Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Makeup Girl

I've never really been a makeup girl. To be honest, I go to school bare-faced most days. Sometimes I'll wear light makeup (concealer, mascara, brow pencil, blush, and lip balm) for interviews and days that I look especially tired. I only ever wear full-face makeup for special occasions like date nights and weddings. Even then, I don't wear foundation, because it never quite looks like my real skin.

Despite not wearing a lot of makeup, I actually love researching beauty products and own an embarrassing amount of both drugstore and high end makeup (for someone who doesn't use it often). My goal is to one day master that natural oh-I-totally-woke-up-looking-awesome-like-this look that's actually extremely difficult and requires a lot of makeup to achieve. Having experimented with a number of products, I think there are definitely some categories of makeup that you need to spend more money on versus others where the drugstore counterpart is just fine.

In my opinion, the categories that you should SPEND on are (along with some favorites):
1) Eyeshadow
I find that premium eyeshadow is way more pigmented than drugstore eyeshadow and seems to have better lasting power (doesn't fade or crease as easily). This is a big issue for me since I'm Asian and have oily monolids, so my eyeshadow tends to move around. I like this palette, because it's full of neutrals and smells like chocolate!
Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette

2) Eyeliner
Again it's all about the lasting power. Premium eyeliner seems less likely to smear and fade. I'm not sure if this is just an issue for me or everyone, but regardless you want your eyeliner to stay put and not leave you with raccoon eyes by the end of the night. I particularly like using liquid liner to draw cat eyes. It's quick, easy, and dramatic.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner (Jet Black)

3) Eye shadow primer
I'm starting to sense a pattern here... Anyway, without using primer first, even premium shadow/liner doesn't last long enough for me, especially since I tend to cry at weddings. There are a couple high end shadow primers that I really like, because they work super well at helping things stay put.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Original)

4) Concealer
I know that drugstore skin makeup has gotten better, but I feel like you still can't beat the pigmentation, number of shades, and staying power of high end concealer. I'm not sure if the same can be said for foundation since I don't wear it myself.

Lancome Effacernes Waterproof Protective Undereye Concealer

The categories you can SAVE on are (along with some favorites):
1) Blush
In general, drugstore blush tends to be less pigmented than high end blush, but in my opinion, that's actually a feature, not a bug. I like that drugstore blush actually looks more natural, because it's a little more sheer. Wearing super pigmented blush makes me feel like a clown with patches on my cheeks.
Current favorite: Milani Baked Blush (Luminoso)

2) Mascara
I know lots of people swear by their high end mascara, but in my opinion, I think it's not worth spending that much when you're supposed to toss it every 3 months. Maybe if I wore mascara more often, that would make it worth the money? Also I really haven't noticed any real difference between the two in terms of performance.
Current favorite: Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara (Blackest Black)

3) Lipstick
Drugstore lipstick has come a long way! Gone are the days when lipstick makes your lips feel like sticky and wrinkled. Nowadays they're pretty moisturizing and more pigmented than ever before. And there are so many pretty shades for less than $10 each!
Current favorite: L'Oreal Colour Riche Shine Lipstick (Burnished Blush)

4) Nail polish
Obviously this depends on the exact brand/shade. In general, every brand has some super-pigmented shades where you only need one coat and some shades where it's semi-sheer even after 3 coats. Personally I don't think you need to buy Louboutin polishes at all (although I'll admit the bottle is pretty). I like OPI and Essie. They offer a wide selection of colors, are middle-of-the-road in terms of cost, and are reasonably opaque (depending on the color).
Current favorite: OPI Nail Polish (Koala Bear-y)

5) Makeup remover
I've never purchased high end makeup remover, but I have tried some samples I got, and there is literally no difference between them and say generic Target Up & Up makeup remover. My favorite is actually these Neutrogena towelettes, because I don't even have to wait for the remover to soak into my eyeliner/mascara. I can just wipe it all away and then wash my face afterwards.

What types of makeup do you spend/save on? What are your favorite high end products? What are your favorite drugstore products?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sale Alert: Kindle Paperwhite and J.Crew Sale Picks

I just wanted to post about a couple notable sales that I came across today.

