Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: LORAC GLOgetter

After my amazing experiences with the LORAC Pro Palette and the Mint Edition palette, I couldn't wait to get my hands on LORAC GLOgetter, a budget-priced palette that aims to deliver some amazing summer colors.

The packaging isn't fancy, but it is sturdy and does not betray its $20 price tag.

In the pan, the shadows are gorgeous. The mix of wearable neutrals and bright colors makes the palette appear both practical and exciting. It contains two highlight shades: a cream with a hint of a shimmer and a glammed out ecru. The shadows include a warm, matte brown (the only matte in the palette), a tan, a carroty orange, a Princess Jasmine's pants turquoise, a denim blue, a mauve, a blue/gold duochrome, and a dusty purple.

Unfortunately, their virtues are less evident when you actually try to use them. Although (weirdly) they swatch perfectly nicely, their pigmentation is very much lacking on my face. If you press your brush into the hard shadows firmly and drag the brush in a hard, strong line against your arm, they look totally fine. Use a delicate crease brush, though, and you'll find your eye didn't acquire any color at all.

Two swipes of each color, no primer.
Furthermore, if you do manage to get a decent eye look out of these uncooperative shadows, the bright colors have the staying power of a four-year-old at Disneyland. A few hours later, that gorgeous duochrome you applied looks muddy and gray.

LORAC GLOgetter retails for $20 for 0.6oz ($33.33 per ounce). Certainly, in comparison to LORAC Pro, which is about $107.50 per ounce (three times the price!), this seems like a steal. Indeed, I have seen a substantial number of bloggers specifically observe the low quality and poor pigmentation of these eyeshadows and then recommend this palette anyways because LORAC is normally expensive. That is a totally invalid reason for purchasing a palette. It doesn't matter if LORAC is normally the bee's knees when it comes to eyeshadow. If these shadows are shitty, they are shitty, and you should save your money. End of story.

One could make the argument, though, that this is worth $20, and I am not sure if I would adamantly dispute it. If you are willing to really layer on the color and you'll put up with substantial fading throughout the day, this product may still be worth your cash. However, claiming that this is up to the standards of normal LORAC eyeshadows is completely false. If you are looking for LORAC-quality shadows at a discount price, this is not the place to look.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A History of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act

Mrs. Brown traveled down to Byrd's Beauty Shoppe in Dayton, Ohio. She was being honored by the local PTA, and she wanted to look her best. She strolled in and requested a shampoo and a haircut. A salon worker suggested that she try Lash Lure, a heavily-marketed product intended to permanently tint ones' eyelashes an eye-catching, darker color.

The year was 1933 and mascaras were pretty much shit. Cake mascaras were drying and caused brittle eyelashes. Cream mascaras, essentially a mix of Vaseline and dye, were messy and difficult to apply. Liquid mascaras stank of turpentine. Regardless of type, all mascaras were a single application away from giving the women who used them clumpy spider lashes. As Teresa Riordan notes in Inventing Beauty, "Adding a new coat of mascara, unlike nose powdering and lipstick freshening, was potentially dangerous to one's beauty."

Mrs. Brown, well-aware of the problems associated with mascara, consented to using Lash Lure to boost her eyelashes. The procedure, messy and uncomfortable, took longer than expected. As Mrs. Brown drove way from the salon, her eyes began to water up, filled with a burning sensation. She was so uncomfortable that she began to apply ointments of boric acid and mercury oxide, hoping to find a solution. Although she attended the PTA dinner, she was forced to leave early due to the pain. Mrs. Brown's eyes began to ulcerate, eventually sloughing off her own corneas. She was left completely blind.

The aniline compound in Lash Lure was a paraphenylenediamine, which darkens as it oxidizes in the air. Although they were commonly used as hair dye in the 1920s and 1930s, Lash Lure contained up to 30 times the aniline used in hair dye, and used it for the sensitive eye area.

After the case of Mrs. Brown became publicized, a wave of new information about Lash Lure's casualties was made evident. One 52-year-old woman, whose beautician daughter had dyed her lashes and brows, not only experienced severe burning and swelling, she was unable to open her eye a mere hour later. The next day, her fever was measured at 104 degrees. Her face was covered in ulcers, her lymph nodes were notably enlarged, and her heartbeat was irregular. Eight days later, she was dead.

