Two Faves & A Fail: Cetaphil, Revlon, Mad Hippie

So July was a month that happened.

I got a new job! That’s a thing. I got through several rounds of edits on the manuscript, started plotting out a new project, and rewatched Sons of Anarchy for the umpteenth time. I also rediscovered the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser and how much I love it.

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Image Courtesy of Mad Hippie

“Natural” products and I, as a rule, don’t jive well together. A lot of the plant extracts and essential oils they put in them are irritating at best, break me out at worst, and in the long run I don’t believe most of them are beneficial for the skin; usually the opposite. But this cream cleanser only has two of those at the very bottom of the ingredients list, and while it doesn’t remove makeup or sunscreen on its own, this is my favorite morning cleanser. It leaves my face feeling soft as if I’ve already put lotion on, and honestly as smooth as ceramic. I swear it helps with redness, too. If your skin is very oily or sensitive, this may not be the first thing I would recommend. But as my oily skin has become more normal and I’m less prone to breakouts, this is a cleanser I will gladly repurchase.

Cruelty free, vegan, $15.99 for 4 oz. on the Mad Hippie Website.

Ingredients:

Deionized Water (Solvent), Sesame Oil (Sesamum Indicum) (Emollient/Moisturizer), Caprylic/capric Triglycerides (Emollient/Solvent), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii) (Moisturizer), Cetearyl Glucoside (Viscosity Control), Carrageenan Gum (Thickener/Viscosity Control), Vegetable Glycerin (Emollient/Moisturizer), Caprylhydroxamic Acid (Preservative), Caprylyl Glycol (Emollient), Sodium PCA (Emollient), Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis Leaf) (Antioxidant), Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis) (Emollient), Squalene (Emollient), Organic Macadamia Oil (Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil) (Moisturizer), Organic Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia Chinesis) (Moisturizer), Yeast Extract (Antioxidant/Moisturizer), Glucosamine HCL (Antistatic), Vitamin E (Tocopheryl) (Antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (Humectant), Algae Extract (Humectant), Orchid Extract (Orchis Mascula) (Debateable.), Titanium Dioxide (Light Absorbing, Opacifying)

A new favorite has been the Revlon HD Lipcolor in Pink Cloud. I’ve mentioned before that I usually love wearing bright colors, but lately, maybe for the summer and maybe just because I have been interviewing for this new job and relying on “no-makeup” type makeup, I’ve been seeking out a specific shade and formula that I could only describe as “baby lips.” As I was returning the fail item I discuss below, this beautiful little gem jumped out of the display, of its own accord, and into my grubby little gremlin hands.

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Can you believe that?

I have heard EmilyNoel83 rave about this formula on YouTube for years it feels like, and now I understand why. The formula is creamy, balmy, and while the lasting power isn’t superb, this one is comfortable hours after application and I can touch up without a mirror.

More importantly, it gives me the interview-ready baby lips I desire.

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Cruelty free, $8.99 for 0.1 oz on Ulta’s website.

Ingredients:

Mica (Pigment), Titanium Dioxide (Pigment), Synthetic Wax (Emollient/Antistatic), Polyethylene (Viscosity Control), Synthetic Fluorphlogopite (Viscosity Control), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene (Emollient), Red Iron Oxide (Pigment), Black Iron Oxide (Pigment), Yellow Iron Oxide (Pigment)

July wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and new capitalist opportunities. I was looking for a physical SPF, as I was unhappy with the chemical ones I was using before. I have loved the Josie Maran sunscreen, and was looking at the tinted version as a way to bypass foundation or tinted moisturizer altogether when my skin was behaving. Imagine my joy hearing whispers of the Cetaphil Redness Reducing Facial Moisturizer SPF 20 on the Makeupalley Skincare board!

Imagine my utter disappointment after I tried it myself!

This cream suffers from a few things. To get this out of the way, there are several ingredients that have been shown to reduce surface redness in skin. While it’s not unheard of to use caffeine in this manner, it’s relatively new compared to niacinamide, licorice extract, etc. The argument is that caffeine restricts blood vessels, thus reducing redness, and also has some soothing properties.

