Hello there, dust sprites. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but I am a makeup newbie. Sure, I wear mascara, and I’m a total lipstick junkie (always have been obsessed with lip products in general), but when it comes to just normal, everyday things like applying foundation, I literally have no clue what I’m doing (outside of just smearing tinted moisturizer or BB cream all over my face). This is the summer I figure things out.
When I was younger, my mom encouraged me whenever I felt like playing with cosmetics. I’m pretty sure she loved the idea; I flip flopped from tomboy to girly girl on the reg, and she really enjoyed my girlier times. Heck, my mom was the mom who tried to convince the other moms to let my friends pierce their ears. I remember her purchasing my very first blush compact (Maybelline) and lipstick (some sort of frosted pink Avon variety). Mostly, though, she bought me endless glitter gel and LipSmacker products in my preteens (and that one green lippie from Wet n’ Wild that like… changed color with your body temperature or something).
Most of you reading know that she died when I was sixteen, which was really right around the time I started becoming somewhat more interested in wearing make up “for real.” It was actually something we argued about a little, because she was way more into the idea than I was. And sixteen year old girls argue with their moms about everything. Literally. In the end, I just never really learned. There was the occasional reddish eyeshadow, black eyeliner pencil, and black lipstick (because baby goth), but I just never figured out the normal stuff. My father supported/tolerated whatever weird teenage thing I wanted to wear or put on (including blue hair and darling customized vampie fangs), but makeup was certainly out of his scope of knowledge. I’m 90% sure he thought my red shadow was just pollen allergies.
Writing this all out really just makes me feel nostalgic, which is kind of how makeup makes me feel in general. It also make me feel so incredibly thankful for my parents. All girls deserve a mom and dad like mine. Nobody’s perfect, and of course I don’t only have warm and fuzzy memories about my mom (again, moms and teenage daughters), but a lot of who I am today is because of her. I appreciate that.
I recently placed a mega-order with Ulta. These products are all new to me, so I thought an unboxing post with some initial thoughts might be fun.
Everything I purchased is, as far as I know, cruelty free (not tested on animals). Some of the parent companies of these particular brands do business in countries that require animal testing. I will provide notes where applicable. Some of the items I actually felt confident about are a little more on the pricey side, but they’re from brands I know I can trust when it comes to transparency. As always, you should use your wallet, and your voice, in the way that works best for you. Logical Harmony is the best resource I know when it comes to researching cruelty-free beauty.
Now let’s get to it! I didn’t take a ton of photos; my bathroom lighting is …less than ideal?
Pacifica Transcendent Concentrated Concealer in light.
- 100% vegan and cruelty free / Made in the US / formulated without parabens, phthalates or petroleum
I occasionally use a cream concealer with a brush, but I’ve never purchased or used a wand before. Pacifica is a brand I am familiar, comfortable and 100% happy with, so I felt safe making this choice. I have nothing but praise for this brand, and the fact that they make cruelty free beauty more accessible to everyone.
Initial thoughts: The shade is fine for me, as long as I blend it out. I appreciate the lighter coverage; I’ll be able to use this with both a BB cream (which I’m more comfortable with) and a more traditional foundation.
Pacifica Radiant Shimmer Coconut Multiples
- 100% vegan and cruelty free / Made in the US / formulated without parabens, phthalates or petroleum
Let’s learn how to contour! I chose this as a product to learn with because a number of folks online said that it was a very natural and light looking pallette. I’ve also learned over the years that I really can’t use powder-based products because they consistently turn my face into a patchy desert.
Initial thoughts: First, this palette smells incredible: straight up creamy coconut. I don’t know how I feel about the shimmery “contour” color, but I like both the highlight and the blush. These are light, and I like that I can build them up very slowly. In the end, this isn’t really all the great for contouring, but I’ll use the light shades often.
If anyone has any recommendations for a cruelty free matte contour palette, I’d be happy to hear them! Please!
