golden bronze

On March 21, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Though my taste is all over the place, were it necessary I would find no difficulty in choosing a favorite style of makeup; the archetype of the golden goddess wins it for me. There is some competition from Old Hollywood Glam and Classic Pinup, from Ethereal Futuro-Avant Garde and Effortlessly Chic Parisienne…but the Golden Goddess, healthy and glowing, aligned with other personally powerful figures like the Amazon and the Pioneer, has a voice that speaks to me with purity and directness, nothing lost in translation and everything just as I would have put it myself. How could I not want to aspire to such a radiant state?

Here are a few products I’m enjoying at the moment for a minimal version of this kind of bronzed, glowing look (manifestations span the range from a touch of bronzer and highlighter to dripping gold, we are working steadily toward the far end of the spectrum).

theseventhsphinx golden bronze

Becca blush in Wild Honey, MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft & Gentle, Tom Ford Cream Color in Spice, MAC False Lashes. Brushes: Morphe E4, Japonesque fan, NARS Yachiyo, Morphe M441.

I was a bit late to the party with Becca’s Wild Honey blush but (despite the hype, which is just as likely to turn me off as get me interested) I really do enjoy it. A bronzer and blusher in one, essentially. There is an extremely fine shimmer that doesn’t read explicitly on the skin but imparts a pretty sheen. For a clearer punch of glow I layer on MAC’s Soft & Gentle, which I cannot imagine finishing in this lifetime. Love to use this with Japonesque’s fan brush, a brush with relatively few bristles of a good stiffness (contrast with the jumbo fan brushes from Morphe or EcoTools with fluffy, tapered bristles, great for bronzer but not accurate/small enough for highlighter, or the e.l.f. fan brush, which is too flimsy and yielding for me).

A few indulgent purchases represented here! Having missed out on the previous limited edition cream shadows from Tom Ford I hustled to pick up one of the new shades just added to the permanent range. I pat this on with my finger and sheer it out with a tapered blending brush. This did crease on me after 4 hours or so the first time I wore it (solo, with nothing else on the lid), so I like to set with eyeshadow. Everything creases on me, basically, so I don’t hold this against it in the least, the ease with which I was able to get a smooth, uniform application…money well spent. [For the record the Charlotte Tilbury cream shadows last longer on me, will have to have a cream shadow smackdown later.]

Another treat to self: the NARS yachiyo brush is my favorite blush brush, full stop. It’s known for being excellent at a sheer application of highly pigmented brushes, but I use it for all blushes, and happily with highlighters and bronzers as well. The Morphe E4 angled blush brush I picked up recently and have been liking for blushes with friendly pigmentation levels. In this case I used it to apply the blush as a bronzer (and I used the yachiyo to apply the blush as a blush…if that makes any sense). I love those looks that are effectively one color in varying concentrations on the face. Reminds me of the great Kate Moss look by Charlotte Tilbury on Lisa Eldridge’s channel, wherein she uses the Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate palette to sculpt the cheeks, jaw, and forehead, and a nearly identical cream color on the eyes. Such great information in this video. It’s a shame that her own videos aren’t as informative as this guest one created so long before she developed her own channel.

MAC False Lashes mascara I like so much more than I anticipated. It’s funny because I recently decided (after doggedly working through a deluxe sample) that I can’t stand Benefit’s They’re Real mascara. False Lash, ostensibly supposed to look like false lashes, provides a nice, separated natural look, and They’re Real, ostensibly supposed to cause some confusion as to the authenticity of the lashes, looks clumpy and rubbish and not at all like fake lashes. What is the opposite of separated in lash-speak?

But, you know, what does it matter to anyone but me? I have decent lashes and don’t usually like a clumpy or super voluminous look, so I’m not the target audience.

Lashes are so personal. Faces are so personal.

Picked up a few things from Morphe, which will show you soon enough.

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.

into: Japonesque Color

On March 21, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

Japonesque has long been a manufacturer of professional makeup brushes and tools, for their own brand as well as other high-end brands. An American company out of Northern California (a little over 25 years old now), the name comes from being inspired by the tools of Japanese Kabuki theater (and benefits, no doubt, from the association with Japan, where many sublime brushes are born). It’s a great brand to turn to to get the brushes of the quality that brands like MAC and NARS promise for a bit less (a number of companies doing this well now), and they have a good variety of shapes and sizes.

The general verdict on their makeup line, Japonesque Color (launched last fall), is that the quality of the formulas in the line are solidly good with the exception of the powder products, which are excellent. I realized I was in the market for an excellent powder. And a blush, maybe…

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Then of course I got a lipstick, too.

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Japonesque Velvet Touch Finishing Powder, Pro Performance Lipstick in Shade 7, Velvet Touch Blush in Shade 3

These powder formulas are indeed excellent. These are finely milled, which is key, and are of that new generation of powders that seem to melt into the skin, serving their function of mattifying or providing a smooth surface for subsequent applications without leaving the impression of a powdered face. Other examples include the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder and the Urban Decay Ultra Definition Pressed Finishing Powder (which I haven’t tried, but Sali Hughes gave it a glowing review). I also use and like the Rimmel Stay Matte powder, which is $5 or so and does the job it is meant to do, but these new formulas are in another league altogether in terms of transparency and lightness.

