It’s Like Magic – Digital Nails’ Colorvaria

One of my favorite recent trends in indie polish has been thermals. Magical nail polishes that change color depending on the temperature of your hands. I have heard that thermals have a shelf life of about a year before they get stuck in their “base” color, but I think my oldest thermal is over a year and I haven’t had a problem with it (yet).

The polish I’m showing you today is a really cool one from Digital Nails: Colorvaria. Colorvaria shifts between a clear with shimmering pink/blue/green iridescent microglitter, and a vivid pink with the same shimmer. As I’m dealing with some minor staining, I painted two coats over Zoya’s Purity, a true white creme. So you’ll see the clear “warm” color over a white base.

Digital Nails - Colorvaria Thermal PolishThis is how the polish generally looks on my hands, which are almost always cold. It’s not at full pink saturation, but it’s close.

Digital Nails - Colorvaria Thermal PolishAaaaand warm.

Digital Nails - Colorvaria Thermal Polish…this is literally moments after my fingers started drying after I dipped them in warm water. Curse you, anemia! The in-between stage looks anything like a cool ombre to a pink-tipped French mani.

Digital Nails - Colorvaria Thermal PolishAnd fully cold.

Formula on this one was so-so. The Digital Nails polishes I’ve tried have generally been awesome, with a few exceptions (I had to thin Wights of Their Eyes down considerably; the glow was awesome but it was like painting my nails in Mod Podge). This one is thick-ish. Not unusably so, but I’d recommend using thin coats and waiting a few minutes between them. It’s not a topcoat hog. It also looks really cool matte!

Aaaaand now for some magic, courtesy of a gif!

ColorvariaIsn’t it awesome?

Deconstructing Eden: Kushiel’s Legacy Perfume Reviews

Deconstructing EdenAfter my last review of Deconstructing Eden‘s perfumes, I went and purchased a bunch of the Kushiel’s Legacy-based scents, as I’m currently doing a re-read. I love the books. They’re so many different books all rolled into one– political intrigue, alternate history, romance, devotional, travel, and, uh, smut. But I love smut. So.

I purchased seven of the 2ml samples, so they’re not quite as pretty as the full size bottles. But they come in very sturdy atomizers, so if you’re the type who likes to change your scent often (as I do) or likes to have a backup in your purse without fear of spillage, the 2mls are perfect. They’re also perfectly affordable, at $2.50 a pop.

Deconstructing EdenThe first four scents I’m going to review are probably the most central to the book’s themes– the two leads and the two most important religious figures in the book.

Phèdre –  Fair and creamy skin, Cereus blossom (for the house she was fostered in); a touch of jasmine (for Phedre’s mother Lilliane, an adept of Jasmine House), rose for Naamah, a drop of pomegrante (for Kushiel) and a drop of red skinned apple (For Kushiel’s Dart) Devastatingly feminine, deceptively soft and yielding.

Phèdre begins its wet stage all white flowers and powder. I am not especially known for my love of white flowers, but this isn’t a scent that sends me sneezing. It lacks the sweet sharpness that I tend to associate with jasmine, so I suppose the scent that I smell is likely cereus blossom rounded by the faintest touch of rose. I never quite smell the pomegranate on my skin, which may be a blessing, as pomegranate often turns sour on me. What I do smell, on the drydown, is a certain creaminess to the blossom and a faint waft of apple in the background– overall, this scent smells predominantly of feminine, soft, white flowers. It is demure and somewhat traditional.

JoscelinA complex blend of white musks, the summer sky blue of his eyes, the sharpness of the cold winter air in Skaldi territory and grey wool.

Wow, this one IS a very complex one. It manages to take the very conceptual notes of the description and manifest them into reality. For fans of BPAL, the wet stage of this one reminded me very much of the now-discontinued Szepasszony, which is why, in my visualization, I associate this type of scent with cold, slashing rain. For the less conceptually-motivated, this translates as a base of white musk that blends with ozone and freshwater aquatic notes. As it dries down, there is sort of a white pepper note that sits in the background, which lends a sense of “wool” to it. The only conceptual note that I never seem to get is “summer sky blue” – to me, this scent starts out white and fades to grey. Is this a scent you’re going to want to wear? I suppose that depends on your feelings on ozone/aquatic. Is it a scent you’re going to want to wear while reading this book? Absolutely, ’cause it captures the character indelibly.

