Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sonnet on a Teak Rose

Photo credit
Despite my appreciation for Chanel and Dior nail polish, I thought it high time that I bow down to the humble little Revlon Teak Rose 161 Nail Enamel ($4.79).

I've been wearing this color (a mid toned rose with a whisper of brown) since the mid 90s, and I have repurchased it at least a half dozen times in the ensuing years. Every time I wear it, I get compliments. You know that one color that just complements your skin tone so well? That's what Teak Rose does for me. (On my nails. Teak Rose lipstick is too warm and bright.)

I thought I'd write a love poem to honor it, borrowing heavily from the bard with the beard.

Sonnet on a Teak Rose

Shall I compare thee to a pink-tongued cat?
Thou art more shiny and more delicate.
Wet sands do chip my glossy rose-toned tips,
And top coat's layer hath all too short a stay.
Sometimes too fast the product line may change,
And often is my pink complexion trounced;
And every product from brand sometimes may range,
By chance ... or Marketing's changing research bounced;
But thy eternal beauty shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that gloss thou ow'st;
Nor shall break the perfect ten thou hath made;
When in eternal days to wait thou grow'st:
So long as women breathe and nails do click,
So long lives this and this gives joy to me.

Revlon nail varnish applies smoothly and lasts as long as my favorite high-end brands. I get 2-4 weeks of wear on my toes if I am not spending an inordinate time walking barefoot in the sand.

I love rosy nails. butter LONDON's nail polish in Dahling (reviewed here) is nipping at Teak Rose's heels for also being a gorgeous rose shade, but only just barely. Teak Rose never fails to flatter.

What is your ONE favorite nail polish color?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Nude Makeup Invasion

Part 2 of the "I Don't Get It" series.

Photo credit: Three Custom Colors
I bet this post either generates my first hate comments or porn spammers. I'll take the risk because I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

Photo credit: Three Custom Colors
Really? A must have? One lipstick for ALL skin tones? Um ... I'll pass, m'kay thanks, and buh-bye.

To be sure, the models in Three Custom Colors' ad are beautiful--in fact, I think the model in the center is the makeup artist, Lauren Napier, who designed the Nude Attitude lipstick, and she's gorgeous in her nudity.

If I appear to be picking on 3CC, I assure you I am not. Three Custom make gorgeous, skin-flattering makeup for a wide variety of skin tones, and they did an outstanding job duplicating a beloved discontinued lipstick for me. I applaud what they do.  But I slam on the brakes when I am told that any season's must have is a face full of silly putty.

If you're over 40 you know what this is
Why do so many beautiful women want to wash out all their features and wear, essentially, concealer as lipstick? Especially matte nude lipstick. I don't get it.

I'm actually a proponent of the "no-makeup" makeup look. I wear natural-looking makeup that extends colors found naturally in my skin, hair, eyes, lips, teeth, freckles, teeth, hair, veins, blood, bruises, and so on. It's one reason I like Ellis Faas, Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown, Edward Bess, Jane Iredale, Chantecaille, BECCA, and other brands that provide "naturalists" with plenty of options, letting us fly under the radar. As far as truly natural goes, how many of us have literally no pigmentation in our lips? Who among us wants our lips to match our chin, and why do some of us so ardently erase all traces of natural lip pigmentation with a primer or concealer, just so we can wear a lipstick that is lighter than our lips?

Flame me with comments if you must, but I find that nude lips make most women look exhausted. If you want to wear dramatic eyeshadow and play down your lips, what about just wearing clear gloss or balm on your own natural beauty? Or what about wearing a lip color with a teensy bit more pigment that your own natural color and then blotting it down to a stain?

Let's look at a well-known actor whose nude lips are internationally celebrated and imitated:

When I compare the above image to one where she's got a spot more color, I can't help but think she looks more awake, healthier, prettier:

In the second photo, she looks like someone I'd want to know, whereas if I saw her walking down the street in that first picture, I doubt I'd even look twice because everything about her blends together into one big bucket of blah.

I believe that the women who look good in nude lips are those with extremely low contrast between their skin, lips/eyes, and (ideally) their natural hair color: Heather Locklear, Naomi Watts, Beyonce, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry, Kate Hudson, Nicole Richie, Renee Zellweger, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rhianna, Taylor Swift, etc.

