Tag Archives: tarte

Sample Saturday – All of the things!

I have been traveling!


We were freezing at that O's game, but it was worth it when Manny hit that grand slam! Also, crabcakes, giant wire mosquitos, and random hot air balloon launches all are what Maryland is about. Mostly.

I used a crap-ton of samples while I was gone, so this will be at least two parts.


I get really dry when I’m traveling. Especially in the winter and spring. I used this on dryer parts of my face and mixed it in with an eye cream that just wasn’t doing the job. I really liked it, but I’m not convinced that it did more than other less expensive oils I’ve used.


I tried out a packet of Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Milk a few Sample Saturdays ago, and suspected that I might like it despite the separation of the product. I was right! I used it as a hydrating serum for a couple of weeks. This larger sample allowed me to shake it up. It sunk in right away, didn’t feel heavy or sticky, and wasn’t too much under moisturizer. This may be a good one to pick up for fall and winter next year.


I haven’t had huge success with Fresh, but this serum wasn’t too bad. It didn’t burn or do anything weird to my skin. It seemed to work well with other serums as well. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t over the moon with it either. Meh?


Fresh is on a roll! This also wasn’t terrible. I used it as a day moisturizer. It wasn’t super hydrating, but the SPF I use is so this didn’t have to pull all the weight. I don’t think I’d purchase, but it wasn’t bad!


The Tartiest Lash Paint mascara was very good. I got some good length and a little volume, but I didn’t like it quite as much as my favorite Lights, Camera, Lashes. The tube of the sample didn’t unscrew, but snapped together. I didn’t keep it open for very long because I was afraid that this construction would make it easier for air and bacteria to get in there.


I really enjoyed the Agave Lip Mask. I used it at night and woke up with most of it still on. The red one had enough of a tint to it that I felt really silly wearing it to bed, so I didn’t finish that one.

I think we’ll stop here for now and pick this up next Saturday!

De-Stash & Trash – Stuff for the Eyes

I love doing my eye makeup in the morning! And when I finish a pan of eye shadow, I squee. Just a little. We must remain dignified, you know.


Like most of us, I go through these types of colors a lot. Wet & Wild’s Brulee has a better formula than its analogs in most of my palettes. I use it all the time, and always have a backup.


This eye primer took me a whole year to use up, and it was fantastic. It had a thicker formula. A little goes a long way. I could tell the difference between days I used this and days I didn’t in terms of pigmentation and longevity of powder shadow. It can hold its own when compared to the likes of Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, which is what I’m using now. I will absolutely repurchase this!


Last Christmas I purchased a limited edition set of Skinny Smoldereyes by Tarte. I just finished the one in Onyx, and I really liked it! On my eyes, these star to break down after a few hours. This one lasted all day on my lids if I set it with a powder shadow. It felt wonderful going on, and didn’t irritate my eyes when used in the waterline or tightline. Not too bad, Tarte!

Destash & Trash – Mascara

I tried a few new things for the lashes over the last few months. Some I finished. Some…not so much.


This was a not so much. I love Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara. It makes my lashes fluffy and volumized without clumping, just the way I like them. I sprung for the waterproof version because my family suffered a loss. And I am a weeper. It was absolutely iconclad in its waterproofness. But its formula otherwise was not at all like its regular counterpart. It’s wetter, so it clumps. And although it enhances length, it does nothing for volume, so I had spider leg lashes, even with primer.


Speaking of primer, I got a sample of the Lancome Cils Booster XL, and I absolutely love it. Not only does it help with volume and separation, of which I need extra with the medically-enhanced lashes, but it keeps mascara from smudging under my eyes.


I can’t remember where I got this sample, but I really enjoyed this Volume Vixen mascara. The brush was a little odd – I should have taken a photo (blogger fail!) – it had natural-style bristles with gaps. I thought I would end up with a clumpy mess, but it all worked the way it was supposed to and gave me some fantastic volume.

De-stash & Trash – September 2015

I’ve been up to a whole bunch over the past few months! My job’s busy season, acclimating to two new bosses, helping my brother move, lots of extra traveling. Frankly, I’m a bit pooped!

I have finished up some interesting things in the meantime, though!

I finished and purged several mascaras last month.


Obviously, not enough to fill a whole collage.

Right-to-left, first off, there’s Mirenesse’s Secret Weapon. I enjoyed the fancy-pants packaging. It had a Christmas tree-shaped natural brush. I liked that it didn’t smudge on me, which is a problem I have with most mascaras. It gave me some good volume as well. I would definitely try this out again!

Next up is Smashbox’s Full Exposure. I got this at a CCO a year ago. It was way too wet at first, so I let it dry out a little. And then it was too dry. I think it was more my timing rather than the formula itself, but it was too wet for my taste right off.

