Four things I’m loving right now:
1. Silver and copper cherry blossom jewelry from etsy seller HapaGirls (ring, $35, earrings $30)
I’ve been wearing the ring almost every day. I usually wear large earrings, but these are perfect when I want something more subtle, and I love cherry blossom anything.
2. Bumble & bumble Color Minded UV Styling Balm ($28/4.2 oz)
If you’re wearing the red hair you should have been born with, try this to keep it in place. I tried Aveda’s color care product and wasn’t impressed, but since I started using this, my stylist always comments how well the color has held up 6-8 weeks out.
3. Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural, N45 ($19)
Sephora describes this color simply as ‘red,’ but clearly it’s a fuschia red. But what’s remarkable about this lipstick is that it doesn’t dry my lips. I tried to make MAC work for years before finally realizing that all of their lip products just dry me out. Lipsticks, glosses, all of it. But this formulation feels like a balm — I could wear it every day. Best $19 I’ve spent this year. (Well, $15.20 — I waited for Sephora’s VIB sale!)
4. The music of Gin Wigmore
I guarantee you’ve heard her music on commercials in the last month — Heineken, Lowe’s. I downloaded everything I could get and she earned permanent rotation in my car for about four weeks straight. One of my favorite artists to come along in a very long while. I’d tell you which songs are my favorite, but I can’t narrow it down to fewer than five.
A couple years ago I met the new girlfriend (now wife) of Mark’s best friend, and her eyelashes were so amazing that I had to ask whether they were real. It turned out she was using an over the counter lash-growth serum. I looked into it, but it is made with ingredients that have some questionable potential side effects.
Later I came across some information about myristoyl pentapeptide-17, which supposedly does the same thing without side effects. I looked at a number of serums, and settled on one formulated by a small company in Arizona and priced reasonably.
Supposedly it takes 3-4 weeks of twice-daily application to start to see a difference. Life got busy, but I’ve been faithfully applying twice daily to the upper lashes and once daily to the lower. Here are results at 6 weeks (two coats of mascara in each; I even used the same eyeliner just to be consistent):
See the difference? Me neither. The outer corner seems to be in a growth phase so I’ll ignore that. The lower lashes might be microscopically better, or I might just be paying more attention in the last 6 weeks.
Back to the drawing board…
I love to try new products, but since I am my own sponsor, I have sort of reached the saturation point on things like $18 eyeliners and $25 blushes. These days, those things are on a replacement basis only. I live out most of my makeup fantasies vicariously through Karen’s regular shipments of free Chanel and MAC from the makeup gods (confidential to MAC, Chanel and Dior: I can be very, very unbiased if given half a chance. Wink, wink!).
However, I can always find room to try something that’s been marked down to $3. At $1, I just might try it twice. So whenever I hit Sephora online to replace a regular product, I always spend a few minutes combing the lowest end of the sale items. Here are my steals from my latest order, which have turned out to be quite good! (Product links are at the end of the post.)
brow pencils and sharpener
Above, two brow pencils — the silver one is a standard pencil ($1, originally $13), and the black one is a ‘sculpting’ pencil ($3, originally $10), which means it has a little wax in it. The other thing is a sharpener. I’ll show that to you in a second, but here are some swatches of the pencils. They both work with my coloring, but the regular one is warmer and some reviewers complain that it’s too red, so be warned if you are a cool brunette.
Top: eyebrow pencil in brown 02. Bottom: brow sculpting pencil in medium.
Now the really cool thing: a sharpener that fits onto the end of a pencil, so it packs easily and you always know where it is. Since sharpeners don’t last forever and these were $1, I bought two. Without the cap, ready to sharpen:
With the cap on, snug on the non-business end of the pencil:
The other thing I was excited about in this order was that I was going to replace my mini MUFE Aqua Eyes black pencil (best liner ever, but $18 for full size, ugh!), but a mini was one of the 100-pt Beauty Insider perks! I tend to hoard my points for something I really want to try or would have bought anyway, so it was fate.
Find any good cosmetic deals lately?
Eyeshadow space was becoming an issue.
I decided it was time to join this century and buy a palette for all of those MAC shadows. I resisted for years because I love those little pots, but after dropping and breaking a partial pan for the zillionth time, I decided it was time for something less hockey puck-shaped. I figured if 6,000 teenagers could de-pot their MAC shadows and post tutorials about it on YouTube, I could manage to de-pot a few shadows, too. I assembled my work station.