Jennifer Lopez is not low contrast. At a minimum, she's medium, and probably even high with no tan.

J-Lo looks beautiful in both of the following pictures, but when she wears nude lipstick, the bottom half of her face disappears into her neck. On the other hand, the red lipstick—while dramatic and too high in chroma—brightens her face. Whether it's the lipstick, the lighting, the face-softening curl, or the photographer's skills, Jennifer looks happier in the red, more confident, more approachable. The image on the left is demurely "ice princess" and aloof, not as approachable. Of course, that well may be the point.

Photo credit
As for the low contrast women I mentioned above, I don't think nude lipstick is a good look on Gwyneth Paltrow, either. A touch more pigment in a shiny peached-rose lipstick would be outstanding against her luminous complexion.

Photo credit Harper's Bazaar
I am biased toward reds and roses, so it should come as no surprise that I can't help but view each of the following women as needlessly beige. They don't have to wear a Hollywood red, and the lipstick need not be much darker than what they're wearing below. As an example, I'd apply a sheer coral on Carrie, clear, warm rose on Taylor, and a blushed peach on Gwyneth. All three could easily wear a clear red, but it would have to be sheer so as not to overpower their natural lightness. 

Photo credit:
Let's take a look at another actress who is celebrated for her nude lips: Angelina Jolie. I realize it can be hard to find fault with anything about her face, so let's just pick on the nude lips. I think she looks a little tired and bland.

Photo credit
And here she is playing up her pouty lips for all they are worth. I'd skip the gloss, which makes the red too high in chroma for her soft coloring, but she wears the pigment well, especially because her other makeup (brown eyeshadow and eyeliner) is so understated. It's a great, minimalist look with a powah pop of color. I suppose she plays down her lips because they are so dominant on her face.

Which look do you prefer?

Photo credit
Angelina's hair is darker on the left, so perhaps if she wore the red in that image and wore the nude in the photo on the right, where her hair is lighter, her chosen makeup colors would harmonize more with her face. The red is also too warm (orange) for her cool-neutral coloring.

Although this article has been a decry against nude lipstick, I want to be clear that, even though I love red lips and truly believe there is a red for everyone—whether it's brick or strawberry or tomato or watermelon or coral or raspberry—it is important to consider the temperature of our skin's undertone (hue), chroma (level of saturation) and value (whether we are light, dark, or somewhere in between) to find our best red ... or nude.

If you are a great admirer of Angelina's softer look, she is purportedly a huge fan of Chantecaille’s Brilliant Lip Gloss in Charm (almost always out of stock) and Love. Charm is a nude-peach shade with a hint of shimmer. Love contains a hint more pink.

I'd love to know your thoughts about the whole nude invasion, so speak freely.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds Are Singing Long-lasting Eyeshadow in Delicate Hummingbird

Rouge Bunny Rouge Long-lasting Eyeshadow in Delicate Hummingbird (£22.00/2.4 grams) is described as a cool, dusky sugar-frosted plum, iridescent with pink shimmer. I definitely see that and I hope you do, too, in the photos that follow.

There is nothing boring about this color in the pan. I'd heard it bordered on taupe, but maybe I dreamed that because Delicate Hummingbird does appear grey + brown. I see a densely-pigmented, mid-toned violet with pink and blue duochrome shimmers in a smoky-brown base. Make no mistake: This is a purple shade but one that does not shout its purply presence.

My skin tone is cool. I look dreadful in warm shades, even if they mirror the colors in my eyes (which are blue with grey rims and amber flecks). Browns have always been problematic, and although I can wear some taupes (a nebulous shade that has developed a cult following in recent years but which seems to elude me), I have always preferred wearing blue-based grey and dusty lavender. Delicate Hummingbird is the Monarch of Purple, so seductive with its subtle gleam and plummy goodness. 

Following are some images of Delicate Hummingbird, in the pan, in different lighting. Click the images to enlarge them.

Full sun
Indirect sun
Indoors by window
Indoors, natural light, no flash
Here are some skin swatches. I hope you can see how the color changes in different lighting. If I press-roll my fingertips over the finished result, I can make the pearlized particles lie flat, which then capture light and increase the luminosity. Once applied, the color dances to life as it warms up on the skin.

