midsummer dreams apothecary cologne oils

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I’ve had this review half-done forever. FOREVERRR. But now it’s actually finished! Finally. Mercifully. Not because it was unpleasant – it was not! – but because my pile of “to try” perfumes is quickly becoming a very daunting mountain. If I don’t post again within a week, send help.

Anyway, here we have Midsummer Dreams Apothecary’s new-ish collection of unisex cologne oils. They are, as with MDA’s other scents, fairytale-themed (which I love), and the samples come in adorable little mini bottles that don’t leak and stand up on their own. A+.

Beast: Warm spicy amber blends with sultry sandalwood amongst a base of white musk, rosewood, rounded out by just a hint of patchouli. This is a warm, woodsy, and earthy blend. (Amber, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Rosewood, Sandalwood, White Musk.)

Warm and musky in the vial. On skin it’s all wood and spice, with a dry, powdery sort of vibe, which usually means sandalwood. After a few minutes I get more amber and musk, and it gets to be a bit much for me.

This is a very manly smell – warm, musky, woodsy, and spicy, and not sweet at all. It definitely smells like a masculine cologne. That’s not a bad thing – I love man smells, hence why I got these in the first place. But this one is a bit too strongly something for me – I can’t tell if it’s the amber or the musk or the various woody notes. It’s just very strong and a lot. However, I do think it fits the Beastly inspiration.

Charming: A heady blend of masculine, earthy, and wood scents are complimented by a hint of equal parts sweet floral and rugged leather that’s fit for a dashing, heroic prince. (Balsam, Basil, Bergamot, Cedar, Leather, Oakmoss, Sweet Grass, Rose, Rosewood, Tobacco, Vanilla, and Ylang Ylang.)

In the vial it smells slightly sweet, green, and floral. On skin it’s still a bit sweet, but more fresh and herbal, with something a little spicy and maybe citrusy going on. After a few minutes, it becomes a touch more floral, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s not a loud, heady floral, and it’s balanced out by the more masculine notes. There’s a deep, smooth sweetness to this that I really like.

Charming is much lighter than Beast, both in character and actual sillage. But it’s lovely. I really enjoy this one and can see myself getting a solid or a smaller bottle at some point.

Dragon: The scent of sharp, tangy grass, rich and fertile soil, earthy rosewood, musk, and the sweet incense of dragon’s blood. (Dragon’s Blood, Earth, Rosewood, Vetiver, and White Musk.)

In the vial, Dragon is earthy, warm, and dusty (not in a bad way). It almost smells a little oceanic at first. There’s something murky about it. On skin it’s warm, woody, and dirt-y. That musty, dusty murkiness translates into something really wonderful – it smells like an old stone building with a dirt floor, with sun streaming through the window, illuminating millions of floating dust particles. Forgive me for waxing poetic, but it really does.

I love this one. I didn’t expect to, because dragon’s blood, vetiver, and white musk are all iffy notes for me, but the earth really takes center stage on my skin, and I’m very glad for that. I’ll definitely be picking up at least a solid and probably a bottle of this one.

Hook: A herbaceous, masculine, earthy blend of bay rum and tobacco that is softened by sweet caramel on a base of rich leather and musk. (Bay Rum, Caramel, Leather, Tobacco, and White Musk.)

In the vial: Leather, mostly, with something a little tangy underneath. On skin the tanginess is the main thing I smell. I’m not entirely sure what it is. Not exactly citrus. It’s also pretty spicy. It smells like cologne, which it is, obviously, but like the classic “cologne” smell, if that makes sense. Bay rum? (Bay rum.) It smells good. I like those kinds of scents. The leather lurks beneath the bay rummy, maybe-citrus, spicy notes, and I’m somewhat less fond of that (I just generally don’t like leather scents), but it all works well together. It’s appropriately pirate-y.

Not one for me, I think, but it would smell awesome on a guy.

Sea Witch: A cool and crisp blend of green and aquatic notes with just a hint of sea salt and moss. (Bergamot, Hyacinth, Lily of the Valley, Lotus, Water Mint, Oakmoss, Ocean Mist, Sea Salt, Vetiver, and White Musk.)

In the vial: Ooh. A spicy green aquatic, really interesting. On skin it’s more spicy than green or aquatic at first, but after a few minutes it all melds together. It’s cooler and more watery-smelling in the vial than on skin, where it’s deeper and muskier. I’m not always a huge fan of aquatics, but I like this one – it manages to fall squarely into the aquatic category without smelling like a generic blue candle in a beach house bathroom. I credit that to the murky saltiness, which is common to most of the aquatics I end up enjoying.

Still not my favorite category of scent, but I’ll consider grabbing a solid of this one eventually.

Three winner for me here – I love love love Dragon, and like Charming and Sea Witch (in that order). Beast and Hook are perfectly nice, but not quite to my taste.

Everything in this post is available from Midsummer Dreams Apothecary.

darling clandestine ballyhoo, step right up, fire eater, & pestañas

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As I’m sure you can tell from the lack of posts, things are still crazy around here! My new job is awesome, but I have way less down time, and house-hunting is so stressful and miserable, I can’t even accurately describe it. We’ve only been looking for a few weeks and I’ve already had like four panic attacks. Everything about it makes me want to hurl a couch through the wall and light something on fire. Ugh. Seriously, HGTV is a network of LIES.

Anyway. I had hoped to be back in the swing of swatching/reviewing/posting regularly by now, but clearly that hasn’t been in the cards. Sorry dudes. I’m working on it! In the meantime, here are a few Darling Clandestine reviews.

As always, reviews were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

Ballyhoo: A surprising melange of amber and sage and fig and spice with notes of creamy coffee and lime and dozens of other fascinating notes. Thoroughly appropriate for bold ladies and gents. (The solid version is pictured here, but I have since acquired a bottle as well.)

In the bitsy: deep and musky and sweet, rich, with an unexpected hit of lime. On skin I get a whiff of coffee, which sounds like it should be gross with lime, but it’s not at all. It actually smells amazing. And I don’t usually really like coffee scents! But this one isn’t all coffee, and it really works. After drying down for a while, it gets more ambery.

Ballyhoo reminds me slightly of Harpy – it’s the lime. I wonder what they’d be like as a FrankenBitsy? BallyHarp? HarpyHoo?

Fire Eater: This version lights up with hot mesquite wood and bluegrass, bursts of wild grape and apricot and lilac, and that blaze of blood orange and gasoline.

