Cover Girl: My Guide to Concealers

The thing about good skin days is that they don’t last.

Fine, fine. Yes, I’m being melodramatic. It’s just that I had a nasty breakout… right before a family gathering. Those evil little buggers know exactly when to make a grand entrance, don’t they?

Ugh.

The thing about my breakouts is that they tend to be of the cystic kind. I don’t have acne-prone skin most of the time, but when my skin gets clogged, it gets clogged. I get one or two pimples that are just huge and red and pulsing, like neon signs for the seedy bars along Kalayaan.

Still ugh.

My first instinct — and I guess this is probably true for most people who aren’t makeup artists — is to cover everything up. I want to reach for the most opaque of foundations and just paint my face blank.

Honestly though, that only makes things worse. Painting a thick layer of foundation is never flattering, and will only make you look weird and unnatural. It’s the exact opposite of what you want.

Instead, stealth is the key. Sleight of hand, my babies — we will vanish those pesky pimples with magic.

Or maybe not magic, but the right concealer.

See, I know you’ve seen the wide variety of concealers available on the market. You’ve got creams and liquids and sticks and tubs and pens and wands and, well, you get the point.

Figure out the right tool for the job, and those ugly buggers are no match for your makeup skills. Let this be a short and sweet guide.

Dark Circles

All those Youtube tutorials and Instagram influencers have made highlighting under the eyes a thing, but if you’re dealing with dark circles, applying a lighter concealer without correcting first will absolutely make your eyebags look gray. Not cute.

Depending on the color of your dark circles, you may or may not want to get into correctors first. I have brownish dark circles (others have noticed blue-ish or purple under eyes) so I can get away with a concealer that’s just a tiny bit peachier than my actual skin tone.

Even so, I prefer using a combination: Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach + Glossier Stretch Concealer in G11. I have to make sure I apply a light layer of both, though, so the end result isn’t thick and cake-y.

You can even add a brightening concealer, especially on the small grooves near your nose. Remember that you highlight to bring the area forward, so a bit of glow under your eyes can brighten the sunken parts and make you look more wide awake.

A final note for anything near the eyes: never use anything dry or matte! A thick, opaque concealer has its uses, but it will only make your undereyes look old and crepe-y. The Glossier Stretch Concealer is a little oily, which makes it an excellent choice for the eye area.

If you’re worried about the concealer melting off by mid-day, you can set with just a small amount of powder before leaving the house.

Redness

So let’s say you’ve got super ruddy cheeks, or a smattering of old acne marks that are healed and flat but won’t just straight up disappear. It doesn’t mean you have no choice but to use foundation!

Liquid concealers are best for this kind of job, because they’re easier to spread and can be sheered out to cover larger areas without getting too thick and obvious. You can just dot a few dabs on the area then sheer out carefully until you get the coverage you want.

Two of the best liquid concealers I’ve tried are NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Fenty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer. Both offer great color options, medium coverage, and smooth texture. I find that using a Beauty Blender (or whatever sponge you prefer) works best for applying light and thin layers.

Pimples

Ah, the scourge. I know I’m not supposed to be too bothered by pimples, but I am. I can’t help it. I see those pimples on my face and I can’t stop worrying about them. It really messes with my head, and sometimes I get a little obsessed.

No matter. I now have a bullet-proof solution for covering up even the ugliest of these pimples. Sure, they’ll be visible if they’re bumpy, but the right concealer can make them just a tiny bit less obvious.

First up: never use a creamy or brightening concealer. The Glossier Stretch Concealer is excellent for brightening the undereyes, but it can only make cystic pimples a lot more noticeable. Remember what we said about bringing things forward by highlighting?

So you want a matte concealer instead. It’s a visual trick, really. Matte makes it just a little bit less visible.

Second, you want something that’s straight up opaque. No medium coverage bullshit here! For really angry and red pimples, you need a concealer that can cover those bad boys up with one layer so you can keep it looking “natural”.

Finally, you need something that stays put the entire day. No one has time to keep retouching, you know. But where exactly do we find this perfect concealer?

Makeup Forever Full Cover Extreme Camouflage Cream exists and it is magical.

