Maybe it’s time…

to come back.

:)

*After spazzing out once I realized that Kevyn Aucoin reformulated the Creamy Glows as lip/cheek products and introduced Creamy Glow Duos, with the newly reissued ‘Nuelle,’  the best nude blush in tone and texture I have ever used.  

Mea Culpa…

I was supposed to return to blogging much earlier than this.  Consider this an update post.  I still haven’t officially emerged from my blogging hibernation.  I thought I had a few months back, but that petered out fast.  With me, repetition is key with getting back into the swing of anything to make it part of my routine.  Unfortunately, blogging fell out of my routine and it’s been hard finding the will to do so. It’s more a focus thing than anything else.  Rather than try to do an official “I am Back” post, i think it’s better just to slowly easy my way in.  it feels great just typing this.  So here goes…. 

Much of my time the last half year has been focused on my then new job and the super crazy scenarios I have seen play out at work. I have been so hopped up on adrenaline that I couldn’t sleep; I have spent hours dissecting information on phone calls with co-workers late into the night, played a live action cloak and dagger game and all because of a few toxic people creating a quite dysfunctional work environment.  But it has oddly been very fascinating at the same time.  It is really interesting to see how literally one or two toxic people can create chaos within supposedly sophisticated corporate organizations.  Also, very interesting how these people can out last so many others!

My current employment has been incredibly informative on office politics, office drama, office personas, and office inefficiency and that funny thing called the “merit system.”  What’s so funny is how not perturbed I am by the whole thing.  What has happened at my job resembles a corporate version of a daytime soap opera.  I watch and play defense.  The best defense of course is being above all OBSERVANT and after that damn productive and helpful and getting along with everyone.  Not that it makes you permanently immune to being targeted, but that regardless of the warring personalities involved, they want you on their team – for now.  No one wants someone who can’t do what they are supposed to, is too slow, or can’t work independently without asking a billion questions.  But who wants to work in an environment like that?  

It’s been a crazy ride and this pleb needs to plan an exit plan that doesn’t involve unemployment or being overworked!  :)

Aside from work being all consuming, I have had a product whore moment of truth during this time.  Technically, it’s my second.  The first beauty ban I imposed was right after grad school and I actually had less than I have now (!)  I was very good for a long while and then it all went to hell.  Again.  Since my beauty ban I have unceremoniously dumped products that expired or I figured should have since I have had it too long.  This has thinned out my drawers.  And yet, I STILL have too much.  I know you are all aware of that Sephora promotion going on right now and the end of my beauty ban was very much planned around the discount/promotional season for a reason.  However, despite filling up my online cart I had to ask my self if I needed any of it.  I still have product in their boxes.  I ended up having to throw out a gorgeous full bottle of Suti’s Rejuvenate Face Oil because it went rancid (or smelled like cold pressed meaty butter….GROSS!). I dumped over a dozen nail polishes that had separated.  I dumped over half of my bottled foundations and I still have product for at least several months use.  I’ve got tons of sunscreen bottles (mostly Elta and Shiseido).

The point? 

I don’t need much and I don’t want much in the beauty arena.  

But who am I fooling?  I am not going cold turkey.  So, yeah…this reformed product whore IS getting a few items this holiday season.And I can’t wait to blog about it and all the other goodies I have been diligently using up.  Plus, I want to let you know what happened during the course of my official spending ban.  It wasn’t a perfect record…and yet, I am still reformed.

ALSO, A QUICK SHOUT OUT TO THE MANY FILIPINO BEAUTY BLOGGERS I FOLLOW.  I HOPE YOU, YOUR FAMILIES, YOUR FRIENDS AND THE REST OF YOUR COUNTRYMEN ARE OK!

Institut Esthederm: Parisian Niche Products

institut

Niche parisian products with pharmacy-like ingredients and that are hard to find in the U.S.?  Sign me up.  Sigh, then my wallet cries foul!  I heard about Institut Esthederm from a few beauty blogs that focus on high-end or niche products.  I had heard about the sun cream which is supposed to block the sun, despite no official SPF rating referred to in its marketing literature and i decided to pass.  But I didn’t pass on investigating some new products that sounded really tantalizing.  I bypassed their wrinkle and oil control products and went straight to their acne care products.  Many american drugstore brand products for acne are just too weak and not meant to irritate even somewhat sensitive skin.  My skin’s tougher than that, or so I thought.  I am always trying to find the middle road for OTC skincare products that won’t irritate my skin, but will have a powerful effect degunking my oil-gunked pores.  Wow, that’s so pleasant sounding…right? No.

But I was on a ‘do the french pharmacy-luxe brands have something that American brands just don’t have?’ kick.  I mean european brands are known for using cutting edge ingredients before they find their way in to the U.S.  On the otherhand, many of these cutting edge ingredients have nominal real world efficacy for the intended problem.  But I persisted.  I have tried La Roche Posay, Roc and Vichy.  There have been a few nice gems in these brands.  Surely, I could find something to knock my socks off.  When I picked up Institut Esthederm’s Intensif Ginko A and Intensif Propolis I got something knocked off all right.  My burning skin cells as they reacted to the totally INTENSIF POW in these ingredients.  These products are not for the faint of heart or the thin-skinned.

