Stuff I Liked: September 2018

This is only a week late! I’d apologize for neglecting my blog, but traffic was actually up in September for the first time since I’ve started my new job.Bar graph of traffic from April to September. There was a steady decrease, but September raised a little bit from August.
I guess I’m doing fine blogging, then. I’ve got a September Birchbox post in the works, as well. I’ve used up some of the samples but am keeping the empty bottles around so that I can take pictures of them in a faux unboxing photo set. Now you know the secret.

We’re moved in, unpacked, and I’ve started to hang up some art. I bought and assembled an office chair. Things haven’t quite calmed down, though. We’re working on getting our heat set up for the winter. The house currently has a decrepit oil system in the basement. It’s converted from COAL. It has little door to shovel the coal into and everything. There’s no way that it’s going to last for as long as we want to live here.

I’ve done a wee bit of painting. You guys like the watercolors, right?
Scan of a watercolor painting of a green sea turtle. This is Myrtle, if you've been to the New England Aquarium. The colors are a little muted.
I’m still working on how to digitize them. I think that photographs (below) look better than scans (above).
The same postcard, but photographed with my phone under bright light. Myrtle is much brighter and contrasts with the ocean water around her. I've put three blue blocks of paint under her and my brushes above her for the aesthetic.
I need to play with my scanner settings some more, but I think that I’ll end up pulling out my good camera going forward. Anyone have any tips?

ICYMI/Blog Stuff

Stuff I liked July 2018/August 2018
Funkless Deodorant Tangerine & Lime Review My holy grail, eco-friendlier deodorant. I’d post this in the summer if I was more savvy about my clicks. What’s up Southern Hemisphere?
Birchbox August 2018
Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator Review
Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush in Give Me a Cuddle Review
Tomoson Review
Valjean Labs Facial Serum in Hydrate

Grumpy Skin has a facebook page! I’m not being irritating with it, WordPress just wont push to private pages anymore. Give it a like, if that’s your thing.

Books

Heathen by Natasha Alterici and Rachel Deering
I am HERE for some modernized Norse mythology. I’m also very deceived by the library categorizing this as teen. There are a ton of boobs. I tried to read it on my break at work.

I did not get fired, so we’re good.

Ms Marvel Volume 7 by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa
I’m still SUPER INTO Ms. Marvel. It’s all ages, but somehow more political and current than a lot of the “adult” comics I read.

Fruits Basket Volume 4 by Natsuki Takaya
Getting this from the library has been an ordeal. Someone entered the original volumes and the collected volumes as the same book into the catalog. I’ve been having to request three or four books before I get the right one. Worth it. Furuba is holding up.

Video Games

I’ve been desperately trying to play through my Steam sale haul before Fallout 76 comes out. I haven’t decided if I want to play it or not, but I want to be ready if I do. I’ve opened the pre-order page a few times and keep deciding that I don’t want to spend $60 on maybe liking a multiplayer game yet. We’ll see.

Fallout 4 Another great game with a subpar ending from Bethesda. And bugged, oh man. I’m so glad the internet exists to tell me how to get around game breaking bugs. It was fun, though. I’ll probably do what I did with Skyrim and spend a year replaying it while mostly ignoring the plot.

Final Fantasy 7 I desperately wanted this game in high school. I couldn’t find a copy of it to save my life. I’m glad I’m finally getting the chance to play through it. Though it has aged HORRIBLY. There’s a particularly bad part of the story where you crossdress to save one of your party members from potential sex work. Man. I’m really curious how faithful the remake will be. It needs some updates.

Movies


Guess who ugly cried over the Captain Marvel trailer? I did. She’s my absolute favorite Marvel character. I’m excited and terrified for the movie.

How was your October? More importantly, do you also stan Captain Marvel?

Valjean Labs Facial Serum in Hydrate

I’m reviewing another part of my TJ Maxx impulse buy. The (fake) frosted glass of the Valjean Labs bottles got me, okay? If you missed it, I also picked up a facial mist. I like it despite not wanting to repurchase.

This, on the other hand..
Valjean Labs' Hydrate facial serum with hyaluronic acid and vitamin b5. It's light blue liquid in a frosted dropper bottle.

It seems like it would be straightforward. Hyaluronic acid helps your skin retain moisture and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is supposed to be good for acne. I don’t have issues with acne, but I’m always looking for ways to up my skin’s hydration.

Full disclosure: I thought that vitamin B5 was niacinamide. It’s not. That’s vitamin B3. Maybe that’s why I don’t think this is working as well? I expected to flush like I do with niacinamide and I don’t get that..because that’s not what it is. We’re all learning here.

The back of the bottle. It says that the serum is super concentrated and to think of it as supplements for your face.

