Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our Little World: My Greens

My eyeshadow collection consists mainly of neutrals and two colors that I consider "pretend neutrals" since they are so easy to wear: green and purple.

Here are most of my greens:

It's not like I have a thing for seafoam and olive or anything...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just a little bit of Shiseido love: Alchemy

Ignore the dust; I suggest looking instead at the multicolored  microshimmer.
It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Shiseido's aesthetic and many of their powder products. I love Dick Page's work and I think he has done a great job as artistic director. The eyeshadow color stories are to die for. The products themselves are super soft and they give this delicate watercolor effect on the lids. They have the complex shimmer of many higher-end Japanese brands without skimping on pigment.

While the colors are intriguingly complex and many are quite wearable, even surprisingly so, Shiseido doesn't offer many neutrals. One of the few browns in the line is this luscious single, RD 709 Alchemy.
I want to go to there.
Alchemy is a light ruddy brown. I spy with my naked eye glasslike hot pink, gold, green, and blue microshimmer. I find reddened browns quite challenging to wear but Alchemy is an exception. There's something just slightly greyed about it--not enough to make it a taupe, but enough to keep it from just being a basic, one-note color. It's a great lid color for an easy wash that's not boring.

I don't have anything like Alchemy in my stash, so here's swatches of Serendipity, a complex copper, Bronzed Taupe, and Nutty, which is by no means a dupe, though its base is warmer than the other two. You can see that Nutty almost looks orange and Alchemy has a purple cast. So weird.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Shu Uemura UV Underbase Mousse Review and Swatches

Have you ever happened upon one of those products that worms its way into being a daily must-have almost instantly?

Shu Uemura UV Underbase Mousse was like that for me. I'd tried primers before (and have since) but nothing like this mousse, which blurs pores yet is much more lightweight (and effervescent) than those thick silicone pastes. 

My mousse of choice is Brightening. It's lightweight, with a mild floral scent. Like all UV Underbase Mousses, it can be a little sticky if applied with a liberal hand, but it's not heavy or gluey even under those circumstances: just a tad tacky. The Driveller Kate reports that she was advised to apply a pea-sized dollop of the mousse with a flat synthetic brush. I find that using a brush does help the product go further; however, I'm still a glutton and usually end up using two pea's worth.

The heftiness of the product varies somewhat based on formula: my beige and brightening mousses feel about the same but the Tsuya mousse is decidedly more substantial and with a cloying fruity scent, higher alcohol content, and vague promises of "skincare benefits" from the guy with bleached hair who sold it to me. It was kind of like what I imagine a bad interaction at a bar would be like.

I haven't tried the BB Beige mousse (which is different from the regular beige shade) but I would guess it, too, would feel thicker than the normal underbase mousses.

I feel bad for changing the order. But not enough to take another picture of the cans.
Here are the mousses in blob form.
I would use the Brightening-sized dollop for my whole face.
You can see that the beige is, well, beige, the Tsuya mousse is a peach color, and brightening pink purple is a quite pastel lavender.

And starting to blend out into a heavy swatch.
My challenge with the Beige color is that it looks a bit dull on my skin; it's not alarmingly too dark, especially with the minimal amount of mousse I use to cover my whole face, but it just doesn't do much for me.

A bit more blended and starting to dry.
The Tsuya mousse is more difficult still. Its heavier consistency and pigment is harder to overlook. It's far too peach and dark for me. This was an easy purge.

Which leaves me with the Brightening Pink Purple, which is so deliciously pixie-ish and pore-blurring and cheery. It doesn't exacerbate redness; it doesn't make me look dirty; it doesn't make me look like I'm wearing a mask of Pepto-Bismol.
As you can see, it's not a substitute for foundation--
redness and texture issues around my nose area are still there--
but pores are where? It's not all in the bad photography.
I lahve it. I stress out about being without it. Bless you, Brightening.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

aesthetic: stained cheeks and lips

Of late, I've been into the fairytale appeal of a good lip/cheek stain. On my pale skin, depending on the styling, it can give the appearance of a fresh-faced schoolgirl, an elfin queen, or the English rose trappings of Kate Winslet in Sense & Sensibility.
I've had a small army of cheek stains for the past decade. (Some are nearly that old.) I think inexpensive liquid and gel cheek tints were more popular back then, at least in the States. I used to have liquid blushes from Sonia Kashuk (which died a disgraceful death, by the way--leaky rollerball) and Maybelline and gels from Bonne Bell and NYC. I think they're poised for a resurgence (one or two will always emerge as the weather heats up!) Femme Couture at Sally's has gel blushes now, I think. There are tons offered by the low-end Asian brands I'm familiar with as well. 

