Sunday, July 27, 2014

Swatch Sunday: My Pretty Zombie New Bruise, Black Eye, and Old Bruise

It's been a while, I know. But--let's get on with it!

Obligatory bit about customer service: I placed my order with My Pretty Zombie on July 1st during a sale; she had to up her usual turnaround time (usually a week or so) because she received an unanticipated amount of orders, but that was no problem for me since her usual TAT is so short for an indie. The order shipped on July 15th. I would've received the package July 24th if Canada Post folks would actually buzz my apartment. I had no interactions with the seller since everything went smoothly.

The shipping cost for MPZ was a bit higher than other indies--it came out to $12 to ship my two bestseller sets (two blushes and six eyeshadows, all full-size) to Canada. I went with it since the sale (33% off) basically knocked off my shipping cost, and her regular prices--especially in the discounted sets--are quite good. But I can see why the higher shipping now, since her packaging is top notch.

The ruins of my packaging (and d6s).

The whole package came in this box, which contained these two bestseller set boxes, both tied up with pink ribbon, stuffed with this pink ribbon-y packing stuff, and of course containing a complimentary severed finger. (Uh, made of plastic.) The boxes in the package-box were also packed in with pink ribbon-y packing stuff. (I'm very technical.) All of the jars had plastic packaging as well, so everything seemed protected and all and all it looked professional and well-branded. I received three samples with my order and I'm excited about all of them, so that was also a big plus.

The eyeshadow jars are square with no sifters. I find this the easiest (easy to fit jars next to each other in a drawer, easy to grab eyeshadow for application) but also the messiest (the square jars seem more prone to product getting caught in the threads, no sifters = eyeshadow all over the place if you're not extremely cautious). 

And now for swatch time. I foolishly swatched Black Eye with the Bruises because for some reason I assumed it'd be a matte shade when I ordered it. The swatch online clearly has a faint shimmer, which is also the case here. (Should've sprung to add Epitaxis to my order, but we all make mistakes.)

These are over UDPP.

Direct sunlight
Indirect sunlight
From top to bottom: New Bruise, Black Eye, Old Bruise.

MPZ's description of New Bruise:
Less painful than the real thing!
Its like Old Bruise's BFF!

Another color that I originally created to do zombie makeup, this medium bluish eggplant is great as eyeshadow or brow color as well.

New Bruise is as described, although it didn't mention its matteliness. (Maybe it has a slight satin thing going on? Seems matte to me.) Feels smooth and was very pigmented, so I'm looking forward to working with it.

MPZ's description of Black Eye:
Black Eye is a dark red with a slight purple tinge that looks like you took a punch.

The shimmer to Black Eye is very minimal but evident both in the jar and in more direct lighting. It's not as dark as I expected from the swatch on the website, but perhaps it gets closer if you build it up.

MPZ's description of Old Bruise:
Old Bruise is a matte yellow that I normally use for zombie makeup...who knew that people would be clamoring for it as a real life eyeshadow!

Old Bruise is a delightful mustardy, golden yellow. (I am currently loving yellow.) It's not quite as pigmented as its darker brethren but it still felt smooth going on.

I think some of MPZ's descriptions could be more descriptive re: finish or colour (yellow can come in many varieties), but I am loving the initiative to use eyelid swatches of the shadows. I feel like I get a better idea of the colours that way and it really highlights the dimension and complexity of some of the shadows.

Individual full-sizes can be purchased from My Pretty Zombie for $5/jar, or you can purchase various discounted sets. (I purchased these as part of a bestseller set with a full-sized blush for $18.) I'm liking these so far, but I'm really excited to get into the blushes and sparkle-bombs (just gotta work on my swatching skills). Until next time!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guest Post over at Toxid Lotus!

Nothing new here today, sorry--but I'm totally stoked to have done a Thursday guest post over at Toxid Lotus with some Shiro gloss swatches and other info. Check it out, and check out Luna's blog in general! I was over there checking out swatches when I was just an indie baby so I'm happy to have worked with her.

...and don't worry, I'll be back on here soon. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Swatch Saturday: Mephisto dupe comparison

Hello everyone!

Long story short: Fyrinnae's Mephisto is one of the most raved-about products in the indie world--and thus, a lot of similar shadows get compared to it. Here are three I've seen mentioned as possible dupes (Darling Girl's Blue Flame, Notoriously Morbid's Grand Empress, and Shiro's I Understood that Reference) and how they compare on my arm.

