Posted on May 10, 2018 under Reviews
Hi, have you been on the internet ever? If so, you’ve probably heard of the Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer, because it’s been getting a lot of hype as a dupe for perennial YouTuber favourite Tarte Shape Tape. (Notably, MUR is an extremely low-cost drugstore brand and they managed to launch with eighteen shades, whereas Shape Tape has fourteen after a shade range expansion.)
Concealer is the type of product that I find horribly boring. It’s solely utilitarian, really – I just need it to cover up my dark circles and the occasional zit. That’s just not very exciting, you know?
However, sometimes products get so much hype that you just feel the need to throw your hat in the ring. Though I’ve been getting away with my Primark concealer over the past few months the slight shade mismatch was starting to bother me, so I thought I’d take advantage of that and pick up the Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer. Except you know that it’s not possible to just casually stroll into Superdrug to “pick up” a concealer that has blown up on the internet, as I found in mid-March when I went to three different stores in Glasgow City Centre to find them completely picked over. It was even sold out online, so I set up a restock alert and jumped on it the moment I got the email. I can definitely say I have never done that for a concealer before, so the hype has surely penetrated my consciousness.
Personally I can’t help but feel that the Shape Tape comparisons are partially just due to the similarities in packaging. (I mean, people still say that Maybelline Fit Me is a dupe for NARS Radiant Creamy even though they’re nothing alike. The sway of packaging is strong!) I will tell you right now that I have never tried Shape Tape, so I will not be able to bust this myth nor to verify it. I’m just going to tell you if I think this concealer is good.
As I noted, this concealer launched with a lot more shades than your average drugstore concealer, which is great and commendable and definitely a trend that I hope all brands will continue to adopt. It has some shades that are legitimately dark, but of course lighter shades are represented more. However, this shade range is a lot better than basically any drugstore brands and a lot of mid-range and high end brands. The shades are labelled with C and then a number, but I don’t believe this C refers to undertone as I don’t find that all of the shades are cool. The foundations are similarly labelled with an F, so I think the C just stands for “Concealer,” which is admittedly confusing when it’s fairly engrained that C = Cool. Don’t let that throw you off! The lightest shade in this range, C1, is legitimately very pale, along the same lines as NARS Chantilly.
Unfortunately I don’t still own Chantilly to swatch for you, but here it is with some other base products:
L-R: Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer in C1, Maybelline Master Conceal in Fair, The Ordinary Serum Foundation in N1.1, IT Cosmetics CC Cream in Fair
I think this a pretty neutral concealer – pink base products look all kinds of wrong on me and this doesn’t jump out as remotely pink. If anything, it has a hint of yellow.
This is a tad light for me, but C2 would have definitely been too dark, so I deal with this burden I am forced to bear. If you’re a YouTuber you probably think this is my perfect colour since you’re supposed to go lighter under your eyes. That has never looked extremely flattering on me, but it’s fine. I’ll live.
I also think it’s worth noting that you are probably not going to find the full shade range instore. Maybe if you live in a racially diverse part of the UK? But I live in Glasgow, which, as Scotland’s most racially diverse city, is 88% white, so they’re not putting that shit out on shelves. You have to order it online, and if you have a Health and Beauty Card Superdrug’s free shipping threshold is only £10, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s also not the greatest thing to happen to makeup shelf space.
(Note: After I wrote the bulk of this post I was in a Superdrug in Brighton and they only stocked a few shades as well. Didn’t think to check while in London, though!)
This is attractive packaging for the drugstore. The tube is short and thick, and the rose gold cap and label add a nice touch. It’s sturdy and the cap has a satisfying springy closure. Now I will state the obvious: this doefoot is huge, everyone. I mean, come on, this is the foot of a moose. (A female moose is called a cow, incidentally, and that is not a fact that Canadians come equipped with, it is something that I just Googled because I was hoping there would be a pleasing symmetry in deer and moose nomenclature, which there is not.)
