FOTD: Urban Decay Ember + Becca Dahlia

This look is based around one of my favorite eyeshadows at the moment, Urban Decay Ember from Naked Heat. Just like the Heat palette itself, it’s really stunning, but not without faults.

Ember is a medium dark brown metallic that flashes red and creates an almost wet effect, especially in electric light.


Quality-wise, this shadow has two issues though:

1. It creases easily, even on top of a primer. Looks like it’s a common issue with metallic shadows that have a heavier, thicker texture (the metallics in the Viseart Petit Pro palette are another example).

2. It doesn’t blend out beautifully–just to a dull, random gray. That’s why I only pat Ember on, and that’s it, baby.

In the look above, I’m wearing another Naked Heat shadow, Low Blow in the outer crease. Low Blow is one of those soft mattes that “blend itself,” which is cool, but the dust kickup is truly something to behold.

My inner corner highlighter is the classic, Becca Opal, and my liner is the Pixi Black Cocoa pencil fluffed up with a dark brown shadow, Lorac Chocolate. I’d been wanting a brown eye pencil that wouldn’t drag on my crepey lids, and Black Cocoa is it. Pixi’s pencils are gel-based, extremely pigmented, and smooth. However, you need to be careful with them: the other one I have, Deep Plum broke very easily in my sharpener.

Here’s the full face:


The blush I’m wearing is Becca Dahlia. It came in a flying saucer.


Inside it looks like this:


Yep. This product was made for much darker skin tones than mine. But I still purchased it, because… RED. Well, technically, Dahlia is “wine,” but it still falls under a broad rubric of “red” for me. I had a moment earlier this year when I wanted to wear everything red: eyeshadows, blushes, lipsticks… (Wait: HAD a moment?.. Now that I’m writing this, I want to slap some juicy reds on right now!)

Since Dahlia is so saturated and strong, I had some blunders before I figured out how to deal with it. And it’s not the most forgiving product, either: once you accidentally pile it on too heavily, blending is really hard. I now tap the pan with my fluffy Real Techniques powder brush, remove the excess if necessary, and swirl the blush very lightly onto my cheekbones. Difficult product as it is, I like the effect created by Dahlia. It has a “natural,” non-powdery finish, and an earthy tone. I find that earthy-toned cheek products flatter me more than pink ones do, as the latter veer too close in color to my rosacea. However, I sometimes wear pink, too–when it comes to makeup, I’m an “anything goes” kind of person. (Well, unless “anything” means white-based pastel lipsticks…)

And now, more full face. My lip product here is the simple Hurraw lip balm in Cinnamon. If you look closely, you will see our collection of Twin Peaks funko pops in the background: Bob, Leland, and Laura (and the Log Lady hidden by my hair.)



FOTD: Into the Gloss-inspired Red Eyeshadow

Unlike many beauty nerds, I am neutral about Into the Gloss. I do not fawn over it, neither do I consider it the devil incarnate. To me, Into the Gloss is just another “rich girl lifestyle” publication. I do not find that lifestyle stiflingly aspirational, probably because I never aspired to it, and considered it a parallel universe. That said, Glossier makeup (not skincare) seems attractive to me, and the website has some inspiring articles. Including this old one about red eyeshadow! I feel like Into the Gloss shines most when it tries to popularize, umm, wearable versions of high-fashion looks.

Today I decided–one year too late, he he–to try the first look from the piece, the one where makeup artist Grace Ahn used Kat von D’s Raw Power single. I don’t have Raw Power, but Temptalia lists Zoeva’s Warm Notes (Cocoa Blend palette) as one of the dupes. Here’s the result, plus the steps outlined in the article:


Blend out until the concentration is so slight, it almost looks taupe.

Well… whatever I have on my lids, is definitely NOT taupe!! More like the color of a beautiful ripe strawberry. I used a fluffy brush by Sugarpill to apply and blend, and then a clean blending brush by It Cosmetics to go over the edges.

Neutralize any redness under the eye.