A pre-emptive apology: this was actually my first time using a glitter adhesive (yeah, I know, I'm still pretty much a makeup newbie) and my second time swatching, so there's a bit of patchiness in some of those swatches and that's user error, not the products. 

Left side over Darling Girl Glitter Glue, right side over NYX Milk.

Sunlight is the easiest way to get some sheen on camera--sorry for the yellow-y light.

(Unfortunately I don't own Darling Girl's London Calling, which is probably a much closer dupe than Blue Flame, now that I've seen all of these things in real life.)

I Understood that Reference doesn't come off at its best in these photos, but it's the closest dupe, though there are differences. IUtR's blue base is more of a Captain America blue, while Mephisto's is darker, inkier. IUtR has a redder sheer that comes off subtler, while Mephisto's is brighter by virtue of its copper leanings. IUtR also has silvery-white sparkles, which are hard to capture on camera but an obvious difference in real life.

Over Glitter Glue (sorry)
Over NYX Milk
Here's a closer look at IUtR (left sides) next to Mephisto (right sides)  to illustrate what I mean--they're very similar but the differences I've noted are there. 

It's probably pointless for me to own both of these, but I love Captain America, so oh well!

The other dupes are...not so close.

Our friendly neighbourhood arm, titled to show some sheen.

I expected The Grand Empress to be very similar to Mephisto--the website swatch definitely is--but nope.

As is evident, Notoriously Morbid's The Grand Empress (second from top) is much darker than Mephisto. Mephisto's blue base is spilled BIC pen ink-blue, while Empress' base is more of an inky blue-black. Mephisto's sheen is coppery-red, while Empress' sheen leans browner, sort of a coppery-bronze. The Grand Empress is gorgeous, probably boss for a smoky eye look (especially for brown eyes, I think) but not as Mephisto-y as the website swatch led me to believe.

A note on The Grand Empress: much as I found with NM's Boca del Infierno, this shadow is super pigmented. It came out this way in one patting-on. You are winning me over quickly, NM.

One of these things is not like the other.
Last but not least--Blue Flame isn't anywhere near close to a dupe. It is, however, jaw-droppingly beautiful. Buy it anyway. Here it is next to The Grand Empress--though they are both definitely Not Mephisto, their duochromes are beautiful.

Empress left, Blue Flame right. Not dupes, but I LOVE THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE.
The one other thing I'll say about Blue Flame: while most of these come off almost as well over NYX Milk as over Glitter Glue, Blue Flame is 100% prettier over GG, so if you're going to purchase from Darling Girl and pick this up anyway, grab Glitter Glue. I definitely made a mess of it in my first couple of patchy swatches, but as you can see from these two, I learned quickly!

Some good news: none of these eyeshadows are limited edition and none of them cost more than $6.25 for a full size. I would recommend them all--but um, Blue Flame especially because damn.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

First sniff impressions: Geek Chic Cosmetics

The perfume newbie is back and ready to smell the wrong notes in indie fragrances.

I ordered these solid scents from Geek Chic Cosmetics--they have quite an array of makeup items (eyeshadow, blush, foundation, lipstick, gloss, etc.) and also a few solid scent collections. I got two from the Traces of Thedas collection, based on Dragon Age companions, and one from the Badasses of Fiction collection--the one based on Riddick, because obviously.

Full disclosure: I was hesitant to order from Geek Chic because of past controversies with their products. (Please do Google this if you are considering buying from them.) However, my fandom-nerding and curiosity won out, and I don't want what I know to bias this review.

Obligatory bit about customer service: I ordered from Geek Chic on June 18th. They shipped on the 27th within the stated turn-around time (seven business days, which is pretty short for an indie) and I received the package today, July 9th. So my shipping experience wasn't particularly fast as it has been with other indies lately, but it wasn't at all slow, and everything went smoothly without me needing to contact anyone. No samples were included, but I made a very small order, so.

On to the scents!

Props to Geek Chic: this is very cute packaging.