In the bitsy: a fruity, berry-ish scent with a strong background of something plasticky or gasoline-y. Or like rubbing alcohol? On skin that gas/alcohol scent is STRONG. The fruitiness is in the background, but it’s tainted. Something about this combination smells exactly like cat pee to me. I don’t know what it is, but it smells like a litter box that hasn’t been cleaned in way too long. It’s really disgusting. My nostrils flare involuntarily every time I sniff at it.

If I push past the eau de cat pee, I can pull it apart and say that I guess what I’m getting is the combination of grape, lilac, wood, and gasoline… it’s strongly astringent and abrasive like gas or rubbing alcohol, and there is fruitiness and something floral around the edges. After a while it gets a little better… but just a little. I still recoil from it, and if I sniff at it for longer than a second, lord, it still smells like cat pee. Like ammonia. Ugh. No. This is a very rare complete miss from DC. Do not pass go, do not collect a solid or a bottle. I actually scrubbed this one off.

I should note that I had The Dude smell this, and he didn’t get the cat pee thing. He just said it was “kind of floral.” So YMMV wildly here.

Step Right Up: A clean, oceanic, very unisex fragrance with notes of tea and vanilla and wood and spice.

In the bitsy: seriously blue. It’s ozone-y, but also a little hot and a little sweet. Mint? On skin it’s whoa, spicy! It’s still got a blue kind of background, but it’s very spicy and woody. There’s a bit of sweetness too, smooth and vanilla-y. It smells like men’s cologne and a fancy old-school library with dark wood and a roaring fire and scholarly men sitting around drinking tea and whiskey and eating scones.

After a little while I almost start to smell a little bit of the cat pee thing from Fire Eater… what? What is this? I thought it might’ve been leftover from what I scrubbed off, but I tried it on the other arm and got shades of the same thing. Not nearly as bad as Fire Eater, but still not awesome. I’m really confused, because I don’t feel like these two scents have much in common. Maybe it’s the wood? In any case, I definitely like Step Right Up BETTER, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it once all is said and done. More testing is required.

After yet more time, on the non-Fire-Eater-tainted hand, that smell starts to smell tea-like and less like cat pee. I think it might be that, plus the wood? Who even knows. I don’t dislike it, but I need to try it again another day.

Pestañas: A whirlwind of memories, from my grandparents’ courtship to the home they nurtured together in Illinois, including notes of cotton, tobacco leaf, rose, marigold, leather, machine oil, amber, lilac, pepper, copal, chocolate, wine and pimento.

In the bitsy: leather and a little wine. Mostly leather. On skin: it starts out sweet, and then deepens into something a little floral and a little spicy. The leather is there, and it gets stronger as it dries, and there’s something sharp and metallic. (looking at the notes – machine oil?) This is a weird scent. It’s clean but dark, a little floral, sweet and sharp and spicy. Every time I think I don’t like it, I get a hit of sweetness and I rethink my stance.

I wouldn’t say I love this. I’m not even sure I really like it. But it’s interesting.

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I love the little shark stamps on DC packages. YES I AM A TIME LORD.

Overall, this batch was far more miss than hit, which is rare for me and DC blends. I love Ballyhoo, am on the fence about Step Right Up and Pestañas, and want to strap Fire Eater to a rocket and shoot it into space. I had a very strong initial run with DC, liking or loving nearly everything I’ve tried so far, but they can’t all be winners! Still, of course, the customer service and general shopping experience were fantastic. And as always, you can check out all the goods available from Darling Clandestine on Etsy.

detrivore vow and apocalyptic

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vow_apocalypseJust a quick swatch post today! Things may be a bit slower than usual around here for a little while, because I’m starting a new job (yay!) and my fiance and I just put an offer in on a house (yay! but also: interesting! oh god oh god we’re all going to die!) and things are just generally kind of in a state of good but stressful upheaval at the moment.

ANYWAY. Here’s some blushes.

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Vow: Delicate peachy-pink with a satin finish.

A warm light pink, slightly peach. Not a super pale baby pink, just a nice, wearable, everyday peachy-pink color. The description says “satin finish,” but for all intents and purposes this is matte.

Apocalyptic: Matte reddened beige.

A ruddy brownish rose sort of color, darker and less pink than Vow. This would be great in cooler weather.

These are my first Detrivore blushes, and while I haven’t tried them out on my face yet, I can tell just from swatching that they’re nice. The texture is soft, not chalky or grainy – similar to their matte eyeshadows, actually. They’re pigmented, but not so intensely pigmented that you have to apply three grains of powder with a stippling brush from 12 feet away from your face. I can’t comment on how they blend yet, though.

There are currently nine shades available on Shiro’s website, seven of which are vegan. Of the five vegan shades I haven’t tried, Concubine, Cyanide, and maybe Lilith appeal to me, so I’ll pick up samples of those in future Shiro orders.

sixteen92 scent preview

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About a month ago, a regular poster over on /r/indiemakeupandmore posted asking if anyone would be interested in testing out scents from her upcoming perfume line. I’d read enough of her comments and posts to know that she a) loves perfume and b) knows her shit, so I threw my hat in the ring. Obviously she ended up getting in touch about testing them out, because here we are!

The soon-to-be-launched company is called sixteen92, and the lovely lady behind the brand is Claire (aka /u/vanityclaire). She’s also an art director/designer, which you can definitely tell because the website and branding is fantastic and very professional.

The catalogue is available to view now, and it consists of 15 scents, all but two of which are vegan. Swarm and Mellifera both contain real honey notes, and are plainly marked as such, which I appreciate intensely because often it’s very hard to tell whether a scent contains real or synthetic honey notes without taking the time to email the brand. And that’s fine, I will do it, but it’s certainly more convenient to have it clearly stated, and it shows a level of consideration that I appreciate a lot.

I was sent 5 samples for review: Sauin, Lolita, Shadow Show, Encantado, and Grimm. All reviews were done as blindly as possible, though I was somewhat aware of what was in each one.

Sauin: Black licorice, sugared ginger candies, yuzu, dragon’s blood, moss.

In the vial, I get black licorice and sweet, sugared citrus. On skin the sweet citrus and warm ginger are the strongest notes at first, but then there’s black licorice, making itself known in a big way. The sweeter elements definitely remain detectable, but this is a black licorice scent.

After a few minutes, the dragon’s blood comes out to play, deep and resinous, and it’s a really wonderful complement to the black licorice. At this point the sweet citrus and ginger have mostly burned off (like they do) and the scent is much deeper and spicier than it started, but still smooth.

Further on, it develops a really awesome green-ness, plush and dark, like a carpet of moss. It plays so well with the licorice and dragon’s blood. Man. I wasn’t so sure about this one when I first put it on, but it is amazing. I like black licorice (and anise) scents, but I’ve never really loved one – but I love this. I will definitely be getting a full-size bottle of this, and wearing the hell out of it come fall.

