NARS Liberté blush

On December 15, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

As it gets colder I turn from the orange and coral blushes of summer and reach for darker shades, especially those within that rosy red spectrum that approximates a cheek kissed by winter. My favorite might be NARS Exhibit A, pretty much a straight red, but this new acquisition, another NARS gem, Liberté, is a beautiful, approachable, alternative.

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This is a rosy terracotta with an extremely subtle shimmer which, as far as I can see, is only distinctly visible in the pan and doesn’t translate to the face. This color is so pretty, no? This is the kind of sophisticated pink I find so versatile, so easy to wear. To me this shade is perfect for the transition from summer to autumn but of course it would be lovely any time. I’m sure there are dupes out there but I don’t have anything else quite like it.

Still loving my NARS yachiyo brush, too.

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Wearing it on my eyes as well, with a little bit of brown in the crease for depth and some brown eyeliner (Urban Decay 24/7) to delineate/prevent that pinkeye effect one can get when using straight pink around the eyes. It comes off quite peachy and warm on me. Oh, this mascara is from a little Canadian brand called Geisha Ink and is excellent, highly recommended by shamelessfripperies (if you have expensive taste, definitely check her out).

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If you only get one thing from NARS, make it a blush, they are famous for their excellent quality (also notorious for breaking easily, though). Unless you don’t need any blush, in which case get one of the lip pencils, satin or matte.

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No lipstick!

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summer skincare favorites

On July 31, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

In the summer I am, like most, drawn to lighter skincare formulations. Here are my current favorites, for face rather than body this time, in the order I would apply them.

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Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner

Key ingredients here are avocado and apricot kernel oil, and squalane, a botanical lipid that behaves much like skin lipids. This has a milk-like texture and a faint, aloe-ish scent. I like to pat this on with my fingers rather than involve a cotton pad. Wonderfully hydrating, the main idea being that you get some hydration going on before you try to seal that moisture in.

This is one of my favorite face products at the moment, up there with the Clarin’s Blue Orchid face oil. Picked up on a recommendation from Brit facialist Caroline Hirons, a great, straight talking resource. It’s a kind of serum/oil hybrid, a fantastic light liquid serum that has played well with everything I’ve layered over it. It smells like perfectly ripe peaches, sinks in promptly, leaves a healthy fed-ness behind. I plan to repurchase.

[OR]

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil

The most expensive of the lot, but really nice. Really very, very nice.  A complex blend of superfood oils, basically it does everything.  A “blend of lightweight, fast absorbing oils extremely high in natural retinol, Omega-3, 6 & 9, essential amino acids, Vitamin C, UV shields, and natural anti-inflammatory agents for luminous skin. Anti-aging, antioxidant.” It doesn’t smell especially good (not bad, just vaguely herbal), and this is because they didn’t add anything (especially no essential oils, which can cause reactions in sensitive skin) to make it smell a particular way. Same story re: the healthy nourished effect mentioned with the REN serum. We’ll see how long it lasts before making any plan to repurchase, but I approve. Maybe I’ll talk about it more when I’ve used it a while longer.

Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum

Lisa Eldridge recommended this in a skincare video and I was curious to try it out. Clinique, for the record, has an awesome return policy, and you can try the product and still return if unsatisfied (others with great return policies: Sephora, Mario Badescu, Beauty.com, Ulta). I like it so far, but not sososo much that I wouldn’t switch it up when it’s gone.

(I like to use the REN serum in the morning and the Clinique at night)

Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream Moisturizer

I’ve been using this for about 2 months. I don’t know. I can never tell if these things are helping with my pigmentation (my main skin issue at the moment). If I see a difference (and lately I do), there are always too many factors to determine which product deserves the credit. I’m inclined to chalk most of it up to the prescription retinol (if you have skin issues, step 1 is to see a dermatologist. For one thing, my prescription retinol is much, much cheaper than its over-the-counter equivalents) but active brightening ingredients here and there (and there, and there), don’t hurt. I figure. Nice creamy texture, not a bad price point. 

A solid moisturizing SPF [Always check for ‘UVA/UVB’ or ‘Broad Spectrum’ in the description] with some bonus skincare benefits. This is my budget option, and I’ve repurchased it a few times.

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Origins Mega-Bright SPF 30 Skin tone correcting oil-free moisturizer

Smells great, a light citrus scent, lovely texture, plays well with others. Not cheap, but really nice. Really nice but almost gone and I’m going to try this Murad Essential C one next, about which have heard no end of good things.