ELF Online Exclusive Contouring Brush
- cruelty free
As it stands, the majority of my tools and brushes are either from ELF or ecoTools, so this seemed like a no-brainer. I appreciate ELF’s lower price point. It’s probably worth noting here that while all of ELF’s cosmetics are apparently vegan, not all of their skincare products or brushes are. I have no idea how to use a contouring brush, but I’m about to find out.
Initial thoughts: I know this is a cheap makeup brush, and cheap makeup brushes are the same as cheap paintbrushes. This is fine for practicing and playing around, but it sheds quite a bit.
Too Faced Travel Size Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
- cruelty free (parent company is not) / silicone-free
According to the internet, a primer is a good and useful thing. I chose this one because it’s travel-sized (in case I hate it) and is made with coconut water (and I’m not ashamed to admit, too, that one of my favorite YouTubers uses it).
Initial thoughts: This is really nice! My skin, especially my undereye area, is desperately dry. I will probably end up purchasing a full sized bottle of this when I run out. I would consider adding this to my “every day” list.
Juice Beauty PHYTO-PIGMENTS Flawless Finishing Powder in translucent
- vegan and cruelty free / made in the US / formulated without parabens, silicone, or synthetic dyes and fragrances / uses organic ingredients
I’ve received Juice Beauty products in a couple subscription boxes, and this is one of those companies I’m happy to shell out a little more money for. There were solid reviews for this particular product.
Initial thoughts: I was not expecting this to be shimmery. Is all finishing powder shimmery? That can’t be right. I need some more practice with this. I probably won’t be buying another shimmery finishing powder when this runs out. Again, if you have any matte recommendations, please let me know in the comments!
J. Cat Beauty Online Exclusive Spray, Set, Go Setting Spray in Go Aloe
- cruelty free
This was inexpensive and seemed like it might be refreshing, especially with summer around the corner.
Initial thoughts: This is a very pleasant way to end a makeup routine. I like it! It also toned down the shimmer on my face a little bit.
Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Pencil in rich brown
- cruelty free (parent company is not) / formulated without parabens, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate
I’ve used other Tarte products, and have always experienced good results. It made sense to me to purchase a new-to-me product like an eyebrow pencil from a familiar brand.
Initial thoughts: This is another one of those light, but buildable products. This means there’s is a lot of wiggle room, which I appreciate because I don’t know what I’m doing. Filling in my brows is …going to take some getting used to. I do love the tiny spoolie brush.
- cruelty free (parent company is not)
I decided to try three different NYX lip products because of that aforementioned lip product obsession. I’ve never purchased anything from this brand before. Price points are solid, and the variety can’t really be beat. Even though I got these for fun, I was still hemming and hawing over swatches for about a week before I made my final decision.
Lip Lingerie in Corset
Initial thoughts: The smell of this product is awful, but the color and texture are amazing. This is a pretty much perfect nude. I will probably pick up one or two other shades of the Lip Lingerie.
Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm
Initial thoughts: This smells exactly like the Bonne Bell LipSmacker Frosting in vanilla that I was obsessed with in middle school. I love everything about this product. I’ll definitely be trying some more shades, but Stockholm ended up being a really nice shade for me.
Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Stone Fox
Initial thoughts: I like this formula okay, but this was my least favorite of the three. That said, the color is fabulous. I really couldn’t resist a gray lipstick.
I had a blast unboxing these and just playing around. Thank you, Ulta! Again, if you have any suggestions or tips, please leave them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @girldust. I love to hear from you!
If you’re reading this, bear with me. This is some serious, but short, word vomit.
I am hesitant, and fretful. This space has not been put to very good use over the last few weeks, despite my best intentions. I am feeling particularly down on myself, frustrated that I have so little to offer the world. I feel anxious and, admittedly, short-tempered.