Friends, that was the scariest thing I’ve ever done with $180 worth of eye shadow. Especially the ones I just got Friday, which are limited edition from the MAC Bloggers’ Obsessions collection. I am too lazy to go look right now, but I know at least one of them is sold out. But I saved those for last, and though I may have shortened the natural lives of a couple of the first ones I did, I got them all into the palette!
Top, l-r: Jealousy Wakes, Sumptuous Olive. Middle, l-r: Carbon, Meet the Fleet, Parisian Skies, Copperplate, Vex. Bottom, l-r: Mystery, Cork, Coquette, Shroom, Mylar.
For an encore, I decided to use the alcohol method to repair an Urban Decay shadow that had crumbled to bits in its pan (most likely precipitated by dropping…do we see a pattern?). Observe the sad state of affairs:
And later, ta-da!
Then I got bold. I decided I would put my three most used Urban Decay shadows into the empty spaces of my MAC palette. The purist in me said I should buy three of the MAC shadows that I want, but the optimist in me said I can just buy another palette when I need to. ;)
Remember my old school Urban Decay pots? Two of those made the cut. For a few seconds it made me kind of sad to get rid of those cute tins, but my assistant reminded me that I am learning to practice non-attachment.
Wait, what is that on my assistant’s face? Did she get into my eyeshadows when I wasn’t looking?
Nope, I guess the stress of all the eyeshadow surgery got to her and she had to blow off some steam:
Oh well. I got my shadows in order — no thanks to her — and I am excited to have more colors right at my fingertips every morning. This week I guess I’ll find out if I made a big mistake!
Last three shadows of top row, l-r: UD Plague, UD Asphyxia, UD X
I got a manicure a couple weeks ago (a once-yearly occurrence, if that) and was scolded for my stained nails. See, my last base coat was no match for dark colors for more than a couple days, but I guess that’s why it was free. It was also no match for my life. I try to remember not to pry things with my fingernails when they are painted, but the reality is that I am hard on nail polish and it seldom remains intact for more than a couple days. I seem to create the most chips when I am lifting, and that happens three times a week. I stuck it out with that disappointing product because I hate to waste even a free polish, but the last couple months were torture because I just wanted to move on so I could try this:
in background: opi y'all come back ya hear, out the door top coat
Friends, it was worth the wait. I have tested a couple of colors over this, and so far it seems the staying power and stain resistance are excellent. It dries quickly and grips the heck out of your polish. Tonight I put it over OPI’s Y’All Come Back Ya Hear, which takes three coats. The first coat is usually pretty uneven for me, but I thought it seemed to go on far more evenly over Bonder. Ditto for my experience last week with Houston We Have a Purple (I don’t know what it is with these OPI Texas colors; they are beautiful but they go on like watercolors).
I have to say, I really love what I have tried of Orly products so far. I started with these and was so impressed that I soon bought another color. Of course I keep getting sucked in by OPI’s fun names, but c’mon, I had to have a couple of the Texas colors!
What’s your favorite brand of polish, drugstore or otherwise?
I have a problem, and Sephora is enabling it:
That may not look like much, but there are three or four layers of perfume samples there. I know I have mentioned that I am terrible at using things up, though I was in fact successful in that particular venture with all the lotions and I might go so far as to say I’ve partially reformed my ways. But perfumes are a special challenge. I almost always choose perfumes as my three free Sephora samples because I think most cosmeceuticals are gimmicky and overpriced, and I’m certainly not going to find my dream foundation with a dime-sized dot in a color that has been specially selected to not match me. On the other hand, I never tire of smelling new fragrances! It’s because of a Sephora sample that I found one of my two most-worn fragrances, but every one I commit to takes me that much farther from using up the other samples I have.
I hesitate to throw out the ones I don’t especially like, because usually you can layer them into something wonderful and unique, which is a process I quite enjoy. That’s assuming, of course, that you can find them in your stash. This weekend I started reorganizing my nightmare of a cosmetic drawer and gathered up all those little samples into one accessible place so I can hopefully start thinning the herd.
It’s going to take me a while to get through all of those samples. What types of products should I choose for my three free samples in the meantime? I’d go with moisturizers, but I haven’t even shown you all the moisturizer samples I’ve amassed when they’ve substituted for my requests!
High atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, September 2009
Overall, I’d have to give this week 8 out of 10, mostly on account of having taken Monday off for Valentine’s Day! Let’s see how the week washed out:
- Low: I have been so tired at work all week that I can hardly focus and had to lock myself in an empty conference room for 10 minutes so I could close my eyes!
- High: Tomorrow we find out about our bonuses for 2010 and there will be doughnuts!
- Low: I got burned by my hot stone massage! Nothing severe, but still uncomfortable and unexpected.
