Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sephora's January/February 2014 Eyeshadow Palettes by Price Per Ounce

If you poke around this blog a bit, you've probably heard me say that I view mid-range eyeshadow palettes to be a pretty good deal if they cost less than $100 per ounce. This wasn't based on any math or statistics; it was just my personal feeling about what is and what is not a good deal.

To investigate a little further, I decided to catalog the current Sephora eyeshadow palette offerings by price per ounce. 

I made a couple of decisions that are worth explicitly stating in order to be really clear about my methods. Firstly, I made the decision to ignore small bonuses like mascara samples or mini-eyeliners. For the purposes of this analysis, they have no value. If you want to assign value to them, you can figure out a methodology that seems fair to you. I am only looking at eyeshadow for the time being. On that same note, in order to focus exclusively on the eyeshadow, I completely left out any palettes that contain blush, bronzer, concealer, or products in the palette itself. Additionally, I did not distinguish between cream eyeshadows and powdered eyeshadows for the sake of simplicity. Finally, I distinguished between entries based on whether Sephora has a separate page for the palettes. For example, the Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio has one page on Sephora for 15 color variations. It appears on my list once. On the other hand, Urban Decay's Naked 1, Naked 2, and Naked 3 all appear separately because they each have their own page on the Sephora website.

Without further ado, here is my list of current Sephora eyeshadow palette offerings, from least expensive per ounce, to most expensive per ounce:

1. Make Up For Ever Flash Palette: $99 for 2.46oz, $40.24 per ounce

2. Too Faced Joy to the Girls Eyeshadow Palette: $46 for 0.9oz, $51.11 per ounce

3. Sephora Collection Event Entry Palette: $11 for 0.2oz, $55 per ounce

4. theBalm Shady Lady Volume 3: $39.50 for 0.51oz, $77.45 per ounce

5. Benefit Cosmetics World Famous Neutrals Palette Easiest Nudes Ever: $30 for 0.38oz, $78.95 per ounce

6. Benefit Cosmetics World Famous Neutrals Palette Most Glamorous Nudes Ever: $30 for 0.38oz, $78.95 per ounce

7. Benefit Cosmetics World Famous Neutrals Palette Sexiest Nudes Ever: $30 for 0.38oz, $78.95 per ounce

8. Too Faced the Chocolate Bar Palette: $49 for 0.62oz, $79.03 per ounce

9. Stila In The Know Palette: $39 for 0.49 oz, $79.59 per ounce

10. Stila In The Garden Palette: $39 for 0.49 oz, $79.59 per ounce

11. Stila In The Light Palette: $39 for 0.49 oz, $79.59 per ounce

12. Stila In The Moment Palette: $39 for 0.49 oz, $79.59 per ounce

13.Sephora Collection IT Palette Color Spectrum: $32 for 0.396oz, $80.80 per ounce

14. Sephora Collection IT Palette Glitter: $32 for 0.396oz, $80.80 per ounce 

15. Sephora Collection IT Palette Nude: $32 for 0.396oz, $80.80 per ounce

16. Sephora Collection IT Palette Smoky: $32 for 0.396oz, $80.80 per ounce

17. Urban Decay Naked 1: $52 for 0.6oz, $86.67 per ounce

18. Urban Decay Naked 2: $52 for 0.6oz, $86.67 per ounce

19. Urban Decay Naked 3: $52 for 0.6oz, $86.67 per ounce

20. Clinique All About Shadow Eight-Pan Palette: $36 for 0.41oz, $87.80 per ounce

21. Kat Von D Ladybird Eyeshadow Palette: $36 for 0.4oz, $90 per ounce

22. Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Palette in Beethoven: $36 for 0.4oz, $90 per ounce

23. Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Palette in Poetica: $36 for 0.4oz, $90 per ounce

24. Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Palette in Saint: $36 for 0.4oz, $90 per ounce

25. Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Palette in Sinner: $36 for 0.4oz, $90 per ounce

26. Urban Decay Naked Basics: $27 for 0.30oz, $90 per ounce

27. Too Faced Pretty Rebel Palette: $46 for 0.5oz, $92 per ounce

28. Josie Maran Argan Beautiful Eyes: $36 for 0.39oz, $92.31 per ounce

29. Too Faced Boudoir Eyes Soft and Sexy Palette: $36 for 0.39oz, $92.31 per ounce

30. Too Faced Matte Eyeshadow Palette: $36 for 0.39oz, $92.31 per ounce

31. Too Faced Natural At Night Palette: $36 for 0.39oz, $92.31 per ounce

32. Too Faced Natural Eye Palette: $36 for 0.39oz, $92.31 per ounce

33. Too Faced Smokey Eye Palette: $36 for 0.39oz, $92.31 per ounce

34. Too Faced The Return of Sexy Palette: $49 for 0.525oz, $93.33 per ounce

35. Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Trio: $24 for 0.25oz, $96 per ounce