Yeah, because this is supposed to be an office-friendly look, and most workplaces wouldn’t want their employees to resemble Helena from Orphan Black. (No shade thrown at those who love ghoulish gothic looks–I do them too sometimes!) Since my eyelid space is small, whenever I apply eyeshadow in broad, blendy motions, it piles up below the inner and outer corners. Redness in the outer corners is what makes me appear sickly, so I used loads of eye makeup remover on q-tips to make sure the corners were completely clean of red eyeshadow (and also, to fix the shape on my right eye, where I habitually overblend).

For the lower lashlines, Grace used MAC Omega, which is a brownish shadow without any hint of redness to it. I don’t own Omega, so I applied two browns that are kind of greenish: Matt Rosen and Matt Wood from Meet Matt(e) Nude by TheBalm. The highlighter in the inner corners is also a very light greenish gold: Subsolar from the Sleek Solstice palette. To get more of those “healthy! not sickly! not Helena in any way” vibes, I swished a bronzer onto my cheeks (Subtly Suntouched by Pixi).

Accentuate with Rosebud Salve on the lips.

Yes ma’am!

Here’s another pic of the full face. No filter! The cloudy San Francisco morning provided lighting that was positively angelic.



FOTD: My New Goodies by Kevyn Aucoin, Sleek, Wet n Wild

I recently got myself a few makeup gifts for my upcoming birthday, and decided to write up some first impression reviews. Here’s the full look:


Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara


Uh… you can’t really see the mascara in the FOTD photo. That’s because my lashes are naturally short, sparse, and not very visible in selfies, even with volumizing mascara on. However, I can say that Kevyn Aucoin Volume works just fine! I didn’t have time to take an eye pic, but hopefully, I will put one up on this blog soon.

In another post, I mentioned that I had sworn off expensive mascara after trying Essence’s cheapo volumizing mascara, I Love Extreme. However, since I learned that Kevyn Aucoin is cruelty-free, I’d been wanting to add something by this brand to my collection. (Who doesn’t love Kevyn Aucoin??) I needed a mascara the most, so… *shrugs*

Unlike I Love Extreme, the Aucoin mascara does not create that spidery effect. It’s actually surprisingly understated, producing a look that’s kind of a “middle road” between the Essence and my other mascara that just expired, Milk Makeup Ubame. Like the latter, the Aucoin mascara separates the lashes very well and makes them, um, “fluttery.” But it’s clearly a black mascara, whereas Ubame had hardly any color to it.

I also love that the Aucoin wand is really small and delicate, which allows me to cover my lashes fully. I had a hard time getting to the roots with the hammy Essence wand!

Sleek Hemisphere Highlighter


Did you know that the British brand, Sleek is now sold at Walgreens? At least one Walgreens in San Francisco: the one on Fillmore, by SF Japantown. I actually entered that store to look for Royal Calyx, the new lavender highlighter by Wet n Wild. (I recently had my interest in highlighters rekindled by Russian blogger Elia Chaba’s bombastic posts.) Turns out Royal Calyx is only available on the Ulta website, but no problem–I got the legendary Sleek Solstice palette, which also has a lavender highlighter! It’s called Hemisphere, and Temptalia lists it as a Royal Calyx dupe.

On me, Hemisphere doesn’t read as “boom! lavender!”, but its super cool tone creates a strong contrast with my skin. I love it. Besides Hemisphere, I’ve tried one other Solstice highlighter so far: the creamy beige called Ecliptic, which is very subtle and translucent (like a plastic bag). From what I know, the Glossier stick highlighters have a similar effect.

Wet n Wild Video Vixen Liquid Lipstick


I’d never heard the term Video Vixen before, and I assumed that Wet n Wild was just inspired by the 90s (“VHS era”) dark lipstick. But I now see that the term has a large and contentious cultural history.

