Lip Service: Zelda’s Favorite Sticks, Stains, and Balms

I am not a beauty guru (although I sometimes like to pretend I’m one on this blog). My contouring skills are pretty much nonexistent. I have yet to perfect my cat eye. But the one area where I do claim some smidge of expertise is lips. Berry or burgundy, crimson or magenta, I love a bold lip. It spices up any outfit, adds a bunch of panache to any look, and instantly makes me feel more awake, put-together, and downright sultry no matter what else I have going on. My fellow lipstick-wearing pals often ask me for recommendations in the stick, gloss, and stain department, and so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you, dear readers.


From drug store finds to Sephora specials, liquid mattes to sheer balms, these are the staples I consistently find myself going back to when I want to put a little smooch in my step. Whether you’re in search of a new spring look, gearing up for a special occasion (*cough Derby Party cough*), or continuing your quest for the perfect red lip (me, always), here are some Zelda-approved products to get you started. And if many of them happen to be in Run for the Roses shades, perfect for pairing with a certain May Saturday and its atmosphere of Bluegrass glam, even better.

2296157.jpgRevlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor (I own this in at least six different shades — I wish I were exaggerating — but my favorites are Passion, Addiction, and Obsession): If you’re looking for bang for your buck, this is your winner. A huge punch of color, creamy texture, and nigh-indestructible coverage, all for under $6. This is also where we first encounter the trend of weirdly oversexualized lipstick color names. Sex sells, I guess?


revlon.jpgRevlon Super Lustrous Lipstick (in Cherries in the Snow): I stumbled across this color on some “Best Of” list that I can’t seem to relocate, and it has quickly become one of my new favorites. Teetering between magenta and red, with good lasting power to boot. And only $10!



Soap-and-Glory-Sexy-Mother-Pucker-Matte-Lip-Review-Swatches-3.jpgSoap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Matte-Lip (in Chocoberry): As you’ll notice from this list, I generally stick to the bold berries and reds when it comes to my pucker, but this is one noticeable exception. I bought this on a recommendation from my favorite London-dwelling Canadian beauty blogger Estée Lalonde, and her endorsement rang true. Another drugstore steal, from the cheeky Brits at Soap and Glory, this goes on like a balm, with the color of a lipstick, in an earth rose that hits the millenial pink sweet spot.

800897840310_liquidsuedecreamlipstick_kittenheels_main.jpgNyx Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick (in Kitten Heels): My Girl Scout troupe determined I was a Winter at a formative age, so I have since tended to shy away from orange-y reds in favorite or blue and berry tones (why this was a Girl Scout activity, I do not know, but I hope girls today have done more of the camping and less of the “holding up paint swatches to one’s cheek” of my youth). So I was apprehensive when I received this as a sample in my Birchbox, as it definitely fell more on the Summer side. To my very pleasant surprise, I actually liked it — a bold hit of color with a definite warm-weather vibe — and the incredible staying power tipped me over the edge. It took 26 years, but I had finally found an orange-red I liked.

2306286.jpgSmashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick (in Bawse): When I first heard about this limited edition color, I wrote it off as a gimmick — a collaboration in which Smashbox hoped to capitalize on the brand and audience of YouTube superstar Lilly Singh a.k.a. iiSuperwomanii. But then I started to see the promo photos, featuring members of Lilly’s and the Smashbox teams. Ladies with a whole rainbow of skin tones, eye colors, and hair colors, with lips ranging from razor thin to full-on Jolie, all tried on the lipstick…and they all looked amazing. So I caved, and it did not disappoint. It can be a little bit drying, which keeps it from achieving the status of Perfect Red, but the shade is ultra-flattering (and, I might add, perfect for a Run for the Roses).

Too-Faced-Lady-Balls-Melted-Matte-Liquefied-Matte-Long-Wear-Lipstick-Review.jpgToo Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Matte Lipstick (in Lady Balls):  I am a huge fan of liquid lipsticks. However, nothing irks me more than a liquid lip that sucks all the moisture out of my kisser, leaving my mouth shriveled and dehydrated. This can be a particular problem with liquid matte colors, and this guy is one of the best I’ve found at avoiding what I call “Sahara mouth.” For my first try, I went with the classic red, but I’ve got my eye on It’s Happening and Bend and Snap as well.

