Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Paper Bag Challenge (aka Fragrance Beauty Roulette)

A couple of weeks ago, I gathered up 20+ perfume samples and decants that weren't getting enough love and sent them to somebody interested in expanding their fragrance horizons. I then reorganized my many vials, totally sure that I'd made major headway in my collection...and I realized I still have upwards of 100 of the little suckers. Shamefacedly, I admit that I also had more samples headed toward me via various splitting and sampling services. But can you really blame me when there's a jasmine-rose-vanilla fragrance named after the Peacock Throne? THE FREAKING PEACOCK THRONE?!

Um. I digress.

 My issue with fragrance hoarding comes from the fact that I have so many and try so much. I put a perfume on for a few days, tuck it away in my drawer to make room for something else, and then when I try to clean out my collection, I can't remember if I really loved that particular scent. I'm bad at keeping notes about individual fragrances unless it's an insta-love/hate or I'm writing a review. So I keep it, just in case.

I decided that, since I'm really enjoying my Finish 13 by Halloween challenge, I should tack on another Project Pan/Beauty Roulette style fun fest: a Paper Bag Challenge! The goal will be to try at least three fragrances, selected at random, over the course of a week; then I can decide whether or not I want to keep them. I'll keep track of my selections and decisions using an Excel spreadsheet.

I tossed about half of my samples and splits in to a paper bag, just because I worry about leakage and I wanted to be able to pull everything out and upright relatively quickly. Then I closed my eyes, gently shuffled the vials around with my hand, and picked three at random. My first selections: L'Artisan Timbuktu, Tokyo Milk La Vie La Mort, and Etat Libre d'Orange La Fin Du Monde.

Now, because the semester has just started and none of these first three is particularly potent or daring, I was able to try one-a-day for three days straight. And...I made the decision to get rid of all three. La Fin Du Monde is cool in theory (popcorn note), but it turns really screechy on my skin. I forgot that I don't like La Vie La Mort at all--there's too much tuberose and very little complexity. And while Timbuktu is lovely, it doesn't totally rock my world. That's the trick, really: I only want to keep things I truly love and could see myself using up or buying in a larger size. With all three of those babies dealt with, I'm due to start another week already.

I don't think I'll go through every set of three quite as quickly. Again, I'm funny about the scents I wear to work, so there will be days when I use an old faithful full bottle (like Byredo Black Saffron or Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser) instead of re-acquainting myself with a decant. But I'm hoping to go through my sample collection and cull it immensely. I've been posting weekly updates on my Instagram page, and I'll try to do a few update posts here as well.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

REVIEW(ish): Lime Crime Velvetines

As you may have noticed, I have expressed some concerns about reviewing products from companies with less-than-savory reputations like Lime Crime. Having crowd sourced opinions and thought it about it carefully, I decided to add this general review to my blog in the hopes that it will be somewhat helpful. While I have expressed most of my thoughts about the company's practices in this post, I want to add a footnote: there are plenty of large companies whose owners have done pretty terrible shit. We don't think about those companies and their ethics as much as we do a smaller company's, however, and that has a lot to do with how closely we associate a brand with its owner. The smaller the company, the more likely we are to focus on the owner.

My compromise is to, as always, invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments, and to not assign these products a rating.

So let's talk about the Velvetines. The retail price is $20 for each 0.088oz/2.6mL tube, although they're sometimes sold in kits at a reduced price and are often on sale at discount sites like Hautelook. This makes the Lime Crime Velvetines a bit pricier than most other matte liquid lipstick offerings. Here are some comparisons to other popular formulas:

Lime Crime Velvetines -- $20 for 2.6mL = $7.69 per mL
Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks -- $20 for 6.6mL = $3.03 per mL
Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipsticks -- $20 for 3.25mL = $6.15 per mL
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks -- $24 for 3mL = $8 per mL
Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipsticks -- $20 for 5mL = $4 per mL

Natural light on top; flash on the bottom.

The tubes are frosted plastic with standard doe foot applicators. I find the doe foots pretty easy to control, but they pick up a lot of product, so you have to wipe a ton off on to the mouth of the tube before applying. The formula is very thin, has a vague silicone/powder-type feel, and smells strongly of cake batter. I don't smell it when it's on my lips, but it's definitely potent.

I received a small assortment of Velvetines as gifts and swapped for one, so I've managed to get a decent range of colors. True Love is a bright red pink. Saint is a deep brown plum. Bleached and Cupid are nudes on my skintone; the former is a soft beige peach, while the latter is a warm pink. Utopia is a true violet shade. Suedeberry is a saturated coral, and it might just be my personal favorite of the bunch.

