MAC Lipstick Standoff: Candy Yum-Yum vs. Pink Nouveau

 

MAC Lipstick Standoff

 

I can’t remember how I first found out about MAC’s famed Candy Yum-Yum lipstick. What I do remember, however, is standing at my local makeup counter and staring at a tube of it like it was a loaded gun. It was so bright, so unabashed, so pink that I could almost feel my retinas start to tingle. 

Being Casper-level pale, I asked the salesgirl if it would only look good against tanned skin. “Um, oh my God, it looks, like, so weird on tan girls,” she replied like a brunette version of Cher from Clueless. I’m still not sure if that statement is true, as I’ve never seen it on a tan person (or on any other person, for that matter), but regardless, her burst of Valley Girl-tinged enthusiasm was enough to convince me. I bought it without trying it on, and for the last few months have worn it every day without fail. (Sidenote: if you have darker skin, don’t stop here, this shade can look great on you too. Keep on reading and I’ll elaborate later.) 

Last week, though, I suddenly got an urge for something a little lighter. A little more like Betty Draper, with her subdued Ice Queen look, than Megan Draper, with her bold, bright colors and huge prints. And just like that, my search for the perfect Barbie lipstick began. After sorting through a slew of options, I finally settled on MAC’s Pink Nouveau shade. Again, I bought it without trying it on (I’m detecting a pattern of first-world risk-taking here). It is drastically different than the neon-pumped Candy Yum-Yum, yet it is also becoming one of my top favorite lipsticks. I find myself struggling to choose between the two when I put on my face in the morning. So, of course, the next logical step was to pit them against each other in a bona fide, Western-style standoff.

Let’s start with pure aesthetics. Here, I’ve swatched the back of my hand with two to three coats of each: 

I brightened up the photo a bit to compensate for the rather dim natural light I took it in, but otherwise no editing, and absolutely no color alteration. As you can see, Candy Yum-Yum (on the left) reads as an incredibly bright neon pink, while Pink Nouveau is a true rose pink. But, as with all things, there is more than meets the eye, especially (and ironically) when it comes to beauty products. Let’s break things down with a good old-fashioned scale of one through 10.

Longevity

Candy Yum-Yum: 10. Pink Nouveau: 6.

Candy Yum-Yum’s amazing lasting power comes purely from its matte finish. I have owned several other MAC lipsticks in matte finishes, and they have all lasted for a ridiculously long time. Pink Nouveau, however, has a satin finish, which is very beautiful but also fairly short-lived, unless you never eat or drink. After devouring a big meal with Candy Yum-Yum on, I just have to touch up in a few places. After doing the same with Pink Nouveau, however, the color is smeared all over my cutlery and, in all likelihood, the inside of my stomach, so a full reapplication is needed.

Comfort

Candy Yum-Yum: 6. Pink Nouveau: 10.

While Candy Yum-Yum’s matte finish offers many budge-free hours, it is also extremely drying. Before application I always put on a layer of Nivea’s ultra-moisturizing Lip Butter, and even then I usually have a flake or two of lip skin peeling off by the end of the day. Pink Nouveau, on the other hand, requires no prior steps, is incredibly silky, and is so smooth that it can stay on for ages and still be wiped off to reveal perfectly plump, healthy lips (provided that I don’t accidentally wipe it off on the mouthpiece of my water bottle first).

Texture

Candy Yum-Yum: 7. Pink Nouveau: 10.

As mentioned above, Candy Yum-Yum can cause peeling and flaking even on the most supple of lips, which leads to a not-so-sexy-looking texture. Applying some sort of lip balm underneath really does help, but if you forget to, in a few hours you’ll end up with scaly-looking lizard lips. The texture of Pink Nouveau is creamy and forgiving, and if it ever gets uneven, you can just rub your lips together gently and just like that it’s flawless again.

Color Payoff

Candy Yum-Yum: 10. Pink Nouveau: 8.

Candy Yum-Yum is like the heroin of lipsticks. It provides instant gratification, and a lot of it. Its ability to light up your whole face is truly addictive, and the blue undertones make it very flattering on cool skin tones like mine, light and dark alike. Pink Nouveau is also wonderfully pigmented and kissed with blue undertones, but just by the very nature of its color isn’t as exciting or adrenaline-rush-inducing. It does light up your whole face, but in a calmer, more measured way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a dainty, subdued color, and it definitely says, “hey, look at my pink plastic Barbie lips,” it just doesn’t scream the message at the top of its lungs like Candy Yum-Yum.