SMASH.jpegSmashbox Be Legendary Lipstick (in Jam On It): I owe this discovery to Z&S favorite Ingrid Nilsen. Watching one of her videos last fall, I found I couldn’t stop staring at her lips. The reason was to be found in the video description — the internet’s version of asking your friend (or, you know, a random stranger on the street): “Oh my god, I love your lipstick! Where did you get it?” A deep berry that layers well, letting you take it from raspberry to plum in a matter of coats.

GS000934.jpgBenefit Full-Finish Lipstick (in Espionage): This is a long-time favorite of mine, the first shade beyond the classic reds that I truly loved. It breaks my heart that Benefit no longer makes it, and makes me incredibly sparing with how I use it and cautious about how it gets tossed in my bag, since one tube is all I’ve got. The color looks intimidatingly dark as a solid but goes on with just the right amount of sheer, while still packing a deep enough punch to make any wearer feel like a goddamn vixen.

TARTE.jpgTarte Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint (in Frenemy): Speaking of dark, this is one of the newest additions to my lip arsenal, purchased for a Halloween trip to Sleepy Hollow with friend-of-the-blog, and my sister witch, Katie. Applying this guy can be a bit tricky, since the color is dark and tends to set very fast, but even so it goes on smooth and doesn’t dry your lips out, plus it has a surprisingly minty scent to give it that extra oomph.


Fresh-Sugar-Berry-Lip-Treatment.jpgFresh Sugar Lip Treatment (in Berry): There are lipsticks, and lip stains, and liquid mattes that toe the line. But sometimes, you just want a hint of color, and for those moments, there is Fresh. I have loved these sugar treatments for years, starting with the Original formula. They are incredibly moisturizing, they smell great, and they have just enough color to give your natural lip shade a boost without making you feel overdressed.


s683490-main-Lhero.jpgSmith’s Rosebud Salve: Last but not least, if you just want to let your natural lip shine, allow me to suggest this timeless classic. It smells like a Derby winner’s garland and seeps into your lips like rain on a racetrack, leaving them soothed and refreshed. Or, for a twist, you can layer it over a lipstick or lip stain to soften the color and give it a bit of shine.



15 Derby Hats That Will Have You Ready to Run for the Roses

Forget your handicappers and announcers and ESPN. Despite what you may have heard, Derby Day is, first and foremost, a social event. It’s an occasion for people to let loose, to see and be seen, and the true Derby goer knows that the perfect day starts with the perfect ensemble. And what is the key to the perfect Derby ensemble? The hat.

Not merely a cherry on top of your sartorial sundae, if you identify as a lady type person, the Derby hat you choose to perch on your head is the single most important factor in the glorious success, or horrific failure, or your Derby ensemble. From the zany to the classic, the sculptural to the understated, the millinery on display come the first Saturday in May is as distinctive as the jockeys’ silks, and as individual. To go hatless would be a fashion crime severe enough to give Miranda Priestley a coronary, and a deep sign of disrespect to the cultural institution that has flourished, sans pause, for 142 years.

But fear not, my lovelies. For while the task is daunting and the pressure great, you too can find the Derby hat that speaks to your soul — a festooned key that will unlock your next-level Derby experience. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, though you can certainly go that route. It could be crafted by the finest milliner or bedecked with flowers you taped on yourself. The important thing is that you have one, and that it is all you. Here are some options to get you started.


ModCloth, $49.99

ModCloth, $49.99

ModCloth, $19.99

ModCloth, $19.99

ModCloth, $19.99

ModCloth, $19.99


ModCloth, $34.99

ModCloth, $34.99

H&M, $14.99

H&M, $14.99

ModCloth, $24.99

ModCloth, $24.99

ModCloth, $54.99

ModCloth, $54.99

Forever 21, $14.90

Forever 21, $14.90

Forever 21, $17.90

Forever 21, $17.90

all photos via retailers’ web sites

Zelda’s Winter Beauty Favorites

Happy Friday, lovelies! With Super Ultra Historic Blizzard Jonas (or whatever the Weather Channel has dreamt up these days) bearing down on the East Coast, I’ve been forced to admit that winter has, in fact, arrived. Gone are the days of unseasonable warmth and blue skies: The cold, the wind, and the grey have swept in with a vengeance and settled down for a long, long, winter’s nap. This time of year can be rough on our psyches, and on our skin, and so we have to find new ways to stay both motivated and moisturized, proactive and pampered, engaged and well-groomed. So without further ado, here are a dozen of my winter beauty favorites, the balms, lotions, and other potions that are getting me through January with a (crimson-lipped) smile.


Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint & Rosemary Body Wash: I bought this on a recommendation from the always fabulous Ingrid Nilsen, and it did not disappoint. It has become my go-to cleanser for morning showers. The scent is refreshing but not overpowering; it wakes me up and gets me energized to start my day. My one complaint: It could do with a bit more lather — I often find myself having to squirt out two doses in order to get my whole body scrubbed — but that could just be personal preference.

Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil: I went to Target with the intention of purchasing the above body wash, but couldn’t resist picking up this guy. It feels like every beauty guru on the internets has been gushing about the wonders of cleansing oils lately. I was, admittedly, very skeptical of the trend, particularly as someone with sensitive skin who generally avoids adding any unnecessary oil to my visage. But for $16, I decided this was worth a go. And dear readers, I write to you converted. I don’t see this replacing my daily cleanser anytime soon, but I do find it a luxurious and moisturizing change of pace, especially for the drying winter months. The coconut and argan oils sooth my skin, leaving it clean and super soft (and not oily!). But the best part? this stuff smells SO FREAKING GOOD, instantly transforming my Brooklyn bathroom into a luxurious garden spa.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer: I mentioned in my last post that one of my resolutions for this year is to remember to moisturize. An odd goal, I’ll admit, but moisturizing is the one main step of a basic skincare routine I haven’t quite managed to master. I could never seem to find the right formula for my face; everything was too thick for everyday use or left my pores clogged and my skin greasy and freaking out. A lot of my favorite beauty mavens are big fans of First Aid Beauty, whose hypoallergenic products are made specifically for sensitive skin, so I decided if anyone could handle my tender dermis, they could. So far, so great! This formula is super light yet nourishing, and so far using it on a daily (and sometimes twice daily) basis has yet to make me break out. Take that, 2016 goals!

L’Occitane en Provence Crème Mains: Now when it comes to moisturizing, it isn’t just your face that needs some extra love in the cold months. My hands in particular tend to take a beating in the winter, and this cream  is an old favorite that has seen them through many a brutal January. With 20% shea butter, plus honey, almond extract, and coconut oil, this is the best hand cream I’ve come across. I keep a tube on my dresser, to apply before bed, and in my purse, for all my on-the-go lotion needs.


R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo: Let me be real for a second. Even in the hottest of months, I am usually not a daily hair washer. My hair, frizzy and untameable as it is wont to be, really looks best on day two, or three, and in a particularly good week I’ve been known to stretch it to four. This gets even worse in the winter, when the cold makes me want to spend as little time as possible with wet, shiver-inducing locks. And in these situations, dry shampoo is your best friend. As a pretty dark brunette, my problem with dry shampoos tends to be finding a formula that absorbs oil without making my hair flat and without leaving behind a powdery residue, which basically serves as a giant flashing sign declaring to the world, “Hey, I am a filthy dirt human who did not wash her pelt this morning! Stay back!” My favorite formula of the moment is this one from R+Co, which I got in my January Birchbox. The scent isn’t my favorite, but it does a fantastic job of absorbing grease while giving my hair volume and texture, and absorbing into my strands as if it were never there, allowing me to maintain my well-washed human lady facade.

Benefit “They’re Real!” Tinted Lash Primer: Another Birchbox discovery, and one of which I was initially very skeptical. I am blessed with naturally thick and curly lashes, so I’ll admit I didn’t really see the point of a lash primer, especially one in mink-brown when my mascara tastes run 100% pure black. But I already knew and loved the Benefit “They’re Real!” mascara line, so I decided to give this little guy a go. And I have to admit, I’m a fan. I don’t think it’s necessary for an everyday look, but for a special occasion, when you want to give your eyes a little extra oomph, it delivers. I tested it out for my recent birthday party, and it definitely gave my lashes an extra boost, perfect for an evening out on the town.


