Thursday, October 20, 2016

Let's Talk About Hillary's Lipstick

...instead of, you know, her opponent's total disdain for the democratic process.

The third (and, blessedly, last) presidential debate of 2016 took place last night at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. I'm not going to discuss the content of the debate because 1) it's pretty obvious which candidate I support and 2) this is a beauty blog, not a political blog. But the personal is political, as feminists of the '90s were fond of reminding us, and sometimes makeup is political too. Donald Trump's bizarre orange bronzer has been discussed ad nauseam, but Hillary Clinton's makeup made relatively little impression on the public until last night, when she took the stage wearing a space-age white pantsuit and a bold berry-red lipstick:

I was watching the New York Times livestream until it froze halfway through the debate. Get it together, guys.

This struck me as a marked departure from her makeup in the first two debates. But when I went back and looked at her previous lipstick choices, I realized I was wrong: she's never favored neutral lipstick. Here's how she looked in the first debate, at Hofstra University:

You'd think she would have chosen a nude or neutral lipstick, something that wouldn't threaten to compete with that brilliant red pantsuit, but she went with a more toned-down red lip. I'm honestly not a fan of this choice: the slightly brownish red on her mouth clashes with the bright neutral crimson of her pantsuit. Then again, it's telling that I remembered her lipstick as neutral: the pantsuit was SO bright that it drowned out the color on her face, meaning the lipstick was functionally neutral. Interesting.

In the second debate, at Washington University in St. Louis, Hillary wore an '80s-tastic navy pantsuit with white lapels over a white top. Her lipstick was less bold than it had been in the first debate, but it wasn't quite neutral, either. If you can ignore the silverback gorilla (Nigel Farage's approving words, not mine) looming over her shoulder, you'll notice that she went with a peach lipstick. Peach is one of my favorite makeup colors to pair with a navy top, so I approve. I think this was the most flattering of her three debate ensembles, color-wise.

In last night's debate, Hillary's makeup came to the fore because her pantsuit was pure white: any non-nude lipstick she'd paired with that color would have popped. (Yes, her pantsuit color choices were red, white, and blue. Subtle.) Here's another screenshot I took:

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the rest of her makeup (or her mullety hairdo, for that matter). She's wearing the harsh black eyeliner that many women of her generation, my mother included, adopted at the age of 16 and never gave up. If you look closely, you can see that the eyeliner on her lower lashline doesn't connect—isn't even close to connecting—with the eyeliner on her upper lashline. I think a brown eyeliner and/or some brown shadow would have looked more flattering and less dated. The peachy blush isn't working for me either: it's not bad with her complexion, but it doesn't harmonize with the berry lipstick. And is that some Trumpesque bronzer I spy? Hillary, hire me as your makeup adviser and I'll hook you up with a pan of Urban Decay Rapture.

Kate at More Like Space has done a great color analysis of both presidential candidates and concluded that they belong to the cool, muted summer season. Clinton is a light summer and Trump, bronzer addiction aside, is a true summer: "everything that trump is doing to himself, from the orangey fake tan to the too-bold power suits is precisely the opposite of what would work. i'm sure he thinks that blues and greys are much too wimpy and beta-male for him, but, even if you factor in his aging, i fully believe he'd be more presidential in that palette than the one he's chosen." As a woman, Clinton has a bit more leeway with her color choices, and I don't think she and her stylists have done too badly in recent months. Her first debate pantsuit wasn't her best color, but it was such a powerful, fuck-you color that it really didn't matter.

Britain's new prime minister, Theresa May, has long been mocked for daring to put effort into her appearance: her shoes, necklines, and skirt hems have all come under scrutiny. Regardless of what I think of her politics (not much), I can't help but admire her refusal to tamp down her femininity. Until last night, I would have said that Hillary Clinton has taken a very different approach to the daunting business of being a female politician. But that striking berry lipstick strikes me as a sign that she's ready to bring some levity to the job. Any guesses on the color and brand? I'm thinking Bobbi Brown.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit: Just Another Gimmick?

