Friday, December 15, 2017

Gambles with Gloss: NYX Gingersnap and Revlon Rosy Future

In my personal taxonomy, most makeup falls into one of four categories: 1) products that I collect actively (lipstick, eyeshadow, nail polish); 2) products that I own in limited numbers because I use them very slowly and/or don't find them exciting (blush, highlighter, eyeliner); 3) products that I wear regularly but purchase only when I run out because they straight-up bore me (brow stuff, mascara, concealer); 4) products that simply have no place in my routine (foundation, bronzer, contour).

And then there's lip gloss.

I've been wearing it on and off for years, but I can't decide how I feel about it. I fall in love with a specific kind of gloss (opaque, sparkly, sheer, whatever); buy a few shades in that category; decide after a few months that gloss in general isn't for me; and then, about a year later, repeat the whole cycle of fickleness. In my early makeup-wearing days, I favored opaque cream-finish glosses in bold colors, like Revlon Fire and YSL Rouge Gouache (those potato-quality 2014 photos, yikes). Eventually, though, I realized that a glossy red or magenta mouth was a lot of look. It was pretty in selfies, but too impractical and overtly sexy for my shabby lifestyle ("lifestyle"). Inspired by Japanese beauty editorials, I switched to sheer washes of candy colors, such as the NYX Butter Glosses in Peach Cobbler and Raspberry Tart. I'm currently in my third gloss era, which involves semi-sheer berry and neutral shades, with or without shimmer. Here's my entire gloss collection, with the caveat that I've never worn the three rightmost shades out of the house:

L-R: Revlon Colorburst Lipgloss in Embellished, Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Rosy Future, NYX Butter Glosses in Tiramisu and Gingersnap, OCC Stained Gloss (discontinued) in Dune, Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss in Ultradior, and Urban Decay Revolution High-Color Gloss in Scandal.

Gloss has some definite advantages over lipstick. It's easier to apply, generally more moisturizing, and less likely to fade patchily or produce the dreaded "ring of death" around the lips. But I still associate it with my teenage years, a period not quite far enough in the past to seem appealingly retro. (I've noticed some aughts nostalgia floating around the makeup subreddits, but something tells me it's coming from people too young to remember 9/11.) Though I was more or less oblivious to makeup trends during the first half of the 2000s, I somehow owned lip gloss: a couple of those drugstore knockoffs of the Lancôme Juicy Tubes, clearish and slightly sparkly. Back then, lipstick was for older women like my mom, who never went anywhere without her tubes of L'Oreal Blushing Berry and Raspberries. Lip gloss was youthful, accessible, unfussy, modern.

Kim Kardashian, 2006 (source). Everyone knew she wore NARS lip gloss in Turkish Delight.

Of course, what seems modern and youthful in a given year will inevitably seem dated a decade later. I always feel a little uneasy when I wear lip gloss, as if I should also be wearing low-rise bootcut jeans, checkered Vans, and a Kerry/Edwards '04 button. But is it all that dated? I can't figure out the current semiotics of lip gloss. It never vanished from the shelves, but it did seem to fade from public consciousness for a few years, and now we're being assured repeatedly that it's about to return in triumph. Earlier this year, Glossier made its clear gloss permanent and insisted that "lip gloss was never gone. It was just waiting for its moment to return." (Those two statements would seem to contradict each other, but okay.) Rihanna's Fenty Beauty debuted last month with just one lip product, the Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in Fenty Glow, and no one complained about the lack of a matte liquid lipstick (though Fenty has since released one, of course). Is lip gloss in 2017 like brown lipstick in 2014, teetering on the border of outmoded and avant-garde? Or was it never out of fashion in the first place?

I don't have answers, but I do have two new glosses: NYX Butter Gloss in Gingersnap and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Rosy Future, also known as "that Fenty dupe."

L-R: OCC Dune, Rosy Future, Gingersnap, NYX Tiramisu. First photo in shade, second in sun.

I'm most susceptible to the allure of lip gloss in winter, when my lips are often chapped and cracked. Of all the gloss formulas I've tried over the years, NYX Butter Gloss is my favorite: hydrating, non-sticky, pigmented but not too pigmented, and supremely affordable. Back in October, I picked up Gingersnap, one of the darker Butter Gloss shades. It's a medium brown with a hint of plum, similar to Urban Decay's Vice Lipstick in Lawbreaker. Here's Gingersnap on the left and Lawbreaker on the right; they have very similar color payoff and longevity (i.e. not much of each), though Gingersnap is a slightly cooler brown.

