I Want a Doll! (September 9th edition)

Patty Duke in Valley of the Dolls, 1967.

In which I tell you what I’m hooked on this week.

What I’m Watching: Lifetime has been teasing its Saturday premiere of Girl in the Box all summer long, and I’m pumped. This is such a bizarre case, which I first heard about thanks to a classic episode of American Justice (A&E’s marathons of which initially got me interested in the true crime genre). Frankly, I’m amazed it’s taken so long to get to Lifetime; I hope the movie does the story justice. But if it doesn’t, I can watch the two-hour documentary that immediately follows the movie.

What I’m Reading: I do love a conspiracy theory AND a bargain, so downloading Diana The Abduction Mystery Solved to my Kindle for zero cents was a no-brainer. (At that price, I’ll overlook the lack of punctuation in the title.) I look forward to having my mind blown.

What I’m Streaming: A few weeks ago, I listened to a preview for a new podcast called In the Dark, about the unsolved disappearance of Jacob Wetterling. And then over the weekend, the confessed killer led authorities to Jacob’s remains. The podcast is still going to air — the first two episodes dropped this week rather than later in September as originally planned — but I have to wonder whether the reporters working on it are secretly hella-pissed about this turn of events. I can’t even imagine the behind-the-scenes scrambling going on right now.

What I’m Drinking: I’ve been splitting a Green Monster with Chris every morning this week. (For realsies.) It’s not so bad, especially if you chug it down at peak coldness.

What I’m Trying: Trips to Ulta inspire odd purchases. I’ll be giving Tony Moly’s Egg Pore Cooling Pack a whirl while I watch Girl in the Box.

Reigniting the Sparkle

I’m back, bitches!!!

Sorry, I’m going to blame binge-watching prior seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Hulu for that little greeting. Very rude of me. It’s not usually in my nature to be so salty.

Anyhoodle, I cannot believe it’s been so long since my last post — TWO YEARS. That’s bananas. So what have I been doing all that time? Working. Working. Working some more. Trying to spin a bunch of plates and dropping them right and left. Losing all sense of work/life balance. Really, it’s not been a sparkly good time on the whole.

BUT — in an effort to recalibrate, I got all my work caught up (for the first time in a few years, lit’rally) and notified my clients that I was taking a whole week off. E-mails would not receive replies, questions would go unanswered. I had grandiose ideas of getting my house in some semblance of order, and I did make a teensy bit of headway there, but I mainly indulged in some extended, unrepentant, glorious laziness. I’m talking daily naps, hours of podcasts while I putzed around with organizing my kid’s room, and that aforementioned RuPaul-a-Thon in the evenings. I feel semi-human again for the first time in a long while — which brings me back to my goofy little blog.

Serious opinions on the Lifetime movie of the week? I have them. Rants or raves regarding the monthly weirdness in my Ipsy bag? I have them. Bizarre little notions that strike me as funny and therefore must be shred? Yep. So check in and join the conversation!

Test Monkey: Adovia Natural Facial Moisturizer

damienBecause of my vast social influence, sometimes I get to try products out and tell you, gentle readers, about the results. But rest assured that my opinions are completely honest and unbiased — only Diet Coke or Frito-Lay could buy my love. (Seriously, call me, Diet Coke or Frito-Lay!)

Facial moisturizers: I don’t typically use them, mainly because I’m lazy about such routines — I mean, I’m not exactly Patrick Bateman in the morning. Or in the evening. Or ever (although I do like Huey Lewis & the News). But I am getting older and should start caring about these things, I suppose, so I gave this product a shot.

It puts the lotion on its skin...

It puts the lotion on its skin…

Adovia Mineral Skin Care touts its inclusion of Dead Sea minerals, grapeseed oil, and other natural ingredients in its products as being key to their effectiveness. I can’t speak to whether those specific claims are true, but I can say the Moisturizing Day Cream had advantages and disadvantages (for me, at least). On the plus side, it’s very thick and a little goes a long way, so a jar of this size should last a good while. Despite its initial heaviness, the moisturizer does absorb nicely, so I don’t feel as though I’m wearing a Crisco mask after applying it (and my hands benefit, too). On the (minor) minus side, it has a light scent that isn’t “old-lady handbag,” but I can’t quite put my finger on it — Chris and I were both trying to identify it like we were playing “Password” and eventually settled on “vaguely cotton- or linen-scented candle, or maybe light laundry detergent.” So it’s not terrible, but if you prefer facial products to be unscented (as I do), caveat emptor.

I’m still not quite in the habit of using it daily, as I should, but once cold weather is here and the air is drier, I can see myself reaching for it more often. You can learn more about Adovia here and order its products direct or through Amazon and other online retailers.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com.