I want to say that I picked this up with no expectations that this would have a substantial affect on the redness in my skin, as even “tried and true” methods that I listed above are ultimately cosmetic, and if you have rosacea or chronic redness, the only proven solutions are going to be found at a dermatologist’s office. So in this regard, I wasn’t disappointed. Because it didn’t have any affect on my redness.

What it did was make me look like I smudged mud all over my face.

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I am ultra pale, so I’m used to working with base products darker than I am. But this only comes in one shade, and I would put it roughly at a NC 25-30. Even for me, that’s a big jump to try and work, especially for the amount you need to adequately protect your skin from the sun. It blends in a bit, as I tried to show in the photo above, but it never really looks good. Moreover, because it is mineral sunscreen, the pigments have a sheen to them even when I powder overtop.

Despite looking oily, though, this is far from hydrating even on my normal-oily skin. If anything, it feels a bit dry. I imagine because it has such a high amount of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both of which can be very astringent and chalky, and the first real “big hitter” moisturizer, ethylhexylglycerin, is over halfway down the ingredients list, followed by glycerin itself. They are the only real “moisturizers” in the formula, all the other fatty alcohols and silicones you see are largely just emollients that add some slip and silkiness to the formula. For a face cream that in theory seems to cater to sensitive, red skin that includes such a high content of astringent physical sunscreens, the lack of moisturizers seems super odd to me.

No good.

1.7 oz for $18.99 on Ulta’s website.

Ingredients:

Titanium Dioxide 10.1%, Zinc Oxide 7.8% (Sunscreens)

Allantoin (Anti-Inflammatory), Benzyl Alcohol (Solvent/Preservative), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (Emollient), Caffeine (Debatable), Caprylyl Methicone (Skin Conditioning/Occlusive), Cetyl Diglyceryl Tris(Trimethylsiloxy)silylethyl Dimethicone (Surfactant), Chromium Oxide Greens (Pigment), Dicaprylyl Carbonate (Emollient), Dimethicone (Emollient), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (Anti-Inflammatory), Ethylhexylglycerin (Moisturizer), Glycerin (Moisturizer), Hydrogenated Lecithin (Emulsifier), Iron Oxides (Pigment), Isohexadecane (Solvent/Emulsifier), Magnesium Sulfate (Viscosity Control), Methylpropanediol (Solvent), Silica (Viscosity Control), Tocopherol (Antioxidant), Triethoxycaprylylsilane (Emulsifier/Binding Agent), Trisiloxane (Emollient), Water (Solvent)

If your July wasn’t kind to you, I hope at least that the eclipses around the corner in August treat you better. If you have had any luck or mishaps with these, let me know!

See ya!

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Nearly Science: The Ordinary’s Niacinimide 10% + Zinc PCA 1% Review (& Glossier Comparison)

I’m literally, actually, one hundred percent always ready to spend some money and start new, unnecessary series on my blog. So welcome to Nearly Science. For the folks who got a liberal arts degree, instead of following through with that biology thing like they promised their mom.

Am I projecting?

Also, I’m splitting up the reviews from my big Ordinary order by product firstly because I hope that’s easier to search for and also because it would be long to the point of unintelligible and cumbersome if I tried to fit everything in one review. So!

The Ordinary’s entire gimmick (I say that lovingly) is simple, one or two ingredient actives with very little in the way of much else. Being said, I think it’s therefore especially important to really understand exactly what these ingredients are supposed to do, since that’s literally all it has going for it.

What is Niacinamide? 

“Niacinamide” (Nicotinamide) and Niacin hang their hats in the Vitamin B3 family. Both are found naturally in the body, and deficiencies, particularly of niacin, can cause health issues like anemia, fatigue, lesions, nausea, etc. Niacin is also used as cholesterol medication, and both Niacin and Nicotinamide are necessary for the production of ATP, which helps do fun stuff like help keep you alive.

While Niacin has other, separate medical uses, it’s nicotinamide that’s usually used to treat niacin deficiencies because it doesn’t have the same side effects as ingesting niacin in high/consistent doses. A lot of it is the general fun stuff: GI issues, as well as raising blood sugar levels and even blood pressure, but for our purposes today I want to point out that one of the most common side effects of taking niacin is flushing.