Lolita: Crisp apple skins, tart peach candies, rose absolute, sugared violet.

In the vial, I get mostly sweet, sticky, sugary peach candy, and it is magnificent. On skin the peach is the strongest note, with dry, crisp apple and some soft floral elements underneath. As it dries the peach gets almost milky, like peaches and cream.

Unfortunately this one is very fleeting on me – most of the scent burns off before it even fully dies, leaving just a faint peachy sweetness behind. Claire mentioned that longevity has been an issue with this one, which isn’t surprising given the notes. But when I sent her my thoughts about the scents, she said that she’s had some success with adding a fixative to the blend to extend the wear. It’s still not going to be a marathon laster – I love apple scents enough to know that’s just unreasonable to expect – but it should stick around a bit better, so that’s very good to hear.

The scent itself is lovely, fresh and light and candy-sweet/tart, appropriately young and girly. I’m actually considering adding a bit of my sample to an unscented lotion, because I’d love this as an all-over scent.

Shadow Show: Kettle corn, spun sugar, apple, machine oil, rusty metal, dirt.

My first impression in the vial is popcorn, and then cold metal, like a rickety ferris wheel turning on a dark, almost-chilly early fall evening. It’s odd and specific and very interesting. On skin it’s mostly popcorn, salty and sweet, with a bit of fruity apple and a hint of dirt and that cold metal smell in the background.

As it dries down, the elements swap and meld into something that smells buttery, woody, and a little spicy, with a cool edge. I’m not sure where that woody element is coming from, but I like it quite a bit. I like to imagine that it’s the creaky wood seats in the ferris wheel. A while after it’s dried, the machine oil sharpness comes out, just a hint at first, but it gets a little stronger over time.

This is another one I wasn’t sure I’d like, but I do. It’s also one of the more accurate scent renditions of “a night at the county fair” that I’ve tried. I haven’t been to something like that in years, on account of how I’m a cranky weirdo who hates people and crowds and fun and puppies (that’s not true, I love puppies), but I daresay Shadow Show makes me want to venture out the next time one comes around.

Encantado: Flor de sal (sea salt), Brazilian lime EO, tobacco, bay rum.

In the vial: Whoa. Salt and rum and lime, this smells like a deeper, more alcoholic version of DC Harpy. There’s tobacco in there too, wet and sweet. On skin it’s sweet and buttery and salty, like suntan oil and mojitos and a hot breeze off the ocean at dusk. It smells really good.

This makes me want to go to the beach and do unseemly things even though I kinda hate the beach in the summer (see above re: cranky weirdo, also it’s just too fucking hot and I can’t stand it). As it dries down, the tobacco peeks out, and it gets a bit stronger as time goes on.

The overall feel this scent leaves me with is warm and salty. It’s quite sexy. It starts out sweet, but I think this could be unisex when all is said and done.

Grimm: Cocao absolute, tonka bean, tobacco, immortelle, wet forest moss & leaves.

In the vial I get rich chocolate, then tobacco and wet leaves. It’s sweet but sharp and green. On skin the chocolate note fades fast, leaving mostly tobacco with a damp green edge.

After a few minutes, the tobacco melds into the green elements until it’s not exactly recognizeable as tobacco anymore, but just contributes to an overall sense of a dark, damp forest. A bit of smooth sweetness re-emerges at this point as well.

There are tiny hints of HoG Samhain here; it’s got shades of that same herbal coolness that’s so evocative of a dark, rainy fall night. Grimm is not nearly as chilly as Samhain – they actually smell nothing alike – but it’s atmospheric in the same sort of way. If I were assigning them colors, Samhain would be a dark, cool greenish blue and Grimm would be a murky, deep olive brown.

Grimm is really lovely. It’s dark and deep, green and a tiny bit sweet. It’s very evocative of a dark forest without necessarily smelling like a dark forest, if that makes sense. I have an unholy weakness for any scent reminiscent of trees or leaves or forests, so this is a serious win for me.

This oil is pretty, too, all filled with dark sediment (the cocoa absolute, I assume) – definitely shake this one up before applying.

So there you have it! My favorites of the bunch are Sauin (hands down) and Grimm, but I really enjoyed all of them to varying degrees.

Sixteen92 is launching in the very near future, and I highly recommend trying them out – I’m very happy with what I got to try, and will absolutely be sampling the rest of the scents (barring the non-vegan ones of course) when they’re available. I’m particularly keen to try out The Awakening and Penny Dreadful.

 

firebird spring scent reviews

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Firebird’s spring collection consisted of four new scents that definitely fit the season: Pomegranate Basil (YUM), Figs & Honey, Green Lemon, and Olive Blossom. I’ve had these samples for ages but am just getting around to reviewing them now, in August, which is decidedly not spring, because I have a backlog of perfume to review that is large enough to bury me alive. My kingdom for another nose.

As always, reviews were done as blindly as possible, but since Firebird’s scents are fairly simple and the names are usually descriptive, that’s kind of irrelevant with these guys.

Pomegranate Basil: Tart pomegranate and fruity red currant notes shine here, with an unexpected green accent of flowering basil and garden herbs. Fruity, herbal, bright and springy.

In the vial: Sweet, fruity, and lightly herbal. It smells delicious – like sorbet. As with most Firebird scents, it’s very similar on skin. It reminds me exactly of a sweet, fresh summer sorbet. Very fruity. After a few minutes, I get a little more of the herbal element. Which is basil. I know this because it’s called Pomegranate Basil. Blind testing Firebird scents is hard.

This reminds me a lot of Pomegranate Rose (obviously), but without the floral notes. Which means that I like it a lot more than Pomegranate Rose and will require a bottle ASAP already ordered a bottle.

Figs & Honey: Golden wildflower honey blended with ripe fig and a wisp of coconut. The fig adds a greenness to temper the honey’s sweetness; the coconut brings a slight creaminess to round out the blend. Soft and gentle like a summer breeze.

In the vial: sweet, creamy, golden honey. I think I smell a little coconut? On skin it opens up the same. It’s very rich and sweet and just beautiful. I’m definitely getting coconut. There’s also a hint of something a bit green, just adding a slight contrast to all the sweetness. That’d be the figs.

I don’t like Firebird’s other figs scent (Moroccan Fig), but I love this one. Another addition to the bottle list for sure bottle that’s on its way to my house right now.

Green Lemon: Bright juicy lemon, green lemon leaf, and citrusy verbena make up this cheerful, sunny blend. 

