Thursday, December 26, 2019

Tatcha body butter, dry skin savior

Much of my taste has changed over the years, but Tatcha's Indigo Soothing Body Butter has staunchly remained my favorite body moisturizer. To illustrate: I sang its praises in this 2014 blog post; I've switched partners since but my current boyfriend also refers to it as "the nice stuff" and thinks of it as special occasion lotion.

My body is oddly attuned to the seasons, and its first indication that Winter is Coming™ is a bout of rash on the back of my thighs. Out of the moisturizers I've used, this Tatcha one remains not only the most luxurious but also the only one that keeps those pesky spots at bay. Do I wish my legs would quit being so high maintenance? Of course I do. But every winter I give Cetaphil a whirl and my body mocks me with an outbreak. At some point one just has to concede and give it what it wants.

The body butter got a facelift sometime last year and went from a dark purple jar to a blue that better matches its contents. The cream itself also became lighter in color, though its function remained the same. It has the signature scent that accompanies the Indigo collection (which I like) and melts into skin on application. I love applying skincare on my face, but usually find moisturizing the body a slog (too much surface area). The Tatcha experience makes it more palatable.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Body Butter is $48 and available at these retailers:
Violet Grey

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Date Nights and the Makeup that Goes With It

Welp, a month since my last post has dazzled by. I've been a software engineer (!) a little over three months now, and I'm happy to report that I no longer feel the crushing imposter syndrome and anxiety I felt when I first started. I'm grateful for the many women who've paved the way before me in this industry and having the chance to participate in clubs like Women in CS, because hearing their stories made me realize that my feelings were normal, even expected, and completely self-imposed. In an Instagram post written three months ago, I wrote: "posting this as a reminder to my future self that we all start somewhere and felt hopeless once upon a time, but it’ll get better." I'm glad even as I was in the throes of doubting myself, I knew I could wait it out.

I'm pleased to report that my absence from writing was due to an incredible month of catching up with dear friends (all of whom lament the lack of time time time) and meeting (hopefully) new ones. They say it's difficult to make new friends in your 30s, but that's also the age they say you stop changing, and I refuse any notion that limits me from living the life I want. As luck had it, sometime in the past month I found myself in a four hour conversation with a couple I just met, which only ended because a) the restaurant was closing and b) we all had to wake up at a reasonable hour for work the next day. It felt like a really good first date, a feeling that's elusive to find in couple friends — it always seems like you get along better with one person, not both equally — and you bet I'm going to hit them up for a next hangout.

Speaking of dates, here's a serious throwback in more ways than one: a look I wore to a date night a few weeks ago featuring mostly old school classics (permanent products! taupe!) and some strong deer in headlights cheekbone action. After all, some things do stay the same.

Products Used (clockwise):
Chanel Joues Contraste in Rose Initiale (I love that has free shipping for all orders)
Chanel Les Beiges Fresh Water Tint in Medium Light
Suqqu Retouch Pressed Powder in Porcelain
Burberry Eyeshadows in Trench, Rosewood and Midnight Brown
Rouge Bunny Rouge Succulence of Dew Sheer Lipstick in Perfume of His Gaze
Cle de Peau Luminizing Face Enhancer in Delicate Pink
Not pictured:
Guerlain Multi-Perfecting Concealer in Medium Cool
THREE Mesmerizing Performance Eyeliner Pencil 10
Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara

I'm possibly the last person to get to the Chanel Fresh Water Tints. The hype does not disappoint. I love that it feels like water and gives just a hint of coverage. It's enough if you have pretty good skin and all you want is a little rounding out, a tone down of the redness around the nose and cheeks. Spot conceal where needed — ever since I stopped using hormonal birth control I've started getting breakouts on my face again. /lament

Burberry Trench as base, Rosewood all over lids, Midnight Brown on outer edges and lower lash line. Nice thick eyeliner to give the appearance of ample eyelashes, swipe of mascara to create said eyelashes. I smudged the edges of the eyeliner just a smidge for a more natural look.

Blush above the hollow of cheekbones, highlight atop. Don't forget the middle of the nose, above the cupid's bow, inner corners of eyes. Lipstick and done!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Butterfly Makeup Tutorial Inspired by Lisa Eldridge

Two events inspired today's post: 1) Suffering from an unexplained case of milia and breakouts and need a pick-me-up, 2) Watched Lisa Eldridge's butterfly makeup tutorial. I happened to have similar products at home to recreate the look, so here we go.

