May 2017 Ipsy Glambag Review

At long last (well, a little over a year, to be more precise), I think my love affair with Ipsy is coming to an end. Nothing has changed about the service and I still think it can be a fun way to treat yourself every month, but my makeup collection is expansive. I have reached the point where it is rare for me to receive something I don’t already own in a similar shade and finish. This month even contained two items I very specifically wanted and was very specifically excited to try, but … not because I need  it. I was just curious about the formula! While for many people that is the point of beauty subscriptions, I have a humongous backlog of samples that I am never going to use up. I will definitely still be receiving a June bag, but I am actually considering cancelling for July … at least for a little while! 

Urban Decay Afterglow Powder Highlighter in “Sin” | RV $9.57. This was one of the products I was most excited to try this month, but also a product that made me realize how little I actually need to continue trying your typical champagne highlight. In the photo below, it’s the third swatch from the top – it’s shimmery and pigmented and really lovely, but it’s simply not a product I need now or anytime soon. The sample alone would likely take me a year to finish.
It Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara | RV $$13.60. This was the second product I was excited to try! The It Cosmetics Superhero Mascara gets consistently great reviews and I look forward to sampling it, but yet again … when will that be? I’m currently working through a mascara stash and have ten I’d like to use up before starting on this one. 
JellyPongPong Supercharged Super Intense Eyeshadow Duo in “Electric” | RV $22.95, Full-size. I have been on an overwhelmingly huge eyeshadow kick lately, so I was glad to be receiving this duo. In the photo below, the shades are the top two swatches on bare skin. They don’t look too impressive, but I’ll be trying them over primer before writing them off. The compact they came in is charming, but I do think $22.95 is quite an inflated price. If I’d been able to choose, I would have picked the teal and bronze variation of this duo for a little more contrast. 
Cailyn Cosmetics Pure Lust Extreme Matte Tint + Velvet in “Practicable” | RV $19, Full-size. You may recall my previous experience with a Cailyn Cosmetics Extreme Matte Tint, as conveyed in my Lip Hoarder Part Three post which was basically that it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad matte lipstick. “Practicable” was better. Described as a “cinnamon nude”, the shade was much more flattering and the application was a breeze. As you’re applying, it feels like it’s going to be a perfect matte lip paint … but then it dries, and it isn’t. Though better than my first experience, Cailyn’s Matte Lip Tints still dry your lips out so badly they pucker, which is universally unflattering. It’s also impossible to remove – I tried my face wash, a lip scrub, a cleansing oil, and a scrubbing brush, and my lips are still tinted. Shade – beautiful. Product – stay far away. 
Adesse New York Gel Polish in “Surfer Girl” | RV $18, Full-size. I love nail polish (obviously, I have a Julep subscription) and I like this shade and the fact that it’s a gel-like finish. My only qualm with receiving this polish is that just last month I received a nail polish in almost the exact same shade from Ipsy. It’s not a big deal and I prefer the Adesse polish to the Defy & Inspire polish, but I’d prefer to diversify my collection. 

Total Paid: $10
Total Retail Value: $83.12

That value is wild for a $10 subscription bag, but again, I think some of the values were inflated, particularly on the JellyPongPong shadow duo. I also think $18 is an awful lot to spend on a single polish, but it’s not unheard of – the gorgeous Smith & Cult polishes are also $18 a pop. Regardless, this bag was well worth $10, but it’s just not meeting a need anymore. I’m at a point where I would rather spend more to have exactly what I want than $10 to have a variety of new items to try. I’m sure it’s a pendulum, but for now I plan to pause my Ipsy subscription. 
To try Ipsy yourself, sign up here for a monthly beauty bag! 

Saturday Reading List

This article on the positive trends in retouching images. “Instead of reshaping, shellacking, and airbrushing women to look more like model versions of one another (thin, tan, young, and tall with shiny hair and clear skin), the retouching trend today is more focused on making sure you see individual quirks, without distraction.”
This blog post from my school has been helpful to me lately (though not a complete cure) as a reminder that we all feel inadequately prepared to tackle jobs from time to time – or often, or always! 
This opinion piece from early May highlighting the leadership qualities exhibited by Sally Yates & Condoleezza Rice, which seem to be missing in most of our current administration.  
This homage to my professional woman fashion muse, Stella Gibson (played by Gillian Anderson in The Fall).
This essay from The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, which discusses ambivalence toward having children in our modern world. So … me. 

