Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Urban Decay Naked Basics (Revisited)

Unless you are best hipster ever and have been reading my blog since literally day 1, you probably started reading in 2013. I started blogging on December 11, 2012 with the express purpose of keeping track of what I got from subscription boxes like Birchbox and Ipsy. I kind of assumed that no one would read my blog. I kept track of the things that I personally found to be interesting and important, but that's it. Everything else just kind of fell out once I had an arena to express my (numerous) opinions.

One of my first product reviews (my third product review, if you want to get technical) was for Urban Decay's Naked Basics palette. This review happened almost exactly a year ago (if you want, you can read it here). And let's be real. It wasn't the most helpful review. I still struggle with photos, but my photos at the time were substantially awful-er. I also didn't provide a lot of information and didn't show you how the shadows actually looked on my face.

A few days ago, a friend of mine requested some eyeshadow inspiration using Naked Basics. A re-visit seemed like the perfect way to close out the year: it's a demonstration of my growth as a makeup blogger in 2013.

Naked Basics was released in late 2012 as a response to pleas by eyeshadow addicts who were begging for an all-matte Naked palette after its two glitter-bomb predecessors. Even in their "all matte" palette, Urban Decay eyeshadow formulators couldn't help throwing in a non-matte shade because, fuck it, they're Urban Decay and they've got to be true to themselves.

The color scheme of Naked Basics is pretty bland, but in a versatile kind of way. I kind of think of Naked Basics as the eyeshadow equivalent of a potato. You could live your life without potatoes, but they really come in handy. On their own, though, potatoes are not super interesting. They are great supporting characters-- who doesn't love big hunks of potato in their soup?!-- but the thing about your food that is interesting is not going to be the potato itself. The potato just helps your soup (or whatever you made) be complete. Likewise, with Naked Basics, the thing about your makeup that will have a "wow" factor is probably not going to be your eyeshadow. You can blend it beautifully and it will look awesome, but there has to be something else in your look to create real visual interest. Combined with the rest of your makeup, Naked Basics can be used really effectively to create a beautiful look.

Naked Basics is half the size of a full-size Naked Palette, containing six 0.05 eyeshadows. The colors lean on the light side, which is nice for all of us who find that we use up a palette's designated highlight at a much faster rate than the other shadows. It's less helpful, though if your goal is to create as many diverse looks using the palette as possible, since the three lightest shades are relatively similar.

The palette contains:

Venus, which is a creamy satin shade with a hint of a frosty finish. It's the color of whipped cream with a ton of vanilla poured in. (Everything else is matte.)

Foxy is a soft, creamy yellow that is reminiscent of manila envelopes.

Walk of Shame is a pale, pink-ish beige.

Naked 2 is a very soft, brown-leaning taupe.

Faint is a medium-dark brown.

Crave is a black.

Every single shade in this palette is creamy and richly pigmented.

Over the past year, this palette has been my staple for "professional" makeup. I wore these shadows on every job interview that I went on. Since someone did, in fact, hire me, I can only assume they didn't shoot me in the foot too badly. Clearly I can attribute my new job to Urban Decay and not, like, my resume or some bullshit like that. 

For this post, I did three looks using Naked Basics, each of which had a different level of intensity:

At $27 for 0.3 oz of product, Naked Basics is pretty medium-priced, ringing in at $90 per ounce.

Basically, given the quality of these eyeshadows, I would recommend this palette to anyone who looks at it and says, "That looks like something I would like to wear. I would get a lot of use out of that." If this palette is a yawn for you, don't buy it. There are tons of neutral palettes you can wear to work that have a bit more pizazz. If you like how it looks, though, you will love it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: Alchimia Apothecary "Choose Your Own Adventure" Perfume Oils

I have millions of weaknesses. Sometimes I take too long to do water changes on my fish tank. Right now, my bed is filled with bags of Milano cookies. My boyfriend has to be responsible for the bills because I would never get them out on time on my own. I'm one of those "buy more socks instead of doing the laundry" people.

One of my weaknesses is hubris.