I briefly considered cleaning the pans up before taking this photo, but that's just not how real life looks.
Items: Addiction Brown Toast Cheek Mix, Addiction Mustard Tree Eyeshadow (see here for swatches), Chanel Rose Initiate Blush, Shu Uemura Brow:Sword, Tatcha Cherry Blossom Lip Pencil, Tatcha Cherry Blossom Lip Balm, Suqqu Blending Brush, Shu Uemura 8HR

I apologize in advance since most of the items pictured above are limited edition or discontinued, but I'm sure it's not too difficult to find similar shades in the current beauty ecosystem. Case in point: a casual Sephora browse led me to this Natasha Denona palette, which pretty much has all the shades one might need. Other than the yellow shadow, you could also probably search your stash for a blush or bronzer that might fit the bill.

I followed Lisa's tutorial pretty closely. First, I used Addiction Mustard Tree all over my eyelids, washing it out past the crease. I also placed it on my lower lash line. Then, I applied the orange part of Brown Toast Cheek Mix on my inner and outer lids with a small blending brush, being careful to leave a swath of yellow in the center of the lid. Finally, I used the tip of the brush to apply Chanel Rose Initiale to the inner corners of my eyes and the outer edges of the bottom lash line.

If any of the above terminology confuses you, Temptalia's impeccable eyeshadow placement guide is a good place to start.


After placing the shadow, remember to blend it out! I didn't realize how stark mine was until I took the photo above. Compare it to the one below, which was taken after I used a clean blending brush to smooth out the edges. One is more polished than the other.


Lisa didn't use eyeliner for this look, opting only to enhance the model's eyelashes. I am not genetically blessed in that area, so I tightlined with black eyeliner before applying two coats of mascara. Couldn't get my eyelashes on both eyes to look the same (lopsided eye woes), but again, that's just real life so I'm okay with it!

I also darkened my fading microbladed brows with some eyebrow pencil because I preferred a stronger contrast with this look.

After that, some concealing under the eyes and lightweight foundation to even out the skin. I highlighted the tops of my cheekbones and nose as usual, and applied Chanel Rose Initiale Blush on my cheeks. Like Lisa, I placed it a little higher than usual and used a big fluffy brush for a more diffused look. To finish, I lined my lips with a pinkish nude pencil and topped it off with a balm for comfort.

This look was SUPER fun to create and timely since I paired it with a day trip to Hudson to take in the fall foliage. Coupled with the other look I created with my new THREE goodies, you basically know how I'm going to look this fall.

Products used in this post:
Shu Uemura Brow:Sword in Seal Brown
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense in Medium Pink
Guerlain Multi-Perfecting Concealer in Medium Cool
Addiction Brown Toast Cheek Mix
Addiction Mustard Tree Eyeshadow
Chanel Rose Initiale Blush
THREE Mesmerizing Performance Eyeliner Pencil 10
Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz (you can get $10 off as a new customer with this referral link)
Tatcha Cherry Blossom Lip Pencil
Tatcha Cherry Blossom Lip Balm

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Lisa Eldridge Velvet Morning Lipstick Review

Much hullabaloo (how oddly spelled is that word!) has been made about Lisa Eldridge's lipsticks that they usually sell out the first day of launch. I was fortunate enough to snag a few of the pink collection and all three of the red velvets. I haven't been able to find a pocket of time to swatch and photograph Velvet Ribbon and Velvet Jazz, but thought I'd show you how the fiery, orange-red Velvet Morning in time for her November 3rd pre-sale.

I've worn many a bright lipstick in my life, but this one took some getting used to. It's in-your-face vibrant and definitely the focal point of the look. I had to be quite careful not to get the color on anything (an odd twist in the mouth led to some transfer on my skin). As you can imagine, it stayed on and bright for hours.

Those with chronically dry lips (sigh) might want to know that the velvet lipsticks are not particularly moisturizing but not necessarily drying either. I've given up the fight when it comes to my lips ever not cracking or peeling, so I carry lip balm wherever I go. If you get the ones in a jar, you can apply it over lipstick to stave off the inevitable discomfort.

