Sunday, June 30, 2013

Which of Urban Decay's Absurdly Discounted Eyeshadow Palettes is Right For You?

Because Urban Decay has recently released a new formulation for their eyeshadow, they are frantically selling off some of their old palettes for deep discounts: the Ammo Shadow Box, the Mariposa Palette, and the Deluxe Eyeshadow Palette. This blog post will give a quick overview of each of the palettes for those of you deciding whether or not to jump on these deals.

Option #1
Palette Name: Ammo Shadow Box
Ounces: 0.3oz
Number of Shadows: 10
Extras: N/A
Original Price: $38
Original Price Per Ounce: $126.67
Current Price: $12
Current Price Per Ounce: $40

Positives: Most of these shadows are really very nicely pigmented. Grifter and Polyester Bride are a little less pigmented than might be ideal, but the other colors are incredibly rich. I also like that they put complementary duos on top of each other, for the uncreative among us. Additionally, some of these colors are simply perfection: the combination of Mildew and Maui Wowie, for example, is particularly striking. This is also the most compact of the three palettes on sale, making it the easiest to throw in your purse.

Negatives: HOLY FALLOUT. HOW IS THIS EVEN REAL. I heard of people applying their foundation after their eye makeup to avoid ruining their nice complexion. I have always thought that was super silly. Now I understand. The people who do this are using eyeshadow palettes like this. I had so much glitter on my face, it looked like I had been nuzzling Kesha's bosoms.

My bathrobe is beautiful. Shut up.

Option #2
Palette Name: Mariposa Palette
Ounces: 0.3oz
Number of Shadows: 10
Extras: Travel-sized eyeshadow brush
Original Price: $39
Original Price Per Ounce: $130
Current Price: $12
Current Price Per Ounce: $40

Positives: This palette comes with a brush, and said brush is not nearly as shitty as I have come to expect from palette-included brushes. The fallout is much more handle-able in this palette, hardly making me want to gouge my eyes out at all. I think that, of the three, this has the cutest packaging; I love that they stuck with the "mariposa" theme on the tin and on the inside.

Negatives: The pigmentation on some of these color is a little bit lacking. Infamous, Limelight, and Spotlight were all big failures for me.

Gotta love blue eyeshadow.

Option #3
Palette Name: Deluxe Eyeshadow Palette
Ounces: 0.36
Number of Shadows: 9
Extras: Mini (0.1oz) eyeshadow primer
Original Price: $38
Original Price Per Ounce: $105.56
Current Price: $10
Current Price Per Ounce: $27.78

Positives: The included colors are loads of fun... a big change from the gloomy colors of the other two palettes here.

Negatives: Zero and, to a lesser extent, Graffiti and Peace, are not as pigmented as they ought to be. There is also no highlighting shade, making it difficult to do a look based exclusively on these colors. The packaging is also way more tacky than is reasonable.

Now might be a good time to marvel at how much better my makeup has gotten since January.

Review: MAC RiRi Woo Lipstick

I don't own Ruby Woo. As one of MAC's crowd favorites, Ruby Woo has charmed more than a handful of women. Rihanna's limited edition MAC collection, Rihanna Hearts MAC, contains a lipstick supposedly "inspired by" Ruby Woo. According to those who own both, the two lipsticks are practically identical.

I had been eyeing Ruby Woo for a while. When RiRi Hearts MAC was released, I grabbed it in a split-second decision. My approximate thought process: "There's... a signature on it! I don't know! Special! Everyone is putting up with computer troubles trying to nab this! Something!"

Luckily, this Ruby Woo doppelgänger more than lives up to expectations. It's a relatively cool-toned red that feels absolutely classic. The matte finish is almost velvet-like. It's a little more stiff and less creamy than most lipsticks, but that doesn't hinder application in any way.

The wear-time is truly impressive. Not only did it pass my "four hours and a meal test" completely perfectly, I subjected it to a particularly rough four hours. After stuffing my face with Eggs Benedict, walking around in 105-degree heat sans hat or umbrella (ella, ella, eh, eh eh), and giving my boyfriend a couple of (admittedly relatively chaste) smootches, it still looked as if it had just been applied. Indeed, I looked at my water glass at brunch after taking a few sips and thought, "Wow, there is absolutely no lip-print left over."