Prepare to Be Boarded
Leather, salt, something woodsy, and something very sweet (vanilla?) and vaguely floral? That's the order these things popped out to me but the sweetness definitely exists at first sniff and pushes to overpower the scent--while I think that's a neat way to interpret Zevran, it's maybe a little too much. This leather + sweet afterscent reminds me a bit of Bubble and Geek's Sunnydale Library, although the leather in that has a musty tinge and the endnote here is far sweeter.

Geek Chic's description:
Dark, earthy woods mixed with spicy cinnamon, cloves, fresh rosemary, and clad in tight leather. Tempered with fresh, juicy fig and Tahitian Vanilla with a touch of tonka bean. A robust, spicy, and manly scent. A good scent to wear while fist-fighting a grizzly bear.

I don't think I find the woodsiness of this dark or earthy--a little fresh and piney, maybe due to the rosemary. Leather is far more on the surface than perhaps I anticipated from this description. Cinnamon I should've picked out, but I'm not sure I get cloves or fig (maybe the fig is coming off floral to me...?). I think this scent is interesting as an interpretation of Zevran, but the cinnamon-tinged vanilla is too strong and bakery-ish for this scent to seem spicy/masculine to me. Not sure how I feel about this scent, so I'll come back to it, but I think it's not really as described for sure.

Lone Survivor
Wet dirt (not soil, dirt), sweat, Speed Stick, and something sweet but not as pushy at the end? I don't even know what is happening here but I am pretty amused by it because it definitely evokes Riddick to me. This also smells like my dad at the end of a day at work after he's washed his hands with that orange Gator soap, so though it's odd I like this scent. It's familiar and comforting.

Geek Chic's description:
Lone Survivor is a spicy sweet scent mixed with that fresh potting soil scent that just smells... alive. It's fresh and warm, and wears really well.
Top notes: Smooth, earthy vanillas and champa
Middle notes: Dark, cool, fresh soil
Base notes: Nutty cinamon and molasses [typo preserved, sorry GC]

I think the cool soil here really comes to the top for me, though I don't find it fresh-garden as much as I do sweaty-person-who-just-worked-on-a-dusty-construction-site. Earthy vanilla and molasses do sound like the sweet thing I'm smelling at the end, which is not too much like I find in Prepare to Be Boarded. Otherwise, I have no idea how the notes they have put down here correspond to what I am experiencing, but I like this scent. Again, I don't know that it's as described, but in this case it's better for me.

Swooping is Bad
ROSES--really strong roses--vanilla, and something boozy. I might've layered that over some sweat, steel, and maybe a little woodsmoke to be Alistair, but I don't make perfumes, so I can't complain--these are good notes for the character and smell pleasant together.

Geek Chic's description:
Swooping Is Bad has a cool, earthy oakmoss base with fresh-cut rose and airy midnotes, topped off with buttery sweet rum.  

Hmm, I probably would've felt this scent more if I could smell that oakmoss base, but the roses here are pretty insistent. The sweetness of the rum must be that vanilla hint I smell. In any case, this is pretty pleasant-smelling and totally wearable, so I'm cool with it.

I think Prepare to Be Boarded is probably a miss, but I really like Lone Survivor so I'm okay with that. Ultimately, these are $3.49 each, so although they're small, they're a pretty good deal and a small investment to try out a fragrance. I don't know that I would order again since the descriptions didn't strike me as matching the scents very clearly and I already have the scents I most wanted for the geeky novelty, but maybe if they do another collection of a rarely-represented fandom in future!

Monday, July 7, 2014

First sniff impressions: Bubble and Geek

Recently, I've been interested in dipping a toe into the strange and wonderful world of indie perfumes. Which is odd for me since basically my "signature smell" is the tea tree oil I use for every skin problem and whatever my partner's shampoo smells like. My favourite perfumes are celebrity-endorsed and I use them twice a year. So when I say I know nothing about perfume, I definitely mean it. (I like to cook, though, so I guess my nose is okay.)

I decided to make an order with Bubble and Geek because I enjoy a well-done fandom-inspired item and their shipping costs to Canada were very reasonable. They're most known for their scented candles, which are sadly prohibitively expensive to buy internationally, but I figured some of their scents-as-perfumes sounded intriguing.