First some info on Institut Esthederm – YUP, they are parisian.  Can’t ya tell?  It is a Paris based brand that has been creating skincare products for the last 30 years.  For the past decade and change, the brand has focused on delivering active ingredients in a “charged” water that they call “Cellular Water,” which is meant to recreate an ideal environment for skin cells, by mimicking cellular water.  This is in contrast to the demineralized water used in most cosmetics.  Institut Esthederm organizes its skincare by five family lines.  The two products that I chose are from the Pure System, which focuses on products that liquify sebum and normalizes the skin to reduce imperfections.

Intensif  Ginkgo A is a white treatment cream that you can use all over the face, or on the targeted areas of your face with the break outs, completely avoiding the eye area.  It’s star ingredient is Ginkgo Biloba  combined with Zinc Gluconate and 10-Hydroxydecanoic Acid.   The brand literature doesn’t actually do a good job of explaining why and how these ingredients work.  It is basically asking the reader to make positive associations with the known BUT VERY GENERALIZED effects of these ingredients from popular studies and your skin.  Ginkgo Biloba is known to be one of the hardiest trees out there able to withstand very hostile environments.  While Zinc Gluconate is a kind of salt that is known to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that is known to help reduce certain types of acne.  10-Hydroxydecanoic Acid is taken from Royal Jelly and it is known to have a significant restorative, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. These ingredients along with the glycolic acid, salicylic acid and glycyrrhetnic acid (also anti-inflammatory and reduces melanin production) are supposed to work together to …well, what does the marketing material say? It says and I quote “provide a dermotoesthetic response to skin problems.”  Seems to me – the brand doesn’t actually know for sure either, they just know it does something.

On me, it just ended up burning my skin.  In all fairness, I did use a combination salicylic/glycolic acid cleanser and Retin-A Micro when I used this product.  I ended up chucking the Retin-A Micro for a while to see the difference and it was not as harsh on my skin, but it does have an inflammatory effect on my skin, like a slight, mild sizzle.  Normal, thin-skinned and sensitive-skinned folks should stay far, far away from this stuff.    Despite it’s very INTENSIF effect on my skin, I have not given up on this tube.  I will figure out a corresponding skincare routine to allow me to use this stuff.   But for the rest of you, save your money.  If I figure out this skincare rubrics cube, I will pass on the info, but honestly, it probably wouldn’t be worth it.   I’ve sunk my money, so I have nothing to lose but time and layers of inflamed skin.

BRING IT ON!

Now, you think that maybe the Intensif Propolis would somehow counter the flammatory effects of the Intensif Ginkgo A.  NOPE.  Propolis is supposed to be packed full of restorative, gentle, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory good stuff, but this was also kind of harsh on my skin.  It was also somewhat unpleasant to use.  It is a brown slightly tacky, liquid that does not disappear into the skin visually or texture-wise.   Propolis is a resin that is collected by bees from the tree saps and flowers they get up all close and personal with.  There is no exact content for propolis because it always varies.  However, per the marketing material, it always contains resin, wax, essential oils, pollin, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and flavenoids.   This all seems wonderful and I am not anti Propolis.  I LOVE propolis.  But I am used it being in a far more gentle delivery system that actually babies skin and doesn’t inflame it.

After realizing how unpleasant it is, I started using it exclusively in my t-zone where I have my rather large pores.  I did notice that there did seem to be a positive effect on my super oily pores, but ironically I couldn’t just let it sit there on my skin.  After letting it simmer on my skin for a few hours, I would have to wash it off because this stuff does not evaporate into nothing.  It felt like it might be suffocating my skin and actually cause a breakout.  Then of course I take a closer look at the ingredients and realize it contains propylene glycol and dimethicone before the actual propolis ingredient.  Here is a tip…don’t add dimethicone to an ingredient that is supposed to penetrate pores.

I am still figuring out a use that is beneficial to my skin and if I find anything I will report back.  But this isn’t a winner either.  Both are rather expensive bottles and I would caution anyone falling for these french luxury pharmacy lines.  Yeah, it looks great on vanity or in a medicine cabinet, but really they are just really aggressive, inflammatory window dressing.

