Friday, October 21, 2016

No Foundation Redux #4: This Has Been Good For Me

Several months ago, I wrote about feeling more and more disgruntled with my personal appearance, even if I knew logically that I look totally fine. I decided to revamp the No Foundation challenge and get some perspective on my skin.

And you know what? It's worked. I am not wearing makeup to class this semester, and it hasn't bothered me yet. I am regularly choosing to wear just a couple of products on my face while going sans base, especially if it's raining or I don't know how late it will be when I wash my face. The sense of panic at the sight of a pimple or a few new clogged pores isn't nearly as strong. (Actually, I'd say my skin's occasional blips cause a bit of exasperation for me now, nothing more. I'm tethered in reality here: my skin is good and I should be thankful for it.)

No Foundation Redux isn't the only thing that's helped, of course. My political and philosophical interests have been revitalized in the past year (for obvious reasons, if you've been watching the US Presidential Election), and it's encouraged me to look at the bigger picture. Yes, we tend to judge women more harshly than men. Yes, we are obsessed with physical beauty. Yes, we buy in to Photoshopped imagery and videos shot with skin-smoothing filters, despite having evidence that even beautiful people who spend millions on their looks also have pores and wrinkles. Yes, we need to remember that we are just as talented, intelligent, educated, and skilled as ever whether we're rocking makeup or not.

I still have my moments, of course; a particularly huge and angry pimple in the middle of my forehead will make me feel a little disgruntled when I get dressed for work, for instance. And I'm not giving up on foundation entirely. I still enjoy wearing it, especially if I'm going out on the town or am attending a formal event. But I'm better able to push my insecurities aside and see my face for what it really is: perfectly normal. I skipped foundation today because I just didn't feel like wearing it, and I still think I look pretty good. Success!

Have I mentioned that I found leftover mirror tiles in the basement? Cause I did. I found leftover mirror tiles.

Here are today's products. I decided to mix the new Glossier Generation G shades, Zip and Leo, to get a rustier, fall leaf red shade. (I lied about replacing my other Gen Gs, by the way--I decided to order the updated Crush and Jam tubes today. The new formula and packaging are just much nicer.) I ignored the couple of tiny red spots I have on my face and just dabbed a bit of Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer on my undereyes. My trusty Shiseido curlers and the Milk Ubame mascara I'm enjoying so much worked out my lashes, and I filled in my brows with the Milk Gel Brow pencil.

There's also some blush in this look, which I've skipped on previous no foundation days. Kevyn Aucoin Tansoleil is a lovely peach that works so well with reds and nudes, but I probably didn't put enough on. Oops.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Updated Glossier Generation G Shades, Formula, and Packaging

Earlier this week, I noticed my phone pinging me about multiple referrals coming from my Glossier account, far more than usual. When I got home from work and checked my email, I realized that Glossier had stealthily dropped two new Generation G lipstick shades. I noticed Leo, the new brown shade, and was happy that they'd come up with another dark skin friendly color, but I didn't get excited until I saw Zip. OMG RED!!!

Then I saw their Instagram posts. Apparently, they didn't just add a couple of shades to the range. They tweaked the formula to make it more emollient and updated the packaging. Considering how many complaints I've heard about the lipsticks snapping right out of their tubes and my own apprehensions about the original flimsy plastic, these are laudable changes. (I almost repurchased Crush and Jam to get them in the new tubes, but I resisted.)

Leo is a sheer brown shade; while Glossier claims it "pop[s] with color," I'd liken its pigment level to the softer Generation G shades, Cake and Like. While I don't think it's very flattering on me, I'm glad they've included a nude for medium to deep skintones, since Cake can appear chalky or transparent on darker lips. It will also be a nice layering shade.

Zip is just as pretty as I thought it'd be: a fall-ready red with good color payoff a la the bolder Jam and Crush shades. I'd say it reads a hair warmer on camera than it is in real life.