Obligatory bit about customer service: I placed my order with B&G on June 26th and it shipped on the 30th, arriving here on July 7th. Their turn-around time is listed as 1-3 business days, which was accurate and that's really fast for an indie. Shipping to Canada was quick, especially given the holiday weekend here during that week. The order was also well-packaged. Observe:

The order arrived in an eco-friendly bubble mailer. Inside the mailer, the items were wrapped in another bubble-wrap bag (the black one pictured). Inside the bubble-wrap bag, the perfume samples and two lip balms were wrapped in blue tissue paper (the cute sticker sealed the perfume samples; the lip balms were wrapped individually like Christmas crackers). In the tissue paper, each vial is inside its own plastic baggie. Granted, I've never ordered perfumes before, so I am unsure what's standard--but I feel that this packaging indicates some real determination to ensure that everything arrives safe and unspilled!

The order does not contain other samples, but it does contain a code for 10% off a next order over $20.

Now to scent impressions! I'll likely provide a more in-depth review of each scent after I wear it a while, but I wanted to at least check these out. I won't be inserting the product's description until afterwards so I can be as uninfluenced as possible.

King in the North
Very masculine with a sweet afternote. Lavender buried under woodsy musk, maybe? Maybe a bitter mint? I really like the scent of this, though it's a little bit overwhelming at first. It's definitely got a sweet-herbs-poking-out-of-the-forest-floor thing going on that suits my idea of Robb Stark. I don't know if I can pull it off as it pulls even muskier on my skin (I might try anyway), but I'm going to see if my partner likes it. I will find a way to have this in my life.

Bubble and Geek's description:
This fragrance features scents from a weirwood forest mixed with a blend that, on its own, I call "Prince Charming," which includes soft lavender, crushed cardamom, and sensual oakmoss. It is topped off with a hint of frosty mint and vanilla.

Kicking myself for missing the cardamom here because it's definitely there and I love cardamom, but I don't really notice much vanilla. In any case, I love this scent.

Smells like cloves and cardamom to me. A bit of sweetness, maybe orange peel? This is a little sharp and peppery at first but mellows into smelling like it might waft out of an oven.

Bubble and Geek's description:
In a certain epic fantasy realm, Sweetsleep is a drug that (in small doses) can be used to calm frayed nerves. This particular fragrance channels the soothing effects of Sweetsleep and is a relaxing, clean citrus blend with bergamot & orange, combined with a faint scent of lily, supported by a rich base of piney woods.

The pine is definitely there and I am clearly not the best at this, but this feels a little more chai than Earl Grey to me, if you know what I mean. I don't find it soothing--it's a little attention-snagging for that--but it's nice. The initial sharpness might put me off wearing this as it went straight to my head (I get dizzy easily), but I bet it's great as a candle.

Sunnydale Library
I'm getting musty books, leather, light vanilla-ish sweetness, and something vaguely green in that order. Maybe also tea leaves. I have no idea if this is wearable--it seems unisex but I don't know if this is necessarily the most enticing way to smell?--but it sure does evoke a night of research in early Buffy: I can imagine her flipping through a book in Angel's jacket eating donuts with Xander while Willow and Giles poke through stores of magical herbs. So major geek points there.

Bubble and Geek's description:
Take a trip back in time to the Sunnydale library, where one might find leather-bound books on how to slay vampires hidden amongst the calculus textbooks. Other notes include rosewood (Mr. Pointy!), hot brewed tea, and a house plant. May or may not open a portal to the hellmouth.

I am clearly wrong about the donuts, but the rosewood is maybe a sweet note here for me? There's definitely sweetness. I'll try wearing this, but I feel it's possible that the nerd novelty may outweigh the "I smell awesome!" value.

De-Gnoming the Garden
Lilacs, something else vaguely floral, and fresh-cut grass, in that order. Smells simple to me on first encounter but I love lilacs and fresh-cut grass and this evokes both in a not-artificial-seeming way, so it'll probably be a nice spring/summer fragrance for me.

Bubble and Geek's description (sorry, only the short one is up for this fragrance):
Weeds, grass that needs cutting, gnarled, leafy trees, and blooms (lily, lilac, rose, and hyacinth) spilling over from every flower bed

This smells much simpler than the description, but might have more complexity on the skin. I am surprised I don't get more rose out of it, since that's usually an insistent note from what I've read of other perfume reviews.