I've mostly skipped the indie perfume scene. I care way more about having 500 purple eyeshadow shades than I do about having a smell that no one else is wearing. There is also something a bit heart-wrenching about shelling out $15 for a tiny, 5 ml jar of something that you may or may not like. Finally... I find the idea of perfume oils to be fundamentally less appealing than a traditional perfume. I would rather have my whole body smell lightly florally than to have my wrists smell incredibly intense.

However, when I saw that Alchimia Apothecary was having a "buy two get one free" sale, I made an impulse buy. There are a few indie perfume companies that will do custom perfumes, but most of them cost more money than the business's usual wares. All of Alchimia Apothecary's scents are $15, including custom orders. With the buy-two-get-one-free deal, that was $30 for 0.51 fl oz, or $58.82 per fluid ounce-- a substantial discount.

Regrettably, I didn't even spend very long planning my scents. It was a spontaneous, "I wonder how these smells would go together."

Everything came incredibly quickly. Even though I ordered custom-made products, my order shipped out a mere three days after I submitted it. My perfumes came in cute little baggies with orange bubble wrap, which was thematic at the time (I got these babies in October).

Here's how my scents turned out:

Peach Blend

What I asked for: "Peach, Peppermint, Pear, Freesia (with Peach as the basenote/dominant scent)."

This is definitely my favorite of three by a huge margin. I find this scent to be both unexpected and really pleasant. I don't smell pear or freesia. I'm sure that they do affect the scent, but they are so totally in the background that I can't even pick them out when I consciously look for those aromas.

When I first apply the oil, I get a really heavy peppermint smell with a soft peach and, as it fades, I'm left with a stronger peach and lighter peppermint. Peach is a smell that really reminds me of summer and peppermint is a smell that really reminds me of winter. The combination is so surprising and lovely that when I apply this I find myself sitting around and smelling my wrists.

Lime Blend

What I asked for: "Lime, Huckleberry, Hibiscus, Ginger."

Unfortunately, the second two scents that I ordered were less successful. My lime blend smelled kinda like lime-flavored Gatorade. You can tell that there is both citrus-y and something sweeter in there, but the combination isn't ideal. It smells like something your kids would want to drink, but you wouldn't want to give to them. It's the Capri Sun of perfume.

Lilac Blend

What I asked for: "Lilac, Milk and Honey, Sea Spray, Rose (with Lilac as the basenote)."

I find that the lilac, the sea spray, and the rose in this perfume are all really distinct. You can look for them and smell them. Sadly, when you put them all together, it smells overwhelmingly of laundry detergent. Admittedly, it smells like really classy laundry detergent. I would buy this laundry detergent and feel really self-satisfied because of how fucking fancy my chores were. But, sadly, that doesn't change the fact that I don't really want to smell like soap.

The problems with these perfumes are so obviously my fault it's a little hilarious. In particular, the lilac fragrance smells exactly like what I asked for... it just turns out that that is super soapy. If I make future indie perfume orders, I'm definitely leaving the scent-mixing up to the professionals.

At $15 for 5 ml/0.17 fl oz, the Alchima Apothecary Perfume Oils run in at $88.23 per fluid ounce. That's definitely more expensive, ounce per ounce, than a regular perfume. For comparison, Viktor and Rolfe Flowerbomb is $61.76 per fluid ounce. Since they are smellier than traditional perfumes, however, you may find yourself using less product.

The FDA Rolls Its Eyes with Exasperation at Triclosan in Anti-Bacterial Products

In August, we talked about triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent, and its potential not-so-pleasant environmental effects. The FDA has now proposed a new rule requiring manufacturers to prove that products containing triclosan are more effective than simple soap and water.

As a quick reminder, triclosan works by binding to the enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase (ENR) and increasing its affinity for a co-enzyme. When ENR is clogged up, the bacteria is unable to create cell membranes. Since cell membranes are kinda important, the bacteria subsequently dies.

However, the fact that there is a mechanism by which triclosan is capable of killing bacteria does not indicate that triclosan provides a meaningful benefit over safe, environmentally-friendly alternatives. According to the FDA website, "For... consumer products [other than toothpaste, the] FDA has not received evidence that the triclosan provides an extra benefit to health. At this time, the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water."

Source: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm205999.htm
Dr. Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the Office of New Drugs in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, added, "Our goal is, if a company is making a claim that something is antibacterial and in this case promoting the concept that consumers who use these products can prevent the spread of germs, then there ought to be data behind that." (A-fucking-men!)

