blackbird cosmetics matte neutrals v. 2



A little while ago, Blackbird followed up their stellar Matte Neutrals collection with… another stellar Matte Neutrals collection! This is my kind of shop, guys. All of the neutrals, give them to me.

I ordered the complete sample set to try out, and that’s what I have swatches of today. It’s a great deal – 10 samples for $10 with free shipping. Awesome. Yes please. And it’s a smart move, too, because after trying out both volumes that are currently available, I plan to pick up the two complete full-size collections the next time I have the spare cash. Obviously, I’m a fan.

The quality of these shadows is fantastic – they’re pigmented and almost creamy, long-lasting over primer, blend well, and the color range warms this neutral lover’s heart. The finish is matte but slightly glowy, which is really flattering on skin. As I mentioned in my review of the first volume, they do have a unique smell – like clay or dirt. I don’t mind it at all, but it’s something to be aware of so it doesn’t take you by surprise.


Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

Half Full: Light whitened gold. A perfect highlight for any skin tone.

A light cream shade, great as a highlight on my skin

Modesty: Light neutral golden brown, resembles khaki.

A light tan, slightly yellowish. A great blending shade for me, or all over the lid.

Everest: Cool toned dark brown, leans a little towards green.

A medium khaki brown that’s screaming “put me in your creeeease!” That was creepy. I’m sorry.

Whisper: Light perfect grey.

A light grey, leaning slightly warm and purplish. There’s something very clean and clear about this shade.

Smudge: Medium to dark taupe, leaning a bit towards dark.

A beautiful medium-dark brownish taupe, maybe leaning ever so slightly purple.


My favorites from this arm o’ swatches are Half Full, Modesty, Everest, and Smudge.


Swatched over primer only. Indirect natural light.

Juliet: Dark muted pink.

A muted medium peachy pink. Reminds me of clay. Similar to Imogen, but a little warmer and darker.

Figment: Light muted plum.

A soft muted light plum. Very delicate and pretty.

Vintage: Muted, but somehow still vibrant mid-toned violet.

A mid-toned reddish purple. Slightly dustier than it looks here.

Ruca: Blackened red.

A burnt orange, terracotta sort of color – like Fire Pledge’s subdued older sister. Not so dark that I’d call it blackened, though.

Atlas: Dark slightly blackened brown.

A medium-dark neutral brown. Similar in tone to Beau, but much less warm.


Favorites from this batch are… all of them, honestly. But Juliet, Figment, and Atlas if I had to pick.

Overall Thoughts: Extremely positive! I have nothing bad to say about Blackbird whatsoever. Four of her shadows have become my go-to look whenever I wear eyeshadow on regular work days – Thirteen, Dog Days, and Beau from volume 1, along with Half Full from this volume. I imagine I could probably sub in Modesty, Everest, and Atlas from this volume for a slightly cooler, more khaki-toned take on the same look. But I’m boring. The possibility for combinations within each volume, let alone taking the two together, is endless. A+++, favorite mattes to date.

Find Blackbird Cosmetics on Etsy.

smelly yeti perfumery intro & review



Note: If you’ve read this blog at all, you know this is going to be a long, fangirly, gif-heavy post, right? Because yeah. Yeah. Strap in and grab yourself a snack, we’re going to be here for a while.

YOU GUYS. Many moons ago – or, okay, a couple of months maybe? – a lovely Redditor (hey /u/normalcypolice!) was talking about working on opening her own perfume shop. I perked up like a prairie dog. New perfumes, you say?  And then later on she was talking about Buffy perfumes, and we got to discussing them in PMs, and then about a week ago it actually happened: Smelly Yeti Perfumery flung wide its (internet) doors and revealed not one Buffy perfume… not two… but a whole collection with more to come.


Needless to say, I threw caution (and my bank balance) to the wind and ordered immediately. I did show some restraint in only ordering samples, at least – so today I have the entire Smelly Yeti lineup for review, which includes 7 Buffy scents and 4 others, which for the purpose of this post we will call “non-Buffy scents” with the disdain we normally reserve for stepping on dog poo or people who claim to “not like dessert.” (J/k! The other four are based on Back to the Future, Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy, an anime I’m not familiar with called Ouran High School Host Club, and my nemesis Nicholas Cage’s hilari-bad remake of The Wicker Man. But seriously if you don’t like dessert, I don’t trust you.)


