theBalm Cyber Monday 2016 haul

I know, it’s February. Cyber Monday was in late November. *shrugs*

Everything on was 50% off on Cyber Monday. I’ve always had my eye on these guys gals, so I took advantage of the sale and nabbed them.

I recently realized that I have A LOT of cheek products from theBalm, way more than any other brand. theBalm tends to show up on Hautelook at 50% off a few times a year, which is where I’ve purchased most of products. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a product from theBalm at full price, actually.

The Manizer Sisters

thebalm the manizer sisters mary lou manizer cindy lou manizer betty lou manizer

Ah, The Manizer Sisters. These cult-classics barely need an introduction nor explanation; Mary-Lou Manizer in particular has been hyped and raved about on many a beauty blog. In fact, it was my very first highlighter, which I bought after reading all the aforementioned hype and raves. I used it almost exclusively for a few years… until highlighters became the next *it* thing and suddenly I ended up with scores of them. #truestory

Mary-Lou Manizer languished in my drawer for awhile, and when I decided to use it again, I discovered that it had developed a distinct crayon-like smell. It had turned rancid. D: I have NEVER had a powder product turn rancid, but it definitely did not smell like crayons when I first bought it! Stubbornly, I continued to use it for a few months until common sense took over and I got rid of it.

I had bought Cindy-Lou Manizer as well, also from Hautelook. Unfortunately, it arrived shattered. They refunded me, and I tried to re-press the powder with alcohol. It worked, sorta. But I subconsciously avoided it, probably because it was no longer pristine. I know, I’m neurotic. Eventually, it cracked again and I threw it out.

Despite having owned full sizes of both Mary-Lou and Cindy-Lou, then throwing them both away, they each made enough of an impression on me that I wanted to repurchase them one day. When I saw that this palette contained all three of them, albeit in smaller sizes (3g each vs. 8.5g for the full size), I knew I’d pick it up if I ever saw it on sale. Who says Christmas wishes don’t come true??


thebalm the manizer sisters mary lou manizer cindy lou manizer betty lou manizer swatches

Mary-Lou is an intensely reflective yellow-gold highlight. You definitely need a light hand with this to prevent it from looking stripe-y and makeup-y (unless that’s the look you’re going for. In which case, pile it on!). I loved it when it was the only highlighter I owned, but nowadays I look for a more subdued finish. Mary-Lou is quite blingy, and I find it too much for most day-time looks. It can be toned down, of course, with lots of blending.

Cindy-Lou is a peachy pink highlight/blush topper. Unlike Mary-Lou, the finish is not nearly as frosty. On my skin tone, it’s too light to use as a blush, but a touch too dark to use as a traditional highlighter. Honestly, I haven’t used it much because I don’t what to pair it with. I’ll experiment with it a bit more and post a FOTD if I manage to find a good use for it.

Betty-Lou is a bronzer. To be honest, I’m a little intimidated by Betty-Lou. I’ve used it exactly once so far. It just looks so orange and frosty; not exactly the type of color I’d go for on my face. Don’t get me wrong: I’d happily use it as an eyeshadow. But it scares me a little bit as a bronzer.

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January 2017 Favorites

january 2017 favorites

My very first monthly favorites post! I don’t know if this will be a regular thing. Normally, I’m all over the place when it comes to makeup, and I rarely use the same products two days in a row. However, I did find that I reached for these more consistently than others, so I thought I’d do a word dump about them.

Here we go!

Sonia Kashuk Eye On Neutral matte palette

This has been a firm favorite for a few years already. It has a good combination of warm and cool mattes, with enough variations of colors to complement almost any eyeshadow look you could dream up: base/brow bone color, crease/transition, brows/liner. The packaging is slim and sleek as well, perfect for traveling.

At first glance, it looks a lot like the much-lauded Viseart Neutral Matte palette. I have both, and I don’t think they’re dupes in terms of quality. HOWEVER, I would recommend the Sonia Kashuk as a much more affordable alternative. The Viseart palette is $80 which is O_O!! for the average, casual consumer (and even still for the makeup junkie/collector). In contrast, the SK retails for $19.99 at Target.