From left to right: Bleached, Saint, Suedeberry.

No matte liquid lipstick is going to be hydrating, because lacking moisture is kind of what helps the product stick to your lips. That said, I find that the Lime Crime Velvetines are some of the most lightweight and least drying liquid lipsticks I've ever used. I get true color right out of the tube with no patchiness. The one exception to this is Saint: its formula is a bit more drying and needs some extra smoothing out. This isn't totally surprising, since vampy shades and pastels are often much harder to formulate than brights and nudes.

I'll also note that, as much as I like the look of these in real life, they don't always photograph well, at least in HD. The three FOTD photographs above look decent, but trust me, the lipstick looked much less "flat" and far more saturated in person.

The way the Velvetines tend to wear is what impresses me the most. The above photos show Seudeberry after it's been freshly applied, after 4 hours and a big meal, and after I touched up with a second layer. Not only does this formula not shrivel up my lips the way so many other matte liquid lipsticks do, it barely wears even through eating. Seriously, I've had a picnic lunch and a giant sandwich with these things, and they didn't smear or flake off. There's just wear at the very inner part of my mouth. They always feel just as weightless and look totally fine if you touch up by adding on a second layer.

Obviously, these being so tenacious means you're going to have to remove them with a heavy-duty, oil-based makeup remover. I use oil to remove my sunscreen and makeup anyway, but if you prefer to use gentle cleansers or micellar waters, these might be too apocalypse-proof for you.

If you are interested in purchasing the Lime Crime Velvetines, but are concerned about website security, I would recommend waiting for the next sale at, or ordering from generally reliable vendors like

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Brows Two Ways

There's an old saying I'm fond of: "The grass is always greener on the other side." We look at others and we say, "Oh, man, if I could have ____ like them, I'd be so happy!" In doing so, we forget that we likely have some characteristic or trait that others envy. During my blogging career, this has played out in a rather consistent way: almost everybody who says, "I wish I had skin like yours!" has eyebrows I would kill for.

Because, you know, I don't really have eyebrows. There's a general shape there, just very few hairs, especially from the arch back. I can thank my father for this, since he is one of the most hairless humans on the face of the planet. That means I can skip shaving my legs for a month and nobody will notice*...but it also means less hair from the neck up.


To be clear, I am not an expert. I do not have naturally fabulous brows, I am not a super-talented makeup artist, and I don't have a weirdly chic or super easy** routine worked out like some people. I'm just a hobby blogger who said, "Hey, maybe this post will help somebody."

I'll also give a warning to those who haven't been here before: my eyes are asymmetrical. My right eye (the one with the freckle) is smaller, more hooded, and has a lower, straighter brow than my left eye. I used to be really funny about this, and it's one of the reasons why I got in to the habit of taking full-face photos at an angle. But I've kind of just accepted that this is my face and I should enjoy my quirks. If you're a stickler for perfectly-matching brows, though, this post will drive you nuts.

As per the Lisa Eldridge video linked above, I think "feathery strokes" are key, no matter what you do. I know some people like to actually draw straight across, but unless you like a very stark look (and hey, you do you!) or you're an expert, it's easier to get even lines and a textured/somewhat natural look if you do light strokes. Just pretend you're drawing on individual hairs!

Oh, and if you're like me and you like a sharp point on your pencils? Stick them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. It hardens up the pencil briefly and makes it easier to sharpen for that fine point without wasting tons of product.


I've been going for a heavier brow lately, in part because I've been wearing strong lipstick or more obvious eye makeup. I prefer a creamier or waxier pencil for this method; these days, I've been using the Milk Makeup Gel Brow. This also works well with pomades like Anastasia Dip Brow.

To start this kind of brow, I brush my brows straight through with a spoolie. (My favorite is the cheapo ELF one.) Then I start filling in the very front of my brows. I do a few strokes and blend them with my fingertip to prevent harsh lines. Repeat until you get the depth you want: stroke, stroke, stroke, blend, stroke, stroke, stroke, blend...

My brows get thinner after the first third, so I have to draw in the shape. I sketch along the top of my brow line first, moving from the arch to the outer corner. Then I work back inward and create a bit of a "tail," but I don't outline the whole way in with the lower part of my brows. If I try to outline my entire eyebrow, I will always always always make them too thick.

Once I've got my outline created, I start filling in my brows, working from the arch to the outer corner with those light, feathery strokes. I use the brow spoolie again to get off most of the clumps that come off of creamier pencils.

