Product Reviews – MAC Smoke Signals and Cargo PlantLove Lipsticks; Dear Makeup and Beauty Blog, the Upper Lip Hair Edition; Weekend Beauty Round-up

Published in: Beauty Tips, Drugstore Beauty Finds, Just For Fun, MAC Makeup, Makeup, News, Product Reviews

When I was 14 my mom bought me my first tube of lipstick. I cherished that Clinique tube of silver sophistication, and whenever I put it on I felt like an elegant world traveler was staring back at me in the mirror. My actual reflection, of course, was of an awkward teenager with braces, big, unruly hair and weird clothing (it was hard to be haute couture in the East Bay in the early 90s, and try as I might I could never quite get it right.) But that tube made me feel like I was the person I was meant to be – put-together, sophisticated, beautiful.

There’s something special about a great tube of lipstick. Don’t get me wrong … I loves me some gloss. Gloss is sexy, youthful and fun. But lipstick always reminds me of different steps in my life that led me to become a woman: that first Clinique lipstick, countless tubes of MAC Paramount I wore throughout college, and the first Chanel lipstick I bought when I finally got a “real job” in the city.


And just like Justin brought sexy back, the beauty powers-that-be declared this the year of the return of lipstick. Huzzah, sound the trumpets! If you’re not ready for a full-on dark, pigmented mouth (and I’ll have to admit that I am not quite ready for it either), you don’t have to go all the way. These fall lipsticks from MAC’s Smoke Signals line and Cargo’s PlantLove line have enough gloss to make your Lipglasses jealous, but enough thickness and color punch for an air of sophistication.

Product Review – MAC Smoke Signals Lipsticks – Sparks Can Fly, Barely Lit, Mellow Flame, Burnin’

Smoke Signals madness continues! MAC released five different colors that are very natural and for the most part, user friendly. Yesterday I rocked the Brew, so let’s check out the other four!

Barely Lit
Price: $14.00 for a tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A

I am sucker for the MAC’s lustre formulas, because they give just enough color without feeling heavy. I also like that they feel very moisturizing on my lips. Barely Lit is a pink sand with a gold pearl. The color is pretty, natural and really warms up my skin. This picture shows it with two coats applied carefully with the 316 lip brush. However, it also looks great when you are in a hurry (story of my life) and need to apply it straight from the tube. I like this for an easy day look paired with curled lashes and filled in brows. It’s also very pretty for night, too, and for you single ladies (and lads) oh-so-very date friendly. Your crush will not fear giving you a big ole’ fatty of a kiss with this light beauty on your lips!

Mellow Flame
Price: $14.00 for a tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A+

Mellow flame is another lustre in the Smoke Signals lipstick series, a warm coral pink with red pearl. I love coral colors, and MAC really hit it out of the park with this one based on color alone. Even though the color is brighter in comparison to Barely Lit it is still natural-looking without being overwhelming. It’s warm and wearable, and if you wanted to really make it sexified you could pop a coat of Lipglass over it and woo-hoo-va-va-voom! Call the fire department cause there’s a hottie in the house!

Sparks Can Fly
Price: $14.00 for a tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: D

Um, sparks were so not flying. This creamy rose frost just does not work on me when I use it by itself. There’s something about the coloring that makes my lips look blue-grey, like a lovely zombie bride with frostbite. I’m so not kidding. I think I’ll have to pair it with a warmer Lipglass in order to make it work. Ugh. Don’t do it, ya’ll.

Price: $14.00 for a tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B

Talk about a kick back to the past. This dark, wine-colored lipstick takes me back to my formative years in East Bay (which coincidentally, is the word “beast” in pig latin). So when you grow up in the East Bay, you end up having so many types of friends because it’s such a melting pot of races and colors. Burnin’ reminds of my friend Monica from algebra class, who wore tight jeans, thick black liner, and was in a Latina gang. She wore dark, wine-colored lipstick like it was nobody’s business. Even though she was tough and could beat the beejebus out of anyone who crossed her, she was very sweet. We’d go on for hours and hours about the merits of Wet & Wild versus Cover Girl.