Kushiel – Bronze tipped leather whips, a drop of pomegranate, smoky incense, black agar, black pepper and black myrrh.

Far and away my favorite of this batch. This one is perfect for my resin-loving self. Seconds after application, there’s a brief punch of wet black leather, but that fades to the background almost instantly on me, revealing a thick, resinous base. The incense and myrrh are stunning, rich and ambery. As it dries down, the incense persists, but is joined by a bit of the black pepper and the warmth of the leather. Even so, I did not find this to be an overwhelmingly masculine scent. Instead, it’s a very sexy unisex.

Naamah – Rose attar and rose absolute, jasmine, ylang ylang, dove wings and amber. 

How well you like Naamah is going to depend on two things: 1 – how your own personal skin chemistry amps florals, and 2- how well you like ylang ylang. Unfortunately for me, I deeply dislike ylang ylang, but my skin LOVES it. Such is my plight. This one starts off very lush– blooming and rich red roses with an amber backing. Had it stayed there, I’d be wearing it all day, errday. Alas, after about 15 minutes, on my skin, the ylang ylang took over and never went away. If you love ylang ylang, you should definitely try this. If you don’t, stay far, far away.

As for the other scents I purchased, I’m still testing them. I also plan to pick up a few more, as per the Deconstructing Eden Facebook page, 11 new Kushiel’s Legacy scents will go live soon. After years of back and forth with Ms. Carey, there has finally been approval for Melisande, and I am also very excited for Delaunay and Alcuin.

Blush Brush Love: Sonia Kashuk Has A Winner

It took me a really long time to realize how essential blush is to a balancing a cohesive look if you’re doing a full face of makeup. As a pale, round-faced chick, I was worried that noticeable blush would only emphasize the roundness of my face, or would look clownish on me.

Mostly, I had gotten by by applying creme blushes to my cheeks with my fingers to appear not-dead. Which is a thing I still do, especially if I want a dewy, natural look.

But after I fell in love with a few powder blushes, it became quickly apparent to me that the brushes I was using to apply my blush just weren’t doing the trick. Even higher end brushes, like Sephora’s, applied the blushes streakily, and from looking at other bloggers’ swatches, I was fairly certain it wasn’t the blush’s fault.

Enter a Game Changer:

Sonia Kashuk Dense Blush Brush #24Sonia Kashuk’s Brush #24: Dense Blush and Powder. I picked it up at Target for $17.00. Which, if you’re a beauty novice, might seem steep, but MAC’s blush brushes are $35+. Sephora’s are $25+. Real Techniques sells them cheaper, though I have not yet tried any of their brushes. So Sonia Kashuk is pretty mid-range, all things considered.

Let me tell you: it’s a universal truth that using the right tools is every bit as important as using good quality cosmetics. So the first time I used this brush, it was like hearing choirs of angels singing.

Sonia Kashuk Dense Blush Brush #24

Oh my goodness, this is an excellent blush brush. It blends out seamlessly. It even is great for buffing foundation, if that’s a thing you need to do (I use a Beautyblender, so I don’t so much, but it’s worth noting). 

Sonia Kashuk Dense Blush Brush #24The bristles are soft and very densely-packed. It does not shed. It feels like velvet on your face, forreals. I have regularly been wearing powder blush since I purchased it, and now I’m super excited to try out new blushes that I’d previously been iffy about because I didn’t know if I’d actually wear them or not.

Milani’s pretty rosey blushes are definitely on my list. And maybe some of the new Aromaleigh ones, too.  It’s a whole neeeeeew wooooooooorld! /Disney

Delicious Smells from Firebird Bath & Body

Alongside Villainess & Paintbox Soapworks, the third company that I am fairly loyal to when it comes to unstinking myself is Firebird Bath & Body. Many of my husband’s favorite soaps come from Firebird, and ordering from them has the added bonus of buying local for us– Firebird is a Baltimore-based company. I’ve probably been ordering from here for about three years or so, long enough that I’ve tried most of scents in the catalog.

My most recent order was for some of our household favorites: Woodland, Viking, and Woodsmoke & Vanilla, along with one of the newly-released scents: Timberwood.

