A Bit Shady: OPI Swatches

Nail polish was my first (beauty) love. Even though my nail polish wardrobe is smaller these days I’m lame, I still feel a rush of completely ridiculous excitement when I spot a majestic shade. (Zoya Dream, can you stop haunting me? Thanks.) OPI makes my longest-loved (still manufactured) shade, I’m Not Really a Waitress. I don’t really wear it year-round anymore, but it is pretty much the only thing on my nails from Thanksgiving through Christmas. It makes guest appearances throughout the year as the mood strikes. It was on one such mission to plan repurchase and admire swatches of this polish that I noticed that OPI swatches are inaccurate, computer-generated garbage.

OPI Swatches aren’t Swatches

Not in that they’re low-quality, shoddy lighting, on ugly nails. No – OPI swatches are flat-out digitally whipped up lies. Not retouched, nay; a fabrication in their entirety.

My beloved, beautifully swatched by Elegantnails.com:

Then, the ridiculous embarrassment provided by OPI themselves:

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Beauty Insider Points CAN Expire but Don’t Panic

Lighting in Sephora

If you’re a lunatic beauty hobbyist, you’ve probably heard that Sephora has altered its policy regarding Beauty Insider Points. Before, you could hoard them five-ever and spend them on ridiculous 1000+ swag. Now they have a shelf life.

People are losing their shit.

Twitter is aflame with disgruntled point junkies customers who feel that this new policy is an attack on freebies they are entitled to not actually entitled to. Oh for the love of highlighted cats it’s a war on our deluxe minis.

Don’t get me wrong – I love freebies, point perks, and gifts with purchase. I love that marketing strategy – what better a way to get us to buy product than to give us tiny versions to become obsessed with? At the end of the day, it sucks when perks change – but you aren’t owed freebies. And besides that…

Have you Read the Policy Change?

No? Are you freaking out?

  1. Chill.
  2. Read the policy.

The new terms, in spite of what less-scrupulous outlets would report via clickbait headlines or suggest via lazy content publishing, isn’t giving each point you earn an 18 month shelf life.

The Beauty Insider Points Policy Update

According to Sephora, your points will only expire if you have been inactive for 18 months. That means that, for eighteen months, you will have made ZERO purchase and ZERO point redemptions.

No, really. This excerpt is from the Beauty Insider Terms and Conditions page, section 3:

3. Point Expiration

It’s our hope that you redeem your points on a regular basis. All unredeemed points shall expire when a program member has not engaged in point activity associated with that membership account (through purchase or redemption) for 18 months or more. If you have questions regarding the date of your last point activity or your last purchase, you may call 1-877-SEPHORA (1-877-737-4672) for more information.

In addition, points will automatically expire if your Membership is revoked or otherwise cancelled for reasons further detailed in Section 17.

Reality Check

Those of you who are frantic or pissed about this policy change, be honest with yourself – are you really going to go a year and a half without buying something from Sephora (or redeeming points)?

Just sayin’.

TPDTY: On Sebaceous Filaments & Why You Don’t Need Pore Strips

This is a post from the Beauty Skeptic archives that has been given a facelift! Content is the same but may have been edited for clarity and flow, as well as some small content updates noted in line.

Pore StripOh look, a pore strip!

Yeah, you’re familiar with them, probably from Biore. Other brands make pore strip products, too, often more expensive for the same (lackluster) result.

But you don’t need them.

Yeah, there are DIY pore strip tutorials online with weird suggestions involving egg whites or Elmer’s Glue. And listen, I can appreciate getting a little mad scientist in my beauty/skincare as much as the next person…

But you don’t need to.

Wash your face, leave it sopping. Dry your hands, open the thing. Slap the pore strip on your nose and smooth it down. Wait until it feels ridiculous, then rip it off.

But you don’t need that.

Here’s the thing – what many of us bought those things or played mad scientist for was because we believed we had a ton of god-awful blackheads on and around our nose, right? Oh god, we have to fix it. We’d peel away the papier-mâché pore strip and marvel in disgust over what we just ripped out of our faces with this pore strip. Right? Don’t lie, if you’ve used this, you have. You’re elated for a day or two because your skin looks a little better…and then things return to normal – and you strip again.

A waste, indeed, of time and money for such fleeting results.

But here’s the thing – in so many cases (I wish I could quote you a percentage) those are not blackheads. They are sebaceous filaments – they occur naturally on everyone, ever, and are not blemishes…and they cannot be, “removed,” not even by a pore strip. Yes, they aren’t the cutest thing in the world, and yes, that is irritating. Proper skincare, however, can make them less obvious.