I mix up my lipsticks pretty frequently, but this product has captivated me enough that I have worn it consecutively Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (it showed up on my doorstep on Friday). I have a feeling I'll be picking up the classic Ruby Woo when I finish this tube!

Like all MAC lipsticks, RiRi Woo retailed for $15 for 0.1oz ($150 per ounce).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Beauty Myths: Your Anti-Persperant Is Also Probably Not Giving You Cancer

When I was in elementary school, I had a hippie dippie teacher who was very certain that anti-persperant causes breast cancer. She solemnly lectured our class about the dangers of these products, asserting that she would never use such death traps on her own armpits. When I, as most pubescent children do, started getting gross and smelly, I thought about her warnings with mild, inert terror.

Thankfully, that terror, as with most cosmetics-related terror, is unfounded. If you want to rock the deodorant-free lifestyle, you rock on with your bad self. But if you're hiding from anti-persperant products exclusively because you fear an inevitable disease-ridden doom, you might as well go buy yourself a stick of Dove.

Such fancy flavors!
The idea that anti-persperant might cause breast cancer was based on an observation: a disproportionate number of tumors occur in the upper outer quadrant of the breast tissue, directly adjacent to the area where women apply deodorant. This led some researchers to hypothesize that either parabens, a preservative, or aluminum chloride might cause or hasten breast cancer development.

Although rumors about a relationship between breast cancer and deodorant had been bouncing around for years, the icing on the panic-attack cake was a 2004 study by Darbre and colleagues that found small concentrations of parabens in breast cancer tissues. Although this doesn't show anything on its own, as finding parabens in a small sample of breast cancer tissue does not demonstrate that said parabens actually did anything harmful, it definitely raised the alarm... albeit prematurely.

I've already written a bit about paraben-hysteria, wherein people freak out about how parabens are going to give you cancer and death and horror and AHHH HERE IS MY MONEY PARABEN-FREE COMPANIES. Thus, I'll keep this brief. The Darbre study spurred a huge amount of (controlled, well-done) research into a potential relationship between breast cancer and parabens. These researchers found a whole lot of nothin'. Most have concluded that "it is biologically implausible that parabens could increase the risk of any estrogen-mediated endpoint, including effects on the male reproductive tract or breast cancer". (Furthermore, given that one of the key pieces of 'evidence' suggesting that parabens cause breast cancer is the proximity of armpits to boobs, I have yet to see any well-considered explanation detailing why you would need to worry about putting parabens, say, in your foundation, which is rarely applied in the breast-y region. But I digress...)

The evidence that aluminum salts are harmful has been equally scant. A study by Exley and colleagues found that aluminum is present in breast tissue, but acknowledged that harmful effects had yet to be shown.

Thus, with evidence about the proposed harmful ingredients being a total wash, it may be more helpful to look at studies that look at deodorant as a whole. A literature review of 59 studies on the topic, published in 2008, provides a clear answer: "No scientific evidence to support the hypothesis [that deodorant is a risk factor for breast cancer] was identified and no validated hypothesis appears likely to open the way to interesting avenues of research." They also add that most of the studies they looked at were methodologically unsound. These conclusions align in lockstep with the European and American health authorities.

As Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, observed, "There is no convincing evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant use increases cancer risk."

If you are looking to decrease your risk for breast cancer, there are lots of real, non-smelly ways to do so, which include eating healthily, exercising, and keeping alcohol consumption low. You know, the stuff that makes shitty headlines. Breaking: "It's Still A Good Idea To Eat Vegetables!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: LORAC 'Pro To Go' Eye and Cheek Palette

I have been eyeing this sucker on the Sephora website since long before it was in stock. The idea of a handy palette that contains both creamy LORAC shadows plus blushes and a bronzer at my beck-and-call was indisputably alluring.

The palette is shorter than the original LORAC Pro palette, but it's a little bit wider and much thicker.

The palette folds up, staying together magnetically. You can either keep it compact and flip it over when you move from the eye to the cheek products, or you can swing it all the way open.

