Monday, June 30, 2014

Lipstick Chronology #22: MAC Pink Nouveau

Name: MAC Satin Lipstick in Pink Nouveau

Date Purchased: Feb. 2013

Grade: A

Notes: The end of one series means the resumption of another! It’s time for an installment of my Lipstick Chronology. For the past few months, I’ve been reviewing my lipsticks and lip glosses in the order in which I bought them. I chose the phrase "Lipstick Chronology" in part because it evokes one of my academic interests, the history of time measurement. In the Renaissance, scholars used to compile "wonder cabinets" filled with artifacts from different eras; these cabinets (or, in some cases, whole rooms) served as timelines of a kind, illustrations of the development of human culture. I think of my blog as my own wonder cabinet, a timeline of my approach to beauty.

Anyway, I've been thinking about how best to complete my chronology. I still have a lot of lipsticks to get through, so I might end up reviewing some of them in groups (e.g. all five of my Maybelline Vivids in one post). Pink Nouveau is pretty much sui generis in my collection, though. I've never been crazy about medium pink lipsticks, but this one is a notable exception. 

Many mid-tone pinks lean nude-ish, but Pink Nouveau is too bright and clear to read as neutral. At the same time, because it's not pale and white-based, it doesn't look porny (Snob and Saint Germain, I'm looking at you). It's a happy, summery, vaguely retro color, a slightly dusty blue-based pink. I can imagine Mrs. Robinson wearing this with a turquoise paisley shift dress and big pearl earrings.

I've now tried five MAC lipstick formulas--Matte, Amplified Creme, Satin, Cremesheen, and Lustre-- and Satin has to be my favorite. It's a semi-matte formula lying somewhere between Amplified Creme, which is so soft and creamy that it has next to no lasting power, and Matte, which can be drying. Pink Nouveau is fully opaque and lasts several hours, but it sits comfortably on my lips and wears off evenly. It also looks good with polka dots.

(Admittedly, the formula doesn't make my lips look less dry than they already are. Sorry.)

Outside on a sunny day:

Indoors, still in natural light (edited on 7/17 with a more color-accurate photo; same outfit and supporting makeup because summer isn't for thinking):

Yes, I've given up all aspirations to creative makeup in this weather. Taupe eyeshadow, mascara, bright lip, out the door.

I made some comparison swatches to give you an idea of how bright, yet how un-fuchsia, Pink Nouveau really is. Left to right: Maybelline Make Me Pink (lighter, sheerer, cooler), Pink Nouveau, Maybelline Fuchsia Flash (darker, brighter, glossier), and MAC Candy Yum-Yum (darker, brighter, more matte).

Surprised at the similarity between Pink Nouveau and Fuchsia Flash, I decided to do some creepy half-and-half lip swatches. Here's Pink Nouveau on the left and Fuchsia Flash on the right, in direct sunlight:

Not dupes at all, it turns out! Fuchsia Flash looks almost purple next to Pink Nouveau. Excuse the insane dryness of my lips today.

Finally, I've decided to go on a no-buy for the month of July. There's nothing I musthaveomg right now, so I'm content to rotate through my fuchsia and coral lipsticks and save my money for some new clothes. Can you believe I don't even own a maxi skirt? Scandal.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Beauty Abroad, Part 9: Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic, and Some Thoughts on British Beauty


It's humid, guys. I know I've mentioned it before, but when the humidity level is 94% at 7:30 am, I can be forgiven for mentioning it again. I don't understand how those of you who live in hot climates with year-round humidity keep your makeup from sliding off your faces, but I need to get in on whatever black magic you're using. In East Coast summers, the only products that don't melt into nothingness after ten minutes outside are mascara, lipstick, cream eyeshadow, and my newest discovery: cream blush.

Cream blush! Where have you been all these years? Thousands of miles away at Illamasqua counters, apparently.

(The pristine pan, with a drop of condensation that I dared not brush off for fear of marring the perfect smoothness. But now I can't stop looking at that drop. Damn it!)

Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic is a blush of many superlatives. It's my first cream blush, of course. It's my first neutral-beige blush. At £21.50, it was by far the most expensive beauty product I bought in England, but it's also my favorite product of my British haul, and the one I've used most often since coming home. Sephora used to carry a small range of Illamasqua cream blushes for (I think) $26, but they phased out the line just before I left for the UK, so I had to swallow a price increase of about $10 overseas. Not that I've regretted it for a second.