In response, states began to create bans on aniline dyes. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s hands were tied. They had no authority to prevent the sale of Lash Lure or to correct the misleading ads released by the company.

What's more, there were a myriad of products causing similar harm. Susan E. Wilson-Sanders outlines the case of "Anti-Mole, a remedy, [that] contained 50% nitric acid and 25% glacial acetic acid. It took off the moles along with the side of the victim’s face! Berry’s Freckle Ointment contained 12% mercury and produced mercury toxicity. Some unsuspecting people purchased Bleachodent to whiten their teeth and burned their gums and tongues because of the high content of hydrochloric and sulphuric acid. Carbon tetrachloride, which we know today is carcinogenic and produces hepatic toxicity, was a common ingredient of 'dry' shampoos. Is your scalp itching? Use Dr. Dennis’s Compound which 'prevents and stops the itch in one minute' because of its concentration of chloral hydrate, or Dewsberry Hair Tonic which stops an itching scalp with copper chloride and pyrogallic acid."

Teddy Roosevelt is concerned about your safety.
The public was protected from some unscrupulous claims by the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. This law, signed by President Teddy Roosevelt the same day he signed the Federal Meat Inspection Act, required manufacturers of food and drugs to list potentially dangerous ingredients such as morphine, opium, and cannabis. The law also led to the creation of the Bureau of Chemistry and, subsequently, the FDA (the known as the Food, Drug, and Insecticide organization) in 1927.

Although this was an important step forward, products like Lash Lure demonstrated how limited the FDA's powers truly were. In addition to Lash Lure, journalists highlighted radioactive beverages like Radithor (this radium-laced water claimed to boost virility; unsurprisingly to us, using it led to painful deaths), which were permitted under the Pure Food and Drug Act, and other potentially dangerous quackery. Additionally, new drugs were not required to be tested. In 1937, a sulfanilamide medicine called "Elixir sulfanilamide" resulted in the deaths of over 100 people. Due to lax legislation, the long legal trouble that the company faced was a small fine for calling a product without alcohol an "elixir".

In response to these egregious oversights, Congress put together the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. It was signed into law by the other Roosevelt: FDR. It significantly boosted the FDA's power and created substantially more legislation for drug companies to adhere to. For example, animal testing became mandatory for new drugs, to help ensure that tragedies such as the Elixir sulfanilamide disaster were never repeated (any reasonable animal test would have easily demonstrated its toxicity). These laws have been updated many times since the 1938 law as additional tragedies (such as thalidomide birth defects in 1959) have demonstrated the need for more stringent animal testing.

When it comes to cosmetics, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits the sale of makeup that contains substances or color additives known to be harmful, anything that's decomposing, or anything that has been exposed to unsanitary conditions (these are referred to collectively as "adulterated cosmetics"). Additionally, it requires honest labeling that contains certain required information. The FDA is also authorized to inspect cosmetics manufacturing, and to take and test samples during inspections or after receiving complaints. They monitor imports to assure that imported cosmetics are also up to snuff. And, of course, they can pursue legal action against companies who break the law by selling adulterated or otherwise unsafe cosmetics.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: Benefit Brows-A-Go-Go

I have been eyeing this kit for quite a while. It claims to be an all-in-one brow kit.

The kit contains two colors of Brow Zings Brow Powder, Brow Zings Wax, a Smokin' Liner in Black, Eye Bright, and a Brow Highlight Powder. In addition, the kit contains a tiny pair of tweezers and a dual-ended brush. Given the inclusion of eye products as well as brow products, this is more of an eye kit with a big focus on brows.

The products all swatch beautifully. The brow powders are both realistic brow colors, but they will clearly be too dark for the very fair among us, and many people will only be able to use one or the other. The brow gel is similar in color to the darker brow powder, but with a hint of red. The shimmery highlight powder is great, as is the creamy Eye Bright.

Swatches from left to right: Smokin' Liner, Light Brow Powder, Dark Brow Powder, Brow Gel, Brow Highlighting Powder, Eye Bright
The eyeliner is nothing special, but it is a perfectly adequate pencil liner, albeit without the gorgeous softness of an Urban Decay pencil liner.

