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?

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Highlighter for Special Snowflakes: Topshop Glow Stick in Otherworldly

One of the less charming aspects of being an American millennial in 2017 is getting called a "special snowflake" by old bigots on the internet. From my occasional perusal of right-wing Twitter accounts (I discovered last year that my mild-mannered undergrad Shakespeare professor is an alt-right conspiracy theorist, and I'm still not over it), I gather that special-snowflakery consists of wanting a living wage, universal healthcare, Nazi-free public discourse, and a modest decrease in mass shootings. In that spirit, I nominate Topshop Glow Stick in Otherworldly as the official highlighter of millennial special snowflakes, not only because of its color (white as the driven, pre-dog-pee snow) but also because it's as jankily constructed as our government these days. And because Topshop is a British brand and Brexit was the first event that made me wonder if Trump really could become president (though I do think that's a false equivalence in many ways). And because millennials love space-themed stuff, perhaps because we dream of a better world than this one. Wow, this metaphor is spinning out of orbit. Let's move on.

There are precious few reviews of Topshop makeup in the beauty blogosphere. (The only Otherworldly review I've found is from Bella Noir Beauty, whose post proves that white highlighter looks lovely on dark skin as well as light.) So when I asked my boyfriend to bring Otherworldly back from England this past spring, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting. But I knew I wanted a cool-toned neutral highlight, and Otherworldly seemed like a decent candidate.

Otherworldly is a white cream highlighter in chubby stick form. The packaging looks cute and should be portable, but I had the same disappointing experience as Bella Noir Beauty: the first time I pulled off the cap, the product popped right out of the tube. I was able to jam it back in, and I've been very careful with it ever since, but I don't feel comfortable traveling with it. And on short trips, I wear cream products almost exclusively (I like to save myself the hassle of brushes), so there goes one huge opportunity for me to get some use from this highlighter.

Also, the cap developed a huge crack shortly after I started using Otherworldly. I don't know when exactly this happened, but I do know that I hadn't handled it roughly at all. Last month I saw some beautiful vintage makeup at a thrift store on Haight Street, and it really brought home the flimsiness of modern beauty products. Did you know that Revlon powder used to come in metal compacts?

It's a shame that I had to begin my review with complaints about the packaging, because the highlighter itself works well for me. It does contain a lot of oil (note the oily residue on the tube in my second photo), but it blends out beautifully and hasn't made me break out. I'm also impressed by the formula's longevity on my skin (keep in mind, though, that my cheekbone/temple area is very dry in general). And the white sheen suits many different makeup looks, though I use Otherworldly most often with cool-toned ones.

Here it is swatched on my arm (left) and blended out (right), first in shade, then in direct sunlight:

All my highlighters, L-R: Otherworldly, NYX Twilight Tint, ColourPop Lunch Money, ColourPop Monster, Wet n Wild Precious Petals.

As you can see, the formula delivers an even shine without any specks of glitter, and it diffuses into a subtle glow, though you can also build it up for a more metallic look. Because I have a small face and I need to be careful with the busted packaging, I don't swipe the highlighter directly onto my cheekbones; instead, I put some on my finger and dab it across my skin to blend. Keep in mind that I don't wear foundation, so I can't speak to how well Otherworldly performs over it. I've heard that some cream highlights do break down or smudge foundation.

I just returned to my apartment after six weeks away, and I'm so dorkily excited to be reunited with my full makeup collection! So, for yesterday's look, I brought out a few of my oldest products. I used Urban Decay Whiskey on my upper lashlines and smudged it out with Primal shadow from the Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette. My blush is NARS Mata Hari (I've had it for five years and still haven't hit pan), and my lipstick is NARS Flamenco (now discontinued), which I'd like to use up this fall. Here's an awkward angle to show off the highlight:

Unlike the powder highlights I've tried, Otherworldly doesn't seem to emphasize my pores or fine lines. If anything, it has a slightly blurring effect.

Ugh, I'm of two minds whether to recommend this product. I can't in good conscience endorse anything with such badly constructed packaging, but Otherworldly's formula has been a hit for me. I do find myself wishing I'd taken Clementine's recommendation and asked my boyfriend to pick up one of the Topshop Glow Highlighters, which come in beautiful glass jars and are more *beauty-guru voice* BUH-LINDING than the Glow Sticks. Oh, well: I wouldn't be a special snowflake if I didn't experience fairly constant disappointment. I wonder if I could depot Otherworldly into a small jar or something?

(Update: I did!)