Zoomed in for color and texture:

Ignore the droplet. IGNORE IT.

Illamasqua describes Zygomatic as a "naked pink brown," which is accurate if your version of "naked" is "pale and cool-toned." It's a muted pink-beige that imparts a natural-looking flush to my pale complexion. Zygomatic is so understated on me that I can't imagine it showing up well on medium- or dark-complexioned people, and several MakeupAlley reviews bear out my suspicions. On the plus side, Zygomatic is almost impossible to overapply; on the minus side, it's too easy to blend it into oblivion. But as someone who lives in fear of overapplying her blush, I appreciate the subtlety of the color and the smooth blendability of the formula.

Swiped on my arm, then blended out:

The pan after two weeks of use, with its top layer broken to reveal a slightly cooler-toned beige:

Illamasqua blush packaging isn't my favorite: the compact is hard to open and, due to its ~quirky~ shape, larger than it should be. But I can forgive a few packaging flaws when the products itself is so silky, dewy, and forgiving of application mistakes. I know some people use stippling brushes to apply cream blush, but I'm more comfortable using my fingers. I've been patting Zygomatic on the apples of my cheeks and blending it upward along my, wait for it, zygomatic bones.

Now for a few looks incorporating Zygomatic, with the caveat that, like many blushes, it tends to disappear on camera. The difference is that Zygomatic contributes a faint glow that does show up in photos--and, I'd like to think, makes my constant summer dampness look deliberate. I might be deluding myself about this.

The first look, from a few days ago:

Other makeup: Topshop Chameleon Glow in Wax + Wane applied over Maybelline Tough as Taupe cream eyeshadow; Maybelline One by One mascara; NYX Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart, which I've almost used up. How is that possible?

Look #2, belonging to the library-carrel-selfie genre: mascara, Zygomatic, and Maybelline Vivid Rose lipstick. It was too humid to bother with serious eye makeup, and I wanted to get out of the apartment early and start working. Self-imposed schedules are hard to maintain; you start thinking, "Well, maybe this will be the day I take an hour to master the smoky eye." Now and again I resist that thought.

Finally, from last night:

Other makeup: Kiko #251 eyeshadow layered over NARS Lhasa, both secured with an underlayer of Maybelline Tough as Taupe; same mascara as above; purple lipstick custom-made for me last December at the Bite Beauty Lip Lab in New York. If you're ever in the area, go there! It's so much fun. This xoVain article has more information, but I'll get around to writing up my impressions eventually.

So ends my Beauty Abroad series. I've now reviewed all of the makeup I bought in England (you can find the other posts in my beauty abroad tag), and I thought I'd wrap up with a few words on the differences I spotted between British and American approaches to beauty. Of course, these are nothing more than one person's fugitive impressions; feel free to disagree or add your own observations!

I spent most of my time in the downtown area of a large, ethnically diverse city. This meant I got to see a good cross-section of British women in professional dress by day and done up for drinks or clubbing by night. Professional makeup is fairly similar in Britain and the United States: lots of no-makeup makeup and neutral colors. It's in leisure hours when the differences really emerge. In my experience, Americans pay more attention to the overall effect of their makeup, while the British pay more attention to individual details.

In general, American makeup tends to be neutral and monochromatic. Americans want to look like airbrushed versions of their normal selves; a typical going-out look for a young American woman in an urban area involves a black or brown smoky eye, lots of mascara, blush and/or bronzer, some contouring, and either nude lipstick or no lip color at all. There are exceptions, of course; red and coral lips have gained quite a foothold (liphold?) in neighborhoods dominated by retro-twee hipster culture. But in general, wearing bright or experimental makeup in the US marks a woman as an eccentric. Not a bad eccentric, just someone who wants to get noticed. For that matter, going entirely without makeup seems to be a more popular choice in America than in Britain. As I've mentioned before, I didn't wear makeup until the age of 23, and my decision went unquestioned by other young women. Sometimes I wonder who buys the bright lipsticks and eyeliners available in every CVS and Sephora, because I so rarely see people wearing them.

By contrast, many British women adore bold colors, especially in lipstick. Red, fuchsia, purple, orange, burgundy, bubblegum pink--I saw it all, even at the academic conferences I attended. I also noticed some painstakingly executed cat eyes, another rare sight in the States. British makeup tends to be more experimental than American makeup, but also messier and more haphazard; there's less of an attempt to make all the elements cohere. Which is not a criticism! Overall, it seemed that the British brought a sense of play to their beauty practices, and I felt more comfortable having fun with my makeup when I was there.

