Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I just updated my "about me" section from "soon-to-be college grad" to "college grad"!  Graduation was Sunday, how very surreal.  I'm now an "adult" or something?  So, to celebrate my newfound college degree, I'm going to talk about moisturizers.  I'm sure my professors would be so proud.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I've mentioned before that I have "bad" skin: oily, acne-prone, uneven, large pores...pretty much anything that can go wrong does (including being dry in the wintertime!).  I've been on and off prescription meds for my skin for a decade, and while I've generally got it managed (not great, but not terrible), I am always looking for a way to make it better.  I like to browse the most popular and highest rated things on Makeup Alley when I'm procrastinating, which is how I've come across several more "natural" options for skincare, one of which is honey.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jack Black Lip Balm

I have the unfortunate habit of rubbing my lips together when I'm bored, tired, nervous, walking, sitting, wearing any lip products, and not wearing any lip products (yes, this accounts for ALL THE TIME).  It annoys me when my lips feel dry, so I'm pretty obsessive about keeping lip balm of some sort on them.  Sadly, anything I put on my lips tends to disappear within a half hour, usually leaving my lips feeling even more chapped, which makes the cycle worse...so you can see why I'm always on the lookout for the perfect lip balm.  I want something that will last a not-insignificant period of time, that leaves my lips feeling moisturized even after I've managed to wear it off, and that isn't sticky or goopy, because I absolutely hate it when my hair sticks to my mouth.  The original Burt's Bees tends to leave a weird white residue on my lips, probably because I apply it too often, though I do like the Pomegranate Replenishing kind, except that it doesn't last very long.  I used to use the Medicated BB with Clove Oil until my ex told me he didn't like the way it tasted; current boy hasn't mentioned any aversion to it, but I also don't use it very often.  I hate ChapStick because it always leaves my lips feeling drier than they started; I don't mind the regular Blistex, but I've found that it works best at night, since I don't like dipping my fingers in the pot all the time.  The Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment gave my lips a weird rash and made them extremely chapped and painful.  I used to love Carmex, but it started irritating my lips, too.  Aquaphor is fantastic at night in the winter, when my lips need lots of help, but a little too slick for during the day.  I tried Rosebud Minted Rose Lip Balm, but found it way too sticky and not at all moisturizing--not to mention, it wore off in 20 minutes.

Mattify! ULTRA

I have extremely oily skin.  If I wash my face and don't put anything on it, I am shiny within half an hour, and slick within an hour.  I was searching for a primer that would help control my oil, and came across a review for Mattify! on EDS, and after reading the reviews on MUA, I ordered the smaller size, opting for the ULTRA formulation instead of the regular or sensitive, because I figured I needed as much help as I could get.

Grading Guidelines

I am inspired in part by Temptalia's awesome grading schema, but I've tweaked it a little for my own use.  The categories I evaluate are:

Price (out of 10): How painful do I find the price?  Since I'm on a college student's budget and have very little money, I like low initial costs.  Also taken into account are the general price range for the product; a $10 eyeliner would receive a lower score than a $10 foundation, just because eyeliners are generally cheaper than foundation.  The price for evaluation is the amount I paid for it (or, similarly, the cheapest it can be found on eBay, Beauty Ticket, or All Cosmetics Wholesale), not the amount it retails for in stores, unless, of course, they happen to overlap.

A 10 would be given to straight-up cheap products (say, a $1 Wet 'n Wild eyeliner), as well as to cheap-for-their-category products (like a $6 foundation) and cheaper-than-usual items (like a $5 Smashbox lipstick), while a 1 would go to extreme luxury products (the likelihood of me ever giving out a 1 is really slim!) like a Guerlain Gems lipstick ($46) or Le Metier de Beauté eyeshadow ($30).

Value (out of 10): How much product do you get for the price?  If it has a higher initial cost but you get enough to last forever (as with, say, the older Benefit boxed powders [which I still wouldn't buy full-priced!]), the product will get a good score here, as long as the quality is there, too.  If you get a ton of product, but it's terrible, that's not great value, either, though it will lose points under quality, not value, if that's the case.  Low-scoring products for value would be those that have offensively little product for the price (like the Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Stick, $18 for 0.03 oz, when most lipsticks are 0.10+ oz--and yes, I realize it's a hybrid lipliner/lipstick, but that's no excuse for such a tiny amount!).