Mirenesse Mattfinity Lip Rouge in Paris: You guys know I’m a big fan of lip stains, and this one has been my absolute favorite of late. Of all the stains I’ve tried, this one offers hands-down the most intense and long-lasting color. It’s the only stain I’ve found where I can apply it before heading to work, drink an entire mug of tea, and still have perfectly tinted lips hours later. I’m obsessed with the Paris shade (not just because of the name, although, yes, bonus points): a bright but rich berry shade that tiptoes just close enough to fuschia without being cartoony. a true red shade is next on my wish list.

Bésame Classic Color Lipstick in Cherry Red 1935: Speaking of true red, my friend recently turned me on to Bésame and their classic color lipsticks. These retro shades are inspired by Hollywood starlets of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, with each color matched to a specific year. The color is super pigmented and matte, for that old-fashioned vixen look. My only complaint? The matte finish means that it isn’t the smoothest going on, and since the color is very intense that can make for a messy look, so I recommend using a lip brush to apply, and maybe using a lip scrub beforehand to eliminate any flakes.

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish: Speaking of lip scrubs, my favorite is this little wonder from Fresh. I’ve been a long-time fan of Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatments, and this winter I decided to invest in the polish to match. Lip polishes are the answer to that perennial winter problem of chapped and flaking lips (gross). This stuff gets all that dead skin off without being harsh or abrasive, plus it smells delicious. A+ all around.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve: Now that your lips are exfoliated, it’s time to moisturize! This stuff is one of my long-time beauty favorites (seriously, I’ve been a fan since middle school). I keep a tub on my desk so I can give my lips a little love whenever I think of it. It also comes in tube form, which is easier to throw in your purse or backpack for on-the-go balm-age. And while this classic rose scent is my favorite, I’m also a big fan of the mint and strawberry varieties.


OPI Liquid Sand Nail Lacquer in Honey Ryder: I do love a good eggplant, berry, charcoal, or classic red in the winter months (I’m currently sporting Essie’s Wicked). But with the holidays of late, I wanted something with a little more pizzazz. I discovered this glittery gold wonder when I was home over Thanksgiving, and was so enamored I promptly went home, tracked it down on Amazon, and ordered myself a bottle. Even with the yuletide season still behind us, I still find myself turning to this shade whenever I want something a little fun, a little festive. It has just the right amount of gilded sparkle, and while the textured polish really does require a base and top coat (I like CND’s Stickey and Essie’s Gel Setter), I find it lasts longer than my regular lacquers.

Distillery General Artisanal Small Batch Fragrance in Sea Salt: Last but not least, this perfume, found at Anthropologie, is my new obsession. Sometimes, you want to embrace the winter, with all the cozy notes of cinnamon and woodsmoke it entails. But sometimes, you need a little summer in your life to combat all the hazy grey. This perfume delivers: The label says it contains notes of Italian bergamot, lemon, citrus, and mandarin, but to me it smells straight up like a day at the beach, with sun-kissed skin and an ocean breeze tousling your hair. Just spray on your wrists, and dream of summer nights.

Fancy a Cuppa Cuppa? Fall Beauty Essentials

Greetings, lovely people! A few months back, I shared some of my favorite beauty tips and products to help you survive the face-meltingly hot New York summer. Now, thankfully, fall has turned the air crisp and brought the mercury down. Autumn has always been my favorite season for fashion and beauty, from snuggly scarves and leather boots to dark lips and nails. The cozy sweaters, the structured jackets, the layers galore — it all puts me in mind of new school years and days spent curled up with a book in a coffee shop, by a fire, or sprawled across scarlet and umber leaves on a green. As October rolls into November, here are some of my essential products and favorite looks for fall.


1. Gentle Face Wash: The first and most important step in great make-up is great skincare. Fall’s cool crisp air may be lovely for ambience, but it can be rough on your face, especially if, like mine, your skin tends to be sensitive and dry out easily. I got the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Facial Cleansing and Make-Up Removing Gel as a sample in my Birchbox a few months ago and immediately used up the tester tube. It’s really gentle, plus the scrumptious honey scent puts me in mind of steaming mugs of tea, another fall essential.