Then there’s the trusty Clump Crusher. I was using it mostly to separate lashes after using another mascara.

Ulta’s Raincoat is a topper that makes regular mascaras waterproof. I can’t speak to the true waterproofiness (which is totally a word!) but it keeps some of my favorites from smudging under my eyes.

I loved Eyeko’s Sport waterproof. Until I tried to remove it. This stuff is bulletproof! It also has fibers, however, which are not so bulletproof. After wearing it the first few times, those fibers dusted off into and under my eyes causing a fair bit of discomfort. Not for contact lens wearers!

I used up a sample tube of my current fave, Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes. It makes my lashes thick and fluttery. It transfers like a mother, though, so I always use it with the Raincoat.

And, finally, I tried out Julep’s volumizing mascara. I’m a Maven, so I do get discounts on their stuff from time to time. I haven’t had much luck with their makeup so far. This was thick and wet simultaneously. It just didn’t work for me.


I finished up a sample of the Marc Jacobs gel eye crayon in Blacquer. I liked this so much that I sprung for the holiday collection. It’s a dry formula, but once I got it on my watery allergy eyes, it went nowhere. I can even tightline with it.


I used up some peripheral makeup stuff. I use a disinfecting wipe on my brushes and to clean up my hands, etc afterward. The brand really doesn’t matter much.

I bought the Smashbox primer water right after it came out. And promptly regretted it. My skin didn’t like it as a primer. There wasn’t enough moisture involved. I used it, primarily, as a setting spray but I found that it smelled exactly like a hospital hallway. I didn’t appreciate that at all.

I used up a pack of Simple wipes and a couple of bottles of the micellar water, both of which I love and hoard.


I finished up a few serums. I tend to layer them, thinnest to thickest. There’s usually a vitamin c serum, a hydrating serum, and I rotate out the third depending on need. Garden Girl’s Superhero Serum is one of the latter. It is jam packed full of good stuff and my skin seems to like it. It smells a little bit like Flonase, though, as Janie-cat can attest to!

I also used a sample of the SKII essence cream. It’s not watery like the essence itself and it contains silicone which I try to avoid in my night products. So I used it as a primer and enjoyed it that way.

Mad Hippie has been my vitamin c serum of choice lately. Over time, my skin has been getting used to the serums I had been using, and this one is just the right strength. It gives me the slight flush of a product that’s doing something without burning the crap out of my skin. (Avalon Organics, I’m looking at your toner.)

The last serum I finished was the Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion. It had a slightly oily consistency, but absorbed right away. I had some flaking for a week at first, but that eventually stopped.


I finished off a sleeping mask. This saved my skin last winter, and I found that it’s light enough to use in the summer as well. It’s rather expensive, but it lasted almost 9 months.


I was really sad about this one because I love Garden Girl products. I bought it back in the spring and noticed a difference in my undereyes right away. That never happens. As the summer progressed, I began having trouble with puffiness, itchiness, and dryness. I narrowed it down to to the eye cream. I think the reaction seemed to happen when I was in the sun more than usual. (Yes, I was SPFing.)


I finished up some nail and hand care stuff, too. First off, is my most-used, most-loved stamping polish. I have never found a white to work as well as Konad’s. I cracked into my backup and will be stalking the site for a sale to replenish.

I used the last of Zoya’s Remove +. It’s expensive. I know. I don’t use it for anything other than to remove glitter polish. I don’t know what it is about the formula, but it works better than straight-up acetone for glitter for me.

I used the last of a Tony Moly peach hand cream that I got in a Beauteque bag. It smelled divine, but it felt a bit sticky.

I let go of a pump dispenser that stopped working, as well as a bottle of scented top coat that I had been using to swatch with.


And finally, I’ve decided to let go of a couple of shampoo/conditioner sets. I have thigh-length wavy, fine, dry, easily tangled hair. I also avoid silicones. The Andalou Naturals smelled lovely, but didn’t provide enough hydration.

On the other hands, I loved what the Shea Moisture did for my hair, but it smelled so strongly and the scent was so pervasive, it lasted through several washings with other shampoos.

That’s it for September! I’m excited I used up so much, but it’s a bit overwhelming all in one post. I may have to split it up next time!

De-stash & Trash – Summer 2015: Makeup, Beauty, & Fragrance

I take a break from just about everything during the summer.  While the rest of the world is vacationing and enjoying a break from school, librarians are enduring their busiest season of the year. I live and work in a 40,000+ town in one of the fastest growing counties in the country.  This summer, our library had over 2,000 kids participating in the annual Summer Reading Program with attendance that ranged from 60-350 at any given event with each kid checking out dozens and dozens of items afterward, creating a never-ending stream of people from open to close.

And exactly how are libraries obsolete again?

