Low-Buy Progress Report #9: September

Three-quarters of 2016 is gone, you guys! What happened? Well, at least one thing happened: I bought some makeup. And I spent the weekend on postdoc applications, so I didn’t get around to this post until now. Here we go:

New Makeup/Polish:

Essie Playing Koi: $9
NYX Matte Lipstick in Up the Bass: $6
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Backtalk: $17
Total: $32

I bought all of these in the first few days of the month and worried that I might not be able to go the rest of September with no new makeup. But I held off, and I’m proud that I did, especially because this was such a stressful month and I was so tempted to impulse-buy stuff (more on that later). I confess that I did visit my local Rite-Aid more than once in search of the Wet n Wild fall collection; I would have bought the Plaid to the Bone trio had I found it, but the collection never materialized. I’m pretty happy with everything I did get this month, especially Backtalk. Up the Bass and Playing Koi are both a bit patchy, but the colors are pretty enough that I don’t really mind.

New Skincare:

Bioré Pore Strips: $6

I’ve been obsessing all year over the pores on my nose and inner cheeks. I don’t know if they’re actually more visible than they used to be, but I’m certainly noticing them more, and I was excited to finally try the most hardcore of pore-clearing products. Unfortunately, these strips were a total fail for me. Either I’m really bad at following instructions, or I don’t actually have much gunk in my pores, or these don’t work worth a damn, or all three. First you have to wet your nose, but not the strip, and peel the plastic covering off the strip. Then you have to adhere it to your nose with dry hands. If your nose isn’t wet enough the strip won’t stick, but if it’s too wet it also won’t stick. I wasted four of the six strips because I couldn’t get the wetness level exactly right. My nose is dry and prone to peeling, and the pore strips definitely exacerbated that problem. Oh, and they have a very strong tea-tree smell that reminds me of the eucalyptus grove next to my high school. I hated high school.


Real Techniques eye brush starter set: $19

After a reader was like “girl how can you own only one eyeshadow brush,” I resolved to step up my game and find some good affordable synthetic brushes. I kept seeing Real Techniques recommended, and though I know next to nothing about the YouTube-famous sisters behind the brand, I thought I’d give this starter set a try. A month later, the only brushes I find myself using regularly are the two on the left (a crease brush and a lid brush), but I really like both of them. The lid brush diffuses color really quickly and easily across the mobile lid. The crease brush is a little larger than I’d like, but still gets the job done. And if you’re thinking “wow, those brushes look dingy,” don’t worry: I washed them the day after I took this photo. They wash and dry really nicely.


Revlon Quick Dry Top Coat: $8.50
Burt’s Bees Body Lotion with Cocoa and Cupuaçu Butters: $9
Total: $17.50

I hadn’t used body lotion in a few months before buying this one. I like the texture—not too light, not too heavy, not too greasy—but the vanilla scent smells a bit cheap.

Total for September: $74.50

Overview: My low-buy didn’t feel like a burden until the last week of September, when the application stress really hit. When I’m constantly working, I tell myself I don’t have time for any hobbies beyond casual internet browsing. And guess what lends itself really well to casual internet browsing in between bouts of work? Looking up makeup swatches and reviews. There were a couple of days last week when I REALLY wanted to buy something new, no matter what. It was scary how strong this urge was, and how obviously it was connected to academic stress. In the end, what helped me was reflecting that I’d have to record the new purchase and the reason for it in this very entry. And because I’m a Slytherin and would rather record a victory than a defeat, I managed to stay strong.

Wishlist for October:

Despite my forbearance last week, I still have a lot of things on my wishlist. In fact, I’ve already bought a NYX single eyeshadow and lip liner (for a total of $2.25: thank you, CVS coupons). I don’t actually plan to buy all the things I list here, but I’ll note them just for fun.

