Friday, April 5, 2013

Let me introduce you to Elea Blake

Some of us are well aware of the challenges of finding makeup suitable for cool, fair skin tones. I am not talking about cool/neutral skins, but those of us whose uncompromising skin tones will broadcast the tiniest hint of warmth it finds in our makeup in the most unflattering way. We look tired or ruddy or shiny or dirty. We struggle because our skin tone is in the makeup counter minority.

To the rescue comes elea blake cosmetics.  Their slogan is "We've got your color," and they mean it!

My custom-poured lip palette

Developed by Darin Wright (Elea and Blake are her daughters' names), Darin wanted to create custom-blended, natural alternatives for women (and men) who were unable to find suitable foundation matches. A former model, makeup artist, and fashion show coordinator, Darin walks the walk:

Darin is a Bright Winter in the Sci\ART color system

Based in Tennessee, Darin started elea blake cosmetics by offering mineral makeup for a wide range of skin ethnicities. She later took her business global after she discovered and was trained in Kathryn Kalisz's Sci\ART methodology, which I briefly discussed in my article about being draped a True Summer.

If you want to know more about the elea blake brand and its extremely enthusiastic and talented, Coloristas, visit their About page. They also have a YouTube channel, where you can see Darin and the Coloristas (and their mascot, Roy G. Biv) in action. I particularly enjoy How to Do a Hooded Eye, as it addresses gravity issues I can now relate to, and it uses colors from the True Summer palette. Another video shows all 12 red lipsticks for each of the 12 seasons because, yes, there is a red for everyone. Mine is cool raspberry red.

I had known of elea blake cosmetics' existence for a while, but I postponed purchasing anything besides lipstick samples because the eyeshadows and blush all seemed so, well, colorful. I usually prefer more neutral colors that extend the hues within my skin (outside my enduring love of a slightly contrasting lipstick).

About a month ago,  I noticed they had updated their website. The new makeup swatches were so beautiful I ordered every sample in the True Summer category, as well as some from Light Summer and Soft Summer. The whole sample lot came to a mere $7 (plus shipping).

When my package arrived, let's just say I was surprised. Extremely, pleasantly surprised. The online swatches are perfect! Clearly their photographers worked very hard to capture each color's hue as best as they could because what you see is what you get.

Any misrepresentation of color in the following photographs is my fault alone.

A combination of samples and full-sized products

At the time of this article, all elea blake products (with the exception of lip and eye pencils) are offered in up to four different sizes:
  • Speed Dating—sample size. All makeup is available for you to try at $0.25 a sample, which comes in a wee ziplock baggie. Although samples might appear almost disappointingly small, I can get 3-5 full lip applications (using a lip brush, or knife edge to scrape all of it out) and a solid week's wear from each of the eyeshadow and blush samples. Foundation samples are larger because there is more skin to cover. [UPDATE: The sample service has been discontinued, but the Coloristas will select samples for you to send along with your purchase.]
  • The Big Reveal Startertiny pots let you experiment with a color you're still on the fence about, without investing in the full product. It's also a great way to buy a small amount that you intend to mix into another color.  ($5).
  • Crushfull-size container for eyeliner. Travel size for everything else ($10.50).
  • He’s the Onefull size for all blush, eyeshadow, and foundation ($18 for eyeshadow blush/$45 for foundation)

Lipsticks and lip glosses are available in full size only. However, you can order a pre-made 5-well lip palette from any of 12 seasons, or you can find out what colors are available and request that one be custom poured with the colors you love, which I think costs around $45. Custom palettes are useful if you want lipstick and lip gloss in the same compact. Or you might want to include colors from True Summer and True Winter. Contact them for pricing and for information about which pre-poured colors are in their lipstick and gloss palettes.

What sets elea blake cosmetics apart from the other mineral brands I have tried is the abundance of cool, clear, and bright colors. Many mineral brands offer only muted, earthy tones, or if the colors are bright, they're warm.