Lip Hoarder Part 4

Lip Hoarder Part Four with Nyx RealHer Too Faced Stila Burt's Bees bareMinerals NARS Urban Decay and Colourpop
It has been so exceptionally difficult to motivate myself to do a damn thing that isn’t work lately, including keeping up with posts I’d like to share (obviously). My Lip Hoarder challenge has been going relatively well, though May has been a month full of being too lazy or busy to apply any makeup whatsoever, so progress is happening slowly. I have whittled my way down (after this point) to a myriad of shades that are a little vampy or out-there, so wearing new shades has started to become a challenge in and of itself. However, I don’t want to give up yet, and it’s interesting to see which shades I miss the most – like a weird orangey-coral from Nyx that I would never expect to be the lipstick I long to wear. You’ll notice in round four that I tended toward Spring-y shades with a dash of alternative colors thrown in intermittently. 
Lipstick Swatches Stila Burt's Bees Nyx Kat Von D Colourpop RealHer Urban Decay
1. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Patina” – I like the Stila Stay All Day formula, but I think this is too close to Nyx’s “Soft Spoken” for me to need it in my collection, and I actually prefer the Nyx formula. 
2. Burt’s Bees Lipstick in “Blush Basin” – While this isn’t a particularly flattering shade on me (and I have already destashed it because of that), I am impressed with the cute honeycomb packaging and the moisturizing formula of the Burt’s Bees lipstick. I’d try it again in a cooler nude or dusty pink shade. 
3. Nyx Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in “Stone Fox” – This project has made me realize that super duper dark, vampy shades are just not too pretty on my fair skin, but I do think this is a good product. I much prefer “Stone Fox” to number 13 on this list, “Oh Put it On”. It’s a rich charcoal gray that dries matte and doesn’t pull away from your inner lip line. 
4. Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in “Lovecraft” – I like “Lovecraft” and want to try more KVD Studded Kiss lipsticks after trying this one, but it’s a little too close in shade to number 7 on this list, UD “Backtalk”, and I’m afraid I prefer “Backtalk”, so I’ll be passing this little guy along. 
5, Colourpop Ultra Glossy Lip in “Kink” – For a long time, I was anti lip gloss. It gave me too many high school flashbacks. Lately, however, I’ve been particularly enjoying the highly-pigmented Colourpop Ultra Glossy Lips, and “Kink” is no different. It’s a cool-toned fuchsia with sparkle and I hate that it was limited edition, as it’s one of my more fun shades to wear. Not that I’ll ever use up an entire lip product in this lifetime, but I’d like for others to have the opportunity to try it!  
6. RealHer Plumping Gloss in “I Am A Rockstar” – Though I absolutely hate number 11 on this list, RealHer’s “I Am Gorgeous”, I do like this lip gloss as a solid neutral gloss. It’s nonsticky, but I want to do an immediate side by side of this with Trust Fund Beauty’s lip gloss to see which basic neutral gloss is more worth keeping. 
7. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in “Backtalk” – Backtalk is the first lipstick I’ve ever bought for myself that cost over $10! I’ve been gifted others or received them in subscription boxes, but Backtalk was my first experience with trying a sample of something and immediately rushing to Sephora to hand over $17 for the full-sized lipstick. It’s my favorite pinky nude that I own, and looks even more flattering now that I’ve dyed my hair dark. 
Lipstick Swatches with Nyx Nars bareMinerals RealHer Trust Fund Beauty Nyx and Too Faced
  1. Nyx Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in “Industrial Paradise” – I’ve noticed that pastels are really, really difficult for most companies to pull off, so I was surprised by how well baby blue “Industrial Paradise” worked. It applied smoothly and was completely opaque, though it did wear off since I wore it to grab tacos and margaritas with a friend. It’s not a color I’ll be able to wear often, but I’m pleased with it.
    9. NARS Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in “Gold Digger” – I feel totally neutral about this. I guess for the price of a full sized tube, I’m disappointed. It adds a sheen, I guess, but it’s not enough to wear alone and I’m just not impressed like I am with the Colourpop glosses.
    10. bareMinerals Pop of Passion Lip Oil Balm in “Pink Passion” – I’ve written before that I’m fond of the bareMinerals Pop of Passion balms, and this one is no exception. I like the bright pink shade. I think they’d be a good replacement for something like the Glossier Generation G Sheer Lipsticks. They aren’t matte, but they have decent color payoff for a sheer and they are made to be moisturizing/soothing to your lips!
    11. RealHer Matte Liquid Lipstick in “I Am Gorgeous” – I have no idea what the wear on this product is like because I ripped it off my lips within 30 seconds of applying. First, it’s too pale and gives me early 00’s Tara Reid fashion vibes. Secondly, it’s thin but way too easy to apply way too much. It’s one of those few products that I will probably just throw away because I wouldn’t want to curse anyone else with it.
    12. Trust Fund Beauty Lipstick in “Try to be Nice” – I am really fond of this lipstick. I like Trust Fund Beauty as a brand – their products aren’t incredible, but they’re nice and different and I like supporting smaller companies, especially when they’re cruelty-free. I love that this lipstick is a creamy lilac shade but that it wears down to a soft pink. The wear makes it easy to pull off in more conservative situations while still wearing a slightly alternative color. It seems that this shade has been discontinued, which I hate, so I plan to keep and enjoy this tube while it lasts.
    13. Nyx Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in “Oh, Put It On” – Hate, hate, hate, loathe entirely. I am a huge advocate for the Nyx Liquid Suede Lipsticks and think, in general, they’re the best bang for your buck when it comes to matte liquid lip products. This deep, blackened violet is a complete bust, though. It’s impossible to apply – even the matching lip liner was patchy, and the lipstick immediately pulls away from your inner lip line and began flaking off before I could even leave the house. I don’t know why this one shade is so terribly useless, but it is, and I’ll probably just throw it away.
    14. Too Faced Melted Liquid Lipstick in “Chihuahua” – Something I like: The applicator! It was different but effective and I liked how smoothly the lipstick applied. Something I dislike: The shade was a little too brown and warm for me, so I passed this baby on to my mom, for whom Glossier Skin Tint in “Dark” is too pale. Riddle me that.