WTF-ery: Shipping Shenanigans


I never shop at Walmart, for many reasons, but the lure of a fantastic deal I saw posted online recently got the better of me (wait for it…). Not having received any sort of shipping notification, I was surprised to find this box waiting in the mail today. It was kind of dented, but no big deal. Seemed kind of large, though…

Dimensions: 15 inches X 12 inches X 6.5 inches

Dimensions: 15 inches X 12 inches X 6.5 inches

photo 2(8)

Length of paper stuffed into box for protection of fragile items: 68 inches. (Note for scale: My height is 60 inches.)

photo 3(8)-001




And now the backstory: Someone posted on Facebook that Walmart.com had several Yes to Carrots lip balms on clearance for 8 cents apiece (yes, you read that correctly: $0.08). Because I’m my mother in many ways, I always need to have extra lip balms on hand, so I ordered these five, plus five in another flavor (also 8 cents) and two tinted versions that were 13 cents apiece. According to the Walmart website, the others are still processing and will arrive sometime next week — which means I’ll have at least one more box like this coming. For a (literal) handful of lip balms. Oh Walmart:



“What’s in the box?!” Square Hue, September 2014

whats-in-the-boxSquare Hue is a nail-polish subscription service that releases a limited-edition collection themed around a specific destination each month. Unlike Julep, which offers some level of choice among several polishes each month, Square Hue sends the same colors to all subscribers, and the only hints as to contents are whatever sharp-eyed observers can glean from the single sketch released to tease each collection. Each box includes three 0.5 fl. oz. bottles in a distinctive cube shape, plus a card listing each color and its finish. All polishes are “5-free,” meaning they do not contain formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, camphor, or formaldehyde resin, if you care about that sort of thing (I personally love all the chemicals, but that’s just me). Square Hue also donates a portion of its proceeds to various humanitarian campaigns, most notably the fight against human trafficking.


The September collection was devoted to Sydney, about which I know nothing other than it was the home of fish-out-of-water transfer student Sandy Olsen in Grease. That being the case, I can’t say whether these colors particularly evoke the city — all I know is that to me, they evoke a Thanksgiving tablescape. Let me tell you about it, stud.


This month’s collection included two microshimmers and a high-gloss crème. An important note about microshimmers: I am usually not a fan. Unless the formula is perfect — not too thin and not too goopy — it’s difficult at best to apply them without leaving lots of visible brush strokes in the finish. Sad to say, the two microshimmers in this month’s collection did not have perfect formulas — I found them both to be bad about dragging, which made the application very uneven. I ended up using three coats of each to get them to level out at all, plus top coat, and they still didn’t look great. Why-yi-yi-yiiiiiiii?

Oxford Street

Oxford Street

Crown Drive

Crown Drive

“Oxford Street” is a yellow-gold microshimmer, while “Crown Drive” (or “Crown Street,” if the accompanying card is to be believed — hello, Square Hue, I know an editor who could help you with these discrepancies) is an orange microshimmer. Am I the only person who sees vivid microshimmers like these and immediately thinks of ribbon candy? (And how many times can I work the word “microshimmer” into a single post? It’s like the nail-polish version of “Malkovich Malkovich? Malkovich.”)

photo 3(1)

King Street

“King Street” is a crème finish, and it applied much more smoothly than the first two polishes, only requiring two coats for full coverage. On the down side, it also dried much darker than it appears in the bottle — what looked like a bricky-red there ended up looking like chocolate syrup in certain lights and brown-leaning oxblood in others on my nails. (As my fingers show, it’s also a stainer.) I love a vampy, dark wine shade, but this one just doesn’t do it for me. I’m no stranger to heartbreak (nor do I have psoriasis).


But hope springs eternal — next month: Milan!

The Lowdown
Cost: $19.99/month (with shipping)
Contents: 3 limited-edition polishes available only through Square Hue during that month (if you want a previous month’s collection, check out people’s swap boards or Storenvy)
Link to sign up: www.squarehue.com (according to the site, new subscribers will also get a surprise bonus collection when they sign up — this will be a random collection from a previous month)

“What’s in the box?!” Ipsy Glam Bag, July 2014

whats-in-the-boxSubtitled “I got a rock.”

(On a side note, yes, I am well aware that this is August 1, and I’m just now writing about the July Glam Bag. This last month has been insane with work. I don’t even know how many days I’ve still been working at 2am, so ye olde blogge here got a little dusty. Be prepared for a deluge of posts in upcoming days as I try to catch up and maybe test a few ideas I have percolating. And now back to your regularly scheduled tittle-tattle.)