Any of us who purchased makeup at counters in the 80s/90s might remember the way Prescriptives once worked. Their color-printing system made it easy for consumers to select similar hue-value-chroma colors from one of the Px four groupings (Red, Blue/Red, Red/Orange, and Yellow/Orange). elea blake cosmetics also colors based on groupings (in their case, 12 seasons). But they go a step further by custom-designing and blending their pigments to match colors from the SciART color palettes. This benefit might not tempt consumers with neutral skin tones/seasons—such as Lights/Brights and Softs/Darks, whose palettes and skin tones have more flexibility—but for the True Seasons, who don't "lean in" to their neighbor season, this is a game changer! Buying an eyeshadow or lipstick or blush that you know in advance matches a shade from your color palette is brilliant, especially when purchasing makeup online, sight unseen.

Enough with the words. Let's look at the pictures.

Custom lip palette

Palette contains four lipsticks (Smizing, Selective, Dreamy, Steamy) and one gloss (Quiet Hottie)

The lipstick finish is semi-matte and (with the exception of Smizing) very pigmented. One application lasts around 4 hours before it started to fade, and then it faded evenly. Around the 3-hour mark, my lips begin to feel dry, but as some color is still present, I can add a dab of balm or top with elea blake gloss. In fact, because the lipstick color is moderately staining, balm or gloss is all that's needed until I reapply after lunch. I found that the lipstick performs best if I remove it entirely and start over. And I want to point out that, even though my lips feel dry (the lipstick isn't particularly moisturizing), the pigment does not actually dry my lips. I am always surprised that when I remove my lipstick, my lips feel conditioned, not flaky and parched.

The lip gloss formula (last pan on the right below) is thick. It feels less like traditional lip gloss than a jelly lipstick. The color I purchased, Quiet Hottie, is nothing short of gorgeous. I'm talking swoon-worthy plummy-lilac with a subtle opalescence. Lower in pigment than elea blake lipsticks, the glosses are perfect, moisturizing toppers to lipsticks.

Caution: I discovered that using the enclosed brush to apply lip gloss and lipstick permanently changed the lipstick formula, such that it was no longer semi-matte. If you want a creamier lipstick, go for it. I prefer a drier formula, so next time I won't use the same brush to apply both. 

Lip palette compared to the "red/rose" True Summer colors

Smizing — A play on words meaning "smiling with your eyes". This lipstick applies extremely sheer.

Selective is a blue-rose pink, the TSu version of red--hands down my favorite in the palette

Dreamy and Steamy ... did someone forget the Mc prefix?
Dreamy is cool coral (the warmest color in my palette). Steamy is an opalescent silvery pink

Quiet Hottie is GORGEOUS  *faints*

Secretly Sexy and Pink Stilettos glosses are not as warm IRL as they appear above

Satin Lace gloss (next to Quiet Hottie, whom I want to marry and have little hottie babies)

Come Hither and Coy were samples, both with brown undertones

Dreamy is not accurately captured here. It is a bright reddened violet that leans coral.

Sex Kitten is a clear gloss with the same hue, value, and chroma of the eb eyeshadow Honest, shown in the next photo

And now for some eyeshadow swatches:

Honest is a semi-matte, cool, sun-bleached white base that neutralizes lid discoloration and leaves a gentle glow

Bashful is a pink semi-matte base. Delightful (a blend of rose and taupe) has a very sparkly finish

Perfectionist is a Light Summer blend of pink and mushroom. It has a gentle shimmer.

Staid is a shimmering neutral in an unlikely blend of red+peached brown that complements blue/green eyes

I have to add a bit more about Staid. Red and peach? For a True Summer? Although it is not my favorite of the lot, it looks pretty on. It reminds me a little of my former true love, Prescriptives Mushroom.

