Friday, November 28, 2014

Can You Blog It? Yes You Can!

Someone asked me about starting their own blog this morning, and asked specifically, "But isn't starting a blog cliche?" To save that poor person from having to read a barrage of Facebook messsages, this post is my response. 

Short version: No, it's not. If you want to do it, do it. It doesn't matter if a million other people are blogging, or none. If blogging means something to you, if you have things to say that you need to say, then just say them. Damn the man, damn the haters, and blog it anyway.

Long version: I feel like the question "Isn't it cliche?" is actually a couple of other questions in disguise. What you're really asking when you ask this is, "Isn't wanting to force my opinions on other people obnoxious?" and "Do I really have anything worth saying, when so many other people are talking already?"

The first question is easy to answer. No, it's not obnoxious to start a blog. It's just opening a Blogger or Wordpress account, typing in some words, and hitting publish. There's nothing inherently obnoxious about it, it's a neutral action. There are obnoxious ways to go about it - insisting everyone refer to you as "Blogger Extraordinaire", or refusing to talk about anything else with anyone for months at a time, for example. But the act of starting a blog, of carving out a little space for your voice, is not obnoxious. This fear of being obnoxious applies to men as well, but I've noticed it's particularly prevalent in women. Women are specifically taught by the patriarchal society we live in that their voices are less important, that their thoughts are less worthwhile, and that they should take up as little space as possible. 

As Chimananda Ngozi Adichie put it, "We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, 'You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man." Putting our thoughts in a blog is audacious, and in direct opposition to this idea that we should be small. That's why it feels uncomfortable - but also why you should give it a shot.

Which brings me to the second question -"Do I really have anything worth saying, when so many other people are talking already?" Honestly, I don't know. Maybe you don't. Maybe everything you want to say is already being said in exactly the same way you would say it, by someone else. But somehow, given the variety of humanity, I doubt that.

You don't have to be an expert in whatever you want to write about - oftentimes writing about the journey of learning how to do what you want to do can be just as interesting as a flawless How To. You want to write a baking blog, but you can't bake? That's okay, write about your baking disasters! People love cake wrecks, they really do.

Maybe no one will read it. I can't promise you massive readership, or popularity, or huge mainstream success. But if you're blogging about what you want to see, expressing the things you feel you need to say, then I can promise you one thing: satisfaction.

If you're wanting to start a blog because it seems like the thing to do, but you don't have anything you really want to say, then my advice is don't. If you don't bring anything of yourself to your blog, then it will be boring, and it will be obnoxious. But if there's something you need to say, that you want to say, something you want to see in the world that you can't see out there yet, then go ahead and do it. Are you a plus sized person of colour with a physical disability who wishes there were more beauty blogs from your point of view? (Hell, considering how whitewashed beauty blogging is, you might feel this way just for being a person of colour) Then do it yourself! Start that thing, make what you want to see real. 

Can You Blog it? Yes You Can!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Shades of Phoenix Blogger Collection - featuring me!

That's right, I've been lucky enough to have another polish shade named after me! Well, specifically "inspired by" and named by me, but still absolutely thrilling. There are polishes for a bunch of other really talented and lovely bloggers as well, so we best get started!'

This black and teal bombshell is Bats in a Blender, inspired by the original black and teal haired bombshell herself, Kierra from Look What the Bats Dragged In.

I used two thick coats alone to get maximum sparkle, but if you're not especially patient I would recommend using this one over a base colour so you don't have to fiddle with getting it to sit evenly.

This deep red, star filled jelly is Impossible Planet, inspired by Bettina from Bettina Nails. The inspiration for this one is pretty obviously the fantastic Doctor Who episode of the same name.

This swatch is three coats alone, just so I could get a sense of how squishy the jelly base is, but I would probably wear it over a base colour next time.

You'll be shocked to hear this iridescent purple beauty is my second favourite of the collection. This one is called Iridescent Adolescent, and is inspired by Caitlin over at Muggle Manicures, who also runs the delightful indie polish brand Moonstone Polish.

The formula for this one is as delightful as the colour - the base leans more crelly than jelly, which means you won't need a base colour. These swatches are three coats alone.

I wasn't sure about this polish, because putting gold glitter in a grey base isn't a choice I would have thought of right away. But it comes together surprisingly well! The mixture of gold, bronze, and black glitters mesh well with the grey base and makes for a really lovely, unique polish. It's called Medusa in the Morning, and is inspired by Relle from Lazy Lacquerista - who is allegedly a lot like Medusa before her morning coffee.

As with Iridescent Adolescent, the formula for this one is A+. Shades of Phoenix seem to do really good crellies, and Medusa in the Morning is no exception.

Next up we have the contribution from Kaz, the unbelievably stylish blogger from Pretty Random and founder of indie polish label Pretty Serious. This dark, vampy delight is called Secret of the Ooze.

