Wednesday, December 11, 2013

black kohl inventory

I am VERY picky when it comes to kohl liner. So picky that I still can't even claim an HG kohl that I am completely satisfied with. I rely on black kohl heavily for my makeup looks, I use it almost daily. Because of this, I feel I set the bar high for what type of criteria the liner has to meet. To date I have tried probably over ten different types so I thought I would do an inventory of the current liners I own and also rattle off a few thoughts on the ones I have used in the past from what I can remember.

What do I expect when it comes to a great kohl liner? It must be very black in color, smooth to apply, long lasting, and have a reasonable initial smudge time. The last three are about equal in importance but the first factor is an absolute must for me and almost trumps the rest. Nothing annoys me more than "black" liners that aren't actually an absolute black shade. I have swatched countless liners in person only to be turned off by how muted the black is. I do not like subtly. When it comes to kohl anyway :)


So far out of all the liners I have tried I believe this is the best one. There are still some things I don't like about it though which is why I can't call it HG. It is the most expensive liner I have tried.

the good: intense black, smooth application, able to be smudged, long lasting overall.

the bad: does not last on my water line, smudges under my lash line, too soft in texture. The texture of this kohl is VERY soft, sometimes it feels as though it is melted? It makes sharpening a bitch and application can sometimes be too messy. This also tends to smudge under my lash line if I was especially overzealous in my under eye concealer application that day. Not lasting on the water line is not surprising, nothing I have used so far does.

overall: Doesn't last on the water line but it lasts the longest out of what I have tried. Too soft in texture, however, I admire how black this is. It is very, very black. Me likey. I would repurchase this again as it is the best I have tried so far but I want to explore other offerings first.


This was what I was using before GA came into my life. I used to love this a lot but after trying out the GA I pushed this aside.

the good: intense black, smooth application, able to be smudged, best texture. I like the smoothness and texture of this liner more than the GA. It isn't too soft that is smears everywhere yet it isn't so hard that it is difficult to apply to the water line. It's perfectly balanced.

the bad: does not last on my water line, smudges under my lash line. Again, not lasting on the waterline isn't surprising. This smudges under my lash line with time and the lasting power is poor compared to GA.

overall: Second best I have tried. I love the inky black and it applies the best due to its texture. It doesn't last as long and it does tend to smudge under the lash line so touch ups are required. Debatable if I will repurchase.


This was what made me fall in love with black kohl to begin with because at the time, all previous black liners I had used let me down. Thank you Kandee Johnson for opening Pandora's Box for me by introducing this and therefore the black kohl world.

the good: decently black, smooth application, able to be smudged, best texture. The texture is exactly the same as Feline so I love that. This liner also holds a little nostalgia for me as well.

the bad: does not last on my water line, smudges under my lash line, not the blackest black. Waterline is a given. Lasting power is poorer than Feline and this smudges under my lash line very easily. Also isn't the inkiest black out there, has a slightly blueish base if I am being picky (I am).

overall: Not the blackest liner so it has to go. Also smudges under my lash line during the day much more often than necessary. Great texture and a good throwback, nonetheless. Will not repurchase.


Was very excited to try this when I first heard it became permanent as it swatches intensely black.

the good: very black, smooth application, able to be smudged. I really appreciate how black this liner is. The texture is also nice, not as soft as GA but creamier than MAC.

the bad: does not last on my water line, smudges like crazy, staying power is horrendous. Waterline is a given. I have complained time and time again about Urban Decay's 24/7 liners. Perhaps they are made for combo skin people and drier as when I wear this it just disappears and smudges like mad. Utterly disappointing.

overall: I applaud the intense black shade and texture but why oh why can't it just last? Will not repurchase as I have lost all faith in these pencils.


Ugh this color. Whenever I see people claim this is the blackest black liner out there I judge them HARD. Well perhaps not too harshly, but I don't take their liner recommendations seriously.

the good: the texture. It applies very easily and smoothly.

the bad: does not last on my water line, smudges like crazy, staying power is horrendous, worst of all it is NOT an intense black. Waterline is a given. Perversion I can admire slightly for its intensity. Zero is just exactly what its name claims: a zero. It flat out sucks and I never recommend it to anyone.

overall: Only for those who prefer subtle blacks. Or love all the 24/7 pencils. I am neither and therefore dislike this pencil the most out of everything I have tried.


My sister's preferred liner. I have tried this a few times and did not care for it.

the good: decently black, long lasting and unsmudgeable.

the bad: texture is too dry. The couple times I tried this out I had a really hard time to make it show up and apply to my waterline smoothly. That is a deal breaker for me as this is how I mainly use black kohl.

overall: Only for those who want to use this on their upper lash line as has a hard time adhering to the waterline. No go for me but a repurchase for my sister and her favorite from what she has tried.



Ha ok so I am well aware of my craziness when it comes to black liner because when I look at these swatches I can immediately see which ones are lacking and not black enough. Do these all swatch the same to you guys? I'm curious to know. Keep in mind, the very intense black kohls I swatched with only one pass (GA ETK, Feline, Perversion). The rest I had to do several swipes to give a decent line.

