My Skype makeup station

Ever since I went full-time with my online dating consultation business, I’ve been working from home and conducting way more meetings and client appointments via video chat. This is great because it saves me gas and transportation and scheduling time with local people, it allows me to help clients in other parts of the world, and it makes it simpler for me to meet with people in a more intimate way without having to drive anywhere or even put on pants. Seriously. I can conduct meetings pantsless. I don’t, mind you, but the fact that I COULD delights me.

But in my increased world of video chatting, I found that I’ve been underestimating my need to prepare. There’s this sort of mental switch that says if you’re working in the comfort of your own home, you needn’t bother getting all primped and ready for a traditional office-like work day, and you don’t build in the “commute time” to get to meetings. But I keep forgetting and failing to prep, even though of COURSE I want to look polished and professional in my video meetings. And if I wanted to scramble to primp for a meeting that’s coming up in a few minutes, it used to take me longer than I expected because my office is on the main floor and my master bathroom where I keep all my crap is way upstairs. My hasty IMs of “be there in two minutes!” sometimes turned into more like seven, and well, that’s unprofessional and unnecessary. PLUS, I often work in my office, lose track of time, and have to rush out the door for a meeting or event, and wouldn’t want to take the time to run upstairs for proper primping supplies, ya know?

Stupid wonderful vanitySo I ordered myself this terrible vanity product from Urban Outfitters, and it does the trick. But it is terrible, and low quality, and overpriced, and was damaged both times they shipped it to me, and was a completely different color both times, and doesn’t come with hardware or clear instructions, and they seem to only package delicate things in loose strips of paper there, and this generally isn’t worth the money or trouble. So don’t buy it; go buy or make or commission something similar but better. Anyway. Did I deter you? Good. But a vanity LIKE this one would be great. lipstick

This stupid vanity thing is awesome despite my complaints, because it solves a need in a way that mostly looks nice in my office. I can put a few essentials in it that are easy to get to for rapidly approaching video chats or rushy departures. And I no longer have to touch up my lipstick using what I call Mirror.app and normal geeks call the “front-facing cell phone camera” (and duckfacing teens just call “the camera,” because why would they think of using it to take anything but selfies? Also ugh, I like just learned that word, I’m old) that make me fucking insane?) Anyway. Mirrors are helpful. AND clients can theoretically take a peek if I’m going to try to capture a couple pics of them for their dating profiles. perfume

Let’s take a peek at what I actually have in this shelving unit of my accursed yet indispensable vanity, shall we? (Of COURSE I stocked it immediately, duh.) It wasn’t hard for me to fill it up with product I won’t miss upstairs, because I have too much crap already and I get a lot of free samples. The top shelf is a 3/4 full bottle of Chanel #5, a mostly used-up bottle of Lush’s vanilla-ish perfume, a copule perfume sample tubes, and a cute Marc Jacobs solid perfume ring a pal gave me. Second shelf is a trial-size tub of Oyin’s Burnt Sugar balm, some Mama Coco’s lip balm (so sad this is discontinued), some Burt’s Bees Honey lip balm, a freebie of Clinique’s Different Lipstick in Shy, a freebie Stila lip glaze, a freebie Clinique High Impact Mascara (unopened so it won’t spoil while it sits there waiting for me to need it), my MAC Fluidline gel liner that I never use as liner but discovered makes a decent in-a-rush cream shadow, and a cute little contour clip from H&M (cuter and cheaper than most drugstore ones). Third shelf is a Laura Mercier foundation sample in too dark a shade, some Dr. Hauschka loose powder, appropriate puffs/sponges, and one of my many pairs of glasses. I also sometimes stash a hairbrush in there. See? All set for our next Skype-up! Hopefully I won’t be caught with my pants down again, so to speak.

Despite any kerfluffles, video chatting DOES have some major beauty advantages—in addition to pantslessness, I can finally use up all the off-color foundation samples I get from Sephora, because it’s sort of like The Theater where you can wear whatever as long as it covers your acne because video quality isn’t that great yet, and I can have fun playing pranks by changing my shirt and hairstyle and accessories really fast if our video connection drops out and we have to reconnect. That’s the best part. (I’ve never done this yet but I’m excited to beta-test this feature. Stay tuned!)

Holy lashes, Batman!