To think I almost gave up on it! I thought I could use it like regular concealers, applying with a finger and dabbing it all over my face. Wrong. To get this concealer right, you have to use the right tool for the job.

Here’s how I use it:

  • Small amount squeezed out on the back of my hand
  • Zoeva Concealer Buffer Brush picks up a small amount
  • Dab a little on the back of my hand to make sure I don’t pick up too much concealer
  • Dab lightly on and around the pimple I’d like to cover
  • Buff the edges if necessary

That’s it! I find that if I apply a light enough layer, I won’t have to really set the concealer. I do dab a bit of powder on the area if I want extra assurance.

Can you get away with just one concealer for everything? Sure, if you don’t have really dark circles or if you don’t have a lot to cover. If you want to be excellent at finessing your base, though, having a number of concealers to choose from is definitely perfect for your needs.


Photo by Karly Jones on Unsplash

Kilay Clash: Glossier Boy Brow vs Sunnies Face Lifebrow Grooming Gel

Before we start, take a second to look at that picture of me on the right hand side of your screen. Look at my brows.

I have good, thick brows. Slightly unruly, but definitely the sort of brow that seems to be popular right now.

Thank goodness they survived the 90s. That’s largely due to my mom’s absolute obsession with tradition, which holds that unmarried women are not supposed to tweeze, pluck, or shave their brows.

It was such an annoying thing back then, given that I had really bushy brows when everyone in the 90s tweezed theirs into oblivion, but it’s obviously a wonderful thing in hindsight. Thank you, mom. Thank you, weird Chinese tradition.

So now why do I even bother with brow gels? I like having nice, natural brows but they can get a little unruly sometimes. I trim the underside occasionally, or if I feel like it’s moving away from thick to actual thicket.

Glossier Boy Brow is one of the most life-changing beauty products on the planet because it grooms and really gets those fine hairs to show up, so you get that runway model brow without a lot of effort. That said, I don’t like having to ship the products through a third party, as it needlessly complicates my life and it probably isn’t very good for the environment.

So I decided to try out Sunnies Face Lifebrow Grooming Gel. It’s local and it’s inexpensive — two things that I am decidedly very into.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we ended up with this comparison post. But first, the tale of the tape:

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Statistics are only half the battle, though, so we move on the crux of this post: can the Lifebrow actually replace my Boy Brow for good?

Packaging

It’s no secret that the Sunnies Face owners took a lot of inspiration from Glossier, and it definitely shows — especially in the packaging department. That said, I don’t understand why the handle for Lifebrow has to be that long? It’s not really serving anybody, and we could do just fine with a shorter one.

Wand

When it comes to brow gels, you want a wand that will grab even the tiniest eyebrow hairs. Precision is key!

Both brands offer excellent wands. Glossier’s is short but a little wider, while Sunnies Face has a wand that’s thin and tall. With these wands, applying the product on the brows is a lot easier and takes very little effort. You don’t have to worry about smudges, either.

Color

Boy Brow comes in Clear, Blonde, Brown, and Black. Lifebrow is available in Ash Brown and Warm Brown. (I use Black and Warm Brown, respectively.)

Black can get pretty intense, especially if I’m a bit heavy-handed. The color really does show up. Warm Brown, though, isn’t as visible. This probably isn’t a fair comparison, because clearly I have dark brows and Warm Brown won’t be as obvious on them. I don’t know if Lifebrow is coming out with new shades in the future, but it looks like they really are going for something a bit more muted.

The Actual Product

The most crucial difference between Lifebrow and Boy Brow? Lifebrow Grooming Gel isn’t enough to recreate that Boy Brow finish.

Boy Brow grabs the brow hairs and thickens them, so you look like you have thicker brows. I don’t have to use a pencil to fill in the gaps, I just brush my brows and go.

With Lifebrow, it looks like you really need the matching pencil if you want that thicker finish. To be fair, the brand does sell them as a duo, and nowhere in their product literature do they say that their brow gel volumizes or thickens.

It does work great if you just want something to fluff up your brows and give them hold. Lifebrow is no way a one-stop-shop like Boy Brow, though.

Conclusion

Glossier’s Boy Brow remains undefeated, and I may have to keep ordering it for the foreseeable future. That said, I could get the matching Lifebrow pencil and see if it works out better. It’s just that I’ve never used an eyebrow pencil (don’t really need to), but it might just be the missing ingredient to take Lifebrow grooming gel to the next level.


