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Thursday, October 19, 2017
The Hype Machine is a series that takes a critical look at well-loved, cult classic, appears-in-every-other-Instagram-photo products and asks: are they worth the hype?
Few things are as iconic and infamously luxe as this highlighting pen, the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting Pen. Despite being such an enduring and immediately recognizable product, a lot of people seem to have issues figuring out what to do with this pen; it doesn't provide enough coverage to mask dark circles, nor is it as reflective as most modern highlighters. I was a bit stuck when I first tried it, too, mostly because it is considered an untouchable classic and I was afraid of messing it up. Now that I've fiddled with it for a few weeks, I think I'm ready to give you my thoughts.
First, let's clarify what this isn't: it's not a concealer. It's too sheer to cover up the darkness under your eyes, and it's too shiny to hide a blemish. It's also not a glittery, sparkly, or even dewy product; it's got more of a natural, healthy-skin like satin glow. That said, I've used the blog's "concealer" and "highlighter" labels because they best represent where you use this product and the effect it gives. Quote the Sephora summary, it "brightens, smooths, and perfects your complexion...highlight(s) your best features without any shimmer or glitter." For $42 a pen, it had better be damn good at perfecting stuff.
I've been using the shade #2 on the tops of my cheekbones, in the hollows of my eye, and under my brows. As you can see here, it blends out seamlessly and gives a lovely bit of glow and dimension. Because it's very sheer, it won't make your blush look muddy or look too stark around your eyes. The actual texture of the Touche Eclat pen is very thin and smooth, so it's comfortable on the skin and even blends well over fine lines. It works well with other products; obviously, it mixes with my undereye concealer, but I've also been tapping my Glossier Haloscope on top of it on my cheeks, and the combination is dewy and lovely.
That sounds majestic and perfect and glorious, but let's be honest here: is this a look that's so hard to get with other products? Nah. I can get a similar seamless glow from MAC Strobe Cream and equally effective color correction from the Maybelline Dream Lumi Pen; if I want something that adds a little glow and some color under my brows, I can mix a dash of concealer with my Strobe Cream. This is also a typical YSL product insofar as it reeks of perfume.
It's a lovely brightener that I've really enjoyed and will likely finish. I'd also have no qualms recommending it to other people who want this sort of effect. Am I going to repurchase it, though? Eh, I dunno. I don't think it's entirely necessarily, especially at that $42 price point. Still, I can see why it's been so beloved for decades.
BOTTOM LINE: This is an overhyped, but relatively versatile highlighting pen that's invisible on the skin, so it's no wonder it became a cult classic. That said, if you've got an undereye brightener and a natural highlighter you already like, you don't have to rush out and buy this $42 pen.
The Hype Machine is a series that represents my experiences and opinions. It is not meant to be a personal attack on a specific company, product, or consumer. I always recommend that you try products for yourself and see how they work for you. Everybody is unique, after all!
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Is there some reason why it takes me a freaking year to document my current makeup bag? This is definitely an alternate collection of products from what I was using at the start of 2017, and seeing the transition would've been really fascinating. Why am I so bad about writing these posts?
Ah, whatever. "What's in my makeup bag" posts are always so voyeuristic in the best way possible, so even though this is long overdo, hopefully it'll still be interesting.
Bear in mind that these are not the only products I'm using right now. This is just the collection of makeup I'm currently favoring and using very frequently. Also, this is a theoretical bag of makeup I'd take on a trip if I had to be gussied up while I was away.
The perfect sheer base: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly (1), Buxom Show Some Skin Foundation in Tickle the Ivory (2), YSL Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting Pen in #2 Luminous Ivory (3), and Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam (4) -- I spend more time on my base than on most parts of my face because I'm funny about how my skin looks. That said, I like to stick with products that are comfortable on my dry skin and easy to apply. You're seeing two repurchased base products here, Buxom Show Some Skin and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. The foundation provides light coverage, subtly perfecting and staying skin-like, while the concealer softens my undereye circles and hides my blemishes. I'm still fiddling with the Touche Eclat Pen, and I don't think I'd call it a holy grail yet, but it's certainly useful for subtle highlighting. The Glossier Cloud Paints are goof proof, so I can slap them on on the go and never look overdone. Beam is probably my favorite of the bunch.
