Saturday, September 27, 2014

25 Tops: MAC Candy Yum Yum

There are some products that I just KNOW I'm not going to get rid of, but I feel like I should give them a real test regardless. Enter MAC Candy Yum Yum: a matte lipstick so neon, it makes most others look positively plain.

Oooh, alliteration! *English teacher*

A blue-based, neon pink with great wear time, Candy Yum Yum definitely goes in to my KEEP pile. No, I don't get to wear it often (it's not exactly work appropriate), but it's a showstopper when I go out for the night. You can also blot this on for a stain that's absolutely wearable, so keep that in mind!

Surprisingly, just about everything else in this pile is a KEEP: my Makeup Forever Uplight in #11 (I wish they made a white/pearl shade with this dewy finish!), my Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, and the Kiss Me Touch Me Lip2Cheek in 02 Peach (actually a pink color, but whatevs). This particular shade of KA SSE is Sx02, which is darker and more pink than Sx01. I think Sx01 is a better match for me, so I'll probably stick with that in the future when I repurchase, but I can get away with Sx02, right?

PS: I noticed that my Lipstick Queen Bright Rose Sinner lipstick wasn't on the list, and yeah, it has to stay. It was a gift from my mommy! :)

This puts me at about the halfway point as far as my lipstick collection is it's time to be discerning! Man, this is gonna be tough.

1. Hourglass Muse
2. Hourglass Riviera
3. Hourglass Icon (mini-size)
4. Chanel Dragon [D/C]
5. Lancome Pale Lip
6. Bite Beauty Velvet
7. Lipstick Queen Saint Pinky Nude
8. Lipstick Queen Jean Queen
9. MAC Scarlet Ibis [LE]
10. MAC Viva Glam Nicki [LE]
11. Urban Decay Native
12. MAC Candy Yum Yum
13. Lipstick Queen Sinner Bright Rose

1. MAC Neon Orange
2. MAC Sounds Like Noise [LE]
3. NARS Cruella
4. NARS Roman Holiday
5. Lipstick Queen Saint Berry
6. Bite Madeira
7. Beauty Cosmetics Flouron

1. MAC Impassioned
2. Elizabeth Arden Poppy Cream

1. MAC Relentlessly Red
2. MAC Sushi Kiss

1. MAC Please Me

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

REVIEW: L'oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara

I know that every mascara can be considered a "hit or miss" product, but wow, the discordant reviews for this product! I've only seen two reactions to L'oreal Voluminous Miss Manga so far: "It's my new HG!" and "It was a wet, spidery mess." I've gotten lazy with trying new mascaras, but coupons and sales netted me a tube of (waterproof) Miss Manga in Blackest Black for $4.99, so why not try it for myself?

Let's get this out of the way: I hate the packaging for most drugstore mascaras, even CoverGirl Clump Crusher (a favorite of mine). I have no idea why the tubes have to be so thick in the middle and so tiny on the bottom; they always fall over and roll away from me. I mean, why the obsession with the round middle and the tiny bottom? Does this do something magical for the mascara? Because if not, that design needs to stop.

On to the brush. It's a tapered fiber brush that picks up a LOT of product. There's no anti-clumping ring on the inside of this mascara, so I had to scrape the brush off a lot. The wand has one of those little joints in it, designed to make it more flexible. Some people hate this, but I'm pretty ambivalent.

The formula is super wet, which resulted in quite a mess along my lash line. Beyond that, though, it was relatively easy to apply: it goes on smoothly without ripping out my lashes, and the tapered point makes it easy to get in to the corners of my eyes. You could also use the point to do your lower lashes, but I like to draw attention away from my dark circles most days, so I passed.

One layer of Miss Manga gave me plenty of length and some volume. It was also a bit clumpy, however; it's clearly one of those mascaras that volumizes by coating the lashes in tons of product and sort some of them together. Hence, I don't think this is going to be a great choice for people with very sparse lashes.

Two layers added a little more volume and length, but it also made my lashes look spidery and dry. I definitely prefer the look of one coat.

