Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ipsy April 2014 Review

I am a big fan of routines. I pick less-than-desirable parking places just so I can park in the exact same spot every time I drive somewhere. I order the same thing every time I go to a restaurant. I have uttered the phrase "I hate everything new" on more than one occasion. As a result, it's bizarrely distressing to me that I am reviewing Ipsy before I review Birchbox this month BECAUSE THAT IS THE WRONG ORDER, YOU GUYS.

For some reason, though, according to my tracking information, my Birchbox has been hanging out in Indiana for five days, so that review's gonna have to wait on deck.

Here's what I got this month:

As always, Ipsy came in a makeup bag. It has a record player on it. I don't have strong feelings about the bag design.

Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide-On Eye Pencil in Black Velvet (0.03oz), approximate retail value $15

I was pretty excited to receive the new Urban Decay eyeliner pencil, which was just released last month. It was made with smudging in mind, for maximum smokiness, like burning bacon in a small kitchen.

To be frank, I am not a big fan of the smudgy liner look most of the time. I prefer crisp and clean lines. Still, I have used this for both a smudgy look and for regular tightlining (my usual pencil liner look) and it holds up for both purposes.

I would agree that the formula is a little more slick than Urban Decay's traditional black liners in Perversion and Zero, making it easier to smoosh up your lines as desired. Still, if you hadn't told me that this was the function of this liner, I probably would not have noticed, as the formula feels much more similar than different. All Urban Decay 24/7 pencil liners apply smoothly with rich color and stay put once applied (even when smudgy).

In terms of color, Black Velvet is darker than Zero, but grayer than Perversion. Additionally, Perversion looks much cooler in comparison to the warmer-toned Black Velvet.

From left to right: Zero, Perversion, Black Velvet
If you already own either Zero or Perversion, I'm not going to necessarily recommend that you run out and grab this, too. However, if you know you want something smudge-able and you're shopping for a pencil liner, I do think that this one performs well.

Elizabeth Mott Pop! Goes the Shadow in Champagne (full size at 0.07oz), retail value $12.99

On the packaging, this shadow literally claims that it is going to change my life. That's a really high standard, especially given how much eyeshadow I own. Well... it didn't do that. But I did think it was perfectly nice!

The color is like a bronzed up version of Stila's Kitten (although it doesn't have Kitten's softness or pigmentation).

It swatches fine and is a very usable, practical color, even if it's neither life-changing nor particularly special.

Mary Kay At Play Jelly Lip Gloss in Teddy Bare (full size at 0.32oz), retail value $10

Good news, you guys! I found it! You can stop looking. This is officially the worst lip gloss of all time.

I have never tried Mary Kay products because I try not to buy from companies that could reasonably be mistaken for a pyramid scheme. Luckily, if this product is indicative of the brand's quality, I am definitely not missing anything.

Let's start with the packaging. This looks like something that a 12-year-old would have purchased in the mid-90s. What adult, modern woman wants to own something so visually wretched? From the white cap to the squeezy tip, this looks like something that the dollar store would throw away. Then, the name, "Teddy Bare" manages to turn this train wreck into something really creepy. Infantilization? Yuck.

In comparison to the product inside, though, the packaging may as well have been designed by Alexander McQueen. I would say that a lipgloss is sticky if it had 1/3 the tackiness of this terrible goop.  This is like putting half-dried Elmer's Glue on your mouth, but only it Elmer's Glue sunk into the lines of your lips.

To top it all off, the color is disgusting. When someone says the phrase "anal leakage", this is the color that comes to mind. A diluted, unflattering light brown.

This is the BEST I could POSSIBLY make it look. It took like ten minutes to make this picture from being nauseating.
I hate literally everything about this product. I hate the business model and the ethics of the company, which preys on women struggling to make ends meet and requires them to purchase products for a career that, statistically, is incredibly unlikely to be lucrative. I hate the color of the product. I hate the texture. I hate the packaging. I hate how it wears.

This is the worst lip gloss. It is Guinness Book of World Records-worthy.

Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant (0.25oz), approximate retail value $9.75

I cannot get over how ludicrously priced this product is. It's $78 for TWO OUNCES. I cannot imagine that the average Ipsy subscriber is fitting a cleanser this expensive into their budget.

There is absolutely nothing about this cleanser that is special or that justifies this price. It's simply using regular old aluminum oxide as an abrasive. You can buy the same sort of product from fucking Neutrogena. Why would you pay for this?

Also, for the record, it's really rough, and I say this as someone who generally doesn't have problems with physical exfoliants. It's not only overpriced, it's right out as an option for anyone with sensitive skin.

Big Sexy Hair Root Pump (1.6oz), approximate retail value $2.71

This is a traditional textural mousse in an aerosol can.

Here's my hair sans any sort of product:

Here's how I look with the Big Sexy Hair Mousse added:

I think it did a pretty decent job of holding together the sporadic waves that I do have in my hair, so I was pretty happy with the product.

Bonus: TokyoMilk Dark Femme Fatale Collection Lip Elixer Lip Balm in No. 42 La Vie en Rose (full size at 0.7oz), retail value $7.00

This was a bonus item for referring folks to Ipsy. It was advertised as "Salted Caramel", but I ended up receiving La Vie en Rose. I saw a few people got both, and I can only assume that they sold their souls to the devil to receive such special treatment.

The product is 0.7 oz, so it's just slightly smaller than a 0.8oz tin of Rosebud Salve. Like Rosebud Salve, it's a petroleum jelly-based product.

To me, the smell is a pleasant milk of florals and peaches. Those are two of my favorite things, so I'm quite pleased with it. Plus, the packaging is so dang cute. It also gave a nice relief for my lips after that sticky Mary Kay monstrosity.

Total Box Value (Without Bonus): $50.45
Total Box Value (With Bonus): $57.45

Here's how I look with everything from this bag piled on my face:

This is as smudge-y as my eyeliner gets. 
And here's a close-up of my eye:

Overall, I'm not disappointed in this bag. I think it is consistent with the quality I expect from Ipsy. Nothing transformed my life, but the only thing I won't use at all is the lip gloss.

If you suddenly feel the need to join Ipsy, you're always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.

It Might Be Worth Going Back to High School for the KFC Chicken Drumstick Corsage

KFC is a contentious topic in my house. My boyfriend's mom gave up on frying chicken when she spent four hours making the perfect drumsticks for an event, only to be told by attendees that it was "almost as good as KFC". Now, my boyfriend resents the brand as a symbol of the end of homemade fried chicken in his childhood home.

Still, if any of y'all are in high school, you have my blessing in supporting the chicken behemoth because they brilliantly decided to PUT THEIR CHICKEN ON CORSAGES.

Really. Actually. In real life.

Image Source: http://www.kfc.com/corsage/
Purchasers can spend $20 on a corsage kit from a Kentucky-based florist, which comes complete with $5 gift card for a drumstick of their choice. According to the site, choices include "Original Recipe, Extra Crispy or Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Whichever best matches her dress."

Image Source: http://www.nanzandkraft.com/gifts/kfc-chicken-corsage
This is both deeply hilarious and brilliant marketing by KFC, as their measly 100 limited edition corsages have captured media attention and made me want delicious chicken.

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJdUSxFbJbw
The only downside? It's often suggested (note: very unsourced) that corsages were originally intended to 'ward off evil spirits'. If I were an evil spirit, I would definitely follow around the lady with a wrist covered in greasy food.

The full commercial is available here:

Also, just for fun, here's me getting my way less memorable corsage at my junior prom:

Happy prom season, young'uns! Now get off my lawn.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: Jouer Tint Lip and Cheek Color in Amaryllis

Statistically, there's a pretty good chance that I have at least a few French-speakers in my blog-reading audience. If that is you, you may want to consider skipping the next few paragraphs, in order to avoid a heaping pile of second-hand embarrassment. (If you like schadenfreude, though, carry on.)

