Monday, August 25, 2014

FOTD: My Favorite 60s-Style Peach and "Modern" Red

I've been looking for a lipstick that's similar in color to Illamasqua Obey for over a year now. It's that perfect white-based, early-60s peach that strikes me so, but the formula is a monstrosity. Then I gathered enough empty MAC containers to hit up the Back 2 MAC program, so I did some Google image searching and stumbled across Sushi Kiss. I'm finally able to try it out now that my lip pimple has healed. Instant love, you guys!

Like most MAC Satin-finish lipsticks, it can be a bit difficult to get an even color. But the layer-and-blot trick definitely works with this shade, and it's a thousand times more comfortable than Illamasqua Obey.

BASE: MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NW13, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly

EYES: MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NW13, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl, Shu Uemura brow pencil in Seal Brown, Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes

CHEEKS: Kiss Me Touch Me Lip2Cheek in 03 Mango, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl

LIPS: MAC Satin Lipstick in Sushi Kiss

My other Back 2 MAC acquisition was one of the new-ish Retro Matte lipsticks, Relentlessly Red. I know how I feel about the formula: it's not the best for your lips, even if you're accustomed to uber-mattes like I am, and you will have to exfoliate before applying and be gentle with your mouth for a few hours after removing. As for the color...I'm not so sure. I oscillate between loving it, hating it, and feeling kinda "meh" about it. Hopefully we'll get more colors in the Retro Matte line, though, because I think the finish is very neat and great for a modern pin-up look.

BASE: MAC Face & Body foundation in N1 + White, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, Dolce & Gabbana powder foundation in #50 Ivory

EYES: Maybelline Full n' Soft mascara, Too Faced Shadow Insurance, Shu Uemura brow pencil in Seal Brown, Anastasia clear brow gel, Wet n' Wild MegaEyes liquid eyeliner in Black, Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadows in Unforgettable Oriole and Bohemian Waxwing, Milani Liquid Eyes eyeliner in Black

CHEEKS: NYX cream blush in Boho Chic

LIPS: MAC Retro Matte lipstick in Relentlessly Red

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Donations Requested

If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you've probably figured out that I'm a teacher. To get more specific: I'm an adjunct English professor who believes that literature is a valuable educational tool. It is through literature that students can learn about other cultures and points of view, expand their vocabulary, become more detail-oriented, and improve their analytic skills. To put it simply: books matter.

Unfortunately, the American education system is facing many problems, including budget cuts. A former high school classmate is facing these difficulties first hand, and she's in need of books for young teens (7th-8th grade reading level**). If you have any appropriate books you'd like to donate, or if you'd like to make a general donation to her school, you can send such materials to:

ATTN: Molly Neubert
1840 Torresdale Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19124

Include a return address so Molly can write you a letter for a deduction on your taxes.

We make absolutely no profit off of this. We're just teachers looking out for the well-being of our students. Anything and everything sent to the above address goes to them, not us, and is greatly appreciated.

** Some of the books you might consider:
  • The Divergent series, by Veronica Roth
  • The Giver series, by Lois Lowry
  • The Maze Runner series, by James Dashner
  • The Maximum Ride series, by James Patterson
  • "Shooting Kabul," by N.H. Senzai
  • "Treasure Island," by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • "The Boy Who Dared," by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • "The Hobbit," by J.R.R Tolkien
  • "Lord of the Flies," by William Golding
  • "Accidental Genius of Weasel High," by Rick Detorie
  • "Little Women," by Louisa M. Alcott
  • "Good Enough," by Paula Yoo
  • "Travel Team," by Mike Lupica

REVIEW: MAC Studio Fix Fluid foundation

I recently swapped for a few generous foundation samples. At the top of my to-try list: MAC Studio Fix Fluid in the shade NW13. Now, NW13 is a bit darker than I would normally go for, seeing as my neck is N5 with cool yellow undertones. It's also touted as a matte foundation with decent wear time--not exactly at the top of the list for dry-skinned people. Regardless, I'm one of those people who is going to try just about every pale-ish foundation she can get her hands on.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid is advertised as a "modern foundation that combines a natural matte finish and medium, buildable coverage with broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF15 protection." It comes in a whopping 35 shades, ranging from relatively pale to quite dark (NW58!), and costs $27 for 1oz. Essentially, this is supposed to be a gentler, liquid version of the infamous Studio Fix powder foundation, which is full-coverage and uber-matte.

From left to right: MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NW13, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, Paula's Choice Sheer Matte Tint in Level 1, Makeup Forever Matte Velvet + in #15.

Straight off the bat, I dislike the undertones in this product. Yes, there are some people who are super-pink or super-yellow, but new shades with more neutral, less extreme undertones would really improve this line. Also, let me repeat that I knew NW13 was going to match my face and not my neck; I still wanted to test out the formula and compare it to some similar shades. For the record, NARS Chantilly is the same shade as my neck.

Here's my face before and after a layer of MAC SFF, applied with a Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. (Don't be fooled by how pale it appears in the after picture: like many foundations, SFF applies very light, then oxidizes to its "real shade" in about 15-20 minutes.) It certainly does provide medium coverage with a satin-matte finish. So just like what it says on the can!