By the Book is a blend of medium-deep brown and burgundy

Yielding is a sparkly lavender; Violaceous is a semi-matte soft, clear violet that applies surprisingly sheer

The greyed greens/teals:
Tough Cookie is a shimmery, soft, blue-grey green
Modest is a slightly deeper blue-grey green, also shimmery
Consistent is a high shimmer blue grey
Picky is a semi-matte, deep blue green

The workhorse greys; the first two are shimmery, and the second two are satin

Diplomatic is semi-matte, rich blue—True Summer's navy

Open Minded is a sateen deep teal

Kindred is a semi-matte, clear clover green

Egg yolk eyeshadow! Applied to the center of my lid, Bless You! makes my eyes look like jewel-toned planets

The eyeshadows I reach for the most, swatched for context

Most of the eyeshadows apply sheer and are buildable. I can intensify them by applying damp. Some colors (Organized, By the Book, etc) apply quite pigmented dry. I wear all over Paula Dorf primer to keep the colors true.

Foundation: You cannot order elea blake cosmetics samples without trying their mineral foundation (26 SPF). I ordered all of the True Summer samples, and a couple from Soft Summer and Light Summer. Smooth and creamy, the foundation applies with a natural, satin finish. It glides over pores without settling into them, conceals redness, and my skin does not feel oily after a few hours (other than it normally would). The 'Private Eye' shade is an even better match on my skin than Alima Cool 2 or Jane Iredale Ivory.

All current TSu foundation swatches, and Soft Summer's Stable. Not sure why I swatched Honest eyeshadow (top left), maybe for value context

Blush: I ordered three blush samples. I love the color of Suspicious, which reminds me of NARS Gaiety, but it has a shimmer finish. Wry (a deeper blue pink) seems to have a whisper of coral, so it is a hint warmer. Wry seems like the powder version of their lipstick Dreamy. Majestic is harder for me to wear on my pale skin.

Bronzer: Although I have never been successful wearing bronzer, I tried elea blake's True Summer version. Stacie included additional bronzer blends after I had told her I'd never found a bronzer I liked. On the bottom row of the following photo, the True Summer bronzer is on the left, a True Summer/True Winter mix in the center, and the True Winter bronzer on the right.  Their bronzers, named after a month (June Love for True Summer and December Love for True Winter), contain shimmer, which makes me sad, as I would have preferred matte. I liked the June Love color, which looked the way my skin does if it tans, rosy light brown (nothing golden in it). Maybe I'll try it out as eyeshadow.

Eyeliner: Last, but not least, Misty Mauve is probably my favorite eyeliner EVER. I took a risk in ordering it, because lip pencils and eye pencils are not offered as samples, but I felt the risk was small, given it fell into my palette. The color is subtle enough to wear under the bottom lashes, and it lasts all day. The formula reminds me of the stiff pencils from a decade ago, which caused a little tugging, but I don't mind. I dislike rampant use of silicones these days, anyway.

Here's a collage of my everyday colors. Don't they harmonize beautifully?

Compiled from swatches on

Bottom line: If you like loose, mineral makeup and you aren't afraid of color, I highly recommend you try this brand. Oh, and if you are curious why their makeup takes the male article (e.g., He's the One), check out ebisims for a laugh.

INGREDIENTS: If you are sensitive to Bismuth Oxychloride, sample first. I have rosacea, and the foundation does not irritate my skin in the slightest. I use the Alima foundation brush or a Hakuhodo brush with uncut ends to apply.

SPF 26 Mineral Foundation: Titanium Dioxide, Bismuth Oxychloride , Zinc Oxide, Mica , Boron Nitride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate ). +/-: Iron Oxides , Ultramarines ), Chromium Oxide Green , Chromium Hydroxide Green

Mineral Eyeshadow: Micronized Titanium Dioxide, +/- Iron Oxides, +/- Mica, +/- Zinc Oxide, +/- Chromium Oxide Green, +/- Bismuth Oxychloride, +/- Manganese, +/- Carmine, +/- Chromium Hydroxide Green, +/- Ultramarines, +/- serecite, +/- Boron Nitrate

Eye Pencils: Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Glycerides, Behenyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Isopropyl Myristate, Talc, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, BHT. May contain: Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Mica CL 77491, Iron Oxides CI 77491, Iron Oxides CL 774912, Iron Oxides CI 77499, Ultramariens CI 77007, Chromium Oxide Greens CI 77288, Chromium Hydroxide Green CI 77289, Bismuth Oxychloride CI 77163, Carmine CI 75470, Ferric Ferrocyanide CI 77510, Manganese Violet CI 77742

