Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Let's Talk Geek Chic Cosmetics

Welcome to the second installment of my Week of Geek!

Today I've got some exciting stuff for you from Geek Chic Cosmetics, who are an indie cosmetics company based in the US. Their cosmetics are all inspired by geektacular sources like Farscape. Star Trek, and Mass Effect, which is enough of a hook to get me on board. However, their products are also entirely cruelty free, and a large selection are vegan as well. Did I mention they're also really pretty? Because they are SUPER pretty. I've done a little review of the products I ordered from them for you, but first I thought you might like to get to know the people behind the products.

Geek Chic Cosmetics is run by a talented trio of geeks, Chantal, Deb, and Phil, and after being interviewed by sites like Kotaku and they've been kind enough to give me a few minutes of their time.

Why did you start this business?
Scraping to get by on one income was a primary reason. Chantel has sensitivities to ingredients common in popular cosmetics, and after a ton of research and playing with different eyeshadow base formulations we hit on a great mix and everything evolved from there.

What has been the biggest roadblock so far?
Our development has been fairly free of roadblocks, actually. The biggest challenge though has been scalability. We've seen business quintuple year-over-year for the last 3 years and we're still the same three person team. Mainly, we've just been ordering supplies in larger bulk shipments and finding every opportunity to make the process more efficient. The fact that we're able to produce an average of one thousand units by hand from scratch every week would have been unimaginable in our first year.

What has been the achievement you're most proud of?
Getting picked up by ThinkGeek was kind of a clarifying moment. That was when we knew this was really happening. In our first year, we got a writeup on Kotaku and a feature on WoW Insider and it's embarrassing how ill-prepared we were at that point for that level of visibility. When we look at how limited our line was and how primitive the shopping experience was, yeah, it's amazing that people still gave us a shot.

Have you ever had other geeks judge you as being less of a "real" geek for being into traditionally femme things like makeup?
There are people that think that way, but we haven't heard it directed at us. To us, being a geek is being into something, it's about enjoyment, it's positive and inclusive. The concept that you can't simultaneously wear makeup, do your nails, and enjoy games, tv, etc is ridiculous.

If so, do you think this view is becoming more or less prevalent?
There was kind of an explosion of backlash against "fake nerds" with the advent of things like The Big Bang Theory and casual games. There will probably always be a contingent of the culture that can't stand not knowing if someone who says they like something ACTUALLY likes it or for some unknown reason is pretending to. By and large though we think people just don't care, nor should they. Geeking out over something is inclusive, it's a way of sharing something you have in common with other people. Will we ever be rid of this view? Probably not, but I can't think of a subculture that's completely free of its share of purists.

Do you think the growing number of indie creators are influencing the popularity of geek chic?
It's kind of a self-sustaining cycle: the popularity of shops catering to geeks indicates that the audience exists and is enthusiastic, which breeds more creativity and competition. It's classic supply and demand, and both exist right now in a big way. There has never been a better time to be into geeky stuff and share that joy with others.

Do you think geek culture is too exclusionary, or would you like to see it stay it remain insular? Why?
Geek culture has never been more inclusionary than it is today. There is no ID card, no line to cross where it's OK to call yourself a geek on this side and not on the other. It seems like a culture based in shared enjoyment by definition should be inclusionary by nature. If someone judges another person as a fake or ignorant geek they are missing the whole point.

Who is your favourite heroine of geek culture?
It would be easy to pick from a long list of fictional characters like Ripley, Hermione, Sarah Connor, Sarah Jane Smith, Brienne of Tarth... but if we had to pick one, it would be the very real Ada Lovelace.

So Geek Chic Cosmetics are cool people - but are their products any good?

In a word, yes. In two words, hell yes!

In keeping with my current obsession with loose eye shadows, I ordered a ton of sample sizes of their range. The actual shadows themselves are lovely - but while the little cases the sample size comes in looks really cool and is quite compact, it's also really quite difficult to open without getting it all over if you're as clutzy as I am. To be honest, I think for my next order I'll just save myself the fiddling and spring for the full size jars. Once you've got the little plastic cases open though, it's all good!

