Low-Buy Progress Report #3: March

I went to Boston for a Renaissance-studies conference on Wednesday and just got home last night, so my monthly roundup post is a bit late. I was born in Boston and lived there until I was almost eight, and I’ve returned periodically since then, but the city still feels foreign—the more foreign for being slightly familiar, I think. (One familiar thing: insanely high winds. I had to stop walking at one point for fear of being blown over.) Most of my time in Boston was taken up with attending academic papers, delivering my own paper on a seventeenth-century antiquarian treatise, and navigating an awkward Q&A session (you haven’t been mansplained to until you’ve been mansplained to by an elderly Italian art historian). I also created and promptly began neglecting a professional Twitter account. Livetweeting academic conference panels has become very much a thing in the last year or two, but my brain is incapable of listening and tweeting at the same time, so I’m afraid I won’t be sitting with the digital-humanist cool kids anytime soon.

By the way, I have two enthusiastic Boston recommendations: Ribelle in Brookline for French onion soup and grapefruit-vodka-Peychaud’s cocktails in the cutest mismatched glasses…

…and, obviously, the Museum of Fine Arts. Their permanent collections are stellar (and overwhelmingly huge: so many John Singer Sargents!), and they currently have a cool exhibit called #techstyle, about the overlap between fashion and technology. The irony of America’s most proudly unstylish city sponsoring a fashion-focused exhibit is not lost on me. I say this with love.

Have a Manish Arora:

And now to our monthly business!

New makeup:

NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu: $3.70
OCC Stained Gloss in Dune: $5 + $3 shipping = $8
Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Wink: $10
Total: $21.70

This is, of course, excluding my $30 splurge, Marc Jacobs So Sofia. But since I’m planning to return So Sofia to Sephora in April, I decided not to count that purchase. That’s fair, right? My favorite of the three products above is Tiramisu: I’d been without a nude gloss for over a year, and had forgotten how much I liked both nude glosses and the Butter Gloss formula. Dune has turned out to be a disappointing layering gloss—the formula is so viscous and the shimmer so dense that I can’t apply it over lipstick without smearing the base color—but I really like it on its own, so no harm done. My experience with Wink has been a helpful reminder that I shouldn’t blind-order products with no reviews or swatches online. I thought I was safe because of my love for the Matte Lip Bullet formula, but Wink is unaccountably crammed with glitter. Not just shimmer, but big-ass glitter particles that stick to my lips after the color wears off. Oh, and Topshop doesn’t accept makeup returns. I don’t hate Wink, but like…why? The only other glittery matte lipsticks I can think of are NARS La Paz and Peloponnese, which have understandably mixed reviews. It’s an unpopular combination for a reason, Topshop.

New skincare:

3 Tony Moly sheet masks: $9
Aura Cacia cold-pressed rosehip oil with Vitamin E: $15
Total: $24

I’m proud to say that I’m not one of those sheet-mask hoarders you find on r/asianbeauty: I used all three masks within a few weeks of buying them. I don’t think I’ll buy more Tony Moly masks in the future, however. They’re cheap and convenient ($3 each at Urban Outfitters), but they just sort of dampen my face without imparting any lasting moisture or glow. And the tea-tree one has a horrible antiseptic smell. Beware!

I bought the rosehip oil to wear under my CeraVe PM at night. In the first couple of days, I went a little crazy with it (morning AND night applications) and I broke out slightly, but I’ve scaled back my usage to every other night and it’s been working well for me.


e.l.f. Shadow Lock: $2

I forgot my NYX eyeshadow primer at home when I went to Boston, so I picked up this one at a CVS near my hotel. I was excited at the prospect of having discovered a $2 gem, but this stuff is…not great. It’s better than nothing, but only just. Come to think of it, the NYX primer isn’t stellar either. Should I try the $12 Urban Decay Primer Potion mini from Sephora?

Total beauty spending for March: $47.70

Bonus: Gifts!

In March, two different people sent me unsolicited makeup and skincare. I am the luckiest. First, I received Glossier’s Balm Dotcom and Generation G Lipstick in Jam from Renee:

And earlier this week, my Instagram pal Amanda (mythofmirth) sent me six Glossier mask pods, the Bite 100-point perk that eluded me on my recent Sephora visit, and STICKERS:

So excited to try all this stuff! I’m going to use one of the Mega Greens mask pods tonight.