Stormborn Queen
This smells like sugared orange peels, ripe wet strawberries, and some kind of spice to me. Kind of a juicy, late summer scent that reminds me of August sun. I like it, but I don't know that it epitomizes Daenerys to me. I could see her having these overtones, but I also associate her with warm sand, salt, and smoke.

Bubble and Geek's description:
This popular fragrance is a luxurious blend of sugared orange, mulberry, and a hint of spice, and is how I imagine the Stormborn Queen might smell when she is NOT traveling across the desert. 

Well, to be fair, this explicitly states that she's not travelling the desert, ha, which makes my other associations a bit moot (I'm still holding out on the dragonfire smoke). I was pretty close on this one actually (maybe I remembered this description deep down? ha) but I have no idea what a mulberry smells like, so. I think this could be a great summer scent so I'm eager to try it on.

Sweetsleep is probably a miss for me--it's a lovely scent, especially once it mellows, but I think I'd prefer it in a room. It's in their close-out section, though, so maybe I should've anticipated that! I like King in the North the most, which is a shame since I'm not sure I can pull it off--but I'll probably get my partner to wear it. I will likely enjoy De-Gnoming the Garden and Stormborn Queen and I'll see where Sunnydale Library goes on skin.

I don't know how these scents from Bubble and Geek will wear yet, but if you're curious about them based on my impressions, sets of five samples go for $9 USD in their Etsy store. They also sell candles, wax tarts, lip balms, and soap.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Swatch Saturday: Notoriously Morbid Sealed Judgement set + bonus comparison!

Long time no blog, I know.

It seems cruel that the very first eyeshadows I'm swatching for this blog (or ever) are limited edition ones that are now gone, but...I just received my Notoriously Morbid order in the mail two days ago and these excited me a lot. (And hey, they came back for a special occasion this time around--maybe they'll make a comeback again!) I promise I'll swatch more available colours soon.

Without further adieu, the Sealed Judgement set.

I received these minis in a Free Day Friday promotion--spending $25 or more netted you this set. Notoriously Morbid's FDF sales, currently run bi-weekly, seem pretty great if this deal was any indication. If you intend on ordering in future, I would recommend waiting for one!

This set is all matte and yet feels soft and non-chalky (on my arm, anyway). Please forgive the odd swatch order; I added in Boca del Infierno from the Slay Me collection (also matte) as I wanted to compare it to War.

Swatches over UDPP:

Indirect sunlight
Direct sunlight
Bottom to top: Conquest, Pale Rider, Famine, War, [Boca del Infierno] 

Conquest is a matte snowy white that had a hard time showing up on my pale arm. I packed it on some for this swatch, but that's probably because I'm ghostly. Vegan, lip-safe.

Pale Rider is a matte greyed light purple. Vegan, lip-safe.

Famine is a matte black. It appears on the cooler side to me. It's not immediately opaque but you could build it up more than I have here. Vegan, not lip-safe.

War is a matte brick red--kind of a dried blood feel. Very pigmented--I was impressed with how lovely this was at the first swipe. Not vegan, lip-safe.

Indirect sunlight
Direct sunlight
Here are a couple of quick comparisons of Sealed Judgement's War to the Slay Me collection's Boca del Infierno (not vegan, lip-safe). As you can see, War is a slightly lighter, brickier red, while Boca del Infierno is a bit darker with somewhat of a purplish undertone--NM describes it as a "rich, deep oxblood" and I find that accurate. I built up both about the same amount, which is to say hardly at all--they're both very pigmented and I'm pretty excited about them!

Obligatory customer service bit: this is part of a larger order I placed on June 6th. The order shipped within her turn-around time, though at the end (she seemed quite busy, so not a worry) and the shipping was quick--it took a week, which is good for me in Canada, especially since a holiday weekend was a part of that time. The owner made a substitution for me in the order, since I used her independent website where a shadow listed elsewhere (She Names the Stars) isn't up, for some reason. I bought a different mini but noted that I hoped it could be switched and she did so, no fuss. We didn't otherwise interact, but everything went smoothly! 

This is my first experience with NM and I'm still trying everything, but I'm liking the texture of her mattes and these reds are so beautiful. (A good red matte is hard to find.) I'm also enjoying the formula of my Coffin Kisser so far.

While this set is no longer available, Boca del Infierno and other Buffy-inspired mattes are available in the Notoriously Morbid web store or through their Etsy or Storenvy.