Matriarch is a brilliant Asari blue, from their N7 collection. A little of this one goes a LONG way, as the colour covers really evenly and quite opaquely from the tiniest amount. There are also some lovely gold sparkles through it that really lift it, and the finish is ever so slightly shimmery without being too glittery.

Geek Chic Cosmetics Matriarch

Touched by Darkness is from the Last Best Hope collection, inspired by one of the most criminally underrated space operas of all time. (Babylon 5, of course). It's a shimmery, pearlescent white shadow with quite dark purple specks scattered through it, and looks a little odd in the pot. When you blend this out, however, the dark specks give the whole thing a purple haze across it that's quite lovely. It's pretty similar to Femme Fatale's Twilight Amethyst, but the purple duochrome is slightly more muted and plum toned.

Geek Chic Cosmetics Touched By Darkness

The One is also from the Last Best Hope collection, and it's an amazingly sparkly grey based glitterbomb. The tiniest swipe of this makes even the blandest, mattest smokey eye dazzle, and it makes a fantastic eyeliner when mixed with sealant. It's oddly complex - there is a strong blue shift, as well as lots of teeny tiny silvery, purpley sparkles, so no matter which way you turn it the light bounces off it in new and beautiful ways.
Geek Chic Cosmetics The One

The next four are all from the Scapers collection, because I'm a ridiculous Farscape fangirl and I just couldn't help buying as many of this collection as I thought I would ever possibly wear. Luckily, they're all quite lovely.

Frell is a shimmering, twinkly white and I'm a huge fan of it - no, not just because it's inspired by Chiana, although she IS one of my favourite characters and I DO have a picture with Gigi Edgely (the actress who played her) at home.

It's ALSO a really pretty cosmetic. The white is quite opaque without too much effort, and the tiny blue and pink sparkles dance across it delightfully. This has quickly become my favourite white eyeshadow - the tones go with just about everything, and it stays remarkably well for something so shiny.

Geek Chic Cosmetics Frell

Guiding Star on the other hand, is my current favourite dark eyeshadow - and no, not JUST because it's inspired by my other favourite Farscape character, Aeryn Sun.

The bruised purple tones give way to a beautiful pinkish shimmer in the light, and it looks amazing in the eyelid crease against my blue eyes. As with Matriarch, a little goes a long way, and using this makes purple toned smokey eyes really easy.

Geek Chic Cosmetics Guiding Star

Harvey In My Head is a lovely opaque grey with itty bitty sparkly bits, and a slight pearl sheen, and is named for one of the weirder elements of Farscape, the psychic clone of villain Scorpius in the hero's brain.

Geek Chic Cosmetics Harvey In My Head

Anarchist Priest was the only one out of this whole load of shadows that was a little disappointing, but I have a feeling it's because I don't have the right products to make it work how I want it to. All the other eye shadows work fine with or without primer, and with or without sealant, but this one was quite hard to get even over no matter what I tried. I suspect that the size of the glitter in it means it really needs a more heavy duty primer like Too Faced Glitter Glue, which I was intending to pick up at some stage anyway so I'll let you know how that goes. The colour is just gorgeous though - it's a similar blue to Matriarch, but with a lot more sparkle and depth to it. This one was inspired by the original bad ass blue alien babe, Zhaan.

Geek Chic Cosmetics Anarchist Priest

Last but not least, I have Will There Really Be...Cake? from the Portals collection. I have to admit to you all up front that I have never played any of the Portal games. I know this makes me a failure as a geek, but I just can't deal with the constantly changing angles, it makes my head spin. I'm sure it's very good, and very fun, but I physically can't deal with it. Having said that, this eyeshadow is great. I'm always looking for the "perfect" brown eye shadow, and this is getting VERY close. I would prefer less of a bronzy sheen to it, but that's a matter of personal taste - the formula is great, and it has just the right amount of sparkle to make it pop without making it unweildy.

Geek Chic Cosmetics Will There Really Be Cake

And here are some pictures of how these products work together, when applied by my relatively inept hands.