This was after vigorously rubbing on the liners. All pretty much fade away so I don't know what this picture proves. Don't rub your eyes vigorously folks, the liner will come off?

As for other liners I have tried and not repurchased since: Revlon Color Stay, Prestige, Milani Liquif'eye, Rimmel Soft Kohl. It has been quite some time since I gave any of those a second chance because after I discovered MAC kohls and beyond I ditched all attempts at the drugstore as they all performed so poorly (ie were grey blacks and not intense enough). I would be willing to try the Milani again though, I sort of remember ditching it because it smeared all over my contacts and that was the only reason. Since I got LASIK I'm curious if it would still be a viable option.

What are your favorite kohl liners and criteria it has to meet? After I finish up a few of the pencils I have I plan to try out Bare Minerals Round the Clock, Pixi Endless Silky, or Rouge Bunny Rouge. After reading about all my crazy kohl liner expectations, do you have any recommendations for me? Please tell me there are other black kohl liner junkies out there besides me...

Friday, December 6, 2013

010 items used up


My bag of empties felt full but when dumping all the contents out I realized it was just because I had large bottles taking up most of the space :X Still, I finished a few items I'm proud of so let's get to it:


I think the way most non-beauty obsessed people feel about using up their makeup (annoyed about having to go buy more, rather than excited) is how I feel about hair care. I finally used up this huge Joico Smooth Cure Shampoo. I say finally because I didn't care for it one bit. I felt it didn't clean well even when I used an obscene amount. I also used up a Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask which also didn't impress me. It wasn't terrible but I didn't find it intensely hydrating at all. I will just stick to the oil.


Two of Bath & Body Works Brown Sugar and Fig lotions made their way out. I didn't realize I go through body lotion so quickly! This scent is ok. My sister had a phase with it and bought a bunch of bottles so I helped her use them up. Sometimes I enjoy the warm scent and other times I feel like it smells like play dough. Strange. I also FINALLY forced myself to use up this Nivea Skin Firming Body Lotion that has been squirreled away in my bathroom cabinet. It wasn't horrible but I prefer body lotions with a lingering scent and this smells like nothing. The moisturizing capabilities were also sub par.


Guys I finished two foundations! Can I get a what, what! I enjoyed both of these foundations. I initially did not care for Lancome Teint Idole Ultra at all but after using it up to its completion I can say I enjoyed it. Albeit I NEVER applied it alone, I always had to mix in moisturizer or some Becca Skin Perfector, but in the end I didn't mind mixing because the results were just so darn good and almost exactly what I was looking for in a base. Original review of it HERE and another post of my mixing experiment HERE. As for Koh Gen Do Aqua, I still really like this foundation, so much that I bought another bottle in a darker shade that doesn't even match me right now. It is natural looking and breathable. Only wish its oil controlling was better and that the shade range was better but you can't have everything. Original review HERE.

That's it this round. What have you used up lately?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

current blush rotation

*This post contains one item provided by an outside company for trial.


As a self proclaimed blush fiend, it is rare for me to stick to one blush a day and call it good. I tend to crave a different shade, finish, and brand depending on on my outfit that day, how much time I have, or even what type of mood I am in. Despite this, I recently realized I have been rotating through the same set of blushes for over a month. Since a blush routine is very rare for me, I figured it deserved a dedicated blog post. My current "blush mood", as we can call it, has been all about easy, natural colors.

Cailyn Peach Pink

First up is *Cailyn Deluxe Mineral Pressed Peach Pink Blush. I recieved this as part of the Wantable subscription box that was sent to me (first mentioned in THIS post). To be honest I had zero expectations when I first laid eyes on this product. It looked like your typical, nondescriptive blush shade that you can find in every makeup line. But then I went ahead and applied it to my cheeks and I had to reprimand myself for being so quick to judge. This blush is really fantastic. I'm talking, I made my sister try it on to make sure it looked just as flattering fantastic (it did). It has just the right amount of pigment so the blush pros won't scoff at it and the blush novices won't give themselves clown cheeks.

This color is self described as a "Peach Pink" but on me it leans more peach. I have quite a hard time making peach blushes work for me which is why I think I was wary to begin with when I saw the color in the pan. Peaches usually end up too dirty on me (MAC Melba) or too orange (MAC Peaches). This shade instilled some peach blush hope for me, I thought they would never flatter my skin tone.

The only gripe I have about this product is that is it heavily scented, a bit like grandma. Luckily it doesn't stick around but it is still a bit bothersome.


Hopefully I don't have to talk much more about CARGO Tonga as I just blogged about it and it has its very own review post. To summarize, one of my favorite blushes to date. Although it looks very boring in the pan it goes with any look, buffs into the skin wonderfully, and the color is very uplifting. Highly recommend it.

