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.

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hybrid catwoman

On October 31, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

Halloween: license to do the kind of over-the-top stuff I want to do all the time.

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The Michelle Pfeiffer/Tim Burton Catwoman was my starting point here. Sadly, my head was too big to fit in the badass mask I got, and the replacement badass mask is likely going to show up tomorrow. Of course. So there’s a little old-school Eartha Kitt Catwoman inspiration for the mask and ears. Not quite as creepy as the full mask, alas, but with its own charm.

This bodysuit is the costume staple that keeps on giving.

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There really is something about a mask…

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This whip is legit.

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MAC Russian Red lipstick with a red Japonesque lip lacquer over top. Glossy finish a must.

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These boots (Coach, thrifted) are not disappointing in any way.

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There’s something so fantastic about Catwoman, I think, so crazy and unhinged, so easily distracted by shiny things, so sleek, so sensual, so stylish.

Happy Halloween.

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Meow.

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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.

 

spring pinks

On April 18, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Bobbi Brown Pink Coral (wearing here), Japonesque #3 (wearing here), Tom Ford Love Lust (wearing here)

Here are a few of the blushes I’m reaching for so far this spring. The Bobbi Brown blush I’ve mentioned before, it’s the brightest and the only non-shimmery blush in this crowd. The Japonesque blush is just a fraction darker, with some fine, subtle gold shimmer, and the Tom Ford blush is more muted and peachy with a comparable amount of gold shimmer, a sophisticated cousin of the Japonesque shade. With Love Lust I’m more likely to do a (subtle) 80s diva streak up the cheekbone rather than a pop on the apples of the cheeks. Milani blush in Luminoso is a great drugstore alternative, about $10 and with a similar effect on the cheeks in terms of the quality of the shimmer (high, fine). Though more distinctly coral/peach the shade is quite sheer (I can see this as a positive, easier not to put too much on in one go). I mention it here anyway because I reach for it under the same circumstances and for the same reasons I would reach for any of these pinks.

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Clockwise from the top: Tom Ford Love Lust, Milani Luminoso, Japonesque #3, Bobbi Brown Pink Coral

One of these blushes is often virtually the only makeup I use for the day, with perhaps a little highlighter and tinted lip balm (maybe some bronzer, mascara…OK, OK. Virtually).  If I only have time to do one thing, though, that thing is always adding a bit of blush. Blush, for me, gives the maximum payoff for the minimum effort, an instant infusion of life into the face.

These are great blushes at any time of year, really. Like any that suit you. A good pink blush will see you through all weather.

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.]

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