I'm curious what originally produced this sense of play. The gloomy weather? Britain's centuries-old tolerance for eccentricity? The fact that seventeenth-century courtiers dressed like this?

Portrait of John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby, by Gilbert Jackson, 1636. Source: National Portrait Gallery.

The availability of bold makeup at a low price point certainly makes a difference. American drugstore makeup is still dominated by soft, neutral colors; to find makeup with a sense of adventure, you generally have to splash out for MAC, NARS, or Urban Decay. Across the Atlantic, Sleek, Rimmel, Bourjois, and other affordable brands produce a wide range of colors and finishes. Of course, they produce this wide range in response to existing demand; but what about a customer interested in matte burgundy blush but reluctant (or unable) to spend more than £10 on something she might not like? In the States, she's out of luck; in Britain, she has options. It was refreshing to see.

Also refreshing, these days: homemade strawberry-coconut-lime popsicles and Lana Del Rey's new album. Is it really summer if I'm not mooning around the apartment listening to something like this?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

So You Want Some Introspection, Huh?

Well, that's one thing I have no trouble providing.

The beauty blogosphere has taken a turn for the introspective in recent months, with some of my favorite bloggers questioning how and why they write about makeup and beauty. Before I say anything else, I want to stress how lucky I feel to belong to such a thoughtful, intelligent online community. When I first started reading beauty blogs a few years ago, I was struck by how good a lot of them were: how well-written, funny, analytical, and just plain smart. I started my own blog because I wanted to contribute to the discussion, and maybe even entertain some of you as much as you'd entertained me. (Plus, none of my real-life friends are makeup geeks, and I didn't want to bore them discussing the minutiae of blush textures and lipstick finishes.)

Four or five months on, I'm still in the honeymoon period of blogging. I get excited every time someone leaves a comment, and I can hardly believe that none of those comments have been of the "hey, ugly, you're ugly" variety. The first half of 2014 has been hard for me in many ways, but writing about beauty has brought me nothing but pleasure. I'm still mildly surprised that anyone wants to read what I write, since I've spent five years preparing to produce scholarly works for a small, specialized coterie, and now I have proof that I can reach people outside that coterie.

Blogging has also been a welcome respite from the stress of academic writing. Earlier this year, I attended a seminar in which two professors in my department discussed how they balanced academic and creative writing. One of the professors, a novelist as well as a literature scholar, admitted that she hadn't done any creative writing in grad school. "Writing a dissertation is hard," she said. "You're learning how to construct a long-form argument, how to do research, and how to master the conventions of academic writing, all at the same time." I realized I'd never heard another professor say that. Writing a dissertation is hard. It was, sadly, a revelation. I'd been assuming that I was supposed to have mastered all those skills already, and that any difficulties I encountered were purely my fault. When, duh, I'm writing a book, and writing it under tremendous pressure to find exactly the right argument. A literature dissertation has to be original, but not so original that it can't engage with other scholarship in the field. It has to deal with major authors, but if it's too Spenser-Shakespeare-Milton it's not "exciting" enough. Plus, there are almost no tenure-track jobs, so every grad student assumes (incorrectly) that somewhere out there exists the Platonic dissertation topic, the magic argument that will impress every hiring committee in the world. The pressure can be paralyzing.

Under these circumstances, beauty blogging feels like a vacation. My posts aren't subject to peer review or the gaze of a dissertation committee. I'm not trying to make money from my blog or secure a job in the beauty industry. I'm just writing about something I enjoy. It's not a huge part of my identity; it's a hobby, a passion, and a way to connect with smart, fascinating people. And even if I weren't blogging, I'd still be buying makeup, so why not photograph and write about it too? I don't like keeping my interests to myself.

But these are early days for my blog. Had I started it three years ago, when I first became obsessed with beauty, my spirits might well be flagging by now. And despite the pleasure that my blog has brought me, I've had my misgivings. When I was growing up, my family had no disposable income to speak of, and I was taught to buy only what I absolutely needed. As a grad student, I'm not exactly sleeping in piles of money (actually, I'm sleeping on a mattress on the floor), but I do have enough for the occasional treat. But splurging on myself, even if I can afford it, is still psychologically difficult. Buying nice things makes me feel spendthrift and self-indulgent. Celebrating those nice things in a blog helps assuage the guilt, but it also gives me doubts. What makes a beauty blog successful? Is it, ultimately, the amount of stuff it manages to sell? Has a post of mine succeeded if I inspire someone else to spend their money? Am I writing nothing more than glorified ad copy for beauty brands, and free ad copy, at that?