Super adorable package. LOOK AT THAT FANCY FRENCH YETI.

Non-smelly details first: I ordered on Saturday, October 11th, received my shipping confirmation on Monday, October 13th (but stupid Columbus day ruined all our lives by delaying shipping, and also being a holiday that honors a straight-up jackhole of a human being), and received my order on Thursday, October 16th. Everything was packaged really well, with the samples – which are the tiny screw-top ones that stand up on their own – tucked into little boxes that were decorated with stickers (a special Giles one just for me!) and cute twine bows. In addition to what I ordered, I also received: two Airheads (vegan! also, gone), two little plastic dinosaurs which immediately joined my shelf o’ dinosaurs, two dinosaur fake tattoos, 6 mini pipettes for decanting oil (which will come in very handy since the other night I decanted some DC Ballyhoo out of a full-size bottle and into a 1 ml sample vial just by pouring it reeeeeeally slowly and it was terrifying), and not one but two awesome Yeti drawings. Overall this package gets a super thumbs up, totally made my day A++.

Bonus: all of Smelly Yeti’s products are vegan! And all future products will be vegan as well. Swoon.

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


cordy_preen Beauty Queen: Ah, Cordelia. A sorbet sundae that’s fruity sour, and above all, cool, this perfume features pomegranate, lemon, lime, blackcurrant, raspberry, and rich vanilla with a hint of ice cream sweetness. Juicy, fresh, and bright- perfect for the cheerleader everyone loves to hate. 

Queen C, you fabulously tactless and eminently lovable bitch.

In the vial, Beauty Queen is extremely fruity – tart and sweet and fresh, I definitely get lime and raspberry, but it’s a little creamy, too. It smells awesome and not at all like chewable vitamins, which is what I would expect raspberry and lime to smell like.. (Raspberry tends to go very medicinal on me for some reason.) On skin it starts out very tartly fruity, but sweetens up quickly, with that creamy vanilla base coming up to soften everything out.

It’s a very sweet, girly scent with a citrus tang. It almost smells like some delicious fruity drink… maybe the kind Cordelia would have some panting freshman fetch for her at the Bronze. Either way, this is totally something she would wear, especially in her Rich Bitch early high school days.

buffybot_naked0 buffybot_naked

Buffybot: With slightly singed wire, motor oil, ozone, and a smooth metallic finish, this perfume calls to mind warm electronics. Subtle and slightly sweet, this perfume is just strong enough to get people slightly worried that the robot uprising is upon us. Just slightly worried. And, you know, sometimes you just want to smell like a robot. A slightly malfunctioning, overly peppy robot.

Warm, sweet, plasticky, slightly metallic. Smelly Yeti’s evil genius mastermind talked about doing a “warm electronics” scent, and here it is! On skin it starts out warm and sweet with a distinctly metallic note, which gets stronger as it dries down. There’s something sharp and buzzing about it, almost ozone-y, but dark, black. The only thing I’ve smelled that’s even remotely similar is DC’s Supernova Sway, but Buffybot is warmer, sweeter and less sharp. Also lacking the slight floral-ness of Supernova Sway.

I had no idea what to think about this one going in, but I actually really like it. Not only is it incredibly unique, it just… smells really good. And like warm electronics. Which is weird. But awesome.


Captain Peroxide: Spike. Dirty leather coat, smoky tobacco, bleached hair, with a soft spot for a certain slayer. He may act tough, but at the heart of it all he’s a marshmallow. Red Egyptian musk gives it a smooth finish and a distinctive bloody coloring. This is the scent that has it all. Sweet but dingy. Smoky and sexy. This perfume is practically bottled pheromones. 

In the vial this one smells… like bacon. Or this vegan’s recollection of bacon, anyway (it’s been… 18 years). Smoky, salty, a little sweet. Bacony. On skin it’s still bacon, alternatively smoky and sweet, dirty and musky, and it would be sexy if it didn’t make me think of… bacon. The thing is that I know there’s no “bacon” in this, but honestly, it’s all I can smell and if I liked that kind of thing I’d probably love it, but I do not, so… I do not. The bacon-ness fades a little as it wears, but not enough for me to want to keep it on my person.

