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!

Update on lies and oils, respectively

OK, I know it’s been WAY too long since I last updated. Home ownership is busy-making! As is trying to work full time while running a side business and writing a book and generally making an effort to cook more and decorate and yada yada. ANYWAY. Hi, I’m back! So what has been going on with me, you wonder?

  • I tried out a new lip “stain” – must remain in quotes because it is SO NOT A REAL STAIN SEPHORA. So annoyed it’s making me all capsy (cf Fug Girls). To be fair, they actually have many products in their Lip Stain category that I don’t consider true stains, but I suppose I’m a bit of a purist (since my husband is such a pickypants about kissing me with any discernible product on my lips). Anyway – “Cream Lip Stain” – a LIE!!! It’s a long-lasting liquid lipstick like you get from the drugstore, guys. And it’s icky and hard to get off and I’m returning that shit.
  • I ordered more oils! After my post-wedding resolution to quit spending so goddamn much on skincare and beauty, I did a good job of not buying stuff for a while. But then I ran out of stuff and my face got sad and long story short, I invested in some new purchases. I got an oil sampler pack from Garden of Wisdom, and I also shelled out for a big bottle of their nice organic argan oil that my skin and hair both seem to love. Check out my little three-pack — I love being able to sample different types!

The trouble is, they don’t use the best packaging — I hate a nice unrefined cold-pressed organic oil going into a lipophilic plastic bottle, and I hate that the ink on the shitty labels gets all over my hands. So I’ve started being crazy-weird about how I unwrap them, only undoing the bit around the cap so I don’t touch the ink — and I need to hit Zenith to buy some new glass bottles so I can decant my argan.

Aaaanyway, as you can probably see, I got a combo of Baobab, Kukui and Tamanu oils. I’ve already tried Tamanu and it’s fine, but nothing amazing — didn’t break me out and seemed to moisturize well enough, but I prefer the smell (or lack thereof) and consistency of argan which I now have too much of. Working on trying Baobab now — it’s clear and yellow and semi-thick, and so far seems fine but not resplendent. Will update once I hit Kukui!

DIY goals for 2011

The time is now! For several years, I’ve been wanting to make my own naturally-pigmented lip stains. I had always assumed beet powder was the only option I had, but a cup of Tazo Passion tea recently reminded me that, in addition to beets, there’s also hibiscus, red cabbage, saffron, and turmeric. (How did I come up with this list, you ask? By thinking of all the things that stain my hands in the kitchen!)

I switched to using lip stains instead of glosses, balms, or lipsticks way back in 2006 when I met my husband, because he couldn’t stand kissing a made-up mouth. I started a long EDS thread about it in which many others chimed in, and I blogged some updates here. The conclusion was and still is that Vincent Longo stains are best, largely because of the wand applicator. So I’ll be using empty wand applicator tubes designed for lip gloss when I make my own stains.

Since my main complaint about the VL ones is that they’re too dark for my coloring and can be slightly drying, I’ll be making mine in softer shades and including moisturizing ingredients (I’m thinking glycerine and honey). They may not work out, but I already have 75% of the components I need anyway, so it can’t hurt to try!

In addition to stains, I’m planning on making new oil blends for facial and body moisturizers, plus a facial cleansing oil; and a belly butter for my pregnant pal; and taking another stab at DIY deodorant since Aromacreme isn’t back yet.

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!

Gift With Purchase Extravaganza

As I recently whined on my Twitter Feed, Nordstrom Beauty announced a Smashbox gift with $50 purchase ONE DAY after I had made a $49 Smashbox purchase. (In case you’re wondering, I got the Complexion Perfection Kit to try out as wedding makeup — it’s out of stock in my shade at every other vendor.)

But I cried to their Customer Service people online, and they happily shipped me the gift, separately, for free, no questions asked! (Okay, a few questions like “what was your order number” and “what is your shipping address” — so no annoying questions asked.)

And THEN I saw on Smashbox’s site that they have crazy good Let’s Do Lunch deals twice a week, in which you get a free gift for buying ANYTHING during a certain time period, no minimum purchase required, and free shipping. WTF?! Why aren’t all vendors that awesome? So I stocked up on brush cleaner (which I’ve been needing anyway) and… got a free duo lip gloss, IN ADDITION to a sample of the tinted moisturizer that I ALSO wanted to try out as wedding makeup.

AND THEEEEENN I got one of them automated Sephora emails telling me a product was back in stock — and it was the new TheBalm Lip Stain I’ve been wanting to try out (also as wedding makeup. Sensing a theme here?), which had been out in the color I wanted. And I discovered that ZOMG I now qualify for my first-ever 500 point bonus gift there (currently a Tarte giftapalooza with gloss, 2 mascaras, eyeliner, primer, etc. etc.). Kinda terrifying that I’ve spent enough cumulatively to qualify, but whatevs. And they ALSO have a bunch of samples that I’m totally into right now. SO I think I’m gonna order my wedding lip stuff and stock up on the big freebie there too.

I think, so far this month, I may actually receive more in free product than actual monetary purchases. Guess the entire cosmetics industry figured out it was almost my birthday or something! ^_^