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?

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violet mood

On August 13, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

What is it about violet?

A bit of red, a bit of blue, beautiful on all skin tones and eye colors in some shade or another, unmistakably a color in the child’s sense, non-neutral, not of the earthground. Purple was, historically, my favorite color. The color that had, from the age one can identify discrete colors to, say, 13?, no peer. A sage green snuck in on it around then, and I grew more diplomatic and embracing in my preferences, but I remember an abiding love for purple.

Can you recall a time when all something had to be was a certain color to ensure success in your eyes? For me it hardly mattered what the thing was, so long as it was some compelling shade of purple. Preferably leaning toward violet, which—perhaps I have only made it up?—is more blue. So simple!

I am still like that with some shades. Even something quite worthless or otherwise unappealing can catch my eye if it strikes a chromatic chord. All that has changed is: the nature of the shade is more precise, and there is more than one.

Here are some of the violet lip things I like, ranging from lavender to fuchsia.

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Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Shameless, MAC lipstick in Heroine, OCC lip tar in Butch, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen, MAC pencil in Nightmoth, Buxom Full-On Lip Stick in Havana, ColourPop Grind pencil, Rimmel Violet Pop lipstick, Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Bauhau5, NARS Audacious Lipstick in Vera

Though there are so many species of purple, I like shades across the spectrum. I think it’s not so much about finding a shade that works for you in the broad sense of warm vs cool or pale vs dark, but a much more particular question of finding specific shades within each region. I think this goes for all colors, reds and oranges, pinks and so on. And for all wearable things, really, not only lipstick. Lipstick is a good example, though, as it is produced in such a crazy volume of often very very very similar shades, and you can establish fine distinctions in compatibility within each shade family.

It means, too, that lipstick lives on those borders between shade names. It’s a great reminder of how hazy the distinctions between colors are, and how fluid a creature color is. I think we can forget this with our shorthand color names, forget that those names are abbreviating small worlds of visible color.

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This ability to hone in on a precise shade is powerful because while vaguely hitting the target of a shade that is flattering to your complexion is effective, hitting the bullseye is devastating. The impact of the right color (colors, there are many) is incredible. You can look more awake, healthier, arresting, demure, sultry, chic, classic, alive in some new, different way to your usual, everyday aliveness. If you haven’t yet had this experience…I’m pretty sure you need to try on more colors.

There is the added appeal of purple being decidedly outside the realm of typical lip colors. It stands out. Whatever the shade, it reads in bold print.

Mini reviews:

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Shameless : Love this formula, this is not the best of the shades in terms of payoff but: drugstore purple! This is the truest purple of the bunch, the closest to your rainbow purple.

MAC lipstick in Heroine: Needs a lip pencil but a great, medium purple for yellow or olive skin tones. It’s bizarrely bright, and fantastic because it is so, so, so not your natural lip color. I don’t know of anything natural that is quite this color.

OCC lip tar in Butch: A pain to apply but really fun colors, and they stay put. This hovers on the border between lavender and powder blue. Good to have a few fun colors like this, I say.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen: was just talking about this, these can be messy to apply as well but great colors and a great price – this shade the darkest of the lot: autumn all over.

MAC pencil in Nightmoth: MAC pencils are a little dry but this also means they don’t move around on you and make a solid base. Nightmoth is a deeply pretty pinky aubergine.

Buxom Full-On Lip Stick in Havana: I don’t love this formula, somewhat patchy and smells poorly perfumed (semi-disguised play-doh), but this color is a great dark aubergine if you stick with it. Actually I don’t at all recommend this, but I don’t dislike it enough to ditch it, quite.

ColourPop Grind pencil: quite pleased with these pencils. Decently creamy, nicely pigmented, great out-of-the-box color selection, $5. This is a great match for MAC Heroine, just a little less yellow.

Rimmel Violet Pop lipstick: an easy, bright raspberry. Keep it up, Rimmel.

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Bauhau5: A vivid hot-house fuchsia. Lips that practically leap off your face. Fantastic long-wearing formula.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Vera: A perfect warm aubergine. Slick and creamy formula, really lovely. As with most formulas, some colors perform better than others.

And some swatches done haphazardly on the back of my hand, taken with my phone, in a different order, with Revlon forgotten. You’re welcome!