Bobbi Brown Velvet Plum


You get a shoddy iPhone 4 picture to showcase this one! If you have been following me for a while you know my love for Bobbi Brown's Pot Rouges. They come in a nice variety of colors, the texture isnt greasy or too tacky, and the lasting power is great. I have been reaching for Bobbi Brown Velvelt Plum (in the old packaging) when I feel like using cream blush and to give a nice rosy grape cheek. No such thing as a rosy grape, but just go with it. Unfortunately this color is discontinued (!?!?)


Not your typical fall shades but I can't seem to get out of this rotation. Really into the natural cheek at the moment. What is in your blush rotation currently?

++ Wantable sent the Cailyn blush to me free as part of their subscription box. This post does NOT have any affiliate links

Sunday, November 24, 2013

TAG: the 5 product makeup

I was tagged by Jenny from My Funny Valentine (SN: click with caution, she will make you want to buy many many lipsticks/glosses because all shades look amazing on her) to do a 5 product face challenge. It is pretty self explanatory: make up your face using ONLY 5 products. I had to put on my multi-tasking cap for this one...


My order of importance: blush, mascara, liner, foundation, bronzer. I picked Shiseido Sun Protection Liquid Foundation as my base because I knew I could skip using powder due to its (overly) matte finish. I also doubled up its usage by gently tapping a small concentration on areas that needed concealing. I used my Stila Sun Bronzing Powder Shade 2 to warm up my complexion and topped my cheeks off with CARGO Tonga, a seemingly boring dull pink shade in the pan but an absolute wonder on the face.


For my eyes I smudged some Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Waterproof liner in my lash line and water line. I used some of the same Stila Bronzing Powder to deepen my crease as well as to soften out the liner on my lower and upper lash line. A copious amount of L'Oreal Voluminous Original mascara finished up my look.


I was surprised that I came up with a look that was so minimal but didn't look rushed. Made me question my normal 5425 item routine. The only thing I would have liked to add to top off my look would be highlighter. Just looking at these photos really irks me, my skin is in desperate need of some glow.

I tag Will Work for Makeup, Lil Lady's Life, Sleep & Water, Blush is the New Black, 15 Steps then a Beauty Blog, and anyone else interested in trying out the challenge. Have at it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

bioderma sebium pore refiner

I am a novice when it comes to primers. I tend to have a lazy/quick approach when it comes to daily makeup if you haven't noticed. I like to be done and ready in a decent amount of time and adding a primer seemed like an extra unneeded step. Terrible deducting skills on my part since primers really can help with longevity of makeup, especially with my oily skin type. My first real experience with primer is with today's topic: Bioderma Sebium Pore Refiner.


I actually don't believe this product is even meant to be a primer. Bioderma describes it as a "correcting concentrate". To me that sounded like a fancy glorified lotion. It is marketed to improve the appearance of the skin by refining texture, making pores less visible, maintaining sebum, and giving a velvet finish. Lots of promises with this little tube.


My first impression was that the tube was small! You get 30 mL of product which is just shy over 1 oz. I think I am too used to my huge CeraVe lotion bottle as comparison. If I think of it as a primer, the size is around what other primers tend to be. The product squeezes out as a light lotion-like consistency, as you can see in the above picture (Please excuse my parched hands! Note to self, invest in hand lotion). That is around the amount I use all over my problem areas (inner cheeks, nose, forehead, chin...sometimes I smear the residual moisture over my eyelids for good measure). It sinks in very quickly and doesn't feel greasy or heavy. There is a scent but it is very pleasant, almost cucumber/fresh smelling.


Hopefully you can see the state my au naturel skin is in: pore galore, shine to share, a little pink. My camera, bless its heart, cancelled out some of the sebum that was shining through on its own. Trust me when I say in person it looked slicker.


Notice a difference? It is huge! Well to me at least. Pores are blurred, oily spots are matte, skin is not as angry with me. The effect is immediate and noticeable. It gives such a great base for makeup application. When I use this my makeup lasts much longer and I am not nearly as oily. I even tried wearing this with Revlon's Nearly Naked foundation (which normally melts off me quickly) and it helped make it stick around for my entire day.


I have nothing bad to say about this product. It is kind of a godsend? I want to try out other primers to compare but I am very happy with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it to any oily skinned ladies/gents. My only word of caution is if your skin is prone to dryness, this will make your skin feel tight. But it is a silly word of caution as dry skinned ladies/gents shouldn't be investing in this type of product.

I am in love with this and don't want to let it go. It has an immediate effect, controls oil, sinks in the skin beautifully, and makes any makeup base last longer than normal. If you have oily skin it is an absolute must try. If you have dry skin avoid this as it will zap your skin, but I hope that goes without saying. I bought mine from Amazon for around 26 USD. I believe Canadian and European consumers will be able to find this in stores. Us Americans and other regions have to settle with searching on Amazon or other sources.

