Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Magic Powder Smoky Stick in Indigo Smoke by Estee Lauder

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
The Magic Powder Smoky Stick ($22) by Estee Lauder is supposed to make doing a smoky eye easy, but I was just interested in seeing what a powder formula in a chubby pencil is like.  I rarely do a smoky eye as my eyes are small and narrow, which isn't the best eye shape for that type of effect, IMO. Or maybe I'm just doing it wrong, who knows?  I did give it a valiant effort in light of this review, but more on that below.
However, I regularly use pencils to line my upper and lower lids, and this seemed like a good candidate for that. I chose Indigo Smoke from the 8 available colors, which has a soft navy powder base with lighter blue shimmer sparkles in the mix.
Indigo Smoke lays down a sheer wash of color that can be built up somewhat, but keep that whole "smoke" concept in mind, as opaque color really isn't the goal. I found the pencil easy to use but my biggest concern was having it transfer from my lash line onto my lid, something that can happen on my hooded eyes if the color does not lock into place.
I'm happy to report I didn't have issues with transfer, so yay for Indigo Smoke!  I did feel like I needed a more opaque liner closest to my lash line for definition, and used Lorac's Front of the Line Pro liquid eyeliner in Navy for that. I'm liking how this turned out.

Now on to my smoky eye effort.  Considering I had two meetings in a somewhat conservative environment the day I was testing this, consider this a daytime smoky eye.  I smoked out the blue with several taupe shadows, as on it's own I was just getting to much of a "blue eyeshadow" look/vibe.
It came out okay, but I still think my eye shape is just not conducive to a smoky eye. That's okay, as it takes longer to create than I want to invest on a work day, anyhow :-)  Of note when I used the pencil after a month of it laying around - the powder pigment had hardened and it was difficult to lay down color, perhaps due to oils from my eye when I last used it.  Sharpening the pencil solved that problem and I'm hoping that won't be the case each time I use it.
Items used for this FOTD (links are to full reviews):

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bronze Goddess Body Shimmer Oil and Perfume by Estee Lauder

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
Every summer I indulge in one or two new perfumes that I think will work well in Mobile's intense heat and humidity. Typically these are fragrances that market themselves towards the summer season, which is definitely the case with Estee Lauder's Bronze Goddess.
I was particularly interested in the Shimmering Body Oil Spray ($42), as I love a good body oil  after a shower to both moisturize and scent my skin. However, I was hesitant to invest in the perfume without smelling it first, so I went with a 5 ml decant ($13.75) from Surrender to Chance, which sells perfume samples and fragrance decants.

Here are the notes as listed by Estee Lauder:
Sensuous Notes
Amber. Coconut Milk. Sandalwood. Vanilla. Vetiver. Myrrh
Warm Notes
Juicy Mandarin. Sicilian Bergamot. Lemon. Pulpy Orange
Radiant Notes
Tiare Flower. Jasmin. Magnolia Petals. Orange Flower Buds. Lavender
Bronze Goddess is frequently described as smelling like a day at the beach, and I'd have to agree with that. It definitely evokes skin that's been slathered with a coconut sun tan lotion that has alternately been warmed by the sun and then cooled down by a dip in the salty ocean. I still remember the frequent beach weekends of my teen years and the feel and smell of briny skin soaked by Hawaiian Tropic. Crossing my fingers that skin cancer is not in my future.
Yet it's a bit more elegant than just coconut suntan lotion on warm skin, although I'd be lying if I said I could detect the nuances of all the notes listed. While I wouldn't classify this as a light fragrance, it does have a skin scent ambiance in that it is not overpowering, which is what I try to avoid during the hot summer months.

Bronze Goddess Shimmer Body Oil ingredients
The Shimmering Body Oil spray is lovely to look at in the bottle and leaves my skin lightly scented with a soft sheen as opposed to visible shimmer. This is a dry oil and does not leave any obvious residue, just soft skin. I'm glad I got a decant of the perfume as well, as the two together give just enough fragrance that lingers for about 5-6 hours.
Estee Lauder releases Bronze Goddess each year in the spring, and reviews make me believe that each year's fragrance may be slightly different.  My decant is from 2008 (I believe), and apparently 2015's version emphasized lemon more than other years. I did read reviews saying that 2016's version smelled rather synthetic, and with current perfume ingredient limitations and trends, that would not surprise me.