This method and these creamier products tend to create a super drawn-on look that irks me a little. Hence, I go back over the brows with a q-tip, smoothing out the pigment and pulling off any remaining clumps. Weeee, the texture is back!


I think this method works best for me when I use a hard pencil. The star of my kit is clearly the Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencil they'll bury with me.

I start by brushing my brow hairs down to see where I'm especially bare at the moment. This helps me see where I need to apply a bit more pressure, slash, do a few more strokes. Then I brush the hairs right back in to place.

Instead of doing an outline, I just start filling in my brows, going from the inner corner to the outer.  I like to brush my brow hairs up and down once again to catch light spots (they're almost always on the tail), and I add more pencil as is necessary.

Because these brows tend to be lighter, I often like to add a bit of texture so they don't just "disappear" in to my face. I brush the front third of my eyebrows straight up with a brow spoolie; from the arch back, I go up and out--that lifts the brow without making it stick up, so you get the texture without exposing your bald spots. I fill in any now-bare spots with more pencil before setting the hairs in place with clear brow gel. My favorite is from Anastasia.

Boom! That's how I pretend I have eyebrows.

* If anybody ever does notice that I haven't shaved my legs in a while--which usually only happens when I mention it--and they get snitty, fuck 'em. We're mammals, we have hair, and it's not harming anyone. Whether or not you decide to go along with a certain culture's beauty norms is your personal choice.

** Into the Gloss asked me to link to their website's brows section. I was going to do it anyway, but they also emailed me after the fact, soooooo full disclosure!

Monday, August 22, 2016

No Foundation Redux #3: Obligatory Red Lip

USA-based beauty bloggers and fashion magazines seem to have a constant hard-on for "French girls." It's not totally without cause, since Paris has earned a reputation as the fashion capital of the world, and I'm told it's a very beautiful, romantic city. But the constant OMG FRENCH WOMAN!!! articles, ranging from "How to Wear Skinny Jeans Like a French Girl" to "Ask a French Girl About Friendship," strike me as bizarre. Unless I'm missing something, these are just articles about exceptionally pretty women who do things in a cool, stylish way...which isn't native to France. I've definitely seen a skinny jeans-leather jacket combo on the streets of Pittsburgh, and I don't think anybody feels comfortable fighting with their friends.

I say this somewhat bitchy stuff because one of the makeup looks that's very Vogue popular is a minimal base with sloppy hair and bright red lipstick. I often scoff at this look because, like many Americans who blog and watch YouTube, I'm quite attached to a red lip with a carefully perfected face. See my Christmas card/engagement photo outtakes, for instance (which feature the same lipstick I used above):

Why am I marrying this idiot?

Yet for all of my holier-than-thou attitude and stuffy sneers, I have to admit that I can actually kind of get behind this look. When I was in graduate school, I was forever enamored with the chic middle-aged barista who wore only three products (mascara, blush, red lipstick) on a daily basis. Furthermore, I like the idea of just using what you have instead of fundamentally altering your face. To quote Violette, apparently a mononymous French makeup artist:

What we want is to be ourselves—not a better version of ourselves. We feel like it’s better to be used to something than to try to change it. So we think: What style can I have with this face, and with this hair? That mentality is 100 percent French.

I dunno if it's 100% French, given my time trolling around makeup forums of all sorts, but for better or worse, it's the beauty attitude that is almost always attributed to France. And, hey, I kind of like it.

I decided to use my personal favorite red lip combo, MAC Scarlet Ibis lipstick and Basic Red pencil, for this photo, and because it's so bright, I figured I needed heavy eyebrows to balance it out. The Milk Makeup brow pencil is my darkest, most pigmented pencil, which makes drawing those puppies on a breeze. Then I can set them with the Anastasia Clear Brow Gel.

You know, I probably do my eyebrows too heavy these days. It's hitting me now.

Anyway! I used the Milk Ubame mascara and some Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Crayon to darken up the lashes. I was a good girl and I didn't do much base--I left a bit of post-acne pigmentation uncovered, for instance--and just swiped some of the Kat Von D Concealer Creme in L3 on my undereyes. I almost patted some on my nose, too, since it tends to be darker and more red than the rest of my face, but I resisted, mostly because that concealer isn't the right shade for me. Finally, I felt a little naked without something on my cheeks, so I tapped a dollop of MAC Strobe Cream across my cheekbones.

