Sunday, August 28, 2011

Matte Nail Polish

Part 5 of the "I Don't Get It" series.

Matte nail polish seems to be very popular these days, and if the polish itself does not have a matte finish, you can buy a top coat that mattifies the glossy or shimmery polishes you already own, such as essie's Matte About You.

I'm not a big fan of this trend. When it comes to nail polish, I want the finish to be as glossy and shiny as possible. In fact, using the mirror-surface of my nails to reapply lipstick would not be an unreasonable request!

Besides the good technique of the application, do these images look pretty to you with the flat, dull finish?

What do you think? Are you enjoying this as a passing trend or would you not touch matte nail polish with a ten-foot pole?

Photo credits:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited BR 710

Like the ever-tempting taupe eyeshadow, I continue to search for the perfect, light MLLB lip shade, and I was hoping Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Lipstick BR 710 ($24) might be it. I ran into it in InStyle's Best Of awards, and BR 710 won for fair skin. I couldn't find any online reviews for it, so I took a chance, because the color looked so pretty and cool toned.

The promise of a soft, muted brownish-pink seemed like a sure winner. I have plenty of clear red and medium-to-deep rose lipsticks, but the one that most  alludes me is the shade that's a notch above or below my natural lip pigment.

Packaging is lightweight but bulky. Call me silly, but I'd rather have a heavier lipstick that was much slimmer. At least in my own mind, heavy is synonymous with higher quality, perhaps because more materials go into the packaging. And speaking of packaging, I have never been a big fan of Shu Uemura's; I find the clear plastic to be cheap and flimsy, though to be fair, I have never had one shatter or even crack. It's the insides that count, right? And some of my all-time favorite eyeshadows are from this brand, colors I have been wearing for more than a decade (all discontinued by now).

When I first saw BR 710, I was encouraged. It looked cooler and deeper than some of the other supposed MLLB shades that ended up too pale or warm for me.

So I was rather disappointed when BR 710 settled into a slightly too-warm and too-light look on my lips. Completely unremarkable and blech.

The texture is very smooth and silky, and color lasts several hours without drying my lips. If you like nudes that border on pink, this might be just the one for you.

Below is BR 710 in context with a few other nudey-pinkis rose lipsticks.

Natural, indoor light, no flash
It looks so much cooler compared to Laura Mercier Sparkling Pink, less deep and shimmery than Edward Bess Forever Yours, slightly more pigmented and less shimmery than Bobbi Brown Rose Petal, less red and more pigmented than Chantecaille Tea Rose, and not at all like Prescriptives Rose Mystique, which really surprised me by how warm and red it looked on my hand.

I wish it appeared on my lips the way it does in photos and in the tube. I am perplexed that my lips, which have a lot of rose and mauve in them, warmed it up so.

Bottom line: Gorgeous finish and very moisturizing, but the color was a miss. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Nude Eye

source: Film: Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil

Olivia's Neapolitan ice cream-eye post pushed something I have been thinking about for the last couple weeks to the front of my brain. Anyone who regularly reads this blog probably knows how I feel about nude lipstick (which is part of my "I don't get it" series), but a nude eye .... now that's something entirely different.

Obviously I don't mean truly nude. I wake up with that look every morning, thank you very much.What I mean is an extremely natural, polished eye makeup look, similar to the screen shot I captured above from a film on the NARS web site. I have written to NARS customer service to ask what they used for the model's eye makeup, which I tried to capture in a still screenshot of the film below.

screenshot taken from NARS web site

Before I heard back from NARS, I went on a mission to duplicate that look, and it was much harder than I imagined it would be. I would show you swatches of the colors I tested from my own eyeshadow stash, but 1) my Mac is still at the Apple doctor so no photo transfer from camera > computer > blog and 2) the look I seek is so subtle that any swatching would be lost against my skin tone or even on white paper. 