In the vial: fresh, extremely zesty lemon. I’m also getting kind of lime-y vibe. It’s like non-carbonated Sprite. On skin it’s a bit less zesty, and overall just a little softer. This is a really light, energizing kind of scent. The kind of thing you’d put on on a dreary Monday morning when you can barely lift your head off the pillow. The sillage is pretty low, though, which isn’t terribly surprising for a scent that’s mostly citrus notes.

Olive Blossom: Olive Blossom is a delicate green floral with notes of green tea and sparkling lemon. A light and pretty spa-type blend.

In the vial: very light and clean. A little green. I’m having trouble getting much from this one in the vial. On skin it’s a little more detectable, but still a soft, clean scent. It smells like walking into a spa, or maybe the kind of shampoo they use at really fancy salons. Or an aromatherapy candle called “Still Waters” or some flowery BS like that. It’s nice, but it’s too quiet for me.

That’s it for Firebird’s Spring scents! I adore Pomegranate Basil and Figs & Honey, like but don’t love Green Lemon, and am pretty meh about Olive Blossom.

If you’re interested in any of these, check out Firebird Bath & Body’s Etsy shop or their standalone site.

blackbird cosmetics matte neutrals v.1

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blackbird_samplesBlackbird Cosmetics is a new company that was recently started by a user over on /r/indiemakeupandmore. She announced the opening about a month ago, but I guess I completely missed it because it only came onto my radar when reviews and swatches started popping up in the last week or two. The shades are all mattes, which is a bit of a rarity in the indie world – there are metallics and glitterbombs and crazy duochromes abound, but relatively few mattes. They’re also notoriously hard to do well, even for big mainstream companies.  Add in the fact that all of the products are vegan, the color range looked right up my alley, and the full sample pack is $10 (with free shipping!), and, well, let’s just say it didn’t take me long to pop these guys into my Etsy cart.

Customer experience-wise, I ordered on August 3rd, it shipped on August 4th, and arrived on August 7th. There was no tracking, but given the free shipping on the sample set, I can’t really complain about that. (I don’t know if tracking info is provided for regular orders.) When I checked out, I left a little note for Maleah (the owner), just saying thanks for making all of her products vegan, and there was a sweet note in my package in response to that, as well as a discount code for my next order.

But enough talk. Swatch time!

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Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

Dim Tradition: A really light neutral beige eyeshadow.

A light grey/pink/tan putty kind of color. Hard to describe, but very pretty.

Immortals: A light pink eye shadow.

A light pink, slightly peachy.

Imogen: A dark, devious pink eye shadow. 

A ruddy medium reddish pink.

Thirteen: A beautiful neutral light brown.

A soft, warm light/medium brown, leaning a bit pinky-clay colored.

Dog Days: A medium neutral toned brown eye shadow.

A slightly warm medium brown, darker than Thirteen.

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These slanty shots seem a bit less pointy with matte shadows.

This group is very soft and pretty, and leans quite warm in general. Dim Tradition is the exception, but even then it’s not particularly cool.

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Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

Fiction: A dark perfect grey eyeshadow.

A medium grey, leaning slightly blue/purple.

Gravity: A medium, complex toned plum eyeshadow.

A medium/dark muted plum color, somewhere between brown and purple.

Beau: A warm reddened dark brown.

A medium/dark warm reddish brown. Named after the owner’s dog, which is adorable.

Fire Pledge: A really pretty red-orange eye shadow.

A bright but muted medium orange.

Lucid: A black eye shadow, it is not quite opaque, so it makes a really great darkener, rather than making harsh solid black lines. 

Black. Not the blackest black ever, but as the description states, it wasn’t intended to be!

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Just look at Fire Pledge. Damn, girl.

This group is darker and more vibrant, but still very neutral. Fire Pledge is the boldest of the bunch, and a really interesting addition to the palette.

Overall, I really like these! They apply well over primer, and are pigmented and not chalky or patchy. They’re almost kind of creamy? And the finish is clearly matte, but once I got them on my eyes I noticed a tiny, tiny bit of a sheen. It’s super subtle, and I only noticed it under really direct indoor lighting. I guess that’s what the description means when it says “matte but glowy finish!” It’s quite flattering.

The shadows also have an interesting smell – kind of like clay or dirt? It’s not a bad thing, it’s just A Thing Worth Noting.

My favorites are Dim Tradition, Immortals, Thirteen, Dog Days, Gravity, and Beau. Fire Pledge is beautiful, but since I’m stricken with a debilitating Fear of Color, I need to experiment and figure out how to use it. Fiction and Lucid are the only two I don’t see myself needing full sizes of, and it’s only because I literally never use grey and black eyeshadow. (And I could be swayed on Fiction. It’s a very pretty grey.)

The only thing missing from this collection is a paler highlighter shade, but it’s safe to assume that one or more will be added to the lineup at some point. Otherwise, I feel like it’s an excellent range of neutrals that you could make a ton of looks with.

These actually inspired me to put on eyeshadow today for the first time in like… I don’t even remember how long, so here are some of the shadows in action. Very subtle, like I do.

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Also featuring a DIY lip tar lip balm.

I used Immortals (inner half of lid, lower lash line), Thirteen (outer half of lid, crease), Dog Days (outer corner, crease, lower lash line), and Beau (liner) (YES I DID LINER). I have Detrivore’s Porcelain on my browbone and in the inner corner.

And so this gargantuan post comes to an end. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up, will use and purchase from again. If you’re in the market for some new mattes, check out Blackbird Cosmetics on Etsy!

life’s entropy contour stick & lip theory review

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apoptosisNo Free Friday post today – just a regular old review! I wanted to finish up with Life’s Entropy, although I realize now that the timing is pretty poor since LE just announced that they’re closing up for the rest of the month. You can still browse the site and order, though, it’s just that your order won’t be processed until the end of the month.

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Swatches under indirect natural light.

First let’s talk about the Particle Contour Sticks. These come in a standard lip balm tube, which makes for really easy application. You can either swipe it directly on your face and blend, or rub a bit off with your finger and apply that way. (I haven’t tried using a brush to pick up product directly on the contour stick, so I can’t say how that works.)

The texture is a bit firm at first, but once you warm up the surface it’s soft, creamy, and very blendable. I’m a total contouring noob – this is literally the first contouring product I’ve ever used, other than some ill-advised attempts to brush bronzer into my cheekbones, which: don’t do that. At least not if you’re as pale as me. That being the case, I still found these very easy to use. It’s hard to put on too much unless you have a color that’s way, way too dark, and they’re very easy to blend. They’re a true cream product, so you will have to set them with powder if you want them to last the day.