I think the answer is no. Or maybe the answer is "Yes, but that's not really the point." Beauty blogs that focus on reviewing new products are fun and helpful, but they're not my favorite ones, and they're not the ones I choose to emulate. I'm not planning to buy anything new for a while, but I still have plenty of ideas for posts. And blogging about my shiny new lipsticks doesn't make me some sort of evil hyper-consumer. (Who am I trying to convince here? Why am I imagining some devil's-advocate asshole disagreeing with all of my points?) I'd probably feel more ambivalent if I had a huge, debt-producing, storage-defying makeup collection, or if I were trying to leverage my blog into a career. But for now, I don't see anything wrong with discussing the purchases I'd make anyway.

Plus, what I love most about makeup isn't the individual brands or even the individual techniques; it's the shared ritual. Last week I was in the restroom in Grand Central Station (I lead an aspirational life, guys), reapplying one of my favorite lipsticks: MAC Up the Amp, a pinky purple. Next to me, another young woman took out her own MAC tube and began touching up her own purple lipstick--a deep, rich purple, almost black. Cyber, maybe? The new Lorde collaboration, Pure Heroine? I knew nothing about this woman, but for a few seconds, we were connected. Then I put away my lipstick and headed back into the world.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Creamsicle for the Summer Solstice: Revlon Matte Balm in Mischievous

I really shouldn't be writing this. I have three other posts in the works: my long-postponed review of Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, my even longer-postponed musings on British vs. American beauty practices, and a contribution to the wave of introspection that has been sweeping the beauty blogosphere in recent weeks. I was all set to write up one of those posts, but yesterday I went and bought a new lipstick, so here we are.

When Revlon's Matte Balms first hit the shelves late last year, the only one of the ten shades that caught my eye was Sultry (reviewed here), a deep roseberry. As a whole, the range was overwhelmingly orange, a color I like better in the abstract than on my face. There was your medium orange, your light orange, your red-orange, your orangey beige; even the fuchsia looked suspiciously tropical. So I enjoyed my Sultry for several months and virtuously ignored the others.

But as spring wore on, it occurred to me that I had yet to find a pale orange lipstick. Not peachy pink, but creamy pastel orange, the kind of orange that even my pigmented, cool-toned lips couldn't pull darker and redder. I had over fifty lipsticks, but I was missing that white-based creamsicle color. Yes, I've reached the point in my lipstick collecting where the only colors I lack are novelty colors. I've amassed a nice range of flattering neutrals and brights (mauves, fuchsias, cool-toned reds, pinky purples), and now I find myself with stranger appetites. Why do I seek out colors almost guaranteed to jar with my complexion? Why do I crave a milky orange when I know what looks good on me and, more importantly, what looks bad? I don't know. Decadence, I suppose. Moral and aesthetic degeneration. The desire to feel alienated from my own reflection. Or maybe I just like creamsicles.

At some point last month, I remembered having seen a pale orange in the Revlon Matte Balm lineup. I did some quick research, ascertained that Mischievous was exactly the color I wanted (or did my desires adapt themselves to the existence of Mischievous?), and waited until I returned from the UK to track it down. Of course, my local CVS didn't have Mischievous in stock, so I bought it yesterday in New York, where drugstore makeup always gets marked up by at least a dollar. Whatever; a lemming is a lemming, and a lemming fulfilled is a blog post.

The Matte Balms are chubby twist-up pencils in matte plastic casings; the color of the packaging is an exact match for the color of the product.

Ahh, the point of the unused pencil is so smooth and shiny.

Swatched on my arm. This is one swipe, and you can see that it's not entirely opaque.

Which becomes more problematic on the lips:

I'm sorry you had to see that. Science demands it, I'm afraid.

It is, however, unique in my collection. I pulled out all the lip colors that I thought would be similar, but none of them came close to duping Mischievous. Left to right: NYX Butter Gloss in Peach Cobbler, Revlon Mischievous, Urban Decay Streak, Milani Sweet Nectar.

