March 30, 2016

BEAUTY: Morphe 35S Palette Review/Swatches

Doesn't it seem like makeup brands spring up overnight sometimes? Think about it - two years ago we were not even talking about ColourPop (and probably would've mocked the unneccesary "u" right?), but now their name is thrown about so frequently we can feel like we're missing out on something we barely just learned existed.

The same can be said for other YouTube-famous online makeup brands like Morphe. I saw the brand written about on beauty sites, reviewed in videos and used in tutorials, and since I like to keep an eye on these up-and-comers, I had checked out their offerings and maybe even pinned a product or two. I can be skeptical about beauty newbies, but when I saw their 35S Smokey Eye Palette, I was interested in trying it out for myself.

Because I have a wonderful and generous sister, I received this palette as a surprise gift in the mail, but you can buy it either directly from Morphe or from Amazon, where it seems to be a couple of bucks cheaper with free Prime shipping.

The Pros
I was instantly struck by the palette's size upon opening the package - this thing is a full 9" x 6" and each individual eyeshadow is about a 1" circle. You get a lot of product here for the price, but I was curious if that product would be worth it.

I'm happy to say that, overall, I think this palette is certainly worth the price, as even though not every shadow is well pigmented, the majority are at least useable, with many being supremely soft and colorful. There is also a great mix of colors here. I don't feel drawn to the million neutral palettes available these days (how the hell did we, as a society, decide to get this excited over taupe?!), but this palette offers a selection of useful neutrals, as well as bold brights and some unusual shades you won't find many other places, like the banana yellow and magenta.

There are both matte and metallic finishes, and several groups of shadows that can be worked into no-brainer smoky eye looks. This is a very user friendly palette, meaning that you can either choose to play around or work within a given color family or zone to get whatever look you're going for.

The Cons
My biggest complaint is that there are too many similar shades in this palette. Looking at the above photo, you'll see several bright blue shades, each appearing slightly different from the others. In the swatches below, you'll notice they come out of the pan looking nearly identical. Just kind of a bummer since this is a missed opportunity for even more color selection.

The same can be said for black shadows, and you might wonder why the bottom row of this palette appears to have three of them. I did too, but after swatching I saw that they are each different, with the first black in the bottom row being deeply pigmented, while the others are weaker and read more like dark gray. Again, just a missed opportunity to stuff even more color into this palette. 

Some shades are too weak to use, specifically the tan shade at the end of the top row, and some are crumbly, like the pink at the end of the fourth row.

First Row Swatches (the last shade showed up so lightly that I accidentally cropped it out of this photo!)
Second Row Swatches
Third Row Swatches
Fourth Row Swatches
Fifth Row Swatches
I get a lot of use from this palette, and love having such a mix of colors on hand. It would also be great for traveling, since it could get you through many looks. Honestly, the super metallic shades make this completely worthwhile to me, as they're so bright and unique I go back to them again and again. Also, even though I disparaged the color earlier in this post, the taupe eyeshadow third from the left in the fourth row has become a constant in my makeup life - it's even more gorgeous in person. Wait, one more con - I wish these colors had names so I could reference them a little easier!

Have you tried any Morphe palettes or brushes? What is your favorite affordable makeup product? What other beauty newbies are you dying to try?

March 23, 2016

STYLE: 3D Geometric Earrings

Lately, I've really been loving these bold, geometric earrings I keep seeing around. Cubes, pyramids, whatever - the 3D designs feel like they're jumping right out at me. They can be simple, like the subtly raised gold triangles in #11, or super bold statement pieces, like the comin-at-ya cubes in #6, which, incidentally, really bring me back to notebook doodling and feeling like a master artist for my newfound cube-drawing skills.

Check out some cool 3D geometric earrings I've been eyeing:

Have you seen these designs popping up lately too? Which one above is your favorite? More of a pearl studs kinda gal?

March 9, 2016

BEAUTY: Ulta Birthday Gift 2016

Just like our old pal Sephora, beauty hotspot Ulta loves to dish out annual birthday freebies. Honestly, I'm usually much less excited about Ulta's birthday offerings than I am about Sephora's, which is exactly the inverse of how I feel about each store in general. It's a confusing time. This year, though, Ulta is kinda going all in and giving us a deluxe sample-sized tube of Benefit Roller Lash.

Isn't she lovely?

If this was, like, a year ago, I probably would've freaked out over this gift because I was very much in love with Benefit mascaras, and very much averse to shelling out the $20+ they wanted for them. In that time, I haven't lost love for Benefit, but rather gained the knowledge that my kinda-long-but-very-straight lashes need, nay deserve, a waterproof formula, which is able to keep a curl all day and use my lash length for something more useful than poking me in the eye over and over again.

The thing is, though, Benefit actually claims that Roller Lash works without a lash curler, and can, in fact, curl your lashes all on its own, lifting them up and holding for 12 hours. This is all due to the "Hook 'n' Roll" brush, which features "tiny custom-designed hooks to catch, lift and curl even short and straight lashes," according to Benefit. Try not to think of tiny hooks going into your eyes, okay?

They also say that it contains conditioning ingredients (B5 and serine), is easy to remove and has the ability to "super-curl," which sounds to me like the lead character in a beauty-themed hero movie, and I'd like one ticket, please.

To see how it compared to my usual lash curling routine, I applied 2 coats of Roller Lash,
without curling my eyelashes either before or after:
Top Row: bare lashes  //  Bottom Row: 2 coats of Benefit Roller Lash mascara

Up close, you can see that this is a somewhat clumpy formula, which I actually don't mind. It definitely gave my lashes more curl than they have with a regular mascara sans lash curler. I pretty much always curl my lashes first, so to see any root lifting from just the wand alone is pretty remarkable to me.

The mascara is very black and seems a bit lengthening perhaps, but in a negligible amount. The big draw here is the curling effect, which I agree is impressive, but ultimately I'd just rather use an eyelash curler (I love my Japonesque Power Curl) and a cheaper mascara. I get better results from my current favorite drugstore formula, and the difference in price could legitimately buy me a fancy Italian dinner. Yes to linguine, no to expensive mascaras.

Okay, just don't call me 'birthday curl' again.

I'll definitely use this tube up, but I won't purchase the full size. If you can visit an Ulta, make sure to ask about Ultamate Rewards and how you can get a free birthday gift when your big day rolls around!

Have you tried Roller Lash? What's your favorite high end or drugstore mascara? Please entertain me with tales of your best birthday freebies.

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