The Sephora VIB Sale came and went and with it, my purchases from the sale. This year, I only snagged three things, but of the three, two will be returned to Sephora. After playing with the lipsticks, I decided they weren’t for me even though I tested one of the two out before making the purchase. In an effort to curb my spending habits and write some more meaningful posts, I’ve decided any time I return something, I have to write about it so I don’t repurchase it down the road.
Here’s why the two items (BITE Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquified Liquid Lipstick in Infuse and Pat McGrath Labs LuxeTrance Lipstick in Tropicalia) are being returned.
BITE Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquified Liquid Lipstick in Infuse
Price: $24/0.25 oz (making it $96/1 oz)
Ingredients: Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Rosinate, Silica*, Coconut Alkanes*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Shellac Wax*, Hydroxystearic Acid*, Bismuth Oxychloride*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax*, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract*, Aroma (Flavor), Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate, Vanilla Tahitensis Fruit Extract*, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate*, Tocopherol*, Resveratrol*, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower Extract*, Ascorbyl Palmitate*, Momordica Grosvenorii Fruit Extract*, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis Extract*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract*, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Skin Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract* +/- May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI77499), Carmine (CI 75470), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Red 40 Lake (CI 16035), Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 27 Lake (CI 45410), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 30 Lake (CI 73360), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Tin Oxide*.
Do they test on non-human animals?: No.
When I tried Infuse originally, I swatched it a few times before deciding I needed it as a perfect vampy lip color. At that point, I made the decision to try it (it was a brand new tester) and used a cotton bud to apply it, and when I did, it applied beautifully and was this nice dark berry color with very slight patchiness.
When I finally bought this and wore it, it was a different story. The application was a nightmare; it was patchy, and the coloring was much darker than how I initially tested it. Plus, the doe-foot applicator made it so much more difficult to apply (which I thought would be more useful). The product in general is very thick (and this is consistent across the line) and more like a pigmented gloss than traditional liquid lipstick, but this particular shade requires a lot of fussing to make it work.
I’ve worn this a few times since buying it and it wasn’t what I was expecting even after trying it for a test ride first. Even using it with a Q-tip doesn’t help the difficulty in applying it, and blotting doesn’t reduce the depth. I’ve also gone through my existing collection and while my beloved Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Love Liberty isn’t as dark, it’s a gorgeous berry that I know works for me and is wearable as a work-friendly, “vampier” color for fall/winter. Given this, I know I don’t need to fill this niche as badly as I originally did.
I’m not sure what caused the difference in the shade in how I fell in love with it at the store versus when I had it in my possession, but it’s something I haven’t been able to recreate and as such, will be returning.
Pat McGrath Labs LuxeTrance Lipstick in Tropicalia
Price: $38/0.14 oz (making it ~$271.43/1 oz)
Do they test on non-human animals?: Yes (when required by law).
This is a “shame on me” situation.
I knew right away in my heart of hearts that something about this wasn’t going to be quite right. I could tell based on the Sephora swatches that the colors seemed off, especially once I saw Auxiliary Beauty’s swatches on the lipsticks, but I went and did it anyways, because hope is a dangerous thing sometimes. (I have a dream of finding the perfect muted, orange-based, dark retro coral instead of this white-based pink shit that gets shoved down our throats.)
But I went and did it anyways because “muted” and “coral” are apparently two words together I cannot resist. And boy, did I get a surprise.
And when you compare to the swatch on my hand, there is obviously a big difference between these two. The actual coloring on this is a pink-primary, orange-secondary coral with a muted base. Meaning, the primary color in terms of strength is pink, secondary is orange, and the color is dulled (muted).
I knew it was Photoshopped. I did it anyways. I am disappointed in myself.
To boot, while it isn’t exactly the color I was looking for, I already have a similar color to this in my collection; the Givenchy Le Rouge in Mandarine Bolero. That lipstick, as you can see for comparison, is primary orange-pink, albeit not as muted. (I typically use the Make Up For Ever Aqua lip liner in 23C to add a little more of an orange muted punch.)
So, I already have a color in my collection that better meets my needs and doesn’t Photoshop lie to me? This is a no brainer: Tropicalia gets returned.
(As a side note: the formula is a total knock-out and easily earned itself a spot in my favorite formulas. It reminds me of almost a hybrid between the Givenchy Le Rouge and Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipsticks with all the good qualities of both, so if you’re in the market for a luxury lipstick, I strongly recommend it. I just would make sure you can swatch them first on account of the stock photos being made of Photoshop lies.)
Have you returned anything lately? If so, why? Or what do you do to make sure you don’t have to return something?
As mentioned previously, I had another one of these planned down the pike. Now that we’re out of the Halloween collections and right before the holiday season, I wanted to put out something to also keep my pinup anti-haul game strong, because there’s a lot of temptation coming out this time a year with Black Friday and other sales, and I want you all to keep your bank accounts as strong as your spirits should be.
If you are not familiar with the concept of an anti-haul, please use this post for reference. As a reminder: this is not intended to be mean-spirited, it’s supposed to encourage smart purchasing habits and minimizing unnecessary consumerism. There are always better ways to spend your hard-earned money (be it paying off debt, savings, whatever), and while I believe moderation in all things, I also believe it’s OK to be spending on things with the caveat of being smart about it and really knowing yourself instead of buying aimlessly.
Without any more delay, let’s get into this holly jolly not buying shit discussion.
Janie Bryant x Unique Vintage
Before we get into it, I have to be upfront and tell you I have a bone to pick with them. Unique Vintage bothers me for a few reasons, but mostly because of its slow and exorbitant shipping rates and fees. There are plenty of vintage reproduction sellers that offer faster shipping at lower rates in that same neck of the woods (e.g. Micheline Pitt, Heart of Haute, etc.) Hell, even for some of the UK brands they carry–it’s cheaper (and faster) to buy direct from them than Unique Vintage. It bugs because, primarily, I would like to support American companies (as an American) and would like to help keep them afloat, but when I’m staring down $12 for shipping for a product that comes within 8-12 business days versus going to the UK and having it free because of the cost of the product between the exchange rates (and getting it faster), what’s the point? Stop making it so difficult for me to love you, Unique Vintage; that’s all I’m asking.
All right. Now, here’s where it gets back to being an anti-haul. As with a lot of anti-hauls, some of the products in them are really subjective. What I think is not worth it may not be what you think actually is worth spending money, and that’s OK! But after seeing this hyped collaboration I’m not sold for the most part.* Here’s an example of why I’m not sold on this collection:
$138 for a black and white polka dot strapless dress and another $48 for the matching bolero. So, in total, we’re looking at $186 for a matching set.
Looking at that dress, I’m having a hard time justifying that price tag, especially with mesh as one of the fabrics. Mesh is not a favorite fabric of mine; I’m not sure of your own experiences with it, but it gets caught up in everything. Because this gets caught up in things, it’s prone to tearing easily and gets worn out faster. Outside of petticoats, you won’t see my ass shimmy into any piece that is primarily mesh. I know it was a popular fabric back in the day, but there are some vintage things that should just stay where they were. When I see anything over $75 with mesh as a fabric, you better be able to justify the costs by at least being a unique piece.
And guess what?
It isn’t. Black polka dot dresses are a dime a dozen and one of the first stereotypical pinup outfits you could probably think of thanks to I Love Lucy’s influence on pop culture. There is nothing unique about this $186 set that can’t be found cheaper and just as high quality elsewhere. If that’s the case, what’s the point in buying that?
The entire collection is riddled with similar pieces like this that fit the mold of “stereotypical” pinup but at extremely high prices when there are similar products out there for cheaper, better shipping (prices and time-frame; although, both pieces together do hit the $150 USD free shipping threshold), for me, it’s not worth it. Not buying it.
* = I won’t lie, the suit dress is incredibly tempting and probably the most unique piece out of the collection. Plus, it never hurts to have professional-style clothing in your repertoire.
