Making the Cut: Lipstick Edition

Making the Cut: Lipstick Edition

If you follow me on Instagram, you might recall seeing a flatlay of my makeup collection. That is actually the more “curated” version of my collection. Like many people, I went a little overboard when I started getting into indie cosmetic brands. It didn’t help that I was also really getting back into makeup in general, so I had all the pretties at Sephora to get my grubby mitts on, too. I had hundreds of single eyeshadows (including the little sample baggies), blushes that I bought because omg pretty, and more perfumes than my nose could feasibly handle. Over time, I’ve toned down the “buy buy buy” mentality and have gotten rid of things that don’t suit me for one reason or another. Even though my collection is on the larger side, I’m generally happy with it and am really only looking to hone down specific sections (perfume being one of them).

Getting rid of things in your collection can be difficult, especially for things that you generally like. The big thing is finding the difference between things you like and things you need, as well as things that are unique to your collection. And the end of the day, no matter the collection size, you have to be happy with what you have.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be making some posts sharing what I do to determine what gets the boot and what stays in my collection, starting with lipsticks. I hope you find things helpful!

Color Family Swatches

The first thing I always do is gather all of my lipsticks in the same color family and do mass swatches. It’s easy to let your collection get out of hand, especially when it comes to your favorite color. At one point, I had over 30 red lipsticks alone. So, I grabbed them all to see which ones were similar enough in color that I could then put to a battle of the death.

Below are some of the red lipsticks that survived the eventual battle royale.

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Top to Bottom: Darling Girl Cosmetics Eat You Up, Fyrinnae We The People, Anastasia Beverly Hills Runway Red Lip Gloss, Ofra Atlantic City, Bite Beauty Braised Maple, Lipstick Queen Black Tie, Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture 203, Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture 71, Besame Cosmetics Red Velvet, Besame Cosmetics American Beauty

Battle Royale: Formula Testing

Swatches don’t tell you everything. After I did swatches to find color dupes, I then did testing to see which formula I liked better. I made a spreadsheet of all of my lipsticks, separated out into five categories: reds, berries, pinks/mauves, browns/nudes, and unconventional colors. I then wore every single one of my lipsticks, one color family at a time. This allowed me to figure out what kind of formulas I liked best based on wear time and reapplication. This is really the best test to a lipstick.

How easily does it apply? Does it take some work to get a clean line? Is a lip liner required? Is it patchy or streaky? How long will it last before needing to reapply? Do you need to take it off completely to add some more (some liquid matte formulas are good for that) or can you just touch it up? Based on the formula, how likely are you going to wear it regularly?

If it helps you, start a journal to keep track of your thoughts. This could be more helpful than a generic star rating system. You might want to keep Lipstick A because while it doesn’t last long, it’s easy to apply and reapply. But Lipstick B might be a keeper because while initial application can be a little bit of a struggle, it lasts all day with no reapplication necessary.

I also like to think about colors based on where I’ll be wearing it. With my job, I can’t wear more “unconventional” colors to work, so they’re strictly going out colors. That means that they have to be more sturdy because they need to last decently through drinks (and if they can last through bar food it’s even better). I can’t be worried about my lipstick every time I sip my beer. So a lipstick from the same company in two different colors could be judged differently based simply on where I’m wearing it to.

Reassess Your Collection Regularly

This is the most difficult part for me. Tastes change as time goes on, and even by season. So while I may not have been feeling that hot pink lipstick in December, come May I’m all about it. Keep these things in mind so you don’t kick things out that you may regret.

Give yourself a number that you don’t want to go over, and kick things out when you get over that number. Do another round of swatches and maybe set yourself a challenge. Have a bunch of liquid matte lipsticks from different companies? Test them for the next month so you can see which ones really have the best formulas. Give less loved lipsticks a good whiff to make sure they haven’t expired. Grab your journal and start tracking lipstick use so you can track your most and least used items.

At the end of the day, make sure you have a collection that you’re happy with and doesn’t stress you out. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve found some good tips! Next time I’ll talk about blushes and highlighters.

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Squash Beauty: Update and Review

Squash Beauty: Update and Review

A few weeks ago, I made this post with swatches and first impressions of Squash Beauty. I took both the Amara Luminizer and Suzy Blush for test spins and I am happy to say I loved them both!

For application, I applied grabbed some of Suzy (the blush) with my stippling brush. I then lightly tapped my face where I wanted the blush and gently blended it out with the same brush. I had gone very lightly, so I grabbed a little more and applied it in the same method. It built very nicely and didn’t pull or grab at my foundation beneath.

With Amara, I applied it with my fingers since I don’t really have another brush that would work well with this type of product. I dropped a little onto the back of my hand and picked it up with my middle finger. I then patted it onto my cheekbone with a light tapping motion, passing over the area to blend it out. I actually like this a lot for the highlighter! I feel like it gave me a lot of control over the pigmentation and placement. It was also easy to build up and didn’t effect my foundation or blush. I found it to provide a nice glow, so if you’re someone who prefers their highlight to be seen from space, this isn’t for you. If you like more of a natural highlight then this is right up your alley!