Hot Orange Lips with Hourglass and Make Up Forever

Hourglass MUF Orange Horizontal

It is a tad ironic that I am posting an orange lippy just when I am favoring the muted nudish pink tones.  Go figure.  I still love super bright orange and super bright neon pinks, but more casual colors that don’t require frequent checks of the mirror are more my style now.  Not like I wore them very often to begin with, but it was always a special treat when I did.  However, even with the few time I wore these bright colors, they sometimes made a bigger impact than I wanted…I once snoozed a bit on my ride back home on a late night and went back home with my orange lips smeared all over my mouth and surrounding skin.  Yes, I looked crazy.  Fortunately, this was during my grad school days, late at night, and very few people actually saw that hot mess.  Since that night, I’ve always been paranoid every time I wear a noticeable lip color.  Plus, I have an overbite with very large front teeth….the kind you hate as a kid, but turn out to be one of those features you get complemented on by strangers and dentists alike.  

I picked up these bright orange hues last winter when I was loving the new vibrant pinks and oranges that were being released in these cool liquid-lip matte colors.  I tried Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lip Color in Fiore (a hot pink) and Tesoro (a lovely hot orangey-red), but one quick rub of my lips together and it looked sludgey and peeled off my skin.  I loved the colors but didn’t like the wearability.  I tried Giorgio Armani’s Lip Maestro in Tibetan Orange and I loved it (and picked it up).  It will show up in a post eventually.  I really wanted to pick up another shade but decided to pick up another shade of orange from the very comparable Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Riviera, which was a few bucks cheaper.  

Hourglass MUF Orange

Hourglass’ Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick offered enhanced wearability and finish.  I wasn’t as nerve racked about the lacquer peeling off and clumping.  This didn’t mean that I was smacking my lips with abandon but it was a huge improvement from Stila’s comparable color matches for a few bucks less.  Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick does not bleed or feather.  It goes on in a thin creamy veil of color and dries to a dense non-dry looking matte finish.  I can’t claim to have ever worn this lip for 14 hours, but I don’t think 14 hours is legitimate simply because it does fade a bit after a few hours and it does kind of embed itself in to your lips, drying it out a bit.  A few careful thin swipes of color along with balm refuels the color payoff, but you have to be careful to reduce a smidge of clumping along the lines in your lips where the color may have sunk in more.  Regardless, this is an amazing lipstick for those of use who are neurotic and do not want to look like bozo the clown.

I picked up Make Up Forever’s Aqua Lip Waterproof Lipliner Pencil as a way to reinforce the color of what I thought would be bleeding and fading pigment.  Turned out with the enhanced staying power of the Hourglass and Armani Lacquers that it was unnecessary.  However, it turned out that this little pencil is more than just a way to lay down foundation color to lock in the pigment under lipstick.  This pencil can be worn on its own for medium tinted shot of waterproof color.  I was really surprised with the pigment and long lasting color.  A touch of balm adds needed moisture and a hint of shine to the finish for a more subdued look, even with the Bright Orange 17C shade I picked.  I liked this pencil so much that I picked up a hot pink number as well to be showcased some time later down the road.  

Hourglass Orange

One of the awesome things about pencil makeup is how much long lasting it is compared to liquid and cream-based products.  Sadly, that’s the one thing that makes the Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick a problem, is the breeding ground aspect of the flecked sponge-tipped applicator wand being reinserted into the plastic shaft.  The need to replace this lipstick often will be high.  That’s about the only negative I can think of.  It really is a safe way to wear loud, bright colors without neurotically checking the mirror or avoiding serious lip-contact action.

 

Some Near End of Summer Musings…

I am back for a bit.  It’s been over a month since my last post.  don’t think I don’t know that it’s a little bummy of me to follow up a pictureless post with a pictureless post…it is a beauty blog after all.  But this is definitely a text appropriate musing post.  I haven’t been reading as many blogs and that’s hugely due to time constraints and the fact that i feel a bit ridiculous checking out a beauty blog at work…don’t think that I haven’t though – on the sly…But it does cut down on the amount of commenting I would do, or liking for that matter.  But I am still peeking my head out there.

And of course, still thinking of my own blog.  I decided I needed a theme change.  But I can’t say this is the permanent one, or even the one for right now.  There are certain things I don’t like about it.  And there are certainly issues with the way some photos have been distorted on this theme.  The upshot is that other photos that had been constrained by my use of the old theme now appear larger.  But still – i think I need to go post by post and re-uploading…crikey.  But I am only going to do that once I settle on a theme.  This maybe a placeholder.

Ahhh, my beauty spending ban.  I have actually stuck to it.  Nary a single bottle, pot, or box has been bought.  I rarely go to Sephora or other beauty retailer, whether online or in store.  I think it’s nice because when I do go back, I am hoping for some surprises, which was the whole purpose of the spending ban.  I want to be surprised again by the new and the old – and that was surprising.  That I could be surprised by something I already owned.  Origins Stay Tuned Balancing Makeup is a great matte foundation for oilier skintypes and for humid weather.  It doesn’t give the most “natural” skin-like finish, but for those of use who require sweat-proof, acne-covering coverage – it’s awesome!  Usage of facial mists and highlighter powder can counter the matte effect, or you could just wait it out as your skin oils mix in with the foundation.  I found that I had to blot from oil breakthrough, but it only made my makeup look more natural.

