Wednesday, November 16, 2016

10 Things

I want to catch up with everyone, but it has been crazy here. So, quick updates - and everyone, please tell me how you have been and any news you may have! Or, just share funny memes. We all need some hope and cheer.

1. I got a new job. It's my first permanent, full-time role (i.e., not a post-doc traineeship) in a field I'm really interested in. I'm beyond excited. I start in December. We don't have to move.

2. My birthday is next week and I am excited to go out to dinner. Also, lots of coworkers have been inviting me out to "best of luck and good-bye!" dinners and I feel so loved. It's always reassuring to know that people didn't hate working with you!

3. We're not traveling for Thanksgiving, and no one is traveling here. All set for a quiet, relaxing holiday. We're going to make trashy football food (potato skins, sausages, veggie sticks and dip), though my one concession will be homemade cranberry sauce (which I love) and pumpkin pudding (going to try this recipe from Smitten Kitchen).

4. I shopped the VIB sale (see #2). I bought an MJ blush brush, Becca poured highlighter in Moonstone, two liquid liners in black - one Sephora brand, and the other my go-to Smashbox, a Caudalie skincare set, and that little trio of BareMinerals liquid lipsticks. Fun observation: Caudalie skincare used to hate me. Now apparently it doesn't. Ch-ch-ch-changes! Milestone birthdays can be a bit of a downer, ha!

5. Last month, S and I got a family membership to EarthTreks, which is an indoor climbing gym. It is so awesome to be climbing again! I didn't suck as hard as I thought I was going to, after all this time off. I think Aerial training really helped.

6. Music on repeat: James Bay, Chaos and the Calm. Rachael Yamagata, Tightrope Walker, Jimmy Eat World, Integrity Blues.

7. The cold, dry season seems to be here. Dennison keeps shocking me with his whiskers. It's hilarious but also the worst. Sheeba doesn't seem to be as prone to static.

8. Aerie bralettes and bodysuits are the comfiest things ever. Best discovery this year.

9. Other awesome things we did lately: see Rachael Yamagata in concert again (she's amazing), have an anniversary dinner at Gramercy Tavern (also amazing), attend the Baltimore Whiskey Festival (we have new favorites!), attend the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas while they played the entire soundtrack (so cool! Such timing!), met the absolutely fabulous Gaelle,  have friends over, go out for brunch. Things we have planned: more brunch, seeing The Nutcracker next month, driving up to PA with the fluffies for Christmas.

10. One of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs. RIP, you dear man. The Civil Wars have a beautiful cover, as well.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Scents of the Week: Sweet Tooth Edition

[Products were gwp samples. No affiliate links.]

I thought that by the time I got my act together and actually wrote the post out, it'd be more seasonally appropriate for Halloween or something, but I forgot that I tend to get excited about perfume posts and pump them out as soon as I think of them.

So here is your not-seasonally-appropriate scents of the week! *applause*

These are all sweeter concoctions. Only one of them is truly gourmand, but they all tend toward sweet, and I like them. And we'll wrap with a palate cleanser, how about that?

Flower by Kenzo L'Elixir, edp
Pulpy Raspberry, Bulgarian Rose Essence, Addictive Praline, Bourbon Vanilla Absolute.
[image source]
I was afraid, because I originally liked Flower, but then I sat near someone on a plane once who was absolutely drenched in it, and I have never been able to go near it since (thank goodness I only had a very small free sample of it). This isn't really the same thing. It has a hint of that same powdery violet that reminds you of Flower, but this flanker is really quite a different party altogether. It is sweet, and a definite gourmand, but somehow, I really like it. I am normally not a fan of juicy berries in perfume, but the raspberry isn't overbearing or particularly prominent here - I get more of a powdery cotton candy, from the praline, vanilla, and rose. And damnit, I like it. It reminds me of Hanae Mori Butterfly, but I like this one better. One light spritz is more than enough to keep you smelling like a whimsical cotton candy cocktail all day (why are these all the rage?). It's so very unsophisticated, and absolutely unapologetic, and I regret nothing. I'm thinking of a bottle, although I'm not sure if I could ever get through even 1.0 oz.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon, edp
Vanilla Bourbon. Oakwood. Tuberose.
[image source]
I like Nirvana Black a lot (I have a gwp rollerball) but don't like White at all, and the same thing sort of applies here - I like Bourbon, but don't give two figs about Rose. Bourbon is sweetly vanilla, but in a darker way than my favorite Diptque Eau Duelle - it's not as elegant or light, but it's not really meant to be. It's a darker, sultrier, more boho chick vanilla - like wearing a leather jacket over a fringed maxi at night, vs. that crisp white sheath for Sunday brunch. It's not heavily floral. 

Ralph Lauren Polo Red, edp
Red Grapefruit, Red Saffron, Redwood. 
[image source]
This is actually one of those sneaky samples I left on S's dresser. He wears Polo Double Black often (which I love on him), so I thought maybe Red might suit. It's really fruity, guys. Like, so fruity. On S the fruitiness turns a little spicy, and it's zesty-musky with the grapefruit. I don't get a lot of saffron, just a subtle something else that keeps it from teetering too far into generic man-smell territory. It's not too woodsy, so that does set it apart from the usual masculine musks. On me, though, it just smells like some explosive fruit-synth bomb, and I'm not into it. At all. S hasn't chucked it yet, and wears it occasionally, but I don't see this one being a full bottle purchase.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Petit Matinedu
Litsea cubeba, Lemon from Calabria, Lavandin from Provence, Orange blossom, Hawthorn accord, Musk, Ambroxan
[Image source]

Here's the palate cleanser! It's a lovely, bright "citrus wood" smell. I don't usually like lemon in perfume, because it's usually sugary sweet and reminiscent of cleaning products. Here, though, it's bright, crystal clear and clean, the very feeling that the bottle evokes - the early morning's softened sun, filtering through a window. There's a prickling wood base - litsea cubeba is an evergreen - and the ambroxan adds a subtle warmth. It's very balanced and quite linear, but in this case, I don't mind that at all, and am actually quite a fan of this one. Applied sparingly, it is quite fleeting, though, and applied more strenuously, it's a bit too woodsy, so I'm not really sure. At $215 for 2.4 oz, I'd like to be sure. I wish it came in a smaller bottle, like some of the other MFK scents. I also didn't think to smell Grand Soir, but that's on my list now, too (they were released as a pair).