This polish is a bit of a chameleon - in the bottle and in sunlight it shines quite olive, which makes it probably the only olive polish I own. In artificial or dimmer light though, it appears as an inky black, full of shimmering iridescent flakies in a rainbow of colours. I swatched this as three coats alone, and you can see taking the time to build it up lets the flakies really shine.

And finally, drumroll please, for MY POLISH!

Obviously I went for something sparkly, because when given the choice, as if I wouldn't. Mine is called Paint Me Blue, and is a light blue crelly packed full of as many holo glitters as would fit.

I know some people have been wondering why I chose to call this Paint Me Blue, and it's actually pretty simple. I've been listening to a band called Something Corporate a lot lately, and their song "She Paints Me Blue" really speaks to me for a lot of reasons - I can really relate to the kind of love described in it.

The Bloggers Who Inspire collection is open for presale right now, and should be open for regular orders shortly, from the Shades of Phoenix website.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Darling Girl Blogger Pack and More Review

Darling Girl, based in the US, has been on my wish list for a long time, so I was super excited to get my hands on some at last. Happily, this is one brand that definitely lives up to the hype.

Even the packaging is utterly adorable!
I ordered the Blogger Review Pack, as well as some other bits and pieces just to fill up the bag, and Darling Girl also have a very generous gift with purchase program, so I ended up with quite a few different things to try!

Swatches over Nyx Primer
The shadows I got in sample size were, from left to right, Faux Pas, Basket Case (I can't resist a 90's theme), Adoration, Rendezvous and Lefty Loo Who. The formula for all the shadows was great - they stick well without clumping weirdly, and blend very smoothly. The standout in terms of formula was definitely Rendezvous, which is one Darling Girl call "semi loose". It feels a tiny bit damper than the rest of the shadows, but glides on like an absolute dream. The richness of the colour is absolutely breathtaking, and the duochrome works brilliantly with the slightly richer, moister formula.

Faux Pas over Nyx Primer

Basket Case over Nyx Primer
You wouldn't think it from the swatches, but Basket Case and Faux Pas go surprisingly well together. This is Basket Case all over the lid and blended up into the crease over Adoration, and Faux Pas made into an eyeliner with the Darling Girl Superstar Serum.

Adoration is the absolute perfect blending base for my pasty pale skin, and the Superstar Serum seems to have at least as much staying power as my much more expensive Illamasqua Liner Gel.

Adoration over Nyx Primer
Rendezvous over Nyx Primer
Seriously though, how bloody gorgeous is Rendezvous? The amount of colours visible in just a quick swatch on my arm is fantastic, and as you can see from the shots the range of colours means it's a perfect product for a one-colour eye. I'll definitely be going back for more of this.

I'll admit, I wasn't blown away by Lefty Loo Who, just because I have no idea when I'm going to wear a cartoon grass green eyeshadow. But I gave it a shot anyway, and I think it turned out okay, especially since it comes out a lot less saturated on the eye than in does in swatches. This is justLefty Loo Who all over the lid, with a bit of Tin Man in the corner to brighten it up a bit.
Lefty Loo Who over Nyx Primer

Next, the minis - or rather "petites" as Darling Girl likes to call them. These are, from left to right, Sphinx, The Swirl, Tin Man, and Melancholia.

Sphinx over Nyx Primer
The Swirl over Nyx Primer
Sphinx and The Swirl are honestly not that mindblowing, but they are good solid basic colours that would be perfect for someone building an indie collection. Sphinx in particular is dark, but not CRAZY dark in the way a lot of indie browns are, which makes it much more forgiving of inexpert application.

Tin Man over Nyx Primer

Tin Man was the only shadow in the whole lot I was actually disappointed in. It's sold on the site as a "champagne" silver, but to my eyes the green shift really jumps out. Perhaps I need to try this one under a few more lighting conditions. On the upside, it is FEROCIOUSLY sparkly. Like, seriously, one of the most glittery eyeshadows I own that isn't actually cosmetic glitter.

Melancholia over Nyx Primer

Melancholia on the other hand, is an absolute DELIGHT. It's just as pretty as I thought it would be, if not more so. I spent minutes just staring at the stuff in the damn jar, it's THAT pretty. Unfortunately, it was a gift with purchase for the month I ordered, so if you want some of your own you'll probably have to skulk around somewhere like Indie Makeup And More and see if someone is willing to part with theirs.

So what do you think? Will you be hitting up Darling Girl yourself?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Powder Perfect Christmas Collection 2014

I know, I know, a Christmas collection already! But Jacinta who runs Powder Perfect is so Christmas Crazy I'm frankly surprised she waited this long to release her collection. As with last year's hugely popular Christmas release, this year's collection is once again inspired by the Home Alone movies.