The Routine

Your skincare routine should consist of (at minimum), daily cleansing, exfoliating as often as your skin wants/needs it (some people like a daily gentle exfoliant, some of us like to break out the big guns 2-3 times per week), and moisturizing. You can get more detailed than this if you wish (I like to!) but it isn’t a dire necessity. (Bonus points if you use a face brush like an Olay Pro-X or Clarisonic!)

In terms of cleansers, I like something basic and simple. (2017) CeraVe Foaming (2014) Cetaphil Gentle is my favorite. As far as exfoliants go…in terms of what is best for your skin, a chemical exfoliant is technically best and I have (2017) this AHA gel from Alpha Skin (formerly Alpha Hydrox) (2014) this one from Alpha Hydrox .

That said, I also commit “skincare sins,” and indulge in physical ones (theoretically the gritty nature of these can cause tiny cuts in your skin. I haven’t had problems, personally, but I get it – especially with the St Ives, it can be a bit much if you overdo the pressure) such as this classic from St Ives and my long-time favorite from Burt’s Bees 2017 Update: The only physical exfoliation my face sees these days comes from my Clarisonic or Luna Mini.

Moisturizers are very personalized depending on your needs but I am currently happiest with (2017) Mountain Rose Herbs Argan Oil (2014) Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light. Those things help me keep my skin healthy and looking well-cared-for.

The Bottom Line

Stop wasting your money on pore strip products, your time on playing face-goop-alchemy, and just get back to basics. They’re fun, but they are a gimmick – and a costly one, at that. Chances are if you don’t have other acne issues, you don’t have a nose rife with blackheads…you, like most people, just have some sebaceous filaments which are normal and healthy. Not gross, just kind of odd looking when you actually notice them.

Gone Downhill: Influenster

For years, I’ve been a member of two social influencer review sites: BzzAgent and Influenster. I love BzzAgent – they send full size product to try or vouchers to acquire one, their review and activity asks are not absurd. They are consistent. Influenster, on the other hand is all over the place and requests a ridiculous amount of time to be invested in exchange for participation in their program.

A Weird Mix

I’ve gotten multiple Influenster VoxBoxes that contained a hodge-podge of product that was in no way related. I’ve received I’m flat-out NOT interested in trying or spending time reviewing, like snack items (gross protein bars, dried snap peas trying to be chips). Don’t get me wrong – I did so because those were the terms of the program. But was once an occasional annoyance is now fairly regular.

Unlike BzzAgent, who tells about the campaign so you can opt-in or out, Influenster tends to be a bit more cloak-and-dagger. You take a qualifier survey that may allude to the items or brands, but it is rarely explicit.

Social Graces Spamming

The point of a social marketing and social influencer program is to get real people to try things. Those people then share their experiences in multiple mediums:

  • In-person conversations
  • Reviews on:
    • The program site
    • The product’s site
    • Retailer’s sites
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Video (YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram stories)
  • Blogs

When they mandate specific mediums, though, they reduce participation. For example – I do not have a Snapchat. I will not open one, period – especially not to do a ridiculous campaign activity. I also do not make YouTube videos…and will not do that just for some ridiculous campaign activity.

“Too much,” will vary from person to person and circle to circle, but Influenster definitely wants you to spam the hell out of everyone via every possible Other Influenster participants I’ve talked to agree that it is getting out of hand and that they feel like Influenster wants them to spam their friends and family. not cool.

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Hysteria Over Chemicals and Putting Natural on a Pedestal

For a long time there has been hysteria over chemicals in beauty products.

And for an equal period of time, that hysteria over chemicals has been annoying AF.

There seems to be a lot of shade being thrown at non-‘natural’ beauty products. Lots of, “I don’t want chemicals in my makeup,” or, “My shampoo is natural and chemical-free,” or, “OMG, my holy grail face wash has chemicals in it, so I have to switch.

No Such Thing

…as a chemical-free product. Period. End of story. Literally everything, including whatever crunchy goop you’re slathering on your face, is composed of chemicals. Everything. The banana-kale smoothie you somehow gulped down at breakfast, your favorite computer, you, me – made of chemicals.

I hope I didn’t blow your mind with that, but if I did…good! Every realization like this helps reduce the blind hysteria over chemicals.

Ending the Hysteria over Chemicals

First, consider these five words:

Chemicals are not inherently bad.

…and then these ones:

Just because something is natural does not make it effective let alone good or safe for use in or on our bodies.

Both are truths, and it’s really all you need.

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