May Check-In

Sorry for my lag in posting. I feel like I have been losing my mind a bit lately, and between work and school I have had little time for the small things that bring me joy – my self-care habits, like this blog or long baths or writing in my planner. I’ve been failing tremendously in some aspects: my stress shopping is going wild, for example, and I keep clicking “Confirm Purchase” on things I know I do not need. However, I have also had some big life successes. It may be a normal thing for most people, but I made an appointment to see a doctor about my anxiety, I actually went and was prescribed medication. This is a huge deal for me. I have dealt with various manifestations of debilitating anxiety since I was a kid and it is so empowering to have taken this step.

So, no small goals check-in this month. I can’t handle reviewing failures right now. No goals to set for now, either. I am trying to focus on each day individually until I feel like I can breathe again. Hopefully I’ll be able to post more soon, as posting really is a fun release for me, but we will see about carving out the time.

Thanks for reading.

xx Abbie

April Birchbox Review

Well, well, well Birchbox, funny seeing you here. Y’all know how I feel about Birchbox (overrated, under delivers), but every now and then they run a promo that is worth paying $10 for. I ended up getting one sample I have really been wanting to try, too, so it wasn’t a total wash. However, if I were you, I would wait until Birchbox is running a free gift with subscription deal that is worth it to you (like Lipstick Queen lipsticks or, in this case, the Smashbox mascara) and subscribe then. That way, you are getting a higher end beauty product for $10, plus samples. That’s the only situation that makes Birchbox “worth it” for me. That being said, here is my April Birchbox!

Total Value (excluding bonus): $22.85
The sample I am most looking forward to trying is the R+Co Dry Shampoo, but otherwise I am … unimpressed by this month’s box. The retail value, while double the cost of the box, is much lower than the retail value of my April Ipsy. However, I bought the box for the Smashbox mascara, so from that perspective, I got the mascara for $10 + some fun samples, which is much more worth it. 

Glossier Basics Review

Sorry to admit it, but I had no interest in Glossier. Once I decided to order from Glossier, I had no interest in liking anything I’d purchased. They catered to me too hard – milennial pink, minimal aesthetic, all these cool girls with their unbrushed hair and full brows and perfect skin … the vibe is a modern girl cookie cutter, and I didn’t want to fall for it. 
And yet, in my not-wanting-to-fall-for-it, I found myself spending $50+ on their website one dull day, you know, just to see. I knew I wouldn’t like it. It would break me out or look like nothing on my face. I was sure it was all hype – Glossier probably hired tons of pretty beauty bloggers to hawk their products and they can turn a profit strictly from appealing to a 20-something woman’s need to be in without actually putting in any effort. 
Effort is definitely not cool.
My package arrived significantly quicker than I expected, considering I chose free shipping. Like, three days? Maybe? And I’ve had a couple of weeks now to test out the three products I ordered, so here is my totally genuine, un-sponsored review of some Glossier basics. 