So that's only four, but I thought I'd mention, as an afterthought, that Prada Candy smells different here on the east coast. It smells much more like Infusion d'Iris here - it's much more powder-iris-musk forward, and I miss my syrupy benzoin vanilla bonbon. Last year, I thought it was maybe just that the weather hadn't gotten cool enough, but right now we have delicious fall weather that is normally perfect for Prada Candy, but it just hasn't been the same. I'm really disappointed. Has anyone else ever noticed something like this?

What perfumes have you tried lately? What are you rotating in/out for the change of seasons?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Getting Cold Weather Ready with Neal's Yard Remedies Rehydrating Rose Facial Oil

[Product was provided by PR for review. All opinions are my own. No affiliate links.]
Every winter, I forget about rotating in heavier duty skincare items until it's too late - winter hits full force, and I'm left trying to repair wrecked, dry flaky skin. Never goes well.

THIS TIME, I WAS ON TOP OF IT.

(Because uh, the PR beauties are on top of it.)

Regardless. Here I am, all prepared, and you will be, too! Consider this your PSA. While you're tromping in the leaves (like Dennison, he LOVES tromping in the leaves!), and embracing beautiful, beautiful autumn, remember..
(I don't even watch GoT.)

While it's still fairly warm and humid here, winters can be brutal, and I want to be prepared in advance this year. I like to layer a facial oil in colder weather, and I've always gotten on with rose oils and ingredients in skincare, so I was really excited about the Neal's Yard Remedies Rehydrating Rose Facial Oil ($40 for 1.01 fl oz). It's targeted toward normal skin (they have an Orange Flower version that's targeted toward dry skin), but even though my skin usually tends toward the dry side, I don't feel like it's lacking. Of course, it is still warm here.

It has a pretty trim ingredient list: Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil*, Corylus Avellana (Hazelnut) Seed Oil*+, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil*, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Wax, Pogostemon Cablin Leaf Oil*, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil*, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.

It's also labeled 99% organic, with other designations here on the product page (it's vegan and cruelty-free, for those of you who have those requirements). I don't shop exclusively cruelty free, but I appreciate the effort very much, and am trying to support those brands more. And, you guys, Neal's Yard Remedies has some great information on their website about ingredient transparency, what it means for them to be "99% organic," the role of "functional ingredients" (like emulsifiers), the certifications processes they adhere to...and they call out the emptiness of labels like "chemical-free." It's worth reading.

As for the product itself, I really like it and see it being a permanent addition to my regimen. The "damask rose" oil is meant to be rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and none of the carriers or additions here break me out. The scent is a pleasant herbal that doesn't linger (though it is strong initially, but that's to be expected, and I rather like these kinds of scents). The dropper packaging is sanitary and functional, with a dark glass bottle to prevent photo-degradation of the oil, and all of the packages have a bottling date. I apply 2-3 drops of the oil after serum and before my night cream moisturizer, for an extra bit of oomph, and my skin is really soft and smooth in the morning, a difference I noticed almost immediately after I started using it. I don't prefer oils for daytime use, because they can interfere with makeup application. At night, I can live with the feeling - it's initially oily upon application, as you might expect, but sinks in and the residue isn't really noticeable after a short period.

I'm really pleased with my first foray into Neal's Yard Remedies, and I'm looking through the rest of their line for other skincare products I might enjoy. The one thing I will mention, however is that in the US, you have to order through a "consultant" on their website, and I believe the consultant gets a commission. This kind of thing gives me the heebie jeebies, so I'm not sure how to feel about it. What do you think? Have you tried anything from Neal's Yard Remedies? What are your favorite winter skincare additions?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Clinique Pink Honey - A GWP Surprise

[Product was a gwp sample.]

Yeah, it's the equivalent of dogs/cats playing with the box it came in rather than the toy itself.

I ordered some skincare or something from Sephora, and one of the GWP promos was for a mini Clinique Almost Lipstick in Pink Honey. Wearable, soft pinks are the lip color family that I'm more or less lacking (this other blushing pink is a great addition, but different in texture & finish), so I figured what the hell.

Yeah, I like it.
It's pretty sheer, but emollient and actually feels rather moisturizing.

I had an Almost Lipstick before (which seems to have been discontinued); that one had a much harder texture, a bit waxy, and you could always feel it on lips. This one has a much softer texture that melds onto lips - more like a balm - and has a healthy, natural finish. There's a bit of shine, but it's not a gloss, you know?

I think it's super easy to throw on for casual days, because it's not strongly pigmented, and doesn't lean too cool or warm, so it won't clash with your blush or eye makeup in unpredictable ways. I'm also just really loving it with a simple, pared down look: clean skin, barely there eye shadow with liner and mascara, pink blush (like the FOTD here).

