6 looks for 6 months

Man, I derive so much joy from doing makeup. I just sit down, fire up the Young Turks, and meditatively pile color upon color onto my face. I’d never had any kind of craftsy hobby before I took up makeup at age 28, so it was an opportunity to develop some visual skills, to learn the basics of shape and texture and color. This year, I’ve been having the most pleasurable time with this hobby so far. I don’t struggle with technique as much anymore, which allows me to just enjoy the ride.

Over the past six months, I’ve worn a lot of looks that I loved–alas, photography is not my strongest suit, so most of them were lost to history. However, I managed to snap a few–here are six of my favorites. Some of those looks are kind of psychedelic, but I did wear them all “out on the town,” even the blue lipstick one. As much as I love putting makeup on my face, I hate doing it “just for myself”–if I don’t go out that day, I don’t wear makeup at all. Two looks are my office faces, and the rest are for date nights or other outings.


Eyeshadow blending is overrated. Well, I like waving my blending brush around as much as the next guy does, but sometimes a neon splotch is enough. The contrast of orange (Urban Decay Slowburn) with a plummy shade (Zoeva Alloy) was inspired by this orange-and-purple look by Karla Garcia. The zombie lipstick is Thistle by Bite Beauty, part of the Amuse Bouche line. I love those suckers–they’re slippery, but pretty moisturizing and comfortable.


Red, red, red. This was a time in my life when I was wondering: why do I even bother wearing colors that are not red? Lucia Pica of Chanel knows how to honor this color, so naturally, she was my inspiration for this look. Here, Lucia combined the red with a little bit of purple, so I did a halo with the epic Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette and the purple shade from Shu Uemura Cool x Chic.


This blue. NYX Liquid Suede in Jet Set is so flowery! I refuse to call this color crazy or corpsey or weird. Such blues (as well as deep blacks and greens) should have the same “classic” clout that red lipsticks do. Aside from the lipstick, there’s also the fact that in 2017, I rediscovered black eyeshadow. I don’t remember which one I wore for this look, but I can say for sure that the best, baddest one in my collection is Urban Decay Blackout.


All of the looks so far have been kind of nsfw (“weekend faces” for me), so here’s one I wore to the office. My best friend says I look so 90s on this pic. This was the only time in recent memory I wore matte grey eyeshadows (the central quad from Kat Von D Shade and Light). I also wore my favorite blush, Too Faced Baby Love, which is seriously awesome. This blush is quite pigmented, but so soft and malleable that it’s impossible to mess it up. The lipstick is Give Me Mocha by Wet n Wild, from their new liquid matte line. It’s much cheaper than Kat Von D and TheBalm liquid lipsticks, but pretty much the same quality-wise.


I’m only starting to explore the wondrous world of Urban Decay Moondust glitters. On their own, they are pretty subtle, but on top of some glitter primer… now we’re talking. Besides the blue Magnetic glitter, I’m wearing the Kiko lipstick in 436 Cold Brown. It brings memories of running around with my best friend, who bought the same lipstick when we visited Kiko together. On her, the color looks like a mysterious, medium dark taupe/mauve/purple, and on me, it pulls more earthy and zombie-like.


Reddish eyeshadows in a fuzzy-edged shape and sheer lipstick. This is the kind of face that I often wear on a day-to-day basis, so it’s fitting that I chose this pic to announce the Spiders and Caterpillars blog project on Instagram. The palette I used for this look is TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Trimony. I haven’t written much about it on this blog, but this palette is one of my favorite products. Coming up with interesting looks with just Meet Matt(e) Trimony has been a challenge, but it truly shines when combined with metallics or shimmers.


NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Jet Set

This post is going to be uncharacteristically short… just want to boast about my badass new lipstick, NYX Liquid Suede in Jet Set.


Some people are sceptical about blue, green, or grey lipsticks, because they’re “corpsey”… But Jet Set is as full of vitality as a blue can be. It’s such a warm, flowery color that feels no less flattering and classic than a true red does. Jet Set makes me want to strut around, listen to Lou Reed’s This Magic Moment, and feel like a beautiful lady.

The only issue I have with Jet Set is that the formula is quite thin. After I first applied the lipstick and started taking selfies in semi-bright sunlight, the camera revealed some sheer patches. I put some color on my usual lip brush (the pointy concealer brush from the EcoTools clutch set) and pressed it onto the paler areas.

I know that the current convention is to wear bold lipsticks with a “bare eye” and highlighted face, which is my choice when I’m in a hurry. However, I really hate being in a hurry and prefer taking my sweet time doing eye makeup, as I truly enjoy the process. So far, I’ve only worn Jet Set once, and my eye look wasn’t that special–just fuzzy black liner. Next time, I’m going to pair this lipstick with a shimmery or metallic reddish brown shadow.