Lipstick Queen is a brand that confuses the hell out of me. When I first heard of it, about five years ago, I got the sense that it specialized in high-quality, beautifully packaged, somewhat overpriced renditions of traditional lipstick shades. Despite reading favorable reviews online, I found the shade range uninspiring and the price point too high, and I wrote the brand off as Not My Thing. In the next few years, the Lipstick Queen founder created a couple of lines for other brands: I remember a "Poppy King for J. Crew" red-orange lipstick and Kate Spade's Supercalifragilipstick! collection, both now discontinued. Lipstick Queen itself didn't come to my attention again until 2014 or 2015, when I started hearing about the brand's new lipsticks: four "Butterfly Ball" shades with faint blue shimmer; a sheer green "Frog Prince" lipstick that turned pink on the lips; whatever the fuck "Liptropolis" was supposed to be; and a set of five "Velvet Rope" lipsticks that each cost $50, twice the price of the Sinners and Saints, for no apparent reason. Lipstick Queen seemed to have metamorphosed overnight into a gimmick factory.


The Lipstick Queen website is equally baffling. Look at this drop-down menu:

Some of those names are individual shades and some are categories containing multiple shades, but it's impossible to know which is which without clicking, because the names aren't descriptive at all. It's like Linnaeus's worst nightmare. I share this blogger's exasperation: "I lost half an hour of my life trying to sort through that bullshit, which gives me extreme cat's bum face and a burning desire not to reward this taxonomic fuckery with precious $$$." I could also do without the self-serving quotations from Poppy King on almost every page of the website. Tellingly, Poppy has a lot to say about the concept of each lipstick but almost nothing to say about the product itself: "I was inspired by the golden years of Hollywood when glamour was in every detail. This is the lipstick of the red carpet, the people, the places and the personalities that glide past the Velvet Rope and into the night." That's cool, I guess, but I'm not convinced that I should pay $50 for it.

But I've never claimed to be impervious to makeup gimmicks, and one of LQ's new lipsticks eventually caught my eye: Black Lace Rabbit, a sheer black with gold sparkles. I couldn't be bothered to watch the elaborate promotional video for this shade, but I liked the idea of a soft-goth lipstick that could darken other shades and hold its own over bare lips. As luck would have it, I found Black Lace Rabbit on Dermstore during the site's 20%-off sale, so I paid $19 instead of $24 for the lipstick. Not a bad deal. (Shoutout to Dermstore, by the way, for offering free shipping and for mailing my order a mere 12 hours after I placed it.)

Black Lace Rabbit's packaging gave me high hopes for the lipstick itself. Not many lipstick boxes deserve to be photographed from three different angles:

The tube was also cute, but it felt slightly less luxurious than the ornate box had led me to expect. Unlike most other LQ lipsticks, which come in brushed-metal tubes, it was made of solid black plastic with a lacy design on the cap. (When I posted a photo on Instagram, two people said they saw Sam Eagle in the lace.) The cap didn't snap on as securely as I would have liked, but it didn't seem likely to come off in my purse, either. Shown in my hand for scale:

When I unveiled the bullet, all my excitement returned. I mean, how pretty is this:

In artificial light, the gold shimmer was more apparent:

I felt a certain amount of trepidation before trying it on: would the product live up to its perfect branding? I wanted so badly to love this lipstick and carry it with me wherever I went. I swiped it over my bare lips, and my heart fell:

It looked no better in context:

It was...bad. There was no getting around it. The formula was very slick, shiny, and sheer. One swipe provided almost no pigmentation, but two or three produced what you see above: an uneven, patchy mess. Yes, I do have dry lips, but I think my lips would have to be Juvedermed and professionally exfoliated for Black Lace Rabbit to work on me. I feel confident in saying that if your lips have any texture at all—any dry patches or lines—you probably won't be able to wear Black Lace Rabbit on its own.

But all was not lost: I hadn't yet used it as a darkening topcoat for another lipsticks. Over the next few days, I tried it on over a few different lip colors, with varying results. Over a dark reddish berry (NYX lip liner in Cabaret), BLR delivered shine but no color change. Over a creamy, shiny lipstick (NYX Round Lipstick in Castle), it simply made a mess, removing half the base color from my lips. BLR worked best over three light-colored matte lipsticks: Milani Matte Naked, a slightly grayish nude; Urban Decay Backtalk, a mauvey pink; and ColourPop Trap, a light purply greige. This didn't surprise me, since Lipstick Queen sells two "Smokey [sic] Lip Kits" that pair Black Lace Rabbit with a beige nude and a neutral pink. The kits may seem like a deal at $35, but if you're someone who's fallen deep enough down the rabbit hole (sorry) to buy a sheer black lipstick topcoat, you already own at least one nude or neutral pink. You know you do.