One layer of Gingersnap delivers a subtle brownish MLBB color; you don't really get the color in the arm swatch above unless you build up the product a bit. Like most glosses, Gingersnap doesn't last more than a couple of hours. But it fades evenly and leaves my lips feeling moisturized, which is all I ask from a lip gloss. The NYX Butter Glosses are lightly vanilla-scented, but not perfumey enough to be problematic for me. Here's a lip swatch with a couple of layers:

And here's a full face from back in October. As you can see, Gingersnap reads as a tame MLBB on me. I can't remember exactly what other makeup I was wearing, but I'm pretty sure I have Makeup Geek Flamethrower (or is it Legend? they look indistinguishable on my skin) and some ABH Modern Renaissance shades on my eyes. In retrospect, I should have used a warmer-toned lip color with this eye look, but whatever.

With a cooler-toned look (Kiko Rosy Brown on my eyes, Urban Decay Rapture on my cheeks). Pardon the hat hair; I haven't really had time to take blog-worthy selfies.

Revlon Rosy Future has been around for a few years now, but it came to my attention only recently, when someone mentioned it on Reddit as a possible dupe for the Fenty Gloss Bomb.

I have mixed feelings about dupe-hunting (more on that in my next post), especially when there's not a huge price difference between the desired item and the dupe. But I was curious about the alleged resemblance between the two glosses, so I brought my tube of Rosy Future to Sephora and swatched it next to Fenty Glow. Revlon on the left, Fenty on the right:

Honestly, they're not all that similar. Rosy Future is a mauve-brown with white pearl; Fenty Glow is lighter, sheerer, and peachier, with warmer-toned, less densely packed shimmer. I didn't try the Sephora tester on my lips (shudder), but from the photos I've seen, Fenty Glow's shimmer is more understated on the lips than Rosy Future's. The two glosses are also quite different in formula. Fenty Glow has a sticky texture and a heavy caramel fragrance, two dealbreakers for me. Rosy Future isn't sticky at all, and it has an almost undetectable vanilla scent. Interestingly, they're about the same price per ounce: Fenty Glow is $18 for 0.30 oz (9 ml), while Rosy Future is between $5.50 and $8.50, depending on the retailer, for 0.13 oz. (3.8 ml). And since a sheer nude gloss is something you'll touch up more often than, say, a matte red lipstick, I think the price per ounce is relevant. If you really want Fenty Glow and don't care about the stickiness and strong scent, I don't see much point in seeking out Rosy Future, since it's not a color dupe and isn't even cheaper per ounce.

Since I didn't care much about Fenty Glow in the first place, I'm happy to appreciate Rosy Future on its own terms. It's such an easy color to wear, and I can see it suiting a wide range of skin tones. In a lip swatch, the pearly shimmer of Rosy Future is still quite apparent. At normal speaking distance, the shimmer diffuses into more of a glow. The base color doesn't change the color of my lips dramatically, but it does make them a bit warmer-toned:

On my (rare) nights out, I often wear a gloss instead of a lipstick to make eating less messy. Alas, I don't have any daylight shots of the look below, but at least I remembered to record exactly what makeup I was wearing. On my eyes, I have ABH Warm Sienna in the crease and on the lower lashline; ABH Cyprus Umber on the outer V; and MUG Legend on the lid. On my cheeks, I have Illamasqua Zygomatic blush and ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter. In this classy restroom shot, Rosy Future basically reads as a clear gloss:

And here's Rosy Future used in one of my infrequent forays into no-makeup makeup, along with Seventeen Statuesque and Urban Decay Cover eyeshadows; Tarte Paaarty blush; and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid in Opal, one of the best Sephora deluxe samples I've ever received. Rosy Future withstood two hours of normal drinking and talking, which is about average for a nude gloss.