36. Smashbox Full Exposure Palette: $49 for 0.49oz, $100 per ounce

37. Sephora Collection Colorful Eyeshadow Portfolio: $599 for 5.6oz, $106.96 per ounce

38. Sephora Collection Sand Illusions Baked Eyeshadow Palette: $15 for 0.138oz, $108.70 per ounce

39. Tarte Beauty and the Box Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Quad: $22 for 0.2oz, $110 per ounce

40. Urban Decay Ammo Palette: $34 for 0.3oz, $113.33 per ounce

41. Anastasia Beverly Hills Illumin8 With Youthful Synergy Complex Eyeshadow Palette: $30 for 0.252oz, $119.05 per ounce

42. Kat Von D Esperanza Eyeshadow Palette: $36 for 0.28oz, $128 per ounce

43. Anastasia  Beverly Hills She Wears It Well Eyeshadow Palette: $34 for 0.263oz, $129.28 per ounce

44. Buxom Color Choreography Eyeshadow Palette: $36 for 0.26oz, $138.46 per ounce

45. Bobbi Brown Old Hollywood Eye Palette: $75 for 0.519, $144.51 per ounce

46. Bare Minerals READY Eyeshadow 8.0: $40 for 0.28oz, $142.86 per ounce

47. BECCA  Ultimate Eye Color Quad: $40 for 0.28oz, $142.86 per ounce

48. Sephora Collection Moonshadow Baked Palette in In The Dark: $27 for 0.17oz, $158.82 per ounce

49. Sephora Collection Moonshadow Baked Palette in In The Nude: $27 for 0.17oz, $158.82 per ounce

50. Sephora Collection Moonshadow Baked Palette in In The Tropics: $27 for 0.17oz, $158.82 per ounce

51. Illamasqua Complement Palette: $46.50 for 0.29oz, $160.34 per ounce

52. Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette: $49 for 0.3oz, $163.33 per ounce

53. Illamasqua 4-Colour Liquid Metal Palette: $46.50 for 0.28oz, $166.07 per ounce

54. Illamasqua Paranormal Palette: $46.50 for 0.28oz, $166.07 per ounce

55. Clinique All About Shadow Quad: $28 for 0.16oz, $175 per ounce

56. NARS NARSissist Eyeshadow Palette: $79 for 0.45oz, $175.56 per ounce

57. Bare Minerals READY Eyeshadow 4.0: $30 for 0.17oz, $176.47 per ounce

58. Yves Saint Laurent Ombres 5 Lumieres 5 Colour Harmony for Eyes: $59 for 0.29oz, $200 per ounce

59. Make Up For Ever Black Tango Palette: $45 for 0.2oz, $225 per ounce

60. Bobbi Brown Nude Eye Palette: $50 for 0.22oz, $227.27 per ounce

61. Illamasqua Fundamental Palette: $46.50 for 0.2oz, $232.50 per ounce

62. Illamasqua Neutral Palette: $46.50 for 0.2oz, $232.50 per ounce

63. Illamasqua Reflection Palette: $46.50 for 0.2oz, $232.50 per ounce

64. Smashbox Photo Op Eye-Enhancing Palette - Blue Eyes:$40 for 0.16oz, $243.75 per ounce

65. Smashbox Photo Op Eye-Enhancing Palette - Brown Eyes:$40 for 0.16oz, $243.75 per ounce

66. Smashbox Photo Op Eye-Enhancing Palette - Hazel Eyes:$40 for 0.16oz, $243.75 per ounce

67. Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No.7 Plush Shadow Palette: $59 for 0.24oz, $245.83 per ounce

68. Guerlain Ecrin 4 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palette: $60 for 0.24oz, $250 per ounce

69. Dior 3 Couleurs Smoky Read-to-Wear Eye Palette: $48 for 0.19oz, $252.63 per ounce

70. Edward Bess Prismette Eyeshadow Quad: $68 for 0.25oz, $272 per ounce

71. Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No.3 Plush Shadow: $42 for 0.14oz, $300 per ounce

