a few summer essentials

On June 17, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

It’s finally summer proper here in Boston, which means it’s going to be miserably hot and humid in about 8 minutes. Isn’t it a little annoying how one is meant to be so happy about summer in our culture?* Autumn so superior, at least in the northeast, at least for this coat-lover.

*Actually, marketing-wise, we seem to meant to be thrilled about all of them in turn. But with summer it is especially egregious.

Well, summer has its good points. The rise in popularity of orange and coral beauty products has always been one of my favorite parts. Sunglasses. A thinly veiled excuse to get new lipstick. Late sunsets.

IMG_4606

Here are a few of my favorite things at the moment.

IMG_4611

Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Oil, Glossier Rose balm.com, Dior Glow Maximizing Primer

I made this little ceramic tumbler, by the way! Will have to tell you more about extracurricular activities…

Loving the Korres face oil, kind of an oddly old fashioned rose scent but I like it. A little pricey but not so much that I hesitate before slathering (key). I’m one of those people putting oil on under or in place of moisturizer, so I have different types for different skin moods. This is a great morning oil that sinks in and feels nourishing but light. Getting a solid dewy base by layering the Dior primer over top. The Avene Cleanance Expert moisturizer is the light daytime option when I want a gentle skirmish with my skin rather than an all-out battle. This tiresome skin. The Glossier balm is nice and moisturizing with a hardcore castor oil/beeswax base. This scent has a surprising hint of oud along with the rose that makes it quite strong, likely not everyone will enjoy that. This is a thick ointment/balm that reminds me a bit in texture of the beloved Bite Beauty agave lip mask, though the more nourishing Bite lip mask is better for overnight or treatment situations.

summer essentials

MAC lipstick in So Chaud, Cargo Blush in Laguna, Ray-Ban Clubmasters

So Chaud is fairly new and so has that sheen of novelty that makes me like it all the more. This is a lovely orange-red, distinctly orange but with enough red to anchor it and make it quite wearable. Matte but still really creamy and pleasant on. Fantastic summer color, I’ve been eyeing it for a few summers running now and not disappointed. Cargo Laguna is a deep, vibrant peachy coral. They aren’t much talked about but the Cargo blushes are excellent, if comically large.

I think we can blame the longing for Clubmasters on the completely beautiful Priyanka Chopra, the lead in Quantico, of which I saw just enough episodes to deeply consider this style. Then, shopping, I stumbled across completely gold ones! Not offered in the U.S.? Sorry, can’t find a link.

This is an old favorite, the current anthem. Along with the amazing new Justin Timberlake, which is just stuck in my head.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are another serious favorite. I always eat a good amount of these but I’m really outdoing myself these days, consuming astonishing volumes of citrus fruit and avocado.

x

 

 

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:

IMG_4604

IMG_4598

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

 

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

in the pink

On January 13, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_0515

I have three very specific and very different ideas about what color I want to wear on my cheeks this winter.

The first*, the acquisition of which has been on my mind for some time, is this coral-leaning pink, Bobbi Brown’s aptly named Pink Coral. There are a number of peachy pink blushes out there but this one stands out to me. It stays nearer to the pink camp, trespassing only slightly into peach/coral territory, and has for me that instant, visceral appeal that certain colors have for whatever reason. It’s hard to imagine a skintone this would not suit, it is so near to the embodiment of ‘the pink of health’. This shade walks that line between bright and pastel, vibrant but not in the way of neon or bubblegum. Other blushes I categorize as pink look dim, almost mauve in comparison. It also comes highly recommended by Guardian beauty editor Sali Hughes, the most sensible and appealing beauty editor around as far as I can see. How pleasant, in the bleak midwinter, to forego the dark autumn palette and go straight to summer pink.

*The second and third [ideas] are a true red and a deep berry, respectively, about which more later.

I once came across the advice (can’t recall where now, rubbish memory) to select a blush color that approximates the shade you actually blush, or the color your cheeks go in the cold, which is particular to you. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed myself blushing but in the cold my cheeks turn a faintly rosy red. Mostly red. [Isn’t it a shame that beyond a certain threshold the red is not confined to the cheeks and simply splotches over the entire face?] If going for a natural look I think this is excellent advice, though I think most people could look well in a range of shades, each having its own effect. I don’t naturally blush pink…but you don’t know that. I don’t blush orange, either, and my lips aren’t ever burgundy by their powers alone. Natural isn’t always the goal.

It is this kind of thinking that helps one justify getting several blushes in one season. All quite different, you see!

And it was impossible to justify the above without justifying in tandem the acquisition of the NARS yachiyo kabuki brush, which is, as you see, a thing of beauty. The handle is hand-spun with black wisteria (!), and the hairs are densely packed in the kabuki style yet gently tapered for a soft diffusion of color. I cannot count the number of favorable reviews I have seen on this brush, which has been on my wishlist for years. I wish I’d gotten it sooner as it excels as promised at the sheer, uniform application of highly pigmented powders (otherwise quite scary, those powders).  This is the kind of brush that will do most of the work for you.**

**Look into good brushes, which need not mean expensive though in some cases I find it does not mean cheap. A few discerning brush purchases make for an excellent investment (and a bad brush is waste of time and money both). Tasks that used to be tiresome and difficult become suddenly pleasurable and simple.

Then I went out in search of something else entirely and came home with this little gem, MAC’s Huggable lipcolor in Love Beam, an emollient, high-shine formula that performs beautifully and is very much in the same pink coral vein (which I attribute not to conscious matching but to a phase of affinity to this kind of shade). It seems silly to say when I have so many lip products but I really have nothing else like this color. Must look into pink more, I see. Pink (really red but also pink by association) is opposite green on the color wheel and sets off green and hazel eyes especially.

So many brands are coming out with these lipstick/nourishing treatment hybrids now and the formulas are getting better and better. This means uniform depositing of pigment, uniform fading (no issues with patchiness), pleasant sensation on the lips (a bit tacky, this formula has something of a lipgloss about it). I’m wearing both this and the blush with the chunky knit scarf, though I find you really have to whack blush on for it is show well in photos so it’s not a great showcase. I’ll point it out in future shots. I certainly anticipate getting a lot of wear out if it.