Niacin and Nicotinamide are not the same, and niacin can’t even be directly converted to niacinamide. Similarly, though they are both necessary for ATP production and niacinamide can be used to help niacin deficiency, nicotinamide hasn’t been shown to help with cholesterol the way niacin can. What I mean is, they behave the same in some, but not all, ways.

I bring this up because there are people who do experience flushing with Niacinamide topically, despite it being the “no-flush” alternative. Likely this is from the niacinamide in the formula converting to niacin once on the skin. (Niacinamide is usually very stable, though, and this is rare.) Even if you have used niacinamide before, I would always recommend patch testing new formulas, just in case.

Niacinamide in Skin Care

Topically, niacinamide is used largely for its anti-inflammatory abilities. It’s been shown to inhibit a specific inflammatory receptor in the skin, and also help with ceramide synthesis that helps barrier repair. With regards to breakouts, niacinamide will provide what we called in my most favorite political science courses “a necessary but insufficient condition” to helping clear that up. It’s not going to act the way something like benzoyl peroxide (largely an antibacterial) or even salicylic acid (an anti-imflammatory, though not in the same way as niacinamide, and a BHA) will, but it will soothe the resultant inflammation and redness from a breakout.

The Ordinary itself doesn’t claim this to be an acne treatment per se, and I appreciate that. Rather, like the Glossier Super Pure, it’s recommended for acne-prone skin generally.

Niacinamide is also thought to help suppressing melanin from reaching the surface layers of the skin, and it’s usually for this reason and it’s uses in ceramide synthesis/barrier strengthening that it’s included in “anti-aging creams,” like Olay Regenerist (which is, perhaps, rightfully hyped).

What is Zinc PCA?

Zinc is an essential element that’s found in a whole bunch of enzymes, proteins, and amino acids in the human body, in some form or another. Like Niacin and Niacinamide, while Zinc is found naturally in the body it’s also necessary to ingest a certain amount of it from your diet to avoid Zinc deficiency, which can cause developmental delays or issues in children as well as increase a person’s susceptibility to disease. (Though, having too much zinc in your body will just give you a whole other set of issues. But that might be another topic for another day.)

The “PCA” bit stands for Pyrrolidine Carboxylic Acid, which is the salt of an amino acid that has been shown to act as a humectant and skin conditioner. (In the sake of disclosure, the percentage at which PCA was shown to have these qualities isn’t super clear — to me, anyway. The only paper I’ve seen with a specific number floats it at or above 2%, but was published several years ago.)

Zinc in Skin Care

Topically, zinc is used as an antimicrobial and a skin protectant, in addition to as a sunscreen (depending on the formulation). It’s also a soothing agent, and Zinc PCA specifically is a conditioning ingredient. Zinc might be something I have to tackle in detail later, as its uses in all its forms are pretty varied, but Zinc PCA is largely a one trick pony. It’s soothing. End.

Product Performance

I enjoy this serum, but I don’t think it’s going to be necessary for everyone. I vastly prefer it to the Glossier Super Pure, which I also used — even went through an entire bottle of. Glossier refuses to state what percentage of niacinamide or zinc is in their formula, but I would guess it’s not nearly as much as what’s in the Ordinary, based on that reluctance, firstly, and its performance, more than anything.

Full Ingredients (The Ordinary)

Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol (Solvent/Emollient), Zinc PCA, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum (Thickener/Viscosity Control), Xanthan Gum (Thickener/Viscosity Control), Isoceteth-20 (Surfactant/Emulsifier), Ethoxydiglycol (Solvent/Viscosity Control), Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Chlorphenesin (Preservative)

Full Ingredients (Glossier)

Water/Aqua/Eau, Niacinamide, Glycereth-26 (Emollient/Thickener), Propanediol (Viscosity Control/Solvent), Zinc PCA, Citric Acid (pH Adjuster), Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Extract, Peg-12 Dimethicone (Emollient/Emulsifier), Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose (Viscosity Control/Thickener)

For the record, COSDNA labels the Honeysuckle extracts in the Glossier as an astringent. I hadn’t really seen them before, so I did a quick google to lukewarm results in terms of credibility…in my personal opinion. Some folks have argued this extract has antioxidant properties, and there seems to be a longstanding debate as to if these can be processed in some way to be a “green” preservative. I’m unsure to what end, if any, they were included in the Super Pure, and as I mentioned, Glossier is mum about their “secret formulas.” The Citric Acid in their formula can also be used as a preservative, though I’m unsure why they would use that specifically in a formula with niacinamide as the star ingredient…just wanted to put it out there either way!