The brush for the brow products is not very helpful, unfortunately. A traditional eyebrow brush creates a dramatically more attractive finished product than this awkward, stiff, cheapo add-on.

The tweezers are cute and small and travel-friendly, but they are a bit too wee to be really practical. Helpfully, the packaging is magnetic, so it stays quite well in its compartment.

Overall, these products offer a variety of ways to modify the look of your brows and eyes.

The "After" picture includes all of the products in the Benefit Brows-A-Go-Go kit (and nothing else save foundation).
The kit retails for $38. It is a bit difficult to calculate the value of this kit because its component parts are either not sold individually by Benefit or are not sold at all. However, the regular Benefit Brow Zings duo retails for $30 for 0.15oz (0.06oz wax and 0.09oz powder). The Brows-A-Go-Go Kit contains 0.11oz of this product (0.04oz of each brow powder and 0.03oz wax). The smokin' liner, which only comes in various Benefit kits, is 0.01oz. The Eye Bright is 0.03oz (a full size, at 0.05oz, retails for $20). The brow highlighter powder, which doesn't retail anywhere else, is 0.04oz.

Even if you exclude all of the products that do not have explicit values are excluded, you end up with a $22 value for the Browzings and $12 for the Eye Bright, putting you at a $34 value. The other products are indisputably worth the remaining $4.

However, we can't ignore the fact that the colors of the brow powder may or may not work for you. Although the lighter color looks completely fine on me, the darker color is unwearably dark. Thus, I would say that this kit is worth it if you think you will find value in the brow powders (preferably both of them) and if you were already interested in purchasing Eye Bright. If you can't get use out of both of these products, though, I am not sure that the quality is sufficient to justify the purchase otherwise.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How much is 2 milligrams per centimeter squared?

Sunscreen is tested at 2 mg/cm2, an amount that is incredibly divorced from the typical consumer. Most people use much less than this amount and subsequently get much lower protection. If you use half of this amount, you will receive substantially less than half of its protection.

Makeup Alley has a fabulous chart that helps outline the amount of protection you actually get from your sunscreen if you skimp on the application:

labeled SPF (at 2 mg/cm2)
SPF at 1.5 mg/cm2
SPF at 1 mg/cm2

This raises an important and relevant question: how much sunscreen, in real terms, do you actually need to get the recommended SPF? To investigate, I used some paper, some math, and a kitchen scale.

My non-fancy scale. 
FutureDerm has kindly addressed part of this question already. On their blog, the calculated the amount of sunscreen needed to cover your face. They determined that covering your face would require about 0.04oz of product. Although this is very helpful, it doesn't tell the entire story. In the summer, most of us find ourselves showing a lot of skin.

This is how much sunscreen you need for your face alone.
To calculate how much sunscreen I actually need, I first needed to figure out the surface area of my body. Since I very rarely find myself frolicking naked, I did this while wearing a bikini. I took strips of paper and taped them all over myself. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it gave me a good approximation. The skin I had left showing was about 1.508 meters squared (although there is certainly some fuzziness around that number).

If you don't have a patient boyfriend to help you tape paper to your butt, there is an alternative method worth considering-- body surface area is commonly used to calculate chemotherapy drug doses, so some "rules of thumb" have emerged. One is the DuBois and DuBois Body Surface Area Formula. It's hardly perfect, especially for individuals who are not within the "normal" BMI range, but it may be close enough for your purposes. According to the formula, BSA=[weight (kg) x height (cm)/3600](1/2). I plugged in my numbers and found a BSA of 1.467 meters squared. This is almost certainly an underestimation, as my original calculations excluded areas that were already covered, such as my scalp, my boobs, and my butt, however it's definitely in the same ballpark as my experimental data.

The next step, of course, is to calculate the amount of sunscreen needed per square meter. 1 centimeter squared is equivalent to 0.0001 meters squared. Thus, 2 mg/cm2  equates to 20,000 mg per square meter. 20,000mg is about 0.705oz. You can calculate how much sunscreen you need by multiplying 0.705oz by the number you get on the DuBois and DuBois BSA Formula, but I will go ahead and use my experimental data, since I have it.