All the velvet limited edition dresses/gowns
There’s a handful of brands doing this right now so they’re all getting lumped into one.
Much like mesh, velvet is another fabric I don’t love. It’s fussy, it’s difficult, can be really stifling, and really, it’s not something that you can wear all year round. My personal clothing habits are generally things I want to wear as much as possible and can be worn both in summer and winter (with the exception of items intended for winter use like a coat for obvious reasons.) If I’m going to be spending a decent amount of money, especially on a reproduction piece, it has to be something I will wear more than once and at least semi-regularly.
In being honest with myself: when am I really going to wear a velvet dress/gown outside of the holidays, and even then, that’s assuming there’s a holiday party to go to where it would be appropriate? Answer: there isn’t a time (outside of maybe a Halloween costume? But even then, there aren’t a lot of stars that I can think of that would be recognized on velvet gown alone.)
Erstwilder Christmas Collection
This isn’t a traditional reason to encourage you not to purchase something, but this is one of those companies that really chaps my hide with its lack of transparency. I don’t dislike Erstwilder, but I do find it to be unethical in its marketing practices, and this is one that’s been driving me nuts because it’s the most obvious one out there.
We all know the pinups that sport these brooches for an Instagram photo or two all around the same time and then you never see them wearing the brooch again (seriously, when was the last time you saw anyone that hustled how much they “so loved!” the Grease brooches actually wear one in their IG photos?)
I can’t confirm for certainty (because, obviously, no one is knocking on my door), so this is pure speculation on my end, but my suspicion is that Erstwilder is giving them as PR (so they can be given for free), or, and possibly as a sponsorship or ad. I don’t know for sure because no one discloses it, but it’s sure pretty suspicious when you see the major players getting all these brooches before the official release talking about how they all love them…
The pinup community (versus the makeup/beauty community, at least–which isn’t great, but yards better in comparison), in general, is terrible about being transparent–some stating that “it is my page and I can support whatever I want,” and to a degree, I agree. You can absolutely put what you want on there. Though, I strongly err on the side that the line gets drawn when you get compensated for it–be it monetarily or with items–for your support, especially when others don’t get cut the same deal and you know your influence is part of why people are buying it. So, the very, very, bare minimum thing you can do is put #sponsor or #ad on there when you’re pushing something on Instagram. It won’t kill you or make you look bad, I promise. Also, not disclosing makes it look like you have something to hide and that makes me think you’re untrustworthy and shady, so why risk it?
I bet you $10 that after the holidays, we never see any of the people who are peddling these brooches that they think are so adorable never break them out again. (And why would they? The holidays are over and there will be another holiday collection to replace it next year that they will be asked to promote.) So what’s the point in buying it in the first place? It’s just more clutter in your house that you don’t need because you’ll wear it a handful of times throughout a very small portion of the year. Move on.
That’s all for now, folks. Feel free to tell me all the things you’re not going for this holiday season!
In a few days, one of the most anticipated sales of the year will begin: the 20% off Sephora sale (for VIB Rouges and VIBs, at least) that only happens once a year. For weeks before hand, people scramble to find out the date and it’s a mad rush to determine the shopping list before it goes down. Inspired by Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick and Faceonomics, this is going to be one for this holiday season as well.
Much like the previous pin-up based anti-haul (expect to see another one coming up in the next few weeks with the onset of the holiday season!), this one will follow the same type of perspective. As a reminder, “the purpose of an anti-haul isn’t to be mean to brands and businesses (there are some I don’t like and won’t purchase from and there are plenty which I do like, but will not be buying because I’m going to be smart about what I do spend on!), but to be smart about what you do choose to spend your money on. Unlike a wishlist of things to pine over, these are things I know I will not be purchasing and why I will not be spending my money on it.” You may also disagree with my reasoning behind why I’m not purchasing something–that’s cool. You do you.
Here’s the list of what won’t be going in my cart this season.
Fenty Beauty line
When Fenty Beauty hit Sephora earlier this year, people lost their gotdamn minds–and with good reason! I’m not knocking Fenty Beauty by having it here, I think it’s awesome she’s another brand that is providing 40 shades in a wide variety of undertones and depths. She also has products that are getting a lot of love by people who are typically left out, and that’s a great thing.
But I won’t be purchasing anything from the line. It’s not just that there isn’t a color shade option for me (though, this is true. The line tends to run towards pinker skin tones for the undertone range I would fall within, whereas I’m a pretty high saturation yellow.) The entire foundation line is strictly meant for oily skin types, which rules my very dry skin out. I suppose I could using a nourishing primer, but why do extra work when there are other foundations out there that get the job done already? I don’t need to buy something for the sake of having it.
But there are other products, you’ll say! And I am aware. The reasons I am not going to buy them are practical–I’m in a professional graduate program and while I don’t have a front-facing position, wearing a heavy amount of glitter at work would really be distracting, so how often would I actually wear it? The answer is, maybe once or twice a year, and that’s not enough to warrant the $20 for the eyeliner or the $59 on the eyeshadow palette.
And just looking at the palette alone–it’s entirely glitter. That might be nice if you already have some matte or other palettes to round it out, but being completely honest: are you really going to use an entire palette of colorful glitters on the regular? Is this also the formula you’re willing to commit to? Looking at it alone, I wouldn’t use most of the colors in it. So for the 5-6 I actually might use, that is a pretty tall order for spending $59 on only 5 eyeshadows. Whereas, I could get similar singles from MAC for significantly less *and* have the added bonus of being able to add them to my MUFE magnetic palette and take them with me in addition to my other singles.
Similarly, the highlighters and Match Stix run into a similar line of thought. Sure, there are some really pretty colors in each. Lord knows that Amber in the Match Stix is actually relatively tempting, especially having swatched it in person. It’s definitely something I thought about, and managed to talk myself out of buying. Here’s the thing: I know my makeup usage habits and I know, realistically, buying a cream product (Match Stix) is inherently a bad idea because it will probably dry out before I actually get close to using it up. I know I don’t contour every day, so having a cream product isn’t a good idea for me. Powders last significantly longer, and as such, the Match Stix wouldn’t be a good fit for my collection.
The highlighters are lovely, but again: I wear highlighter even less than I do contour. And while these are in a powder, they’re also not colors I would personally use. I also don’t use highlighter enough as is, so I definitely don’t need ones with two different shades in them. For the two solo ones, only the Metal Moon might work, but for $34, I could buy a single pan highlighter that I could easily magnetize into my MUFE single palette to take with me when I travel, would be significantly cheaper, and would be less of a hassle in working with for depotting.
In short: the Fenty Beauty line as it stands now is not something that really fits in with my makeup habits or personal style, and it’s not anything I would add to my collection.
La Mer The Introductory Collection
First of all: La Mer is that one skincare line that everybody has seen celebrities using and costs at least a kidney on the black market to use on the regular.
Second of all, even if you’re OK with spending the money for La Mer–why would you ever bother with this set? Let’s break down the cost on this one per oz of product.
The Treatment Lotion is regularly sold at $145/5 oz, making it approximately $29/oz. You get 1 oz within this set.
The Revitalizing Hydrating Serum is sold at $195/1 oz. In this set, you get 0.17 oz, making it $33.15.
The Eye Concentrate is regularly sold at 0.5 oz for $205, making it (a rough estimate of) $410 per 1 oz. In this set, it is available at 0.10 oz for about $41 of the cost.
Last, the Moisturizing Soft Cream which comes in at a few different sizes (but it is $170/1 oz), but there is a “travel size” form available at $85 for 0.5 oz on the Sephora website.
In total, for this entire set, the cost of the products added up alone is $188.15, making it a decent deal at about ~20% off the normal prices per oz, all things considered. I can absolutely see how this would entice someone, but I’m not the type to fall into this. And when paired with the Sephora sale prices (another 20% off if you’re a VIB Rouge or VIBs, and 15% off for Beauty Insiders), I can see even more people being interested. But, as Kimberly Clark points out: buying something just for the sake of because it’s on sale is a terrible reason to buy something. You’re still spending a lot of money on a bunch of minis because of the brand name.