I am currently using my Jemma Kidd Light As Air Foundation, which has been discontinued.   I couldn’t stand the black plastic tube bottle so I just dumped the contents in my used up Origins foundation bottle.  I hope to be done with it by the beginning of fall.  Once that’s done, I think I will keep that “empty” and use to repackage other foundations, like my broken bottle of Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup, which pumps out foundation on the sides, as well as from the nozzle.

Speaking of empties, while I enjoy others posting about them, I hate posting about them.  That was an interesting exercise and one that will stop for my blog.  Finishing a product gives me glee, but so does throwing it out.  I hated keeping empty bottles just to collect them.  I live in New York freaking City, keeping “garbage” is a no-no.  I am doing away with the few posts I did do (DELETING) and I won’t be posting them in the future either.  I get great satisfaction from dumping empty bottles, or even expired bottles.  Saving the bottles was messing with that bit of pleasure. So, soyonara!

Back on the beauty front, I am aware of some rather significant beauty launches…of course, Marc Jacobs Beauty is BUZZING.  I wasn’t all that thralled when I heard about it, and then I became a bit more, and then I just went mehhhhh.  I’ve read some of the previews and honestly I can’t tell if it’s just basic fangirl lemming and rhapsodizing about a brand as opposed to the actual product.  You know, sometimes, it is all about the BRAND and the ASSOCIATION.  So, maybe the “I can’t afford a Marc Jacobs blouse or bag” turns into a “but at least I can afford a $40 dollar foundation.”  (For the record, I can’t afford a Marc Jacobs blouse either.)  Every review I have read so far makes it sound like “PERFECTION.”  But I suspect it’s just brandolizing.  Having said that, I did notice some very distinct blush shades I would like to try out from Marc Jacobs Beauty Shameless Bold Blush in Outspoken (a lilac pink), Naughty ( a natural super light pink), and Promiscuous (described as a warm rose, but it looks like a muted dusty burgandy) and I am curious about their face powder.  Sadly, I have too many foundations still (NOT GOING BAD) for me to justify buying anymore after the ban.

But there are other products I am really intrigued by and i will be slapping down some money for.  I mean who wasn’t salivating over the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector PowderI kind of want to get them all….  :/  So much for my more frugal ways.  Also, Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Ultra Definition Pressed Finishing Powder sounds kind of awesome.  But will cheap packaging do them in?  Or will the shades I am looking at on my screen scream beigey-orange or brown?  I am super curious of Givenchy Teint Couture Long Wearing Compact Foundation, as well.  If you have noticed, there is a powder makeup theme going here.

Leaving the powders, I would love to try out the Hourglass Femme Nude Lip Stylo and find the perfect nude for me, which may be the Nude No. 4 or Nude No. 6.  Then there is the amazingly natural, yet made up look of Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro – yes, a now dated release, but such a great lip texture and long lasting color.  I absolutely loved 500 and 501, both nudish medium-pinks that dressed me up without dressing me over.  I almost broke my beauty ban over those two matte lip glosses.

New skincare products are always welcome, and I am curious about the new cleansing oils that are popping up.  I have my two favorite mainstays I have purchased over the years, Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil and DHC Deep Cleansing Oilplus the luxe Rodial GlamTox Cleansing Balmwhich I have written about a few times.  But I am always interested in new products, like Murad’s Renewing Cleansing Oil  and the oldie I haven’t quite gotten around to trying just yet, but really want to for some reason now, Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm.

I am always checking for new sunscreens and I haven’t thrown in the towel with Kate Somerville just because I couldn’t stand her Protect SPF 55 Serum suncreen, which is NOT ideal for oily, acne-prone skin.  So i am still curious about her new Daily Deflector Waterlight Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ PA +++ Anti-Aging Sunscreen.  And despite the fact that Sephora has been pushing their very much invested in Algenist brand, I still want to try Algenist Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid SPF 50.

On my own personal skincare front, i realized a few weeks ago that what I had thought was a moderate to severe melasma problem had actually gotten much worse, and is in the severe category.  Most of the foundations I use now are darker, which makes sense – it’s the summer.  But the patches of my natural skin that have not been effected by melasma has shrunk to a small triangle area below my left eye.  It finally hit me that my over-pigmentation problem was exasperated by my use of RETIN-A MICRO.  I remembered that it was during grad school that someone pointed out to me that my forehead had gotten darker than the rest of my face (thanks!).  This was the time period I went on Seasonale (AWFUL) and when I started heavily using RETIN-A MICRO to clear up my increasingly bad hormonal breakouts.  Fast forward and my facial pigmentation has dramatically deepened compared to the rest of my unexposed body parts, which had nothing to do with with natural tanning.  RETIN-A MICRO is known to create inflammation and darkening in some skintones.  My desire to blast my acne off my face has led to some collateral damage that was far more significant than I thought.  My facial skin without foundation now looks mottled…sure, it’s wrinkless, but I definitely look tired and old and mottled.  I’ve already set up a dermatologist appointment and am ready to kick the RETIN-A MICRO habit…

Of course, something really interesting happened when I briefly mentioned in passing my melasma problem to some.  Apparently, it’s not ok to discuss melasma as a problem to a darker skinned person…I swear I got “side eyed” which really irritated me.  I am aware of the politics of skintone but if i can’t talk about a legitimate skin issue, without it being politicized then it’s the other person who needs to be headchecked.  i will leave it at that.

