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!)

Tinted Moisturizer Roundup

In my desire to be more frugal and less cluttered, plus my pent-up need to sample new products after carefully avoiding changes in my skin routine leading up to the wedding, I have been systematically devouring all my Sephora samples. This particular experiment deals with the many vials of tinted moisturizer I’ve accumulated.

The first I tried was Smashbox Sheer Focus, which was fine but not amazing. Even their paler, more neutral shades still wind up looking really dark and *wrong* on me — I can’t always tell in which direction they’re wrong; I just know I don’t look like myself! This stuff was fine, but simply nothing special on my pale complexion. I do like the SPF though, and it didn’t seem to cause any angry skin reactions (besides slightly clogged pores, but I’m VERY sensitive to dimethicone and similar so that’s to be expected). Weirdly enough, it felt very greasy several minutes after application even though it was oil-free — can’t tell if it made my skin over-produce or what.

Next up was Perfekt Skin, which was perfektly lovely. The (tiny!) sample I had was in Radiant, which is a shade darker than I needed, but it actually went on just fine and wasn’t too dark or obvious around my hairline or brows (always the tells). It feels like a primer — suuuuper silicone-y — and it looks and feels fabulous on its own or under my HD Finish Powder (didn’t try under full foundation).

However, three minor cons: 1) It’s SO EXPENSIVE! Almost $60 for the full-sized tube! 2) Definitely caused some clogged pores, especially on and immediately around my nose. (Again, to be expected w/ me, but still — worse than other tinted moisturizers due to high ‘cone content.) 3) When I checked out the Sephora tester to see about the lighter shade, the pump had totally gross dried-up product in it, so I worry about freshness. The To Go size seems like a better buy if you’re not going to slather this on daily. Oh yeah, I lied: 5) No SPF. :( This stuff was still the big winner though, just in terms of awesome formulation.

Next up was Dr. Perricone No Foundation Foundation. I’d been wanting to try this for ages, even though it seemed too dark when I tested it on my hand. My suspicion was confirmed, as this was just NOT my skin tone. It also went on way sticky and tacky and uneven-feeling, and was obvious in my “tell” spots (brow & hairline). But I like the high SPF! Still, I felt like I needed to GOB it on to get good sun coverage — ew. Not for me.

Last up we have Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer — another one I’ve been dying to try. I had both a couple foil packets and a big sample tube of this stuff, all in Nude, which is the second-lightest shade — but it was too dark for me. However, that didn’t seem to matter as much upon application — it still blended and disappeared nicely, and really wasn’t noticeable on my skin. This stuff is quite pleasant and lives up to the hype, after all! Not wild about the chemical sunscreens, but beggars can’t be choosers — these were all free samples, after all. Laura was a close second based on formulation, but I wish there were smaller tubes out there.

So there you have it! I doubt I’ll buy any of these for regular use, esp. since I can just mix foundation and sunblock/lotion. But I might pick up a Perfekt To Go in Luminous for those big night out kinda moments!

Freebie Fest, Part 2

Wow — Sephora’s recent VIB Swag Bag was quite the freebie for me. Many of the items included are things I’ll actually use*,  which is rare for me with freebies. There was even a replacement for an existing product of mine! It was nice not to have to spend the $50 minimum for free shipping online, too — my local store often runs out of bonuses way early, but not this time.

PLUS, all my wedding skincare remedies qualified me for a free Skincare Challenge full-size product, and they finally had something I wanted — and I’ve been wanting to switch to a different moisturizer anyway as of late. Never seen a philosophy Skincare Challenge reward on their site before, so this was a pleasant surprise.

And lastly, I still have a crazy high number of points to redeem, so I’m due for another freebie soon! But none of the 500-point bonuses have appealed to me lately. Maybe I’ll just wind up stocking up on a zillion different $100-point perks instead…

*Like Phytodefrisant, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Urban Decay Stardust shadow in a purpley color, and a replacement for my trial-size Smashbox Photo-Op Under Eye Brightener that I like to carry in my purse for loooong days (like this one). Quite the bonus bag!

Lip Stain Roundup

I sometimes feel like a bit of a chump for being a lip stain addict, because stains are probably the least natural cosmetic out there. (I’m sure some “natural” stains exist, but even the pretend-naturals like Tarte are chock-full of silly chemicals.) But ever since Grant started dating me, he has been horrified by the idea of kissing a glossy mouth. And I can’t say I blame him! Hence, Stain City.

Well, I’d never quite found the perfect product. The closest I’d gotten was Vincent Longo’s gel stains, but those shades are all way too dark for my fairer complexion — not into the Goth Lip look. Plus the packaging can be hell — while the wand applicator is great, I’ve had three tubes break in my purse and stain all of the contents. Ew! I’ve also tried TheBalm’s Stainiac, which is also wand based and is a bit lighter in pigment, but the formulation feels sticky and doesn’t last as long. And I’ve tried decanting Benetint and Lorac’s Sheer Wash into a wand tube, but meh.

I don’t care for balm-based stains like Laura Mercier or tarte, since the whole point is kissability; and most pen-style stains like Styli Style tend to dry out much faster than other packaging styles. I started an EDS thread to solicit others’ input, and it definitely helped, but I was still searching for better shades that were less Goth or garish. I’ve tried the in-between Stila brush-pen-balm-thing as well as the Sephora Lush Flush in 2 shades… what can I say; I leave no stone unturned!

But finally, here’s the good part! Today’s Sephora package brought me a new nude/beige stain by tokidoki that actually looks fab, even though nudes usually wash me out. (Sadly, though, this stuff tastes terrible!) And I also got both color combos of TheBalm’s For Keeps, so I can mix and custom blend colors that work better on me, and dilute them to soften the look. (Plus I simply adore the innovative formulation and charming packaging!)

AND, I now see that  a Josie Maran stain pen just came out, which I am, like, contractually obligated to purchase at this point. And I never did try the Givenchy stain pen. At least cosmetics companies have clearly realized that there is a market for stain… now here’s hoping we get some SUBTLE stains out of this epiphany soon! ‘Til then, a combo of, yes, ALL of the above will be what colors my lips. Grant certainly can’t complain that I haven’t tried to find a good kissable-yet-glam solution!