Friday, August 25, 2017

NYX Faux Blacks Eyeliners in Blackberry and Burnt Sienna

When Urban Decay released the Naked Heat collection earlier this summer, the product that really tempted my resolve was not the Naked Heat palette itself but one of the two limited-edition 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils: Torch, a rusty orange. (Okay, the palette was also tempting, but slightly less so.) I swatched both eyeliners, as well as the three Naked Heat lipsticks, at Ulta:

Eyeliners: Alkaline (L) and Torch. Lipsticks, top to bottom: Heat, Scorched, Fuel. Photographed in direct sunlight.

However, I balked at the idea of paying $20 for an orange eyeliner that I might not wear often. I didn't search actively for dupes, but a week or two later, I came across this post by Killer Colours, featuring two of the eyeliners from the NYX Faux Blacks collection. I'd never paid much attention to the Faux Blacks and Faux Whites, but Linda's beautiful looks sparked my interest. I knew I liked the formula of NYX's Slide-On eye pencils, which are obvious (though slightly inferior) knockoffs of Urban Decay's Glide-On pencils. The Faux Blacks and Whites don't belong to the Slide-On lineup, but the formula looked similarly soft and smudgy, and Burnt Sienna seemed like an unintimidating way to ease into the ruddy-eyeliner trend. Once at Ulta, I also found myself drawn to Blackberry, a deep plum. At $7.99 each, they were financially unintimidating, too (though my mom bought them for me, lol).

I've already sharpened each one a few times.

While photographing the eyeliners yesterday. I made an embarrassing discovery. As I've mentioned a couple of times before, I have ADHD, which means that I'm bad at filling out forms, following elaborate recipes, maintaining a skincare routine with more than three steps, and scrutinizing labels on beauty products before buying. Case in point:

The labels on the Faux Blacks (and, I assume, the Faux Whites) identify them as "Inner Eye Liner": that is, pencils for the waterline, where I never wear liner. Whoops. In my defense, I've never come across another eyeliner meant solely for the waterline, and the NYX website describes the Faux Blacks only as "striking eyeliners" that are "creamy and go on smooth, which makes drawing a precise line or smudging it out totally simple": no mention of where that line is to be drawn. Still, I have to take these liners on their own terms, so you should read this review with one huge caveat in mind: I'm not actually using the Faux Blacks as they're meant to be used. I wish I could try them out on my waterline and report back, but I wear contacts and feel squeamish about putting makeup near my eyeballs, and I don't care for the look of a lined waterline. For what it's worth, I do think the Faux Blacks would be nice on the waterline, as they set immediately and last all day. However, I think they work decently as lashline products too.

Blackberry is a dark, slightly grayish purple that looks very neutral, almost charcoal, on the eye. Burnt Sienna reminds me of Mexican chocolate: a rich reddish brown with a hint of plum. Here's Blackberry on the left and Burnt Sienna on the right; Blackberry is somewhat patchy, while Burnt Sienna is almost opaque in one swipe.

Brown eyeliners, L-R: Urban Decay Torch (yes, I bought it eventually), Burnt Sienna, UD Whiskey, UD Demolition. I worried that Torch and Burnt Sienna would be dupes, but they're not even close. I probably should have sharpened my liners before making these swatches, but oh well.

The Faux Blacks formula is soft (I have trouble sharpening the pencils on a hot day) but, despite the website description, not at all smudgy. This is a drawback for me, as my deeply creased eyelids are a terrible canvas for sharp, precise eyeliner looks, and I find a slightly smoked-out style to be easier and more forgiving. With Whiskey and Demolition (and NYX's own Slide-On formula, for that matter), I can draw a more or less messy line across my upper lashline, smudge it out a bit with my finger, and go about my day. But if I do the same with Blackberry or Burnt Sienna, the formula just crumbles off my lid. To give you a better idea of what happens, I swatched Burnt Sienna between Whiskey (left) and Demolition (right), then rubbed them with my finger. See the darker spots where Burnt Sienna has balled up on itself and started to crumble? Not cute, and not "totally simple."

The liners tend to look a little crumbly on my lashline even when I don't smudge them, which makes me wonder if they'd behave similarly on the waterline. Here's Blackberry on its own, with Topshop Chameleon Glow in Holograph on the inner corner and ABH Warm Taupe in the crease:

And here's Burnt Sienna. I drew a thicker line than normal, so it would be more apparent in photos, but going over the line caused the formula to crumble a bit.

Instead of wearing the Faux Blacks on their own, I prefer to incorporate them into a full eye look and draw a very thin line, almost a tightline, on my upper lashline. Burnt Sienna in particular is a perfect complement to warm-toned eyeshadow. Today I wore Burnt Sienna with ABH Warm Taupe in the crease and Antique Bronze on the lid, as well as Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, Wet n Wild Precious Petals highlighter (review to come!), and Urban Decay Amulet lipstick.