As for the product itself–I’d long, long wanted to own a fully matte dark lipstick, and Wet n Wild had been a strong contender since the release of the Liquid Catsuit line. Video Vixen didn’t disappoint–just like the other Liquid Catsuits I’ve tried, it’s relatively light and not devastatingly dry. Which, to me, means it’s a good liquid lipstick. Here’s a post where I express all my thoughts on the whole genre of liquid-to-mattes).

However, Video Vixen has a large and glaring issue: with the way I apply liquid lipstick (in a light layer on top of a balm) it comes off easily, and it doesn’t look too hot when worn off. As in, Video Vixen completely disappears in the middle of the lips. And when you reapply, the finish gets uneven and clotty. I haven’t figured out how to deal with this yet. Maybe apply a more emollient lip product on top?..

The other problem (a small one, this time) is that Video Vixen, like other Liquid Catsuits, dries down really quickly. So, if you’re the one to blend your lipstick after application, that needs to be done swiftly, one lip at a time.

Cruelty-Free Body Sunscreen: Bare Republic Mineral SPF 50

Of all the beauty product categories, sunscreen is the one I have the most fraught relationship with. On the one hand, skincare culture (or, should I say sunscreen culture?) evokes feelings of inadequacy like nothing else can. To do sunscreen perfectly, you’re supposed to: 1) Find a product that doesn’t make you look greasy, sting you in the face, or break you out, and if you prefer buying cruelty-free, that’s another layer of complicated. 2) Reapply every few hours–how d’you navigate this if you’re wearing heavy makeup? But on the other hand, no action makes me feel “Hell yea, I’m taking care of my skin” as much as applying a ton of sunscreen does. After all, sunscreen is said to be the most effective skincare product for skin cancer prevention and anti-aging. (Oh wait, we don’t use the term “anti-aging” now. Okay I guess, it’s the best product for “toning your skin up.”)

I am pretty diligent about putting on face sunscreen every day. My “holy grail” product is the Paula’s Choice SPF 30 tinted moisturizer, which also mattifies my T-zone and partially covers my rosacea. But I don’t know much about suncare for the body. It’s chilly and windy year round in San Francisco, which means long skirts, pants, hoodies, and scarves even in sunny weather. On the occasions I need body sunscreen, I usually borrow my husband’s Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer.

However, for a recent trip to St. Louis, MO to visit family and see the solar eclipse, I decided to check out cruelty-free body sunscreen options. In St. Louis, the weather is scorching in August–pushing 100 degrees!! Holy shit! I am not TOO sunburn-prone, but I do burn when it’s aggressively sunny like that. The only cruelty-free body sunblock I’d ever tried was the Alba Botanica Very Emollient Mineral Sunscreen (the one in the green tube), which I used on a road trip to Death Valley two years ago. It had the consistency of toothpaste and was absolutely disgusting, but hey–I wore it in DEATH VALLEY and didn’t burn! But for St. Louis, I decided to get something more comfortable and as they say, “cosmetically elegant.” So I purchased the Bare Republic mineral (aka physical/inorganic) sunblock at Target.


It came with a little body serum with aloe, various oils, honey, and oats, which you are supposed to apply after sun exposure. I only used the serum once and didn’t notice any discernible effects. I guess it might serve as a light hand cream. The rest of this review will focus on the sunscreen…

First things first: if you are strongly against fragranced skincare, stop reading now. The Bare Republic sunscreen has a distinct fruity scent, like an air freshener. (Their tinted face sunblock smells the same). The smell dissipates quickly, and is not very discernible on wear. If the fragrance aspect didn’t scare you off, read on.

A note on my sun protection needs: I spent a lot of time in the car (the Midwest, duh) and 2-3 hours strolling around outside each day, wearing a tank top and shorts. So I won’t be able to say how well the Bare Republic performs as a beach or sport sunscreen. (What beach? What sports? I am a couch potato and office goth.) I also never put it on my face, as I have special face sunscreens meant for sensitive skin. I reapplied the Bare Republic on my arms and legs after a couple of hours in the sun, and slathered on a decent amount each time. I don’t think the amounts would scale up to the recommended “shotglass of sunblock for the whole body,” but I wasn’t stingy either.