1) I'm not sure how long this offer is good for, but I see that today the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is only $79.99 with special offers and $99.99 without special offers for Amazon Prime members. This is the best price I've seen on the e-reader in a while. I own and love the Paperwhite (without special offers, because I hate ads). I use it all the time and even gave my boyfriend one for Christmas this year. Of course it's really handy for traveling, but I also just carry it around in my purse so I can read even when I'm in the checkout line at the grocery store. Ever since I bought one, I've been reading a ton of books (I check out free e-books from my library), and now I spend less time glued to my cellphone/TV (probably for the best). Anyway, if you've been thinking about buying one, I highly recommend it!

2) My favorite retailer J.Crew has been really struggling lately. I hope they don't go out of business since their clothes fit me so well, but I have to admit that they've been pretty off-base in terms of their overall design. I still see some cute pieces I want, but nothing like the days of yore when I lusted after everything. Right now they're running a sale-on-sale promotion, where you can take an extra 30% off styles that end in .99 with code TAKE2030. Here are my sale picks:

If any of these items are out of stock in your size, I would recommend checking the website early in the morning for popbacks!

What do you think of J.Crew's style nowadays? What pieces have you picked up from them lately?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Long Time No See

Dear readers,

Long time no see. I'm not sure if anyone is still following this blog, but I apologize for vanishing off the face of the earth without even saying goodbye. Life got really stressful around Fall 2016, and I just couldn't find the energy to keep writing blog posts about shopping when more important things were going on in my personal life.

A few updates: I am still in grad school (currently working on my dissertation and looking for jobs on the West Coast), but I am no longer with my former fiancĂ© Engineer W. We decided to go our separate ways after many months of agonizing over what was ultimately a deal-breaker for us: I wanted to have children someday, and he didn't. It was an extremely painful situation since we loved each other, but there was also no compromising on the matter. The issue hadn't been so important when we were younger and had first started dating, but the older we got, the more resolute we each became on what was important to us. We ended things amicably since it wasn't anyone's fault, and we are still friends today. I decided to give him custody of our (now his) beloved tuxedo cat, which was the right thing to do but also broke my heart.

I have a new boyfriend J, who I have been dating seriously for close to a year, and now we live together in a tiny studio apartment. Because we have to share a closet, I had to purge the vast majority of my clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories before I moved in with him. I also can't buy too many things these days, because there'd be nowhere to put them. I kind of like the new forced minimalism since I can't accumulate too much stuff, and it's much easier to keep everything organized. I still feel the itch to shop though, especially when I am bored or under a lot of stress, but I usually end up returning most of it.

I am also in the best physical shape of my life. I started working out regularly (finally achieved my 2015 new year's resolutions, ha!) and picked up some new hobbies that I love: rock climbing, cycling, hiking, skiing, etc. These days you'll frequently find me doing something active outdoors if the weather is nice enough. Since I still like to shop, I've picked up a good deal of hobby-related gear, so probably my overall spending level isn't really any lower.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop in and say hi. I hope to start posting regularly again, but it may not be as shopping-oriented as it was before. I don't really have a roadmap at the moment. Let's just see where it goes.

Engineer L

Friday, December 2, 2016

November 2016 Purchases

I did the majority of my November shopping on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Most of those purchases have arrived and are included in this budget post, but there are still a few stragglers that I'll include for December if they work out. Clothing aside, I also ordered a bunch of stuff for my active hobbies (mostly from Backcountry and REI), but that'll be the subject of a different post in the future.

November 2016 Purchases

LOFT stained glass lace dress (black 00) - This dress is gorgeous in real life and looks much more expensive than it actually is. I love the eyelash lace, and surprisingly the dress fits like a glove. I usually find size 00/XXS at LOFT to still be too boxy, but it was perfect in this case. I wouldn't recommend this dress to anyone much taller than me though, because it already comes up above my knee, and I'm only 5'4". The weight of the dress is quite light, more suitable for spring/summer than fall/winter. Overall, it's one of my favorite pieces from LOFT this year. Originally $98. Paid $98 + 40% off + 4% off ebates = $56.45.

