I'm back! An Update and Sayonara Products

Long time, no post femmes! 

After a 2 month or so hiatus, I am back from the blogging grave. I apologize for my extended and unannounced absence. Life, as it tends to do, threw me a few curve balls that necessitated I put this blog on the back burner. Without getting too personal, my life has been changing radically in a handful of ways: Alex and I broke up after nearly 3 years of dating; my family members experienced an array of medical emergencies; and I finished my first semester in a PhD program, completed my finals and received straight A's (whoop!), and started my second term last week; and someone I know found my blog, so I have started to slowly come out of the blogging closet. Phew! Some of these events are sad news, but overall my life is moving in a positive direction and I am excited to get back to blogging more consistently!

While away, my cosmetics addiction has petered off a great deal and I actually have hauled very few items. In fact, the only recent acquisitions I can think of are a few Revlon Lip Butters. My daily routine has simplified a lot, and I have been more and more confident in sporting a natural look. Not only has it encouraged me to embrace my skin as it is , but it also saves me time in the mornings! But no worries, the vanity busts open for nights out, and I have been particularly obsessed with red lips lately. 

This is not the most exciting first post back from the dead, but here are the products that I have depleted in the past few months. It feels good to clean out the inventory and focus more on the products I use most and love.

 John Frieda Sheer Blonde Shampoo & Conditioner (for darker blondes)
St. Ives Green Tea Cleanser
Korres Fig Showergel
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle
Biore Deep Cleansing Strips
Garnier Fructis  Leave In Conditioning Cream
Victoria's Secret Island Escape Body Mist
Yes to Tomatoes Moisturizer

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Sin
blinc Mascara
Benefit BadGal Plum
Loreal Voluminous Millions of Lashes
elf Eyelash Curler
Seche Vite Top Coat
Sally Hansen Double Duty Base & Top Coat
 alba Passion Fruit Nectar Lip Balm

Look forward to new FOTDs. OOTDs, reviews, tutorials, and discussions coming soon! And thanks for being so patient with me!

Vampy Lipstick, Day to Night

I can't get enough of deep red and berry lipsticks this Autumn, and it is definitely the perfect season for it. Though I am not too shy to rock a vampy shade during the day, even I have to admit that it can sometimes be a bit overpowering. Taking a vampy lipstick from day to night is easy, and makes me feel like I am doubling my makeup collection by creating different looks with just one product.

You can do this with most any red, dark wine, plum, or berry lipstick of your choice. Here, I am using MAC Musky Amethyst (Semi-Precious collection), but I also love to do this with Revlon Black Cherry. 

A dark, vampy shade can easily be transformed into a subtle, sheer lip stain. I do this by first coating my lips with a light layer of moisturizing lip balm and then dabbing on a bit of the lipstick on my pout straight from the tube. Using my finger, I blend out the lipstick and pat on more color until I achieve the shade I am looking for. Although I paired this with very natural makeup below, you could certainly go darker on the eyes since the lips are not overwhelming.

MAC Musky Amethyst  looks completely different when applied opaquely. For this vampy night look, I applied the lipstick with a lip brush to achieve the greatest precision. I have only seen a few people who can actually pull of a dark eye and a statement at the same time, so I played it safe by allowing to focus to be on my lips and paired it with natural, slightly defined eye.

What are your favorite vampy shades this Fall?

Zoya Marina- The only blue I've ever loved...

I don't do blues. 
Though it looks fine on other people, I am actually really anti-blue for myself.
No matter how I work it, I look like a playboy bunny (and not in a good way) when I wear blue eyeshadows. 
I can't think of a single blue article of clothing in my closet.
I own 2 other blue nail polishes, both of which have only been touched once. 
No matter the shade, it just simply isn't a color I gravitate towards.

But I am about to eat my words. 
Zoya Marina, a shade recently released in the Mirrors Colelction, is the only blue I have ever loved.
Just look at this shade! How could I not love this metallic, steely blue?
Recently I have been really feelin' an early 90's biker chick vibe and this polish reminds me of motorcycle chrome.

