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?

x

the neutral mattes

On October 2, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I wear autumnal shades year round, and I wear the hell out of them when autumn finally comes around again.

Viseart neutral matte palette

The light is somewhat blue in these images, the bottom left corner shade is a true black, and the shade just to the right of that is a lavender tinged, dove gray. Imagine the whole thing warmer than shown. 

The autumn gift to self this year is the stunning Neutral Matte palette by pro French brand Viseart, whose expensive palettes are regularly sold out at Sephora. Honestly, for $80 it ought to be stunning. And it is. Beautifully chosen shades, not exactly creamy but no fall-out for me either, effortless blendability, great true pigmentation. Is it worth $80? That’s arguable, there are so many solid formulas on the market now that it is definitely not necessary to spend this much (at all) for great eyeshadow (See the Wet N’ Wild Comfort Zone palette). That said, if you are in the market to find a gorgeous neutral matte palette, I don’t think you would find this disappointing.

The shade selection reminds me a bit of the Kat Von D Monarch palette, maybe for that great sepia in the middle.

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Eyeshadow brushes loving at the moment, L to R: Hakuhodo J5523, Paula Dorf Sheer Crease, Hakuhodo J142, Rae Morris 7 Deluxe Point Shader, MAC 217

I’m not converted to the cult of matte everything. If anything I tend to prefer any finish over matte, especially when it comes to skin. Of my favorite matte lipsticks I like the creamiest of the crop, and I think a little shimmer in an eyeshadow makes it significantly more forgiving in application. Mattes, though, are ideal for the kind of no-makeup sculpting I often find so chic and polished. This recent Lisa Eldridge look is a perfect example of the kind of makeup I mean; minimal, clean, natural, mimicking/enhancing the existing shadows and highlights of the face. Done well, this kind of shading is virtually undetectable, done well in another way, it’s slightly detectable but who cares because it’s so lovely.

I also really like that I can see myself using every single shade here (always such a shame when a palette has duds), and with a mix of cool and warm neutrals, especially if you have a few desired shimmer shadows on the side to complement, seriously versatile. I don’t especially care about a single palette being able to do everything at once, I don’t mind carrying a couple of things around, and this palette isn’t especially small anyway, so it was never going to win a convenience battle. It’s a selection of fundamentals.

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Special props to the Rae Morris 7 brush, which caught my eye after I saw Morris using it in this incredible makeup tutorial, which I found inspiring as far as how to think about sculpting an eye. She outlines some techniques I haven’t seen anywhere else. This brush has a dramatic taper to a point, making it great for blending, and great if you have a deeper socket, or want to give the impression of having a deeper socket.

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This is the only palette I brought on vacation (I’m on vacation!), and I’m feeling good about the decision.

Happy autumn.

x

the Lorac PRO

On January 24, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

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Lorac PRO palette, Nars Pro Prime, Elf C eyeshadow brush, Paula Dorf shader, MAC 217

I finally picked up the much praised Lorac PRO palette in the holiday sales, after no small debate between several palettes I’ve had my eye on. This just edged out the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette, which I’m afraid I still kind of want, but not due to any disappointment with the Lorac PRO. Garnet, Sable, Mauve, and Pewter are the standout shades for me here, and this just my kind of palette: essentially warm neutrals but with a few jewel shades to spice things up. I like that I consider using some shades I normally wouldn’t reach for, like Slate, just because they are there – palettes can be good for meandering outside your usual colorways.

These are excellent quality, creamy and smooth, very little dust/fallout for me. A nice price point for the quantity and quality, too, especially if you find it on sale.

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Lots of beautiful combinations here.

Gold Trench No. 4

On November 2, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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For an effortless, sheer shadow with low-level sophisticated shimmer, look to the Burberry Sheer Eyeshadows. The Burberry makeup line is nice across the board, great formulations for lips, base, eyes, face, but for the most part I think it’s too expensive to be truly tempting, and their colors are overwhelmingly neutral. If I am up for the Burberry price tag, I go to Chanel (blush, lipstick), Dior (eyeshadow), or Guerlain (bronzer), where the options are iconic, proven, and where I’ve made happy choices in the past.