A simple, fuss-free eye: Milk Makeup Ubame Mascara (5), Glossier Boy Brow in Clear (6), and the Catrice Long Lasting Brown Definer in 040 Brow'dly Presents (7) -- I'm lazy about eye makeup in general, but especially when I'm traveling, I don't want to deal with liner smears or shadow fallout. Instead, I tend to focus on a lashy look, which the Ubame mascara does perfectly. For my brows, I'm still loving the look of brushed up hairs and a not-too-precise fill in. The Catrice brow pen makes filling in your brows quick and easy, and while Boy Brow isn't my absolute favorite brow gel on the market, it does a nice job of grooming the hairs without feeling crunchy.
A statement lip: NYX Lip Pencil in Auburn (8), Besame Lipstick in Portrait Peach (9), Glossier Generation G Lipstick in Jam (10) -- Peach, plum, and burgundy are cliche colors for autumn, yet I think there's something to be said for switching up your textures. With a lip pencil, for instance, you can get a really precise application of color and a variety of finishes: slide it over balm for a stain, fill in your lips for a matte look, or add a dash of gloss on top for some shine. NYX Auburn is probably my favorite pencil for this because it's such a flattering red shade. For plums, I often like to move away from the vampier options and go for a sheer shade, like Glossier Jam. And while there are many peach lipsticks I love, Besame Portrait Peach is my current favorite because of its smooth satin formula.
Fall-friendly fragrances: Hermes Ambre Narguile (11) and Dame Perfumery Dark Horse (12) -- Sorry about the tacky alliteration, but cold weather fragrances do funny things to me. While warm, spicy, sultry scents are my favorites and I therefore own a wide variety of them, these two are my current favorites. Ambre Narguile is sometimes described as a "spicy apple pie" scent, which is both somewhat accurate and overly simplistic. There's an incredible warmth to this fragrance; dabbing it on is like wrapping my body in a warm blanket while I sit at the edge of an apple orchard. It manages to be thick and sweet without being cloying. Dark Horse screams fall to me, too, but in a different way; there's a dryness to this fragrance that carries the spicy notes like leaves on the wind. Purple prose aside, these are damn good scents that deserve every bit of love they get.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
If a cream shadow is going to impress my lazy, I-don't-really-wear-eye-makeup self, it's got to give me tons of impact with minimal effort. For years, that's meant relying on the cruelly discontinued Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadows, which look like actual metal on my lids. I never thought I could find anything that could truly compare. Then Lyn posted this swatch and Ulta had its 21 Days of Beauty sale. I was armed with a gift card, friends, and I was desperate for a new cream shadow love.
I ended up buying two of the Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses, which were half off during 21 Days of Beauty but normally retail for $24 each. I decided to buy the blue-brown duochrome Lyn had swatched, Oil Slick, and Unicorn, a newer shade comprised of pastel glitter in a clear base. The pots look tiny to me, but they actually contain 5.5g of product, which is pretty standard. For comparison, a MAC Paint Pot contains 5g of product and a Maybelline Color Tattoo contains a little less than 4g.
The pots are hard plastic. Inside, you'll find a little plastic cover with a tab that covers the shadow; you'll want to hold on to these covers to keep the air out. In fact, you'll want to keep the covers and screw your lids on tightly, since cream eyeshadows dry out quickly in general and I'm told these shrivel up super fast.
I did try to do old fashioned hand swatches of these cream shadows. Unfortunately, while they looked great on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, I couldn't seem to capture a decent still photo. Oil Slick looked flat and Unicorn disappeared completely. What gives?