The new rule would also require that manufacturers to provide additional safety data in order for triclosan to be considered "generally recognized as safe for use". Most concerning is the possibility that antibacterial agents like triclosan will contribute to bacterial resistance. When subpopulations of a larger bacterial population survive a dose of antibiotics, the remaining organisms are more likely to have antibacterial-resistant genes. Since these genes are highly likely to exist on plasmids, small DNA molecules that are separate from the cell's chromosomal DNA, these genes can actually be passed from bacteria to bacteria in a process called horizontal gene transfer. This means that if a single bacterial species develops antibacterial resistance, it can actually be passed from species to species.

As antibacterial agents become more commonly used, there is increased selective pressure on bacterial species. Thus, resistance evolves to become more and more common. If your hospital is relying on antibacterials like triclosan to keep patients safe, but every Tom, Dick, and Harry is using triclosan in their hand soap, this is a big concern. (The proposed rule would exempt hand sanitizers, hand wipes, and antibacterial soaps that are used in health care settings.)

The FDA is currently waiting as both consumers and experts weigh in on their triclosan-related opinions. In the meantime, don't forget to wash your hands.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review: Sleek Blush by 3 Palette in Pumpkin

For me, blush palettes are absolutely wiggle-inducing. An array of colors with depth and options always offers more excitement than a single streak of pink shimmer.

The Sleek Blush by 3 Palettes are packaged in a basic black compact with a fatty mirror inside. It feels sturdy and the lid isn't floppy, meaning that you can open it to any angle you like and the compact will stay.

As a side note, I literally do not have the foggiest idea how to own makeup in black packaging without drowning it in smudges. (Is such a thing possible?)

Pumpkin is one of the more radical color combinations that Sleek offers, containing three dark, pigmented shades:

Lantern is an warm red with a finish that falls somewhere in between a satin and a shimmer. At times, it looks like a dark pink. Other times, it has a more orange-y hue.

Squash is a vivid, matte pink.

P Pie is a vibrant, matte orange that is reminiscent of traffic cones. I wish I could put into words how deeply my soul wishes that they had called the shade "pie" instead of "P Pie"-- we understand, Sleek! We don't need the clarifying 'P'! The palette is called "Pumpkin"! We get it! We understand how themes work!

All three shades are pigmented to the point of ludicrousness. I know that there are many people who always view pigmentation as a positive. I am not one of those people. There is a reason we don't formulate opaque blushes and it's not because formulating opaque blushes is more difficult than formulating opaque eyeshadow-- it's because no one wants to look like a clown college dropout.

If you apply with a light-as-fuck hand, these will still work admirably on fair skin, although they're trickier than other, user-friendly blushes. On dark skin, these will be gorgeous right out of the pan.

Sleek Pumpkin Swatches

Here's how these blushes look on my face:

If you can keep it toned down enough, 'lantern' is a great blush for a natural-looking flush.

Lantern on Human Face

Squash is probably the least special of the three blushes. It looks perfectly lovely.

Squash on Human Face

P Pie is my favorite of the lot. The vibrant orange comes across, but it still looks wearable.

P Pie on Human Face

The Sleek Blush By 3 Palettes retail for $12.49 for 0.68oz, or $18.37 per ounce. For comparison, the Wet'n'Wild Color Icon blushes, at $2.99 for 0.14oz, come in at a more expensive $21.36 per ounce. You would have to have absurd dedication to actually use up this blush palette because it is so damn gigantic. Based on my "How Many Application Are In a Pan of Blush" post from July, which found that I used a mean of 0.014g of blush per use, there is something like 1429 uses in this palette. At one blush application per day, this would take almost four years to finish off. In other words, you'll drop it and shatter it, leave it at the airport, or, even more likely, get bored with it long before you use the last hint of blush powder.

Friday, December 27, 2013

My New Favorite People Make Cheese Out of Human Body Odor-Producing Bacteria

If there are three things I love in this world, it is cheese, science, and unprofitable-but-fascinating projects. Microbiologist Christina Agapakis and artist Sissel Tolaas decided to mush my interests together in a project called Selfmade. The pair created individual "portraits" of participants (the likes of whom included food writer Michael Pollan and installation artist Olafur Eliasson) by swabbing them and making cheese from their body's bacteria.