2. Moisturizer: Like I said, those smoky October winds can have a tendency to suck all the moisture right out of your skin, and it only gets worse as we move into winter. So it’s super important to replenish your skin with a rich moisturizer. My go-to, especially in the drier months, is the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. I love this guy, which I purchased in Paris on the recommendation of my far more beauty savvy roommate (not to worry, barring a plane ticket you can find it online or even in some drug stores in the U.S.). It’s nourishing but not heavy, leaving my skin soft without clogging up my pores. A little goes a long way with this stuff; a pea-sized dollop is usually enough for my whole face. I especially like putting it on after my shower so I start the day well-hydrated and ready to face the outside.

3. Face Masks: As the days turn shorter and the nights turn colder, one of my favorite things to do is have a cozy evening in — something hot to drink, something fun on Netflix, and something special to pamper my skin. Face masks are a super quick and easy treat for your skin, to give it a little something extra once a week. Two of my favorites lately have been the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask and the Royal Apothic Cuppa Cuppa Firming Tea Treatment Mask (which may have the best name of any skincare product I’ve ever used).


4. Bronzer: We all have our special gifts in this world…and getting tan is not one of mine. My natural state is vampire-level pale. I would have been a hit on the Victorian social circuit, but alas, I live in the 21st century, when my pale skin garners not so much admiration as concern for the state of my health or iron levels. In summer, I can get a decent enough glow from sunshine alone, but by October 1st I have reverted to my natural, un-sun-kissed state. So instead, I turn to bronzer, to make me look like I have left my cave at least once in the past month. But while I want to look bronzed, I do not want to reach Oompa Loompa levels of orange, so I use the Physician’s Formula Summer Eclipse Bronzing and Shimmery Face Powder. It gives me a natural-looking color boost that isn’t overpowering, plus the touch of gold shimmer adds a subtle glow. A little sweep of this stuff on my cheekbones, forehead, and the bridge of my nose, and I’m good to join the mortals.

5. Eye Highlighter: I’m not a big eye make-up person — one swipe of mascara and I’m usually good to go — but lately I have been adding a bit of gold to brighten my eyes up. Benefit’s Watt’s Up Cream-to-Powder Highlighter is technically meant for your full face, but I have a little sample tube that works perfectly for my lids (if you get the full-sized version, a little eye brush would do the trick nicely). A swipe along my brow bone, in the corners of my eyes, and along my lower lash line, plus a little blend, and I immediately look like I got at least two extra hours of sleep. Plus the gold pairs perfectly with autumn leaves and blue skies.


6. Berry Lips: I love a good statement lip, any time of year, but fall is when I really start to break out the reds and burgundies I love. Crimson is my go-to classic look all year round — it’s impossible not to feel glamorous with a red lip — but this fall I’ve been tending more towards a dark berry, for a more seasonal touch. My favorite berry lipstick is Benefit’s Full-Finish Lipstick in Espionage. It’s a rich, dark berry (that, coincidentally, complements a gold eye look), and it goes on really smooth with lots of pigment. Not ready to tackle the full-on statement lip? Try Fresh Cosmetics’ Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Berry. I keep it in my purse for a slight pop of color and to keep my lips from getting chapped; it also layers really well on top of lipstick for a little shine and a more intense color.

7. Copper Nails: Blame it on my recent foray into British beauty guru land, or on my coveting Scout’s recent Louisville manicure, but my copper obsession has officially reached my hands. I’m normally a red, berry, or dark purple girl come fall, but Essie’s Penny Talk made its way onto my fingers this week and it may just stay there until Thanksgiving. I’m obsessed. Also on my list of favorite nail things? Essie’s Gel-Setter Top Coat. It goes on smooth and not gloopy (unlike other top coats I’ve tried), dries super quickly, and keeps my nails chip-free for a few days at least (which, for me, is a feat).