I am sure that French is a language that makes sense. I, though, am used to English, which is my native tongue and thus easy by default, and Spanish, which is a phonetic language. When I am asked to pronounce something in a language that is neither English nor Spanish, my brain kind of melts. 'Jouer' is a word that means "to play" in French. I know this because of google. I fully believe that there is a way to pronounce the word 'jouer' that is not based on unicorns and fairy dust. Unfortunately, my brain is too busy melting at the concept of the entire French language to fully figure it out. (I have accepted that I am simply the kind of person who butchers brand names when I speak. This is reason #857 that I write a blog instead of doing youtube.)

When your brain melts halfway through the word "jouer", something magical happens.

In 30 Rock, Jenna Maroney stars in an indie movie called 'the Rural Juror'.

 "The rurrrrr jurrrrr".

For the rest of my life, this is how I will pronounce the brand name "Jouer". I am so sorry, France.

On to my review!

Jouer's cream blush is, un-googleably, called "Tint". (The put the word "tint" in about half their product names, making it slightly annoying to track down this particular product.)

It's a super teeny-weeny little package, containing a paltry 0.07oz of product. (Products like NYX Cream Blush weigh in at 0.12oz. NARS Cream Blush is 0.19oz.) If it were any smaller, it would warrant a Zoolander Reference.

Jouer pans have a unique packaging that link together with other Jouer items. The idea is that you can create a customizable palette containing only the shit you actually want. It's definitely a unique idea, but I don't feel that it is practical for most people. Perhaps other people are much more brand-loyal than I am, but I only own two Jouer products that click together and there is no part of me that feels that I am any better served using them while attached to each other.

With that said, it's certainly not a negative that the products hook together, and it is kind of cool. It might give you something to do with your hands while sitting in a waiting room or while riding on a long car trip.

The packing opens to reveal a small mirror. If mirrors are you thing, you shall have one!

Amaryllis, named for the vibrant South African flower, is an electric dark coral-red.


It swatches with a fair bit of pigment, but it's also quite easy to blend out into a natural blush color on fair skin. I think that this is a product that would work really well on a variety of skin tones, since it's quite easy to adjust the intensity of the color as needed.

As many of you already know, I am pretty wary of products that claim to work for both lips and cheeks. There is a distinct "I am wearing a cream blush on my lips" feeling that is partly drying, partly greasy, and thoroughly unpleasant.

This product doesn't solve the problem flawlessly, as it definitely does not feel like a lip product, but it's the best "two in one" lip and cheek color that I have tried. It's comfortable on my lips, albeit a bit strange-feeling, and it is flattering on both my cheeks and lips. If you're really passionate about two-in-one products for some reason, I would definitely recommend this to you.

Here's how it looks on both my cheeks and my lips:

And here's a close-up of the lips:

You can see that the level of pigment works well in both locations. It's flattering. I like it. Thumbs up.

Since it does work well as a two-in-one and since it is itsy bitsy, I think this would be particularly effective to bring while traveling.

Jouer Tints retail for $20 for 0.07oz, putting it at a pricy $285.71 per ounce. The overall price isn't scary, but because it is so small, it's expensive for what you get. (For comparison, the old NARS Cream Blush Cheek Color is $29 for 0.19oz, which puts it at a much more reasonable $152.63 per ounce.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Lipstick Queen Hall of Fame Set

Lipstick Queen is a brand name that sounds a little like an Abba outtake. In reality, it's a five-year-old brand that's been slowly gaining momentum. I picked up the Hall of Fame set, which features a full-size trio of some of the company's best selling lipsticks.

I think the packaging looks great. I like the fact that each tube has a different color tube and a different finish on the metal. Everything looks simple, clean, and uniform, but it's easy to distinguish between them so you can easily grab the color you want. (The glittery box is pretty tacky, but it took me about two seconds to throw the thing out. It can also be argued that it is thematic, as it looks like something that Abba band members might wear.)