Quality (out of 15): Is it a good product?  Is it something I will actually want to use?  A product can get a great score in price and value, but terrible in quality, if it's cheap with a lot of product, but the product is bad and you'd never want to use it up.  This is a pretty nebulous category, but I hope that over time I'll be able to figure out what things really make a "quality" product; until then, I'll be sure to explain my rationale thoroughly.

Pigmentation (out of 5): Is the product as pigmented as it claims to be?  If it's supposed to be a full-coverage foundation, is it?  If it's supposed to be a sheer lipstick, is it?  Does it apply evenly?

Duration (out of 5): Does it last at least as long as it claims it will?  There are few things more annoying than wearing a "stain" only to realize it wears off in an hour.

Consistency (out of 5): Does it apply nicely, and feel nice on?  Nobody wants to wear something that feels icky on--grainy lipgloss, I'm looking at you!

Packaging (bonus points only): I don't care much about packaging, and since I gravitate towards cheaper things, I didn't want this measurement to bring down the scores of otherwise great products.  However, awesome packaging is great, so if something is truly stellar in its presentation, I'll give it 1 or 2 extra points.

Buy again?: Pretty self-explanatory; this doesn't count towards the score, but it will serve as a nice reminder for myself as to whether something is worth repurchasing.

I hope that helps clarify things a little!  It's certainly helpful for me to have a more concrete set of rules for how I want to evaluate products.

Note: These guidelines are really only applicable for makeup; skincare will either have a different set, or will have only prose explanation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How I Try to Not Smell Bad

I've been going through a pretty severe bout of Swat Guilt: the guilt that comes from not doing work.  This is in spite of the fact that I have no work to be doing.  I fear it's a feeling that may never go away, much like herpes, or glitter (the herpes –> glitter thought process comes from this: Demetri Martin.  The whole thing is worth watching if you've never seen it, but the relevant portion is from 0:05-0:25).  Anyways.  I figured I would get a start on reviewing some of the stuff I use and love, so that I can at least feel productive.  I would be packing, but I don't actually have any boxes, which kind of gets in the way of that plan.

Starting with the most mundane of products: deodorant.  It's one product that I, somewhat counterintuitively, do not like spending money on.  I sweat, a lot, and rely on deodorant to keep me from smelling.  Not to mention, it lasts a long time.  And yet, I see the new Dove deodorants and think, "$5 for a deodorant?! Are you kidding me?"  Fortunately, I discovered a great cheap option when my grandmother sent me deodorant in one of my weekly care packages (not really sure what she was trying to tell me).  It's the Secret pH balanced invisible solid, at Target for less than $3.  I use the shower fresh scent, though that's mostly out of habit than true scent preference.  It lasts all day, even when I'm super sweaty and gross. You don't want to use too much, or else it will get pilly, and it's not fantastic for black clothing (I'm still looking for a deodorant that I can wear when I go clothes shopping and not have to be paranoid about leaving white streaks behind), but for everyday wear, it works, it lasts, and it smells nice but not overpowering.  Give it a try if you're still looking for a good, cheap choice!

I wear perfume pretty much every day, usually sprayed down my cleavage; it's something that makes me happy whenever I catch a whiff, and it helps cut down on any b.o. I may have.  My summer go-to is Chanel Chance eau fraiche:
It smells delicious, very light and green and fresh.  I highly recommend giving it a sniff the next time you're in a department store!  I find it lasts about 6 hours on me before I feel I should reapply, a little less if it's a really hot and muggy day.  I'm almost out of my current bottle, which makes me super sad, because it is not cheap (I do get the smaller size [1.7 oz], though, because $65 is more palatable than $90).  But it's one of those things that I will find a way to afford, because I get immeasurable enjoyment from it.