A few people have wondered how Zip compares to Crush, so here are some quick comparison swatches! Crush is pink, Zip is red, both are quite pretty.

And is the formula different? A little, yes, especially for Zip; I noticed it glided across my lips and was easier to build. While I never found the original Generation G formula horribly drying, I will say that the current formula feels slightly more comfortable and weightless.

I spy with my little eye...scotch tape!

The real improvement, however, is the packaging. The new Generation G tubes look a lot like the original release, but they're ever so slightly thicker, especially around the top where the product twists up. The plastic itself seems a bit heftier--notice how you can see through the old tube, but not the new one. Hopefully, this will prevent the problem some have had with broken lipsticks. (ETA 10/15: I forgot to mention that the newer tubes have more product, too, clocking in at 0.07oz versus the original 0.04oz.)

My original opinion on these lipsticks stands: they are nice, but nothing revolutionary, no matter what the ad copy says. Most people will prefer either the sheer shades (Cake, Like, Leo) because they're natural and dummy-proof, or the more pigmented shades (Jam, Crush, Zip) because they have a variable color payoff while retaining that soft, blurred look. Unless you love the formula, there's no need to collect every shade; I myself will be sticking with the stronger shades. But the updated packaging and slightly creamier formula show that Glossier has heeded their consumer base, and that certainly heightens my opinion of the brand.

As a final note, I want to thank those of you who have supported me and my blog in so many ways. This includes using my Glossier referral link, which has been used at least a dozen times in the past week if my notifications are correct. In fact, I'm maxed out on store credit for 2016 (but you should still get 20% off of your first order if you choose to use it). An action as simple as using my referral links? That allows me to continue reviewing products for this space. Even if you never plan on using one of my brand referral links, I am absolutely humbled by and thankful for your readership.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Inspiration: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

Have you ever bought something sight unseen because it was a movie that featured your favorite actor, or a magazine with an article about a writer you adore, or a picture taken by the best artist? That's what happened with me and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham: I found out it had some of my favorite Bollywood actors in it, namely Kajol, and I plonked down my cash as soon as the DVD was released. As it turns out, the movie is another Karan Johar melodrama, filled with stupidly rich people in stupidly big houses wearing stupidly gorgeous clothes, even when they're waking up in the morning or vacuuming their rugs.

But you know what? It's effective. You get attached to several of the characters, some of the jokes are hilarious, the soundtrack is uneven but overall decent, and it makes me tear up every now and then. The real delight for me, though, is Kajol, who lights up the screen with her flawless comedic timing and her striking looks.

So the plot! Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (or K3G for short) focuses on two brothers, a business student named Rahul and his much younger brother Rohan. Rahul is clearly favored by his father Yash, a wealthy businessman, and his mother Nandini. Rahul falls in love with a vivacious but less wealthy woman named Anjali, and when Anjali's father dies, Rahul marries her against his father's wishes. Yash casts them out. A decade later, Rohan discovers that his brother lives in London, and he journeys off to bring his family together.

Yeah, it's just as contrived as it sounds, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like it. Also, my brother decided to borrow my K3G DVD and show it in the classroom, and it was apparently a real hit. For better or worse, this is a Bollywood crowd pleaser.

As a side note, they do eventually reveal that Rahul was adopted. It doesn't affect the plot much, though; it's really just a cheap " Le shock!" moment and a device that allows Rahul and Rohan to marry two sisters.

Rani Mukherji appears in this film as the woman Rahul's father wants him to marry. She's so gorgeous that, if you watch any movie she starred in from the mid 90s in to the early 2000s, you'll notice she's almost always introduced in slow motion, whipping her hair across her shoulder and slowly smiling in to the camera. Seriously, she's so freaking lovely that my friend choked on his own spit the first time he saw her.

And they always do her makeup right: there's usually a strong eyeliner stroke with a slight flick on top of a slightly-warm eyeshadow to bring out her eyes. The one exception seems to be the dark purple eyeliner they put on her in one scene, which is decidedly cool-toned.

