the lipstick police

On November 5, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

I miss lipstick. I haven’t worn it for months. I suppose anything I say will sound like just so many excuses, I haven’t been committed, but here are the discouraging scenarios:

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1. I have a blemish around my mouth

Lipstick, especially red or berry toned lipstick, draws attention to redness on your face, magnifying the awfulness of any unfortunate friends who may have popped up. The problem is I don’t really like foundation, it only looks good from a distance and often breaks me out, so I avoid it day to day…which means I have a conflict, and the compromise is to wait to wear lipstick until my skin improves. This plan is dumb, however, as my skin is not at all on board, and there is no end to this waiting.

2. I am about to eat

I am kind of always about to eat, somehow! Which is fine, but you need to plan and reapply, which takes time and attention.

3. I am busy

I am genuinely, during the daytime, that kind of busy that means I do not look at my phone, barely have a chance to look in a mirror, hardly sit down to eat…I need to be better about taking time for myself to do things like put on lipstick (or just, you know, sit, eat, moisturize?? Champion exfoliators sometimes need a midday moisture fix, you know?), but it can be hard to make those things a priority when there are serious work-things to be done, often time-sensitive ones, at all times. My work is not life-and-death stuff but still there is a lot to do, and it matters to someone. And lipstick…needs a little attention. Lipstick cannot always be trusted!

4. I am not inspired

It is perhaps the result of not seeing many people, at the moment, of seeing always the same people over and over, and not very many of those…or of being in the wrong kind of mood, wherein I am not motivated to make much of an effort with my appearance, but I am not inspired. It’s not that no one would notice or appreciate an effort, people always do. And it’s not that I wouldn’t appreciate it myself, I know I would. So what is it? A low hum of unhappiness, I theorize, which requires a dramatic change in circumstances; in the face of which small joys seem especially small. I am working on a bigger change, and think I am putting my energy into that instead of the small things. The small things add up, though, which I am forgetting.

So, this is why I am not really wearing lipstick (or anything of much interest). But I am sad about it. I miss wearing it. I want to be wearing it. I am sort of bitter about the confluence of inconveniences that make it logical not to wear it. I level a disapproving glare at my life, which is so unfriendly to the wearing of lipstick, and at myself, she who is evidently not courageous enough to say to hell with it all and slap it on anyway. Too conservative? Too preoccupied with controlling the situation, surely. Too distracted by my imperfections. Too whiny.

I have a resolution in place to be better about this, to say to hell with it all! Right after this one egregious blemish heals.

top 10 cream and liquid highlighters

On June 7, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Let us be clear that the first step to glowing skin is an excellent skincare regime and faithful hydration of the skin inside and out. That said, I like to glow much, much more than that. Enter highlighters.

cream and liquid highlighters

Highlighters and blushers are my favorite face products, and the ones I most consistently wear. They are my desert island categories, the first things I reach for if I don’t have the time or the inclination to do more. Even if I am wearing nothing else, I am usually wearing these two things (and chapstick. Then brow gel, then lipstick, then mascara). And, just as I—and my oily skin—slightly prefer cream blush to powder, I slightly prefer cream and liquid highlighters to their powder counterparts. They are capable of an extremely sheer, seamless look on the skin, nearly undetectable with the right formula (also sublimely detectable with the right formula). I like  the glossy, gleaming finish they provide and how effortless it is to apply them.

Looking for some glow inspiration? Don’t miss Lisa Eldridge’s definitive glowing skin tutorial.

In honor of summer, here are my top 10 cream and liquid highlighters.

Gold tones first, obviously my favorites:

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal, Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer, Chantecaille Liquid Lumiere, Benefit Watts Up

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal, Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer, Chantecaille Liquid Lumiere, Benefit Watts Up

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish in Golden, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal, Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminizer, Chantecaille Liquid Lumiere in Brilliance, Benefit Watts Up

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish in Golden— The most golden of these options and the most natural on my skin. This has a firm, balm-like texture and leaves a sheer, even film of gold shimmer. I absolutely love this. The other side of the stick is a clear balm, great for giving a dewy, ultra natural look (Vaseline is also good for this, but a bit stickier). Totally effortless to apply, I just swipe it on my cheekbones and down my nose and pat a little around the edges. This will look yellow on very fair skin tones. Sadly limited edition.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal— I recommend getting a travel size of this as I can’t imagine getting through the whole thing. This has a moisturizer-like texture and is great to add to sunscreen/moisturizer to give an overall natural glow. Pat it on the high points of the face for a beautiful glow. This is a peachy gold (the other colors in this line are nice as well, the beauty community has been raving about these for years) that I can imagine flattering most skin tones. You only need a drop and the finish is lovely, grown up shimmer.

Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminizer— This is what I reach for when I want a more conspicuous glow. This is the thickest consistency of the group, and the most opaque. This is not especially subtle but it is stunning. This is a slightly rosy but still true gold with serious impact. Use sparingly, a little goes a long way. Also cannot imagine needing the full size of this, I picked up a travel size on eBay. Perfect for high summer.

Chantecaille Liquid Lumiere in Brilliance— Most similar to the Josie Maran in consistency though a bit thinner. Excellent for mixing with moisturizer or foundation to add a general glow. Like the Josie Maran this gold shade is stunning on darker skin tones. I like a lot of the highlighters offered by brands that focus primarily on skincare, they tend to have lovely textures. I would say Josie Maran is in this camp as well, along with Lancome and the other luxury brands offering full skincare and makeup collections (Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, etc). I didn’t include the Dior Glow Maximizer Primer here but it can be used alone as a lovely, subtle highlighter as well, as can the Becca Backlight Priming Filter, both most similar in texture to the Lancome below.

Benefit Watts Up— Again, get the travel size if you can, this thing will last ages. This is a firm, stick formula, a little drier than the Pat McGrath but similarly effortless to apply and blend. I find these stick formulas the easiest to use in that you don’t have to worry about them moving around much on you. The more liquid formulas can start to take over your face if you aren’t attentive with your blending, which I usually do with fingers. They are also the kind of formula you can spend the least amount on and still get great results. Sonia Kashuk has a great little glow stick, and the LE Wet N Wild ones are surprisingly nice, too.  Where the higher end ones tend to stand out is in the fineness of the shimmer particles and their uniform consistency (less patchy). The Benefit one is what I keep in my bag as it is so tiny, and so quick and easy to use.

The pearl tones:

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Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity One, rms Beauty Living Luminzer, MAC Strobe Cream, Lancome Eclat Miracle, Homeoplasmine

Alas, I couldn’t capture these at all, despite heavy swatches. Really it’s a testament to how subtle they can be on the skin.

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity One— True white pearl color. This gives a lovely dewy finish, probably the best balance of natural yet difference-making in the bunch. That said, I’d say not worth the price unless you had definite plans for both products here given how many great alternatives there are.

rms Beauty Living Luminzer—A coconut oil base with great skincare ingredients, note that some skintypes won’t like coconut oil. Super sheer and natural, also a true white pearl shade, very pretty. Not my favorite packaging.

MAC Strobe Cream— A cult favorite for good reason, a thin cream great for mixing with moisturizers and foundations. A slightly pink tinged pearl color that is really pretty on fair skin tones. The most holographic of these options. Not especially natural but in a good no-doubt-about-it-we-are-glowing way. Get the travel size.

Lancome Eclat Miracle—My latest acquisition, a classic that was recently re-launched when Lisa Eldrige became creative director at Lancome, picked up entirely because of her strobing tutorial using it. Another one that is great to dilute with moisturizers/foundations and nearly undetectable on the skin. The luminous finish is really similar to the Tom Ford despite the consistency being much more fluid.

Homeoplasmine— The French pharmacy classic, essentially an all-purpose salve similar to Vaseline but a bit firmer. Endless beauty uses, including patting on the cheeks (or eyelids) either alone or on top of existing products to give a dewy finish, pinching onto the eyelashes so they catch the light, wearing as chapstick, rubbing into dry patches of skin, etc. Seems like every makeup artist has this in their kit.

Have you tried any of these? It seems like the whole world wants to glow at the moment, one of those trends I find a bit annoying because: yeah, obviously! I’ve been doing this for years. Psh. What I appreciate about a trend, though, if I happen to like it, is that it usually means a nice new selection of products to meet the demand.