Full sun
Indirect sun -- looks almost taupe, doesn't it?
Indoors near window
Indoors, natural light, no flash
Here is Delicate Hummingbird compared to Rouge Bunny Rouge Solstice Halcyon and MAC Shale. In the pan, Delicate Hummingbird comes closest to Shale. These pictures represent the color tone well enough, but because of the cloud cover, the images do not fully capture the eyeshadows' beauty, especially Shale, which looks flat (it isn't!).

Windowsill, cloudy morning
On table beneath skylight (overcast skies)

The following image shows all three eyeshadows on the back of my hand. RBR Solstice Halcyon and Delicate Hummingbird are nothing alike. Solstice Halcyon appears almost brown, whereas Delicate Hummingbird is closest in color to MAC Shale (which is more plum compared to Delicate Hummingbirds violet tones).

Under skylight, overcast skies
The texture of Delicate Hummingbird (and all RBR eyeshadows) is incredibly lightweight, and it is so superfatted it applies like a cream. No powder fallout, and I mean zero. After it has been on for a while and has intermingled with the skin's natural warmth and oils, it becomes luminous, all the while maintaining its second-skin effect. In that respect, it reminds me of Chantecaille Shine eyeshadows, except RBR is much more pigmented. When Birds Are Singing Long-lasting Eyeshadows are also treatment. They contain orange-derived flavonoids to fight free radicals and improve blood microcirculation.

Bottom line: A must have for any cool-toned eyeshadow lover.

All photos mine

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chantecaille Lip Chic in Zinnia

I thought I had purchased all of the Chantecaille Lip Chic ($30) colors that would flatter my skin tone, but then I read the excellent review by Modesty Brown and knew I had to have Zinnia.

The metallic round case appeals to my minimalist leanings--sleek gunmetal pewter grey that clicks closed with a satisfying snap. The tip of the product is sliced off at an angle, versus the traditional, phallic bullet shape. The texture is a smooth, lightweight, comfortable, and cushiony, but during initial application (until it warms up on the lips) it can drag and feel a little stiff, which sometimes takes 3 passes. If I make one pass, it usually does feel stiff unless it's a really hot day.

With Lip Chics, it's clear that a lipstick and a lip gloss had a torrid affair and produced a bouncing baby, as the unusual gel-like texture almost feels bouncy on the lips, as though the formulation contained tiny microbubbles of moisture. The result is a high shine with the plumping effects of a gloss and the saturated, even coverage of a lipstick

The only caution is the color can migrate outside my lip line if I apply too much of it (which is easy to do when a texture feels that good). So I just blot before I reapply. No big deal.

Zinnia is a sheer, mid-toned watermelon-meets-coral, with a base of orange laced with pink. Upon application, there is a whiff of creme brulee, which quickly dissipates.

Sadly, the brightness of this color did not translate, no matter how many pictures I took. Suffice it to say that this is a beautiful, face-brightening color that is so comfortable to wear. Despite the blah of the following photo, Zinnia does add a punch of color.

Bottom line: Pretty, everyday color and a fantastic lipstick/lip gloss hybrid.

All photos mine.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Le Metier de Beaute True Eye Colour in Mulberry

Part 1 of the "I Don't Get It" series.

This post departs from the norm in that it's less a review than a huh?

I want to talk about the weirdness that is Le Metier de Beaute True Color Eyeshadow in Mulberry, which I have seen described as "mauvish taupe" and "too cool for most people."

Such descriptions were an irresistible lure for me, but I'm not seeing what you're seeing, people. I see brown, a warm golden dirty brown, one that makes me look like one of the Great Unwashed or someone who should race to a women's shelter. No grey to cool it down, no mauve, no taupe, no joy.

I purchased Mulberry for the first time last year and declared it a dud on me, but after I started reading blog reviews afterward, I began to wonder if my compact had been mislabeled. So a few weeks ago, I bought a new one.

I was so excited to open the box when it finally arrived, so convinced that I would finally see the marvelous mauvishness that was Mulberry and say, "Ah, yes, mauvish taupe," but I did not. I twisted and turned the new compact in all kinds of light, and at first (in natural indoor lighting without flash only), I was able to approximate the color I had hoped Mulberry would be.