I'm halfway through the mini, so maybe later I might buy the full size. I'm also thinking about getting the original Black Honey, just because I've never owned it and it seems to be a classic for good reason. I wonder if the formula is the same for that? Does anyone own both? 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ilia Fall 2016: Classic Casual Lipsticks

[Products were provided by PR for review. All opinions are my own; no affiliate links.]
We went apple picking on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend; it was still warm and summery, but apparently this is the time for the Honey Crisp variety - my favorite! We came home with 21 lbs of apples. Some have been turned into breads, and apple crisp, and a pie is in the works. Baking with fall flavors has definitely put me in the mood, even though we've hit the 90s (F) again this week, and Ilia Beauty arrived just in time. These lipsticks are gorgeous. They're iterations of classic shades - a rosy, natural pink, a sophisticated mauve pink, and a drop dead brick red.
L-R: The Brides, Madam Mina, Lucy's Party

The three Fall 2016 lipstick releases are The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy's Party. They're housed in Ilia Beauty's signature recycled aluminum cases, and have a faint vanilla-esque "lipstick" smell. They have a waxier, harder texture and can drag a little at first, but once the bullet warms up a bit against lips, they wear beautifully. These are all shimmer-free. I call them "classic casual" because they have a really natural finish (they call it "semi-matte," but I think it's more of a semi-satin), which makes them great for both casual dates or dress-to-impress moments.

The Brides is a pretty, rosy pink - that classic "MLBB" shade, with the same "natural satin" finish that most of Ilia's other lipsticks have (see my review of Ink Pot here). It mimics your lips' natural texture - that's the best way I can describe it. Not shiny, not matte, not creamy or juicy. I'm really a fan, because I think it's hard to find this balance in other brands. The Brides is a touch on the dry side, but still comfortable to wear. Color wise, it's a classic shade that brightens my face and helps nail that "barely there but polished" look I've been partial to lately. Leans warm, but it's not too bright.
Wearing The Brides.
Next up is Madam Mina. I apologize for not being able to capture similar lighting across these photos. It would be a great nude for those with deeper skin tones - it's a rosy mauve that doesn't pull gray or too brown, thankfully. I feel like these kinds of shades age me, so I don't wear them too often, but it's nice to have a "grown-up pink" sometimes.
Wearing Madam Mina.
The last one is Lucy's Party, which is, of course, a classic red. It looks deeper in the bullet than it applies (on me, at least), and it has that same "natural satin" finish, though it's perhaps a little glossier than the other two. On me, it's a true red - not too warm, not too cool. It starts off sheer, but a couple swipes will get the color you see here. I think the harder texture of the lipstick also lends itself to only applying in thin layers. Having prepped lips can help (I like Nuxe's lip contour). I think there are a lot of great reds out there, and we all know I have a ton, but the finish, as I mentioned, is what I think sets these apart. They look and feel very modern.
Wearing Lucy's Party. Ilia Beauty 99 Red Balloons is a little more opaque, and darker.

These will retail for $26, I believe, and launch in mid-September on Ilia Beauty's website. I've waxed poetic about their Multi-sticks (here, here, and here), and I appreciate the vision of the brand. They are cruelty-free, made with USDA-certified organic products at percentages listed in ingredient labels, and are refreshingly transparent about what they are and are not (there is a way to filter by "vegan" on their shop page, and their certifications are here). I think efforts like these lend credence to smaller businesses and those looking for organic alternatives to mainstream makeup have really solid options these days.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Inspired By: Dior Fall 2016

In my Dior Skyline post, I said that I was rather in love with the Dior 2016 Fall promo photo, despite not being interested in any of the other makeup items. I haven't done an editorial-style FOTD in a long time, so I'm very rusty (and let's face it, there weren't that many skills kicking around here anyway!), but I wanted to give it a go.
[image source]
Here's the promo photo. The model has all kinds of things going for her, like apple-slicing cheekbones, and a makeup artist who knows what s/he is doing. DETAILS.

I used products that I had, and didn't try to exactly replicate the look, so much as just...tried to incorporate the over shapes and color palette. I could've blended a lot more, but I apparently forgot how, so there it is.

Makeup used:

I shared this on Instagram, but I figured maybe it warranted a full post. 
I want that model's jacket. Also, I talked about this lip combo here.
Right, so that's enough photos of my face. I wanted to try it again, to emphasize more of the blue smudged along the lash line, but I try to save FOTDs for days when I'm not leaving the house, and there have been precious few of those lately - there's always errands to run on the weekends, aren't there? Still, it got me in the mood for experimenting with looks again! 

What's the latest thing that got you inspired, makeup-wise? 

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Scents of the Week: Mainstream Edition

[Products were gwp samples.]

Perfume posts are my absolute favorite to write. My other "scents of the week" posts are catalogued here. Obviously, I'm not very consistent with them, but if I smell something too briefly, I'll just tweet about it, instead. I'm not always looking for a new scent, but if I happen to find one, well...serendipity is a thing, right? And no, I'm not talking about that cheesy rom-com. Perfume is true love, man.

These are a handful of more mainstream scents that I've sniffed recently - not enough for a full week, but hey. I kind of liked them all, more than I thought I would, but each of them has something that prevents me from loving them. And with this collection of full bottles (plus CB I Hate Perfume A Memory of Kindness, recently acquired at Arielle Shoshana), it has to be love. Also, I'm getting tired of musk (all of this week's scents were musky). Sometimes it's well done, and sometimes it's like that scratchy itch at the back of your throat.

