Cosmetics case MIA :(

I’ve been using the same Coach black leather makeup bag since like 2003, and I LOVED that thing. I got it for a decent price at the factory outlet, and it’s held up well and was the perfect size and dimensions to cram into even my smaller purses. I didn’t love how skinny items like pencils could slip out of the gap above the zipper closure, but it clearly wasn’t *that* destructive an issues since I’ve stuck by that same bag for so long. And now I have to bid it adieu!

I lost both it and an earring somewhere on Amazon’s campus Monday, and security found my earring but has no word on the makeup bag. It contained all my MOST IMPORTANT staples — mascara, concealer, *discontinued* lip balm, *also discontinued* mineral powder concealer, lip stain x2, my favorite comb, an adorable mini of Chanel No. 5 whose bottle I wanted to keep forever… sigh. But let’s focus on the positive — this means I have an excuse to upgrade and overhaul, right? Right!

For a couple years now I’ve been wanting a Stephanie Johnson cosmetics case. I spotted her stuff at a now-closed Bainbridge Island shi-shi spa/boutique, and I was in love because of the zipper pulls. No, seriously, take a close look: they’re two-tone and nicely woven, and the bag is elegantly piped, and — the details are just so clearly high quality. For several years now I’d been thinking I would splurge and get myself one of these, but I could never quite justify the purchase since I always receive so many crappy but free cases from various cosmetics promos.

No longer! Now I think I’m ready to take the plunge. (I will, however, wait until after Christmas just in case, since it’s totally on my list.) The Gidget case seems like a usefulness boost, too — the extra pockets might mean it’s harder to grab something in a hurry, but I think overall I’ll appreciate the ability to organize and perhaps hold a larger amount more efficiently. (God, is that Amazon talking? MUST… OPTIMIZE… LIFE…) Anyway. Gidget’s the bomb, it would seem. Here’s an inside view of the case so you can see what I mean.

However! I totally thought SJ had the “upscale makeup bag” market locked down, when Amazon’s recommendations helpfully directed me to the Apple & Bee line. Adorable and seemingly efficient, and in even better materials than the Stephanie Johnson line. Decisions, decisions. I’ll probably eventually wind up owning at least one of each, but for now I will wait and see what Santa thinks. Perhaps he can poll Mrs. Claus as to which item better holds her array of on-the-go cosmetics selections.

Either way, I’m using this as an opportunity to overhaul some stuff. I think I’m switching back to mineral powder concealers for a while, after using a combo of the above-mentioned PF plus Smashbox HD for a couple years now. They just break me out more, and I’m less and less patient with that, plus I’m wanting to shift back to more natural ingredients. And I’m trying Diorshow Waterproof for my next mascara — I had a *horrid* experience with Blackout, but this seems better and I’ll review either way soon. And I guess I finally have an excuse to dig up the beet powder and rose petal powder I ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs years ago, and look into making my own naturally pigmented lip stains… I will DEFINITELY update about that, regardless of whether it’s a success or failure (& I’m kinda anticipating the latter). Either way, I’m hoping I can continue to look at this as a silver lining for a new beginning, even though I’m still bummed to have lost all my fave staples. Watch my old case turn up after I shell out $100 for a new arsenal!

How can we look “polished” on the go?

A friend’s recent Facebook comment cracked me up — she said on the first day of her attempt to dress a bit sleeker looking, she forgot to wear deodorant; this was proof to her that it was impossible for her to be “polished” no matter what she tried. I used to be much the same — i.e. a frizzy mass of imperfect skin, hair, makeup, and fashion. But I’ve found a lot of little “polished” tricks over the years.

The strongest example is with deodorant! During my Frazzled Summer Heat Wedding Gear-up Insanity I forgot deodorant approximately once per week, and keeping a stick in my car always made it melt, so I got a packet of DermaDoctor MedETate wipes. Even after that hectic season, I now always carry one with me and keep a couple in my desk at work.

And, now that I walk to work most days, and my hair sometimes loses its oomph or straight look while I work, I now have a crappy half-inch straightener (a relic from when I had bangs) in the bottom drawer of my desk. I’m also never found without my purse hook, which keeps my bag from drooping on the floor getting dirty or just looking sloppy.

In addition, I now carry a small cosmetics bag with every essential imaginable, so I can touch up anything that needs touching up on the go. (I don’t always use it, but the fact is that I COULD if I wanted to.) But I have this grandiose idea of the perfect interchangeable on-the-go kit, with little spots for mascara, tweezers, brow wax, you name it!