By these calculations, I need 1.063oz of sunscreen to cover my bikini-clad body.

I am not wearing enough sunscreen, you guys.

Anyways, I am pretty sure the moral of this story is never go outside. But if you do go outside, be sure to put on more sunscreen than you could possibly imagine that you might need.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick Palette

Although I thought this sucker was totally sold out, it has recently come to my attention that there are a few places where you can still track this lip palette down. Additionally, the Bite Beauty Luminous Lip Library is available for sale at Sephora (marked down from $30 to $24). It also contains these colors (among others).

This tiny lipstick palette is packaged beautifully, in a way that is both simple and classic. Furthermore, as someone who works in the wine industry, the lipstick names of "Retsina", "Rosé", and "Tannin" were immediately amusing, even if the colors were inappropriate for the names.

Retsina is a neutral nude pink. In real life, Retsina is a Greek white wine that has been produced since ancient Roman times. Because it is a white wine, a clear gloss with a hint of golden shimmer might have been a more appropriate color, as this lipstick doesn't approximate the shade of Retsina varietal wines in any shape or form.

Bite Beauty Retsina on Human Face
Rosé is a pinky peach color. A rosé wine is a sort of intermediate between a red wine and a white wine. One of the big differences between red and white wines is the amount of contact the wine gets with the grape skins. Rosé wines, typically made from red wine varietals, are given some contact with the skins, which impart color, flavor, and tannins, but much less than a conventional red wine. I have never seen a rosé this color, but there is sufficient variation in these wines to warrant leniency for this color.

Bite Beauty Rosé on Human Face
Tannin is a classic red. In wine, tannins are polyphenolic molecules that create an astringent, dry feeling in your mouth as you taste many red wines. In terms of naming, I think that this was the biggest missed opportunity. Tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah have a depth and darkness to them. A color called "Tannin" ought to be a vampy, deep, gothic red. This one should have been called "Pinot Noir" or something along those lines.

Bite Beauty Tannin on Human Face
Although I am skeptical about the naming (and also deeply disappointed that they can't seem to stick to a theme-- many of Bite Beauty's lipstick names have nothing to do with wine at all. Don't do themes half heartedly!), I do love the packaging and the concept. The brush is also surprisingly decent. Unfortunately, those are really the only positive things I have to say about this product. The lipsticks are incredibly waxy, and not as pigmented as I would like. A single swipe of color gives you a patchy, inconsistent aesthetic. If you really build it up, you can achieve acceptable coloration... but it won't last. Even "Tannin", which is a red color that would typically last very well, only gave me a solid hour of wear. That is beyond unacceptable for any lipstick.

The Luminous Crème Lipstick Palette retails for $10 for 0.075oz of product, which comes out to $133.33 per ounce. Although Sephora claims that it is a $38 value, that is clearly not the case. A full sized Bite Beauty lipstick costs $24 for 0.13oz ($184.62 per ounce). Based on those numbers, this palette would be worth $13.85. (The Luminous Lip Library, by these calculations, would be worth $55.38, not the $96 that Sephora claims.) However, that is assuming that the lipsticks in this palette are of comparable quality to Bite Beauty's full sized lipsticks. Given their waxy texture and terrible staying power, I think it's quite likely that corners were cut for this product, which would mean this palette is worth less than the $10 being charged for it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

What Methods of Foundation Application Use the Least Product?

I have heard it asserted that using your fingers to apply foundation uses less product because no goop is left on your brush. I have also heard it asserted that using a brush to apply foundation uses less product because it is easier to get a perfect finish, so you stop layering on makeup more quickly.

I couldn't find any evidence to support either of these claims, so I decided to investigate.

I looked at five different methods of foundation application: my fingers, traditional wedge-shaped sponges, a Beauty Blender, a tapered foundation brush (specifically theBalm's Blend-a-Hand), and a buffing foundation brush (Tarte Airbrush Finish Bamboo Foundation Brush).