When everything is unpacked, examined, and rated, it becomes clear that the winner of this standoff depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a long-lasting lipstick with a shriekingly loud color or do you want a smooth, creamy lipstick with a more hushed but equally eye-catching hue? Let me know in the comments which one you’d prefer. 

Tutorial: The Perfect Glow

 

The Perfect Glow

Highlighters can be hard to figure out. Though they appear relatively simple at first glance (apply here, look like an angel), they’re actually quite difficult to master.

Placement itself is pretty easy: applying highlighter of any kind on the tops of your cheekbones will instantly give you a gorgeous, fairy-like complexion. But what happens as the day wears on, when it’s three in the afternoon and instead of having flawlessly dewy cheekbones you have a barely visible film of shimmer and glitter all over your cheeks and nose? If you’re like me and want to look like an ethereal baby cherub all day long and not just in the morning, then let me introduce you to the ultimate highlighter technique.

The answer to all your highlighter problems is layering, both of products and of textures. When I want to create the perfect long-lasting glow (which is every day, for the record), I take my two favorite highlighters and double up.

On its own, Benefit’s High Beam liquid highlighter creates a soft gentle glow. It’s nice, and the liquid formula makes it last for quite a while, but it just doesn’t have the oomph that I crave. That’s where my MAC Iridescent Powder in Silver Dusk comes in. It’s a loose powder, and it is absolutely packed to the gills with heavenly shimmer. I say gills with extra emphasis because the powder’s beautiful lumosity can really only be compared to the scales of a mermaid. Not just a fish, but a mermaid. Am I communicating my intense love for this stuff adequately yet? However, no sooner does it touch your skin than it starts falling out all over the place.

As you may have guessed, things don’t get truly magical until I combine the two. First, I use the included brush applicator to swipe a few drops of High Beam on top of my cheekbones, then gently blend it in with one or two fingers. Then, using MAC’s Large Angled Contour Brush, I pick up the tiniest bit of Silver Dusk from its container, tap off the excess, and delicately dab it directly on top of the High Beam I’ve already applied. Ideally, you should dab on the powder before the liquid base has fully dried. This way, the liquid acts as an adhesive and keeps the mixture solidly in place from sunrise to sunset. Be sure that you don’t use any rubbing motions with your brush—this will only wear away at the liquid and powder mixture you’ve so carefully laid out. Instead, continue to use dabbing motions until everything is blended in (no hard edges allowed here) and you have just the right amount of glow.

Here, I’ve swatched both products, as well as the finished effect of layering them together:

Left to right: Benefit High Beam, MAC Iridescent Powder in Silver Dusk, and Silver Dusk layered on top of High Beam. Nail polish is “In the Cable Car Pool Lane” by OPI

As you can see, High Beam creates a consistent, soft luminescence, while Silver Dusk creates an exceptionally light-catching dusting of powder, and the two combined create the perfect glow with an unmatched and otherworldly intensity. It may take some experimentation, but I guarantee that this technique will let you love the magic of highlighter like never before. 

Are Designer Bags Worth The Price?

 

A Grey Area

 

Until Michael Kors came into my life, I was a designer virgin. Sure, I had a Chanel eye shadow and a Dior powder compact rattling around in my makeup bag, but I’d never gone all the way; I’d never owned so much as a designer keychain. Then, everything changed. It was the morning after a long night of various shenanigans when my fiance and I wandered into the Hotel Nikko’s Starbucks in search of a coffee fix, eyes bleary and heads throbbing. That’s when I saw it. The Hamilton tote. A shining beacon of beautifully sculpted leather, dangling from the elbow of some lucky, lucky girl.

A few weeks later I was browsing eBay when I found the very same one in a gorgeous pearl grey color and about a hundred bucks less. I bought it on the spot, thereby blowing my clothing budget until 2014 while simultaneously releasing about two solid tablespoons of endorphins. I haven’t regretted my purchase since.

To me, it’s less of an accessory and more of an investment. But what makes an item an essential instead of a frivolity? A staple instead of a bauble? Up until this point, I’ve never owned a single item of clothing worth more than $250; I consider myself quite experienced in the world of low- and mid-range fashion. I know flash sale return policies like the back of my hand, I’ve spent more than six cumulative hours in Forever 21, and I am a big believer in the power of eBay. So what made me cross over into the land of hand-stitched leather and ubiquitous logos? Let me enlighten you. Without further ado, here are the four ways in which my first designer purse has proved its worth (and justified its price tag) to me.

1. Structural integrity. While there are obviously high-end bags with relaxed, slouchy silhouettes, mine happens to sport a very angular, square-like shape. Unlike my last purse, however, this one has actually retained its form no matter how much stress I put on it. Whereas previous purses’ angles began to turn into curves the second I threw a single book in them, this one has carried textbooks, folders, changes of clothes, and my ridiculously heavy makeup bag (all at the same time!) without losing a single inch of its original shape.