Overall, I am REALLY excited about the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  I received my first fall issue of newly redesigned Lucky Magazine, and it looks like a LUCKY-VOGUE  hybrid (sigh).  But it still an improvement from what it was before.  Sorry, former editors.  Glamour’s new Jennifer Aniston cover (again!) is tired and the issue – meh.  I am still waiting on Marie Claire, which has an amazingly gorgeous cover of Zooey Deschanel and Allure (don’t let me down!).

I can’t wait for a few new fashion updates.  My closets getting smaller and clothes more simple, and yet I am more satisfied.  Other than a new coat, winter boots, and new everyday casual shoes in the goes with everything taupe because I am obsessed with LESS, I am not really interested in clothes.  I am hunkering down and just thinking on finances and my financial future.  It happens.  I think it’s called being a grown up…and realizing your disposable income is not so disposable.  Those in marriages and with kids think about this stuff sooner for obvious reasons, but eventually even the single gal has to think about the future much more seriously.

Anyways, here is looking to fall! I hope to get the kinks out of the blog – theme-wise – and to start reposting again.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer!  If you haven’t figured it out, the bolded are clickable links so you can review the products at your leisure (all not affiliated).  See you soon in the blogging world.

Let’s Celebrate: 1 Year Anniversary!

Four score and seven years ago – oh wait – actually it’s only been exactly one year ago that my very first blog post went up.  I spent a few years wondering if I would ever build up the courage to start a beauty blog – cuz that’s what youngins’ do.  After I started it, I wondered if I could keep on going longer than 6 months…there were lulls that were mostly disguised because I had completed and scheduled a half dozen or more posts to cover for my period of inactivity.  This time around, I was not so well prepared. But it hasn’t been blogging nadirs as much as it has been the fact that I go to work early and come home late.  I’ve been posting sporadically on weekends, when I can.  The truth is – the urge is still there to post, but the time has not.  When blogging becomes a chore that’s when it will stop…But for now, it’s just a bit slow.  I haven’t abandoned ye yet bloggie!

So, looking back – I think it’s amazin’ I’ve been here a year!  In one year, I have gained 193 official followers and generated over 120,000 page views. I have received almost 300 comments and I have uploaded over 250 posts!  Small fry in the blogging world, but pretty awesome for me!  I have come across some lovely folks in the blogging world and  shared my love of all things beauty-related, which is always fun to do!  Beauty bloggers may proliferate in the net world, but hardcore beauty lovers are hard to find in the physical world.  I mean who else am I going to share my excitement about the 20th new blush release in a near similar color to all the other blushes out there in existence, and then get excited all over again when the 21st comes out? Who?! Who I ask you?!  Eventually, I would like to become more interactive in the beauty blogging community, but when I can be more consistent with my time and attention.

I hope to get back to consistent periodic blogging again with new products, thoughts and better pictures.  I can assure you while my new focus on maintaining a manageable stash is quite serious, my love of beauty is just as serious and has not suffered.  I await excitedly for the end of my beauty ban and for more of my current stash to be used up or expire.  (it’s gotta go one way or the other – that’s my new attitude.)  I mean it’s not coincidental that my beauty ban ends in November, the beginning of major discounts in the beauty world for gift giving.  :)

I have pretty much avoided checking out Sephora and other beauty retailers in the meantime, and that’s ok.  I have started to read books again, I hang out more consistently with my friends, and I am taking in the city I was born in, and exploring new areas or becoming a frequent visitor to the old ones.  It’s all good.  I have ventured into the youtube world and now actually follow a few youtubers, which is pretty interesting and different for me.  Don’t get me wrong…I will never be a hardcore exclusive youtube viewer because I just don’t have the patience to sit and watch someone ramble on for ten minutes or so about a product, and so help me, I never will as I tend to focus more on beauty application/tutorial videos.  But it is a nice distraction occasionally.  

Here is to one year, and perhaps, a few more!  

Happy fourth of July!!!

:)

When You Find What You Weren’t Looking For…

forgotten

Is there nothing more awesome than finding something you had forgotten about?  For instance, if you are in the habit of frequently swapping out handbags day to day, you may forget to remove cash from the bags.  It’s nice to find money in bags or jackets.  If you’ve misplaced a really cool doodad and just gave up on looking for it, but then find it during a new reorganization session, you get giddy from finding it again.  Or what about that little pot of multipurpose color you have been looking everywhere for, and you get a nice little surprise when you look inside a cargo pocket and find it.  Awesome, right? 

