Monday, August 31, 2015

REVIEW: Kismet Cosmetics Succulent Collection Liquid Lipsticks

You know how a lot of people dislike the word "moist"? I think I'm starting to feel that way about "succulent." It just tends to be used in really gross, overtly pervy situations. And it's a shame, because at the root, succulent is a really cool way to say, "Juicy, plump, and totally delightful." DAMN YOU, FILM INDUSTRY, FOR RUINING GREAT WORDS FOR ME!!!


Those of you who have followed me from my YouTube days probably already know that I get offered a decent amount of free swag, and I usually turn it down. Maybe the company seems sketchy, or the line doesn't suit my tastes, or I just don't feel excited about what they're offering. For every 1 offer I accept, there are 10 I turn down. And even when I accept an offer for free things, most companies back out when I tell them that if I hate their product, I'm going to write a review that says so. (Kind of understandable: they're a business and they want to make money.)

So I was pretty excited when Kismet agreed to send me their new Succulent Collection Liquid Lipsticks in exchange for an honest review. You've probably guessed that I love lipsticks, and I'm especially fond of super-pigmented ones in bright colors. The thing that really got me interested in these is that, unlike most of the liquids being produced now, the Kismet liquids are in no way, shape, or form, matte*.

Kismet's liquid lipsticks cost $22 for each tube, or $80 for all 4 shades in the current range. Every shade is vegan, cruelty-free, made in the USA, and free of gluten, lanolin, and parabens. (I believe these are also talc-free, but I may be reading the ingredients list incorrectly, so don't quote me.) I'm not sensitive to lanolin or gluten, and to be honest, I'm not too particular about parabens; however, this is a good product for people with sensitivities to those ingredients.

The applicator is a stiff doe-foot that is slightly flattened. This is my preferred applicator for liquid lipsticks because I can get a relatively precise line with little fuss. Note that I said relatively precise: as with most pigmented lip products, a lip liner or brush will serve you well if you want the sharpest line possible.

Before I go in to more details about the formula and application, let's go over the specific shades.

Flamingo is probably my personal favorite from the range, even though it's not a wildly unique color. (I just have a weakness for bright pink!) It's an orchid pink, definitely cool-toned and full of purple. Despite the saturated color, I found this very easy to apply, provided I used the tip of the applicator to line my lips first. It's a definite eye catcher!

Comparisons: MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus and NYX Pinky lip liner are both more neutral/less purple. Bite Lingonberry is more purple and a smidge darker. All of them have a creamy finish except for Pinky, which is matte.

Speakeasy is the oh-so-necessary red. It's a classic blue-based shade that gives you instant Marilyn Monroe lips. It is the darkest shade in the range and is the easiest to "screw up," so just be careful when you apply it. I highly recommend using a lip liner with Speakeasy; I didn't for any of these photos (because I wanted to show the product in a fair light), and getting a perfect line with this one was a struggle.

Comparisons: Stila Beso liquid lipstick is lighter and more neutral. MAC Scarlet Ibis matte lipstick is lighter and more orange. NYX Auburn lip pencil is darker and more plum. All three of these comparison shades apply matte, while Speakeasy is obviously a glossy shade.

Elope is the neutral shade. It's a midtone brown pink that's a little dark for my skintone and probably too light for truly ebony-skinned people, but will most likely work well for everybody in between. The Kismet formula is especially favorable towards this shade, and you can get a glossy, opaque, neutral lip look with minimal fuss or effort. Even though it doesn't flatter me, I'm a bit addicted to how it looks. I have a feeling this will be the most popular shade in the range.

Comparisons: MAC Blankety is far lighter and has hints of grey in it. MAC Faux is lighter and more pink, giving it an overall "softer" effect. NYX Nude Pink pencil is lighter and more peach. Elope is the glossiest of these shades.

On Point was probably the standout in the range. It's bright enough to grab your attention, but still appropriate for work. I'd call it a "pink plum," with an equal balance of both colors. I can see this one working on almost every skintone.

Comparisons: Chanel Fantastic cream blush is slightly darker and a bit more purple. NARS Rikugien satin pencil is very different: less vibrant, glossier, more sheer. Hourglass Empress liquid lipstick looks equally glossy here, but it dries down matte; it is darker and contains none of On Point's pink tones.

Now more about the formula: these lipsticks are not the "modern matte" liquids that are so en vogue right now. They have a more "traditional" liquid lipstick formula: the pigmentation and wear of a lipstick with the shine and application of a gloss. As such, the formula is thick and creamy--you will hear a "popping" noise when you pull the wand out of the tube. They also apply opaquely with the tiniest amount of product, so wiping off the wand and taking your time is a necessity.

