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).

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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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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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Exhibit A

On January 22, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Behold NARS Exhibit A, a vivid red blush with burnt sienna tones. The first time I saw this in person was a few years ago now and it was a total coup de foudre. Instant affinity. It’s scary in the pan but is to be applied in sheer layers with a light hand, to which task the NARS yachiyo brush (still loving it) is well suited. NARS is known for their uniformly beautiful blushes*. Excellent pigmentation, fine, high quality powders. I cannot imagine that I will ever use it all, so fractional is the amount needed. This is the blush that, for me, follows (more or less) the prescription to wear a color that matches the color you naturally blush. Goes wonderfully with red lipsticks, too.

*Their eyeshadows (and their eye primer) and certain of their lipsticks are supposed to be good, too, though I confess they do not tempt me, velvet matte lip pencils aside.

I am wearing this blush in the previous post and think it does look fairly realistic, especially as I am outside in the snow.

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It does look like I’m wearing blush (though maybe it wouldn’t if I weren’t wearing lipstick…) but I don’t mind that effect (the conspicuously made-up effect) in moderate doses, or even in immodest doses, if the context is right. The existence and use of makeup is no secret.

in the pink

On January 13, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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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.