Again, I do think the Viseart is superior in quality. It blends and layers effortlessly. However, the SK palette is a true workhorse: easy to work with, reliable pigmentation, and versatile colors. It’s also one-fourth the price of the Viseart! I always reach for the SK palette when traveling. It’s much slimmer than the Viseart, and cheaper to replace if anything were to happen to it.

The Body Shop Shimmer Waves 02 Blush

This was actually rescued from my purge pile. It has a hard pan, so my brushes don’t pick up a whole lot of product in one go. However, I find this works well to build a very natural-looking glowy sheen on days I want to look effortlessly fresh. While it’s called “blush”, I find it both too frosty and light to be used as such. Instead, I use it as a highlighter.

I’m wearing it in this FOTD below. Picture goes to the blog post.

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January 2017 empties

It’s my first empties post of the year! Starting off strong, riding the high of determination to stick to my New Year’s resolutions. I made it a point to use up both deluxe sample sizes, and foil packets. Here’s what I managed to get rid of this past month.

Makeup empties

NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint in Groenland – This has surprising coverage for something called “skin tint.” It’s more like a medium-to-full coverage foundation. I didn’t like it very much on me. It clung to dry patches and made my skin look very flat. To compensate, I added copious amounts of highlighter. I’m wearing it in this FOTD here.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard – This had a lot of mixed reviews in the blogosphere. Some people found it too drying for the under eye area, and the finish too cakey or “makeup-y.” Other people love it and found it covers well and still looks natural. From what little trial and research I could do based off this tiny foil packet sample, I am one of the latter. I used to use the now discontinued dual pan concealer in Ginger/Custard, and I was pleased to see that this iteration of Custard still more or less matched me. I might consider purchasing this after I get through my army of concealers.

Urban Decay Vice lipstick in Sheer Anarchy – From the card sampler from Urban Decay, marketing their new Vice line of lipsticks. The blister pack is filled with a generous amount of lipstick; more than I can get through in a day. However, I’m not very diligent about reapplying. It took me several months to get through this tiny thing, mostly because it’s a pain in the ass to apply lipstick entirely with a brush, and even more of a pain in the ass to touch up throughout the day. This led to the formula slowly drying up and becoming tacky and sticky. Additionally, application was streaky.

Despite user frustration and laziness, I will say that the color is nice. I like bright pinks on me; they contrast nicely with my neutral leaning warm skin tone. Wearing it here.

Nordstrom retractable lip brush – It broke. I bought a very cute and tiny replacement one from MUJI. Thinking about splurging for this Chikuhodo one for my birthday. (I probably won’t do it. I’ve been unemployed for too long and am hoping to move halfway across the world. Now would be a good time to start being prudent, Jen.)

The Body Shop Smoky 2 in 1 Gel Liner in Brown – It’s dried up. I tried to revive it twice with Inglot’s Duraline, but it’s still not as creamy as it was when new. It was a great color, though. Deep chocolate brown with a matte finish. The cap includes a little brush, which was surprisingly very useful. If you can finish gel liners faster than I can, then I’d recommend taking a look at this one. It’s much darker and less red than the packaging would have you believe, though.

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FOTD: Espresso

Because we could all use some espresso on a Monday morning, amirite?

I did this look last week, so for once it’s not terribly old. Yay, timeliness.

Pulled out my oft-neglected LORAC Pro Palette for this look. While I love the colors and the even mix of mattes vs. shimmers, I find the shadows to be too powdery. They puff everywhere upon brush pickup, and I have to carefully pat them on to avoid too much fallout. Yes, they blend easily — but they’re also prone to over blending into muddy nothingness.

Still, I really liked the way this look turned out. The halo eyeshadow placement really suits my eye shape.

I also experimented with a ring light I bought for my DSLR. It took a bit of finagling, but it’s pretty easy to set up and start shooting. However, I use a Canon, and for some reason it’s programmed to not fire the external flash (ring light in this case), when the live view option is on.

I always use live view with the monitor turned around so I can see my goofy face before I take a picture. But now, I have to frame up, turn off the live view, then hope for the best. I’ve been taking way more pictures now because of this.

The first picture is with natural light only. This one is with the ring light, turned down low:

It made my skin look yellower, so I fiddled around with the color balance on both photos so they look about the same-ish. It does pick up the eyeshadow color better, though. And in some pictures, my highlight was POPPIN’.

