Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My last three months of the So Choix makeup sample subscription (plus: step right up for another stunning duochrome!)

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Review of So Choix makeup subscription
October's (upside down) box (contents reviewed below)
I like doing these So Choix review posts, even though they're time consuming, because I get to write mini reviews of a bunch of fancy products that I would probably never buy. I hope they're interesting to you too. (If you want to read more about how this subscription works, read my first post about it.) I won't write a detailed review with photos of everything here, because there are few things that I just don't have many feelings about.

One thing that changed about the So Choix boxes this fall is that they started sending them in bubble mailers, instead of packing a small box inside a larger box. I don't know if that's less wasteful, but I like it better, because the bubble mailer fits in my mailbox and I don't have to trek down to my apartment office to pick it up (and the small box inside still protects things).

I think the theme of the last three months (or at least the last two) is Weird Shit I Wanted to Try Because What Even is It? That, combined with Is This Product Really Like This or Did This Happen When They Depotted It?


Nars Dual Intensity eyeshadow in Tarvos

This is a stunning, shimmery mint. I wonder if there is a NYX single similar to this (Mermaid?). On its own, Tarvos is sheer and glittery and lovely. It's also gorgeous over a darker shadow. The swatches below are over regular eyeshadow primer on the left (because it desperately needs a primer to adhere) and on the right over NYX's glitter primer (awesome stuff, btw), which makes it look amazing. It's a little chunky/flaky, and here's the first place where I wonder if the actual product is like that or if it's something that happened when it was repressed. I haven't read anything like that in reviews, so I'm guessing it's the latter. It doesn't really cause problems, anyway.

Swatches of Nars Dual Intensity eyeshadow in Tarvos

Nars Audacious lipstick in Liv

When I first tried this on, I thought, "That's weird, I didn't think any of the Audacious lipsticks were sheer." It turns out that the lipstick was slightly separated in the pan with a sheer layer on top. Once I got through that, there was a more accurate (I assume) layer underneath. But see, weird things can happen when lipstick is melted down and repotted, so keep that in mind, though it's the first time I've seen it in this subscription. Liv is a nice vampy purple but nothing really special. You have the typical settling into lip lines that dark purples tend to do.

Nars Audacious lipstick in Liv
A messy application in need of some lip liner.
Estée Lauder matte lipstick in Shameless Violet

This lipstick, on the other hand, is amazing. It's a little patchy on the first layer, but you can quickly build it up to be opaque. It's comfortable and a true purple shade that actually looks good on me. You can see it on my face in this Instagram shot (sort of). It's very comfortable and wears well.

Estée Lauder matte lipstick in Shameless Violet
Good enough close up, but from a normal distance it looks totally even.
Comparison swatch (taken from this post).

Swatches of Revlon Berry Haute, Urban Decay Revolution Rapture, and Estée Lauder Matte Shameless Violet

Left to right: Revlon Berry HauteUrban Decay Revolution Rapture, and Estée Lauder Matte Shameless Violet.

Nars Sheer Glow foundation in Gobi

This is a decent foundation, though I would argue that it's neither really glowy nor sheer. More like semi-matte and medium coverage. It's a little too yellow to me, which is good news for pale folks on the warmer side. The main problem I had with it was that it highlighted flaky skin really badly, and that it settled into lines and creases. So it's not the one for me. Here is a swatch (second from the right) with comparisons (from this post).

Left to right: UD One & Done in Light, UD One & Done in Medium Light, TheBalm Balm Shelter in Lighter than Light (reviewed here), Maybelline Dream Pure BB in Light (reviewed here), Nars Sheer Glow Foundation in Gobiand Sephora Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer in Buttercream (reviewed here).

Um it's a primer? I think I'd tried a sample of it before, but I didn't remember how well it worked. I guess that's probably because for me it's neither better nor worse than most other primers I've tried.

October (box pictured above)

Laura Mercier powder foundation in 1-Shell

I've been looking for a powder foundation to replace my mini Pür 4-in-1 powder when it runs out, because, although I like the finish, it doesn't last very long on my oily-combination skin. I'd heard that the Laura Mercier was a good option. I wasn't very impressed. It's pretty crumbly and doesn't provide much coverage at all (and this shade also happens to be too yellow for me--I probably should have chosen 4).