So, the bad: the formula of Mischievous leaves a lot to be desired. I don't mind that I need two coats for opacity and even pigmentation; I do mind that the product deepens my lip lines into canyons and clings to dry patches I didn't know I had. I realize that clumping and streaking are hard to avoid with pastel lipsticks, and doubly hard to avoid with matte pastel lipsticks, but this one seems especially egregious. After taking the photo above, I wiped my lips clean, exfoliated them, and put on lip balm before reapplying Mischievous, and it looked even worse. It was kind of impressive, actually.

The lipstick is nice from a distance, though! My other makeup is Maybelline Bad to the Bronze eyeshadow and One by One mascara, and Illamasqua Zygomatic cream blush, which has now appeared in four posts without ever getting a review of its own. I love it, all right? There, done.

So, what do you think? Keep or return? Is life too short to spend wrestling with a lipstick formula? Or is it too short to spend searching for dupes of an unusual color?

Happy solstice, by the way! I leave you with some of the season's bounty. Who knew cabbages could look like magenta peonies?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beauty Abroad, Part 8: A Taste of Topshop

Namely, two nail lacquers--Clique, a chartreuse creme (£5) and Brazil, a rainbow glitter topcoat (£6)--and the new Chameleon Glow in Wax + Wane (£8). Are ampersands no longer cool, Topshop?

First up is the Chameleon Glow, which Topshop describes as an "[a]mazing dual pigmented, multi-use powder; can be used as an eyeshadow or a facial highlight." It's a translucent duochrome powder that's slightly rough to the touch. I saw two colors of this product on the shelf at Topshop: U-Turn was a peach/lime duochrome, while Wax + Wane has a brown-bronze base with fuchsia and electric blue overlay. I liked U-Turn as well, but it was less opaque than Wax + Wane. The Chameleon Glows are part of Topshop's summer Festival Collection, which also contains four pots of loose chunky glitter. Something tells me that 26-year-old literature grad students might not be the target demographic for this collection.

Since I'm not a 12-year-old in 1999 (though I was!), I'm not inclined to use Wax + Wane as a "facial highlight." I had my melon-scented roll-on body glitter from Bath & Body Works back then, and it suited me just fine. As an eyeshadow, though, Wax + Wane is really beautiful. I haven't worn it on its own, but I've applied it over two Maybelline cream eyeshadows (Bad to the Bronze and Tough as Taupe) and one powder eyeshadow (NARS Lhasa, duh). Over both cream and powder formulas, it provides just the right amount of muted flash. I do get a bit of fallout on my cheeks, but I don't mind some errant glitter; the late-'90s tween in me can never be fully subdued. Wax + Wane clings all day to my lids, though the deep crease in my eye socket produces what might be described as reverse fallout, in which some glitter particles transfer to my browbone. I suspect those of you with monolids will fare better with this product.

In arm swatches, the tea-brown base is prominent; on the lids, the base fades into the background, letting the pink and blue shifts take center stage. The duochrome effect makes Wax + Wane very hard to photograph, but I've done my best. Here it is in direct sunlight, looking bronzey:

Surprise, now it's pink!

In shade, you see fewer individual sparkles and more of an overall blue-pink sheen.

All this makes Wax + Wane sound like the sort of thing you'd wear to the club, and it is, but it can also look surprisingly subtle. Here it is layered over Tough as Taupe, a matte gray-leaning taupe; I'm also wearing Illamasqua Zygomatic cream blush (review to come in my next post!) and NARS Cinematic Lipstick in Last Tango. My growing-out hair has reached that maddening stage between pixie and bob. Excuse me while I mainline some more biotin.

Layered over NYX eyeshadow primer and NARS Lhasa for a more understated gleam:

And a close-up of Wax + Wane + Tough as Taupe:

On to the nail polishes!

The first one I bought, Clique, is a bright avocado green that happens to match my bread knife perfectly, because I'm foppish enough to own a chartreuse bread knife. I don't know what sort of clique Topshop meant to evoke with that name. The clique of people who have Pinterest boards devoted to chartreuse-heavy '60s and '70s graphic design? Anyway:

I'd be the fanciest Jacobean revenge heroine ever, though also the most ineffective: that knife barely cuts bread.

Clique's formula is thin and watery, with a tendency to pool in the cuticles. It's more or less opaque in three coats, though you can still see a bit of streaking if you look closely. And, alas, this color is better suited to kitchen utensils than it is to my hands. If Clique had a little less yellow, it might look a little less...fungal on my nails. I think it would suit people with darker skin than mine, but I'm not sure I can wear it. Not quite enough of a contrast. Maybe I should call off my search for a chartreuse eyeshadow, too...