I also saw more than a few comments from people saying they were underwhelmed with the fragrance of Bronze Goddess at first, but that it has grown on them with time and is now a favorite.  I'm more in the underwhelmed category right now, but am hoping to savor it with more usage. I just haven't been reaching for it as much as I thought I would, but it is a nice scent and definitely summer wear worthy.  I could even see breaking it out on a gray and chilly February day, when I need something to remind me that warm weather will be back with a vengeance.

Monday, July 25, 2016

NOTD: The Ring by NerdLacquer

There once was an indie polish brand called NerdLacquer. I say once, because I find it's really best for me to think of it in the past tense, even though it appears the site is still active. It was (is?) my favorite indie polish brand, but man has it been a strange ride.
You see, the owner/creator has a habit of going incommunicado for long periods of time, even though people have placed orders and paid their money for polishes. It's happened several times, in fact, which should have told me something, but I still placed an order last year for 3 polishes. I did use PayPal, however, as at least there is recourse to get your money back should something go wrong.
Which it did.  After about 6 weeks and no polishes I emailed the owner, but got no response. I filed a claim with PayPal, and in due time they refunded my money. Perhaps 3 months later, my 3 polishes showed up, and there was also a lovely pair of stone earrings in the package for good will (or something?). I was bemused but happy to have 3 more Nerdlacquer polishes in my collection, but also sad that I now know it's just not worth the gamble of placing an order, even when the site does look current and active. It is literally a crap shoot on if/when you will receive your order.
I still love Nerdlacquer's polishes and no other indie brand has captured my imagination the way these did. Too bad it's been such a bumpy ride for so many people with this brand. All I can say is buyer beware and I truly wish that wasn't the case.

Friday, July 22, 2016

July Birchbox: Let's Do This!

As most are probably aware, Birchbox announced that their points system will be changing, and sadly not for the better.  Apparently money is tight and Birchbox has yet to turn a profit, so the points for reviews will be limited to 5 products for the life of your subscription as opposed to the 5 reviews per box (1 point = $1 in the Birchbox shop). Yep, and accrued point will only be good for 6 months. You can earn points through purchases and referrals, but the points for reviews were what set Birchbox apart in a good way.
I've definitely enjoyed Birchbox over the 3+ years I've subscribed, but it looks like troubled times ahead for the company that started the whole subscription box craze.  I've read more than one article speculating on what the future holds for Birchbox (here is a good one from racked.com), but I decided it was time to cash out my points and cancel my auto-renew yearly subscription, which ends in December.  I'll enjoy my last four months of boxes, however, and July's was a pretty solid box. I'm all about facial sprays right now, so the above Avene Thermal Spring Water was a welcome sight.
Coola has been a staple brand in Birchboxes for while, and Daydream Mineral Primer is a new product from them.  The tube contained a surprisingly small amount of primer, about enough for 2 uses.  I know people complain about receiving foils, but putting the amount of 2 foils in a tube isn't exactly the solution, IMO.  For reference, a Smashbox primer foil contains .05 oz, and this has .10 oz.
Beyond that, the primer has the slick yet velvety feel I associate with silicone, and it did a good job of mattifying my skin and smoothing/filling in pores.  I don't know if my makeup wore any longer, as it's the dog days of summer in Mobile right now, with temps and humidity that make you regret walking outside.  Bottom line, nice but not something I'm motivated to pay $42 for.
The sample choice this month was between mascaras, but I decided to go with the luck of the draw and received this Smashbox X-Rated volumizing mascara.  I really like it. 
I didn't take a picture of the brush but I'm finding it does a nice job of coating my lashes without too much transfer to my lids (my bane - I always get mascara on my upper lash line), and it has minimal smudging on my lower lash line.  Good stuff.
I know people talk about how Birchbox didn't pay attention to subscriber profiles, but they usually did a pretty good job with me.  Or I'm just really easy going about stuff like that.  Regarding, I've got blond hair so this Klorane Blond Highlights shampoo makes me happy.  I like saving items like this for travel, and I've got another work related writing weekend planned for September, so I'll take this  and the conditioner with me. 
Overall, a solid month and all items I will use. I'm sad Birchbox seems to be floundering, but hopefully they will find their niche again.  Cancelling this and not resubscribing to Le Metier de Beaute's VIP program has left quite the void in my subscription box world.  Hmmm.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Culling My Collection: 2016 Blush Declutter