I’m Melting! Beauty Survival Tips for Summer in the City

There are many lovely things about summer in New York: rooftop drinking, Manhattanhenge, rainbow sprinkle cones from a Mr. Softee truck. But there are also some things that are not so lovely. I could talk about the high rises showering you with air conditioner drippings or the crush of tourists or the smell of dozens of sweaty humans crammed in a subway car. But the thing that people most often underestimate about summer in the city if they haven’t experienced it for themselves is the heat.

New York in the summer is hot. And not a dry desert hot: I’m talking humid, heavy, walking-down-the-street-like-you’re-wading-through-pudding-because-the-air-is-so-thick hot. On top of this, most of the apartments and subway platforms you encounter are not equipped with AC (a fact that Scout and I will never comprehend: see previous rant). Standing on a platform waiting for a train is akin to descending into the depths of Mount Doom to wallow in the fiery, ring-forging magma pits: Nobody wants that. And in addition to being unpleasant, if like me you’re someone whose life regularly includes makeup, your outsides can soon begin to match your insides as every careful swipe of powder or dab of eye shadow comes melting off your face like a cosmetic lava slide.

I’m now in my second city summer, and over my time here I’ve come up with a few staples in my toolbox that help me feel like a put-together human even if the mercury is reaching astronomical levels. So without further ado, here are my tips and tricks for keeping your face in place all summer long, heat and humidity be damned.


Use primer. Primer is like superglue for your face, creating an even base for your makeup and making sure that everything stays where it’s supposed to. My favorite is Benefit’s The POREfessional (and not just because of the name, though I am a sucker for a good pun). This stuff goes on really smooth and leaves you with a nice matte finish. I usually add some BB cream and powder foundation on top, but you can also leave it as is if you just want some sheer coverage to reduce shine and even out your skin tone.

bare minerals

Kill two birds with one stone. When it’s hot, you don’t want to put on any more layers than you need to, and that goes for makeup as well as clothing. As an admittedly lazy human, I’m a big fan of products that pull double duty, so especially in the summer, I like to use a BB cream or foundation that has sunscreen in it already. This also helps you make protecting your skin a regular part of your routine, preventing damage or lobster face (a too frequent occurrence in the life of the pale and forgetful, like me). I’ve been a fan of Bare Minerals Foundation for a long time. Liquid foundations just make me feel like I’ve got a bunch of gunk on my face, so I love that the powder is super light and it has SPF 15 to boot.


Waterproof is your best friend. You know that moment when your day is going great, you’ve been witty and charming and flipped your hair just so as you smile at the cute barista, and then you step into the restroom, brimming with self confidence, only to discover that you have raccoon eyes? Waterproof mascara is how you avoid that. My favorite? Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara. No matter how much sweat, tears, or water gets thrown your lashes’ way, this stuff will stay put, and your cheeks will remain unstained.

urban decay

Spray it down. I discovered this stuff on a recommendation from my sister and it is my new best friend. Seriously, y’all, it is a GAME CHANGER. Meet Urban Decay’s All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray — the magical wunderkind you didn’t know your makeup bag was missing. Just spritz a light layer (2-4 sprays) of this over your makeup, let it dry, and that shit will not budge for the rest of the day (or night). If you’re anticipating a particularly sweaty day, you can do one layer after your primer and another after the rest of your makeup. Just make sure your face dries before you apply any powder, blush, etc. so your brushes don’t get all gummed up.


Go stain or go home. My basic summer makeup philosophy can be summarized as “Take care of as much work as possible in the comfort of my air conditioned bedroom so I don’t have to worry about it in the outdoors.” Hence my latest obsession with lip stains, particularly the new line from Cynthia Rowley Beauty, which I discovered courtesy of Birchbox (Valentine and Poppy are my favorite summer shades, and you can’t go wrong with Heartthrob as a classic red). These guys go on super smooth and moisturizing, not sticky like some stains, and the color lasts all day so you don’t need to worry about reapplying. An added bonus? Lip stains are much less likely than lip sticks to melt in your bag. RIP Benefit Espionage, 2014.

I can’t guarantee that these tips will keep you cool (temperature-wise, that is), but they will help you look your best even in the most sweltering of moments. And if all else fails, you can always pull a Scout and go makeup-commando. She’s allergic to pretty much all of this stuff anyway.