What are your favorite primers? I am curious about Hourglass Mineral Veil and perhaps even more curious about Becca Poreless Priming Perfector. The Becca primer almost made it into my cart for the Sephora VIB sale but I skipped out on that this year...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

soothers & saviors

This past week my body has been throwing a rager. It has been drinking (hot tea) like crazy, covering all possible surfaces with (tissue) confetti, and the (mucous) fluids have been flowing freely without signs of stopping. Cold season! Blech, can't we just skip over this part of the year? Apparently my body doesn't like missing out on all the fun. Raw skin around the nose, chapped lips, dehydrated/sensitive skin; being sick is no picnic! Luckily I've come across some soothers and saviors this week to help me get by and zip through this illness.


Right so let's talk skin. I have been using Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser with the provided muslin cloth and it has made my skin feel so incredibly soothed and nourished. The muslin cloth that comes with is really brilliant, can I get more of these? Possibly a whole package or 5? I must find out because I love how gentle yet effective it is. The cleanser itself is a cream that is very hydrating and leaves my skin feeling exceptionally soft. It rinses off easily and doesn't give that dried out squeaky clean feeling.

I have been using two toners lately. Yes both. In a row, right after the other. First I apply Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner to help renew chafed skin gently without any stinging or added irritation. Then I apply Thayer's Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner to add in extra moisture to placate my sensitive skin. It seems a bit excessive but I have noticed this has prevented any redness from sticking around.

Did you know humans get chapped lips because we have no sebaceous or sweat glands there? Spit glands are all we got and that stuff is drying and harsh as heck. It does partially digest your food after all! My sister had been raving about how heavy duty Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment was and I initially scoffed at it. These lips do not warrant any glorified Vaseline to touch them. But I was in a pinch and applied some to my pout randomly and dear lord this glorified vaseline blew my mind. Heals up lips quickly, hydrates for hours, plumps up and softens. Best of all, it doesn't leave that weird icky white lip ring in the end. Begrudgingly accepting this as supremely effective, even if it doesn't tingle or taste very fun. At least it doesn't taste like that blasted Carmex crap.

As for inner health, I have been drinking hot tea like there's no tomorrow. Jasmine tea, white tea, pu-erh tea (no idea how you pronounce this), you name it. Nothing soothes the soul (and throat) like some good ole piping hot tea.

What are your cold remedies? Any saviors and soothers that should be added to my routine? And, random, but how hot do you like your beverages? I like my tea extra steaming hot. Once it starts to cool down to a warm temperature I start to lose interest and have to heat it up again.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

skip to my lou

**This post contains one item provided by an outside company for trial.

While applying makeup the other day I came to the realization that I skip quite a few steps that some may think are crucial to their routine. Why? Well for one thing, TIME. For my everyday look I am all about lessening the time it takes for me to slap on makeup so I can get out the door quick. For the other, I don't think actually carrying out these applications makes a huge difference to my overall look. They are small details or extras that I would do if I wanted to perfect my look but for everyday they feel unnecessary. What doesn't make the cut in my daily routine?


I'll start off with probably the most shocking for some, my brows. On a daily basis I do nothing with my brows. I am fortunate enough where the hair of my brows are thick and coarse enough to make their appearance known. Once in a blue moon I'll fill them in with a MAC 266 brush and a dark brown shadow, like the one in this Smashbox trio in Filter, to emphasize them (or to sneakily use up product).

I don't normally use any special setting powder for my under eye area, which some do to give some extra lasting power to their concealer or to brighten up the area. Swirl and go is my philosophy! But if I am feeling fancy I'll gently buff in *Besame Brightening Violet Powder underneath my eyes to set my concealer. I received this item as part of a Wantable box which I'm sure most of you have heard about from other bloggers by now (check out Makeup Magpie, Beauty Reductionista, and Perilously Pale to get an idea about the company). Basically it is one of those subscription box deals but they give you full sized products from brands that aren't mainstream which I find refreshing.

Back to the powder, it really is very good. Light texture, softly brightens skin, and doesn't have any weird scent. Plus, isn't the packaging all quaint and neat? I had never heard of the company before so I relied on my good friend Google to see what it was about. I think vintage makeup lovers would really dig it. They have cake mascara for crying out loud. How intriguing is that?!

Maybe I have just been using lackluster products for this but I just do not bother with this step on a daily basis. I appreciate it when I am going out or for special occasions but I think overall the effect is so subtle that I don't miss it when I skip out on it. When I do make the effort I usually use something like Bare Minerals Nude Beach for taupe looks and the more universal Urban Decay Virgin for neutral looks.

I flip flop on this depending on my mood. I would say most of the time I do not fully line my top eyelids. Instead I start my liner of choice, L'Oreal Lineur Intense normally, in the middle of my lid and wing it out to the outer end. Not only does it save time, but it makes my peepers look more open and awake. Don't get me wrong, I love the full on Egyptian eyes but for everyday the half-way application is my go to for a natural look.

LEFT SIDE has all the mentioned products applied; RIGHT SIDE is my "daily" look

Can you tell the difference? The left side I filled in my brows, fully lined my lid, added brow and inner corner highlight, and buffed in brightening powder under my eyes. The right side you can see my brow is subtly less filled, my under eye area is a little less bright as are my brow bone and inner eye, and my eyes seem a bit more open. It is subtle but if you look at the details you can spot it!