I love watching makeup decluttering videos, which is what I've been doing to get me ready for the Cull the Collection series I've been wanting to do. "To cull" means to control or reduce the size of by removal. While I do periodically go through and weed out items that have gone bad, I wanted to take a more KonMari approach to downsizing and decluttering my makeup.  I started with my powder blushes, as I own an inordinate amount.  So, here we go with Part 1 of my collection cull, and be aware this is picture heavy.
Powder blush collection
These two drawers contain my powder blushes.  For those not familiar with the KonMari method, you are supposed to hold everything in your hands and ask yourself "does this spark joy?" or essentially bring happiness into your life.  If it doesn't, then it is time to thank the item for it's service and send it to a better home, even if that's the trash bin.

I started this process at about 7 am on a Saturday morning and finished at 11 am, so it took 4 hours.  I tried to arrange the blushes by color family so that I could distinguish similar colors. For some of my favorite blush brands, I also looked at all of a certain brand together.  I tried not to be sentimental or let the price of a particular item influence me, with varying levels of success. While this did take a while, I actually enjoyed the process quite a bit!
I started with the Makeup Geek pan blushes, which I recently took out of my Z palette in order to make room for depotted Le Metier de Beaute eye shadows. I put the Makeup Geek pans back into the empty kaleidoscopes, although I'd like to get another Z palette to keep them in. These are the original Makeup Geek blushes that I was able to purchase 9 of for $45 prior to the new blush formula release.  It was a great bundle deal but some of the colors were not quite right for me, either too light to show up on my skin, too cool toned, or too pink :-)
Smitten does not show up on me at all, plus it is a bit yellow toned.  Bliss is a better shade for me, although it is also a light shade that barely shows on my skin.  Head Over Heels is another barely there color on me, although it's very pretty.
Secret Admirer is a lovely lilac shade that I totally cannot pull off.  It's not  as lavender as it appears in this photo (inside natural light), but definitely leans in that direction.  Summer Fling is another that I have not reached for often, as it's intense orange shade scares me a bit.
Hanky Panky is a lovely medium pink, but I just don't wear blush colors like this. So, my original cull looked like this, plus a LMdB blush from the 2015 VIP palette.  Tally:  10 blushes, culled 6.  Not bad.
Smitten, Secret Admirer, Head Over Heels, Summer Fling, Hanky Panky, LMdB single
Next, I pulled out my peach/coral/peachy pink blushes, which I have a ridiculous amount of.  This is clearly the color family I'm most drawn to and wear the most, as I'm counting 21 blushes here..
Out of all these blushes, I decided to part with 4: bareMineral's The Natural High, Lancome's Peachy Keen, theBalm's Hot Mama, and Chantecaille's Fun.  I'm not a huge fan of blushes with a heavy gold shimmer, which characterizes both The Natural High and Hot Mama.  Fun by Chantecaille barely registers on my skin, and while I've used it quite a bit, I'm ready to part company.  I've hardly used the Lancome palette at all and it's gone bad, based on smell. So, out it goes.
I kept Estee Lauder's Peach Passion, Wild Sunset, and Bronze Goddess palette, Tarte's Achiote, Thankful and Magic, NYX's Apricot, Rose Garden and Wanderlust, Laura Geller's Dreamsicle, BECCA's Flowerchild, ColourPop's Tasty, Too Faced's Love Hangover, Clinique's Peach Pop, and MAKE Beauty's Geisha and Czarina.  Tally:  21 peach/coral peachy pink bluses, 4 culled.  Total 31 blushes, 10 culled.
Next are my pink blushes, with a total of 13 items. The cull results indicate I can be more cut throat in this category.
Culled were two Lancome GWP blushes, Rose Romantique and Shimmer Pink Pool, the Tarina Tarintino Dollskin cheek palette, an Estee Lauder GWP face palette, Tarte's Fantastic Amazonian Clay blush, stila's Lyric Countless Color Pigment, and DHC's Poppy Face Color Palette.  A recent "Loving Your Unloved" concentration on the Dollskin palette showed me I really only used the first peachy shade, and let's face it I've got plenty of those. The Estee Lauder face palette with Pink Kiss as the blush color did see some use, but the bronze pan has hardened and it's seen better days.  The DHC Poppy palette is too light for my complexion and I just don't reach for the others, so out they go.
