Monday, May 28, 2018

5 Products I’m not supposed to like but I do

In which we all clutch our pearls- A makeup comedy in five parts

Sometimes I manage to surprise myself. I know better than to ever say never and my makeup collection is a mammoth proof of that. It includes a bright yellow eye pencil, after all. And I know how to use it. Still, I am biased in certain ways. There are trends, people, techniques, and products that don’t sit well with me for one reason or another. This is what we’re discussing today.

Here are the elephants in my room:

  • Morphe 35F eye shadow palette.
    I generally stay away from Morphe because of the brand’s uneven private label quality control issues. And their marketing, and the YouTube personalities that are busy hard-selling them. I could have claimed innocence about this purchase because it happened during what my friend Josie and I call our lost weekend, though no drugs or alcohol were involved (only kittens, ridiculous pajamas, mounting anxiety, and a scary amount of takeout food). But I bought the 35F palette and there was no one more surprised than me when it appeared on my doorstep and it didn’t suck. At all. As a matter of fact, this combination of rich shimmers and a handful of chiffon-like mattes in neutral to warm shades is often a starting point in my makeup looks and can be paired with practically anything to great results. Have I bought any other Morphe product since? No. But I’m perfectly happy with this one. ($23 at Ulta)
  • Kat Von D foundation and concealer brushes.
    This one’s a doozy. I’ve avoided everything and anything that has to do with Miss Von D since the launch of her makeup brand ten years ago. It’s for personal reasons and that’s all I’m going to say about it, though it was never a secret since I have expressed my distaste for her several times on this blog. Imagine my reaction when I opened an unmarked package with no return label that has arrived by USPS, and contained two newly launched (at the time. It must have been over two years ago) Kat Von D foundation and concealer brushes. There was no note or indication of who sent it; I’ve never been on their PR list even for press releases. It was a complete mystery.

    To this day I have no idea who mailed me these brushes. Was it a KVD fn trying to make a point? A regular reader who was hoping to cure me by exposure? An innocent gift? Or, as I used to joke, a wordless message from Von D and co., subtly telling me “we know where you live “. In any case, after some trepidation I decided to test the brushes and loved them right away. They apply and blend cream and liquid products like the best of them, and the pinched shape of the brush heads gives them flexibility and movement you rarely find in brushes as dense as these. I’d still like to know where they came from. ($34 and $24 on
  • MAC Rollerwheel Liquid Liner AKA the pizza cutter eyeliner.
    My makeup collection has no room for gimmicks and I have little patience for nonsense launches. Makeup should do its job and perform well, especially in these times of countless options and possibilities. For every useless product there are thirty good ones from every corner of the globe. For some reason, though, I was adamant to buy this MAC eyeliner and figure it out or die trying. The learning curve was on par with Calculus III, except that one usually isn’t at risk of losing an eye doing math.

    My first attempts using a x10 magnifying mirror went comically wrong. I’d rather see a ghost than zoom on my eye area for as long as it took me to wonkily draw my shaky line. I've since that I can use my regular x5 Simple Human lighted mirror while looking straight ahead, or utilize a small triptych mirror I got years ago as a GWP from Hakuhodo and also has a magnifying panel; I place the mirror on my dresser (also leaning my right elbow against it), look down into the mirror and roll the wheel gently as all the weight is on my elbow and dresser and not in my wrist. The trick is using absolutely no pressure on the wand and eyelid, and breathing normally while doing it. The result is very precise, thin, and graphic, and the wheel actually gives a lot of control, perhaps even more than a brush. Once you figured it all out and stopped getting shiny black lines all over your face, that is. ($21,
  • Lipstick Queen Mornin' Sunshine Lipstick
    Here's another silly gimmick: a yellow lipstick that's supposed to turn peachy coral on one's lips. This comes from a brand that has been steadily declining in recent years and leaning more on shticks for YouTubers than on elegant cosmetics.  I haven't bought any Lipstick Queen products in two years and I wouldn't have bought Mornin' Sunshine either (I found few redeeming qualities in their yellow gloss in a pot I tried years ago). However, a couple of minis and a full size of this yellow cuteness found their way into various GWPs bags from Barneys and from Ulta. I tried one of the minis, intending to donate the other ones, and somehow got hooked.

    The color-changing thing is not really a thing on my lips. They're too dark and too purple-mauve to allow a sheer peach to show up. There's a hint of juicy color added, though, which is really really nice when I'm not looking to make a lip statement. Even more than that, the formula of Mornin' Sunshine is balmy and rich with no goopiness, thickness, and no extra shine. I used up the first mini without even thinking about it, and the other two now live in various purses and get ample of use. It's still too expensive for a tinted balm, but it sure is lovely. ($25 at Ulta)
  • Kiko cosmetics Pure Clean Scrub & Peel
    We're ending this with what might be the most ridiculous product of all. Consider this: I tend to reject manual face exfoliation (body is a different ballgame) unless it's the most delicate brush head Clarisonic has to offer or a very soft microfiber washcloth. I  use acids and chemical peels, thank you very much, so anything abrasive is like going House Bolton* on my face. Add to that the fact I don't use wipes in my regular cleansing routine (I do a triple cleanse, first taking off most of my eye makeup, than oil, and wash it all off with a cream or foaming product, with or without the clarisonic). So what gives?

    Kiko Scrub & Peel wipes have two sides. One is kind of wavy, the other can sad off your wood floors. A package only has 20 wipes, making the $9 price somewhat steep. However, I've found enough uses for these things to justify stockpiling every time Kiko has a 30% off sale. The sandpaper side is useful to give lips a good exfoliating and prep (as long as they're not actually bleeding). I removes glittery swatches, gunk and goop, over-sticky body products from behind the knees, and scrub my hands with them in an emergency. Thick masks that don't sink in and require washing off usually benefit from a good wipe-down before rinsing.  Then there are all kinds of travel situations, dripping of who-knows-what, taking off some makeup in the afternoon before doing a completely different evening look, especially if I've layered and reapplied SPF during the day.  I have packets upon packets of these everywhere. ($9 from
Are you shocked? Horrified? Do you have products you like against all odds?

*A Game of Thrones joke. I highly advise NOT Googling if you're not familiar. It ain't pretty.


  1. Love your post I did a double take when I saw the picture of the Morphe Palette on your blog, I even asked myself if I press on the right link -'' Am I on the right blog??'' and yes I was. I purchased my first and only Morphe makeup product a year ago a used Jacklyn Hill palette right before they launch at Ulta. Being Canadian it was the cheapest way to get my hand on it. I was curious, tempted and sceptical. I was also surprised that I like the palette, I might be tempted by another palette are two but i'm in no hurry. I still think they are overhype on youtube but for the price you have a nice variety.

  2. Haha--this was such fun to read! Congrats on finding a few gems amongst the stones. A recent no-turned-yes for me was the new(ish?) lip balm (in a stick, not tube) from Bite Beauty. For various reasons, I'm not a fan of their products. (I know. Few others share this opinion, which is fine; no reason not to like them unless, well, you're me.) But I bought this balm--god knows why--during the recent Sephora sale...and really love it. As for the items you highlighted, I'm with you on the Lipstick Queen stuff. Not the yellow lippie--haven't tried it, never will--but the quality in general is lacking and the colors uninteresting.


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