Overview: I made two mistakes this month: I bought a $30 lipstick without being totally sure that I loved it, and I ordered a lipstick I’d never seen except in an obviously inaccurate product shot on the Topshop website. Frankly, Dune was also an impulse purchase, but it happened to be a good one. I kept my overall expenses low, but I can feel myself slipping into BUY ALL THE LIP COLORS mode. It’s no coincidence that March was a high-stress month. In fact, this entire semester has been a real bummer in a number of ways. I’m still not sure where I’ll be living in six months, or whether I’ll need to defend my dissertation before then, or whether I’ll be able to get my current fellowship renewed for next year. Ironically, if I were less worried about finances, I’d probably be less tempted to buy makeup. But here we are, and all I can do is keep a close eye on my spending habits, because I really can’t afford to neglect my budget.

I’m also going to keep pursuing methods of self-care that have nothing to do with materialism. Getting my work done on time, for instance, is self-care because it reduces stress in the long run. Exercise, pleasure reading, and phone calls with friends are all forms of self-care. Experimenting with the crazy amount of makeup I already own is self-care! As is finishing this blog post, so:


ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Bill: I loved the pink-lavender-taupe color of this eyeshadow, but it dried out in just a year. I’m going to be all the more diligent about using up my remaining ColourPop potted products now that I know what a brief shelf life they have. Bill looked truly tragic before I tossed it—look how it’s pulling away from the sides of the pan:

Face Stockholm cream blush in Paris: This was such a good product, but the color just didn’t suit me—it was the blush version of So Sofia. So when Renee mentioned wanting more Face Stockholm blushes, I sent Paris to her. Now I don’t have to feel guilty every time I notice it on my shelf.


NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst (~$7):

Instagram indicates that this bright blue-purple looks weird on 99.9% of human beings, so of course I’ve persuaded myself that I’ll be in the lucky 0.1% who can pull it off. I went to CVS just today to buy it, but it was out of stockand it was the only Liquid Suede out of stock. It was sold out in the CVS near my hotel in Boston, too. And let me assure you, intense blurple lipstick is not a common sight in either town. Who is buying this color?!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Je T’aime ($30):

Je T’aime is on this list not because I expect to buy it anytime soon, but simply because I want to try it on. I had So Sofia tunnel vision during my last Sephora visit and didn’t notice Je T’aime, which is more of a muted, toasted reddish coral (Marc Jacobs describes it as a “rum raspberry”). But a reader mentioned it in the comments of my So Sofia post, and now that I know I like the Le Marc formula, I want to check out Je T’aime when I go to Sephora to return So Sofia.

Shiro Custom Lip Gloss ($9-$13)

Did you know that the indie makeup company Shiro, best known for its loose eyeshadows with geeky pop-culture themes, also makes custom lip glosses? You choose from a long list of lip-safe eyeshadows, then pick an intensity (sheer, moderate, or opaque) and, if you wish, a flavor. Pricing varies according to intensity and flavor, but an unflavored opaque gloss would be $10, which is really not bad. The color I’m leaning toward is The Largest Moon of Still Not a Planet, a “rose-tinged taupe with intense turquoise shift and copper-gold sparkle”:

I understand that Shiro has an anniversary sale every April/May, so I think I’ll pick up a lip gloss then.

ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Mars ($6):

Someone I follow on Instagram has been wearing Mars a lot recently, and the nearly fluorescent reddish pink is so tempting to me for some reason. I’ll probably hold off on making a ColourPop order for at least another month, though.

There are a few other things I kind of want, but in the interest of not reminding myself of my kind-of-wants when I reread this post, I’ll leave them off the list. Though perhaps putting them on the list is the key to not buying them: I didn’t buy anything from last month’s wishlist! Weird.

22 thoughts on “Low-Buy Progress Report #3: March

  1. I've had a handful of Shiro custom glosses over time – I think my favourite was the MAC Strawberry Malt dupe I requested. I actually used most of it up and then it ended up getting tossed in my fall moving purge of belongings. Shiro's gloss formula is the first one I actually liked. I don't have any customs right now, though.Little bit of advice: the unscented glosses can smell unpleasant to people – I never thought so, but YMMV. However, a flavour oil will cause the gloss to have more slip and alter its opacity, so an unscented opaque one might be more opaque than a scented one. I've already started mini-panicking about what I'm going to do after my contract ends in early December. I just want to get a job and happily stay in one place for at least five years. Is that too much to ask, world?I love Boston. It reminds me a lot of Halifax, which makes a lot of sense considering the close relationship between the cities, and the flow of Maritimers to Boston over the years. I keep Boston on my list of places I'd consider trying to get immigrate to, at least for a time. I don't think I've used my professional Twitter in over a year. Ooops.