That said, these eyeshadows are really so nice. They are not highly pigmented (one popular way of determining the quality of a shadow) but we do not hold this against them as it is not their purpose. Their purpose is to be uniformly pigmented and slightly creamy in texture (imagine the texture of a Dior shadow with half the pigmentation) such that they give a foolproof wash of color that is ideal for a polished, understated look. Their colors are virtually all shades of beige and brown, and they are lovely.

I plumped for the shade Gold Trench #4, a beautiful pale gold (I wish this were the color of my trench coat). As if I needed yet another gold eyeshadow. I also like Pale Barley (silvery taupe) and Midnight Brown (chocolate brown). Great for an easy single shadow look.

the custom palette

On April 30, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

While I have a lot of eyeshadow, I am still tempted by palettes (sometimes, once in a while), which have the timeless appeal of compelling, immediate* shade combinations. I wonder if I even care that they are eyeshadow, in a way. I suspect part of the temptation is the pure visual pleasure of certain shade combinations, a harmonious whole greater than the sum of its parts.

*The convenience and mobility of multiple shades built to work together in one small compact is meant to be a big mark for the pro column but eyeshadow isn’t one of those things I tend to carry around anyway, and I do not allow myself to use this as a personal selling point.

Usually, though, I really cannot justify acquiring them, as in the case of two that have been calling to me quietly, stubbornly, for the last year or more.

Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita

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This is about $65, which I could almost stretch to—so glowing are the reviews, so gorgeous are the colors, so unflagging is my interest—but Charlotte Tilbury’s line, relatively new, doesn’t yet ship to the US and can only be had through Selfridges, the luxe British department store now of Masterpiece fame (I find Jeremy Piven awful in it, incidentally). They will deign to ship to the US for about $50, which I just cannot see my way to paying.

I like the combination of colors so well here, though, the saturated russett, the shimmering bronze, the warm champagne, the rich earthy brown…I decided to approximate it myself, with a bit of poetic license. I found this little 4 pan, no-fuss Japonesque compact, and chose some individual shadows to populate it. And (perhaps the best part) gave it a name.

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Courtesy of a Sharpie gold metallic paint pen. I knew I’d need that one day.

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The Minx. L to R: MAC Soba, MAC Antiqued, MAC Woodwinked, MAC Smut

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The compact was something like $8 (with promo code, always with promo code), and it was around $10 for each shadow here (less for a few I found a deal on). I’m going to value this at around $45. It could have been less if I’d opted for shadows from SMH or Makeup Geek, say, around $6 each, and with pretty good reviews (though worthwhile to get reviews on individual colors under consideration, as quality is not consistent across a range – this goes for any brand, really).

Tom Ford Golden MinkNMC0Z2P_mz

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Stunning, but $78 at the moment, plus tax, and I just can’t quite approve it in the budget: an impeccable warm neutral palette with one of the best formulas on the market, buttery smooth pigmentation, unparalleled blendability….and no. I cannot buy this now.

So I bought these, in the Golden Mink spirit:
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The Golden Age. L to R: MAC Nanogold, MAC Tempting, MAC Era, SMH Taz

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This one could use some fiddling, I think. The first color a bit too pale? A work in progress.

For about $38? Something like that. Not exactly cheap, but acceptable (approve-able, do-able) to me in a way that $78 is not (for now…). It’s only a loose translation but one I like a lot, so what does it matter the point of departure?

One appealing aspect of these palettes is that I could switch any of the colors out for others (I have several shades in the bronze/gold/burgundy range, and any number of successful combinations might be made, a fun color exercise). I also could have gone to an INGLOT counter to do this for around the same price, which I was tempted to do, and which I reserve the right to do at some point in the future.

There’s an undeniable appeal to this kind of customization, and it’s no surprise that the consumer industry is leaning more and more toward incorporating the hand of the customer. You entirely sidestep that unfortunate scenario in which you pay for a palette but only intend to use some fraction of the colors, tolerating the duds and writing them off in the cost-benefit analysis. Basing your selection, even if loosely, on an existing palette you admire, is a way to capitalize on the knowhow that went into the color selection while injecting a bit of your own style; these colors are going to work, and they’re going to work especially well for you.

 

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