72. Yves Saint Laurent Pure Chromatics 4 Wet and Dry Eyeshadows: $55 for 0.18oz, $305.56 per ounce

73. Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio: $33 for 0.1oz, $330 per ounce

74. Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palette: $86 for 0.25oz, $344 per ounce

75. Bobbi Brown Sequin Shimmer Brick For Eyes: $48.50 for 0.14oz, $346.43 per ounce

76. Lancome Color Design 5 Shadow and Liner Palette: $50 for 0.141oz, $354.61 per ounce

77. Dior 5 Couleurs Couture Colour Eyeshadow Palette: $61 for 0.17oz, $358.82 per ounce

78. Dolce and Gabbana The Eyeshadow Smooth Eye Colour Quad: $59 for 0.16oz, $368.75 per ounce

79. Givenchy Le Prisme Eyeshadow Quartet: $57 for 0.14oz, $407.14 per ounce

80. Givenchy Le Prisme Yeux Colour and Shine for Metallic Eyes: $57 for 0.14oz, $414.29 per ounce

81. Givenchy Ecrin Prive: $73 for 0.072oz, $1013.89 per ounce

Mean: $169.10 per ounce
Median: $119.05 per ounce

Visually represented the data looks something like this:

Graph of Sephora Eyeshadow Palette Price per Ounce. Note that I smooshed the end together so the graph goes straight from 420 to 1000.

Looking at this graph, it is clear that the data is positively skewed (Skewness=3.4). Mid-range brands seem to be primarily normally distributed, with a peak around $80-$100 per ounce. Combined with an overall median of $119.05 per ounce, this data seems to support the idea that your eyeshadow palette is a decent deal if it is $100 per ounce or less.

Normally, when we talk about makeup, we talk about "drugstore brands", "mid-range brands", and "high-end brands". This data, though, seems to show a slightly different story. In between the "mid-range brands", like Too Faced, theBalm, Benefit, Stila, and Kat Von D, which seem to cost less than $180 per ounce, and the "high-end brands", like Marc Jacobs, Dior, and Givenchy, which seem to start around $300 per ounce, is a whole separate category between $200 and $280 per ounce that straddle the line. Brands like Illamasqua, Bobbi Brown, and Smashbox seem to be in their own intermediate range. (This kind of surprised me, since I usually think of these brands as being on the pricey-er side of mid-range.) I intend on seeing if this same sort of pattern arises for other products like lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow singles in future blog posts.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Besame Cosmetics Brightening Violet Powder

Have I mentioned that I love packaging? I LOVE PACKAGING. And damn, Besame Cosmetics has got their shit together on that front.

Besame Brightening Violet Powder is a faintly lilac-colored setting powder that smells like an explosion of florals. It's purported to brighten up sallow complexions. For cool-toned ladies, I think that the slight purple hue is perfectly for cooling down foundations that lean a little bit too yellow.

The cardboard housing the violet powder opens up like origami, revealing gorgeous drawings of violets.


Consistent with Besame's vintage image, the internal packaging is 1940s chic.


Inside, the jar has a little cotton powder puff. This is cute, but functionally worthless, unless you like applying your powder in unwieldy, heavy segments, a little at a time. Still, I feel like this powder-puff is one of the things that sells the "Oh, of course this is vintage!" vibe. This is especially necessary because...


...it covers a totally modern and convenient hunk of plastic with holes for convenience in application.


The color doesn't whack you over the head with it's purple-ness, which means that this is probably wearable for many people. I would especially recommend this for people who are fair, light, or medium-skinned and cool-toned. On darker skin, I suspect that the light color would look ashy. On warmer skin, I think it might cool down your face too much. I feel that the color is so subtle, though, that, for most people, I wouldn't get too scared. Its most evident effect will be leaving your face matte.


Is this literally the most special thing you could ever buy? No. It would not be impossible to get similar results from a different product. However, the quality of the product is great, it feels super fancy thanks to its excellent smell, and the packaging is unparalleled. If you've been eyeing it, I think you should grab it. As Donna and Tom might say, 'Treat yo self!'

Besame Violet Powder on Human Face

The Besame Cosmetics Brightening Violet Powder retails for $22 for 0.21 ounces of product, putting it at a relatively pricey $104.76 per ounce. For comparison, Bare Minerals' Mineral Veil is $20 for 0.3oz, or $66.67 per ounce.

Monday, January 27, 2014

How Many Manicures Are in a Bottle of Nail Polish?

If you are anything like me, you have never finished a bottle of nail polish. The bottle turns to gloopy sludge long before you work your way to the end. Still, the question lingers: if I buckled down and committed to a color, how many manicures can I actually get out of a bottle of nail polish?