I tried to take a few more photos of Mukherji's makeup in that scene so you could see the purple, but the lighting isn't the best.

Also, quick appreciation for the fantastic makeup job on Jaya Bachchan. Her skin looks fantastic and the subtle definition around her eyes really brightens up her whole face.

But since I talked her up so much in the introduction, let's move on to my girl Kajol. Honestly, I just love her. She's not as strikingly, unbelievably gorgeous as Rani Mukherji, Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, or any of the other big-name beauties, but the fact that she's so different is part of what makes her stand out. Excluding her light hazel eyes, Kajol's features are not as soft and stereotypically feminine as those of most other Bollywood actresses, and she's well known for embracing a borderline unibrow. Yet this signature look of hers--the beige nude lip and the sharp, super-black eyeliner all around her eyes--really highlights her quirky good looks.

I think it's especially obvious how well this dark-eyes-light-mouth look suits her when you compare her to Simone Singh, who plays Anjali's best friend Rukhsaar. Simone has the eyeliner, too, but it's not quite as thick or as heavy as Kajol's, and her eyeshadow and lipstick are softer pastel pinks.

They do change her look up a bit during the film, including the pinker lip and smaller amount of eyeliner in the top left corner and the heavier, smokier eye makeup in the bottom left corner. Not surprisingly, the former is when Rahul is imagining Anjali interacting with his accepting parents and the latter is when Rahul is imagining practically eating her neck. They're both pretty, but the standard Kajol look is still my favorite.

Let's move on to Kareena Kapoor, who plays Anjali's younger sister Pooja. I've never been a big Kareena fan, in part because her attitude in interviews tends to grate on me, in part because I think it took her a damn long time to learn how to act. But the scene that introduces adult Pooja to the film? Ugh, so good. With her matching lavender bedspread, hairdryer, and pajamas, and her extensive morning beauty routine, she is every bit as fabulous as I wish I was.

Also, see that lipstick? I was on a feverish quest to find that lipstick when this movie came out. Somebody pointed out that it was an Estee Lauder Pure Color lipstick, and the shade looked a lot like Pinkberry. I rushed out and bought it, and while it's a top notch lipstick (and likely the shade Kareena was wearing), it looked awful on me. Sadness.

While I'm not a huge Kareena fan, I think her square face, thin nose, sculpted cheek bones, and smaller, rounder mouth give her an interesting look that is usually highlighted by fantastic makeup. Whoever did her makeup for the scene in the top two pictures, however, did her no favors. The pastel colors don't seem to work on her skin and, mixed with the eyeliner, give her eyes a bit of a muddy look. The lipstick color is very pretty, but the lipliner they paired it with sometimes makes it look like she's sporting a mustache. I mean, am I just mean, or is that look just very unflattering?!

She looks much lovelier in the rest of the movie, though. I especially like the lashy eyes and muted plummy lip they gave her on the bottom left. And while the amount of metallic makeup she wears in some scenes is a bit much, what she's wearing on the bottom right seems very on-trend.

Who the Hell came up with some of these costumes, though? Pooja is supposed to be a bit of a fashionista, but a lot of what she wears is really off-the-mark. The tickery-tackery monster in me almost likes the clashing patterns she's wearing at the top, but a shirt that slopes down in a V to cup your breasts? Just...weird. And oh man, that red latex/pleather atrocity she wears to the "Prom!" (Do London college students have Proms?! Let me know.) Did Kareena piss off the costume department?

She looks beautiful in the Karva Chauth scene, though, with the angled top and the wide-leg pants in those soft pinks and silvers. I highly recommend watching that outfit in action!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

REVIEW: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

It's rare that I get two deluxe samples of the same product in different shades, but when I manage it, it's definitely prime reviewing material. In this case, I got two tubes of the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner: a brown (Mad Max Brown) in a gift with purchase and a black (Trooper) in my most recent Sephora Play box. I recently fell in love with the Physician's Formula Long-As-Hell-Name liquid liner, and while it's a tough act to beat, I figured these super popular Kat Von D liners might prove able opponents.