The best way to stay updated with Lisa Eldridge's new launches is through her newsletter. This shouldn't surprise anyone who follows Lisa, but she really doesn't spam your inbox with anything other than launch announcements. Add that to the multitudinous reasons why I love her.

Products used in this post:
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense in Medium Pink
Guerlain Multi-Perfecting Concealer in Medium Cool
THREE Dimensional Vision Eye Palette 03
THREE Mesmerizing Performance Eyeliner Pencil 10
Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara
Suqqu Pure Color Blush 10 Usumoya
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz (you can get $10 off as a new customer with this referral link)
Lisa Eldridge Velvet Morning Plush True Velvet Lipstick Colour

Thursday, October 17, 2019

PSA: Tatcha Friends & Family Sale 2019

I have two kinds of friends when it comes to skincare. The first kind is meticulous about their multi-step skincare routine and could rattle off ingredient names and its benefits off the top of their head. The second kind asks me for recommendations and purchases the same thing forevermore. I've recommended Tatcha to more people than I can count over the years, and one of the things we all look forward to is the annual Friends and Family sale.

If you happen to fall into the second bucket and need recommendations, or want to try something new, here's a handy list of my favorite Tatcha products:

1. The Essence
Mini review here. My current bottle (shown here) is one application away from being a sad empty. Good thing I already have another one waiting in the wings.

2. Dewy Skin Mist
I talked about this product so much on this blog it's not even funny. Do I have three of them casually lying around my apartment? Do you really even have to ask?

3. The Indigo Cream
When my skin inevitably gives up in a giant rash-y, dry mess in winter, I pull this baby out.

4. Sunscreen
I've used this every single day for the last four years. You might think I'm exaggerating, but I know this to be true because Tatcha launched this in 2015, and I happened to join the PR agency that represented them that year (I no longer work for that agency). Mini review of it here again.

5. Lipstick
This may sound odd but I use Messy Wands as a resource a lot. Like, if I want to remember how a particular eye shadow or blush looks on me without putting it on, or if I'm contemplating a purchase of a brand that I no longer remember if I liked. You would think I would remember, since I wrote all of it. What can I say, eight years of blog posts is a lot.

Anyway, the point is my recent post swatching all of Tatcha's lipsticks is really handy right now for a quick refresher on how all of them look. The one I use most is Cherry Blossom, shown below.

I'm half a tube down and somewhat seriously contemplating a backup. Thoughts?

Tatcha's Friends & Family event is running now through 10/20. Enter code FRIENDS19 at checkout for 20% off!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Empties, Volume 1

Wow, that last month flew by quick. If you ask me what I've been doing the past month, all I can say is I wasn't vigilant enough in protecting my mental health, which was why it went by in a not particularly enjoyable whirl. In between learning new ways to be stressed at my new job, I accidentally over-scheduled myself to meet people every day for one week and was also trying to plan a vacation to Yellowstone for next summer. Planning to go to Yellowstone, especially with a family, is its own beast. Every decision you want to make comes with a cascading set of research. For example, I originally started looking at going in July, but a friend told me that it's high tourist season so it's less enjoyable, so I pivoted to May, but had to research when the lodges/hiking trails/park in general opens (the answer: dates vary). Then after doing all that research, flying end of May was apparently prohibitively expensive, so I had to look into which week in June had reasonable flights...

I won't bore you with the rest, but my brain spiraled real hard for a couple of weeks. I had to consciously choose to step away and be kind to myself, hence some alone time this week and a precious sliver of time to read and write for fun. I finished up a lot of skincare last month and thought I'd do mini reviews of them!

1. Tatcha Cleansing Oil ($48 for 5.1 fl oz / 150ml)
For years, Tatcha's cleansing oil was my HG. It unfailingly removed even the most stubborn of makeups and didn't dry out my skin. It didn't feel too heavy, didn't stick to my skin after cleansing (yoohoo, Shu Uemura), and didn't have an overwhelming scent (L'Occitane, I'm looking at you). The only reason I am now partial to another cleansing oil is because I found another one I equally liked for a quarter of the price (Hada Labo, I love you). Since I use a substantial amount of cleanser everyday, seems like a no-brainer to switch HGs. I still love this Tatcha one though. I dream of the day they will create a cleansing body oil.