J.Crew tuxedo-inspired long-sleeve t-shirt (navy XXS) - This tuxedo tee received mixed reviews on J.Crew's website, but I really like the way it looks. Maybe that's because I love tuxedo shirts in general. Anyway, I like how the pleated bib and tuxedo cuffs add some visual interest to what is otherwise a simple navy long-sleeve tee. I found the fit to be a little tight in the upper arms and slightly slouchy in the torso. Originally $59.50. Paid $59.50 + 40% off = $35.70.

J.Crew Margot top in silk foulard (blue multi 00) - I'm always on the lookout for pretty tops that can be dressed up or down. I think this one would look great under a solid colored blazer or cardigan. There's a hook-and-eye closure at the neck, but I prefer to wear it closed. The body is a little boxy, but that can't be helped since there's no stretch in the silk. Originally $78. Paid $59.99 + 40% off + 1.5% off ebates = $35.45.

Uniqlo women's heattech extra warm leggings (black XS) - I've heard rave reviews about the Uniqlo Heattech line, so I thought I would finally try it out for myself. These leggings seem like they're decent quality (and opaque!), but they're a little large and not as substantial as my favorite Zella leggings. Most likely I would wear them as long underwear on extra cold days. Originally $19.90. Paid $14.90.

LOFT long sleeve lace top (lilac shadow 00) - This top is made of the same lace as the dress I got but in a different color. Even though it's more boho/sweet than my usual style, I thought it was quite pretty and would pair well with both pants and skirts. Be warned though: it's pretty boxy. Originally $59.50. Paid $59.50 + 40% off + 4% off ebates = $34.27.

Uniqlo women's heattech extra warm turtleneck t-shirt (black XS) - I actually really like this turtleneck! It makes me feel like I'm channeling my inner Steve Jobs. I'm not sure that it's that much warmer than a normal turtleneck, but it's certainly very slimming. Originally $19.90. Paid $14.90.

The total for November comes to...
RETAIL: $334.80
SPENT: $191.67 (57.2% of MSRP)

My goal for the year is to spend no more than $2400, which equates to $200 per month. Right now I'm at $2400 - $447.87 for 2016Q1 - $569.98 for 2016Q2 - $363.17 for 2016Q3 - $237.47 for October - $191.67 for November = $589.84 for December.

How did you do on your budget this month? As always, I'm linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Cyber Monday Recommendations

I'm a little late with this post, but there are some amazing Cyber Monday deals that I just have to share. Most of my recommendations are pieces that I either own or have tried on.

Retailer: J.Crew
Promo: 40% off your purchase with code MONDAY plus free shipping on all orders. 
This is a great time to pick up a classic coat (or two!) and other pieces that rarely go on sale. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 10% off!
Coat picks: 
Nordic parka (I have last year's version in navy, see my review here)
stadium-cloth cocoon coat (own an older version, one of my favorite coats)
icon trench coat (own, runs small)
denim jacket in Tyler wash (own, one of my most worn pieces!) 
Other picks:

Retailer: Nordstrom
Promo: Extra 20% off selected sale items.
Plenty of goodies to be found here, but it'll take some digging. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 6% off!
My picks:
- Sam Edelman Petty chelsea boot (own in black and putty suede, ordered in saddle)
- Nike Pro Indy Dri-FIT sports bra (my favorite sports bra but don't recommend for bigger than C cup)

Retailer: L.L.Bean
Promo: 20% off when you spend $50.
Perfect time to pick up some Bean boots or a thick flannel shirt. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 4% off!
My picks:
- Kids' Bean boots, 8" Thinsulate (own, good for ladies with small feet)
- Women's Scotch plaid shirt, relaxed (own, very warm but boxy, size down)

Retailer: Cole Haan
Promo: 40% off everything plus free shipping on all orders.
I'm tempted to pick up another pair of my favorite flats. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 5% off!
My picks:
- Tali bow ballet flat (own, runs small)

Retailer: LOFT
Promo: 50% off plus free shipping on all orders with CYBERMONDAY.
I'm a sucker for pretty lace, even though LOFT usually doesn't fit my body type very well.
My picks:
- long sleeve lace top (ordered)

Happy shopping! Let me know if you find any other sales worth sharing.