I decided to investigate.

It's worth starting out by acknowledging the many flaws in my test design. First of all, base coats, top coats, and nail art had to be excluded. Secondly, y'all may not glop your nail polish onto your fingers as inartfully as I do. This would mean that you would use less polish (and also that you would be less likely to to accidentally the smudge the hell out of your manicure, but that's a different story!). Additionally, Julep was the only brand I measured, and they definitely have a thicker formula than, say, a quick-dry nail polish, if that is what you are using, so my findings may not generalize for that reason, as well. (On that same note: Julep's small bottles may have affected the outcome, as larger bottles could be less wasteful.) Still, I carried on!

Did I mention I'm not a nail polish blogger?
I'm reeeeeally not a nail polish blogger.

The first step was to measure how many grams of polish a manicure uses up. To do this, I dumped out a portion of my nail polish bottle into a makeshift tinfoil cup, and measured the mass. Then, I painted my nails, taking care to minimize any potential evaporation, and measured again. Obviously, this is much more wasteful than painting out of the bottle, so I ended up using a few Julep polishes for the deed, since I own so damn many of them.

Here's what I got:

Julep Payton (2 Coats)- 0.548g
Julep Joan (2 Coats)- 0.478g
Julep Mai (2 Coats)- 0.485g
Julep Annie (2 Coats)- 0.420g
Average grams per manicure: 0.483g

The next step was to determine how many grams are in a bottle of nail polish. I sacrificed Julep's AnneMarie to the cause. (Again, I'm pretty much swimming in Julep nail polishes at this point.) I poured out the polish the measured what came out. I considered the bottle to be empty when I held it upside down for thirty seconds and no drips came out.

You know I live on the edge because I attempted this on carpet.
(Mass of the tin foil cup was subtracted to get the final number.)

The contents of the bottle weighed in at 6.172g (This is the equivalent of 0.218oz.) Intuitively, I would expect that the mass of the polish would weigh more than 0.27oz, since nail polish is heavy and the bottle is 0.27 fluid ounces. However, it seems that a lot of that polish simply won't come out of the damn bottle.

6.172/0.483=12.78. Thus, a bottle of Julep nail polish, which contains 0.27 fluid ounces of product, holds about twelve manicures.

However, as we all know, most nail polish bottles are not 0.27 fluid ounces. Indeed, the standard size is 0.5 fluid ounces. (6.172/27)50=11.430. Thus, a standard nail polish bottle probably holds a little closer to 11.430g of product. 11.430/0.483=23.66. Assuming that everything generalizes acceptably, a standard 0.5 fluid ounce bottle of nail polish, then, probably holds something along the lines of twenty three manicures.

Add in your glitter and your nail art and your top coats and all that jazz, though, and I'm out of my league.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Kat Von D Foiled Love Lipstick in F. T. W.

Whoever designs the Kat Von D cosmetic packaging has found a window to my heart. I find that it consistently looks young and ornate, without being over the top. The Foiled Love lipsticks are definitely no exception. The tubes feel substantial and the lovely floral pattern is elegant as heck. Add in a quality product and I am swooning already.


According to Sephora, the Foiled Love lipsticks supposedly "[make] your lips look like they're gift-wrapped in colored metallic foil." Based on this shade, I'd probably call this an exaggeration, but they do leave a nice metallic sheen on your lips. (I think of foil as being REALLY FUCKING SHINY. We're not talking about the dull side of the aluminum foil, right?)


F.T.W. is a purple-leaning cranberry color. It's not as pigmented as you might hope with a single swatch of color, meaning that you have to make a couple of passes to be able to shout out "BAM!" Emeril Lagasse-style. You can definitely get there with a little effort, though!

Three swipes of color.
Incidentally, this flaw is made up for a bit by the lipstick's other potential flaw: it leans on the dry side. This means that even though it takes a few passes to get some acceptable color, it does stay pretty nicely. It didn't have any problems with it drying out my lips, but those of you whose lips lean on the dryer side might have more concerns.

Thanks to the dryer texture, FTW does just fine on my "four hours and meal" test, although some of the frosty, metallic glitz is gone four hours in. You're left with only the color.

Here's how FTW looks when applied:


And here is how it looks four hours and a meal later:


Overall, I like this product a lot. The packaging is great, the color is great, and the product quality is good. 