Photo by A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ on Unsplash

A Recipe For Glowing Cheeks

Can we please talk about The General’s Daughter?

Local television can get mind-numbingly repetitive most of the time, but this show is different. It’s so good! It’s fast-paced, the story is riveting, and the entire cast is beyond excellent.

I have to admit, though. I sometimes lose track of the story because I get distracted by Angel Locsin’s face. Seriously. Looking that good has to be illegal somewhere.

Her look on the show falls into no-makeup makeup territory — understandable given she portrays a soldier/rebel/all-around badass. Ain’t no time for fancy face beats, you know? In lieu of heavy coverage we get naturally radiant skin, with cheeks that look lit from within.

Magnificent.

I’ve since spent every waking minute wondering how to replicate this angelic look. I’m sure her actual makeup artist has a ton of professional tips and tricks that I’m not privy to, and my version is incredibly pedestrian, but it’s the best I can come up with and it actually works for me.

I’m not saying this recipe will make you look like Angel Locsin, okay? It will, however, make you look like you drink water and eat vegetables and do yoga and have healthy hobbies that don’t involve obsessively analyzing celebrities’ faces on television.

Let’s go.

Get your base right.

It’s not that you have to skip foundation altogether, but I can tell you from experience that a lighter base just works better for this look. I’ve tried this with a full on Fenty face, and though it looks really good (thanks, Fenty Beauty) it won’t give you that natural “no makeup” radiance.

Use a sheer foundation, tinted moisturizer, or skin tint — the important thing here is to let skin look like skin. (Tip: if your favorite foundation is a little too matte or heavy for this look, mix it with facial oil or moisturizer.)

Even on the show, you can sometimes see Angel’s skin texture or minor blemishes peeking through and that’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t diminish her beauty — it makes her look more fresh and radiant.

If you do have some really red spots that you want to cover up, just use a concealer instead of going full face, or color correct the areas that need a little help.

I start with Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer all over the face, let it settle a bit, then color correct my dark circles with Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach. My skin has gotten a lot better thanks to regular laser facials, but if I get a really bright red spot, I cover up that sucker with Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer.

Stick to cream or liquid blush.

I’m sure professional makeup artists can do just as well with powder, but personally I find cream or liquid blushes much better suited when trying to get a natural blush on your cheeks.

Cream blush is easy to work with, melts into your skin, and you can either diffuse it or build it up to the intensity you want. You won’t look like you blushed; instead you’ll look like you just got back from a run and you’re just perfectly flushed and gorgeous.

I have several cream blushes that I really like. Glossier Cloud Paint is great and definitely lives up to the hype. I also like the NARS Liquid Blushes, but they do require a little more effort to apply.

My current favorite (and the most affordable one at that) is BLK Cosmetics Creamy Cheek Paint. I have 3 of the 4 shades: Strawberry, Apple, and Candy Cane.

It’s very soft and smooth, easy to apply, and the color payoff is bomb. I know some people have compared it to Cloud Paint, but I find the latter more of a gel-cream while Creamy Cheek Paint is… well… creamier.

Word of warning, though: the huge applicator should never touch your face unless you want to have very, very, very bright cheeks. Dab a bit on the back of your hand, tap tap tap a few times before applying on the apples of your cheeks. You can always add more as you go, but scaling blush back is a lot harder.

Set your face with a finishing powder.

One of these days I’m gonna do a more in-depth post differentiating the two, but basically setting powder helps keep your makeup in place, while finishing powder helps to “perfect” your look. Finishing powder blurs your pores, softens up the look of fine lines, adds a bit of glow, etc.

If you have oily skin, you want to lightly set with your favorite setting powder, but dry-skinned people like me can skip that and go straight to the finishing powder.

I am ride or die for Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light, as you may already know, because it brightens up my face and adds a subtle touch of healthy glow without getting too overwhelming. A light dusting all over the face is all I need to get that Instagram filter in real life.

 Apply highlighter. Lots of it.

The secret to beautiful, glowing cheeks? Highlighter, of course!