Of course, looking at the notes, I’m cursing my skin for turning leather, smoky tobacco, and red musk into bacon, because it sounds like it should be dead sexy. Just like Spike. Literally. (I’m not sorry.)


Putting the moves on his second demon.

Demon Magnet: Cedarwood, dirt, sweet and salty musks, and a trace hint of that lumberyard je ne sais quois. No wonder Anya can’t resist him. Maybe the demons will flock to you too, once you smell like a hot carpenter. 

In the vial: cologne-y! Woodsy and musky and manly. On skin it smells, yep, like really nice cologne. Spicy and woody, musky, a tiny bit dirty but also kind of clean. I like manly scents like this, so I’m into it for myself, but I bet it would smell amazing on a guy. If I recall from my conversations with Abby, Xander’s scent was meant to be based on his grown up carpenter job… and I would call it a rousing success.

However, I remain slightly disappointed that my suggestion of Xander’s scent being jelly donuts and Drakkar Noir didn’t come to fruition. (Not really. This is why no one lets me run a perfume shop.)

dawn_pterodactyl1 dawn_pterodactyl2

Pipsqueak: A funky and fruity and extremely tweeny blend of mulberry, strawberry, and sparkling lime. Initially created as a joke, (to include as a surprise with other orders, a la her reveal in season five) it ended up actually being good. Too good, in fact, to keep secret. I was going to make some sort of “key” joke here but I couldn’t think of one. 

Oh, Dawnie. You’re kind of the worst, but it’s not your fault, I guess. Blame the monks. In the vial, Pipsqueak smells bubbly and intensely fruity. On skin it’s a sparkling explosion of fruitiness – red fruits, I’m thinking, because it smells like fruit punch. Fancy fruit punch, made with sparkling water and with bits of fruit floating in it and stuff, but still – it’s got that concentrated super syrupy sweetness going on. Citrus cuts the sweet a bit and adds a little zing.

This is so incredibly sweet and girly, it’s perfect for Dawn. It’s like Beauty Queen’s younger, sweeter, fizzier sister. I also have to note a few things here – 1) this is a fizzy/bubbly scent that I actually like, and 2) this is TWO scents now with both berries and lime that didn’t turn to Flintstones vitamins on my skin. Bravo.


Queen of the Damned: Drusilla, Spike’s sometimes-paramour, wanderer of graveyards, makes for an enchanting and unconventional floral scent. Among the more traditional bouquet of roses is a mélange of darker, cooler notes of cabbage, cedarwood, tuberose moss, dewy grass, and damp earth. The overall effect is one of flowers in a graveyard. Feminine.

In the vial, Queen of the Damned is a dark floral, with lots of green. On skin I get mostly the green parts – it reminds me a bit of DC’s Limerence, lush and green and thorny, like crushed and dripping dark leaves and stems. It’s floral in the sense that it smells like, say, a greenhouse or a flower shop – or more accurately for Dru, a night-blooming garden in the courtyard of Angel’s mansion – not in the usual sense of smelling like a particular flower.

This is good. I like it. I’m not a floral person, usually, but this a whole other kind of floral, and very appropriate for mad, dark, damaged but deadly Drusilla.


An epic battle for the ages… SLAP FIGHT!

Unicorn Collector: Oh, Harmony. You try so hard to be bad. Bubbly and bright tangerine strawberries nestled in creamy tahitian vanilla and tonka bean. Pretty much the fruitiest, girliest scent to ever exist. 

Holy sweetness, Batman. In the vial, this is sweet and it is PINK. Like somehow even sweeter and pinker than Pipsqueak. On skin it’s actually not quite as sweet – still super fruity, but a little musky and creamy as well, with something almost slightly grassy underneath. It’s interesting. I expected a fruit-splosion for Harmony, but it’s not that predictable. Sweet and girly, yes, and I would still call it pink if I were assigning it a color, but there’s some dimension to it.

It’s nice. Very wearable. It’s also very subtle, with probably the lowest sillage of all the Hellmouth scents. (At least until we get to Riley. HEYO.) And contrary to the description, I think Pipsqueak is both fruitier and girlier.

