Thursday, October 31, 2013

hands on

For the past week I have picked up on a little habit: using my very own hands for a few steps of my makeup application. Is this taboo in the makeup world? I'm not sure. I feel a little guilty doing it as it doesn't feel like the most sanitary action. But as I am not a germaphobe (I am very anti hand sanitizer), I don't feel as if I am committing a huge faux paux. Sometimes your own paws yield surprisingly great results!


I think the last time I applied foundation with my fingers was back in high school when makeup brushes were unknown in my world. Lately I have been really enjoying the finish Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation gives my skin when applied with clean hands. The warmth from the skin really makes the product melt in seamlessly, especially with the thin, watery formula this foundation has.

I'm still applying my blush and powder with a brush, but for highlighter I have been diligently using up MAC Hush Cream Color Base. I am determined to finish this up! I really love this product and would consider repurchasing it. The best application is with a few taps of my ring finger atop the highest points of my face.

For eyes I have been reaching for Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill #28, an interesting mix of bronze and aubergine. It has the ability to be quite shiny and metallic when applied with a brush. When applied with my pointer finger, however, it tones down to a natural haze of bronze with less shimmer. I like me a versatile product!

For lips, I'm still stuck on using vampy lipsticks as stains. I tap the product straight from the bullet on the lips and then I gently press the pigment in to even things out before it sets. Tom Ford Black Orchid has been my latest pick for this, I talked more in detail about the shade HERE.


I'm wearing NARS Sin blush here. Remember that shade? Man what a staple. Every time I decide to use it I fall in love with it all over again. One of my top NARS shades for sure. Gives such a nice flush to the skin without looking dirty or bruised. The lasting power is phenomenal.

What do you think of using your hands for makeup application? Does it bother you or do you prefer it? This no tools look is easy to rely on, it is easier, faster, and my favorite aspect, less makeup brush cleaning! Makeup brush cleaning is the worst...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

009 items used up

I've been slacking on keeping up with this series. I've been striving to do these in smaller bursts so the posts aren't very long but I hit a stride in empties and everything just piled up. Onto the products!


Not the best out there. I think this made my hair fall out more than normal which frightened me a little. Will not be repurchasing.

Also not very great. Wasn't moisturizing or rich enough for my dry hair. I am determined to try out all of the varieties in the Organix line!

This was actually pretty nice and I would buy it again. Sulfate free, lathers up thickly, cleans well, smelled decent. Thumbs up!


I am ALMOST done with all the damn bottles I stocked up on this summer vanillas line. Note to self, even if you really like the scent at the time and the bottles are only $3, you WILL get sick of all the 2394729834 bottles you have in your bathroom cabinet.

One of my staples for summer. Will repurchase next year as it is a must in my summer routine.


I actually am sad to see this all used up! I was really starting to enjoy it for dampening my foundation brush. I won't get this again because as I have mentioned before, the dispenser is horrible, but it has opened up new doors for me. I'm thinking La Roche Posay's version will be my next try.

Yes I am really tossing out a MAC brush. The bristles on this are really pathetic looking and I wish it hadn't deteriorate on me because it was one of my favorite brushes. I plan to eventually pick up the Hakuhodo version as I hear it is superior.


Staple product, always a love from me. I'm going to take a break from it for a little bit to try out other mascaras as I am bored with the same old same old.

This was just the gift that kept on giving! I liked this but won't be repurchasing. The coverage was too light for my tastes. If you have slight imperfections and don't need any heavy concealing I'd recommend it. I'm just glad I never have to type out that title again, so many adjectives!

I was trying to find something that worked just as well as Seche Vite but didn't harden up halfway through. This does not beat Seche Vite in performance and it still dries up halfway through. Boo!

That's all for this round. Quick and easy. Who makes your favorite facial mists/waters? I'm curious to see what is the most popular...