I feel like I am definitely not the best version of myself I could be, but I don’t know how to change that, or even if I have the spirit to do so. I’m tired a lot. I have a bunch of grand ideas, and despite having nothing but time on my hands, I lack the energy and talent to implement them. All I want to do is curl up on the couch. I recognize this is not the best method to improve one’s self. I get it. Getting out of the hole you dug for yourself is not an easy task.
I’m not a wordsmith. I don’t know. I’m just saying I’ve dug myself a warm cozy burrow, but it’s kind of gross and dark down here and I’d like to come up, now. Obviously I’m not the first person in the existence of mankind to feel this way.
I’d like to think another PURGE OF ALL THE MATERIAL THINGS might help. It’s possible. It’s also possible that being back in class will solve some of my anxiety issues. Schedules are good. I need a schedule. Change of diet? Sure. That definitely wouldn’t hurt anything. But I don’t know if these changes are just bandaids, or if that even matters. What’s wrong with a bandaid, really? Let’s patch this mess up so we can focus on more important things.
The first week of July flew by quickly. The days were full, but I still feel a little bit like they’ve escaped me. Have you ever felt like that? It’s strange. I don’t feel like that handful of days lacked anything necessarily, but there’s still an odd and lingering sense of longing. This is probably due to some kind of inherent personality flaw that I don’t particularly want to look too deeply into. So. Here are a few of my July goals:
Paint. I’ve been reading a lot about intuitive painting and journaling, and the work I’ve seen has been inspiring. It’s been ages since I’ve really put my heart into any artwork. In the past, my personal art making process has served primarily as a coping mechanism. When I actually feel well, I tend not to create. It seems rather a sad thing, and it’s something I’d like to change. What does “happy” art even look like? I don’t know. I’d like to explore it. This is top priority, I think. How great would it be to build up a new portfolio? My style has changed significantly in the last five years (and yes, it’s been that long since I’ve made anything worthwhile).
Read three books. The number is completely arbitrary, I just know I’d like to spend some more time reading. I’m currently working my way through book number one.
Make an effort to be positive. It’s the little day to day things, really, but those things add up and can weigh people down. I want to be someone who lifts people up. I can often be critical, over-reactive, and short tempered, and I’d really like to make more of an effort to be more thoughtful, especially in regards to myself, and the people I care most about.
Visit a museum. This is somewhat less of a priority, because it’s summer and the whole seacoast is swimming with tourists. It would be nice, though, to visit one with Timothy before he leaves for the entire month of August. Neither of us has been to the Ogunquit Museum of Art, and I’d love to visit!
Get my hair cut. It’s been well over a year. Now that I am most assuredly committed to longer hair (for a while), I just want something that frames my face nicely.
Drinking: Shipyard Melonhead, likely my final couple bottles of the season. This is not to say that it’s a bad tasting beer, but much like its autumnal sibling, Pumpkinhead, I can only drink maybe three a year. It’s a bit special, and I don’t ever want to take away from that.
Listening to: Don’t judge me (or do), but I obsessed with the Precision Soca Remix version of Hula Hoop (after hearing the original song only like… a month ago because I’m old and out of touch). It’s summertime. Deal with it.
Reading: Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King.
Snacking: Have you tried any of the Buddha Bowl popcorn flavors from Lesser Evil? I’m really into “Avocado-Licious,” and Tj likes “Himalayan Pink.”
Wearing: I’m still in love with the handful of Pura Vida bracelets I bought earlier this summer, especially the black sterling lotus. It’s become a comforting part of my “leaving the house” routine. Just a reminder that you can save 20% on any Pura Vida order using the code NAOMIDENSMORE20 at checkout. Also, dear Mainers (and aforementioned seacoast tourists): check out Loyal Citizen in Portland! We hadn’t yet been into the brick and mortar store, and were pleasantly surprised when we stopped in last week. Wear your Maine pride and support small business! There’s a design for just about anybody, but I’m most fond of the Joshua Chamberlain print, available on both men’s and women’s tees.
I haven’t shared monthly goals since February, so it seems as though actually blogging ought to be on my goals list. I am making a mental note of it. It is noted.