Proton:Proton is the lightest shade of the range (because it’s so positive!). Perfect for pale skin (NC/W 25 or lighter). Similar to Illamasqua Cream Shadow in Hollow.

Proton is a neutral tan kind of color, maybe leaning slightly cool. It looks warmer and browner on me than it does in the website swatch. This is a very subtle contour on my slightly tanner summer skin, and I think it would need to be a touch cooler (grey/purple) to be the perfect color for me. It does work, though, and of course can be layered. I can see this being great for a lot of super pale folks out there, and will probably serve me well in the winter. (For the record I have absolutely no idea what MAC foundation shade I am.)

Neutron:Neutron is the classic, most universal contour shade. It is the cream version of the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium. 

Neutron is a warmish medium brown on my skin – more like a bronzer color than something mimicking shadow. In my inaugural attempts at contouring, I’ve been layering a bit of this on top of Proton to darken it up.

Here’s a really terrible picture of Proton + Neutron layered on my cheeks. I took this at the end of a long work day, hence the red cheeks (I always and forever have red cheeks, foundation be damned), and the contour is subtle, but hopefully you can see a little bit of it! It looked more noticeable in person (and, you know, in the morning), but my camera was having none of it for some reason.

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Trying to take a picture at this angle is just super weird.

And now for the Lip Theory! I chose Apoptosis, which is described as “a vibrant, medium orange coral.”

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Also: I cut off my hair.

This applies very much like an OCC Lip Tar – you need a teeny tiny amount, and it’s very saturated and opaque. Other reviews I’ve seen seem to indicate that the opacity varies a bit by color, but that’s to be expected.

Now, Lip Tars dry out my lips like crazy, and they’re also prone to wearing off in that way where you get that gross ring of product around the inside of your lips – you know what I mean. It’s not attractive. I found the Lip Theory slightly better in that regard – it still dried out my lips eventually, but it was quite comfortable for the first 2 hours or so, and the color faded evenly, with no gross ring around the lips. It goes on with a satiny finish, slightly shiny, and eventually does set to a matte finish that’s fairly transfer-resistant.

Notes from my wear test (pictured above):

1:30 pm: Applied Apoptosis over a light layer of lip balm.

(During the first 2 1/2 hours or so, it felt perfectly comfortable, hence the lack of notes.)

4:05 pm: Feeling kind of dry. Not terrible, but I’m itching to slather some lip balm on over this. (I’m not though.) It does seem to be exacerbating the lines in my lips. The color is holding up well, though.

4:35: My lips are feeling very dry.

5:05: Literally dying to put on some lip balm, JFC.

5:30: Very dry. Lips are looking pretty liney and puckery. Color has faded somewhat, but not unevenly. No bleeding or feathering. Looks better in real life, I think, and would look better with some lip balm on top, undoubtedly, but I wanted to test it by itself.

During the four-hour test it survived several glasses of water (with a straw), a bowl of mac and cheese (vegan, of course), some watermelon, and several smooches. After it dries there’s very little transfer onto anything.

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That second picture is pretty unpleasant. Sorry.

As you can see, by the end of 4 hours, it did sink into and exacerbate the lines of my lips pretty badly. They also felt pretty terrible at that point. However, the color faded evenly and a good bit of it stuck around. Normally I would have applied lip balm a few times during that 4 hour period, but I didn’t because I wanted to test the product on its own.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about these. Yes, they dry out my lips. But every damn thing dries out my lips. Most tinted lip balms dry out my lips. I’m also a habitual lip biter and picker, especially when I’m stressed or nervous, so my lips are usually kind of rough to start with. And it seems to be impossible for a lip product to be both long-wearing AND moisturizing, so this outcome wasn’t unexpected.

On the plus side, I was very pleased with how it wore, dryness aside, and I think applying lip balm like usual will mitigate that somewhat. And they are less drying on me than Lip Tars, in addition to being significantly cheaper ($8 vs $18). I do plan to pick up and test drive a few more colors down the road – Coralation, Recursion, Transformation, and Big Bang Theory all appeal to me.

apoptosis_comparisonSince the Lip Theories are so similar to Lip Tars, I figured I’d do comparison swatches of the ones I own that looked similar. Radiate isn’t terribly close at all, but Grandma and Apoptosis are very similar. Apoptosis seems very slightly lighter and less pink, but you really have to be looking for it.

So there you have it! You can check out Life’s Entropy here if anything caught your eye.

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m so ready for the weekend. This sleepy kitten pretty much sums up how I feel right now.

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Needs for coffee.

life’s entropy animal sanctuary collection

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as_bags1Late last month, a new company called Life’s Entropy announced its opening over on /r/indiemakeupandmore. The products were varied and unique, the branding and presentation was awesome, and everything was vegan! So with a grand opening coupon code in hand, I placed an order. Of course I did. I ordered on July 20, picking up a blogger pack as well as two addition samples. My order shipped on July 29th, and I received in on August 1st. Everything was packaged beautifully, but unfortunately my two extra samples were left out – which is totally understandable in the grand opening rush. I emailed the owner, Jane, that Friday evening (the 1st), and she got back to me within minutes apologizing and saying she’d send the two missing items out ASAP. I got a tracking number about 20 minutes later, and my package arrived – somehow, magically – the following Monday, August 4th.

Now, I’m close to where Life’s Entropy is located – I believe she ships out of Boston currently, and I’m in Philadelphia, but even still that is some Hogwarts-level postal sorcery. It takes letters from my mom longer to get here, and she lives two hours away in the same state. And when said enchanted package arrived (presumably by owl), I discovered that she’d upgraded my contour stick sample to a full-size to boot! So sweet, and greatly appreciated since the shade I’d ordered a sample of (Neutron) turned out to be a better match for my slight summer tan than the one I originally chose as my full-size anyway (Proton).

But that’s a post for another day. Today we’re talking about the eyeshadows. Specifically, the Animal Sanctuary collection, which is a set of 12 shadows with punny animal names and adorable holographic animal labels. The description states that “the main color scheme is neutral browns with golden duochromes,” so while I am in desperate need of exactly ZERO more eyeshadow… well. Animals + neutrals = get in my shopping cart, Sprint bill be damned. (Jk, I just paid my Sprint bill, please don’t shut off my phone.)

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Swatched over Pixie Epoxy. Indirect natural light.

The first half! The lighter, more neutrally-neutral set. The sun was not cooperating when I did these swatches. I apologize on its behalf, the lazy bastard.

