Monday, September 25, 2017

REVIEW: Colourpop No Filter Concealer

The internet damn near broke when Colourpop announced they were releasing concealers. Colourpop has released a wide range of cheap makeup (some more successful than others), and now they were stepping in to the complexion product ring. Personally, I've yet to find a concealer that truly wows me, so I wasn't too interested in trying out the No Filter Concealer until I caught sight of their shade range. Yes, there's still a drop off in the variety of shades and undertones at the darker end of the spectrum, but at least there is a darker end of the spectrum. As soon as I snagged a great coupon, I bought both the lightest warm shade (Fair 5) and the darkest shade available (Rich 75).

The Colourpop No Filter Concealer retails for $6 a tube. I feel the need to point out that, yet again, Colourpop has created a product that is cheap per unit, but at 4 grams, each unit is a bit smaller than the standard 6-ish grams I've come to expect from a liquid concealer. Still, it's definitely a drugstore-priced product.

The concealer arrives in a sturdy plastic container with a white lid that scratches easily and a flattened doefoot applicator. I don't detect any fragrance, so yay!

I actually swatched both Fair 5 and Rich 75 against a range of products for my Glossier Wowder review, so I'm going to reuse those swatches. Please notice how these No Filter Concealer swatches are darker than you'd think from looking at the tubes; that's because this concealer turns 1-2 shades darker as it dries down on the skin. This is really important to consider when you're trying to get your perfect shade match.

From left to right: NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia; Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint in Sand; Colourpop No Filter Concealer in Fair 5; Glossier Wowder in Light/Medium; Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 001; Deciem The Ordinary Coverage Foundation in 1.0N; Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Light Warm.

 From left to right: Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint in Deep; Colourpop No Filter Concealer in Rich 75; Glossier Wowder in Rich; Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 302 and 303; Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Dark Golden.

Again, there's some color changing as the concealer dries down and limited undertones at the darker end of the shade range, but overall, we're definitely covering the very fair to the very dark here. I'm totally impressed with the shade range.

On the day I photographed the Colourpop No Filter Concealer, I was testing it on top of my favorite foundation, MAC Face & Body. The picture on the left is my face with a thin layer of Face and Body; it definitely evens out my skin, but you can still see my undereye circles, the dark pigmentation from a healing blemish on my chin, and a bit of redness from a patch of hives between my brows. Concealer to the rescue!

I was initially a bit miffed by how light the concealer looked against my skin, but then I remembered that it darkens up within ten minutes, and it certainly did after I took these photographs. The Colourpop concealer has a smooth, thin texture and a weightless feel that worked wonderfully on my undereyes by softening up the darkness. On my blemishes, however, this product was less successful. I had to reapply the concealer to my chin three times to get any texture because it would pull up as soon as I tried to blend it out. It's almost like this concealer has a hard time sticking to foundation. In the end, I got medium coverage on my undereyes, light coverage on my redness.

I thought the concealer might soften up after it sat on my skin for a while, but while the color darkened and became a better match for my skin, the texture just got worse. Look above my eyebrow on the right side of this picture, and at my chin on the left side. See how weirdly dry and makeup-y those parts of my face look? That's the Colourpop concealer. It also drifted in to the fine lines under my eyes very quickly, as you can see in this picture, but that's fairly normal for me. I tapped it out with my finger and it looked fine.

Sadly, the concealer on my blemishes didn't fair so well. By the three hour mark, my forehead looked like a scaly mess. The Colourpop No Filter Concealer hadn't just faded, it'd taken the foundation underneath with it. I tried to reapply the concealer because I'm a glutton for punishment, but nope, it once again wouldn't stick to my skin properly.

I thought it might be an issue with MAC Face & Body, so I tested the concealer with other base products. I had better luck with this concealer sticking to bare skin on a no foundation day, but over other foundations? I had the same problem. And no matter how I applied it, the staying power of this foundation was pretty much garbage.

I had such high hopes for this concealer because of the low price, inclusive shade range, and lightweight texture. Unfortunately, I was totally let down by its staying power, coverage, and appearance on the skin, especially over foundation. You get props for the feel and the shades, Colourpop, but my praise stops there.

