Saturday, May 12, 2018

Lip Liner: An Overdue Appreciation

It will surprise none of my regular readers to learn that if I could wear only one category of makeup for the rest of my life, it would be lipstick. (I could probably use nude lipstick as undereye concealer, right?...right?) I wear lipstick every single day. I've tried almost every color category of lipstick. I created a lipstick taxonomy, for God's sake. But despite my passion for lipstick, a passion that has lasted the better part of a decade, I didn't use lip liner until fairly recently. The reason will sound a little neurotic, because it is: I wanted to experience each of my lipsticks in its "purest" form, without adulteration. If I bought a lipstick, it was because I loved that particular mixture of pigments and respected the craftsmanship behind it. I didn't want anything to alter the delicate balance of warm and cool tones in NARS Mysterious Red or the subtle dustiness of Urban Decay Backtalk.

But tastes change, and sometimes it takes me a while to figure out how unflattering a lipstick truly is. That happened last year when I was trying to use up Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Streak, a slightly sheer pinkish peach. I realized that Streak had a white base that clashed with my cool olive undertones, and that I'd be better served by a muted peach. But I was so close to finishing the tube; I couldn't give up now! Enter lip liner. A layer of Milani Color Statement Lip Pencil in Nude, a deep MLBB shade, neutralized Streak's white base and produced a more flattering brownish peach.

Around the same time, I discovered that liquid lipsticks looked less wonky when I took the time to outline my lips with liner in a similar shade. That was the period when I was falling in love with the Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuits, and I ended up buying lip liners to go with Missy & Fierce and Nice to Fuchsia. I took to outlining my lips with a pencil, smudging that line inward, and then applying the liquid lipstick just to the inside of the line; or else applying the lipstick first, then penciling in a line to clean up the edges.

I present all these methods as if they're glorious revelations, but they're literally how you use lip liner; I was just too stubborn and lazy to learn. Now, a year later, I have a respectable collection of seven lip liners, one in almost every color category. And what better way to express my newfound appreciation of lip liner than with a post featuring the whole family? From left to right, we have NYX Slim Lip Pencils in Pumpkin, Mauve, Cabaret, and Bloom; Milani Color Statement Lipliners in Nude and True Red; and Barry M Lip Liner in Plum.
Lip liner: not the most photogenic beauty product.

(Even within this tiny sample size, there's disagreement over whether "lip[]liner" is one or two words. Personally, I incline toward "lip liner," but then I run into the awkwardness of having to hyphenate the phrase when I use it adjectivally, as in "lip-liner collection." That looks pretentious, but it's correct, damn it.)

Swatches, top to bottom: NYX Pumpkin, Milani True Red, NYX Bloom, NYX Cabaret, NYX Mauve, Milani Nude, Barry M Plum:


These three formulas are quite distinct from each other, which is convenient for review purposes. I've tried just the one shade from Barry M (£2.99), and I'd say it has the driest formula of the three. It's a very traditional lip pencil: good for outlining, but a bit too dry and patchy to use all over the lips. The Milani liners ($3-$5) lie at the other end of the texture range: they're very soft and creamy, which makes them good for filling in lips but less good for outlining. As you can see from the photo of Nude above, it's almost impossible to sharpen these liners into fine points. Finally, the NYX liners ($3-4-ish) are somewhere in the middle: fairly creamy and opaque, yet hard enough to retain a fine point and sticky enough to hold lipstick in place. (Note: these are the Slim Lip Pencils, not the slightly pricier Suede Matte Lip Liners, which are terrible.) The only other formula I've tried is the ColourPop Lippie Pencil (cringe). Frenchie didn't impress me much, but I have another shade, 951, on the way as we speak. Now that ColourPop has had three years to tweak its formulas, I'm hoping the lip pencils have improved. Review to come! Probably!

For the record, lip liner is one of the beauty products, along with mascara and lip gloss, for which I refuse to pay non-drugstore prices. I've heard great things about Kevyn Aucoin's Flesh Tone Lip Pencils and Charlotte Tilbury's Lip Cheats, but I'm not going to drop $25 on a lip pencil when $3 NYX pencils do the job just as beautifully and come in a wider array of shades. (I say this now, but check back with me in six months.)
And now for some individual reviews, in alphabetical order! To give a better idea of the colors, I've applied each liner all over my lips, but I don't wear most of them that way. I'm assessing these lip liners as lip liners, not as lipsticks, so it's not a dealbreaker if they're not perfectly opaque in the swatches below.