I use this as a transition product between the cream and powder stages of a makeup. Say I want to use a cream illuminator but a powder blush, I apply the cream product, swish some powder (with a brush*) over that area destined for the blush, and am able to apply the blush without getting uneven patches where the skin was more or less dry.

*Not a sponge, which I find applies too much product. These products don’t come with built-in brushes, which I like very much. Let’s all stop pretending I want to have anything to do with those.

The blush is my favorite of the lot, very similar in hue to the Bobbi Brown Pink Coral blush I like so well (fractionally darker), but with fine gold flecks that set it entirely apart. This is Shade 3, a rich cactus flower pink. I am, when browsing for makeup, like someone browsing paint swatches in a hardware store. It often comes down to a matter of color, a visceral affinity for a given color with a background check on the formula and a quick cost/benefit analysis to give the go ahead. I only partially succeed in my attempts to avoid shade duplicates, though I admit I am not always trying very hard, and alternate justifications for acquisition are a dime a dozen.

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wearing here

 As with the finishing powder it is beautifully sheer and light, and as with the Bobbi Brown blush it instantly brightens the face. The shimmer is subtle and fine, and I am for it. The formula is as beautiful as blushes twice the price*, and I think these powder products are offer great value for money. The lipstick I truly did not need, and it is good. It is not so mind-blowingly good that I would exactly recommend it at this price, but it is good. I took care to select a shade not yet represented in my stash, and I have no regrets.

*Though there are also blushes nearly as nice for half of the price, or a quarter of the price. And to be nearly as nice as something unnecessarily nice…is often nice enough. What I tend to turn to higher end brands for, beyond exceptional textures (drugstore and budget brands offer many great formulas now, and excellent ones here and there), is a compelling color range.

Then, a fan brush. I’ve been wanting a fan brush, you see. They are notoriously good at sweeping highlighter over the cheekbones. While it does do this, and is a great balance of stiff and flexible, for me it is mostly for show. Let’s face it, it’s beautiful. I’ve been hearing great things about this Eco Tools fan brush, too. The position of fan brush has been filled now but still kind of want to check it out…

[The other brush pictured is an angled kabuki-style buffing thing, a gift with purchase. It buffs. I like it, but I like the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush better.]

sun kissed

On February 24, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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I am a long-time fan of Michael Kors as a designer, his sleek mono and duochrome ready to wear collections are (often, at least) clean and sophisticated; sporty, basic separates glammed up with chic tailoring,  luxe fabrics, and an elegant neutral color palette. I was curious to see his new makeup line and, though I find it a bit concept-heavy with the whole ‘sporty sexy glam’ thing (each piece in the collection is categorized for one of these three aspects of a woman who is all of these things, and this is the woman Michael Kors’ designs for), the line is what I would expect – sleek, chic, just a little bit gaudy.

His clothing designs are recognizable, his makeup and accessories are even more so – he is resoundingly known for gold statement jewelry and generously bronzed skin. Between the bronzed skin and the active, sportswear-style designs he is for me a quintessentially American designer. Wherever possible the pieces in the makeup line feature this square of gold made to look like a historic building plaque (a bit of cheeky ego there), and, as with his collections, gold is the recurring theme (remember how we love gold packaging?). As sun kissed, golden skin is his trademark I was particularly interested to try his bronzer, which does not disappoint. I found a deal on the darkest shade, Beam, a dark, shimmery copper that serves as a bronzer and highlight in one.

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This has a subtle shimmer, not something to cause concern unless you are absolutely against it. Many like matte bronzers because they look natural (provided one has chosen a suitable color) and can double as a contour powder and, while I have matte bronzers of my own, I reach more often for this. Looking actually natural (as opposed to looking made up to look natural) is a certain kind of look I only sometimes want.

I’ve been using it with this large Real Techniques powder brush, which is not the best of that range (not the softest) but which is large, densely bristled, and inexpensive (any fat, broad brush will do). It works a treat for bashing on large areas of color, and I find that the powder is finely milled enough and the color close enough to my skin tone that I don’t have to worry about being at all precise. This I like. So I dab in, maybe tap off the excess, maybe not (maybe having powdered beforehand, maybe not, which just changes the intensity a little), bash it on such that the curve of the brush tip lines up roughly with the curve of my cheekbone, swish any product left around my temples and maybe the bridge of my nose, and done. It’s not too obvious but I suddenly look healthier, with a bit of a glow going on. Sun kissed. Which is such a beautiful, apt phrase. Looking as if I have been given numerous kisses from my benevolent lover, the sun.

I like that this has a pink-red rather than an orange undertone, which gives a more realistic sun embraced effect (I turn pink when sunburned, which is the logical extreme of sun kissed, not orange). The other colors are pleasing as well. The compact is large, making it unsuitable for travel but great for using a really big brush (undoubtedly the most satisfying way). If you are in the market for a bronzer, this is a lovely one.

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