Here's Matte Naked alone, then layered with Black Lace Rabbit:

Backtalk alone, then with Black Lace Rabbit:

Trap on its own (pardon sloppy application and bad lighting) and under BLR:

The gold sparkles are more noticeable over another lipstick than they are over bare lips, but the effect you get from a normal distance is shine, not glitter. Here's a full face with Backtalk + BLR (my hair looks very different now...):

I wore this combination all day to test how BLR would wear and fade. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that a slippery top coat will reduce the longevity of any lip color you put underneath. There was almost nothing left of either BLR or Backtalk after a cup of coffee. I reapplied BLR and noticed that the gold glitter was a lot more evident when the base color was blotted down (this is in artificial light, too):

Personally, I find it annoying to carry around and reapply two lipsticks instead of just one. There's also the fact that after you swipe BLR over another lipstick, the tube looks like this, and cleaning it off wastes a layer of product:

So, yeah: Black Lace Rabbit darkens and mutes light colors slightly, adding a gray cast and a lot of shine. Is this effect really worth $24? Once again, if you're deep enough in lipstick addiction to want a sheer black, you probably own not only a nude or neutral pink, but also a slightly darker version of that nude or neutral pink. I know I do. In fact, I own light and dark versions of almost all my favorite color categories. Backtalk plus BLR looked like a shinier Urban Decay Rapture (the gold sparkles weren't immediately noticeable), and I don't even like shiny lipsticks. 

After a few days of cogitation, I returned Black Lace Rabbit to Dermstore. It turns out that the company provides free shipping if you want store credit but not if you want a refund, so I've now paid a total of almost $4 for the privilege of trying this lipstick for a few days. Maybe it was worth it just to ogle that shiny new bullet...

...or maybe not. In any case, I think I'm in a good position to answer the question I posed in my title: Black Lace Rabbit is indeed just another gimmick. It's definitely not the worst lipstick I've ever tried, but like so many aspects of the Lipstick Queen brand, it confuses me. Lipstick Queen's products are like Kraft macaroni and cheese served in an 18th-century porcelain dish: there's a real incongruity between the exquisite packaging and the uninspiring lipstick. Frog Prince is literally an '80s dollar-store mood lipstick in a $25 tube (more on that from my favorite YouTube reviewer, Kimberly Clark, here). And Black Lace Rabbit had real potential, but that beautiful box far outshone its contents. I can't say I'm tempted to buy another LQ lipstick, but if you've tried any shades that have impressed you, please let me know!

P.S. I was going to talk about some other sheer black lipsticks I tried earlier this week, but this post is already too long, so I'll write a follow-up post instead. Urban Decay, Estée Lauder, and Givenchy: get excited.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in Golden Mauve

Hey there! Just a quick review to prove to you that I haven't quit blogging, and to prove to myself that there's more to life than watching American democracy go down the toilet while I revise my dissertation abstract for the dozenth time. Today we'll look at a product I've been using and enjoying for almost three months: Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 36 Golden Mauve.

I bought Golden Mauve back in June at the new Kiko store in Birmingham, along with two powder eyeshadows that I have yet to wear. The stick eyeshadows were all on sale, so I assumed they were being discontinued, but they're still on Kiko's website at their original price of £6.90. I certainly hope they're here to stay, because they're fantastic products that have received almost universally positive reviews. One of the less-than-positive reviews is mine, actually: the first Kiko stick eyeshadow I tried was 16 Purple (pardon the ultra-LQ photos in that post), a shimmery dark purple that was patchy and hard to blend. I must have chosen the worst shade in the line, because all the other shades I've swatched have gone on smoothly and evenly, and Golden Mauve is no exception.