1. Barry M Plum


Color Description: Dark purple.
Favorite Pairings: Wet n Wild Goth Topic. It also works decently for MAC Antique Velvet, but isn't quite brown enough.

2. Milani Color Statement Lipliner in Nude


Color Description: Pinkish beige.
Favorite Pairings: Revlon Rosy Future, Wet n Wild Nudist Peach.
Notes: This is by far my most-used liner, though its creaminess makes it better for all-over coverage than for precise outlining. When I wear it under gloss, my lips look...pretty. They look almost sensual. And, as the owner of smallish WASPy lips that (to the best of my knowledge) have never once been described as "sensual," I need all the help I can get. Where Nude really comes in handy, though, is for muting too-bright coral lipsticks. Below, we have a creepy triptych of Nudist Peach on its own (top), Nude on its own (middle), and Nudist Peach layered over Nude (bottom). If you wear one "nude" lip product over another one, do your lips become extra-nude, or do the two nudes cancel each other out?  I could probably get a Nobel Prize for figuring out that one.


And a full face with Nudist Peach over Nude:


3. Milani Color Statement Lipliner in True Red


Color Description: Bright blue-based red.
Favorite Pairing: Wet n Wild Missy and Fierce.
Notes: This is another creamy liner that could work as a lipstick in a pinch, though it feels too thick and waxy to wear that way.

4. NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Bloom


Color Description: Bright magenta.
Favorite Pairing: Wet n Wild Nice to Fuchsia.

5. NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Cabaret


Color Description: Muted berry red.
Favorite Pairings: Maybelline Smoking Red, MAC D for Danger, MAC Eugenie.
Notes: This is my second-favorite lip liner, with the chameleonic ability to adapt to most colors I pair it with. I always want to call it "Cabernet" instead of "Cabaret," though. Doesn't that make more sense?

6. NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Mauve


Color Description: Brownish pink with a hint of taupe. Cooler-toned than Milani Nude. Not mauve. I'm not sure there are more than five people currently working in the beauty industry who know what mauve is.
Favorite Pairings: Pat McGrath Madame Greige, Urban Decay Backtalk.

7. NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Pumpkin

Color Description: Red-orange with gold pearl.
Favorite Pairing: No idea.
Notes: I've owned this for three years (original review here), and have literally never worn it out of the house. I'm not even sure what prompted me to buy it in the first place.

And that's it! Let's talk about lip liner. Do you use it? Do you write it as one or two words? Do you think high-end liners really are worth it (ladies of The Beauty Blackout, I'm looking at you)?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spring Lipstick Destash

Destashing makeup is emotionally hard for me year-round, but it becomes a little easier in the spring, as do most things. The lengthening days bring a new zest for self-improvement: I exercise more, I consume less sugar and alcohol, and I grow more decisive about streamlining my makeup collection. I recently decided to destash eight (!) neglected lipsticks, as well as a lip balm and an eyeshadow. Here are most of the victims:


In this post, I'll outline my reasons for parting with these products, as well as the lessons each one taught me. I've linked to my original reviews where available: brace yourself for some potato-quality photos from 2014! (Not that my current photos are Temptalia-level clear, but they're a little better.)

First, the lipsticks. L-R: NYX Amethyst, Maybelline Gunmetal, NYX Alabama, Kiko Chocolate, Revlon Fuchsia, & Other Stories Droguet Purple.


Swatches, same order:


Next, MAC Candy Yum-Yum (left) and Rebel. These are missing from my other photos because I took advantage of the Back 2 MAC program and traded them in, along with four empty MAC tubes, for a new lipstick. More on that in my next post! However, I scooped out the product and put it into a couple of tiny jars before I returned the tubes, in case of returner's regret. (I'm not going to regret trading them in. I'm just crazy.)


Since I'm always curious what people do with their destashed makeup, a word on that. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to throw this stuff away. In an earlier destash post, I mentioned sending used makeup to Project Beauty Share, but I'm an idiot and didn't read the instructions carefully enough: the organization does not accept used lipstick. I'd feel silly selling any of the lipsticks, since some of them are quite old and none of them was particularly expensive. As someone who grew up without much money (and still doesn't have much money), I find it kind of excruciating to throw away perfectly good makeup, but it has to be done. Let this be a reminder not to add products to my collection willy-nilly!

1. Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia (Summer 2013)

When Revlon discontinued its glossy, moisturizing Colorburst formula in 2013, I bought a backup of Fuchsia, my favorite shade in the range. Well, here we are five years later, and I have yet to wear my backup more than once or twice. (I didn't finish my initial tube, either, but tossed it because I'd bought it circa 2011.) The Colorburst formula is indeed great, but I just don't wear bright colors in shiny formulas anymore, and I rarely wear hot pink lipstick at all. I wish I'd bought one of the MLBB Colorburst shades instead.

Lesson: Don't buy backups of color makeup. Like, ever. Trends and personal tastes change constantly, and your holy grail at 24 will almost certainly not be your holy grail at 30.

2. MAC Matte Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum (Summer 2013)

Another hot pink I bought in 2013. Candy Yum-Yum is a striking color in a comfortable, opaque matte formula, but I've come to realize that the shade's white base clashes with my cool olive undertones. I tried on Candy Yum-Yum recently with no other makeup, and my undereye circles seemed to double in size and darkness. This isn't a great photo, but it gives you some idea:


Plus, as I mentioned above, I don't wear hot pink very often these days. When I do, I prefer a more reddish pink in a matte formula, like NARS Let's Go Crazy.

Lesson: Avoid any lip color with a white base. (I've learned that lesson many times over, but I keep going back for more.)

3. NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama (Summer 2014)

It's amazing how dramatically lipstick formulas have improved in four years, and how dramatically my standards have risen along with them. What seemed like an exemplary drugstore lipstick in 2014 seems mediocre in 2018. I wore Alabama yesterday and, though I still loved the color, I was struck by how heavy and slippery the formula felt on my lips. The tube is as cheaply made and difficult to use as every other NYX lipstick tube in existence (the bullet twists down during application, for instance). And because we're heading into spring and summer, I won't have much use for a dark brick red in the near future. If I do find myself wanting a similar color, NARS Cruella will do just as well. I might buy a brick red in a better formula this fall, but for now, I feel okay about letting Alabama go.

Lesson: No more NYX lipsticks. (I've learned that lesson many times over, too. Maybe this time it will stick.)

4. & Other Stories Lipstick in Droguet Purple (Fall 2014)

I've held on to this lipstick for so long not because I enjoy wearing it (it's given me trouble from the start), but because it reminds me of September 2014, when my boyfriend and I spent a halcyon few weeks house- and cat-sitting for his friends in London. The weather was perfect almost every day, we visited Borough Market once or twice a week and played lots of table tennis in Kennington Park, and I decided for some reason that I needed a dark purple lipstick. I decided to get one in a non-matte formula because I didn't want to emphasize the dryness of my lips, but I erred in the other direction. Droguet Purple is slippery and a bit sheer, which would be fine in a lighter color but is not cute in a vampy purple. Also, despite my love for dark lip colors, I'm not a huge fan of straight-up dark purples. They're not unflattering on me, but I prefer a little more warmth.

Lesson: Don't buy dark lipsticks in shiny formulas, don't buy dark purples period, and don't let a lipstick take up shelf real estate for three and a half years because it reminds you of a nice time in your life. (Or maybe do. I'm not the boss of you. And it was a nice time.)

5. NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst (Spring 2016)

I love this color, but it's screamingly bright and I never reach for it. I've worn it out of the house maybe three times in two years. I considered saving it for Pride this year, but let's be real: I hate crowds and have gone to an actual Pride event twice in my life.

Lesson: At this point in my lipstick-wearing career, it's silly to buy a crazy color "just to try." I've tried pretty much every color that I'd actually wear in public.

6. MAC Satin Lipstick in Rebel (Fall 2016)

This was a gift from a good friend from grad school, who sent me a lipstick of my choice in exchange for my shipping her some books. I requested Rebel because of my longtime love for magenta, and the color was indeed perfect, but the formula just never worked for me. Rebel's top layer transferred and smeared everywhere, while its bottom layer stained my lips hot pink for a day or two after I removed it. I once spent ten minutes talking to my advisor in a coffee shop only to realize after he'd left that I'd had a smudge of Rebel on my forehead the whole time. How did it even get there?

Lesson: Be wary of magenta lipstick in general: this is the third magenta that's behaved badly on my lips (the other two being NARS Angela and Revlon Crush). And avoid the MAC Satin formula.