1. MAC Satin Lipstick in Rebel

Because MAC sells its products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for imported beauty products, I generally avoid buying from the brand. But MAC’s matte and satin lipstick formulas are kinder to my sensitive lips than most other formulas, and when I want a MAC lipstick that can’t be replicated by an affordable cruelty-free brand, I do allow myself to buy it. This doesn’t happen often, but it happened in January with Antique Velvet, and I’m afraid it’s going to happen with Rebel. I’ve spent at least two years searching on and off for a suitable Rebel dupe, but I haven’t been able to find that perfect semi-matte purply berry anywhere else.

2. ColourPop Creme Gel Liners in Fast Lane and Best O ($5 each); Super Shock Cheek in Might Be ($8); Super Shock Shadow in Paradox ($5) and Flutes ($5 each).

I’ve been wanting to try ColourPop’s pencil liners, and Fast Lane (dark teal) and Best O (brownish burgundy) would be unique in my collection, so I’ll probably get those. Do I really need a new highlighter, though? I’d like to try a peachy one, but ColourPop Lunch Money goes with everything, and I have yet to hit pan on it despite using it at least twice a week for six months. As for the Super Shock Shadows, I’m reluctant to pay even $5 for a new eyeshadow that’s going to dry up within a year.

3. Anti-frizz product

I live in one of the most humid parts of the country, and I have fine hair that’s also thick and wavy. The humidity index has climbed over 90% for the past three days (it hit 99% yesterday, which doesn’t seem like it should be possible), and my hair has accordingly been looking like this:

Help. (Yes, I’m aware that the huge dark circles under my eyes may be an even bigger problem, but there’s no product that can tame those when I’m sleep-deprived. I’d rather focus on the frizz.)

4. Makeup Geek eyeshadows ($6 each).

The ones I’m eyeing are Secret Garden, a dark brown-green duochrome, and Desert Sands, a matte brownish mustard. Any other recommendations? Look how pretty Secret Garden is:

5. Sheer black lipstick

As I edge closer to 30, I also edge closer to opaque black lipstick. I own a dark teal-gray and a navy blue, and now I’m contemplating sheer black, which seems to be having a moment as both a standalone lip color and a top coat for other lipsticks. I’ve found four options, which I’ll list in ascending order of price. It’s been hard for me to find swatches or reviews of any of these, unfortunately.

a. NYX V’amped Up! Lip Top Coat ($6.99)

This shimmer-free sheer black is by far the most affordable of the four I’m considering, but the older I get the less tolerant I become of cheap, ugly packaging like NYX’s. And Ulta reviewer and fellow Bay Arean “jdizzle producshizzle” from “freakmont, CA” has me worried: “it was coo or waddeva. but it kept wearing off and it doesnt dry.”

b. Urban Decay Vintage Vice Lipstick in Oil Slick ($17)

To celebrate its 20th birthday this year, Urban Decay brought back its original lipstick lineup: nine shades, most of them shimmery and cool-toned. Oil Slick seems just a bit more sheer than I’d like, and I wonder if the silver shimmer might read as frost. I’d be interested to see it in person.

c. Ardency Inn Punker Semi-Goth Lip Gloss ($19)

This looks similar to the NYX: a shimmer-free sheer black in pencil form, though this pencil needs to be sharpened, which will surely get messy. Also, is it just me or does Ardency Inn need to cut all its product names in half? Is it “Punker” or “Semi-Goth” that describes the essence of this product? Choose one. I, a proud semi-goth, favor the latter.

d. Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit ($24)

This is the only sheer black I’ve been able to see IRL. Its name may evoke a fancy vibrator, but I swatched it at Ulta last month and it’s beautiful. The gold shimmer was very apparent on my hand, though it may be less so on the lips. I’ve always viewed Lipstick Queen as a somewhat gimmicky brand, and Black Lace Rabbit is probably just another gimmick, so I don’t know why I find it so tempting.

And those are my ramblings for this evening! I’m hoping to post a couple of reviews this week, though as always, we’ll see.

23 thoughts on “Low-Buy Progress Report #9: September

  1. I just got Black Lace Rabbit, and was skeptical at first. But I have found it quite useful. It works well as a topcoat to tone down vibrant shades, which makes some of my summery lipsticks more fall-appropriate, I think. I haven't worn it on its own just yet, but I think it would be doable. I've heard a lot of people compare it to Clinique Black Honey. In any event-good luck deciding!