They both dried down rather quickly, but not so fast that I wasn’t able to work with them. I found them both long wearing, still going strong after the 10-hour mark.

I give both of these products glowing (haha) reviews! I am interested to see how this packaging holds up to the test of time. I know that they were clearing out existing stock to implement new packaging. This is definitely a brand I plan on keeping my eye on! Give them a look and see what you think – maybe you’ll find a new fave.

Here’s a look I did with the products below! You can see the glow from Amara better in the second picture.

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Sugarpill Cosmetics Feline Fancy palette on the eyes, Squash Beauty Suzy and Amara on the face, and Fyrinnae We The People on the lips
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Sugarpill Cosmetics Feline Fancy on the eyes, Squash Beauty Amara and Suzy on the face, Fyrinnae We The People on the lips

 

Corvus Cosmetics First Impressions: The Bronzes and The Taupes

Corvus Cosmetics First Impressions: The Bronzes and The Taupes

Hello, ladies and gents! I’m back with another first impression post. Today we’ll be talking about Corvus Cosmetics. A small indie brand working out of Maryland, Corvus Cosmetics offers a rotating catalog of loose eyeshadows and, most recently, loose highlighters. In addition to seasonal collections, they keep The Essentials and Nevermore collections in stock at all times. Also check out The Best of Corvus section, where all the bestselling eyeshadows are available for purchase. Today I’ll be showcasing two of The Essentials collections – The Bronzes and The Taupes.

The Essentials collections are meant to be stand alone palettes made of five loose eyeshadows each. They each follow a color “theme.” Currently The Essentials is made of four collections – The Roses, The Reds, The Bronzes, and The Taupes. I purchased The Roses collection when it was released and thought it fell a bit flat, but found a renewed interest when The Taupes was recently launched. So without further ado, onto the swatches!

The Bronzes

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The Bronzes: Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned, Amber Moon, Manhattan, Irish Coffee

Whiskey Sour: A warm toned highlight.

I’m not a massive fan of highlight shades. I like sparkles as a brow or innner corner highlight and this is definitely too light for me to use as a transition shade. However, if you’re the person that hits pan on the extra large white shade in ever palette, this is the color for you. It’s a nice matte shade that blends very smoothly.

Old Fashioned: A warm toned cream transition shade.

This would make a nice transition shade for lighter skinned ladies. I have weirdly dark skin on my eyelids, so I need something a little darker than this. (Keep reading to see what will satisfy my super picky qualifications of a transition color.) I would call this less of a matte and more of a satin. If you don’t like a matte white as a highlight and want something a little deeper, this would also be a good shade for that.

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The Bronzes: Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned

Amber Moon: A metallic bronze.

To me, this is neither bronze nor metallic. This looks like a nice shimmery medium brown, and is actually my favorite from this collection. The right side of this swatch is over Darling Girl Glitter Glue, which did help provide more of a “metallic” sheen, but I still wouldn’t categorize this as such.

Manhattan: A matte satin brown.

A nice satin, darker brown, this would work very well as a crease color. You can see a low shimmer in my swatch, so I wouldn’t call this matte at all. The low shimmer will dissipate with blending. Nothing remarkable about this color, but it’s a good staple in anyone’s collection.

Irish Coffee: A blackened matte brown.

This and Whiskey Sour are definitely my least favorites in this collection, but that’s all just preference. I’m not a fan of anything that has “blackened” in the description because I personally find them to get a little muddy when blending next to other colors. I haven’t used this yet in that capacity, so I can’t tell you if it will do the same. I can tell you that I found the shadow very smooth and soft. I would say this leans a little more satin than matte, which also makes me believe it will blend out better than other colors of the same “blackened” variety.

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The Bronzes: Amber Moon, Manhattan, Irish Coffee

Overall Impression

Generally, I think the name of this collection is a little deceiving, just like with The Roses. I wouldn’t consider any of these colors bronzes. That being said, the shadows themselves are nice and should work well on the eye. Amber Moon was my favorite, which seems to be a current theme since it’s been added to The Best of Corvus section of the site. I will probably use that and Manhattan the most. This would be a good collection for someone who is just starting out with makeup and maybe doesn’t have a lot of staples, mainstream or indie. I would say I most definitely have something similar for all of these shades existing in my collection already.

The Taupes

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The Taupes: Chantilly, Madeleine, Mille-Feuille, Eclair, Au Chocolat

Chantilly: A neutral semi-matte white.

This is softer and less matte than Whiskey Sour or Old Fashioned. As a white eyeshadow hater, this gets a pass from me. I would say it’s different enough that I can see why a brand would offer three similar shades, but I don’t think they would really all be necessary in someone’s makeup collection.

Madeleine: A matte light nude transition shade.

Yay! A transition shade I can use! This color is great. It might be a little yellow for my skin, but it’s definitely something that I would get a lot of use out of. Once again, I would call this more satin than matte.

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The Taupes: Chantilly, Madeleine

Mille-Feuillie: A pressure-sensitive neutral taupe.