...kind of. MAC claims that this foundation is easy to apply and blend, but I found it to be quite streaky. I really had to buff the product in to get an even finish. I also found it difficult to build up the coverage, since a second layer made the product look very dry and cakey, even when I tested it out with a damp Beauty Blender. To be fair, one layer managed to look matte without looking fake or powdery, and that's pretty impressive on my dry skin.

My approval faded as the day went on. First of all, the foundation started to feel kind of itchy and heavy on my face, particularly around my temples and chin. That rarely happens, but it always turns me off.

What really killed it for me, though, was how the foundation wore on my combination-dry skin. Compare the picture on the left (freshly applied) to the picture in the middle (after 2 hours) and on the right (after 4 hours). I stayed in the air conditioning all day, and I only get super-oily on my nose--the rest of my face is normal or dry in the summer time. So how the Hell am I so shiny?! I thought this was supposed to be a "long-wearing," "natural matte" product--where the Hell is the grease coming from?!

Hence, Studio Fix Fluid isn't striking me as the best option for oily skin or summer outings. Oh, but it gets better... broke me out.

Let's be clear: I am not one of those people who derisively refers to the brand as "MACne." I do not believe that all MAC foundations are the devil for acne-prone people, and I strongly dislike the internet rumors that every MAC foundation is going to eat your face alive. My personal opinion is that MAC is a "gateway" brand for many people, including people who are sensitive to a large number of ingredients and/or do not yet know how to properly remove their makeup at the end of the day. If more people are trying your stuff, you're bound to run in to more people with bad experiences. I've tried a number of MAC foundations over the past decade without a hitch, including Face & Body, which has been my Holy Grail for going on 3 years now.

That's why Studio Fix Fluid's negative impact on my skin is so weird. My breakouts usually consist of a few very deep, painful cysts, and they're primarily caused by internal factors (stress, diet, hormones, etc). This is one of the only external factors that has ever prompted a breakout, and the pimples are tiny pustules and white heads. They're also in weird places, like my nose (pictured above) and my temples. I was so surprised by the breakout that I actually tried to figure out what, besides SFF, could've caused it...but SFF was the only thing I changed in my regular routine.

In the end, my breakout has nothing to do with my overall rating of MAC Studio Fix Fluid. We all break out from different things, and there's just something in the formula that doesn't agree with me, simple as that. Rather, I have a hard time recommending a product that's supposed to be demi-matte and long-wearing, then doesn't last for even 2 hours on dry skin. It's also a bit uncomfortable to apply and wear. I'll give them some props, though, for having some darker shades, even if the undertones are extreme.

RATING: 2 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A New Hair Style and Some Recent Loves

I have really, really insane hair. It's of a decent thickness, but the individual strands are baby-fine and corkscrew curly. It always feels nice to the touch, but wow, is it a pain to work with. So I've depended on adding layers when I can afford it, and sticking to ponytails and topknots when a $35 haircut is not a financially sound option. You can put some "fresh twists" on those two styles--wrapping ribbons or more elastic bands down the length of a ponytail, for example--but even that gets old.

I go back to those styles, though, because they're kind of necessary when you wake up with hair like this:

Ahhhhhh, I'm not walking out of the house like that unless I'm starring in a 1980s hairspray commercial. Sorry.

Then I noticed this cute look in a couple of magazines. It combines two of my bad hair day go-tos: topknots and scarves. You just put your hair in a high ponytail, tie a scarf around the base, and braid the two ends of the scarf and your hair together. Then you wrap it all in a circle and secure it with some bobby pins. Surprisingly cute and fresh. I think I'll wear this scarfknot a lot this fall, though not for work, as the final look is kinda quirky and casual.

In other news, I've fallen back in love with the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. It's nothing fancy, but it definitely softens up my skin and squeezes any excess oil out of my pores. I can also get a little exfoliation out of the mask when I gently remove it with warm water and a soft towel. Huzzah! I just wish it didn't contain pigments and perfume to create that fake mintiness.

Also, I recently realized that I haven't talked about food recently. So here's a shot of one of my current favorite snacks: homemade trail mix!

Yeah, it's the same old, super-basic trail mix recipe: raw almonds and walnuts with M&Ms candies and raisins. But it's a classic for a reason! If you want to get fancy, you can add more goodies like dried fruit or ginger, mini-marshmallows, cashews...whatever floats your boat. I suggest keeping the almonds and walnuts no matter what because they're great for your skin.

And my other favorite snack of the moment... thin crust ham and pineapple pizza with a glass of wine. It's like I'm back in graduate school!

As for brunch, my old, stands. It's some of the best skin food out there: Fage 0% Greek yogurt provides protein and live cultures, blueberries are full of antioxidants, and strawberries are a major source of vitamin C. It's also a very filling, low calorie meal that doesn't kick up my IBS. (I can't say the same for the pizza and wine, unfortunately.)

Oh, and a quick favorite from Simmis: catnip mats! You can purchase these from local craft and pet stores, or at your next festival. It's just a cute little mat full of catnip. Simmis loves to play with her mat, then doze on it for a quick cat-nap.