I'm much more enamored of Brazil (three cheers for accidental World Cup allusions, and also for the American victory last night!). Brazil is a glitter topcoat in a clear base; one coat delivers a generous, evenly spaced helping of glitter. As I've mentioned before, most glitter topcoats look a little too Christmassy for my taste, but Brazil can't be mistaken for anything but summer in a bottle.

I count five colors of glitter: blue, green, orange, fuchsia, and gold. For my first layering attempt, I wore it over OPI Eurso Euro, a dark cobalt, and must have taken at least 20 photos of my nails in the next few days. SO PRETTY.

Next I layered Brazil over Clique, but was less pleased with the result. I looked like I'd contracted an extremely sparkly skin disease.

Lesson learned.

One final gripe about Topshop nail polishes: the bottles are tiny, with hobbit-sized brushes to match. 8 milliliters! This isn't a huge problem for me, since I rarely come close to finishing a bottle of polish and my nails are small, but it's something to keep in mind. Here's Clique (8 ml) next to an Essie polish (13.5 ml), a China Glaze (14 ml), and an OPI (15 ml). In case you're wondering, that's Essie Play Date, China Glaze Ruby Pumps (the one, the only, the magical, the poorly photographed), and OPI Ate Berries in the Canaries.

That's right: a bottle of Topshop nail polish is about half the size of a bottle of OPI, for a comparable price. Scandal! Outrage!

Though it's hard for me to be outraged about anything right now. I love being here for the summer. The undergrads are gone, the library is empty, the town is lush and green, the bubble tea flows freely, the roses grow all fairy-tale-like along the fences, and the light is just right for blogging.

Since returning from England five days ago, I've been in full-on home- and self-improvement mode. I've cleaned, dusted, exercised, gotten rid of the too-small college clothes that have been following me from apartment to apartment since 2009, and re-hung the Jenny Holzer-inspired cross-stitch piece I finished earlier this year. (I was too arrogant/lazy to use letter stencils, so I freehanded the whole thing, and you can see the consequences. Damn it.) I also classed up some postcards from England by giving them burgundy card-stock "frames." I'm such a product of Pinterest it hurts. Can I call this my "gallery wall"?

I've also set foot in the library, though it's an open question whether copying call numbers from the catalog counts as "work." I did meet with my adviser today, though. Wearing Wax + Wane, no less, and wilting in the obscene heat.

I leave you with one of the best twitters on Twitter: Jenny Holzer, Mom.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Beauty Abroad, Part 7: Rimmel ScandalEyes Eyeshadow Stick in Blamed Blue

I'm back in the land of decent coffee and 97% humidity! No, that figure isn't an exaggeration. The summer humidity in this part of the Mid-Atlantic is out of control. Early June isn't all that hot, but I can't spend five minutes outside without feeling moisture pool in my scalp and eyebrows and the space between my eyelids and eye sockets. Gross.

In such conditions, there's no point in wearing powder eyeshadow; the most masterful blending and shading will melt and smudge into nothing. Best to rely on cream shadow or, better yet, eyeliner. Enter one of my purchases from England: Rimmel ScandalEyes Eyeshadow Stick in Blamed Blue, an iridescent teal. I picked it up on the same day I bought my Rimmel lip lacquer and Sleek blush; Superdrug was having a 3-for-2 sale and I wanted to try some eye makeup in a color I'd never actually spend money on. The ScandalEyes line contained some neutral colors that I knew would be more versatile, but I couldn't pass up that beetle-wing blue.

Side note: I hate the name "Blamed Blue." There's something so forced and awkward about a past participle coupled to a color. I know it's supposed to correspond with the "scandal" theme, but there must be a million better options. Blameworthy Blue. Bandit Blue. All right, I couldn't think of more than two, but I'm not getting paid to do this.

Focused, then fuzzy. These pencils may look like twist-ups, but they actually need to be sharpened.