Thoughts on the collection as a whole: As if I’m going to have anything negative to say about a goddamn line of Buffy perfumes. PLEASE. I really like all but one of the scents – I just can’t with Captain Peroxide, sorry Spike – and I’m super stoked to see what Abby comes up with next. In addition to more Buffy perfumes, she mentioned (after I begged for a Veronica Mars collection) that she has a VM scent in the works. THIS WOMAN IS MAKING ALL OF MY DREAMS COME TRUE. For reals, yo.

I’m going to try to fight the urge to collect all of these in full-size just to have them, but I make no promises. Buffybot, Beauty Queen, Queen of the Damned, and Pipsqueak are likely bottle purchases, with Demon Magnet and Unicorn Collector being maybes and Captain Peroxide, sadly, being a bacony no-go.

Okay, take a breath. Maybe a bathroom break? Fresh snack? Beverage re-fill? I’ll wait.





Blurry Yeti, just like every cell phone video taken in the woods by bros gone Squatchin’.

I’ll spare you the gif-storm for the rest because I’m not emotionally invested in these entertainment properties.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster: According to Douglas Adams, this drink feels a bit like getting your head smashed by a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick. While it doesn’t have Fallian marsh gas going through it, our version is a striking citrus mint cocktail with a powerful sparkling punch. Unisex.

In the vial: lemon, then mint. It smells good but also a little like sweet toothpaste. On skin it’s a very strong lemon and mint, pretty equally dominant, like some kind of sweet lemon cocktail with a metric ton of mint muddled at the bottom. It’s definitely sweet, and reads alternately like toothpaste, candy, and booze. (Not in a bad way!) It smells exactly like something I can’t put my finger on… like one of those lemon-flavored butter mints! That’s a thing, right? I’m not making that up? Because that’s what it smells like.

As such it puts me in mind of two scents that also smell like butter mints to me: Solstice Scents Snowmint Mallow, which is much sweeter, heavier on the vanilla and butter, and completely lemon-free, and Arcana Puppy Kisses, which is more of a melty coconut butter mint, very creamy, and again, no lemon. PGGB is an entirely different scent, but if you like either of those and also like lemon, you’d probably love this one.

There is a bit of fizziness in the background, like seltzer, and after a while the lemon does go a teeny bit cleaner-y on me (citrus + fizz, it’s nearly unavoidable), but overall I like it. The description calls it unisex, and I suppose it could be, but on my skin it’s distinctly sweet.

Hey, McFly!: Inspired by old 50s ice cream parlors, this scent mixes fizzy cola and root beer with sweetshop vanilla to create a surprisingly unisex/masculine end result. Slather some on, go to the big dance. It’s your density.

In the vial I get sweet, syrupy cola. On skin the cola is the most prominent note at first, but then I get something a little woodsy and spicy, like men’s cologne. It goes surprisingly well with the sweet cola. It’s sharp and a little fizzy, but also sweet and smooth. It smells like a root beer float, but like… manly. Sexy root beer float? (Halloween costume!)

Looking at the notes, it is indeed root beer that’s giving me the cologne vibe. Not that root beer smells like cologne, but root beer has that sharp spiciness to it. The description is spot on in calling it surprisingly masculine, considering what’s in it.

This one is a big hit for me. I like that it smells like a soda fountain without just smelling like a soda fountain. It has pretty strong sillage, too.

Not the Bees: It might actually be more accurate to call this “Yes The Bees” because this perfume is a lovely sweet confection of candied honey and honeysuckle, punctuated by citrus and underscored with smooth vanilla. Nicholas Cage screams not included.  

Goddamn fucking Nicholas Cage. YES THE BEES. YOU GO, BEES. FOUR FOR YOU, BEES.

Ahem. In the vial, it smells like creamy delicious honey. On skin it’s honey and vanilla, smooth and sweet and creamy and yum. There’s a hint of a floral note to it, but mostly it just smells like something I want to drizzle on ice cream and shove into my face hole. Nicholas Cage does not deserve this.

After peeking at the notes, I see that the hint of floral is honeysuckle, which makes sense. It’s a nice honeysuckle. I love the smell in real life, but often perfume versions smell way too flowery or heady or strong, which isn’t honeysuckle to me – it’s a delicate scent. But I really like it here. This whole scent gets two thumbs up. It smells goddamn amazing.