Shout out to Valjean labs for saying that their serum is super concentrated without giving ingredients percentages! Those are useless, empty words. The lack of transparency inactive ingredients is actually why I wont shell out for Glossier’s serums despite desperately, desperately wanting to believe in their effortless beauty marketing.

I used this serum correctly the first few times I tried it. A few drops into my hand, rub it on my face, wait and then moisturize. I actually felt like it was drying my skin out. I think it smells like alcohol. I’m not sure where that’s coming from.

All I know is that I now essentially dump it on my face, don’t wait for it to dry, and slather my moisturizer on top of it. I think it works a little better this way. I’m mostly trying to get through it at this point. I don’t think it’s doing much for me. Since it’s not breaking me out I’m having trouble making myself throw it away.

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I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to stand using it, though. The little dropper doesn’t have great suction and will only fill to the product level in the bottle.

Edit: The dropper did give out on me! I ended up pouring it on my face. Since my goal was to get through the bottle as quickly as possible, I was fine with it.

Does anyone have a good serum I should try?

Tomoson Review

We’re going a little meta today. Blogging about blogging.

Tomoson is a platform that many bloggers use to get free stuff. Uh, I mean, it’s a platform that bloggers use to receive items for “testing and review”. I understand why it exists on both sides. Bloggers spend a lot of time, effort and their own money to grow their blog. New businesses have trouble getting the word out about their products. I don’t have a problem with the idea of these kinds of platforms.

I’m on a few of them. I’ve been a member of Influenster since before I had a blog. I’ve received items from Brand Backer. I tried Tomoson.

I’m not above wanting free stuff. The problem with these platforms is that you’re often incentivized to leave positive reviews to keep receiving things. With Tomoson in particular, “influencers”/bloggers are rated by the company they work with, with the more legit companies seeking out people that have done more campaigns and have a higher rating.

What ends up happening is that people request a lot of the easy items to review (ebooks, weird supplements) in hopes that one day they can get nice products. A lot of these campaigns request Amazon reviews. Amazon has a HUGE problem with fake reviews at the moment. I wasn’t planning to be part of the problem.

I did one campaign for a menstrual cup, Cali Cup, which was great. It’s a genuinely good product that I was happy to put the word out about. I did a facebook and instagram post for them. And then nothing. I realized that I needed to play the game and do some ebook reviews.

Now, I like books. I just thought that the ebooks on Tomoson seemed like garbage. I bit the bullet and requested a kind of self-help/time management/personal success book. Right up my alley. I love planning stuff. I thought FOR SURE I could find something nice to say about this book.

Guys. Entire pages were missing from it. Short lists of tips had duplicates. There were weird condescending bits about kids these days. The author photo was a stock photo. This was a clear scam product.

I had no way to report the listing on Amazon for being a sham book. There was no option to contact Tomoson directly about my issues with the product. I emailed the company through the platform and told them about the missing pages and poor editing, asking if I had received a draft. They just emailed me the same book in a different format.

So my options were to give the book a nice Amazon review, or to not submit anything and let my account be shut down for not completing a campaign. I didn’t complete the campaign.

And now I’m SUPER suspicious of any disclaimer that says the item they received was from Tomoson. There’s absolutely no product oversight on that platform. I don’t want free stuff that badly. Neither should you.

(Edit: Side note, pretty sure that leaving Amazon reviews in exchange for products is against their ToS and people are having their accounts shut down for that. Fun and good ethics all around!)

Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush in Give Me a Cuddle Review

I’m still working my way through my lip color collection one week at a time. This week I tried to wear Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Colour Rush lip balm in Give Me A Cuddle for a solid week.

I mean, I succeeded. It just wasn’t the most fun.The tube of Rimmel's Lasting Finish Colour Rush in Give Me a Cuddle. The silver lettering is rubbing off.

This is where I confess to you that I bought this lip balm three years ago. That’s why the label looks so godawful. You can still purchase it, so I could have pretended that I bought it last week.

This blog isn’t about my dignity.

A shot of the opened gloss stick. It's sort of like a lipstick, but is supposed to be more hydrating. It looks like a balm and a lipstick had a baby. It doesn't act that way.

Three years ago I knew that I wanted to wear lipstick, but was having some trouble easing into it. This lip balm looked like a nice tame pink. At least on me. Some reviewers said it was too candy pink for them.

There is no flash in the image on the left. The image on the right has flash.

I can see the candy pink complaints. I do think this balm applies pretty thin, so you can adjust it to be less bright.

On my lips. A thin, baby pink.