Sunday: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, edt
Sicilian Citron, Bluebell, Granny Smith Apple, Jasmine Sambac, Bamboo, White Rose, Cedarwood, Amber, Musk.
[image source]
I know people who love this, but after a few indifferent sniffs at the counters, I'd never bothered to try it. I got a sample in a recent order, though, and decided, what the hell - I never hated it, might as well. It's an inoffensive summer scent - bright, watery but not aquatic, with a crisp musk that is not scratchy or acidic. I get a sparkly, fruity clean that never gets particularly sugary or synthetic. I don't think any note stands out - rather, they're a fizzy bouquet, like an infused water drink. At edt strength, it doesn't last on me at all, and I'm not a huge fan of this particular cedarwood-musk clean finish, but I can see why so many people rely on this as their summer standby.

Tuesday: Carven Le Parfum, edp
Neroli, Mandarin Blossom, White Hyacinth, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Sweet Pea, White Sandalwood, Precious Wood Harmony. 
[image source]
I was never interested in smelling this, despite the pretty bottle, so I was actually pleasantly surprised when I gave my gwp sample a sniff. It's bright, pretty, clean, feminine - everything you'd expect from this fashion house, this bottle, and this blushing color of juice, ha. I get mostly fruity sweet pea, kept in check with the clean lines of neroli and sandalwood. It's fruitier and sweeter than I thought it would be, but not syrupy; it's like a flute of champagne. But, where this brief love affairs ends for me, is the spritzy patchouli ending (no, it's not in the notes, but I swear it is there). It seems a bit too generic and predictable, and I'm not a patchouli fan.

Wednesday: 3 D&G L'Imperatrice, edt
Rhubarb, Red Currant, Juicy Kiwi Accord, Pink Cyclamen, Fresh Watermelon Accord, Musky Notes, Sandalwood, Grapefruit Wood
[image source]
If this lasted longer than five minutes on me, I would buy it in a heartbeat. The tart fruits are sweet, and juicy, but not in a syrupy, berry way (I dislike berries in perfume). It smells like candied apples to me, and the ending is just some vague woodsy musk that keeps it from being too sweet or linear but is otherwise not noticeable. And sometimes that's fine. I mean, if you wanna show off your colorful, patterned top, you can pair it with a classic pair of jeans or a black pencil skirt, right? Sometimes the base notes detract from the head notes, if I don't like the combination, and that's not the case here. It's not strong and despite the pink cyclamen, not floral. AND I LIKE IT. But it's gone within seconds, no matter how much I put on. I mean, I could dump a whole bottle on my head, I guess, but that's not very budget-friendly, is it? I'm still searching for apple. Sweet Anthem's Black Queen convinced me that I could love apple (its caramel apple-oakmoss combination is to die for. I really regret not buying a bottle). Maybe CB I Hate Perfume's Gathering Apples? Has anyone tried it?

Friday: Prada Luna Rossa Sport, edt
Lavender, Ginger, Juniper Berries, Tonka Beans, Vanilla. 
[image source]
I got S a sample of this with a Sephora order at some point. Sometimes I try the scents I hand him, especially if they smell particularly good on him. They never smell as good on me, though. This one is no exception. On me, it just fits the stereotype of a "sport" splash juice: fuzzy, traditionally "cologne"-esque lavender, with the additional heat of ginger, and the vanilla-tonka bean base gives it some body. It just kind of reminds me of S when he hasn't shaved for a day or two - that spicy scratchiness and a masculine musk. I mean, I like it on him (not so strongly lavender, a little sweeter, more balanced), but for myself, I have a lavender that I love more. I scrubbed this one off.

So that was more like "scents of half the week," I guess. But, exploring Arielle's beautiful store has gotten me in the mood again, and when we got to NYC again next month I'm definitely going to stop in CB I Hate Perfume's Brooklyn studio. And Le Labo, in SoHo. If you're interested, I'll do a post on our visit to Arielle Shoshana, and the scents we explored. What scents have you been dabbling in lately? Anything new for the change of seasons? Or, if the seasons don't change where you are, what motivates you to change up your scents?
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Versatile and Comfy: Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner in These Days

[Product was sent by PR for review. All opinions are my own and there are no affiliate links.]

I don't think I've mentioned before how much I love Ilia Beauty's packaging; such elegant and simple tubes, and even better - they're recycled aluminum. And, of course, they make a pretty little collection. I liked Ink Pot, one of their lipsticks, and was hopeful for their tinted lip conditioner.
Ilia Beauty These Days tinted lip conditioner ($26). Cirque Colors Lichen on nails.
Described as a "dirty nude," These Days is a tinted lip conditioner meant to "soothe and condition the lips," and "carries a sheer touch of color that increases in intensity when applied liberally." It's versatile, comfortable and so pretty, with just that touch of shimmer - like your favorite skirt that fits so well and goes with everything. It applies on lips smoothly and softly (even less drag than with Ink Pot); even though it has shimmer, it never feels gritty or drying. Color wise, it's a pretty peachy terra-cotta with subtle gold shimmer. Coverage starts on the sheer side, but it can be built up - the color intensifies without the texture becoming goopy or heavy. I kind of love it. It has a soft, faintly herbal scent, which I personally like, because it is simply the result of the ingredients, rather than an additional opaque "fragrance" tag (at least, that is my understanding; full ingredients list can be found here).
Wearing These Days on its own, applied at...lipstick strength? (A few passes).
Ilia Beauty also suggests using These Days to soften or add variety to other shades, so that lipsticks you already own become more versatile! I am on board. I've done this before, with lip gloss (long ago), and was a bit wary about doing it with lipstick, since then you get messy bullets blah blah blah. It was fine. I applied These Days first, because then I figured I'd get more of the conditioning benefit, and also because then I don't have a dark lip color smeared all over the lighter bullet. I chose to try it with MAC Living Legend, a matte lipstick I picked up when it was released and then put away, because while I usually have no qualms about rocking a vampy lip, this one was quite severe - and I was really pale at the time, and it was...intense. These Days softened it up beautifully, while still keeping the drama. I can see this adding a beautiful sheen to red lipsticks, too - especially during the holidays!
MAC Living Legend (matte, LE) applied over Ilia Beauty These Days. I love this combination! Living Legend on its own is a little severe (especially when I'm pale), but it's a "wearable" vamp when softened with These Days.