You may have noticed that I apply finishing powder first before highlighting. That’s because I am extra when it comes to highlighter, and I want it to be the last thing I apply to a finished face so I can really go ham with it.

I’m a fiend for highlighters, and my normal go-to is NARS Highlighting Powder in Fort de France. These days, though, I’ve been experimenting with Sunnies Face Glowboss in Hey, Girl and I am loving it!

It glides so easily on the face and I swipe a little too generously on the cheekbones, tapping slightly to blend the edges. The best thing about this stick highlighter is that it looks wet, so if you’re looking for that glass skin life, this is all you need.

The only thing I don’t like about Glowboss is that it has visible golden flecks, which can really mess with the whole “natural” vibe. Even then, it’s not chunky glitter so it still works.

If you’re feeling a little extra, pop some of the Glowboss on your brow bones, on your temples, and at the center of your eyelids. You’ll look like you take vitamin C regularly and sleep eight hours a day minimum.

Bonus: groom your brows and blur your lips.

Forget Instagram brows and perfectly lined lips. The best part about this “no makeup” makeup illusion is that everything can (and should) be a little off-kilter. Use a pencil to lightly fill the sparse areas of your brows then fluff ’em up with a brow gel or pomade like the legendary Glossier Boy Brow.

I have naturally thick brows so I skip the brow pencil. I just use Boy Brow to brush everything up and make it look like I’ve never met a pair of tweezers in my life.

As for lips? Apply the lipstick of your choice — straight from the bullet — then blur out the edges for a more carefree and natural look. If you prefer lip tints, dab a bit of it on the center of your lips then tap to get a just-bitten flush.

And that’s it! You can of course swap out the products I mentioned for makeup you already own and enjoy, but I highly recommend checking out local brands BLK Cosmetics and Sunnies Face if you’re in the Philippines. They’re relatively inexpensive but have great quality products to offer.


Screenshot from The General’s Daughter via iWant.PH

A Face-ful of Fenty Part 2: The Base Makeup

So obviously it took me a lot longer to write this post. It’s definitely a lot easier to review brushes, because you use them a couple of times and you can figure out if they’re good or not.

Base makeup takes a little more time and testing. You’ll have to run a few combinations till you figure out what works and what doesn’t. I feel like if you don’t test foundation several times (at the very least), you’re doing the product an absolute disservice.

So what do I think of the Fenty Beauty primer, foundation, and concealer? Let’s get to it.

Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer

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Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer

This is a vanilla marshmallow cloud of a primer, and I love it.

Fair warning: this is a very silicone-y product. I personally have no quarrel with silicones; my skin reacts to coconut esters but not dimethicone. If you’re sensitive, though, you might want to steer clear.

Moving on: why do I love this primer? Let me not count the ways. First, it smells very faintly of marshmallows. The smell isn’t overpowering in any way, but it’s there and it just has a very calming effect on me.

Second, it leaves my face super soft and smooth. I don’t think it actually fills in pores (I’ll talk about this more in a second) or extends the life of my foundation, but it does function as a great smoothing base that you can build on. Plus, I gladly apply a lot but it never pills.

Finally: it does have that blurring effect that we all want from modern primers. It’s not gonna be a straight up filter, but the light pink tint softens imperfections and neutralizes redness.

On a good skin day, you could get away with this primer, a bit of concealer, and a nice finishing powder.

It’s not all fun and marshmallows, of course.

It doesn’t stop my nose from oiling up, and it doesn’t stop the foundation from sinking into my pores. The weird thing is that this pores thing only happens around my nose, where my pores are tiny. The exact same thing happens to Youtuber kathleenlights, who also has dry skin like me.

It however prevents the foundation from sinking into the huge pores on my nose. Weird.

Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

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Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

Before anything else, I want to focus on the best part of this foundation: the shade.

I bought all my stuff from Sephora.PH, so that means I never had the chance to test shades on my actual face. That’s a dumb thing to do, but it worked out fine. Plus, I actually wasn’t going in completely blind.

About a couple months earlier, I got a sample from Sephora that had a range of shades. 150 was the closest match, but I found it a little too yellow for me. I went to the Fenty website and checked out the light warm and light neutral shades. Plus, I did the Sephora match test and (using Y225 for MUFE) I got shade 140.