Friday, October 18, 2013

making things work

When trying to use up products, you start to get to know them. You pick up on their cues, the good and the bad, and you form an opinion on whether you love, like, or loathe it. When you hit that middle ground of this scale, it is due to a couple features that prevent you from tipping over in its favor. It's too frosty. It has poor lasting power. It is too full coverage. You get the picture. So what to do with these items? Toss them? Just use it up and deal with the irksome details? Nah. The best solution I've found is to use them up a different way!


Probably the easiest solution. Mix together products to make things bearable or even enjoyable. I've had to do this with pretty much every foundation I have tried out so far since my skin is fickle and my expectations are varying. How hard is it to make a base that isn't full coverage, looks like skin, lasts long, and controls oil? I'm asking for the impossible it seems. I've already gone over my mixology philosophy with the too thick/matte Lancome Teint Idole and Becca Moonstone Skin Perfecter. My recent concoction is using a combo of YSL Teint Resist with Avene Thermal Water.


I recently rambled about how baffled I am by the hype Avene gets for their cult product as it sprays poorly and unpleasantly in my face. But sprayed on a brush that has no feelings on pathetic water dribbles? Magic. I have been using this can up steadily with increased worry that I've become a water in a can convert. I rather enjoy YSL Teint Resist but had problems with how much to use. Two pumps wasn't enough, three was too much. The pump doesn't give much control on doing halfsies. But two pumps plus a damp Real Techniques Buffing brush? Ahhh yes we have a winner.


Pretty much a subsection of combining. I do this a lot with blushes, not only to make things work but because mixing colors and textures can be fun. I like the Milani baked blushes but lament over how frosty some shades are. I avoid frosty products at all costs because it emphasizes the texture of my scarred skin. Milani Dolce Pink is such a pretty color but it is frost city. I actually placed this in my Box of Neglect and my sister took it out because she likes it so much. That made me rethink of ways to use it. Why not layer over a matte blush?


When layered the color combo becomes satiny. I don't exclusively use these colors together, I just used them together as an example. I tend to mix Dolce Pink with any other matte shades in the same pink color family. It is like using a colored highlighter.


This section you have to be a little creative. I mentioned this Garnier Radiance Renewer Gelee Cleanser before and my first impression was positive. But now I am a little unsure. I think it was the culprit of some breakouts I was previously having. I stopped using it out of paranoia but was sad about it. It smells refreshing, it cleans well, and it is dirt cheap. How else could I use it up? I have been using it in place of shaving cream and it works just fine that way. I just pump out the product, lather it up and spread all over the skin. It forms a nice cushion that prevents me from getting any nicks or razor burn.

My number one tip for using up products and getting the most out of your already spent money is sticking to a routine but my second piece of advice would be to really rethink of different ways you can use them up. Combine, layer, reuse in a new way...try it all! You'd be surprised at what products you end up enjoying after tweaking it a little. But of course, admitting defeat is perfectly fine too. I for one have no idea what else I can do with the oil inducing Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Gel or the icky skin clogging Avene Soothing Moisture Mask. And if you are in the early stages of trying a product out and can't stand it, return it! No need to torture yourself using something you abhor.

Do you try to make things work or do you return/give away/toss/neglect items? I am curious to heard your philosophy and take on it...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

hitting pan part II

The proud feeling of seeing a shiny metal pan never gets old for me. I have managed to reach the bottom of a few items which usually marks me getting into a new routine. If you have never hit pan on anything, that really is the best advice: STICK TO A ROUTINE. It can be a little boring and it lacks variety but on the plus side you steadily use things up on a reliable look and less time is dedicated in thinking up what look you want for the day. I did a post like this before which you can check out HERE.


First up we have Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer, a product that with time I have grown to really understand the hype. I have hit pan on both sides! I was a little perplexed as to how to use this at first since the actual texture (firm and tacky) was not what I expected (creamy and blendable). I use this on blemishes and it covers really well with lasting results, even on my oily skin. Best application is with a synthetic small brush like Real Techniques Detailer Brush. I have used my fingers in a pinch but the results aren't as good.