A last note for the day: I got my phone working again, so I'm back on Instagram! Fair warning, I'm kind of addicted.

Monday, August 18, 2014

BOGL's Current No/Low Makeup Routine

"No Makeup Makeup" is a popular breed: makeup so sheer, so seamlessly blended, and so perfectly close to your skintone, nobody realizes you're even wearing makeup. They just think you're practically perfect in every way. After years of testing and trying, I've finally figured out how to achieve this look on my face.

However, I don't really care to look like I'm not wearing ANYTHING if I've taken the time to paint my face. And anybody with decent eye sight and some knowledge of cosmetics is going to look at the above picture and say, "Yeah, she penciled her eyebrows, and there's something on her mouth." That's fine by long as my skin looks completely bare to the naked eye. ;)

I prefer to call this routine "Low Makeup Makeup." Again, I like to pencil my brows, and I like to put something (either a very rich balm or a bright lipstick) on my lips with this routine, and people are going to notice that. But the average person has a hard time spotting any other products on my face, and I kinda dig that. Here's my current routine:

1. Dot NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly where needed, and in very small amounts. Today, that meant a few dots under my eyes, on some forehead and chin blemishes, over my lip scar, and on the tip of my nose. Pat in with fingers.

2. Gently blend a dime-sized amount of Paula's Choice Barely There Sheer Matte Tint in Shade 1 all over face, ears, and neck, skipping only my eyebrows and lips. Doing foundation after concealer is usually a no-no because you may overdo it and apply too much product, and you can rub off your concealer; I find that the NARS concealer stays pretty well put, however, and applying this tinted moisturizer second seems to blend it all together.

3. Pat some MAC Strobe Cream on to the high points of the face. For me, that means under my brows and on the tops of my cheekbones.

4. Apply a very small amount of Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon to the apples of the cheeks. Add more as is necessary; for example, I usually like to blend tiny amounts backwards from my cheekbone towards my temples.

6. Apply a coat of mascara to the top lashes. I usually go for CoverGirl Clump Crusher, and I just use the lightest pressure possible to avoid "overdoing" it.

7. Pencil in brows with Shu Uemura Hard Formula Brow Pencil in Seal Brown. Soften and smooth the pencil with a brow spoolie or fingers. If my brows are being uber-wonky and won't stay in place, I'll glue them down with Anastasia Clear Brow Gel.

8. Dust a small amount of Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte powder foundation through the t-zone. I skip this step when my skin is at its driest.

9. For a super-lazy look, I apply a glossy balm like Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream or pure lanolin. If I want to look like I put in a bit more effort--or if I'm just in the mood for a bolder look--I slap on a bright, matte lipstick.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

25 Tops: Bite Madeira

I am so, so lazy when it comes to eyeshadow. If I feel like I'm being too boring with that whole "I just want bright lipsticks!" thing, I try to wear eyeshadow, and it never really flatters me. Not to mention the fact that if I do decide to wear eyeshadow these days, I will almost always default to two stupidly easy options:

1. Slapping on a cream, like Chanel Illusion d'Ombre in Epatant, and acting like I put in a lot of effort.
2. Blending a bunch of orange-and-gold junk on my eyes, because it's kinda neutral and it's hard to completely screw up.

Because I don't want to be super-duper boring, I threw on option #2 and whipped out the nude lipstick. Then I realized that this will be the third "25 Tops" post in a row to focus on orange products, and I just gave up.

Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencil in Madeira has always been an "iffy" product for me. On the one hand, I love that freaking formula to bits, and it's the only opaque nude I've owned that doesn't make me look like I ate a messy chocolate bar. On the other hand, I don't think it's the most flattering shade in my arsenal; it's still a bit dark and brown, in my opinion, and I feel like the undertones can exacerbate the sallowness at the corners of my mouth.

But I've been keeping it because, again, I don't own any other opaque nudes (so it fills a niche), and of course, my mom love love LOVES it. (If you're new here: my mom hates my bold lipsticks, but will go bonkers for nudes and soft, girly pinks.) Although I'm a big girl and I wear what I want most of the time, I have a soft spot for makeup my mom actually likes on me.

And it kinda gives me that "supermodel" lip color you see in a lot of 90s photos, which I have a weakness for:

So for now, Bite Madeira is in the MAYBE pile. Joining it is the MAC lipliner in Subculture, which I also worry is a bit brown for me. The 3 eyeshadows I used the most for this look--MAC Woodwinked, Urban Decay X, and Urban Decay Foxy (I think?)--will also stick around, because they don't take up very much room aaaaand I don't have any other orange shades. Also, I should probably purge my flesh-colored MAC Chromagraphic pencil because it's not an everyday product for me, but I'm disgusting and I love that overdone pseudo-60s look, SO THERE.

I also re-tested Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes mascara and the Hourglass Veil primer. Both of those products are "pretty good," in my opinion, and I wouldn't mind recommending them to others. But I just have other products in my collection that I think work as well, if not better, and are more suited to my skin type and personal tastes.