Let me tell you, 140 is a flipping perfect match. It’s warm but not overly yellow, which is a common problem for East Asian people. It matches me perfectly like no foundation ever has before.

The closest shade for me is Makeup Forever’s Y225, but it is just a hair lighter than my normal color. Fenty 140 is the sort of shade where I can straight up skip applying on my neck (don’t skip, though, for texture uniformity) and people won’t see the color discrepancy.

My problem with this foundation is that’s it’s both matte and full coverage — a combination that can look mask-like, especially on dry skin. The good news is that it doesn’t leave me looking cracked or parched, thanks to the high humidity of Manila.

I do have to make sure I prep my skin, though. The primer is not enough to keep the foundation looking nice and smooth on me. I have to make sure I apply my moisturizer or facial oil, let it sit, apply sunscreen, let that sit, and then the primer. It’s a lot of work.

The foundation looks really good and covers everything I’d like to cover with just one layer. It also looks better as the day wears on and some natural oil shines through a tiny bit.

My problem is that when I get super up close to the mirror, I can see how the matte finish really emphasizes every bump, uneven texture, and flake that my face has to offer. My consolation is that no one will stand two centimeters from my nose to inspect my makeup. What’s important is that at arm’s length my makeup looks flawless.

The Fenty channel recommends adding a drop or two of facial oil in the foundation to make it less matte, which I might just try one of these days.

This isn’t my favorite foundation because of how much effort it entails, and how matte it is, which breaks my heart because the shade match is beyond awesome. I’ll continue using it, though, because gripes aside, it does look pretty good on me.

Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer

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Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer

This is a great concealer for dark circles. I find that the best method is to apply this straight from the wand by making tiny dots on the darkest part of your under-eye area, then blending with either your finger or the concealer brush. Small pats work best until you’ve achieved the coverage you want.

I find that it doesn’t crease as long as I don’t over-apply. There’s no weird patchiness, either, and it doesn’t really set into the fine lines under my eyes.

That said, I don’t like this concealer for blemishes. It’s way too dry and doesn’t have enough coverage. My go-to concealer is MUFE Full Cover Extreme Camouflage Cream, which also has a weird learning curve that almost made me give up on it.

It took some effort to figure out how the MUFE concealer worked, so I tried to do the same for this one from Fenty. Sadly, I just couldn’t make it work for actual blemishes. It doesn’t have that good coverage, especially for obvious bumps.

Now discoloration? No problem. Just dab a bit of the concealer on the dark areas under and around your nose.

All in all, I can’t say I’m 100% into the foundation and concealer. They’re not bad, and I’m sure for certain skin types they are more than excellent. For my dry skin, though, I feel like there are better options for me. It’s just the shade match that’s keeping me in this Fenty life.


All images from Fenty Beauty

A Face-ful of Fenty Part 1: The Brushes

I don’t know how it happened, exactly, but one morning I woke up and realized I was an absolute ho for Fenty Beauty. The brand has taken over 80% of my makeup routine and every time Rihanna calls I come running.

It’s like, a whole thing.

I don’t have everything, obviously, but I have enough Fenty stuff to write two whole reviews. I guess I could stick them all into one post, but I’m so wordy you’d be begging for the sweet release of death before I’m done.

So, two reviews.

I was going to talk about the base products first, but I wanted to be as thorough as possible so I’m still testing a few combinations/scenarios just to be sure I’ve got every angle covered. Instead, we’ll start with the brushes.

I’m not gonna lie: the primary reason why I bought the Fenty brushes is because they’re pink. Sure, I saw really good reviews online, but I wouldn’t have been as easily swayed if they had been another color.

The good news is that they’re really awesome, and I think they’re well-worth the price. See, I know there are people who think expensive brushes are unnecessary, and I agree to a certain extent.

That said, I still think that when it comes to brushes, you get what you pay for. Real Techniques and Zoeva are both wonderful brands and they’re not very expensive, but there’s a noticeable difference in application that makes using Fenty brushes a lot more pleasurable.

Anyway, enough chitchat. Let’s get to it:

Full-Bodied Foundation Brush

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Oh, this brush. I have to admit, it took me some time before I understood how this one worked.