Could the NARS model be wearing only powder or foundation on her eyelids (aside from the black eyeliner and mascara)? I thought that at first, but when I looked more closely, I could see very subtle depth in the crease. Here's the short film of the ad. Aside from the silly wind machine and the sexually provocative head turning and gratuitous lip pursing, I really like her makeup:

Maybe such a look occurs on 20 year old skin only! I had my time and now it's over. But I don't think so—surely there's the right beige out there for me, but I don't know what it is. That's where I need your help, and I am hoping that someone out there can recommend a cool-toned light beige/greige, a whisper darker than pale skin, that I can wear in the crease.

My criteria are not legion for this perfect shade I have yet to find:
  • I prefer matte and will consider satin formulas
  • It has to be light enough that it complements my porcelain-pink (NW15) skin
  • The hue must be cool or neutral-cool
  • The eyeshadow cannot be warm, golden, or yellow
My oddly-colored eyes (navy blue irises with grey rims and an amber starburst around the irises) make choosing eye makeup more challenging than it probably is for many of you.  Blue-green eyes (which is how my eye color appears from a distance, almost olive) seem designed for brown eyeshadow, especially golden or orange-tinted bronzes; yet, those colors make me look like a cadaver, as do almost all brown eyeshadows that do not heavily lean grey.

When I was on the NARS web site, I wondered if NARS Biarritz might be it. I have not yet seem this eyeshadow in person, and it could be more yellow based than it appears online, so I'll have to add this to my list to test. So far, it's the only one on my list!

I also considered NARS Blondie, but I have a strong suspicion it would be too dark and almost certainly too warm (although NARS web site calls it taupe, which implies at least some grey). The following image looks like a warm red-brown to me.

Obviously the eyeshadow does not have to be NARS just because I love the look of the model.

Here are the colors I tested, some of which worked better than others but none of which was The One for my crease:
  • Bobbi Brown Cement. This could very nearly be The One if it didn't oxidize. I have this problem frequently with BB eyeshadows and don't know how to stop it. My eyelids aren't even that oily any more. But Cement is certainly exactly what I am looking for ... in the pan. Boo hiss.
  • Bobbi Brown Woodrose. Too pink.
  • Bobbi Brown Flesh. Too yellow.
  • Chanel Slate 88. A perfect complement for my skin but too dark for the nude look.
  • Chantecaille Basalt. A slightly lighter dupe of Chanel Slate, but still too dark.
  • Chantecaille Pewter (from the Tiger palette). A near-perfect color, but it's too shimmery.
  • Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes E107. Too dark and, sadly, too warm.
  • Jane Iredale French Toast. A gorgeous pinkish greige, but slightly too light. Discontinued, anyway.
  • MAC Wedge. Too warm and dark. Same for Omega, which is darker and even more yellow on me.
  • Prescriptives Mushroom. Described as "nude plum" this color used to be The One. I wore it on and off (mostly on) for decades, but now it oxidizes on me, even over Paula Doff primer. I'm disappointed it no longer works because it's still being manufactured and is still available online.
  • Shu Uemura M Beige 835. Nearly perfect but slightly too dark. Discontinued.
  • Shu Uemura M Beige 804. The color I use as the all-over wash, so it does not work as the crease color. Discontinued.
  • Stila Chinois. Too yellow and not enough contrast.
That exhausts all of the matte beige-grey, beige-plum and dusty lavender eyeshadows in my stash.

Those of you who are pale or just enjoy wearing pale, natural matte colors, I'd love to hear what your favorite nude crease colors are so I can check them out.

UPDATE 1: Here's what Tanya, a NARS artist told me: "... the list of eye shades used on the model in the Velvet Gloss Lip Pencils [film] were not archived. Based on the film, it looks like she's wearing matte vanilla in India Song Duo Eyeshadow and a light dusting of the pale peach in Key Largo Duo Eyeshadow into the crease and above."  

UPDATE 2: The colors used in the NARS film were too warm for me, but I finally found a very good "nude eye" shade combination: Chanel Quartz (or the well-loved Prescriptives Rose Powder) all over as a base, and NARS Violetta (the light shade from the duo or from the Douceurs de Paris palette) in the crease. Since I have a lot of blue in my eyelids, the very pale lavender makes sense. I wish I could get that color as a single. Two other matte lid options are NARS D. Gorgeous and Rouge Bunny Rouge Sweet Dust Seremia.

