Almost Black is the New Black

As any art major worth her salt knows, there’s no better way to add dimension to a composition than to use an interesting dark color in place of standard black.  Seriously, the difference is subtle but it makes a major impact.  That line of thinking got me really excited about the Urban Decay Black Pallette ($36), which looks deceptively like jewel toned shadow but is actually six black shades with sneaky colored shimmer hiding within (or shift, as makeup people say).  It’s a really cool idea, but I couldn’t justify the $36 price tag for something that I’m primarily going to use as an accent color.  If you’re cheap like me, never fear because Nyx cosmetics has your back.  Seriously, I am obsessed with them; they do the best makeup knockoffs in the biz.  Why reinvent the wheel?

So now Nyx has made their own version of three of the shades (Jet, Libertine and Sabbath in the UD palette, if you’re keeping track).  These are the colors I liked the best in the Black Palette, so for $8, this is a big fat win for me.  The dupe shades I’m using are the Nyx Trio Eye Shadow in Lake Moss ($8).

While I normally don’t do my eyeshadow this dark, it was really fun to mix the black shades.  I put the plum shade in the crease and blended down into my lid with the blue shade in the outer corner.  I put a little of the green shade along the bottom lashline, layered over the Retractable Eye Liner in Golden Olive ($4.50) for staying power.  The retractable liner is really great- it’s smooth and pigmented, although this and most other automatic liners tend to look slightly waxier than their sharpenable cousins.

nyx almost black smoky eye eyeshadow trio lake moss

nyx lake moss eyeshadow trio

nyx matte red lipstick in merlot

Sorry for gratuitous image posting, but see how different angles and different lighting activates the subtle shimmer in an otherwise dark, black-ish brown look?  Way more fun than standard black, especially with the holidays coming up.  I love makeup that’s just a little bit more than it appears at first glance.

off black purple shift eye shadow red lips

I finished off with Nyx Matte Lipstick in Merlot ($5.99).  Yes, I just got a fresh shipment of Nyx, so I’m going a little nuts with their products right now.  No, they aren’t compensating me in any way, I just really love them.  A word to the wise about buying their stuff online, though- the eyeshadow swatches are pretty reliable, but the lipstick swatches are all over the place.  Look at the bright red color on my lips.  Does that look like the deep red swatch for this shade that’s on Nyx’s site?  Nope.  Luckily I have love for most lipstick shades and it is only $6, but I never know what I’m buying when I order lipstick off their site.  I usually try to cross reference with swatches on other sites to know what I’m actually getting because the discrepancy is ridiculous.

nyx matte lipstick merlot eyeshadow trio lake moss

I’d also like to point out that dramatic eyes and intense lipstick are typically a big no-no, but I think that the shifty colored black shadow softens the smoky eye enough to where it’s wearable.  Maybe not, but I certainly wore it with pride.

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Bare Escentuals Holiday Eye Look

The good news: I just got the All Wrapped Up collection by Bare Escentuals, a really great kit that has 6 really pretty, fun BE eyeshadows.  The bad news: it’s discontinued, so you can only buy it on amazon or ebay (it’s for available here for now).  Luckily, BE has some close dupes, so I think you’ll be ok if any of these colors really stand out to you and you can’t get the whole kit.  I’m having a lot of fun with them, at least.

So today I used the bright pink Present shade as an all-over lid color (Frolic is similar), The Gift as a crease color (Summer seems about right), Tinsel as a liner (Chameleon is very close) and Garland (Winter White‘s pretty much the same) in the inner corners and along the browbone.

I like everything in this kit, but the sparkly navy shade is my favorite.  Navy is one of my favorite shades this season.  It’s such a fun alternative to black (more on black alternatives in the next post!)

I also used my Buxom Lash mascara ($19) Smashbox Blush Rush ($24) in Flush on cheeks and Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Polish ($18) in Clair.  Fresh and fun!  Oh, and I had to use a cell phone camera for this one.  Sorry about that!  Pictures should be better next time.

bare escentuals minerals all wrapped up kit collectionbare escentuals pink purple eyeshadow plumliner shadow bare escentuals minerals pink and purple eyeshadow all wrapped up kit collection

Bare Minerals Buxom Haul and Review

I got a fresh shipment from Sephora yesterday and was so excited about my new stuff that I just had to talk about it online.  I always forget how good Bare Minerals/Bare Escentuals (what’s the difference?) products are and their Buxom line really is to die for.  I tend to get really into a specific brand for a while and then forget about it when I start using something else a lot, but I’m pretty sure this kit ensures that my BE phase is coming back for a while.