For my daily look, I don't mind skipping some extra steps. It may not perfect my overall look but I don't mind. I just want to look semi put together before leaving the house. Do you cut out any steps in your routine? I have read some people skip out on blush and that horrifies/baffles the blush fiend in me, but to each their own...

If you were curious:

Face: THIS MIX for my base, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, Revlon Photo Ready Concealer, Nars Light Reflecting Setting Powder, Stila Bronzer #2, MAC Hush CCB, blush will be mentioned in an upcoming post

Eyes: Burberry Pale Barley, Smashbox Filter trio, L'Oreal Lineur Intense, Giorgio Armani waterproof liner, L'Oreal Voluminous

Lips: NARS Dolce Vita lipstick

++ Wantable sent the Besame Brightening Powder to me free as part of their subscription box. This post does NOT have any affiliate links.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

hands on

For the past week I have picked up on a little habit: using my very own hands for a few steps of my makeup application. Is this taboo in the makeup world? I'm not sure. I feel a little guilty doing it as it doesn't feel like the most sanitary action. But as I am not a germaphobe (I am very anti hand sanitizer), I don't feel as if I am committing a huge faux paux. Sometimes your own paws yield surprisingly great results!


I think the last time I applied foundation with my fingers was back in high school when makeup brushes were unknown in my world. Lately I have been really enjoying the finish Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation gives my skin when applied with clean hands. The warmth from the skin really makes the product melt in seamlessly, especially with the thin, watery formula this foundation has.

I'm still applying my blush and powder with a brush, but for highlighter I have been diligently using up MAC Hush Cream Color Base. I am determined to finish this up! I really love this product and would consider repurchasing it. The best application is with a few taps of my ring finger atop the highest points of my face.

For eyes I have been reaching for Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill #28, an interesting mix of bronze and aubergine. It has the ability to be quite shiny and metallic when applied with a brush. When applied with my pointer finger, however, it tones down to a natural haze of bronze with less shimmer. I like me a versatile product!

For lips, I'm still stuck on using vampy lipsticks as stains. I tap the product straight from the bullet on the lips and then I gently press the pigment in to even things out before it sets. Tom Ford Black Orchid has been my latest pick for this, I talked more in detail about the shade HERE.


I'm wearing NARS Sin blush here. Remember that shade? Man what a staple. Every time I decide to use it I fall in love with it all over again. One of my top NARS shades for sure. Gives such a nice flush to the skin without looking dirty or bruised. The lasting power is phenomenal.

What do you think of using your hands for makeup application? Does it bother you or do you prefer it? This no tools look is easy to rely on, it is easier, faster, and my favorite aspect, less makeup brush cleaning! Makeup brush cleaning is the worst...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

009 items used up

I've been slacking on keeping up with this series. I've been striving to do these in smaller bursts so the posts aren't very long but I hit a stride in empties and everything just piled up. Onto the products!


Not the best out there. I think this made my hair fall out more than normal which frightened me a little. Will not be repurchasing.

Also not very great. Wasn't moisturizing or rich enough for my dry hair. I am determined to try out all of the varieties in the Organix line!

This was actually pretty nice and I would buy it again. Sulfate free, lathers up thickly, cleans well, smelled decent. Thumbs up!


I am ALMOST done with all the damn bottles I stocked up on this summer vanillas line. Note to self, even if you really like the scent at the time and the bottles are only $3, you WILL get sick of all the 2394729834 bottles you have in your bathroom cabinet.

One of my staples for summer. Will repurchase next year as it is a must in my summer routine.


I actually am sad to see this all used up! I was really starting to enjoy it for dampening my foundation brush. I won't get this again because as I have mentioned before, the dispenser is horrible, but it has opened up new doors for me. I'm thinking La Roche Posay's version will be my next try.

Yes I am really tossing out a MAC brush. The bristles on this are really pathetic looking and I wish it hadn't deteriorate on me because it was one of my favorite brushes. I plan to eventually pick up the Hakuhodo version as I hear it is superior.


Staple product, always a love from me. I'm going to take a break from it for a little bit to try out other mascaras as I am bored with the same old same old.

This was just the gift that kept on giving! I liked this but won't be repurchasing. The coverage was too light for my tastes. If you have slight imperfections and don't need any heavy concealing I'd recommend it. I'm just glad I never have to type out that title again, so many adjectives!

I was trying to find something that worked just as well as Seche Vite but didn't harden up halfway through. This does not beat Seche Vite in performance and it still dries up halfway through. Boo!

That's all for this round. Quick and easy. Who makes your favorite facial mists/waters? I'm curious to see what is the most popular...

Friday, October 18, 2013

making things work

When trying to use up products, you start to get to know them. You pick up on their cues, the good and the bad, and you form an opinion on whether you love, like, or loathe it. When you hit that middle ground of this scale, it is due to a couple features that prevent you from tipping over in its favor. It's too frosty. It has poor lasting power. It is too full coverage. You get the picture. So what to do with these items? Toss them? Just use it up and deal with the irksome details? Nah. The best solution I've found is to use them up a different way!


