Monday, March 31, 2014

April Wishlist

I seriously restricted my beauty spending in March; my only new acquisitions were a Milani liquid lipstick and nail polish (the latter of which set me back a mere $.55); an assortment of NYX products, three of which I'm going to return; and a replacement travel bottle of my favorite moisturizer, from First Aid Beauty. I even went to the FACE Stockholm store in New York and swatched their renowned cream blushes and didn't come home with a single one. I have, at least by my standards, been very, very good.

But I do have a wishlist. Of course I do.

1. A peach or coral cream blush.

I own only three blushes, all of them powder, and the two I wear regularly are both cool pinks from NARS: Mata Hari and Coeur Battant. In fact, I've worn Mata Hari almost every day since I bought it in February 2013. I always assumed that warm-toned blushes wouldn't suit me, but beauty blogging has made me realize that I might not be the cool-toned ice princess I thought I was. I'm pretty sure I'm neutral: cool enough that orange lipsticks will never, ever flatter me, but warm enough that I can wear peach without causing a national incident. Plus, spring is here (or so the calendar, if not my own experience, tells me), which means it's time for a change.

Kate's recent reviews of FACE Stockholm's cream blushes, here and here, first brought the brand to my attention. Before, I'd thought of it as "that brand you see at J. Crew sometimes, the one that makes the orange lipsticks whose testers are always overused and gross." After reading Kate's posts, though, I developed a mighty lemming for Milan, a glowing coral-red. I was in New York with my boyfriend earlier this week, and while he met up with some grad-school friends, I excused myself and dashed through the rain to Columbus Circle to do some swatching. Top to bottom: London, Milan, Paris, and Shanghai. Alas, my skin is so winter-dry that even these dewy cream blushes can't improve its texture. But the colors, friends, the colors:

I surprised myself by not buying any of them (they're $25 each, a pretty reasonable price for a cream blush of this quality). I wanted a color slightly pinker than Milan, but warmer than Paris, and lighter than both of them: really, a mash-up of all four. So I went to Sephora two days later for a look at Illamasqua Dixie, while my very patient boyfriend waited at a nearby Starbucks.

No swatch photo because, it turns out, the Upper West Side Sephora doesn't carry Illamasqua. And now I can't decide between Dixie (which I wish were a little redder--I'm so hard to please) and Milan, which will no doubt look pinker and lighter once blended out. But the trip to Sephora wasn't quite a wash, because it yielded another wishlist item...

2. NARS Duo Eyeshadow in Habanera.

I've wanted a NARS eyeshadow duo for some time, and Habanera has always been on my radar, but the mint shade initially put me off. Frosty pastel eyeshadows have never appealed to me; I've always preferred either subdued neutrals or bold smoky colors. But thirty seconds of playing with Habanera in person made me a wild-eyed convert. The icy blue-green is so pigmented, so soft, so vivid. The plum contains little specks of glitter in almost the same icy mint shade. And I happen to have a Nordstrom card with $16.50 on it, so this will cost me $19.50, which is not at all bad. Habanera is not the most versatile duo, and I'm not convinced it will flatter my green eyes as well as bronze or olive shades do, but look at it:

Outdoors, it gleams instead of sparkling, and the left-hand side looks less blue and more gray:

(ETA, April 2: I totally just ordered this. I have no self-control. Full review to come later this month!)

3. A replacement tube of NARS Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita.

I tend to resist buying replacements of favorite lipsticks, because of the very good chance that I'll discover something newerbettershinier before I get halfway through the second tube. But I can't imagine finding an everyday lipstick that surpasses Dolce Vita.

It's hydrating, I can apply it in seconds without a mirror, and it makes my lips almost glow. Its only real fault is that it doesn't last longer than a couple of hours (which, perhaps more than my love for it, explains why I got through an entire tube). But since a large part of my career involves listening to the sound of my own voice, I don't think I can expect any lipstick to perform miracles of longevity.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

NYX Reviews, Part II: The Good

After the earlier, sadder installment of my NYX review, let's have a family portrait of the purchases I actually like. Left to right: Jumbo Eye Pencil in Knight; Slide On Eye Pencil in Jewel; HD Eye Shadow Base; Butter Glosses in Raspberry Tart and Peach Cobbler.