RATING: 2 out of 5
This concealer is available at

Friday, September 22, 2017

Recent Disappointments

I go through this weird cycle with products: I'll try five or six new things and will be impressed with damn near all of them, or I'll try five or six new things and toss out 2 star ratings like it's going out of style. I've been in the latter category for the past couple of months, and this time, some of the disappointment shocked me. These are, without fail, products I fully expected to adore.

For the record, this is not necessarily a post about awful, useless products that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. It's just stuff like that left me...well, disappointed.

Glossier Body Hero Daily Perfecting Cream - While it's difficult to get me hyped over cleansers and lotions, the inclusiveness of the Body Hero campaign suckered me in to buying both of their new products. I fully expected to dislike the cleansing oil and adore the body cream, but to my surprise, I've enjoyed the oil and felt quite meh about this lotion. I probably should've noticed that the second ingredient in the Daily Perfecting Cream is silicone, which is usually a signal that a product won't be moisturizing enough for me. Sure enough, this cream has a lot of slip to it, but provides only a little moisture. Running my hands over my body after applying this, I get the weird sensation that there's a film on my skin, almost like I've been shrink wrapped. And while this does add a bit of a glow to your skin, it's a short-lived effect. I'd call this "MAC Strobe Cream for the body," but that wouldn't be fair to Strobe Cream's awesomeness.

MAC Lipstick in Rebel - No, I did not break my lipstick no buy! I took advantage of the Back 2 MAC program to get this tube for free. Because this was a free lipstick, I decided to go with a shade I've wanted to try forever, but haven't been able to pay for with my own money: Rebel, a saturated purple. I've worn it twice, and while it's a beautiful color supported by a solid lipstick formula, I...just don't like it on me. I think if I'm going to go with a cool-toned purple, I have to go for something less bright and a bit deeper.

A post shared by Renee (@reneesanatomy) on

Verb Sea Texture Cream - My overall positive experiences with Verb hair products and a parade of "look at my fabulous curly hair on sea texture cream!" Instagram posts had me rushing to Sephora to snag this stuff ASAP. My hair is either a 2b or 2c texture, depending on which hair dresser you ask, and I have an awful time taming the frizz and maintaining curl texture. Using this cream on days when my curls already had a bit of definition gave me more volume and a slightly more defined look, like above. But when I woke up on days with my curls mangled? It did nada. Actually, that's a lie: it pumped up the frizz in my hair times a dozen. Even when the Sea Texture Cream works, it doesn't work for long; you'll lose the effect as soon as you comb through your hair. I've managed to lose my receipt for this product, so I'll have to finish it up, but it's going to take a while to hit that many good hair days.

Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara -- Every time I've mentioned my search for the perfect "no makeup makeup," uber-natural lash tint, I've received countless recommendations for Maybelline Lash Discovery. I've been testing it for a couple of weeks now, annnnnd...why do people love this? It has a very thin brush that makes it easy to get every lash, that's for sure, but what else shines here? Nothing. The formula is weirdly sticky and actually seems to cling to my lashes as I pull the wand through them. It's easy to get clumped together spider lashes. Throughout the day, wet flakes dropped on my cheeks; trying to remove them with my finger led to awful gray smudges. Maybe I made a mistake buying a non-waterproof mascara for once, but this experience doesn't exactly tempt me to try the waterproof version.

Isehan Sunkiller Perfect Water Essence -- It's hard to beat Japanese sunscreens when it comes to lightweight, pleasing textures and great protection. Unfortunately, it's also hard to beat Japanese sunscreens when it comes to the Denatured Alcohol-Laden Formula Olympics. I managed to find a small handful of sunscreens sans SD alcohol and snagged them on eBay. This offering from Isehan seemed like my perfect match at first: it feels like water when you apply it, has zero flash back, is invisible on the skin, and doesn't dry out my face. Alas, something in this formula definitely broke me out; using it for even a day would prompt patches of pimples before the week was through.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Some Products I've Used for Almost a Decade

The beauty industry produces new formulas, shades, and applicators at a rapid pace, guided by the twin forces of scientific discovery and savvy marketing. Realizing we can put film formers in makeup and make it last for a full day, for example, lines up perfectly with trends that favor long-wearing products, matte textures, and minimal fuss. The huge variety of products is already a strong lure for beauty addicts like me, but I'm also an American, and we have easy access to most brands. So like many bloggers, I buy and try a ton of products.