Half of the set has products under 0.2 oz; although you will likely not be using a lot of the eye concentrate, the sizes are small enough that it would be difficult to have a grasp on the performance of the products before they are used up. Skincare takes time to see its effects; it’s not makeup where it generally appeals to instant gratification.
There are better holiday sets out there for skincare that are much friendlier on the wallet than the famed La Mer, if you insist on one of these. For those reasons, this isn’t worth it and I won’t be buying it.
Besame Cosmetics Mini Lipstick Set
I am going to get accused of hating Besame one day, and I want to be upfront and say explicitly: it’s not true. I actually really love Besame. What I don’t love are things like this set.
Besame does red lipstick very well. In fact, of any red lipstick on the market, I tend to think their formula is easily in the top 3 best and that’s including liquid lipsticks. They are exceptional formulas that don’t run into a lot of other problems you see with other lipsticks, like bleeding, feathering, and easily smudging. Red is an exceptionally hard and high maintenance color, so the fact that their formula is this exceptional is definitely worthy of praise. That being said–
There are 3-4 (depending on your coloring and perceptions) red lipsticks in this set. Even if you are the pinup type: why? Yes, I see that there is a very dark red, a brown red, a blue undertoned red, and a neutral red, but realistically speaking: how often do you wear reds to warrant having even 3-4 mini lipsticks of it? Are you really going to wear them all? Be honest, average makeup consumer–probably not.
Now, for other skintones, these may not appear as red, and if that’s the case, I can understand how the set would be appealing.
But if you have warmer undertones, at least 3/5 of those lipsticks are going to clash (if this is something that matters.) So, given that 60% of the $25 you’d be shelling out would be unusable–is it really worth spending the money? Even if you have pink or neutral undertones, do you still really need 3-4 red lipsticks in your collection, even if they’re minis?
I can understand how this set might be appealing to someone looking for era-appropriate makeup or even to try and discern their “perfect red,” but it’s still spending money on extra things you don’t necessarily need, especially if it’s unlikely you’ll actually use it in your collection.
If you’re going to spend the $25 on lipstick, get a shade from Besame that you know works with your undertone and keep your collection manageable.
Pat McGrath Labs Mothership Eyeshadow Palettes
For $125, this eyeshadow palette better wash my damn car, take my dog out for a walk, and figure out a way to teach my dumb ass how to get Veronica Lake waves, because WHY.
Look, I have no doubt that there is probably a high quality attached to that price tag. I’ve seen the Temptalia swatches and I won’t lie, the purples on Mothership III look incredible, and I’m generally not persuaded by color. I also think these palettes have generally a nice mix of workable neutrals with straight up color.
But that $125 price tag? Even with 20% is still going to be $100. I don’t know about you, but there is no single eyeshadow palette worth $100 in my book. It is something that will be removed in hours. There’s something to be said about whether higher-end brands are worth it when drugstore brands are getting to be better in terms of quality than they were even just 5 years ago.
Additionally, even if I were to get Mothership III (the one I was most attracted to), I know there’s at least 2 eyeshadows I wouldn’t use which makes it all the more insulting I would drop $100, with $20 going unused. With that $20 I’d have spent on that, I easily could purchase 3 MAC eyeshadow refill pans (at $6 each) with similar-ish colors to what I would use there, and I already have a decent set of neutrals, and have $2 leftover.
In short, this isn’t worth it and I’m not going to buy it.
That wraps it up for this Sephora Sale Anti-Haul. Tell me all the things you won’t be buying this round!
My ideal life would be lived in a small tank with a decent amount of humidity and a warm rock to lay on, much like a lizard. Unfortunately, I do not get to live that best life, but much like a lizard: my skin can get scaly. It also gets compounded with the dry air as we move into cooler temperatures and heat getting pumped out the vents, it’s time to discuss how to make my skin less like a vintage alligator handbag.
There’s a few ways I try and make it less so, one of them is by having a tried and true skincare routine. There’s a lot that are out there; some have a ton of products built into them (e.g. Korean skincare routines) vs. less detailed ones. After having done a lot of experimentation and trial and error with many products, this is the one that works best for me. As with any beauty product, your mileage may vary–what works for me, may not work for you.
As a reminder (and as you can read from the title), I have dry, reactive skin. I’m on medication which has made my skin a little more sensitive than it normally would, but this is an expected side effect.
Water on face for cleaning
I generally don’t do a deep cleanse in the morning. Some people might find this gross, but when I do this, even if it is with an oil cleanser or something moisturizing, it leaves my skin drier. I prefer just to do a little water to get the job done and also help my skin with the next step.
belif Creamy Moisturizer Deep Moist
Price: $38/4.22 fl. oz. (making it approximately $9.00/fl. oz.)
Non-human Animal Tested?: No, belif does not test on non-human animals and this product is free from animal origin ingredients (per label on bottle)
The unfortunate name aside, it’s a solid day-time moisturizer. The bottle is nice, though difficult to determine when you are running low as you would have to open it to determine how much product is left. The bottle is fairly hefty and the pump is a very nice touch. I find I have to use two pumps to get the adequate amount of moisturizer I like to use for my drier skin. I’ve been using this for over two months now and have not had any issues with it causing my skin to break out.
While it is a nice formula and adds moisture back into my skin, it isn’t exactly as nourishing as its heavy-hitting counterpart, the True Cream Moisture Bomb. I don’t think it is as strong at extending the moisturizing over an extended period of time. This being said, it is also a lighter formula, so I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect that it would. Daytime moisturizers aren’t as heavy to play nice with makeup, but the drawback is that they don’t impart as much hydration back into the skin over an extended period of time.
This being said, the cost is actually not terrible for a mid-to-high end brand for the amount of product you get. It also plays very nicely under makeup, wearing well under both my beloved Make Up For Ever Water Blend and the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea foundation.
I know I will definitely use this one up and from that point, determine if I will be repurchasing. As of right now, I haven’t decided if I will, but I know I like it enough to at least use it up.
Those are my only two skincare steps for the morning. You may notice the lack of sunscreen, which I know is important for combating skin cancer. The truth of the matter is: I don’t really use it. When I go into work, it’s dark and I’m generally at my desk all day and not near a window. I’m generally outside for less than 15 minutes in a given day, so it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.
I’ve been using this loyally for well over a year now at this point. One balm will last me roughly 6 months with about daily use. I use this by getting my beloved Shiseido cotton pads a few swipes in the pot, getting it wet, and then removing facial makeup. I will also use this for waterproof eye makeup as well (though I don’t think it’s as effective as straight up oil (coconut or extra virgin olive oil; coconut is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores and cause blemishes in some people.))
This is one of those few, rare products that I think would genuinely work for any skin type and wouldn’t have an issue recommending it for anyone. While I generally side eye the claim that Clinique is one of the best skincare lines out there, they do have some stellar products and this is one of their all-stars. It’s strong enough to remove stubborn face products, but gentle enough to not strip the skin of moisture.
I’ll one day sing longer praises for it, but in my routine, it’s got holy grail status and I don’t intend to remove it any time soon. It’s too good, effective, and relatively wallet-friendly for me to pass up on it.
As you may be already aware of my feelings on The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid, this is the stronger version of the 5%. The things I don’t like about the 5% (a dropper for applying product, getting exposed to air, scent, etc.) still remain, but at the price it is at and the effectiveness of the product, it’s just too good to pass up for anything else.
I decided to recently make the jump to the 10% for the reason that I know we are not going to be as fortunate as last year with a more mild winter. The ingredients are largely the same, but there’s some difference in the location (and therefore, amount within the product). For example, compared to the 5%, the 10% has arginine (an antioxidant) in a much higher content. I’ve only used this a few times, but it definitely has upped the brightness in my skin.