Stay Pawsitive: A shimmery light golden white with a gold-copper-red shift reminiscent of a Golden Retriever’s fur coat. It is more pink-opal on bare skin but whiter and golden on top of primer. 

A creamy vanilla color with a reddish shift.

My Mane Man: A satin-finish sandy yellow with majestic gold shift.

A mustard yellow kind of color with slight gold sparks. Less shimmery than most, more of a satin finish. This is an odd shade, but I like it. I’m actually a pretty big fan of mustard/goldenrod for clothing and accessories, but I’ve never had an eyeshadow that color, so I’m excited to try it out.

Owl Always Love You: A shimmery reddish silver-grey with strong silver-gold shift. Darkens to a slate grey over primer.

A greyish-purplish-taupish kind of color with a pale gold shift. This one is hard to describe, and pictures don’t do it justice.

Just Kitten: A medium pink-mauve with strong gold shift. Darkens when swatched over primer. Shimmery. 

A plummy, pinky, clay-colored kind of base with a strong greenish-gold shift. Really interesting. It reminds me of a more muted, complicated version of Darling Girl’s Brocade.

Bad Hare Day: Semi-shimmery medium peach-beige with gold shift. Darkens to a tawny peach when swatched over primer. Lighter and more orange than Oh Deer.

A muted orange base with gold shift

Oh Deer: A shimmery peach beige with strong gold shift. Darkens to a medium orange brown when swatched over primer. 

A warm terracotta brown sort of base with gold shift. More brown than Bad Hare Day.

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Slanty in indirect natural light. Here is where I once again bemoan the lack of sunlight.

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Slanty in horrible artificial evening lighting, but it does show off the shimmer.

And the second half! This set is deeper and more colorful, for those of you who haven’t been fully indoctrinated into the Cult of Beige. Yet.

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Swatched over Pixie Epoxy. Indirect natural light.

Quick Brown Fox: A bold satin orange with gold shift that transforms into a blood red-orange with red shift when swatched over primer. 

A dark reddish-orange base with warm red/pink sparks. Less sparkly than most, more of a satin finish.

Elephantry, My Dear Watson!: Medium khaki-brown (like Asian elephants) with slight silver shift (resembling African elephants). Strong semi-matte finish. 

A yellowish-brown base with a blue/gray shift. This is another shade that’s less shimmery and more satiny. It’s kind of an odd color, but a very interesting combination and true to the description. This is one of the few that applied a bit patchier – I’m assuming it’s the more matte base over the PE, since My Mane Man had a similar issue.

Monkey Business: A shimmery medium golden brown with strong gold shift. Deepens over primer. More golden than Horsing Around and Just Kitten. 

A slightly warm medium brown with a subtle gold shift. Darker and less orange than Oh Deer.

Horsing Around: A medium golden brown with a strong red shift especially when swatched over primer. Semi-shimmery.

A dark plummy brown base with a strong, warm red/pink/copper shift. Really pretty – this is a stand out shade for me.

Turtle-y Wicked: A semi-shimmery medium olive green with strong gold shift. Deepens to a dark olive green when swatched over primer. 

A dusty olive base with a subtle gold shift.

Happy Annibersary: A shimmery dark reddish brown with strong gold-red shift.

A dark reddish brown base with a subtle warm pinky/purple shift. Very rich. Bear are my favorite animal, so I’m predisposed to loving this one. Luckily I like the color as well! I think it would make a fantastic liner, if I ever manage to become the sort of person who can apply eyeliner without stabbing myself in the eye with a brush.

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Slanty in indirect natural light, as the sun laughed and laughed and mocked all of my efforts from behind some trees.

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More terrible artificial evening lighting. This picture bums me out, but here it is for the sake of sparkles.

Overall, I was very happy with the shadows in this collection. They applied well, the names and concept are cute, and god knows I start salivating at the mention of an all-neutral collection. There’s still enough variety here that it’s not all just taupes and browns, though.

My favorites are Stay Pawsitive, Oh Deer, Horsing Around, and Happy Annibearsary. I think Turtle-ly Wicked is another one that would make a great liner, and I’m really intrigued by My Mane Man. I don’t own another shade like it, and I’m excited to try it out – I think it’ll work especially well in the fall.

On a superficial note, look how cute the packaging is:

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Adorable packaging, shitty photography. Someone needs a real camera! (That person is me.)

The full-size shadows come in little paper boxes, and shadow samples come in little paper matchbooks with a faux wax seal sticker. It’s all very adorable, and it’s clear that Jane put a lot of thought into everything before she launched the brand. Cute as the boxes are, though, I think they’re kind of unnecessary. They’re paper, so it’s no problem to recycle them, but in general I’m not a fan of excessive packaging. YMMV on that, of course!

That’s it for now! I’ll have a review of the Particle Contour Sticks and Lip Theories (well, one Lip Theory) in another post soon, but in the meantime, you can find everything here over at Life’s Entropy.

arcana coasts of cascadia review

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In late June, Arcana released their summer collection, called Coasts of Cascadia. It consists of seven officially released scents (and one bonus) inspired by the Oregon coast, where Arcana’s lovely creator and scent genius Julia lives.

When the collection was first released, I snapped up bottles of Goofy Foot, Pink Saltwater Taffy, and Nacre (this one was at Julia’s suggestion – I was on the fence, but I asked her if it would appeal to floral-haters, and she said yes). A bottle of Echolocation and a sample of Sand in Your Tail were included as very kind extras, Sea Glass was a purchased decant, and then Yurt and Surfers on Acid came to me as extras from various decant circles. I didn’t plan to end up with the whole collection, but here we are!

As always, reviews were done without looking at the scent notes, and descriptions were added after the fact.

Goofy Foot: An ode to surf culture. Fresh coconut and cardamom with green notes of spearmint, fresh basil, and one drop of vetiver grass. 

Basil and mint straight out of the bottle. Very herbal, green, and a little spicy, with just a slight coconut sweetness. On skin it’s intensely herbal and cool (that’d be the mint), with a tickling whiff of green cardamom that gets stronger as it goes. There’s a mellow coconut base, but it’s not overly sweet, just kind of rich and smooth. Between the cardamom and the coconut, it kind of smells like Indian food. Not curry or anything, it’s fresher and lighter than that, but I can’t dissociate cardamom with Indian food in my mind. Between the coconut and the mint giving it a coolness, it smells more like a really refreshing Indian ice cream. I wouldn’t call this foodie or gourmand, but I would totally eat something that smelled like this.

In any case, I like this better on skin than I do in the bottle (which is the ideal order of things). The cardamom and coconut get top billing, with a bit of mint and spicy basil around the edges. It’s really interesting. I expected it to be much sweeter, and at first I was disappointed – I thought for sure I’d be selling this bottle – but I actually quite like it. It’s very unique.