Kiko's stick eyeshadows are cream shadows with finishes ranging from pearl to full-on sparkle. The packaging is a black twist-up tube with a cap that snaps on tightly and a colored end-piece (sorry, I don't know what to call it) indicating the shade. I've found just one flaw in Golden Mauve's packaging: when I twist the product back down, some of the shadow sticks to the walls of the tube. That doesn't interfere with performance, but it does mean that the stick looks a bit sloppy in the photo above.

Kiko promises 8-hour wear and "no transfer" for the stick eyeshadows. If anything, I'd say they're being too modest. This stuff stays. It goes on very creamy—I like to apply it to my finger and smear it across my mobile lid, then blend out the crease with powder shadow—but it sets fully in a couple of minutes. Cream eyeshadows are great for eyelids with as many creases as mine: in general, they're more forgiving and easier to blend than powders. Golden Mauve is packed with gold glitter, but I don't notice much fallout at the end of the day. I can spot some stray glitter if I really scrutinize my undereye area, but it's not strewn across my cheeks or anything. I've tried Golden Mauve with and without primer but haven't noticed much difference in performance, which I think is usual for cream formulas. 

"Golden Mauve" is a peculiar name, and the shade itself is a shifty one. The base color is a purply-pinky mauve that looks decidedly cool-toned in the tube, but all that gold sparkle transforms the shadow into a warm rose gold on my lids. Here it is hand-swatched outside, in indirect (left) and direct sunlight:

Left to right: Golden Mauve, Seventeen Statuesque, Maybelline Pomegranate Punk. I didn't get home before sunset today, so I had to take this photo in artificial light. I'll add a photo in natural light tomorrow, if I get a chance:

Update: Same order, in daylight. That's two swipes of Pomegranate Punk and one each of the other two:

Blended out on my lids, Golden Mauve and Pomegranate Punk don't look quite as different as they do above. However, I find myself using Pomegranate Punk for more "dramatic" looks and Golden Mauve for more "professional" ones (both adjectives in scare quotes because I'm too cowardly for truly dramatic eye looks and I'm not a real professional). Today I wore Golden Mauve with theBalm Sexy, a matte burgundy, in the crease and outer V, and Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner in Demolition on my lashlines:

I was meeting with my advisor this morning to discuss my job materials, and I told myself that if I spent more time than usual on my eye makeup, I'd be less likely to let myself cry. It worked, and now I can still say that I have yet to cry in front of any of my grad-school professors (undergrad professors, on the other hand...). I also wore Sleek Flushed on my cheeks and Milani Matte Naked on my lips for an overall berry-nude autumnal ~color story~.

As glittery as Golden Mauve is, I don't feel particularly showy or dressed-up when I wear it. The base color is neutral enough that the glitter is just like "who, me?"

By the way, thanks to everyone who gave me such helpful advice in the comments of my last post! I ordered Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant from Dermstore, and I'm liking it so far (not that I can deliver much of a verdict, having used it just once).

Monday, October 3, 2016

Low-Buy Progress Report #9: September

Three-quarters of 2016 is gone, you guys! What happened? Well, at least one thing happened: I bought some makeup. And I spent the weekend on postdoc applications, so I didn't get around to this post until now. Here we go:

New Makeup/Polish:

Essie Playing Koi: $9
NYX Matte Lipstick in Up the Bass: $6
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Backtalk: $17
Total: $32

I bought all of these in the first few days of the month and worried that I might not be able to go the rest of September with no new makeup. But I held off, and I'm proud that I did, especially because this was such a stressful month and I was so tempted to impulse-buy stuff (more on that later). I confess that I did visit my local Rite-Aid more than once in search of the Wet n Wild fall collection; I would have bought the Plaid to the Bone trio had I found it, but the collection never materialized. I'm pretty happy with everything I did get this month, especially Backtalk. Up the Bass and Playing Koi are both a bit patchy, but the colors are pretty enough that I don't really mind.