Here are my lashes at the end of the day. (I was kind of lazy about cleaning up my lash line. Apologies.)  As you can see, they're still pretty full and long, and the curl hasn't come out. I didn't experience much flaking, just the usual couple of dots that I experience with just about all mascaras.

Overall, I really liked the look of Miss Manga. It's not an every day mascara by any means, but it adds drama and would be great for a night out. What I didn't care for was how messy the formula was, and the fact that I had to wipe the brush off so much. We'll see if I want to repurchase it!

RATING: 4 out of 5

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Hunger Dames: Scarlet Doesn't Know Shit

Welcome to our very first episode of The Hunger Dames, a new feature focusing on food, drag, and general weirdness! Today, we're going to find out if local queen Scarlet Fairweather knows what the Hell she's talking about...while she eats a cheeseburger. (Have you ever seen a queen eat in full drag? Always oddly entertaining.)

This is a new segment we're trying out, so let us know if there's anything else you'd like to see featured on this segment!

DING! Sound Credit: SoundFXForFree
Scarlet Fairweather: Facebook Page

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Art Interlude

Greer Lankton, "It's All About ME, Not You"

I've wanted to post about these great places since my boyfriend and I visited this past May. But as some of you may remember, my computer's power supply spontaneously combusted, leaving me without pictures and with a bad case of The Bitch. (Seriously, I was not a nice person for a few months there...) Now that I have everything back, I can write about two of the Pittsburgh art spots I LOVE to recommend: The Mattress Factory and the Warhol Museum, both nestled in the North Side. We squeezed both museums in to a 6-hour time frame, but you could easily spend a whole day in each.

The Silver Cloud Room in the Warhol...yes, I was bad.

Let's get this out of the way: you're not allowed to take pictures in the Warhol Museum. I was bad and I took this one in the Silver Cloud Room--you can tell that Kirby does not approve. In fact, he refuses to post the picture on Facebook, because "rules are rules." But I know I'm not the only person who has snuck a photo, because there are pictures all over TripAdvisor.

This is the only picture I've ever taken in the Warhol, and it's the only picture I ever WILL take. This picture alone should be enough to encourage any doubters and Warhol naysayers to consider taking the trip...I know I was a naysayer until I really took a look at more of his work in this  museum. I became a fan after walking through the Warhol. (I could've stayed in the Velvet Underground video space, for example, for well over an hour. Doesn't me saying that get you curious?!) So dear Warhol museum, please don't ban me--I did it for the greater good!

Fair warning: there are other relatively strict rules in this museum, the bathrooms are all located on one floor, and at $20 a head, it's not exactly cheap. But it's absolutely worth the Jackson, especially if you have a student ID or visit late on Friday for half-price admission. There are also demonstrations and special programs available from time to time, like time capsule openings.

Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, "Diptyching"

Now for a place that DOES allow photos, and plenty of them: The Mattress Factory! It can be a bit tricky to find this place, seeing as it's tucked back in a residential area. But once you stumble on it, you can't miss it: there are some pretty interesting sculptures outside.

Scott Hocking, "Coronal Mass Ejection"

If you aren't in to modern art or installation pieces, the Mattress Factory might not be your thing. And to be totally honest, I don't think it's the best place to go if you want to change your mind about modern art; it might be better to go to MoMA in New York, which is much larger. But the new exhibitions are always interesting. I'm still bummed that I didn't get to see the Chiharu Shiota "Trace of Memory" exhibition. (It was located in a satellite gallery, and we couldn't walk over there because of a major storm.)

Yayoi Kusama, "Infinity Dots Mirrored Room"

The Mattress Factory is also home to two of my all-time favorite pieces of art: the late Greer Lankton's "It's All About ME, Not You," and Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Dots Mirrored Room" (which was also a personal favorite of Kirby's). I could make a yearly pilgrimage to this museum and never tire of those incredible works. One day, I'm going to visit the Mattress Factory, sit in the corner at these exhibits, and write until my fingers hurt. They are that inspiring to me.

