We bought a house!

Or more realistically, we are now renting our living space from the bank for an amount of time that I cannot conceptually understand because it is longer than I have been alive.

This has been me for the past two weeks:
I'm sitting on the floor but only my feet are in the frame. I'm in my empty new living room surrounded by a few boxes and stacks and stacks of books.

We are mostly moved out/in. Our lease isn’t up until the end of August, so we didn’t have to do the mad August 31/September 1st dash. I’m so happy about that. It’s A Thing in Boston.

Baker is adjusting well. We have some stairs for him now. For some reason he loves the stairs. I had to get him a nice, heated bed to try to tempt him to stay on the first floor with his food and litter box. He’s old. Our stairs are steep. He’s also an idiot, so we’re terrified he’s going to fall down them.

Image of Baker curled up in a large cat bed. It's almost not big enough. He's fat, even with all of the extra exercise.
I have room for plants and cooking now! I can open my oven while standing in front of it. For the past five years I’ve had to stand to the side because the apartment oven opened directly into the cabinet across from it. I’ve been baking and tending a little herb garden in the kitchen window sill.

Grumpyskin is gonna be getting some hecka domestic posts coming up, if you can’t tell. Just look at my cilantro coming in!

Image of a little biodegradable pot with 15 cilantro sprouts.

We’re super pleased with how it ended up. Our lease renewal window closed before we closed on the house, so we were going to have to move either way. I wasn’t saying much publicly because I was terrified I’d jinx it. My commute is better. We’re closer to a library. We didn’t end up as far away from the city as we thought we’d have to be. It’s all great.

So this is why I haven’t been commenting on your posts. I was without internet for the first week of moving because someone inexplicably cut. the. wire. from the outside of our house. We think that it happened when they painted the siding before it was sold. No other reason made sense. It took a little while for RCN to understand that yes, we did actually need a pole person and not a technician to come over.

It might be a little while before I’m caught up on my reader. I’ve got things queued up, so you shouldn’t be able to tell a difference other than my lack of comments on things.

And yes, I will post more pictures when I get my life out of the boxes. It will be a few weeks before we’re cute.

Valjean Labs Facial Mist in Clarify

The beauty aisle at TJ Maxx got me. TJ Maxx is such a dangerous place. You can get amazing deals, but you’ll never be able to repurchase the products ever again. This is where brands go to die. I was just going to go in for a silly mask as a treat, but I came out with this replacement for the witch hazel toner that I had run out of.

Valjean Labs facial mist in Clarify. Contains Vitamin A and witch hazel. Comes in a spray bottle.

It’s not strictly marketed as a toner, but it has witch hazel. I figured I could use it for the same purpose. I didn’t realize at the time that vitamin A is retinol so it might not be great for morning use. Wear your sunscreen and don’t impulse buy, kids.

Back of the Valjean labs facial mist bottle. It was it soothes, refreshes, and hydrates the skin. It also tells you that Vitamin A helps balance oil production and that witch hazel reduces redness and inflammation. Use instructions are to use it after cleansing before moisturizing, or throughout the day over makeup.

The instructions seem super weird to me knowing that vitamin A is retinol. Use it to balance oil production? Spray it over your makeup? No. Don’t do that. Use it at night and wear sunscreen the next day because it sensitizes your skin.

Having said that, I love it. It has a light, generic smell that I’m a fan of. I get a sweet glow in my skin from using it regularly. Bare skin photo below for evidence:

Frumpy hoodie selfie after washing my face and giving it a spray.
I also really love that it’s a spray. Misting your face is surprisingly soothing.

So I’m going to buy this again and live the glow life forever now, right? Well, no. I think this spray is only sold at Urban Outfitters. We’re overdue for another Urban Outfitters controversy so I’m preemptively not a fan.

And then there are the ingredients. I don’t mind that there’s added color and fragrance. My skin doesn’t get irritated easily, so it’s just silly that the extra ingredients are there instead of harmful. Instead, I’m bummed that the second ingredient is glycereth-26. Also known as polyethylene glycol 26. You might recognize the word polyethylene from microbeads. If not, let me point you in the direction of my handy microplastic reference sheet.

Yep. The second ingredient is plastic. So the product isn’t tested on animals, it’s just terrible for anything that comes in contact with the ocean. Cool.

I’m going to finish using it and then banish it from my memory.
You bet that I’m putting my next toner into a spray bottle, though.