However, I will mention that the lipstick bullet broke off at the base the first time I tried to apply it. I'm pretty careful, and the bullet isn't overly soft, so I'm not sure if it's just a result of it being delivered on a hot summer day - I didn't try it on the same day, and our house has AC. I managed to firmly press the bullet back into the plastic base within the tube, but it's a little banged up and smashed from pressing into the rim when I tried to apply it; the bullet wobbles now and occasionally needs to be pressed back in. A shame, but I'm hopeful that it's not a common issue, as I haven't read or heard any other complaints about it. Just...be careful and don't destroy your beauty! Ha!

These Days is $26 and can be purchased on Ilia Beauty's website here. I appreciate that it actually delivers on the "lip conditioner" promises; many "tinted" lip treatments can't be distinguished from lipsticks, but this one does seem to have an extra oomph in texture and feel. They have a version with sunscreen now - totally eying that up, since they were successful with this!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Sessions XI

Currently...

Wondering:

Guys, how do you make friends as adults? We've always been in school, and then last year we were living apart and mostly concerned with the whole long distance marriage thing, but now we're living in the same state and city again, and...how do you make friends? I'm shy and not great in groups of people I don't know. I tried a few Meetups when I was here by myself, but had to force myself to go and didn't really have a great time. S and I are going to start climbing again after his marathon (he's running a relay team this time) and maybe that will help. I also go to aerial classes, which is how I made really great friends in Seattle (many of whom I still keep in touch with), but while a lot of people in Seattle were also transplants, most of the people I've met here have grown up in Maryland, and already have established friend circles. And our neighbors are all older, with kids - which doesn't mean we can't make great connections, but it'd be nice to find other young couples with similar interests. Do any of you guys struggle with this, too? How have you met other people the same age? Any advice?

Looking for:

A great neutral shadow trio. This is my all-time favorite (review here), but as you can see, it's getting down there, ha! I kind of just want to repurchase it, but I also want to try something new. But what if the new thing isn't as good? First world problems, I know. Still. I want something not too warm and not too cool (I have a cool palette from Bobbi Brown that I quite like). I was eyeing this Viseart palette in Cashmere - anyone tried?

Listening to:
[image source]

Kaleo. S came home one day and told me he heard a band on the radio that he thought I'd love.

He was right. They're an Icelandic rock band with an almost Americana, folk/bluesy sound. I've been listening to their debut album, A/B - it's good.

Otherwise, I've been trying to find a new podcast to listen to, since I finally caught up with My Dad Wrote a Porno and now have to wait for them to release episodes every week. I couldn't get in to Criminal, Sporkful, Lore, and a few others, although the premises sounded good. Any recommendations? I still like Myths and Legends, season one of Serial (couldn't get into season 2), Embedded, and Limetown, and adore My Dad Wrote a Porno.

Link love:
- Crows and ravens are super clever. And this is hilarious.
- How do you feel about bidets?
- I'm excited about Hidden Figures! The book is on my to-read list now, too.
- Especially after Katrina, I always think of the animals that are stranded after devastating events. Here are ways to help those in Louisiana after the flood.
- Lolz. S said this would totally be me.

Anyway, today we're off to DC for brunch and a trip to the Air and Space museum! How are you spending your Sunday? Have any fun links? Drop them in the comments!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

FOTD: Finally on the Taupe Train with Shiseido Pink Sands

[Products marked * were gwp samples; all others were purchased by me or received as gifts from friends.]
I KNOW, AN FOTD. 

I'm feeling kind of artsy again. Or at least, like I want to spend more than three minutes on my face, and do a little more than slap on concealer and brows.
Shiseido Pink Sands Trio - RD711.
Plus, I got excited, because up until a few weeks ago, I wasn't really into this Pink Sands trio. Which kind of hurt my heart a little (drama much, I know), because I love Shiseido trios - previously documented here, and here). But the peachy shade is a little too pale, the pink borders on a rash for me, and the taupe was...eh. Taupe. Nothing to get your knickers knocked about for, right?
Taupe shade from Pink Sands on eyes, layered over Laura Mercier Sand Glow Caviar Stick, with the dark brown shade from Shiseido OR302 in the crease.
But I started playing around with it (and I also picked up some MAC eye brushes lately, which seems to have made a huge difference in how shadows apply) and ok, I get it. Taupe is pretty. *flutters fingers in a sparkly motion*
Ohhh, there's dog fluff in my hair, ha!
Other makeup:
Makeup Forever HD Blush in 520 Blackcurrant
Armani Fluid Sheer in 2 Shimmering Beige*

So, are you a taupe lover? Have you ever renewed your interest in a product that you had initially written off?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer is For Obnoxiously Bright Lipstick, and Nuxe Can Help

[Products marked * were provided by PR for review. All opinions are my own, unbiased. No affiliate links.]

I'm always torn at this time of year. On the one hand, it's too damned hot and I want to wear my new boots and I'm ready for some change, so I'm eagerly awaiting the change of seasons.

On the other, I'm always hopelessly behind in my blog schedule and need to post all of the summer features that I wanted to cover.

Like this one.