Despite the fact that I'm always testing something, I've managed to collect a small assortment of makeup that is, to my mind, irreplaceable. And no matter how much I try other foundations, brow pencils, and eyeliners, I always come back to the staples that have stuck with me since college. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the all-time favorites I've gladly spent my money on many times over.

Wearing MAC Face & Body foundation and Rebel lipstick, Milani Liquid Eyes eyeliner, Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencil in Seal Brown, Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer, and Wet n' Wild Brulee eyeshadow.

MAC Face & Body foundation -- Ah, yes, the product everybody is sick of hearing me talk about! I'm sorry, but no matter how many foundations I try (and I sample a ton), I always come back to Face & Body. The buildable light coverage and slightly dewy finish give me the my-skin-but-better look I adore, it feels weightless on the skin, and it lasts a surprisingly long time for something that isn't uber-matte. Any time I ask my mother what she thinks of the new foundation I'm testing, she always says, "It's _______, but I like the MAC one you wear the best." What mom says is law, my friends.

Shu Uemura Hard Formula Pencil in Seal Brown -- I often hesitate to recommend this brow pencil because it's so hard to get in the states now, but if you wanted to know the absolute queen of brow products? Yeah, it's this one. No matter how many other pencils, powders, and gels I try, I always come back to this one. Beyond the fact that a single Hard Formula pencil will last you for a freaking decade or more, this is the most versatile formula I've ever used. Supposedly, the oil from your brow hairs is needed for the pigment to show up, which means it's hard to overdo. You can absolutely use it for a heavier brow look, though, if you just keep applying it. And Seal Brown is the sort of cool taupe shade I always look for from other brands.

Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer -- I decided to experiment with this product and have been using the Ivory shade lately, but really, my heart belongs to Radiant, the salmon-colored corrector. Blending a bit of this sheer, luminous formula with whatever concealer I'm using keeps my undereyes from looking dry and cakey. It also helps to bounce back a lot of light. As an added bonus, this is another lightweight product; my mom hates makeup she can feel on her face, but she wears the Medium shade without complaining.

Milani Liquid Eyes pencil -- I'm no longer as in to eye makeup as I was in college, but I still like to wear eyeliner, and the Milani Liquid Eyes pencils have been my go-tos for tightlining for at least a decade. I mean, I was buying these things when they were still called the Liquifeye pencils! They're incredibly smooth and richly pigmented, yet they also stick to the water line fairly well, meaning I get minimal smearing. No high end pencil liner has ever compared to this $5 beauty. The only downside? The formula is super soft, so you'll have to sharpen the pencil after every 2-3 uses.

MAC Strobe Cream -- How many tubes of this stuff have I actually gone through? It has to be at least three. I can kill a one ounce tub of this stuff annually because I use it for so many things: as a natural cheek highlight, as a glow-boosting moisturizer under my foundation, and as extra shimmer to mix in to my body lotion. MAC recently came out with a range of shades for this product, making it wearable for a variety of skintones.

MAC Lipsticks -- Let's be clear: MAC hasn't made my absolute favorite lipstick formula for about a year now. They've been usurped by Besame, because their lipstick formula is w389hvn2o3unrlasdjf AMAZING. That said, I still love MAC's Matte, Satin, and Amplified lipsticks, and their color selection is hard to beat. Also, it's always fun to get a free lipstick when you return 6 empty plastic products for the Back2MAC program; that's how I got Rebel! Which I...don't think really flatters me, but hey, I love the formula and it was free!