The Kat Von D Foiled Love lipsticks retail for $19.00 for 0.11oz, or $172.73 per ounce. This is slightly more than MAC lipsticks, which, at $15 for 0.1 oz, come in at $150 per ounce.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Birchbox January 2014 Review

Birchbox has a reputation for being a little bit bland. It was a surprise, then, to open my box and see so many different colors and shapes. Seriously, look at this. It's what Birchbox ads are made of:

VISUALLY APPEALING.
Were the products amazing? Eh. Still, say what you will about my Birchbox this month... It wasn't bland.

Here is what I got:

Nail Rock Manicure Glitter in Red Glitter (full size at 0.34 fl oz for the polish, 0.18oz for the glitter), retail value $7.00


I was really excited about getting this product because... well, glitter and nail polish. I also really like the color-- if you need a reference, it's very similar to the red that McDonald's prints on their ketchup packets.

As you are all probably aware, I am not particularly good at doing my nails. I am also impatient as fuck. That means that if I try to do any sort of nail art the day that I paint my nails, everything ends in tragedy. My strategy, then, is to do my nails at night, go to bed (so I am literally 100% sure that my nails are dry when I try something fancy), and then do whatever miscellaneous nail art I wanted to do. (And we're using the word "nail art" pretty loosely here.)

When I applied the nail polish itself, I was already pretty not-blown-away by the formula. It's very thin and watery. It feels like a quick-dry nail polish... but, like, worse. Then, I could not get it opaque for the life of me. I did four coats of the stuff before getting frustrated and giving up. I figured I would do a half-moon manicure and just cover the tips of my nails with glitter, and no one would be the wiser. I went to bed.

When I woke up the next day, my nails looked like this:


That is absolutely unacceptable. I spent the rest of my day watching as little flakes of nail polish drifted off my fingers.

Beauty Rock is not a brand that I have had success with in general. The Nail Rock Nail Wraps were terrible... and I tried out (and didn't review. Let me know if you are aching for one!) the Eye Rock Designer Liners and they possibly the worst product I have ever used. I just wasn't expecting this to be so bad because nail polish and glitter isn't exactly a complicated product concept.

Serge Normant Meta Revive Dry Conditioner (1.2 oz), approximate retail value $9.38


Dry shampoo is not the same thing as regular shampoo. It just doesn't serve the same function. If you have gunk in your hair, dry shampoo won't get it out. Thus, I am, in theory, willing to kind of cut dry conditioner a break if it doesn't actually add back in oils or (for some conditioners) coat your hair in silicone, which is how conditioner does its job.

However, a few glances through the ingredient list of the Serge Normant Dry Conditioner and I am baffled at how they can call it conditioner. In fact, based on its ingredients, it looks exactly like a dry shampoo. Ingredients like Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate are included to absorb oil. I don't understand how that fits with the concept of a dry conditioner. A few ingredients are kind of conditioner-y (e.g. Butylene Glycol, a humectant), but those ingredients are commonly used in dry shampoo, as well.


Looking the Birchbox description of what ingredients are supposedly making this product function is even more baffling. Birchbox states, "Argan oil makes hair soft and supple while fortifying the cuticle to help hair shine. Cornstarch absorbs oil without weighing down your mane."

Okay, let's go ahead and look at the actual ingredients of this product, for a minute: Butane, Propane, SD Alcohol 40-B, Ethyl Trisiloxane, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Butylene Glycol, Diisopropyl Adipate, Quaternium-91, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Polyquaternium-59, Butylene Glycol, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Disteardimonium Hectorite.

See where argan oil ("Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil") is located on that list? Four ingredients after "fragrance"? (For those of you not already aware, the order of ingredients is indicative of the amount of the ingredient in the product. The product contains more of the ingredients at the beginning of the list.)

See where cornstarch is located? Yeah, me neither. It's not even on the ingredients list.

In other words: bull-fucking-shit, Birchbox.

Now, let's go ahead and look at what this product actually did to my hair. Here is my hair pre-dry conditioner:


Here is my hair post-dry conditioner.


It did absolutely nothing. It doesn't work and theory and it doesn't work in practice.

100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara in Black Tea (0.1oz), approximate retail value $7.50


I had really low expectations for this product. My last 100% Pure Product, a green apple body cream, smelled like Jolly Ranchers and had no redeeming qualities. Both the brand and the product seem gimmicky to me. ("While picking blackberries in her garden, 100% Pure founder Susie Wang noticed that the fruit stained her skin a beautiful deep red color—and had an epiphany: All-natural pigments could mimic the brilliance of harsh artificial dyes, minus the irritating side effects." Okay, naturalistic fallacy.)