I was kind of on the fence about this purchase from the start, as all three lipsticks are sheer and I'm more of a "punch 'em in the face with pigment" kind of gal. I was mostly worried that they would be boring.

When I first got them, I swatched them, and my heart sunk. My worst suspicions, I thought, had been confirmed. On my arm, they look bland and unidimensional.

From left to right: Medieval, Float, and Jean Queen
Apply those fuckers to the lips, though, and some serious Mary Poppins magic happens.

Jean Queen Lipstick

Like all three of the lipsticks in this set, Jean Queen is ludicrously moisturizing. For those of you have tried the Fresh Sugar Lip Balms, the texture is relatively similar-- but with a lot more pigment thrown in. It looks like a light, rosy coral. It's sheer, but the color payoff is still good.

In theory, this is supposed to look awesome when you are wearing denim. I'm not a fan of the Canadian tuxedo look, and my ass is too far away from my lips for any fancy comparisons. I can say that it does look awesome with blue. (It also looks awesome without blue, though. Blue may or may not be irrelevant to the lipstick's awesome-ness.) I also love that it's slightly warm toned, since I adore a good coral against my cool-toned skin. Contrast, motherfuckers. I like it.

This is currently my go-to casual lipstick. For example, this is the lipstick I wore to watch the Superbowl.

The only potential problem is wear-time. No lipstick with this texture is going to have impressive wear-time. I can only pray that we remedy this problem by investing in cosmetic science so that I can have the perfect lipstick by the time I turn 80. Priorities, people!

Still, for now, these lipsticks melt off my lips in only a few hours. All three failed the "four hours and a meal" test so deeply that I almost considered leaving the pictures of the test off this blog entirely.

Here's Jean Queen when applied:

And here's what's left, four hours and a meal later. (NOTHING.)

Butterfly Ball Shimmer Treatment Lipstick in Float

Lipstick Queen's "Butterfly Ball" lipsticks allegedly imitate the "light, airy and magical look of the butterfly wing" with their hint of blue and turquoise iridescence. There are a range of seven shades in the line, and Float is by far the most bland-looking. It's a very sheer, yellow-y nude shade that's most distinguished by its cool pearly tones.

I've been using this more as a lipstick top coat than a standalone product, since the shimmer is the only part of this that I feel is really invested in.

Unfortunately, even the shimmer has no lasting power whatsoever. When applied:

Four hours and a meal later (totally gone, again):

Since Float does have the same smooth, moisturizing texture as Jean Queen, it also shortens the lifespan of any lipstick that I stick underneath.

Still, I would be interested in drying one of the darker Butterfly Ball shades to see if I get better results.

Medieval Tinted Treatment

According to the product description, this lipstick was inspired by a medieval practice of rubbing lemons on your lips to inflame them, causing them to look red. I'm having a difficult time finding a legitimate source that confirms the veracity of this statement. (If you know of one, please do leave it in the comments below!) It's a very warm, sheer red, with the same fabulous texture...

...and the same terrible lasting power. When applied:

Four hours and a meal later:

I really like this little set. There is a really good chance that I will repurchase Jean Queen when I use it up. I probably would not repurchase Medieval (since I do not feel it is as special) and I definitely would not repurchase Float, but I'm happy to have them. For the record, I only carry three lipsticks in my purse. Two of them are in this set (Jean Queen and Medieval). They're awesome to carry around, since they apply so easily in non-ideal circumstances. They are un-fuck-up-able.

The Lipstick Queen Hall of Fame set retails for $48. Jean Queen retails at $20 for 0.13oz, making it a slightly pricer $153.85 per ounce. Butterfly Ball in Float is $24 for 0.134oz, or $179.10 per ounce. Medieval is $22 for 0.12oz, or $183.33 per ounce. (I don't know why the sizes and prices vary so wildly! The packaging is the same size, so it's not obvious by mere appearance.) That's a total kit value of $66, which is pretty decent.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What is "No Poo" (and Does It Work)?

I have had several questions in the last couple of weeks asking for info on the "No Poo" method. In particular, I've been asked to "debunk" it. I'm not going to do that, exactly, but I will talk about it.