Wet n' Wild Color Icon eyeshadow in Brulee -- I'm on at least my second pan of this $2 eyeshadow, which is the perfect "nude lid" shade for me. The formula is quite soft, so it'll smash out of the pan easily, but that's a minor quibble. I like to use this when I'm wearing no other eye makeup to mask the blue veins on my lids and give me a more "finished" look. On the rare occasions when I wear stronger eye makeup, this is one of the only browbone shades I'll wear. I think Wet n' Wild has stopped making a lot of their eyeshadow singles, which is kind of a bummer, but this perfect pan is still readily available.

Becca Beach Tints -- The Beach Tints are my reference point for all other liquid blushes. If you can't compare to the Beach Tints even a bit? You're not worth my time. What always shocks me about this formula is how liquidy and blendable it is, and yet how much pigment you can get from the tiniest drop. They're great on bare skin or over foundation, which natural looks or more glamorous makeup. Watermelon is probably my most-used shade, since it's a medium pink that mirrors my natural flush, and I've actually used up a full tube of it.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

This Lipstick Calculator Gave Me Heart Palpitations (in a Good Way)

It's not at all shocking that I love lipstick and own a lot of it. I've also accepted that while I may not own as much as some bloggers and YouTubers, I own more than most of my friends, even some of the drag queens. Most of my friends who wear makeup only for work or special occasions and aren't especially in to "beauty" have all of two tubes of lipstick, banged up and lurking in the bottom of their makeup bag or jammed in to a drawer at their desk. That's fine. I've made my peace with this.

I do enjoy every shade I have, though, and I want to make sure I get as much use out of them as possible before they turn. So when somebody on Reddit's Makeup Rehab sub posted a downloadable lipstick calculator, I figured, "Hey, why not? Let's see how long my collection will last." You just plug in how many of each type of lipstick you have, how many grams each of those lipsticks is, how often you wear lipstick, and how often you reapply lipstick when you wear it. Easy! No fuss!


Wait a second.

Does that legitimately say that, at the rate I'm going, it'll take me fifteen years to finish my lipsticks?!

Okay, okay, so that's terrifying. But you know, I estimated that I only wear lipstick three times a week. I sometimes wear it more frequently, say 4 or 5 times a week. Let's try that! That might be less scary.

Technically, 9 years is much better than 15. And to be totally fair, there are some lipsticks you'll reapply more than 3 times a day; I wore Glossier Crush to work yesterday, for instance, and because it was a long day with a lot of talking, I reapplied the lipstick a solid 4 or 5 times. You also have to layer lipsticks like the Glossier Generation Gs for the color to show up.

But even then, that's a bit of a cop-out. For every lipstick I reapply frequently, there's one that needs touched up once a day tops, like the Besame reds or the iron-clad Lime Crime Velvetines. I may wear those Glossier lipsticks to work from time to time, but when I really want to look good for a while, I go for those fullproof formulas that almost never need reapplied unless you've eaten a big meal.

Most importantly, years of lipstick is still years of lipstick. And I have yet to meet the lipstick that lasts a decade.

I'm already on a lipstick no buy for the rest of 2017, and I'm doing pretty well. I've received a few new shades as gifts (MAC High Drama and Tom Ford Indian Rose), and I took advantage of the Back2MAC recycling program to get MAC Rebel. But I haven't gone out of my way to buy new lipsticks, even when a sale was happening. Instead, I've tried to pay attention to what's already in my collection.

Since things have shifted a bit since this tip post, I figured I'd do some more calculations. I still have, for me, a shocking amount of nude-type shades in my collection: 5 each, constituting half of what I own. Counting the number of lipsticks, though, didn't seem like an accurate way to assess what I have and what I need to finish up. So I added up how many grams I have of each shade. This actually shifts the numbers a bit:

I see this and I say, "Man, how is it that over a quarter of my lipstick collection is peach?!" Well, it's because two of my five peach lipsticks are quite hefty--NARS Apoline and NARS Raquel are 4.2 grams each. By contrast, my one brown lipstick is my mini Besame Chocolate Kiss, which only contains 1 gram of product.