We outnumbered our main branch (which is twice as big as ours in a city three times the size) in program attendance and came within 300 of their SRP sign-ups.  Despite the huge numbers of people walking in our doors and the ever-growing statistics, we’re working with fewer man hours than we were when I was hired in a decade ago because our town council can’t really wrap its collective head around the fact that we’re an essential service, and that all these people moving into our area come from places that actually value education and culture.  They’ve kept our funding level for three years straight.

Now, we’re much luckier than a lot of libraries in our area – even the metropolitan one in the county next door.  Many budgets are getting outright cut.  But there’s one significant difference: most of those communities have stagnant or decreasing population.  Ours has doubled in a decade.

So, I’ve spent the last few months working, eating, sleeping, and working without much energy for anything else.  I have, however, been keeping track of the stuff I use up for an epic three-part D&T.

Beauty Sponge

I discarded my last ever Real Techniques Beauty Sponge.  I used to love these, but I’ve noticed the quality decreasing over the past year or so.  This particular sponge disintegrated after its second use and wash.  I’ll be springing for the Beauty Blender from now on.


I tried out a lot of mascara this summer.  I actually finished the Tarte Gifted and loved it.  Almost more than their Lights, Camera, Lashes.  It made my lashes look thick and fluttery at the same time, but just like L,C,L, it transferred on me like a mother.  I used a waterproofer over it and that made it last all day without flaking or smudging.

I finished a couple of tubes of Cover Girl’s Professional Remarkable Waterproof mascara – one ran out at the very beginning of the summer and the other I used throughout.  This is a very dry formula, which I enjoy quite a bit.  My lashes are long – even longer now, but we’ll go through that in a sec – and anything that’s wet tends to make me look like Tammy Faye Baker.  This stuff builds nicely and doesn’t smudge or transfer at all when I use it by itself.  The downside to the formula is that it tends to dry up about two months in.  But it’s an everyday workhorse mascara for me, and the benefits outweigh the longevity by a long shot!

The last two mascaras I didn’t like at all.  Urban Decay’s Perversion applied all right, but about a half an hour after application, I started to itch.  The itch just got worse the longer I wore it, and I noticed some redness on the lids after I removed it.  And it started to smudge underneath my eyes almost immediately.  I could deal with the smudging, but the reaction will keep me from trying Urban Decay mascaras in the future.

Finally, Essence’s Get Big! Lashes was also a smudger.  It didn’t do much for my lashes besides darkening them a little.  I got it as a freebie, so I didn’t feel bad just getting rid of it.

Travatan Z

This is a medication, but I felt like I needed to talk about it here because it does influence my beauty routine quite a bit.  Over the summer I was diagnosed with high eye pressure – I’m extremely nearsighted, so this is probably the cause.  I could have had surgery, but opted for the nightly eyedrops instead.  I learned later that one of the side effects of the drops was eyelash growth and possible darkening of the iris, similar to Latisse. (In fact, Latisse and eyelash growth serums like it were derived from glaucoma drops like Travatan.)

I’ve been on the drops for a little over two months and I have seen a significant change in my eyelashes.  They’re much longer, thicker, and darker.  I actually had an awkward growing-out period where they were downright unruly.  I have not had any iris darkening, but the tech at my doctor’s office said that, although very few people experience this, my blue/green/gold eyes seem to be the type that it happens to the most.  So we’ll see.


I decided to de-stash this blue Rimmel eyeliner.  I try blue eyeliner every single summer, expecting it to be a fun pop of color.  I haven’t found a blue yet that doesn’t clash with my eyes.  I have resigned myself to the fact that I’m just not comfortable working with blue.  Purple on the other hand…


I’m also de-stashing this NYX concealer.  It was one of the first I’d purchased after getting back into makeup.  It’s a couple of years old, is too hard to use for undereyes and, in the rare event that I need facial concealer, it doesn’t really cover well.


I picked up a Becca foundation on Hautelook.  While it was pale enough for me, it made my skin itch and burn almost immediately.  I took it off right away, but the redness and tenderness lasted for a couple of days.  The only other foundation I had this sort of reaction to was Stila’s Illuminating Liquid Foundation.  I’m beginning to think I need to stay away from anything that says “radiant” or “illuminating.”  I have started keeping track of ingredients to try to figure out what I might be allergic to.


I generally don’t try much fragrance because I’m kind of sensitive to them, but I keep getting samples.  So I figure I might as well sniff them, at least.  The first might as well have been called Versace Instant Headache.  I couldn’t get it out of my house fast enough!  Marc Jacob’s Mod Noir was actually pretty nice.  It was a clean, unisex scent that I actually wore for awhile.  It lasted well and didn’t turn on me. (Which is another problem I have with perfumes.  Rose in particular is my nemesis!)  While I wouldn’t spend the dough on this one particularly, I would be happy to try another sample.

So that’s it!