But it's ok! Because this will be handy all year round, for all those absurdly popular matte lipsticks right now (although Tracy is right. Why are they all BROWN? And pink BROWN. And mauve BROWN. And red BROWN.).

I love me a good matte lipstick (some favorites here and here), but they can require some extra prep work. And sometimes your lips really aren't feeling it, even if you are. A balm can help, but it can also change the texture of your matte lipstick a little too much, or the color, or make it slippery. I've never thought of a skincare product for lips filling in, but that's what I have here - and it totally works.

Nuxe's Nuxuriance Ultra line contains anti-aging products with ingredients like bougainvillea, wakame, and saffron. The product I'm talking about today is the Anti-Aging Eye and Lip Contour Cream* (0.5 oz for $49), which is a two-in-one cream for eyes and lips. I tried it on eyes a couple of times, but I've already got favorite night and daytime creams (Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel and Shiseido Ibuki Eye Correcting Cream, respectively; the first is a great depuffing, firming gel, and the second has brightening properties) and this one doesn't compete there - it could be doing some anti-aging action, but I don't notice any depuffing. Where it does, shine, however, is as a lip cream.

It's different from their cult classic lip balm*; this cream sinks into lips immediately, making them soft and smooth. It's not waxy or sticky, and doesn't contain smoothing silicones (full ingredients list here). I like it at night, as a treatment - and I don't have to worry about balm traveling onto my pillow or on to the rest of my face - or, like I said earlier, as a quick prep step before wearing a matte lipstick. Because it sinks in immediately, it doesn't affect lipstick application. I pump the tiniest dot on my ring finger, gently smooth product into my lips, and boom - all done. It's not a balm, meant for reapplication - it's a skincare treatment. It's excellent.

I know, lip treatments aren't ever on my list of things I need to buy, but sometimes (especially in the winter), it's nice to be able to pull one out. This is on the pricier end at $49 for 0.5 oz, and while I dot think everyone needs a lip cream, it's one of those items that's nice to have on hand. In the US, it's available on Nuxe's website.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pixie Dust: Hair Products for Pixie Perfection

[Products marked * were provided by PR for review. All opinions are my own and there are no affiliate links.]

Sometimes I have dreams that my hair has grown out, and I wake up feeling distinctly disgruntled.

Yeah, I'm not growing my hair out again for a long, long time.

It's also the haircut that I've gotten the most compliments on, so I take that as an indication that this style actually suits me, ha. (The other thing I get compliments on? Diptyque Eau Duelle. Without fail.)

Anyway. I don't fuss a lot with my hair. I have a pretty simple shampoo/conditioner, and after showering I work in a volumizing serum - this StriVectin Max Volume Bodifying Radiance Serum ($35) is what I'm currently using, and I like it. This green line is all about volume, and the serum keeps hair soft and shiny so that it has healthy volume, without being weighed down or limp. It has a faint smell that isn't offensive (it's a faint citrus) and that I hardly notice (you have to sniff it to pick it up). However, I usually shower at night, and although my hair usually dries by the time I go to bed, by the time I wake up in the morning, I am rocking a full medusa. Or those trolls that MAC has brought back. It is not glamorous.
So, I need to depoof my hair again. But flat hair isn't cute. I also need to add volume back. And sometimes I get fancy and want a piece-ier look with my bangs. So this is what I have going on.

To flatten my hair in the morning (or depoof, as it were), I just wet my hair completely (we have one of those detachable handheld showerheads which makes this easy). Then, I look like a drowned rat. So I spray some of the StriVectin Max Volume Root Lifting Serum ($26), comb my hair, and air dry. Sometimes I'll also spritz Redken's Wax Blast 10 (~$15-22) to keep that piecey, wet look. I have noticed that the volume I get back with the StriVectin spray is noticeable; if I just wet my hair and air dry, it can be a little flat. On the flip side, the Root Lifting Serum can be a little crunchy if I don't finger comb my hair after applying it and before styling. It's not heavy or greasy, though, and I don't feel like my hair has any gross residue or weight to it after application.
StriVectin Hair products are available on their site, Nordstrom and on Sephora; they also have a starter trio of the shampoo, conditioner and radiance serum and travel sizes for some of the products. They're sulfate-free. One thing I wanted to mention is that the Bodifying Radiance Serum contains their patented Lumiphyto Complex, which they say "transforms" UV light into visible light, thus creating "weightless radiance." Molecules can do this - it's essentially how chemical sunscreen works, by absorbing UV light and emitting the energy in some other form - but I am not sure that it would really have an aggregate visible effect. Still, in theory, it's interesting, and I am always for creative science. All of their hair products also contain their patented NIA-114 (which I've discussed before, here), and I've never thought about anti-aging products for hair before, nor can I comment on the efficacy. 

What products do you use on your hair, and what are your hair concerns? How do you feel about anti-aging hair products?
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème

[Product was purchased by me. No affiliate links.]

I mentioned Becca's Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème ($32, 0.16 oz) in my recent base roundup post, and here's the in-depth (ish) report.

I use concealers daily, because I don't use foundation every day. I have some redness around my jawline that I like to conceal, but I don't always feel the need for a full face of foundation.
Left: Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation in Light, and Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème in Tahini.

I've used and liked MAC Mineralize concealer (NC20) and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (Custard) previously, but this is the one I'll be repurchasing. It comes in a glass pot, which is my least favorite aspect, but it's too thick for any other form of packaging. It's absolutely a cream - thick but easy to apply in thin layers. I use my ring finger and dab it on the spots I want to coverage, and then buff out with a damp Beauty Blender, flat-topped brush, or round brush...basically, it's easy to buff out. If I am wearing foundation, I pat concealer on last, to get at anything that foundation doesn't cover, and it melds in beautifully.