The Ordinary’s serum is better in terms of immediately soothing redness on contact. While I felt the Glossier Super Pure helped with my ever present redness as well, it was too slippy/oily feeling and I had to use more than I felt I should have to. Also, within several minutes of application I ultimately felt like the redness was back to it’s usual, annoying, level.

Both serums claim to reduce pore size. Glossier had no effect on my pores at all, but the Ordinary’s seems to be helping with some of the congestion, and I think is making them appear a little smaller (though I’m also using regular acid exfoliators.) We’re all friends here, so I don’t need to tell you that there is no actual way to physcially shrink your pores, and also that pores are necessary to you living. Please love them. Even and especially when they are visible.

I mentioned the Glossier Super Pure was slippy, but the Ordinary’s is much more like water. As it’s drying, I notice more sticky/tackiness than I do the Glossier, but within a few seconds any stickiness is gone, and I don’t experience pilling putting lotion on top. It’s a nice addition to my nighttime routine, especially when I’m about to go on the rag and my skin is looking just generally unhappy.

In terms of doing what it says on the tin, The Ordinary’s Niacinamide scores full marks. It’s a good booster to other actives, particularly an acid. (Lactic Acid for redness and texture and Salicylic for acne concerns would be my personal suggestions.) The Niacinamide does help with any potential irritation using these, and for folks looking for a little something extra I think you’ll enjoy this. If you’re looking for a radical game changer that will leave you waking up with different skin or a one-stop shop that will “cure” your redness or acne, this will leave you underwhelmed.

I feel confident recommending the Niacinamide serum from the Ordinary to someone who knows what to expect going in, certainly over the Glossier Super Pure, and am glad to see an affordable option that lets people play around with the ingredient to see how they like it.

Let me know what you thought about this or any of the other Ordinary products! Nearly Science will return with The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 5% + 2% HA.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and your week is easy-breezy ahead of you. 🙂

Quitting My Job, Finishing My Novel, & A New Skincare Routine

I have been busy.

In light of my south node moving into my tenth house, I quit my job.

Kidding, kind of.

Nothing changes if you don’t change it, and I realized I couldn’t do anything else to make myself happier where I worked than what I’d already done. So, I quit. No safety net.

It was scary! But somehow I feel better unemployed than I can remember feeling for a while. I’ve written so much and I feel so good about it. I finished my novel! That’s a thing. And I’ve been editing that and re-writing my first project, too, and I’m getting so much done every day even between my job applications.

Everything is new, even what isn’t new feels new. Even my skincare routine is new! Even the perfume I’m wearing is new!

Anyway, I was gone but now I’m back(ish). Novel updates and some hauls coming soon, and a comparison of the Colourpop Blotted Lips to the Glossier Gen G’s.

“I Am a Working Professional” FOTD

It’s busy season at Day Job, and unfortunately that means the more I want to wear sweats and look scrubby, the more I have to look “put-together.” Life is funny like that.

Aims:

1. Don’t look like shit

2. Don’t take forever

3. Last long enough I can attend those inhumane 4:30 pm Friday meetings (that could have been e-mails)

Method:

1. Pat a bit of jojoba or sweet almond oil on my face. I’ve been wearing actual foundation lately — I have to use a sponge and everything — and the one I’m using in particular goes on better with a dewy base like this. I tried it with a “sticky/tacky” oil-control type base and it clung funny and my cream blush/contour/highlight/etc. blended out like shit over top.

2. Undereye concealer just in that innermost hollow near my nose to avoid creasing and future mascara smudging. Brow gel. Try to convince myself to run a pencil through the gaps and asymmetry in my brows. Fail.