7. Kiko Velvet Passion Matte Lipstick in Chocolate (Spring 2017)

I had no opportunity to swatch this color, but I fell in love with it online despite various bloggers' warnings about patchiness. And...yeah, I should have listened. The bizarrely named Chocolate is a dusty brownish purple that complements my coloring (as you can see, it's gotten some wear!), but it doesn't apply smoothly and it clings to every dry spot on my lips. And now that I have Pat McGrath Madame Greige, I don't need to keep a similar shade in an inferior formula.

Lesson: Don't order a lipstick you can't swatch first, unless it's in a formula you trust, and it's probably a bad idea even then.

8. Maybelline Matte Metallic Lipstick in Gunmetal (Winter 2018)

I've never mentioned this lipstick on the blog. Never even worn it out of the house. Everything about it fills me with embarrassment, not least the manner in which I purchased it: in the middle of my lipstick no-buy, because it was only about $2 with CVS coupons. The name "Gunmetal" led me to believe it would be a dirty silver, but it's actually a grayish teal. It's exactly the same color as NYX Stone Fox but with chunky shimmer, and it looks clumpy and unattractive on my lips. This is one of those "what was I THINKING" purchases that I assumed I'd grown out of. I guess not!

Lesson: Again, stop buying wacky colors like this. If I'm going to wear a shade just once or twice a year, I'd rather mix my own using products I already have. And don't buy makeup just because it's cheap. This is some Makeup Rehab 101 shit.

My other two destashes are Glossier Balm Dotcom in Birthday and ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Eye Candy. After almost a year of occasional use, I have to face facts: Birthday's buttery vanilla fragrance is just too strong for me. And I think I'm sensitive to some ingredient in the Balm Dotcom formula (lanolin, maybe?), because Birthday and the original Balm Dotcom not only fail to hydrate my lips, but actually dry them out further. Eye Candy is a nice lilac-pink glitter that I should have used more, but it's now over two years old and completely dried out. Let's hope I wear Ladybird more often before it suffers the same fate.

That leaves me with a fairly manageable stash of 43 lipsticks. And for the record, I'm still effectively on a lipstick no-buy. If anything, thinning out my collection has made me more excited to stay on my no-buy and enjoy what I have, which is exactly what destashing should accomplish.
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Sunday, April 8, 2018

ColourPop Butterfly Collection, Part 2: Lux Lipstick in Dream Easy and Super Shock Shadow in Ladybird

(Part 1 here.)

Coral was the trendy lipstick color when I first got into makeup around 2012, and I must have imprinted on that cultural moment, because I've been searching for a flattering coral lipstick ever since. So far, I've had the most luck with muted, brownish corals like Maybelline Naked Coral, which I bought almost exactly a year ago. But sometimes I want to wear one of those bright, juicy pinky-red corals, something like Marc Jacobs So Sofia, which I bought almost exactly two years ago and returned soon thereafter. My heart and soul belong to vampy lip colors, but there are days when I crave the vivid retro pop that only coral-pink can deliver. So my search continues.

So Sofia wasn't my best color, but it was a beautiful color, and I probably would have kept it if it hadn't cost me $30. So when I noticed that one of the $7 Lux Lipsticks in ColourPop's spring collection was almost identical to So Sofia, I pounced. Despite my mixed (generally bad) luck with ColourPop's lip formulas in the past, I was curious about the new, slightly pricier Lux formula, which had received positive reviews overall. The initial Lux launch didn't contain many colors that appealed to me, and I was on a lipstick no-buy anyway, but I couldn't resist Dream Easy two months later. (That was shortly before my no-buy ended on March 31, but hey.) In this post, I'll be reviewing Dream Easy along with Ladybird, one of the Super Shock Shadows from the spring collection.


The Lux Lipsticks are only $2 more than ColourPop's original lipsticks, the Lippie Stix, but CP spent that $2 well. Each lipstick is 0.12 oz, as opposed to 0.04 oz. per Lippie Stix. That means the Luxes are actually cheaper per ounce, with much nicer packaging: sturdy rose-gold plastic tubes with star-embossed bullets. (I wonder if the rose-gold coating will rub off with time. We'll see!) The Lux Lipsticks in the Butterfly Collection come in beautiful blue-and-white-striped boxes printed with butterflies.


ColourPop describes Dream Easy as a "soft coral red." Like most ColourPop color descriptions, this is not strictly accurate. If this coral is "soft," I can't imagine what a bright coral would look like. However, it does lack a pronounced white base. There's some white in there, but Dream Easy doesn't quite slip into neon territory, which is good news for me.