How do you feel about lip glossis it due for a renaissance, or did it never really go away?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

YouTube Made Me Buy It: Wet n Wild Megaglo Highlighter in Precious Petals

Earlier this year, as I sat watching a YouTube makeup videoa review of some gimmicky product, maybe Farsali Unicorn Oil or Ciaté Glitter Flip lipsticksmy boyfriend walked past and wondered, "Do you actually buy anything you see on YouTube?" With some pride, I said no. I'm generally immune to YouTube hype, since most influencers gravitate toward products and looks that aren't even close to my style. I use their reviews and tutorials as a brain break, a 15-minute period during which I don't have to think about my dissertation defense (Dec. 7, bitches!) or Trump or Harvey Weinstein or whether I'll have a source of income next semester. But let me not be too smug. Watching consumerist videos for fun means participating in consumerism. It means that I come home from a day of passively absorbing the advertising that we all encounter as we move through the world, and I voluntarily expose myself to yet more advertising. And, inevitably, some of those messages worm their way into my cranium. If not for the gushing praise of YouTubers, I wouldn't have bought one of the most hyped-up products of 2016: Wet n Wild's Megaglo Highlighting Powder in Precious Petals.

Yes, I said 2016. I have yet to encounter a single Wet n Wild limited-edition display in the wild (if you will), so when the brand released Precious Petals and a darker peach highlighter, Crown of My Canopy, as LE products for spring 2016, I didn't even bother searching for them. It wasn't until Wet n Wild made the two shades permanent this spring that I began to consider buying Precious Petals. At $4.99, it wasn't exactly a big-ticket item, but I'm picky about highlighter. I don't wear it more than a few times a week, and I prefer cream formulas to powder ones. So I spent a month wearing an eyeshadow of a similar color on my cheekbones, and when I was satisfied that a peachy powder highlighter would fit into my makeup routine, I bought Precious Petals. (If only I were this discriminating about lipsticks.) I've now been using it for a few months, so I thought I'd use the waning hours of my Thanksgiving break to write up a review!

The Megaglo highlighters come in a cheap-looking square compact, though who cares when you've got that beautifully embossed pan? The lid doesn't snap shut as securely as I'd like, but since I don't travel with it (I prefer cream products for travel), no harm done.

Precious Petals has a slight duochrome effect, with a peachy pink base that shifts to a lighter, yellower peach. In the pan, it looks a little dark for me, but it sheers out nicely on my skin.

Here it is swatched with a finger on my arm. The formula has a stiffer, more powdery texture than I expected, but it's still workable.

And here's Precious Petals between theBalm Stubborn eyeshadow (top), which served as my practice peach highlighter, and ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Lunch Money.

Precious Petals is more opaque and metallic than either Stubborn or Lunch Money, and it's easy to see why YouTube types love it: a few layers of Precious Petals applied with a small round brush will produce that coveted BUH-LINDING shine. The thing is, I don't want to blind my enemies or send signals to Mars or whatever other metaphor YouTubers like to use. I prefer a subtle, diffused glow that's not immediately identifiable as highlighter. And that's the danger of succumbing to online hype: you end up with a product that might be perfectly fine in the abstract, but doesn't work for your own lifestyle or preferred aesthetic.

To sheer out Precious Petals, I apply it with my Sonia Kashuk fan brush. However, a fan brush (or perhaps just my fan brush?) isn't the best implement for this formula. The bristles don't pick up the product very well, so I always find myself applying more than one layer. Part of the problem, I think, is that the formula is quite granular. You can see the individual specks of shimmer in a swatch or on the cheekbone, and some of those specks are larger than others, which makes them less willing to cling to bristles. That brings me to another quibble: in direct light, especially artificial light, Precious Petals is not just shiny but sparkly. Here's two layers under fluorescent light:

Of course, it's not like I'm nuzzling up to a fluorescent beam in my daily life, so here's a closeup in indirect natural light. We're not talking full-on glitter, obviously, but trust me when I say that it's noticeably sparkly IRL. Say hi to my poorly blended concealer!

And here's my full face from today. I tried to use products I've been neglecting, so in addition to Precious Petals, we have two shades from Urban Decay Naked2 Basics (Skimp and Cover) on the eyes, with NYX Brown Perfection on the upper lashline and Cover on the lower lashline; Sleek blush in Flushed (not a neglected product: I use it multiple times a week in the fall!); and Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Mercy layered over NYX lip pencil in Cabaret. What do you know, I wrote my review of Mercy exactly a year ago! Wearing it today, I was reminded of its tendency to emphasize dryness and its extreme unwillingness to stick to the inner part of my lips. I have half a mind to destash it, actually.

