Caveat Emptor

In Latin, the title of this blog post means “Let the buyer beware”. I spend a great deal of time internet shopping, and I have learned–sometimes the hard way–that there is no such things as a sure thing when you order online. Just in recent months I’ve had products that never showed up from e-tailers in China, a polka dot scarf that only turned out to be 1/4 polka dot (it had four panels–white, black, and polka dot), and a handbag that was smaller than it was supposed to be. None of these has turned out to be really upsetting (aside from the stuff that never got here–and I’m still trying to get those things), but I do tend to see it as taking chances.

Let us take, for example, the case of the MAC nail polishes.

I’ve been looking at the latest MAC collections online to see if there is anything that interests me. The Cook MAC nail lacquers and the Vera nail lacquers caught my eye. I find these formula to be pretty good—I don’t have near as many MAC polishes as Zoya polishes, but I have some. Then on Friday I made my way to the MAC counter in Macy’s to check them out in person. And I found that the colors were not exactly as expected.

I guess the fact that the “red” is called “Kid Orange” should have tipped me off, but I didn’t expect it to be so…orange! The picture looks more red than it actually is. The Al Fredo has a touch of green to it instead of being as yellow as expected.

When it came to the Vera polishes, Midsummer’s Dream was more grey than expected, making it read almost lilac. The big disappointment was Play Date, which was on the top of my list to get; it looked like the perfect coral, but again, I found it too orange.

As tempting as it might be to buy cosmetics online (especially if your MAC cosmetic counter is a scaled-down version, like mine is), you might want to check out the colors and formulas in real life before you buy. Otherwise…caveat emptor!

Have you had any disastrous online shopping experiences? Share in the comments!

Dia De Los Muertos Sugar Skull Makeup Look

The number one search term on my website is Dia de los Meurtos. One post last Halloween, and it makes me popular all year ’round. I figure resources must be in short supply for Sugar Skull makeup, so I thought I’d do another post on this topic. It’s a great Halloween look, and so much sexier than a tiny skirt and lots of boobs.

First, for inspiration:

Do a Google Image search for Sylvia Ji. Sylvia Ji is an artist with the most gorgeous sugar skull images. Skulls + pin-ups + a little Frida Kahlo seems to be the magical combination.

Second, get the right materials.

I would venture to say you can hardly even start with a Sugar Skull look without NYX Cosmetics. NYX pencils are widely available; I know you can get the entire color range at Ulta. NYX Milk pencil is perfect to create the soft white skin tone needed. They can be patted and blended and smoothed. You will have to be careful not to touch your face too much (and an especially wild Halloween with drunken snogging will be especially dangerous for the Sugar Skull makeup) so it won’t smear, because it doesn’t dry. Fortunately the Sugar Skull face doesn’t require too much fine work; more bold colors and shapes are required. NYX also makes some good, cheap fake lashes, and I am adoring the idea of glamour lashes with this makeup. If you want, Ben Nye also makes a good clown white. You could even mix it with flesh tone foundation to make it a little softer in color.

For the hair, Forever 21 has some sweet rose clips. The Vibrant Floral Clip is actually quite lovely and amazing; I love the brown one for this look as it almost looks like dried roses.

And now for the piece de resistance…some great YouTube tutorials. Good luck, and enjoy!

MAC Cosmetics Fashion Flower and Surf, Baby!

Obviously, I’m a MAC fan. I usually review the limited edition collections here on the blog and then got buy bits and pieces of the collection later. I’ve been meaning to review the Fashion Flower and Surf, Baby! collections for a while now, since they’ve been out about a month, but haven’t gotten around to it. So today when I went to Old Navy for a black tee, I found myself wandering toward the MAC counter in Dillards. I was just going to look. Just take a peek, swatch some shades on my hand. However, the enterprising MAC artist got to me, tempted me with a “let’s just try some colors out”, and hooked me with a full makeover.

The Fashion Flower collection is, as the name would imply, inspired by the vibrant colors of flowers. Greens and pinks and turquoise blues dominate. The packaging is standard MAC packaging, but the eyeshadow is imprinted with flowers. My favorite color of eyeshadow, the starting point for all of this, is the Lucky Green eyeshadow, a lime-green shadow. The makeup artist also used Free to Be, a coral color, Silver Ring (from the permanent collection); and Short Shorts, a frosty white champagne color, from the Surf, Baby! collection.