Remember my Great Mascara Review from last year? Yeah, now that I found my Holy Grail Mascara, I thought I was all done with that noise. Well sadly, my HG is starting to bug my eyes lately — might be the lack of humidity now that heaters are going on everywhere — and I think I need to switch to a gentler formula for my overtaxed peepers.  After all, I DO spend all day staring at tiny text in an MMO in a de-humidified office.

Through absolutely no intention or efforts, I have wound up with the following generous sample tubes from Nordies and Sephora over the past few months (left to right), which I figured I might as well review briefly. None of these formulations are waterproof, so I wasn’t surprised that none of these were a huge hit, but what the heck!

One thing is for certain — the tiny, thin brushes from my Clinique Lash Power Mascara and my Smashbox Lash Detailer Mascara are way better for my peepers, so I’ve washed and saved those. Any new HG mascara will likely only be HG when applied with one of these phenomenal brushes!


Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara — Meh. Hard to apply and rubs/flakes off really easily. It was super dry and sticky-like to get on, like the (sealed in a bag) tube was old and dried out. Niiiice.

Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For — Spiky ouchy brush, meh formulation, will still keep brush for use w/ other mascaras but not to be used at base of lashes. Owie!

Lancôme Defincils — Sometimes I like this, but I don’t care for this stuff most days. It goes on very spindly/separatey, without enough volume — as I’ve mentioned before, this looks weird on my superlong and weirdly-pointing lashes. Makes them look lanky, anorexic and confused — bad in both teens and eyelashes, turns out. If I use the superskinny Clinique brush, it looks better, but still not amazing. It does give great separation with few clumps though.

Sephora plain ole mascara — Immediately leaked all over my undereye when I ate spicy food and teared up a tiny bit (no actual crying). Also weird fibrous flakiness. Ew.

Smashbox Lash DNA x2 — Meh, dry formula, and the stupid brush doesn’t allow for precise application so you smear it everywhere. Does separate nicely and get fringe-y when applied w/ Lash Detailer mascara brush (part of Beauty Breakthroughs kit). But for a mascara that isn’t waterproof, this stuff sure is hard to remove! Harder than most waterproof mascaras!

Shiseido Perfect Mascara — Has the same icky glue-like smell as the long-lasting Too Faced Lash Injection, but this stuff also rubs off if you change your shirt. Pass! And what a stuck-up name, haha.

Clinique High Impact Mascara x2 — Meh. This stuff is fine, not phenomenal, just fine. Goes on fine, comes off fine, doesn’t stay amazingly long but then none of these non-waterproof ones do.

Lancôme Hypnose Drama — This stuff is just fine, not amazing. Annoying abnormal brush and slightly dry/clump-inducing formulation. Meh. 

Estée Lauder Sumptuous — This is supposed to be volumizing? It’s one of those length and separation but no volume mascaras that makes my eyes look FREAKY. Great for Halloween though!

Buxom Lashes — This stuff is also with a mean ouchy spiky brush, which makes it mega-hard to apply to the lash base. Applied with a skinny Clinique brush it looks fine, but otherwise, pass. Also, it seems to uncurl my curled lashes quicker than any other formulation!

And home sick on school pictures day, Smashbox Bionic Mascara. Ick. Just as tacky, thick, clumpy, and eye-goober-forming as I remember it.

So yeah, no big winners here, but not a shock given that these were all non-waterproof freebies. Back to the drawing board — curse my sensitive peepers!

Gift With Purchase that’s actually worth purchasing

So Trina Turk is apparently a Clinique fan and she designs exclusive cosmetics bags for GWP offers. The latest Nordstrom one is AMAZING looking! Thank goodness I actually have a standard Clinique product that I purchase regularly now.

I stocked up on another tube of my mascara, and I was originally gonna just get two tubes, but then I changed my mind and opted for a Quickliner in Smoky Brown since I remember loving those from GWPs of yore. Here are the (allegedly $75 value) contents, in case you’re curious:

  • 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula (1 oz.)
  • Sun Face Cream SPF 30 with keychain (0.24 oz.)
  • Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF 20 (0.5 oz.)
  • Travel-size Shimmering Stripes Powder Blusher in Peony
  • High Impact Mascara in Black (0.14 oz.)
  • Different Lipstick in Ice Bloom (0.14 oz.)
  • Long Last Glosswear SPF 15 in Fire Berry (0.07 oz.)

Here’s hoping at least one of these freebie items is a new hit for me! But even if not, I’m mostly in it for the adorable makeup bag.

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…
Continue reading “The Great Mascara Review”