The Mattress Factory is quite affordable: $15 for adults seems a bit steep for a small gallery, but there are plenty of discounts, and Kirby and I got in for a steal on a half-priced day. (It might've been Tuesday?)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

25 Tops: MAC Please Me (sort of) and UD Native, plus a "Skincare State of the Union"

Please note that there is no top image for this post. That's because the lipstick I was going to toss in to this challenge, MAC Please Me, was recently stolen from me. What had happened was...I took a bag containing several personal items, including some makeup, into the bathroom at work on Wednesday. I wasn't feeling well and I was a bit out of it, so I forgot the bag in the bathroom. Right before my class, I realized the bag was missing; I looked everywhere and couldn't find it. Nobody has returned the bag or contacted me (my information was inside). So they made off with a lot of personal items, including my MAC Blot Powder, my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (an HG product)...and, I realized today when I reached for them and came up empty, my MAC Please Me lipstick and my Bobbi Brown Tutu gloss.

I was so upset, I almost cried on the spot. I don't say this because I want you to pity me and send me free things--my life is not that hard, and I always tell people to donate their money to worthwhile charities instead--but rather because it was a moment when I felt incredible pain. I don't make a lot of money, and these were items I'd worked hard for. And because most people aren't as pale as I am, I sincerely doubt that the thief will even be able to use what they stole. They stole that bag probably thinking there was money in it, and when they checked and realized it was just personal items, they probably...well, they might've used some of the stuff, but it's more likely that they just chucked my hard work in to a dumpster.

But I decided, "I am NOT going to let this person defeat me." I put on UD Native instead. And I realized that I truly, truly love this lipstick, even more than the Please Me/Tutu combination. I am not a vengeful person, but I am honest. Here's the truth: selfish, greedy people always get their comeuppance. And I will look flawless, no matter how much of my stuff you steal.

BASE: MAC Face & Body in N1 + White, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx02, Dolce & Gabbana powder foundation in 50 Ivory

EYES: Too Faced Shadow Insurance, Makeup Forever Aqua Cream in #02, Wet n' Wild Comfort Zone palette, Wet n' Wild eyeshadow in Brulee, Shu Uemura brow pencil in Seal Brown, CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara, Anastasia clear brow gel

CHEEKS: Scott Barnes Chic Palette in Posh [D/C]

LIPS: Urban Decay Revolution lipstick in Native


In other news, my skin has changed a good deal over the past 6 months or so. I think it's a mixture of aging, hormones, and stress. I'm experiencing lots of tiny bumps on my forehead (I think they're clogged pores), more sensitivity and acne, and a much oilier t-zone than I previously did. So I've been slowly switching out my products to figure out what might be causing the change in texture; namely, I've replaced konjac sponges with baby washcloths (because the latter are washable), and I've started using my mother's CeraVe PM cream. I'll try to keep you guys posted!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jeans: A Mini-Philosophy

Fashion guru and former Parsons faculty Tim Gunn once wisely, but controversially, stated that the American obsession with comfort is somewhat overrated:

I get very impatient with this whole "comfort issue" with clothing. Yes, you don't feel as comfortable in clothes that fit you as you do in your pajamas and robe. That's a good thing. You're navigating a world where you need to have your wits about you. If you're in a lackadaisical comfort haze, you can't be engaged in the world the way you need to be. [...] Does grooming take time? Yes, it does. But we need to make a commitment. ("Gunn's Golden Rules," p116 & 124)

Some people have taken this to mean that Gunn is absolutely against any sort of comfort in fashion and favors a "constantly buttoned-up" approach. This is not accurate, which Gunn himself points out; a suit is too much for a grocery store when a t-shirt and slacks will suffice. Rather, there's a time and a place for everything. It's just that some people have become completely lazy when it comes to dressing themselves for a day out in public. And I have to agree that it's mildly appalling.

Yes, the August 2014 issue of InStyle included an entire article on "designer sweatpants," comfy clothes made to look a bit more presentable than the standard drawstring fare. And I cannot deny that some of them looked very pretty and, well, comfortable. But at the end of the day, they're still pajamas and yoga pants. What makes me leery is the fact that I know many people who are so obsessed with comfort that they will go out of their way to wear sweatpants and ratty t-shirts 24/7, no matter what the situation, and this designer sweatpants trend might add fuel to the fire. "If Heidi Klum can wear them to the gym, why can't I wear them to my interview?"