Surf, Baby! is a collection inspired by summer. Metallics, deep turquoise, bold lips are all featured in this collection. Pigments feature heavily in this collection; they put together coordinating collections of metallic pigments in a neat stacked container.

The makeup artist also used the teal eyeliner, Blue Noon, on me, as well as the Hibiscus lipstick and Strange Potion lipglass. I seriously did not expect to like the Hibiscus lipstick as much as I did. I thought it was going to look too orange on me, or that it would overwhelm my face. But I ended up really loving it.

My one criticism of the MAC artists is always that they go full drag queen on the makeup. It’s always more intense than I would do myself. They like to start with the day look, and then add on additional makeup for an evening look, so I felt like it was a little overwhelming to my face. However, she was very instructive, offering tips and hints that would be good for someone not so good at makeup as well as people who are obsessed with it, and she also did the most perfect subtle eyeliner wing on me with a pencil. But how did it look? Let’s go to the pictures…

Oh, heyyyyy, super-cheap fake Ray-Bans in mint green from Forever 21!

In natural light.

And indoors.

I ended up buying three eyeshadows: Silver Ring, Free to Be, and Lucky Green. I also got the Hibiscus lipstick and the Blue Noon eyeliner. These two MAC collections get two thumbs WAY up from me, and a big debt of thanks to my MAC makeup artist.

Have you poked around the MAC counter, or made any other makeup discoveries lately?

Why Am I So Late Knowing This?!? MAC Jeanius

I like to be on the cutting edge. Call it competitiveness, call it a fear of being left behind, call it whatever you like. I WANT TO BE TOP BLOGGER! Oh, lordy. Stop me.

So I went from euphoria to disappointment in no time flat tonight when I discovered the MAC 2011 Spring Collection, Jeanius, and then discovered that I’m about two weeks behind the “sneak peek” status, because it’s already out. *Sigh.* But it’s AMAZING, and I WANT IT. (Oh, it just came out TODAY! Okay, I feel better now.)

LOOK AT THESE EYESHADOWS! Go ahead. Look at them. I’ll wait while you “squeeeeeee”! Yes, they look like a belt loop and a rivet on a pair of jeans. YES, THEY DO! Aren’t they adorable? Don’t you want them all? Just me? I LOVE the dark blue with the copper “rivet” (a.k.a. “Motorhead”), and White Jeanius which is the white and silver combo. But I will take them all.

The lipsticks are a cool-complexioned gal’s dream. With the blue undertones, they all look wearable for pale skin like mine. I love a dark lipstick, so I’m drawn to the darkest shade, Riveting Rose, but I also want to try the middle shade, Pretty Please. Plus, of course, coordinating Lipglasses, so WIN.

Then, HI. Nail Lacquers. My favorite part of any MAC collection. I WILL HAVE BIKER BLUE. Toes with the blue shimmer in flip flops, and the white with pink pearl on my fingernails? YES, INDEEDY! (The white is called Frayed to Order, by the way.)

And, unlike the Wonder Woman collection, everything but the eyeliner and one of the lipsticks is limited edition. It feels special.

What do you think? Are you DYING? Or do you think I’m crazy?

Wednesday Wants: Stuff My Stocking

I think I’m the easiest one in my family to buy stocking stuffers for. (Yes, we’re still doing stockings as grown-ups.) My dad and brother are harder–things that they want that could fit in a stocking are generally expensive and electronic. I think the perfect stocking stuffers are fun and quirky and kitschy. So, I thought I’d show you what Santa could put in my stocking this year for my Wednesday Wants.

Pink Elephant Dish Scrubber Brush

I actually have a dish brush on my Christmas list! I doubt I’ll get one quite this cute, but I would love to have this little guy on the side of my sink.

Bag in the USSR Toiletries Bag

Possibly a little big for the stocking, but it could be stocking-adjacent! I love the retro Soviet feel of this bag. And I’m a little bit obsessed with finding the perfect toiletries bag. I am still looking for one just the right size with just the right feel. Maybe this is it? Probably not, but I would still love to add it to my collection!