Mineral Blusher/Faux Glo: Micronized Titanium Dioxide, +/- Iron Oxides, +/- Mica, +/- Zinc Oxide, +/- Chromium Oxide Green, +/- Bismuth Oxychloride, +/- Manganese, +/- Carmine, +/- Chromium Hydroxide Green, +/- Ultramarines, +/- serecite, +/- Boron Nitrate

Lipstick: Lanolin Oil, Cetyl Acetate, Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol, Cetyl Ricinolate (a fatty acid made from castor oil), Candelilla Wax, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Ozokerite Wax, Castor Seed Oil, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Canuba Wax, Cera Microcristallina (Microcrystaline) Wax, Paraffin Wax, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Natural Fragrance, Vitamin E. May contain: +/- Jojoba Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Mica, Carmine, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, D&C Red 7 Ca Lake, D&C Red 6, 7, 21,27,30, 33, and 36 Al Lake, D&C Orange 5 Al Lake, FD&C Yellow 5 & 6 Al Lake, FD&C Blue 1 Al Lake.

Lip Gloss: Lanolin Oil, Hydroxylated Lanolin, Hydrogenated Potybutene, Cera Microcristallina (Microcrystalline Wax), Castor Seed Oil, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Ozokerite Wax, Candelilla Wax, Carnuba Wax, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Natural Fragrance, Caprylyl Glycol, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Soybean Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Avocado oil, and Grapeseed oil.

Lip Pencils: Stearic Acid, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Cetyl Palmitate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, Rhus Succedanea Fruit Wax, Minearl Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum) Butyl Stearate, Talc, Tristearin, Stearyl Heptanoate, Synthetic Wax, Stearyl Caprylate, Methylpapaben, Probylparaben, BHT, May contain: Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, Iron Oxides CI 77492, Iron Oxides CI 77499, Red 7 Lake CI 45410, Yellow 5 Lake CI 19140, Blue 1 Lake CI 42090, Carmine CI 75470, Red 30 CI 15850, Red 6 CI 15850, Manganese Violet CI 77742, Mica CI 77019

All photos taken by me except for the photo of Darin and the final collage compiled from swatches on the elea blake cosmetics True Summer web page.


  1. I LOVE the final look but..... boy oh boy, I got lost so many times as to how you got it! I went to the site and spent almost 2 hours trying to find out what my Winter shade is; and never DID find out. There is so much there that it's just overwhelming to me.

    How, just HOW did you do this, lol?!

    1. I knew my exact season because I had been through an actual draping session If you are sure which winter you are, experiment! Try several shades from each of the true winter, bright winter, and dark winter categories and play around. Samples are only $.25, so you might as well buy a whole bunch of them to justify the shipping costs which is around six dollars. :)

    2. I meant "if you are UNsure which season you are, experiment." Stupid iPad.

      I just ordered all the Light Summer samples. ALL of them!

  2. Oh no! What have you done! I've been so good about no makeup/face care explorations! It must be because you've been offline:).

    That said, so lovely to have your voice and photos back.

    1. Thank you! I have decided it is my mission to keep posting until those ugly possum feet fall off the first page.

  3. Zuzu! When I see a post from you I SMILE!!
    I love mineral makeup and used to just use it until the crazy took over. Loving all the colours you chose, and I think I'll check this site out when I finally get all the red cut off and become grey for good! I'll need softer colours for when that happens!

    1. Apparently blogger still hasn't figured out how users can type into the comments box, so I am using Siri and hope all goes well. Tracy, do you have any idea what your season is? If you will look good with gray hair that I think we can safely assume you are Cool

    2. That didn't come out right at all. I am going to give up on replying to comments until I am at a real computer.

  4. Ohhhhh my goodness! Thank you so much for blogging about elea blake. My fellow coloristas will be so excited when they see this. We love all of our clients and our color guys. We get super excited when you find your matches made in heaven and that you guys can live harmoniously together. Perfect thing about our "boys" they don't leave the seat up! Color on!