For my foundation, I used Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse. I applied my foundation ten times for each method, and recorded the mass of the used product. For some reason, I thought applying and removing foundation 50 times would be some sort of zen experience, but it was not. It was boring as hell, even with a podcast on in the background.

Without further ado, here were my results, from most product used to least product used:

#5 (worst): Wedge Makeup Sponges

Raw Data (in g): 0.781; 0.512; 0.638; 0.470; 0.621; 0.797; 0.634; 0.793; 0.449; 0.364
Mean=0.6059, Standard Deviation=0.1544

#4: Tapered Foundation Brush

Raw Data (in g): 0.463; 0.345; 0.309; 0.304; 0.400; 0.208; 0.285; 0.285; 0.175; 0.139
Mean=0.2913, Standard Deviation=0.0991

#3: Beauty Blender

Raw Data (in g): 0.346; 0.442; 0.272; 0.333; 0.227; 0.266; 0.241; 0.162; 0.227; 0.205
Mean=0.2721, Standard Deviation=0.0815

#2: Buffing Foundation Brush

Raw Data (in g): 0.252; 0.250; 0.211; 0.207; 0.181; 0.151; 0.242; 0.216; 0.313; 0.308
Mean=0.2331, Standard Deviation=0.0512

#1 (best): Fingers

Raw Data (in g): 0.324; 0.141; 0.167; 0.196; 0.225; 0.211; 0.175; 0.212; 0.243; 0.173
Mean=0.2067, Standard Deviation=0.0512

Hooray for scales.
Clearly, there are numerical differences between these methods. The next question is whether or not those differences are statistically significant. To answer this question, I started by running a one-way ANOVA, which is a test that compares means between multiple different groups. This yielded of p-value of < 0.001. This means that it is very unlikely that the differences between these groups occurred by chance. (In other words, the method of application really does affect the amount of product you use.)

I did not compute a bunch of post-hoc tests to differentiate what was different from what, but I can tell you that the p-value was only marginally significant when the traditional sponges were removed from the equation (p=0.06). Thus, the big statistical conclusion was that wedge sponges are a shitty way to apply your makeup, but the other ways are much more similar. That said, this analysis indicates that if you are using disposable wedge sponges to apply makeup, you are using a lot more foundation than you would use otherwise. Based on these numbers, someone who uses disposable sponges will use 221.15g (7.801oz) of foundation per year, compared to the 75.45g (2.661oz) used by someone who applies with their fingers. Even if your foundation is drugstore prices, around $10 per ounce, you would save yourself $51.40 (plus the cost of the sponges) every year by switching. If you use fancier foundation, that difference may be much higher.

Looking at the data, I am confident that more statistically significant results would have come up if I had had more power (in other words, if I had been willing to apply and remove my foundation EVEN MORE FUCKING TIMES THAN I ALREADY DID). Unfortunately, my methods were super boring, so it is highly unlikely that I will be collecting any more data just to prove a point. 
It's really up to you to decide if these differences are enough to switch to a new method of application.

Additionally, it is worth stating explicitly that although the amount of foundation used may influence your makeup application decisions to some extent, there are lots of reasons to choose a more expensive method, including ease and speed of application, the finish, and sanitary issues.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Kat Von D Everlasting Blush in Bellisima

I recently received a sample of the Kat Von D Everlasting Blush in Bellisima. Although it is described as a "peachy pink", I would call this blush a solid matte peach.

The consistency of this blush is truly remarkable. The product is so finely-milled it feels velvety on the skin. It also feels substantial and blends nicely.

The pigmentation on this blush is just right. The color is noticeable right away, but it can easily be sheered out or built up to get the right touch of color. Given how easy it is to adjust the pigmentation and the fabulous peachy color, I think this blush would be flattering on a lot of different people.

Basically, this is just a really cooperative blush.

Sephora is marketing this as a product that's built to contour. However, they haven't really established why this blush would be better for contouring than any other blush. They do have a nice little series of videos on their site that explain how to contour for different face shapes. That could certainly be helpful for some people, but it doesn't really address the issue of what's special about these blushes with regards to contouring. Furthermore, in my opinion, the bronzer you use for contouring is much more important than the blush.