As I suspected, Dream Easy is very close to So Sofia: a rich, bold, warm reddish pink. In fact, I'd even venture to call it a dupe. It's a little redder than So Sofia on my lips, but no one needs both. Dream Easy has great pigmentation, with full coverage in one swipe:


And here's Dream Easy swatched between Maybelline Naked Coral (left) and Topshop Rio Rio (right). It's much pinker than Rio Rio, and not even in the same reef as Naked Coral.



I'm very impressed with the Lux formulamore than I thought I'd be, frankly, given my history with ColourPop's lipsticks. The formula is practically scent- and taste-free, with an almost undetectable vanilla fragrance. Dream Easy has a subtle, appealing shine when first applied, but it sets to a semi-matte finish. It lasts several hours, through drinking and talking, and most of it remained on my lips even after ice cream. It was comfortable and non-drying. Like, I have no complaints. I definitely want to try more shades in this formula. Here it is just after application:


But how does it look on my face, you ask? Like this:


I freely admit that this is not my most flattering color. It's not unflattering, exactly, but it does tend to give me the dreaded "floating lips" effect. But also? I don't really care. This shade of coral makes me happy, damn it! No other color of lipstick feels quite as summery and carefree as a bright coral. I haven't been wearing Dream Easy much because it still looks and feels like winter here, and I don't think coral lipstick looks its best on gloomy, rainy dayssomething about the quality of the light when it's filtered through layers and layers of cloud. But once the weather brightens, Dream Easy will get a lot more wear. In the future, I'll try balancing it out with bolder eye makeup, which I think will lessen the wax-lips illusion.

I'm equally happy with Ladybird, a Super Shock Shadow in the Ultra Glitter finish. First, look at that box. The eyeshadow is the beetle's body! Reminds me of the Victorian craze for beetle jewelry.


Ladybird has a very sheer peachy-gold sheer base packed with finely milled white-gold glitter. Nothing about that color combination says "ladybird" to me, but we're all familiar with ColourPop's nonsensical shade names by now. I can only assume that their naming system involves drunken games of Mad Libs.

ZOMG TINY BUTTERFLIES

It's almost impossible to photograph an arm swatch of Ladybird, but here's my best attempt. Because the base is so sheer, most of the pigment that you see on my skin comes from the glitter.


Swiped on (right), then blended out (left):


Below, I used Ladybird as the centerpiece of the laziest possible halo eye: I applied ABH Warm Taupe everywhere but the center of the lid, then used my finger to dab Ladybird on top and blend it into the matte shade. My lipstick is Maybelline Raging Raisin.


Ladybird also works as an all-over lid shade, though I prefer it as a topper for more opaque shadows. Here I'm wearing it with just a bit of NYX Brown Perfection liner smudged on the upper lashline.


Ladybird has some fallout (I mean, of course it does: it's almost pure glitter), but because the glitter is so light-colored and tiny, it's not very noticeable on my face. Otherwise, I can't think of any drawbacks to this shade. Because it's so sheer and neutral-toned, I can imagine it cooperating with almost any combination of shadows, cool or warm.

Before this order, I'd long since given up on following ColourPop's flood of new releases, and I didn't visit their website more than once a month or so. But my experience with the spring collection may have drawn me back in. Which is dangerous! I'm still going to limit my ColourPop purchases, since I'm not a huge fan of ordering beauty products that I can't swatch first or return, but I'm feeling a lot more positive about the brand than I was even a month ago.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ColourPop Spring 2018 Butterfly Collection, Part 1: Face Duo in Winging It

For the past few years, I've been performing two beauty-related rites of spring. The first rite involves destashing a bunch of lipsticks (more on that soon). The second rite consists of searching for a pinky-red coral lipstick and a lavender blush. Those searches usually end in failure, though for different reasons. There are thousands of coral lipsticks on the market, but only a small percentage of corals flatter me. Most lavender and lavender-pink blushes flatter me, but only a small percentage of blushes are lavender. I've tried so many coral lipsticks that made me look dead and so many blushes that promised lavender but delivered neutral pink. I should have learned my lesson by now. Yet every spring, without fail, I take up the quest again.

This year's coral lipstick and lavender blush come from the same source: ColourPop's Spring 2018 Butterfly Collection. Like many ColourPop collections, it comprises an overwhelming number of new products: eight Lux Lipsticks, six Lippie Stix, 14 Super Shock Shadows, a few sets of different combinations of those shadows, and three blush/highlighter duos. I ordered the Lux Lipstick in Dream Easy, the face duo in Winging It, and the Super Shock Shadow in Ladybird, a sheer pale gold with silvery glitter (still haven't abandoned that fantasy of k-pop-worthy sparkle). I also bought the Super Shock Shadow in Muse, a metallic rose gold, which is from the permanent collection. This post will focus on Winging It, and I'll review Dream Easy and Ladybird in a second post, which should go up over the weekend.