    1. My pleasure! Maybe I can do an article where I interview Roy G. Biv, heh.

  5. Zuzu, what a great post & what a wealth of info you are on color theory. I also ordered samples from Elea Blake and agree both the products and the coloristas at EB are lots of fun. They go out of the narrow circle of standard colors we're used to from cosmetic companies. Their powders are *very* pigmented; I use the tiniest amount on my brush. I'm still experimenting to find my favorites but I did buy a lipstick palette in Light Spring which I love.

    Even though I live in California I want to go to Chattanooga to meet Darin & her colleagues because i think they would be so much fun!! I can tell they give their customers so much great advice & attention. Even better if you, Zuzu, did get that job from them, then I could meet all of you and walk out totally gorgeous. :-) :-) :-)

    1. If I lived in Tennessee, I would stalk the elea blake coloristas until they were forced to hire me! Wouldn't it be a blast to have a meet-up down south?

  6. Oh. my. goodness. Cannot look any more until I figure out what subset of a season I am. I was typed as a Summer back in the 80's when there were just 4 seasons to choose from! I know I'm cool but I never felt completely at home in Summer's color offerings back then. I liked a bit more ooomph - blue-reds, berry/fuschia, navy. I am fairly confident that I'm not a winter as black next to my face isn't my best bet. Have been hunting and pecking around some of the blogs re: the 12 season approach. I loved London Makeup Girl's write up on her Sci Art Color analysis. And her bright winter assessment is so gorgeous on her.
    I think I've scrolled through your post at least 3 times just ooohing & aaaahing & 'smizing' at the color swatches!
    The eyeliner, the grays - le sigh. I love the lavenders - know we've discussed how so many lavenders seem to lean red. And Perfectionist - even though it is listed as a Light Summer color is, in my eyes, perfection. It looks like what I hoped Becca Chantilly would be on me.

    1. Hi lov2read, Based on your comments here and on the forum, and on the colors you like (and the wee avatar I once saw), I always got a sense you might be a True Summer. Remember, I never saw myself as CMB's Summer, either, which Jackson had described as cool (fine) and pastel/mousy (not fine). My PCA result from Maytee was rather a surprise, as I was expecting Light or Soft Summer, and sometimes I think I still lean very strongly toward Light.

      Not every grown woman wants to be identified by girly pastels, and surely not every Summer woman appreciated "mousy" and "dishwater." CMB did many of us a disservice by using those unfortunate adjective, when they could have been more creative and chosen terms like "velvety" or "soft" or "cottony."

      London Makeup Girl's PCA was such a blast. Not that I was there (oh, how much fun that would have been.) The funny thing is she knew. She sensed she could handle the brighteness, and she can. Now she's getting used to her new palette, whereas previously, she tended to wear more subdued colors (except on lips--I think many of us are willing to take bigger risks there).

      I think most us probably do know. We might not be confident enough to claim it, but in our guts, we know what we like, as we are drawn to certain colors, and we are probably right -- or close enough.

      If you prefer more oomph in your clothes and makeup (and by "oomph" I assume you mean a bit more sheer clarity and moderate brightness than the the basic TSu palette), I highly recommend playing around with both True and Light Summer samples. If you want some recommendations, feel free to email me.

      Today I am wearing LSu makeup, and I love the look. But, honestly, you can buy sample baggies of *every* Light and True Summer sample for around $15 for the lot. I would also recommend sampling the scary colors; they might surprise you. :)

    2. Since I posted here I have wandered around eb's website & started a wishlist of colors to try based on your post. I've also read numerous posts on 12 blueprints for all varieties of Summer and wandered around on And stumbled on to videos on YT done by Darin. You mention the scary colors - I watched Darin do a hooded eye on a True Summer using Tough Cookie, Organized & Drama. All colors that I would give a pass on just looking at swatches. But when she was done - the overall look was just perfect! Not overly done or dark - her model was a True Summer but looking at her I would have pegged her as probably a variety of Winter.

      All that to say I've come back around & agree with you that I probably am a True Summer. Part of that is also based on colors that I know you like & have worked well for me as well. And I know that you have been typed as a True Summer. I hadn't thought about it for years until you mentioned "mousy" & "dishwater". Thinking back I think it may be a combination of those words & the pastels that partially made me somewhat averse to the Summer classification in CMB.