 N.B. I like these products but, of course, they may not work for you. Try first!

acquisitions: Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate palette

On March 2, 2013 by theseventhsphinx
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Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity 01

I really like the way cream products blend naturally into the skin, and have been wanting a cream contour for a while. It’s great to hold off acquiring, so when you do finally go for it you get just what you want, and haven’t wasted your funds on stuff it turns out you don’t like. This also helps [me] to justify selecting an expensive option, as this certainly is.

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity 01

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity 01

If I’m only going to have one contour cream, I’m glad this is the one. I like to mess around with creating/enhancing/transforming the architecture of my face. I have the palette in Intensity One, the lighter shade, and find it wonderfully natural and subtle. It’s quite transparent, and–great for makeup amateurs–hard to mess up, in a way. The highlight cream is similarly subtle. I do have other highlighters, cream and powder, and none are so finely milled and undetectable as this. When it comes to face products, undetectability is my main priority.

Chic packaging doesn’t hurt, either.

I feel like finding a paintbrush akin to the one designed to go with the palette [prohibitively expensive], and seeing how that applies.

Watch brilliant makeup artist Lisa Eldridge using it here in an androgynous look, which I am so going to try. And here it is being used for a sculpted Kate Moss look.

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into: face oils

On February 16, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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I have naturally oily skin but I like to treat it as if it is sensitive, dehydrated skin. Oily ≠ hydrated.

My preferred method of hydrating, protecting, and nourishing my skin is: face oils. For years now they have nearly taken the place of moisturizer altogether, especially at night, and my skin hasn’t been this soft and healthy since…before puberty. The lighter oils aren’t any greasier/heavier than a standard sunscreen, and many absorb completely within half an hour or so. They are also extremely soothing after exfoliation or skin treatments and rarely cause the stinging that the chemicals in some moisturizers can.

A good quality oil is often cheaper than a good quality moisturizer, and a little goes a long way. Most can be used for your hair or in the kitchen as well (not to mention as makeup removers and cleansers). I find dropper bottles the most convenient. Not too fussed about brands here, I just look for organic, 100% pure options and go for whatever is reasonably priced. Different oils provide different benefits, and I like to rotate several depending on how my skin is feeling on a given day.

argan oil.  Healing and nourishing, antioxidants, fatty acids, etc. I’m sure you’ve heard. Lightweight, absorbs quickly, no scent. I like this one and this one.

apricot kernel oil. Vitamin A & fatty acids. Healing and good for especially sensitive skin. Also quite light, and, like argan oil, good for when the skin is blemish-prone.

rosehip seed oil. Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, good for skin regeneration and treatment of scarring. You can go not so cheap(though I found this one discounted at TJ Maxx), or you can go really not so cheap. Downside that this dyes your pillow orange, upside is your skin the next day. Thick and rich, can really only be used at night or on isolated dry patches.

jojoba oil. Similar to the skin’s natural oil so it absorbs beautifully and has no distinct odor. Trader Joe’s has a good price. Inexpensive enough to use all over the body as well.

sweet almond oil. I tend to use this on my body rather than my face as it is especially moisturizing, inexpensive and has almost no odor. Absorbs well into the skin (unlike, say, baby oil, which is basically mineral oil, which provides a barrier of protection  but is difficult for skin to absorb (like petroleum jelly)). Great carrier oil for making your own blends. I like to add random essential oils to scent it (many of which also have skin benefits, but do your research first). Recommend frankincense (go smell frankincense), patchouli (not just for the 60s anymore), chamomile, lavender, peru basalm, ylang ylang.

Then there are blends, which can be very expensive indeed. Watch for cheaper blends bulked up with cheap oils like safflower. They will moisturize but don’t have the benefits a concentrated, high quality oil will. I have some of these but they are for the oil-guzzling body, not the face.

I don’t regret acquiring the Clarins rebalancing oils, which are precious but smell amazing and are packed with great nutrients. The Blue Orchid one smells especially awesome. Kind of a sweet, light, compelling patchouli. [Men, go put this on your face and just see what happens.] If, like me, you have a thing for cardamom, try the Santal one. Or, you know, choose one based on your skin concern. Smell before you buy, is what I say about these.

I’ll do a separate post about the oils I like for my hair, which are many. Will also soon experiment with olive oil, avocado oil, hazelnut oil, and castor oil in various contexts. We’ll see how it goes.

N.B. I didn’t like evening primrose oil, which, without heavy dilution with some nice-smelling stuff, smells actually rancid. Some oils should be stored in the refrigerator as they will go rancid, but this one smells unbearable anyway.