Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lessons In Humility From a Six Dollar BB Cream: Wet 'n' Wild Fergie BB Cream Review

I am a snob.

I don't mean to be. It's certainly not intentional, and I absolutely don't think I'm better than anybody else. That's not it, at all. I just have a real problem believing that a six dollar BB Cream from the drugstore is going to be anywhere near as good as an exponentially more expensive one from, say, Sephora or Ulta. Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that cheap equaled, well, cheap.

I am a snob.

The thing is, I'm only like that with certain products. I will happily skip off to the drugstore for skincare. My lipliners are almost exclusively Rimmel. Cream shadows? Maybelline Color Tattoos ftw. Powder shadows, on the other hand? Pretty much going to be Urban Decay or Stila. Eyeliners? Urban Decay, period. BB Cream? Too Faced or Urban Decay, and the Urban Decay isn't even that good. Occasionally, I'll be in a pinch and have to use a Garnier that I've had for probably too long for it to still be sanitary, and I will marvel at how much I like it, and wonder why I don't use it more often. Then I'll put it back in the cabinet and forget about it--just like my CoverGirl Outlast foundation that is freaking amazing, but gets passed over for Urban Decay or MAC. Why? Because, apparently, I am a snob.

This needs to stop.

So, about a week ago, I had to go for a physical (ain't that fun?), which led to a trip to Walgreen's, where I decided I deserved a treat, goshdarnit. While perusing ye olde wall o' cosmetics, I saw this little darling by Wet 'n' Wild, and curiosity got the better of me: Fergie BB Cream 8-in-1 Beauty Balm. Everything about this screamed, "BAD IDEA!", but I just had to know.

You know what? I like it. I mean, I really like it. I've used it several times since purchasing, and have been impressed. Let's break it down:

Packaging: The packaging looks fantastic. I have it on my counter alongside NARS, Urban Decay, Tarte, and a few other high-end beauties, and it fits in surprisingly well. The product comes in a black squeeze tube with silver accents. A clear strip near the bottom shows the cream, so you can check the color, as well as see when you're running low. The cap is flat, and allows the product to stand up on its own. I do have a problem with the absence of any sort of safety seal, but there are advantages (more on that later). 9 out of 10.

Scent: Here's where things get tricky. The tube I own has a very distinct maple syrup fragrance. It smells exactly like you just smeared pancakes all over your face. I have absolutely no problem with this, as I happen to enjoy pancakes, and the smell disappears once the cream is applied. However, other people have purchased tubes with a drastically different, far more unpleasant scent. I believe I heard someone use the words "toxic" and "waste". That sounds dreadful. My advice: take advantage of the no safety seal issue. Buy a tube, keep the receipt, and before you leave the store take a good whiff. If it stinks, swap it out. I DO NOT advocate opening a tube you have not paid for. It really sucks when you buy, for example, a lipstick and get it home, only to find a fingerprint or worse waiting under the cap. Don't be that person. Plus, if the tube is defective, it's better the store know so that they can prevent someone else from buying and using it. 8 out of 10.

Texture: The cream has a very light, gel-like consistency, and is slightly tacky. It feels like nothing on the skin. 10 out of 10.

Range: Five shades are available, as of this writing, ranging from Light to Deep (a vast improvement to most brands' one- to two-shade ranges). I am a MAC NW15 and have been using Light/Medium, which is, perhaps, a skosh too dark. It looks fine in my bathroom lighting, but in natural (as you'll see in a moment), it's iffy. I think it'll be great during the Summer, though. Right now, I'm two shades lighter than Casper. 9 out of 10.

Application: I've been using my fingers, and the product has absorbed quickly and blended easily. I do recommend finger application, as opposed to brush. I find BB creams and tinted moisturizers (which, face it, Western BBs tend to be repackaged tinted moisturizers) apply better with fingers, because they warm up the product, which aids in blending. 10 out of 10.

Coverage: This is very light coverage. I wouldn't go so far as to say light to medium. This is strictly for evening out skin tone, and not for covering blemishes or extreme redness. It's definitely recommended for folks who don't need the coverage of an honest-to-God foundation, but just want a little something to keep from being completely bare-faced. It covers a little better than the Urban Decay Naked Beauty Balm, but that's not saying a whole lot. Here's a shot of my cheek after applying the cream. You can still see freckles and a slight amount of redness. The skin's texture, however, is nice. You don't see a whole lot of pores, and there's a slight glow. 4 out of 10.

See if you can find a constellation among the freckles! I have the Big Dipper on my right arm. I don't tan; my freckles just connect...

Finish: I've found this to leave a very natural, glowy, but not shiny or oily finish. I think it's quite lovely, and much nicer than expected. It looks much more expensive than any other drugstore BB I've tried. There's no shimmer, either, which also sets it apart from others I've looked at. Everything about this reminds me of the Stila tinted moisturizer I used to swear by around the time I graduated from college. This is just slightly less sticky and a heckuvalot cheaper. 10 out of 10.