      And yes, you nailed it on the head for where I am looking for more "oomph" - sheer clarity & brightness. I love red & fuchsia but have learned over the years that I can't pull those off full strength. But something like Clinique's Juicy Apple gloss works. Off to play with my eb cart - True Summer samples going in with the possiblity of a few Light & Summer Samples thrown in for good measure! May take you up on your offer for recommendations!

    3. I own Tough Cookie and Organized in the full size product and Drama as a sample, though my next order will include the full size of Drama. Those colors really do work, though to be fair, I think Tough Cookie looks better on Darin's brown-eyed model (whom I also would have guessed to be a Dark Winter), than it does on me, and it contains a fair amount of shimmer, which I try to love more than I do. I really do prefer a satin matte finish on my face.

      As for color, I tend to stick with the Coloristas' cool browns (which have purple and/or grey in them), pinks, and purples for my blue-green-grey eyes. The purple-based colors are especially great, and they are MY version of a neutral color, far better than any brown will ever be on me!

      A couple lipstick you should consider testing are MAC Sweetie and Plumful. Both look fantastic on me, and those colors are universal among 95% of True Summer women in the TSu Facebook group—in fact, I'd go so far as to say they'd sooner die than give up Sweetie, I have to join the ranks now. Sweetie is exactly what I wanted Syrup to be, but Syrup is too muted for me. No oomph. The FB women post tons of pictures and discuss all kinds of makeup, including colors that stretch the season (dipping into LSu or TW). If you have a FB account, and want to be added to the private group, let me know.

      Another lipstick you might want to try is Chantecaille Lip Chic Rose Delice. I received it yesterday, and it definitely has some oomph. a semi-clear rosy red with tiny blue microshimmers. That said, if you are still loving Clinique Fresh Watermelon, you probably don't need both, and Chante is double the price, anyway.

      Do I have your email? I think I probably still do from the blog sale. Let me know if you want me to send you a list of the eb colors (or any TSu makeup color) I especially love, including eb colors that work outside the TSu season.

    4. Do make sure you add lip samples to your eb order! The texture is semi matte, but you can always top with Juicy Apple!

  7. ohh...I am a bit jelous of you ladies who know to which season you belong (or who can make a confident guess)!!
    Not least because these EB products seem so fun: so many colors (I love color!), and choosing from each season must be so stress-free!
    Ever since I've read about your color matching experience I got curious, and began stalking online "season matching" sites. But the truth is I really have no clue!
    When I look at the 12 seasons palettes I find my flattering colors scattered all over the place.
    Those season with highest percentage of "matches" hold some extremely unflattering colors: so I end up very confused... I wish I could do an assessment like you and london make up girl did. I really enjoyed reading about your experiences - i'm living a vicarious life here!

    1. If you hang out on Facebook and the other places and post pictures of yourself wearing various colors, you will get tons of input and assistance. You can also do your own online assessment using some very affordable tools at It's really helpful to see yourself in not only the good colors, but the bad colors, for context.

  8. gosh, this line is something else...totally lust-have

  9. Hi Zuzu! I'm really impressed by your blog !!!
    All these colours and everything is so organized *__*
    thanks for sharing your passion

  10. I too love love love Elea Blake cosmetics. I was skeptical at first because I was draped in sci/art as a light summer and the LS Elea Blake makeup looked like clown make up on me, but I called and spoke with Darin, the owner, and she spent well into 45 minutes discussing my draping. We finally settled on ordering the TS palette and make up and I haven't looked back since. I love the TS makeup and fan! I highly recommend EB, not just for the make up but also because Darin and her staff are amazing!

    1. The eb staff truly are a blessing. How they must love going to work every day! I adore my TSu makeup, but you might also want to look at LSu Perfectionist eyeshadow. It's a very subtle mauvish taupe, but it does contain shimmer.

      I got to work early this morning, and I am about to put on my eb lipstick now! It's all I wear these days.


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