The Kat Von D Tattoo Liner is a brush tip liner that retails for $20 at Sephora. Trooper and Mad Max Brown are the only two shades, which is a bummer; comparable products like the Makeup Forever Aqua Liner contain double the product and come in a slew of shades. The Kat Von D range does offer a few similar products with more colors, however, like the Lighting Liner (with metallic shades) and the Ink Liner (with a felt tip). If this product's shade range expands, I'm hoping they come out with more awesome names like "Mad Max Brown." Because, you know, I have a history with Mad Max in general, and especially Mad Max Brown.

Do you have any idea how long I've waited to use this gif? Do you?!


Physician's Formula on top, Kat Von D on the bottom.

The Tattoo Liners have a very soft, relatively fine brush tip that is easy to control. I got an even line of color without any tugging or skipping on my lids. The thin point makes it easy to poke between your lashes and fill in obvious gaps, although admittedly, I'm too lazy to do that on most days. I'd say the Kat Von D brush is maybe a hair thinner than the Physician's Formula, but not by much.

Trooper on the left, Mad Max Brown on the right. Also, check out that sweet concealer crease!

Trooper is a rich, opaque black color that dries semi-matte. It has decent staying power; I can wear it for a good eight hours with only a small amount of smudging and flaking at the end of the roughest days--I'm talking one or two microscopic flakes on my lid or a grain-of-rice sized smudge after I've cried at the movies. It's also decently resistant to rubbing. The above left picture shows how Trooper holds up when your intrepid reviewer forgets she's wearing eye makeup and paws at her eyes for a full 10 seconds before realizing what she's done. It's a little feathery and there's a little flakiness, but overall, pretty impressive!

Mad Max Brown, though, doesn't quite live up to its namesake's rough-and-tumble reputation. The formula is more watery, and I needed two passes to get a rich brown color. I also found that it was slightly more prone to smearing if my eyes watered. That said, it's a damn pretty shade; in real life, it looks more like a soft black and is great for light makeup days.

I decided to swatch the Kat Von D Tattoo Liners up against the Physician's Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner and Serum in Ultra Black. Honestly, in a blind swatch test, I couldn't tell Trooper and Ultra Black apart.

I also dampened a facial cotton and ran it across the liners three times. Mad Max Brown didn't hold up nearly as well as the other two. In all fairness, I don't think most people run a sopping wet cloth across their eye makeup and expect it to stay flawless, but it does show that Trooper is the better formulated shade of the two. Also, props to the Physician's Formula liner, because it barely budged until I whipped out the baby oil.

I understand the hype for these liners, I do. The packaging is beautiful, the brush is efficient, and Trooper is a fantastic basic black. Is Mad Max Brown just as good, though? No, it's not, and that's what prompts me to drop the score from a 5 to a 4. I likely won't purchase these in full sizes, either, because I think the Physician's Formula 2-in-1 liner is just as good at half the price.

Unless they release new shades and give them amazing names like Imperator or Aunty Entity. I'd be all over that shit.

RATING: 4 out of 5.
Kat Von D products are sold at Sephora.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

VIDEO: Summer 2016 Empties

(NOTE: To watch full-screen, start playing, then click the YouTube button at the bottom right.)

