Tag Archives: review

A Review: Tarte 8th World Wonder Collection from QVC

One day I will do a full post on the ridiculous yet mesmerizing phenomenon that is QVC, but for today I’m just going to review this Tarte collection that I took a gamble and splurged on since I needed a new powder brush anyway. QVC actually has some awesome makeup deals in case you didn’t know. This whole collection was available for pre-order at $48.36, the blush is $25 at Sephora and the mascara is $19, so that’s almost the whole cost right there. Now the price is up to $52.74, I’m not sure how much the cost will go up and when they’ll get in more stock, but even at $60 this collection is a great value.

Amazonian clay balancing foundation SPF 15 with brush

I haven’t worn real foundation in years, I use MACs studio finish concealer and blend it with moisturizer instead. The reason for this is I’m really pale and everything looks orange on me (even tinted moisturizers with names like “extra light”) so I was surprised this foundation actually matches my skin. Maybe because Maureen Kelly is as pale as I am, but that also means all these shades of foundation run light. Hopefully they’ll add more shades, because even the darkest doesn’t look very dark. Also the brush is really soft and fluffy.

Amazonian clay 12-hour wear powder blush in Glisten

I’m very happy with this blush, it’s kind of like Nars Orgasm but smoother. It’s not cakey like powder blushes can be sometimes. It is very pigmented so try not to layer it on. It also has shimmer, so if you prefer a matte look, it might not be for you.

Pure Maracuja oil sample

I’m loving this oil, and not just because I like saying the name “Maracuja”. A little of this stuff goes a long way, and it makes skin look hydrated and healthy without looking greasy.

Amazonian clay long-wear eyeshadow palette

This eyeshadow quad is a little flimsy, I kept trying to pull the plastic off the mirror until I realized it’s just a really crappy mirror. The shadows are nice and smooth, but definitely need to be blended with attention. Some of the reviews on QVC complain that these shadows (and the blush) are too pigmented, but you can’t blame the product if you don’t use it right. Blend, my friends—that is the most overlooked makeup “secret” of all and it’s very easy to do. The more pigment a product has the more use you can get out of it in the long run, just use it in moderation.

Lights, Camera, Lashes! volumizing mascara in Black

While I think this mascara is very nice and was happy to get it with this set, I think my trusty drugstore brands (Covergirl, Maybelline) get the job done just as well.

Amazonian clay automatic waterproof eyeliner in Golden Plum

I was surprised that this liner went on smoothly, stayed put all day, and still came off easily at night. It’s a plummy, brownish-gold color, and it doesn’t have glitter flecks or anything.

Pure Optic moisturizing lip gloss in Golden Pink

This gloss on the other hand is very glittery. In fact it’s mostly just glitter with a teensy bit of a pink hue. I’m not a gloss person, but this one isn’t as sticky as others and also has a fresh minty scent.

And it all comes in this purple woven bag!

Here’s the whole look:

Can I just say, taking pictures of yourself without looking like an ass is really hard. There are so many women out there who do this for their makeup blogs all the time and god bless them, but I don’t know how they do it. I always have to crop out my messy house and sometimes I end up with some really scary wide-angle shots. Anyway, I do it for you readers, I want you to see what the makeup looks like on a real person. If I could use my cats, I would, but they’re kind of busy.

While I’m on the subject of embarrassing pictures of myself and also cats…guess who got to meet Hello Kitty at Sephora last week? Yeah, It was me and she totally grabbed me in a bear hug and I loved every second of it!

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Beauty in the Movies: The Secret Life of Bees

Happy Friday everybody! I’ve chosen a nice summery film for this week since it is, after all, the first week of summer. I’m noticing a trend, a lot of movies with strong female leads are about strong southern women, including The Secret Life of Bees (shout out to Alison Jajac for the recommendation!), which is an excellent film based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd.

This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read forever but just haven’t gotten around to, I know I shouldn’t have seen the movie first but it happens, I’ll probably still read the book anyway, I’m crazy like that.

The Secret Life of Bees is the story of 14 year old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), a white girl living in South Carolina with her neglectful and abusive father in 1964. Her mother is dead, and the only female figure (and caring relationship) she has is with her housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). After Rosaleen is beaten by white men in town for attempting to register to vote, and Lily’s father T. Ray (Paul Bettany) reveals that her mother abandoned her before she died, Lily sneaks Rosaleen out of the hospital where she is being held, and they hitchhike to Tiburon, a town not far away that was written on a “Black Mary” picture which belonged to Lily’s mother. Seeing the same “Black Mary” image on a jar of honey once in Tiburon, the two are directed to the home of the honey-maker, August Boatwright (Queen Latifah), who agrees to let them stay in her idyllic pink house.