Despite my complaints, I think Precious Petals is a good highlighter, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants an intense shine. For me, though, PP has been most serviceable as a reminder to think selfishly when I shop for makeup. Regardless of how a product works for a blogger or a YouTube reviewer, I need to consider how it will work for me. Will it suit my complexion and my lifestyle? Will it play nicely with the products I already own? Or is the person reviewing it so far from me in style, profession, and taste that I should think twice before snapping up a highlighter she loves? These days, I'm better at asking myself those questions before making a purchase. It's taken me years to reach this point, but it's a nice point to have reached.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lipstick Project Pan Update #1

Since my last post, I've crossed a few thresholds: the autumnal equinox, my 30th birthday, and my dissertation deadline. (For the record, 30 feels exactly like 29, and I was so busy in the weeks leading up to my birthday that I didn't even have time to freak out over becoming an Old.) Now that the worst of the semester is over, I think I'll have more time for blogging, though I doubt I'll be able to post more than once a week. At least that's better than never.

I thought I'd ease back into my posting schedule (if it even deserves that name) with a quick update to the Project Pan post I wrote two months ago. In early September, I resolved to pan four lipsticks by the end of the year: Glossier Generation Gs in Cake and Jam, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, and NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco. On September 8, the lipsticks looked like this:

L-R: Cake, Jam, Sultry, Flamenco.

Almost exactly two months later, they look like this:

As you can see, I've made significant progress on Jam and Sultry, each of which has maybe two days of wear left. I'm teaching a lot this semester, and Sultry is a great lipstick for situations in which I want to look as professional as a dirtbag grad student possibly can. I wore Sultry about twice a week in September and October and never felt that I was forcing myself to do so. I switched to darker lipsticks closer to Halloween, but now that fall break is almost over, I think I'll be able to finish Sultry in the next week. Here it is on a recent teaching day; I can't identify any of my other makeup except the eyeshadow on my lids, which is Seventeen Statuesque:

I rarely wear Jam as part of a full face, but I do like it as an "in-between" lipstick: sometimes I'm wearing a higher-maintenance color that I don't have time to reapply after it wears off, so I'll swipe on Jam and wear it until I find a chance to put on the bolder color again. Jam is also a good choice for running errands on days when I'm too lazy for anything but lips and maybe brows.

I've been having more trouble with the other two. Cake was simply a bad choice for a fall panning project, since I prefer deeper shades this time of year. I think I'm going to set it aside and try to pan it in the spring. And though I've worn Flamenco a few times since I started this project, it just doesn't work for my complexion or the looks I prefer. It's a little too bright and warm to flatter me, yet it doesn't quite commit to being a bright warm red. It has a hint of brown, yet it's not a brick red. It leans cool in most lights, yet it's not a pinky red. And while all this might indicate that it's a perfectly balanced neutral red, it's somehow not that, either. I can't believe I used to wear Flamenco almost every day (this is actually my second tube!). Funny how tastes change.

See what I mean? It just looks off. While I was scrolling through the photos on my phone yesterday, I stopped at the one above and thought, "Whoa, what's that awkward-looking red?" It was Flamenco, of course. Much as I hate to get rid of lipsticks in good condition, I decided at that moment to destash Flamenco. It's not terrible, but I have dozens of lipsticks that I absolutely love; I'm not going to waste my time on a mediocre one that's almost five years old.

I'll do one more update next month; by that time, I'll probably have finished Sultry and Jam!

Monday, October 2, 2017

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in So Quiche

Let's talk about ColourPop for a second. I shared my first impressions almost three years ago, back when online-only brands that used a fast-fashion production model were rare enough to seem sinister. These days, though, I feel more blasé about that aspect of ColourPop's identity. Yes, it's a bit sad that online-only brands with accelerated production cycles have largely done away with the concept of the "holy grail" product. (When was the last time you heard a makeup YouTuber use that term?) But there are problems with that concept, too, and let's face it: novelty is fun and ColourPop makes some genuinely good stuff. Ironically, their highlighter in Lunch Money is a holy grail of mine. I'm also impressed with the four powder shadows I've tried so far (haven't gotten around to reviewing those, sorry).