- High: That I had a massage at all, of course! And a full day at a great spa with my valentine.
- Low: We are out of dessert tonight and I was too tired to bake something. :(
- High: I can definitely get a week’s worth of high just remembering our Valentine’s Eve dinner at Rainbow Lodge!
- Low: Hair was out of control this week for no apparent reason and my next cut is still a few weeks away.
- High: I wore red nail polish for the first time in at least a year and realized I love it!
- Low: Inspired by my red nail polish, I decided to Back-to-MAC for some Russian Red lipstick at the closest MAC counter. They were sold out! Tried my next option, MAC Red. They were sold out of that, too!
- High: Took home Syrup instead, which is so pretty it may be my new everyday shade. And I still have plenty of empties to try again on that Russian Red. Is anything more fun than free makeup? Maybe a kitten, but just barely.
How was your week?
I think the Houston Zoo needs to check its fences, because all sorts of critters have been popping up around my neighborhood lately, like this neon pig nibbling grass on a busy overpass:
Or this t-rex hiding behind a warehouse corner and waiting to pounce on an unwary pedestrian:
I don’t think this beetle is by the same artist, but I like him just the same:
This dog is a little ways from my neighborhood, but I happened to notice it for the first time last week:
Ever since I started seeing these, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for more everywhere I go. Despite my appreciation for them, Mark would like me to tell you that we don’t condone graffiti…unless it’s really cute.
How was your weekend? We went for a post-sunset bike ride at Memorial Park last night, where we saw a coyote and a lot of rabbits. The weather has finally become pleasant, and we had the picnic loop to ourselves, with the exception of the aforementioned company.
One more thing before I go: Karen at Makeup & Beauty Blog is hosting an amazing giveaway for October, and all you have to do is make a sign, like so:
Hop over to Makeup & Beauty Blog to get all the details and rules. Good luck, and please share if you win because of me! All I want is a little Chanel in my life. ;)
My evening spinning class was unexpectedly cancelled, so I got home early with nothing to do and finally had a chance to sit down and paint my nails:
I really enjoy nail polish, but sometimes it seems impossible to find the time, even with a quick-dry coat. I used to be afraid to wear dark or bold colors because I have big rower paws instead of delicate mannequin hands and I work in a conservative environment, but one day I got over it (and it helps that my boss’s boss wears strange shades of polish), and now I prefer them! Embarrassingly enough, this polish is one of the Gossip Girl shades for Nicole by OPI (‘Too Rich For You’), but it was exactly the color I was looking for at the time, so who cares.
Today’s other little thrill was the arrival of a Sephora package. I needed some boring skincare stuff that I was running out of, but I try to wait to place an order until I see a special insider bonus that I like. A lot of them don’t interest me because I’m pretty set in my ways when it comes to skincare products. I do like sample-sizes of cosmetics that I haven’t tried, though, and I’ve never used anything by Benefit, so I jumped on this one:
It’s got a few minis: High Beam highlighter, Posie Tint cheek/lip tint, and Bad Gal Lash in both black and plum. I’m trying them all this weekend!
Did anything thrill you today?
Tonight I hit Houston’s launch party for MAC’s new Venomous Villains collection. I’ve never been to one of these things before, so I was not prepared for the utter chaos. We all had to stand in line for a turn at the goods while a security guard made sure the store contained only as many people as could fit shoulder-to-shoulder on every inch of floorspace. I was behind a couple in the running for Parents of the Year as they studied the annotations their daughter had made to a cheat sheet, marked in purple and pink highlighter to delineate what she ‘needed’ and what she ‘would like to have.’ I’d estimate about $400 worth of cosmetics on her list. The women behind me, nurses or med students from the sound of it, conducted a caffeine-fueled discussion with more than a couple TMI tidbits.
I’m not necessarily a Disney fanatic, but I am a Maleficent fanatic and always have been, so I have eagerly anticipated this collection. I don’t know whether it’s the raven sidekick or the horned hat, but being bad never looked so good. The launch party tonight had Cruella de Vil and Evil Queen costumes to try on and pose for a photo in, but I will only risk headlice for Maleficent, and sadly that was not an option.
If you, too, have been waiting for this collection, you probably just want to know what I picked.
I picked up She Who Dares mineralize eyeshadow, Devilishly Stylish lipglass, and Bad Fairy nail polish (I really liked the other two polishes as well, but I’ll probably hunt down the Orly dupes). Can’t wait to use all of them. I put the lipglass on as soon as I got home, and it is an absolutely perfect nude for me (N4, if you’re curious).
Did you attend a launch party (and did you try on a costume)? If not, what (if anything) are you planning to buy?