2. Quality materials. The Hamilton is made from a type of leather called Saffiano leather. Used by such legendary labels as Prada, Coach and Salvatore Ferragamo, it’s created by stamping normal leather with a rough texture. This gives the leather a crosshatched appearance and, most importantly, a strong resistance to scratches and scuffs. Every bit of dirt, dust and grime that I’ve gotten on my purse thus far has brushed off without a trace. That’s not to say that I’m not still obsessively protective of my new baby, but it’s nice to know that it can hold its own against the elements.

3. Sturdiness. Before the Hamilton, I went through three purses in the span of two years. Granted, none of them fell apart in any major way, but they did start to deteriorate in small, irritating ways that all added up. Ripped seams, weak stitching, peeling leather, the works. Although I’ve only had my new bag for about a month, I can already tell that it won’t be plagued by those (or any other) issues for a long, long, time. We’re talking years here. Every part of it is crafted with care and precision, and is truly built to last.

4. Wow factor. No matter how much attention is put into an item’s functionality, longevity and fine details, I still want it to have sex appeal. You know, the sartorial equivalent of Marilyn Monroe standing over a steam grate. For me, the Hamilton, with its dove’s feather-grey hue, chain-bedecked shoulder strap, and working padlock and key is all that and more. I’ve received more compliments on this bag than I have on any other accessory, and its appeal seems to be universal. Even the super-nice lady ringing up my order at Chipotle expressed her admiration for my bag. In fact, I think I caught her suggestively winking at it behind my back. In short, if I’m going to spend a hefty chunk of change on something, I want it to have brains and beauty.

When pondering all of this, keep in mind that I’m a college student who regularly packs her purse with five pounds of textbooks. If all you carry around is lipstick, your smartphone, and maybe a pack of oil blotting papers (perpetually shiny babes unite), then you’ll most likely be able to get away with buying a gorgeous purse with a much lower price tag. Regardless of the size of the load you’re carrying, though, a handbag is an important and most likely constant component of your everyday look. Investing in a real gem has the potential to make a difference, just like it did for me. If you’re still hesitant to spend a pretty penny, though, I’ve hunted down four other beautiful handbags that have the same ethereal hue as my beloved Hamilton, minus the sticker shock. Whatever your monetary preference is, there’s something for you. 

 

Beauty Review: Herb Tea for Clear Skin

I am typically very anti-hippie when it comes to my beauty regimen. This skin-clearing tea by The Republic of Tea, however, piqued my interest. Bloggers recommended it, it has received rave reviews, and there were even scientific-looking studies to back up the potency of rooibos, its active ingredient.

So when a jury duty summons with my name on it appeared a few weeks ago, the timing seemed perfect. Stress-induced zits are a very real (first world) problem. So I picked up a can of The Republic of Tea’s Get Gorgeous tea, painted my nails a mesmerizing shade of lilac with Lime Crime’s nail lacquer in Lavendairy, and got to sipping.

Rooibos, an herb from South Africa, has incredibly powerful antioxidant properties. It is said to bolster the immune system, reduce inflammation, and fight free radicals. Basically, it’s like the Kate Moss of teas—it does everything, and has been doing it for a really long time. Thanks to those superpowers, it’s supposed to be fantastic at clearing up troubled skin.

I started off by drinking a cup of it each night before bed. After five days, I saw no difference. Then I took the time to actually read the label and found that you’re supposed to drink a whopping four cups per day. Determined to get rid of the underground pimple on my chin before it reared its ugly head, I did just that. When I woke up the next morning, said wretched pimple was significantly smaller and less angry than it had been the night before.

I was elated. I was less so when I discovered that if you slack even an itty bit on your rooibos-imbibing regimen, your skin will return to its previous state in 12 hours flat. I tried to be diligent, but in the end I found that drinking four cups of tea per day, in addition to water and other drinks, was simply too much. It’s significantly less time-consuming for me to use a spot treatment at night and cover any remaining blemishes up during the day with my favorite foundation (MAC’s Matchmaster Foundation in 1).

In the end, the effectiveness of this tea depends on your willingness to commit to it. This is true with any beauty regimen (remembering to wear sunscreen every day, for example), but it feels different when it’s something you have to prepare and consume. If you’re bent on clearing your skin using natural methods, and also have an addiction to herbal tea, then you (and your skin) will probably love this product. If you’re more like me, though, you’ll probably be better off sticking with topical creams and cleansers.