  2. Thanks for the Shiro tips! I've been looking at reviews (few and far between, alas) of Shiro custom glosses, and since I want an opaque gloss, I think I'd rather endure a weird scent than risk damaging the opacity. Boston is a great city. There's so much culture and intellectual energy, but without the insane pace of NYC. You still feel that old Puritan vibe everywhere you go (though technically Boston was part of the Massachusetts Bay colony, which was settled by people who, according to my high school textbook, \”cared more about cod than God\”).I hear you on the desire for some permanence. I've been in grad school here for almost six years (!), but it's always felt temporary and contingent because of the nature of grad school itself.


  3. I always love reading your low buy updates! I think you're doing great. In the past, I have definitely made the error of ordering things sight unseen – mostly because I do 95% of my make-up shopping online, and don't have any retail locations near me to check things out in person before I buy. Which is why I always try to shop at stores with lenient return policies 😀


  4. Coming from the queen of low-buys, that means a lot! 🙂 I have to do more online shopping than I'd like, too, because there's no Sephora within walking distance of where I live. I do try not to buy anything I haven't seen in person first, though, and that helps me keep my spending down.


  5. That part of grad school is the worst, so I hope the uncertainly is relieved for you soon. I also tend to want to spend more the less I can afford it.What do you need from an eyeshadow primer? I hated the NYX one (never really set), but I haven't tried that particular elf one. I really like Urban Decay's for intensifying shadow and preventing creasing, but I like Wet N Wild almost exactly as much and it's so much cheaper. But I haven't yet checked the ingredients to see if the new version is identical to the \”Fergie\” one that I loved.


  6. I'm in the deep end of an existential makeup crisis (a blog post I should write, should I ever become willing to to figure out what the fuck I'm doing). The tl;dr version is that my preferred style has pretty significantly changed, and I want/need to shed a lot of products that seem to have lost their charm quite rapidly. My go-to looks (for years!) now result in \”this is wrong.\” It's kind of unnerving. I'm trying to not buy things while in this land of doubt, but I've fallen hard for indie perfume again, which was my first true cosmetic foray and feels comfortingly familiar. Hmm, sorry for crisising all up in your comments. In the five years I lived in Massachusetts I \”visited\” Boston twice, by which I mean used the airport. For such a tiny state it's shockingly difficult to get across!


  7. Chiming in here to say I love Too Faced's. It's pricey, though no more so than UD, and a tube consistently lasts me two solid years. I have also never had eye makeup disentegrate when I use it, even if the rest of my face has.


  8. The longer I have Je T'aime, the more attached to it I become. I have to be feeling very bold to wear my opaque matte red lipstick (MAC's Russian Red.) But on the flipside I feel like I can wear Je T'aime every day and it gives me confidence (instead of the confidence already needing to be present…) Anyway, like you said, the formula is amazing too!Personally I like the TonyMoly masks, but I find the Hey! Pinkgo Girl ones to be much better, (particularly the \”Black Rose Collagen\” ones.) They leave my face very tangibly soft and moisturized and they're around $12 for ten of them on Amazon. Last thing I feel compelled to say..I love the eyeballs on your Glossier tube!!


  9. Is the NYx primer the one in the tube with the doefoot? I actually really liked it, i felt it gave me good longevity and intensity! I was in a catch all the lip colour mood last time, and it was not good. And i think my selection is a lot more wearable than most, no weirdass colours.You may prefer a weird purple in a formula that keeps for longer, like a lipstick.


  10. Too bad about Wink!For what it's worth, my sample of Bite Radish, while beautiful, bleeds a bit at the corners of my mouth unless I wear a primer under it, but full-size versions of Dragonfruit and Eggplant in the same formula do not. I quite love them.I think I need Amethyst + Stone Fox; that way, I can tone down Amethyst a bit if I need to. And since Colour Pop's Petit Four looks great on me, even got me an unsolicited compliment from a stranger at the grocery store (a first!), I think I can pull off Stone Fox.I would like to send you (sanitized) lipsticks I no longer wear; I need to figure out how I should post other than as Anonymous so that you could contact me if you want to. I would like you to have some new lipstick colors to play with and still have your low-buy dollars intact. That seems like a better use of these colors than for me to merely gaze at in my drawer.