I’ll have an extended review on this when I’ve finished it up, but for now, it serves as a souped up version of the 5% in my routine and serves to continue the step of being an exfoliant and removing the dead skin cells. I also only use this every other night to avoid over-exfoliating and making my skin redder than it needs to be.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
Price: $16/0.24 oz (the travel size is approximately $66.66 per oz, but it also comes in the size of $65/1 oz and $95/1.7 oz, making the 1.7 oz the best price per oz at ~$55.88)
Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.
On the nights where I don’t use The Ordinary Lactic Acid, this gets substituted in its place instead. I will also use it on the same nights if I tend to have a blemish, because I find this really helps to put the gas on clearing it up without leaving a scar.
Given that I’m right on the cusp of turning 30, I decided it was maybe about time to work in some anti-aging products that might be helpful for other things. After reading multiple reviews, that’s where this product came along. I use it for anti-aging prevention, but it also works to help reduce blemishes, reduce dullness, and I find it also adds a little bit of brightness back into my skin. Although it says it helps for dryness and dehydration, I don’t really experience a whole lot of moisture with this product after using it. That may be more apt for someone with oilier or combination skin types than someone with chronically dry or dehydrated skin.
Again, given that it is a pricier product, I generally don’t use this every night. It typically gets used every other night or whenever I feel needed. It’s just a little something that helps up my skin game.
If there is any one thing in my routine that I would recommend hands down with no reservations to anyone with dry skin, this is it. I’ve been using this night-time moisturizer for over a year and it (along with moving to a more humid climate) has made the biggest difference on my dry skin.
I wouldn’t recommend it to people with oily or combo skin (though, the Aqua Bomb is what I would substitute in its place), but for dry skin, you can’t find a more effective moisturizer on the market short of pure oils. (I know, because I’ve tried almost everything.)
It has a very slight fragrance, but overall, when I wake up in the morning, I can feel that my skin is still soft from applying it the night before but without looking greasy or oily-feeling. It is thicker than Aqua Bomb and heavier in comparison, but it isn’t heavy enough to be distracting or annoying. I find that the thickness imparts the nourishment my skin is craving.
As a side note, this is also surprisingly cosmetically elegant; I’ve tried it under a few different foundations (e.g. MUFE Water Blend, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea, Cover FX Natural Finish, etc.) and all have worked nicely with this, but it will depend on the formula you use and how finicky it is in general.
This is my very last step in my skincare routine every night, but it’s a staple and it’s earned its place as a holy grail moisturizer. If you’re looking for a good night-time moisturizer to wake up to softer skin–this is what you’ve been looking for.
For now, that is my skincare routine as we go from fall into winter. What do you guys use? Anything this lizard woman should be aware of? Let me know if I’ve been missing out on anything.
As many of you who read this blog are aware (especially if you’ve seen the sub-header on this blog) that I also double as a graduate student in Public Health. One of the biggest issues in Public Health (and one of the goals of Healthy People 2020, a public health initiative created by experts in the field) is reducing and eliminating disparities which contribute to inequities, one of which can be access to care (in terms of who has it and who does not.)
While makeup is not critical such as having access to resources like healthy foods, mental health care providers, and the ability to afford care in general, makeup is something that can be considered a means of self-care for many, or if nothing else, a means to increase earnings in the workplace if you are a woman. So, yes, makeup isn’t on the radar for the Health and Human Services (and rightfully so!–they have enough on their plate.) But for many women (men and other non-binary genders too!), it is something to help appear “more polished,” or as a means to help reduce anxiety, or even just give a nice moment of zen for a few minutes out of the day. Though it is not the same, it is still a brief moment of importance to that person.
I know what you’re asking: what does this have to do with cruelty-free? We’ll get there. Sit tight.
There’s a lot of terms in makeup and beauty, and many of them are either ill-defined or not at all. For example, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the regulatory body in the United States for cosmetics (obviously, among other things like food and drugs), does not even have a specific definition for “organic.”
Cruelty-free is another one of those definitions that I, personally, find to be ill-defined. The general idea behind it is to reduce, or preferably, eliminate all non-human animal-based cosmetics testing which to many (this writer included) is considered “cruel.” From an ethical standpoint, I can understand the desire behind this 110%.
However, I am also a stickler for details (pedantic powers, activate!) Cruelty-free does not have a legal definition per the FDA. Cruelty-free, in general, is a really difficult thing to pin down depending on who you ask and it is reliant upon the company to disclose their status on non-human animal testing. Some may say they may not actively test, but they may have a third-party demonstrate safety on certain ingredients or products by doing the testing for the company, “absolving” them of any responsibility and, on a technicality, making that a true statement (because it isn’t truly Cosmetics Company A doing the work–it’s their ingredients supplier or manufacturer on their behalf.) Not to mention, all cosmetics have benefited from previous animal testing, regardless of whether or not they currently and actively test.
Obviously, we can’t go back in time and change things. I don’t like the argument that just because we did it once, it should be continued. The idea of “Well, this is how things have always been done and should just continue!” is a line of thought I loathe because it impedes progress.
There are also situations wherein the parent company may not be against or actively performs non-human animal based cosmetics testing, but after being acquired, smaller brands under the parent label may not perform the testing and consider themselves “cruelty-free.” (An example of this is Urban Decay under the L’Oreal umbrella; Urban Decay offers cruelty-free products, some of which are vegan, which the parent company, L’Oreal, is not.) Some individuals will not purchase from these brands under these circumstances, others might–it is an individual person’s prerogative to determine how ethically permissible it may be for him/her/hir.
To be clear: I am not saying it is a bad thing to want to end non-human animal testing. People are absolutely capable of caring about more than one thing at a time! It is still good to want to reduce this! I am, however, saying that is a misnomer and it is important to recognize that. Cruelty-free is a terrible name because cruelty-free is often not free of overall cruelty.
There are two examples of this I would like to point out. Get your tea, cookies, and a blanket, because this is going to be a long one:
Lack of Foundation Shades as a Form of Systemic Racism
Let me make one thing clear before going forward: just because the KKK, a racist stereotype, or slur is not used or involved does not mean something cannot be racist. As a white person, I do not necessarily get to make the call whether or not something is racist and offensive. I do, however, try and amplify people who are affected and what/why their thoughts may find it that way on a certain subject. I also recognize that just because one person of a certain identity does/does not find something racist that they are a representative of everyone else in that ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Individuals are not monoliths.
As many of these articles point out on the subject; representation matters when it comes to the marketing. If people don’t know a product exists, how likely are they to go searching and finding it? Especially when the people pushing the images of beauty are white and only using white individuals to sell the products? It creates the idea a product isn’t intended for them and are not likely to seek it out.
If you look at multiple brands, there are often barely any shades representative of darker skintones. I’ve culled a few examples to give you an idea:
You get the point.
There are some that might say, “Well, don’t you think it’s a bit much to call this cruel? The brands are just harming themselves, not really anyone else.”
This is a point I’m going to have to disagree on. Lisa Jean Francois explains that when there are only limited options available for covering up hyperpigmentation or acne scars, [people of color] are accused of attempting to lighten their skin in some cases (when, really, they’re using what options are available without going into “ashy” territory.)
When these brand formulate options intended largely for light-medium skintones, they are alienating a huge base of consumers. It supports the idea, according to Davis (2013), that the only ideal of beauty is to look as close to white as possible, but when there are few options, this may unintentionally happen. Skin tones are constantly changing and as the population becomes more diverse, so too will the need for a variation in skin tones in cosmetics beyond light to medium shades.