What about when it’s not?  I was clearing out some space in my closet to move in boxes of paperback books I had either read and loved, or not read yet, but for which I did not have the time for, and I started clearing out a large Muji brown paper bag filled with items I had thrown in there from an old “cleaning” session.  Sometimes these “cleaning” sessions involved me dumping things in a bag, letting it sit there for a while, and then shoving it some place where it won’t disturb the pseudo organization I had completed.  On the surface everything looks sparse, neat and organized.  Under that shiny, sparse exterior lurks the dirty, messy, disorganized and clumped truth – the mess I shoved off the tops of surfaces and stored in dark corners not to be seen again – for a while. 

In this Muji brown paper bag I found the tape measure I had been looking everywhere for, the booklights I wondered what I had done with, the rolls of extra packing type I could have sworn I had tons of, but had purchased more of because apparently it had been a figment of my imagination – which it wasn’t, tons of little odds and ends…OH, YEAH AND A SMALL SEPHORA BAG FILLED WITH A RECEIPT AND BRAND NEW ITEMS – circa a 2012 shopping trip.

!@^%#(&!

I had completely forgotten about these items.  What were they exactly?  A Laura Mercier 500 point Sephora VIB gift and the  Boscia mini kit deal, along with several lovely long-wear, matte Sephora brand lipsticks.

Instead of being pleased by these re-emerging gifts, I was hit with a sinking feeling.  Like WTF! Not only do I have to worry about a horde of mid-use make up expiring and cool minis that won’t get the same level of enjoyment and appreciation I normally give because I can’t soak in the experience, now I have “new” boxes of unopened stuff from last year? 

This is all very Dantean, you know.  I love beauty and skincare products so much that I went a bit overkill.  I love trying new things and I love trying to find something that will fix a skin issue, but I crossed a threshold.  I wasn’t getting the same level of enjoyment and appreciation.  Throwing in some economics – I did not maximize the optimal level of satisfaction for beauty.  I overran it and each additional util of enjoyment decreased until it became displeasure.   I am soooooooooooo over that point.  It’s sad.  I find it ironic that I need to abstain from new beauty products for a while in order to regain the sheer joy I gained from a new product. 

But this wasn’t just it.  It was something more.

My “Mission to Finish” and “Beating the Beauty Clock” sucked the fun and pleasure out of beauty.  Beauty isn’t a speed contest on usage.  It’s an experience.  A luxury.  My overkill in the foundation, highlighter, and sunscreen department, along with my sense of guilt on waste, made using my beauty products seem like a chore.  A CHORE!?!

Needless to say…that focus on using up certain products exclusively?  Gone.  Beauty is as much fun as it is purpose for me.  I stripped the fun and it became all purpose…and then I couldn’t care less.

If a product spoils, it spoils.  So be it.  I will need to make better “inventory” decisions.  That means, as I mentioned before, no new foundations for a while.  No new highlighters either. Ditto sunscreens.  But in the meantime, I won’t hesitate to use a different foundation, if it’s the texture I want, the application technique I want.  Same goes for sunscreen.  I am not only using my Origins Stay Tuned Makeup, I am using my “no where near expiring” Lancôme Teint Miracle Foundation, as well.  When I feel like it.  And you know what?  I am enjoying my Origins Stay Tuned Makeup even more now, because I am not forcing myself to use it all the time.  Allowing myself to be free is increasing my enjoyment of all of my makeup.  And that means, even if I am only able to get a few uses out of it before it goes bad, I am actually appreciating it more, enjoying it significantly more than if I had forced myself to use every last drop exclusively.

I am sure the applications and analogies for this are RIPE for exploration.

If you love something, SET IT FREE. LET IT BE.

That’s maybe easier said than done in certain situations, but on this one…I am coastin.’

As in most things in life, there is collateral damage.  Expired bottles?  Ehh, I can live with that.

The Foundations: Part 4

Foundation Collection

These four liquid foundations were the last foundations I purchased before I went on my beauty spending ban.  Sadly, one of these bottles may already be on it’s death legs -err bottle.  These foundations get the least usage from me for one very big reason…they are mostly too dark, with the exception of MAC’s Face & Body Foundation in C2.

By far the DARKEST foundation I own is Rouge Bunny Rouge Milk Aquarelle Liquid Foundation ($64.00 for 29 ml) in Cashew Milk Parfait.  I had been staring at the few online swatches I could find and I was stuck between Cashew Milk Parfait and Chestnut Milk Parfait.  I decided to err on the darker side because it was described as olive.  But this is what I call a Eva Mendes with a tan olive – very orange olive.  I tried to pass it on to my really golden tanned sister, who was rocking a MAC NC 42 tan, but it was too light for her.  Now, I just use a teeny amount of this stuff mixed in with a too light foundation, or highlighter, and use it like a tinted moisturizer for warmth.  I can’t really comment on how this feels on it’s own long term on my oily skin because I have to dilute it significantly with other lightening products.  But I will say it has a lovely blendable gel-texture.  There is a slight scent to it and it has moisturizers in it like shea butter and skin conditioners like panthenol.  This foundation DOES oxidize darker on its own and it’s not great for oily skin.  I like the idea behind Rouge Bunny Rouge, but their foundation range is incredibly limited, so I would not purchase any of their foundations again, until they expand AND I can test it out.  I purchased this from BeautyHabit.com.