  11. I only found your blog recently but really like it, check it every so often hoping for new posts 🙂 Documenting your crisis could be worthwhile; we all go through changes in this life!


  12. I just want to prevent creasing and fading, I guess. I have very deep eyelid creases, so I don't expect any primer to completely stop my shadow from creasing, but anything in the direction of that ideal would please me. The NYX one I have is fine, but I know there are better primers out there. I'll check out the Too Faced and the Wet n Wild!


  13. I agree with Anonymous: I'd really like to hear more about your changing aesthetic! I don't feel like my own preferences have shifted all that much since I started wearing makeup, but I don't know what I'd do if I stopped enjoying bold lipstick, for instance. Has your preferred style gotten less colorful over the years?


  14. I'm very curious to see whether it flatters me! It's a color that seems to look different on absolutely everyone. And thanks for the mask tip; I'll check those out. I wish there had been more than one eyeball sticker! That was my favorite one, I think.


  15. Yes, it's the doefoot one! It's not bad at all, but I just can't help but wonder if I could do better.I think you've put your finger on an odd tendency of mine: the weirder my emotional state, the weirder the lip colors I gravitate toward. Maybe the universe was telling me something by withholding Amethyst from me on two different occasions…


  16. I wore Radish for the first time today and have mixed feelings. It's VERY pigmented, so a little goes a long way (I applied way too much at first!), and it transfers like crazy, but the formula is comfortable and the color is beautiful. It's very kind of you to offer to send me some lipsticks! Honestly, though, my low-buy is about limiting my collection as much as it is about saving money. I have about 60 lip colors right now–that's more than I can ever use up before they expire.


  17. Urgh, i went to check out my CP shadows again and mine is drying out too, it's definitely not as pigmented as before. I've had it maybe 9 months so far. So annoying,I'll definitely not repurchase unless I absolutely love a colour and will use it literally everyday. Is your Monster highlighter drying out too? I'm more concerned about that because I really like it but it will be a bitch to repurchase it every year if it dries out ._.


  18. My highlighters haven't changed at all, but then I've had them for a shorter time (nine months as opposed to a year). I'll post an update if they start to dry out, but so far so good!I feel bad for the people who bought dozens of CP shadows when they first came out, not realizing what a short lifespan they'd have.


  19. Absolutely nothing to do with the content of your post but I finally got Get Me Bodied and Rio Rio! Rio Rio melds so harmoniously with my complexion I wore it to work last week.On arm swatches, Get Me Bodied is exactly the color I was searching for. But my light olive skin pulls it a bit darker than I wanted. I tried mixing it with a bit of fuchsia lipstick and hey presto, it was the perfect plumberry of my dreams. In fact, I love Get Me Bodied more now that I can wear it two ways. Plumberry mix for daywear and dark vamp for more dramatic occasions.Thanks so much for introducing me to the two lippies. I don't think many bloggers review Topshop lipsticks.


  20. Hooray, I'm so glad you like them! I wore Rio Rio this week for the first time in months and was reminded of what a great color it is. Most oranges look at least a little off with my complexion, but Rio Rio has a slightly muted quality that makes it flattering for me. I wonder why more bloggers don't review Topshop lipsticks! I can usually find at least a couple of reviews for any given lipstick from any given brand, unless that brand is Topshop. I think part of it is that Topshop doesn't publicize its beauty line very well, either by sending products to bloggers or by advertising on social media.


  21. Yes, I agree that Radish is super pigmented (I think most of the lipsticks in this formula are), and they do transfer a lot, but are really comfortable. I suspect that's related to using only edible ingredients.I admire your discipline in limiting your collection. I seem to be able to limit some categories of makeup but struggle to limit others. I love all the colors. Want all the colors.So I'm going back to school — first to get my esthetician's license, then on to a week or a few of makeup school. It's time to do something new that I love 🙂


  22. Congratulations!! That's so exciting. Good luck with your new career!I'm pretty happy with the size of my collection right now. The only thing I really have to watch out for is my desire to collect every lipstick color in the world, despite having only one mouth. One day science will allow us to grow more than one mouth and I'll be in business.


Leave a Reply to resident witch Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s