Now I’m a bargain hunter (read: cheapskate) and I hate buying individual makeup items if they aren’t from a drugstore brand.  Why spend $15 on a lip gloss when you know the brand will inevitably include one in a multipack where you can also get a nice eyeshadow or mascara or something for a few extra bucks?  The higher end brands ALWAYS do these multipacks and I ALWAYS buy them.  It’s basically the only way I shop for the more expensive stuff, although if there’s a high-end product that I’m willing to buy individually (UD 24/7 pencil in Zero is a good example), then you know it’s a pretty fabulous product.  The main draw for me with this kit is that all of the products are full-sized.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been burned by a kit that had a tiny “deluxe sample” size of a product that I really wanted that only lasts two uses.

buxom more to love kit

So anyway, I just bought the Buxom More to Love kit ($42) and I’m super excited about it.  I’ve been dying to try the Buxom Stay-There cream shadow ($17), but wasn’t willing to spend $17 on an individual shadow when I knew it would be included in some kit in the near future.  More to Love includes Stay-There in Collie, which is a generic champagne shimmer à la Stilla’s Kitten or UD’s Midnight Cowboy.  This kind of shadow is always the star in every makeup brand’s lineup and for good reason.  Even though I now have about 75 shadows like this (one of the downfalls of always buying kits), they’re so useful.  Use them as a lid color, a highlight for the inner corners of the eyes, browbone color or facial highlighter.  One of my favorite tricks is to swipe a tiny bit of this color just over my upper lip to create the illusion of fuller lips.

While the color is a repeat for me, I’ll probably end up using this shadow all the time (and buying more shades, maybe even individually and NOT in a value pack) because of the texture.  Usually cream eyeshadows are a little heavy and build up on your finger or brush like a wax when you swipe it from the pot.  Your typical cream shadow is much like a cream liner – they’re really great but require a light hand or you’ll end up with a caked-on, creasy look.  This shadow has a spongy mousse texture that picks up more like a damp powder shadow and the resulting finish looks so much nicer for it.  It’s a light, buildable shimmer just like most cream shadows, but somehow it looks more integrated into your skin instead of just sitting on top of it (like the difference between a standard drugstore shadow and a really finely milled higher end shadow).  I love it.  I want to eat it for breakfast it’s so good.

Stay There Cream Shadow in Collie Buxom Lip Tarnish in Scandal

The Insider Eyeliner in Onyx ($14) is a good, standard eyeliner.  It’s supposed to be extra skinny to fit better in you waterline.  It’s a little thinner than most liners, although not by a huge margin.  Even so, it was easy to line my waterline, and I liked that the liner was nice and smooth for minimal pulling on my skin.  The color is decently black.  Overall a really good liner that I’ll use all the time, although it’s not terribly different from other similarly priced liners.  Still, you can never have too many black eyeliners (at least I can’t) and I was glad it came with the kit.

The Buxom Lash mascara ($19) is a good standby mascara.  It lengthens and volumizes, although I’d probably use a more specialized mascara if I were going for *extreme* volume or length.  It’s not too often you’ll find a mascara that does both to any extreme, but there are plenty that do one or the other really well.  The thing that surprised me is how HUGE the brush is.  We’re talking length and girth, people.  Seriously, I was able to coat just about all of my lashes from the inner corner to the outer with one swipe.  Jeez.  Again, you can never have too many black mascaras, so this is another one that will be going into heavy rotation.

I’ve always liked the the rich, golden shimmer that Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Polish ($19) have, although the intense menthol tingle can be a bit much if you aren’t used to the sensation.  The first time I ever used one it actually kind of burned (full disclosure: I put on a LOT), although I guess I’m acclimated to it because it doesn’t bother me at all now.  As for the plumping, I wouldn’t say it plumps your lips beyond their normal size; what it does is plump them to their natural fullest point, which is really nice.  I know I always wake up with gorgeous full(ish) lips in the morning and they slowly shrink down over the course of the day.  This stuff keeps that morning perkiness alive for the rest of the day.  I feel like this review has a lot more innuendo than normal.  Moving on.

The final product in my extra super value meal makeup box is the Buxom Lip Tarnish in Scandal ($19), which is not what I expected.  I thought it would be a soft, glossy pencil that I would have to sharpen 1,000 times, but it’s actually a harder, sheer lipstick.  It’s basically a non-automatic version of Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Stick ($18).  This is a good thing because I like both products a lot.  I like my jumbo lip pencils a little sheerer because the super opaque, dark ones can look really sloppy unless you’re super meticulous.  The Lip Tarnish has a built-in sharpener so no worries about buying yet another stupid sharpener because every makeup company want to make their pencils a different size.  The color is pretty and has the same tingle and slight plumping properties of the gloss.  When paired with the gloss, the plumping seems a bit more pronounced.

Bottom Line:  5 full size, good quality products with a few standout products.  Everything is full-sized and it’s under $50.  Definitely worth it.