To my surprise, though, this mascara is actually super, super awesome. I really like mascaras that are effortless. To me, this is the perfect, effortless mascara. It looks as natural as a black mascara can look and it gives lots of length without causing clumpy spider legs.

Before mascara:


After mascara:


One more view. Before mascara:


After mascara:


I definitely would consider purchasing a full size of this product. The only caveat I have is that it doesn't smell amazing. The "black tea" scent is reminiscent of blueberry cough syrup.

ZENMED Gentle Cleansing Cream (0.33 fl oz), approximate retail value $1.05


I don't have a lot to say about this product because it is (unlike the rest of my box) boring. I was amused that the back of the product read, "ideal for mature or dry skin", as I definitely do not have either mature or dry skin; I have the skin of a greasy 15-year-old. I also thought Birchbox's explanation of why it's supposedly awesome was funny: "Thanks to a pH-balanced formula, this gentle cleanser washes away dirt and oil without disrupting skin’s acid mantle, aka the invisible shield that protects skin from environmental aggressors." That is technically true. However, if you have a product that is NOT designed with your skin's pH in mind, that is a bad product and you really shouldn't use it.

Bland cleansers are good things, ultimately. But it's awfully hard to get worked up about them.

Ahmad Teas in Mint Mystique, Apricot Sunrise, and English Tea No. 1 (3 bags), approximate retail value $0.53


Finally, I got tea. I know some people hate getting tea in their Birchboxes, but I don't mind. The Mighty Leaf Tropical Green Tea that I got from Birchbox is currently part of my weekday morning routine.

These three, unfortunately, didn't blow me away. The Mint Green Tea was fine, but I thought that black teas were too bitter. I'm a green tea drinker, though, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

Total Box Value: $25.44

Overall, I think this box was fine. The awesome mascara (which I have been using as my "I am running late so I guess I'm going light on the makeup today" mascara) saved the other products that weren't as loveable. (When I add in the value of Birchbox points, though, I feel a lot more happy about my box!) I think the huge variety of products and the large sample sizes, though, bode well for the start of 2014.

If you realize that Birchbox is what is missing in your life, for some reason, you are welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

They're Called Sebaceous Filaments, and They're Supposed To Be There!

Sometimes, marketing companies are kind of dicks.

One of the crappiest beauty-related stunts that they have pulled is convincing people that normal and permanent parts of their skin are somehow pathological and need to be removed.

This is my nose:


As you can see, it is covered in little dots. Those dots are not blackheads; they're sebaceous filaments. Why do so many people think they're blackheads? Well, in their commercials, companies like Proactiv say, "BLACKHEADS SUCK, ERMEGERD" and then zoom in on pictures of sebaceous filaments. Then, normal people take the obvious implication of the commercial as fact, and conflate sebaceous filaments and blackheads when they talk about their face... and everyone ends up confused.

Again, sometimes, marketing companies are kind of dicks.

So, what are sebaceous filaments? You may remember that your skin has sebaceous glands, which emit a waxy goop called sebum. Sebum keeps your skin and hair soft and waterproof, both of which are appreciated. Sebaceous glands are typically found in areas with at least a little bit of hair. They connect to that hair follicle.

In areas with "wispy" hairs and larger sebaceous glands, you may find something that has been sexily described as a "a loose, porous mass of horny detritus". The outer-most section of the hair follicle, called the acro-infundibulum, sloughs off cells. This mixes with sebum and miscellaneous bacteria around the hair itself, forming "a skeleton of 10-30 horny cell layers" and a bunch of other gunk.

This is a natural process associated with sebum production. Thanks, puberty.

Most of you will probably be unsurprised to hear that sebaceous filaments are typically found around the center of your face and on your nose.

I went ahead and used a Biore pore strip, because I can only assume that you want to see my sebaceous filaments close-up. Although people frequently suggest that Biore pore strips remove blackheads, they actually remove sebaceous filaments. To use one, you wash your face, put the strip on your wet nose, wait for it to dry, and rip it off. (It's not very comfortable.)



Obviously, you can see that the pore strip ripped out a fair number of my sebaceous filaments. Does that mean they are effective? Well, it depends on what you mean by effective. Sebaceous filaments can be ripped out, sure. But they are quickly refilled by the sebaceous gland. They are an irreversible part of your basic skin structure.