New Skincare:

Bioré Pore Strips: $6

I've been obsessing all year over the pores on my nose and inner cheeks. I don't know if they're actually more visible than they used to be, but I'm certainly noticing them more, and I was excited to finally try the most hardcore of pore-clearing products. Unfortunately, these strips were a total fail for me. Either I'm really bad at following instructions, or I don't actually have much gunk in my pores, or these don't work worth a damn, or all three. First you have to wet your nose, but not the strip, and peel the plastic covering off the strip. Then you have to adhere it to your nose with dry hands. If your nose isn't wet enough the strip won't stick, but if it's too wet it also won't stick. I wasted four of the six strips because I couldn't get the wetness level exactly right. My nose is dry and prone to peeling, and the pore strips definitely exacerbated that problem. Oh, and they have a very strong tea-tree smell that reminds me of the eucalyptus grove next to my high school. I hated high school.


Real Techniques eye brush starter set: $19

After a reader was like "girl how can you own only one eyeshadow brush," I resolved to step up my game and find some good affordable synthetic brushes. I kept seeing Real Techniques recommended, and though I know next to nothing about the YouTube-famous sisters behind the brand, I thought I'd give this starter set a try. A month later, the only brushes I find myself using regularly are the two on the left (a crease brush and a lid brush), but I really like both of them. The lid brush diffuses color really quickly and easily across the mobile lid. The crease brush is a little larger than I'd like, but still gets the job done. And if you're thinking "wow, those brushes look dingy," don't worry: I washed them the day after I took this photo. They wash and dry really nicely.


Revlon Quick Dry Top Coat: $8.50
Burt's Bees Body Lotion with Cocoa and Cupuaçu Butters: $9
Total: $17.50

I hadn't used body lotion in a few months before buying this one. I like the texture—not too light, not too heavy, not too greasy—but the vanilla scent smells a bit cheap.

Total for September: $74.50

Overview: My low-buy didn't feel like a burden until the last week of September, when the application stress really hit. When I'm constantly working, I tell myself I don't have time for any hobbies beyond casual internet browsing. And guess what lends itself really well to casual internet browsing in between bouts of work? Looking up makeup swatches and reviews. There were a couple of days last week when I REALLY wanted to buy something new, no matter what. It was scary how strong this urge was, and how obviously it was connected to academic stress. In the end, what helped me was reflecting that I'd have to record the new purchase and the reason for it in this very entry. And because I'm a Slytherin and would rather record a victory than a defeat, I managed to stay strong.

Wishlist for October:

Despite my forbearance last week, I still have a lot of things on my wishlist. In fact, I've already bought a NYX single eyeshadow and lip liner (for a total of $2.25: thank you, CVS coupons). I don't actually plan to buy all the things I list here, but I'll note them just for fun.

1. MAC Satin Lipstick in Rebel

Because MAC sells its products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for imported beauty products, I generally avoid buying from the brand. But MAC's matte and satin lipstick formulas are kinder to my sensitive lips than most other formulas, and when I want a MAC lipstick that can't be replicated by an affordable cruelty-free brand, I do allow myself to buy it. This doesn't happen often, but it happened in January with Antique Velvet, and I'm afraid it's going to happen with Rebel. I've spent at least two years searching on and off for a suitable Rebel dupe, but I haven't been able to find that perfect semi-matte purply berry anywhere else.

2. ColourPop Creme Gel Liners in Fast Lane and Best O ($5 each); Super Shock Cheek in Might Be ($8); Super Shock Shadow in Paradox ($5) and Flutes ($5 each).

I've been wanting to try ColourPop's pencil liners, and Fast Lane (dark teal) and Best O (brownish burgundy) would be unique in my collection, so I'll probably get those. Do I really need a new highlighter, though? I'd like to try a peachy one, but ColourPop Lunch Money goes with everything, and I have yet to hit pan on it despite using it at least twice a week for six months. As for the Super Shock Shadows, I'm reluctant to pay even $5 for a new eyeshadow that's going to dry up within a year.

3. Anti-frizz product

I live in one of the most humid parts of the country, and I have fine hair that's also thick and wavy. The humidity index has climbed over 90% for the past three days (it hit 99% yesterday, which doesn't seem like it should be possible), and my hair has accordingly been looking like this:

Help. (Yes, I'm aware that the huge dark circles under my eyes may be an even bigger problem, but there's no product that can tame those when I'm sleep-deprived. I'd rather focus on the frizz.)