Zoya Marina is opaque in two coats. I found the formula easy to work with, and unlike some metallic polishes, it was streak free.

NYX Circe (MAC Viva Glam Gaga 2 dupe?)

Shortly after New Years, MAC will be discontinuing my first ever purchase from the brand and one of my favorite lipsticks of all time, Viva Glam Gaga 2. As of now, you can still buy MAC Viva Glam Gaga 2 on the MAC website, and it is also available in a holiday gift set called Viva Glam Melt Your Heart Lip Bag, which also includes the pink Viva Glam Gaga 1 shade. Instead of stockpiling multiple backups and breaking the bank in the process, I went on the hunt for a more affordable comparable shade and stumbled upon NYX Circe. Is it dupe worthy?

NYX Circe vs MAC Viva Glam Gaga 2

NYX- I bought this off of Cherry Culture during a sale and spent less than $2. 

MAC- This gem will run you $14.50 on its own, or $36 for the Viva Glam Melt Your Heart Lip Bag which also includes the pink Viva Glam Gaga 1 shade.

NYX- The formula is ultra creamy, but to the point of being slippery. Though it provides decently opaque coverage, I can feel the product sliding around my lips when I wear it. In terms of scent and taste, neither are too strong or unpleasant.

MAC- As an Amplified Creme, this lipstick is incredibly opaque and I find it quite creamy as well. However, it doesn't have the slip of the NYX formula. Of course, MAC is notorious for its vanilla scented lipsticks, so applying this one is a real treat.

Staying Power
NYX- I can get an hour or two of wear out of this lipstick- more if I layer it over a liner or a touch of concealer, less if I top it with a gloss. 

MAC- I get considerable more wear out of this one, but I wouldn't say it is especially long lasting. A few hours at best, less if topped with a gloss.

The two lipsticks are remarkably close in shade, but I wouldn't call them exact dupes. 

NYX- Slightly deeper in shade, less pigmented, a touch less glossy of a finish.

MAC- More of a 'milky' appearance because it is ever so lightly paler, more pigmented, a touch pinker, and glossier.

All in all, I highly prefer MAC Viva Glam Gaga 2 for its superior formula and shade. NYC Circe, however, is nice to have around for when I want to create similar look without depleting my precious tube of Gaga 2. And we can't deny that price is a biggie here- because NYX Circe cost me less than $2, I don't mind reapplying often as much as I would with a more expensive shade.

Bare Faced Beauty: Flaunting my Makeup-Free Face and Thoughts on Cosmetics

Today, Franca of Oranges & Apples is hosting the Friend Friday Roundup on the theme of no makeup. See her post and links for all the other contributors here.

Never shy to sport a statement lip or dramatic eye, this blog has served in part to archive and share my makeup adventures. However, the look that makes me most hesitant is actually the most natural one. No, not the 'it took me 15 products to look natural' kind, but a clean, makeup-free face. So here it is, my boldest look yet in all of it's naked glory:

As beauty bloggers, many of us appreciate cosmetics in ways that the average person would find ludicrous. We lust over limited edition items, build museum worthy collections, race across town on the quest for a particular lipstick, swoon over unique packaging, and research a particular shade for hours. But for how many of us does this appreciation transform into a feeling of need? Especially in a culture that often values women for their beauty as much as (if not more than) her brains, it is pretty easy to feel this way. Wearing makeup makes me feel confident about myself, sure- but it would be just plain idiotic to think that this didn't have anything to do with these cultural values and how people respond to me. Knowing this, I have been trying to be consciously aware of my relationship to cosmetics. 

My relationship with cosmetics has been a bit of a pendulum swing. When I was in middle school, I had absolutely no idea what shades worked for me or how to apply products. Thinking that more was better, I was chided by my parents for trying to look more mature than I was with my crappy blue eyeshadow (oh yes, I was that girl!). By high school and through college, my makeup routine had simplified to a handful of neutral shadows, a brown liner, a mascara, and pressed powder. I was a busy, self-confident bookworm who had little interest in changing up my daily routine.