(Worth noting, for those of you who truly hate these buggers: anecdotal evidence indicates that salicylic acid may reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments, but, with no proven topical method of reducing sebum production, it's a crapshoot at best. I promise, though, your nose looks fine.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Wet'n'Wild Coverall Cream Foundation in 815 Fair

The biggest benefit of choosing a mid-range or high end foundation isn't, in my opinion, the quality of the product. It's the quantity of your options. If your foundation budget is $10 flat, you only have so many choices. Thus, if you want a foundation that checks X, Y, and Z box, it can be really difficult to find something appropriate. (My boxes: I need a cool-toned, full-coverage foundation that is suitably pale. When drugstore brands are trying to appeal to as many people as possible, it can be a serious challenge to find something I like!) If you have specific tastes and you're willing to pay heftier sums, you're just gonna find more shit that ticks your boxes.

The corollary of this, though, is that, occasionally, you might stumble upon a cheap foundation holy grail. There's nothing wrong with drugstore foundations, it's just that people who are uncommon foundation shades who want to be able to cake the shit out of their faces with foundation can't find the right product. (If you're a moderately tan white person who is neutral toned and likes medium coverage foundation, I can only assume you have so many choices that it's silly.)

For me, Wet'n'Wild Coverall Cream Foundation in 815 Fair is that drugstore "Oh My God, I Can't Even Believe Such A Fabulous Product Exists in This Price Range" foundation.


I picked this up on a total whim. My thought process was essentially, "Wet'n'Wild is a brand I like and this color looks like it might not be atrocious on me."

The packaging isn't anything special, but, at $3.99, if you're expecting elaborate and beautiful packaging, you just don't have realistic expectations. It comes in a little squeezy tube, which is a really good option because it allows you to keep your makeup sanitary. Observe that they did this at a $3.99 pricepoint. Take note, Estee Lauder and your fucking glass jars without a pump.


The product is essentially perfect in terms of a color match on me. It's neutral-leaning-cool in tone and it's the perfect shade of pale. Unfortunately, it looks like one color up is dramatically darker, so it's definitely luck that it matches me so well. It also doesn't go very dark, so it's not going to be helpful in that direction. Additionally, it doesn't get any paler than my skintone, so if you think you are lighter than I am, you still probably want to skip this one.


The coverage is described on the package as "medium-to-full coverage". I think that description is apt. If you don't take any steps to build up the foundation, you're going to get medium coverage. But I had no problems layering that shit on until my acne and scarring were totally obscured. In a lot of situations, that's actually going to be better than a foundation like Kat Von D or Estee Lauder Double Wear (review pending on that latter one, I know), where you apply it to your face and immediately it is full-as-fuck coverage. To me, building up coverage on the areas where you need it is less work that trying to bring life into an overly concealed face via contouring, blush, satin finishing powders, and all that jazz.

This has become my go-to "I'm running late for work" foundation because it's such a no-brainer without sacrificing any coverage.

I traditionally haven't done face-pictures for foundations, but I'm going to try to be better about including those. Y'all have all already seen my scarred-up face, so there's no harm in showing it again.

I debated whether I should show the BEST that I can make the foundation look (meaning that I use fancy primers, extra concealer, and a finishing powder), or whether I should just show what it looks like when I put the foundation on my bare face. I opted for the latter on this review, but if you have strong feelings either way, you may want to chime in.

Here's my face with nothing on it:

The coloring is wonky on this picture, sorry.
And here is my face with nothing on it save for Wet'n'Wild's Coverall in Fair:


I like this foundation a lot, and I say that as someone who owns really fucking fancy foundations. I would strongly recommend you give it a try if you think you might have a good color match. And, if you don't,  Wet'n'Wild's Coverall foundation is a mere $3.99 for an ounce of product, putting it, of course, at $3.99 per ounce. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ipsy January 2014 Review

Ipsy definitely has its disappointing months, but it usually sustains interest based on the fact that they really do send out primarily makeup-related items. Like, you get things that are purple or glittery or glossy. This month, they decided to go the skincare/haircare/boring shit route. It wasn't a good change.


I also really didn't like the bag itself. The sky blue with pictures of miscellaneous, faceless body care products looks like something that would be in a tween magazine ad or a book about your first period. The bag (not to mention the inclusion of Proactiv) kind of makes me feel like I am too old for this subscription service... and I'm not particularly old. I am of the age where I could conceivably wear body glitter and maybe even get away with it. To me, it seems a little unwise for Ipsy to make their aesthetic as young-looking at they have, since I would wager that most of their subscribers are over the age of 14.


