Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: Butter London Wink Colored Mascara in Inky Six

Eyelashes are one of the last frontiers of color. Since they are normally relegated to blacks and browns, a well-pigmented colored mascara can be a bitch to find.

Although Butter London is a brand best known for it's nail polish, they've recently stumbled into the makeup market, producing everything from pencil eyeliner to cream blush. Most intriguing, though, is their vibrantly colored line of mascaras.

As you all already know, I am a packaging fanatic, so I need to give kudos to the brilliant interior on the cardboard casing. The raven wearing a crown looks like he fell right out of a nursery rhyme.

The mascara comes in six colors, ranging from the snooze-worthy (brown and black) to the downright inspired (lime green, violet, and pink). Unfortunately, at $20 a pop, I couldn't justify buying more than one color of a product that quickly goes bad. The lime green shade, Jaded Jack, definitely called my name. However, I settled on Inky Six, a palatinate blue with an almost iridescent sheen, since blue is a color that's pretty easy to pull off on the daily.

It doesn't take more than a casual glance at the brush, however, to spot the Wink mascara's fatal flaw. The wand is so covered in gunk that it looks like the toilet bowl brush of a smurf with food poisoning.

Mascara goo easily clogs up the opening. I keep feeling like I need to shove the mascara back into the tube… as if it is escaping.

In general, this mascara would have benefited from a much tighter stopper. If you applied this mascara in a rush, you would have one giant, vibrantly colored eyelash.

It would be vibrantly colored, though. This wasn't a halfassed blue mascara attempt by Butter London, where it looks blue in the tube and off-black on your face. The rich, cobalt color is opaque and exciting.

For that reason, I might be willing to forgive the gunkiness that sticks all over my brush, at least for now. This is definitely the most vivid colored mascara I have used, even if applying it happens to be like rubbing greek yogurt on my eyes with a toothbrush. If I could figure out how to use a $1 tube of what may as well have been finger paint as mascara in middle school, the adult, makeup-savy version of myself can make this vibrant blue look half-decent, especially since there isn't a clear alternative available.

I'm hoping that colored lashes continue to gain mainstream momentum, and companies have to get their shit together to produce top-notch colored mascaras. For now, I'll take the blue where I can get it.

Here's how Butter London's Inky Six looks on my face:

Come closer…

The Butter London Wink Mascaras retail for $20 for 0.32oz, or $62.50 per ounce.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ipsy May 2014 Review

Ten dollars invested, ten dollars of random crap sent to my house. Thanks, Ipsy. It's the life of a subscription box addict.

Here's what I got this month:

(Note: The canvas, leaf-covered bag would have been pretty cute if it didn't have the word "Ipsy" scrawled all over it.)

Pacifica Natural Beauty Mineral Eyeshadow Duo 2 (0.07 oz), estimated retail value $3.92

As a duo of dusty plum and burnished white-gold, this eyeshadow looks nice, in theory.

Unfortunately, the duo is not actually being sold in stores or online. After testing the quality, it's not difficult to determine the reason.

This eyeshadow has pigmentation that borders on embarrassing. It takes some serious scraping to reveal a hint of color. What's worse, the tarnished effect on the light golden highlight, which might have looked striking in a highly pigmented eyeshadow, reads as muddy and unflattering here. It looks like I contaminated my eyeshadow with dirt.

Here's how it looks on my face:

This definitely does not tempt me to purchase any Pacifica makeup.

Hang Ten Classic Sport SPF50 (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $2.17

This piña colada-scented sunscreen formulated by Coola is lightweight and has a great texture-- no greasiness detected. The one ounce sample, though, is only a single full-body use. It's also sold in relatively small tubes, making it too pricey, ounce per ounce. I wouldn't buy this unless I got the product at a substantial discount.

Derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub (1 oz), approximate retail value $15.00

This scrub is incredibly harsh. Not only is loaded up with citrus oils for some reason (the tub smells like a carton of Sunny D), the abrasive aluminium oxide crystals make this the gooey version of sandpaper.

I would use this on my feet, but not my face.

Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask (2.03 fl oz), approximate retail value $1.92

This conditioner has a distinct candy corn scent, but no distinct difference from less expensive conditioning products.

Olive Natural Beauty The Olive Lip Balm in Refreshing Rosemary (0.07 oz), retail value $5.95

This lip balm has a minty rosemary scent and no other distinguishing qualities.