I gotta say, in the aforementioned conditions the Bare Republic performs reasonably well. Most importantly, I didn’t burn, and if I got a tan, it was a negligible amount. I got two small dry patches of heat rash on my shoulders, but I am not sure how they relate to the sunscreen.

What about the cosmetic elegance aspect? Unlike the Alba Botanica, which is greasy af, the Bare Republic rubs in efficiently and doesn’t feel heavy. For a mineral sunscreen, mind you–when I was in a rush once and didn’t have much rub-in time, I still reached for the chemical/organic Neutrogena. I think that the Bare Republic’s relative ease of use is due to the alcohol, which is number one on the list of inactive ingredients. Which alcohol? Alcohol denat? I’ve heard conflicting theories on alcohol denat from skintertainment personalities. For example, Paula Begoun claims that it’s drying, while the Beauty Brains say it’s totally ok. Well… for what it’s worth, I can mention that in the several days I used the Bare Republic heavily, it didn’t dry out or irritate the skin on my arms and legs.

If it’s just sunny out, the Bare Republic feels relatively dry and comfortable. However, try sweating or reapplying in muggy weather, and that’s where the problems start. It feels like all that sunblock grease rises up to the surface, and the skin gets oily and blah. Also, the white cast. It’s not “in your face” right after application, at least on my light, yellow-toned skin (however, I gotta mention that the Bare Republic did make my skin look lighter.) But, if the conditions are humid, the whiteness comes back. It pools up in the elbow creases and palms of your hands, dirtying up everything you touch.

For those reasons, I’ve decided to completely swear off mineral sunscreens for the body. I’m going to finish up the Bare Republic in my chilly SF Bay Area, but next time I head to a super hot and humid place, I’m going to look for a cruelty-free chemical/organic sunblock. I hope it proves more comfortable!

Whoa, I just noticed that this post has only one photo! Here’s an extra pic–of my husband and I having fun in the sun in the St. Louis Forest Park.


Dragon Eyes: Battle of the Palettes

Since the warm tone eyeshadow trend started a few years ago, I’ve been following it closely. I have quite a few palettes in my collection that allow me to create “burn a hole through you” eyes, and I thought it would be interesting to compare them. I debated whether to include Too Faced Semi-Sweet and Viseart Petit Pro, but eventually decided against it, as they lack an important element: reds or reddish tones.

I have four quintessential fiery palettes: Sleek Sunset, Anastasia Modern Renaissance, Zoeva Cocoa Blend, and the newest addition to my collection, Urban Decay Naked Heat. I really like all of these, but if you’re of a mind to get only one, I know which one I would recommend. Read on till the end. I will list the palettes in order they were purchased–or, in fact, received as presents, as three of them were birthday gifts from various years. Thank you sister, husband, and best friend.


Sleek Sunset

L-R: … (all shades are nameless). The #10-12 are also photographed with flash.


It looks like the brand’s intention for the i-Divine series of palettes is to create exhaustive arrays of colors around specific themes. Sleek loves including a bunch of similar shades in their palettes, but with different undertones and/or finishes. Sunset is an ancient product by today’s standards (released around 2013), but it has all your bases covered when it comes to metallic reds, coppers, and rose golds. Sleek metallics are pigmented but thin and light, not like the rich and creamy formulas in newer palettes such as Modern Renaissance and Naked Heat.

The issue with Sunset is that it lacks matte eyeshadows, except for a black one for lining. This makes the palette seem very old-school–the OG Urban Decay Naked wasn’t big on mattes, either. But that’s ok. I suspect that eye looks with a bunch of mattes blended into a perfect ombre have hit their saturation point, and we will see much more messy all-shimmer and all-metallic looks. Same thought about Sunset’s lack of neutral shades. My crystal ball predicts more looks with statement colors, that are not “grounded” with browns, beiges, or mauves.