Wear: On my normal-combo skin, in 64% humidity (I checked), with slightly above-average exertion (I had a voice lesson and took a whirlwind trip to the mall before heading on to work), no touch-ups were required by the time this godawful selfie was snapped. That was about three and a half hours. I don't look shiny, and there doesn't appear to be any wear or rubbing off. I did touch up with a little bit of powder about half an hour later, but it wasn't absolutely necessary. I was checking my lipstick and figured I might as well. 8 out of 10.

Pay no attention to the catterpillars over my eyes. It's pollen season, and I don't want to sneeze while holding tweezers near my eyes. I'm uncoordinated. It would end poorly. I'm making an appointment at the Benefit Brow Bar soon, I promise.

Other: This BB cream is cruelty-free and contains SPF 15. That's kind of low for a BB, but better than nothing. No score.

All in all, I think this is a winner. I especially like it for traveling, when you might not want to bring your expensive makeup for fear of it being lost or damaged. Plus...six bucks. Really? I mean, really?

Final Verdict: 8.5 out of 10. It's super cheap and works like a champ. Kind of a no-brainer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Aren't You Supposed To NOT Sniff Paint?: Revlon Parfumerie Review

Last night, after putting together all of my music and altering most of my costume (that's another post, entirely), I had just enough time to do a quick and dirty manicure before bed. I had a producer's run on a show today, and needed vintage nails. Originally, I was going to use red, but it turns out, I don't own a red creme nail polish. Not one. I have red satin and red glitter, but no creme in all the gazillion bottles cluttering up my bathroom. Go figure.
Anyhoo, yellow was on the list of historically-accurate colors for the time period, and I'd just gotten my hands on one of the new Revlon Parfumerie scented polishes that I've seen advertised for so long, so I decided to take this opportunity to test it out. The color is Sunlit Grass, and the (freaking adorable) bottle was about six bucks at Walgreen's.

I told you it was quick and dirty. This ain't no pro job, that's for darn sure. In fact, there's still a little glitter left over from the last polish on my pinkie. Nice.

It is, indeed, scented. Whoo, boy, is it scented. I had actually used this before, but on my toes. I don't know about you, but I don't recall the last time I sniffed my own toes, so that wasn't exactly the most useful experience for review purposes. Now that I have the stuff on my hands...I kind of wish I didn't. It doesn't smell bad, but the scent is very strong, and my sinuses are very not happy with me right now. The fragrance is sort of a mix of floral and grass, and would probably be lovely as a spray or rollerball, where you develop a tolerance after wearing for a few minutes. In this case, every time I push my hair out of my face, the scent hits anew. Pretty as the color may be, it's coming off as soon as I can get to some polish remover.

As far as formula goes, I'm not crazy about it. It's streaky, patchy, and took forever to dry, even with a quick-dry topcoat. There are bubbles throughout. That said, the color is gorgeous, vibrant, and very true to what it looks like in the bottle.

Final Verdict: 4.44 out of 10. It's not the worst I've ever used, but it's not the best, and the gimmick is certainly not worth the price. Cute bottle, though.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vintage Vixens: Historically Accurate WWII Era Makeup (1940s How-To)

Recently, I've had the extreme pleasure of working in an Andrews Sisters tribute trio with two lovely and talented ladies. We're still in the rehearsal stage, and only just ordered costumes yesterday, but I thought it would be fun to do a post on historically accurate makeup from the WWII era. Even if you're not Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy-ing, this might come in handy for Disney Dapper Day, Halloween, theatre, or if you just feel particularly glam one day and want to rock your inner Rosie the Riveter. At the end, I'll give recommendations for modern day product options. Now, come along with me on a Sentimental Journey. Who knows, maybe Grandma was cooler than you thought.

Let's start with the basics (and a good giggle): Face shapes. In the 1940s, the oval face shape was most desired. Great care was taken with hair, lipstick, and clothing choices to create the illusion of an oval shape if the natural bone structure could be considered round, square, or anything else other than oval. Here is a fantastic (and hilarious) vintage film tutorial on creating an oval shape. I'd embed, but it's been disabled. I'll just wait here while you go watch.

Go on.

Did you watch it?

Seriously, that made my day.

Next comes the actual makeup. Here is a simplified tutorial, hosted, again, by our friend in the red dress. The gist is that makeup was to be minimal, and only used to emphasize natural beauty. The entire routine shown in the film consists of moisturizer or light foundation, rouge that is blended out to near invisibility, lipstick (in a coordinating shade to rouge and nail polish), and powder. And that's it. No eyeshadow. No liner. No mascara. No freaking nothing. I can embed this one, so here you go:

The lipstick application process was surprisingly specific. They didn't mess around back then.