Completely counterintuitively, the one thing about this blush that I am not blown away with is the wear time. I normally don't have any problems with blushes throughout the day. This one definitely fades after about four hours. Although they promise 24-hours of wear-time (which is kind of an absurd claim on the face of it), I don't think you should expect any better wear out of these than a traditional blush. Indeed, based on my experiences, I would say this blush has more of a tendency to fade than other blushes.

Kat Von D Everlasting Blush in Bellisima on Human Face
This product retails for $25 for 0.25oz, putting it at $100 per ounce (the exact same price per ounce as a Benefit blush!). Wear-time issues aside, I really do like this blush. I have been wearing it daily for a couple of weeks now. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes matte blushes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Drugstore Dupes to the Test: Peter Thomas Roth vs. ELF Powdered Sunscreen

As much as I preach the virtues of sunscreen, I have the serious disadvantage of being one vain motherfucker. You are supposed to re-apply sunscreen every two hours. Additionally, sunscreen is supposed to be the first layer you put on your skin. There is no chance in hell that I am genuinely going to wash off all my makeup, put on sunscreen, and re-do my makeup every two hours. You should! You really should! But... some of us need alternatives. That's where powdered sunscreen comes in.

This is not a substitute for an actual good sunscreen routine. If you are already sunscreening it up as you should, don't stop! But if you, like me, just put on sunscreen in the morning and try to pretend that that's sufficient, powdered sunscreen might be a decent option. Powdered sunscreen probably isn't going to be applied evenly or in sufficient quantities, but it's certainly better than nothing.

Unfortunately, there are not very many powdered sunscreens on the market. Bare Minerals offers one powdered sunscreen for $28 for 0.14oz ($200 per oz), but it is tinted and only comes in one color: medium. Jane Iredale comes in at $45.60 for 0.62oz (a much more reasonable $73.55 per oz). Colorescience costs $19 for 0.21oz ($90.48 per oz). Most of the other versions of this product are not only expensive, but are from brands I have literally never heard of, such as Bee Sunny or GO!Screen.

Based on a combination of positive reviews and the fact that it is marketed as "transparent", I decided to look at Peter Thomas Roth for my high end brand. Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Powder SPF 45 retails for $30 for 0.12oz (a pretty pricey $250 per ounce). The only low-end powdered sunscreen I am aware of is ELF. The ELF Studio SPF 45 Powder Sunscreen with UVA/UVB Protection retails for $6 and gets you 0.35oz. Thus, it is a comfortably priced $17.14 per ounce. (It also claims to be sheer.)

The Peter Thomas Roth version is packaged in a brush. You twist the end to push product out that top. The ELF version is in a more conventional jar form.

I can only conclude that the Peter Thomas Roth version is in a brush to disguise how little product you are actually getting, as the brush packaging is hardly functional. Every time I twist the end, I find myself in a poof of UVB-resistant dust. Not only is it obnoxious, but it wastes what little product I have. Furthermore, the rough, unappealing brush is no substitute for a decent powder brush.

This problem can be alleviated by de-potting the powder. Luckily, you can easily unscrew the back, meaning that this isn't a hassle.

The ELF version is in a little pot. It comes with a powder puff that will do fuck-all to actually help apply this stuff. Again, I recommend just using a regular powder brush.

Both products are completely messy and a big pain. However, because of the brush applicator, the Peter Thomas Roth version is much messier.

Although these products claim to be "translucent" and "sheer", they are anything but. (Retrospectively, I am not sure why I believed this claim. Titanium dioxide is blindly white, meaning it probably couldn't easily be included in a sheer product.) This can be a major problem for both light and dark skin tones. Light skin tones end up orange, whereas dark skin tones end up looking sickly.

ELF on the left, Peter Thomas Roth on the right
The ELF version is much lighter than the Peter Thomas Roth sunscreen. I have seen some complaints about the ELF version being too dark, but I found that it was a nice color for my skin. Peter Thomas Roth was very dark. On my face, it looked like I had applied a bronzer.

If you have light skin, I strongly suggest checking out the ELF powdered sunscreen. The packaging is convenient. The size is generous. The price is lovely. The SPF is fabulous. Its ability to facilitate both laziness and vanity is laudable. However, if you do not have light skin, this will almost certainly leave a white cast on your face.