Ouran: Roses. Bulgarian roses. English roses. Rosehip jasmine, pikake flower, and yuzu. Basically, FLOWERS. Plus, a hint of the tropical flavor that signifies the mark of a true silly anime – the token beach episode. 

I have no idea what Ouran is. An anime, I gather, but beyond that? Nope. I’ll talk your face off about Buffy (OBVIOUSLY) and Firefly and Veronica Mars and Doctor Who and Hannibal and the goddamn delicious drama of Pretty Little Liars (someone please make a PLL perfume collection, btw. Please?), but anime is not my are of pop culture interest. So I have no frame of reference for this, is what I’m saying. It was my free sample, which is awesome because it’s the only one I didn’t order. Thanks Abby!

In the vial, I get… pink flowers. Roses, but also something a little citrusy. On skin it’s a rose-a-palooza, a whole bouquet of the suckers. I like rose, but not always – I prefer my rose quite sweet, and not perfumey. This rose is not sweet, but it’s also not too perfumey – it smells almost but not quite like real roses. Like some very fancy French hand cream made with the individually plucked and hand-crushed petals of the roses from the gardens at Versailles or something. It’s definitely the most floral of all the scents, and the most traditional.

I’m a bit on the fence about it for myself, but it does smell nice. I like it, but it will require more testing. I might like it better as a candle or a shower gel than as a perfume. However, if you like rose scents, particularly of the more traditional variety, I recommend giving this one a try. It’s a quiet floral, soft and sophisticated and decidedly feminine.

Non-Hellmouth Favorites: Hey, McFly! and Not the Bees. Hey, McFly! is probably my #1 favorite out of all of the scents, surprisingly.

Overall thoughts about Smelly Yeti: An emphastic YES. I’m really happy with everything about my initial experience with this brand, from the inspiration (Someone’s finally giving Buffy its due! Marry me?)  to the cute and thoughtful packaging to the hilarious and easy-to-navigate website to the scents themselves, and I can’t wait to see what Abby cooks up in the future.

If you actually made it to the end of this post, congratulations! And thank you! Because jesus this was long. Reward yourself by checking out Smelly Yeti maybe?

violette market state fair 2014


What’s this? A post? A real live post?

It’s true – I am alive and well and trying not to ignore this poor blog anymore. So let’s start by talking about some Violette Market scents that I just shipped off to a new home. Hence the lack of a photo. Also I keep getting home too late to get any decent daylight shots. They were decants. Use your imagination.

I ordered these forever ago (months and months, honestly) and never even got around to skin-testing them before selling them off. Such is the enormity of my perfume backlog at the moment. But I did do regular old sniff tests before I decided to get rid of them, which is what I have for you today.

These are all just straight from the vial impressions, so I can’t speak to if or how they morph on skin. Might be useful, might not, but it’s the best I can do with this batch of scents. (Can you tell already that I didn’t love them? Violette Market and I don’t get along too well, it seems.)

Carrot Cremes Penny Candy: Confection of carrot candy swirled in vanilla creme.

Super super over-the-top cloyingly sweet carrot cake, heavy on the frosting. There’s a synthetic edge to it.

Rosewater Meringue: Sweet Meringues fluffed into high peaks infused with Spanish rosewater.

A gently sweetened rose at first, pretty nice, but it gets sweeter and sweeter with each sniff. Not nearly as sweet as Carrot Cremes, but it’s got a bit of the same synthetic smell. The rose is a little perfumey and the whole affair kind of gives me a headache. This is like Solstice Scents Rose Mallow Cream if you got it in a pink plastic spray bottle at the mall.

Brandied Peach Honey: Local Ohio peach blossom honey, dark buckwheat honey, brandied peaches, oat flower, milk weed flower, golden patchouli, sweet spices, and bee balm dust.

Oddly floral and spicy, a tiny bit fruity and heavy on the honey. It’s not sweet, golden honey, though. Again I’m coming back to it smelling synthetic. I expected to like this one, but I don’t at all. It also exacerbated the headache that Rosewater Meringue gave me.