August lives with her two sisters, June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okonedo). The three are financially comfortable, well-respected, educated, cultured, and un-married. Unfortunately this was a rare combination to see in Black women during the 60’s. Set amidst the height of the civil rights movement in the south, during what is known as the “freedom summer”, the movie captures the feelings of change, hope, and fear that people living during that time experienced everyday.

Suddenly Lily and Rosaleen, two women beaten down by life, find themselves in a sanctuary, and for the first time in either of their lives are given the freedom to explore, and come to know, who they really are. Lily is so motherless it’s gut-wrenching, she wants so badly to be loved and is so utterly neglected, your heart can’t help but go out to her. In the Boatwright sister’s home both she and Rosaleen learn that women can be strong, and they each find that strength within themselves as well. It is lovely how throughout the movie the characters blossom, both mentally and physically, simply from love, encouragement, and friendship.

I don’t want to give anything else away but as you can imagine this is a story about women, more specifically mothers, and the search for the mother within, which teaches us how to take care of ourselves, and how to cope with what life gives us.

On another note, did Dakota Fanning ever have an awkward stage? Seriously, I wish I was that well-adjusted at her age. She plays the stifled desperation of this character exceedingly well, in this role she breaks out of any “child star” box she might have been trapped in, it’s such a reserved performance which makes it all the more moving, and it’s great that she is exactly the same age as the character, she fully embodies Lily.

I have to point out how amazing Paul Bettany is in this film as well—plus points for him for saying he wanted to do this film because it is “about women” and that “there aren’t enough films that are about women”, that actually isn’t a direct quote, but it’s the gist. He does a fantastic job of keeping the odious character of T.Ray from being one-dimensional. We hate his character, while at the same time Bettany finds some little shred of humanity to grab on to, which keeps the character slightly gray.

It’s interesting that three of the main Black female characters in this film are portrayed by singers—they all do a spectacular job don’t get me wrong, but it does draw attention to the fact that there are very few Black actresses out there who are considered big enough names to headline a movie. And that’s a shame.

The Secret Life of Bees is a beautiful female coming of age story which we don’t see too often. Two others that I could think of both feature young women in search of information about a mother who has died, both My Girl (I guess more the sequel My Girl 2, but they both deal with this theme) and Stealing Beauty, I’m sure there are others too (let me know if you think of any!). The connection between mother and daughter is exceptionally strong, and when broken, leaves a gaping hole. This film speaks to anyone seeking understanding in a situation they have no control over, and even if you can’t relate directly to the characters, all of us can understand the need for family, for acceptance, and for freedom.

I’m a geek and I love listening to commentary on movies (especially while I paint) so when I was listening to the director, actors, and producers talk about this film I found it moving how close this story was to their hearts. It’s mentioned over and over how low the budget was for the film. You would think with such big names attached, and the pull of a bestselling novel as well, it would have received better backing. Once again the message is that not enough people want to see films like this which are specifically made for women,  I find that so depressing.

Some critics called out the story for being too “icky-sweet”, we hear that a lot about films made for women. It was also criticized for not having strong enough male characters, which I think is pretty funny because it passes the Bechdel test in reverse for men, despite being a film largely devoted to its female characters. I also think the male characters are far more fleshed out and 3 dimensional than most women usually are in heavily male dominated movies, or even male characters in your standard big budget film. Maybe I’m sensitive, but both of these critiques just scream “eww, chick flick, gross”. Men can keep making the same boring action/bromance movies over and over again, but this gets referred to as a “tired fable” when I can barely think of two movies that are remotely close to it.

So, put it on your Netflix queue, and support films made for, by, and featuring strong women characters! You might also need a box of tissues, but you won’t regret it, I promise.

I do want to talk for a minute about this “strong southern women” thing. When I typed in the term to Google I got hundreds of thousands of results. When I typed in the term “strong northern women”, Google asked me if I meant “strong southern women”. So why is this such a dominant archetype? Is it more unusual to have a strong, independent women in the south which in turn makes the character stand out more, or seem more compelling in her strength? Are northern women (or western or eastern) already thought of as “strong” making the archetype less of an anomaly? I’m trying to think of movies that feature female characters that fit into an archetype of another location. Strong New York woman? Meh, all I can think of is Lost in Yonkers for some reason. It seems that if that archetype ever existed it has been overshadowed by the ladies of Sex and the City, who unfortunately don’t appear nearly as empowering or interesting as the representations of their southern counterparts. I’m not from the south so I don’t know, but I’d love to hear if anyone has some ideas about where this model of feminine power comes from. It’s interesting that although the south is usually considered more conservative than the north (or at least the eastern and western seaboards) they seem to trump us in this respect. Maybe it’s a paradigm grown out of repression? I’d love to know other people’s opinions on this, especially if there are any southern ladies out there!

Have a great weekend, and get out and enjoy that sun!

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