Sunset in action. Black (#1) as a smudgy eyeliner. Purple (#7) on the lid and in the crease, topped with translucent golden veil (#10) on the lid. Rose gold (#11) in the inner corner. 


Zoeva Cocoa Blend

L-R: Top – Bitter Start, Sweeter End, Warm Notes, Subtle Blend, Beans Are White. Bottom – Pure Ganache, Substitute for Love, Freshly Toasted, Infusion, Delicate Acidity.


What about those who like arid desert matte browns? Then Cocoa Blend is your buddy. I can’t get enough of the orange brown, Substitute for Love, and the reddish brown, Freshly Toasted. Something like Freshly Toasted is what I was missing with Too Faced’s OG and Semi-Sweet chocolate bars, which seem to have inspired Cocoa Blend. The other mattes in this palette, Bitter Start (light beige) and Beans are White (dark brown) are very common shades, but they’re executed very well in terms of saturation and blendability–something that (incredibly) not all brands have learned how to do. As for shiny lid shades, Cocoa Blend has a nice variety of those, with a red, a brown, a purple, and a gold.

The Cocoa Blend shadow texture is something… contentious, especially if one is used to stiffer formulas such as the Naked 3 and the chocolate bars. It’s similar to Lorac Pro and TheBalm eyeshadows: very soft and dusty, but kind of dry.

Cocoa Blend in action. Ombre from Sweeter End to Warm Notes to Freshly Toasted. Beans Are White as chubby liner.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance

L-R: Top – Tempera, Golden Ochre, Vermeer, Buon Fresco, Antique Bronze, Love Letter, Cyprus Umber. Bottom – Raw Sienna, Burnt Orange, Primavera, Red Ochre, Venetian Red, Realgar. 


Along with Too Faced Sweet Peach, last year’s Modern Renaissance is the most iconic palette release since the first UD Naked collections. It has totally eclipsed the original “red palette,” Lime Crime’s Venus. My theory is that Anastasia recognized the huge demand for a Venus-like palette by people who didn’t want to buy from a controversial brand like Lime Crime. (And now, Anastasia has released the Subculture palette–the one where the shadows are said to fall apart on first touch–which is its answer to Venus II).

The “heart” of Modern Renaissance are the juicy, super bold red, berry, and orange shades. The palette also boasts beautiful neutrals, such as the light purple Buon Fresco and the rosy brown Antique Bronze. I also like Vermeer and Primavera, the highlighter shades that look molten. The shadows are dusty and blendable like Zoeva’s, but the formula is exceedingly smooth, almost greasy. The new ColourPop pressed powder shadows are similar.

My main gripe with Modern Renaissance is specific to my own tastes and preferences. I like using all shades in my palettes, but I can’t figure out what to do with Golden Ochre and Burnt Orange. All of the looks I’ve tried with those two, I hated. So for me, Modern Renaissance is not the easiest product in terms of coming up with color combinations.

Modern Renaissance in action. Love Letter on the lid and in the crease. Warm Taupe as a blending shade. Antique Bronze on the lower lashline, with Cyprus Umber in the outer corner. 


Urban Decay Naked Heat

L-R: Top – Ounce, Chaser (They are invisible in my swatches, but they make a damn good subtle highlight and blending shade, respectively), Sauced, Low Blow, Lumbre, He Devil. Bottom – Dirty Talk, Scorched, Cayenne, En Fuego, Ashes, Ember.


Naked Heat came out very recently, and I bought it pretty much right away. Some of the colors I’ve used more than others, but I can already say that this palette is one of my favorite makeup toys of the year. I find it very easy to come up with looks. Yes, Naked Heat is really one-note in terms of color selection, more so than the other palettes I’ve reviewed here. But it all depends whether you like reddish browns or not, and I truly love them. I find it useful to have three of varying depths and undertones: He Devil, Cayenne, and En Fuego, plus an rosier brown, Sauced. All the colors in the palette are very well balanced–those are not the kind of reddish shades that would give one an infected/allergic look.