As such, this is why I choose to support brands that have a history of supporting darker skintones such as Cover FX, MAC Cosmetics, Make Up For Ever, and now Fenty Beauty, regardless of whether or not they test on non-human animals. The idea of being able to support brands that are inclusive and offer shades for a variety of skin tones and skin types is as important to reduce cruelty for other people. It incl
Mica Mining in India
For those who may not be aware; mica is a very common (and cheap) ingredient in makeup (and skincare, for that matter.) It is also used in pottery, paint, some medical applications (Ayurvedic medicine, specifically), electronic insulators, toothpaste, and other means. As such, given the wide variety of products it can be used for, it is a highly sought out mineral. It is most commonly found in India, with 25% of the world’s production coming from Jharkand and Bihar. Both of these regions have around a little over a third of their population living in poverty. In these same conditions, many mica mines that have been shut down, have people (including some as young as five years old) illegally mining mica in order to obtain a source of income, selling the illegally sourced materials to third-parties who often ship to China and forward onto companies in the USA and Europe.
The risks are dangerous in these mines; as they are illegal operations, there is no oversight which means they can be potentially prone to collapsing (death or severe injury), and for many, there is also the risk of other health complications. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), prolonged exposure (meaning, anything over 20 million particles of mica per cubic foot of air averaged over an 8-hour shift–so, not your Bare Minerals or other powder cosmetics on your face all day) can lead to complications such as scarring of the lungs, coughing, weakness, weight loss, asthma, silicosis, and potentially even tuberculosis.
Much like how companies skirt non-human animal cosmetic testing claims by having third-parties do it on their behalf, manufacturers and suppliers will do the same thing by having other companies source the ingredients from these illegal mining activities, meaning the cosmetics companies are technically in the clear and can remain ignorant. Although some companies claim they source only from legal mines, there is no true way to indicate if mica was obtained from a legal or illegal mine. Especially when 70% of India’s mica output is estimated to account to come from illegal mines.
Some companies have responded to inquiries about how they source their mica. For example, L’Oreal (parent company of Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Urban Decay, IT Cosmetics, etc.) even published their mica sourcing policy on their website:
In spite of these challenges, L’Oréal has committed itself to remain in India and ensure the traceability and transparency of its supply chain. We believe that discontinuing the use of Indian mica would further weaken the situation in the region. In addition, local NGOs and expert organisations are supportive of efforts made to secure the mica supply chain and thus improve the living and working conditions in the region.
We have therefore decided to implement a sustainable procurement policy in India based on a limited number of suppliers who have committed to sourcing from legal gated mines only, where working conditions can be closely monitored and human rights respected. They also have to conduct independent audits to ensure such commitments are respected and invest in community-building activities in the areas where they operate to address underlying causes.
In addition, L’Oréal has engaged in collaborative action with stakeholders across industries and along the value chain (from end users to communities), which is essential in order to gain more leverage and achieve long-term solutions. We therefore actively contributed to the Responsible Mica Sourcing Summit, a first of its kind initiative, organised by The Natural Resources Stewardship Circle (NRSC) and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) in February 2016 in Delhi.
Thanks to this strategy, 99.2% of our mica comes from secured sources today.
Estee Lauder (parent company of MAC Cosmetics, Tom Ford Beauty, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, Too Faced, and its namesake), on the other hand, states that only 10% of their mica is sourced from India and was assisting to help fund schools in villages around mica mining areas. Despite that only 10% is sourced from India, Estee Lauder makes no mention as to the legality of the source (and/or if routine audits are performed) or who their supplier may be.
Lush has stated that they are working to replace the mica in their products with synthetic mica, but there has been no hard date issued to when this can be expected to be done. As of writing this in 2017 (three years after the initial announcement), Lush still has products with non-synthetic mica present.
Mica is in almost every product, so it is difficult to avoid and even more difficult to have suppliers chase down where each batch comes from. When coupled with the fact that most brands are not transparent about which suppliers they use, as a consumer, it can be exceptionally difficult to navigate the ethics of purchasing makeup overall when you can’t be sure that you’ve purchased products with fruit from illegal child labor or if its coming from a place with more stringent labor laws (with safer standards for employees.)
I’ll be honest: I don’t have a good answer for this one. The only thing I can think of to help this issue is to bring it to the spotlight (such as posts like this) and to help put pressure on brands and their suppliers to make their sourcing more transparent. Much like it exists already with non-human animal testing, we are unlikely to determine which supplier a brand may use, but we can at least encourage brands to use non-synthetic mica when possible, to make clear whenever possible where the mica is sourced, or perform routine audits.
I don’t think not using makeup is really going to fix this issue and boycotting brands that do use mica from these regions is not going to be helpful for the same reason L’Oreal points out, which is it would continue the instability and make it worse. Additionally, as mica is so widespread, even if it was removed from makeup, it is still used in enough other products that while it may make a small dent, it is not going to resolve the overall issue.
This was a heavy post and I know there’s enough to be concerned about that it sucks to have to question one of the few escapes from the real world, but it’s important to be considerate of everything. I hope this post provided some food for thought, even if you may disagree with my perspective.
I wouldn’t consider myself a minimalist; although some would say there’s a lot of freedom that comes with being one. For the first time in a few years, I’m starting to put down roots-ish (with a lot of help from my significant other.) For the last several years, I’ve been bouncing from place to place and now that I’ll be in the same place for at least a good few years now, I have an actual vanity and with it, space for makeup. With this as well, my vintage/vintage reproduction wardrobe has also grown.
Despite this, I tend to make myself every few months go through my collection. I have a hard limit of 6 months; if I have not used a product at least once or I don’t love it anymore, it has to go. Even if there is a sentimental reason for keeping it, if I don’t use it, it’s time to lose it.
So, without further delay, here are the things I’m removing from my collection and why I am no longer keeping it.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation Stick
I have had this product for a good few months now, at least since MUFE went ahead and added new shades (including my match, Y215) to the line-up. However, I don’t use it that often with good reason: it breaks me out. If I use this product more than one day (and sometimes, depending on how long I’ve worn it that day), I tend to break out and my skin gets irritated. The next morning, I’ll wake up with at least one giant blemish and usually with a lot of redness along my chin. My skin (in the same area) has the same reaction to the regular Ultra HD liquid formula, so this one and I are just not meant to be. (Which is fine, because Water Blend is my everything.)
There are a few other issues I have with this product: after a long day of wearing, the use of it really starts to show. I’ve had issues with the separation looking very obvious. With cream foundations, although they are marketed towards dry skin, they can emphasize patches so I also have to do a little more maintenance work in preparation for wearing this (I have to use a nourishing/moisturizing primer with it and can only use a Beautyblender with it; my paddle brush is too streaky.)
It looks great for photography, and that’s the only time I’ve actually been wearing it is for when I know I am going to get my picture taken. For me, for something that is $42, that’s not a great value for the product if I only wear it sparingly. This is a product I’ve worn within 6 months a few times, but because I can’t use it as often as I would like, I know it’s time to get it a better home than I can give it.
Besame Classic Color Lipstick
This is one where the intersection of pinup crowd and makeup crowd who know me will be shocked that I’m putting a Besame lipstick up for decluttering. This particular shade is Wild Orchid, based off of a shade from 1952. It’s a lovely fuchsia-based color, but tends to lean very cool-toned.
And that is precisely why it’s going out the door (among a few other reasons.)
When I wear this one, the cool-tones are very pronounced. While I have cool-toned hair, I have an overall low-contrast appearance, which when adding the very bright (and therefore, high-contrast) Wild Orchid along with it’s cool undertones, it really throws off the coloring in my face and emphasizes any redness. In short: it’s not very flattering on me.
When comparing this to my beloved Red Velvet, I also find the formula is just a hair different. I’ve had Red Velvet for some time now and it’s still pretty creamy and easy to work with. Despite having had Wild Orchid (and I have used it within 6 months) for some time, I find it has gotten drier (despite having the lid on it) and a little more difficult to apply.
Because of those two reasons, I’ve been inclined to use it less. Since my goal is to actually use products, this one is going to a new home.