Dior Addict Lip Glow

This is one of the products that I chose with extreme skepticism, because I hate these "your perfect shade" color-adjusting lip products, in principle. (Here's how they actually work.) It did nothing at all on my lips. Looked completely clear. There was a light pink tint on the end of the finger that I used to apply it, but that's it. I actually took a photo, but since it shows nothing, I won't bother including it. Again, I don't know if melting it down and repotting it affected it, or if it just "intuited" that my perfect lip color is nothing at all. Also, it was drying, but my lips are pretty picky.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light

I'm working on completing the set, since I've tried three others. Ethereal Light does have something of a blurring/light reflecting effect, but it's also very white. It makes me look paler, so I can imagine that it could show up as chalky on certain skin tones. I was wearing it in the photo above of Nars Liv, if that shows you anything.

Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes in Burnished Copper

Neither burnished nor copper! Maybe they were thinking of tarnished/patinated bronze? These eye shadows are interesting, because they're very slick and they don't dry down. They're tricky to apply. They go on a bit patchy with a finger, but if you stick a small brush in the pot, it slides out without any product on it! You have to sort of scoop it. Despite the slickness, it didn't crease excessively over primer, and the color is stunning.

Here's a thick swatch, though it sheers out somewhat when blended. Gorgeous color.

Swatches of Tom Ford Burnished Copper and L'Oreal Infallible Gilded Envy

Left to right: Tom Ford Burnished Copper and L'Oreal Infallible Gilded Envy (reviewed here).

Note the packaging for this on in the photo at the top of the page. A big improvement from how the Nars cream eyeshadow was sent during the summer (discussed here), which dried up immediately! This little pot is actually air tight. Well done, So Choix. I appreciate that they regularly reevaluate how they package their samples.

I also want to take this opportunity to show you another of the Tom Ford Cream Colors for Eyes in Sphinx, a sample of which Sarah very generously sent me. Thank you! I posted a shitty video of the shiftiness on Instagram, in which you can't really see all the pink and green. It's also a tricky product, because it's a sheer but very complex multichrome. I am determined to make it work. The best luck I have had so far is in patting it on over a grey powder eyeshadow like so:
Tom Ford Cream Colors for Eyes in Sphinx
Please ignore my rushed eyebrow and bloodshot eye.

Tom Ford Cream Colors for Eyes in Sphinx

That's the same product over the entire lid. And this is about the level of creasing you can expect from these creams.

Benefit Shy Beam highlighter

Yet another sample I ordered because I didn't understand what it was. I still don't get it. It looks like a sheer, matte, pink concealer, or something. It's supposed to be a matte highlighter, but it just added a little pink to my skin. It works ok as a color corrector for under the eyes if you're fair, but highlighter? Maybe if you have cool-toned skin just a couple of shades darker than this, it would work, but otherwise, I assume not. And why not just buy a concealer or foundation a couple of shades too light for the intended effect? Bah. Humbug.

Swatches of  Benefit Shy Beam, Benefit High Beam, and Sephora Gel Serum Concealer in Buttercream

Top to bottom: Benefit Shy Beam, Benefit High Beam (reviewed here), Sephora Gel Serum Concealer in Buttercream (reviewed here).


Kevyn Aucoin The Exotique Eye Gloss in Moonlight

Another WTF sample. There weren't many reviews out there when I requested this and, still, the ones that exist are pretty vague. I was curious if this brand had somehow come up with a miraculous gloss that can be worn in some realistic way on the eyelids of normal people. But no, editorial only. There's no real difference between smearing this on your eyelids and use a clear, glittery lip gloss. They say you can/should apply it over eyeshadow, but that just makes a mess of the eyeshadow. The sparkle is sparse, so even if you want drama, there's not much to recommend it.

Kevyn Aucoin The Exotique Eye Gloss in Moonlight

Notice that they took one of those airtight tubs like the Tom Ford came in, cut off the lid, and stuck in inside a screw-cap jar. But why???

Laura Mercier matte eyeshadow in Plum Smoke

Love, love, love, love, love! Remember when I was looking for a powder alternative to the abysmal Maybelline Color Tattoo in Vintage Plum? I'd ruled Plum Smoke out because it looked too warm in swatches and tried Makeup Geek in Fairytale instead, which was a bit of a fail. Well, THIS IS IT. I love it. It's works as an interesting neutral on me. Now I'm considering getting the Laura Mercier Eye Art Artist's Palette, which includes Plum Smoke and a bunch of other gorgeous shades. The palette is $55 and the Plum Smoke single is $25, so it seems like maybe a better choice. Maybe.