3. Pretend I can convince other people into thinking I have bone structure by running a contour stick under where a cheekbone, in theory, would be. Blush as medically necessary to then convince them I am alive. Highlight because I fucking love sparkle.

5.Take a bigass eye crayon or a sparkly eyeshadow and smudge that shit on the lid and take a tiny bit underneath the lower lashline too. If I’m feeling real crazy, I might even take some eyeliner on my waterline before mascara.

6. Now that all the face makeup has settled in as much as it’s gonna, I go in with face-concealer; waiting until the foundation is set keeps me from using too much.

7. Lipstick. Check for it on my teeth. Rub it off. Have lipstick smeared all over my teeth the rest of the day regardless.

Result:

WPFOTD

Do I look close to a two weeks notice to you?

Iron Fist Thoughts

I am not the first person, the last person, and I won’t be the best person to talk about how Iron Fist was mismanaged in terms of casting and production. It was. I watched it (so you might not have to) and I’ll confirm that reports of its use of racist tropes and uninspiring fight choreography and cinematography have not been exaggerated.

But like I said, I’m not the best person to talk at length about some of these issues. Let me direct you to the work of people who’ve expressed some of this better than I ever could here and here. If you want to do your own leg work, any semi-vague google search will lead you to tons of articles to parse through at your leisure.

What I can talk about with some degree of confidence is my experience watching it just as a Marvel fan, so that’s what I’m going to focus on.

The first season of Daredevil was critiqued pretty heavily for being slow-paced. While I didn’t necessarily feel that way about it, it seemed as if the Marvel team took that to heart and the subsequent Daredevil season as well as Jessica Jones and Luke Cage all started off with a bit more speed to the narrative. Iron Fist made the first few episodes of Daredevil season one look balls to the wall, NASCAR pit stop frantic.

It picked up, eventually, maybe around episode 8 or 9? (Of a 13 episode season!!) But it didn’t feel like a natural progression or like the pay off of a tense build up until that point (which season one Daredevil did). This felt like they were writing a different show.

I don’t know how some of the things I saw weren’t scrapped in like the first draft of the script (I am very curious to see the first drafts, though.) I mean this very literally — there are lines of dialogue that fit in with my first creative writing assignment from 7th grade on top of structural inconsitencies and bizarre characterization shifts that seem to change with whatever direction the wind blows. I’m sure part of this, in Danny’s case, anyway, was them trying to show the dichotomy of a man who was stunted in many ways as a ten year old while also being “wise” or whatever from his years of training to become the Iron Fist. But there was so little nuance and consistency in how this was dealt with it just felt more like they couldn’t make up their minds about if Danny was a wizened guru who preached “respect in the dojo” (not that he could be assed to show any himself) and “detachment as strength” and chi alignment (which he conveniently forgot towards the end…funny how that happens…) or if he was a naive boy in a (strong?) man’s body.  (Question mark intended, because even though you have to suffer through Iron Fist‘s lackluster fight scenes, you don’t ever really see Danny “show out.” I don’t know how strong that Iron Fist of his is, in real people terms, because I don’t think their writing team ever came to a decision about that themselves. He can use it sometimes? Except when he can’t? It’s strong but not that strong? It changes every episode, sometimes several times throughout an episode.)

If we can detour slightly for a moment: the only character who had anything resembling a character arc or growth was Ward Meachum, and I can’t tell you how irritated I was to be even sort of rooting for his Patrick Bateman impersonating ass by the end of it (the very end of the last episode aside, but maybe not for the reason you’d guess). I am especially irritated but not surprised at how the fandom seems to be running with this at lightspeed and woobifying him to a degree that boggles even my jaded ass. (Going in the tumblr tag was a mistake.) The MCU seems to be very good at creating lanky haired semi-villians (it seems too generous to call some of them “anti-heroes”) for folks to latch onto, but somehow they can’t manage to avoid Claire Temple’s character assassination after building her up to be so amazing in 3 series so far.