NARS Audacious Lipstick
I had mentioned in a previous post that I don’t like the Audacious formula, but was holding onto Marlene for sentimental reasons. After having some important internal debates, I decided it was time to give up the ghost.
The reason this is going? I just have other reds I prefer to wear and when given a choice, this one always comes to the bottom of the list. The formula itself is the problem; it’s creamy to a fault and tends to transfer all over. Because it is also very pigmented, it also is difficult to remove so if that red bleeds all over? Enjoy the Joker look, because it’s going to be a hag to clean up.
I also put the sentimentality bug to bed for this reason: Project Chimps, a red I much prefer to wear, was also important to me. Before going into public health, I was a primatologist (though, chimps were never one of my focal species.) The point is: holding onto something I don’t like for sentimental reasons isn’t sufficient enough when there’s other ones I like more and are just as memorable.
For that reason, bye NARS Audacious.
Laura Mercier Loose Translucent Setting Powder
As you may be aware, I am a lizard woman. Powders, in general, are not my friend. This powder, in particular, is not the friendliest to dry skin. I only use this to set my undereyes, but when compared to the Kat Von D Lock-it Setting Powder, it makes the skin under my eyes look much more crinkly and gives the appearance that I’m tired faster. This is because of the product being talc-based, as opposed to being cut with mica which doesn’t make it as drying.
For that reason, that’s why the Laura Mercier is going to be losing a spot in my collection.
MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil
In general, I’m not the biggest lip liner fan. I don’t think most of them work that well. This one actually does work pretty well in terms of extending the length of wear and helping to keep product from bleeding out without drying my lips. In fact, I actually don’t have any problems with it otherwise and would strongly recommend it.
So then why am I ditching something that actually works? Simple. Kiss Me Quick is a hair bit cooler in terms of undertone than I prefer in my reds. BITE Beauty has a lip pencil in 082 which is a perfect brick red and the color that I normally reach out for when I want a red lipstick. There’s no real point to me having both, and I haven’t reached for this in months, so it’s time for this to go.
Kat Von D Metal Crush Eyeshadow
This is a product where you can definitely see the use on it. I have used it quite a bit and it’s a terrific multitasker; you can use it as an eyeshadow, but also as a highlighter or lip topper. It has a decent wear time as both of those things in addition to the eyeshadow.
So, why ditch it? The honest answer is that I don’t like wearing highlighters, and in terms of brightening/shimmery shadows, I much prefer MAC Nylon. This is a sheerer shadow and it requires some build-up to get a decent pay-off on the eyelid (which makes it decent as a highlighter if you prefer less in your face ones).
And that will conclude this fall’s destashing. I regularly comb through and ditch stuff, so we’ll likely see another one of these in the next 6 months or so.
Hair is not my strong suit. Part of it is that my hair is feral and does whatever it wants. The other part is that, while I have a lot of it, my hair is also very thin, fine, and prone to frizziness and tangling. Pincurls, however, are one of the few vintage hairstyles I can moderately work with.
I have done pincurls several ways, but the easiest, bar none, is by using Curlettes. It also is the most comfortable for me when I’m trying to sleep, compared to having a bobbi pin driving into my ear or scalp because it’s know rather than metal or plastic.
I ordered two sets of medium back in January 2017 (and after Junebugs and Georgia Peaches did a review and tutorial, it was hard to resist!) They did not come until May 2017–they are hand-made and made-to-order by Curlettes via Etsy (which is overseas for me, as I live in the USA and she is based out of the UK). Life happened along the way, which was serious and understandable, so it’s something that was outside of her control and I don’t fault her for. The communication along the way was acceptable and because of it, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase from again.
I have used them multiple times, they’re still in excellent condition, and make it very easy for me to get the pincurls I’m after. I would have no problem recommending them if you are able to catch her when the shop is open and placing an order.
At the time of writing this, Curlettes is currently open, but I don’t know how long that may be the case. It’s a one-woman operation, so she may close when she has enough business. I’d highly recommend placing an order while you can–it makes the pincurl process much easier and easier to sleep on than bobby pins or plastic curling tools.
The next time I place an order, I think I will be going for the larger ones because I think it’ll be very effective at giving the Veronica Lake waves. I normally (and in the pictures above) use the medium-sized rollers, which is perfect for my medium-length hair.
(Note: Just because there’s a lot of gushing in this post, just want to point out–I am not being sponsored or paid to write this; I’m only a big fan of the product and had a great experience that’s worth sharing with others. If I was, per my policy, I would be disclosing it.)
“A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” – Christian Dior
I collect a few things: lobster kitsch, vintage clothing, but when I travel, the one thing I do is wherever I go (especially if I’ve never been there before), is buy a new perfume. Scent is a particularly strong way of triggering memories, and having a particular perfume reminds me of my travel. I always buy it right away when I get somewhere and wear it religiously during my time where I am.
I’ll be upfront: I am not anywhere as well versed on perfumes versus eau de toilettes and eau de parfums as some others may be. I vaguely know the difference. My tastes are not particularly sophisticated (or at least, I don’t think so), but much like art: I know what I like. When I do buy perfume for a trip, I only require two things: 1. that it represents where I was as best as possible, 2. it also has to be flattering on me.
These are the scents that I have in my current collection and what they mean to me.
Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum Spray
Where it Represents: Manhattan, NY. (Visited in September 2015.)
Memories: New love, city living, sharp, sophisticated.
When I visited New York City, it was the first trip I’ve ever done alone and I loved it. I loved being in New York, being in one of the biggest cities in the world, and doing exactly what I wanted. At the same time, this was when I had first started talking to my now significant other and when he admitted he had feelings for me, and when I recognized I was starting to have feelings for him.
I purchased this because it encapsulated a lot at the right time: I don’t get the coffee notes, but I definitely get the orange blossom and cedarwood. Citrus notes are particularly strong on me due to my skin chemistry and I think this does a great job of pointing out the tinge of sharpness in my personality–while also being reflective of how everything in New York has its own brand of twang that you can’t find anywhere else.
When I wear this, I feel sophisticated, but at the same time, the memory of falling for someone and it’s something I wear when I want to feel romantic or when I’m on a date.
The scent is not particularly strong or long-wearing; after an hour, it has definitely died down. But it does linger on my skin for hours afterwards, just in a much lighter fashion. This was my second repurchase (after having gone through a smaller sized spray bottle), so I would repurchase this.
NEST Black Tulip Rollerball
Price: $27/0.27 oz ($100 per oz; the 1.7 oz bottle is a much better value at $72)
Scent Profile: Black Amber Plum, Pink Pepper, Japanese Violet
Where it Represents: Chicago, IL. (Visited February 2017.)
Memories: Performance, stand-out, evening.
Earlier this year, I went to Chicago to see my favorite musical, Hamilton. For those of you who may be unaware, I actually lived in Chicago for a year and a half before moving to Louisville, so it was a little bit of a homecoming for me too. We visited a lot of the old places I would go to on the weekends, including where we went on one of our first dates in the city.
This particular scent was evocative of Chicago; although when we went it was unseasonably warm (and the first February in years with no snow!), the scent is also warm–exactly what you want when a dry and cold Chiberia winter rolls around. Smelling it from the rollerball, the initial scent I smell is actually more of a tart raspberry scent than the Japanese Violet, pepper, or plum undertones, but on my skin, the pepper definitely comes out very strong, almost overwhelming the other scents but there’s a hint of the plum that makes this a very masculine with a touch of femininity kind of scent.
As such, when I have to give a presentation or have to impress people, you can bet this is the scent I wear.
The scent, much like YSL Black Opium, is not particularly long-wearing. It remains very light after about 45 minutes of wear and if I put my wrist to my nose, I can smell it, but it isn’t particularly strong. I don’t mind that with this scent because it is on the stronger and warmer end of the spectrum and I think something with the kind of profile it has on me (the peppery notes with a touch of the plum), would be too overwhelming if it was stronger.