See, it’s unlike any other foundation brush I’ve ever seen or used. For the longest time I stuck to the Beauty Blender, and then eventually I switched to a dense dome-top brush. I’ve tried a stippling brush in the past, and of course I know the OG paddle brush.

This one, though — it’s different. It looks like a super fat paddle brush. It’s very dense; the bristles are soft but there’s minimal yield when you push against them. Fenty Beauty calls it a “paw”, and I suppose that really is the best word to use to describe it.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to paint your face with your cat’s paw? (Minus the talons, of course.) This brush gives you that experience, I think, although with less struggling and meowing and angry hissing.

If you watch the myriad videos on Youtube you’ll find that people have different ways of using this brush. My own preference is to paint broad stripes on my cheeks, forehead, and chin then use short, soft strokes to spread the foundation evenly all over my face. On certain parts (like my nose) I use a dabbing motion to get better coverage.

The brush isn’t scratchy, it doesn’t leave any unsightly streaks, and it’s super easy to use for medium to full coverage. Better than harassing your cat, I bet.

Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush

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I mentioned this in my 2018 favorites, so you already know that I love this brush. I am a fiend for highlighters, and the best way to get excellent payoff is to use the right application tool.

There are many wonderful highlight brushes out there, and choosing the right one will depend entirely on the finish you want to achieve. Some people like fan brushes for a more diffused finish, while others prefer a small tapered brush for controlled and targeted application.

This Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush is dense so you get a really strong highlight. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I dig it. I personally don’t feel like I’m ready to leave the house unless my highlight is bright enough to blind the aliens watching us from outer space.

What really sets this brush apart is its weird “shark tooth” shape. The groove fits perfectly over the cheekbones so it’s very easy to get that beaming highlight with minimal effort. I initially thought it would be hard to work with because of this shape, but now I can’t imagine using anything else.

Precision Concealer Brush

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A lot of people skip concealer brushes because they’d rather use their fingers, and I totally understand that. Fingers are perfect for warming up the concealer, applying with precision, and getting into all those nooks and crannies that brushes can’t quite get to.

The problem with fingers, for me, is that they tend to lift up the concealer that I’ve already carefully laid down. Plus I can never get the level of coverage that I want.

This concealer brush from Fenty saves me from that hassle. It’s angled so it mimics my fingertips, making it super easy to cover redness and blemishes especially in the harder to reach grooves like the sides of the nose.

It’s dense, too, so there’s no trouble getting enough coverage. I do a mix of tap and sweep to blend and the entire process takes very little effort.

The best part is I can use it under my eyes! Normally I stick to fingers for my dark circles, because brushes have a hard time applying concealer to the inner corners and the lines under my eyes without ending up a patchy mess. This one from Fenty, though — it actually works.

Powder Puff Setting Brush

fentypowderbrush

Oh sweet baby Jesus this brush is the flipping best.

It’s so soft. So, so soft.

So soft, in fact, that I originally thought it wasn’t picking up any of my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder. So soft that I kept going and going and going, only to realize that I had over-powdered my face and now looked like a glistening mess.

No matter.

It’s like powdering your face with a cloud. My makeup routine is 1000x more pleasurable with this brush in my life, and we all have Rihanna to thank for it.

Next up: bases.


All images from Fenty Beauty.

Marie Kondo and The Unnecessarily Large Lipstick Collection

I read Marie Kondo’s book in 2015 and decided it was time to clean out my skin care and makeup stash. It was not fun.

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That’s not all of it, even. Boxes of face masks, bottles, lipsticks, old foundations that never worked for me, etc.

It was too much.

Confronting the reality that I had spent way too much on things that didn’t actually work — or that I ended up not liking after a couple of uses — was a bit gut-wrenching. That’s a lot of money burnt in that one picture.

The good news is that I’ve been able to keep my stash smaller since. I no longer let things get out of control, and try to finish the stuff I bought. Sure, I still have a few purchases I regret, but I think I’ve been a lot more circumspect in the last couple of years, so I don’t have much to destash when I do my annual cleaning.

Besides, with the regular laser facial treatments, I no longer have to use a lot of skin care products. I just have my cleanser, makeup remover, moisturizer, and sunscreen. No more mucking about with two thousand toners and serums.

That said, my biggest problem area has to be lip products.