With that said, I was surprised by how light and soft these felt on my lips. Kismet claims that these lipsticks contain vitamins C and E and are designed to make your lips "soft and supple." I personally don't think any makeup product can replace good skincare, and sure enough, the Kismet lipsticks won't replace lip balm. But they are definitely comfortable to wear, and unlike most liquids, they are not drying in the slightest.

The smoothness of the formula also makes it very forgiving on texture. I skipped my usual exfoliate-and-moisturize routine once to see if the product would still apply smoothly, and it absolutely did. People with chronically chapped or deeply-lined lips will probably find this texture appealing.

(Color slightly washed out by strong camera flash.)

The wear on these is pretty impressive as well. Again, these are not a modern matte formula: if you drink coffee while wearing a Kismet lipstick, you will notice a lipstick mark on your cup. However, casual eating and drinking does not completely fade the colors because they are so pigmented, and they are not particularly prone to smearing. In other words, you'll get lipstick on your cup, but it won't leave your lips bare.

The above photo shows On Point after about 4 hours, during which time I drank several glasses of water and ate a caprese salad. The product has faded very slightly--it's less glossy, and you can see a bit of skin peeking through at the center of my lips--and there's a very, very faint bit of smudging around the edges. Pretty good! I later ate a bowl of shrimp linguini that kinda decimated this stuff, but I have yet to meet the lipstick that can survive oily noodles.

The formula is smooth enough that if you want to add another layer for a touch-up later on, you can.

My apologies; I'm sure this photo will give some of you nightmares.

I have two issues with this product. The first is minor: I'm a bit disappointed in the color range. While the current colors are very pretty, I feel that releasing a new formula with only 4 shades isn't the best idea. First, you're up against brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills and Colourpop, which produce new shades like they're going out of style. This is something that attracts a wide range of customers. Second, you're missing some of the shades that really draw people to this sort of product: seasonally appropriate colors, like a deep plum for autumn or a bright orange for summer, and more office ready shades, like mauves and soft pinks. This is easily rectified, however, and I'm sure the company will continue to produce shades as the line expands.

The bigger problem is that this product can, and will, get on your teeth. In all fairness, this only happens to me for the first 15 minutes or so of wear, and it's never an extreme amount of lipstick. After that 15 minute period, it's smooth sailing, and I can smile freely. But it is a bit weird to me that no matter how carefully I apply these, I will definitely get lipstick on my teeth for a few minutes. Hence, if I want to wear these out, I have to put the lipstick on at least 15 minutes before I leave the house.

Overall, Kismet's Succulent Collection Liquid Lipstick range is solid. It sidles up to the current trend, but doesn't completely follow it. It will be an especially good product for people who want opaque, glossy color without the common irritants.

PS: Kismet was awesome enough to provide us with a coupon! If you are interested in purchasing Kismet products, feel free to use the code GREATLIPS15 for 15% off your purchase.

RATING: 4 out of 5

* There's nothing wrong with matte liquid lipsticks, but gaddamn, beauty companies, give me some finish variety!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Duping Too Faced Melted Peony

Truth time: I love a lot of lipstick formulas that other people hate. This is partially because I am willing to exfoliate my lips daily and deal with a more drying formula in exchange for a matte finish and an apocalypse-proof wear time. I always try to make this clear in my reviews.

But even I stumble on to products that are just too damn wrong for my lips. Meet Too Faced Melted Peony: the most perfect sorta-nude-lip for me, with a great balance of peach and pink. The color is gorgeous...the formula is atrocious. Seriously, I have never put anything so drying or finicky on my lips before--and I wear Ruby Woo on the regular!

And so I went on a long and arduous quest to find a dupe. Most supposed dupes were way too pale and beige, or bubblegum pink with no peach, or in yet another formula I hate with a burning passion. Finally, somebody mentioned Bite Beauty's High Pigment Pencil in Bouquet. Great! I love the Bite formula! After searching numerous swap and sale threads for an on-the-cheap tube, I managed to obtain Bouquet via swap.

Annnnnd I love it.

Daylight on top, flash on bottom.

Here are ze swatches. As you can hopefully see, Melted Peony and Bouquet aren't exactly alike, but they're super similar: Melted Peony is a bit paler and more peach, Bouquet has more pink and is brighter.

I swatched a few other shades in the same-ish color family for comparison. Bite Velvet is brighter, cooler, and more pink than Melted Peony. MAC Faux is actually a muted neutral pink on me, but because it has more brown in it than these other shades, it looks crazy dark in these swatch photos.

Here's how Bite Bouquet looks on my lips. Again, it's definitely a bit brighter than Melted Peony, and it reads more as a peach-pink than a nude. But I think it's a pretty damn good replacement. In a sense, any time I could wear Melted Peony, I can now wear Boquet.