Formerly Michael Pollan's Bellybutton
Source: http://agapakis.com/selfmade.html
Generally, the first step in cheese production involves curdling the milk, separating it into solid curds and liquid whey. Bacteria from the Lactococcus genus, the Lactobacillus genus, and the Streptococcus genus are the most common starter bacteria for this process. These bacteria convert the sugars in the milk into lactic acid. When casein micelles, the bundled up globs of protein suspended in your milk, hit acid, the positive hydrogen atoms in the acid neutralize the negative casein proteins. Then, since nothing is repelling them from each other, they clump together, forming curds. Rennet, an enzyme complex produced by mammalian stomachs, is also usually used to help curdle the future-cheese. (Swiss cheese and other hole-filled cheeses also get an extra dose of Propionibacterium freudenreichii, which produces buttloads of carbon dioxide, giving Swiss its distinctive hole-y-ness.) For some cheeses (e.g. a fresh, soft goat cheese), that's all the needs to happen. Boom. Packaging time. Most, though, require further processing. Harder cheeses are heated to force out more of the soggy whey. Cheeses like mozzarella are stretched in hot water to help develop their melty, stringy quality. Cheddar goes through a process called, creatively enough, cheddaring. Lower-acid cheeses, like Gouda, are washed. Additionally, salt is added... because it is delicious. Many (most) cheeses are then ripened, turning from bland to complex as the casein proteins break down into amino acids, fatty acids, and amines. For some cheese, additional bacteria and molds will be added at this stage. For example, Brevibacterium linens, found on cheeses like Munster and Limburger, adds a uniquely orange hue. Blue cheeses are formed from exposure to fungi like Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum. 

Many of these microorganisms are ubiquitous on human skin. If you're not a biology nerd, but some of these genus and species names sound familiar, you might be remembering them from my deodorant post in September, where I talked about what bacteria are responsible for your stinkiness. (You can find it by clicking here.)

Lactococcus has been isolated on human skin in small quantities and there is evidence that it may serve an antimicrobial (well, anti-other-microbial) function. You're pretty much coated in Lactobacillus-- you can find it hanging out not only in small quantities on your skin, but in your gastrointestinal tract, in your tooth decay, and inside your vagina. (You can also thank Lactobacillus for yogurt and pickles.) Streptococcus is similarly abundant on your body. In addition to your skin, it can be found in your mouth, intestines, and respiratory system. Brevibacterium linens is one of the bacteria responsible for foot odor.

As cheese microbiologist Benjamin Wolfe says, "There's been really great recent work on the microbiome of people's feet, looking at both the bacteria and the fungi... and if you look at that data and you put our cheese data right next to it, they look pretty much the same."

In total, Agapakis and Tolaas made 11 cheeses, taking swabs from everything from mouths to belly buttons to feet. This formed the bacterial basis for their cheeses. Agapakis told NPR, "The idea was to recognize, how do we get grossed out? Then to think about it and move beyond that initial idea of disgust. Why are we more uncomfortable with bacteria on the body than we are with bacteria in cheese?"

Interviews suggest that no one has actually tasted the cheese, which is a disappointment. But, like... you first. 

The project is currently on display at the Science Gallery in Dublin.

Aching for more information? Check out Christina Agapakis's website here and here...

...this short video:

...or this Science Gallery promotional video:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Sephora Cream Lip Stains in Endless Purple, Strawberry Kissed, and Classic Beige

Sometimes, you just want to eat a Dagwood-style sandwich. Bread piled high with layers and layers of salami and ham in the middle. Other times, you want to eat home-fried tacos filled with there-is-no-such-thing-as-too-much-avocado, Cotija, and grilled chicken. Sometimes you want to eat a rack of lamb or a burger.

Sometimes, you want to eat those things and still have your lipstick on at the end of the meal. It's not particularly hard to make lipstick last through cereal or soup. Other meals, however, are a real challenge. The Sephora Cream Lip Stains are one of the products that I use when I want to eat a sloppy meal without making oodles of post-dinner touch-ups.