It offers full coverage, but never cakes up, and it has a luminous quality without containing sparkles. It conceals without mattifying and keeps that "natural skin" appearance. Sometimes I set with powder, and sometimes I don't, but I never notice it slipping or pilling up or doing anything shady. I also love that it has yellow/golden undertones, and isn't too pink or orange like some concealers are (my shade is Tahini). I purchased mine at Sephora.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Something Quick: Dior Skyline Polish

[Product was purchased by me.]

I just wanted to throw this out there, because I couldn't find a lot of swatches when I was shopping for it, so this will be quick.

I have a soft spot for Dior polish. It's my favorite brand of polish, and lasts about a week or so (with proper base and top coats - my current favorites are Lippmann's All About that Base CC Base Coat, and Addicted to Speed top coat). I always keep an eye out for new releases, so I picked up Skyline (from Nordstrom, $27). I thought it would be an oxblood cream.
In shade - looks like a deep purple cream.
It's not, though. It's a dusty purple in shade, similar to Lippmann Miss Independent, but in sunlight - boom. It's a reddish chocolate brown, with that famous secret shimmer. It's quite unique, and perfect for autumn.
You can kind of see the shimmer. It's more pronounced than in some other recent polishes, but still...it's "secret."
The two US releases (as far as I can tell) are Skyline and Minimal; Minimal is a praline cream, and I'm eyeing it hard. I have Lippmann Naked, but Minimal is an opaque cream (from what I can tell, anyway), so...we'll see. Still, I feel like Dior's polish prices go up every year, so I don't know. $27 is getting up there.

I purchased mine at Nordstrom, but it's available at most Dior beauty retailers. I believe it's limited edition - most of their seasonal releases are. These still feature that fabulous wide brush, which I love. Also, even though I'm not into any of the other products in this collection, I do love the promo photo:
[image source]

It's so deliciously VAMPY. I mean, maybe I should be looking at recreating that lipstick-gloss combo. And that eye look. I'm pretty sure I have enough STUFF to do it. And I haven't tackled a FOTD in a long time. OK, SELF, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

MD Solar Sciences MD Crème Mineral Beauty Balm: All Mineral, All Fab

[Product was received from PR for review. Opinions are my own. No affiliate links.]

One of these years I'll get my act together and actually post a sunscreen review before summer.

Alas, this is not one of those years.

But summer's not over yet, at least? And really, I wear facial sunscreen all year long, so I'm gonna give myself a pass for this one.
All mineral! Broad spectrum coverage! SPF 50! Great makeup primer! It's the stuff of dreams, you guys.
I prefer all-mineral sunscreens, so even though I did like how Tatcha's sunscreen preps skin beautifully for makeup, I was still keeping an eye out for an all physical sunscreen facial cream. And this one fell into my lap. And it's amazing.

It's called a "mineral beauty balm," and is meant to do the usual things a BB cream does: even out skintone, provide broad spectrum coverage (active ingredients are 2% titanium dioxide, 17% zinc oxide, so it's UVA and UVB protection), and mattify the skin in preparation for makeup. I was a little wary, because "mattify" and dry skin don't usually mix, but I'm happy to report that this actually keeps my skin feeling supple and smooth. It does provide a nice base for makeup (it has typical primer ingredients: dimethicones), though it is pretty sheer in terms of coverage (less than your typical tinted moisturizer). However, the slight tint keeps it from turning my face white or gray, like other physical sunscreens can sometimes do. Because it doesn't really feel mattifying (although it's not oily or shiny), I think it's probably best for dry to combination skin; if you have oily skin, this might not be enough mattifying action for you.

I have the "light/medium" shade, which is perfect for me, but like I said, it's not really meant to be foundation. The amount above in my hand is actually maybe a little excessive. I squeeze the tube gently before application to mix together the ingredients (otherwise it separates - the instructions say to "shake well"), and the tube has a thin nozzle, so it's easy to squeeze out just what you want, despite my poor example above, lol.

This retails for $39 for 1.23 oz at Sephora, and I think it's my current favorite sunscreen. I have two other MDSolarSciences formulas to try, but since this one is a combination makeup primer and sunscreen, this one takes the cake so far.

What's your favorite sunscreen right now? Have you tried anything from MDSolarSciences?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dior Addict Lip Glow in Coral: The Dior Disappointment

[Product was purchased by me. No affiliate links.]
Dior Addict Lip Glow in Coral.

Right, so, let's not beat around the bush. I'm a Dior lip product fiend - I like the Rouge Diors, the Addict lipsticks, and their lip gloss formula is hands down my favorite of all time. Funnily enough, however, I wasn't really interested in the one Dior lip product that everyone seems to love: the Addict Lip Glow. But then they came out with a coral shade, so I thought ok, why not. It's $33 for a tinted lip balm, but well, Dior prices, that's to be expected - it's definitely a splurge, but it would have been worth it if I loved it.

I don't love it.

I know! It's vanilla scented (a much better choice than the strong rose scent of the Rouge Diors), and not in that sickly synthetic MAC vein, either - it's rather yummy. It's soft and melds into lips, with a texture that is thinner and less waxy than the Fresh balms, but thicker and more transparent than an Addict lipstick. The finish is a sort of satiny stain - not glossy, but not matte or dry like those old school markers. This would have been good - I like this type of finish a lot (like this Ilia pencil, although the Dior Addict Glow is much more translucent).
Wearing Dior Addict Lip Glow in Coral.
The problem is that it doesn't really apply evenly, in my opinion - or at least, it takes a bit more work to apply it evenly than you really want with a balm. Also, it leaves a stain, but the stain isn't quite even, and you can easily end up with the dreaded ring around the edge of your lips. HOT. And, of course, if you apply more, you'll get a deeper color, so you can't really use it like a traditional balm just for moisturizing.