I seem to always do well with sticking to one bronzer until it is used up. My current one in rotation is Stila Sun Bronzing Powder #2 which is matte and not too outrageously pigmented which I find the best for bronzers as it looks more natural. I will say this shade has the potential to be a bit orange so it would look horrendous on pale skin. It blends out fine on my medium toned skin, especially when used with my beloved Eco Tools Bamboo Bronzer Brush.

As for eyes, I have two MAC items that I have been using pretty regularly. MAC Paint Pot in Groundwork is an absolute must have. The color is a completely invaluable, matte mid toned brown. It works fine alone, with smokey eyes, as a base for other colors, etc. I mostly use it alone with some smudged liner. Quick and easy. This does crease on me without primer but I love the color so much that it isn't even a bother for me. Who doesn't use eye primer anyway? If I don't do that look I will use MAC Brule (top left in my quad) all over the lid with any dark brown shadow I have on hand to shade windshield wiper style into my crease. Both of these items are significant staples for me; I would definitely repurchase and recommend both!

Have you hit pan on anything lately? Do share, I bet you are dying to :) Sticking to a routine isn't so bad but I have yet to be able to stick to only one blush at a time. My attempts to do so always end with my blush fiend self lashing out at the boredom. When the day comes that I do hit pan on a blush, it will be declared a national holiday here on Vain Pleasures with banners, streamers, and confetti. Can't forget the confetti.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

recent skincare heroes (and zero)

Picking and choosing skincare items to incorporate into your routine can be a gamble. Will you break out? Will it clean thoroughly enough? Will it improve or maintain your skin's current health? Should you pick a budget friendly option or splurge on a more expensive option? Maybe I am the only one that over thinks skincare purchases, but I believe the skin is most definitely a worthy investment and worth the drawn out thought process.

Recently I have won out in this gamble since there are a couple new skincare heroes that I have been really digging. I have also bumped into a skincare zero but I'm not complaining too loudly. Two out of three, the odds are still in my favor.


I bought the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser half hoping I wouldn't be wowed by it because it costs $45 USD. Well that was a failed attempt because it is a pretty awesome cleanser. I have noticed my pores on my nose and inner cheeks have been flushed out and I haven't had any new breakouts whatsoever. I'm waiting to see if this good bout of skin will last before giving this cleanser my full praise but so far it has me impressed. And yet I am appalled at myself that I like a $45 cleanser so much! Ack what have I done...

I originally purchased this La Roche Posay Mela-D Pigment Control Serum as a gift for my mother as she has sun spots she wants to be rid of. Turns out she was allergic to this so she gave it back to me to return. I figured I might as well give it a go to see if it has any effect on my hyper-pigmentation. This smells straight up like alcohol, which makes sense as unfortunately it is the second highest ingredient. The horrible scent evaporates after a few seconds (thankfully) and this sinks in quickly with no stickiness.

I think both these items paired together has made a real difference in my skin complexion. Or perhaps only one of them is responsible for the healthy skin. I can't be sure as I started using them at the same time. If I didn't have such bad acne scars I would totally forgo foundation since my skin has been looking really clear and radiant. We will see if they can battle my hormonal acne, that would have me shouting my love from the rooftops.

The lone zero: Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Gel. This smells decent enough and has a nice gel texture that absorbs quickly. I really wanted to make this work but I had to stop using it. It was making my skin feel and look very congested. I used this at night and woke up looking hideously oily like my poor pores had been working over time during the night. I tried using a small amount, a large amount, only a couple times a week to no avail. Not for me! I stopped using it and immediately my skin felt relieved. I have over half a bottle left and I don't know what to do with it. I wouldn't feel comfortable giving it to anyone since I don't recommend it or believe in it.

Have you had any skincare woes lately? Or have you found something that has really made a difference in your skin? I hope the latter. I am going to live up this new complexion of mine until every last drop of the expensive items are gone. Beauty really is pain, but in this case a pain in my wallet...