It looks fine, right? Barely even there. That’s what I was going for three years ago. The problem is that this balm isn’t particularly hydrating. And while it’s not an in your face color, it does dry my lips out and the resulting flakes are BRIGHT PINK. I don’t have an at the end of the workday picture for you because I wiped this off at lunch every day. It didn’t matter that I used my lip mask the night before. It didn’t matter if I exfoliated and hydrated in the morning before the application.

In the trash it goes. It’s not a good track record for Rimmel’s lip products. I also trashed some of their glosses for drying me out.

Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator Review

This lotion has a NAME. Surge! Intense! It’s making some claims. And it should for $40.

I didn’t pay $40 for a lotion, don’t worry. I got a sample using ipsy points back in May.

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You might remember that I wasn’t initially impressed with it. I didn’t think that it was moisturizing nearly as well as my CeraVe. A bunch of you yelled at me to really give it a chance because you love it.

And you were right. I just wasn’t using enough.

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I had to hurry to take pictures before I used it all.

A 7 mL sample lasted me for a month of once daily use. I still used my CeraVe at night. Why only once a day? This lotion doesn’t make my sunscreen pill up. I was rationing it. The pill life is real, but I refuse to try new sunscreen when I have so much left of what I’m using.

It hydrates well when you slather it on and dries pretty quickly. It doesn’t have any added fragrance, but does smell faintly of alcohol. Butylene glycol (an alcohol) is the fourth ingredient. My organic chemistry classes didn’t teach me to identify alcohols based on smell, but I think that might be it.

So, am I going to start budgeting for an annual fund of $80 on morning moisturizer alone? I was pretty tempted. It’s good. BUT it contains some of the micro-plastics that I’m trying to avoid in my skincare. Environmentalism has saved my wallet.

I think that the major ingredient my daily CeraVe doesn’t have is squalane. I’m going to try adding a squalane serum to my routine and continue to pray for a sunscreen that doesn’t pill with my current set up.

Any squalane recommendations for me?

Birchbox August 2018

*checks watch*

Yeah, this one is a little late. I’d say it was because I was moving, but it’s not. This box is just super boring. Is Birchbox always boring? This is my third month. I’m already leaning toward not renewing the subscription.

Image of the Birchbox. This month has some abstract purple and pink hills. The inside card says

I do think the box is cute, though.

This month I opted to choose one specific sample and have the rest of the box be a surprise. I wanted to try the pH changing lip gloss. I’m a little bummed that I chose it this month, because one of the options for September is a plain pH color changing balm. I would have liked to skip the sparkles. Oh well.

What’s in my box

I've laid out the box contents and lid on the floor. Baker is rolling around and takes up half the image. He's a chubby tabby cat.
Baker is making some appearances! I was going to use the nice purple flowers my friend Christine gave me as a backdrop because they match the box, but..Baker was annoying and I couldn’t really muster the enthusiasm this month. So cat pictures it is.

Number 4™ Super Comb Prep & Protect
I've nestled the little spray bottle of Super Comb Prep & Protect in Baker's fluffy white tummy.

This makes my hair easier to brush when it’s wet. Once it’s dry I don’t notice that I’ve used anything. I don’t think it’s worth using if I have to use a second conditioner when it’s dry.

MALIN+GOETZ grapefruit face cleanser
Malin + Goetz is good. I’ve enjoyed using their samples. This is gentle and smells like someone ate a grapefruit on a pool float. I’m kind of into it. I wont be purchasing it because it’s full of microplastics. I’m sure that’s unrelated to the smell.

Pretty sure, at least.

I’ve been keeping the tube in the shower for the nights when I want to be a little lazy and not wash my face in the sink.

amika Phantom Hydrating Dry Shampoo Foam
I've also stuck the amika bottle right up against Baker's tummy. He just wants to be close to whatever I'm doing.

This works..okay. It still leaves a white residue in my hair, like conventional sprays. I don’t think it works quite as well. The texture is also a little off for a mousse. It’s not blended as well as I would have expected.

Erno Laszlo Multi-Task Eye Serum Mask
Baker is laying on his side. I've put the foil package for the eye serum mask on top of him.

Water, glycerin, niacinamide…as far as ingredients go, this is basically what I’m already putting on my face twice a day with my Cerave lotion. I haven’t tried them yet, so I don’t know how well they stay put. We all know that undereye masks do nothing for the long term by now, right? Cool. Good. Get an eye cream.

Winky Lux Disco Gloss in Far Out
The Winky Lux tube was harder to balance on him, so I'm holding the tube out while he rolls around on the floor in the background. I got the color Far Out, which Birchbox says is blue. It's definitely purple. There's some glitter mixed in.