A few of my favorite CP products. I'm proud of that pan on Lunch Money!

However, I've mostly stopped visiting ColourPop's site, for the simple reason that they release too many fucking products. Too many formulas, too many colors, too many concepts. I don't know how people who keep up with the brand's launches have time for anything else. I'm as susceptible to novelty as the next makeup lover, but enough is enoughI get decision fatigue after about a minute on the site. Granted, I am an older millennial, and I wonder if younger makeup shoppers are less turned off by the constant flood of new releases. After all, the strategy is clearly working on someone! And I'll admit, there's a certain genius to it. When a brand offers such an enormous array of products, it's easy to feel relatively virtuous when you add just one product to your cart...okay, maybe two...but this rose-quartz priming spray looks interesting...and suddenly your checking account is $50 lighter. "But I'm buying so much less than I could buy," you think, "so I'm doing fine!" ColourPop's site is a satanic whirlpool of consumerism, and I find it a lot simpler to just not go there. (Plus, they don't even offer returns. Come on.)

Sometimes, though, ColourPop comes to me, and that's a lot less overwhelming. Earlier this year, a kind reader sent me some gently used makeup, including three ColourPop Super Shock Shadows: Hammered, Partridge, and So Quiche. Though I like them all, So Quiche is by far my favorite. In fact, it's quickly become one of my favorite single eyeshadows, period.

Despite my usual love for cream eyeshadows, I wasn't terribly impressed when I first tried the Super Shock formula back in 2015. The shimmer shades applied smoothly but were too glittery for my usual taste, while most of the mattes had a patchier, less blendable formula. And both the mattes and the shimmers dried out within a year or so, which didn't exactly make me want to stock up. So I was pleased to be able to play with three new shades this time, but I didn't expect to fall in love with any of them. Yet here I am, enamored of a grayish olive green crammed with fine fuchsia glitter. How?

What I enjoy most about So Quiche is the sheer weirdness of that color combination: a muddy, warm base color with a bright jewel-toned shift. It's like the classic blue-brown duochrome, but even more offbeat. There's something liminal about it: disco meets grunge, Guy Bourdin meets Kevyn Aucoin. In natural light (above), the base color is more prominent, but in artificial light (below), the pink pops into view.

Out of focus to show off the glitter.

So Quiche may look bizarre in the pan, but I find it surprisingly wearable. The base color isn't fully opaque, so it works well as a casual all-over lid color. And because the glitter isn't big and chunky, it reads as more of a shimmer when worn. Here it is swatched in shade (above) and sun (below):

Here it is alone on my eyes, applied over the bare lid (I don't like using primer with cream shadows). For a smokier effect, I like adding a matte shadow like ABH Warm Taupe in the crease, but I'm of the rather old-fashioned persuasion that not every eye look needs a matte crease color.

Fuzzy closeup of my eye, to bring out the glitter and unibrow:

I do get a tiny bit of fallout when I wear So Quiche (what's the deal with that name, by the way?), but not enough to be noticeable. (I don't own a glitter primer, but I'm curious how that would work with these sparkly ColourPop shadows.) To apply So Quiche, I use my finger to swipe a thin layer of product all over my lid, then build up more color with a patting motion. A black base under So Quiche makes the glitter more visible, though I've never actually worn it this way. Here's a lazy swatch of SQ over NYX Jumbo Pencil in Black Bean:

Finally, a full face. I haven't had much time for makeup experimentation recently, so I've been sticking to what I suppose is my signature look: a neutral shimmery eyeshadow all over the lid (with a matte shade in the crease and pencil liner on the upper lashline if I feel like it); a light application of blush and sometimes highlighter; and a lip that's slightly more striking than a straight-up MLBB. Below, once again, we have So Quiche on its own, plus a bit of black mascara. My other color makeup is Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, and Urban Decay Roach lipstick.

I swear I never go more than 48 hours without washing my hair, but after 36 it starts looking like I haven't washed it in a week.

