Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spacegirl Incognito: Tony Moly Cristal Blusher #04 Milky Violet and Broccoli Sheet Mask

Few things can induce me to brave midtown Manhattan on a Monday afternoon, but lavender blush is one of them.


Tony Moly is a Korean drugstore brand that has recently made inroads into the American market, most notably through Urban Outfitters, which sells a surprising number of Tony Moly products online. Over the summer, the company also opened a store several blocks from Penn Station, in Manhattan's Koreatown. I was in New York this past weekend for my birthday, and I decided I needed to make a stop at the Tony Moly store before getting on the train home. I'd wanted to try the Cristal Blusher in #04 Milky Violet since reading this article, and the brand's adorable skincare products intrigued me, too. It turned out that "several blocks from Penn Station" actually meant "a fifteen-minute slog through crowds of hustlers, hawkers, and tourists," but as in any quest, it helped to keep the end goal in mind. Plus, the neighborhood has surprisingly picturesque architecture, if you cast your gaze far enough above the clouds of grit and the hot-dog-stand umbrellas.


The Tony Moly store was hard to find. I expected a large, gleaming space overflowing with pastel makeup and fruit-shaped containers of hand cream, but the store was a tiny (albeit gleaming) hole-in-the-wall affair, tucked into a small fraction of a shabby building. Two walls of skincare products, an island with color makeup in the middle, and that was it. Since my boyfriend was waiting outside and I feel uneasy in tiny stores, I didn't linger, but bought my Milky Violet for a wallet-friendly $8. I also picked up three "I'm Real" sheet masks for $3 each: "moisturizing," with aloe; "skin purifying," with seaweed; and "vitality," with broccoli. I can't read Korean, so I'm not sure how prominently these plants actually feature in the masks, but no one can deny the cuteness of the packaging.



Back home that evening, I decided that my skin needed an extra dose of vitality after two days of biting winds and New York grit; I'm in my late twenties now, after all. I was also very curious what a broccoli sheet mask would be like.


As I'd expected, the mask didn't smell like broccoli at all, but had a subtle fruity fragrance. The fabric sheet was thin and translucent, and the clear liquid in which it was soaked felt cool and refreshing on my face. As the pictorial instructions directed, I left the mask on for 30 minutes, then massaged the extra liquid into my face. I'm not sure I've experienced a noticeable increase in vitality, but my skin does look smoother today, and my pores seem to be diminished. I think I've been converted to the sheet-mask lifestyle.

I was excited to try Milky Violet this morning, even though swatching it meant marring the pristine faceted surface, reminiscent of a crystal (or, well, "cristal").


The font and the clear plastic pan look late-'90s to me; in fact, the lettering reminds me of the title text from TLC's "No Scrubs" video. Not that that's a bad thing, of course.


Milky Violet is a soft pinkish lavender. If you're afraid of purple blush, you can rest assured that this one won't make you look like you're on the way to a Hunger Games party. That said, it doesn't have the brown or mauve undertones of, say, NARS Sin; it's a crisp, white-based matte pastel. Formula-wise, Milky Violet is a soft, finely milled powder that applies very smoothly. Swatched once on the left, thrice on the right:


Update: I've swatched Milky Violet between my two coolest-toned pink blushes, both by NARS: Mata Hari (left) and Coeur Battant (right).


Here we have three swipes of each color. Mata Hari has some dusty plum undertones, but it's nowhere near the bright lavender of Milky Violet. Coeur Battant is cooler than Mata Hari, but it's a very clear, pure fuchsia--no white base. Blended out, Mata Hari and Coeur Battant look much closer to each other than either one does to Milky Violet.

On my face, Milky Violet is less a pop of space-age pastel than a cool-toned highlighting powder. One layer is completely invisible against my skin; in the following photos I’m wearing three or four layers of the blush high on my cheekbones, with almost no blending, but the effect is still very subtle. I thought Milky Violet would become the focal point of any look in which it appeared, but I found that I needed to help it out with other cool-toned purples.

Here’s my attempt at a monochrome silvery lavender face. I applied NARS Lhasa all over my mobile lids and on my lower lashlines, then blended Kiko Infinity Eyeshadow #251, a sparkly lavender, into the inner third of each lid. Lipstick is NYX Castle. And, hey, my skin looks a little more vital than it did yesterday!


For a more toned-down look, I swapped Castle for NARS Dolce Vita, which looks unexpectedly peachy next to all that icy lavender. Spacegirl goes incognito as literature grad student (though, why?).


For my final experiment, I put on Revlon Fire and Ice, a lipstick that I've always found difficult to wear. I wanted to see how Milky Violet would interact with an unambiguously warm-toned lip color, and I thought the searing coral red of Fire and Ice would supply an interesting contrast.


As usual, Fire and Ice tries to outdo every other color on my face, but you can see a hint of lavender if you look closely.