Here is this giant moose woman foot compared to a normal-sized doefoot. YES. It is large. I don’t find it unwieldy by any means; it still fits underneath my eye just fine. I enjoy the way the doefoot is actually constructed, because it has a little well that the product sits in, ready to be brushed on your face:
Application and Finish
In terms of actually applying this product, I find that the aforementioned well holds quite a bit of product and that a little goes a long way. I know we say that about a lot of products, but it’s actually the case in this instance. It’s not that it’s so pigmented and high coverage; it’s just that it’s very spreadable. A quick dab under each eye and I’m good to go! This would probably be way too much product to apply directly to a blemish, but I don’t do that anyway. You may know that I am in principle very against doefoot applicators because I don’t like the concept of putting something on a bacteria-laden zit, sticking it into a dark, moist tube, and then applying that zit-contaminated concealer onto my face at a later date. So I never, ever, ever apply directly from the doefoot to blemishes, and instead just tap a little onto my finger and apply it to my face like that. (Fingers are underrated makeup application tools!)
Speaking of fingers, usually I end up blending out my undereye concealer with my fingers because I don’t find brushes blend efficiently and even the pointy end of a sponge is too big to really get into the inner corner of my eye. However, I have tested it with a small brush and a sponge and those methods are perfectly fine. I’d go for a sponge over a brush, however.
Here’s how much product I apply to one eye:
That’s really just a small tap of the wand underneath my eye, and even that is a pretty generous amount. “A little goes a long way” is cliché, but this really is a spreadable formula that makes a relatively large impact with a small amount of product.
A fact I have picked up about Tarte Shape Tape over the eighteen months of nonstop attention it has received is that it is extremely thick and full coverage. I don’t think MUR Conceal and Define is an extremely thick or full coverage concealer. It is of a normal viscosity, in my opinion. If you’ve tried NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, that is what I’d consider thick. This one is nowhere near that level. It’s probably close to full-coverage, but it’s not, like, an industrial-strength concealer. Here, see for yourself:
On the left, my undereye without concealer; on the right, I’ve applied one layer of Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer. You can see that it’s obviously covered a lot of the darkness, but some is still peeking through. Personally I think using a lighter undereye concealer can unflatteringly emphasize dark circles more than using one that matches perfectly, which I do think comes into play here a bit. The starkness of the light colour mixed with the purple of my undereye creates an almost grey tinge in some lights, which is why I generally prefer something with a bit more of a salmony undertone or that’s at least closer to my actual skin colour. This look is certainly preferable to going without concealer, but it’s not the perfect colour.
Here’s a close-up of how it looks:
I think you can see that around the outer corner of my eye it appears a little bit dry. All but the most emollient of concealers look like that under my eye, so that’s not unique to this product. I don’t think this is the most flattering concealer on planet Earth for the undereyes, but I think it’s fine. If your undereye area is quite dry, it may not be so fine, since it does have a pretty matte finish.
More before and after pictures:
Note the blemishes! The one that’s higher up is a semi-healed cystic zit that is in the exact spot that I always get cystic zits. I don’t know why the divine powers insist on punishing me like this, because that shit is actually really painful. The one lower down is a normal zit, and newer, and in a spot that is typical of stress breakouts for me. (By the time you’re reading this I will have no reason to be stressed, but at the time of photographing and writing I have two weeks to write 13,000 words worth of assignments, read hundreds of pages of film theory, and also write all the blog posts you are reading while I’m on vacation.)
And after concealer:
I am very impressed with the number this concealer did on that cystic zit, actually, because normally my zits repel concealer, to the point where I pretty much only bother with putting it under my eyes. The cheek zit did not fare as well, but it was also fresher, and I find that the newer the zit the less likely concealer is to do anything at all. Now you know a lot about my zits.
This concealer has a pretty matte finish, which is not super ideal for under my eyes but which isn’t patently terrible either. If you have very dry undereyes, you might avoid this one. My undereyes are pretty normal, usually.
This concealer does get visibly dryer throughout the day and it creases a tiny bit. This may not happen if I powdered it, but then it would look dryer, wouldn’t it? Tradeoffs! Here’s how it looked at the beginning of the day:
And here is how it fared after eight hours of wear:
You can see that my undereyes appear a bit dryer at this point, but that’s also an extreme closeup. I mean, my actual eye is not as big as it’s appearing on your screen. When I look at myself in the mirror I don’t think “Oh my god it’s old Crusty Eyes!” I just think it looks like my concealer is not the most fresh it ever has been. On the plus side, there is a surprising lack of creasing.
I wish this concealer had a slightly more natural finish and also that it came in a shade that was a little bit better-suited to my needs and desires, but that’s okay. I’m not going to repurchase this because I think I need to put more emollient products under my eyes from now on, but as a semi-matte concealer with solid coverage I think this delivers. It looks nice, it covers what I want it to cover, and it wears perfectly adequately. Oh, and it’s £4. Is it so earth-shatteringly good that it’s worth all the YouTube hype and the countless hours (okay, uh, maybe one hour?) I spent hunting it down? No. But it’s good. And it’s £4.
The Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer goes for £4 ($7.18 CAD) for 0.11 fl oz/3.4 mL of product. That’s £36.36/$65.27 per fl oz or £1.18/$2.11 per mL. By comparison, Tarte Shape Tape is £22 for 0.33 fl oz, which is £66.67 per fl oz.
Posted on May 05, 2018 under Books
Well, I’m pleased to announce that in the first third of the year I’ve shot past the halfway point. In March and April I read 8 books, for a total of 19. I’m well on my way to my goal of 30 in 2018 – it appears that I may have underestimated myself.
The Problem That Has No Name by Betty Friedan
Another £1 Penguin Modern volume! This one contains two chapters from Friedan’s seminal sociological study The Feminine Mystique. The first is the most interesting to me – it’s about how housewives, promised fulfilment through marriage and childrearing, are actually bored, exhausted, and dissatisfied. As you may know from reading some of my older book posts, I have a (very niche) interest in narratives about women developing inexplicable psychosomatic disorders as a result of the drudgery of housewifery, so you can see why this section was of particular interest to me. In fact, many of the housewives Friedan studied did develop symptoms such as hives and exhaustion. The second essay in the book traces the history of American first-wave feminism, as Friedan ultimately argues that in the 1960s there was a regression after women won the right to pursue education and work. Friedan’s writing is urgent and compelling, making it quick to devour these two essays.
Of course, women now commonly go to university and develop successful careers, so we have to reframe Friedan’s work. Studies have shown that women are no more happy than we were in an era of fewer freedoms – so now we’re left to wonder if we’re better off “having it all”. Womanhood still seems tinged with ennui. It’s interesting to meditate on this even though the context has changed so much since the publication of The Feminine Mystique!
The Red Tenda of Bologna by John Berger
I will read anything by John Berger. His writing has a lush, dreamlike quality; I really felt like I was walking through Bologna as I read this essay about memory, family connections, and art. It’s not often I come across non-fiction writing that is so evocative and sensual. Berger is best-known for the second essay in the volume Ways of Seeing (which featured in an earlier post), but I’d highly recommend his other writing as well. I’m not a massive reader of non-fiction (and read pretty exclusively in the genres of feminist/pop cultural analysis), but Berger’s writing is far from dry and straightforward.
Fame by Andy Warhol
Warhol’s writing has such a levity – he doesn’t take anything too seriously, and he injects a lot of dry humour into his essays. I don’t always agree with the conclusions he reaches, but he has such an interesting way of framing things that I found myself nodding along anyway. I took an anthropology class in my undergrad where basically every assignment was about making visible social norms and values that are so engrained that we don’t question them. I feel like Warhol’s essays do this a lot, casting things that we take for granted as absurdities in a quest to make new meaning. Though I’m quite familiar with a lot of Warhol’s work (as a sentient adult human and as someone who did a degree in pop culture), I’d never read any of his essays before. I think I understand his artistic point of view better now. And now I really want to go watch Lou Reed’s screen test on a loop because it’s so good and also I love Lou Reed and wish he were still on this plane of existence.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I was really excited to read this book, because Seanan McGuire is the real name of one of my favourite contemporary writers, Mira Grant. Grant is the pseudonym McGuire adopts when writing the most badass, exciting, twist-y, fun sci fi. (Seriously, the Newsflesh series is so good, and I’m not a sci-fi or zombie novel person.) Unfortunately, I may not get on with her urban fantasy persona quite so well. Now, I will disclose upfront that I don’t read much fantasy in general and particularly little urban fantasy. But I am willing to give anything a chance, really; I’m not a genre snob. And the premise of this series is wonderful: it’s about children (predominantly girls) who find doors to other worlds. Each kid seems to find a different world, ranging from the underworld to fairy nations to lands filled with candy. Each world is exactly what they need: an escape, tailor-made to their needs. Many of the kids who return to the “real” world are despondent and wish they could go back, so the elderly Eleanor West (who spent many years in her own world) creates a boarding school to help rehabilitate them. There’s something about finding a secret doorway to another world that just appeals to my inner child. But the payoff in this novel is just nonexistent: the dialogue sucks, the characters aren’t well-developed, and the pacing is off. I figured out the identity of the serial killer at the heart of the plot way before it was revealed, which was disappointing because Mira Grant’s novels have the best twists. I won’t be continuing on with this series, but as long as Grant continues pumping out Newsflesh novellas I will eat them up.