But let’s talk about summer. The sudden sunshine is motivating.
Set up my laptop. Tj recently bought a new laptop, so his Macbook Pro has been handed down to me. I’m a little over my head; it’s much newer than any computer I’ve used in the last few years, and it’s been literally over a decade since I’ve used a Mac. To write this post, though, I’ve already had to switch computers (twice) and email photos to myself, which just isn’t sustainable. Or necessary. I need to move my files, and I definitely need to make a software decision or two. Do you use Adobe Creative Cloud? How do you feel about it? I’m almost 100% certain that the Photography plan (which includes just Photoshop and Lightroom) will be more than enough to do both blogging and internship work.
Reach out to brands I want to work with. Aaaah. This is a big scary one. I actually emailed some companies today, and I was a giant ball of nerves before hitting that “send” button. But here’s the thing: I realized that I would much rather reach out to the companies I already love, support and promote in real life, than wait for random brands I have no feelings for whatsoever to reach out to me. If I make an effort, and am kind and genuine, something good may come from it. Or it won’t. But certainly nothing bad is going to happen.
Get. In. The. Water. We didn’t really surf at all last summer. Or, I certainly didn’t. My surfboard hasn’t really been touched since I moved into the house. There were a lot of things holding me back. At the moment, I think I’d be happy just to float and paddle and probably fall off the board a few times, so really there’s no excuse not to go to the beach.
Date night. Have I mentioned that Tj is leaving for four weeks at the end of July to work at the Olympics? And how that is a little bit (or… how about very) surreal and stressful? Four weeks is a long time, and Brazil is very far away. I feel like we definitely need to fit in some quality, device-free time for ourselves. And good food. And probably some wine.
It’s not here yet, but August is going to be a little difficult. I’m trying my best to stay in the moment, but it’s not easy. I will definitely be making an effort over the next few weeks to enjoy these days as they come. Summer moves so quickly.
February is a tough month, right? It’s still winter, but I have already become anxious for spring. The fluctuating weather is not helping, but I realize I shouldn’t complain about temperatures in the 50s. I’m trying hard to live in the now, or whatever, but you know. I want sunshine and bike rides and the ocean. I do have a more steady schedule than just a month ago; the semester started last week, and I just began a internship of sorts at a local museum. Being busy helps a lot. Here are my goals for the month:
Eat somewhere new. There are a few places in Portland that are on our list. It would be a nice treat, for sure, and something fun to look forward to.
Finish two books. I’ve got one on hold that I’m looking forward to picking up again. I also have a lot of reading to do for class, but I’ll make it happen. It’s a matter of using my time a little better (like, not binge watching shows I’ve already seen three times).
Purchase some professional (ish) clothing. Not much of what’s in my closet right now fits appropriately. That being said, I’m not actually willing to get rid of anything because 1. it’s all really nice, and 2. I literally just need to lose like eight pounds and I’ll be comfortable (and feel more like myself) again. I need pieces I can wear to work at the museum in the interim. There’s not really a dress code, especially because the site is closed for the season, but I feel like something beyond jeans and a cardigan would be appropriate come spring. Professional attire has always sort of alluded me, because I’ve never really had to develop this part of my wardrobe. When I try to shop for these things, I either can’t find anything that fits properly (dress pants are not made for short girls with butts), or I end up looking like a completely different person. Not cool. I’m not sure what the solution is, here. Skirts and dresses, I suppose.
Make time for friends. I haven’t seen my lady friends since before Christmas. Thankfully, we have some stuff coming up this month. I’m also thankful that they understand how terrible I am at socializing. I’d like to be better, though. I’d like to be able to go out for coffee like a normal person without it being an event. I will get there.
Get my hair cut. It’s time. I’ve waited far too long and I am a mess. Just …ugh. This needs to happen ASAP.
I think that’s probably it. Keeping it simple and (hopefully) attainable. How about you?
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here.