I got a haircut! Not a day too soon.

If you prefer to wear your pencil liner on your lashlines, I'd point you toward NYX's original Slide-On eye pencils instead of the Faux Blacks, though Burnt Sienna is a beautiful and unique brown that I'm happy to have in my collection. If you're more of a waterline person, these could well suit your needs. Either way, learn from my mistake and read the fucking label.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Urban Decay Metallized Vice Lipstick in Amulet

Though I was skeptical of Urban Decay's decision to pull its entire Revolution lipstick line last year and replace it with the even more extensive Vice line, I've come to appreciate the wisdom of that move. The lipsticks are now $5 cheaper ($17 vs. $22) and 0.6 grams larger (3.4 vs. 2.8); the bullets no longer have the wide, flat tip that made application so challenging; and I haven't noticed an overall dip in formula quality (though I can't say I've swatched all 120 shades). The packaging is lighter, but in my opinion, the functionality has improved: the thinner Revolution lipsticks often wobbled in their tubes, while the Vice lipsticks feel secure. Fine, Urban Decay: I'm a cynical bitch, but you win this one.

I now own three Vice lipsticks, one in the Comfort Matte formula (Backtalk, which is apparently the most popular shade) and two in the Metallized formula. My first Metallized lipstick was Roach, a deep bronze from the LE 20th-anniversary collection last year. Oddly, many of my favorite beauty products have been impulse purchases, and so was Roach. I quickly fell in love with the formula: moisturizing, almost opaque in one coat, creamy but not slippery. So when NYX Liquid Suede Metallic Matte in Modern Maven proved disappointing, I wondered if I could find a similar metallic brownish plum in Urban Decay's lineup. The Vice collection is so enormous that I don't have a mental catalog of names and colors, as I do with other brands' lipstick offerings. But there's something satisfying about approaching a huge display of lipsticks with an open mind and gazing stupidly at the rows of shades until one catches my eye. Perhaps it's the thrill of serendipity, or the comforting reminder that no matter how much of my precious hours I've devoted to memorizing lipstick names, I could have wasted even more time.

(Correction, 9/1/17: Roach is actually a Cream lipstick, not Metallized, but its formula is almost identical to Amulet's. By the way, Urban Decay just added Roach to its permanent lineup!)

The two shades that immediately stood out as candidates were Conspiracy, a "plum-bronze shimmer," and Amulet, a "metallic brick-rose." Here's Amulet on the left and Conspiracy on the right, in direct sunlight:

"Plum-bronze shimmer" was exactly what I wanted, but that description actually seemed better suited to Amulet, which I ended up buying toward the end of my San Francisco stay. (The name may have influenced my decision, too: amulets feature in some of my favorite Adventure Time episodes.)

Do you like my new photo background? I bought this beautiful paper at the Maido stationery store in SF's Japan Center.

I couldn't resist putting on my new lipstick before I got home from my shopping trip, so here's a shot of the unspoiled tube near City Hall, right after I devoured some excellent Vietnamese vermicelli with tofu from the Little Green Cyclo truck.

Amulet is a very shifty color, appearing more plum outside and more copper-brown under warm artificial light. Why am I so attracted to lipstick colors that defy description? Here's a lip swatch of Amulet in indirect natural light:

And in direct sunlight:

Needless to say, I didn't bring my full lipstick collection on my travels, but here's Amulet swatched next to a few colors I have on hand. Amulet looks very similar to Wet n Wild Rebel Rose here, but it pulls noticeably warmer on my lips.

L-R: Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Rebel Rose, UD Amulet, UD Roach, MAC Pale Rose.

I've read mixed reviews of Urban Decay's Metallized Vice formula, but I find Amulet just as impressive as Roach, if not even better. It's creamy, comfortable, and not at all drying, and it lasts several hours without the need for touch-ups. It seems to cling to my lips, almost as if it's bonding with them. Amulet isn't blindingly metallic, but it has an unmistakable sheen.

Here it is on my face on a very cloudy day. I have no idea what my other makeup is, but I'm clearly not wearing anything exciting.

Here's Amulet inside, with ABH Antique Bronze eyeshadow and NYX Burnt Sienna lipstick on my eyes. I think my blush is Urban Decay Rapture, not that it matters when you can't really see it on my face.

In a coffee-shop bathroom (classy, I know), under (I think) fluorescent light:

Overall, I'm absolutely delighted with my third Urban Decay Vice lipstick. Here's hoping it's the lucky amulet I need for this fall!