When I run out, I’d definitely have no problem repurchasing this one.
Atelier Cologne Clementine California
Price: $28/0.34 oz ($82.35 per oz; the 1.0 oz spray is available for $72, making it a better value)
Where it Represents: New Orleans, LA. (Visited September 2017.)
Memories: Laid-back summertime, humidity, jazz.
I know the name on this indicates it should be something for California, but this struck me as a particular New Orleans kind of feel. Going in early September, it was still fairly humid and warm. I had gone into the Sephora on the French Quarter and when I asked the rep what she thought best represented her city, she stated without hesitation: “citrus.”
It’s something that pairs beautifully with the beignets and seafood, and it gets the sharp note across that you’d easily hear from a trombone playing in the French Quarter. The juniper representing the loudness coming from the clickety-clack of the streetcar going down St. Charles Ave, passing by Tulane and the Audubon Park.
On me, the citrus notes are particularly strong and I actually don’t notice a lot of the Sichuan pepper. I do get a hint of the juniper berries and star anise, but it is after the initial and strong citrus fades away.
Much like the others (and like fruity scents in general), the scent on this one is not terribly strong or long-lived. I can smell faint whispers throughout the day, but after an hour, it becomes more faint as the day goes on.
I’d have no problem repurchasing this one when I run out.
Although my collection is fairly small for now, I plan on having it grow with more experiences and memories to come with it.
There are a lot of products on the market that are similar. Some people consider them to be “dupes” (side bar: I loathe this term; a dupe, or duplicate, is something that is identical in formula, color, and consistency–most “dupes” are not that, they are alternatives), some might be knock-offs, but generally, they perform pretty similarly. As with most makeup-related products, your mileage may vary and what works for me best may not work for you.
In this particular post, I’m planning on comparing a few items that are intended to do the same thing but review how they perform and make a recommendation based on my experience with the product.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel vs. Benefit Cosmetics 24-Hour Brow Setter Shaping & Setting Gel
In the first corner, we have the OG clear brow gel, Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH). It comes in one size only (though, I have a deluxe sample of it from a Sephora Rewards point spenditure). As you can see, the bristles are fairly large and resemble a mascara wand (which makes sense, since this is basically a clear mascara for your eyebrows).
The product specs for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel are as follows:
In the other corner, we have the new(er) kid on the block, Benefit Cosmetics 24-Hour Brow Setter Shaping & Setting Gel. While the ABH brow gel wand resembles a stereotypical mascara wand, this is more reminiscent of the Roller Lash wand and has the bristles closer together and shaped depending on if you want to brush upwards or downwards. The product specs for the Benefit Cosmetics are below:
Price: $24.00 / 0.23 oz (making it ~$104.35 per 1 oz)
On price alone, the ABH gel is the much better deal. Even when comparing ingredients, I’m surprised at the cost of the Benefit gel given that the two primary ingredients are so cheap!
Speaking of the ingredients, an interesting difference between the two is that the Benefit gel uses copolymers, which are plastics used as an adhesive. Whereas, the ABH gel uses a lot of moisturizing ingredients primarily (glycerin, hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans, etc.) Yet, of the two, I find the Benefit gel to be more “hydrating” in terms of being less stiff and “crunchy,” as some have mentioned. Some people have said that they experience flaking with the ABH gel, but this was not my experience and I suspect this would be contingent on how dry someone’s skin may be near their eyebrows as to whether or not this is something most people would experience. I have not heard this to be the case for the Benefit gel.
The crunchiness factor does not bother me; most people are not going to be touching my eyebrows in a given day and I would rather something stay completely in place rather than less stiff with more flexibility (likely due to the plastics in the polymer ingredients.) The best way I can compare it to is like the strength of hair spray; some people will prefer a very strong hair spray even if it stiffens the hair because they need that strength to maintain the style. Others may prefer more flexibility at the loss of the “strength” of the spray. If you are in the former camp, you will likely prefer the ABH gel. If you are in the latter, take a peek at the Benefit gel.
In terms of longevity, I find both products work well. Although the Benefit is more flexible and softer to the touch, I don’t find that it moves a lot throughout the day and does keep product in place. ABH is stiff and stays in place. I have tested both for 12+ hours (and in humid conditions; New Orleans and Louisville on humid, 80F+ degree temperatures!) and both perform about the same. I also tested them with both the Anastasia Brow Definer and Brow Wiz and did not notice any differences.
The wands do have a difference and I do think it deposits the product differently. The wand for the Benefit gel is much more compact but with finer-tooth bristles, which allows for more precision when brushing upward or downward (depending on preference for brow shape). Because the teeth on the bristles are shorter and more precise, I feel like it deposits the gel better but I feel that to get the shape I want, it takes more strokes. Whereas, with the ABH gel wand, although the bristles are larger, it gets it to the shape I am looking for much easier and with less strokes (meaning, less product wasted.)
I think the real differences between these products come down to the following: preference for brow feel (stiff vs. flexible), cost, cruelty-free status, and/or wand preference. Although I think both are great products, going forward, I think I will be sticking with the ABH gel based on cost and wand preference.
Yves Saint Laurent Teint Touche Eclat Radiant Perfecting Pen vs. Dior Flash Luminizer Radiance Booster Pen
A disclaimer, before going forward: yes, I am aware that neither of these products are intended to be used as under-eye concealers. However, this is how I use them and will be judging them here. I typically wear a sheerer/light foundation, so higher coverage under-eye concealers would look ridiculous.
Let’s start with the OG in this case which is the YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Perfecting Pen, hereon referred to as YSL pen. This product has been around for years and is considered a cult beauty product. After having used it–I get it. We’ll get more into it in a second, so here are the specs on it (note: the ingredients change depending on shade–for me, I use shade 1):
Price: $42 / 0.1 oz ($420 per 1 oz)
Ingredients: Water, Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, Talc, Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Peg/ Ppg-18/18 Dimethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, Trideceth-3, Methicone, Methylparaben, Squalane. [+/- May Contain: Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77019 (Mica), Ci 77492 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77491 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77499 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77007 (Ultramarines), Ci 77510 (Ferric Ferrocyanide), Ci 77742 (Manganese Violet), Ci 75470 (Carmine), “NF8897”].
And again, in the other corner, the newer challenger–the Dior Flash Luminizer Radiance Booster Pen, referred to as Dior pen going forward. It’s obviously a very similar construct. It is worth noting that although the Dior is very clearly based on the YSL Touche Eclat pen, it is also not listed in the under-eye concealer page on Sephora’s website like the YSL is. The Dior pen also has more shimmery options available too. Take this as you will. The product info is below:
Price: $40.00 / 0.09 oz ($444.44 per 1 oz) (NOTE: Nordstrom lists the product as having 0.11 oz, whereas everywhere else is 0.09 oz…)
Ingredients: (NOTE: These ingredients were pulled from a 2007 listing on the CosDNA website. I no longer have the packaging to cross-reference. Given that this has been reformulated since then and nowhere online carries an ingredient list, exercise a grain of salt with this information.) Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Disiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Stearic Acid, Silica, Alumina, Diphenyl Dimethicone, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Myristoyl Glutamate, Methylparaben, Propylene Carbonate, Fragrance, Aluminum Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Algin, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Cellulose Gum, Talc, Mica, and Iron Oxides.
In both formulas, I use the 01 option which is a very strong but light pink best suited for pale to light skin tones. I know for some people, they may be confused because I have very clear and pure yellow undertones (with some red overtones on my chest/face.) When I use pink on my under-eyes, it is to neutralize blue/purple tones in the area. This works better for me than a normal concealer as the concealers will be more yellow, which won’t correct but only mask and on me, it gives a very unattractive reverse panda effect when it begins to set.