It looks pretty brown next to Fairytale (right), especially in this photo, but it really is purple.

Swatches of Laura Mercier matte eyeshadow in Plum Smoke and Makeup Geek Fairytale

Benefit Fake-up concealer in 01

This concealer claims to be non-creasing, which I think is always, always a lie. At least for me. But this one is actually worse than most. It comes as a stick with a translucent outer ring and a pigmented core, but the sample I got is the two components mixed together. I think probably the two-colored stick is just a gimmick, but it's possible that mixing them in the pan affected the performance in some way. As it was, this was very slick, almost greasy, with sheer coverage. Probably best for someone with dry skin and not too much to hide.

Nars Blush in Dolce Vita

A pretty rosy-plum blush that somehow isn't very flattering on me. It's also extremely pigmented, and since I'm pale I find hard to apply it lightly enough that it will blend smoothly. It tends to end up a little blotchy, and that combined with the wrongness of the color kind of makes me look feverish. But on the plus side it does not fade at all during the day. Well, the plus side for someone else--if you want a very pigmented, long-lasting blush, this would be a good one to try.

Smashbox matte liquid lipstick in Stepping Out

I have no idea how I came to choose this shade, since browny-nudes never look good on me, and this is no exception. I swatched it next to Maybelline Touch of Spice (right) just to make the color obvious.

Swatches of Smashbox matte liquid lipstick in Stepping Out and Maybelline Touch of Spice

I'd heard that Smashbox's formula for liquid lipsticks was better than most others, but it seems about the same to me. It's on the thicker side, more like Stila than Colourpop, but it's no more comfortable, less drying, or more attractive than any other brand I've tried. I'm just not really a liquid lipstick person (with the exception of Stila Fiery, which you can see here and here).

So those are my fall So Choix samples. Out of everything, while several things have been fun to play with, there's only one product I would want to buy: Laura Mercier Plum Smoke. I guess Nars Tarvos is tempting. Ok, and Estée Lauder Shameless VioletBut really, this is what I like best about the subscription--it eliminates products that I might be tempted to buy based on hype alone or that I might pick up on a whim. And it provides variety in my life at minimal expense. That said, I'm kind of running out of things I really want to try. Maybe I should just get five more pans if Hourglass Dim Light.

Right now you can get an annual subscription for $120 ($10 a month, obviously), which is what I paid. Use the code SAVINGS at checkout. (Ordinarily it's $16/month.) You can cancel at any time during the year and get a pro-rated refund of what's remaining.

Do you have any of the products I tested here? What do you think?


  1. Thank you. The box wouldn't really be worth it for me to try (if I didnt live near a mall then sure) but I love to read your reviews and experiences.

    1. Yeah, if I got to a mall more often, I probably wouldn't be into it either, though I do like trying on lipstick without using the communal tester.

  2. I love these So choix reviews!

    Tarvos: I loooooove Tarvos! Looks so pretty. I think NYX Mermaid is not a dupe - NYX Mermaid looks like a very warm mint shot with gold shimmer, which is the kind of mint I always gravitate towards (I have like 5 so I'm totally an expert) whereas Tarvos is the silvery mint kind. I think it'll just show up silver on my skintone, but it looks obviously green on you,, absolutely lovely!

    Shameless Violet is also a pretty shocking purple. Glad it worked out great for you!

    Btw, totally random, but it occurred to me as you were talking about the NARS Foundation. Any chance you could try out Koh Gen Do foundations? The one I got is amazing, sheer-medium coverage but hardly looks like makeup, a bit on the dewy side but lasts quite well and not drying or texture-enhancing like the Armani foundations can be. They're also pretty pale in range so you might be able to find a match.

    1. Hmm warm mint with gold sounds good too! Tarvos doesn't look super, super green on my lids, but more white than silver. But the green is there.

      I should try Koh Gen Do (they show up on Hautelook every now and then). I have heard good things, but somewhere I got the impression that they were better for drier skin, but I don't know why. Too bad I can't sample them in this subscription! I wonder if they will keep adding new brands.

    2. KGD foundations tend to be creamier and on the dewier side because of its Japanese heritage. i find they last quite well on my normal leaning a bit oily skin though. it is very kind to dry spots and scabby healing pimples on my skin although it won't magically smooth out pores. try it!


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