First, the two eyeliners, Knight and Jewel. Left, in indirect natural light; right, in direct artificial light from my desk lamp.

Knight is absolutely crammed with glitter; Jewel is a bit more tasteful, though if you're buying glitter eyeliners you're probably not too concerned about good taste.

NYX's Jumbo Eye Pencils can be used as eyeliners or eyeshadow sticks, though I find they work better as the latter. They have a soft formula that isn't conducive to sharp, precise lines, but if you like smudgy imprecision as much as I do, you'll enjoy these. The pencils look like they're made of white plastic, so I assumed they would have a twist-up mechanism, but they're actually coated wood and need to be sharpened. Don't make my mistake and nearly break your pencil trying to twist it up! After a quick Google, I used my NARS dual sharpener on Knight and it worked perfectly. NYX describes Knight as "forest green with gold glitter," which is exactly right: it's a blackened green with large, very noticeable glitter particles. You'll probably get a bit of fallout with this shade, which I don't mind terribly. I like to believe that the errant glitter distracts the viewer from my nightmarish under-eye circles.

Jewel, described as a "shimmering plum," is a thinner, firmer eyeliner, though still soft enough to be smudged and even used as shadow. It's a reddish purple with pink glitter. For some reason, the Slide On Pencils are almost twice as expensive as the Jumbo Pencils: $8.50 as opposed to $4.50. Maybe it's because the Slide On Pencils are a blatant ripoff of Urban Decay's Glide On Pencils, and thus carry a faint glimmer of prestige? Who knows.

When the pencils are swatched in indirect natural light, the glitter is pretty subdued, and the green of Knight looks almost black:

In direct light, though, it's sparkle o'clock; I wish I'd had these for my Velvet Goldmine look.

NYX's Butter Glosses have been swatched and reviewed ad nauseam, mostly positively, so all I can do is add my voice to the chorus. I really love these. I have quite a few requirements for glosses: they need to be lightweight, non-sticky, semi-opaque, hydrating, and preferably free of shimmer. Cardinal gloss sins include heavy gumminess (looking at you, Milani), total opacity (which makes a gloss so messy as to be unwearable on a normal day), and might-as-well-be-Vaseline sheerness. I'm delighted to say that the Butter Glosses avoid all those sins. And they smell exactly like Maria crackers:

I ordered Peach Cobbler, described on the website as a "red-orange," and Raspberry Tart, described only as "violet":

The phrase "red-orange" makes me think of lipsticks like MAC's Lady Danger, not of soft peachy oranges like Peach Cobbler, which turns even softer and pinker on the lips. Raspberry Tart is a cheerful pinky-purple, less blue-toned and severe than Maybelline Vision in Violet. Hashtag radiant orchid, amirite.

Lip swatches:

I was delighted to discover that Raspberry Tart is a close cousin of my favorite purple lipstick, Maybelline Brazen Berry.

I rarely layer glosses over lipsticks, but Raspberry Tart and Brazen Berry are perfect layering partners:

Finally, two use-all-the-things looks. The first was loosely inspired by the third look from Kate's post about Suqqu's Touryokuzora eyeshadow quad; I love the combination of dirty messy olive and clear jelly peach. You're welcome for my decision to conceal the terrible, terrible hair I had that day. Knight blended with NARS Lhasa (lavender taupe) on the upper lid, then smudged on the lower lashline; Peach Cobbler on lips.

Similar placement, different shades: Maybelline cream eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze all over the mobile lid, Jewel smudged on the upper and lower lashlines, Raspberry Tart on lips.

Finally, the makeup I wore last night to Waiting for Godot in New York; apologies for weird hotel lighting. I can't break my Lhasa habit, but this time I smudged Jewel on the upper and lower lashlines instead. I found that the NYX primer made Lhasa apply more evenly and opaquely, though it didn't seem to lengthen the life of my eye makeup to any dramatic degree. Lipstick is my HG matte red, NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my new NYX purchases. I'd love to try more of their eyeliners, and though I'm observing a moratorium on lip color for the near future, something tells me that at least one more Butter Gloss will end up in my collection before long. Just a feeling I have.