I’ll keep playing around with both the ring light and Photoshop for color correcting. If you have any tips and tricks for me, do tell! I’m currently taking an intro to Photoshop class online and so far I’m really enjoying it!


Pixi Correction Concentrate – Brightening Peach
The Body Shop Moisture foundation – 05
The Body Shop Honey Bronze – Drops of Sun
BECCA Dual Coverage concealer – Tahini
Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish powder
theBalm bronzer – Balm Desert
NARS x Pierre Hardy blush – Boys Don’t Cry
Hard Candy So Baked bronzer – Tiki (as highlight)


Freedom Makeup eyebrow pomade – Ebony


LORAC Pro – Espresso, Taupe, Mauve, Cream, Pewter, Nude
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil – Zero
Soap & Glory Thick & Fast mascara


Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon – Gavi

The ring light works really well for product pictures, though! The only thing is, I have to shoot at an angle so it doesn’t flash back on the cheese board that I use as a background. Haha!

Coffee Sundays, 1.22.17

Serious question: is it the height of vanity to have a blog series named after your own blog? Then again, this is a beauty blog, so maybe that’s a moot point.

ANYHOOT. I haven’t had one of these chatty, rambly, non-cohesive posts for awhile, so I thought I’d just barf up a bunch of words and see what happens. Here we go!

I learned a new laundry trick

I recently tried this method for getting rid of oil stains in my shirt. My stains were way more prominent than the ones she has in her post. Quick backstory: we give my dog fish oil to help with her itchy skin and maintain her soft fur. One day, I happened to squeeze it ALL. OVER. my favorite tank top! The top is from Everlane, and they sadly no longer make that particular style.

I had resigned myself to the fact that it was probably impossible to get the stains out, and so the tank joined the pile of old t-shirts to be used as cleaning rags. When I found this on Pinterest, I decided to give it a try since I had nothing to lose anyway. If you don’t want to click the link, here’s the TL;DR version: Pour hydrogen peroxide over the stains. Add some dish soap, and top with baking soda. Scrub it up into a paste, and let the mixture sit for two hours or so. Then, wash as normal.

I wasn’t expecting much. At most, I hoped that the stains would have faded a bit. After all, the oil stains had set FOR MONTHS already, and had been laundered at least once, if not twice. Imagine my surprise and delight when my tank top came out of the washing machine absolutely spotless!! This method works BRILLIANTLY. I’ve filed this trick up my sleeve for when I need to prove that I am, in fact, a functioning adult.

I am currently on a no-buy

And it’s going surprisingly well!

During the holiday season, I went a little crazy and got swept up in the frenzy of sales and limited edition items. I’ve ended up with so many new products that I’ve barely touched, even now, a month later. This has almost completely killed my desire to buy more, more, more. I don’t even blink when I see the latest releases from brands that I love. I think I’m finally oversaturated, and overwhelmed.

Over the years, I’ve talked a lot about how I want to downsize, shop my stash, project pan, etc. And every year, I move further away from that resolution and instead continue to buy more things I don’t need. I will never be able to finish all of my blushes. Or highlighters. Don’t even get me started on eyeshadows. Basically, I will never truly “want” for anything.

So this year, instead of just a project pan, I’m also going on a series of no-buys. My last makeup purchase was December 28, and it’s been a pretty easy road so far! There were a few temptations in the beginning, but I’ve learned to recognize my shopping patterns.

I emotion-buy: when I’m happy, sad, or even angry. I realized that I kept buying crap hoping that it’d somehow make me feel better, that it’d magically transform me into a projection of what I want to be instead of who I am. Does that make sense? Is that sad? Maybe. But it’s less sad now that I’m aware of it, I guess.

I’ve been unemployed for a year and a half now, entirely through my own decision. As a result, I’m utterly bored and feeling unfulfilled. I’ve channeled those feelings of frustration into shopping and hunting down “the next best thing.” It’s no coincidence that in the past year and a half, I’ve impulse-bought makeup far more than I did in the years prior.

I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s time for a detox.

Since the last few paragraphs totally went off into the deep end, I’d like to introduce you to a new (to me) YouTuber I discovered: Kimberly Clark! Her anti-haul videos are such a breath of fresh air, and exactly the type of rhetoric that I need to hear right now. I understand that her style is not for everyone, but for me it’s been so helpful as I plan my no-buys.

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