I have three of the four matte shades. (I skipped Always Red because, in a brief moment of honesty with myself, I admitted that I probably didn't actually need another classic blue-based red in my collection. The others were totally necessities, though. Yup.) I have never tried the satin-finishes or shimmery ones, so I can't comment on their formula or longevity.

Although they are being billed as a "lip stain", I feel like that is a slightly misleading characterization. They don't actually stain your lips-- they're just a thick, creamy liquid lipstick. These products have the same texture as slightly melted frosting or some whipped cream that you saved in a bowl in the fridge overnight--They're slightly more liquid than the NYX Matte Lip Creams and similar in texture to the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks. All three products smell like store-bought vanilla frosting and dry to a lovely matte finish.

The Sephora Cream Lip Stains are madly opaque and very easy to work with whether you use the doe-foot applicator or your own lip brush.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain Swatches from left to right: Endless Purple, Strawberry Kissed, Classic Beige
Endless Purple is a plummy, dark mauve. Despite the name, it's not particularly purple.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Endless Purple on Human Face
Strawberry Kissed is my favorite of the three colors that I have tried. It's an electric pink-y red.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Strawberry Kissed on Human Face
Classic Beige is a light brown with pink undertones. It adds unconventional drama; This is a product that always makes me do a double-take when I go by a mirror. I like the fact that it looks like I'm in sepia when I wear it. Since it tones down one of the main sources of color on your face (your lips), it draws attention to anything that's not brown, such as an eye color or a cheek color. (And all without resorting to a nude lip!)

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Classic Beige on Human Face
Of course, you need to know how these suckers last. Here's how Classic Beige fared on a "four hours and a meal" test:

Sephora Cream Lipstain in Classic Beige when applied.
(You know it's old if the pictures are vertical!)
Four hours and a meal later:

Sephora Cream Lipstain in Classic Beige Four Hours and a Meal after applying.
Like all long-lasting products, these lip creams are a little bit drying. However, I didn't find this issue to be particularly severe.

As would be expected from a Sephora-brand product, Sephora Cream Lip Stains are neither cheap nor expensive when looked at by the ounce, retailing for $13 for 0.169 oz ($76.92 per oz). For comparison, the NYX Matte Lip Creams come in at $6 for 0.23 oz ($26.09 per oz) and the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks are $22 for 0.10 oz ($220 per oz).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How Does Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy Affect Your Loose Eyeshadows?

Add this to the list of products that I feel like a dick for not recommending sooner, since I've been using it since August-or-so and it's one of the biggest helpers in my collection.

According to the Fyrinnae website, "This is not an eye shadow primer, or really a base. It is to keep sparkles on and/or to make shimmery shadows appear 'glossy': a foiled look without foiling."

The product comes in a 10ml tube and it contains 9ml (0.3 fl oz) of product. The full size retails for $7.00, meaning that it comes out to a very budget-friendly $23.33 per fluid oz. (If it's not sinking in how cheap that shit is, check out my drugstore eyeshadow primer mega-comparison here. Pixie Epoxy is cheaper than a full 80% of drugstore eyeshadow primers.) You can also buy a 1.5ml/0.05 fl oz sample for $2, which is $40 per ounce.

The product is sticky as fuck. You apply it using a doe-foot applicator. (Personally, I usually dab a little bit on my finger and rub it over my eyelid.)

Because it is so sticky, it doesn't work well, in my experience, with pressed eyeshadows. All that the combination does is gunk up my brush. I also haven't had good experiences with Pixie Epoxy under matte eyeshadows-- I get weirdass clumping. Under glitterbombs, though, it's basically magic.

Although my anecdotal evidence said "HOLYSHITTHISISAWESOME", I decided to test how Pixie Epoxy holds up over time.

For my test eyeshadow, I used another Fyrinnae product-- their Conjuror eyeshadow, a brick red with an aqua shift.

My camera doesn't believe in taking close-ups.
I also used a fabulous traditional eyeshadow primer as a comparison. I chose NARS Smudgeproof, since it was primer that came out on top in my eyeshadow primer mega-comparison earlier this year.