Well, these aren't really eye glosses, insofar as they don't stay wet on your eyes and give them that "glazed" look. They're actually super sparkly cream shadows; up close and in some photos, you'll see straight up glitter. But the shimmer is refined enough that, from a distance, these actually look glossy.
Since they wouldn't swatch on my hand, let me show you some full face photos to give you a better understanding of what I mean.
On the left, we have two layers of Oil Slick. On the right, we have one layer of Unicorn on top of the Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadow in Unforgettable Oriole. (I always use Too Faced Shadow Insurance as well, since my eyelids can get very oily.) In both cases, I used the tiniest amount of product possible and blended it with my fingers. And in both cases, I think the Butter London product is the standout. Look at that shine! Look at that GLITTER! They're even prettier in real life.
Here's an obligatory blurry shot to better demonstrate the glitter in Unicorn:
There are other benefits to this formula beyond the sheer sparkly goodness. It has a very thin, gel-like texture that's weightless on the eyes. The Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses also dry down almost immediately, which means you'll have to work fast, but the upside is that they don't really crease and there's next to no fallout. Unicorn did drop a couple of specks on my face throughout the day, but when it comes to glitter, "a couple of specks" is nothing.
So do the Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses replace the Josie Maran liquid eyeshadows? Technically, no. The Josie Maran product is very metallic, whereas these are very sparkly. But are they absolutely beautiful and highly recommended? Uh, yes! Dummy proof, long lasting, absolutely gorgeous glittery cream shadows? I am ready.
RATING: 5 out of 5
The Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses are available at Ulta.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Confession: I haven't really used a powder blush in almost three years. Don't believe me? Just look back on old posts that demonstrate how I organized and downsized my collection. The last time you clearly see several powder blushes is in 2014. As time went on, I owned fewer and fewer products, and much of what left were my powders. After buying and trying mountains of makeup, I eventually reached the conclusion that creams and liquids worked better on my dry skin and were easier for me to apply.
I own a powder blush right now, though, because I got one free from Sephora for my birthday: Tarte Paaarty. I only recently started using it because...well, I hate typing the shade name, to be honest, but mostly because I'm still devoted to my cream blushes. And when I did decide to use it, it was as an eyeshadow--thanks, Pat McGrath! A blush is a blush, though, and I did used to love some of my powders, so why not give this guy the full treatment?
On the left, we've got Paaarty used as a traditional blush. Frankly, I didn't like this shade on my cheeks; despite the fact that I'm quite fair, I had to do quite a bit of building to get the color to show up. It did blend very easily, though, and I think it works well with the red lip.
I definitely prefer using this as an eyeshadow, though. Blended in to my crease, Paaarty adds some warmth and depth to my eyes. I'm pretty lazy about eye makeup these days, but I love the look of this so much, I've kind of gotten more in to eyeshadow. If I weren't so hyper-aware of my spending habits, I'd probably pick up another powder blush in a different shade at the drugstore just to use it on my eyes.
As with the last 1P2L post, there's a lot of unintentional product crossover here: I've been testing the YSL Touche Eclat, Catrice Long Lasting Brow Definer, and Dior DiorShow mascara for the last week, so without thinking about it, I used all three products in both looks. I also used Glossier Boy Brow and the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly in both looks, but that's mostly because I'm in the mood for brushed up brows lately, and because the NARS concealer is a staple for me.
There are two different shades of MAC Face & Body foundation in these photos as well. On the left, I'm wearing N1 and C1 with White, since I was trying to use up the last little bit of N1 I had. On the right, I'm wearing just C1 mixed with White. I thought the latter mixture was reading a bit dark on me, but seeing these photos confirms that the switch was probably a good idea. N1 has always been a hair too pink for me; I've just been able to get away with it because Face & Body is so skin-like.
Oh, and see that Butter London Glazen Eye Gloss? That review is coming soon! Spoiler alert: I think I'm finally out of the disappointing products rut.