Ipsy’s July sneak peeks — themed “Sensationally Sunkissed” — showed so many different products that I couldn’t even gauge which ones I might want for my so-called dream bag. Three different nail polishes were up for grabs, not to mention a Benefit mascara I wanted to try, so after the relative success of my June bag in terms of aligning with my interests, I had high hopes. Sad Trombone — that won’t happen again.


Boy, that’s…pink.

Pink pleather bag vaguely shaped like ravioli? Barbie.

The "goods."

The “goods.”

What an intriguing array of items! Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

What a lovely shade of sludge.

What a lovely shade of sludge.

Cream eye shadow in a shade best described as “fading bruise”? No thanks (although it gets cute points for being so wee).



I liked the texture of this tinted lip balm and would actually consider trying it in a different shade. But this one (“Pretty Pink”) makes me look like I’ve just snarfed a can of bright pink frosting, so it’s a pass. (Um, I’m guessing, that is — a lady would never eat canned frosting with a spoon, of course.)



As per the June bag, Ipsy seems a little obsessed with sending me texturizing sprays that promise to give my hair tousled, beachy waves. These Bieber bangs of mine are not going to respond to that nonsense, thank you very much.

Yay, a full-size item! Boo, it's bronzer.

Yay, a full-size item! Boo, it’s bronzer.

I look like Lydia Deetz. I am FINE with looking like Lydia Deetz. Bronzer looks like dirt smeared on my face. Pass. (Although, as always, full-size products are nice.)

WTF, Ipsy?

WTF, Ipsy?

Dark tanning oil? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! It’s clear now that Ipsy’s bag fairy is just fucking with me.

So it only took four Glam Bags for me to become one of those whiny, entitled “OMG, I WILL CUT SOMEONE IF I GET ANOTHER [unwanted item]” subscribers (in my case, bronzer, salt sprays, and anything designed to make my skin look less jellyfish-like). My annoyance is two-fold:

  1. I diligently and immediately rate each item I get in my bag so that Ipsy can better understand my tastes, especially the portion of the survey that asks whether each type of item is something I want more of. I also indicated on my initial preferences quiz that I pretty much want nail polish and makeup only. Ipsy then says, “Whatever, Heidi, we’re sending you more beach spray.”
  2. When the Glam Rooms go live (i.e., when you can log on and find out which specific items will be in your “curated” bag that month), people eagerly post pics online and cheer or groan as warranted. Other people’s bags are often crammed with products I would actually like to try. What am I doing wrong? How do I need to have my profile set to get the occasional lip stain instead of tanning oil? (That said, I saw plenty of people online who had my exact bag configuration and were all, “Whee, best bag ever!!” I just hope they find my Pinterest Swap Board so I can maybe end up with something I might considering using.)

So, I dunno, Ipsy. You’re on the thinnest of ice right now. The bimonthly e.l.f. Beauty Bundle keeps giving me The Look, and if I don’t get some satisfaction in my next Glam Bag, we might have to have the “It’s not you, it’s me” talk (except it would totally be you).

Interested in trying Ipsy for yourself? You can sign up and then taunt me with how much better your bag is each month. Here are the details:
Cost: $10/month (includes shipping)
Contents: 4-5 samples, travel-size items, or full-size products curated to fit your health and beauty profile
Link to sign up: http://www.ipsy.com/r/8o26 (full disclosure — I earn points or something for referrals, so this is my personal link)
I personally paid for all items reviewed in this post.

“What’s in the box?!” Ipsy Glam Bag, June 2014

whats-in-the-boxSubtitled “Why I’ll Never Be a Bombshell.”

June’s photo hints from Ipsy all featured cute beach themes and a broad array of products. When my Glam Room contents were revealed, I was pleased — unlike the previous two months’ bags, this one included a few items I might actually use, including a full-size mascara and a lip gloss (although that would depend on the color and consistency).

The announcement concerning the bag itself was A Big Deal, because it was designed specifically for Ipsy by Rebecca Minkoff. I had no idea who this person was, but I checked out her website when the announcement was made, saw a maxi dress in the teased print for $368, and quietly closed that tab in my browser. Ahem.