Here is my current collection:

And swatched:
Half-hearted attempt to arrange roughly by color, with the wider Ulta swatches on the end
Brief texture observations:
Pixi Water Blush
A liquid, much like Benetint. I appreciate the vibrancy but don't reach for it often. Thin liquids like this one are hard to blend, particularly with the ill-thought-out nail polish brush as an applicator.
TheBalm Stainiacs
A bit of a gel-liquid hybrid in a portable, sturdy tube with a doe-foot applicator. Prom Queen and Homecoming Queen look alarmingly orange and yellow, respectively, as liquids, but their drydown is much prettier. 
L'Oreal Translucide Sheer Blush in Blushing Glow
This gel blush in a tiny tube has been discontinued for years and years, but I stocked up. I've probably got five or so. Because it's lovely.
Boots 17 Lip/Cheek Tint in Blossom
It's a liquid, but has a bit more slip than Pixi Water Blush. I love how hot pink it is.
Watsons Lip/Cheek Tint
Meh. So sheer. Probably on its way out. But hey, it's foolproof. It does have a lot of slip, which is nice.
Ulta Extreme Wear Cheek Stain
A nice, cooling water-based gel stick. Not too sticky or even substantial feeling. This is a newer purchase and I'm surprised at  how  much I like them.

On my dry skin, applying all of these over fresh moisturizer and primer is an absolute must, but I think the effect is worth it, like a pink panel in a stained glass window. If I'm wearing stained lips, I often reinforce the effect with a tinted balm such as the red ones from Nivea. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Revlon Reds

One of my perennial staples is the humble Revlon Superlustrous lipstick. Reliably on sale, doesn't wreck my lips, comes in colors from oxblood to salmon and in a variety of finishes. Many of my favorite reds or near-reds are from Revlon's Superlustrous line.

As I am wont to do, I omitted one of my lipsticks from this lineup because Certainly Red, a punchy, not-too-serious pinky red, simply would not be found.

Cherry Blossom, far pinker and lighter than it appears in the tube pictures, and Red Lacquer are from The Shanghai Collection by Gucci Westman, which was released last fall. I'm actually not sure if these colors have been added to the permanent lineup or not--I haven't been able to find out conclusively that they have, and they have not been in any permanent displays I've seen, but they are on Revlon's website. They are both listed as having a pearl finish. Fear not, frost-haters. They are not frosty. I can't even see visible shimmer. They're just... not matte. Almost sheeny. Cherry Blossom is a fuchsia near-red that is just gorgeous. Red Lacquer is a sheer warm red. 

Strawberry Suede, Really Red, and In the Red are from the matte line. I know Strawberry Suede is discontinued and I believe In the Red is as well. I still see Really Red in stores but I haven't seen it on Revlon's website. They are a bit drying so balm before and after wear is a must. Strawberry Suede is a coral near-red. Really Red leans a bit blue but is definitely red, not fuchsia. In the Red is a brick.  

And swatched. 
It may be obvious at this point that Cherry Blossom is my momentary crush.
It is so special. Not red-red, not pink-pink. Not too summery despite its brightness and lightness.
Just pretty.
The two truest reds, Really Red and In the Red, appear darker on the lips (or at least more serious) than they do swatched.

Do you have a favorite Revlon red lipstick? What's your favorite red lipstick of all?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

easy to wear/hard to wear

We all have those colors that we are drawn to as if by instinct. Clear pinky-coral and blue-based pink blushes are the sirens of the blush world for me. On my pink-and-white skin, these clear, bright colors don't look out of place or muddy. 

Fyrinnae Charmed is a favorite shade. I had to have it after seeing the searingly bright pictures. A bit more vibrant than it appears in these swatch pics, it nonetheless blends into my skin nearly effortlessly. It's not an extremely powerful blush look, but it's an incandescently flattering and easy one.

To the right, you can see the new Fyrinnae contour/highlighter, Penguin. Obviously, it doesn't work as a highlight on me, even dusted on lightly.

I ordered a sample of Penguin simply because it's the opposite of what I usually put on my face. It's an intriguing undead greyed purple. It's unlike other contour powders I'd seen before. It's so jolie-laide that I simply had to try.

I don't know how I feel about it, to be honest. On me, the red tones become much more prominent. For this look, I really packed it on so the color would be evident. After I took pictures, I blended the contour better.

Fyrinnae Charmed as blush; Fyrinnae Penguin to contour cheekbone and orbital bone of lid.  No flash.

And the flash version. My true friends will ignore my stray eyebrow hairs and spots.

And would it be a look from me without a doofy  smile? I think not.
I don't think it's close enough to any contour powders on the market to substitute if you're looking to squelch an itch for, say, Chanel Notorious. I think I may like it more as an eyeshadow than I do as a contour, due to those pesky red undertones. What do you think of Penguin? How can I wear it better?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Base Instincts

Ideally, this blog won't feature a product acquisition every single entry, because I get tired of my own consumerism and tendencies toward same, and, though it would take me quite a while to play catch-up and blog everything I've accumulated and kept up to this point, at some point I would, if not run out of things to post entirely, really slow down.

I hope to showcase more experiments with makeup application and interpretations of looks currently chilling out on Pinterest. (Next up: this taupe eye and cherry lip.) But I'm also hoping to explore a little more and articulate what I'm hoping to do with makeup when I put it on my face, why I'm drawn to the looks or effects I'm drawn to, etc. I'm hoping this will help me understand the evolution of my beauty philosophy better which would be helpful for reasons.

Take base, for instance. After an era of trying to make the slightly-too-dark foundation work for me by rubbing minute amounts into my skin, I've gotten to the point where I don't particularly appreciate the look of foundation, full stop. I value the not-matte, not "done" texture of bare, healthy skin. I just think it's a beautiful canvas for the layered watercolor textures I prefer in my color products. (More on that later.) Plus, I've come to realize that no full-coverage foundation truly looks totally natural on me because my skin is so translucent.

I think the development of my distaste for serious coverage has something to do with a) laziness, as I nearly always have to blend my foundation match, and b) the development of my low-maintenance yet somewhat otherworldly personal style. (My post-college wardrobe has been like... mostly gothic ballerina loungewear. I've been told I dress like a ninja genie.)

In lieu of all-over foundation, my favorite base products preserve the crystalline translucency of bare skin while addressing minor textural issues. I love a good primer; the best primers blur pores and many even subtly correct uneven tone. For the same reasons, I love a good powder. I can't be without primer and powder; however, in between the two, I often forgo concealer and foundation of any kind. When I do use more opaque products on my skin, it's generally limited to my undereye area and redness around the nose.

I realize this approach isn't to everyone's taste, and I see the appeal of a totally pristine, matte canvas. What finish do you like on your skin? How do you achieve it? Do you wear foundation on a near-daily basis?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Going through the Taupes: Kate Dual Blend Eyes in BK-1

 One of the cool things about going through my taupes is rediscovering some that I had forgotten about (as well as finding ones I could go without; Bloom Slate, a murky grey, went straight to the purge pile after I swatched.) KATE Dual Blend Eyes in BK-1 was a pleasant rediscovery.

It has two shades: a puttyish beige and a deep cool brown with a bit of a violet undertone.
The selling point is that the two eyeshadow colors aren't completely separated and can be blended in the pan. I tried to clean up the beige side for you (aren't I nice?) but with normal usage, the area in the middle can become quite muddled.
Dark brown, beige, blended
Once the beige is layered over the cool brown, the effect becomes even more muted, even taupe-y. For consistency's sake, I like to take pictures in natural light. I had none, so these are all with-flash, which does have the benefit of showing off the shimmer.

I know I said that most KATE palettes tended to have one shade I don't like. There's generally a glitter stripe I delicately try to avoid or a useless creasy cream base. But here, both shades are smooth with buildable pigmentation. They're not the most densely pigmented in the world but they're also not sheer.

I wanted to show you how similar the Lunasol and KATE shimmer stories are. Again, with my lack of light box, voodoo powers, or ridiculous macro lens, the subtle yumminess of the shimmer (especially in the case of the Lunasol quad) is hard to see. But what I hope you can see is that they are similar in finish and even in their soft texture. Both of these palettes are my favorites from the respective brands, formula-wise, by the way. If you are looking into KATE, the Dual Blend eyes are a pretty nice place to start.