Monday, March 24, 2014

NYX Reviews, Part I: The Bad

Internet has been restored to my apartment, light to my darkness, warmth to my frostbitten soul. No, forget that last one; it's still below freezing in late March. But I do have a wireless connection again, and that means swatches and reviews.

First, though, a rant. I ordered from NYX's website, which promises that "orders received on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be processed on the following Monday and shipped by the following Wednesday." I placed my order on Sunday. Wednesday rolled around, then Thursday, then Friday, and I had yet to hear anything from NYX. On Friday afternoon I called the customer-service number and was told that my order hadn't been shipped because one of the items had needed to be restocked. The man I spoke to was nice enough to upgrade my shipping to FedEx ground shipping instead of USPS, but my package didn't arrive for another five days, which made me wonder how long the regular shipping would have taken. Also, I find it odd that my package was sent immediately after I made the call, as if they'd just forgotten to ship it and needed the reminder. Not a huge inconvenience, but it doesn't make me want to order through the NYX website again.

I made a pretty sizable order, at least by my standards: two Butter Glosses in Raspberry Tart (new this year) and Peach Cobbler; a Jumbo Eye Pencil in Knight; a Slide On Eye Pencil in Jewel; three "Hot Singles" (lulz) eyeshadow singles; and the HD Eye Shadow Base, which the website does a very poor job of distinguishing from the regular shadow base, and which comes in only one shade, "cool-toned white person."

And now for the reviews! Let's give the bad ones their own post, shall we?

As part of my project to expand my repertoire of eye looks, I ordered three eyeshadow colors outside my taupey comfort zone: Dayclub, described on the website as a "dark gold pearl"; Burlesque, an "iridescent dark purple"; and After Party, a "deep olive pearl." Since the NYX eyeshadow singles were reformulated very recently, there are almost no swatches of the new shadows online. I hope this review will help people make up their minds to run far, far away.

I don't know, man. Does the eyeshadow on the left look like a "dark gold pearl" to you? I promise that the light isn't washing out the color; it really is that anemic terracotta shade. Also, if there's any iridescence in Burlesque, I'm certainly not seeing it. The olive one is olive. Good job, NYX.

Closeup of Dayclub, for science:

 I like these oh-so-edgy names; they suit my lifestyle perfectly.

Swatches, left to right: After Party, Burlesque, Dayclub. I made the right-hand swatches over the NYX HD primer, the left-hand swatches with no primer. For each swatch, I took a good swipe with an eyeshadow brush and went over my arm once. Keep in mind that NYX describes this eyeshadow as "the latest and greatest high-intensity eye shadow formula...versatile and powerfully loaded with pigments to make a statement for any occasion."


The shadows are so powdery, so dry, so coarse, so poorly pigmented, that they're practically invisible without primer. They're so bad I actually feel insulted. And this is a reformulation of the original shadows, which means someone tested the formula and said, "Yep, this is an improvement"--or, more likely, "Yep, we can cut some costs this way."

The snobbish part of my brain, the part that wants me to forget I'm living on a grad-student stipend, asks me what I expected for $4.50 a pop. But the rational part of my brain says no to that bullshit. For $4.50, for $2, for anything more than $0, I expect a product to work. Not to work miracles, but to do what it claims to do. And if NYX describes its new eyeshadow singles as "high-intensity" and "powerfully loaded with pigments," that's what I'll expect. For now, though, I think I'd better splurge on a NARS duo. I'm leaning toward the regal greeny golds of Paramaribo.

Tomorrow, the good: eyeliners, glosses, and some looks featuring my new acquisitions (shadows excepted, because come on).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Preview: NYX Haul (For Lack of a Synonym)

I hate the word "haul." Hate with a passion. And yet:

Yesterday my long-awaited NYX package arrived: two Butter Glosses, two eyeliners, three eyeshadow singles, and an eyeshadow primer. I'm writing this from the train to Washington, so reviews will have to wait a few days, but I can give you some spoilers: I'm very impressed with the glosses, the liners, and the primer, but the eyeshadows might be the worst I've ever tried. Why so hit-and-miss, NYX?