4. Makeup Geek eyeshadows ($6 each).

The ones I'm eyeing are Secret Garden, a dark brown-green duochrome, and Desert Sands, a matte brownish mustard. Any other recommendations? Look how pretty Secret Garden is:

5. Sheer black lipstick

As I edge closer to 30, I also edge closer to opaque black lipstick. I own a dark teal-gray and a navy blue, and now I'm contemplating sheer black, which seems to be having a moment as both a standalone lip color and a top coat for other lipsticks. I've found four options, which I'll list in ascending order of price. It's been hard for me to find swatches or reviews of any of these, unfortunately.

a. NYX V'amped Up! Lip Top Coat ($6.99)

This shimmer-free sheer black is by far the most affordable of the four I'm considering, but the older I get the less tolerant I become of cheap, ugly packaging like NYX's. And Ulta reviewer and fellow Bay Arean "jdizzle producshizzle" from "freakmont, CA" has me worried: "it was coo or waddeva. but it kept wearing off and it doesnt dry."

b. Urban Decay Vintage Vice Lipstick in Oil Slick ($17)

To celebrate its 20th birthday this year, Urban Decay brought back its original lipstick lineup: nine shades, most of them shimmery and cool-toned. Oil Slick seems just a bit more sheer than I'd like, and I wonder if the silver shimmer might read as frost. I'd be interested to see it in person.

c. Ardency Inn Punker Semi-Goth Lip Gloss ($19)

This looks similar to the NYX: a shimmer-free sheer black in pencil form, though this pencil needs to be sharpened, which will surely get messy. Also, is it just me or does Ardency Inn need to cut all its product names in half? Is it "Punker" or "Semi-Goth" that describes the essence of this product? Choose one. I, a proud semi-goth, favor the latter.

d. Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit ($24)

This is the only sheer black I've been able to see IRL. Its name may evoke a fancy vibrator, but I swatched it at Ulta last month and it's beautiful. The gold shimmer was very apparent on my hand, though it may be less so on the lips. I've always viewed Lipstick Queen as a somewhat gimmicky brand, and Black Lace Rabbit is probably just another gimmick, so I don't know why I find it so tempting.

And those are my ramblings for this evening! I'm hoping to post a couple of reviews this week, though as always, we'll see.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Some Life Updates

It's that time again: time for eating candy corn and pumpkin spice Oreos, wearing dark lipstick and bronze nail polish, and applying for jobs and postdocs. In most industries, jobs come up year-round, but the process is very different in academia. In my field, English literature, universities advertise positions in mid-September, applications are due throughout the fall, and there's a hiring conference in January in a different city every year. Interviews are held in hotel rooms, which is exactly as weird as it sounds. If you 1) get interviews and 2) impress your interviewers (both tall orders in this difficult job market), you have campus visits in January and February, which means preparing a job talk and getting interviewed further by your prospective colleagues. Postdocs are equally (if not more) competitive, and each one generally requires its own set of materials. It's all very stressful and time-consuming, and it means that I can't promise regular blog posts for the next few months. I know better than to say anything definite, because I've been known to post during a self-declared hiatus or disappear for weeks after promising more frequent posts, but I thought I should give some sort of notice before starting my applications in earnest.

(Like interviews in hotel rooms, pumpkin spice Oreos are exactly as weird as they sound. Not bad-weird, exactly, but best in small quantities. I'm not sure how I'm going to get through this entire box, or semester.)

As those who follow me on Instagram will know, I spent a few days last week at an academic conference in Chicago. It was planned and executed as effectively as academic conferences usually are (in other words, it was a logistical nightmare), but I enjoyed the talks themselves, and I even managed a bit of sightseeing. Why did no one warn me how beautiful the University of Chicago is?

During our lunch break on Saturday, I visited the Oriental Institute, the university's museum of Middle Eastern archaeology. While working for my own university's manuscript library last summer, I archived a series of letters related to the founding of the Oriental Institute, so it was exciting to see the museum in person. Walking into a room dominated by a 16-foot-tall Assyrian man-bull hybrid was something of a sublime experience. The statue stood in the palace compound of King Sargon II in the city of Dur-Sharrukin (modern-day Khorsabad, Iraq), built between 717 and 707 BCE.