Feedback by Mira Grant
Speaking of which…! I’m a huge fan of the Newsflesh series – it’s about political bloggers who find themselves wrapped up in a sinister government conspiracy in the zombie-infested America of 2040. Feedback, the fourth novel in the series, follows a different group of political bloggers. It retains a lot of Mira Grant’s signatures: a badass female heroine; an incredibly thorough consideration of the ways society has changed in response to the zombie outbreak of 2014; a lot of fun action (and less fun death). But Grant had a lot to live up to because the original trilogy boasts some of the most enjoyable action characters of all time as well as truly mindblowing twists. I don’t think Feedback quite hits the mark: only the narrator, Aislinn, is fully-developed, and even then she’s basically just an Irish version of Georgia Mason from the original series. The action wasn’t as twisty and fun, either. Some of the impact of the major character deaths was mitigated somewhat by the fact that, well, I was expecting a lot of destruction since I’ve read the original trilogy and am very aware that Grant will kill basically anyone. It’s still a really fun novel, but at 500+ pages I was expecting a little more oomph.
Coming To You Live: A Newsflesh Novella by Mira Grant
… and then this is exactly what I want out of the Newsflesh world. Shaun and Georgia Mason remain the most enjoyable action protagonists ever and this novella gives us a new high-stakes situation instead of rehashing more of the same. This will have little appeal to those who haven’t read the original series, but for longtime fans it’s a nice way to spend a little more time with these awesome characters.
The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
I wasn’t expecting anything incredible out of this novel, but I managed to go in totally unspoiled, which helped a lot. It’s a solid, enjoyable thriller if you don’t use too much brainpower on it. The writing isn’t great, the identity of the killer was pretty obvious (at least to me, and I rarely figure these things out), and without the train voyeurism angle it’s a pretty standard plot. But I thought the character of Rachel was pretty interesting, and the book takes a kind of feminist-adjacent angle that was mildly compelling if not in any way politically radical. In terms of female-fronted thrillers I think Gillian Flynn will always take the cake, but I read this novel while on vacation and I think that’s a pretty good time for it. It’s a quick, easy, and fun read, in any event.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Finally, after years of trying to find a copy of this book to no avail, Aisling hooked me up! A few people told me they enjoyed Burton’s second novel, The Muse, quite a bit more, but I have to say I love both. I understand the criticisms of The Miniaturist, but at the end of the day I was totally sucked in. I can’t remember the last time I devoured a 400-page book so quickly and eagerly; it didn’t lag at all. I loved the story and the characters, and the world felt so rich and complete. I saw certain things coming, but other major plot points came totally out of the blue even though in retrospect there were plenty of hints dropped. Altogether, I think it was a cleverly-plotted and incredibly compelling novel. I’ll eagerly read whatever Jessie Burton puts out next – her novels are the perfect blend of clever and readable.
I have about nine days left in my European travels (in Copenhagen right now, leaving for the Faroe Islands tomorrow), and the days have been so packed that I haven’t had too much opportunity to read. But I’m hoping the second half of May and all of June will be fairly fruitful, although I do have a dissertation to write between now and September. I’m definitely on pace for 30 books in 2018, though secretly I’d like to do 50 again. We’ll see!
Posted on April 27, 2018 under Reviews
I only have powder blushes in my collection; after dabbling in various cream and liquid formulas, I have finally come to the conclusion that they just aren’t for me. But I’m the complete opposite when it comes to highlighter – I vastly prefer cream and liquid formulas, as a general rule. I tend to enjoy a more subtle highlight, and creams reign supreme at creating a natural effect on the skin. But even when I’m looking for something a little more out-of-this-world, I find creams and liquids just sit on my skin more seamlessly. Today I’m going to share with you a variety of cream and liquid highlighters that cover the spectrum from “barely-there” to “very blingy”.
For once the dreary Scottish weather (and endless winter!) came in handy as I find underexposed pictures better show off how highlighter looks on the skin. That said, it’s true that when blended out the similarities between highlighters tend to flatten, even moreso when photographed (at least by the amateur known as Clementine). The comparison swatches at the end of the post will hopefully elucidate the differences between these products, but at the end of the day they are all shiny things you rub on your face. You really only need so many.