I've decided to combine these charts with how old my lipsticks are and how often I reapply each shade. Most of that purple pie chart slice represents new shades (MAC Rebel and High Drama), and Glossier Jam is relatively easy to run through because it's sheer and needs reapplied regularly. Other tubes have been around for quite a while, and I drag my feet on using them for different reasons. I'm still mildly paranoid about finishing MAC Scarlet Ibis, for example, because it was a limited edition shade and one of my most perfect reds. But this is a silly way to think, because it'll just go bad if I don't use it, pretty much every lipstick shade is dupable, and--most importantly--this lipstick calculator has shown me just how long my collection will last me.

I won't be continuing the lipstick no buy in 2018, just because I'd like the option to replace a lipstick if it goes bad or try a new formula that piques my interest. But I have a strong feeling that these calculations will make me hesitant to expand my collection. For instance: if I buy a new lipstick, I'll likely want to purge one that's already in my collection so I can keep up. Realizing that I own 56.3 grams of lipstick, and a single gram lasts the average person many months? That was another wakeup call I needed on my "save more money" journey.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

VIDEO: Summer 2017 Empties

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


Fragrance -- 0:45 

Hair -- 1:40 

Body Care -- 4:50 

Skincare -- 9:45 

Makeup -- 12:35

Thursday, August 31, 2017

REVIEW: Maybelline Dream Cushion Foundation

I stopped wearing a full face of makeup to class for a very specific reason: one day, when I was teaching with my usual assortment of gesticulations and hyper-active movements, I managed to swipe the sleeve of my white blouse right across my fuchsia lipstick. I didn't have time to run to the bathroom and fix the problem, so I finished class with my lipstick applied a la The Joker and a ruined shirt. After that, I decided to go to campus bare faced or barely-made-up.

But I started a second job this month, and since wildly waving your arms around medical equipment is generally frowned up, I figured it'd be a safer place to wear makeup. I'll still be waking up at 6:30am, so I wanted to try some products that promised fast and easy application. A friend recommended the Maybelline Dream Cushion Foundation, a western take on Korean cushion foundations. (Sidenote: I know that Korean cushions are often similarly priced and come in cuter packaging, but every one I considered contained one of my DO NOT TOUCH ingredients or didn't have a shade match for me.)

I bought the Maybelline Dream Cushion in the lightest shade, 10 Porcelain, for $12; prices may vary in your area. Like most cushion foundations, this product comes in a plastic compact with a puff for application and an inner lid to keep the foundation drying out. It's decently sturdy packaging and, as promised, mess-free. The only issue is that the puffs are very hard to clean; I know some people just buy replacements on the regular.

There's 0.5 ounces of foundation in this product versus the standard full ounce for liquid foundations. You might want to write that off because it doesn't seem like a traditional liquid foundation, but...that's actually exactly what it is. You've just got a sponge on top of the liquid foundation to alter the application. That said, you're expected to pay a bit more per ounce for the convenience and travel-friendliness.

Flash on top, natural light on the bottom. From left to right: Maybelline Dream Cushion Foundation in 10 Porcelain, Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Pen in Ivory, NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia, MAC Full Coverage foundation in W10.

Porcelain seemed to be the lightest shade, but when I swatch it, it actually looks relatively neutral to me. It's certainly darker and less yellow than my go-to shade match NARS Siberia. I'd peg this one at roughly N15 on a MAC scale. I wish Porcelain was closer in color to the Maybelline Dream Lumi concealer in Ivory, but eh, it's doable.

As a whole, I'd say the shade range is pretty "meh." There are plenty of light and medium shades, but the deeper end of the range disappoints me. It's especially unfortunate when you consider how broad Maybelline's Fit Me range is.

I'd been told that the Maybelline Dream Cushion gave "next to no coverage," but that's not how it worked for me. In the before-and-after photos above, I dabbed the provided sponge on to the cushion, then pressed the product in to my face using quick patting motions. I'd consider this a relatively solid medium coverage: my skin tone is completely evened out, and my blemishes and redness are covered. At the very least, it's on par with my Buxom Show Some Skin Foundation.