For that matter, what's with your byzantine "simple and easy" return policy? ("Call 1.866.NYX.1004 and ask for internet returns and exchanges. Give them your order number and reason for return or exchange. Mail package with return/exchange items inside along with a completed return/exchange form...Please allow up to 3 weeks from the time you call until the time you receive your refund on your exchange.") I suspect this is all meant to discourage me from pursuing my wasted $13.50, but that's half a Face Stockholm cream blush, damn it.

In better news, I'm currently wearing the Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart, a pretty pinky-purple, and my lips feel moisturized and happy. And it's the first day of spring!

See you on Sunday, if my spotty home internet cooperates. It's sad when the Amtrak wireless connection is faster than your own.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lipstick Chronology #17: Revlon Fire (and a Tribute to Velvet Goldmine)

Name: Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Fire

Date Purchased: Fall 2012

Grade: A-

Notes: If you're my friend for any length of time, you'll eventually have to watch one of three films: The Draughtsman's Contract, Revengers Tragedy, or Velvet Goldmine. If I really like you, I might make you watch all three. And since I've had this blog for nearly three months now, the time has come to blather about them to you. Aren't you lucky. 

The Draughtsman's Contract (Peter Greenaway, 1982) takes place in an English country house in 1694. Revengers Tragedy (Alex Cox, 2003) is an adaptation of my favorite Jacobean revenge tragedy, set in a post-apocalyptic Liverpool governed by crime lords. Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes, 1998) is a non-linear fantasia straddling glam-rock London and gloomy '80s New York. Surprisingly, the three films have a lot in common. Each has a small cast of characters. Each presents an ornate dystopian world that never quite enters the realm of capital-F Fantasy. Each, in its own way, is sinister, campy, baroque. The directors are more invested in atmosphere than, I don't know, character development or plot, which means that each film is a perfectly contained aesthetic bubble. And that's my perennial weakness in fiction, whether literary or cinematic. What, you expect me to care about these characters as individuals?

(At this point you're probably wondering when I'm going to swoon over the genius of Wes Anderson. The answer is never. He leaves me completely cold. The three movies I've listed have a low-budget sloppiness that couldn't be further from Anderson's creepy precision.)

Oh, right: this is a beauty blog. And of the three movies I've listed, it goes without saying that Velvet Goldmine has the best beauty game.

I confess that I did not apply pink eyeshadow or a blue wig for my poor man's Velvet Goldmine. Instead, I thought of this, my favorite shot from the film:

Fire is a very, very pigmented red gloss. It's a liquid lipstick without the staying power, meaning that I never wear it because it. gets. everywhere. If your job requires you to stand perfectly still in a hermetically sealed chamber, Fire is the gloss for you. But if your lifestyle happens to involve eating, drinking, kissing, or talking, God help you. Fire is far and away the most impractical lip product I own; it would fit right into the world of Velvet Goldmine.

And now for a question that has perplexed me ever since I bought Fire: is it a warm red or a cool one? Christine of Temptalia sees it as warm, but most colors seem to pull warmer on her than they do on me. Swatched on both my arm and my lips, and photographed in natural light on an overcast day, Fire strikes me as a cool-leaning neutral red.


For my Velvet Goldmine homage (also influenced by this tutorial), I attempted a bronzey smokey eye with four eyeshadows, three from theBalm's Nude 'Tude palette. I started with a base of Maybelline cream eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze all over the mobile lid, then added theBalm Seductive, a shimmery bronze, in the middle third; Sophisticated, a shimmery cool brown, in the outer corner and into the crease; and Sleek, a dark matte brown, to line the upper and lower lash lines. I applied a heavy layer of NARS Coeur Battant blush ("heavy" by my standards; normal, I suspect, by normal standards) high on the cheekbones and onto the temples for that Studio 54 look:

(Pierre and Margaret Trudeau, by the inimitable Kate Beaton.)

The result (be kind, this must be the third or fourth smokey eye of my entire life):

Congratulations to me: I've made an impractical lip color even more impractical.