Let's put it this way: when I'm enjoying an autumnal day at home, I wear my Super Mario pajamas, or a pair of Merona cotton yoga pants that are so comfy, I could cry tears of joy. But if I'm going further than our house's mailbox? I'm putting on a bra and a pair of jeans. Unless I'm sick, dying, or do not have any other options (a legitimate issue for some people, let it be known), I'm not going to walk out of my house looking like I just rolled out of bed and couldn't be fussed. This is not the case for some people, and I've seen many-a-student waltz through the college halls in polka-dot pajama pants and a hoodie at noon. NOON. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I also know that most of those students are not deathly ill or lacking for clothing options, so the choice of "pajamas in public" strikes me as downright inappropriate.

 "And please, put on a clean shirt when you step outside your door. It's an affront to the very delicacy of my nature."

Here's my point: modern denim is incredibly comfortable and affordable, but still perfectly presentable in a wide variety of situations. Yet some people cling to the idea that anything conforming to their body is inherently uncomfortable, even flowy sundresses or loose slacks, and they cling to their pajama pants. At the end of the day, jeans are meant to conform to your body. Really, most clothes that fit you will conform in some way. They're not going to feel like pajamas, no, but for the zillionth time, only pajamas should feel like pajamas!

That being said, jeans also shouldn't feel bad. They should conform to your body, and you should be able to feel them, but they should not rub, dig, cut off circulation, or make you feel uncomfortable insofar as you think you look bad/weird. Think of it like a suit of armor: it's tangible, but it makes you feel protected and prepared to handle any situation. It's not a pair of sweats, but it's also not uncomfortable.

A good jeans brand will include a decent amount of stretch so you can sit and move. (Trust me, this is a modern development: jeans were originally designed for folks working in hard jobs, like down in the mines, and the stiffness and roughness of the fabric was a testament to that.) You need to find a brand that feels especially good on your body and almost always fits you right, and in my personal opinion, you need to stick with it 90% of the time.

Don't get me wrong, it's fun to try new things! But have you ever been that person who spends two hours pulling out every single pair of jeans, from every single brand and in every single cut available, trying to find just one pair that fits you right? (Clearly, I've been that person. Ugh.) If you find a few brands that work for you, all of that guesswork goes away, and you can search the racks at consignment shops, or head straight to the right corner of Nordstrom's, for stuff that will most likely work. For example: when I go shopping, I can flip through an entire rack of jeans in less than 5 minutes. That's because, after years of trial and error, I've found a few brands that look great on me, and I stick with them. I wear Citizens of Humanity (my top choice for curvy ladies) or 7 For All Mankind in a 29 or a 30. They fit me perfectly, they have the right amount of stretch, and they come in styles I like. Everything else gets passed over, unless I'm in the market to try something new or a 29 in another brand has a particularly interesting style.

There's also a range of cuts/styles for you to choose from, leaving you with plenty of options. That's something else people forget: jeans can be dressed up or dressed down. I recently got a simple black blazer, and my mother and I gushed over how great it would look with a nice t-shirt and a pair of straight-leg jeans for a business casual workplace. On a day-to-day basis, I wear super stretchy boot cut styles with A-shirts or ripped up tees--I'm dressed, but I'm still me, and I'm still comfortable. And if I'm going out to lunch? Skinny jeans work best with most of my boots, since they'll tuck in without looking baggy. I have a friend who looks fabulous in high-waisted jeans, and another friend who's big on the 70s and loves a flared leg. Whatever your style or preference, there's a pair of jeans waiting for you.

And remember: tailoring is always an option. I learned this the hard way. For years, I would see size 29 Citizens of Humanity jeans at Salvation Army or Goodwill for $5. I'd try them on, and they'd fit perfectly in the waist, the butt, the thigh...and then they'd be too long. So I'd pass them up. This past month, I obtained a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans that were way too long for me, but were in such a pretty wash and were so freakin' cheap (less than a cup of coffee!) that I decided I would just roll them up. My mom's response? "You know, your aunt could just hem them for you."