Bonus: TokyoMilk Dark Femme Fatale Collection Lip Elixir Lip Balm in No. 36 Salted Caramel (full size at 0.7oz), retail value $7.00
Bonus: BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up (full size at 0.12 oz), retail value $18.00

Last month, I got a TokyoMilk La Vie En Rose balm as a bonus for making referrals. This month, they inexplicably sent me a second one-- this time in Salted Caramel. Although the scent is a little darker, stronger, and more artificial than any caramel you might eat, the similarity is otherwise remarkable. I also got a full size BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie lipstick, which I have been totally unable to open because the unnecessarily complicated triggering lever is stuck.

Total Box Value (without bonus items): $28.96
Total Box Value (with bonus items): $53.96

I'm really happy with the bonus items I received for making referrals, but I'm not happy with the rest of the box. I also have a really difficult time finding the bonus items in time to redeem my points for them, which means I am racking up referral points much more quickly than I am spending them. Additionally, Ipsy's point system is pretty useless for non-beauty bloggers (most of you are probably not making high volumes of referrals, meaning that it's hard to hit the 1000 point threshold of a reward) so the box really needs to be good even when you take out the issue of bonus items. This box wasn't.

If you are somehow tempted to join Ipsy, you are always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Birchbox May 2014 Review

My Birchbox was devastatingly late this month, not rolling in until yesterday. Luckily, they made up for it by 1. having a super adorable pattern on the inside of the box and 2. giving me 100 Birchbox points unsolicited. Since that adds up to $10 in the Birchbox store, I essentially got this box for free. Given that I reviewed my items for 50 more points, you could even make the argument that I came out ahead. Of course, that's the "This item was marked down by 50% so I am basically losing money if I don't buy it!" argument, but let's not let logic get in the way, here.

Here's what I got this month:

Pixi Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm in Pixi Pink (full size at 0.141oz), retail value $8.00

This is a bubblegum pink sheer balm.

When I first tried this lip balm, I couldn't help but think it was strikingly identical similar to Maybelline's Baby Lips balm in Pink Punch. Upon swatching them side-by-side, this Pixi balm is a little bit more pigmented and maybe a hair more coral (although neither read as coral at all). It's also a bit stiffer.

Here's how it looks on my face:

ElevenSkin Perfection Eye Cream + Concealer (full size at 0.5 fl oz), retail value $30.00

I was originally supposed to get one of the Cynthia Rowley pencil eyeliners. I'm not going to lie. I'm a little bit bitter about it. The Birchbox-supplied photo of my box still has the eyeliner displayed, mocking me.

Image source:
I'm guessing that they ran out of eyeliners. I appreciate the fact that the replacement sample probably wouldn't be considered terrible by Birchbox editors (it is a full size product, and they have previously sent out sample sizes of this eye cream), but it's still a gazillion times worse that an awesome silver eyeliner. Hell, the people who formulated this product don't seem to know what a "concealer" actually is.

First off, the product only comes in one color. There are things in this world that are true. One of those things is that, if you are going to make a concealer, it needs to come in more than one color.

To compensate for the shade range being literally as bad as it could possibly be while still existing, the creators of this product decided to make it super sheer.

A concealer, by definition, is not sheer. This is tinted moisturizer levels of sheer, right here.

The color is yellow on me, but it works fine. If this was actually a concealer, it would not.

I want that damn silver eyeliner.

Color Club Art Duo Pen (full size at 0.35 fl oz), retail value $10.00

For some reason, Color Club decided that the best way to express themselves with this product was to print black writing on a black bottle. When I asked my boyfriend, "Hey, I can't read what is written on this bottle... Can you?" he responded by yelling, "WHO WOULD DO THIS?!"

The premise of the product is that you can be all stripy and all polka dotty using the same nail art tool. Unscrew the cap and you get a striping brush...

…and pop off the cap to get a squeezy dotting tool!

Here was my first attempt at actually using this contraption:

I'm definitely not a skilled manicurist, so I wouldn't take my nail fails as an indication of a crappy product. Stripes. How do they work?

I did really like the polka dot squeezy tool, though. I found that the polish didn't rush out too quickly, so it was easier to make even polka dots than it is using a traditional dotting tool where you stick a teensy ball on a stick into your polish of choice.

Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Relaxing Sea Fennel Body Lotion (1.35 fl oz), approximate retail value $2.53

This is a relatively thin lotion that smells like cucumbers and baby powder.

No one gets excited about lotion.