The eyeshadows are similar in feel to the original LORAC Pro palette. In theory, the top three shadows are shimmers and bottom three are mattes, just like the original. In actuality, though, that's not quite accurate. The medium brown shade, Café, had a bit of glitter that stood out to me right away. As a result, I looked closely, and it turns out that there was a tiny bit of glitter in each of the "matte" shades... I checked out my original LORAC Pro palette and, sure enough, there is a bit of faint glitter in each of those shades as well that I had never noticed. (They are matte enough, though, that this escaped my attention for months, so I can't get too worked up about it.)

Like Too Faced palettes, the base shades are much bigger than the other two, which I think is especially handy for a travel sized palette like this, since they will almost certainly get used up more quickly. All the shadows, though, even the 'small ones' are much bigger than I expected. They are dramatically bigger than the shadows in the original LORAC Pro palette.

The shimmer shades include Pearl, a creamy shimmer that's perfect for highlighting the inner corner of your eye, Chai, a copper, and Mink, a cool gray-ish brown. (If you want to compare to the original Pro Palette: Pearl is most similar to Nude, although it's very slightly lighter and a little less shimmery. Chai is most similar to Gold, although it's a tiny bit darker. Mink is most similar to Pewter, but it's a little more glittery.) The "matte" shades include Shell, a soft cream color with a pink undertone, Café, a warm light brown, and Black, which is... black. (Compared to the original: Shell is a pinker version of Cream, Café is a much, much warmer version of Taupe, and the Black color is exactly the same.)

Every single color has the same amazing texture and perfect opacity that I would expect from LORAC.

In addition to the eyeshadows, there are two blushes: a shimmery coral called, creatively enough, Coral, and a matte Barbie pink called Pink. There is also a bronzer called Bronze.

The bronzer is remarkably similar in both color and pigmentation to Benefit's Hoola. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is a dupe. When I swatch them side-by-side, the difference is almost imperceptible. (Hoola might be just a hair warmer.) I was worried that the bronzer would be too dark for me, and it is... but it's wearable.

The blushes are just the right combination of pigmentation and usability. They blend very nicely.

The kit also comes with two brushes: an eyeshadow brush and an angled eyeliner brush. However, I think that the brushes are basically throw-aways. They're dinky and very small. Even traveling, I would rather bring my own brushes.

Overall, I think this kit is great. It's not quite perfect for me; a lighter bronzer and a matte dark brown instead of a black would have increased the amount that I personally liked the kit... but these are small complaints, and I am sure other people prefer it as it is. 

Some full-face looks with the palette:

The shimmer eyeshadows, the pink blush, and the bronzer for contouring.

The matte shadows and the coral blush.
The six eyeshadows add up to a total of 0.44oz, and the blushes and bronzer add up to 0.36oz. I have seen a lot of reddit posts and blog entries suggesting that this palette is overpriced. "For only $4 more, I could buy the original LORAC Pro palette and get a full sixteen eyeshadows", they argued. I think looking at the weight of the palette really demonstrates why this is faulty reasoning. The original LORAC Pro palette contained only 0.32 oz of shadow. The 'Pro To Go' contains 0.12oz of shadow more than the original Pro palette and you get two blushes and a bronzer on top of that. Again, for $4 less. In light of that, I think it's really hard to seriously argue that this is overpriced in comparison to other LORAC products; I think that this is a steal.The original is more versatile, of course, because it has more colors, but the 'Pro To Go' is still priced low given the huge amount of product it contains.

It's always difficult to calculate value for mixed product palettes, but I can say that at $38 for 0.8oz of product, this comes out to $47.50 per ounce. That's low for eyeshadow, low for bronzer, and low for blush. Given that the quality is absolutely there, I am very pleased with this purchase.

I do speculate that some people who own the original palette will find this one to be redundant. However, I would absolutely advocate for this for anyone who:
1. Doesn't own the original LORAC Pro palette. LORAC shadows are awesome and your life is incomplete without them.
2. Does own the original LORAC Pro palette but thinks you can never have too many neutrals and blushes.
or 3. Is looking for a handy all-in-one palette to bring with them while traveling.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Drugstore Dupes to the Test: Paperself vs Shilina Paper Eyelashes

Paperself eyelashes are a truly breathtaking fashion trend. Unlike conventional false eyelashes, which mimic natural lashes (maybe adding some sparkles or feathers at their wildest), Paperself lashes are cut into fantastic designs, functioning at the intersection of makeup and jewelry.