If you have medium-toned, I am not sure that anything compensates for the inconvenience, price, and tiny size of the Peter Thomas Roth sunscreen (and it still will probably be too light for those of you with dark skin!) However, it's up to you to decide whether it is worth it to you. If I were you, I would keep looking.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ArtsCow Offers Custom Makeup Bags for Under One Dollar

The internet has been buzzing and I have found myself unable to resist. ArtsCow is an online business that specializes in sticking custom photographs on everything from watches to playing cards. One of their products, makeup bags in varying sizes, is of particular interest. If you can't find products you like with adorable packaging, you may as well compensate by placing them in fabulous bags. Even better: with a few coupons, the price is unreal.

Although the website mostly features children from the 1990s, you are welcome to adorn your baag in anything you see fit.

I picked up one in a size "large".

For scale, this is the sort of things you might be able to fit in this bag:

The second one I got was a size "extra-large".

For scale:

As you can see, the bags are generously sized. The fabric is hardly high quality, but given the price point it is as good as can be expected. Given that you can decorate them however you see fit, I doubt you'll be disappointed. 

If you're feeling generous, please feel free to use my referral link here.
The code PHOTOGIFTS99 will get you one bag for 99 cents. MAKEUPBAG will get you three for $8.99. Because this second code works even after you have used the first one, I have already found myself planning three new and even more hilarious makeup bags.

Monday, May 20, 2013

How Much Do Your Eyeshadow Brushes Matter?

I was one of them. "ELF studio eyeshadow brushes are basically just as good as the nice brushes," I rationalized. And yes, in comparison to my dinky discount brushes from $10 brush sets, ELF was performing pretty well.

It all changed, though, when I got a hold of theBalm's Give Crease a Chance Eyeshadow Brush. "OH. This is what all those people were talking about." Although there is a serious dearth of reviews on theBalm's brushes, this sucker is solid. I was seriously shocked at the magnitude of shadow it could get on my eye. Both sides of this double-sided brush feel genuinely luxurious and perform admirably.

However, the two disadvantages were clear. First, the whole double sided brush thing in general is inconvenient. It makes storing the brush a significant pain. Secondly, the shadow side of the brush is enormous for anyone who doesn't have anime-character eyes. As a result, I turned to a new solution. Armed with the knowledge the brushes were a big deal, I purchased a Real Techniques brush set and a few MAC brushes. This post is intended to demonstrate their efficacy for those of you still devoted to inexpensive brands like ELF.

This post doesn't qualify as a mega-comparison because I didn't choose these brushes methodologically. I don't have the cash to purchase all of the best-reviewed brushes out there to compare. However, I think it is a suitable demonstration of the importance of acquiring some decent brushes. I found six eyeshadow brushes in my collection to compare. Because many of them are from sets, it's hard to precisely divide them up based on cost, but I put them in approximate order based on what I paid for the kits:

ELF Studio Eyeshadow C Brush
Some Dinky Sephora Brand Brush From the Gilded Trio Brush Set
Stila #5 Eyeshadow Brush From the Holiday 2012 Brush Set (I assume, based on quality, that this is a dinky version of their single #5 brush.)
Real Techniques Deluxe Shadow Brush from the Started Kit
TheBalm Give Crease a Chance
MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush

From left to right: ELF, Sephora, Stila, Real Techniques, theBalm, MAC
For this comparison, I used Peace by Urban Decay. I used two strokes of color on the top row and one stroke of color on the bottom row. None of this was done over any sort of primer.

From left to right: ELF, Sephora, Stila, Real Techniques, theBalm, MAC
The differences are stark. The dinky kits from Sephora and Stila looked terrible, with very poor pigmentation. In comparison, ELF looks fabulous. However, it pales in comparison to Real Techniques. TheBalm is better, and MAC is better still.

Based on these results, I would recommend avoiding any limited edition, super discounted kits. Kits are not always bad (as evidenced by Real Techniques), but wait until you have sufficient reviews before throwing down any money. ELF is a good choice for someone on a very limited budget, but for those who are not, it is better to splurge on brushes that are actually good.
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