Firebird Bath & BodyWoodsmoke & Vanilla is the ultimate winter comfort scent. I wear it so often as a perfume that I think most of my scarves are permanently scented with it. I’ve often gifted it to friends going through a rough time. It starts off with a rich-but-not-sweet vanilla, which curls itself around a soft, warm smoky note reminiscent of a fireplace. My husband LOVES this one as a soap, and it always makes our entire bathroom smell so wonderful.

Timberwood is new to us. It’s one of the  textured soaps that utilizes poppy seeds for mild exfoliation. It’s definitely an evergreen-woodsy type scent. However, there’s no spice, so it doesn’t quite venture into Christmas territory. I think of it as the Winter version of a scent like Woodland, which is now my go-to “realistic fresh greenery” scent, ever since Paintbox discontinued their phenomenal Walk in the Woods soap a few years back.

The soaps are not hot process, so they do unfortunately get used up pretty quickly. In my two-person household, a 4 oz bar lasts us about six days. On the plus side, they are silky smooth, feel wonderful on the skin, and are very scented.

The scent profile I associate with Firebird’s products is very pure–  they’re not fussy or overly-blended. Often, they smell like exactly what they say on the packaging, but in itself, that simplicity is quite comforting because they don’t smell synthetic in any way.

As far as the non-soap products they sell, I really like their body scrub cubes, and their lip balms are some of my absolute favorites, both in terms of formula (thick and long lasting) and flavors offered (Apple Crumb Cake is my current, but I almost always have a tube of Lemon Sugar on me). I haven’t yet tried their lotion products, as I don’t use up lotion all that quickly, and I have enough Villainess Whipped to last me a good long while.

I’m already plotting my next Firebird order. In honor of their 5th anniversary, they’ve done a limited release of some nostalgia scents that have long been discontinued. I definitely need to get my hands on some Rosemary Mint before it leaves the shop!

Bright Lips to Burst Winter Doldrums – Maybelline Vivids

One of the most blogger-lauded products of 2013 were Maybelline’s ColorSensational Vivids lipsticks. From between $7 – $9 (depending on your local drugstore, or less if you caught them on sale), you could get the kind of bright pigmentation and staying power that had only before been seen in high-end brands like Urban Decay.

Sometime around last summer, I purchased three, but somehow never got around to posting them here. Now that Spring is somewhat in sight and we are ALL sick of winter, I thought I’d write about them, because lord knows we could use some color.

Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids

They’re packaged in these neon orange tubes, in a similar style to the other ColorSensational lipsticks. I think they’re very cool, but you do have to peek at the bottom for the shade, and they’re not always the most secure if your lipsticks live in your purse.

Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids

The shades I bought were Neon Red, Shocking Coral, and Vivid Rose. There are a few LE additions to the core Vivids line, so in addition to bright pinks and reds, there were also traffic cone oranges and take-no-prisoners violets.

Neon Red, Shocking Coral, Vivid Rose

Neon Red, Shocking Coral, Vivid Rose

Neon Red, Shocking Coral, Vivid Rose

Neon Red, Shocking Coral, Vivid Rose

Neon Red is an orange-leaning bright tomato red. Definitely for warm-toned peeps. I wore this several times and enjoyed it immensely.

Shocking Coral is a yellow-pink. While it definitely looks warm toned, this one was a disaster on me in person. The camera had a hard time capturing the true color, but it clashed with my skin tone quite a lot. I have actually never worn this one out of the house and probably never will, so maybe I should give it away.

Vivid Rose is a super-bright rose-pink. How this one looks on you will probably depend on your skin tone– I think warm and cool tones could pull it off, but how pink vs purple it looks on you will depend on the tone itself. On me, it’s a slightly warm pink. It’s pretty great and I will definitely wear it come Spring.

Neon Red, Shocking Coral, Vivid Rose

Neon Red, Shocking Coral, Vivid Rose

Wear time on these is EXCELLENT. They’re not moisturizing, per-se, but they’re definitely not drying. The pigmentation is out of this world for a drugstore product.

Shocking Coral

Shocking Coral

Shocking Coral looked, in person, both more chalky and more yellow on me. I don’t know how to describe it, exactly, but it went from cool and bright into full-on clown territory. Do not want.

Vivid Rose

Vivid Rose

This is more like it. Love Vivid Rose.