I had four swatches:

From left to right: Control, NARS Smudgeproof only, Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy only, NARS Smudegproof + Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy
The first swatch was a control swatch, with no eyeshadow primer of any kind underneath. The second was a swatch over NARS Smudgeproof. As you can see, the color was definitely intensified. It still looks like the same product, though: a brick red with some glitter. The third swatch, though, is where the magic happens! Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy completely transforms the color of the eyeshadow. The aqua color, which looked like random, disorganized glitter in the previous two swatches, looks like an icy oil slick over the red base. (I should note-- that weird delineation on the left side of this swatch is where the Pixie Epoxy ended. It's nothing weird, I just have bad aim.) Finally, I used NARS Smudgeproof as the primer and stuck Pixie Epoxy on top. Although the aqua shift was clearer than it was in the first two swatches, there was definitely something lost. (This was a bummer to see, since this is the application method that I usually choose.)

Then, I waited four hours.

From left to right: Control, NARS Smudgeproof only, Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy only, NARS Smudegproof + Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy
It should come as no surprise to loose eyeshadow fans that the control swatch was basically gone at the end of those four hours. The other three, though, all held up super well. I was expecting that the traditional primer + Pixie Epoxy together would be the best-lasting combo, but I didn't see any added benefit when they were used in synchronization. Pixie Epoxy unequivocally not only changed the effect of the eyeshadow; it helped it last, as well.

Since then, I have been playing around with Pixie Epoxy by itself, as opposed to using it in combination with another primer. I have to say-- I'm not seeing a difference. This is good news for those of you who want to skip an eyeshadow step.  Fyrinnae may claim that this isn't an eyeshadow primer, but it sure as hell does the job. (One important caveat to this: if you use your eyeshadow primer to prevent creasing, you may want to do your own testing on your actual eyelids. I have never had a problem with eyeshadow creasing, so I just can't speak to that.)

Doing this test has also pushed me way over the edge on an issue that I've been waffling on: when I do loose shadow swatches from indie companies, from now on, I will do them both on bare skin and over Pixie Epoxy. I do the "two swipes, no primer" thing because I get so frustrated when people tell me that products are crap and then show me beautiful swatches. However, you're definitely missing the magic on products like this if you don't show them in their full glory.

The bottom line: if you're into loose eyeshadow, buy this, or something like it (e.g. Darling Girl's Glitter Glue is supposed to be a good alternative, although they're sold out every time I place an order!).

Ipsy December 2013 Review

I wanted to start this post with a brief apology about my incredibly sporadic posting over the last couple of weeks. I've been drowning in work a bit and have been too tired to come home and do a lot of writing. I am never particularly good at meeting my goal of one post per day (in fact, I'm laughably bad at it), but I usually do a little better than this.

This is one of those rare occasions where I actually really like bag that Ipsy came in! After months of weird, tacky anchors and plain plastic purses, I'm quite excited about the cute little rows of squares and black patent finish.

Here's what I got this month:

Pop Beauty Bright Up Your Life Trio in Smokin' Hot (0.15oz), approximate retail value $7.20

PopBeauty is my makeup brand arch-nemesis. I have hated everything that I have ever tried from them. Or, at very least, I did until I tried this trio. To be clear, I would never purchase the full sized version of this palette. It's not ridiculously expensive at $24, but the shadows feel like something you wouldn't be shocked to get from the drugstore. They're powdery and you have to build 'em up to get the pigmentation you want. However, I realized as soon as I got this trio that I am woefully understocked on gray eyeshadow. I don't have any colors like this.

The trio contains a frosty eggshell with white glitter, a graphite-reminiscent silver with white glitter, and an almost-black-but-not-quite with white and blue glitter.

The pigmentation is totally usable (HIGH PRAISE, I KNOW). 

Be a Bombshell The One Stick in Flustered (full size at 0.26oz), retail value $16

I always have to raise my eyebrow at multi-use products. I feel that a lip/cheek dual-use product will always pale in comparison to a quality lip product and a quality cheek product. This isn't an exception. According to the Be a Bombshell website, you can apply 'The One Stick' "to eyelids, cheeks or lips for the perfect pop of color anywhere!". I'm not even going to show you the greasy mess that happened when I tried to apply this to my eyes, so I'll talk exclusively about cheek and lip application, since the person who said you can put it on your eyes clearly had no idea what they were talking about.