In addition to daily swatches, I should have the summer skincare and nail care D&T coming up in the next little while, as well as a special project polish post.

Pale Girl Problems

I’m a very pale person. We’re talking fishbelly. Practically transparent. A quick comparison:


That’s my mom at the top there with a lovely light-golden skin tone. (Needless to say, I take after my Dad.) On the right is my sister-in-law who is a redhead with the beautiful even porcelain skin that goes with it. And on the left? My weird pasty paleness.

I have a really hard time matching foundations in general. My skin is neutral with an ever-so-slight yellow undertone that’s basically unnoticeable. But I also have a lot of redness to my skin.

It’s a pretty safe bet that, whatever foundation I want to try out, I’m going to want to choose the lightest shade available. But rarely is the lightest shade light enough. Let’s take, for example, the following eight foundations in my collection. I have applied them sheered out on the back of my hand, which is a match for my chest and neck.  They are all the lightest shades in their tones for their lines.


TOP L to R: Rouge Bunny Rouge Time Defying Foundation in Linen Cream; Smashbox Studio Skin 15-hour Wear Hydrating Foundation in 1.1 Bottom L to R: Estee Lauder Double Wear Light Intensity 1.0; BareMinerals Bareskin in Porcelain Bare


Top L to R: Lancome Teint Miracle in 2c Ivorire; Dr Jart Premium Beauty Balm. Bottom L to R: The Balm Time Balm in Lighter Than light; Konad's Irojie Floru CC Cream

I am all set if I want to impersonate a mutant oompa loompa next halloween, but they’re impossible to wear on their own.

I was particularly slayed by the Lancome as it’s the most beautiful of the lot by far. I have since found that Lancone has a 1N shade on their actual website that may work a little better. But the line starts at 2 in Ulta and Sephora.

I have found some shades that I can work with. And a couple that are pretty okay matches. The only thing I’ve found that was actually too light was a pure white.


Top L to R: L'oreal Visible Lift in 143 Soft Ivory; Andalou Naturals BB Cream in Natural Tint Bottom L to R: 100% Pure Super Fruits Healthy Foundation in Porcelain 1; Cover Girl Outlast Stay Fabulous in 805 Ivory


Top L to R: Cover Girl Clean in 205 Ivory; It Cosmetics Ultra Repair Liquid Foundation in Fair. Bottom to R: Dr. Jart Water Fuse Beauty Balm; Femme Couture Tinted Moisturizer Sunscreen in Natural Buff


Clockwise from left: It Cosmetics CC Cream in Fair; Manic Panic Dreamtone in Virgin; Tarte Maracuja Miracle Foundcealer in Fair

I like the idea of mixing those dark foundations with white, but the Manic Panic made my face burn. I have a couple of other white ones on order, but I fear it’s the white pigments that my skin is reacting to.

Am I the only one out there with this problem? Is is as hard to find foundations that work on the darkest end of the spectrum as it is on the lightest?

I may revisit this once I’ve exhausted all my mixing options.

Mel’s Best of 2014 – Makeup

2014 makeup was all about discovery, ease, and pandering to my perpetually pissed-off skin. It was also the year of the indie brands in makeup as well as skin care and nail polish.

I was tickled to find Meow Cosmetics laat Spring! Not only does the company speak to the crazy cat lady inside me, but it makes a damn good powder foundation. Most mineral foundations make me itchy and red, but their pampered puss formula doesn’t. In the summer, I can wear it by itself and it looks lovely and airbrushed. In the winter, I use it as a finishing powder over a moisturizing foundation for the same effect. Highly recommended for all my fellow itchy red sisters.


Awkward group photo.

Early in the year, I traveled up north to visit family. Mom and I usually get ready together and we both spotted the bright green tube in each other’s makeup bags. We bonded over Cover Girl’s Clump Crusher Water Resistent. It  has become a staple for me. It’s a work horse kind of mascara that makes my lashes look lush but not spidery and has minimal transfer. Which is saying something. Most other mascaras make me look like I should be chomping on bamboo in the wild.

The brush is a real techniques base shadow brush that, as far as I can tell, only comes in one of their kits. If it were sold individually, I would get a few more because it’s the perfect shape for my crease. I have small partially hooded eyes and the tapered shape to this one fits me just right.


I know, this is discontinued. Don't kill me.

I traveled a lot this year and the Rainforest After Dark palette has been the perfect thing to take with me. It has a huge mirror and all my powder products along with two eye looks. I slip it in my purse and go. If Tarte releases more of these discs, grab them. This one was wonderful!


Nail gouges in the highlighter shows the love.

That’s it! Four things. I feel like I haven’t found a favorite yet in any other category and trying to find good things to say about things I feel just meh about is a waste of everybody’s time.

What is not a waste of time is talking about things that make us happy and feel pretty. What are some things that do that for you?