Sunday, May 18, 2014

Experiments with theBalm's Nude 'tude Palette (Part 2: Looks and Field Notes)

My face has emerged from the shadows!


 My previous post on theBalm's Nude 'tude palette was devoted to swatches and mini-reviews of the colors. As promised, this post features four looks I've concocted since then, plus an alternate use that isn't a look per se. I began by pushing myself to focus on the shades I use least often, but fell back for the last two looks on my favorites: gray-taupe Selfish and brown-taupe Sophisticated. All of the eyeshadows were applied over NYX HD Primer.

For a refresher on the colors, here's my palette after almost two years of abuse.


1. Rose Gold, or: Who Needs Naked 3?


 Shades used: Stubborn, Snobby, Stand-offish (sic)


Application: Stubborn all over the mobile lid, Snobby blended into the center as a highlight, Stand-offish in the crease and on part of the browbone.

Field Notes: I like this more than I thought I would, and I'd use it again as a tonal complement for other peaches and/or pale pinks. (In the photo above, I'm wearing NARS Coeur Battant blush and Revlon Super Natural lip gloss.)


The pink of Stubborn makes my eyes look greener, but I wish it contrasted more with my skintone; as you can see above, it almost disappears in certain lights. The difference between Stubborn and Stand-offish is more apparent on the eye than in the pan: Stubborn remains (stubbornly) pink, but Stand-offish loses much of its pinkness and goes more peachy. But I still can't figure out why this palette needs both pinks. I would have loved an antique gold or light gray in place of Stand-offish. In fact, why doesn't any neutral palette have an antique gold? Why won't my cough go away? Why isn't anything in Britain open after 6 pm? So many questions.

2. Exit, Pursued by a Dragon


 Because bronze + burgundy = dragon, at least if you grew up with Michael Hague's illustrations for The Hobbit.


Shades used: Seductive, Sexy


Application: Seductive on the inner two-thirds of the mobile lid; Sexy on the outer third and the lower lashline.

Field Notes: Sexy, a rich bordeaux matte in the pan, becomes disappointingly muddy once applied. The red tones are still there, but the overall effect is reddish brown instead of burgundy. Seductive is a fine bronze color, but so warm that my skintone gives it nothing to mesh with. It sits atop my lids instead of blending with my complexion.


 That said, I don't walk around with my eyes closed:


I was pleasantly surprised at how well the color combination set off my green eyes. Something to return to, I think.

3. The One I've Actually Worn in Public 


Shades used: Selfish, Sophisticated



Application: Selfish all over the lid, Sophisticated blended into the outer third and up into the crease, and applied along the outer third of the lower lashline.


Field Notes: A refreshingly normal, utterly uninventive cool-toned taupe look. Which, with two more shadows and a glittery eyeliner and a good deal more blush, turns into...

4. Edwardian Cyborg



Shades used: Selfish, Sophisticated, Sassy, Serious. I also cheated and added NYX eyeliner in Jewel, a purple with pink glitter.


Application: Selfish all over the lid, into the crease, and up to the browbone. Sophisticated on outer third of upper lids, then blended into the crease and the outer corner of the lower lashline. Serious to line the lower lashline. Sassy as an inner-corner highlight. Jewel on the upper lashline. Blush is Coeur Battant, this time applied '80s-wise along the cheekbones and up to the temples. Lipgloss is NYX Raspberry Tart.


Field Notes: I based this look on a Pinterest find:


Makeup artist Troy Jensen explains that his inspiration was Sean Young as the cyborg Rachel in Blade Runner; I see that, but there's also something disheveled-Wharton-heroine about this look. In Blade Runner, Young was dressed and made up in a very '80s interpretation of the '40s look (which I know because I was Rachel last Halloween and studied her costume closely before imitating it haphazardly). So what we have in this image is a 21st-century adaptation of an '80s version of '40s makeup for a futuristic android, plus a dash of Gibson Girl. Very Neal Stephenson.


Bonus: Brow Powder

Shade used: Sleek


Field Notes: As you may have noticed, my eyebrows don't need much help in the fullness department. During my junior year abroad, my sorority-sister friend teased me endlessly about my "Brooke Shields" brows, once going so far as to hold me down and pluck them. Clearly, hanging out with a bushy-browed friend was harming her image; she almost seemed to think that I'd grown them to spite her. But that was in 2007 or 2008, at the end of the thin-brow trend that had begun in the late '90s. Times have changed, and my ship has come in, bitches.

