I made my stage debut at the age of eight, in my elementary school’s production of The Phantom Tollbooth. I had two roles: the Spelling Bee (marred by a wardrobe malfunction: part of my headband fell off and I pouted for the rest of the scene) and the Senses Taker. For the second role, I wore a severe bun, a prim, high-necked brown dress, and a pair of fake glasses, and asked Milo and his companions to tell me “when you were born, where you were born, why you were born, the schools you’ve attended, the schools you haven’t attended…”
Years would pass before I understood that the name of my role was a pun on “census taker,” and that the adult world didn’t actually contain a career path based on taking people’s senses, except perhaps anesthesiology. Years would pass, too, before I understood why asking someone which schools they hadn’t attended and which people they hadn’t met was so funny.
In the spirit of the Senses Taker, I thought I’d write up some negative reviews: not bad reviews of products I own, but musings on products that I decided to leave on the physical or virtual shelf. An anti-wishlist, if you will. I’ve assigned each item a “regret level” from 1 to 10, with 1 being “phew, dodged a bullet there,” and 10 being “YOU PENNY-PINCHING FOOL.” Any product with a rating over 6 warrants future reconsideration.
Date of non-purchase: Oct. 2014
Reason for non-purchase: At the end of last year, I decided to stop buying lipsticks that I couldn’t see myself wearing often. Would a bronze metallic lipstick look really cool? For certain values of “cool,” yes. Would I wear it more than a few times over the fall and winter? Probably not. Power seemed more traditionally wearable, but I couldn’t decide whether it would read “cyborg grunge” or “Avon lady in 1992,” so I gave it a pass. I have a strong suspicion I’ll buy Wrath for next fall, though. (By which time I’ll be consumed with teaching, grading, dissertating, and applying for jobs, and will probably feel like wearing a lipstick called Wrath all the goddamn time.)
Regret level: 6 for Wrath, 3 for Power
Date of non-purchase: Oct. 2014
Reason for non-purchase: I’ve done a lot of silly things for my love of beauty, but not even I can bring myself to spend $21 on a sparkly navy-blue lipstick. Plus, the Studded Kiss formula has received terrible reviews (though Poe seems better than most), and Kat Von D herself kind of sucks.
Regret level: 1
Date of non-purchase: Nov. 2014
Reason for non-purchase: I’ve never tried an OCC Lip Tar, but as I explained in my last post, a gap in my collection is not necessarily a gap that needs to be filled. Too often, beauty bloggers seem to think that if they don’t own MAC Ruby Woo or NARS Orgasm or whatever cult product, they’re not doing their job. I don’t want to fall into that trap! I own just two liquid lipsticks and almost never wear them because they’re so inconvenient to apply, and the Lip Tars look even fussier. I’ve also heard that they can be drying. Lydia looks beyond perfect on Xiao, but it probably wouldn’t suit my needs, though I might eventually try it on at Sephora to see if the formula is comfortable.
Regret level: 3
Date of non-purchase: Feb. 2015
Reason for non-purchase: Some of you blush fiends will consider this blasphemy, but I find that one warm pink looks much the same as another once blended out (granted, I think I blend more vigorously than necessary). Yes, Holiday is pinker than Sleek Life’s a Peach, but it won’t produce a dramatically different look. Not that I judge anyone for their blush collection, no matter how large it is! I’ve lost count of the number of plum/fuchsia lipsticks I’ve amassed because they’re totally different okay.
Regret level: 2
Date of non-purchase: 500 BC, it feels like Mar. 2015, most recently
Reason for non-purchase: I first experienced a pang of desire for Unapologetic last summer, but I was wearing Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin so often that I convinced myself I didn’t need another bright coral. Since then, I’ve managed to non-purchase Unapologetic on several occasions. I’ve walked into drugstores in three different cities, seen it on the shelf, and walked back out. I’ve added it to my online Ulta cart two different times, then deleted it before paying. The one time I did make up my mind to buy it, I couldn’t find a pristine tube. Maybe the universe just doesn’t want me to have Unapologetic. Or maybe the universe is testing my devotion, and Unapologetic will turn out to be the most flattering lipstick ever on me. Though it’s a coral-pink, not my best color historically, so I doubt it. (Why does the Revlon product shot make it look fuchsia?)
Regret level: 6
Date of non-purchase: March 2015
Reason for non-purchase: “No near-dupes” was one of my New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve done my best to stick to it. I have a mint nail polish, Essie Fashion Playground, which satisfies me perfectly when I’m in a minty mood. “Near-dupe” is a tricky concept, though, and That’s Hula-rious is a noticeably different color: yellower and more muted, pistachio to Essie’s seafoam. If I find myself in an Ulta in the next few months, I might have to surrender.
Regret level: 7
Date of non-purchase: March 2015
Reason for non-purchase: I got very excited when I heard that ColourPop was releasing a true purple blush in their limited-edition spring collection. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’ve wanted a purple or lavender blush for a while, but the purples available to me have so far been sneaky secret pinks (a problem I used to have with purple lipstick before it became popular), or nearly invisible on my skin, or sold in an inconvenient loose powder form. So I was certain that I was going to buy Rain, and then I just…didn’t. The fact is, I never stand in front of the mirror in the morning and think, “Damn it, this look would be perfect with purple blush.” I also knew that I couldn’t make much of a dent in Rain’s cream formula before it started drying up. Probably not worth the $8 plus shipping–though I do think I’ll check out Urban Decay’s new purple blush, Bittersweet, once it’s released. If it can look nice on someone as warm-toned as Christine, it probably won’t look hideous on me.
Regret level: 5
Believe me, this is not a complete list of all my non-purchases over the past half-year; these are just the ones that that managed to stimulate my organ of obsession (wherever that might be located). Sometimes I think the makeup obsessions I develop are more pleasurable than their fulfillment. The more I build up an item in my mind, the less impressive it turns out to be. Perhaps that explains why I get so attached to products that I buy on a total whim. In just the last two months, my favorite products have been Butter London Fruit Machine, Topshop Plastique, and Milani Matte Naked, all of which ended up in my life somewhat accidentally. By contrast, I spent months or even years longing for Butter London Trout Pout and Face Stockholm Paris, only to experience something of a letdown once they were finally in my hands. Does this happen to anyone else? And have you non-purchased anything interesting recently?