Most of the Butterfly Collection's packaging is adorable, with embroidered-looking butterflies and beetles on bright backgrounds. Even the Super Shock Shadows have tiny butterflies printed on the lids! I appreciate the attention to detail, especially from a brand with a low (though steadily rising) price point.

Clockwise from top: Muse, Ladybird, Winging It, Dream Easy.

Of the four products in my haul, Winging It ($16) excited me most. I would have preferred to buy the blush without the highlighter, but since I didn't own a lavender highlighter, I was happy to try that as well. Winging It is called a "Pressed Powder Face Duo" on the ColourPop website and a "Highlighting Cheek Duo" on the packaging, which is confusing; I hope ColourPop makes up its mind about the name before releasing more duos.

I was disappointed to discover thar the cute butterfly packaging is a removable sleeve. Slide it off and you're faced with a boring white cardboard compact resembling a factory prototype. For $16, I'd expect at least a half-assed metallic butterfly stamped on the lid.


On the bright side, the blah packaging gave me an excuse to use one of the cute stickers I hoard. This one is by Joanna Behar, who also makes adorable enamel pins.


Winging It consists of a satin-finish blush called Whirl, a "soft lilac," and a powder highlighter called Swirl, an "icy metallic lilac." As we all know by now, ColourPop's product shots are comically inaccurate. On the website, the two shades look very pale and very similar to each other; in real life, they're significantly deeper, and Swirl is warmer-toned and more muted than Whirl. The face duos deliver a hefty amount of product: 0.25 oz per pan, 0.5 oz total. (By contrast, Urban Decay blushes are 0.23 oz and NARS blushes are 0.16 oz.) A mirror in the compact would have been nice, but we can't have it all.


A closer look:


In action, the two shades resemble one another more closely. They lean pinker on my cool-toned skin than they do in the pan, but they're still comfortably within lavender territory. On warmer-toned people, they'll probably pull more violet.


And here they are swatched alongside a few other blushes that let me down in past springs by not being lavender. L-R: Swirl, Whirl, NARS Mata Hari, NARS Threesome, Glossier Puff.


This photo (taken in direct sunlight) is less color-accurate, but it does a better job of showcasing Whirl's slightly shinier finish compared to the other blushes:


Whirl has an odd texture, one that I see more often in eyeshadows than in blushes: soft, loosely pressed, and almost crumbly, with intense pigmentation. I'm not devastated about this, given that my last true lavender blush was practically invisible on my skin, but I do have to be careful with my brush. One small tap is all I need, and I have to blend out the product hard if I don't want doll cheeks. However, I'm delighted to report that Whirl is exactly the color I was looking for all those years! Below, I'm wearing it without highlighter, along with Glossier Lidstar in Fawn and Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Backtalk.


Despite my usual preference for cream highlighters, I'm enjoying Swirl as well. It's almost as pigmented as Whirl, so I have to be careful while building it up on my skin. Like other powder highlights I've tried, it does emphasize texture on my cheeks, and it's a little more metallic than the highlighters I usually wear. But it's really pretty! In natural light, it looks more silvery than lavender, but in artificial light, the purple comes through. Because it's on the dark side for me, I like applying it a bit forward on the cheekbones, so that it functions as a blush topper. (Ugh, I hate that phrase and never thought I'd use it except to complain about it. Forgive me.)

Here's Swirl in natural light, with a nude cream blush (Illamasqua Zygomatic). Excuse my daft expression; it's not easy to take good closeup shots of a sliver of your face. I'm also wearing Glossier Fawn (again! I can't stop!) and Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia.


Same day (today, in fact), in bright artificial light:


Finally, here's Swirl layered on top of Whirl for the perfect fairytale cheek. My lipstick is MAC Rebel, which I'm thinking about destashing: I just don't get along with the formula, which feels weirdly thick and slippery and stains my lips something fierce.


Anyway! Quibbles with formula and packaging aside, I'm very pleased with the Winging It duo (even if ColourPop did use the phrase "first thing's first" [sic] in the product description). My search for lavender blush is over...well, until next spring.
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Glossier Lidstar Eyeshadows in Cub, Fawn, and Moon

I purchased this product with store credit earned through my Glossier affiliate link. I am not a Glossier rep.