Assembling this look was fun! And since my ~beauty resolution~ for this year was to get more creative and adventurous with eye makeup, this is a good first step. I still believe that a bright lip can be dressed down more easily than an elaborate eye, and my life, alas, involves a lot of dressing down (and being dressed down). But I'm certainly going to keep experimenting with different eyeshadow and liner placements on the blog, and when my much-delayed NYX package finally arrives, I'll have some new treats to play with.

Well, this was a long, strange ramble of a post. Congratulations on making it to the end.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lipstick Chronology #16: YSL Belle de Rose

Name: YSL Rouge Pur Couture #8 (Belle de Rose)

Date of Purchase: Fall 2012

Grade: A

Notes: Of all the YSL lip colors in existence, Belle de Rose must be one of the least swatched and blogged about, despite its starring role in this Lisa Eldridge video. I suspect that YSL's flurry of new releases--Rouge Volupté, Rouge Volupté Shine, Glossy Stains, Gloss Volupté--have distracted consumers from the original Rouge Pur Couture lipstick line. In fact, I forget how I first heard about Belle de Rose, though I remember that I'd been looking for a dark fuchsia lip color for a while. When I came across the one or two online swatches of Belle de Rose, my mind was made up. I promised myself that I'd order it as a reward for passing my general exam, but it somehow became a pre-generals reward instead.

(It wasn’t just generals that induced me to buy Belle de Rose. It was also that the name evoked my livejournal handle of yesteryear: “belledezuylen,” after James Boswell’s literary frenemy, because I was even more insufferable as a teenager than I am now.)

Color-wise, Belle de Rose is something of a chameleon. In its sublimely tacky mirrored gold tube, it looks like a dark plum:

Seriously, I feel like Kate Beaton's '80s businesswoman when I brandish this tube in public. LET'S TAKE THIS TO THE TREADMILL.

Swatched on my arm (which might as well be a piece of white paper), Belle de Rose is a richly pigmented dark fuchsia. I love its subtle shine.

I've swatched it next to three other dark plumberry colors for comparison. Left to right: NYX Black Cherry (redder, warmer); Revlon Plum Velour (sheerer, more purple); Belle de Rose; Milani Sangria (brighter, pinker).

On the lips--at least, on my fairly pigmented lips--Belle de Rose becomes redder. In some lights, it even looks like a dark berry red, à la NARS Cruella. The photo below was taken in relatively warm natural light.

With a lipstick this dark and opaque, I prefer a glossy or shiny finish to a matte one. To my eyes, a shiny plum like Belle de Rose is sophisticated but still a little playful; the same color in a matte finish would read either severe or gothy, depending on the outfit. Someday I'll write down all the unwritten lipstick codes by which I operate. At some point in the distant past, for reasons I now forget, I decided that matte red looked more "professional" than matte plum, and that corals and berries were the best sheer lipsticks and there was no point in bothering with sheer fuchsia. Why? I don't know. I like finding rules and patterns where none exist. I'm an INFJ. 

Despite the luxurious shine of Belle de Rose, I do find it drying. I think I may be the only person on the internet to have this problem with the Rouge Pur Couture lipsticks, but it's worth noting.  

In cooler light, the purple undertones are more apparent:

Pardon the odd angles as I figure out my signature beauty-blogging-selfie pose.

The heady wine-and-roses scent of the Rouge Pur Couture line always makes me think of the decadent poets of the 1890s. The phrase "the days of wine and roses" actually originated in a poem by Ernest Dowson:

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
     Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
          We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
     Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
          Within a dream. 

I think that's what I love most about makeup, after all--its utter ephemerality. There's no such thing, really, as "timeless" or "classic" makeup; it's always of its time, and there's something beautiful about any art form that refuses to transcend its historical moment.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: Milani Showy Sea-Green

Milani Showy Sea-Green nail polish, new this spring, is the Holy Roman Empire of polishes: neither showy nor sea-green. It is, however, extremely pretty.