Monday, October 2, 2017
(NOTE: To watch in full screen, start the video, then click the "YouTube" icon.)
Being on a no buy can be tricky, even for a month, so I decided to grab a bunch of products out of my "to try" box and give them a go on camera. In this video, I'm giving you my first impressions of the Catrice Long Lasting Brow Definer, Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat, Dior DiorShow Mascara, and Ciate Lip Velvet.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
We're over halfway through the year, and the budget is showing it. To be totally honest, I'm pretty sure I'll end spending closer to $300 cash on new products this year. That's still better than the $1000+ I spent in 2016, but it's a good bit above my goal.
Let me explain why I think I'll break my budget.
What happened in August and September?
At the end of August, I obtained a second job that provides more consistent pay than teaching. I decided to resubscribe to Sephora Play! because this new job would support the $10.60 a month, and because I figured it'd bring new items in to my collection without requiring a big expenditure on my part. This violates one of my goals for the year ("unsubscribe from Sephora Play"), but because my work situation has changed, I'm not horribly offended by that. Besides, the quality of the boxes has started to improve again--if that trend keeps up, it's worth the ten bucks to me.
I've also been busy creating inventories and downsizing some of my products, especially my fragrance collection. While I've still brought plenty of new products in to my stash, I've also paid off every bill ahead of time; namely, I finally got around to buying a passport, which will be necessary for air travel starting in 2018, and I'll have my credit card paid off at the end of October. (To be totally honest, there isn't much on the credit card; I'm just trying to stick to the "minimum payment" every month to build my credit, and the minimum is pretty low.)
What did I buy?
As I said in my previous budget post, I wanted to make August a No Buy month. I succeeded pretty well. The only things I purchased with cash were staples (although I tried the Verb Sea Texture Cream to replace my previous texturizing products and ended up feeling meh about it) and gifts. I got MAC Rebel lipstick via the Back 2 MAC program, wore it twice, quickly realized the shade looks awful on me, and purged it.
Again, I renewed my Sephora Play subscription in September; I decided to include the October box's cost in this budget review since they charge me on the first of the month. I also used store credit to purchase Glossier's new Body Hero products. And since I'm one of three beauty bloggers who doesn't really care for Ulta, I only participated in one day of Ulta's yearly sale. I used a gift card to get two of the Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses (which I'm very excited to review!) and two Catrice brow products. I used PayPal credit to cover the extra shipping costs.
Because several big sales are coming up, and because I have this sample box full o' stuff to try, I'd like to try another month-long No Buy this October, with the obvious exception of the Sephora Play subscription. Honestly, I don't think it'll be tough. I have to buy a plane ticket, and I'd like to start saving up for a new camera, and those two things will really lock up my account.
Even with this No Buy, I think I'll end up going over the $250 budget because I'll be tacking on another $20 for Sephora Play, and I only have one gift card at the ready for the Sephora VIB sale this November. I'm not upset by the idea of going over by $10-20, since shipping costs and taxes alone can tack that on, but I will be a bit miffed with myself if I don't stay near $250.
How are my other goals going?
I'm down to three mini lipsticks in my collection, so I don't know how well that Project Pan goal will go, but otherwise, we're moving along swimmingly. I expect to be done with both the Glossier balm and the Maybelline concealer come Christmas. I may finish the Milk Makeup Blur Stick even sooner because I've been taking it to work for no foundation days.
I've slowed down on the number of foil samples I'm going through, mostly because I'm left with samples of actives and moisturizers, and I'm busy testing similar products in full size. A friend gave me a jar of the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, for instance, and I only use half a pad each go, so I'm not using my other acid samples. However, I have no doubt that I'll finish at least 50 foil packets by the end of the year.
I've started to come up with some potential goals for 2018. I don't think I'll do another cash budget, but I do have some other interesting goals in mind, like "get down to 5 individual cream blushes" and "don't buy any mascara." If you have any ideas for interesting goals I could try to meet, let me know!
How are your goals for 2017 going?