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Wearing Illamasqua black lipstick in Pristine / photos by Julia Chesky

I might be completely sabotaging my love life with this one? Whatever, it keeps the distractions at bay. Flipping sub-culture aesthetics on their head has become somewhat of a past-time for me. I’d advise pairing a black lipstick with a big smile so not to scare the kiddies. And no one will make out with you, so there’s that too. If you dare, you can use a black gel liner with black kohl liner (my favorites) to a very similar effect until you’re ready, if ever, to fully commit. I used black liner to line and fill in my lips here as well.

I’ve got one more lipstick to add to this saga soon…

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wearing NARS velvet matte lip pencil in le Train Blue / photos by Julia Chesky

Approximately 1 million moons ago, I did a post entitled Dark Lips: Test 1. Somewhere in my brain I’d obviously planned a Test 2 but who knew it would be approximately 1 million moons later. Well, here it is.

Since my last post, I’d now call myself a dark lipstick aficionado. I no longer reserve a dark lip for nights out and wear the look to many a Monday morning meeting. It’s kind of a thing now. I’m so comfortable in a dark lip that pretty much any other color makes me feel like a clown. I’m still experimenting with the brighter end of the color spectrum but have yet to the house in anything close. That scares me. Who goes straight from no-lipstick-ever to basically-black-lips-always? This girl. Let’s call it giant baby steps.

The above lip pencil is my current everyday color by NARS. It’s the perfect matte plum with serious staying power. I rotate between about 5 other colors now (including my still-beloved Kat von D Homegirl or Rosary & Illamasqua’s Growl)

To be continued…next week, not next year.

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Alright. So I’ve been struggling to figure out how to depict my miracle product here for a few reasons…

1)   I never thought it would work well enough to be worth before/after photos and doh!, I didn’t take any.

2)   Even if I had taken makeup-less photos, this blog is no Proactiv commercial, and you probably wouldn’t be seeing them.

3)   Like some of the better beauty products in life, the actual product looks like shit – no literally, poop of some variation – and who wants that on their fashion blog?

4)   I wanted to make sure it worked. And as evinced by the state of my skin when I stopped using it for a couple weeks: it works!

Minor setbacks and a lack of photos aside (this random photo and google will have to suffice), you should trust me enough to believe I wouldn’t tell you to buy a product that looks like crap, let alone recommend you put it on your face, if I hadn’t done so with incredible results first. This one is Jazzi-tested right here.

Now what is it? My miracle wash is Raw African Black Soap from Ghana via the internet. This isn’t that “black soap” you’ve tried from Target or the health food store – there are a lot of faux Black Soaps out there. Despite the name, this soap isn’t really black at all. More like African Brown Soap. The good stuff will always contain plantain ash, cocoa pod ash, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, palm oil and often shea butter. Apparently this soap is totally commonplace in many parts of Africa, so apologies if I’ve kept you waiting to read about a product you’ve used since birth. If so, I’m totally not your friend anymore since you never shared it with me!

It usually comes wadded up with no pretense in a ziplock baggy for a very fair price. Just lather in your hands and wash (or use as a mask). It’s a little gross looking and your reaction will be “WTF did I just pay for” at first glance. But it’s all-natural, even vegan I believe (hence the uh, natural color) and has a nice earthy smell. Nothing offensive nor lingering.

I have combination to very oily skin with a teenage history of acne that left me with dark scars, spots and hyper-pigmentation (should’ve listened to mom’s advice not to pick, but I didn’t). My skin is overall tolerable, but never even and my pores could use some help.

Well, about two months since starting to use this soap, my skin is pretty bangin’. Not “Oh, I never wear makeup” bangin’, but (if I didn’t love painting my face so much) I bet I could finally be one of those “Oh, I only use a little tinted moisturizer” people! My skin it matte, my spots have noticeably faded, as have my pores and my skin has never been smoother. I think the shea butter adds some extra magic, too.

I forced numerous friends & family to try it (male, female, Asian, Russian, White, Black to name a few) and they’ve all had good results. A few found it drying but said a little moisturizer afterward fixed that up.

Another plus (then I’ll stop ranting) is that you can use this soap all over with similar results. It lathers beautifully, easily (and gently) removes my eye makeup and makes a fantastic shampoo and body wash. This is all I have in my shower at the moment and I couldn’t be more satisfied. ETA: Forgot to note the incredible improvement the soap made with the eczema on my inner arms – no joke, it’s gone.

A little goes a very long way and you can buy a pound for under $15 on Amazon (would easily last you months). Keep it fresh by storing in Tupperware between uses. I’ve also tried African Black Soap variations I found on Etsy and eBay and they’ve all been equally good. Just look for the vomit/dried poop looking stuff and you’ll know it’s worth a try! If you want Black Soap in prettier packaging, those exist too.

Next up, I’ll have an updated list of all the other products I swear by (you know, the kind you can get at Sephora and the drugstore).

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DIY embellished nails, old Forever 21 fingerless gloves; below: Erykah Badu for Tom Ford’s White Patchouli, nails by Sophy Robson

So I took a stab at someone else’s DIY for change — and not just “someone,” it’s actually a DIY for Elle UK from nail queen Sophy Robson (who probably had a quite literal hand in your favorite campaign this season). She also did the nails in one of my favorite campaign’s ever - Erykah Badu for Tom Ford. These glitter embellished nails screamed “hey, I can do that!” and so I did.

I simplified the DIY a little further by using just glitter polishes in different sizes (found them all for $1 at Sally’s) instead of loose glitter (less messy) and I skipped the rhinestones, but plan to add some later. Elle UK says the look is “perfect for parties” but I think that’s way too obvious. I’ve been rocking these nails with my grungier attire for a dose of contradiction. Sean’s reaction to the nails was “but isn’t glitter kind of tacky?” which usually counts as a success in my book. Check out the DIY instructions at Elle UK and more of Sophy’s work here. What do you think?

badu tom ford

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Kat Von D lipstick in Homegirl; vintage cap

Okay, I did it. I’ve wanted to try out dark lips forever. Actually, just lipstick forever. I’ve legit never worn it, which is hard to believe as I am quite a makeup junkie. Now I’ve yet to go out of the house in the look, but I’m finally thinking I could (albeit at night, after dinner, with no make-out sessions and I’ll need some liner and a good lip primer first).

My mom has worn a dark eggplant shade (I think MAC’s Cyber currently) for as long as I can remember and she wears it so well, I thought maybe I could too? I’ve tried out quite a few shades in the past month, both drugstore and not, and the top contenders are this one by Kat Von D (her pigments are actually really really nice, whodathunkit?) and one called Growl by the amazing Illamasqua who recently sent me some shades to try. I’ll try to post photos of that one as well. All of the drugstore shades failed miserably to be honest, but there was one by Revlon that was eh… ok. I also want to try Chanel’s Hysteria next time I hit up a makeup counter – anyone have a review?

Accessory note: loving my new (but old) leather biker scarf worn backwards as a turban. Oh, and who’s that little monster? That’s Cartier (aka Tha Carter III) — cute and mischievous, but does not belong to me.

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