You might look at these images and say, "I see it! I see it!" I see it, too, but it is utter camera foolery! A trick of the light.

Here's where we get down with the brown. I compared the new compact (left) with the one I purchased last June (right). The one on the right does look a little warmer and darker, but that could be due to age and use. What I did not see was an obvious difference, one that made me think, "Aha! They did mislabel the one from last year."

Even swatched on my skin, there is very little difference between the two, so I am sadly forced to conclude that Mulberry does very weird things on my skin, and it isn't pretty. I'd even go so far as to say that last year's texture looks nicer on my skin (smoother, less choppy).

As for a mulberry, Wikipedia says: "the fruits are red when they are ripening, turning dark purple to black" I wasn't expecting a red-purple-black (we'll save that look for the lipsticks), but I wasn't expecting warm golden brown, either. I wanted cool brown.

Photo credit Duke University

Bottom line: I don't get it. Mulberry mayhem. My skin is a cool pink porcelain, so why would a color everyone says is mauve brown and very cool turn golden brown on me? I give up. And I feel doubly foolish for having spent $30 on an eyeshadow I won't get much use out of not once but twice.

All photos mine except for the one from Duke University.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spring/Summer 2011: Vincent Longo Galaxy Dream Collection Review

Vincent Longo Galaxy Dream Collection
mini splurge

I recently posted the good news that Vincent Longo, a brand I have loved for at least 10 years and which had become increasingly difficult to find, was back stronger than ever with a new collection called Galaxy Dream. This review is about the new Pearl X Eyeshadow ($25), which I bought in the colors Code 6 Pink and Luna Beach.

(I will review the Perfect Shine V Gloss and Perfect Canvas Liquid Concealer separately.)

The case is sleek and sturdy black plastic that stays firmly closed because it is magnetized. This compact is not going to open in your bag. The eyeshadow and/or packaging is made in Italy, and you get a generous 3 grams.

Code 6 Pink contains splashes of pearly magenta and gold amidst swirls of matte turquoise, antique rose, and charcoal.

Code 6 Pink in natural light
Code 6 Pink in natural light
Code 6 Pink in sunlight
I want a summer-weight comforter in these colors!

When blended together, Code 6 Pink turned into a very soft cool tape. Though you can't see any of the individual colors in the blended result, they all play an important part. The grey and rose give it a cool softness, the magenta and turquoise its vibrancy, and the gold keeps it from becoming too icy. If you look very closely at the leftmost edge of the swatch (especially top left) you can see a hint of the gold. It really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated.

Code 6 Pink swatch in indirect sunlight
Luna Beach embroiders brown, grey, peacock blue and purple matte bases with pearlized electric blue, copper, and hot pink strands mixed with tiny flecks of green and gold.

Luna Beach in natural light
Luna Beach in natural light
Luna Beach in sunlight

It would have been hard to top my joy over Code 6 Pink, but Luna Beach turned into a deeper cool-neutral taupe with a slightly copperized bronzed cast.

Luna Beach swatch in indirect sunlight

I was thrilled with the texture. Maybe Vincent Longo eyeshadows have always been this silky; I cannot say, as I have only (faithfully) purchased the Water Canvas foundation, primer, and lip stains the last 10 years, but this superfatted, creamy Pearl X Eyeshadow rivals the buttery texture of Rouge Bunny Rouge and Edward Bess. I'd compare the pigment and color payoff to Le Metier de Beaute, which pleases me because it means I can layer to get the intensity I want, and it would be hard to overdo. Since I prefer a natural look, this really suits me, and the colors complement my fair, cool skin tone. The finish is satiny with a very subtle gleam, which will be kind to maturing eyelid skin.

It appears that four out of the five eyeshadow compacts are cool, but there is a warm, earthy-toned one called Etherea. Temptalia has an excellent closeup of this beautiful color.

For some reason the Vincent Longo web site is not promoting this collection, but I noticed there is free shipping. I have no idea how long that promotion lasts, but don't wait.

Bottom line: If you like cool, cool-neutral taupes, I high recommend the Pearl X Eyeshadow, which is a steal at $25. 

For excellent customer service with a personal touch (a rare thing these days) call Jasmin at Vincent Longo in NYC at 212-760-0099. (I am not affiliated.)

All photos mine.