Wear Lipstick Like It's 1992

When you are in your 20s and are supposed to look fabulous all the time, it's kinda rough when you know you're not looking that way most of the time. If you don't look fabulous all the time, people remind you that you're not getting any younger and that you might as well live it up now. I'm not sure if this means you should wear more lipstick or not, but I decided that it does.

Some lipstick can be aging, but I love it. After testing one too many eye liners and shadows, blushes, and even a few face powders/foundations here and there, I decided that the only thing that really makes a difference on my face is lipstick. It never makes me look worse, requires little maintenance, and is so inexpensive. I also have one of those faces where color anywhere other than my lips makes me look like a drag queen. I guess it is a good thing that I don't need too much else to look fabulous (or at least better).

My latest finds include classics from both Clinique and Revlon. Yes, I believe I have traveled back in time to 1992 - hello, Toast of New York and Blackberry. Oh, how times have changed since then for lips. People prefer them colorless and ultra shiny. Even I fell for this in college - I was a black liquid eyeliner and neutral lip gloss girl. Nowadays, that look seems dated, and I think lipstick is sort of "back." My great friend San has always belonged to the Strong, Bold Lipstick Cult and I decided it might be time for me to consider joining.

The 2 strongest lipsticks in my rather lame collection are NARS Tamango (discontinued) and Sephora Matte Lipstick #18-Oh! Oh! When I borrowed San's Tamango and she loved the matte red/maroon shade on me, I made my first Ebay purchase for the discontinued shade. That encouraged me to move on to Sephora's Oh! Oh!, which is the prettiest dark pink out there, and which everyone comments on when I wear it (in a good way).

So I moved past some boring neutrals - Clinique Different Lipstick in Tenderheart, Clinique Buttershine Lipstick in Rum Kiss, Maybelline Moisturize Extreme Lipsticks in Rum Raisin and Plum Sable (most of which I hardly wear anyway). I wanted more Oh! Oh! and more oomph!

Clinique Buttershine Lipstick in Cranberry Cream and Different Lipstick in Cider Berry are pure oomph! Cranberry Cream is a bright, shiny and creamy red with pink/cranberry undertones. It's far more pigmented than any of the other Buttershine shades. Cider Berry is a more traditional, matte red - almost 1992, but more me-in-2010. Both will make your lips feel like shiny cherries or apples. So much prettier than shiny corpse lips! The Buttershine in Pink Toffee is also a brighter alternative to the usual day-neutrals.

Then it was back to drugstore basics with more natural oomph from Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Deep Nude. Deep Nude is a very soft coral/red with a slight pearl sheen (not frost!) that is neither too bold nor too aging. It might seem a little "Boca" at first glance, but hey, it looks good. On me, the shade matches the name almost exactly - a very deep nude that is truer to the natural pinks/reds/coral in my lips than those strange beiges/browns that make everyone look like a corpse because it has just the right amount of brown. This is a fresh shade for any season or occasion that can work well with and without stronger eye makeup. I also have Rum Raisin, a peachy pink which will replace my beloved Maybelline Moisture Extreme Lipsticks because it is a cream formula that lasts longer.

What I absolutely would not wear with a lot of eye makeup is Raisin Rage. I have a picture of myself at one of my sister's wedding events 10 years ago wearing this shade. I know it's Raisin Rage because I distinctly remember not wearing any lipstick that night. My sister insisted that I needed it (why do sisters and moms always think you need lipstick?) and pulled out this funkster (which matched my outfit perfectly). Voila! I was the next-in-line sister poised to be checked out by future mothers-in-law. A deep, dramatic berry, this is definitely far more 1992 (or 2001) than any of the Clinique reds I mentioned. Instead of wearing this straight from the tube, I'll probably dab it on and top with a little gloss - far more long-lasting than sheerer lipsticks or glosses in a similar shade (think Clinique's Black Honey).

It feels good to only have to bother with 1 or 2 swipes of a good lipstick rather than construct your face properly with makeup to make it look like you're not wearing any. More lipstick talk on its way.


On Highlighters

After accumulating just enough blushes, eyeliners, lipsticks, lip glosses, eye shadows, and tinted moisturizers, I discovered that I had one apparently *very* important product missing from my storage box - a highlighter! I mean, really, what makeup collection is complete without one? I'm not even sure I knew what a good highlighter was supposed to do, I just knew that I wanted the top of my cheeks to have the glowy white sheen (it is always white, no matter what your skin tone) that women seem to have in all their best Facebook pictures. And so I searched.

And searched. And searched.