All photos from the NARS web site

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Laura Mercier Shimmer Lip Colour in Amaretto

I don't normally wear lipstick with shimmer, but I was drawn to Laura Mercier's Shimmer Lip Colour in Amaretto ($22).

Amaretto is is described as a "mauvey-pink bronze," and I think Laura's marketing gurus nailed for the most part, but the description does not truly illustrate just how unique and complex this lipstick color is. Depending on the light, I see red, rose, taupe, gold, silver, sienna, plum, and definitely bronze. The shimmer is understated and I cannot feel it on my lips, but the added dimension helps my lips look more full.

Sometimes I dab a bit on my cheekbones and eyelids--I just wish it contained more plum than bronze, as it leans a little too closely to rust for my cool coloring.

This is a full-coverage lipstick, but the texture is incredibly silky, and lightweight. The fact that you can buy 4 grams for $22 makes it an outstanding value, especially when many of its competitors are far more costly and weigh in at 3.5 grams or less. This is lipstick that feels like skincare.

The following images show the lipstick and skin swatches in different lighting conditions, mostly direct and indirect sunlight, as well as indoors/natural light with no flash. Can you see the bronze and plum? I found it difficult to capture.

I have nothing to compare Amaretto to, as I generally buy sheer/clear reds, roses, and berry creams. Amaretto is what I'd hoped Le Metier de Beaute Gloss in Summerland would be like. Unfortunately, Summerland was a disappointment, and I prefer Amaretto in every way--color, texture, and the fact that when the color fades, I am not left with a mouth (or face) full of glitter.

When I blot Amaretto down to a stain, I see nothing but plum on the tissue, while what remains on my lips is a bronzed, gleaming almost-metallic finish (lips need to be in good shape or every flake will show). Since I want to keep those plum tones, I find that a lipstick brush is the best way to apply this lipstick to get the amount of pigment I want. Despite being a little outside my comfort zone with the hints of metallic bronze, I like how Amaretto looks on me, if only because I have nothing else like it, not even close.

Bottom line: Beautiful and unique. Get one.

All photos mine

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's in My Summer Bag

I have stopped buying luxury leather goods. They don't reflect my lifestyle anymore, and most of what I purchase or which has been handed down is still perfectly serviceable. I sometimes miss the days when I dressed better for work, but I do prefer the easier classic, sporty life. A friend calls me "preppy with edge," and while I am still not sure how I feel about that observation, I like to laugh at myself and think about renaming the blog Patagonia and Pearls. I work in high tech, so I would stand out like a Belisha beacon if I carried anything logo'd to an office where our CEO wears shorts and Keen sandals on a daily basis.

But a girl needs a handbag. So I could not resist this summery bag when I spotted it at a recent Kate Spade sale. Made of canvas with leather trim, this nautical bag has navy and soft white stripes and it is quite roomy.

I don't carry a lot. Aside from keys, I carry the basics: wallet, sunglasses, phone, music, book (tablet or eReader), and makeup.

This is pretty much it. Filofax/wallet hybrid, makeup bag, sunglasses, iPod, Luddite flip phone.

Because I work in technology, I intentionally avoid gadgets in my personal life, at least as much as possible. I still like to write things down, which is why I prefer my paper-based Filofax over an electronic calendar. The style of this old Filofax (Cavendish) has a zippered change slot on the back, and the top has an envelope for paper money and receipts. Calendar, contacts, credit cards, money ... all in one place.

My beloved Ray-Ban Dekko sunglasses are bordering on vintage, purchased in 1991. Or is 20 years considered antique?

I have many other sunglasses, but these are my favorites. I love how the temples are wide, so they completely block the sun, and yes, I have a backup pair. 

As for the contents of my makeup bag, it is fairly utilitarian without too much excess.