NYX has other incredible colors in its Liquid Suede line, such as Amethyst and Alien that were (along with Jet Set) covered beautifully by Viola Holmgren. I have one other Liquid Suede, a brown called Vintage, which I reviewed on this blog a couple of weeks ago.


NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Vintage

Back before I was a beauty nerd, I owned a plum Revlon Street Wear lipstick, which seemed soooo cooool and adult goth and risqué. Now that I’ve got some fortitude for makeup shock value, dark shades are just another option, not a symbol of edginess. Lately, I’ve had my interest in dark lipstick rekindled thanks to insanely beautiful actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who portrays Avasarala in The Expanse TV show.

From Tor.com

NYX’s Liquid Suede line includes cool-looking darks and medium darks such as the grey Stone Fox and the purple Amethyst. Those two have achieved a semi-iconic status among Internet beauty lovers. However, I settled on the more office-friendly Vintage, a color that I would describe as “deep brown seen through a purple screen.” The name Vintage is apt: the shade brings to mind old somber houses, dried flowers, and musty antique furniture.


So vintage, I took a photo of this lipstick on top of a treasured old family album. J/k, it’s the Juxtapoz Dark Arts book, and the artist is Travis Louie.


Some compare Vintage to 90s brown lipsticks. But I think it also fits into the mid-2010s trend for complex colors that involve brown, purple, and/or grey (thanks Auxiliary Beauty for describing this trend). Such shades are usually described using verbal contortions like “mauve-infused greige” or “antique rose mocha.” I split them into full-on zombie and sophisticated zombie, and Vintage is the latter. It definitely makes me look kind of pallid, but oh well, whatever. My Instagram name is gothleesi, and 99% of my wardrobe is black, so I’m hardly a picture of Californian wholesomeness anyway.


Here are the swatches of my complex brown-ish shades. Vintage and Kat Von D’s Lolita in particular make me go “Yeah, brown lipstick” when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, but on closer look they have obvious rosy (Lolita) or plummy (Vintage) vibes to them.


Finish-wise, Vintage is not too conventional. It’s somewhat like liquid to matte lipsticks… but not matte. It seems to me that the main idea behind ultramatte liquid lipsticks is to throw all the focus on the color, without the play of light that you get with more creamy lipsticks. But in practice, the ultramattes’ dry formula accentuates all lines, complicating the canvas for the pure color. Enter the Liquid Suedes, which create a smoother surface to show off the color without being too creamy and reflective. The obvious tradeoff is that the Liquid Suedes transfer more easily than their matte cousins.

The problem with the Liquid Suede formula would be familiar to anyone who has used the popular NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. Going in, I was expecting Vintage to be viscous and gooey, à la other hypersaturated, non-matte liquid lipsticks such as OCC lip tars or ColourPop Ultra Satins. However, the Liquid Suede formula is thin. The lipstick becomes streaky the first chance it gets, and sheers out very easily, making it difficult to create a neat fade when blending out the edges with a brush. To deal with the blending issue, I would recommend coating and fluffing out the color one lip at a time, before the product dries down–the sheering out is less stark this way.


Brown or brown-ish lipsticks look so damn good with rosy eye makeup. For the look above, I used Lorac eyeshadows: Rose Gold (Pro Metal) as the main color, plus Burgundy to line the outer corners and Pink Mauve to blend (both from Pro Matte).


7 Days of Red Lipstick

With my grabby paws reaching for purple and beige lipsticks, I’d been neglecting my collection of reds. To give it justice, I decided to hold a red lipstick week and review every single one I wore. Spoiler alert, the reviews aren’t negative, in case anyone was expecting juicy rants. All of the featured items are uniformly solid in quality. Yeah, with red lipstick being the most popular makeup product besides mascara and black eyeliner, the beauty industry has figured the reds out by now.

The post covers a variety of brands, textures, packaging formats, and undertones. I wore the lipsticks and wrote the reviews on a daily basis, and the day breakdown is accurate. However, the selfie-taking endeavor was spread over several weeks, as evidenced by the wildly varying length of my bangs. Photos are hard–it is known.

It’s not just selfies that made me take my time. With this project, I had to confront the fact that I don’t know how to integrate red lipstick into a look, besides the obvious “black wing and red lip” and “no-makeup makeup with a bright accent.” This is pretty much the main reason why I’d been shunning reds, as I like my eye makeup colorful and visible from space. Working on this post gave me the opportunity to research, experiment, and think about which colors would go with red lipstick. I found an inspiration in “red on red” looks, such as those created by Chanel’s Lucia Pica (1, 2). But neutral and “no-makeup” styles were not forgotten, because why not.