Cute bag — the Internet tells me that pineapples are way trendy right now, and I do enjoy vivid Hawaiian prints. They always make me think of my dad, who loved to wear what he called “Magnum shirts” (in honor of Magnum P.I.) in the summer months. (But he would have been gobsmacked at paying $368 for one, regardless of the designer. My mom sewed most of his.) As for the contents?

photo 2


2014-07-02This eyebrow pencil was touted as being a universally flattering, one-shade-fits-all brown. A couple of things about me: (1) my skin is deathly pale; (2) my eyebrows are decidedly not. I’m pretty sure that enhancing them with anything would make me look like Joan Crawford . . . wait, what am I saying, that would be AWESOME. Anyone want to give me some brow pencil tips so I can achieve that level of glamour? If not, this goes on the Swap Board.

photo 2-2Tousled beach waves? Clearly Ipsy is unaware of my Unfortunate Perm Phase (grades 5 through 8), during which I desperately (and futilely) tried to achieve any sort of body and wave in my hair. If dangerous chemicals applied by trained professionals couldn’t make it happen, this spray won’t. Swaaaaaap!

photo 1-2I’d never heard of this brand and kind of gave it the side-eye when I saw how many items on its website involve camouflage — I’m not in the Duck Dynasty demographic. But this scent was actually pleasant! Light, not overly floral. It won’t replace my Earl Grey spray, but it’s nice enough.

2014-07-021I never buy lip gloss, because (being the cutting-edge fashionista that I am) I yearn to keep wearing the brick-red matte lip colors most commonly associated with the mid- to late 1990s (aka “the salad years”). I would still be wearing my favorite shade of Almay Amazing Lasting Lipcolor if it hadn’t been discontinued in the last century. But fellow Ipsy subscribers were raving about this item, so I gave it a shot. It’s nice enough, but the shade isn’t for me. Even though it looks very bright in the picture, on my lips it’s more of a pale wormy shade that washes me out even more than normal. I need contrast, people! Sad trombone.

And finally, the Be a Bombshell mascara saga. Sigh. Grab a snack and settle in. Ipsy mails the glam bags in waves, so before mine had arrived, I had already started seeing complaints online from people re: this item (which was included in EVERYONE’S bag this month). The most common assertion was that it smelled awful — like burned rubber — and that people were afraid to use it. The company responded that the complaints were baseless, first saying that its choice to not include a fragrance in the mascara was just throwing people off and then later claiming that independent testing had confirmed that the mascara was free of any harmful bacteria or other spoilers and therefore it was totes safe to use. When mine came, I opened it and noted that it didn’t smell like anything, so I tried it on late one night before I was about to wash my face anyway. Almost immediately, the white area of my eye started to turn red, although I did not experience any burning or itching, but I wasted no time in washing it off to be safe. But the damage was done — as I showed on Facebook and Instagram the next day, my eyeball went into full-on Nancy Kerrigan-style “WHHHHYYYYYY???” revolt. The day before my 20-year high school reunion. HAWT. (And this photo was just the beginning — over the next 36 hours or so, the redness grew more concentrated and brilliant, completely obscuring any white area of my eye. Sam kept helpfully pointing out that I looked as though someone had punched me, which is just what I desire day to day, so yay!)

It should be noted that I am not the type to have customer service departments on speed dial — I’m more the type to eat the wrong entree a waiter brings out because I don’t want to cause trouble by returning it. But in this case, I was irritated (physically and mentally) and thought it was worth mentioning to someone that even a tube of mascara that seemed perfectly fine (i.e., no alarming stench emanating from it) obviously was not. So I emailed the good people of Be a Bombshell and included my picture. Within a few hours, I received the CSR version of “we’re sorry if you were offended by the horribly racist/sexist/inhumane comments we made publicly and now we’re trying to smooth it all over because our PR flunkie says to.” In other words, it was a retread of previous assertions that the mascara was totally fine, buuuuuut just to make the whiny poopypants complainers feel better about life, BaB and Ipsy had already agreed that Ipsy would handle any issues. And hey, thanks for writing! Try our other products!

It’s become clear that a number of companies are using the Ipsy subscriptions to launch new products, which is fine, but they should be prepared for the honest feedback they receive. In no way was I seeking compensation or anything, but I thought my reaction was severe enough to bring to someone’s attention, especially because my tube didn’t have the tell-tale chemical smell others had complained about. I don’t have sensitive skin or eyes and have never had a reaction to anything before, so this was waaaay past normal. And given the massive number of people who also experienced problems, you’d THINK BaB would eventually get a clue and cop to the fact that something was off in this batch of products. But, like those people in college who always complain about having a bad roommate without ever realizing that THEY are the bad roommates, BaB more or less tried to blow off concerns and were kind of snippy about it. Bad PR move.

Ipsy, on the other hand, sent me TWO replacement products, which I just received today (hence this late post) — a full-size vivid lip gloss from BaB (which I doubt I’ll try, not wanting my lips to fall off) and a very nice deluxe sample of this volumizing mascara (which I’ll be happy to try). And so I remain pro-Ipsy, because even if I hadn’t received any replacement items (which I had not requested), the cost of the remaining items in the bag surpassed the $10 subscription fee, and I gained expert knowledge on all the different eye drops out there (that is, knowledge that they are USELESS — my eye healed up on its own but took a full week to do so). So, win-win?knowingishalfthebattle