Probably the easiest solution. Mix together products to make things bearable or even enjoyable. I've had to do this with pretty much every foundation I have tried out so far since my skin is fickle and my expectations are varying. How hard is it to make a base that isn't full coverage, looks like skin, lasts long, and controls oil? I'm asking for the impossible it seems. I've already gone over my mixology philosophy with the too thick/matte Lancome Teint Idole and Becca Moonstone Skin Perfecter. My recent concoction is using a combo of YSL Teint Resist with Avene Thermal Water.


I recently rambled about how baffled I am by the hype Avene gets for their cult product as it sprays poorly and unpleasantly in my face. But sprayed on a brush that has no feelings on pathetic water dribbles? Magic. I have been using this can up steadily with increased worry that I've become a water in a can convert. I rather enjoy YSL Teint Resist but had problems with how much to use. Two pumps wasn't enough, three was too much. The pump doesn't give much control on doing halfsies. But two pumps plus a damp Real Techniques Buffing brush? Ahhh yes we have a winner.


Pretty much a subsection of combining. I do this a lot with blushes, not only to make things work but because mixing colors and textures can be fun. I like the Milani baked blushes but lament over how frosty some shades are. I avoid frosty products at all costs because it emphasizes the texture of my scarred skin. Milani Dolce Pink is such a pretty color but it is frost city. I actually placed this in my Box of Neglect and my sister took it out because she likes it so much. That made me rethink of ways to use it. Why not layer over a matte blush?


When layered the color combo becomes satiny. I don't exclusively use these colors together, I just used them together as an example. I tend to mix Dolce Pink with any other matte shades in the same pink color family. It is like using a colored highlighter.


This section you have to be a little creative. I mentioned this Garnier Radiance Renewer Gelee Cleanser before and my first impression was positive. But now I am a little unsure. I think it was the culprit of some breakouts I was previously having. I stopped using it out of paranoia but was sad about it. It smells refreshing, it cleans well, and it is dirt cheap. How else could I use it up? I have been using it in place of shaving cream and it works just fine that way. I just pump out the product, lather it up and spread all over the skin. It forms a nice cushion that prevents me from getting any nicks or razor burn.

My number one tip for using up products and getting the most out of your already spent money is sticking to a routine but my second piece of advice would be to really rethink of different ways you can use them up. Combine, layer, reuse in a new way...try it all! You'd be surprised at what products you end up enjoying after tweaking it a little. But of course, admitting defeat is perfectly fine too. I for one have no idea what else I can do with the oil inducing Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Gel or the icky skin clogging Avene Soothing Moisture Mask. And if you are in the early stages of trying a product out and can't stand it, return it! No need to torture yourself using something you abhor.

Do you try to make things work or do you return/give away/toss/neglect items? I am curious to heard your philosophy and take on it...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

hitting pan part II

The proud feeling of seeing a shiny metal pan never gets old for me. I have managed to reach the bottom of a few items which usually marks me getting into a new routine. If you have never hit pan on anything, that really is the best advice: STICK TO A ROUTINE. It can be a little boring and it lacks variety but on the plus side you steadily use things up on a reliable look and less time is dedicated in thinking up what look you want for the day. I did a post like this before which you can check out HERE.


First up we have Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer, a product that with time I have grown to really understand the hype. I have hit pan on both sides! I was a little perplexed as to how to use this at first since the actual texture (firm and tacky) was not what I expected (creamy and blendable). I use this on blemishes and it covers really well with lasting results, even on my oily skin. Best application is with a synthetic small brush like Real Techniques Detailer Brush. I have used my fingers in a pinch but the results aren't as good.

I seem to always do well with sticking to one bronzer until it is used up. My current one in rotation is Stila Sun Bronzing Powder #2 which is matte and not too outrageously pigmented which I find the best for bronzers as it looks more natural. I will say this shade has the potential to be a bit orange so it would look horrendous on pale skin. It blends out fine on my medium toned skin, especially when used with my beloved Eco Tools Bamboo Bronzer Brush.

As for eyes, I have two MAC items that I have been using pretty regularly. MAC Paint Pot in Groundwork is an absolute must have. The color is a completely invaluable, matte mid toned brown. It works fine alone, with smokey eyes, as a base for other colors, etc. I mostly use it alone with some smudged liner. Quick and easy. This does crease on me without primer but I love the color so much that it isn't even a bother for me. Who doesn't use eye primer anyway? If I don't do that look I will use MAC Brule (top left in my quad) all over the lid with any dark brown shadow I have on hand to shade windshield wiper style into my crease. Both of these items are significant staples for me; I would definitely repurchase and recommend both!