But the bushiest of brows can look uneven, and when mine do, I turn to Sleek. I just put some on my finger and pat it in, following the direction of the hairs. Sometimes, if I want more precision, I use the liner brush that comes with the palette. In general, though, I don't like my brows to look too "done." No beauty trend baffles me more than the heavy, sharp-cornered, stenciled-looking brows that have popped up on a myriad of foreheads in the last year. Some people can pull off this look, but it's not for me. Here's what I ended up with instead:


So ends my Nude 'tude experiment. I ended up using ten out of the twelve shades in the palette; the only ones I couldn't incorporate into any of my looks were Sultry, the warm matte medium brown, and Silly, the red-brown with copper glitter. Those two might be lost causes. Sultry will never not clash hideously with my undertones, and though Silly is beautiful in its pan, the glitter just doesn't translate onto the skin, even over primer.

Would I recommend Nude 'tude? Yes, with caveats. The eyeshadows are of almost uniformly excellent quality; the only exception is Silly, which is dry and uneven with poorly incorporated glitter.  Eleven out of twelve is pretty good, especially in the world of large palettes, which almost always have a couple of dud shades. That said, if you need to dress up as an Edwardian cyborg in order to make eyeshadow interesting, the eyeshadow you're using is boring. Let's all take that as a rule.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to catching up on the latest half-season of Adventure Time. Speaking of dystopian futures.


14 comments:

  1. I have much love for this post <3 Your Edwardian Cyborg look (and the picture that inspired it) may or may not have prompted a squeal at this end. Obviously, I can neither confirm nor deny this <_< ... >_>

    Your eye colour is gorgeous! I haz envy. :-D The dragon look is neat; I feel you on the 'warm colours not meshing with skintone' thing though! I get that quite a lot, even with the reputedly 'cool' Naked 2 palette (spoiler alert: it's not 100% cool-toned).

    I think your eyebrows are lovely - they work just perfectly with your face. :-) Although this it really a positive thing in many respects, my eyebrows are epically boring. All I have to do to them is pluck some stragglers off the lower browbone, and fill with eyeshadow (inside the naturally arched lines) if desired. It is a testament to how ridiculously green the grass always is on the other side that I wish my brows had a bit more of that 'wild romance' to them. If my brows are Austen, yours are Bronte, possilby Radcliffe, etc. (and there's only so much you can do with brow products to achieve that before you tip over the line into 'uncanny valley brows'...)

    Also: uh oh... I think an idea just happened :-P I'll email you!

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    1. I'm so glad you liked the Edwardian cyborg! That was my favorite, too, obviously. :D

      I feel like my eyebrows are going through a period of transition right now. I do pluck and trim them occasionally (imagine what they'd look like if I didn't), but I'm not sure how to shape them, or how to avoid going overboard with the plucking. I'd rather err on the side of too little than too much grooming, hence the Gothic-novel look ("wild romance" is a very flattering way to describe it...).

      Hooray, an email!

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  2. I really, really love the Edwardian Cyborg look. I hope you wear it out soon!

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    1. Thanks! I confess I did the look immediately before taking a shower, but I might try out a modified version to wear in public. I don't think I'm brave enough to wear that much blush out of the house...

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    2. Re: 6pm closing -- it's the same here! I mean, most supermarkets are open later, and booze shops, but everything else shuts at 5.30-6pm. A lot of cafes shut at 3-4 ish, which is a pain when you just want a coffee and a quick bite, not fast food or a full on meal. We have late night Thursdays, though. Some places even have late night Fridays o.o

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    3. It's really put a cramp in my late-night drunk-lipstick-buying habit...which may not be a bad thing.

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  3. This is easily one of my favourite palettes to date! PS your eye brows are BEAUTIFUL.

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    1. It's a really versatile palette! I'm not totally in love with it, but it's served me well these two years. And thank you!!

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  4. Dear AB,
    This post was by far full of so much win! I quaver in its majesty! :DDD Literally, it is so sharp, smart and funny I've nothing to say...except maybe, FULL BROWS FOR THE WIN FIVEVER! *high five*
    I feel like I need to go back and read some more literary works or something. Or paint my face. I dunno.

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    1. Aww, Belly, thank you! That means so much, coming from one of the most delightful writers on the beauty interwebs. More face paint and literary works = always more better.

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  5. So many awesome looks! I'm also now stalking you on Pinterest. :D

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    1. I awoke this morning to 35 Pinterest notifications. The highest form of flattery, in our modern age!

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  6. Ooh, what's your user name? I have a slight Pinterest addiction.

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