Nacre: The pearlescent sheen found inside certain shells. A mix of the prettiest vanilla with a plenitude of tropical white blossoms, pearl musk, a tiny hint of pineapple, and a quick squeeze of lime.

The idea behind the name of this one is so pretty. In the bottle, it’s a very rich, sweet, pretty summer floral. It smells similar on skin – undeniably floral, but with a good dose of vanilla sweetness thrown in. The flowers here don’t seem to be the heady white florals that usually turn me off of floral perfumes (looking at you, jasmine!) – they smell more tropical. Because my floral palette is so limited, my best comparison is to Midsummer Dreams Apothecary’s Mermaid, which is another sweet summer floral, and the first and only floral I’ve ever really loved.

Nacre isn’t as sweet as Mermaid. The floral notes are much more aggressive. It skirts the line for me – sometimes I really like it, but sometimes I’ll get a whiff and it’s just too floral ugh. It does soften somewhat as it wears, which helps tip the scales more toward “like” than “ugh.”

I think if you like sweeter florals, you’d love this. I have a very tenuous relationship with floral scents, so I’m kind of on the fence. I do like it, but sometimes it’s just a bit much, especially on initial application. However, once it dries down, I’m fully on board. The floral notes soften just enough to let the sweetness shine. It’s very pretty, and very summery, and joins the very distinguished ranks of Florals I Actually Like.

Pink Saltwater Taffy: A candy pink blend of cherry, sugarberry, black and gold raspberry, vanilla fondant, white sugar, and a grounding touch of patchouli.

In the bottle: PINK. Sweet, syrupy cherry and raspberry. Smells like cough syrup, or sticky red lollipops. On skin it smells like straight up cherry hard candy at first, but then something peppery comes out to play. It grounds the scent and adds a spicy edge that’s really interesting. For a scent that started out so ridiculously, artificially candy sweet, it ends up being kind of deep and spicy and intense. It’s still sweet, don’t get me wrong – if you don’t like sweet scents, run away from this one. But it’s not just sweet. It kind of smells like if cherry lollipops, Red Hots, and a tiny bit of black licorice had a baby. (None of those things are in here, minus the cherry, but I stand by my statement.) Sweet, spicy cherry with a rough edge.

I expected this one to be my favorite, but it’s not. I like it well enough, but I like others more.

Echolocation: How whales find one other. Ambergris and amber resin with ruby grapefruit, sweet guava, saltwater, vanilla pods, and the merest hints of patchouli and vetiver.

In the bottle: deep, musky grapefruit. Sweet but thick and a little salty. On skin it’s grapefruit, a little brighter than in the bottle, and the whole scent is sweeter and smoother. It’s fruity and sweet, but also deep and a little tangy and unctuous with a slightly murky undercurrent that gets a little more prominent as it wears. It’s really interesting and kind of weird. I like it.

I know that this scent lists ambergris among the notes, which is why I didn’t buy it despite liking the sound of most of the rest of the rest of it. The last time I encountered ambergris in a blend, it smelled like rotting fish butts. Thankfully, this does not smell like that. It actually smells really good. Kind of strange, but still – really good. So I’m really glad that Julia included a bottle, because I never would’ve given it a chance, and that would’ve been dumb.

As an aside – when I first opened up this package and started huffing everything like a weirdo, I shoved Echolocation under The Dude’s nose, and he was like, “… damn, I’d wear that myself.” And I could totally see it working on a guy, too. It’s got a deep saltiness that would probably smell amazing on a man. (I have not yet resorted to rubbing perfume oil on him in his sleep to test this out.)

Also, this is one that benefits from a little shake before application.

Sand in Your Tail: Summer nights are fun while they last. Musky black vanilla beans and sultry orange blossoms with smoky tree resin, ambergris, pink pepper, tabac, and rich incense.

First reaction: I don’t know what this is, but I don’t like it. After further sniffing, it’s very floral, and musky in an unpleasant way. On skin it’s better – still quite floral, but smoother and very slightly sweeter. It’s a powdery, slightly fruity floral over a strong, musky, incense-y base, plus a little bit of sweetness.

I wouldn’t say I straight-up hate this or anything, but I don’t really like it either. Definitely not for me.

Sea Glass: Gifts from the sea. A delicate blend of violet petals, bee balm, translucent honey, neroli, tuberose, narcissus, and skin musk.

In the vial, this is sweet, fresh, and delicate. On skin it’s the same. It’s floral, a little powdery, but there’s also something fresh and green in there, and a little “natural” sweetness, if that makes sense. The floral elements amp a bit on my skin, so I’m not super into this for myself, but I can appreciate it for what it is. The name is very appropriate – the scent comes across as delicate and translucent. It’s very pretty.

Yurt: The scent of sleeping in a rustic yurt surrounded by old growth forests. Glowing dragonsblood resin and cedarwood with hemlock, fir needle, juniper, and bonfire smoke.

In the vial: a pine or evergreen forest – sharp needles and sticky sap. On skin it’s deep and green, resin-y and almost a bit sweet. (Not in any sort of sugary way, though. That would be weird. Just sweet like plants can be.) I didn’t know if I would like this one, but it’s really interesting. The resins and woods get stronger as it dries, and the whole thing has a kind of “glowing” aspect to it that I can’t really describe. It smells like camping in a deep, dark, pine forest in the summer. Hot and green.

This would smell amazing on a man, but I’m kind of digging it for myself as well. I don’t think it’s a bottle purchase, but I’m very glad to have a sample.

Surfers on Acid: Sweet coconut milk, pineapple, and absinthe. 

This is a bonus scent created for the collection, but not officially released with it. I received a sample from a decant circle., but it is available in very limited quantities direct from Julia, either via email or on Ebay.

Cold sniff: a sweet tropical drink with a boozy edge. On skin a sort of licoricey/anise note is immediately the strongest, with the sweet pineapple and coconut lurking underneath. It takes a classic piña colada sort of scent and turns it on its head into something almost medicinal. As it wears the anise does soften a bit and the sweet fruitiness gets more of a chance to shine, but it’s never as sweet as it is in the vial.

I like it, thank god, but I stupidly ordered a bottle after I just sniffed it in the bottle. You’d think that after a million years of hoarding and testing perfume oils, I’d know better, right? But no. “Extremely limited quantities” is a dangerous phrase, my friends.

