february 2015 favorites

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Among other things, yesterday’s very snowy snow day gave me the opportunity to finish up the February favorites post I’ve had sitting in draft form for like two weeks. Progress!

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Excuse the shitty photo, I forgot to adjust my f-stop and then the battery died so I had to make it work.

First up is the smelly and smelly-adjacent stuff. Lots of Haus of Gloi this time around.

Haus of Gloi First Blush Pumpkin Butter: I wasn’t 100% into First Blush when I reviewed it, but man, I’ve since fallen head over heels – especially for the pumpkin butter. I originally just ordered this mini, but went back for a full size during one of the restocks (and a hair oil in a subsequent restock, can’t stop won’t stop), and I have no regrets. I have literal mountains of lotion in my hall closet, including pumpkin butters from 2012, if not earlier, because I go through lotion at a glacial pace. But not this guy. I’m almost finished with the mini in question, so now I’m extra glad I have that full size waiting in the wings.

The formula is fantastic, of course, but mostly it’s the scent I’m loving – soft and fruity and girly, it’s been bringing a bit of springtime joy to the icy winter hellscape from which I’m increasingly convinced we will never emerge.

Haus of Gloi Come Hither Perfume and Hair Oil: I looooove Come Hither. Love. It smells like sexy honey vanilla roses and I look forward to its return every Valentine’s day. I have a bottle of the perfume already, and a pumpkin butter too, so this year I just picked up a hair oil to round out the set. I really like HoG’s hair oils, though I use them more on my hands than my hair. (Review.)

Haus of Gloi Lip Balms: Hazelnut Mocha Latte just happened to be the nearest HoG balm when I was taking pictures – I have three of these open right now. This one lives on my dresser, Caramel Apple lives in my purse, and Rose lives on my desk at work. I also have four more waiting on deck… you know, for when I finish these three in 2016. I’ve noticed that the texture of these balms varies a bit from batch to batch – Caramel Apple feels thicker and more emollient than the other two I have going at the moment, so it’s my favorite of the bunch.

Darling Clandestine Reddit Hug of Death: Smells like grown up gummi bears. Get on me. Plus the bottle is so fancy. I generally prefer tinted glass bottles for extra light protection, but this thing is just pretty. It looks like something Princess Jasmine would dab on before climbing out the castle window and going for a magic carpet ride with that dreamy hobo Aladdin. (Review.)

Solstice Scents White Fox: Musky vanilla goodness with serious throw. I wore this out to dinner with some friends and I was almost a little self-conscious about how strong it was, which is rare with perfume oils, although SS scents do tend to have more sillage than most. This is just a cozy, comforting scent, like the perfume equivalent of an oversized cable knit sweater. (Review.)

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Next up, makeup and also a scrub because it didn’t fit anywhere else.

Pumpkin and Poppy Oak Bark Contour Powder: Perpetual favorite status. I use this every single day and it’s the perfect contour for fair skin. I’m not tempted by anything else. Oak Bark is all I want or need. If it’s ever discontinued, I will buy 115 backups and also cry.

Pumpkin and Poppy Aphrodite Inner Glow Powder: Second verse, same as the first. I use this every single day and love it to death. One day I’ll get around to doing a review, maybe? Maybe. I am like the wind, lazy and irresponsible, so I make no promises. I did recently make another P&P order that included the Celestial shade of this same powder, so if/when I do finally get that review together, I can do a comparison of the two.

Blackbird Cosmetics Thirteen, Dog Days, and Beau Eyeshadows: I’m a broken record on the indie makeup front! I love these. These three plus the next item on the list make up my perfect everyday matte neutral eye look. I really need to pick up a full size of Beau. (Review.)

Notoriously Morbid So Goes My Nation Eyeshadow: The missing piece in my perfect matte quad, So Goes My Nation is my matte highlight of choice. It’s similar to Blackbird’s Half Full, but I think a bit softer and creamier in tone, which is why I generally use it in place of Half Full. The fact that it’s Buffy-themed is just a bonus! (Review.)

Paintbox Soapworks Buttercup Facial Scrub: Described as a moisturizing scrub for dry, delicate skin, I picked this up in an attempt to help soothe my gross, flaky winter skin. I never used to have dry skin, but as I’ve gotten older it’s gotten increasingly drier, and this winter is the worst yet. This scrub hasn’t worked any miracles, but it does exfoliate while providing a little moisture boost. It doesn’t break me out (though I’m not particularly breakout prone, so ymmv) and as a bonus it kind of smells like chocolate oranges. I’ve been using it 2-3 times a week for over a month and have barely made a dent in the tub, so it’s definitely worth the price and will last quite a long time.