The second darkest foundation I own is Make Up Forever HD Invisible Cover Foundation in 123 Desert ($42.00 for 1.01 oz).  Unlike the Rouge Bunny Rouge foundation, which I purchased based on online swatches, I actually sampled MUF HD in 123 for a while during the fall.  I knew it was too dark for me, but I LOVED the way I looked with it on because despite it being too dark, it worked with my undertones.  I eschew tanning of any kind because I know that it will make my future skin leathery and wrinkle-y (and I suffer from melasma) but I look GREAT with a strong tan.  This foundation represents the sun burnt shade I would be if I didn’t have to work for a living.  Plus, I felt ooooooooooooh so exotic in this shade, like I was from one of those teeny French Polynesian islands.  I know I should not have purchased this shade, but I did.  I have worn it occasionally at night in the winter (with a turtleneck and long sleeves), or during the daytime lightened up with highlighters and moisturizer.  This shade leans more yellow-brown with a hint of orange.  It offers an incredible satin-finish to the skin but my skin did look oily very quickly with it on.  This is not a good summer foundation, so I suggest avoid it during the summer if you have oily skin.  Honestly, I should not have gotten this color and this is not a good foundation for oily skin, but drier skin types will likely love it.

My Inglot AMC Cream Foundation in MW100 ($22.00 for 1.0 oz) was purchased last year and I was super excited with it’s very olive-tone.  I saw a youtuber describe it as almost gray, but it’s just a very green tone.  I was stuck between MW100 and LW600 and just decided to go darker.  I loved the shade, which looks darker in the swatches than the other shades but it does NOT oxidize darker unlike the other shades.  I do lighten it a bit but it works with my undertones.   The color is the only thing I loved because this is not a skin friendly formula.  This cream foundation emphasized dry patches on skin, even on my oily skin.  I found I had to excessively exfoliate my skin and use Japanese toners to remove the loose skin flakes for even application and then slap on some moisturizer, but it didn’t matter because an hour or so later I would see lose skin flakes separating on my face along with the foundation.  I understand I was using strong retinoids, but even when I wasn’t I would have the same issues. I would not purchase this again.  It is not a good foundation, but the shade is great.

Last, but not least, is my MAC Face & Body Foundation in C2 ($27.00 for 1.7 oz).  This is a very sheer foundation, but it offers more color coverage than Becca’s Luminous Skin Colour Foundation, which is super duper sheer.  Unlike Becca’s Luminous Skin Colour Foundation though, MAC’s Face & Body Foundation offers flexible, buildable coverage.  This foundation, like most warm-toned MAC foundations leans orange so I went with the lighter color, although I could have gone with C3 just as easily.  The shades overlap into each other.  I have used this foundation for a tinted moisturizer look.  It is not the best for oily skin, but it can be blotted rather easily due to it’s satin-finish that reads humidity-dewy on me.  It does not emphasize dry flakes of skin.  It is also water resistant, which makes it great for body cover-up.  This product is probably one of the most used foundations in fashion shows.  I know it is constantly mentioned in backstage beauty breakdown lists.  I do have a packaging caveat – it is not leak proof.  The cap does twist off easily  when in a make up bag and product can collect in the cap while it is closed creating a mess.

As you all know, I am officially banned from buying anymore beauty products until November.  However, I will go on a modified quantity restriction for certain products even after the end of my beauty ban.  I have WAY toooo many foundations.  Yes, my overall number has decreased because of expired bottles and what not.  But no single human should have like a dozen or more liquid foundations, that’s like ridiculous.  I am going to cap myself to six, which in truth is still a lot, but still manageable because I do use a lot of foundation to cover up acne or discoloration.    Six is an arbitrary number, but it’s a hell of a lot better than like 15!  I do want to get better at discarding USED UP products and not expiring ones.  Therefore, it will be a while before I purchase a new foundation even after the ban because I still have more than six bottles left and in non-expiring condition.

Here are the swatches.

Foundations 4 text

Monday Minis # 2

MM1

I love minis.  You know this.  This is my second Monday Minis post.  Woohoo.  The first is here.   I have made headway on using the minis in the first post.  About half are almost used completely.  Unfortunately, the packaging has made some minis difficult to use up completely.  But progress has been made!  With that I introduce to you my second set of mini’s for your review.  I don’t want to slap things on my face just to use them up with these newbies.  I prefer care to distinguish products I may purchase full sizes of. 