So my first reaction when I saw this color was “OHHHHHH. Monica would rock this, but could I?.”

I was surprisingly pleased with Burnin’. This was my first time using MAC’s amplified texture, which is slightly glossy and very color-rich. It’s dramatic yet surprisingly wearable, and I didn’t feel like a vampire when I had it on. The biggest drawback about Burnin’ is that applying the deep color takes time and patience, two things that I don’t always have. I also would not give this color to my 14-year old cousin. The color is too mature and too sexy.

If you’re in the mood for a dramatic change then this is worth a go. While not exactly kissable, it would be fab for a sophisticated night out in a little black dress.

Product Review – Cargo PlantLove Lipsticks – Muir Woods, Joshua Tree, Gamba


Cargo PlantLove Lipsticks
Price: $20 for a tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A

Cargo’s line of eco-friendly lipsticks called PlantLove recently fell into my hot little hands. One look at the super cute packaging and I was hooked. And would you believe that the tube is made entirely out of corn?!?!


Cute, yah?

PlantLove, Gamba

PlantLove, Muir Woods

PlantLove, Joshua Tree


The lipstick comes in an outer carton made out of biodegrable paper with flower seeds embedded in it. You wet the carton, pop it in some dirt, and bam, purty flowers just for you. Satisfy your lipstick lust and your inner botanist in one fell swoop!

All three colors have a similar texture that feels halfway between a lipstick and a gloss. They’re sheer, easy to apply and build up nicely. If you are new to lipstick (or just hella lazy like yours truly) then Gamba is a good gateway product to the big guns, lol. Oh, and if you’re a mom looking for colors for your teenager you’ll like colors like Muir Woods and Joshua Tree, which are natural-looking, not too over the top and perfect for girls who are interested in exploring makeup.

And to top it off Cargo is donating two dollars from every sale of every shade to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, yay.

Lol, don’t you wish

Dear Makeup and Beauty Blog: the Upper Lip Hair Edition

Friday means it’s time for your weekly dose of tough love from Dear Makeup and Beauty Blog. Got a beauty question but afraid to go there? Never fear. We’re hear to break it down for ya.

Dear Makeup and Beauty Blog,

I’ve got dark upper lip hair. I’m not the bearded lady or anything, but it’s pretty obvious. I am terrified of waxing it off because I’m afraid it will hurt. I’ve been thinking about buying some hair bleach at the drugstore to make it lighter. Do you think this is a good idea?


Hairy in Hartford

Dear Hairy,

Don’t go running off to join the circus to just yet. Many women deal with upper lip issues in different ways, but we don’t always like to talk about our ‘stache hair in casual company (so not sexy). Not to fear. You’ve got many options.

There are so many people who either don’t like to wax or just can’t do it for various reasons. I had a roommate who always broke out in bumps after she got waxed so she eventually developed a method of bleaching first and then using small cuticle scissors to cut off the bleached hairs.

Before I started waxing, I would cut the hairs down as much as I could using curved cuticle tweezers. I’d then go to town on the remaining hairs with some fine-tipped tweezers. For me, tweezing isn’t painful, so I don’t mind. I eventually quit this method just because it takes forever and rarely did I ever get truly hair free.


I don’t recommend using the bleach alone ‘cause girrrrrrl…you ain’t fooling nobody. Step away from the bleach unless you just want to look like you’ve got an orange caterpillar growing underneath your mose.

I know you mentioned that you are afraid of waxing – I used to be too – but I find that it is the most cost effective and best method of hair removal. I do my own waxing with an at home kit; it’s cheap, easy and fast.

I used a transition method to help me go from wax newbie to wax pro:

1. I first went to a professional salon and had my ‘stache waxed about 4 times over a 12 week period. Where I live you can get an upper lip wax for 8-10 bucks, so it’s not too expensive. Think of it as a small investment in your hair-free future. If your budget is tight try to get it done at least once or twice. My reasoning behind this was to get me used to the sensation of how it feels to have the hair ripped out. I figured I’d then know what to expect once I started doing it myself.

