Review: My Pretty Zombie “Drugs Like Me” Blushes in Benzodiazepine, Fluoxetine, and MDMA

I’ve previously mentioned that although indie cosmetics companies do cater to nerds, they tend to cater to a different breed of a nerd, releasing fandom-type collections and the like. I’d be more prone to swooning over historical or scientific-themed collections. My Pretty Zombie has me covered on the latter fantasy with the Drugs Like Me blush collection! Slap a few skeletal formulae of psychoactive substances on some products and be still my motherfucking, neuroscience-lovin’ heart!

I am not sure exactly how I feel about how everything was packed. The blushes were packaged in a box wrapped with the kind of stiff ribbon you give to small children who ruin everything they touch. Tied to the box was what I initially thought was a pepper, but which turned out to be a finger that was mysteriously painted red. The owner of My Pretty Zombie definitely has a love of “camp” that I do not share.As much as I may protest this fact, it’s clear that my buying choices can be easily manipulated by the perfect theme, and my My Pretty Zombie Drugs Like Me blushes are the quintessential example of this. I am not a recreational-drugs kind of lady, so 6-MAM and PCP don’t have the same sort of special place in my heart as therapeutic drugs. If I’m being totally frank, I probably wouldn’t have purchased the Benzodiazepine blush and I definitely wouldn’t have purchased the Fluoxetine blush if it weren’t for their awesome names. (MDMA I bought purely for the pretty color.)

I would love it if My Pretty Zombie extended their Drugs Like Me blush line to include a wider variety of therapeutic drugs. (I would buy all of them.)
The blushes are packed in square containers. Although the sifters were taped up when I originally got the blushes, it took all of about ten seconds for the sifter to be totally meaningless due to my spill-y-ness. And, since the product is easily stuck in the screwy parts on the side, I do lose a bit of product every time I open up these blushes. Like most loose powder products, you have a lot of flexibility on the level of pigmentation you get from the product. These will get you anywhere from “Why did you paint your face red?” to “You look nice today!”

Drugs Like Me Blush in Benzodiazepine
The Drug: Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is our chief inhibitory neurotransmitter. It binds at a few different receptors, including the GABAA receptor. When the GABAA receptor is triggered by GABA, it hyperpolarizes the neuron. You need hyperpolarization (depolarization) for the neuron to fire. Thus, when GABA binds to GABAA, it makes it harder for the neuron to fire.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are referred to as GABAA receptor ligands. When they bind to the receptor complex, they make it easier for GABA to bind by locking the receptor into a formation that binds with GABA. This means that GABA binds more frequently and you get less neuronal firing. 
Behaviorally, this translates to a sedative effect that is also anxiolytic, anti-convulsant, and hypnotic. It’s usually prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, panic disorder, and alcohol withdrawal. 

The color: Benzodiazepine is a dark red with a hint of ruby sparkle. My Pretty Zombie touts that it is ideal “for that embarrassed/just got slapped look!” I actually think that description frightens away a few customers and sells the blush short. Red blush is awesome for creating a natural flush. As much as we can drone on about how “natural” conventional blushes are, no one is fucking blushing a coral color. That’s just not a thing. Red blushes look like you are actually blushing.

Drugs Like Me Blush in Fluoxetine

The Drug: Serotonin (5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter that affects mood. One common correlate of depression is insufficient levels of one or more monoanime neurotransmitter (the other culprits include norepinephrine and dopamine).

When neurons fire into chemical synapses, they release neurotransmitter molecules in little packets called vesicles. The neurotransmitter hangs out in the synapse (the space between two neurons), where it can bind to receptors on the post-synaptic side. Once that neurotransmitter is cleared out, it stops affecting the post-synaptic neuron.

Neurotransmitters can be cleared out either by being broken down or being sucked back into the pre-synaptic neuron in a process called reuptake. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), one of the most common treatments for depression, inhibit the reuptake process. This keeps the serotonin in the synapse longer, so it can continue to stimulate the post-synaptic cell, enhancing the effect of the serotonin. For many, this can alleviate substantial symptoms of depression.

Fluoxetine (better known by its trade name: Prozac) is one of the most popular SSRIs.

The color: Fluoxetine is a muddy yellow with subtle white sparkle. My Pretty Zombie describes it as a “post-it note yellow with a blue shift”. “Post-i note” seems apt, as long as you are talking about the dreary-colored ones we have in my office, but I’d say that claiming a “blue shift” is pushing it. No shift is evident when the blush is actually applied, and when it’s swatched, it looks like a pearly white shift at best. 

It’s not as unwearable as one might imagine. On my cheeks, it almost picks up an orange-like color that looks a little bit like, well, blush! Still, you’d definitely have to like the “I’m coming down with a very sexy case of scurvy” look to be interested.

Drugs Like Me Blush in MDMA

The Drug: MDMA, frequently referred to as ‘ecstasy’, is an amphetamine that uses monoamine transporters to enter neurons. There, the molecules inhibit vesicular monoamine transporters, leaving high concentrations of the monoamines (serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) in the cytoplasm. It even phosphorylates the transporters, causing them to reverse direction and release even more monoamines.