Lipstick, retractable lip brush, thumb drive, hair elastic, liquid eyeliner, highlighter, an old Besame Cosmetics Boudoir Rouge compact that I emptied out and now use as a pill case, mascara, eyeshadow, sunscreen, lip pencil, fragrance, oil blotting papers.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into my bag.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade in Meteorite

Poor unloved Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade in Meteorite ($30) sat in a drawer, unused, for months. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to order a grey eyeshadow, sight unseen, without a single review, or even swatches, to go on. When it arrived I took one look, proclaimed it too dark, and put it in the drawer, where I'd occasionally bump into it and tell myself I ought to at least try it on.

Nothing makes me want to kick myself like an impulse buy that I never use, so I finally forced myself to try on Meteorite this past weekend. What started out as a halfhearted, bored attempt, turned into one of those jarring experiences where my skin instantly brightened as the sallowness and shadows fell away, the ruddiness cleared, my eyes sparkled, my lips looked more rosy, and an angel got her wings. All from a simple eyeshadow wash. It was as if this eyeshadow had been created specifically for me.

Previously, my favorite mid-toned eyeshadow by Chantecaille was their Shine Eye Shade in Granite, a beautiful shimmering taupe, but suddenly Granite was dead to me; I had a new love now. Cooler toned than Granite, Meteorite more closely mirrored the shadows on my eyelids. Pure grey and grey-based shadows have always complemented my fair pink-beige skin tone, looking looked more natural than when I attempt to wear browns and beiges.

I was surprised that I could not find a single review for Meteorite online, even though Chantecaille introduced the color around two years ago. I was pleased, however, to stumble across some articles where Chantecaille's makeup artist, Lucia Pieroni, is using Meteorite in the Fall/Winter 2011-12 runway shows. For the Christopher Kane show:
Chantecaille's Tiger In The Wild palette was used on eyes, along with Rose Gold shadow on lids and cheekbones, blended with hints of Chantecaille Meteorite eye shadow. The shadow was very rounded, with shades blended without edges or lines - just soft colour. Lashes were curled without mascara.
I'm not crazy for the overall look (the model's lips look chapped, and her eyebrows need serious attention), but the eyeshadow is pretty.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:
Olivia Chantecaille also wore Meteorite smudged into her upper lash line for her Wedding Look:

Photo credit:
Some people might look at Meteorite and see a softly shimmering ash-brown taupe. I see a shining grey warmed ever so slightly by brown. Meteorite looks exactly as I'd imagine if a giant chunk of it fell  from space into my backyard.

Photo credit:

Unfortunately, it proved quite difficult to capture the beautiful pearlescent glow of this product on camera.

I like to wear Meteorite simply, from lash line to crease, blended out with something softer, like Shu Uemura M Beige 804 (a creamy, matte flesh-tinted nude with pink undertones) or Chantecaille's discontinued Agate (a muted smoky lilac-beige) and a tiny bit of Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade in Perle just under the arch and blended away almost completely.

Bottom line: Meteorite could, quite possibly, be the last lid/crease color I ever buy.

All pictures mine except where noted in caption.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L303

Ellis Faas Glazed Lips ($35) are advertised as providing an ultra-wet, yet long-lasting burst of color that still allows the natural lip pigment to shine through.

As with the other brush dispensers (shown here), click to load the pen and apply straight to the lips using the attached brush. Color stays put for a few hours, and it fades evenly, leaving behind a berry stain. 

The Glazed Lips formulation is unscented and contains plant seed oils for hydration, as well as Vitamins E and C for antioxidant properties, and omega fatty acids (not sure what those are doing for my lips, but it feels nice). The texture is silky, never sticky or goopy. It feels less like a lip gloss than a liquid lipstick, and despite the moisturizing properties, the color does not seep into lip lines.

Here is L303 swatched on my skin.

Ellis Faas Glazed Lips in L303
The next image compares Glazed Lips L303 to the the Milky Lips version, L203.

L303, L203

As you can see above, L303 is more clear and sheer, compared to L203, which is more opaque and contains much more brown.

To achieve a more subtle, stained look, I either apply a dot to the center of my lips and blend out with a fingertip or I blot. I prefer the former method, as it wastes less product.

Bottom line: Another Ellis Faas winner.

All pictures mine