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MAC Heroine, MAC Nightmoth, Buxom Havana, NYX Copenhagen, KVD Bauhau5, ColourPop Grind, Rimmel Violet Pop, NARS Vera, OCC Butch

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sweet william, oregano, mini cala lillies

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raspberry lips

On August 5, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

We all understand, do we not, that it is never too late (nor too early) to wear an autumnal lip?

Why, anyway, should autumn/winter have exclusive rights to the berrylicious or vampy pout? No, I don’t follow that logic at all. I sense the pull of the dark side in the dark months, but in the summer I wonder if I don’t feel it even more, at least periodically, as a kind of aesthetic rebellion against prevailing trends.

Here is one I’m loving at the moment, NYX Soft Matte lip cream in Prague, a plum-toned raspberry, let’s call it.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Prague

This Tahitian pearl pendant is from PearlsofJoy (a custom request), and the golden akoya earrings are from PearlParadise.

I do like this formula, which leaves a soft hazy stain on the lips. Not especially long-wearing for me* but not expensive, either, and it offers uniform coverage that is easily built to opacity. If you like this product but want something more long-wearing I highly recommend the Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick as well as the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, both of which have excellent, opaque pigmentation and impressive longevity. That said, the Soft Matte lip creams give comparable color for a quarter (or less, if on offer) of the price.

*Long-wearing formulas have their uses but are not essential, so to say that something is not long-wearing is not an insult from me. I eat and drink, and I don’t expect lip products to survive much of that. It’s even a little unnerving when they do, sometimes. I don’t like that experience of having a hard time getting makeup off. I don’t like waterproof mascaras usually, for example.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Prague

Such a pretty color. A hint of violet is flattering on so many skintones, I find, and with so many eye colors. I’ve only recently had the thought that if a little purple is good, a lot of purple would be better. Really in the mood for purple tones across the board, from fuchsia and raspberry to full on royal purple. Have picked up purple blushes, purple eyethings, and a few purple lipthings. Does this ever happen to you, that you go on a color kick? More on this later.

Speaking of autumn-worthy shades, currently sitting in my Sephora cart: the Kat Von D liquid lipstick in Bauhau5, a bit darker and more purple than Prague (STUNNING), and the Bite Beauty Frozen Berries Matte Creme Lipstick in Barberry, a soft orchid. Well, I want the Bite Beauty lipstick to be in my cart, but it’s been out of stock for ages. It’s going to be in my cart, one day. The Plum and Juniper shades from the Frozen Berries collection look lovely, too. Can’t say enough positive things about Bite Beauty.

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the bordeaux lip

On October 15, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

A bordeaux lip is always fine by me. The deep violet reds of cabernet sauvignons, malbecs, and merlots are easy favorites for autumn/winter. Many of my top choices in this shade range have a sumptuous darkness offset by a hint (or a shove) of fuchsia.  These shades are so versatile, arresting in a full on application and completely subtle and lush when smudged on and blotted. This is how I like them best, I think, applied in a berry-stained haze that leaves the precise boundaries of the lips ever so slightly in question. [I should do a video about this! I just made a note, just now. I’m probably going to lose it though.]

Or full on. I can’t decide.

I like swatches in this context, a selection showing nuances within a shade range. It can be interesting (possibly also sobering) to see what shades I have, maybe not even quite consciously, chosen consistently over the years.

The deep dark plummy reds:

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L to R: Revlon Black Cherry, Julie Hewett Sin Noir, Lancome Rouge in Love 391 Fiery Attitude, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balmstain in CrushIMG_8898

 Revlon Superlustrous lipstick in Black Cherry — Good old standby. Good old Revlon. Great merlot color, and actually, on the lips, not a bad substitute for the much more expensive

Julie Hewett Sin Noir — Lovely, lovely, lovely. This is a popular shade, I understand, and I can see why. Picked up another from the line after trying this shade, then I bought this one again for a friend. The house red.

Lancome Rouge in Love 391 Fiery Attitude — I’ve worn this a few times on the blog, and every time I do I’m thinking, I love this. I should wear this all the time. Why don’t I wear this all the time? (ex. this) This formula is so good. So good! Really good. So, so good blotted away to a faint raspberry cloud. Let’s talk about violet shades later.