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Finally, all the miscellaneous shit I’ve been loving lately. Some indie things, some not.

Upping my Torso Game: I’ve purchased a bunch of new tops from various Etsy sellers in the last couple of weeks, and am super happy with all of them.

The Pizza pullover from Xenotees was my first purchase, because I love pizza with an affection only rivaled by the love I have for my fiance, my cats, and my parents. Plus Xenotees is based here in Philly, and supporting local small businesses is always nice. The shirt itself is a bit short for my taste thanks to American Apparel and its obsession with weird, unflattering proportions, but the print is great and it’s really loose and comfy layered over a tank top.

Next was the Full Moon sweatshirt from Blackbird Tees, which is possibly the coziest sweatshirt I have ever owned. It’s got a wide scoop neck instead of a boob-strangling crew neck nightmare, and the inside is soft like bunny fluff. A++, will purchase from again. In fact, I’m already eyeing another top from this shop for next payday.

Finally (for now), the super rad “Ask Me About My Cat” sweatshirt from Kinship Goods. I have two cats. They rule. Ernie is a fluffy-as-fuck Maine Coon, and Lily is a rotund short hair who has zero shits to give about anything that isn’t lounging in her special chair in our sun room. So you know, this sweatshirt called to me. It’s another super cozy top, and yes, it’s a crew neck, but it’s not a boob-strangler. It’s also really long, pretty much tunic-length, so it’s excellent with leggings for the ultimate comfy cat lady outfit.

Contigo Purity Glass Water Bottle: I’ve been wanting a glass water bottle for a while. I have an obnoxiously bright yellow plastic Nalgene that I use in the gym (go bright or go home, bitches) and around the house, but I wanted something a little nicer to use at work. I got this one from Contigo about 3 weeks ago and really enjoy it. It’s simple but attractive – multiple people have told me that it’s pretty completely unprompted – and I love the turquoise sleeve (there are other colors, too, but if given the choice I’ll always go with something in this family).

Also water just kind of tastes better out of a glass bottle? Or maybe I’m making that up. But I think it does. I originally found this on Amazon, but it’s cheaper direct from the manufacturer, even with shipping. Two thumbs up, will definitely buy again if I find myself needing another bottle.

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham: I’m a huge Veronica Mars fan, and while it’s a totally different format than the show or the movie, I’ve really enjoyed the two VM novels that have come out so far. This is the latest one, and while it’s hardly an American classic, the mystery is suitably creepy and engaging. The VM voiceover translates well to the page, and it’s just nice to keep getting new stories set in this universe.

My Brother, My Brother, and Me: “An advice show for the modern era,” as the tagline goes, from brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. Straight up: MBMBAM is fucking hilarious. If you’ve never listened, do it now. Right now. And then do what I’ve been doing, and go listen to the entire back catalogue obsessively and laugh to yourself like a weirdo. I’m also a fan of some of the brothers’ other podcasts: Sawbones (a podcast about medical history from one doctor and one guy who has no idea what’s going on) and The Adventure Zone (in which they play D&D with their dad).

Dusted: An episode-by-episode discussion about Buffy from the folks at StoryWonk, Dusted is hands down the best Buffy podcast I’ve ever listened to. These two are huge fans of the show, but are still able to discuss the good and the not-so-good critically. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up, and very much worth a listen if you’re a big nerd like me who enjoys listening to people talk about shows you love for hours on end. The same duo also has another podcast I’ve been enjoying, The Light Bulb, where they discuss all manner of pop culture-y topics.

Fantasies by Metric: This album isn’t new (it came out in 2009), nor is it new to me, but it’s been getting a ton of play lately so it seemed worth mentioning. “Gimme Sympathy” is probably my favorite track, but I like the whole album, and several – “Sick Muse,” “Gold Guns Girls,” and “Stadium Love” – have made it onto my workout playlist. Honorable Metic mention goes to “Monster Hospital” from 2005’s “Live It Out.”


So that’s it for last month! Is there anything you were loving particularly hard in February? Let me know in the comments!