On the other hand, applying with the sponge seemed to make the foundation a bit thicker than I wanted. It didn't look bad, per se, but it kept sliding in to and emphasizing the fine lines on my forehead and around my mouth. It could also look a bit makeup-y. So the next time I tested the foundation, I tapped a buffing brush in to the cushion, then buffed it in to my skin. This prevented the settling in to fine lines. However, it also gave me lighter coverage, streaked a bit, and still looked a little makeup-y and fake up close. Obviously, most people aren't going to get that close to me, but I noticed things like this creasing above my lip:

And that bothered me.

Another issue I experienced in person: oxidization. You can't notice it in photos like these, where I've applied the foundation less than an hour ago and it's photographing beautifully, but this foundation definitely went orange on me. Halfway through the day, I was practically a kumquat. A glowy kumquat, but a kumquat, nonetheless. While it's relatively rare for a foundation to oxidize like that on me, I noticed a decent number of "this got really dark on my face" comments in other reviews.

In terms of staying power, I got some shine throughout the day on several parts of my face, and there was no product on my oily nose by the 6 hour mark. That's an average performance from a satin-finish foundation, but if you're oily skinned, you'll definitely want to take a pass on this one. I also had some trouble with this foundation transferring throughout the day, though only if a decent amount of pressure was involved. The nosepads of my glasses and the inside of my hoodie, for instance, had tiny swipes of foundation on them, but my cellphone and my cat were fine.

Overall, the Maybelline Dream Cushion foundation didn't live up to my expectations. It photographs well, no doubt, but the oxidization is a deal breaker for me. More importantly, this is not as fuss-free to apply as a cushion should be. Add the mediocre shade range in to the mix, and I'll take Maybelline's Fit Me Foundation over this lackluster cushion any day.

RATING: 3 out of 5.
You can purchase Maybelline products at Ulta.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

1P2L: Liquid Eyeshadow with Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadows

I'm re-using this photo from a previous post because I think it encapsulates my feelings re: Josie Maran's Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadows: they are a treasure. I love them. I adore them. I worship them. If they were a human being, I'd consider dumping my fiance and marrying them instead (but of course, I'd make the right decision in the end). Apparently, because Josie Maran hates happiness, they're being discontinued. I've complained about this before, so I'll resist the urge and will simply point out that this should work with any liquid or cream eyeshadow.

To demonstrate how versatile these can really be, I tried to create two looks with different tones and a different number of liquid eyeshadows. Obviously, I'm boring and not a makeup artist, so the one major difference is the color scheme...but I tried.

On the left, I used all three of my Josie Maran liquid eyeshadow shades, using the lightest (Playa del Pink) in the crease, the brightest (Rio de Rose Gold) on the lid, and the darkest (Beach Sand) smeared in to the lashes. Paired with Besame Portrait Peach lipstick and Glossier Beam Cloud Paint, it's a very warm, orange-heavy look that I actually enjoy.

On the right, I applied a base layer of Wet n' Wild Brulee eyeshadow all over my lid, then carefully applied Beach Sand as an eyeliner. This would actually be much easier if you had a thin brush that you dipped in the product, but I don't have any super thin brushes anymore, so I just used the tip of the applicator. My eyes are deepset, so you only get that peek of Beach Sand.

Again, you can do this with most well-formulated liquid and cream eyeshadows. Matte cream shadows can also be brushed through the brows like a pomade, provided they're the right shade and a suitably dry formula. Creamier shadow formulas can double as blushes or highlighters.

Here are the products I used for the above two looks. In both, I'm wearing the Maybelline Dream Cushion foundation, partly because I'm testing it for a review and partly because I'm aiming for slightly glowier skin on-the-lazy in these looks. In fact, a lot of the products double up in these FOTDs: Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Concealer under the eyes, Glossier Boy Brow for a bit of texture over those shiny eyes, a cream highlighter, a bright blush...I'm not that creative.

Photographing both of these looks has reminded me that I still need to find a replacement for these Josie Maran eyeshadows. I've yet to find another I love nearly as much, so perhaps that will be my quest for 2017. That, or nag Josie Maran so much that she puts these bad boys back in to production.