 It wasn't actually until two years ago or so that my interest in beauty culture really kick started, and it was like middle school all over again. Loving the transformation cosmetics enabled, I frequently spent more than half an hour doing my makeup each morning and gravitated towards bold shades. I figured if I was going to wear makeup, I might as well look like I am wearing it, right? Somewhere during that time, I went from liking makeup to feeling like I needed it to look not just beautiful but just plain average. 

Thankfully, I have started to mature out of that phase. Though I still appreciate a sexy red lip or an artfully blended eye, I am discovering that I actually look better the less makeup I wear. Realizing that my skin is actually quite nice, I have recently swapped my full coverage foundations out for more medium coverage ones and tinted moisturizers. While it is rare that I forgo cosmetics all together, some days a little concealer, mascara, and lip balm is all I have time or effort for.  And I certainly don't wear makeup while just relaxing at home, and I can bare running to the grocery store with my face naked. I feel less depend on cosmetics and though I prefer to wear makeup, I know I don't need it all of the time to look like a normal, presentable human being. 

That being said, I am still excited by makeup (what a boring blog this would be if I didn't, right?). Most of all, I love how I can transform my look with makeup in a way that allows me to consciously construct, channel, and exude different expressions of femininity. My inner drag queen revels in this sort of gender play. What kind of woman am I today? An Old Hollywood starlet with matte red lips? Or how about a bad ass 90's biker chick with kohl rimmed eyes? Or maybe I am a powerful Grecian goddess with ethereal, glowing skin? Or maybe I am just lazy me, chillin' on the couch, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns with my friends, with not a stitch of makeup on at all.

Do you ever bare it all or do you wear makeup everyday? 
Do you ever feel like you need makeup? 
Do you use makeup to consciously present and play with your gender expression?

Fierce Femme FOTD: Really Red

One of my favorite bloggers, Mandy over at Prettymaking, posted a review today on one of my recent monthly favorites (see here) and top lipsticks ever, Revlon SuperLustrous Really Red. There is a lot to love here- it is really matte, really red, really long on wear time...generally really phenomenal. This is one of the only statement lip colors I feel confident rockin' for a full day because I know it can go a really long while without a touch up. Mandy reminded me that I had a FOTD featuring this gem in queue from when I wore it out bowling last week- check it out! 

Maybelline SuperStay Makeup in Natural Beige
Hard Candy Glamoflauge Heavy Duty Concealer in Light
Maybelline Dream Matte Powder in Sand

Physicians Formula Happy Booster Glow & Mood Boosting Blush in Rose
LORAC Perfect Lit Oil Free Luminizing Powder in Spotlight

LORAC Perfect Lit Oil Free Luminizing Powder in Spotlight- dusted over lids
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil in Zero
wet N wild ColorIcon Eyeliner Pencil in White
Loreal Voluminous Millions of Lashes

Revlon SuperLustrous Lipstick in Really Red

October Sayonara Products

This month I finished up a whopping fifteen products; more impressive than that,eleven are cosmetic items! I have mentioned in other posts that I have really buckled down on makeup spending, buying only the products that I need, have thoroughly research, and/or have been really craving for a long time. As such, I am hauling less and focusing on and using up what I already have more! Here are the products that I said goodbye to this past month:

Revlon PhotoReady Concealer in Medium Light
As far as drugstore concealers go, this is one of the best that I have found. It is really creamy, has nice coverage, and lasts all day when set with powder. It works best on blemishes but this wouldn't be my first pick for dark circles- it tended to cake up a little and crease under the eyes, and doesn't have the peachy undertones to really cancel out the blue. I have a few other concealers to use up, but I would consider purchasing it again.