Easy, hot weather friendly, and surprisingly brightening. As an added bonus, skipping most base makeup makes it very easy to switch out your lip color. You don't have to worry about scrubbing off the foundation or powder around your mouth!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Makeup Brands That Hate Happiness

I try to keep my chill when it comes to makeup, and I think I'm usually very successful. I've learned not to panic over missing limited edition releases and, in most cases, to move on to something new when my old standard is outdated or discontinued. But sometimes, companies do the unthinkable: they discontinue a product that is miles above anything else I've tried. It's a 5 star product with no readily available alternative...and they get rid of it!

In other words, this is a post that's all about me throwing tantrums. :D

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow -- I'm not an eyeshadow person, but these babies? Wow. If you want your eyelids to look like pure metal, these liquid shadows are the way to go. I noticed that these were being phased out of Sephora earlier this year, but I figured it was just a market issue: most people who buy Josie Maran at Sephora seem interested in the skincare more than the makeup. Then I noticed that the Josie Maran website only lists one color, a green that would admittedly take a bit longer to sell out than the neutrals. I've tried a number of liquid and cream eyeshadows, and there isn't a single one that manages to be as frosted as these without a speck of obvious glitter. A small part of me hopes that they're just redoing the packaging, since the applicators are notorious for snapping off.

YSL Creme de Blush -- Throughout 2015, there were rumors that YSL was discontinuing this delicious mousse-textured blush and replacing it with a new formula. I ignored them because, really, if they were going to get rid of these little pots of perfection, they had to be coming out with something even better! Nope, they came out with a liquid formula that's okay, but not for me, and definitely not a replacement for the original Creme de Blush. (There isn't even a color dupe for Creme de Blush #9 Babydoll. Trust me, I looked.) How could anything compare? Creme de Blush #9 in Babydoll is shockingly pink in the pan, yet the color is so clean that it manages to look gorgeous and natural on fair skins. The texture is so light and smooth, it feels like blending air on your cheeks. Seriously, YSL, you had a homerun here.

Prescriptives Counters -- This is going to seem a little petty because you can still get most of the products in the Prescriptives range. Still, I must sniffle, "I miss going to the Prescriptives counter." Part of this is deeply routed nostalgia, because when I was growing up, Prescriptives had one of the only counters my mother would visit and spend her hard-earned money on. The sales associates were always helpful, and they really took their time customizing eyeshadow palettes and foundations for every customer. I know their products are available online, and they even do a custom foundation blending service, but I miss the counter *magic. (SHE'S GOT PUNS!)

Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Moist Glow Packaging -- Look, I get that brands sometimes have to shake things up and come up with more exciting or more functional packaging. I was one of the many people who complained about Urban Decay's less-than-operable lipstick and liner tubes prior to their recent redos. But I'm a little miffed when a company exchanges a really nice packaging design with something less functional because of aesthetics. The Creamy Moist Glows have gone through two packaging changes in a relatively short period of time. Originally, they were housed in tiny screwtop jars a la the Sensual Skin Enhancer, which is just an awful packaging style for a blush--you can't get your brush inside of it, slash, the fact that you can't really keep your finger flat means you'll get blush under your nails and waste it. I loved the newly-designed circular compacts, which had a fantastic mirror and a tight snap closure. The round design didn't last long, though, because the brand decided to make all of the packaging uniform squares and rectangles. The new packaging isn't terrible, but it now has a push closure, so your product isn't as safe. I've actually had a newer blush compact open up in my bag because something pushed up against the gold bar.

(maybe) Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte Powder Foundation -- Recently, I've received a few blog comments and emails asking about this long-standing favorite of mine. "Hey, Renee, do you know--is the D&G powder foundation being discontinued?" Apparently, the foundation is disappearing from some websites, slash, only a few shades are available at certain retailers. This made my blood pressure spike a bit, no lies; it took me years to find a setting powder that would both match me and look so skin-like on my dry skin. I found the full range at Nordstrom, so I'm not too freaked out yet. But rest assured, D&G: if you discontinue this powder, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the over-dramatic beauty blogger in the corner.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Some News and Some Questions

It occurred to me that I posted this announcement on Instagram and Snapchat, but said nary a thing on my actual blog. That's silly, because while I certainly enjoy and appreciate my followers on other forms of social media, most of the people who check out BOGL are in it for the blog. So, uh, here's the news: there's a piece of jewelry on my left ring finger now. My partner and I have been unofficially engaged for a while, but we decided to get this little guy and make it old fashioned official. I'll marry him at some point. (My partner, that is, not the ring.)

Now on to the question portion of this post. I received some Lime Crime products as gifts from a friend, and when I realized I quite liked them, I swapped for a few more. The Velvetine liquid lipsticks in particular have popped up in a few of my Snapchat and Instagram posts, and I've received a few (very polite) requests to write about them.