Geek Chic Cosmetics EOTD Brown Look
Geek Chic Cosmetics EOTD Brown Look
This is Femme Fatale Lady of the Red in the crease, and Will There Really Be Cake over the lids.
(first picture inside, second in sunlight, as if you couldn't tell from my squinting)
Geek Chic Cosmetics EOTD Blue Look
Geek Chic Cosmetics EOTD Brown Look
This is Guiding Star in the crease, The One over the lids, and Frell to highlight the inner corners.
I also got one of the Joysticks, because although I never seem to get around to using all the lipsticks I have something always drives me to add just one more to the pile. The Joysticks come in a very convenient tiny tube, about the same size as the Burt's Bees lip shimmers - in fact, I strongly suspect it is exactly the same packaging, which works for me because I quite like the nice slim tubes. Joysticks come in an enormous range of colours, but because I'm still quite conservative when it comes to what goes on my lips I chose their most basic red, Once Bitten. 

Geek Chic Cosmetics Once Bitten

The little tube packs quite the punch - this lipstick has a massive colour payoff, and you only need to dab on the tiniest amount for full coverage. It feels a little dry when you first touch the tube to your lips, but the oily parts of it warm up really quickly and allow it to glide on delightfully smoothly. It also spreads really easily - which is great for getting even coverage, but you have to be careful not to spread it all over your face. Or maybe you don't have to worry about things like that, and unlike me you can apply lipstick like a grown up.

Finally, I decided since I was getting all these other things it would be SILLY not to add another item to the pile, just to wring the last little drop of value out of the postage price, so I went and had a browse through their solid perfumes. While I'm a huge fan of things that smell nice, I also have a fairly specific and limited idea of what smells "nice" to me, so it took me a little while to find something that didn't have any of the notes I consider immediate dealbreakers in a fragrance. (Patchouli, Musk, Rose, Almond and anything similar in case you were wondering) But when I clapped eyes on the Riddick themed solid perfume Lone Survivor, I knew I had to have it. The solid perfumes come in the same little tube as the Joysticks, which is super handy for tossing in your bag.

On first smell, I have to admit the "earth" note is what hit me first - it does, in fact, smell like dirt. I'm still not 100 per cent on how I feel about this, but once on your skin this fresh soil smell fades really quickly and the warm, delicious molasses, vanilla and cinnamon come up to take it's place. The formula of these is just right - not too sticky, not too hard, with enough oiliness to make the smell stick but not so much that you feel greasy. I'll definitely be picking up some more of these.

Sadly, due to international shipping regulation I can't get my hands on their polishes, but if any of my US readers happen to try them I'd love to hear your opinions. But apart from that, I feel like I've gotten a good taste of what Geek Chic Cosmetics have to offer, and I'm impressed. What do you think of these? Will you be getting some Geek Chic goodies of your own?



    (but know I probably shouldn't)

    1. They would be forever spelling it to people, they would NOT thank you. But yes, Aeryn is a fucking amazing character. I could watch her for days.

    2. Spelling your name constantly builds character!

      Said Heli Lähteelä-Tabone.

  2. Ahem.

    I'm also glad these turned out to be good quality. So tempted to buy all the things!

    I had my eye on Touch of Darkness and Frell for sure. Also I like matte eye shadows a lot, so was going to try some of those too.

    1. Matte? Pshaw, what's the point? It's like creme nail polish :P
      But if you're REALLY looking for something subtle, Touched By Darkness and Frell (if applied lightly) would be good choices.

    2. I'm sorry. I just really love matte eyeshadows. The velvety texture appeals to me :)

  3. Instead of TFSI Glitter Glue which is hella expensive, I would recommend either Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy or Darling Girl Glitter Glue if you want a glitter base! Fyrinnae is my HG, haven't personally tried the Darling Girl version but I hear it works better with matte eyeshadows (PE doesn't play well with anything but shimmer/glitter).

    1. I've been stalking Fyrinnae's store trying to get my hands on the Pixie Epoxy, because it's been closed for ages. I'll add Darling Girl to my "to try" list though, thanks for the recommendation!


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