The ScandalEyes shadow sticks are thicker than normal eyeliners but thinner than, say, Clinique's Chubby Sticks for Eyes. They remind me most of the NYX Jumbo Pencils (one of which I reviewed here), except that the Rimmel version is less creamy and blendable than the NYX. Here I've swatched it in a plain line, then blended it out:

See how it hasn't spread out evenly, and most of it has clung to the first place it was applied? That's what happens when I try to blend it into any other eyeshadow. I wanted to use it as a center-lid accent for a taupe shade like NARS Lhasa, but it doesn't fully integrate into other colors. At the same time, it's on the thick side for an eyeliner, though that's how I've been using it. Essentially, it's trying to occupy two niches but fitting imperfectly into both. That turquoise, though! Dreamy. It reminds me of nineteenth-century beetle-wing embroidery, such as this piece from India (source):

Or this spectacular Victorian gown (source):

The good side of Blamed Blue's clinginess is that once it's on, it's on. No smudging, no wearing off. The bad part is that if you apply it clumsily and want to fix it, you're sort of SOL. Sure, you can remove it, but only after a session of furious scrubbing that leaves your eyes hostile to any eye makeup at all. (Maybe I just need a stronger cleanser...) Blamed Blue is also intensely pigmented, which means that your eyelids will have a bluish cast the next day, and God help you if you manage to get it on your clothes.

This sounds like a negative review, but I quite like Blamed Blue for its sultry iridescence and its humidity-resisting powers. Here I am wearing it today:

Other makeup: CoverGirl concealer, Maybelline One by One mascara, Illamasqua cream blush in Zygomatic, NARS Cinematic lipstick in Last Tango applied over Palmer's cocoa-butter balm. Why must all opaque NARS lipsticks be so fiendishly drying?

Closeup. My eyebrow maintenance has fallen by the wayside in the last few days, but I promise superior eyebrows in future posts.

The graphic stripe of blue made me feel like Suzy Bishop from Moonrise Kingdom, though I think she was wearing a powder eyeshadow (source):

I've mentioned my distaste for Wes Anderson's movies before, but I have to admit that they're full of beauty inspirations. Though if that's the highest praise you can give a director...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beauty Abroad, Part 6: The Reckoning

I can't believe how quickly these five weeks have passed, but today was my last full day in the UK. Though I still have several new products to review on the blog for my Beauty Abroad series, I thought I'd use this post for a brief roundup of all the makeup I've bought here.

First, a bird's-eye view of my haul of shame:

And an inventory--I've linked to the reviews I've already written, and starred the products I have yet to post about.

Barry M Nail Lacquers in Sugar Apple and Shocking Pink (reviews); *Barry M Basecoat/Topcoat: 

(I'm not planning to review the base/topcoat because such things either work or they don't, and this one works just fine. Takes a while to dry, but seems to protect my polish a bit more effectively than my usual Revlon Quick-Dry.) 

*Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic:

Kiko Infinity Eyeshadows in 251 and 270; Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 16 (reviews):

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Across the Universe (review):

  *Rimmel ScandalEyes Shadow Stick in Blamed Blue:

Sleek blushes in Life's a Peach (review) and Flushed (review):

*Topshop Nail Lacquers in Brazil (left) and Clique:

*Topshop Chameleon Glow in Wax & Wane:

Not pictured: the Maybelline One by One mascara I bought to replace the mascara I forgot at home. It's not a new product to me, and it's available worldwide, so I don't plan to write a review. It's a good lengthening mascara for a natural look, though--the second-best I've found after CoverGirl LashBlast Length.

So much stuff! I didn't go into debt or anything, but it's more than I would have bought in a normal five-week period. I'm just waiting for the guilt to kick in; give it a minute. But I'm glad that I escaped Europe with only one new lip product, pushed myself outside my neutral-eyeshadow comfort zone, and built up my blush collection from two to five. And no dupes or even near-dupes among those five! I now have a medium rose, a bright clear fuchsia, a peach, a red-plum, and a pink-beige. Not too shabby. As I suspected, 2014 has become my Year of Blush.

And because it feels like forever since I've posted a photo of myself, here's today's face. A simple nothing look with just a bit of color, but I'm happy with it.

Products used: CoverGirl concealer for undereye circles (lolz, clearly I need a better one); theBalm Sleek eyeshadow patted into my brows; Kiko 251 eyeshadow over NARS Lhasa (as I suspected, the Kiko lavender works beautifully with the purple sheen in Lhasa); Maybelline One by One mascara; Illamasqua Zygomatic cream blush; Revlon Pink Truffle lip butter.

Adjusted for preprandial cocktails with Maybelline Brazen Berry lipstick and magically flaw-correcting evening light:

Once I'm back home, I'm going to write up my thoughts on the differences between British and American approaches to beauty. For now, though, let's just hope I can fit all this in my suitcase.