Neither are exactly intended to be used as under-eye concealers, but I think they both work effectively to neutralize and conceal my under-eye area. They also both are not drying, though, I wouldn’t say they are necessarily moisturizing either. (YSL may be a slight bit more than the Dior, though.) The consistency between the two is different; both are liquid, but Dior has more of a creamier, very slight bit stiffer formula whereas the YSL is more liquid. Neither are runny and will drip off your hands if you hold it at an angle.
To a degree, the consistency issue may also be related to the fact that the Dior pen has a little more pigmentation when compared to the YSL pen. The two are similar colors, but as you can see from the swatches, the YSL is a much lighter pink whereas the Dior is a bit more peachy than pink and the color is much stronger. From this, I would wager that it may be able to work on darker lighter skin tones than just pale to light, but I would likely not recommend it to darker skin tones to avoid looking ashy.
As far as wear time goes, both products perform well over a 12+ hour time frame when set with a loose setting powder. It has been tested high humidity (80F+ degrees in both New Orleans and Louisville) and generally, aside from some minor creasing from the Dior pen, both have the about the same coverage and wear.
For the applicator itself, there is a difference in the brush length and quality. Both are click pens and to get product, you will have to click. I find I only need one click from the YSL pen to do my eyes, but two from the Dior pen for a daily application. The YSL bristles are longer and softer, which makes applying the product much easier. Whereas, with the Dior pen, I do find the smaller bristles are prone to poking my under-eye skin, which is something I really don’t like about it. Another thing I find irritating about the Dior pen is that the liquid is not equally distributed when you click; it wells up from the bottom and stays there rather than working its way up through the pen. In having it like this, I’m not able to use as much of the product which is a big deal when you only get 0.09 oz. I’m not sure if this is just the pen I have or if it is a true design flaw that impacts all of the pens.
After having worn them both, for me, I prefer the YSL pen. They’re both very similar, but the slight moisturizing factor and less scratchy bristles are what makes me prefer this to the Dior brush.
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder vs. Kat Von D Lock-It Setting Powder
As a #lizardperson, I very rarely using setting powders for anything other than under-eye area. I don’t make a habit of using it to set my foundation because my daily foundation doesn’t transfer. With that in mind, this comparison is strictly in the context of setting under-eye concealer for both powders.
With that being said, let’s get to the comparisons and like the others, we’ll start with the OG (Laura Mercier) and work our way back to the new kid in town (Kat Von D)…
Price: $38/1 oz (also comes in a travel size at $23/0.33 oz, making the full size a way better value compared to the travel size which is ~$69.70/oz)
Some initial thoughts on this one: I’m actually really surprised at the difference in value between the travel size and the full size version. I can’t imagine the bulk of the cost is really coming down to making a smaller size of the packaging, and the ingredients listed (talc, corn starch, soybean oil, etc.) are not that expensive to produce or obtain.
Also worth noting that Laura Mercier recently released a darker toned translucent loose setting powder earlier this year for deeper skintones, which is a nice gesture, but probably could have been done from the get go seeing as how the ingredients list isn’t different (in fact, they’re identical on the Sephora website) when comparing the darker ingredients to the lighter one.
This being said, we’ll move right along to the Kat Von D.
Price: $30/0.69 oz (making it ~$43.48/oz; also comes in a travel size at $15/0.19 oz making it ~$78.95/oz–much like the Laura Mercier, the full size is the better value)
Again: still surprised the full size is the better value. I’m thinking it has to be cheaper to produce these loose setting powders in bulk. This also has ingredients which are fairly cheap to obtain or produce (e.g. mica, talc, soybean oil, etc.) so I’m not sure why it has a higher price tag per oz. Also, unlike the Laura Mercier, this one was only created as a “universal” loose setting powder so it only comes in one light shade.
Both of the products I have are the travel sizes, but the ingredients are not different between the full size and travel size. Now, when looking at the two, there are some stark differences. First, in terms of product appearance, the Laura Mercier is much more yellow compared to the Kat Von D which takes on more of a neutral tone. On the skin, though, this does not read accurate. As you can see from the swatches above, the Laura Mercier looks more neutral compared to the Kat Von D.
In terms of performance, both are effective at increasing the longevity and wear of whatever under-eye concealer I am wearing. However, having drier skin, this typically is not an issue for me as opposed to someone with a more oily skin type. Where the performance varies for someone with dry skin is whether or not it emphasizes the dryness. I find that the Kat Von D is much more gentle on my dry skin and doesn’t make my under-eye look more crepey by the end of the day (which is likely due to the mica being the top ingredient.) The Laura Mercier is much more drying on my under-eyes, as such, it would lead me to believe it may work better for more oily skin as well for the purposes of blotting and oil-reduction for overall facial wear. Both have been worn through multiple seasons (winter, spring, and summer), no noticeable differences except for the Laura Mercier being slightly more drying.)
In terms of the packaging, both are fairly similar. They are smaller versions of the larger, full size. If you travel, the tops will likely overflow with product (see above with the KVD; I went to New Orleans in the beginning of September and carried it in my carry-on. Still overflowing almost a month later, but this is because I barely use any.)
For this one, my pick goes to Kat Von D. The formula is more generous towards dry skin types, however, I am hopeful she will also release a darker version down the line. Additionally, I would not hesitate to recommend the Laura Mercier for oilier skin types or for those more concerned about stretching their dollar. They both perform and act similarly (in fact, the majority of the ingredients are comparable) that it just comes down to skin type and budget for this one.
That is all for now, but if you’ve tried either of these, what were your thoughts? Are there any other products that you think are basically the same thing you want to try? Feel free to share!
When I was coming up with the idea for the photoshoot seen in Putting the Blue in Bluegrass, the hardest thing was finding a reasonable pair of blue capris in the perfect color family. Fortunately, Etsy pulled through for me and brought me to SilkenTwineAustralia, who made it super easy to find exactly what I was looking for and at a very comfortable price!
The pants themselves at the time of purchasing were $47.02 (USD) and international shipping was $11.76 (USD), making it a comfortable $58.78 (USD) in total. (At the time of purchase, the USD was stronger than the AUD making my dollar stretch further.) This is cheaper than many other brands both domestic and internationally for comparable products. Upon purchasing it, the shipping time was very reasonable, especially for something made to order. I had purchased on June 15th and received a shipment notification on June 19, receiving the package from Australia on June 30th.
The pants themselves are made of stretch bengaline, and having worn them several times now, can attest to their comfort and willingness to stretch (I have done a little yoga in them and they passed eating at a buffet test!) The website states that it is built to be taken in or out, which is very handy.
The quality is outstanding; I find the stitch work to be particularly impressive near the hem. As someone who does live in the petite range of things (being 5’0″ and all), the size 6 was perfect and I did not feel like it cut off circulation or was in any way uncomfortable or too long. It was perfectly made for my size, though, I will confess to not usually struggling with sizing issues except for length.
My only criticism with the capris is that they are slightly sheerer, meaning, depending on what kind of undergarments you are wearing, they may come through the fabric. I could not wear my typical boyshorts with these, but a thong pairs nicely and is undetectable. I do not currently own any vintage/vintage-inspired undergarments, so I do not have the ability to test with that, though, I’m not sure it would make a difference. If the fabric was more opaque, I’d consider this perfect and would purchase in every color. This being said, I would still not hesitate to wear these to work, but I would be prepared to wear specific undergarments with them.
SilkenTwine does make them in a variety of sizes on up to size 16 Australian (which is comparable to a L in US sizes and is approximately size 12 US) and provides a sizing chart on her page. It would be nicer to see them in a larger size variety for more plus sized folk, but if you are within this range, it’s definitely something to look into.
She also has the capris in a variety of colors and other items, and I plan on purchasing the above ankle length black capris shortly.
In short, I had a great experience with buying from and wearing the capris, and have no issues recommending purchasing from them. They’re comfortable, great vintage reproduction staple pieces, and affordable. All of which are more than enough to keep me as a repeat customer.