Neon Red

Neon Red

Neon Red is so sassy! It’s hard for me to wear reds with my magenta hair, but this one had just enough orange in it that it didn’t clash too badly.

Look using Maybelline Neon Red

If you’re a fan of bold lips, try this line on for size! I bought them thinking that I’d basically be color-testing them in case I wanted to order high-end equivalents of the shades, and then found myself really impressed by the formula!

Stampicures!

So, recently, I have gotten very into stamped manicures. I’m finally getting the hang of it, and most of my stamps go on evenly on the first try.  I’m also starting to take better care of my hands– I have thick, stubborn cuticles that like to stick to my nail beds, and so I bought some cuticle remover, and it’s definitely helping.

From least to most recent:

Tapestry mani: this is a damask pattern stamp (a Konad, I think? I bought it from BornPrettyStore) done with a base of Cult Nails’ Nevermore, and then stamped with Zoya’s Penny. From about two weeks ago. I then topped it with Cult Nails’ Wax That topcoat, which I’m having mixed feelings about. (It feels dry to the touch after 15 minutes, but is dentable for several hours until it fully cures.)  I think I would have liked this better with a shiny topcoat. The pattern was blurred a bit by the wax topcoat.

Tapestry Nails Tapestry Nails

Black Mehndi Mani: This was a fun one! I used Digital Nails’ Highlander (a yellow gold holo) and stamped it with Cult Nails’ Nevermore using a MoYouLondon plate. I loved how this one turned out!

Mehndi Nails Mehndi Nails Mehndi NailsGolden Flowers Mani: my current mani, and it looks gorgeous in person. I started with Butter London’s Toff, which is a lovely dusty mauve neutral, and stamped it with Konad Special Gold and a MoYouLondon plate. The thing I like about this mani is its subtlety– it’s subdued, but really elegant. In person, the gold metallic isn’t as flat as it looks in photos. It looks fantastic, like the gilding you see on fancy vases (vaaaaah-ses!) in museums. Swoon.

Stamped Mani: Butter London’s Toff stamped with Konad Special Gold Stamped Mani: Butter London’s Toff stamped with Konad Special Gold

 

Oh MoYouLondon, you are feeding my obsession.

 

Be Conscious Cosmetics: An Indie Option for Vegan Makeup

Legal Disclosure: these samples were provided by the company for review. All opinions are my own, and I was not financially compensated for them.

Be Conscious Cosmetics Two weeks ago, I was contacted by Christina of Be Conscious Cosmetics in Albuquerque, NM, to ask if I would be interested in reviewing some of her products. My first PR samples! How very exciting. (Side note, man, I miss ABQ. I got engaged on top of the Sandia Mountains. I’d love to go back some time, or even move there permanently.)

When the package came, there was a powder foundation, 10 eyeshadow samples, and two lipsticks.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Vanilla 02 FoundationI’ll start with the foundation. I told her that I’d never before used powder or mineral foundation, so a quick how-to would help me immensely in evaluating her product. I am pretty addicted to my Beautyblender, and I tend to stick to mixing high-pigment foundations with BB cream to cover the redness I experience around my nose and chin (crucial when your hair is magenta). She wrote back instructions, and in the end, I used a large, dense blush brush to put the foundation on and blend it.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Vanilla 02 FoundationLet me just say: I was absolutely SHOCKED at how good the coverage was. I was, to  be honest, not expecting much from a powder foundation, but this stuff was very nicely pigmented.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Vanilla 02 Foundation

Here’s a close-up of me wearing Vanilla 02. As you can see, it’s just a bit too dark for me at the moment, but it’s probably the shade I’d use in the summer. My blending could use a little bit of work, but since it was my first time, I would not hold that against the product itself, which I found pretty easy to use.

There’s no noticeable redness around my nose.  If I were to switch over to a powder product, I’d probably still keep a cream concealer on hand to go after zits and under-eye circles, but as a foundation, this evened very nicely without feeling heavy. I know some people don’t like liquid foundations because they feel like they’re wearing a mask, and this foundation will definitely not give you that feeling.

Application time is a bit longer than liquid foundation, though. I am guessing, depending on your skill level with it, you’re probably going to spend 2-5 minutes blending, whereas I get my liquid on in 1-2 mins.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Vanilla 02 Foundation

And an arm swatch of Vanilla 02. This shade definitely leans warm, and looked even more warm on my face. I experienced no particular oxidation over the course of the day.