1960’s Vintage Inspired Gold Tone Pen Necklace

Calling my Joan Holloway Harris fantasy! I’ve talked about this pen before, but never gotten it. I want it!

Spiderweb Lace Cylinder with Wooden Matches

Winter is for candles and fires in the fireplace. I like to keep a box of matches around, but most matchboxes are kind of ugly. I love the idea of having a decorative matchbox, and this is perfect. A little Gothic for the fireplace.

Paper Eyelashes

I have no idea where I would wear these intricately cut decorative lashes, but I’ve been wanting them ever since I saw them. Even if I just wore them around the house to clean toilets, it would make me happy.

Fashion Boo Boos Bandages

I have a style aversion to flesh-toned bandages. Instead, I have Curious George bandages, Tiki bandages, Cammo bandages, and Bling bandages. I would love to add these cutesy, girly bandages to my collection.

Stila Make an Impression in Moscow Makeup Palette

Four icy-cool eyeshadows and a dual lip and cheek cream would be a perfect stocking stuffer. Perfect for adding a winter look to your makeup collection, these colors look like rosy lips and cheeks fresh from a walk in the snow.

Blammo Comic Headband

I could be a comic-book hero with this headband! This embroidered headband from Etsy seller Janine Basil is the piece that I’m most tempted by right now. I think I could pull it off, right?

No coal for anyone! What should be in your stocking? (Or, you know, your Jewmas sock?)

And the Color of the Year Is…

I have the feeling that the folks at Pantone are my people. In a perfect melding of the left side and the right side of the brain, they have taken all the colors and named and numbered them. And they guarantee tonal consistency. So those people who work in design can have exactly the right shade of blue every time.

They also, apparently, do color forecasting. Today they announced the color of the year for 2011: honeysuckle.

The folks at Pantone say that honeysuckle is good for “verve and vigor” and is a bold, energizing color for a depressed world. If it truly will do everything Pantone thinks it will do, it’s a magical color. To me, honeysuckle will be the perfect clear, rosy color for Spring 2011. In that spirit, I’ve picked some of my favorite honeysuckle (or honeysuckle-adjacent) products for spring.

A honeysuckle bag would go perfectly with spring’s pastels. Or pick a neutral like sand or grey, and use this bright pink to add a bit of flair to an outfit. I love this felt bag by Rootote. The unusual fabric sets it apart. Hint: avoid patent leather unless you want to do a Paris Hilton impression.

Not to coordinate with the bag too much, but the laser cutouts in this pair of shoes by Pour La Victoire charmed me. So cute for spring! They’re rather high, but with a flippy spring dress where you show some leg they would be freaking fantastic. And you’d get a nice calf workout.

For chillier spring days, a casual pink jacket is a necessity. This one by Ecko is casual, but with enough standout details to set you apart from the run-of-the-mill fleece jacket. I love the collar style and the high breast pocket. Plus the drawstring gives you a waist.

Growing up in the Northwest, I still carry an umbrella around in the back of my car. It is totally unnecessary in the desert, but in a way, it gives me a sense of self-identity. The mixture of black and honeysuckle pink on this umbrella by Marimekko would make me want to open it up even if there were only a few sprinkles coming down.

Pantone says that wearing honeysuckle is guaranteed to produce a healthy glow in both men and women. I went to OPI for a great honeysuckle-esque nail polish, and MAC for a lipstick, because they’re my favorite brands for those items. OPI has several pinks that are close to the Pantone pick, but I like Don’t Know…Beets Me. My MAC pick is Speak Louder. It may be a bit bolder than the Pantone color; if it’s too bright, you might want to try MAC Viva Glam Gaga.

As I looked through a plethora of pink products, a couple of thoughts–call them words of advice if you must–went through my head. First, if in doubt, err toward raspberry, rather than Pepto-Bismol pink. Nothing that reminds you of Barbie should be worn in large amounts. This would be a great color for a cardigan, or a print skirt. Keep it vibrant and clear–no muddy honeysuckles.

Is Pantone right? Can you imagine yourself in Honeysuckle makeup or clothes? Or using it in your house? Or do you prefer 2010’s Turquoise?