I’m a sucker for all kinds of products designed for gals on the go, like Trish McEvoy’s refillable pages, Too Faced’s Glamour 2 Go, and the above-pictured Dior Deluxe Travel Palette. I carry a little makeup-and-more bag that I keep stocked with pre-moistened glasses cleaning wipes, Similasan individually-packaged eye dropsHello Kitty Band-Aids, miniature Anastasia tweezers, a tiny Burt’s Bees comb, a combo nail file and emory board, my awesome O Hui compact, at least a couple retractable makeup brushes (including my über-fave Baby Buki),  a tiny sample mascara tube, hair ties, a sample perfume tube, tampons… all in my petite Coach makeup case which fits in my purse. Oh, and in the winter I’ll hit up a Whole Foods for a free sample of Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream, and carry that teensy tube around all season.

I’m curious to know if any other ladies out there have tricks to look more polished/together themselves — I doubt this post will get enough hits to really say, but I’d love to hear from you if you have any input! What’s your tip for staying smooth-looking even when life on the go leaves you frazzled?

AVOID THIS MASCARA AT ALL COSTS

Back when I did my Great Mascara Review earlier this year, I fell in love with three top seeds: Clinique Lash Power, Too Faced Lash Injection Pinpoint, and the non-waterproof but still excellent DiorShow. If I learned *anything* from testing out that many different mascaras, it’s that you should stick with what works!

But lately Wedding Mode has kicked in, which means I’ve been trying out all sorts of makeup products I’d normally never touch in order to find the best long-wearing formulations. So when I ran out of Lash Power and saw that Dior apparently had a new, awesome, better-than-ever waterproof formulation called Black Out, I opted to give it a try instead of restocking my Holy Grail of Clinique.

This Black Out mascara, however, is BULLSHIT. (Please pardon my French, but Dior friggin’ deserved it.) It is the WORST formulation I have EVER tried on. It makes lashes stick together and look super clumpy/spidery, it doesn’t really lengthen or volumize, it smears and rubs off very easily, it drips when WATER hits it, and I couldn’t get it to come off with a cocktail of FOUR different makeup removers. (And I broke a capillary in the process trying to rub it off.)

Needless to say, I went straight back to Sephora and exchanged it for a fresh tube of Lash Power (and put the $10 I saved towards a bottle of bliss lid + lash remover — maybe I can learn to love my Too Faced more for longer-wearing events if I can take it off properly without breaking out.)

In conclusion, screw you, Christian Dior! You get no stars and no more of my dollars.

The Great Mascara Review

My scary mascara tray in my train case -- I used to be a one-tube woman!  Holy crap!Ages ago, I blogged about my recent purchase of  Sephora’s The Lash Stash sampler.  I systematically tried every single tube, as well as purchasing  or redeeming every single other sample-size tube I saw from them, including BadGal, Diorshow, and a Fresh mini duo.  And I finally came up with some conclusions!

Sadly, I did not care for most of the mascaras included in their kit.  My favorites from the sampler pack were Urban Decay’s Big Fattie, and Too Faced’s Lash Injection Pinpoint.  However, I also fell for the non-sampler minis of Diorshow, the teal Fresh Firebird, and lastly a Clinique surprise stunner that became my new Holy Grail of mascaras.  My hairdresser even complimented me on how great it looked the other day, and that’s high praise indeed!

My reviews kinda broke down like this: I loved Diorshow for the initial application full of clump-free volume and length, but I didn’t love the eventual flaking and smudgery that inevitably occurred.  I loved Too Faced’s tiny Pinpoint brush, since the bases of my lashes are blonde and hard to reach with a normal brush (unless I don’t mind striping up my lids in the process).  But Too Faced a) kinda stung my sensitive eyes, and b) was a huge pain to remove, even armed with hardcore ouchy makeup remover.  (I totally didn’t realize Too Faced’s formulation was a “tube” mascara, or I would’ve stayed away!)

So I went on a quest to find another mascara with an equally tiny brush, but a kinder formulation.  Enter Clinique Lash Power Mascara.  Similar teensy brush to Too Faced, but a better formulation that didn’t flake or smudge but was easy to get off with just warm water.  It’s not quite a tube formulation (like Blinc KissMe or Imju Fiberwig, or Too Faced for that matter) but still lasts through heat and rain and sweat.  So great!  And apparently they also make it in a brownish shade that my redhead-ish friend Charli decided to try out — I’ll update if I hear or see how that goes.

Anyway, in case any other mascara nerds are insanely curious, I took notes every day I was trying out a different brand, so read on for those…
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