Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

This is a selfie I took with my red light box.  That camera was not cooperating that day.  It was kind of transitioning from day to night around the time and every photo taken outside was awful.  Although I think the result of this was my swift movement as the flash went off, creating that cool streak.  Add some Holga-ish treatment in Picasa and all of a sudden I look ghoulish.  

So Happy Halloween to everyone!  May you eat candy until your bellies explode with sugar.  And if you're so inclined, may you drink just enough to think you know the dance routine to Michael Jackson's Thriller. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lip Service

Drier than a desert.  Cracked like a sidewalk.  As rough as sandpaper.  Okay, maybe not like sandpaper.  But I have been forever cursed with dry lips and so I am forever eyeing (and buying) lip balm products.  Just look at that glorious wall of product at a Bed, Bath, and Beyond! 

From Blistex, Chapstick, Aquaphor, and Nivea to SoftLips, EOS, and Vaseline, I've tried so many.  And I would usually settle for Vaseline (they even have these mini sized ones), but maybe there was something better outside of the drugstore brands.  I'm not so sure about better, but there are definitely thousands more options.  Muy expensive ones. Organic ones.  Mint-infused, in a tub, in a tube, as a stick.  

A few months ago, one of my sisters was gushing about this brand called Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.  She had a "shopping spree" there and got me so interested I Googled the company and the exact locations near me so I could visit.  And visit I did. On my way through I was also enticed by Sephora.  This is one reason why malls are not where it's at.
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment // Lush Mint Juleps Scrub // Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm
Sephora carries several high-end lip moisturizing, conditioning concoctions and I sampled a few to mixed results before settling on Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.  At the time I had recently seen InStyle's 2014 Best Beauty Buys and they named this product in the Rose tint as the best lip balm.  It's made with real sugar and has SPF 15.  It felt very moisturizing when I applied the tester so I decided to splurge and go without the color tint (twenty-two entire dollars plus tax).

After, I remembered by mall mission was for Lush and made my way to this interesting, sample and demonstration-filled establishment.  They have handmade products for hair, body, face, the shower and the bath.  The employees are well-versed in their company philosophy and their products.  What's cool about Lush is everything is homemade with fresh and organic ingredients and little to no added preservatives, plus a date made and date expired printed on the packaging.  
I looked around in awe before finding what I was looking for: the lip balms.  Lush has lip balms and scrubs, with a variety of scents.  I tried both, liked what I felt, but left to let it all marinate on my lips.  I returned and I don't know what it was about that day but I splurged again on the balm and the scrub ($7 and $9).  

I used the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment overwhelmingly for a few months.  After a while, I found myself quite unsatisfied.  Upon initial application it felt moisturizing, but I felt it dried out quicker than usual and I was constantly reapplying.  I didn't think it was worth what I bought it for (but my younger sister liked it, so waste not!).  Also the packaging is like a lipstick in that it had a long cover but unlike it because you have to twist it open.  It doesn't just snap on/snap off.  If I were to give a numerical ranking it would be awfully low and I don't want to detract anyone who might want to try it...

The Lush scrub is sugar.  You're supposed to put it on your lips, rub your lips together, and then lick it off.  Lastly, apply the lip balm. The licking part gave me pause.  Doesn't licking dry out your lips?  It's hard to apply without spilling and although it's edible, I don't really like it and I rarely use it.  But the lip balm?  That's my favorite.  You don't need too much and it continues to feel moisturizing as time goes on.  I've used mine so often that the pink label cannot be read anymore.  Yes, this review is a long time coming: I went to the mall for these things in March 2014.  I think I should give the balm a ranking of 9.  Fair enough.

Lush products are still expensive compared to your drug store offerings, so I'd advocate for baby Vaseline.  And any freebies that come your way.  I recently got a lip balm from my school's student health services (has a personalized label) and I love that one too.  But I have no idea who makes it. Tsk tsk.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Special Effects

Dipped and dyed in color, sketched, and HDR'd. Special effects on photos taken on a not so special, ordinary (yet wonderfully welcome) day.  Picasa makes me feel like a faux digital artist.  Although I struggled with my red light box because I'm trying to emulate other OOTD photos where their image is captured head to toe but the distance is not too far.  Perhaps it has something to do with the aperture of the lens, which I cannot manipulate on my point-and-shoot.  Shoot!

I was (and still am) in love with what I wore this day.  As I left for school, I wondered if it was too much put-togetherness because I only had one class and I basically planned to go back home soon after.  But no!  The goal in my personal style exploration has always been put-togetherness.  The day I can easily choose the right group of pieces to be effortlessly casual, but flawless.  To be comfortably cool, but not sloppy...oh that day!  Who said #IWokeUpLikeThis takes zero effort?  To divert into that popular phrase: I take it to mean that one has recognized their unique beauty, in their features, in their personalities, in the way they express themselves.  And they accentuate it.  Like, "Bam! This is me! I love me!" But of course, not in a narcissistic, ego-filled way.