My winter perfume is more variable, but for most of this past winter, I wore Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb.  I got a sample from Sephora and loved it, but couldn't justify buying a bottle ($100 for the same amount as my Chanel--oogh).  Then I discovered that they have a travel set for much cheaper, $29 for 0.75 oz, so I picked that up with a Sephora gift card I got at Christmas.  It doesn't come with a spray bottle, but I ordered one off of eBay for $5 or so and just poured it in there, et voila! 

Not as pretty as the actual bottle, but that wasn't why I was getting it (though those who want something to display on their vanity may not like my solution).  It smells lovely on--very floral (as the name would suggest), romantic, deep but not dark.  You can see I'm running low, though I actually have most of the .25 oz bottle left that I may pour into the spray bottle if it gets too low.

And that's that!  What are your favorite perfumes?  Anyone else really adore their deodorant, or is that just a me thing?

My First Post!

So, um, hi!  I can't imagine anyone is actually reading this, but if someone is, I wouldn't want you to feel unwelcome.  I honestly don't know if this blog will end up being something I'm able to regularly do, but I'd like to hope so!  I'm pretty OCD when it comes to makeup and skincare--I want what works best for me, cheaply, which can be a challenge. I research obsessively, and hope that I can provide others with some tips I've gleaned. I figure, since I'll be compulsively experimenting with things anyways, I might as well make what I learn available to you!  Over the next few days/weeks/months, I'll try and go through what I've found that works for me, and what I'm still lacking.  I'm hopeful that this blog will help me organize my thoughts for myself, and serve as a way for me to keep track of what I like, what I don't, and what I'm still unsure of.

Some background about me: I'm a college student, though I've finished my final semester and am now just waiting to graduate in a week+.  I'm from Oregon, but have gone to school in Pennsylvania for the past 4 years--this has caused a whole new slew of skin problems and concerns that I've had to work on combating, which I'll discuss at some point (I hope!).  I'm extremely cheap, so it's really unlikely you'll find much full-price luxury stuff discussed here; however, I do have a preference for indie makeup brands and discounted mainstream mid-range brands, so there will be a fair amount of that kind of stuff.  I used to buy exclusively drugstore, but have come to realize that you can get much better quality stuff (overall, though there are some obvious exceptions, like the new Wet 'n Wild Color Icon palettes!) for the same price, if you know where to look.

I wear glasses, so I tend to prefer a more muted eye look--you won't see any of the wonderfully bold EOTD on here like you can at, say, Temptalia.  I'm very fair, though less fair than I'd previously thought (that will be discussed more when I talk about Alima!), and I sunburn extremely easily (and tan extremely minimally).  I tend to gravitate towards cool toned makeup and clothing, though I'm actually a neutral-beige skin tone.  I never wear orange, because I do not like it. I also don't do a nude lip, because it makes me look dead.  I'm still looking for my perfect MLBB shade, in part because my lip shade changes, making it hard to find just the one.  I use lip balm like a maniac, I don't like lipgloss (too sticky), and I've given up on nail polish (I can never get it perfect, and my OCD self won't allow anything less).  I have curly hair (between a 3a and 3b) that is going grey, and has been since I was 17; I started dyeing it over a year ago, though I'm not as diligent about upkeep as I should be.  I've battled with acne for more than a decade; it's been much better recently, thanks to a few changes in my routine (post to come!), and I have some other things I want to add in when I get home from school and have a bathroom to myself.

Three facts about me:
1) I speak German, understand Spanish, and hate French (too many nasalized vowels!).
2) I love, love, love eating; my mom was a double major in business and home ec, and used to have a catering company, so I grew up with fantastic food.  Coming to college and eating dining hall food was really hard--I had the Freshman 15 in the opposite direction (my grandmother's response when I came home for the summer: "You look like a skeleton!  Eat some cake!" which, of course, I was happy to do).
3) I sleep a lot.  Like, really a lot.  My ideal night's rest is 12-13 hours, and I love naps.
4 (whoops, I lied)) I am very verbose.  Obviously.

So, that's the low-down on me.  What's your opinion on nasalized vowels? Naps? Food? Verbosity?
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