Not all the highlighters I found were really highlighters. Some were glowy powders. Some were creams with multiple uses. Some were suspicious-looking liquids. The biggies that I contemplated taking home for good:

NARS Blush in Sertao - Too close to my own skin color, which made it more of good "finishing" powder.
NARS Blush/Highlighter in Albatross - Beautiful. But seemed like a lot of product and a high price tag for something that I realistically won't use all too often.
NARS The Multiple in Copacabana - Bleh color on me.
BeneFit High Beam - Sales Associate shook her head in approval while I watched this disappear on me.
Benefit Moon Beam - Ditto.
Stila Illuminating Finishing Powder in Rose Glow - Who cares? A full-sized product packaged with another full-sized product at $10 for the holiday season is a no-brainer.
Stila Illuminating Finishing Powder in Bronze - Ditto.
Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Bronzer, Blush & Eyeshadow in Peach Glow - Eh. Gorgeous color and formula, but didn't show up very well on me.

I kept telling myself to return the Stila package, add a few bucks, and get a good lipstick, but I JUST COULD NOT DO IT. And so I kept Albatross and tried to play with it on several occasions. It had taken one very flamboyant Sales Associate at Sephora to teach me how to correctly apply this. After learning, I thought - this $25 sparkling white powder just to dot along my cheekbones (wherever they are - apparently, there is some Chanel "C" formed along my cheekbones and side of forehead) and bow of upper lip? Impossible!

But I hadn't brushed it off yet. I kept it until something comparable came along. That something was Black Radiance Mosaic Bronzer in Summer Shimmer.

Ok, I know comparing NARS to Black Radiance might seem unacceptable to some, but hear me out.

Summer Shimmer is one of those multi-colored bronzers meant to do just about everything. It gives you a sun-kissed glow! It can be used as eyeshadow! It is also a blush! And of course, a highlighter as well! I normally don't fall for this, but I'm feeling pretty partial to Black Radiance's take on this mosaic business right now. This "bronzer" has four light squares of color - white, beige/gold, pink/gold, and bronze/gold. It is actually the lightest shade in a collection that includes Golden Shimmer and Bronzing Shimmer, but this is what makes it work as a highlighter (at least the white part) for I would say almost all skintones, and not just a bronzer.

The white square in Summer Shimmer and Albatross are both a warm, white gold. Albatross is not as fine-milled but is a bit more pigmented. This is alright with me since I'm not planning on wearing it to perform in "Chicago." But it is still pigmented enough to show up on your skin. In terms of texture and blendability, I'd say it's pretty much on par with Albatross - maybe slightly more, slightly less, depending on how you apply and your skin. In my opinion, Summer Shimmer looks a little bit more natural and is definitely more manageable.

The deal-breaker for - NARS is about $25, while Black Radiance is about $5. Given that both will last almost forever, I think Black Radiance is still the way to go, unless you want really phenomenal Facebook pictures and nothing but Albatross will do. Let's face it - I will probably only wear this stuff once a week at the most, and no matter how long the NARS product would last, keeping something so precious and expensive is just not me. After all, I dated Duane Reade for a while. Well, I still am. Of course, my Albatross was purchased on my never-ending credit and/or exchanges/returns at Sephora, so the price wasn't a huge concern - just a matter of principle. I'll admit, though, that I'm not that principled. I can see myself succumbing to Albatross again soon, but for now, Summer Shimmer will suffice. It's always good to know what your options are, and this is a pretty darn good one.


Things I Bought That I Continue To Love

Since it is the start of the New Year and every blogger on the internet has given some sort of summary of their favorites or Top 10s of something or another, I thought I'd kick off my return with a similar run-down of all the things I consistently use and would repurchase. They are not necessarily things to gush about (for that, you can check out Mindy Kaling's blog), but what else could consistent use and restocking of a product be but love? Every girl knows that products have to fight hard to make it to such a list - we are all, after all, extremely fickle about such things, and if we used the same products consistently, there would be no beauty blogging or beauty industry. But there are some things that don't need to be changed or updated or replaced.

I came up with a similar list in 2008, which was more makeup-heavy and not as well thought-out. Hopefully this one will need less revision in the future.

The List

1. The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blemish Stick - I keep one in my work bag and one at home. It dries up any baby pimples before you know it, and without drying out the surrounding skin or leaving a crusty film. I recently got 4 during The Body Shop's annual holiday clearance sale for $5.00 each (they are usually $9.00 - a bit steep in my opinion, but worth every penny). While I still endorse this as a non-sale purchase, it's even sweeter to stock up on it when it's almost 50% off. A few dabs on trouble spots throughout the day, and it's taken care of.

2. Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream - I don't know how or why I still have this, but I do know that I use it a few times a week. It doesn't dry out my skin or make it too oily (even in the summertime). It's got to be magic or something since I've had it for over a year and it should have run out by now. All I know is that while I don't use it daily, if there is one cream cleanser that I would repurchase for myself, this would be it.