Because of all these extra monoamines, users feel very positive, often experiencing mania-like symptoms. Hallucinations, derealization, and depersonalization are also common effects.
The color: MDMA is a bright pink with tons of golden shimmer. My Pretty Zombie calls it a “rosy pink with a gold afterglow”, but I don’t think it’s rosy at all! If anything, it’s tulip-y. This is the most conventionally flattering of the blushes that I tried.
Overall, I’m happy with these blushes and have had a good overall experience with My Pretty Zombie! I’ve pre-ordered from them and, although I didn’t put any in my second order, I would definitely consider buying more of these blushes.
The My Pretty Zombie blushes retail for $8 for 0.12oz of product, putting them at the moderately-priced $66.67 per ounce.

1. I’ve had my eye on their purple and black matte lip creams (can’t remember what their name was for them) for a while, had no idea that their blushers were done like this, not a druggie but I still think the packaging for the blushers are pretty interesting. Also, good lord that finger, I wish I kind of hasn’t seen this post before making an order just cause it would have been shocking to see.

2. that’s a totally different company they share the same name though

3. You’re thinking of Pretty Zombie Cosmetics!

I personally wouldn’t purchase from Pretty Zombie Cosmetics because the owner said she hoped her very similar name would get her re-directs from confused customers (PZC was founded in 2012, MPZ in 2008), which I think it both sketchy and awful.

4. Oh I had no idea D: I’ll make sure to check out pretty zombie cosmetics in that case then, I just assumed they were the same company D:

5. Those all look gorgeous. I’m particularly impressed with that yellow shade and the first dark shade. The yellow probably wouldn’t show up on my skin though. I put on what I thought was really orange lipstick the other day and apparently it’s a nude on me. Thanks for the review! I was looking at this company a little while ago and never got anything from them. I might get a blush or two now.

6. I have to apply these pretty lightly to get the color you see on my cheeks!

7. Hey! Love your blog! I just wanted to point out a small typo – you said that “When the GABAA receptor is triggered by GABA, it hyperpolarize the neuron. You need hyperpolarization for the neuron to fire. Thus, when GABA binds to GABAA, it makes it harder for the neuron to fire.” This is the right idea, just backward! Hyperpolarization (making the membrane MORE negative relative to the extracellular space) makes it HARDER for the neuron to fire. Hyperpolarization (reducing the polarization, or negative charge of the neuron) makes it easier to fire. When GABA A is activated, it makes the neuron hyperpolarized (more negative), which makes more stimulation required for the neuron to fire. Thus, GABA A activation effectively reduces the activity of the postsynaptic neuron.

I know – this is totally picky and SO not the point of the article, but this is one of the few science-related bits I am familiar with, so I thought I’d let you know. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews.

8. Oh my god, I can’t believe I made that mistake! This is what I get for writing blog posts in the wee hours of the morning.

9. Fixed and thank you for the correction. That’s an embarrassing mistake to make, since that was my major in college. 😉

10. Not to worry! It was a small mistake! I really love your blog and you do a wonderful job of simplifying the science so non-chemists can understand it. I also love your no BS approach. Keep doing what you do!

11. So now you’ve tried MPZ! I guess your (and my…) quest for duochrome blushes is still not finished.

12. They must exist! They must!

13. Have either of you ladies tried the Sobe Botanicals duochrome blushes?

14. What about Femme Fatale Cosmetics? They sell duochrome blushes.

15… and now I want to buy these just for the theme. The finger is an interesting extra: I’ve received samples and stickers and sweets from indie companies, but never a finger. Hmm.

16. Yeah, it certainly caught me by surprise!

17. I never thought a yellow toned blush would look beautiful, but it looks so good on you that I Want it.

18. I’m glad to have opened up your blush conceptions!

19. ^ What she said. As soon as I saw the color, I cringed in admiration of your makeup bravery, but it’s mind-blowingly pretty on you. If only I were so pale.

20. Never second guess what you can wear based on your appearance!

21. I guess I must like the scurvy look because that pic of you is AMAZING!! 😀

22. Woo for scurvy!

23. Seriously! That picture is model-level gorgeous!!

24. This is my kind of geekery too! For loose powders, I’ve heard that the best way to deal with overflow issues is to not remove the plastic that seals the holes – just poke holes with a pin in a couple of the holes. The holes are then smaller (plus less of them), and it’s less likely to make a mess. Haven’t tried this tip myself, as I try to avoid loose powders, but worth a shot I think!

25. I’ll try that next time!

26. I have to commend you on your brave use of yellow blush. I simply don’t have the courage.

Also when I scrolled down to the first picture, I totally thought it was a dildo until I read the paragraph below- you know, because I’m really a 12-year-old boy instead of an adult female…

27. I strongly doubt that I will ever post dildo pictures on this blog.

But, you know. Never say never.

28., that yellow blush looks AMAZING on you. You look absolutely stunning in that photo! Looking good, lady!
– Michelle

29. Fun fact: I take Prozac (fluoxetine) and that yellow blush they chose is too close to the color on one half of the capsules. Crazy.

30. the blushes look great on you, but as a user of Prozac i find it a tad fucked up that they’re taking a drug that is both essential to my wellbeing and also a handicap and making it into a product they can sell to seem “edgy.” just my opinion, I absolutely love your blog though. it’s always open on my computer.