SmartyPants All-in-One Adult Complete Gummy Vitamins + Fiber (2 gummies), approximate retail value $0.53

Multivitamin use is pretty controversial among nutritionists, doctors, and other healthcare providers. There's a reason that "Multivitamins just give you expensive pee" is practically a slogan for many. A substantial number of studies suggest that multivitamin use is not associated with decreased mortality, and does not seem to protect against common illnesses like cancer or heart disease. Still, proponents of multivitamin use argue that multivitamins can help fill the gaps in people's admittedly imperfect diets. The Harvard School of Public Health concludes, "Looking at all the evidence, the potential health benefits of taking a standard daily multivitamin seem to outweigh the potential risks for most people."  The National Institutes of Health have essentially thrown up their hands, saying, "Based on current research, it's not possible to recommend for or against the use of [multivitamin and mineral supplements] to stay healthier longer."

In light of their dubious efficacy, I'm not sure spending a whopping $47.95 a month on a gummy vitamins is going to fit well into my life.

I actually do buy and like gummy vitamins, but only because they are a candy that I can pretend has some sort of health promoting value. "I'm not eating a gummy bear. I'm eating a gummy vitamin. I'm being responsible."

I found these gummy vitamins to be fine, but rather unremarkable. They were a little too tart for me; My candy needs to be downright saccharine.

I also want to note that if you specifically want the SmartyPants vitamins, the non-sugar-free version is available on Amazon for a much more reasonably priced $18.14 a bottle.

Total Box Value: $51.06

Overall, I'm happy, even if I am mourning the silver eyeliner that might have been.

If you are interested in joining Birchbox, you are always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's The Deal With Airline Food and/or Lipstick Made From Crayons?

Anna asks, "I was wondering if you could possibly make a post concerning DIY makeup, specifically crayola lipstick… Is it actually lip safe? You write my fav empirically supported beauty posts!"

At this point, making lipstick out of crayons is a bonafide DIY sensation, with hundreds of tutorials littering the internet.

Image Source:

The most commonly cited reason for using crayons to create lipstick is that lipsticks contain trace amounts of lead. I can wax poetic about how low levels of lead in lipstick isn't a reason to hide in your panic room, but the easiest way to show the silliness of this claim is to write about lead levels in crayons.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), crayons contain between 2 and 5 ppm of lead. The CPSC caps lead levels in children's art materials at 100 ppm. This isn't a concern, because children are not eating huge boxes of crayons and because companies are actually staying well below the legal limit… but it's still higher than what you would find in lipstick. According to the FDA, lipsticks average closer 1.11 ppm. So, there's no real benefit to picking crayons as your lipstick of choice.

Image Source:

There are, however, some noteworthy downsides. Crayons are typically comprised of paraffin wax, which is used in low levels to add a little bit of gloss to lipstick. Unfortunately, because the texture is stiff and brittle, and because it doesn't play nicely with other cosmetics ingredients, you'd be hard-pressed to find a lipstick that is comprised of large amounts of paraffin wax. It's unlikely, then, that crayon-based lipstick will create a lipstick with the texture and color-payoff of a commercially available lipstick.

In addition to paraffin wax, crayons contain pigments. Reasonably, companies like Crayola do not release information about the pigments they use. Unfortunately for crayon-lipstick-makers, that means there is no way to know whether or not the pigments in any given crayon are lip-safe. On their website, Crayola cautions not to use their products on food, such as eggshells (I apparently did Easter wrong as a child… oops…). Although Crayola likely understands that an occasional hunk of crayon will get chewed on, this is still an indication that they are not formulating their product for consistent lip-adjecency. (And why would they?)

Proponents of DIY makeup like crayon lipstick often suggest that creating your own lipstick means you know exactly what is in it, while commercially produced cosmetics are a mystery concoction. In reality, it's the opposite. Crayon lipstick is what you put in it + secret Crayola proprietary ingredients that may or may not be lip-safe, whereas traditional lipsticks have a wonderful, convenient ingredient list.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

PopSugar Must Have May 2014 Review

There's always a bit more anxiety when you subscribe to a higher-cost box. At $40 a month, PopSugar Must Have is in the you-better-not-fuck-this-up-for-me price point.

Here's what I got this month:

Kerry Cassill Eye Mask, retail value $24

I am sure that there are people in the world that use sleep masks. Clearly, those people exist, or no one would bother make them. (Alternative explanation: this is a money laundering scheme.) However, as someone who has no difficulty sleeping anywhere, I don't really think that this is something I'd be able to integrate into my life. On a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train… I can fucking fall asleep. Last night I fell asleep while I was watching one of my fish tanks and I literally just slept the night on the living room floor. I could put this on my face, but it would not affect my ability to get rest.

I will say that the design is really cute, so anyone who does use it can feel really fancy as they wear it.