Overall, I'm delighted with my first Tony Moly purchase. I was hoping for a more opaque lavender than Milky Violet actually provides, but it looks like I'll have to turn to indie brands for truly futuristic blush shades. Still, Milky Violet interacts well with both warm- and cool-toned makeup, and it's subtle enough that I'll think nothing of wearing it in an understated look. I also have a hunch that it will pair well with dark purple lip colors like & Other Stories Droguet Purple. Spacegirl goes goth? We'll see.

15 comments:

  1. Aww, I wish that blush were a bit more pigmented too. I'm still a bit tempted though-- all the highlighters in my stash lean warm, and it might be fun to experiment with some wintry ethereality.

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    1. I actually wouldn't be surprised if highlighting or color-correcting were its intended purpose. It has that translucent, luminous quality. I layered a bit of it over Illamasqua Zygomatic this morning and quite liked the effect.

      Have you found any good indie purple blushes, by the way? I could swear I've seen you wearing at least one on your blog.

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  2. I've been looking for a blush in this color and ended up with NARS Mata Hari. Why didn't I think about checking out Korean mid-priced make up lines...

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    1. I actually meant to swatch Milky Violet next to Mata Hari, but it skipped my mind! I'll update this post at some point with a comparison photo. Did you end up liking Mata Hari, at least? It was my first high-end blush, and it's still my favorite.

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    2. It easily became one of my favorites. Happy it worked for my olivey yellow skin. We're always told to wear peaches and apricots.

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    3. Phew, that's good! I think Mata Hari's plum undertones make it more neutral on the face than it might seem in the pan. It's certainly a softer pink than Desire or Angelika.

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  3. Nice one! It is surprisingly difficult to find a clean pastel blush like this. I assume Mata Hari would look much redder next to Milky Violet.
    I love this color on you. It silently connects each elements. I mean, a bright red lippy like Fire & Ice needs a subtle blush pairing, and Milky Violet is perfect for that.
    I understand exactly what you said about the K-town. I only go there for a few grocery needs but always dread the idea of going there. Knowing there is a Tony Moly store in the neighborhood is a nice incentive, though. ;)

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    1. Yes, Mata Hari is much pinker; I wouldn't call it a pastel, either. I think the closest NARS blush to Milky Violet would be Gaiety, which also has that bright white-based look but, of course, isn't purple. I wish there were more purple blushes available from mainstream brands. Now that purple lipstick has caught on, we need blushes to match!

      K-town is a pretty small area, isn't it? I found it easy to miss, what with the crowds of tourists waiting to see the Empire State Building. The Tony Moly store is definitely worth a visit, though! I had to stop myself before I bought all the adorably packaged sheet masks. :D

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  4. Beautiful! I have also learned that I zoom through a product, then, when I'd actually like to finish it off and make my minimalist urges happy, it replenishes itself every time I use it and I have a tiny nub for months.

    I have an unrelated question, if you don't mind: What balm do you like when your lips are getting dry and chapped? Do you wear anything on your lips at night?

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    1. My search for the perfect lip balm is ongoing! I have dry lips no matter the season, but now that winter is almost here, my lips have begun to crack as well. These days I really love Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm, the clear one in the big white swivel stick. It goes on pretty thick, so I wear it more overnight than during the day. It seems to work well, and it smells like chocolate--always a plus. For daytime, I like Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips, which I bought in England two months ago. It's a lighter formula with a slight pink tint. I still haven't found my holy grail, though, so let me know if you have any recommendations!

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  5. Fire & Ice actually looks quite cool on you, to me - perhaps it's just the lighting. Have you tried putting on a warm blush of a similar vein to help balance it out? I always want to put on a neutral/barely there blush, but I usually end up liking it better when I have something in the same color family!

    I always want to wear cool lavender blushes like this, but they look terrible on me. Beyond terrible. It's not good, lol.

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    1. Maybe it's cooler than I give it credit for! It does look a bit warmer in person than it does in these photos. I've been meaning to try it with my Sleek blush in Life's a Peach--it's the only truly warm blush I have.

      Lavender may not be your color, but you certainly wear orange far better than I do! It's a trade-off.

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  6. I think the Fire and Ice looks lovely on you! Your whole face and expression is nice and bright. It is amazing to me what a beautiful red lipstick can do. Two of my favorites are Bite Beauty in Pomegranate and Tarte Glamazon in Wild. To me reds are supposed to "take over" when you where them. That's what I love about them. You don't have to wear much else. Reds make it easy to look gorgeous and you do!

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  7. Awesome. I will have to pick this up the next time I go to Tony Moly. We have one here in Carrollton, Tx. I like this lavender shade because I have seen in beauty tutorials that makeup artists place the lavednder on the outer part of the cheek and put a pink color on the inner cheek under the iris area for a softer look.

    Definitely would agree this product gives a softer look. I bought the lighter brown one to use as a subtle contour shade.

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    1. I was hoping I could do some of those beautiful two-toned looks with this blush, but it just doesn't show up well enough. When I do use it, it's as a sort of highlight shade over a cool pink blush. My search for a pigmented lavender blush continues!

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