Overall, this isn’t my favorite Arcana release ever. There were no HUGE hits, but there were still a few winners: Goofy Foot, Nacre (once it dries) and, surprisingly, Echolocation are my favorites. I also like Surfers on Acid, though not quite as much as I do in the bottle. Sand in Your Tail is the only one I would say that I’m really not too fond of – it’s just too floral.

Arcana products can be purchased from The Soapbox Co and The Rhinestone Housewife, among others, or direct from Julia via email (julia at arcanasoaps.com) or on Ebay (select scents).

free fridays: july favorites

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This week’s Free Friday is all about a few of my favorite things! Like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, both of which I would class as very enjoyable things. I mean, kittens. But since I don’t regularly swan around scenic mountaintops, here are some things that are somewhat more relevant to my actual life this month. (Links to reviews where I have them.)

1. Darling Clandestine EVERYTHING.

For the longest time, I had no interest in Darling Clandestine. It was a sort of willful ignorance, the same kind I apply to BPAL, though for different reasons. But after I was gifted some DC a few months back, the floodgates opened and I’ve been having a bit of a torrid love affair with the company since. I’ve liked or loved nearly everything I’ve tried, and the scents are just interesting – even the ones I don’t love, I can appreciate. I’ve been buying up bitsies, solids, and the occasional full bottle at a fairly disturbing clip – I went from having zero DC to having four gifted bottles/bitsies to owning 49 51 products in 35 different scents. In less than 3 months.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I don’t think I’ve out-and-out disliked anything I’ve tried yet (well… I kinda hated Carny Wedding), but my favorites are La La La, All Right (which is in my top 10 favorites scents ever, bar none), Cloudswing, Fisticuffs, Hellbender, Pyrotechnik, Tapadero, and Harpy.

2. Silk Naturals Sea Breeze and Zap.

Two lip products I’ve been using a lot this month are both from Silk Naturals – the Sea Breeze slick stick and Zap lipstick. Sea Breeze is a semi-sheer bright coral, and Zap is an opaque orange-red. The slick stick formula is smooth and a little glossy and doesn’t dry out my lips, and the lipsticks are creamy and pigmented. I also love the slim little tubes that keep me from giving myself Joker face if I try to apply without a mirror.

I do wish there were more shimmer-less colors, but that’s just me being boring and anti-glitter-mouth.

P.S. No review yet, but I’ll have a post about these soon!

3 & 4: Midsummer Dreams Apothecary Mermaid and Darling Girl Mermaid’s Dream.

Mermaid stuff!

The star of MDA’s small lineup for me (so far – I have but haven’t tested out samples of the new cologne oils), Mermaid is a gorgeous, sweet, summery floral that took me completely by surprise. If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ll know that I am not a floral perfume person – but I want to bathe in this. I’ve got a solid to carry around with me, but a bottle of the oil is high on my wish list and will probably find its way into this month’s beauty/perfume budget.

(Edit: MDA is having a flash sale today – 20% off with the code Lammas14 – soooo I just crossed that bottle off my wishlist. Perfect timing!)

And then there is Mermaid’s Dream. One of Darling Girl‘s Soft Focus blushes, Mermaid’s Dream is a beautiful vibrant-but-not-unwieldy strawberry red kind of color that I’ve been loving the hell out of. It actually pairs very well with Silk Naturals Zap, and I’ve been wearing them together a lot lately.

5. Cherries!

Cherry season is winding down now, and I’ve been popping them like candy while I have the chance. Cherries are my favorite fruit and several pounds a week have been making their way into our kitchen. Raniers are my favorite for snacking, but I won’t kick regular old Bings out of bed either – and they’re my choice for one of my favorite smoothies, which is:

Soymilk + a frozen banana + frozen cherries + a scoop of maple almond butter + vanilla protein powder (pea protein is my drug of choice) = delicious cherry pie protein smoothie.

6. Rhett Miller’s “The Instigator.”

This album came out the year after I graduated from high school (2002, what the actual fuck), and I listened to it constantly back then. I’ve enjoyed all of his subsequent releases, and of course his stuff with The Old 97’s (saw them live a few years ago, highly recommend!), but The Instigator remains my favorite. I haven’t listened to it in quite a while, but I came back to it recently when I needed something to help me power through some freelance work, and it’s been in near-constant rotation since.

7. New books!

This month I acquired three new books/graphic novels: “Landline” by Rainbow Rowell, “Seconds” by Byan Lee O’Malley, and “Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll. I read the first two during the 4-ish days I was without my laptop last week (it had to spend some time at the Apple store for repairs), and really enjoyed both.

I’ve loved everything Rainbow Rowell has written – Eleanor & Park and Fangirl most of all. Landline is a bit of a departure – it’s not YA, for one, and it’s a smaller, more focused story. There are light and humorous moments, but the overall tone is fairly bleak and tinged with desperate soul-searching and regret. It lacks the youthful yearning and emotional gut punch of Eleanor & Park, and it’s not as sweet and sad and funny as Fangirl, but it is quite enjoyable in its own right, and Rainbow is an author I’ll follow anywhere.

Seconds is a new graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley (of Scott Pilgrim fame, but I also really liked Lost at Sea), about a chef named Katie who has a bad day… and then gets the ability to undo it. Sounds great, until she keeps undoing it and undoing it and undoing it until she basically undoes herself and everyone else into a terrible life and, oh, kinda breaks the universe. The story is solid and compelling, the art is adorable, there’s a stealth Buffy reference – no complaints here.

I haven’t had the chance to read Through the Woods yet, but I’ve been a fan of Emily Carroll’s work for a long time – it’s beautiful and haunting and terribly creepifying. Flipping through the graphic novel reveals more of the same, so I’m excited to sit down with that… in the middle of the day… so I don’t have nightmares.

8. Pretty Little Liars!

I’m not even ashamed to admit how much I love this hot mess of a show. It’s absolutely, unabashedly cuckoo bananas – it really embraces the cray, and I appreciate that. Every Tuesday night I kick my fiance out of the living room (or sometimes hop on over to my BFF’s house for PLL + chinese food) to enjoy an hour of murderstalking, inapproriate relationship drama, and outfits that had to have been chosen in the dark.

FYI, Hanna is my favorite Liar. She is a magical unicorn. So if you are also a fan you will understand why I find this most recent turn of events very upsetting. Rosewood PA (which is supposed to be located quite close to where I live, actually) has a problem with grown-ass men, and that problem is that they aren’t all currently in jail.

Since I get super obsessed with the shows that I like, I’m always looking for recaps and podcasts about them. My favorites for PLL are the recaps from Forever Young Adult and After Ellen, and the podcasts Bros Watch PLL Too and Pretty Little Recaps.

So there you have it! What were you loving in July?