2. After the four waxing sessions, I bought a wax strip kit at the drugstore called Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit for Face, Brows & Bikini. It’s about $8.00. I only use this for the upper lip. I’ve tried it for body hair and it just doesn’t work well for coarser, thicker hair. There are small, medium and large strip sizes. You can use the small strips for your upper lip, and when you run out of them you can just cut the medium and large strips down to size. One box lasts me at least 5 months, and I wax every three weeks. It averages out to a little over a $1.00 per wax, saving me lots of time and money.

3. Okay. Now to the hard part! First I warm the wax strips in my hands. Some people recommend giving the strip a quick shot with a blow dryer, but I never do that because I’m afraid of heating up the wax too much and burning myself. I then place the strip on half of my ‘stache, pushing it down in the direction of the hair growth. I then take a deep breath (seriously, this is important), and with one hand, pull my skin in the direction of the hair growth, and then use my other hand to pull the wax strip in the opposite direction. I do this quickly! Right as I pull the wax strip off I exhale. It doesn’t really hurt, but the breathing helps to lesson the shock to my system. Right after I pull the strip off I place a finger on the area and gently apply pressure to reduce any sting.

4. The kit comes with azulene oil, which I then use to remove any remaining wax. Sometimes I use Jojoba oil too, which works just as well.

5. I found out that timing was important during those first few sessions. I would take two painkillers at least an hour before and I would never wax right before my period (which is when I become very sensitive to pain.)

6. Voila! No more bearded lady!

I hope this helps! Good luck. Stay smooth.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


Weekend Beauty Roundup

Beauty Blog Network Badge

Beauty Reading is Fundamental! To start your long weekend off right here’s a round up of the best posts from the lovely ladies at the Beauty Blog Network!

15 Minute Beauty Fanatic does a Bioelements Review Series
A Touch of Blusher wants to know if you’d like some samples
All Lacquered Up reviews the China Glaze X collection for fall
Beauty and Fashion Tech looks at Neutrogena lip products
Beauty and Personality Grooming gives natural remedies for undereye dark circles
Beautynomics unwrinkles your eyes with Venom
DivaShop reviews e.l.f. cosmetics
Elke Von Freudenberg checks out the newn
Hello Dollface reviews SuperSmile Toothbrush
Kiss and Makeup reviews Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss
Lipstick, Powder n’ Paint shares a blast from the past on last year’s Tarte cosmetics
Life of a Ladybug shares her list of beauty bargains

And in case you missed it (oh no you didn’t!),’s The Best of San Francisco Fashion Week 2007: Super-secret makeup tricks from 5 backstage MAC artists, Runway Videos and MORE!

Can you believe that summer is over and that it’s Labor Day weekend already? Will you be going to few barbeques and doing fun outdoor stuff? I hope so! I’ll be busy this weekend writing a story on Hawaiian heirloom jewelry. Somehow, someway, I will squeeze in some time for some relaxing fun.

Have a fantastic weekend, wear your sunscreen and work that bikini, girl!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,




Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 9 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Christine says:

    Those Cargo lipsticks look lush, especially the first one (I ignored names so I can’t possibly purchase them!).

    Burnin’ looks rockin’ on you!

  2. Karen says:

    LOL, Christine … that’s *Gamba*, and it would look great on you. I will have to email you…I tried the second Smoke Signals palette (the one with Rondelle) and it was, um, interesting. I ended up looking like I belonged on a cry for help flyer. Sigh!

  3. Karen says:

    Thanks Colleen. I recently invested in a SLR camera and I am still learning how to use it. I’m slowly but surely figuring it out. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back soon!

  4. C-dog says:

    You are a riot!!!

  5. Karen says:

    What up C-Dog. I’ll know you’ll be in the hizzy on Monday night to watch “The Hills.”

    HA HA HA, I just totally cracked myself up writing that sentence!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge