Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Curious Case of Ophelia's Apothecary

I have been very hesitant to write this post, but I feel like it's at the point where I need to at least briefly discuss what Ophelia's Apothecary is doing at the moment.  I have, in the past, recommended them to friends.  However, while I am not going to say this is a BAD company, I won't recommend them any longer.  I invite you to read this post and make your own decision based on the evidence at hand.  I think it's important that indie customers be well-informed of any potential issue they may have with a particular company.

First of all, for those unaware, Ophelia's Apothecary is an indie company based in Missouri that makes and sells custom perfumes, lotions, skincare, mineral eyeshadow, lip balms, etc.  To be quite honest, her product are quite lovely and small heavenly.  She posts her turnaround time on her website, as such:

"SHIPPING:: I strive to ship everything within an 8 to 12 business day window. However, some things do take longer to cure and depending on how busy it is, I may run three to four business days longer. I do make everything fresh in small batches, so just because it's listed, doesn't mean I have it ready to ship. If it's ready to ship immediately, I will state that within the listing."

I am not an unreasonable person.  I understand that things go wrong, that the occasional order can slip through the cracks, or that an indie company can become extraordinarily busy and TAT can be affected.  This is a whole new animal though...

I feel like I also need to disclose that this company's owner DOES have a medical condition (I'm really not sure what).  However, she does discuss it a bit on the Facebook page for her company, so I felt like you should be aware of this as well before I cut to the chase.

First of all, she has removed the customers' post area from her Facebook and comments about orders that are potentially negative in nature have been deleted quickly.  I really hate when companies do this.  Personally, I feel like it's best to address an issue than to delete comments and pretend the issue doesn't exist.

Ophelia's has a monthly subscription box.  After seeing some incredible reviews of her monthly, I subbed.  My first month, I didn't get a box.  I ended up getting my box near the end of the month after it was due.  Some people wound up getting their box, packaged with the following month's box...during month three.  They aren't BAD boxes, but they don't blow me away.  I was probably a little biased because I was fairly angry that I didn't get my box on the month it were designated for and I felt that I didn't really get the service I paid for (a box of goodies to try each month).  One month, she gave out eye shadow samples...when she had announced that shadows were being discontinued.  The purpose of her box was to try several of her products and decide if they'd be worth buying in full sizes.  Clearly, even if I LOVED the shadows, no one could order them.  She was trying to destash something she wasn't going to continue selling by dumping them in her monthly.  It was fairly insulting.

I DO NOT subscribe to her box any longer.  However, I continue to read some very troubling things about this company and I felt it necessary to share here.  I urge you to draw your own conclusions based on facts.  I am not, in any way, attacking this company's owner's personal character because she certainly SEEMS like a nice person.  I think she's just in over her head.  She can't even close down until she catches up because, as she states herself, SHE RELIES ON CURRENT ORDERS TO PAY TO SHIP OUT HER OVERDUE ORDERS.  That's right, she has collected money from customers for products that she cannot afford to send to the purchaser.  Instead, that package's money is used to pay for older orders to ship and the purchaser's current order is held hostage until more people buy items.  You do not have to take my word for it.  Here are some snippits from conversations her customers are having in the internet:

12/23/13:  "She is upset that I complained so she cancelled my subscription.... really???? That just goes to show the level of professionalism that is lacking..."

1/24/14:  "...I just wanted to share that I still have no received my December bag or my January bag as well as some lip balms I had bought from her MORE THAN A MONTH AGO. I tried to be patient in past months even though I always got my bag during the first week of the month after I was supposed to get it, but this is just outrageous. I sent her a message a couple weeks ago on Facebook and she replied saying she is super behind on orders because she got overwhelmed and plans to put the sub on hold next December as a holiday break so she's not swamped."

1/24/14:  "That's what she did with mine. I ordered one of her Flash sales and she when she finally sent everything (she wanted to save on shipping) together it was Nov, Dec and my Flash sale items on the 23rd of Dec. The Dec bag was two items.... it was just all thrown together... sad as I did like some of her items a lot. Anytime I ever ordered anything extra she would always hold it and send it with my sub..... irritating."

2/13/14:  "<sigh>... at least you got a bag.  I got my december bag in the middle of January and have gotten NOTHING since. I'm in a long term subscription with her, and I feel totally stuck.  I know she does it all herself and we should support indie business... but I basically threw my money away since I never get updates about my stuff or if a bag is ever even coming.  Oh well."

2/13/14:  "I've gotten nothing from her since my November bag!!! I messaged her in January and she said my December bag along with a flash sale I had purchased would be packaged together with my January bag. I never saw any of that and it's mid-February! My subscription ends with February. I really do love her products and use her lip balm every day, but I may have to stick with flash sales every once in a while and give up on the sub. I know she's having financial and health problems via her Facebook and she says she relies on invoices to pay for shipping, but that makes no sense since my payment for a flash sale or three months advance subscription shouldn't be paying for other people's old orders to be shipped. So I don't know. I'm sure she's a nice woman doing everything herself but I think she's in over her head with the subscription."

2/13/14:  "Yeah, at this point, I have $65 in orders, including the 3 months of sub and flash sale, I have not received from her that I paid for months ago."

3/1/14:  "I am waiting on my order from January. I have not received my January or Febuary sub bag and I have close to $100 in order out there. I asked last week for an update and she told me she would have it out by Thursday....... Here we are a week and a day later. I don't understand."

Here's the reason, according to the Ophelia's Facebook page:

"Okay lovelies....I just want to take a moment to thank you lovelies for your kindness and support during the last few weeks of medical junk. I've had messages of support and messages of This is absolutely the only thing we have for income and when we get behind in shipping, it could be from 1)us having to take time away from the shop with medical testing and whatnot, or 2)not having the funds to ship. So, while I am behind, I do still have to post flash sales and such to keep income coming in so that I can pay out to ship orders. This is not the way I would like to handle it, but when the medical needs outweighs what's coming in, it's simply a fact of life. I've had messages saying 'hire someone to do it for you'...that is not a luxury we have available to us. I can tell you that I will try my best to get through the orders just as soon as possible and get the items to you. Sometimes, when people request items and I invoice, they may not realize that I'm counting on those funds to ship products.....and they wait a week or so to pay or forget and don't pay at all. This also prohibits shipping because I will have sometimes around $400 out in invoices that are just hanging out and I don't know when or if they will get paid. I just wanted to let you all be aware of the situation and please know that I am not intentionally stalling orders. I am trying the best I can to juggle a ton of stuff and appreciate any and all understanding. ~xo"

The big issue here is that she shouldn't be relying on new orders in order to have money to ship old orders.  The concept isn't charge enough to be able to cover your costs, including shipping, and make a profit.  She's clearly not doing that, so having flash sales is counterproductive if she's not even making enough on full priced orders to allow her to ship stuff that is going on two months old.  She clearly was overwhelmed with Black Friday and Christmas orders, which happens to even the best, well-staffed, indie companies.  That said, if you're not able to afford to SHIP those orders, there's a problem because you're doing 10x (if not more) business during the Christmas season as you're doing at any other point during the year.  So how many orders does she need to get in order to pay for shipping on the holiday orders?  Then what happens to the new orders? Do they just sit in the shipping queue until summer because there aren't enough customers to pay for the shipping on them? And also, why are you BLAMING OTHER PEOPLE who have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PAYING CUSTOMERS for the massive shipping delays?

She needs to shut down and get caught up.  However, she can't do that because she can't afford to get caught up without remaining open.  It's a no-win situation with her, but the bigger loser here is her customers.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Don't Take My [Insert Thing Here]

I know that every blogger in existence already did this list, but I'm doing one now.  I am late, but at least I'm getting it done.  I figure that, given it is already February, I should get on the list of products I refuse to live without in 2014.  So, without further ado:

#10.  Chella Highlighting Pencils in Lace:

I love these pencils so much.  Granted, I don't use them for highlighting because I'm too pale for them to make a difference on my skin.  That said, these pencils make the best concealer I have ever worn.  In fact, I love them so much, I went through the pain of depotting them (which is what you see in the small jar) in order to avoid losing product to the sharpener.  Best.  Two.  Hours.  Ever.  Spent.

I found a great video that Chella released with ten ways to use the Chella pencil.  I only use them one way, but that doesn't mean that you won't find many other useful ways to utilize this pencil.

This pencil goes on smooth, even at its sharpest and blends easily.  I use a small lip brush for application and blending.  It easily covers my under eye circles and the few discolored spots I have on my face.  I absolutely am in love with these pencils.

#9.  NYX Shadow Base in White and NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk

These are cheap.  The run about $7 and $4.50, respectively, and they work amazingly under shadows to make them really jump.  These should be standard in everyone's beauty chest.  Applied on top of, or instead of, primer and your shadows will take on a life of their own.  Trust me on this one.

#8.  e.l.f. Color Correcting Powder

I don't have very many drugstore products that I absolutely swear by, but this is one of them.  e.l.f.'s Color Correcting Powder is just amazing.  I love it so much over my foundation or tinted moisturizer that I hit pan in my first compact and immediately ran out and picked up a backup from Target in order to ensure that there'd be no gap in coverage.

It holds my makeup for the day perfectly.  I'm not certain how impressive the color correcting properties of this product are, as I don't wear it without a foundation underneath, but I love it anyway.  To be fair, I can't say whether I love it because it's amazing as a standalone product or whether I just love it because it's jaw-dropping at a $3 price point.  Either way, I just love it. Does it really matter why?

#7.  Tokyo Milk Dark - Tainted Love No. 62

This rollerball was purchased for me by a friend as part of a little gift tin set.  I love it so much that I've placed an order for the full-sized bottle.  It smells incredible.  I don't generally like perfume, but this one smells unbelievable.  Vanilla, sandalwood, spice, and orchids in one scent?  I wouldn't think it would work, but it just really does.  I've never loved a perfume this much before.

#6.  Jouer Luminizing Tint

This winter has been hell on my skin.  My standard foundation was causing my face to look scaly and sallow.  I ended up doing a TON of research before settling on this product.

There are some drawbacks.  I haven't found it at any significant savings online and it's pretty pricey ($38).  I also have been unable to find it locally, so I was lucky to have chosen my correct shade when ordering.

The pros far outweigh the cons though.  It's moisturizing and light, but provides just enough coverage to even out my skin tone.  It clears up any blotchiness, but keeps you looking dewy and fresh.  There's no scaly, gross, winter skin shining through, but it's also light enough to allow your freckles to shine through.  I really cannot say enough about this tinted moisturizer.  If you're on the fence, it's a buy.  It's absolutely, hands-down, a big buy.

#5.  LVX Nail Lacquers

LVX Nail Lacquer was a massive surprise.  When a friend sent me this polish, I remarked that, at $16, I couldn't ever imagine purchasing it.  I searched around and couldn't find it any cheaper than it's $16 retail price.  Then, I used it.

First of all, Essie and OPI polishes are easily $8 a piece and Butter London runs $21+.  These polishes easily require 2-3 coats for full coverage.  Sure, $16 is expensive for a polish.  However, this went on fully in one coat  The picture above?  DAY FOUR.  Seriously, enough said.

#4.  Maybelline Baby Lips

I know everyone talks about these being amazing.  Personally, I love them, but they're not CRAZY AMAZING.  That said, they're this price point.  You can easily pick these up for about $3 each and they are nicely and subtly tinted.  It's great for days where you don't want full coverage lipstick, but be prepared to refresh them often.

Either way, I really do love this product.

#3.    Yes to Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes

These seem to be a super polarizing product.  People seem to be over the moon for them or absolutely despise them.  For me, they are a total win.  They run about $6 and have twice as many wipes as most other brands.  They smell great instead of wreaking of alcohol and they pull even my most stubborn face of makeup off with just one towelette.  I really don't understand what everyone's issue with this is, but it's amazing, if you ask me.

#2.  Beauty Blender

You all know the deal.  This tool will revolutionize the way you apply foundation.  It's amazing, incredible and it's worth every red cent.

#1.  Starlooks Starbox  (This is a referral link and you don't have to use it.)

Okay, I know this is questionable because, when people sign up under me, I get some free makeup, but no.  You seriously don't even have to use my referral link.  The picture above represents what I've gotten from Starlooks since November.  To be fair, December was the 15-shade palette, which had a retail value of $99, so it doesn't look AS product-dense as it would if were covering only normal months.  However, you're looking at a 15-shade palette, a 5-shade palette, two brushes (really, really good quality), a blush, two infinity lipsticks, a tendergloss lipstick, a lip gloss, and two gel eyeliner pots...all in three months at $15 a month.  I subscribe (or have subscribed) to Ipsy, Sample Society, Glossybox, Julep, Wantable, and PopSugar.  This is the only subscription for which I pass out my referral link and talk about it so highly.  It's because it's definitely a winner.  The champagne blush was a weird color for my face, but it worked out well as a brow bone highlight color.

When you refer a new subscriber to most subscription boxes, you get some credit TOWARDS a free box.  With Starbox, you get a bonus free box for each person you refer.  They've started giving their subscribers loyalty rewards (a $35 value free gift) for every three months that you are subscribed.  They send you a bonus free box during your birth month.  They're just really, really all about keeping their subscribers happy.

Annnnd that's it!  I hope you enjoyed my list.  Feel free to recommend any products that you think I'd enjoy!!  I look forward to reading about your "must haves" as well!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Your Beauty Routine Needs More Fiber!

UPDATE:  It took me like a week after this closed to get this together, sorry!  Stephtee was drawn on the RNG machine!  :D

I keep hearing about these fiber mascaras, be it from Model Co.Too Faced, or Younique.   I constantly see people ask about Younique's product in particular because of all the heavy promotion by the girls that sell it (Younique is an MLM and, like most MLM's, their sales people are consistently trying to sell and recruit in order to turn a profit).  After doing my research, I settled on Love Alpha's fibre mascara set.  The set actually looks EXTREMELY similar to Younique's, to the point where I would venture a guess that they're both the same product with differently colored packaging...only the Love Alpha costs $20+ less.  Let's take a quick glance at the products, shall we?

The mascara itself comes in what looks like an eyeglass case in leopard print.

The mascara comes with two applicators.  The largest is a "transplanting gel".  The smaller is the fibers.

On the other hand, here is the Younique mascaras.  This picture was taken directly from their site:

Same faux leather bands to hold down the tubes, same big, metal tubes, same rectangular case.  The point is that they're VERY similar, at the bare minimum.

All fibre mascaras are applied the same.  The first step is to use the transplanting gel on your natural lashes, followed by a coat of the fibres, then go in again with the transplanting gel.  Depending on how much crazy drama you want, you can go in again with the fibres and transplanting gel.  In fact, you can do this over and over, though I would caution you not to, lest you look like this person's promotional material for her Younique business:

Yes, this is a picture shared by someone who SELLS this product.  Ugh.

So, anyway, the question now becomes, "does it work?"  Yes, it does.  Does it look like you're wearing "false lashes"?  No, of course not.  It is, however, a bit more lengthening than my normal mascara routine, which I've developed after trying about a hundred mascaras.  Let's see some pictures!

Okay, this is a series of very weird looking photos, but I am wearing one coat of the fibre mascara on my right eye, which is, of course, on the left in these photos.  My normal mascara application (curling the lashes, then both steps from my Lorac Special Effects mascara) was done on my left eye.  As you can see, there is a noticeable difference between the two.  

So, what do I think?  The product has potential.  If used properly, you could likely do two or three coats of the product without looking like the warning photo above.  It's a bit more cumbersome than just a standard mascara, clearly, but I also don't consider this an everyday mascara.

For those wondering, I'm also wearing a generic pink gel liner (seriously, someone gifted this to me...I have no idea where it was purchased, but I love it), Jouer's Luminizing Tint in Pearl, Tarte's Amazonian Clay blush in Blissful, and Lipstick Queen's saint lipstick in Medieval.

Now on to the fun stuff.  I have an extra, UNOPENED, COMPLETELY AND AMAZINGLY BRAND NEW Love Alpha Fibre Mascara set to give away.  Comment below with a caption for the warning photo (just to entertain me) and a winner will be chosen at random on 2/1!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fakes, Counterfeits, Knock-Offs, Replicas, Copies...A Rose By Any Other Name...

I had a "Lipstick Lineup" planned for today, but I've pushed that to the side because of a cosmetics related link that is spreading around Facebook like wildfire. This article on is an on-point commentary on the problems of counterfeit cosmetic products. The article claims that, after being tested in a laboratory:
"“The results were frightening. Tests found high levels of aluminum, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Five of the counterfeit products tested positive for the metal Beryllium, a known carcinogen. What was more concerning; there were dangerously high levels of lead in seven of the counterfeit products, including two bogus M·A·C eye shadows. A counterfeit Chanel eye shadow turned out to be loaded with potentially dangerous bacteria. ‘The amount of bacteria you found in this counterfeit makeup was disgusting,’ Dr. Buka told Inside Edition."
I am not trying to dispute the above. It's clear and evident that knock-off cosmetics could be dangerous to your well-being. In fact, even if one had not read the Babble article, I think they would be able to articulate the dangers involved with the use of these counterfeit products. Indeed, the article was clear about the number of fakes that have saturated the market, tricking innocent shoppers into purchasing these dangerous products, believing them to be real.

However, what the article fails to mention is the number of people who are purposely shopping for fakes. There absolutely are people who think that $52 is an absurd amount of money to pay for a Naked palette or $20 is a crazy figure for a single shadow compact and, instead of forking over the money to Urban Decay for the product, they purchase crap like this in order to save money at the expense of their poor, poor faces. Many people think, "well, yes, it's made in and sold from China, but nearly everything I use is made in China." What I want to say is that it's just not that simple.

When I read articles about counterfeit products, they tend to, as the Babble article did, address merely the damage one can cause to their own well being as the reason not to purchase from non-authorized retailers. It makes me sad because that is truly the tip of the iceberg. Counterfeit products not only POTENTIALLY cause injury to their users, they also ABSOLUTELY cause injury to others. People on the other side of the planet are injured every day so that cheap, fake "Urban Decay" can be made available at pennies on the dollar via merchants in shady stores, from street vendors, and from overseas websites who specialize in rock bottom prices on a wide variety of items, from electronics to handbags to cosmetics. And, by "people on the other side of the planet", I mean children.

This is where I'm going to play a little "logic leap frog" that I hope everyone can follow. Counterfeit products are illegal, not only here, but also in the Asian countries in which they are produced. A company that exists solely to violate the law by producing counterfeit products will likely ignore other laws as well. One type of law that is repeatedly violated by these factories are the various child labor laws that exist in these countries. Now, when a factory is willing to employ (I use that term loosely, as children working in a factory often are required to sleep next to the machines they operate and make as little as 20 cents a day) children illegally, they probably aren't following most human rights laws. Children work in extraordinarily hot factories with inadequate ventilation around dangerous chemicals. They work 12+ hour days, seven days a week. They are physically abused by their "employers".

A decent, short read on the subject is this CNBC article, which states:
"I remember walking into an assembly plant in Thailand a couple of years ago and seeing six or seven little children, all under 10 years old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags. The owners had broken the children's legs and tied the lower leg to the thigh so the bones wouldn't mend. [They] did it because the children said they wanted to go outside and play."
According to the International Trademark Association’s Alan Drewsen, this type of exploitation of minors is par for the course at counterfeit clothing factories. "There are issues of child labor in a lot of these plants around the world," he told the New York Daily News.
Absolutely. Horrifyingly. Heartbreaking. And it's getting worse.

The child labor problem in China was on the decline, until they were ranked #20 on the Child Labor Index in late 2013 (a ranking of the worst of the child labor law violators in the world), up from #53 just a year earlier. This can be at least partly attributed to the rise in demand for counterfeit goods in the developed world.

We can sugar coat it all we want, but if the only reason a person won't buy counterfeit products is because it might hurt their skin, either they aren't aware of the full truth (because of articles like Babble's, which stress the self-damage that these products can cause) or because they are so self-involved that the plight of children in developing or poorer countries is so far removed from their thought pattern.

It boils down to this: if you purchase counterfeit goods, you're contributing to the horrific systematic abuse of children in Asia. Knowing this, is there EVER a reason to throw caution to the wind and buy that Urban Decay palette from eBay, the pink M-A-C lippie you've been pining over on Amazon, or the baked shadows you spotted on Craigslist for a song? Hey, it saved you a couple of bucks and all it REALLY cost was the legs of a fourth grader who hasn't seen the sun in a month.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jouer Luminizing Tint (my hallelujah product of the winter)

This isn't so much a review, it's a REVELATION!  I am so super excited.

As I've gotten older, my skin has gotten more and more dry during the winter.  I had been just fine using my normal foundation, Lorac's Natural Performance, all summer and fall long, but in December, things just dramatically changed.  No longer did my go-to product give me a flawless finish, smooth and matte, with just a touch of dewiness.  Now my skin looked sallow.  It was yellowing and scaling.  I had a massive problem.

I'm not normally one to complain about my skin.  I don't suffer from acne and my skin is rather smooth.  I have some fine lines (clearly more than I did when I was 25), but I'm not overwhelmingly wrinkled.  My skin, during the winter, was just too dry for a full-coverage foundation.  Honestly though, I don't NEED a full-coverage foundation either.  Besides its new found dryness, my only big skin problem that I have is freckles (not going to be able to do anything about those) and slightly uneven skin tone.

That said, I found that being extremely pale and freckled put me in a bad position.  Given that I'd likely only need a product for a few months, I decided to start off by doing something I've never done before...experiment with the drugstore and Target.  I tried a Lumene BB cream in Light (the lightest color that it comes in), but it was too dark for my skin and I had a very noticeable orange line which wasn't going to work.  Yes to Grapefruit CC cream in light was also a bust, color-wise, unfortunately.  I can't say that either of these products is "bad" since I'm clearly not going to continue to wear something that is not going to at least blend in properly.

I got off lucky, really, as I had purchased both products on sale and I didn't fork over too much cash for them.  I decided that I wasn't going to continue to toss money into the wind though and went on to the next logical step...internet research.

I spent hours (and I DO mean hours) reading reviews and searching through published lists of "best foundations for dry skin" or "the best tinted moisturizers of 2014".  I locked into one...Jouer Luminizing Tint.  Not only were the overwhelming majority of the reviews positive, but I found Youtube video reviews that made me excited about the product as well.

I did have some hesitations.  First of all, many of the videos I watched were made by people in their 20s.  Secondly, it came with a pretty hefty price tag -- $38.  This was precisely $2 more than my normal full-coverage foundation and a whopping $24 more than what my second choice (The Balm's BalmShelter) cost on Amazon.  While price is always something to be concerned with, this is also my skin and I made the decision to go ahead and invest in the Jouer product.

I received the product and decided to go head first into testing it.  Since it was a light moisturizer instead of foundation, I skipped the usual Beauty Blender routine and went straight to the old school "putting it on my face with my hands" method that served me so well in high school with my Cover Girl foundation.

Out of the tube, it did appear to be a bit more on the yellowish side of the spectrum and I worried if I had made a mistake.  It also has a shimmer to it (not overly glittery, just a pretty dewy look) that I don't normally look for in my foundation, but it really wasn't over the top.

On my face though, it did it's job.  It felt hydrating and light, but also evened out my skin tone all while letting my freckles poke through to add the illusion of youth.  It's shimmery enough to give me a healthy glow without turning me into a Twilight Vampire.

Overall, I'm in love with this product!  I'm not even sure I want to go back to foundation when the spring time/summer comes around.  I may give BalmShelter a try as well, if only for the insanely cheap price tag associated it with in a "well, why not?" manner, but I'm pretty sold on Jouer's tint.

If anyone reads this and has other suggestions, I'm always open to hearing about them!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Balm's Nude'Tude Palette (and all the funny things it makes me feel)

Just before Christmas, I engaged in a little online cosmetic retail therapy.  As part of my treatment, my therapist ordered a Nude'Tude palette (yes, we'll blame an imagined therapist for this one, if my husband ever asks).  I had heard a bunch about it, so I had super high hopes.  Let's take a look at this one, shall we?

Top row (L to R):  Sassy; Stubborn; Selfish; Sophisticated; Sexy; and Serious
Bottom row (L to R):  Snobby; Stand-offish; Sultry; Seductive; Silly; and Sleek

This particular palette is their "nice" version, which is overlaid on artwork depicting a bedroom scene.  The "naughty" version is overlaid on artwork depicting pinups.  I didn't have much of a choice because I purchased the one on Amazon that was on sale and it didn't give you the option to specify.  I'm okay with it though since no one else will likely ever see my palette.

The palette itself comes with a VERY short two-sided shadow and liner brush that will never get used because I have my own brushes that I happen to very much like.

I swiped each shadow with my fingertips and found them buttery and velvety, without any kind of chalkiness.  They were surprisingly pleasant to touch, just super, super soft.


For continuity:

Top row (L to R):  Sassy; Snobby; Stubborn; Stand-offish; Selfish; Sultry; Sophisticated; Seductive; and Sexy
Bottom row (L to R):  Silly; Serious; and Sleek

All of the shadows were swatched on top of NYX shadow base in white.  MOST of the colors are beautiful, but alas, there are a couple of shades that have fallen short of my expectations.  The Sassy, sadly, is really just a sheer shimmer, but you'd find no indication of that by looking at the palette.  The palette makes it look like a white shimmer, but what you see in this photo is actually just the shadow base.  The color payoff from Stubborn and Stand-offish were also both slightly disappointing.  Despite MANY coats of shadow, I was still able to see peeks of the shadow base.  I love the colors though, so I will still use them, regardless of the fact that I feel it's a waste of shadow to pack it on so thickly.

Overall though, for the price I've paid for the palette (about $26 on sale), I feel like I got my money's worth.  At full-price ($36), it might be a tougher sell, but I still think it's worth snatching up.  At $16-$26 cheaper than Urban Decay's Naked 3 and without all the glitter that I personally think earmarks UD's palettes as being a bit too "clubby" and, frankly, a little too juvenile for the majority of women over 28.  I'd be amiss if I didn't state that a little glitter, or shimmer, is lovely (and The Balm's palette certainly has lots of it), but I have long been weary of the UD glitter fallout, given my experiences with two different books of shadows.

And the best part?  The above photo was taken at 11 AM.  In order to test not only their pigmentation, but also their longevity, I left them on all day.  I washed some dishes (admittedly with gloves on), cooked and served up dinner, and played with my dogs.  Here's what the same arm looked like at 8 PM:

Yeah, some of the darker shades (the bottom row) had some serious fade, but I am pretty sure I use my arm a whole lot more than my eyelids on a day-to-day basis.  For a nine-hour wear, it held up really well.  Like exceptionally well.  Can I state this enough?  Nope.  It held up amazingly.

I keep seeing people asking questions about what to buy as a Naked dupe and, while this may not be a "dupe" in the traditional sense (the colors are, by no means, the same), but this IS a gorgeous neutral palette for everyday wear.  I, of course, love the bold colors on my eyes, but for a daily look, there's nothing better than a classy neutral...and the Nude'Tude palette has them in spades.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Amazing Giveaway

I don't post often (or as often as I should), but that should change soon.  I've been avoiding doing any in-depth blogging because my cell phone camera just doesn't cut it.  However, I'm picking up my brand new camera today when Best Buy opens, which opens me up to limitless possibilities.  I'm super excited.

In the meantime, feel free to follow the link to this INCREDIBLE giveaway from an INCREDIBLE company.  If you know me personally, you'll know that my very favorite loose shadows come in jars with pretty pink lids made by Daily Lovelies.

They're giving away their newest collection plus a set of Sigma eye brushes. Two other prizes allow you to choose four of your favorites.  Can it get any better?

Follow this link to enter the giveaway for a chance at this fantastic prize.  I mean, COME ON...LOOK at these things!!

Beautiful shadows that go on smooth, not chalky, in HUGE jars filled extremely generously.  What's even better is that if you place an order between now and January 1st, you'll receive a raffle ticket.  A ticket will be drawn on January 10th and the winner will receive a Sedona Lace Se7en Midnight Lace Synthetic brush set.  If you're not excited yet, I don't know what else to say.  Go get yours!