 

Maybelline Lip Studio Color Blur Lipstick in Orange Ya Glad

There was a brief period of time when I couldn’t go into CVS without grabbing a new lipstick or nail polish. This is one of those impulse buys, as evidenced by the gimmicky applicator (not pictured because I don’t use it) and the fact that it’s ORANGE.

The idea of these lip pencils is that you can color the inside (or edges, I guess) of your lips and then create a gradient using their weird blender. This does not work for me with this color. It just evenly smudges. The pencil itself goes on pretty creamy and I have small lips. It doesn’t work.

Maybelline Lip Studio Color Blur lip pencil in Orange Ya Glad. Top swatch is solid color, the bottom is my blur attempt using their blur tool.

So, the “blur” is a no-go for me. The orange, though. Orange lipstick is awesome. I didn’t know this. I thought I looked better in “blue” reds, but now nothing makes sense. I love the color…when I wear green shirts. I haven’t been brave enough to wear it with other colors, but I think it would also look good with black. Black is safe.

Image of me wearing Maybelline's Lip Studio Color Blur lipstick in Orange Ya Glad.
Say hi to my septum ring!

So, yeah, it’s cute. But does it stay put? You guys know by now that I’m not going to reapply mid day. Are you ready for these gritty shots of my lips at the beginning and end of my day?

Here’s the before:

Image of me wearing Maybelline's Lip Studio Color Blur lipstick in Orange Ya Glad at the beginning of my day.

And the perfectly acceptable after:

Image of me wearing Maybelline's Lip Studio Color Blur lipstick in Orange Ya Glad at the end of my day. It's faded a little on the inside of my lips, but still looks presentable, especially when you aren't zoomed in like on these pictures.

This is $9 lipstick after something like 10 hours and a full lunch. I need it in red now.

 

Birchbox July 2018

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My first Birchbox is here! Birchbox is a subscription box a lot like ipsy. For $10 a month they send you an assortment of makeup, skincare, and hair products. Birchbox is a little different from ipsy in that you get more choices for the box that you receive each month. You can choose a curated box, where you know all of the products ahead of time, or you can choose a product from a short list and have the rest of the box remain a mystery. I think you can also choose nothing and let the algorithm gods decide your box. There’s a lot of options here.

I chose the curated box. It had things that I wanted to try.

What’s in my box
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Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser
People really like Kiehl’s. My skin generally likes clay. There’s one weird thing. This smells exactly like coleslaw. I like coleslaw, so I’m going to use the whole tube. But it doesn’t scream “CLEAN FACE” to me. The combination of clay and salicylic acid is a bit too drying for my tastes, AND it’s inexplicably got microplastics in it. So I wont be buying it. Also..that cole slaw smell.

Purchase or pass: Nope. I can only use it two or so times a week before my skin starts crying for moisture.

MakeupDrop Original
I thought I’d get on the silicone applicator train. I do love reusable items.

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It’s hilariously small. I thought for sure this was a baby size that they were sending out as samples, but it looks like this is their full $20 applicator. Um. Okay. You could buy a silicone cooking mat and cut it into fun shapes for less money.

It also, uh, doesn’t work. You can’t blend with it. Maybe you could use it for certain highlighters, but I’ll just keep using my fingers. It’s not worth the hassle. I also happened to drop it down the sink the first time I used it and had to get Mr. Grumpyskin to pull out a pipe to retrieve it. It’s that small.

I was going to ask if anyone wants it, but I don’t expect any bites now that you know it’s been down my sink drain. (Silicone is easy to sterilize!)

Purchase or pass: I will literally give this to you for free. Someone out there has to straight up spackle their face.

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer

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I got a sample of Benefit’s Watts Up highlighter a while back and LOVED it. This, not so much.

So let’s take a close up look of my foundation over this primer. It looks like it definitely filled in my pores. It’s somehow making the foundation settle into my pores in a very not cute look. It did have staying power, because I had to bust out the face wash to get it to wash off.

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Purchase or pass: Some people swear by this. I am not those people. Nope.

W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara
Do you KNOW how hard it is to find mascara without microplastics in it? I’m surprised that this exists. It works..okay. I don’t know. My eyelashes are pretty intense. This doesn’t clump or flake, but it also doesn’t add much of anything. It is probably nice for people who have light lashes who want to go for a natural look. For $21 on my eyelashes..I probably just wouldn’t wear mascara.

Seriously, I’m not negative just to be negative. I’ve curled both eyelashes and am wearing THREE COATS of this mascara on only one eye. I even wiggled the brush during application. I tried. Tell me which eye in the comments.