Have you hit pan on anything lately? Do share, I bet you are dying to :) Sticking to a routine isn't so bad but I have yet to be able to stick to only one blush at a time. My attempts to do so always end with my blush fiend self lashing out at the boredom. When the day comes that I do hit pan on a blush, it will be declared a national holiday here on Vain Pleasures with banners, streamers, and confetti. Can't forget the confetti.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

recent skincare heroes (and zero)

Picking and choosing skincare items to incorporate into your routine can be a gamble. Will you break out? Will it clean thoroughly enough? Will it improve or maintain your skin's current health? Should you pick a budget friendly option or splurge on a more expensive option? Maybe I am the only one that over thinks skincare purchases, but I believe the skin is most definitely a worthy investment and worth the drawn out thought process.

Recently I have won out in this gamble since there are a couple new skincare heroes that I have been really digging. I have also bumped into a skincare zero but I'm not complaining too loudly. Two out of three, the odds are still in my favor.


I bought the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser half hoping I wouldn't be wowed by it because it costs $45 USD. Well that was a failed attempt because it is a pretty awesome cleanser. I have noticed my pores on my nose and inner cheeks have been flushed out and I haven't had any new breakouts whatsoever. I'm waiting to see if this good bout of skin will last before giving this cleanser my full praise but so far it has me impressed. And yet I am appalled at myself that I like a $45 cleanser so much! Ack what have I done...

I originally purchased this La Roche Posay Mela-D Pigment Control Serum as a gift for my mother as she has sun spots she wants to be rid of. Turns out she was allergic to this so she gave it back to me to return. I figured I might as well give it a go to see if it has any effect on my hyper-pigmentation. This smells straight up like alcohol, which makes sense as unfortunately it is the second highest ingredient. The horrible scent evaporates after a few seconds (thankfully) and this sinks in quickly with no stickiness.

I think both these items paired together has made a real difference in my skin complexion. Or perhaps only one of them is responsible for the healthy skin. I can't be sure as I started using them at the same time. If I didn't have such bad acne scars I would totally forgo foundation since my skin has been looking really clear and radiant. We will see if they can battle my hormonal acne, that would have me shouting my love from the rooftops.

The lone zero: Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Gel. This smells decent enough and has a nice gel texture that absorbs quickly. I really wanted to make this work but I had to stop using it. It was making my skin feel and look very congested. I used this at night and woke up looking hideously oily like my poor pores had been working over time during the night. I tried using a small amount, a large amount, only a couple times a week to no avail. Not for me! I stopped using it and immediately my skin felt relieved. I have over half a bottle left and I don't know what to do with it. I wouldn't feel comfortable giving it to anyone since I don't recommend it or believe in it.

Have you had any skincare woes lately? Or have you found something that has really made a difference in your skin? I hope the latter. I am going to live up this new complexion of mine until every last drop of the expensive items are gone. Beauty really is pain, but in this case a pain in my wallet...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

dark vampy lips day 5: YSL violet edition (#01)

It is the final day of my dark vampy lips series! I saved quite an intense shade for last: YSL Violet Edition (#01) Glossy Stain. This is not a shade for the fainthearted; it is deep, dark, and very eye catching.


Violet Edition comes in a luxurious gold and black packaging with a window teasing the color of the stain. The applicator is pointed which is something I appreciate as it makes applying the intense pigment more precisely. Before application, the product looks resolutely purple. I'm talking Barney purple. However, once applied to the lips and dried it changes into a darker violet, as you will see below.


Surprisingly I enjoy the look of this as a stain. I say surprisingly because it looks like a bright fuchsia. Even though I enjoy how it looks, this particular color stains very unevenly. You can see that my bottom lip is much more saturated than my top lip. I have also noticed the stain makes my lips feel dry, but I have come to the conclusion that lip stains are inevitably drying and need to be paired with balm.


The glossy stains are beautiful but I do think it depends on what shade you pick on the performance of the product. I have this shade as well as Rouge Laque (#09). Rouge Laque blows Violet Edition out of the park when it comes to application and finish. Violet Edition applies patchy even when two coats are used. I have heard this is remedied if you use a dark lip liner. I refuse to go out and buy another product with this to make it work so I just deal with it.

My method of application is applying a thin layer all over the lips, let it dry for a few minutes, and then add another coat on top. I let that dry and go back over the streaky parts to make it all mesh together. Annoying, but the color is so crazy awesome and the texture of these feel neat: squishy yet not sticky. If you are a die hard vampy lips lover, I think you would swoon over this.

BerryLipSwatchesFROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Tom Ford Black Orchid, Revlon Wine Not, MAC Media, Revlon Plum, YSL Violet Edition

I like Violet Edition, but the nature of the intense color makes application streaky. It doesn't deter me from buying any other glossy stains though since I know they have the potential to be really something (Rouge Laque applies wonderfully).

Do you have any glossy stains? Is Violet Edition too intense of a color for you? I hope you enjoyed this series and were inspired to pull out your vampy shades for the fall season!

Friday, September 27, 2013

dark vampy lips day 4: revlon colorburst in plum

Day 4 of dark vampy lips has crept upon us and today I have another lipstick from Revlon and yet again it is a discontinued item: Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Plum. Another line that Revlon got rid of but you can still find some shades floating around discount stores and online retailers. I purchased this back when they were readily available in drugstores.