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balmstain in Crush — this swatch looks so sad because my crayon is all mooshed. An unfortunate case of the packaging not being quite as good as the product. I really like this, though, as a sheer, plummy malbec option, and I can make it work.

Continuing on:
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L to R: Kat Von D Motorhead Studded Kiss lipstick, NYX Matte lipstick in Aria, Bite Beauty Cashmere lip cream in Sancerre, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in 88 Esprit

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Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Motorhead — still testing this formula out but I really like this color. Quite close to the Revlon Black Cherry, but a drier, more long-lasting formula. How cute is this little tube? Sephora mini set.

NYX Matte lipstick in Aria — a great matte formula for the price (I also really like the color Perfect Red), and this color is just the right balance of brightness and violetness (without quite, for me, tipping into the spring color it would be if just a fraction of a shade lighter/brighter than this). Imagine a young, gemlike syrah held up to the light.

Bite Beauty Cashmere lip cream in Sancerre — opaque like woah. Like the Stila liquid lipstick and the Kat Von D Everlasting Kisses liquid, it is opaque in one swipe and stains to some degree (and needs some care in the application). Not as long lasting as the other two but more luscious. Incredible visual impact with this kind of saturation.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in 88 Esprit — an ideal sheer berry/wine shade. Has she been eating berries? Has she been drinking wine? Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s…Chanel. I think this formula is genius, which I‘ve said before. As close to foolproof as you are going to get with this kind of pigmentation (sheer but distinct). Foolproofness isn’t at all critical for me (if anything I seem to prefer the fussier formulas) but I can appreciate it nonetheless, and I can see vast gift potential.

If you know your lips are going to be wine-stained anyway [I do like red wine, especially going into the colder months], why not get a head start? Or, if you know your lips are not going to be wine-stained, like mine this week, as I have a cold and am working like a dog, why not take matters into your own hands?

Let me know if you have any recommendations. I keep wanting to try out Clinique’s Black Honey, too, in this vein.

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the ponytail

On October 6, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

The ponytail is one of those options not really open to me. I just get a pouf. If I’m lucky, a symmetrical pouf. I let go of this hairstyle sometime in high school and haven’t really looked back.

But then! I was wig shopping one day and found this ponytail extension thing…the acquisition of which, I would argue, is looking forward. There was never much chance of matching my hair color, and zero chance that I would straighten my hair to approximate texture of the hairpiece (it can be done but it’s really not worth it, I don’t even have the tools anymore), so this was always going to be conspicuously unreal. That doesn’t bother me especially, though. I understand there’s a tacky element…but I cannot care. I’m entertained.

[And that’s what really matters here.]

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I couldn’t just get a normal ponytail, either. No. I got a diva-length one. I almost don’t even like it. But then…I kind of like it. It’s so…not me.

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Instagramming my sneakers.

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Weird, huh?

Aaand back to reality.

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This is a great vegan leather tote bag from Free People. Good all-purpose size, comes with a few matching pouches, nice texture (smells a little chemical at first but this wears off). I’ve gotten this as a gift for a few people now.

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These earrings are stunning golden pink ripple pearls from Pearlescence.

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Some of the stuff on my face: Kat Von D Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick in Underage Red, Kjaer Weis cream blush in Desired Glow, Becca shimmering skin perfector (as a highlight), Geisha Ink mascara, Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess liquid bronzer, Urban Decay 24/7 liner, Tarte smoldereyes pencil. Oh, wearing eyeshadow from the Kat Von D Monarch palette, too.

The Kat Von D liquid lipstick has great staying power but I found it tricky to apply, the wand is quite long so it was easier to control on a lip brush. Dry, but this is how it stays so well. There are drawbacks to how instantly opaque and stubborn this color is (I went through a lot of cotton buds cleaning up the edges), but I think it’s worth it for the peace of mind, as this stuff isn’t budging for anything less than a proper remover (or any oil). I think I like the Stila one a bit better, but this is good. Love this color, too.

The Kjaer Weis blush is pricey but gorgeous. Organic, impeccable ingredients, Danish design. A very natural color, effortlessly even payoff. Bizarrely heavy packaging.

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