I'll continue to try nude lipsticks because I'm a lipstick fanatic and I love to try ALL TEH THINGS, but for now, I'm oh so happy with Bite Bouquet!

Oh, and yeah, I'm wearing a shit ton of glitter on my eyes. God bless you, Lit Cosmetics Clearly Liquid Base! (The actual glitter in this picture is a limited edition Wet n' Wild product...which may or may not be eye safe. Oops. Do your research--check for it around Halloween!)

Monday, August 24, 2015

REVIEW: Benefit Lolli Tint

Getting my hands on Benefit Lolli Tint was...interesting. While I enjoyed Benetint, I had less luck with Posietint, making me hesitant to dish out $30 for a brand new, full-sized bottle. Lucky for me, a seller on Reddit was purging her barely-used bottles of Chacha Tint and Lolli Tint at a great price. I jumped on the deal, oh so excited to get my new goodies!

Then this happened: that a boot print on my package? Wow. Just wow.

Needless to say, the stuff was not usable, nor could it be exchanged. The seller was kind enough to refund me--even though this mess was totally not her fault--and I fumed for a good 24 hours.

Then a friend said, "Oh, hey, I have Lolli Tint and I never use it; wanna swap for this lipstick I want?" Huzzah! The tint was obtained!

Benefit charges $30 for 12mL of product, which isn't bad as far as stains go. The packaging of Benefit's tints is the subject of much debate: it comes in plastic bottles with a nail polish-type applicator. A lot of people reeeeaaally hate this packaging, but I don't mind it; I had no problem swiping the stuff on my cheeks and lips, then blending it in with a finger. If you're concerned about keeping the product sanitary, you can use a clean finger or a spatula to remove some from the brush tip and apply from there.

Benefit describes Lolli Tint as a "candy orchid" color that will work well on your lips and cheeks. This is a relatively accurate depiction of the color, at least on swatching: it's a creamy, dreamy, soft purple color that makes me weak at the knees.

Wearing Lolli Tint, though, wasn't the purple dream I expected. While this stain looks like a cool, bright pink or even a soft lavender on other people, it looks like...plain pink on my cheeks. It's not bad, but it's definitely not the color I expected. The same goes for my lips: it sort of "darkened up" my natural lip color.

The formula is quite thin, so I only applied the stuff to one cheek at a time, then worked quickly to blend it out. This didn't bother me because it's par for the course with stains. What did bother me was that I didn't get much pigmentation with one layer, despite the fact that I am very pale-skinned; I had to add three layers of product to my cheeks and two to my lips to get it to show up fully. I can't imagine this working on anybody with a deeper skintone.

My biggest problem with Lolli Tint is that it just looked awful on me. On my cheeks, it highlighted texture I didn't even know I had--see the tiny red "specks" in the macro shot above. Instead of looking like I was blushing and cute, I looked like I had a terrible fever. The stain did last for 5-6 hours, but because it was hideous, I wasn't too thrilled by that.

This was also a poor excuse for a lipstain. Again, it made my lips look darker, not cool pink or lagender, and after an hour, all of the color had gathered in the center of my lips. It also left my lips completely parched.

The frustrating thing is that I didn't really have these problems with the original Benetint. Benetint sat well on my lips and cheeks and was the perfect "in from the cold" color. It left me with high expectations for other stains. Lolli Tint? Totally not matching up.

RATING: 1 out of 5

Friday, August 21, 2015

VIDEO: Unboxing and First Impression of Scent Box Subscription Service

Just what it says on the box: this is my first impression and unboxing of the Scent Box Subscription service, which sends personalized samples right to your door. I don't do these types of videos too often, and I'm just now using my phone to record videos, so let me know how you feel about these!


REFERRAL CODE (totally optional)!: 7663

NOTE: You can also comment on this post if you'd like me to get you an email referral. An email referral will get you 40% off of your first box.


PS: Here are my sliders! I get the unisex box.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Customer Service: You're Doing It Right

I'm usually a tough, opinionated broad, but I gotta be honest here: customer service kinda aggravates me, especially when I have to deal with beauty companies.

I think it all started when I tried the Clinique Bottom Lash mascara, didn't like it, and tried to return it. I politely explained that the little $10 tube of goop did nothing but make a smeary mess on my eyes, and the sales associate gave me The Business. She scowled, her brows furrowed, she stared at me, and she started asking a barrage of questions.

"Are you sure you were using it right?" ('s mascara.)

"It shouldn't run, it's waterproof." (Not on me!)

"I think you need to try this again." (Uh, no, I don't like it?)

"Why didn't you bring back the gift with purchase?" (I don't normally return things, so I must've missed that etiquette lesson.)

"You should probably put it on right now so I can see what you're doing wrong." (WOMAN, I HAVE PLACES TO BE, JUST GIVE ME MY $10 BACK.)