Now, these videos have been, well, adorable, but if you'd like to watch something a little more in-depth, here's a fantastic modern tutorial that retains the integrity of the era:

Glamour Daze is a fantastic site for figuring out a vintage look for everything from a Downton Abbey viewing party to a Woodstock reenactment, and Return2Style has a great guide with color samples. According to these sites, foundation should be slightly darker than your actual skintone, with powder just a bit lighter. The powder should also have a rosier cast to it if your natural skintone is on the yellow side, and, universally, blush should stay on the pink side, as well. Eye makeup is kept minimal, with only a light contour of gray, taupe, or brown to define the socket. Liner should be thin, if not altogether non-existent. The winged-out cat eye didn't gain popularity until the 1950s, so skip that. No eye makeup should be used on the lower lashline, but loads of clump-free black mascara should coat the top lashes. You can go the false lash route, but keep 'em natural.

Besides the lashes, the emphasized parts of the face are the brows and lips. Brows should be neat, but not overly plucked, and the definitively arched shape defined by pencil or powder in a shade that matches their color. A little vaseline or clear gel will hold the brows in place, as well as add glossiness. Lips should be well-defined, and the shape should yield the most attractive, full look possible. This might mean drawing slightly outside of the lines if your lips are thin. The upper lip was commonly exaggerated at that time. When choosing a lip color, any shade of red or pink, and even red-based orange would be appropriate, depending on how natural or bold you want to go. A dot of clear gloss or vaseline in the center of the lower lip will help achieve the shiny "Hollywood" look that was popular at the time, but is not necessary.

Okay, folks, here's where things get interesting: Nail Polish! For years, I've thought 40s polish had to be red or pink. Boy, oh boy, did I have that wrong! The popular style was a half-moon mani, with just a sliver of unpainted nail at the top, and the color matched your outfit and accessories. That's right. It matched the outfit. Revlon did release a line of coordinating lippies and polishes around that time, and that look became popular, too, but--believe it or not--there was some serious color experimentation going on with greens, blues, yellows, and even black.

(Think about that for a sec: Gra'ma could've rocked some b*tchin' goth nails.)

So, that's a lot of info on 40s makeup, but what should you use to recreate that style nowadays? Well, let's see what we can come up with:

40s makeup calls for a flawless base, so you'll want something medium to full-coverage with a matte finish. I like CoverGirl Outlast 3-in-1 as a drugstore option. High end (well, higher end), MAC has something for darn near every skin type and shade, and an artist can help you color match.

Rimmel Stay Matte powder is a clear winner, with CoverGirl Oil-Control Pressed Powder meriting an honorable mention. I'm also a fan of E.L.F. HD Powder, but as a finishing powder over something else that actually sets the makeup. High End, I like Laura Geller Balance and Brighten Baked Color-Correcting Foundation (it's a powder foundation, but sets makeup beautifully when applied with a fluffy brush).

NYX does a great powder blush, and Dusty Rose, Rose Garden, or Bourgeois Pig (love that name) would all work quite well. E.L.F. Studio Blush in Pink Passion looks downright frightening in the pan (matte hot pink?! The heck?!), but gives a very natural pink flush to the cheeks. It's in my film kit now, actually. High end, I'm digging the new Julep blushes, so I'd recommend Petal Pink. (If you have the NARS One Night Stand palette, go for the hot pink one. I'm just not putting it here because it was limited edition.)

I only have one rec for this one, and that's the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. Either W.O.S. or Foxy all over, with Naked 2 in the crease. Done. You can also use Naked 2 or Faint in the brows, and the $27 price point for six shadows keeps this in the "affordable" realm. That's $4.50 per shadow, which is squarely in the middle of the price range for drugstore single shadows.

I'm going rogue and recommending Urban Decay 24/7 pencil in Perversion. It's so dark that it looks like liquid, but you get the control of a pencil. MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack is another good option. Drugstore, you can't beat Essence gel liner. It's fantastic, and super cheap.

Drugstore, Maybelline The Rocket. High end, Buxom Buxom Lash. Waterproof, in both cases. Benefit They're Real would be here if you could remove the stuff without ripping out your lashes. That stuff does look gorgeous on, so if you're feeling adventurous, go for it.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams are beautiful, inexpensive, smell delicious, feel good on, and last forever. Pick a color, any color. Revlon Kissable Balm Stains are another viable option. High end, MAC Russian Red. It's classic and doesn't budge. It does dry, though, so keep that in mind.

Nail Polish
Apparently, the sky's the limit. Pick a cream finish in a vampy navy or army green for a fun twist on a classic half-moon manicure. I'm considering Julep Kendra or Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Thinking of Blue.

Have fun getting all dolled up!
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