And here is the blended shade swatched along with some other taupes in a picture that dulls the shimmer considerably, as anyone who has ever owned Bronzed Taupe can guess.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thrifty World Book Thursday

Ay, me. In idealistic alliterativeness, I hope to theme entries published on this day of the week "Thrifty Thursday" entries. They may include minireviews of inexpensive goodies, an update on my quest to become more fiscally responsible, biographies of particularly parsimonious historical figures...

Disclaimer: This should not be taken as a promise to blog every Thursday.

Today's Thrifty Thursday entry includes a welcome-home present I bought for myself: Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation of The Brothers Karamazov. It counts because March 7th is World Book Day (thank you, Kate, for reminding me) and I bought this below retail off of Amazon.

I probably romanticize Pevear and Volokhonsky far too much because I think they are an absolutely adorable couple, not to mention they work brilliantly as a team, but I really do love their translations. If you've never read The Brothers Karamazov, you need to read the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. If you've read TBK, you still need to read the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation.

Have I mentioned they are an absolutely adorable couple?   I could listen to them talk all day. Ok, I will stop fangirling.

Other frugal nuggets include Lansinoh, the only thing getting my lips and cuticles through the winter; Wet'n'Wild Fergie eye primer, which has a nice siliconey feel and has been playing nice with my Shiseido and SUQQU looks lately; NYX HD Photogenic concealer, creamy but dries to a matte finish; and Rimmel Scandaleyes Nude waterproof eyeliner, which is just the right color depth to look natural on the waterline and actually stays on for a few hours.

I'm new to the beauty blogging scene and already I have published an entry that's mostly not about makeup. Whoops! So... what would you like to see from me?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

But my eyes are already three-dimensional...

 I don't know if it's bad juju to start with a "meh" review.

But here we have Lunasol's Three-Dimensional quad... or octet... depending on how you look at it, and I wouldn't keep it with me in my pyramid for use in the Egyptian afterlife, but I find it useful.

On the outside, it looks like this:
Cheekily reflective.
On the inside, it looks like this:

It boasts an eggshell, a lilac, a beige, and a dark cool brown color.

What may be hard to see is that the eggshell and the deep cool brown have three separate finishes in their respective pans: a satin, a slight shimmer (that looks much the same as the satin), and a sparse gold glitter that is not really ostentatious once applied. One can theoretically use these shades separately or blended together. I find that the three-in-one pans look pretty homogeneous in reality.

The beige and the lilac are both shimmery but not frosty, with that translucence and refinement and multicolored microshimmer seen in many Japanese eyeshadow formulations. They feel pretty silky and nice to the touch. Not too dry. But not buttery, either.

With my nekkid eye, I see lime, pink, and baby blue microshimmer that unfortunately does not translate here.

Simplistically swatched with the tri-shades blended together. Oh, hello, vein.
It is quite pretty. I think it shows why I was drawn to the color story. To the far right, you can see how the four colors layer to make a purply taupe. I love a good murky purply taupe.

This Lunasol palette is the only one I own. In my opinion, the contrasting microshimmer particles I mentioned provide the major difference between this Lunasol palette and sister-in-Kanebo line KATE palettes. The KATE palettes I own, as you may see in forthcoming posts, tend to have less interesting color combinations of microshimmer and they also usually have at least one gritty or somehow texturally subpar shade.

Given that you probably can't see the complexities of the microshimmer here unless you have amazing alien eyeballs, you might correctly ascertain that I don't think the differences between Lunasol and KATE palettes are at all massive enough to justify Lunasol's significantly higher price. They tend to offer really similar shades each season and I've, for the most part, stuck to KATE's eyeshadows.

Now, blushes are another story altogether, but that is for a later day.

It is all downhill from here.

So I like eyeshadow, right? I like taupes in particular. They are pretty fly.

I decided to document all of my taupes for reasons and was so incandescently high on taupe love that I impulsively created a blog for the express purpose of reminding myself of how great my taupe eyeshadows are. Obviously, it's not going to be exclusively taupe. It may sneakily include Shakespeare and Revlon SuperLustrous glosses and fountain pens and massive Asian pants, as my whimsy takes me.

Hopefully, a blog will be creative stress relief and will help me organize but the real reason is taupe and purpahl and pinky-coral.