To me, "sea-green" implies something brighter and bluer; this is a muted, slightly dusty jade or pistachio green, a very unusual color for a nail polish. I can't think of another polish in this particular shade of green, though SSG does seem to resemble Burberry's new Sage Green polish. The Burberry is darker, but it shares that slight dustiness. SSG is not mint, either. Come spring, every brand seems to put out a mint-green or turquoise polish, but I've placed Showy Sea-Green next to a conventional mint color (Urban Outfitters Smush) to show you just how un-minty it really is:

See? Less white, less blue. This must be the reason that SSG, unlike most pale-green polishes, doesn't quite (the devil's in that "quite") give me the gruesome lobster-hands effect. Mint polishes tend to pull out the red tones in my hands, but I mostly avoid that fate with SSG. It's not as flattering as a red or berry, but what green is?

Taken outside, on an overcast morning:

In direct natural light, the green looks brighter and my hands, alas, redder:

Formula-wise, it's good but not spectacular. SSG is completely opaque in three thin coats; you might get away with two thicker coats, but two thin ones looked a bit streaky. I'm not a huge fan of Milani's brushes, which are stiff and wide and tend to pick up too much polish for my taste, but they still get the job done. I've been wearing the polish for a day and a half (plus a base coat and topcoat), and it looks perfect, despite a couple of vigorous dishwashing sessions. That's more than I can say for quite a few formulas, including some very expensive ones--though I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Chanel nail polishes aren't made to withstand pot-scrubbing.

Along with the lovely weather we've been having these past few days, this shade of green is putting me in a delightfully vernal mood. And look what I found on my way home yesterday:

While we're on the subject of delightful yellow-green things, I should mention that Showy Sea-Green almost matches the pistachio cookies from the Italian deli near my apartment. I doubt they're made anywhere in the vicinity of real pistachios, but they are very tasty.

This photo was surprisingly hard to take: it turns out that holding a cookie and a bottle of nail polish in one hand is not a natural action. Guess what I ate to reward myself.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lipstick Chronology #15: Revlon Bordeaux

Name: Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Bordeaux

Date Purchased: September 2012

Grade: A

Notes: I've been having a major lipgloss moment. This winter has been unusually long and cold (15°-25°F below average on most days), and my lips, chronically dry to begin with, have not been happy. They'll be fine for a day or two, then start bleeding at random. I've tried everything: Chapstick, Carmex, every "hydrating" lipstick formula on the market, coconut oil, a scrub of olive oil and sugar (NB: do not use a lip scrub on severely chapped lips; pain and blood will be the result). In the generations-old feud between lipstick and lipgloss, as longstanding and bloody as the cake-pie war, I'm firmly in the lipstick camp. (And the cake camp, for the record.) These two households are not alike in dignity; one is more shimmery, more sticky, more beloved of teenyboppers, than the other. But winter has forced me to betray my kind, and the gloss I've been enjoying most in recent weeks is Revlon Bordeaux.

Bordeaux is a noteworthy part of my collection for two reasons. First, it’s the gloss that convinced me I liked gloss; second, it’s the lip color I wore to my general exam in October 2012. Almost every doctoral program has an exam that marks the end of coursework and the beginning of the dissertation stage. Ours is a two-hour oral exam which, various people assured me, would be very relaxed and open-ended. These people did not share my advisers. Let's just say that until recently, every time I saw my tube of Bordeaux, I would picture three middle-aged men grilling me on the epithets that Milton uses to describe bishops in Apology for a Pamphlet.

It’s a shame, because Bordeaux is a lovely gloss, a berry red with a fine vein of gold shimmer:

In all but the fiercest, most direct light, the individual gold particles are invisible; instead, your lips just look fuller and glossier than usual:

Gah, this is such a perfect gloss. It's pigmented and smooth, it fades evenly and leaves a nice stain, it's moisturizing, and I wouldn't hesitate to repurchase it if I were sure that Revlon had become cruelty-free again.

Sorry that looks a bit, uh, gory.

It took me a long time to become reconciled to Bordeaux. I didn't want to be reminded of the moment, five minutes into my exam, when I was told sternly that the name “Jaques” in As You Like It was pronounced “Jay-kweez.” The worst part is that when I tell anyone else this story, they’re like, “Yeah, of course, Jay-kweez.” Am I the only college-educated person who went almost 25 years without seeing a production of As You Like It or discussing it in a class?