And, hey, I wrote a blog post! On days when I don't have to teach or submit applications, I'm trying to be more aggressive about self-care. Last week I barely stopped working, didn't get enough sleep, and of course caught a cold from the gross undergrads in the library and had to teach with a fever for two days. It was a useful reminder that my body really will break down if I don't take at least a little time for myself every day, whether by blogging, reading a short story, or just watching a vapid haul video on YouTube. Given that my dissertation is literally about the experience of time, you'd think I'd be better at time managementor not.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I'm Alive (Barely)

Ugh, you guys. I'm so sorry. You know the drill: some months are busier than others in academia, and until January I'll be very busy indeed. Here are my responsibilities for the next few months:
  • Finish my dissertation (I'm defending in December!)
  • Teach five overcrowded sections of a science-fiction survey course
  • Go on the completely fucked academic job market for the third year in a row
  • Revise and resubmit my third peer-reviewed article
  • Figure out how I'm going to support myself next semester
  • Cook meals, exercise, maintain relationships with other humans
As you can imagine, this leaves me with almost no time to blog about beauty. Hell, I barely even have time to read about beauty. While I believe that breaks from work are important, blogging is a special case because it's yet another kind of writing. It's very different from academic writing, of course, but it uses the same parts of the brain and demands the same kind of energy, and that energy is finite. After a day of dissertating, I don't usually feel like producing more words, even about lipstick. And if I do find it in me to start a post, the guilt soon creeps in: shouldn't I be using this precious writing energy to revise my teaching statement or start another postdoc application? As a result, I've opened five post drafts in the past two weeks but haven't written more than a few sentences in most of them. So, you guessed it: I'm going on yet another quasi-hiatus. (At what point does the hiatus become the blog? How can we know the dancer from the dance?) I'll still try to post when I get the chance, but it probably won't be more than a couple of times per month, if that.

I'll leave you with the best makeup look I've seen recently, from k-pop chanteuse IU's equally great song "Last Night Story," a '60s-style adaptation of a track from 1988 (got that?). I'd recreate this look for a post if I had time, but screenshots are all I can manage right now:

So good, right? I felt more excited about makeup after watching this video than I had in a while.

Until next time! I'm pretty active on Instagram (though less than I'd like, these days), if you want to keep up with me there.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Lipstick Project Pan, Fall 2017

After three and a half years (!) of beauty blogging, I've learned which panning projects work for me and which are guaranteed to fail. I can usually push myself to finish a piece of makeup if three conditions apply:
  • It's a cream product (usually a lipstick)
  • I like it enough that I've already used up at least 2/3 of it
  • It's getting old and/or is in poor condition
I believe that makeup should be a pleasure, so if I actively dislike a product, I'll destash it instead of forcing myself to finish it. If it's newer or in good condition, I'd rather just keep it around and wear it when I feel like it. And if it's almost full, I don't see much point in panning it: that's just setting myself up for frustration. So, as you can imagine, I don't undertake panning projects very often. But I managed to finish two lipsticks (Urban Decay Streak and MAC Up the Amp) earlier this year, and right now I have four more that I think I can pan by the end of 2017. All of them are fairly close to empty, two are at least three years old, and the other two are in pretty bad shape:

NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco (purchased God knows when, maybe 2013?) is a cool-neutral, softly shiny red that's very kind to my lips when they're dry. I find it difficult to pair Flamenco with other makeup: it feels too vivid for a bold eye but too subtle for a neutral one. Still, it's a nice fall color, and I suspect I'll use it even more often come holiday season. Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry (purchased 2014) is one of my all-time favorite lipsticks, but I have an almost identical shade waiting in the wings: a deluxe sample of Marc Jacobs Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which was Sephora's birthday gift last year. I've been telling myself for almost a year that I have to finish Sultry before starting KKBB, so I should probably go ahead and do that. Glossier Generation Gs in Jam and Cake (gifts from Renee last year) are easy to wear both color- and formula-wise, but both bullets have long since detached from their tubes, and I'm tired of worrying that they'll tumble to the floor when I use them. Plus, the cheap packaging is just depressing. I have some Glossier store credit, and I've considered ordering Leo, the brown Generation G, but I don't want yet another flimsy lipstick that will break within weeks. 

Here's the amount left in each tube. Cake, Jam, and Flamenco require frequent touch-ups, and I always wear multiple layers of both Gen Gs, so I don't think finishing them will be much trouble. As for Sultry, I love it so much that I'd be happy to wear it every day for a week. 