Plum is encased in a fancy quilted black packaging with a color coded cap. The shade in the bullet looks redder than expected. It has an almost cinnamon color to it. There are a few tiny sparkles if you look closely but it doesn't make much of an appearance on the lips.


Strangely enough when this is worn as a stain, it looks a bit magenta. This is another deep shade that I rarely ever wear as a stain since I think the full opacity looks more flattering on me.


Applied full on the plum is more apparent. The ColorBurst line has a bit of shine to it. It applies nicely and easy enough. I think the ColorBurst line tends to feel drying after a couple hours of wear which is surprising since it looks glistening when first applied.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Tom Ford Black Orchid, Revlon Wine Not, MAC Media, Revlon Plum. The last shade will be revealed in the next post!

The ColorBurst line isn't my favorite formula of lipsticks due to it being drying during wear so I am not too heartbroken to see them discontinued. However, I really enjoy the color of Revlon's Plum. I tend to whip it out every Fall as it isn't too dark to be dramatic but it still has a nice vampy feel.

What do you think of Revlon Colorburst lipstick in Plum? Am I the only one that found this line of lipsticks to be a bit drying?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

dark vampy lips day 3: MAC media

We have made it to Wednesday meaning this vampy lipstick series has reached its halfway point. Have you enjoyed it so far? Hopefully you haven't decided I am clinically insane for owning what seems like the same color in each post. If you have indeed confirmed my questionable state of mind, humor me anyway by reading up on today's dark contender: MAC Media.


In the bullet Media looks like the usual almost black cherry hue that vampy lipsticks tend to have. Poor Media, I bet it gets ignored all the time at MAC counters since most probably assume it is a Gothic black color.


As a stain, this lipstick shows a distinct fuchsia base. Remember how scary I though fuchsia was? Well that hasn't changed. I rarely wear this as a stain since the pink in it makes me feel a little funny. Still, it is better than flat out fuchsia due to the berry in it. Imagine this on pale skin! It'd be wonderful. Perhaps I should try it out when I get bone white in the dead of winter.


Full opacity is my preferred way to wear this. The deep boysenberry is much more in my comfort zone. Media is considered a satin finish by MAC's categorization; not quite matte but not quite shiny either. I'd say I agree with that description. I enjoy MAC's lipsticks. They smell nice, apply easily, and feel comfortable and non drying on the lips. Doesn't hurt that their color range is insanely huge so your options are completely open.

BerryLipSwatchesLEFT TO RIGHT: TOM FORD BLACK ORCHID, REVLON WINE NOT, MAC MEDIA. The rest will be revealed as the series continues.

Media shouldn't be overlooked at the counter. Swatch it out sometime! Especially if you like fuchsia stains, this would last you forever. I have heard Revlon Black Cherry is a pretty similar to this if you find MAC to be out of your price range.

What do you think of MAC Media? I have always wondered why they named this Media. Whoever has the job of naming MAC products must have a ball.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

dark vampy lips day 2: revlon wine not

It is day 2 of dark vampy lips week, what do I have to show you? It is Revlon Matte Lipstick in Wine Not, a really wonderful hue that I recently found lurking around in a Big Lots as it seems Revlon has annoyingly discontinued most of the matte line. I did hear a murmuring of them coming out with a new line soon named ColorBurst Matte Balms which sounds extremely exciting. Perhaps that will make up for them phasing out the good stuff.


Back to Wine Not: it is a beautiful dark Merlot shade. The formula is of course wonderful, I've talked about my love for the bolder shades in Revlon's Matte line already. They always go on smooth and effortlessly without sacrificing rich pigmentation. The more I use matte lipsticks the more I think I prefer the finish compared to those with a sheen. It is somewhat less distracting and more focused on the color when things are matte. Or perhaps I am just going through a matte phase.


I have been absolutely obsessed with this lipstick as a stain. I have worn it this way for the past week. It is so easy and it has been fitting my mood with the changing weather. As a stain it appears as a deep raspberry shade.


When applied full blast you can see how it is a red based vamp. Wine Not is a really fitting name for it as it does look like a nice glass of the fermented stuff. As always, prepping the lips is a given. I think dry lipped people might have comfort issues with this. I have pretty normal lips and towards the end of the day with this on I start to feel dryness. Initial application and a few hours of wear is a breeze though.

BerryLipSwatchesLEFT TO RIGHT: Tom Ford Black Orchid, Revlon Wine Not. The rest will be revealed as the series continues.

Wine Not is a discontinued color but you can still find it over at All Cosmetics Wholesale. Not an affiliate link, just trying to help a fellow deep wine lipstick lover out! I recommend it if you have normal lips. Dry lips beware, but then again the lipstick is cheap as chips so perhaps that is a bit of a dramatic warning.

What do you think of Wine Not? I should be asking what your favorite type if wine is instead, I have a feeling that might get more fun answers...