I'll use up my tube, because it's not offensive, but I don't love it - and I wanted to love it. I do wonder if the original pink shade is better, but cool pinks never do well with me, unless they're full blown BOOM lipsticks (like this one). I know many people love this one, though. So hey, you might too. Or you might not. We'll band together. Let me know.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Food Friday: Let's Talk TASTY

Bon Appétit has been running some interviews with Olympians, asking about their favorite food, meal rituals, etc., (Ryan Lochte, lol, let's just say it's a good thing he swims fast). They're fun, though, because food is relatable. So I thought I'd make my own tag, because you can't make me shut up about food.

1. What is your go-to meal for celebrations? Or do you always choose something new/different?
I usually want to try something different, but good go-tos are sushi or that new restaurant in town with the smashing cocktails.

2. What was your favorite childhood meal?
Hmmm...I love a lot of Korean food - my mom is a fabulous cook, and she makes great everything. I really like samgyupsal and bossam. I haven't had either since our Korea trip now, I think!

The other things are local dishes from HI - chicken katsu done local style, or lemon chicken, loco moco, lomi salmon,  laulau!

3. What is something you hated as a kid, but have grown to love?
Cheese. I actually didn't like cheese much as a kid (except on pizza), but now I'm definitely a fan.

4. And, the opposite - something you loved as a kid, but can no longer handle?
I'm lactose intolerant now, ha, but I refuse to give up dairy...I just take some lactase and buy lactose-free milk.

5. Something you still hate with a passion?
I don't think I really hate anything (except parsnips, the most confused root vegetable), but there are some foods I dislike immensely. Kidney beans, cucumbers (although I'll eat them pickled, but raw cucumbers smell disgusting to me)...that's all I can think of right now, actually!

6. What's a food that you love, but most people you know hate?
I know a lot of people hate mushrooms, but I LOVE them, and always have! I even like them raw on salads.

7. And because opposites are fun - something you hate, but most other people love?
Chocolate.

8. Favorite ice cream flavor/brand?
Ugh, I love ice cream, and gelato. I love mint (keep nasty chips!), good solid vanilla, cheesecake...the list goes ON AND ON. There's usually always a pint of Talenti Gelato in our freezer. Or two. Or five.

9. Favorite kind of cheese?
Depends what we're having, but every so often we have wine night, with cured meats, soft cheese (chèvre, brie, bleu) and jam. And olives or cornichons.

10. Happy hour! What do you order?
I'm adventurous with cocktails, as well, but I'm always drawn to whisky cocktails. I hate gin, and don't really like rum, either. Wine, beer, and vodka cocktails are ok.

11. What's your favorite meal to make?
As we all know, I hate cooking and prefer baking. I can make dukbokee and dwenjang jigae, though, and will muster up the willpower if S has a cold.

12. Fruit pie, or cream pie?
Fruit pie, all the way, although coconut cream is sometimes a solid choice, if it's not overwhelmingly sweet.

13. If you have a cold, what is your comfort food?
Korean soup or Thai noodle soup, or pho. Basically, soup, but I'm not really into American style chicken noodle when I'm sick, although S makes a good one and it's fine any other time.

14. Bad day - what do you reach for?
Ice cream or wine.

15. On the average, are you a sweet or savory breakfast food person?
Sweet, usually, but I'll eat pretty much anything for breakfast, including leftover pasta (or any leftovers), ramen, cake...you get the idea.

16. Favorite food-related show?
The Great British Bake-off! I also like Chopped and Worst Cooks of America. And Food Truck Race.

17. When eating out, do you save room for dessert?
Usually, yes. We don't eat out that often, so when we do, we tend to splurge and make it the full meal, but I will usually pick having a dessert over an appetizer if I'm not that hungry. And I don't mind sharing.

18. Favorite vegetarian meal?
We do Meatless Mondays (and actually only eat meat 1-2x a week), so I have a lot of favorite vegetarian meals. I'm going with risotto!

19. Favorite season for food?
I love summer because there's so much produce! BERRIES and watermelons, and it's grilling season, and splashy cocktails and sangria and cold treats are everywhere, and you can dine out on the patio at restaurants. It's all very casual and fun.

20. If you could only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be? (we threw this around as an icebreaker at a group lunch, once. It's a horrible, horrible question!)
I think I'd have to go with Italian. All that emphasis on fresh food, and PASTA. But I don't really want to choose, haha.

21. Restaurant on your wishlist:
I'm planning our anniversary weekend trip to NYC, and I'm hoping to get a reservation at Gramercy Tavern.

22. Favorite restaurant?
Joule, in Seattle.

23. What city would you want to visit just for the food?
Can we go with region? Tuscany. I've never been, and like I said earlier, I love Italian food. And it seems like it would be so beautiful there, as well.

24. Do you make a treat every holiday season? What is it?
When we were younger, mom used to make tons of mandoo (Korean dumplings, like Japanese gyoza or Chinese wonton) to give out to the neighbors, and to cook for ourselves. She doesn't do that anymore, and I definitely do not attempt this, but I have fond memories. S and I have had Christmases together at home for the past few years, and we like to make a full course meal that's simple but decadent. And I usually bake a couple times during the holiday.

25. You're in Target, and can't resist picking up this candy at the checkout line:
Gummi bears and Sour Patch Kids.

Seriously, I could probably talk about food forever. What are your answers? Let me know!