 But now Bordeaux and I are best friends again!

My gloss collection is still very limited, and with the approach of spring, I've been wanting some brighter, happier colors. I still haven't placed my NYX order (due to indecision and congenital cheapness), but when I do, it will include at least one of the much-hyped Butter Glosses. I'm thinking fuchsia and maybe peach. The temperature crept up to 54° today, and I ordered an iced mocha and sat outside on campus and, for a few moments, believed in spring.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lipstick Chronology #14: Three Mod Pinks (MAC, Maybelline, Revlon)

Names: Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Make Me Pink; Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Primrose; MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Creme Cup

Date of Purchase: Spring-Summer 2012

Grades: A-, A, A-

Notes: Auxiliary Beauty lives, barely. I suspect that I surrendered my beauty-blogger credentials this past week, while scrambling to finish a fellowship application that was due last night at midnight. The week passed in a haze of sleep deprivation, unremitting anxiety, and deplorable nutrition choices. The weather was brutally cold. I didn't exercise, I picked at my skin in moments of exceptional stress, and there were nights when I forgot to moisturize. Yesterday I submitted my application at 11:40 pm (which may explain why I listed my gender as "male"); this morning I woke up with what seems to be a mild cold. I can't remember the last time I felt so unbeautiful. And, of course, the time has come to review three lipsticks in one of my least flattering colors: pale nudey chalky pink.

In the past few years, the ladymags have told us over and over that bold lipstick is back, though I've found little evidence of it outside the beauty blogosphere and my occasional trips into New York. I can count on one hand the number of people I see every day wearing noticeable lip color--and that's any lip color, no matter how subdued. Someone must be buying the 38457 variations on fuchsia in YSL's Glossy Stain line, but who? The most popular colors still seem to be nude pinks like Revlon Primrose and MAC Creme Cup. Maybelline Make Me Pink is a little too bright for that category, but I threw it into this installment of the Lipstick Chronology anyway, since I bought it around the same time and for the same reason: I wanted a lipstick that looked "mod." My mother has told me that she wore white lipstick in high school during the mid-'60s, so I hate to apply the word "mod" to a shade as tame as pale pink, but here we are. Left to right, cool to warm, matte to shiny: Make Me Pink, Primrose, Creme Cup.

Beauty blogging has presented me with a number of unexpected challenges. For instance: how to photograph three pale pink lipsticks without making them look pornographic? This is not the answer:

These shades look fairly similar in their tubes, but arm swatches tell a different story. Make Me Pink is a cool-toned medium pink, a color I find it hard to get excited about. It's...fine. It's pink. Perfectly unobjectionable. Primrose is a pale pink that's cooler than most nude pinks; Creme Cup is her warm-toned, slightly shimmery sister. MAC’s Cremesheen formula is, duh, creamy and shiny. I’ve always been averse to shimmer or glitter or, God forbid, frost in lipsticks; my stance has softened over the years, but when I bought Creme Cup I inspected it very very closely for shimmer particles. It has some, but I think they make this pink-nude look more vibrant and alive than it would otherwise.

Left to right: Make Me Pink, Primrose, Creme Cup.

Make Me Pink is a good deal more matte than the other two, and when I swatched it today, I thought it resembled a semi-matte cool pink very dear to my heart, MAC Pink Nouveau. But it turns out that Pink Nouveau (right) is brighter, more opaque, and a little cooler.

Of the three, I find Primrose the most flattering by far:

This is a photo from a few weeks ago. I'll spare you my face today (besides, the light was so bad this afternoon that I found it hard to take color-accurate photos), but here's a creepy triptych of lip swatches: a liptych, if you will. Same order as above.

I told myself that I could make a NYX order when my application was done, but now that it's done I keep fussing over my cart, deleting and adding and deleting; there's just too much that I want. Typical. The only thing I know for sure is that I'm going to try some colorful eye makeup and break out of my taupe-bronze-gray rut. I'll let you know what I decide.