Style Icon: Dita Von Teese

She may be best known for appearing without clothes (or with very few), but this is one woman who can wear a dress like nobody’s business.  She’s been styling in retro clothes and makeup for years, long before the show Mad Men made the bombshell look popular again.  She is A-MA-ZING.  I’ve been a fan of hers for years.  I don’t know if it’s because she’s everything I’ve been discouraged from being (sexual, risqué, flashy), or because she is everything I want to be (ladylike, delicate, flashy).  Not everyone can go out in full Dita Von Teese gear, but I think there are a few take-aways from this style icon.

1.  Red Lips


This is probably going to be my most overused beauty tip of the season, but this winter–RED LIPS.  DO IT.  Look at how gorgeous and classic Dita looks with a red lip.  Bombshells have always gone for red lips, but then there are the Paris Hiltons of the world, urging lip gloss on the poor women of America.  I have never been a great fan of lip gloss (mostly because my hair always seems to get stuck in it, and it’s gone in a flash).  But a bold red lip?  It is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.  Yes, you will get noticed.  Stand up straight and get used to it.  And no using the excuse that you don’t look good in red lipstick.  There’s a red for everyone.  My red is MAC Red, with MAC cherry liner.  (That’s my other tip–lipliner with red lipstick.  Because it can bleed.)  I have blue undertones to my skin, so it wouldn’t work for everyone.  I also use Angel Red by Clinique, which is a sheer red.  Try out some reds and see what works for you.

2.  Have (or Fake) a Waist.


Dita has a ridiculously small waist.  I saw an interview where she was asked if her waist is equal to the circumference of a football.  Her reply was “I’ve never picked up a football, so I wouldn’t know.”  Needless to say, you could probably encircle her waist with two hands.  And then she puts a corset on and it gets absolutely insane.

I don’t naturally have an impressive waist.  But I’ve found ways to fake it.  Full skirts, sash waistbands, and empire waists are my tricks.  Think hourglass when you try on clothes, and try to enhance whatever area of your torso is the smallest.  And remember, you can’t fake a waist in jeggings.  (Ewwww.)

3. Vivid Color


Life has too much black and blah sometimes.  Let me reference another one of my obsessions, Project Runway.  I was very depressed that Gretchen Jones won.  Her colors depress me.  Too much beige and burgundy in her palette.  Mondo’s crayon-box colors were much more interesting and eye-catching.   Sure, black is a great go-to color, but the rich jewel tones that Dita prefers are gorgeous.  She seems to keep to solid colors rather than patterns, which means that the vibrant colors aren’t overpowering.

4.  Fur

This one might be controversial, but there is nothing that says RETRO GLAMOUR like fur.  But oh, the ethical dilemmas!  I don’t actually support the fur industry.  But real fur feels so amazing!  I will admit, I own both real and fake fur, and feel great about all my fur.  My real fur is all vintage and reclaimed.  I’ve actually bought the pieces for a steal at antique malls and thrift shops.  My favorite piece is a fur collar.  When I bought it, it was matted and dull.  I actually took it and painstakingly brushed it, like it was a delicate pet.  Fortunately, it was well-made, so the fur didn’t come out.  It turned out to be a gorgeous, thick grey fox collar.  I wear it every winter.  Look for ratty coats at the thrift store with decent fur collars or cuffs–you can remove them and attach them to something else.  I always see collars with the little head and feet still attached, which make me a little queasy.  But you can take a fur like that to a tailor who will chop those little extras right off.  (Sorry poor animal babies!)

If you choose to go with fake fur instead, I would suggest that you base your selection on the way it feels.  So many faux furs have a scratchy texture, and it ends up looking like they’re matted or cheap.  Faux fur is fun in bright colors and obviously fake styles.  If you’re going for a more realistic look, make sure that they feel soft and luxe.

5.  Sunblock

Because if this girl isn’t the poster child for milky white skin, I don’t know who is.  GORGEOUS.

Like what you see?  Follow Dita on Twitter: @DitaVonTeese.  She tweets fairly regularly.  She is just as glamorous as she seems, and travels around the globe.  And haven’t you always wanted to follow someone with her own cocktail and a chinoiserie flat in Paris?