This is rather a lot…but acquired over years of glow-preoccupation. I reach for different textures and colors to meet the demands of a given context and have them spread out over various bags and stations for convenience. And after all, I do have a blogthing…

One I am definitely going to try, too, is the stick highlighter Glossier just launched, Haloscope.

Going to have to give powder highlighters their own post. Really I love both, and layering.

x

 

we like: Jeffree Star Cosmetics

On May 22, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

There are a few formulas of liquid lipstick that stand out as favorites: Dose of Colors, Stila Stay All Day, Kat Von D Everlasting. Watching his videos^ and dozens of other reviews I had no doubt that Jeffree Star Cosmetics liquid lipsticks would be among these ranks, and it was only a matter of time before I picked one up. I recently confirmed that the reviews are deserved; the formula is lovely.

^He has wonderful tutorials, check them out if you like edgy, glamazon looks.

While I was at it, I picked up one of his Velour Lip scrubs, too. A girl needs a lip scrub.

Jeffree star cosmetics Anna Nicole

A girl doesn’t really need to buy a lip scrub, it’s worth mentioning. I have a very functional one I make by mixing castor sugar and vaseline or the spare ends of waxy chapsticks as a binding agent. Pack it in a pot and it lasts ages. You can also just remember to include your lips in any facial scrub session (though I find they sometimes need extra attention). That said, if one were to frivolously spend her money on such a thing, this is a generous little pot and not a bad price ($12), with fun, spot-on flavors. Root Beer is delicious. Plenty of nice oils in to leave the lips balmy and moisturized after.

Jeffree Star Cosmetics lip scrub

The exfoliation of the lips is critical, as all lipstick lovers know.

While I ultimately prefer a classic creamy lipstick, I appreciate the strengths of a liquid lipstick. When you know you will spend hours too busy for chance to even glance in a mirror much less manage touch-ups (as I do at work every day) a liquid lipstick is a great fuss-free option.  I recommend browsing swatches as not all of Jeffree Star’s colors are as uniform (that is, not patchy) as others but the all of the reds get a solid stamp of approval. I went for Anna Nicole, a screaming hot tomato that is absolutely stunning. Orange sits well on yellow/olive-based skin tones. Makes green eyes glow, too. Need to bust out more oranges.

Jeffree star cosmetics Anna Nicole

It is a bit more orange and brighter than it is showing here, quite true to the color in the tube in the first image.

This lip stands up and shouts. I love wearing a color like this, a color that almost jumps off your face it’s so bold and bright. People cannot help but look at this color, a vivid gash of red orange like a toreador’s cape. I felt so badass in this lip. Stares all over. I went downtown to do some shopping in this and can’t remember the last time I had so many blatant stares, nor so many compliments on a lip color. I kept the rest of the look very clean, just highlighter (rather a lot, that will get its own post) and enough blush to keep from looking washed out (Benefit Coralista), a few lashings of mascara*, a bit of concealing to get rid of red marks as dark and bold lipsticks make hyperpigmentation stand out even more, and a little brow defining with my much-loved Benefit Gimme Brow. 

*Currently layering L’Oreal Clump Crusher, which I really like, with Benefit Roller Lash (so much Benefit today!), which is a bit too wet and clump-prone at the moment [but which I anticipate I will like OK when it dries out more], good for adding volume and length to the very natural, separated look Clump Crusher gives. Do we care about this? Can there be too much detail?

The formula: Liquid but not runny (thicker than Colourpop, not quite as thick as Dose of Colors), opaque in one careful coat (or two careless ones). I always use a lip liner with liquid lipsticks anyway and they take a little getting used to but application here was nothing scary. A little blotting and a swipe of a cotton bud here and there to clean-up [not an army of fallen cotton buds that gave their life in service to a single lip look, something I feel I must not be alone in experiencing].

