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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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 tuxedo blazer

On March 10, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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One of the trends I like is that of the casual tuxedo blazer, especially with worn-in boyfriend jeans.

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You know how there’s this kind of transition area between the lips and the not-lips, maybe 1-2mm? I was experimenting with coloring that area in (I usually don’t), to maximize the lip territory. It had a pretty dramatic effect to me, a little weird (unfamiliar) but not technically overdrawn (which nearly always looks off), just… bigger. This reminds me of my thoughts about pearl stud sizes, and how 1mm can make such a difference in the appearance of the size. Faces aren’t very big, was the conclusion; small changes have an amplified effect.

I went to the grocery store after this and an 8 year-old boy actually craned his head as far as it would go to watch my lips walk by, his mouth slack with distraction. This speaks to makeup being both arresting and slightly scary. I get a lot of positive feedback from this 8 and under demographic – the younger the child, the more bright lipstick seems to delight them. I’m right there with you, kids. What will those wacky giants do next? I don’t know either!

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Wool tuxedo blazer from Isabel Marant for H&M, AG jeans (thrifted), J. Crew cardigan, Old Navy camisole, Adidas Spezial sneakers, Pearl Paradise golden akoya studs, scarab necklace. On the lips: Revlon matte lipstick in Really Red (I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I like these Revlon matte lipsticks) with a dark red Avon pencil…Cabaret or something? And this is the NARS Exhibit A blush again, which I like as much as ever. I find it quite youthful, not a sophisticated tawny shade but a true blood-in-the-cheeks, fresh-from-the-cold shade.

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AND: Hurrah for daylight savings.

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the fisherman’s sweater

On February 3, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

A sweater and jeans makes an excellent uniform for warmer winter days.

I can’t remember if I’ve yet mentioned wanting to knit a sweater. Well, I do. An Irish fisherman style cable-knit sweater along these lines (for I want a green one).

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love leather and knit textures together

Oh, and I got a floppy wool hat. I sometimes think such hats look silly when the hair is tucked underneath, without any tendrils escaping or anything [I can’t really have the kinds of tendrils I mean. Alas, it is not my lot to have long, faintly curling wispy tendrils. Though I can fake it.], but…I go back and forth.

IMG_1130This is the scarf I knit a few years ago. Light and flexible, forgot I had it for a while. A closet review is definitely in order. What is the use of excellent, carefully chosen belongings if you cannot remember that you have them?

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Carraig Donn sweater (thrifted, a men’s small and properly cozy), Express leggings, Eric Michael boots, wool hat from Chicwish, Pratt & Hart leather mittens, 9mm studs from Pearls of Joy, Mulberry bag. On the lips, Revlon lipstick in Black Cherry (I couldn’t find it so I got another). On the cheeks, Chanel cream blush in Fantastic.

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winter lips

On December 7, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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I like that people seem to be more open to lipstick, and especially bold lipstick, in the winter. I support that.

Here are some of my favorites just now, in a range of fall/winter shades. [Though I would wear these colors year round. Rather I do, or will.] While I see the logic behind the seasonal shift toward a darker palette —as the environment grows dark and somber so do our clothes and the colors we find compelling and suited to the season—I see choosing bright colors as a natural reaction against this trend and a great way to be unexpected, playful. As much as I need the plums and the burgundies (and I do need them, oh yes), I also need a respite from them.

In my mind this makes complete sense.

I’ve been sporting both brights and darks, mattes and shines, with a selection of pigmented and sheer formulas.

Pigmented formulas first:

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L to R: Rimmel Apocalips in Big Bang, Revlon Cherries in the Snow, NARS Funny Face, Lancome Rouge in Love Fiery Attitude (wearing here), MAC Dubonnet (wearing here), Albeit Vermillion, Rimmel Kate Moss Kiss of Life, MAC RiRiWoo, Tom Ford Narcotic Rouge (wearing here)

While I love orange in the summer, I think fuschia makes a great bright lip for winter, from the floral pop of Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow to the rich bordeaux of Lancôme’s Fiery Attitude (again, for the record, I love this formula).

The internet is full of blogs dedicated to swatching, which is my way of telling you that I am not going to do it because I don’t want to (so I would never do a truly good job, you see? It’s better this way). For now, trust that these reds are all completely different. I would also include MAC’s Brave Red here, only not pictured because mine melted a little, and Revlon’s Black Cherry, not pictured because I can’t find it. Now that I can’t find it I really, really want to wear it. Right now.

Pleased to find that the Albeit lipstick I picked up in the Anthropologie holiday sale is lovely. Creamy, beautifully pigmented, Vitamin E, cool vintage gold bullet, etc (wearing here). And RiRiWoo, though I was suspicious of the hype, is awesome. Awesome, people. The reigning red of the moment (wearing here).

On to the sheers:

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clockwise from top left: Revlon Balmstain in Crush, Lipstick Queen Saint in Berry (wearing here), Revlon lip butter in Fig Jam, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Esprit, Almay Liquid Lip Balm in Candy Apple

Sheer formulas are what I tend to carry around in my bag,  beloved for their quick and easy application and general compatibility with a slapdash approach. I like all of these formulas but especially the Lipstick Queen Saint lipstick* and the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine. So smooth, such a uniform slick of color, such pleasant texture. If you want to give someone the gift of lipstick, I suggest you give them Lipstick Queen in Jean Queen or a Chanel Rouge Coco Shine. These formulas are that rare combination of stunning and friendly.

Or you could get them RiRiWoo, if it hasn’t sold out again already.

*A cool concept. There are two lines: Saint, with 10% pigment, and Sinner, with 90% pigment.

I like the Almay liquid lip balm, too, which is kind of a cross between an ointment and a gloss. Some of the other colors in the range look horrid but this one is natural and nice, sheer but with a distinct tint.

OK. Go forth and brighten thy lips.

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