Of the classic trio of Naked palettes, I have Naked 3 (the rosy one), and its texture is much harder. As many reviewers have noted, Naked Heat is closer in formula to Modern Renaissance and ColourPop shadows, than to the older Nakeds. I like the richness of those shadows and how they “melt” into the skin–but hoo boy, holy DUST!! Especially when it comes to the mattes. In general, all of the palettes I’m reviewing except for Sleek Sunset, suffer from this issue.

Naked Heat in action. He Devil all over and all around. Chaser to soften He Devil in the crease. Scorched on top of He Devil on the lid. Ounce in the inner corner. Lumbre in the inner half of the lower lashline. Ember on top of En Fuego on the outer half of the lower lashline.


Okay… so what’s the best one?!

I wouldn’t say the BEST one… but here’s what I would recommend to a novice:


Why? I think that Cocoa Blend simply has the broadest selection in terms of color and textures. There are both metallic and matte shades, and the metallics are sufficiently different from one another to allow for a wide variety of looks.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Lolly & Bee’s Knees

I swear to God, in the future beauty bloggers are going to look at the mountains upon mountains of ColourPop they amassed, and wonder: WHAT WAS THAT?! With its relatively cheapo and on trend products, ColourPop is designed to inspire “why not?” purchases. I’ve decided that my MO with this brand, as well as other hype machines such as NYX and Too Faced, would be to stick to “tried and true” bestsellers. Usually this goes well, sometimes… not so much.

On a recent trip to mother Russia, I noticed that their lipstick fashion seems to be different from that of the U.S. I saw a lot of women wearing bright colors in formulas that seem kind of thin, in contrast with the paintlike mattes that are popular here. I have no idea which lipsticks sell well in Russia (NYX soft matte lip creams maybe?), but that fashion made me pay attention to sheer mattes. In the U.S., the sheer matte formula has recently been popularized by Glossier’s Generation G collection, duped by ColourPop with a much cheaper line called Blotted Lips. I got two colors: Lolly and Bee’s Knees.


Here are the swatches: Bee’s Knees (left) and Lolly (right). More flattering on the lips than on the arm.


Formula-wise, the blotted lipsticks are quite pleasant. I like that they are forgiving on the lips: smooth and glidey in application and not too drying during wear.

With that said, I wouldn’t recommend the blotted lipsticks to anyone, and here is why. The packaging is really, really shoddy. Just this morning, I discovered that one of the lipsticks, Lolly is sitting shaky in its plastic tube (almost popping out). Moreover, it’s become impossible to twist the stick down completely, so the cap has sawn off a chunk. From now on, I will have to apply Lolly with a brush, which is ridiculous given that the blotted lipsticks are supposed to be casual and easy breezy. Yes, I understand that they cost $5, but considering I only got about 3 uses out of Lolly before it broke, they’re still a bad deal.

Now that I’ve gotten this off my chest, on to the looks.


Lolly creates a low-key goth effect of wine- or blackberry-stained lips. One can easily achieve the same look with hammier darks such as Urban Decay Shame or OCC Black Dahlia, by applying them with a finger, or lightly patting them on, or (yes) blotting them. This is the way I wear dark lipstick 99% of the times, so Lolly would theoretically be the perfect product for me, if not for the packaging issues.

“Low-key goth” is a fitting description for the look above. A little bit dark and severe, but not too much. For the eye look, I put a medium dark metallic shadow, Lorac Graphite (Pro Metal) on the lids and framed it with mattes from the Lorac Pro Matte palette. The soft wing was drawn with a black eyeshadow (Jet Black) instead of a liner.


Bee’s Knees is one of the most popular blotted lip shades, and I can see why: this fuchsia shade is just so… flowery. I want to be really careful with it, to make sure the lipstick doesn’t meet the same sorry fate as Lolly.