Can I highlight the thriftiness of some of the things I wore (and that I've never worn these things together)?  At H&M I thought I couldn't resist the $15 discounted price tag on this beautifully bright orange cardigan.  I inspected it no less than three times for flaws in its condition.  I tried it on several times (goodness, me).  And then I got to the register and it was an additional 50% off!  The Gap pleated skirt (pleat pleat!) was a thrift store find, the necklace is a hand-me-down from my mother (everything is from her!) and my favorite headband was $4 when I bought it two years ago.  I hope I will have it forever.

So, three questions:
1. Can anyone teach me how to take photos like I want?
2. What's your favorite thrifty, cheap, oh-my-goodness-this-is-a-steal buy?
3. Will you make it a great day or not...?*

original effects

What I'm Wearing
H&M cardigan // H&M tank // Report oxfords // NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo

Oh, happy day...
*in fond memory of middle school announcements.
Sign off: Make it a great day or not...the choice is yours.

Linked to I Would So Rock This xoxo

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Monochromatic Mood

uh-oh, that tag
Who owns this much turquoise...and then wears them all together?  Well...because I knew I would feel cold later and my constant go-to (cardigans) sometimes takes the outfit down a notch, makes me look like a forlorn librarian.  No offense to librarians--libraries are one of my favorite places.  Speaking of librarians,  I wonder where that stereotypical "sexy" librarian look came from.  'Cause I ain't never seen a librarian looking like that!

Anyway, I really like bright monochromatic looks, outside of the standard all-black and (don't touch anything and sit anywhere) all-white. And I put this together with next to zero effort. 1 + 2 + 3 = ta da!

Have a relaxing day!
Oh, by the way, the Internet consensus is that turquoise (or blue-green) on a mood ring means you're upbeat, somewhat relaxed and a little flirtatious.  Hmm...okay.

What I'm Wearing
Zara blazer // (MSSP) Max Studio Specialty Product dress // Sam Edelman wedges 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Labels and Identities

Willie Cole, 1993, How Do You Spell America?
San Antonio Museum of Art
I assume that if the Huffington Post writes about it and all the other outlets like E! Online, Time and MTV follow suit AND it makes its way to social media, then it must be the news of the day, week, moment.  The thing that generates comments on top of comments, and individual interpretation extremes.  Today that thing was a clip from OWN's Where Are They Now? featuring Raven SymonĂ©.  Darling from my childhood, from The Cosby Show to Hanging With Mr. Cooper to That's So Raven.  
On her coming out and relationships, Raven said she knew of her sexual identity by the age twelve and that she didn't then and doesn't now need a categorizing statement for it.  It is what it is.  She doesn't want to be labeled as gay, just a "human being who loves other human beings."  The spark though, was when she said that she rejects all labels, that she is American, not African-American.  Oooh.  Oprah let that be known too, giving room for Raven to clarify or retract because a statement like that would set Twitter on fire (if that's the worst that could happen...)

In a way I understand what she means.  African-American is a politically correct term, trying to encompass all people of African-descent in the United States, specifically those whose ancestry goes back to slavery.  Beyond that, many do not know about this descent from Africa.  Where in Africa?  Which geographical area, which country, which ethnic group?  That's where I think "Black" fits best for people of (long ago) African-Descent in the United States.  If your connection to Africa is an unknown blur, if you have brown skin (that's not Hispanic brown or South Asian brown), if you would have been called "colored" or "Negro" in the United States...then "Black" is supposed to describe you.

 She said "I don't label myself"  but then she labels herself as "American."  Labels are descriptors.  Their intent is to tell us more about a person, a place, a product.  American can tell us about a person's upbringing or values, nationality, their kind of culture.  African-American or Black tells us about how a person might look, how they might behave (race, as a sub-culture, shapes your life experiences.  Which is not to say that everyone who is of a certain race is the same or cookie-cutter predictable).  
 Raven saying that she is not African-American seems to forget that people are not colorless or colorblind.  And people should not be.  See people's color, as it is a feature easily observed.  Recognize it, respect it, don't discriminate against someone because of it.  But then, as a label, maybe she feels it narrows who she is as a person.  Sometimes labels can seem restrictive.  You are such-and-such, fit in the box that has been assigned for such-and-such.  You cannot be anything other than such-and-such for I will only see you as such-and-such and nothing else.  Maybe it's because some of those labels-- gay, woman-- can attract an ugly kind of attention, the kind that highlights negativity and overshadows the value of the people to which they have been attached.  

Thinking that I understand a little where she's coming from, I'd still say that it's impossible to completely reject labels.  Who are you in relationship to someone else? Sister, daughter, girlfriend, mentor.  Who are you outwardly? Who are you internally?  Labels are important.  They're necessary and they're not ever going away.  Despite what she says people will still view her as African-American or gay or what have you. But then despite what anyone else says, how Raven views herself and carries herself is more important than the opinions of others.  It is her life to live and enjoy.

And done. My two cents.