I just did a google to explain to you how pH lipsticks work and..it’s not pH. It’s just a dye that changes a universal shade of pink. Any differences in color have to do with your lip color and what other colorants are mixed into the base. That’s a bummer.  The color IS long lasting, but you’re going to get the same result from literally any “pH” lipstick.

Anyway. This is Far Out. Birchbox says it’s blue. I say it’s purple.

This is an image of the applicator. It's stained bright pink. Baker is laying on the floor in the background, out of focus. We keep our opened products away from the kitty here at Grumpy Skin.
I suspected that there might not be a pH mechanism when I opened it and saw that the applicator is bright pink. Surely the applicator is at roughly the same pH as the gloss? Oh well.

Here’s an arm swatch for good measure. I took some lip pictures, but you can’t really tell that I’ve got anything on. I think that it’s noticeable in person. Even looking at selfies from other days of me wearing it..maybe it’s in my head.

Winky Lux Disco Gloss in Far Out. It's a thin, light pink with some subtle glitter. I used the flash here to try to pick up more of the color, so you can't really see Baker in the background.

What do you guys think? Is this a standard level of boring for Birchbox? Or was this box a fluke?

Funkless Deodorant Tangerine & Lime Review

You know the no plastic kick is getting serious when I start buying deodorant that comes in a glass jar.

A small jar that says "FUNKLESS NATURAL DEODORANT Tangerine Lime"

I’m no stranger to ~natural~ deodorants. I jumped on the no aluminum train about ten years ago when I started using the crystal. Now I think that the aluminum fears have pretty shaky evidence. Which is great, because the crystal deodorant still contains aluminum. That’s a different post. Greenwashing is real. The important part here is that I’ll rub a solid rock on my armpits. A paste wasn’t anything strange for me.

I quit using the crystal because it was a colossal pain to remember to use it while my armpits were still wet from showering. I’ve bounced around between other ~natural~ deodorants that irritated my armpits, and then settled for men’s deodorant. I hate smelling like flowers and I hate the pink tax. I also kind of hate how quickly I go through a stick of deodorant. That’s a fair amount of plastic that I didn’t feel was necessary.

So I went down the internet rabbit hole of eco-friendly deodorant. It gets little weird. There are lots of burnt armpits from essential oils being misused. I’m very wary of ~natural~ deodorants because of things like this. Funkless had good Amazon reviews, though. I decided to give them a try.

Back of the jar. Made in Brooklyn. Ingredients list: Arrowroot starch, baking soda, coconut oil, shea butter, magnesium oxide, citrus reiculatal, citrus auranfolia, and vitamin E.

The ingredients are pretty straight forward. A lot of homemade deodorants are basically baking soda and essential oils for scent. I think the arrowroot starch is just an added thickener, and then the magnesium oxide presumably acts the way that aluminum does in commercial deodorants. It keeps you from sweating by plugging up your sweat holes.

That’s scientific.

I’m not fussed about rubbing magnesium oxide in my armpits because I currently eat 200 mg of it a day in tablet form. If magnesium (a normal thing that we need in our diet) turns on us, this deodorant is going to be the least of my worries.

A look inside the jar. It's a plain white paste. The consistency depends on the temperature of the room. It's solid here, kind of like play-do.

So how does it work? At room temperature this deodorant is a pretty solid paste. I have to use some pressure to get it out. It smells lightly of tangerine and lime. The smell doesn’t linger. I kind of wish that it did. It smells like something I’d want to drink. I want to smell like a fancy drink.

"This amount" is a little pinch on my finger. A little bigger than a pea.

I usually get about this amount out, then rub it between my index fingers to warm it up so it spreads easily.

This picture is showing how the solid deodorant melts with body heat so that it can be easily spread. It looks kind of like a gritty lotion here.

One finger for each armpit. You don’t need a representation of me rubbing this on my armpits, right? Good.

It dries a little chalky, but I haven’t noticed any rubbing off onto my shirts. After a few wears it does leave a little white powder on my bra. That doesn’t bother me.

I haven’t had any weird armpit irritation. A+ safe use of essential oils here, at least for my body chemistry. I haven’t noticed that I get sweaty (but then again, I also don’t actively look for antiperspirants in my deodorant). I will say that when do get disgustingly all-body sweaty, my armpits still don’t smell. It’s pretty impressive.

Based on my current use rate, I’d guess that one jar of this would last approximately..forever. The pictures were taken when I had been using it daily for a month. A MONTH. A jar could easily last a year.

My only complaint is that it will melt during shipping. I received a pretty messy, but yummy smelling envelope. I gave the deodorant a good stir and let it return to room temperature. It’s been fine.

Ingredients are good. Performance is good. There’s not a giant plastic tube for me to buy, like, every week. We’ve got a winner here.