I think one reason why I easily accumulate lipsticks is because they’re a lot safer. I don’t have to worry about some ingredient in them breaking me out, because they don’t actually go on my face. They’re cheaper than other makeup items (generally speaking) and there are so many to choose from.

You can have lipsticks of varying shades, textures, and finishes so having more than one is a given. It’s like having a wardrobe for your lips!

The problem for me is that I only use a handful of the lip products I own, which I find rather wasteful. I can count on one hand the lipsticks that I actually use on a daily basis, and the rest languish on my desk and drawers.

I’ve already gotten rid of a bunch, but even with this pared down collection I still have way more than I regularly use. So, I figured I might as well do a KonMari evaluation on my lipsticks, aka does this spark joy?

Here are the ones that make the cut:

NARS Velvet Matte Pencil in Dragon Girl

This is it, the holy grail of red lipsticks. Orientalist name aside, I’ve been obsessed with this lip pencil for at least five years now.

The Velvet Mattes are easy to apply, precise, and will never feather or run. It takes very little effort to get maximum color payoff and it’s incredibly long-wearing. More importantly, I get compliments every time I wear this, so what’s not to like?

Dragon Girl is a bright blue-based red than leans slightly pink, and people who want a true red won’t really enjoy it. In my case though, it’s exactly the right color for my complexion. It’s my perfect red and I love it with all my heart.

JEFFREE STAR COSMETICS Velour Liquid Lipstick in Doll Parts

I went to newly opened beauty emporium Freyja to check out the Jeffree Star highlighters, but they didn’t have any. Instead I found the liquid lipsticks.

I wasn’t too keen on getting them because I don’t have a lot of love for liquid lipsticks. They tend to be drying and take a lot of work.

But then I saw they had Doll Parts available, a color Trixie Mattel had mentioned at some point. (Was it on Unhhhhhhh? I’m not sure.) I picked that shade up and life hasn’t been the same for me since.

Remember what I said about blue-toned shades? This one is absolute perfection. It’s a lovely muted pink with just the right amount of blue in it, so I get the most wonderful barbie shade on my lips.

I call this my “everyday” shade, which cracks my sisters up because Doll Parts is pretty bright and isn’t subdued at all. For someone who wears red lipstick to the grocery, though, it’s my “I’m nice and sweet” color.

BLK COSMETICS Soft Matte Mousse in Joy

I’ve already talked about the Soft Matte Mousse multiple times here (and in real life) because I’m flipping obsessed with it. Earlier I mentioned that I was having trouble getting hold of the Holiday shades (Joy and Happy) because of a delivery snafu.

Well I got fed up and cancelled my order with Shopee. I went to the Glorietta store and bought Joy (but not Happy, because I didn’t like the swatch that much) in less than 10 minutes. Goodbye, Shopee. I’m done with you.

Back to the lipstick. This is a beautiful red — still a bit blue-toned, but a lot more true red than Dragon Girl. It’s the sort of red that is bright enough to lift your spirits on dreary days.

Because it’s a brighter shade, you have to be slightly more careful with this than the other Soft Matte Mousse shades. It still has that soft blur to it, though, so it has a more casual, lived-in vibe than most red lipsticks.

I think when Marie Kondo asks, “does it spark joy,” she doesn’t mean this Joy, but it works anyway.

ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS Lip Gloss in Vintage

I got a deluxe sample of this from Sephora and I must admit I just wanted to try something from the brand after hearing so much about it for so long. I thought it would be some regular nude lip gloss, but it’s more. So much more.

For one, it’s so opaque that it fully covers your natural lip color. Vintage is a dusty pink shade that works great on my skin tone, sort of an MLBB. There’s a lot of shine here, too, so you get that real flashy pout that lip glosses are known for.

The best part, though, is that it stays. It’s something you don’t normally expect from glosses, because glosses are — by nature — not long-lasting. It’s why we were all constantly re-applying in the 90s.

This one from ABH, though, really sticks. It’s so odd, to be honest. A tiny bit wipes off every time you dab your lips with a tissue, but when you check in the mirror, it’s still there.

Magic.

Of course it’ll wipe off completely eventually after multiple drinks and eating non-stop, but it stains so you’ll still get a nice fade of color even if you don’t re-apply. I seriously don’t understand how it works, but it works so I love it.