The Bee’s Knees look for this post is pretty much the opposite of the Lolly one. The Lolly face is “office goth” whereas the Bee’s Knees face is “office bright”. On the day this photo was taken, I was in the early stages of a cold and feeling really tired, so I cheered myself up with some fruity colors. I wanted the look to be easy and soft: no big brows or tightlining. On my eyes, I used the ColourPop shadows in Making Moves (pressed powder) in the creases and Muse (super shock) on the lids, with a dark brown TheBalm eyeshadow, Matt Reed, as a subtle definer. On my cheeks, I created a natural-looking flush with the CANMAKE lip and cheek gel with 04 Blood Cranberry.

Here is a picture of the same look, but on a different day, and taken in the evening instead of the morning. The main difference is that in the photo above, I don’t have my eyes tightlined, which I think was a correct decision–as mentioned above, it creates a softer and more casual vibe.



Smashbox Out Loud + Thoughts on Liquid Lipsticks

A coworker of mine likes Michelle Phan, and she sent me a link to her new line, Em Cosmetics. There was a really beautiful and unusual burnt orange shade in Phan’s liquid lipstick collection–Faded Clementine. It’s the kind of color I want to call earthy. However, unlike regular beiges, browns, and brick reds, it’s shade that makes one do a double take, mostly because it’s so rare. Once I learned that Smashbox has a similar color, Out Loud, I knew what I would be getting at the spring Sephora sale, as I’d heard good things about Smashbox liquid-to-mattes.


I’m truly in love with this shade. Here is a color comparison with the other orange lipstick in my collection, Urban Decay Sheer Slowburn (right). The latter is more of a fruity color, whereas Out Loud is plain rusty. It reminds me of international orange–the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.


I am also fond of the angular shape of the packaging. As a garden variety devotee of modernism, I like keeping angular stuff around.


(By the way, the background for the product shot is a… ummmmm… Playboy-type magazine from Hong Kong. From the 1980s. Husband and I once went to an old theater in SF Chinatown to watch a Jackie Chan movie, and the owner was giving out those mags to everybody.)

Considering Out Loud’s quality… I might not be the best person to analyze this product in fine detail. I only have two categories for liquid-to-matte lipsticks: bad and not-too-bad. The bad guys are NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams (thin and streaky) and Milani Amore Mattes (crumbly). The not-too-shabby lines are those without such problems: Kat Von D, TheBalm, Wet n Wild, and now, Smashbox. They all feel pretty much the same to me. Comfort-wise, they’re decent, but y’know…. they can’t hold a candle to my favorite sheers. They dry out the lips and get crusty as you reapply throughout the day.

I do understand, however, why the idea of liquid-to-mattes is attractive: in a perfect world, they allow the wearer to throw the spotlight on pure color, without the “distraction” of shine or creamy/waxy texture that one gets with bullet lipsticks. Which is why I still bother with liquid-to-mattes sometimes. To make sure they don’t drive me nuts, I follow these useful tips:

First–and this is a piece of advice by Russian makeup artist Olga Blik–I’ve recently started to apply liquid lipstick with a dedicated lip brush instead of the doefoot applicator. With a brush, you can do a thinner layer, which would help avoid that weathered, dehydrated look. I’ve been a lip brush convert for a long time–I use it with all lipsticks to fuzz out the lipline. (I don’t like sharp outlines on myself, as they accentuate my lower lip’s asymmetry too harshly.) Now, I bust out my brush to do the whole lip. When I reapply my lipstick after lunch at work, I dab the color in the middle and blend out with a finger.

And second, I only wear liquid lipstick on top of a balm. Yes, that messes up with the longevity, which is many people’s main reason for buying liquid-to-mattes. But I personally don’t care that much about lipstick longevity. I blot my lips before a meal and reapply after, and that’s it. I have a busy job, and there’s no way I’m reapplying after each cup of coffee or tea. So I accepted that my lips won’t look perfect all day. After all, I see women with lived-in lipstick all the time. Do I judge them? Hell no. I don’t care. So judging myself for imperfect lipstick wouldn’t make any sense!