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Sometimes I forget that I put this on in the morning and when I wash my face at night am momentarily terrified because something black is coming off my face.

Purchase or pass: This is $20. No.

Bumble and bumble. Don’t Blow It (H)air Styler
Is this a sign that not using a blow dryer is finally going to become cool? I feel like hairdressers give me shit all of the time for hating them. I haven’t personally used a blow dryer in actual years.

This just makes my thick and straight hair very fluffy. I spend most of my hair effort trying to make it more sleek. This is going into the giveaway pile.

Purchase or pass: Pass.

All in all, this wasn’t a great first box. The mascara is the only truly usable item, and that might be because I literally cannot tell that I’m wearing it. I think a lot of people were disappointed by this month’s box. I’m not angry yet, so I’ll toss in my referral code: I get $5 to use in their store if you sign up with my link.

eShakti Review

Is the blogosphere still going nuts for eShakti? They were for a little while.

The company is a cool concept. They have pages and pages of fun dresses that you can have customized to your measurements. The prices are a little steep for not being able to try something on, but they give a lot of coupons and customize things. They also seem to have built their business on the good reviews of bloggers.

That’s suspicious. If the only good reviews you can find of a product are coming from people that have gotten it for free, it’s probably not a good product.

But they have so many options, I know. They got me with that. I checked that their return policy was good and bought this dress for the winter:
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It looked cozy and heavy enough that I could wear three pairs of pants under it if we got another snowpocalypse. I was particularly taken with the thumb holes. My high school goth days still have a minor influence on my fashion, okay.

I placed the order November 12th. I received my dress on the 27th. A bit of a wait, but not so bad. Do you know what was bad? The dress. That happens with online shopping. It was a shapeless lump in the middle with form fitting arms. My thumbs wouldn’t fit in the thumb holes. I have child sized hands. They were freakishly small holes. This is why they want you to customize the dresses, I guess. Their preset sizes are bizarre.

So I sent it back the same day. So far a totally fine interaction. The dress didn’t fit, but I had no problems with the company.

My problem is that they confirmed the delivery of my return on December 20th and had no automatic process in place to refund my money. I got an email saying that I would receive my refund in 7 – 14 business days. I had to email them on January 11th to get them to manually process my refund. I buy and return a lot of things online. This is the first time I’ve had to remind someone to give me my money back, and makes me never want to try them again.

This was two months after I ordered the dress. How much money do you think they’re making off of people that don’t obsessively check their bank accounts?

Keep track of your money. Bother people. Get in all in writing. Return policies aren’t always enough.

Have you ordered anything that bloggers swear is amazing that fell short of your expectations?

 

My Birchbox Free Gift

Mr. Grumpyskin reads the blog. That’s not really news. What was is that he reads the blog enough to know that I was thinking about getting Birchbox next.

I mean, we also talk. But this showed up on my birthday shortly after I posted the poll for which subscription I should try next.

Picture of my free gift Birchbox + contents (listed below).

My first official Birchbox didn’t arrive until a few days ago. In the interim they sent me a box of their fan-favorite items, along with a sample of micellar water as a free gift.

What’s in my box

Davine’s OI All in One Milk, Shampoo, and Conditioner
We’ll talk about the milk first, because it’s a multi use item. I like it a lot. It has a nice spray cap, doesn’t require half the bottle for my thick hair, and smooths my hair without making it feel greasy. I feel like I have to wash my hair less when I use this. I’m not sure how it’s doing that, but I wont complain. The fragrance is REALLY strong, though. Like, it’s the third ingredient strong.

I do have a request. Can we stop calling things “milk” that aren’t milk? I don’t like thinking about what nipple created this. I have a biology degree so that is exactly what I go to. And I don’t mean like “let’s make the FDA regulate it” because they have more important things to do. I want a cultural milk shift.

Purchase or pass: I’m considering it. I need to see how long it lasts first. Buying a $32 bottle of hair milk every month isn’t in the budget, money or plastic bottle-wise. The sample is still going strong a month later, though it’s hard to tell exactly how much I have left because the bottle is so dark.

The shampoo and conditioner are also both good, though they have the same strong smell and the shampoo has microplastics in it.

Jouer Cosmetics Lip Enhancer
This is okay? I’m not sure that it’s performing any better than Chapstick would. Birchbox says that its tinted pink, but it’s definitely not. It’s more milky. I know, I used the “m” word. It was descriptive!