"Fine, I guess I can exchange it." (okaythankyoubye)

Now, I'm not saying companies should be banned from asking questions. If I worked at Sephora or the like, I'd definitely want to ask the customer returning a product what was wrong with it so I could direct them to something more suitable. But the "THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS YOU JUST SUCK AT MAKEUP" attitude is very prevalent in the beauty community, to the point that some bloggers are terrified of writing negative reviews or showing a product in a less-than-flattering light. It makes me a grumbly, grousing mess.

But, y'know, so does exploding makeup.


Case in point: these two much-beloved products of mine, which exploded within 15 minutes of each other. The applicator for my Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow in Rio de Rose Gold snapped in half, and my tube of Becca Dragonfruit Beach Tint spontaneously combusted. I am as gentle as can be with my makeup, so having not one, but TWO products suddenly break on me left me kind of traumatized.

I didn't want to go to customer service, but dammit, I am not rolling in the cash. These products are worth every penny, sure, but I don't have the money to replace them right now, especially when they died horrible deaths through no fault of my own. So I trudged off to the websites and submitted my complaints, expecting nothing more than a "stop being so rough with your makeup you cretin" response.

Instead, this happened:


Brand new eyeshadow applicators from Josie Maran and a new tube o' Dragonfruit from Becca, all arriving within 2 weeks of my initial complaint.

Yes, I had to provide pictures of the damage, but I always take photos for customer service complaints anyway. I think that's only fair: if you're going to ask a company to replace a product, you need to prove that there's an actual something to replace. Also, correspondence with both companies was incredibly polite and quick. I sent my complaints via the company websites on the weekend and had a response from both Josie Maran and Becca by Monday evening.

I've always liked these two companies and their products, but experiencing A+ customer service from them has just increased my desire for their goods. To those companies that snark, threaten, and disregard, take note: this is how you gain a loyal fanbase.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lipstick Diaries #5: MAC Candy Yum Yum and Ruby Woo

More MAC lipsticks, and they're both mattes! (Sorry, guys; I swear I'm trying to diversify my collection!) First up is Candy Yum Yum, which I have a love-hate relationship with. It can make even the most moisturized and exfoliated lips look meh, and it definitely dominates my face. But it's just so freaking cool! If I'm going out and I want a statement lip, CYY is a dumb reach. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it or not...thoughts?

There's no question about Ruby Woo, though: I love it. Yes, it's also a matte, but I find it more forgiving (and flattering) than Candy Yum Yum. Ruby Woo is neither warm nor cool, just very balanced. This makes it a great choice for a wide variety of skintones--I remember seeing it on Jennifer Hudson recently and thinking she looked gorgeous. My tube is a pathetic little nubbin' these days. My only complaint about this one is that it's difficult to alter the color and opacity: the formula is so powdery and dense that it blocks out most lip liners and won't sheer out with balm.

Friday, August 14, 2015

What's in your "OH CRAP MAKEUP EMERGENCY" kit?

For the most part, I am not obsessive about wearing makeup every time I go in public. On days when I wear it, I take my time putting it on at home; on days when I don't wear it, I just say, "Eh, screw it," and go about my life. No big.

But there are times when I wake up way too late for work and have to rush to the bus stop looking like the Night of the Living Dead. (What sadist invented snooze alarms, anyway?!) And there are times when I'm bumming around the house with a few friends when they suddenly decide to traipse out to the city for a big party or a major event. And at moments like that, I'm glad I have an "emergency kit."

My emergency kit contains bobby pins, q-tips, and 4 itty bitty pieces of makeup. They're housed in a Bite Beauty tin from a Christmas gift set, which fits perfectly in my purse. Here's what I keep with me:

1. Buxom Some Show Skin in Tickle the Ivory -- Hidden in that little NARS pot is roughly 2-3 applications of my current favorite tinted moisturizer. Not only does it contain SPF30 (so I don't have to carry an extra satchet of sunscreen), it's also very easy to apply in a rush.

2. any decent mascara sample -- Mascara does a great job of making me look more awake and put-together with very minimal effort. I just toss in whatever sample I have handy, provided said sample isn't of a mascara I absolutely abhor. I'm currently carrying around a mascara that I love: NARS Audacious.

3. Anastasia Perfect Brow pencil in Medium Brown -- Somebody sold me this sample-sized pencil for a few dollars. It doesn't top my Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencil, and my favorite Becca brow products are actually the Brow Wiz and the clear brow gel. But it's still a really good pencil with plenty of pigment, and the size makes it a perfect fit for my emergency kit.

4. Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon -- I lurv the Beach Tints! I mostly use them as blushes, but they can also work as sheer lip tints in a pinch. Watermelon is the perfect "every day" shade for my fair skin, and it blends in beautifully.

So I gotta ask: what's in your emergency kit?