Here's the thing: Lime Crime has something of a checkered past. I'm all for giving people second chances if they apologize and learn from their behavior; I know I've made mistakes and poor decisions that I'd hate to be judged for now. And it seems like the company has been on its best behavior for the last year or so, especially after the security breach that appears to have pushed founder "Doe Deere" further and further in to the background.

That said, I'm still not quite sure how to approach such a blogpost. Any company can have a security breach, unfortunately, but this was stacked on a pile of other discomforting issues, like purportedly using unapproved ingredients and the infamous Hitler costume. Doe Deere has apologized for some of these things, but there's enough weirdness going on that I don't actually feel comfortable buying directly from the company--again, every Lime Crime product I own was a gift or came to me second hand.

I know I can't please everybody. There will be some people who will be disappointed that I even own these products, and it's a shame, because I'm glad you guys are here and I want you to enjoy the content. But the post was requested, and I think it might be helpful to some people.

Might, however, is the clincher. It could also legitimize some of the shitty behavior and piss-poor management that's gone on in the past.

So here's the question: what do you think a Lime Crime post should contain? Should it outline why the writer does or doesn't support the company, or should it go straight in to the products? Should it include a number rating or stay score-free? Should it even be written in the first place? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Monday, August 15, 2016

REVIEW: Kat von D Lock-It Concealer Creme

I've recently come to the conclusion that the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is, in fact, the newest addition to my short list of Holy Grail products, so you wouldn't think I'd be trying another expensive concealer. However, I was placing an order at Sephora and noticed a coupon for a free deluxe sample of the updated Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Creme, and I thought, "Eh, what the hey."

The Kat Von D Concealer Creme retails at $26 for 0.22oz of product. This is about standard size for a liquid concealer; the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is $29 for the same amount of product. The sample clocks in at 0.065oz, which is surprising to me given how generous it seems. The packaging is clear, sturdy plastic that lets you see how much product you have left and what the general color is. This is actually my preferred packaging for most base products. It comes with a slanted doe foot applicator. The doe foot pulls up a lot of product, at least in this sample tube, so I was constantly wiping it off on the lip of the container.

Natural light on top, flash on the bottom. From left to right: Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Creme in Light 3, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx01.

Kat Von D et all have been working on expanding the shade range for her base products this summer, both on the fair and deep ends of the spectrum, and I think that alone deserves some applause. Unfortunately, the free samples were only available in select shades, including just one of the light colors: Light 3, described as "fair shell with a warm undertone." Light 3 is a bit too dark and a little too peachy for most of my concealing purposes. Based on the description and swatches from Phyrra, I'm thinking Light 1 would have been a better match for me.

However, those peachy undertones actually make the Lock-It Concealer Creme a good option for concealing my blue-tinged undereye circles. The texture helps as well: this is a matte finish concealer, but I find that it doesn't look exceptionally crepey or dry on normal or oily skin. (My undereyes are neither oily nor dry.) This concealer feels thinner to the touch than my favorite NARS, but is slightly tackier and more viscous than the popular Urban Decay Naked Skin. It feels weightless on the skin and gives my undereyes a brighter, more even appearance.

Here's a macro shot of the Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Creme on my undereyes. As you can see, it has a very natural texture and does a good job of concealing my circles without looking or feeling cakey. While it looks very shiny in this picture, I'll note that it dries down a little more matte after a few minutes.

I didn't have quite as much luck using this product on my blemishes, however. While my undereyes are normal and my nose and eyelids are oily, most of my face is very dry and dehydrated. I tried patting the concealer on to pimples with both my fingers and a brush, and in both cases, it wouldn't completely stick. This experience, combined with the overall matte texture of the concealer, makes me think it's not the best option for dry skin.

I'm also irritated that they don't list the full ingredients on Sephora's website. Normally, if a product's ingredients aren't listed on Sephora, but it's available from other retailers, I'll grumble a little and find the ingredients elsewhere. Kat Von D is exclusive to the Kat Von D Beauty website and Sephora, so the lack of an ingredients list on both sites is an issue for me. Buzzwords like "non-comodogenic" really mean nothing: beyond the fact that not everybody breaks out from the same ingredients, it's been an unregulated term for as long as I can remember.

The Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Creme isn't going to replace my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer any time soon. That said, I like using my Light 3 sample on my undereyes, and I think the product is pretty solid. It's not my personal favorite, but I have no qualms recommending it to others.

RATING: 4 out of 5