Low-Buy Progress Report #10: October

It turns out that I have time for one more post before I head to New York tomorrow! A lot of new products entered my life in October, and though some of them were gifts, some were…definitely not. It’s not exactly shocking that I bought more stuff than usual last month. October tends to be hard for me mental-health-wise, and I was applying for jobs for the second year in a row, and I couldn’t help but keep up with upsetting election bullshit. And my neighbors’ cat, whom I’d known for three years, died two weeks ago. Mr. B was the sweetest, friendliest, most perpetually confused cat I’ve ever met, and he used to come over so often that I almost thought of him as my cat (I suspect he sometimes mistook our house for his). So October was a stressful month, and I’m not going to beat myself up for going a little over budget, though I will make some new resolutions at the end of this post. After all, I have more stressful months ahead of me, and the whole point of this low-buy is to learn how to manage stress without spending impulsively or irresponsibly.

I have a lot to cover, so let’s get into it:

New Makeup and Polish:

Top: NYX Cabaret. From left: NYX Covet, Floss Gloss Donatella, UD Whiskey, ColourPop Might Be, CP Fast Lane.

NYX Nude Matte Shadow in Covet and Slim Lip Pencil in Cabaret: $2.25 total with CVS coupons (usually $4.50 and $3.50 respectively)
Floss Gloss Donatella: $8
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey: $20
ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Might Be: $8
ColourPop Creme Gel Liner in Fast Lane: $5
Total: $43.25

I bought NYX Cabaret to wear under Kat Von D Mercy, a glittery reddish berry that looks a bit patchy without liner. I had a $5 CVS coupon and knew from irritating experience that I couldn’t use it on anything under $5, so I picked up Covet, a matte khaki green, as well. Covet is a lot better than I expected (especially given my terrible experience with NYX’s Hot Singles shadows), but I wish I’d chosen another color. Floss Gloss Donatella was another impulse buy, from a little shop in Brooklyn. After my disappointment with Essie Playing Koi, I hoped that Donatella would be the pumpkin polish of my dreams—and it was, until it chipped FIVE HOURS after application. I’m not talking about some minor tip wear; I’m talking about this:

WTF? I didn’t know nail polish was capable of chipping like this. I don’t think I have the receipt anymore, either. I made a few other regrettable purchases this month (Black Lace Rabbit chief among them), and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve lost my instinct for which products will be semi-decent. I do like my two new products from ColourPop, though: Might Be is an intensely pigmented copper highlighter that looks more like a bronzer on my fair, cool skin, and Fast Lane is a dark teal pencil eyeliner. I originally categorized Urban Decay Whiskey as a replacement because I bought it when I thought I was running low on Demolition, but it turns out that I have almost half of Demolition left! So I’m counting Whiskey as a new makeup product to remind myself that I can’t be cavalier about “replacing” items that aren’t gone yet.

Here’s my soft-witch look for Halloween, using Rosy Brown on my eyes, Might Be (and no blush) on my cheeks, and NYX Liquid Suede in Stone Fox on my lips. I wore this to the library to work on job applications because I’m lamer than you.


Sally Hansen Hard as Nails base coat: $4
Revlon Super Lustrous Sheer lipstick in Pink Truffle: $4.25
Revlon Volume + Length mascara: $9.50
Total: $17.75

I swear Hard as Nails is usually more expensive than that, but the iPhone note in which I keep a running tab of my makeup purchases tells me I paid $4, so I guess I used a coupon or something? I feel bad that quite a few of my staples aren’t cruelty-free (though Revlon is no longer selling in China), but yo, it’s hard to find affordable, effective, cruelty-free base coat and mascara. Let me know if you have any suggestions!


Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid: $23.20 (usually $29)
Too Cool for School Egg Cream sheet mask: $6
Sephora rose sheet mask (not pictured): $6
Total: $35.20

Thank you to everyone who recommended I try a chemical exfoliant! The Paula’s Choice BHA liquid has been praised highly all over the internet, and I was lucky enough to get it for 20% off from Dermstore. I’ve been using it every two or three nights: I dab it all over my face with a cotton pad, let it sit for 20 minutes (it starts feeling tacky about 10 minutes in), and then apply my CeraVe PM moisturizer. I haven’t been using the BHA liquid long enough to say definitively that it’s made a change, but my pores do look smaller the next day. I haven’t suffered any truly negative effects, but the top of my nose is prone to dryness and peeling, and the exfoliant does exacerbate that a bit.


e.l.f. stippling brush: $4

I bought this to diffuse ColourPop Might Be across my cheekbones, but the highlighter’s moussey, spongy consistency prevents it from sticking to synthetic bristles. So I’ve been using the brush for blush, and it’s working well. I like how soft it is.