  2. Black Lace Rabbit looks beautiful. I am continually tempted by Lipstick Queen's shimmery things, even though I got rid of the only LQ product I ever bought. (Not the color-changing stuff, though.)


  3. I was waiting and looking for that WnW collection too, but I haven't seen it once, heh. I'd stay away from pore strips, I used to use them, and then I heard lots of opinions that they exaggerate any dryness as they're literally lifting up the top layer of skin, and can also cause broken capillaries.. I have that problem, and now I promised myself not to touch them ever again. I find that a bit of BHA (I use those 2% pads, I don't think that the brand matters), and they definitely help in dissolving the gunk in the pores.


  4. An obtuse question on my part is included in this comment. You said there's no product that tames the dark circles under your eyes. I've never seen any references to/reviews of peach color correctors on your blog, only concealers. With my family's sinus history, I have to put some peach color corrector down (partial to Pixi, though that's just me)before I apply concealer under my eyes. So,let me stress, I'm not trying to sound snarky, just curious on a technical level. Does color corrector then combined with concealer not work for you? If so, why do you think it is? (Fascinated due to remnants of color theory from art appreciation class years ago.)


  5. Ooh, I've never even considered a sheer black. That actually sounds really cool.I don't buy from MAC anymore for various reasons (not that I was ever a heavy MAC shopper), but Rebel is my favourite lipstick ever. The colour is just so good and looks beautiful on a very wide variety of skintones. And I agree that the dupes are never quite right. (Sorry, this is not helpful!)


  6. This is the first LQ product that has ever seriously tempted me. What puts me off about the brand is something pretty trivial: they have so many categories of lipstick (All That Jazz, Silver Screen, etc.), but each category has only, like, four shades in it. Classification is important! Their shimmery shades are indeed pretty, though. I love that so many of their lipsticks have subtle turquoise or blue shimmer. It would be cool if Black Lace Rabbit did, actually…


  7. As I was applying the pore strips, I definitely thought \”this can't be good for my skin.\” And indeed it wasn't! I should have considered that the strips can't possibly suck the stuff out of the pores without also pulling off the top layer of skin. Thanks for the BHA tip: I've been meaning to get into chemical exfoliation, but it's a somewhat intimidating field for me. I'm such a skincare n00b, it's embarrassing.


  8. You've got me there: I've never tried a color corrector. My NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla is pinker than my skin, so it does provide some subtle color correction. Unfortunately, my dark circles are a result of bone structure as much as pale skin and pigmentation. I have deep-set eyes and prominent cheekbones, which means that there will always be some shadow under my eyes. I'm also not dedicated to covering the circles fully: a Sephora employee managed to do that once, and I thought it made me look a bit uncanny-valley. Now that you mention it, though, I might seek out some peach color corrector and see how it works!


  9. Haha, enabling also welcome. I'm glad to have my suspicions confirmed! Urban Decay Venom is the closest match I've found, but it looks more glossy. Milani Sangria, which I destashed a while ago, was also close in color, but the formula and scent weren't great.I forgot to mention this in my post, but my roommate is in California this year and she very kindly promised to send me Rebel in exchange for my sending her some books and notebooks she left here! So at least I won't be spending my own money on it…


  10. I know what you mean about the uncanny effect. I wear concealer in shade 000 and also have the bone structure thing,too. The color corrector doesn't totally zero out my darkness, just makes it less pronounced (more soft shadow than the harsh dark pit-like quality of my sinus area when I'm sleep-deprived) and also results in less concealer being needed. It doesn't have to be expensive to be effective. I like Pixi, but I think (at least at one point) Nyx did a version. By the way, I actually think your under eye darkness, unlike mine, looks becoming with your coloring, much in the way plummy lipstick works for you. I mentioned the corrector in part because it's a useful emergency item to have in reserve for the late stage stresses of the doctoral process.


  11. Second the bha. You can try stridex for the most affordable option. Just use straight after cleansing and wait for 20min, it's very straightforward. My pores look soooo gunky if i haven't used bha for a day.