Next up are the shadows.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Eyeshadow

Pearl, Silver, Pewter, Periwinkle, Sage

Pearl, Silver, Pewter, Periwinkle, Sage

Pearl, Silver, Pewter, Periwinkle, Sage

Pearl, Silver, Pewter, Periwinkle, Sage

Pearl is a soft white shimmer. While it’s shimmery, there’s not really any opalescence happening. Cool toned ladies could use this as a highlight.

Silver is a blue-leaning medium grey with silver shimmer.

Pewter is a very densely-pigmented charcoal with dark silver shimmer. It’s an excellent choice for a smokey eye.

Periwinkle is definitely not periwinkle. It’s a shimmery slate blue that’s almost but not quite dark enough to qualify as navy.

Sage is also not sage. It’s actually a cool-leaning mid cool-toned green with stunning but subtle aqua shimmer.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Eyeshadow

Pink, Gold, Champagne, Autumn, Toffee

Pink, Gold, Champagne, Autumn, ToffeePink, Gold, Champagne, Autumn, Toffee

Pink is a stunner. It’s a deep, romantic rose with gorgeous gold sparklies. I am saving this one for a Valentine’s look, for sure!

Gold is a taupe-based gold shimmer. It’s not as bright or metallic as I would have guessed based on the name, but it is a very nice neutral. Both warm and cool toned ladies could probably use this as a lid wash.

Champagne is a medium taupe shimmer. It pulls cool toned, but isn’t too cool for warm tones.

Autumn is a stunner. It’s hard to get well and truly worked up about neutrals after three years of their dominance in the makeup world, but this rich, dense warm brown is a delight. Probably one of the best neutrals I’ve yet to use.

Toffee is another name that had me scratching my head. This is totally not the color of toffee. It’s a deep grey brown shimmer. It didn’t look quite so cool toned in the bag, but it applied, in swatches and on my eyes, with cooler undertones.

And here’s a neutral eye look I did with Autumn, Toffee, and Gold. It’s a basic neutral eye, because I tend to form first impressions on how well the basics are executed. I used Autumn in the crease, toffee blended in at the outer crease and along the lashline, and Gold on the lid. These shades all blended extremely well, and went on like buttah. Well, vegan buttah, that is. No chalky messes here.

Used: Gold, Toffee, Autumn

Used: Gold, Toffee, Autumn

Onto the lippies! I received Plum and Poppy.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Lipstick

For indies, the balm-type packaging is not unexpected. I just prefer actual bullet shapes for more densely-pigmented products, because it makes application without a lip brush so much easier.

The other packaging issue I had here was with the label. It’s just paper. It was hard to tear off the perforation without taking some of the label with it, and if your lippies live in your purse (as mine do), this white paper label is going to get destroyed pretty quickly. I will be Scotch-taping mine for a little bit of protection, but if I may make a suggestion: glossy-finish or more durable labels, please!

Plum

Plum

Plum is… not particularly plum? Or rather– it’s kind of the color of actual plums (the outside, anyway), but not really the color “plum” has become to mean when describing shades. This is a warm chocolate brown with some purple undertones.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Plum Lipstick

Plum Lipstick

Plum Lipstick

It’s very vampy, don’t you think? A definite statement lipstick, and unless you are a lady with a darker skintone, you probably won’t be wearing this one during the day. As you can see, it’s subtly glossy, so while that does impact wear time (3 hrs, give or take), it does mean it’s a comfortable shade to wear.

Poppy Lipstick

Poppy Lipstick

Poppy is an orange-coral with an overall coppery effect.

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Poppy Lipstick

Be Conscious Cosmetics - Face Look with Poppy Lipstick

Redheads of the world, rejoice– this shade is perfect for you guys. Seriously.

(Also, sorry about the blurriness. I only took two face shots of this one, and both were fuzzy.)

Plum, Poppy

Plum, Poppy

And that wraps up my first review of Be Conscious Cosmetics. The current range is rather small, compared to many other indies, but the quality of the products was quite nice, especially at the price point. The eyeshadows were especially of good quality. I’d like to see some more sophisticated packaging, overall, but if you’re in the market for vegan or socially conscious products, this is a good company to try on for size!