Left to right:
MAC Satin lipstick in Rebel
Diptyque eau de toilette in Florabellio
Kiko Long Lasting Shadow Stick in 05 Rosy Brown
Givenchy Rouge Interdit in Noir Révélateur (deluxe sample)

My roommate is subletting her room for the year, and she asked me to send her some books and papers she left here. She reimbursed me the shipping money and offered me a lipstick of my choice, which was so sweet. It’s kind of unbelievable to me that I didn’t have Rebel already: that dark berry-fuchsia is one of my most flattering colors, and Satin is my second-favorite MAC lipstick formula.

Diptyque Florabellio and Kiko Rosy Brown were birthday gifts from my lovely boyfriend. We aren’t big on surprises, so we just tell each other what we want for our birthdays—why not get your partner something you know they’ll like? I’d been wearing samples of Florabellio for months, eking out each one as long as possible, and felt ready to commit to the full-sized bottle. My boyfriend is a Tam Dao man himself, so now we’re an insufferable Diptyque Couple. I’ll try to write a review of Florabellio eventually, though I’m not sure I can make my thoughts on perfume coherent to anyone else. But what’s the fun of writing if you don’t set yourself some challenges, right? I’d wanted to buy Rosy Brown when I visited the Kiko store in Birmingham in June, but the shade had been out of stock. I love Kiko’s cream shadow sticks for short overnight trips when I don’t feel like fussing with brushes and powder shadows.

I got Noir Révélateur as a 100-point perk when I bought Whiskey at Sephora (man, now I wish Sephora sold actual booze). And yes, I know I still have to write that sequel to my Black Lace Rabbit post. Soon, I promise! In the meantime, have some swatches. You’ll notice that Noir Révélateur, despite its name, is actually a sheer plum. I’m not crazy about it: the finish is very shiny and the floral scent is overpowering. At least it was free.

L-R: MAC Rebel, Kiko Rosy Brown, Givenchy Noir Révélateur.

Total for October: $100.20 (HOW)


I’m actually feeling a little overwhelmed by all the pretty new things I’ve accumulated since the summer. And I’m supposed to be on a low-buy! This is embarrassing. I’m going to limit myself to just two new products in November (plus my Sephora birthday gift, of course). AND I’m declaring a lipstick no-buy for the rest of 2016. I know my mom has sent me at least one lipstick for my birthday, and I have so many other new ones that deserve attention. I haven’t even reviewed all the lipsticks I’ve bought this fall! I also need to save money for interview clothes and other necessities, so the less I spend on makeup the better.

I did make one good decision in October: I consciously put more effort into my friendships. One of the hardest things about being a grad student at my university is the lack of a sense of community. The town is tiny and expensive, and affordable housing that isn’t literally someone’s basement is hard to find (I’ve been lucky!), so most of the friends I’ve made here have moved elsewhere. Last month I visited a college friend in New York and two grad-school friends in Philadelphia, and it was nice to get a change of scene and remind myself that I have some truly great people in my life. Experiences and relationships are better antidotes to depression than new lipsticks: who knew?

Wishlist for November:

Zoya Troy ($10): I have nothing like this dirty silver shimmer. Ugh, so pretty:

Mustard or yellow-brown eyeshadow: Basically, I want a dupe for Mustard from Lime Crime’s Venus 2 palette, but it’s surprisingly hard to find a mustard-yellow eyeshadow single. I’m thinking of ordering Desert Sands from Makeup Geek, though it’s not quite as yellow as I’d like:

And that’s it, which is just as well. I don’t feel an urgent need for anything new right now, but I know myself too well to assume that I’ll never feel that need again. In the meantime, I’ll experiment more with the makeup I already have, because it’s high time I tried some new looks. And I’ll get to work on that backlog of reviews. Promise.

18 thoughts on “Low-Buy Progress Report #10: October

  1. Have a marvellous birthday trip to New York tomorrow! I wish lived near cool places – the closest city is my hometown, and I'm definitely not clamouring to go there.I've been so stressed about my employment situation since I got back from vacation in September that I could feel myself slip a bit into my old ways. I did manage to direct my energies in other ways in the last week or so (I've decided to do some online courses, decided to bake a bunch of things to use up the bag of flour I carted from Halifax last year). A tube of lipstick isn't going to make me feel better than more lasting fixes, I agree, but it can feel a lot easier.


  2. You know what, I don't think there's anything wrong with buying a new tube of lipstick when you're stressed, so long as it doesn't become a constant habit. Sometimes you don't have time or energy to devote to a more lasting fix, and that's okay. Best of luck on figuring out your employment!


  3. The 2% BHA dries out my nose too. I've found that it's a little better if I apply it in the morning instead of evening and then, after waiting a while, apply moisturizer and/or sunscreen over top to get rid of the stickiness. I think that when I sleep it transfers from my pillow to my nose, even if I try not to apply it in the dry spots. I am a cursed face-sleeper.I know that feeling of all your grad school friends moving away. It sucks. I'm glad yours are in visiting distance! I haven't done very well at keeping those relationships going since I graduated.