OMG. CLEANSING OIL FOR BODY. Gotta investigate this now.

2. Shangpree S-Energy Facial Mousse Cleanser ($35 for 4.73 fl oz / 150ml)
Okay, I took this photo over a month ago, and at that time I thought I was finished with this cleanser because it started pumping out air. Turns out, it had another month's worth of legs, which brings its total life span to possibly a year and a half of daily use. The mind, it's boggled.

It's definitely a pleasurable foam cleanser. For some reason, I currently have four other facial cleansers in my bathroom, three of which are foam types. All of them require vigorous hand rubbing to generate foam. I realize now that this Shangpree one is gone that I prefer the pump style much better, since it requires wayyy less effort. Usual requirements (not drying, no overwhelming scent) satisfied. If I ever run out of facial cleansers at home (current time horizon for that... 4 years?), I would repurchase.

3. Holy Snails Kadi Cleanser ($25 for 4 oz / 150ml)
Also a pleasure to use! The overall experience is understandably less premium than the Shangpree one since it's an indie skincare brand, but I think it's important to support small businesses. It creates a denser foam than the Shangpree cleanser, but that doesn't matter to me. Again, fulfills all usual requirements and would repurchase.

4. Holy Snails Shark Sauce ($29-36 for 30ml)
Briefly touched upon this serum here. I'm already using my next bottle! If you're interested in the brand in general, you can get 10% off using my referral link!

5. Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter ($10 for 6 oz)
Another indie skincare brand that deserves much love for making excellent but affordable products — $10 for a 6 oz jar that lasts through the cold months. Would I enjoy a more premium packaging design and experience? Probably. But I know I'll have to pay more for it and at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. So there, please never change.

6. Tatcha Sunscreen ($65 for 2 fl oz / 60ml)
Recently learned that people cut tubes to get to the last of the product so I did that with my Tatcha sunscreen when I thought it was empty and there was at least one week's worth of product still in there. I learned a valuable lesson indeed. I've used this sunscreen on my face almost exclusively for years. I don't plan to change. Bonus: it's 20% off on the website right now.

Did you use up anything noteworthy lately? Let me know!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Distracting myself from Chanel with a little Tom Ford

Every few months or so I get an irrational itch to buy something I definitely don't need, like a lipstick or blush or eyeshadow that's "missing" from my vanity (and by missing I mean it's probably 90% similar to something I already own). That urge will come down hard and remain an obsession until I inevitably pull the trigger.

At the moment, I'm consumed by the Chanel Top Coat Eyeshadow Veil that's released for fall. The idea of a gossamer, barely there hint of shimmer kind of eye is very appealing to me, but this particular product is really hard to gauge over the Internet. The bloggers I like have praised it for what it purports to be: a shimmering veil of light over the lids, but their swatches look disappointing. Somehow I remain undeterred, and visited two Chanel stores to see it in person.

In real life, they were... alright. The perfect version of this would be shimmering microglitter that looks almost wet on lids, but don't crease (yes, one can dream). The Chanel Top Coat Eyeshadow Veil had the shimmer, had the microglitter, but also had some chunkier bits. The effect is honestly quite dreamy over other eyeshadows, but on its own it's not quite what I had in mind. The colors on offer — white and pewter — were also not my cup of tea.

To deter myself from purchasing it, I dug into my own stash and unearthed the Tom Ford Cream and Powder Eye Color in Naked Bronze. The powder portion of the duo is a fine gold shimmer with glitter bits. It shall do instead for this fall season.

I applied just the powder all over lids in the photos above. You can visit this old Instagram post for a fully bronze look. I'm still on the lookout for an eyeshadow that'll give me that shimmering wet editorial look that won't crease. If you find one, let me know.

Alas, that original itch, far from being scratched, was satisfied by another rogue Chanel purchase.

Products used in this post:
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Intense in Medium Pink
Tom Ford Cream and Powder Eye Color in Naked Bronze
THREE Mesmerizing Performance Eyeliner Pencil 10
Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara
Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam (you can get $10 off as a new customer with this link)
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz
THREE Lyrical Lip Bloom 16