These are the lipsticks I wore that week. Left to right: ColourPop Bichette, NYX Perfect Red, NARS Vesuvio, Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Silence, Shu Uemura M OR570, Paula’s Choice Currant, TheBalm Devoted.

Here are some swatches for comparison purposes. Looks like a procession of drunk Pac-Man ghosts:

red lipstick pacman

Monday: NARS Vesuvio


The Pure Matte line by NARS is not as hyped right now as their lip crayons and Audacious lipsticks, but it’s a classic, dependable line. I would recommend the Pure Mattes to anyone who doesn’t necessarily collect makeup, but likes to treat themselves to a fancy lipstick every couple of years. Vesuvio is a supremely user-friendly product. It’s an old-school matte: not completely dry like the trendier liquid matte lipsticks, but with a soft sheen. It glides onto the lips effortlessly, and the packaging is so slight that the product easily fits into a wallet. There are 12 Pure Matte shades to choose from, and Vesuvio is the purest of the reds in the lineup.

Tuesday: TheBalm Devoted




Along with Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks, TheBalm’s Meet Matt(e) Hughes Lip Colors have one of the better liquid matte formulas I’ve tried. Not Sahara dry, not crumbly or flaky. Unlike KVD, though, TheBalm doesn’t have trendy blues and blacks and purples in its lineup. The Meet Matt(e) Hughes series is still worth checking out–going by Devoted, the brand is onto something when it comes to vivid shades. This pure red lipstick is so bright it’s practically luminous.

Wednesday: Shu Uemura M OR570 (Gangnam Orange)


While this lipstick’s orange red color reads to me as iconic and pop arty, its texture is something I’d never encountered before. Products like the NARS Pure Mattes have some creaminess to them; the Shu Uemura’s got absolutely none. Its airy and glidey formula feels like a dimethicone primer, but for lips.

The line is called Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte. M OR570 is not currently available on the official Shu site, but I know it popped up as one half of the “Gangnam Duo” that also included a bright pink. I imagine the combination would be incredible for color blocking.

Thursday: Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Silence


As someone with an inordinate love for tomatoes, I am grateful to my friend who hooked me up with this juicy tomato-colored lipstick. Raw Silence is part of RBR’s Hues of Enchantment collection, which is marketed as “pigment-dense” in contrast with the brand’s ostensibly sheer line, Succulence of Dew. The two Succulence lipsticks I own (bought by the same friend!) are in fact as pigmented as Raw Silence, and the only difference is that the latter looks creamier and less glossy.

I am hard to please when it comes to creamy lipsticks. I’ve got minor beefs with some popular formulas–the discontinued Urban Decay Revolution is heavy, Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche is slippery. Raw Silence is actually one of my favorite products in this finish. On application, it feels almost like vinyl, and hugs the lips well. Like the NARS and TheBalm lipsticks above, Raw Silence is considered a true red, but I feel the color’s a bit earthier.

Friday: Paula’s Choice Currant


Currant came in a gift-with-purchase lip crayon set, which also featured a brighter red, a berry, and a shimmery topper. I have no special fuzzies towards the crayon/chubby stick format, as I don’t really care how easy it is to draw a crisp lipline. I hate defined liplines on myself, so a brush is always involved to fuzz out the edges. See the look above, where I did the outline with an eyeshadow blending brush… LIKE AN ANIMAL.

Some chubby sticks are waxy or greasy, but Currant feels velvety, like a high-quality traditional lipstick. Its finish reminds me of the red currant berries my mom used to grow in her garden: smooth, juicy, and reflective.

Saturday: ColourPop Bichette


Bichette is part of ColourPop’s original Lippie Stix collection. Man, feels like they premiered those so long ago, even though it’s only been a couple of years–ColourPop release so much stuff. So far, based on Bichette, I am pro-Lippie Stix. The formula is similar to the Paula’s Choice lip crayon: smooth and comfortable. Of all the reds I’m reviewing in this post, this one is the darkest.

Sunday: NYX Perfect Red


In this post, I reviewed three “red reds,” one orange red, and two deeper reds. Finally, here is a red that’s considered blue-toned, like MAC Ruby Woo. NYX’s Matte line is beloved by many: out of the several NYX lipstick series I’ve sampled, this one has been the closest to flawless. I’ve seen shades from the core Matte lineup, including Perfect Red, Alabama, Whipped Caviar, and Butter named as favorites by various bloggers I respect. These lipsticks are old-timey creamy mattes, similar to the NARS Pure Matte lipsticks reviewed above. The packaging is clunkier, of course, but NYX is an incomparably more budget-friendly toy. (And there’s more product in the tube, too–4.5g as opposed to NARS’ 2g.) Currently, NYX is offering 45 shades of their Matte lipstick, including out-there colors such as the stone grey Haze and the greyish dark purple Up the Bass.