Tally:  13 pink blush items, 7 culled.  Total 44 blushes, 17 culled.
Kept: Cargo Bali, Sue Devitt Solomon Islands, Too Faced Justify My Love, Clinique Plum Pop, theBalm Toile
Next is another favorite blush color family, the beige/tan category.  Apparently I love every beige/tan blush I own, as I did not want to part with any of the 7 blushes.
Blushes kept are Estee Lauder's Sensuous Rose, True Cosmetic's Blushing Beige, Sue Devitt Tralee, Nvey Eco 957, Rouge Bunny Rouge Starina, Tarte Peaceful, NYX Chiffon.  Tally:  7 Beige/tan blush items, 0 culled.  Total 51 blushes, 17 culled.
Berrie and mauves blushes as next, and I have only 5 blushes in this color family. I ended up keeping four and culling one.  I kept Flush by Tarte, Your Love is King by Too Faced, Rapture by Urban Decay, and Houndstooth by theBalm.
I culled Nvey Eco's Blushing Bliss 958.  Tally:  5 berry/mauve blushes, 1 culled. Total 56 blushes, 18 culled.
Nvey Echo 958
Next are 3 similar items:Tarte's Park Avenue Prince Pink Bronze, Clarin's Graphic Expressions, and Covergirl's Roses Clean Glow Blusher.
Covergirl's Roses did not make the cut. It's quite nice but almost identical in color to Graphic Expressions. The Park Avenue Princess is similar in color but has a soft shimmer that kept it in my collection. Total blushes 59 blushes, 19 culled.
I love my Hourglass blushes, as they are skin flattering and wear exceptionally well on my oily skin. However, I don't reach for Radiant Magenta often at all. Mood Exposure is probably my favorite, followed by the peachy Incandescent Electra. It was painful, but I decided to cull Radiant Magenta. Or at least I thought I did. Total blushes 62 blushes, 20 culled.
Next are what I'm calling my orange blushes, although Sephora's Let's Dance and Benefit's Sugarbomb are not orange. But they do have an orange segment, so let's pretend. They are also very similar in color. Surratt's Canteloupe is a straight up light orange, and completely unique to my collection. It's a difficult color to wear on it's own for my skintone, but the formula keeps it in my collection and I use it as a color adjuster. I also think it's really pretty layered under the other two in this picture. So which one of those did I cull?
Benefit's Sugarbomb got culled. The huge Let's Dance is more versatile as I can use different strips separately if I like, and the quality is on par.
Total 65 blushes, 21 culled.
Last are some some palettes and the ColourPop Monster highlighter that is kept with my blushes, so it got included. Shown are Estee Lauder's Lover's Blush/Rebel Rose, LMdB's Cheeky Chic kaleidoscope, and the Urban Decay Gwen Stenfani blush palette.
I kept Monster, Lover's Blush/Rebel Rose, and the Gwen Stefani blush palette. I've hit pan on Lo-Fi, which has become a favorite bronzer/contour shade.
The Cheeky Chic kaleidoscope was culled, as I never reached for it and was not overly impressed with the blush formula. Also, the contour shade has hardened and you can not pick up ANY pigment. I've noticed that with a few of my LMdB shadows as well, although I fixed those,  More on that in a later post. Total 69 blush items, 22 culled.
After going through every item and collecting all the blushes culled from my collection, it was time to take another once over to see if there were any items that I wanted to reconsider.
Blushes culled from collection
There were a few that were tugging at the corners of my mind, namely Radiant Magenta by Hourglass and the Makeup Geek blushes Head Over Heels and Summer Fling.  I ended up returning them to my collection.  If they don't see some use gong forward, I'll re-evaluate.
Now my powder blushes fit into one drawer. I've reacquited myself with what I own, which reinforces that I have quite enough and can be content "shopping" my own collection.
Final tally:  69 blush items, 19 culled from collection = 50 blushes. I purged almost 28% of my collection!  My next foray will be into my cream blushes, so stay tuned for that :-)