This collection of cosmetic containers from Egypt's Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-1000 BCE) was relevant to my interests. According to the plaque, the wooden container in the back row "has separate compartments for several colors of eye paint."

My makeup at the conference wasn't worth blogging about: it's hard to execute an artful look on a dried-out, jetlagged, sleep-deprived face under harsh hotel lighting, and I forgot my eyeshadow primer at home and tried to substitute concealer (protip: it doesn't work). But MAC Eugenie did get some wear:

Before returning to the airport on Sunday, I took the subway into downtown Chicago (something I quickly learned about the city: everything is at least 45 minutes from wherever you currently are)...

...and visited the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, devoted to the decorative arts of the Gilded Age. The museum is housed in a restored mansion from 1883:

The museum is $20 for adults and $10 for students, which was nice for me. Less nice was that I had to pay an extra $5 for the guided tour, even though I literally couldn't escape the tour except by climbing to another floor. I don't know, man: if your museum is so small that everyone inside it can hear the tour guide, then maybe the tour should be free. Just a thought.

That aside, I'm glad I went, if only to see this ridiculous Tiffany lamp made from nautilus shells:

In true Gilded Age fashion, every square inch of the house was carved, gilded, inlaid, tiled, parqueted, embossed, or bejeweled:

What really stood out to me was the bizarre melange of historical and cultural influences (19th-century Chicagoans had no concept of cultural appropriation). This medieval-inspired hanging lamp, engraved around the inner rim with a Bible verse in Gothic font, was one of my favorite pieces:

And then there were examples of pure Victorian decadence, like this immense skylight (the tour guide told us apologetically that it wasn't actually by Tiffany, but "in the Tiffany style"):

I left the Driehaus Museum simultaneously overwhelmed by beauty and convinced that I would have been a hardcore Communist or anarchist had I lived in the 19th century. Rich people, man.

O'Hare was an hour away on the subway, so I didn't have time to see anything else in the city that afternoon (I walked past a Sephora and didn't go in). Luckily I'd planned well and arrived at the airport two hours before my flight, which landed in Newark right on time at 9:30 pm. Then things got weird. I picked up my suitcase, took the little airport monorail to the train station, boarded New Jersey Transit around 10:30, and settled my bags around me—and we never left the station. 30 minutes passed, then an hour. The conductor told us that there was "police activity" in Elizabeth, the next stop on the route. After a few more updates along the lines of "there's only one restroom on this train," "I have no idea when we'll be allowed to move," and "if you have alternative ways of getting home, I suggest using those," I collected my luggage and got off the train. I live about an hour away from the airport, but paying more than I could really afford for a car seemed preferable to spending the night on the train. Luckily I found three other people who were heading my way; we shared the cost of an Uber, and I stumbled into my apartment at 12:45 am.

On the long drive home, I checked my phone and found confused reports of a "suspicious package" at the Elizabeth station. Two homemade bombs had gone off in the area that weekend, one in downtown Manhattan and one on the Jersey Shore, and I assumed that shutting down the Elizabeth station was a necessary but inconvenient precaution. The next morning, though, I read that the backpack found at Elizabeth had contained five pipe bombs probably planted by the same person, who has since been arrested. It was pure good luck that the guy had made some shitty, low-budget bombs that hadn't managed to kill anyone in any of the three locations. I don't want to exaggerate the danger I was in—listen, as a white person in this country, I'm doing fine—but I can't claim that episode wasn't unsettling. 

And that's been my life since I last posted, more or less! Wish me luck with my second year on the job market; I'll need it. And tell me—or don't—that it would be silly to buy ColourPop's new burnt-orange liquid lipstick. I'm still $8 under this month's budget for new makeup, but if I get the lipstick I'll be tempted to order this highlighter too, and I don't want to return to last fall's pattern of stress-induced makeup buying. Hmm.

(Edited to add one final note: I've changed my blog email address to the more descriptive auxiliarybeautyblog [at] gmail. Full disclosure: I created the new email address largely so I could avoid paying the shipping cost on my next ColourPop order, but it will also be nice to have an email address that corresponds more closely with the actual name of my blog. Yes, "auxiliarybeauty" and "" were both taken.)