Description Box Info:

INSTAGRAM (aka cat pictures): ReneesAnatomy

TWITTER (aka constant bitching): ReneesAnatomy

SNAPCHAT (aka stupid faces): ReneesAnatomy

I have a Glossier affiliate link that will you give you 20% off of your first order. (It would give me $10 in store credit, but I'm maxed on referrals for the year--you should still get your 20% off.) If you'd like to use that, here's the link:

Also, I apparently get a Paula's Choice referral code. I can't believe I didn't notice until now. If you use this link, you'll get $10 off of your first order and I'll get $10 off of my next order. Again, no pressure; only use it if you want to use it:

Friday, September 23, 2016

REVIEW: Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation

Everybody has a brand that makes them weak in the knees. Even if most of their products are subpar or they commit a major faux pas, we forgive them and drool over each upcoming release. It's easy to scoff at brand loyalty, but at the end of the day, I think we're all prone to it. I know that's how I am with the Kevyn Aucoin makeup range: they announced a new "glowy," "moisturizing" foundation and I checked Sephora's website every morning until it launched.

The Kevyn Aucoin Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation is $58 for 0.95 ounces of product. (The Sephora website states that this is a full ounce, the box says otherwise, eh, it's not too far off.) It comes in sturdy plastic packaging with an airless pump that is easy to control. I know a lot of people dislike plastic packaging, but I prefer it because I'm clumsy, and I think this bottle still manages to look quite nice.

Flash on top, natural light on the bottom. From left to right: Kevyn Aucoin Etherealist in Light EF01, Buxom Show Some Skin in Tickle the Ivory, NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia, MAC Full Coverage in NW10.

 I purchased the lightest shade, Light EF01 (or just "1" on the Sephora website). It's reasonably fair, but has some strong peachy undertones. I find that they're more obvious in swatches, though, than when the foundation is blended across the face. There are currently 16 shades in the range, running from quite light to reasonably dark. The inclusive shade ranges are part of what has made me so unerringly devoted to the Kevyn Aucoin brand.

One pump was enough to cover my entire face and the top of my neck. I will note that this product dries quickly, so you'll want to work in sections. I didn't detect any fragrance.

The description for this foundation states that it will give you "medium coverage with a semi-satin finish," slash, "an airbrushed opinion," slash, "a radiant glow." That's kind of a lot and it's all a little different, but I interpreted it as "this is a medium coverage product that won't be matte." One layer of this product buffed in to my skin with a Real Techniques Buffing Brush does, in fact, give me a medium coverage, and the foundation does have a bit of a glow to it. It also spread very easily without streaking.

But...wait. Something's not quite right here. It has a bit of shine to it, yes, but it looks...kinda dry?

Oooooh yes, yes indeed, it clung to every dry part of my face and emphasized dry patches I didn't even realize existed. Immediately after applying this foundation, I noticed that the tip of my nose looked a bit patchy, the space between my brows was hideous, and my cheeks and jawline were looking rather dry. The above macro shot demonstrates the texture perfectly.

I'd actually used my 10% AHA the night before I tested and photographed this foundation, by the way, so my skin was about as smooth as it ever is. This was a little shocking.

Yet this foundation has some tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it was not only easy to The Etherealist across my skin, it was also a breeze to blend other products on top, like a Becca Beach Tint for blush. And if you stood a few feet away from me or looked at me through a camera lens, you'd see nothing but airbrushed glory--I took a screengrab of how I looked on my phone, with beauty mode clearly turned off, to demonstrate. How the Hell was this possible?

I'm going to have to guess that it's the silicones. While the brand claims that the Etherealist "boosts hydration" with hyaluronic acid, the biggest ingredient in this foundation is silicone. It shows up in many forms: dimethicone, phenyl trimethicone, vinyl dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane...and that's just in the top 10 ingredients. Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks silicones are the devil incarnate (though they can aggravate some acne-prone and sensitive skins), but I do know that silicone doesn't have much in the way of skincare benefits. It basically provides slip and can create a "diffused" look, making products seem more emollient than they really are. The Etherealist is no different.

After 3 hours on the left, after 5 hours on the right.

I tried to give this foundation a fair shake and photographed it throughout the day. It wasn't always comfortable, though: at several points throughout the day, I found that the apples of my cheeks, my jawline, and my temples itched. This is probably because the foundation made my face slightly drier throughout the day.