  4. I think you did well under the circumstances. I admire your systematic self-discipline.The third photo reminds me how much I love Stone Fox! That Zoya polish looks divine. So does the kiko cream shadow.For the nose-peeling issue: try applying a drop of moisturizer on the nose just a minute or two after applying the BHA. I prefer Paula's Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution With 2% Salicylic Acid because it's not sticky — it feel almost like water on my skin. But my skin is combo normal/oily. Not sure how it would work with skin that runs drier. It takes weeks to months to see if BHA makes a real difference with pores. Supposedly it's not possible to make them actually *get* smaller, but it's possible to get them unclogged and looking less noticeable.For interview clothes and such, I like to try uniqlo first. They have a lot of decent-looking stuff that fits well with the interview aesthetic. This works better when I see it in the store than it does on their web site, though — not sure why. Maybe basics don't catch my eye so much on the web. If something needs to look more luxe, I stalk brands that I know fit me on Nordstrom Rack, waiting for that 65-70% off moment and hoping they still have it in my size. Outnet, etc. are similar with free shipping and returns. Good as long as you're good at doing returns. Bad because it's almost never left in my size by the time I can afford it. But, with time to plan ahead, it can work. And keep the shopping gene occupied. If I need interview-type clothes *now* I hit Nordstrom and J.Crew. They will at least have what I need, with a bit of style to it, and more moderate sales are frequent. Just some thoughts.


  5. I'm so glad you got Rebel! It's a perfect colour. I don't know what I'd do without mine.Do you have access to Essence? Their mascaras are dirt cheap and cruelty-free and I've heard really good things about the Lash Princess one especially. I think they may be Ulta-only in the US? Their mascaras are like $3.99 here, so probably cheaper there!If you're prone to dry skin I'd recommend an AHA next time – they're a bit better suited to dryer skin types. Personally glycolic acid does wonders for me, and I'm normal to dry. It doesn't dry my skin out but it really helps with tone, texture, and overall brightness.I hope you have a less stressful November. Sorry about the kitty and all your other stress. 😦


  6. Ahh happy birthday! Although it gives me almost physical pain to know that you're paying $6 for sheet masks. I really recommend the My Scheming sheet masks, which you can by on amazon or in Japantown for $12 for a pack of ten.


  7. Rebel is a beautiful color. I might be tempted to get it, but I think my Too Cool for School Hot Lips Sticker (what a name, huh?) in Blazing Purple is quite similar.Tam Dao! I adore that scent! I'm usually faithful to the white florals and the occasional rose (which means the Diptyques I own are Do Son and Olene), but Tam Dao is a beautiful sandalwood. Diptyque recently released travel-sized bottles that includes Tam Dao but they are expensive!There is one fancy store in Jakarta that sells Diptyque so I'm going to see if they sell Florabellio.


  8. I love Tam Dao too! It's weirdly short-lived on my skin, but then most fragrances are (not Florabellio, though). My other Diptyque favorites are Philosykos and L'Ombre Dans L'Eau, but those both smell very summery to me, and Florabellio seems more versatile. I can't remember if I've ever smelled Do Son, but I do like rose, so I'll have to try it.


  9. Haha, I'm well aware that $6 for sheet masks is highway robbery! I really love Sephora's rose masks, though. I did pick up an Innisfree rose mask for $2 at an Asian beauty store in the East Village yesterday, so I'll have to see how that differs (if at all). You're right that I should really buy masks in packs instead of individually.


  10. I've never seen Essence outside of Ulta, but there is an Ulta near me, so I'll have to check out the mascaras next time I go! Thanks for the tip, and for the AHA recommendation. It's embarrassing that I've been blogging about beauty for two and a half years and am still relatively ignorant about skincare.The kitty was a loss to the whole neighborhood! He was such a sweetheart. 😦


  11. Stone Fox is so great! I wish it were socially acceptable to wear it more often.I tried your moisturizer tip last night after using the BHA and didn't have any peeling when I woke up today, so thanks! At least the BHA doesn't cause excessive dryness except on my nose. I've been using it for about three weeks now and my pores seem a bit less prominent, though that could be confirmation bias at work. Nordstrom Rack is a great idea for interview clothes. The only problem is that I've had almost no reason to buy real work clothes until now, so I don't have a clear sense of which brands fit me. I do have a dress I bought last year at J. Crew, but it's a little shorter than I'd prefer (didn't notice that until the moment I sat down in my interview last January, whoops). There's a J. Crew very close to where I live, so I know I'll be able to pick up a basic suit there if all else fails. I think I'll head over there for the post-Thanksgiving sale.


  12. People in my cohort started moving away after our first year! I think part of it was the allure of living in a major city. Having grown up in a major city, I don't quite get that allure, though I do wish there were more to do where I live. Oh well, at least it's easy to get work done. Sigh.I'll have to try applying the BHA in the morning and see if there's a difference.


  13. \”That insufferable Diptyque couple\” is my new favorite thing. I want to try their fragrances, but I'm still pissed off about the candles.If you keep liking the Paula's Choice exfoliants and your skin isn't sensitive (and I'm 95% sure it isn't), you gotta give the 10% AHA a try at some point. I get excited every time it's AHA night.


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