 My lips, already full, looked absolutely massive. There was this illusion of them taking up so much of my face – a clean bold red lip always does this – because they are the focal point the lips seem so much bigger than they are in reality. I love that. People are not even seeing me, I imagine, or not at first seeing me, just this fabulously vibrant lip. As if, having your attention drawn to a bright flower, you find it is being carried by the most charming woman…

x

the RCMA cream cheek color palette

On May 8, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

There were a few months where I didn’t really buy any makeup, just skincare here and there, but this past month I was drawn to a number of new products and quite a few have come home with me. Chief among them at the moment is the lovely RCMA Cream Cheek Color Palette, the acquisition of which I can trace directly to Sali Hughes’ wonderful interview with movie makeup artist Morag Ross. Highly recommend all three parts, Ross speaks to the theatrical side of makeup (rather than, say, red carpet or everyday makeup, which I would argue dominates YouTube tutorials and fashion magazine articles), a whole different creature.

Ross mentions using some RCMA products when doing Cate Blanchett’s makeup for Carol to create a natural, skin-like look for the 16mm film. RCMA is a highly pigmented theatrical makeup brand, with pigment levels around 50% (compare with other theatrical brands with levels around 30 or 40%, and commercial brands with levels around 20%). Their foundations and skin products are oil and wax based, which means they melt into the skin and have excellent longevity. I have issues with my skin just swallowing blush, so I popped over to Beautylish to pick up the cheek palette and see for myself. At $30 it didn’t seem like much of a risk, and have I mentioned how delightful Beautylish is? Fantastic customer service.

RCMA Cream Cheek Color Palette

What an excellent little palette this is. I was amazed at the lasting power. The first day I tried it out I put it on around 9am and and it was entirely intact at 7pm. The colors are great, too, a selection of muted and lively rosy shades that are just what I want for spring/summer. It’s versatile and compact, with something for any lip look I might want to match. I have been mainly using the center three. The second shade in, the most brown, reminds me in both color and blendability of my beloved Kjaer Weis cream blush.  I take only the tiniest bit of this on the tip of one finger, dab on both cheeks, and blend out with clean fingers.

I’ve been using these on their own, mostly, but they are great as a base for powder blush as well. I add powder blush when I want to tweak the shade a bit or add some shimmer. These are all without shimmer and have a satin finish.  They blend so beautifully (hydrate first), it’s easy to get a completely natural look, undetectable, and just as easy to warm up to a bold 80’s style cheek. Easy, too, to layer a cream highlighter over or under. Could not be more pleased with this product.

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moodboard: warm neutrals

On April 17, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Last week I was shopping for a few shades to customize a large Z-palette (top right palette below), occasioned by MAC’s $6 pro pan sale. How do you build a palette? That is, how do you build your ideal palette? I pulled out some of my favorite palettes to study, determine what I like about them. See how they tick.

They display a distinct trend…

warm neutrals - theseventhsphinx

L-R, as if reading: Kat Von D Monarch palette, Z palette (ft. Mac and Makeup Geek shadows), MAC shadows in custom Japonesque palette, Viseart 01 Neutral Matte, Louise Young Essential Eye Palette, Makuep Geek shadows in custom Japonesque palette, Viseart 05 Sultry Muse, Colourpop shadows, Tom Ford cream shadow, MAC singles, NARS single, Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, Marc Jacobs 212 The Dreamer, Clinique 03 Morning Java

It’s not so easy, in a sea of shades, to create a compelling combination. Easy to make something nice, hard to make something I like even more than my favorites. I’m not finished, actually, though the Z-palette (the blush there is MAC Peaches, if you’re wondering) is full for now. Need to pull in a few more matte shades, something very dark and something to be a great transition shade for my skin tone (read: a tiny bit darker without being too dark). It’s an engrossing color exercise, feels much like a puzzle. I keep shuffling the shades around, deciding not only what shades to include but in what arrangement. Feeling satisfyingly territorial about it.

It seems revealing, to see what colors a person would choose, like it would reinforce something you already knew, or show you something you hadn’t realized about them (about yourself).

[I’m working on the 2 little 4-pan Japonesque (Japonesque makes the shell) palettes as well, simultaneously, as related but independent puzzles.]

I want something that is effectively a Viseart Neutral Matte palette that incorporates shimmers and metallics. Once I’ve added a few things and rearranged to my heart’s content I’ll let you know which shadows made the cut. Have you ever built a custom palette? How did it go? Favorite shades?

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