Purchase or pass: Pass. It’s got polyethylene in it. Boo, microplastics.

NUFace Prep-N-Glow Cloths
Confession time: I’ve never used a proper makeup remover wipe. I haven’t been missing out. It takes your makeup off, sure. I don’t think its a good substitute for washing your face.

Purchase or pass: I don’t buy single use items. My apartment is so small that I can handle walking over to the bathroom.

Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Birchbox insists that this does not budge. They’re right. I wore this on my oily eyelids with no primer on the sweatiest day in recent memory. This is after about 10 hours, and twenty solid minutes of soaking sweat:

Close up of my eyes with little baby winged eyeliner. It's crispt and hasn't smudged at all.

Purchase or pass: Does anyone with a beauty subscription actually buy black eyeliner anymore? It’s also got microplastics in it, surprise. I think microplastics might be a component of most long wearing makeup.

Sunday Riley CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum
Every vitamin C cream smells EXACTLY the same. Apparently costing nearly $100 (full sized is $85) means that it still smells like a CVS vitamin C supplement. I don’t mind it, but I expected money to smell differently. It’s a decent lotion, if a little greasy. I definitely felt like it gave me a little glow that I’ve started to associate with skincare items that contain microplastics. I’m not sure if my theory is correct, but I do wonder if the plastics are added as a thickener because they can sort of sit on top of your skin and hold shine there.

I know they say it’s a serum, but it’s a creamy lotion consistency.
After about a week of use it started to break me out.

Purchase or pass: lol no.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O
I’m not sold on micellar water yet. It’s a cool idea. In theory it works exactly like, you know, soap. I can’t use this with my konjac sponge and refuse to buy cotton rounds. It’s not super impressive with a rag. Doesn’t touch the eyeliner that’s close to my eyelashes, but scrubbing my eyes with my sponge does.

Purchase or pass: Eh.

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer
This stuff is my Cerave on steroids. It was awesome. Moisturizing but not greasy, didn’t pill with my sunscreen. I’m glad it has microplastics in it, because I was trying to figure out how to budget for a $50 lotion.

Purchase or pass: My wallet has been saved by my commitment to the ocean.

I’m considering buying something on the first box! Birchbox is looking like a better decision. I have a referral link if you’re looking to join. I get $5 to use in their store if you do.

Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask

One of those “Beauty Products You NEED” Buzzfeed articles convinced me to buy this. It was winter. My lips were too dry for lipstick. I had been considering buying the Laneige overnight lip mask, then Buzzfeed showed up with this alternative for $9.99.

Top view of the container. It says "Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask. An overnight lip mask with ginger and sugar that moisturizes your dry chapped lips to create a smooth lip."

The bottom of the tin. It's all in Korean, so I don't know what it says.

The product page (not an affiliate link) touts that it contains shea butter, beeswax, and murumuru butter. Sounds moisturizing. Great. The main ingredient is polybutene, which from my limited research seems a lot like petroleum jelly. I think the goal here is that the main ingredient is locking in the moisture that the rest of the ingredients provide. It, uh, kind of works.

Image of the Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask. It looks a lot like Vaseline.

The product has a very light ginger scent. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to smell the sugar, or if there is supposed to be a flavor here. I have no idea where the sugar comes in. It’s not textured. It doesn’t taste like much of anything. 0/10 do not recommend eating.

Image of the Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask. It looks a lot like Vaseline. This is a side view, showing that I've used quite a bit of the product.

I had been using this nightly for five months when this picture was taken. You can see that I haven’t hit the bottom yet. One container could easily last a year. It’s very thick, so you don’t need much. It also stays all night. I’ll wake up in the morning and have to wipe it off to avoid getting it all over cups.

It definitely helped over the winter. My lips didn’t crack once. But it’s not a miracle worker. I expected more moisturizing properties. It is a mask, after all. I don’t feel that my lips have any added moisture from using this mask, just that it prevents moisture loss. I wasn’t able to wear lipstick every day, which I understand is asking a lot during blizzard season. The heart wants what the heart wants, okay?

I’ve tried layering with Glossier’s Balm Dotcom, but I haven’t noticed a difference in moisture.

I’ll use this up, then probably buy the Laneige mask for fun, and then settle on using Vaseline at night. The Amazon reviews are still all screaming about how this is Holy Grail status, so you may have better luck. I think it’s good enough to use up, but not good enough for a repurchase.