Item One: Glossier Boy Brow. I went with the shade “Brown”. At $16 for .11 oz, it’s cheaper than Benefit’s $24 Gimme Brow but about four times the cost of Nyx’s Tinted Brow Mascara. Inconveniently, I adore it. I recently realized I prefer the Nyx Brow Mascara to Benefit Gimme Brow, as Gimme Brow’s additional fibers are a little messy for me and I struggle with over-application. Glossier Boy Brow is, shockingly, so much better than either of them (in my opinion). The formula is light and doesn’t smudge against my skin, but still shapes and darkens my brows. I’m interested to see how quickly I go through it, but I’m planning to repurchase. (FYI, for a budget buy, I do recommend the Nyx Brow Mascara, but I do not recommend Benefit Gimme Brow based on quality vs. cost, even as a splurge. Definitely go with Glossier Boy Brow.)

Item Two: Glossier Priming Moisturizer. I mentioned in my current skincare favorites post last month that I was desperately searching for a daytime moisturizer, and I am starting to become pretty fond of this one. It’s $25 for 1.7 oz, which is reasonable in the skincare world. I think the item I would most closely compare it to is the Hello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer, which I also really like but which costs a few dollars more for the same amount. I don’t think you should consider either “priming moisturizer” as a replacement for using a separate moisturizer and primer, but rather as a lightweight, sensitive-skin-friendly daytime moisturizer that you can either pair with the Glossier Skin Tint (below) or follow with primer and foundation for a full makeup look. On Glossier’s website, they convey the same thing: “‘Priming’ means that it instantly brings out the best in your skin, so you have a fresh, glowing canvas,” which sounds conveniently like “Please god don’t expect this to function like an actual primer” to me. So, to recap: Primer, no. Daytime moisturizer, definitely, yes, highly recommended.

Item 3: Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in shade “Light”. I kind of sort of think this is most controversial of Glossier’s products. Is it doing anything? Is it a bottle of $26 tinted water? Is this a placebo effect? Am I losing my mind? (Yes.) First of all, I like this product. I do. It is easy and quick and does combine well with the priming moisturizer. Could I ever use it on a bad skin day? No way. It doesn’t blur blemishes, so if you’re broken out, it won’t do a dang thing. Thankfully, my skin has been really #blessed lately and Glossier products haven’t flared up any bad behavior, so I do like it on already-pretty-ish skin. It softens my look and (when combined with concealer) helps me look bright and fresh. For going out, I’d still prefer an entire foundation, but since the loss of my beloved Lumene BB Cream, I’m genuinely happy with the look of the skin tint… you know, until that hormonal acne hits again.

So, ANNOYINGLY, I apparently like Glossier. It’s not full glam and it never will be, but it’s easy and functional for every day and it isn’t irritating to my infuriatingly sensitive skin. You can try it yourself, if you wanna, and get 20% off whenever you use my link here.

Airbnbs Around the World for Less Than $100 A Night

Clearly, I am not a travel blogger. Yet. It’s always been a dream of mine, but between work and school I can barely find the time to make the two hour trip to visit my family, let alone fly across the world. However, I do daydream a lot and I read travel blogs a lot and I plan future trip goals a lot and one thing I have noticed over the past few months of reading travel blogs is that when bloggers say “affordable” to describe boutique locations, they clearly mean a different kind of “affordable” than my student loan repayments can accommodate. It’s totally cool if you want to stay in a $400 per night treehouse in Bali, but I’m trying to avoid wallowing in debt until I’m in my grave. 
Through my own scouring of the interweb, I have found some of the coolest, most interesting places for super reasonable prices. I chose to focus specifically on Airbnb  (though is also a great resource with helpful search tools) and I am only listing properties that are less than $100 per night to have the entire house (or apartment) to yourself.  They may not be the peak of luxury or they may be off the beaten path, but they are beautiful, inspiring, and within my puny budget! Ready? Happy daydreaming!  

1. Riad in Marrakesh, Morroco | $63 per night


2. Apartment in Hvar, Croatia | $43 per night


3. Cabana in  Armenia, Colombia | $49 per night


4. Villa in Ostuni, Italy | $67 per night


5. Apartment in Paris, France | $83 per night


6. Studio in Oia, Greece | $83 per night 


7. Cave in Granada, Spain | $56 per night


8. Beach House in Santa Catarina, Brazil | $81 per night


9. Apartment in Vienna, Austria | $77 per night


10. Studio in Perast, Montenegro | $44 per night