My mother actually asked me, "What are all of those bumps on your forehead?" Now, I am human, and I do have some texture to my skin; namely, my forehead is prone to clogging. But any decent foundation will not make the fine lines and clogged pores on my forehead more obvious. This one did. By the end of the day, it was so, so, so dry.

Oh, except for my nose! It wore completely off of my nose after 4 or 5 hours.

This product isn't totally transfer-proof, either. It wore off under the nose pads of my glasses, which is normal, but it always came off on my finger and on clothing if I put any pressure on my face. This kind of perplexes me, given how quickly it seems to dry on the skin during application.

Honestly, I try to wear foundations for 6 to 8 hours to give them a real test, but I couldn't bear to wear this any longer after 5. When I removed it, I noticed a small amount of red irritation where I'd itched throughout the day. It had faded by the time I woke up the next morning. I gave The Etherealist a second chance, applying it with a Beauty Blender and topping it with plenty of moisture spray, but I got nearly the same results.

I'm giving this foundation a 2 out of 5 because I think it might be nice for normal to slightly oil skin in photographs, the packaging is great, and the shade range is inclusive. Yet even that might be my brand loyalty rearing its ugly head. At the end of the day, this is a foundation that left me more disappointed than almost any other base product I've tried.

RATING: 2 out of 5

Monday, September 19, 2016

I Got Some New Stuff

I used to do hauls several times a month when I was on YouTube. Part of that was because hauls are so popular (which makes sense--window shopping without the spending!), and part of it was because I was buying new stuff at an insane rate. I slowed down on full-fledged hauls when I moved to a mostly text-and-photo blog, and when I made the decision to maintain a more moderate collection, I just stopped doing them. My last haul post is over a year old. That's fine.

But I noticed that I managed to obtain a lot of new stuff over the past few weeks. A good bit of it came in the form of samples, gifts, or point perks, but yeah, I definitely purchased more than usual in September. So I figured, heeeey! Let's do a haul!

First up, the samples! I've been enjoying my Sephora Play! subscription (they should be accepting new members right now, by the way), and this month, I got some great stuff. Namely, I got another tube of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel (holy grail!), a Living Proof styling cream, and a mini Sephora lipstick. I also got a Kat Von D liquid liner in both my September Play! box and in a sample bag.

Next, I've been testing out the Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation for the past week or so. I was so damn excited for this launch that maybe I got a little too hyped up--thus far, the product hasn't lived up to its claims or my expectations. I'm going to fiddle with it a bit more and should have a full review available in a week or so.

Glossier announced that they were releasing serums and I started getting emails. Not a ton, mind you, but far more than I usually get when a product is about to be launched. So even though I wasn't bowled over by the ingredients list, I decided to get two full sets: one for my dry, dehydrated, and reactive skin and one for my friend with super-tough combination skin. I've asked him to take notes as he tests so I can complete a comparative review. Thank you again to everyone who has used my Glossier affiliate link; your support gave me the store credit that'll make this dual review possible.

Just a quick recommendation for anybody else who will be using these serums, because this wasn't mentioned on the Glossier website when I bought them: do not use Super Glow and Super Pure at the same time. Niacinamide and Vitamin C can cause some wonky reactions if they collide.

There are also two new NARS Audacious lipsticks in my collection! I bought Apoline, a rosy pink, from the fall collection as soon as it went live, and I finally caved and bought the lightest peachy nude in the range, Raquel, at a local Sephora just yesterday.

Last, but not least, there are some new-to-me drugstore products I'm testing out! I decided to try the Covergirl Ready Set Gorgeous concealer when I saw how fair the lightest shade was. I'm trying to document the product, but frankly, I always find concealer reviews a little tough. I've also been using the L'oreal mascara primer and hope to eventually compare it to the DiorShow primer in another post.

That should be me about done for the time being. The aforementioned Sephora trip did reawaken my desire for the CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops in Celestial, but I can hold off on those until the fall VIB sale. Beyond that, I think I'm tapped out!