Yes, that’s another thing to be mad about. Claire Temple stopped being a person of her own accord and started being some string along puppet conveiently there to fix dumbass-induced boo-boos. Actually, Iron Fist treated women badly generally. (Here’s a good article about “Slapping The Joker” with regards to Joy Meachum. It might be the only article of substance you see on Joy, considering she could have been very easily replaced by a reasonably attractive lamp in a wig and not made much difference to the plot.) Marvel and the MCU have been far from perfect in this regard, but the Netflix series they’ve produced have in many ways been better than, say, Joss Whedon’s Avengers films. 🙂 Iron Fist is a huge step backwards in this regard — Colleen is a cardboard approximation of a stiff-upper lip when first introduced, and falls into a strangely irrational puddle of goo with regards to Danny with no build up or explanation. She’s a hard-ass, then she’s a lovesick fool. That’s the pattern most of the characters follow.

The main problem, I think, is they are trying to arrange these characters around a (weak) plot instead of trying to engage these characters with the plot or even, dare I say, have their actions and decisions shape it in a decisive way. This among other things leaves you wholly uninvested in either the plot or characters because there’s a feeling that it doesn’t really matter either way.

This is to say nothing of the fact that some of these characters are just portrayed poorly. Like, the acting is noticeably bad, espeically with Finn Jones (our Danny Rand), and that’s not even something I usually notice. In fact, one of the only characters who was notably handled well was Ward; Tom Pelphrey is one of the few problems I don’t have with this show. But like I said before, that in and of itself pisses me off 🙂

I’m concerned doubly about all of this when I think of the upcoming Defenders series: I don’t know how what they’ve built in this series is gonna gel with the others. The Mary Sue pointed out, for example, that Danny’s whiny, white male entitlement is something Jessica Jones actively despises, and with good reason. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t enjoy seeing that dynamic played out and explored; it might be an opportunity to give Danny space in the narrative to gain some self-awareness — I just doubt it will get airtime. I’m concerned they’re going to sweep all of these shortcomings and inconsistencies and weaknesses under the rug instead of addressing them which has historically never worked out in the Cinematic Universe they’ve created.

I explained Iron Fist to my coworker like this: “everything you would think would happen in Iron Fist comes to pass in Iron Fist.” I think it might be the one series you could skip on before starting Defenders in August. Re-watch Luke Cage instead, listen to that bomb soundtrack, and forget that Marvel ever spent millions of dollars on this show.

In sum: I am disappointed, but not surprised.

Blush Diaries: Becca Beach Tint “Guava”

Becca’s shimmer souffle leaves me in an odd puddle of ennui, but this beach tint is a little better, at least.

Guava

I’d try more beach tints if there weren’t really good liquid blushes that are less pricey, maybe. Guava is sheer and pretty and lasts a decent amount of time (not all day, like my ELF Cream Blush palette); but it’s like my on again, off again partner. I like it when I think to use it (more than that Watermelon shimmer souffle), but it’s out of sight out of mind when it filters its way to the bottom of my makeup bag.

GuavaBecca1

It’s alright, I guess. Maybe if I’d gotten a more unique color I’d have stronger feelings about it. The formula and this shade don’t leave me with any complaints, per se, but I’m not excited to reach for them. (This also looks really not good on the lips. Don’t let Becca lie on you like that.)

Bonus: When No Selfie is Working but You Got a Blog Post to Get Up:

beccaguava2

I’ll never be a beauty blogger, really.

Lipstick for When You Hate Your Job

Does this title sound like click bait? Because that is honestly and unironically what this post is about. (It’s more likely than you think!)

I’ve been struggling with the Day Job more than usual lately. And I mean that very genuinely in the “crafted my two weeks notice before I left last Friday and have it queued up and ready to go the next time I’m faced with bullshit” kind of way. Unfortunately, I don’t have a patron that would support me if I just up and left with no backup in place (though applications are open for that coveted position!), so I’ve had to rely on other ways to get me though my hopefully numbered days at Day Job. Of course, because it’s me, that means lipstick.