Unfortunately for whimsy-lovers, Paperself eyelashes are pretty damn pricey. At $18.40 a pop, it is difficult to justify putting them on your face.

Luckily, they're really just paper. I've never seen DIY versions that match the intricacy of the Paperself designs, but I have seen cheap dupes available for purchase. The most visually appealing of these dupes is an uknown brand called Shilina.

This isn't a conventional "Drugstore Dupes to the Test" because Shilina is not actually a drugstore brand; I purchased these lashes on ebay. However, at $2.00 a pop, these are dramatically less expensive than the Paperself originals and thus warrant a comparison.

The original Paperself lashes are cut with remarkable intricacy.

I personally find that using the entire lash is unnecessarily distracting for a normal day look. Although Paperself does sell tiny versions made for the outer corners of your eye, I would never buy them because they cost the same amount as the full-eyelash versions. Instead, I cut them, getting multiple uses out of each eyelash. As long as you maintain enough of the band, they will stay on just fine.

I use a regular eyelash glue (Duo) to apply these. Although it seems scary, I actually think these are much easier to apply than traditional falsies. The short length allows less room for error, the thick paper band easily holds glue, and, perhaps most saliently, no one who sees you has any delusions that these are your real lashes. Since you're not trying to blend them in to look natural, a slight 'error' in placement won't come across as a mistake to your viewer.

Removal is also remarkably easy. I actually just pull them off gently with my fingers. You should easily be able to get three uses out of these lashes. Even wearing them in the rain hasn't had any ill effects (although I would generally advise to avoid wearing them in any conditions you would be impressed at the postal service for weathering).

The Shilina dupes are definitely cut less intricately. They are larger. The paper is thicker. There is less detailing.

Again, I opted for a fancy outer corner.

However, despite these differences, the dupes were just as easy to apply, just as long-lasting, just as easily removable, and just as fancy-feeling as the Paperself versions.

Are these ebay knockoffs the exact same as the Paperself inspiration? No, they aren't. They're a little bit clunkier and less detailed. But they definitely fill the same niche.

The biggest complaint I have seen by beauty bloggers about the Paperself eyelashes is, "Well, I don't have anywhere to wear them." I have a feeling that if they cost $2 each, it will be a lot easier to find places you're willing to utilize them.

Monday, June 24, 2013

How much is 2 milligrams per centimeter squared? Part Three

[For those of you who aren't faithful readers, the first part in this series, which deals with the mathematical calculations needed to make this post possible, can be found here. The second part, which deals with visual approximations of liquid and powder sunscreen, can be found here.]

In addition to the other comments that I have been receiving, a few of you have been asking about spray-on sunscreen. For example, Anna left this comment: "Dude, the spray, the SPRAY! Oh Rob[y]n I totally want to go try out a mass estimate with a spray thing and see what it's really like." Conveniently enough, my scale, spray-on sunscreen can, and poor prioritization skills have saved you the trouble!

I actually use the Coppertone Sport SPF50 every single day for my body because I am fucking impatient as hell. It comes in a 7.5oz can, which is enough for about seven full-body applications if you apply at 2 milligrams per centimeter squared. I paid eight bucks for it at Safeway, so it's about $1.06 per ounce. (I won't calculate yearly costs since you basically always need facial sunscreen, but your geographic location will determine how much sunscreen you need on your body throughout the year. Some of you might wear a parka every day.) This isn't dramatically different from conventional sunscreens. (The Coppertone Sport lotion costs $6.97 for 8 ounces, or $0.87 per oz).

So, how much spray-on sunscreen do you need to cover your body? Measuring spray on sunscreen in a shot glass is kind of meaningless, since you don't "see" it the same way you do with a lotion. Instead, I decided to use time as my measure. Please note that I only tested this one sunscreen and it is perfectly likely that other sunscreens do not dispense product at the same rate.