  12. I do feel lucky that my undereye circles are purplish instead of red, because they match both my coloring and the makeup colors I like to wear! When I reviewed Marc Jacobs So Sofia over the summer, a reader noted that the bright coral made my dark circles more apparent, which I think was absolutely true. Cool, purply colors harmonize with the circles and warm colors make them pop.I know NYX makes a cream color corrector palette, but I'll have to check if they do single color correctors as well (I have almost no redness in my face, so I don't think I'll need a green!). I wish I could buy a life corrector that would cancel out all my stress this semester!


  13. Congrats on your eyeshadow brushes! I've always found that everything Lipstick Queen makes is intriguing, yet not justifiable for me. Black Lace Rabbit seems so unique though! I've never wanted a black lipstick, but I know the Estee Edit has a sheer black one which I almost wish I wanted because I think their lipstick packaging is so beautiful. Oh and I also have fine curly hair and the 'Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hold and Shine Moisture Mist' is fantastic for anti-frizz.


  14. Thirding BHA! It makes my skin feel cleaner and softer and I think it's helping my acne too.I also want Plaid to the Bone and haven't seen it anywhere. Someone swatched it on [insert social media site I don't remember] and that green looked frikkin gorgeous.


  15. You were the one who recommended I get new brushes, right? They've really made a difference! I haven't been following the Estee Edit releases at all, but I just looked up the sheer lipstick and that turquoise packaging really is pretty. I already ordered Black Lace Rabbit, though, haha. Couldn't resist.And thanks for the recommendation! Nice that it's so affordable, too.


  16. Wet n Wild Sugar Plum Fairy is very very close to MAC Rebel in color, and close in finish but more matte. The packaging sucks, of course. The Wet n Wild Fergie lipstick Ferguson Crest Cabernet was even closer since the finish matches, but I think it's discontinued. Might still be around on eBay. I actually feel like I have a lot of shades that aren't quite dupes for Rebel but are basically indistinguishable on the lips, but perhaps that has something to do with my undertones and lip shades – many reds look pink on me, so maybe I bring out the pinkness of purple/berries too?But really, if you love Rebel, it probably makes the most sense to just buy it. I know if I want something for a sustained amount of time, I'm usually not satisfied with the alternatives I find, so I'm better off just going for the original.


  17. I was, I'm happy they're working for you!Ooh, my interest is piqued. I hope you do a review on it! Coincidentally, I've just seen that Sephora has a sheer black lipstick from Givenchy as a 100 point perk this month. I then subsequently saw this lipstick on Allure's yearly 'Best of Beauty' were they talked about how it's made with black rose oil, whatever the heck that is, and now they got me… I so relate to how you always say stress makes you want to obtain more makeup…