Since y'all are beauty blog readers, you probably already know that the "No Poo" movement has nothing to do with constipation, despite how it might sound. It's a movement towards elimination of shampoo from your routine. There is a huge hodgepodge of methods currently in use, but the two most common are 1. using baking soda and apple cider vinegar and 2. Conditioner-Only washing (aka CO-washing). For the purposes of this post, I'm going to focus on the latter method.

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/beglendc/

Why Would One Want to Do Such a Thing?

I think that a big part of the reason that I've been asked to 'debunk' "No Poo" is because a lot of people are motivated to cut out shampoo for reasons that are not empirically supported. A lot of people are under the impression that there is something "dangerous" about shampoo, which is simply contrary to the scientific evidence.

With that said, there are still valid reasons to be interested in reducing or eliminating shampoo use.

Firstly, many people find the shampoos can be harsh and damaging. Like any soap, surfactants are comprised of a lipophilic (oil-attracting) side and a hydrophilic (water attracting) side. The lipophilic side glomps onto the oil in your hair and traps it in a sphere called a micelle. Afterwards, you can happily wash it out. (I have a lengthier discussion of soap mechanisms available here, if you want more info.)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a surfactant. Because one side is polar, it is hydrophilic, whereas the long, non-polar chain is lipophilic.
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sodium_laureth_sulfate_structure.png

Shampoo surfactants are really good at this. They get your hair squeaky clean. However, they can definitely be hard on your hair. In the International Journal of Trichology, Zoe Draelos (2010) notes, "Many persons feel that they do not have good hygiene unless they bathe daily. Technically, it is not necessary to shampoo the hair daily unless sebum production is high. Shampooing is actually more damaging to the hair shaft than beneficial." Any time you get your hair wet, you're causing some damage, but the surfactants in shampoo are certainly harsher than water alone.

Thus, many people want to avoid traditional shampoos to help minimize the damage they are causing to their hair.

Basic shampoo ingredients
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002407/

The second big reason to avoid shampoo is because it is expensive. As many of you already know, I have a shitload of long hair. I am not "No Poo", but I personally do not wash my hair on the daily simply because I don't want to spend a gazillion dollars on shampoo.

Does It Work?

Shampoos typically contain anionic surfactants like Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. (High school chemistry reminder: an ion is a molecule with a charge; an anion is a molecule or atom with a negative charge.) They are anionic because the polar, hydrophilic group is negatively charged. They are super awesome at removing sebum and other yucky shit in your hair, which is the point of shampoo.

Still, conditioners frequently also have surfactants. Usually, they are cationic surfactants, like Cetrimonium Chloride or Distearyldimonium Chloride. Since a cation is a molecule or atom with a positive charge, you've probably already guessed that cationic surfactants have a positively charged polar group. Cationic surfactants are awesome at leaving your hair silky smooth, but they are not as effective at removing sebum, so they aren't used in most shampoo. When they are found in shampoo, it's usually shampoo that's specifically designed to be as gentle as a snuggling guinea pig.

Cetrimonium Chloride
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cetrimonium_chloride.png
If you are using a conditioner that contains cationic surfactants, you can definitely effectively cleanse your hair using only conditioner. It will be more gentle and will likely leave your hair soft and pretty. Like all things in life, though, you'll be making a sacrifice. In this case, you will be sacrificing having super clean hair, as conditioner contains surfactants that are both crappier at removing sebum and present in lower concentrations.

Additionally, people who go the CO-washing method frequently run into trouble when they use a ton of other hair products. In particular, silicones tend to be really difficult to remove, and could build up in your hair until you finally break out the shampoo.

Should I Try It?

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether CO-washing is a good idea for your hair. If you like it, I suspect that you'll feel your hair is softer and less damaged and/or that you're spending less money on haircare products. If you hate it, my guess is that you'll feel your hair is dirty and weighed down, and/or that it's too much trouble to find products that work without shampoo to lend a helping hand.
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