Tone It Up One Day Fat Blast DVD, retail value $15 (Note: I can't actually find this available for sale anywhere, so I am trusting PopSugar's value assessment here)

I try a lot of products that I otherwise would not touch because I get them in subscription boxes and I want to be able to offer a meaningful review. I told myself I was going to do the same with this DVD. On this one… I can't. I'm sorry. I don't have it in me. Watching a DVD about working out is the exact opposite of the kind of workout I want to do. I want monotonous cardio with a very distracting TV show blaring at the same time so I can try to forget that I'm all sweaty.

This product has negative value to me. I will pay you to come pick it up from my house so I don't have to look at it or store it.

Zing Anything Citrus Zinger, retail value $16.99

When you go to a restaurant and the waitstaff pours from a pitcher with a bunch of lemons in it, my heart sinks. I don't want random citrus in my water. You can wax poetic about how water is too "boring", but water is fucking delicious the way that it is. (Unless you live in Southern California. Southern Californian water is disgusting and helps me understand why people would buy bottled water.)

So, as well-designed as this product is, I'm not necessarily the target audience.

The Zing Anything water bottle opens on both ends. One end is the normal "you drink from here" side and one has a manual citrus juicer.

I had no leaking problems. It's easy to clean. The opening is big enough to fit in ice. It's visually appealing.

I've tried it with limes and with an orange. The lime fit inside the container well, and the orange was fine, although I had to cut it up to make it work. Both were… not appealing to me. The insert inside the bottle had other 'recipe' ideas, but they don't sound like they would work well for me, either. For example, it suggested adding strawberries to the base. If I have strawberries and water, I would rather drink my water and eat my delicious strawberries than combine them to get mediocre strawberry water.

Ultimately, I do think that this will work well for me, even if the intended use isn't up my alley. I'm a big iced tea lover, and I think I would be much more satisfied with a citrus-infused iced tea. And, again, the design is good, so if you do like citrus-infused water, you probably will like this.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Nail Lacquer in Pool Boy (0.5 fl oz), retail value $10

Pool Boy is a robin's egg blue cream polish that was opaque in two coats.

I broke my ring fingernail and couldn't bear cutting my other nails any shorter than this. 
Although Lord knows I do not need any more nail polish, I thought the texture on this one was nice and the color is very spring-y.

Smell Bent St. Tropez Dispenser Eau de Parfum Spray (1.7 fl oz), retail value $45

This is the weirdest fucking perfume I have ever used. This was the "big ticket item" for this box and I feel like the smell is weird enough that not a lot of people are going to be making jazz hands when they use it.

It smells like sunscreen and coconut.

A few bloggers have contested the clear fact that it smells exactly like sunscreen, asserting that it actually smells like gardenia. If that is the case, my sunscreen all smells like gardenia.

Although the scent has definitely grown on me in the past few days (it smells like summer in a bottle), there's no denying that this fragrance is strange.

Hi I'm Skinny Sticks in Multi-Grain Sweet Onion (7 oz), retail value $3.50

I want to hate these so badly. The brand name is literally "Hi I'm Skinny". That deserves to be loathed by default. The back of the bag is so condescending it reads as sarcasm: "Well aren't you a smart pup for choosing our Hi I'm Skinny sticks" [sic]. It suggests that I "fear the weekly weigh in" and that "skinny jeans [are] a scary thought". Shut the fuck up and let me snack, you assholes.

To add insult to injury, they don't even bother with commas.

Fortunately/unfortunately, these are fucking delicious. They're an awesome combination of sweet and salty. I have already grabbed a few more bags on Amazon.

Make no mistake: these are not healthy. Saying something is 40% less fat than potato chips is a nutritional cop-out, since potato chips are pretty much just a bag of fat. The Hi I'm Skinny Sticks actually have more fat than comparable foods (e.g. Open Nature Veggie Sticks). That's not a fault, necessarily, but it means that the way they are being marketed is not only dickish, it's misleading.

Indeed, the only reason the standard one ounce serving size seems at all large is because the fucking things are hollow.

Still… they're really yummy. I will eat them. I'll just glare at the awful bag.

Total Box Value: $114.49

This isn't the best PopSugar Must Have box I have gotten, but I'm definitely satisfied. When you subtract the value of the sleep mask and the DVD (both of which I will never use), the value is about $82.50, which isn't bad. The biggest problem with this box is there is no item that I was completely over-the-moon about.

If you are interested in joining PopSugar Must Have you are always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here. Don't forget to use the code REFER5 to get $5 off.
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