Here is what I received: 

Epice Purifying Exfoliant (1 ounce), approximate retail value $10


I don't have a lot to say about this exfoliant. It exfoliates. It does its job. Sadly, it is a polyethylene cleaner and I'm kind of trying to stay away from polyethylene cleansers for environmental reasons. It thoroughly unremarkable, really. I can't think of any reason you would feel compelled to purchase it.

Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $4.95


This is another totally unremarkable product. It is a conditioner. It conditions your hair. It vaguely smells like coconut, but it doesn't seem to have any coconut-y ingredients in it.


The one ounce sample was a single use for me because I have so much hair that it's silly. I'm definitely not willing to pay $5 every time I condition my hair, so this is out of my conditioner-related price range. I need to buy conditioner by the jug.

Proactiv+ Mark Fading Pads (4 pads), approximate retail value $10.93


Unlike a large number of acne-ridden former teenagers, I have not actually tried Proactiv. These products are formulated with both glycolic acid and salicylic acid in pretty high concentrations (5% and 2%, retrospectively). Those are both effective ingredients at fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne, so these probably would work if you used them regularly. (Worth noting: My skin can definitely handle them, but these would be a nightmare for sensitive skin since those chemical exfoliators are so strong.) Unfortunately, my problems with this product are twofold: Firstly, I'm trying to, as best as I can, stick to an alcohol-free skincare routine. Secondly, Proactiv is kind of a shitty company. (More info from the not-the-most-reliable-but-still-easily-accessible Jezebel by clicking here.)

Even if I did adore the product, these are no longer available for sale individually (I based my approximate retail value on their previous pricing), so I would have to sign up for a whole big Proactiv kit to get them. No thank you!

Mica Beauty Tinted Lip Balm in Natural (0.09oz), approximate retail value $18.75


I really wanted to like this product, since it is actually a very pretty color. 'Natural' is a lovely "my lips but better" shade: an opaque dusty rose.


Unfortunately, I think that the atrocious texture makes the product completely unwearable. This "lip balm" is not moisturizing at all. It feels like I am applying grease paint to my lips.


It looks beautiful, but there are plenty of products that look beautiful and have less distracting, uncomfortable formulations.

Yaby Natural Finish Liquid Foundation in Buff (full size at 0.272 fl oz), retail value $13.55


It probably says more about my incredibly low standards for beauty box foundations that I looked at this and was impressed that it was in the same genre as my skin color. (The Yaby concealer I got from Ipsy in May of 2013 was so far off that it was almost comical.) It was also very wise of Ipsy to choose a sheer foundation, rather than one with more coverage, since more people can kind of pretend that it suits their skintone.Unfortunately, I can't even pretend. On me, this foundation is very orange. It simultaneously provides almost no coverage, so I just look like someone who is covered in acne and also has an orange face. It's really not a good look. It also has a very weird texture. It's a silicone-based foundation, which is a category with which I have mixed results, but this, to me, feel really greasy and strange.

Swatch of a foundation that actually fits my skintone (Wet'n'Wild's Coverall in Fair) on top, Yaby Buff on bottom.

There are definitely things about this product that I think are smart (for example, the tube at the end can be pulled out and flipped around, letting you squeeze in other foundations to get a better color match), but it doesn't have any of the qualities that I like in a foundation and it doesn't match my skintone. I'm sure this foundation would work for someone, but it sure as hell doesn't work for me.

What's more, this product is actually pretty ridiculously pricey: $49.81 per fluid ounce.

Total Box Value: $58.18

Although the monetary value on this bag was totally fine, I didn't like a single thing that I got. I feel like this bag kind of highlights the thing about subscription services that doesn't quite work. Even if a service did really listen to your customization preferences, there is no way for you to list every little thing you care about. There's no way for you to say, "No, when I say that I am fair, I mean that I am REALLY VERY FAIR" (and, of course, I am sure that problem is even worse on the darker skinned part of the spectrum). There's no way to list the random environmental causes you care about or that you don't want XYZ ingredient in your skincare.

I actually don't think I am particularly picky when it comes to beauty products. I don't gush with love over most products, but there aren't very many products that I reject on their face. Save for the tinted lip balm, these are all things that I could have told you were terrible choices for me without even trying them. For people who are legitimately picky, I feel like subscription boxes are just a bad choice in general. However, I generally do like getting subscription boxes, so it's just a bummer when your dislikes collide in such an conspicuous way.

May next month be better...

If you feel somehow compelled to join Ipsy despite my negative review, you are more than welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.
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