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz
$22 USD/$27 CAD for 0.19oz ($115.79 USD/$142.11 CAD per oz)
This is the highlighter for the person who wants a little glow without looking like they’re wearing anything. It gives the most beautiful radiance without appearing to actually be there at all. It has a very emollient, slightly sticky texture which never totally goes away, so if you have combination to oily skin this may not be the product for you. However, on my dry skin it blends in beautifully with my fingers and looks so fresh. It gives an almost glazed appearance to the skin, which sounds weird but is really excellent. I pretty much always roll my eyes at Glossier products – their marketing doesn’t resonate with me at all and most of what they do can be easily duped – but I can’t deny that this is my most-used highlighter. You win this round, Glossier.
Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light
$13.99 USD/$21.99 CAD for 0.31oz ($45.13 USD/$70.94 CAD per oz)
First I would like to point out that if you stroll into a Canadian drugstore, this Revlon highlighter will cost a mere $5 less than a similar product from Glossier. I mean… drugstore prices are absurd. $22 for a highlighter from Revlon? Seriously? Begrudgingly I must admit that this is a very beautiful highlighter. If you want, you can get this product in a standard champagne-y highlighter tone and I’m sure it would be lovely. Personally, I live for Pink Light – I find this tone of highlighter really flattering on me! This is one that you definitely want to apply with your fingers rather than swiping it directly onto your face, since the texture is a bit dry. However, that means it’ll last a lot longer than something as dewy as the Haloscope, and won’t leave you with that lingering stickiness on your cheekbones. You can blend out a thin layer of this product for a more subtle look or build it up if you want an intense highlight – just keep in mind that it is unmistakably on the metallic side.
Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter
$27 CAD for 0.24 fl oz ($112.50 per fl oz)
This is the most glorious wet look highlighter that has ever existed. It has a very thin and sheer formula, though it can be built up. It has a distinctly white base, so it’s probably not suitable for all skintones – though it’s sheer enough that I think it’d be decently forgiving on light to medium skin. What do I know, though, I’m very white. Anyway, one layer of this highlighter is pretty subtle, but two layers gives you that super intense pearly wet look. This is a very reflective highlighter, so it’s not like it’s exactly a natural look, but it’s not blingy, either. There’s no visible glitter chunks and it melts into the skin really nicely. Basically, it’s beautiful, and I love it.
£10/$17.91 CAD for 0.14oz (£71.43/$127.93 CAD per oz)
Have you ever wanted to look like you rubbed the visual essence of opals all over your cheekbones? Well, Topshop can hook you up with this insane highlighter that shifts between white and pearlescent pink. It is so beautiful. It’s also pretty intense, but I don’t find it emphasizes texture. It just blends into my skin and makes me look like I’m from another world. I cannot say enough good things about this highlighter, because it is so special and impactful and brilliant. I fell in love with it when I bought it over three years ago and that love remains at a fever pitch to this day.
Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight
£6/$10.75CAD for .4 fl oz (£15/$26.88 CAD per fl oz)
This is not a highlighter for the faint of heart. No, this is a super metallic highlighter that you could probably see from outer space. So if you don’t want aliens to see you then you should definitely not buy this. But if you do want to make friendly contact with them, well, I’m not saying that highlighter is a substitute for, like, NASA, I’m just saying that this highlighter is visible from anywhere in the universe. It’s not often a look that I go for, but sometimes you go out with friends or just really feel like a pick-me-up in the form of really intense highlighter. This one probably wouldn’t be the best if you have a lot of texture on your cheekbones, though. I also find that it by far blends best with the fingertips; you’d think a liquid highlighter would do well with a damp sponge, but no, that is not the case here. If you want to blend out the harsh edges, you are going to need to use your fingers. That’s not a problem for me because I am a huge advocate of using my fingers for as many makeup application steps as possible. Maybe you’re different. I’m just letting you know.
Here are some comparison swatches:
L-R: Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter, Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished, Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight
And an underexposed shot so you can really see how these babies shine:
I’m telling you Polished and Starlight are high-impact.
And a gif, because movement really helps show a highlighter’s potential:
And I think three swatch photos probably suffice…
I’m still not the biggest highlighter person; it’s a step that I can easily sacrifice if I’m in a rush. But this cream and liquid highlighter wardrobe gives me every option I need, from “I don’t want you to know I’m actually wearing highlighter” to “I’m going to be in the presence of drag queens and my cheekbones need to catch their attention”.