Using a stopwatch and a scale, I found it took three seconds for my Coppertone Sport SPF50 can to dispense 0.04oz. That means it would take one minute and twenty seconds to get 2 milligrams per centimeter squared application over my whole body. That's a lot of time! This suggests to me that the "added convenience" I thought I was getting from the spray (aka the saved time) is maybe not as significant as I had previously thought, especially since my Coppertone use is making my skin kind of weird and flaky. Based on these results, I think I need to pick up a conventional tube of sunscreen next time I'm at the store. 

That being said, for some people this still may be worth it. Children, especially, are prone to running away when you break out the sunscreen. Chasing after them with the spray-on stuff is usually the safest bet for the squirmy ones.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Get 'Em Before They're Gone: LORAC Long-Lasting Individual Eye Shadows

Unlike fancy makeup blogs who get free stuff sent to them and/or review things right when they come out, I have the joy of picking things out a thousand years too late, right when they go on sale!

Despite their notable misstep in quality with the GLOGetter palette, LORAC is truly cream of the crop when it comes to eyeshadow.

As soon as I saw that the LORAC single eyeshadows were on sale, marked down from $19 each to $6 each, I jumped. I have been playing with these shadows for a significant period of time at this point, because I keep deciding that I just need a few more.

My collection has finally stabilized, though! I have the following twelve shadows: Enlighten, Sand, Star Quality, Glamorous, Gold, Rhapsody, Delight, Celebutante, Green Room, Pewter, After Party, and Dreamy. All twelve of these shadows are shimmers.

From left to right: Enlighten, Sand, Star Quality, Glamorous

Enlighten is a very, very pale beige that's perfect for highlighing the inner corner of your eye or your browbone. Sand is a very similar color, with a hint of warmth and pinkness. Star quality is a light gold that is similar in feel to Stila's Kitten. Glamorous is a warm, golden peach.

From left to right: Enlighten, Sand, Star Quality, Glamorous.
As always, two swipes of each color, no primer.
It's worth noting that all of these colors are dramatically different from the colors portrayed on the LORAC website (which probably shouldn't a huge shock since the LORAC site "pictures" are obviously photoshopped creations rather than pictures of the actual color). Enlighten is much lighter than the website shows. Sand is also lighter (apparently I was thinking "shitty Washington beaches" and they were thinking "white sand Hawaiian beaches) and has more of a pink undertone. Star Quality is much darker and dingier (in a pretty way, I promise). Glamorous is notably duller and less orange than it is on the site.

Since all of these colors swatch beautifully, this isn't a huge concern for me. However, I speculate that a lot of people fell in love with the colors on the LORAC website and found themselves disappointed.

From left to right: Gold, Rhapsody, Delight, Celebutante

Gold is a 'new penny' copper color (it also looks absurdly dissimilar to the beige that's shown on the website). Rhapsody is a blue-violet duochrome. Delight is a pink-ish fuchsia. Celebutante is a dark teal (much darker than show on the website).

From left to right: Gold, Rhapsody, Delight, Celebutante

From left to right: Green Room, Pewter, After Party, Dreamy

Green Room is a muddy forest green (much darker than shown on the website). Pewter is a true pewter color. Although After Party looks like a dark purple in the pan and is described as a "plum", it consistently looks like a dark brown with a purple glitter when it is swatched (it also looks nothing like the site).

From left to right: Green Room, Pewter, After Party, Dreamy
The stated reason for LORAC's shadow sale is so that they can re-formulate their products. However, LORAC shadows don't need to be reformulated. They are unmatched in terms of both pigmentation and longevity. My guess for the problem? I bet they're getting lots of returns because many of the colors do not match the website at all.

Some demonstrations of how the website differs from the real colors.
Even if the shadows are beautiful in their own right, it's still a big disappointment to get a completely incorrect color.

On the bright side, a new formulation offers hope that LORAC will expand their selection of bright shadow colors.

If you're looking for some inspiration on how to wear these shades, hopefully my compulsive need to photograph myself will offer some help:

As previously stated, these eyeshadows were marked down from $19 to $6 each. At 0.06oz per shadow, that moves the price from $316.67 per ounce to $100 per ounce. The LORAC Pro palette is approximately $107.50 per ounce.

This certainly isn't dramatically less expensive than a palette, but it offers you the opportunity to pick the shadows that you actually find appealing. To add icing to the cake, LORAC has a free shipping option for any sized purchase.
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