 

october 2014 favorites

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I’ve had a nasty head cold for about a week now – a fate worse than death for a perfume-o-phile! Okay, not really, but the prolonged sniffles and generally non-functioning nose region have largely tanked my planned perfume reviews. So instead I’ve got a slightly belated October favorites list for you! With illustrated representations, naturally.

Just the indies this time around… no real reason except that I didn’t feel like drawing anymore stuff.

Blackbird Cosmetics: Both of my reviews (v1, v2) of Blackbird’s matte shadows have basically been love letters, so it’s no surprise that they’d turn up on my favorites list. The four shades I’ve been loving the most are Thirteen, Dog Days, Beau, and Half Full. All brownish colors, because I am boring. Thirteen is a great soft lid color, Dog Days is literally perfect in the crease, Beau gets smudged in as a subtle liner, and Half Full is a great browbone/inner corner highlight. Soft, neutral, easy. All the hearts.

Haus of Gloi Olde Cider Haus: Smells like apple picking! My bottle of Olde Cider Haus has been kicking around since 2011, so it’s aged a bit, and I think it’s much better for it. The vanilla is deeper, the woods and hay are smoother, and the whole scent just smells a little richer. This is one that I get the urge to reach for every fall, right when the leaves start to turn. (Also, I have apparently never reviewed this? What? That needs to be remedied.)

Solstice Scents Manor and Foxcroft: Smells like a formerly grand/currently ramshackle estate and a chilly fall day, respectively. Manor is deep, smooth woods and rich vanilla, and Foxcroft literally smells like you bottled the essence of a damp, chilly fall afternoon. It’s dirt and leaves and cold wind and the last bits of golden sunshine, and I just want to roll around and bathe in it. The Dude doesn’t like it; he thinks it smells like a damp basement. It’s okay, he’s allowed to be wrong. Cellar smells like a damp basement.

(And here are two more that I’ve never reviewed! I am seriously terrible about reviewing stuff that I’ve owned for a while. If I don’t do it when it first crosses my desk, I’ll put it in my perfume drawer and never give it another thought, even if I use it all the time. For shame.)

Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark Contouring Powder and Aphrodite Inner Glow Powder: Oh, these two products. I cannot adequately express my love. Honestly, I am way overdue in reviewing these. I’ve had them both for a few months now, and I’m not lying when I say that I’ve used them every single day that I’ve put on makeup since then. I haven’t found a single indie makeup product that’s made more of an impact on my daily routine.

Oak Bark really is the perfect contour powder for pale people. And it’s extra super perfect for pale, warm-ish or yellowy/olive folks like myself, because it’s a pretty neutral-toned brownish-taupe – it doesn’t lean too grey or too orange. It’s pigmented but not too pigmented, blendable but long-lasting, and just generally my holy grail of contouring products.

Aphrodite is one of P&P’s Inner Glow Powders, finishing powders meant to mimic Hourglass’ super-spendy Ambient Lighting Powders. I haven’t tried those, so I can’t compare, but Aphrodite is intended to be a dupe for Diffused Light, and it is amazing. It’s a very pale cream sort of shade, so I doubt it would work for those with darker skin, but it doesn’t seem to deposit much actual color on my skin in any case. I apply it all over after foundation with a big fluffy brush, and it just makes my skin look better – a little brighter, more awake, and yes, glowy without being shimmery. I adore it. I never buy backups, but you best believe that as soon as I make a decent dent in this jar, I’ll be going back for another. It’ll probably take a while, though – I’ve been using it nearly every day for several months and it pretty much looks brand new. (Same goes for Oak Bark.)

Smelly Yeti Perfumery: Just, in general. Smelly Yeti is a brand new baby perfumery that just opened about a month ago – you can see my review of the whole opening lineup here. I really enjoyed almost everything I tried, but of course my favorite thing is that there’s a Buffy collection. And plans for more Buffy scents, and a Veronica Mars scent! Be still my heart, you guys. I’m all a-twitter. My eyes, they are as large and limpid as the moon, and full of love. What I’m saying is: I just can’t.

My favorites, and on the top of my list to buy when I have some cash, are Buffybot, Beauty Queen, Pipsqueak, Queen of the Damned, Hey, McFly!, and Not The Bees.


So that’s what I’ve been loving lately! Now it’s your turn, gentle reader, if you care to comment – do you have any favorites at the moment? Enable me.

blackbird cosmetics matte neutrals v. 2

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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!