Little Hawaii: Vanilla Sands: Rich vanilla bean, pink strawberries, vanilla paste, lemon blossom, brandied peach honey, lavender sugar, Bourbon vanilla, ripe white raspberries, Tahitian vanilla orchid, and coconut cream.

Incredibly sweet and fruity, this smells like strawberry cream candy. It’s the best of the bunch so far and I’m glad I kept the decant around.

Sea Salt Taffy Pull: Taffy, crushed white and pink sea salt with hints of Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, pink sugar cane, lemon blossom, orange cream, raspberry truffle, blueberry, and caramel.

This smells like Aquolina Pink Sugar or any of the million dupes or homages out there – sugary sweet, a little fruity, a little musky. There’s a little bit of butteriness underneath this one as well. It’s pleasant, but nothing unique and not really for me.

Sunset Over the Grandstand: Dusty vanilla, organic local Ohio honey, sun scorched sandalwood, golden vanilla, tumbleweeds, aged boot leather, saffron, and rodeo dust lifted into the air among the peach and pink clouds of the sunset.

Leather, full stop. And then an artificial fruity sweetness, vanilla and peach, with a sort of dusty note over the whole thing. Not as good as that sounds.

Parachute Swings: Wind-swept sheer vanilla, white lotus accord, strawberry seeds, vanilla orchid petals, chilled cream, blue cedar, an infusion of raw Tahitian vanilla pods, and Greek water mint.

Starts out a soapy floral, kind of like dryer sheets, and then I get a cool, creamy mint in the background. Meh.

Milk Maid: Creamy milk, pale strawberry musk, gardenia cream, light amber specks, home-grown yellow roses, sweet grass, and golden farm hay.

A sweet, lightly milky floral with some soft fruity notes (strawberry). If it were a color it would be pale blossom pink. In the same category as Solstice Scents Nightgown or Haus of Gloi Milkmaid, only… flatter, less nuanced. Also less creamy and more floral. Not for me, but I suppose it’s not altogether unpleasant if you like these sorts of scents.

Bourbon Vanilla Sugared Dough: Sweet Bourbon vanilla sugared dough with hints of Tahitian vanilla, coconut cream, and powdered sugar.

I wanted this to smell like a funnel cake. It does not smell like a funnel cake. Rather, it smells like a funnel cake-scented candle you might find on clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond – waxy, overly sweet, and altogether artificial. If I had to break it down I’d say I smell mostly boozy vanilla with hints of coconut and sugary musk, but that makes it sound way better than it is.

Dunk Tank: A refreshing splash of cold water, followed by a fruity assortment of watermelon musk, passion fruit, cantaloupe, lime peel, water lily, red mandarin, litsea blossom, creamy vanilla, and caramel sugar.

Melon! This one is pretty pleasant. It’s all melon – watermelon and cantaloupe – plus some other light, fruity, summery-smelling things. It’s like a melon sorbet or something. There’s a cool wateriness to it that smells very refreshing. If I hadn’t already promised this one to someone, I might keep it. Alas. Smell before you sell, ladies and gentlemen. (Not really. This is nice and all but I don’t like it enough to weep over passing on the decant.)

Candied Apples: An assortment of local Ohio apples, coated in thick red candied shells, with hawthorn wood, oak wood, and cherry wood sticks.

Smells like wood and cinnamon with just the barest hint of apple. It smells a bit like a Thanksgiving or Christmas scented candle (probably called “Roaring Fire” or “Mulled Cider” or something), which I didn’t expect from a summer collection, but there you go.

As I’m sure you can tell, these didn’t do much for me. Maybe if I’d tried them on my skin I’d feel differently, but based on the Violette Market stuff I’ve tried in the past, I’m thinking it wouldn’t have made a huge difference. It’s a company I’ve generally stayed away from, because nothing I’ve tried has ever really worked super well for me, and these continue that trend. I’m at the point where I’m confident in saying that Violette Market just isn’t for me, and that’s totally fine. Less stuff for me to lust after and collect!

Hopefully these will work out better for the lovely redditor I passed them along to. Godspeed, little samples.

midsummer dreams apothecary cologne oils



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



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.


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


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.


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



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



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


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


Needs for coffee.