Makeup gives me joy and as I’ve mentioned before a bright blush and lipstick gives me joy most of all, since I don’t even have to worry about blending it or winging it evenly or anything else complicated. Here are some of my fave bright and happy lipsticks that allow me to fake it until I make it, so to speak:

Reds:

Red

Left to Right: Besame “American Beauty,” Clinique Pop Lip Color+Primer “Cherry Pop,” Revlon Super Lustrous “Fire and Ice,” LA Colors “Cherry Red,” ELF Tinted Lip Balm “XO Red” (d/c?), Clinique Chubby Stick “Chunky Cherry

The Clinique Cherry Pop (don’t think I don’t see what you did there, Clinique) and Besame American Beauty are my standouts in terms of color + formula, since I usually prefer cooler/berry reds anyway. That ELF one is a straight up lipstick though — that’s one light swipe shown there. Don’t let the name fool you. If you’re looking for sheer, the Clinique Chubby Stick or one of the Revlon Kiss Balms (I think the red one is Cherry or Apple something?) would be better.

Pinks:

Pink

Left to Right: J.Cat Beauty 24/7 Hydrating Lip Stain “Hikilicious,” Korres Liquid Lipstick “Raspberry” (d/c, but I think you can still find this one here), Soap and Glory Sexy Motherpucker “Pommie Girl,” Revlon Lip Butter “Lollipop” (d/c), Colourpop Ultra Glossy “Kink” (d/c), Almay Liquid Lip Balm “Pink Pout,” Revlon Kiss Balm “Fresh Strawberry

For some reason, the Soap and Glory Pommie Girl and the J. Cat Hikilicious both photographed darker and a bit more brown than they are in real life, no matter what I tried with my limited lighting and photography skills. Pommie Girl is definitely a rosy, deeper pink, but is absolutely lighter and brighter than the swatch above. Same for Hikilicious, which is a peachy-pink color in real life (think those peachy-orange roses in the grocery store, then up the saturation level by about 50 points. You can see it in action here). I love both of these formulas though; the Soap and Glory matte formula is a drugstore sleeper cell, and Pommie Girl and Cinnamon Kiss are “oh shit” makeup bag staples.

Etc:

Wild

Left to Right: Colourpop “Crystal Ball” (d/c), Sephora Colorful Glass Balm “Adjust Your Tiara,” Sephora Colorful Gloss Balm “Peek a Blue,” NYX High Voltage Lipstick “Twisted,” (Now rebranded as “Turnt Up”? NYX what?)  NYX Round Lipstick “Haute Melon,” Revlon Kissable Balm Stain “Rendezvous

I will buy Rendezvous until they stop making it, and when that happens I will cry many rivers. I think it’s actually the only lipstick I have ever fully run through and repurchased. The Sephora glosses are sheer enough to get away with in most work settings — you can tell, especially with the blue, that a little something is going on, but it’s not like Crystal Ball, which is full on green goodness and not something I could wear to a meeting with my boss’ boss, but can bust out on a Friday when no one is there to see me giving them the cosmetic middle finger anyway. (Fair warning, the blue can go into “been drunk-slurping a Burger King Ic-ee” real quick if you goop on too much).

Some days, of course, there is no other option but to show who I am inside:

Dark

Left to Right: J.Cat Beauty 24/7 Hydrating Lip Stain “Fantasy Dreamer,” Besame “Noir Red,” BITE Beauty “Liquorice,” The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes “Charming,” Colourpop Ultra Glossy “Furry” (d/c)

Charming pulls deeper and much more plum on my lips, as seen in this unfortunate drunk snapchat:

Snap

But I know on others it stays more true to the nudey-rosewood color seen above. The darker colors of that J. Cat stain can be a bit finnicky, but when I can be assed to take the time to apply it properly it is beautiful. Both the Bite and Besame lipsticks are beautiful and luxurious feeling, as well, (Besame wins for longevity, if that matters to you), and “Furry” is one of my favorite Colourpop purchases of all time. All of these are good eggs, is what I’m saying.

I haven’t busted out my only remaining black lipstick yet, but maybe I’ll wear it when I’m going out in a blaze of glory?

I know lipstick isn’t for everyone, and this might not help you deal with your employment hell if that’s the case. My only other suggestion would be:

Ice-Cream

The birthday cake flavor is real good, too.

How do you motivate yourself in our capitalist prison? 🙂