Avid Glossier followers know that the best source for upcoming releases is Glossier's trademarks page. When the name "Lidstar" appeared there about a year ago, I surmised that Glossier was developing a shimmery eyeshadow. That product finally materialized earlier this month, on the eyelids of a handful of celebrities at the Oscars. (Beyoncé also wore Lidstar at the Grammys back in January, but Glossier revealed only that she was "wearing __ in __." Ooh, mysterious!) Launching new makeup at awards shows is apparently Glossier's Thing now, and while I find it a little tacky, I can't deny that paying Sir John to put Lidstar on Beyoncé is a pretty freaking effective way to market your product. I also can't deny that I was excited about this particular release. I tend to like Glossier's approach to color makeup, and an eye product was long overdue. And I'd never used liquid eyeshadow, so I was curious what I'd make of the formula.

L-R: Cub, Fawn, Moon.

Glossier advertises Lidstar as "[l]ess shadow, more glow...Each shadow lights up eyes with a wash of twinkling color, thanks to custom-blended colorways of coated pigment and floating multicolor pearl." To me, this sounded like a liquid shadow with a sheer base and pronounced sparkle, perfect for the delicate glittery looks you see all the time in k-beauty. Here's a helpful closeup from a recent music video by new girl group LOONA:


Lidstar ($18 for one, $30 for two) comes in six shades: Cub, described as "a rose gold with warm shimmer effect"; Fawn, "a cool, smoky taupe with violet and neutral gold pearls"; Herb, "a smoky green with yellow gold pearl"; Lily, "a sheer lilac base with blue and violet pearls"; Moon, "the sheerest cream base with blueish opalescent glitter"; and Slip, "a sheer baby pink with gold highlight effect." Frankly, this array of shades feels a bit dated to me: five out of the six are cool-toned, and there's no bronze or brown in evidence. And I say this as a cool-toned person! I'm curious whether warmer-toned people feel that they can wear these shades.

For my first Lidstar experience, I limited myself to three shades: Cub, Fawn, and Moon. I waffled a bit between Moon and Slip, but I was really curious about Moon's "blueish opalescent glitter," and the description of Slip made it sound like a shadow I already owned, Kiko Golden Mauve.


The Lidstars come in standard Glossier blush-pink cardboard boxes with white lettering:


The bottles, designed to look like test tubes, are made of sturdy-feeling plastic. The cap closes securely. I had no problem opening and closing the tubes, but I think I got lucky: Renee, for one, has reported struggling with the lids. As usual with Glossier, I think the packaging is cute and nicely portable, but slightly cheaper-looking than I'd expect for the price point.

I can totally imagine that "Glossier" lettering rubbing off in a few weeks.

Edit, 4/24: While putting on Fawn today, I noticed that the cap had cracked badly. I inspected my two other Lidstars, and Cub had an even deeper crack. Keep in mind that these two shadows have lived on my shelf since their arrival a mere month ago. I don't carry them with me during the day. I may have taken Fawn on one overnight trip (I can't quite recall), but still, this is unacceptable. Glossier, you're not a tiny indie brand on Etsy. If you can afford to put your products on Beyoncé at the Oscars, you can MORE than afford to improve your packaging.


The applicator is a small, fluffy doefoot. I've tried dabbing the product directly onto my lids, but I find it much easier to swipe it onto my finger first, then blend out.


Before I review each shade individually, I'll give some thoughts on the formula as a whole. First, let me be clear: this is a sheer eyeshadow! Fawn and Cub are more pigmented than Moon, but they still require at least two coats for anything approaching opacity. Moon is never going to come close to opaque. The descriptions and photos on Glossier's website indicate that Lidstar is meant to deliver a subtle, slightly undone look, and I'm going to take it on those terms in my review.

That said, Lidstar diverges from the website description in one important way: it's not as sparkly as advertised, unless you're standing right under artificial light. Fawn approaches k-pop levels of ethereal glitter, but Moon has more of a sheen, and Cub dries down to a satin formula that actually looks matte in some lights. I'd been looking forward to trying Lidstar as the center of a halo eye or as a glitter topper for matte shadows, but it's not remotely suited to those purposes.