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original, minis x2
I received both of these mini PPs in palettes and have bee amazed by how long they have lasted me! UDPP is the only primer I have ever used or tried, and I haven't felt the need to look elsewhere because it does what it is supposed to do- make shadows more vibrant, prevent creasing, and prolong wear time. I replaced these two empties with a full-sized version in Eden, as seen in my recent Sephora Haul.

EOS Smooth Sphere Lip Balm
Remember when everyone was raving about these? There is a lot to love here- all natural, organic, fun and unique packaging, tasty flavors. I wouldn't say this lip balm provided the most hydration to my lips, but it certainly got the job done! I used this until the sphere was flat, and then using a toothpick I dug out the rest of the product and mixed it with sugar to make a lip sugar scrub.

Almay Makeup Erase Sticks
My mom gave these to me to throw in my purse, but I found that these were most helpful in the mornings to clean up residual eye makeup that transferred to my lower lash line. The stick of the q-tip is filled with makeup remover, and when you snap one of the cotton buds off the liquid saturates the other end. These were nice to have, but not an essential for me. 

Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel
This is just plain ol' witch hazel in a convenient squirt bottle. After washing my face I would load a cotton pad up with witch hazel and clean off any residual makeup, especially in my hairline. This did the trick, and it also did a decent job of shrinking my pores. I'll buy witch hazel again, but to save a few pennies I will just get the generic bottle.

Bath & Body Works Midnight Pomegranate EDT
I picked this up in one of my mad hunts to find my signature scent, and it just didn't work out. Although I always received compliments when I wore it, I personally found it too sweet and fruity.

Physicians Formula Powder Palette Multi-Colored Press Powder in Buff
I kept this in my purse to touch up throughout the day, and it was fine for a quick blot. However, as a setting powder this was pretty low performing- my skin was shiny within a few short hours, and reapplication lends itself to looking cakey.

Cover Girl Professional Natural Lash Mascara in Clear
I used this to set my brows, and it served me just fine! However, I have found another affordable clear mascara (Maybelline Great Lash) that has a smaller brush that is easier to tame my brows with, so I won't be repurchasing.

NARS Orgasm Illuminator
As a highlight and gel blush, I personally found this product pretty pointless. The gel was too thin, and once applied the pretty pinky gold shimmers were all but blended away. However, I did like this mixed with my foundation. I typically opt for matte finishes because they control oil better, but for a little luminosity I liked to mix this in. I did purchase a full size of this in Copacabana after falling in love with the color and reading that the formula was thicker than Orgasm's. Updates on that soon!

Estée Lauder Double Matte Foundation in Cool Dusk
While researching Double Wear the SA provided me a sample with Double Matte as well. In short, this was a let down: though it gives excellent coverage, it fails to control oil, it looks mask-like, and leaves you white cast in photos. Read the full review here.

Sephora Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer in Medium Peach
On its own, this is not a superior product. It is a little oily and provided almost zero coverage. However, I liked to mix this with my Revlon ColorStay for a more natural finish. I recently replaced this with Tart'es Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer, which I am loving so far so expect a review soon!

philosophy vanilla birthday cake shower gel
This was my birthday gift from Sephora, and it really did smell like cake! I enjoyed this while it lasted, but I don't want to smell like cake all the time. 

LORAC Perfect Lit Oil Free Luminizing Powder in Spotlight
This little deluxe sample lasted me almost a full year, and I vacillated between love and ambivalence. At times I wouldn't think it wasn't anything special, but in comparison to other, lower-end highlighters I can tell how soft, smooth, and natural it applies to the skin. No big shimmers here, just a nice lit from within glow. 
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil in Zero
This liner is among many bloggers' favorites, and I enjoyed it, too. Zero is very black, and the formula is incredibly creamy and easy to apply yet sets quickly and is long lasting. The only problem I had with this is that it didn't last on my waterline as long as I expected. I would repurchase this, put the price is pretty steep. I am testing out the Milani LIQUIF EYE Metallic Eyeliner Pencil in Black to see how it compares.

Phew! That's a lot!
What did you finish up this past month?

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