  18. I've been meaning to reply for a few days, now, and not getting around to it!First. I love your blog. I always look forward to new posts. Love your point of view.I'm really glad the Biore pore strips did not work out for you. Speaking as an esthetician, they are horrible for your skin. Really not good for it in the long run. Some people even get broken capillaries using them. The best thing for keeping pores cleaned out is BHA (salicylic acid). The trick is finding a formulation that won't irritate your skin, especially if your skin is dry. For dry skin, I think the best option is Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. My own skin is combo normal/oily, so I prefer PC Clear Regular Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid. Her lotion and gel exfoliants are also good, but I prefer the ones with a texture more like a toner or a Korean essence, because it's easier to layer an antioxidant serum or a moisturizer (or makeup) over them. It's possible to purchase samples of each from her website to decide which you prefer. A decent budget alternative is Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner, if your skin can handle the denatured alcohol and the fragrance in the formulation. It would probably be too drying, if your skin is already flaky. But it might be worth a try if you can get a sample or can purchase from someplace with a good return policy, because my skin tolerated it fine before I found the PC products, and most products with fragrance irritate my skin like crazy — so the concentration of fragrance-producing substances must be pretty low. The salicylic acid is only 1% rather than 2%, which some skins may prefer.CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser contains salicylic acid, but a product that stays on your skin works better. I like the Renewing SA Cream on my psoriatic elbows and dry heels, but I think it might be too thick on the face. Maybe not for a night cream on dry skin. CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion with salicylic acid actually might be a good option for someone with dry skin, but I can't figure out what percent of salicylic acid is in it, which is weird. It's also not a good option if you have a problem with mineral oil. But the formulation is good, no irritants, and mineral oil really is fine for most peoples' skin, even if it doesn't sound like an elegant ingredient.In any case, it takes weeks or months of regular use to see the results. Some people's skin only tolerates BHA three times a week — mine will happily tolerate it twice daily, as long as there are no irritants in the formulation, and I have sensitive skin with rosacea; but everyone's skin is different.Some people even get better results with their pores from AHAs, which are often better for drier skins. But, theoretically BHA should work better, since it's oil-soluble and thus able to penetrate through sebum clogged in the pores. A popular budget AHA product is Pixi Glow Tonic, if your skin can handle the natural fragrant oils in the formulation (mine couldn't; but, this is a popular product). Paula's Choice also makes a variety of good AHA products, but so does Olay. As well as lots of more expensive brands, of course.P.S. I'm also with you on not trying to get rid of the actual shadow under the eye. I can do that with a lighter-colored, light-reflective, concealer/illuminator, but, if light then comes at me from the front rather than from above, it looks like I've got a light stripe or splotch under my eye!


  19. I'm really long-winded today…Frizz! It seems like the best solution is to wear styles that capitalize on it somehow. Of course that's easier if your hair is really curly. Mine is only slightly wavy, so it tries to turn itself into a giant (tailbone-length) puffball. Not so cute. Things that reduce (but don't eliminate) fizz seem to fall into four categories: oils, silicones, Living Proof's patented molecule, and professional-grade blowouts. I get the best results with a combination of frizz-crossed-out Living Proof products (especially the spray-on humidity shield) and oils (pre-wash treatment with coconut oil, argan oil on the ends after washing/drying). Silicones are much cheaper, but act like dust magnets on my hair. Professional-grade blowouts are hard to do at home when you've got very long hair and rotator cuff problems. And no way I'm going to the expense, time, and effort of regular professional blowouts. No offense meant if that's someone else's choice! I just like doing things at home. I'm a DIY kind of gal.Slathering my hair with coconut oil and leaving it on for a couple of hours before washing (once a week) does help reduce frizz somewhat for me, plus is really moisturizing. Just whatever brand is cheapest at the grocery store. It's worth trying samples of the no-frizz Living Proof products if you can get ahold of them, especially the humidity shield. But for me it's really layering a bunch of stuff that works — frizz reduction in rinse-out conditioner, leave-on conditioner or oil, in styling product; activating the styling product by at least partially blow-drying my hair; and added drops of oil on the ends and/or blasts with the humidity spray followed by hair spray to keep the flyaways at bay from day to day. And not washing it more than what my hair really needs (a once a week big shampooing to get rid of build-up, once a week with just a cleansing conditioner, now that my hair is less oily than when I was younger). I know it seems like a lot, but I don't color it, just get it trimmed three of four times a year, so it's probably less effort and expense than a lot of women in my age group go to over their hair. I just like long, healthy-looking, shiny hair, which I mostly put in a braid, pony, or bun.If your hair likes silicones, a lot can be done with the John Frieda Frizz-Ease original serum, a blowdryer, and a round brush. The key is to keep drying for a few minutes past the point when the hair feels dry to the touch. I've seen this process totally transform an 86-year-old woman's white hair from super-frizzy to super-smooth, and last for a couple of days, too. The main problem being that it's a real chore to do that kind of blowdrying job on one's own hair.Someone else may have some other good recommendations for budget frizz-reduction products/strategies. Living Proof products are my hair indulgence because they work for me (they also last a long time — I don't have to repurchase very often).Oil Slick is on my wish list, too. I think I'll like the silver shimmer. And now I'm curious about the Ardency Inn product. I have three of their lipsticks and really like them.


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