"Flustered" is a warm red with pink glitter. It's more vibrant than something that I would have picked out for myself, but it's still fairly wearable on my cheeks with a shitload of blending.

On my lips, this product feels greasy, almost like I covered my mouth in greasepaint. It's also fairly sheer on the lips, adding just a hint of color.

Unblended Swatch
Blended Swatch
I think I would have really liked this product as a cream blush if I had gotten a different shade. As it is, it kind of looks like I have a sunburn when I wear it. Unfortunately, it's been my experience that colors on the Be A Bombshell website are atrociously off, so I don't feel confident making a purchase sight unseen.

It's also worth noting, if you do consider purchasing a full size for this, that 0.26oz is pretty small for this sort of item. $16 for 0.26oz is $61.54 per ounce, which certainly doesn't sound bad. However, NARS's the Multiple is a full 0.5oz. At $39, that's a hardly-more-expensive $78 per ounce. But, like... you get NARS. (If you don't intend to use it up, though, obviously it's better to stick with the cheaper option.)

NYX Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in Iris (full size at 0.14 oz), retail value $4.00

I love NYX. I really do.

...But this lipstick is horrid.

When you are talking about a makeup product being a "peach" color, that has a specific meaning and that meaning doesn't necessarily have anything to do with real peaches that you actually eat in real life. If I called this a peach, I would be talking about the color you get when you open up a peach in the summer, and you have golden fruit inside. ...Now, imagine that the golden fruit was frosty.

I am not normally one to shun lipstick colors. I'll happily wear purple, blue, black, or orange. This color, though, is just not flattering on me. If it was really, really opaque, and applied smoothly, it would be wearable. Sadly, the formula is thin and you can see my actual lip color poking through. That plus the color is an awful combination. It just looks like I have a disease and really chapped lips at the same time.

Nicka K New York Nail Color in ??? (full size at 0.5 fl oz), retail value $4.99

This nail polish was not labeled, so I can't tell you what color is. If you love it and want to buy it, too bad for you. It's a gorgeous cherry red.

Signature by English Laundry Pour Homme (estimated 0.27 fl oz) and Pour Femme (estimated 0.27 fl oz), estimated retail value $22.87

As you can see by my perfume-soaked cardboard container, the dudely version of this perfume unscrewed itself and leaked all over my ipsy bag in transit. Only a tiny bit remained. (It's possible that the lady version was also a little leaky, since the bottle sure wasn't full.)

The "Pour Homme" version smells kind of woody and musky, whereas the "Pour Femme" version smells like generic white flowers. I had a hard time picking out any specific notes, which might be because I have a terrible sense of smell (literally today, the building next to us caught fire and my boyfriend asked, "Do you smell something burning?" and I was like, "No..."), but I suspect it's because they are pretty boring. I find it deliciously ironic that a perfume called "Signature" is boring as hell.

Happily, these are pretty darn large for perfume samples. The sizes weren't labeled, but since the bottles were exactly the same size as a Julep nail polish, I feel pretty comfortable in my size estimation.

Bonus: BeautyBlender (1), retail value $19.95 and BeautyBlender BlenderCleanser (estimated 0.5 fl oz), estimated retail value $1.50

This was a reward for making referrals, not an official part of my Ipsy bag. I redeemed 1000 Ipsy points to receive this item. I already like beautyblenders, so I was happy to snatch up a new freebie, especially given that Ipsy generally sends out bonuses that aren't exactly exciting.

Total Box Value: $55.06 not including bonus, $76.51 including bonus

Here's a look I created using the items in my December Ipsy:

These aren't colors that I would have put together on my own!
And here is the exact same look, except I subbed out the NYX lipstick for the Be a Bombshell "The One" stick:

Overall, I feel this box had a lot of "almost but not quite" in it. For example, I would have liked "the One" stick... if I'd gotten a different color. Ditto for the NYX lipstick. I loved the giant perfume sample from English Laundry, but the smell was a bit of a snoozefest. The Nicka K nail polish was lovely, but they didn't bother to tell me what color it was. I wouldn't have needed all of these things to be changed to be happy with this box, but a couple changes would have moved my feelings all the way from "moderately happy given that this subscription box only cost $10 a month" to "generally ecstatic".

If you are interested in joining Ipsy, you're always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here
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