This is the color that made me want to order. I was very much intrigued by a pressure sensitive eyeshadow and it’ll be interesting to use. In the swatch below, I’ve swatched the left side with just a simple patting motion and the right side by applying pressure and blending. This would be interesting to use in a one shadow look, or maybe with just Madeleine as a transition. You can see on the left side there is some low shimmer which blends out into a satin sheen on the right.

Eclair: A neutral moussey brown.

I’m having a real hard time finding the difference between this and Manhattan from The Bronzes. This might be more cool toned? A little? I’m not sure. It has the same low shimmer that will blend out upon application.

Au Chocolat: A deep chocolate brown.

*cue Twilight Zone music* Read above, but insert “Irish Coffee” where I wrote “Manhattan.”

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The Taupes: Mille-Feuille, Eclair, Au Chocolat

Overall Impression

Madeleine and Mille-Feuille were my favorites out of this collection. I can’t wait to use Mille-Feuille and see how the pressure-sensitive..ness.. works in action on my eyelid. As for the rest of the shadows… I’m a little disappointed with how similar they are to the colors in The Bronzes. If you plan on ordering from The Essentials collections, I would encourage looking first to see if there are any similar shades between the collections before grabbing the whole thing like I did. I feel like any differences in these shades would be negligible once applied to the lid, except maybe some of the whites due to preferences and undertones.

Customer Service

I did want to make an little note about the more customer service side. The turnaround time (TAT) for this brand is listed as 5-30 business days, which is a little odd. I know from Facebook the owner is a full time student and takes care of her business between classes and such. I was curious if the brand would be more to the 30 day end of things or would get it out well before, like Fyrinnae Cosmetics is prone to.

I made my order on February 2. I received a shipping notification on February 11, but it sat in “Shipping Label Created” for a few days. It was accepted at the post office on February 16 and arrived on February 18 (the advantage of living on the East Coast). That brought the TAT from order date to actual shipped date to 10 business days. So it was somewhere in the middle of the stated TAT, which wasn’t bad. I always get nervous when I see packages stuck in Shipping Label Created because I’ve had packages lost before, but I know that some owners print the labels as they’re working on an order as opposed to when they’re actually shipping the order.

I hope you found my first impression helpful! I’ll make another post with a full review and looks once I’ve used the products.

 

 

Squash Beauty First Impressions

Squash Beauty First Impressions

Hello there! It’s been a long time! I’ve been upping my Instagram game, so I figured it was time to up my blogging game as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up as a nice space for first impressions, reviews, and swatches.

Today I’ve got some gorgeous products from  a brand called Squash Beauty. The owner’s goal is to provide products that will work on a variety of skin tones, based on her own frustrations attempting to find cosmetics that work on darker skin. Currently the shop offers liquid blushes and luminizers as well as some pressed highlighters. The liquid products are on sale as they rotate stock to offer up some new packaging, too!

I picked up the Liquid Blush in the shade Suzy and a Liquid Luminizer in the shade Amara. They come in glass bottles with glass droppers to get out the product. The labels are simple and clean, which I can appreciate. They are not waterproof, which makes me a little worried for how quickly they’ll get dirty with this kind of product. Knowing how clumsy I am, I can see this labels being a little worse for wear in a couple of months.

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On to the swatches! To apply the product, I applied some straight from the dropper onto my arm and blended out with the brush below. With how easy the product blends out, in the future I’ll skip the brush for highlight and just blend it out with my fingers. I’ll probably stick to this brush for using the blush, though.

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Amara Luminizer: A gold toned highlighter with a yellow base, this glowing luminizer has a natural satin finish.

I would say that description is spot on. I’ve been looking for a nice, yellow toned gold highlighter and I think I found it. If you are at all cool toned, I would avoid this. Also this would not work on fairer skin tones. If you have a deeper skin tone and have issues with a gold highlighter showing up on your skin, I would definitely give this a shot. I found it easy to blend and build up in turn. This is very versatile and easy to use. I love that Amara has a nice soft sheen, as opposed to an outright blinding glow. This will be a lot of fun paired with a more sparkly blush.

Suzy Blush: This vibrant satin pink blush can be worn alone or topped with a highlighter for extra glow.

This was a little more coral leaning than I expected, but it’s definitely still a happy pink. I was surprised by how easy this was to blend. This will work for people with a variety of skin tones, from pale to deep. This is extremely easy to build and the more it was blended out the more the small sparkles showed up, which I am all about.

Below the products are over bare skin. One the left the product is more heavily applied and the right side is more blended out.

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Full swatches

I wore Amara the other day and started blending it out with the brush and realized it was easy enough to blend out with my fingers. I haven’t used Suzy yet, but I think I’ll wind up using the brush. The product itself is more watery than I expected, which makes it both easier to blend and build. Amara layered nicely over foundation and blush, so I’m looking forward to using Suzy to see if it works just as well!

After I’ve used both products more extensively, I’ll report back with a full review. In the mean time, make sure you check out Squash Beauty and see if anything catches your fancy!