3. Maybelline Expert Eyes Moisturizing Mascara Remover for Waterproof Eye Makeup - I felt like giving this a shout-out because people are always talking about how hard it is to take off eye makeup. Really? Is it that hard? All you need is this (or a few drops of jojoba oil - any oil should do) and a little bit of elbow grease. I don't wear heavy makeup at all, but when I do wear more than usual, this does the job. I will never understand why anyone needs an eye makeup remover that costs more than a few bucks. Just seems like a waste to me. I've had this teeny bottle forever and alternate it with jojoba oil.

4. Make Up Forever Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner in 0L - Now is not the time to get into my search for the perfect black/brown eyeliner, but when no brown will do, this is the only black I use. In fact, I've never had any other black eyeliner pencil. Through high school and college, all I kept was black liquid eyeliner. So considering that, its somewhat of a miracle that I even have this, and that it again has lasted me well over a year. Granted, I don't use it every day. But it is just creamy and just hard enough to avoid too much sharpening, which makes it last a long while. Definitely something to be repurchased in the future, although I'm sure there are several good drugstore alternatives. I'm eyeing the 1L Star Black shade, which is an off-black with a slight sheen. And we all know how great anything "off-" is. I can't say that this never smudges, or that it is really as waterproof as it is marketed to be, but it is definitely more up my alley than black kohl and gel formulas. How do I live with a $17.00 eyeliner pencil, you ask? The answer is - I have no idea. I can't recall when I bought this (must have been on Sephora credit), or why I was interested in it. All I know is that once I got it, I kept it, and kept using it, and it still exists in my makeup bag.

5. Blistex Medex Medicated Lip Balm - I have very, very chapped lips. They are nearly always chapped, and after they smooth out, they chap up again very quickly. I used to be a Vaseline girl, but I've decided it is just time for that little tub to go (except for under my eyes occasionally!). This little blue pot needs to be sold in a tub of its own. It has a similar consistency to Vaseline, just a tad bit thinner. It also has a very pretty sheen that looks great over lipstick. One pot lasts forever, so of course, I had to have two. No need for fancy balms from Kiehl's or Neutrogena or what have you.

6. Dior DiorShow Mascara in Black - I know you are supposed to replace your mascara every 3 months (although I suspect this might be somewhat of a money-making gimmick), but I just can't let this go, both because I love it and also because it is expensive and I don't have the heart to replace it. We all know I am cheap at heart and worship the drugstore, so it is still a bit difficult for me to justify having a $24.00 mascara. But if I'm going to have one, well then I'm going to keep it until it starts to kill me!!! I don't think this is an over-hyped product at all, but then, how well a product works varies from person to person, and this happens to work really well for me. I was never into mascara. Never, ever. Had one tube of L'Oreal Voluminious which was just fine. Then I tried this and wondered why I had never worn mascara before.

7. Aveda Smooth Infusion Style-Prep Smoother - Love this stuff. I don't have the best relationship with hair products, and for the most part, can live without them. I got this on a whim after a haircut at an Aveda salon. At $24.00, it was an unusually expensive purchase for me, but it was worth it. I've had it for almost a year and use it nearly every time I blow out my hair. It is creamy but light, and keeps my hair smooth without weighing it down. Would repurchase if it was okay to splurge in the future, but another 2 products that do an okay job and are far less expensive - Garnier Sleek & Shine Leave-In Conditioning Cream and Pantene Humidity Protection Leave-In Cream.

8. Atina Hair Shine - I'm not sure I really need to mention this product, because it is not the greatest thing in the world. But, I've had it for almost 2 years, it does its job, and is a great value. This is basically a John Frieda Frizz-Ease type of serum - only you get a huge bottle (0.15 lbs) for about $8.00 and it has a nice, herbal-y fragrance. I use it after I dry my hair to smooth it out a bit and give it some shine. Nothing complicated here, and would repurchase - at Rani salons only, of course. Yeah, don't ask why I was at this Indian salon on Long Island 2 years ago and how my friend talked me into getting this. But I'm glad I did. You know something works for you when you're willing to take out the broken pump dispenser and slather it over your hands. Really - using a broken bottle of hair goo? That must be some kind of love. And if love for value is all that it is, well, I can live with that.


Long-term hiatus, for sure. If you read my Sumania blog, you'll know that I was attempting to express a more serious side of yours truly that is way too serious for its own good. This is, in short, totally stupid. My whole foray into blogging began with a makeup/product near-fetish and the need to discuss the more frivolous (yet somehow more time-consuming) aspects of life - like, you know, deciding between Clinique Color Surge Buttershine Lipstick in Apple Brandy (kinda sheer and shiny) or Clinique Different Lipstick in Spiced Apple (bold and matte and oh-so sophisticated).

Now that I'm on a nice, long break from my graduate studies, I decided - to hell with it. It's not like I ever stopped yapping about these things with my friends. I really need to express the confusion and joy that comes from deciding between two different shades and formulas of red. There's no other point to being a 20-something - I get away with this now, or never.

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