FENTY BEAUTY Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow

Ah, Fenty. I am seriously in love. Sure, not everything they produced works for me. Stunna — I have three — isn’t really something I reach for. The formula just isn’t my thing despite the many glowing reviews.

But this lip gloss, though. When they say universal, they aren’t joking. It’s a great rose gold shade that fits everyone. It works great for dried and chapped lips, so I use this any time my matte shades get too drying.

I also have Diamond Milk, but it just isn’t the same. It’s the rose gold color that really makes this an excellent lip gloss for anyone who wants some 90s shine. The only downside is that I find the scent rather cloying with regular use.

Which reminds me. I just got the new shade Fu$$y, so…

I don’t even know why I ever talk about downsizing my lipstick collection.


Featured image by Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash

Best of 2018: My Beauty Favorites

With 2018 coming to a close, I’d like to share five of my beauty favorites with all of you. There are no categories, in case you’re wondering. I don’t really want to do one favorite item for each type of product, because that’s a lot of work and I am way too lazy to do any kind of work during the holidays.

It’s taking away from my ham-eating time, you know?

The only category here is that I like these beauty things, and they made 2018 a lot prettier and happier for me. If I had to KonMari my stuff — which is something I do (or at least feel like doing once a year, usually January) — these are the ones that will survive the cut.

Let’s get started.

Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream

I’ve talked about this several times because this really is one of those moisturizers that just work. I have very dry skin, so I need moisturizers that can keep my face from cracking but still be lightweight enough to not congest my pores and break me out in this tropical hellscape.

The Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream is fragrance-free, light, non-greasy, and absorbs in like two to three seconds. I’m not a very smart cookie so I don’t know if adaptogens really work as they say, but this moisturizer does help calm down skin redness and irritation. A worthy addition to any skin care arsenal, if you ask me.

Fenty Beauty Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush

I didn’t mention this in my original post on brushes because I didn’t own this yet back then, but this like, totally came in clutch. It’s one of those brushes that I didn’t think I could like, because the shape is weird.

How do you even use it?

It’s easy, turns out. When they say cheek-hugging, they aren’t lying. The groove really does fit right over the cheekbone, making this an excellent choice for anyone obsessed with highlighters.

Note: this isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s pretty dense, which means that you get a really solid highlight when you use this. I’m running out of words, so I’m just gonna say… magical.

BLK Cosmetics Soft Matte Mousse

I spent an entire post gushing about these, so I don’t really have much to add. The only thing I can say is that I have added the holiday shade Joy to my collection and it is the most wonderful blue-red in the world. It’s the shade I’m wearing in the photo on the sidebar.

I love it, and I have used it almost daily ever since I bought it. It is my most prized possession (not really, but you get it) and I hope never to run out of it ever ever ever.

NARS Fort de France Highlighting Powder

I started my highlighter collection this year, and this one is my favorite so far. It’s not chunky or glittery. It doesn’t really emphasize texture (if you’re not super heavy-handed, of course) and has a beautiful almost wet-looking finish.

I apply it on the top of my cheekbones and i just look like I drink more than 8 glasses of water daily and exercise three times a week. I don’t do any of those things, but this highlighter more than makes up for it.

Fort de France is their more popular shade (I think) because champagne works on practically every skin tone. I still have a few other highlighters in my collection (and I just bought a new one from Ofra) but this is the one I reach for when I need something fool-proof.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders

This. Is. Magic.

I don’t know how it does it, but these Ambient Lighting Powders are just… incredible. I have gotten way too many compliments (far more than I deserve, to be honest) and isn’t that exactly what you want from makeup?

I know there are people who dismiss these for being “invisible”, but honestly I can see the difference and given the compliments, I guess other people can, too.

My favorites are Mood Light and Dim Light because they work best with my skin tone. I like Diffused Light, too, but the other two just work 1000x better with me. I know these are expensive, but these powders will last you at least two years with daily use, so they’re pretty worth it.

Also, the compliments. So many compliments. I should write a thank you letter to Hourglass, maybe.

And that’s it for my 2018 favorites! What are yours?


Featured image by Steven VanDesande Jr on Unsplash