L-R: Cake, Jam, Sultry, Flamenco.


L-R: Cake (3 layers), Jam (3 layers), Sultry, Flamenco.

Just for fun, here's a comparison of Sultry and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Sultry is the tiniest bit warmer, but they're essentially indistinguishable, at least on my hand:

Finally, and entirely against the spirit of panning projects, can we talk about a ridiculous lipstick that vaulted to the top of my wishlist this morning?

This is Rebirth, one of the three marbled "Lava Lips" released with Illamasqua's new Aftermath collection. (My brain keeps combining "Aftermath" and "Rebirth" into "Afterbirth," yikes.) I know it's gimmicky. I know it's overpriced ($27, plus $7.50 for international shipping). I know I have enough red lipsticks. I know I haven't been terribly impressed with the Illamasqua lipsticks I've swatched in Selfridges. But look at that smoky swirly witchy perfection, you guys. This threatens to be another Black Lace Rabbit situation, but I can't help it: I'm smitten. Save me from myself.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Topshop Otherworldly Part 2: EXTREME MELTDOWN

I am not a serial depotter of beauty products. I admire people with a more utilitarian approach to makeup, people for whom packaging means little to nothing. But I'm not one of those people, and I probably never will be. I don't insist on the fanciest, most elaborate compacts and tubes: MAC lipsticks are some of my favorites, design-wise. But I'd rather leave an eyeshadow in its original case, even at the expense of precious shelf space, than depot it into a magnetic palette. There's just too much risk involved in prying makeup out of its exoskeleton, and the end result is often depressingly ugly.

That said, there are times when I find depotting necessary. If a product's packaging is damaged to the point that it endangers either the makeup or me, I'd rather depot it than leave it in an unusable shell. When the mirror on my theBalm Nude 'Tude palette developed a huge crack, I reflected that it was probably a bad idea to have broken glass near a product I put on my eyes, so I moved the pans into a Z-Palette (which also made it easier, physically and psychologically, to destash the Nude 'Tude shades I never wore). And after reviewing Topshop's Glow Stick in Otherworldly, I decided that I couldn't deal any longer with its cheap, cracked packaging. I'd read about people melting down cream products in a double boiler and transferring them to new containers, so I resolved to do the same. Directions for depotting makeup are widely available in the beauty community, and I'm sure there are more effective strategies than my own sloppily improvised one, but I thought it would be fun to give you a little photoessay anyway!

The first task was finding a suitable jar. After fruitless searches of my own attic, a fancy kitchen-supply store, and a health-food store, I struck gold at Michael's with a set of clear screw-top plastic jars meant for storing beads. Since I didn't think to bring my highlighter with me, I had a hard time deciding which size to buy. To be safe, I bought two different sizes at $2.99 per set (I figured I could use the extras for travel):

Next I removed the highlighter from its tube. I thought I might have to scoop some product from the bottom of the tube, but the whole thing popped right out, highlighting (if you will) both the shoddiness and the misleading size of the packaging:

This highlighter is practically new (I've worn it maybe ten times), but look how tiny it is! The markup must be insane. Needless to say, I ended up using one of the smaller jars.

I put the denuded highlighter in a small ceramic ramekin that I had never used for food, and placed the ramekin in a shallow pan of simmering water. The product started to melt immediately...

...eventually coming to resemble a pool of shimmery vanilla custard:

Now came the tricky part: could I pour the highlighter into the jar before it hardened again? Luckily, the ramekin stayed warm enough that I was able to scrape out almost all of the product while it was still liquid. (It occurs to me now that I could have put the highlighter inside the jar and the jar inside the ramekin while it was in the double boiler, to save myself the trouble of pouring. Damn it!)

The result was less aesthetically pleasing than I'd hoped:

Glossier stickers to the rescue!

Ah, much better.

The aftermath:

The whole procedure took maybe ten minutes, and now I'm more excited about Otherworldly than ever. I see how depotting can become addictive: as makeup consumers, we're used to receiving products already designed, pressed, and packaged for us, and it's empowering to be on the other end of the manufacturing process, if only in the most amateur way. I doubt I'll ever make a habit of depotting my makeup, but it's nice to know I can! What are your thoughts on depotting?