As I've mentioned ad nauseam on this blog, my eyelids wreak havoc with many eyeshadow formulas. I'm only 30, but I have lids that might be described euphemistically as "mature": full of creases, folds, and wrinkles. So I had some apprehension about Lidstar: Would the formula gather in the creases? Would it flake off weirdly? Would it look messy, like, not chic-messy but busted-messy? I'm pleased to report that for the more pigmented shades, Cub and Fawn, my fears were misplaced. Being fairly sheer, those shades don't exactly disguise my creases, but they don't emphasize them, either. Moon gives me more trouble (more on that later), but I don't think Cub and Fawn are bad choices for textured lids.

The formula spreads smoothly across my lids and takes about a minute to dry down. I've tried all the shades both on their own and over my usual eyeshadow primer, Urban Decay Primer Potion, and I've noticed zero difference in wear time or fallout levels. With or without primer, Lidstar lasts all day with minimal fallout and creasing (granted, I don't have especially oily lids). If anything, the stickiness of the primer makes the shadow harder to spread across my lids. I never wear primer with cream shadow, so I'm not surprised that I don't need it with liquid shadow, either. Because Fawn has the largest sparkles, it also has the most fallout, but not enough to be noticeable at a normal speaking distance.

Now for the individual shades!

Cub is a very warm rose gold that verges on copper. On my cool-toned skin, it leans more orange than I'd prefer, and I wonder why Glossier made Cub so warm-toned when the other shades are cool. It wouldn't be easy to wear Cub in a look with any of the other Lidstars, except maybe Slip, which I haven't personally tried. Here's Cub (left) swatched next to one of my favorite single eyeshadows, Seventeen Statuesque, which is pinker and more muted:


The arm swatch makes Cub look almost metallic, but once it dries down on my lids, its sheen is quite subtle. It's the most evenly pigmented of the three, and the one I'd recommend most enthusiastically; it's just not an amazing color for my complexion. Here I'm wearing it as a one-and-done shadow with Tarte Paaarty blush, Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce, and wet hair because I remain inept at timing my blog-selfie sessions:

My Marceline pin (!!) is from the brilliantly named Girl Fawkes Pins.

Fawn is my favorite of the three, though it's a far cry from the "cool, smoky taupe with violet and neutral gold pearls" described on the website. It's gray, people. It's a shimmery gray that leans slightly purple. I see no evidence of "pearls" or "violet" or "neutral gold." Do you? Am I blind?


Fawn harmonizes nicely with my plum, purple, and cool-toned nude lipsticks, including my current favorite, Pat McGrath Madame Greige. This is Fawn on its own, without any eyeliner or other eyeshadow:


Fawn swatched between NARS Lhasa (left) and Kiko Rosy Brown (right):


Finally, Moon. Sigh. The color is unusual, I'll give it that. Moon has a very pale gold base with a blue sheen that's much more noticeable on my lids than it is in the tube or an arm swatch. Here's Moon swatched between ABH Vermeer (left) and Topshop Holograph (right):


If your lids are as smooth as the inside of my forearm, you might be pleased with Moon. If you have lids with any lines or texture at all (and most people do), you're probably going to struggle. Unlike Cub and Fawn, Moon doesn't disperse evenly across my lids. It clumps up on itself and pools in the creases, producing a milky-looking mess. I can get it to semi-behave if I apply a very thin (basically invisible) layer, wait a minute for it to dry, then go in with another layer. I don't hate how it looks here, but I don't love it, either:


Instead of wearing Moon all over the lid, I prefer using it in conjunction with Fawn. I place Fawn on the outer half of my lid and Moon on the inner half, blending them in the middle with my finger (see below). You could also dab it lightly on top of Fawn or another shadow for some added glimmer.

Yes, I'm wearing Madame Greige again.

My final thoughts are...mixed. I don't hate the Lidstars. I've been wearing all three, especially Fawn, pretty frequently in the last few weeks. I love an eyeshadow that I can smear on lazily with my fingers, and the Lidstar formula lends itself well to my lifestyle, which can best be described by a pin that my friend Lucy gave me last weekend:


But do I think these are worth $18, or even 2 for $30? Not really. I don't think that's an unconscionable price (I'd rather pay $18 for a Lidstar than for a Generation G lipstick), but you'd be better served by picking up a Kiko eyeshadow stick for $9. Fawn and Cub are both decent shades, but I can't recommend Moon unless you have cartoon-smooth eyelids. Part of me wants to try Slip, but another part of me wants to save my store credit for the "Disco Lip" product that's been hanging out on Glossier's trademarks page for the past year. Now, that might deliver enough glitter to satisfy my trash-witch soul.