, which sort of stunned me.

For the second, more natural look, I used Easy Girl and Adult Swim on my upper lashline to create a simple, slightly winged eyeliner, then lined my upper waterline with Adult Swim and tapped a bit of Phantasm Glitter Gelee at the corner of my eye. Phantasm is the glitter most people are excited about, and I can see why; it's just really fun and pretty.

For both looks, I used their Detailer to apply the glitter. A silicone applicator is definitely the best way to apply these, since it gives you more control and limits the mess, but you don't have to buy this one. Plenty of other brands make cheap silicone applicators.

Both the Colorslides and Glitter Gelees had great staying power; there was no fallout and minimal fading/smearing throughout the day. I use baby oil and cottons to remove them. The glitter is especially tenacious and should be kept out of your plumbing as much as possible, so you'll probably want to hold the oil-soaked cotton on your skin for a while to loosen it up.

For the more dramatic look, I wanted a super-shiny, very bold, definitely red lip, but I didn't get that with the Vinylic Lip in Baby. In fact, when I tried to layer it, I got only slightly more color, but I also noticed flakes on my lips that I didn't see before--see above. And it still never became "high shine" like Glossier promised. It's a thin, lightweight, decently comfortable formula with a faint strawberry smell. Nothing terrible, nothing to write home about. Frankly, I think Glossier should have produced colored versions of their regular gloss instead, since it is far shinier and more full-on than this formula.

I'll definitely get more use out of Pony, which I used for the softer look. One layer gave me that wearable, work-appropriate mauve shade that's perfect for work.

Last, but not least, we have the Niteshine Highlighter Concentrate. In terms of payoff and shine, I'd say these are like Glossier Haloscopes and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors had a baby: they're shinier and more obvious than the Haloscope, but they manage to do it without being sparkly a la the SSP. It's a nice product with a thin, liquid formula that can be built up. Just make sure you blend them out fast, because they dry within seconds. I'm wearing Platinum Rose on my cheekbones in the full-on look, Pale Pearl on my cheekbones and under my brows in the more natural look.

While I really enjoy these and will get good use out of them, I have two quibbles. First, the shade range is just plain dumb. Platinum Rose and Pale Pearl are almost identical on your skin, and the two darker shades look similarly close. If you're releasing glitter gel and colorful eyeliner, and if your ads are full of disco and rave-inspired shots, you should probably come out with some more interesting colors. A lavender, for instance, would've been an on-trend option. Second, these suffer from the same packaging problems as the Lidstars: the lids are small, smooth, and difficult to turn. Anybody with limited hand mobility is going to have a rough time opening these highlighters.

When it's all said and done, I don't think this launch is as terrible as some people are making it out to be, but I also don't think it's full of products you have to rush out and buy. True, I really love the Glitter Gelees, and I'll use the Niteshine Highlighters regularly. But one of each, tops, will probably be more than enough for most people. And while the Colorslide pencils and Vinylic lips aren't dreadful, they certainly aren't worth it when you have brands like Colourpop producing better stuff at a lower price. If Glossier wants to improve this range, I suggest that they:
  • Fulfill their promise to use biodegradable glitter in the Glitter Gelee,
  • Improve the shade ranges for several of the products, and
  • Focus on creating what their fans have actually been asking for, like a cream bronzer or a tinted moisturizer/foundation with a bit more coverage. 
PS: I'll be taking a very short break from writing this blog to focus on work. I should be back by the end of March!


Note: All of these products were purchased with Glossier store credit earned via an affiliate link. I have not been paid to test, photograph, or write about anything in this post. My reviews are always honest. Actually, Glossier is probably a bit sick of sending me so much free shit, given how poorly I've rated some of their releases. Sorry, guys.

Friday, March 15, 2019

This Isn't Makeup: I Finally Bought a New Purse

I'm somebody who has, for the last decade, had zero problems dropping $100+ in a single go on fancy foundation and more red lipsticks. Yet I've always struggled to spend that kind of money on other products. This includes clothing and accessories: the only jewelry I wear these days is my engagement ring, and I get almost all of my outfits in thrift stores or off of sales racks. So it's not surprising that I've had the same Fossil bag, and only that one Fossil bag, for a solid four years.

Even buying that bag (on the right) was tough for me. I scoured the internet for the cheapest price, eventually finding the tan shade for under $100. When I received it, I made sure to treat it with leather balms and protectants. I loved that bag. The front pouches were perfect for my wallet and keys, there was an inside zip pocket that I could stuff with tampons and medicines (I'm a walking pharmacy/grandmother/whatever), and there were two small sections on the inside that were perfect for hand cream, lip balm, business cards...basically, there were many junk pockets.

This month, I finally admitted that my beloved bag had bit the dust. The zipper had ripped away from the bag itself, making it impossible to shut properly, and beyond the normal, expected discoloration of the leather, I'd noticed a lot of black staining. So I went ahead and bought a new bag, also from Fossil: the Sydney crossbody. It was already on sale for $97, but I found a coupon code on Google that dropped the price to about $72 shipped.

You know what's weird? I knew I needed a new bag, and I got a sturdy bag for a good price, but I still struggled to spend the money. And when I thought about it, I's harder for me to spend large amounts of money on anything now that I've been downsizing and no-buying. I used to spend this kind of money on lipstick without even flinching, and now I spend a lot of time asking, "Is this makeup worth a whole day's work?" I mean, buying $200 worth of makeup twice a year? Doable. Using gift cards or receiving PR? Whatever. But I don't feel comfortable spending this kind of money on non-necessities on the regular anymore.

Now that it's here, I'm really enjoying this bag. It's a little smaller and has fewer pockets, which I wanted so I'd carry a bit less shit. That's...kind of working. We'll see if I can downsize my bag's contents even more!