Currently, only Josie Maran’s Argan Oil sample has been used.  I am still trying to make headway through my older used products, but some have passed their expiration date and had to be trashed.  It could not be helped.  You win some you lose some.  These minis were accumulated a few weeks before the start of my ban, so I am not worried about them going bad.  Either way, in my gym bag and makeup case they go for eventual exploration.

MM2

MM3

MM4

MM5

There is one particular brand I have to rave about in this assortment and it is Atelier Cologne.  I was given a sample of the Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue, which is fine.  I am not a fan of orange scented perfumes.  However, I love their Bois Blonds Cologne Absolue.   I am not a perfume nose and I hate jarring noticeable strong scents. So I have a preference for subtle softer scents, but not powdery ones.  Atelier Cologne’s Bois Blonds Absolue is the perfect subtle scent that skims the senses.  I am not anywhere near picking up a bottle just yet – 1) hello! ban! and 2) it’s rather pricey ($170!).  However, when the holiday season pops up – conveniently around the corner after my ban – I will be picking up a bottle.

Gorgeous Cosmetics Base Perfect Foundation

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I happened to stumble on Gorgeous Cosmetics within days of their introduction to the U.S. market when I was scanning Nordstrom.  Any time a new cosmetics brand is made available in the U.S. I get super excited because I feel I have tried almost all the brands available to me, so being introduced to something new is refreshing.  Gorgeous Cosmetics is especially interesting to me because it hails from Australia.  The only other Australian brand I am aware of is Becca Cosmetics and since I loved them, I was anxious to try another aussie brand. 

Of course, these brands couldn’t be farther from each other from a branding perspective.  Becca Cosmetics favors a skin-natural look with textures and shades that favors a beach, bronzey, sultry look with an emphasis on sheered out skintones.  Lately, I have noticed with their new production introductions that they are going more for the “made-up” face with opaque, matte colors. We will see if this fundamentally changes the branding dna and philosophy of the brand over time, if it does at all.

Gorgeous Cosmetics branding appears to be more of a traditional red carpet, or C-suite executive, or politician on the stump, fully “made-up” face.  A power face brought down to a minimum of various standard looks and textures.  However, they have not invested in promotional images the way Becca Cosmetics have.

As always, I stayed within my bread and butter for trying out a new cosmetic brand.  I picked up a foundation.  Earlier in the winter, I reviewed Gorgeous Cosmetics Sheer Brilliance foundation here.  It was not a good option for me shade wise. So those went back.  I also picked up the Base Perfect Foundation in two colors since I wasn’t sure which would work out: 2Y and 2N.  I figured Level 2 shades would be equivalent to a light-medium depth and it is, but on the darker side.  I actually fall on the lighter side of light-medium.  I am usually the darkest shade in the Light category, or the lightest shade in the Light-Medium spectrum.  However, my undertones are closer to medium shade undertones that favor yellow-olive skin.  Gorgeous Cosmetics shades are a better fit for beigey skintones, which is not a good fit for me.  Oh well.  But this actually makes sense if you consider the ethnic origins of the bulk of early immigrants to Australia, primarily English and Irish.

As you can see from my swatches below, these were not a good shade option for me because the undertones were off and it actually oxidizes a bit deeper over time.  If you look at the outer edges of the swatch you can see where the color is turning darker and more soft orangey/peach.  I returned these because these were not a good shade match for me, but I received PRESS SAMPLES of all of the Level 1 shades of the Base Perfect Foundation and I was able to find a close shade match.  Yippee! (Disregard the red inflammation as a result of me scrubbing off staining swatches on my arm!)

Gorgeous Swatches Base Perfect Text

I will reserve my comments on the pros and cons of the foundation for the PRESS SAMPLE post simply because it was with a PRESS SAMPLE foundation that I was able to see how this works on my oily, acne-prone skin.

*On another note:  I am soooo happy I am getting through my “Upcoming Posts Sneak Peek” posts.  I thought that previewing products that I would post about would light a fire under my butt to get them posted sooner, but the opposite happened.  I had less desire to post about them.  I now realize the error of my ways and will not do posts like that because it actually kills my desire to post full reviews. 

Second, I can now understand the slippery slope of posting about press samples.  I haven’t even done a press sample post yet, but even referencing a future post felt funny.  It was foreign territory for me to be contacted by the public relations department of a cosmetics brand.  Do I try to be all professional? Do I just act like a regular ‘ole consumer who is tickled pink about getting to try a new product for fun and FREE?  This isn’t a business for me and I don’t need to receive press samples go review stuff.  It doesn’t mean that I would be reluctant to growing my blog and investing more time and money into it to take it to the next level.  It’s just that my interests and time (or skills!) aren’t there right now.  Right now, this is fun and a way for me to share my interests and opinions on things that I enjoy.  But my thoughts definitely flirted with the dark side of beauty blogging and all the ramifications it came with.  I had to step back, re-center, and plug along as usual.