My aunt is a professional tailor. Most professional tailors have equipment that lets them work on embroidery fabric and wedding gowns, so denim is really Not a Big Deal to them. And they'll hem your jeans for less than $10 a pair in most cases. I'm not sure how I missed this, but I did.

Look, I'm not saying you have to wear jeans. There are people like Dita von Teese who pretty much never wear pants. But people like Dita von Teese still manage to look put-together and feel comfortable on a day-to-day basis. The jeans market is so full of options right now that I think most people can find something suitable to their tastes, and also suitably comfortable. It just takes a little searching...and yeah, you gotta relinquish the sweatpants for a day. Don't worry: they'll be there when you get back.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Well, if it works for a BABY--"

There was a time when, like many beauty fanatics, I cleansed my makeup brushes with Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo. It was a great product: a tiny amount cleansed my brushes, rinsed out easily, and left everything supple and soft. Hilariously, I'd also run in to a few people who were appalled that I would use "regular shampoo" on my brushes. I didn't quite get the shock--if it's delicate enough to work on an infant, then how bad can it be for my brushes?

I switched to Dr. Bronner's bar soap, simply because the bar makes cleaning quicker and less messy. (My dad has commandeered the baby shampoo to clean his CPAP machine.) But recently, I've been looking back on the Days of J&J Goodness and wondering if I've let go of something really amazing. This is especially pertinent as I age; my skin has become more sensitive, more acne-prone, and slightly more textured over the past year. Now I'm using several products designed for children and babies, and I couldn't be happier with my skin.

Johnson's Baby Lotion -- Truth be told, half of the reason I bought this lotion is because it smells like baby powder. My mother has always used baby powder after she showers, so the scent reminds me of her. But it's also a nice, light lotion with a very basic, won't-eat-your-skin-alive formula. Applying this immediately after I shower leaves me with silky-smooth and lightly scented skin. It won't be enough for extreme winter dryness, but in the summer? Perfect. This product contains mineral oil (more on that later), so some people also use it to remove their makeup.

Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple SPF50 Sunscreen -- It's mind-boggling how many sunscreen lotions, sprays, and sticks I've tried over the past few years. I'm always looking for something that protects well without feeling heavy or clogging up my skin. Finally, I've give up the ghost. I've admitted that if I want decent sun protection at an affordable price point, I'm probably going to have to deal with something that's a tad heavy. Enter Coppertone's Pure & Simple line. While I can definitely feel this stuff when I'm wearing it, it's not sticky and it doesn't break me out. It's also fragrance-free, which is a major bonus.

Johnson's Baby Oil -- I used to spend a good chunk of change on oil-based makeup removers until I realized that the active ingredient was plain old mineral oil. In fact, most of the products I used were just mineral oil with one or two softening agents and some fragrance. I've been removing my makeup with ordinary baby oil (which is just mineral oil, sometimes with added fragrance) for at least 5 years now. Nothing tops it! It breaks down every bit of makeup and doesn't dry my skin out. It does take some getting used to, because...well, it's oil, and that greasiness can feel weird to some people. But I can't imagine using anything else. Just a pro-tip: after you apply the mineral oil to remove your makeup, you'll want to use a dry tissue or facial cotton to swipe most of it off of your skin. Otherwise, you'll have too much oil on your face, and your skin won't wash clean when you cleanse.

Baby Wash Cloths -- I've loved konjac sponges, but it's always been a pain to order them from China and replace them every month. It's also kind of icky to me that you can't really CLEAN them. You can rinse them in hot water with some gentle soap, but still, it bothers me. So I asked the folks on MakeupAlley for recommendations. The overwhelming favorite? Baby wash cloths. And I can see why. These cotton wash cloths are incredibly cheap (I got 10 for $5 at Wal-Mart) and can be laundered after every use. I've been rubbing my cleanser in with my hands, then gently removing it with a soaked wash cloth, rubbing in circular motions with hardly any pressure. It exfoliates my face and leaves me glowing without irritation. I might need a stronger exfoliant every once in a while, but for now, this is my new favorite!