Monday, July 6, 2015

June Favorites (Beauty and Otherwise)

Welcome to another installment of my not-actually-monthly compilation of monthly favorites! Some bloggers use favorites posts to spotlight new purchases, but I prefer to feature older favorites as well as non-makeup discoveries. Let's begin with my main makeup fixation in June:

Purple Lipstick

Purple has been my favorite lip color since I started wearing lipstick regularly, and its entrance into the mainstream in the last few years has given me an overabundance of options. I currently own six purple lipsticks, and five of them saw a good amount of wear last month (odd one out: the cyborgian NYX Castle). The second half of June was unusually overcast and cool, and purple lipstick always seems as appropriate for cloudy summer days as coral lipstick does for sunny ones.

Counterclockwise from top right (that is, light to dark): Maybelline Lilac Flush, Maybelline Brazen Berry, MAC Up the Amp, Bite Lip Lab custom lipstick, & Other Stories Droguet Purple.


 Swatched, same order:


One of my favorite things about purple lipstick is that it's not tied to a specific season. Sure, people tend to wear lighter purples in the warm months and darker ones in fall and winter, but purple is still an "odd" lip color, which means that it always looks slightly inappropriate no matter the season. So I was bemused at a recent xoVain article entitled "Do This Don't: Purple Lipstick in the Summer." The opening paragraph claims:

"Traditionally, the beauty world reserves all vampy lips—including purples and crimsons and cabernets—for the fall. But you know what? To heck with traditions. This summer, I'm all about experimenting with color and texture and new looks, and so far, that's included incorporating more purple—yes, purple—into my lipstick rotation."

Wait a second. Since when are all purple lipsticks "vampy," and since when is purple lip color for summer a "don't"? My sense is that people either approve or disapprove of purple lipstick as a category, not as a seasonal color. If you think purple lipstick is a "don't" for summer, you probably think it's a "don't" for the rest of the year as welland you're in the minority, at least where the beauty industry is concerned. Purple lipstick has been a staple of summer makeup collections over the past few years. MAC alone has released multiple summer purples, including Goddess of the Sea (Alluring Aquatic), Pure Heroine (MAC x Lorde), and Bust Out (Surf Baby). Clinique's recent Pop Lip Colour launch included Grape Pop, a "neutral, blue-purple creme." The Bite Lip Lab limited release for this May was Lavender Thistle, a gray-toned purple. Look, I get it: "Do This Don't" is a more compelling headline than "Do This Thing That Everyone Is Already Doing." But, well, everyone is already doing it. Including me. 

And can I just mention how much I dislike beauty articles that fabricate a rule or tradition and then boast about breaking it? (xoVain is not the only culprit here: I've lost count of the number of websites that have published some version of "Evidence that Orange Lipstick Really Does Look Good" four years after the revival of orange lips.) Setting a straw man on fire is not a revolutionary feminist act. But it seems par for the course over at Vain, a website I've followed since its inception and given more chances than it deserves. The community of commenters on the site is a delight, but I need to stop visiting in the vain, if you will, expectation of great beauty writing. Old Internet habits die hardas does my habit of digressing from the point in my blog posts.

Ah, yes: purple lipstick. The weather was one of the reasons I wore a lot of it in June, but there was another reason: 

Hydrangeas

Like Kate, whose recent hydrangea-inspired post deserves your attention, I've been noticing hydrangeas more than ever this summer. Living in the suburbs means that I get to enjoy the fruits of other people's gardening labor everywhere I look:


Depending on the pH balance of the soil, hydrangeas can be blue, purple, pink, or a glorious combination of all three.






Tell me that walking by that house every morning wouldn't inspire you to wear purple lipstick.

Maybe it's just an exceptionally good year for hydrangeas, but there's another reason I've been noticing them. I've been following the world of Kyoto geisha for a long time now, so I know that maiko, or apprentice geisha, change their decorative hairpieces (kanzashi) every month to reflect the foliage and festivals of the season. In June, maiko usually wear willow (yanagi) or hydrangea (ajisai) kanzashi. In previous years, willow kanzashi dominated and hydrangea were an interesting exception. This year the tables have turned, with dozens of maiko sporting hydrangea kanzashi in every shade of blue, purple, pink, and white.

Kanzashi reflect not only the natural beauty of the season, but also the age and rank of the wearer. Mamesumi (豆純) made her debut just last December. As a first-year maiko, she paints only her bottom lip and wears a brightly colored hydrangea kanzashi with dangling petals, or shidare. The round green pin on the right side of her head indicates that she's still under 18.

Source: K.W.C. PhotoBlog

Mamefuji (まめ藤), the most popular maiko in Kyoto, recently became a senior maiko. She wears a kanzashi in a subtler colorway, with a tiny snail on the leaf.


Source

Katsuhina (佳つ雛), my favorite maiko, reached senior status last year. Her kanzashi features purple and white hydrangeas with small silver accents. When she becomes more senior, she'll trade the floral "crown" part of the kanzashi for a plain colored band, but keep the puff of flowers over her left ear.

Source: Sakutyan7

***DIGRESSION FOR LINGUISTICS NERDS***

The kanji for "ajisai" is 紫陽花. This is an example of the Japanese language assigning kanji to a native Japanese word based on the meanings, not the usual sounds, of the kanji. 紫 means "purple," 陽 means "sun," and 花 means "flower." In the word 紫陽花, the character 花 is read as "sai." But the standard readings of 花 are "hana" (when the character stands alone) and "ka" (when it's incorporated into a larger word). So far as I know, 花 is pronounced "sai" only in ajisai. The same is true for the other two characters: 紫 is usually read as "murasaki" or "shi," not "a," and 陽 is usually read as "hi" or "yo," not "ji."

Of course, ajisai can also be written in hiragana (あじさい).

***END OF DIGRESSION*** 

Running

Before this summer, I'd tried at least half a dozen times over the course of a decade to take up running. There was my senior year of high school, my first year of college, the summer after my senior year of college, and a handful of times in grad school, but all of those attempts petered out after a few days. The same problems arose every time I ran: I was slow, my endurance was shit, and literally anything could shake my focus. I was also trapped in a neurotic catch-22: I didn't want to spend money on proper running gear until I'd proven to myself that I could establish a habit of running, but my lack of proper running gear prevented me from establishing that habit. I was using my boyfriend's old running shoes, which were two sizes too large. I didn't own a sports bra, despite my 32F chest (the F stands for FML). I can't believe I went running at all under those conditions.

This year, something changed. I was doing a 90-minute yoga class every week and going to the gym semi-regularly, but I got it into my head that I couldn't consider myself physically fit until I conquered the form of exercise that gave me the most trouble. Over the course of a few months, I acquired a pair of obnoxiously bright coral Nikes (a gift from my mom, actually), a Maia sports bra ("the high-support bra for the well-endowed athlete," hahaha kill me), and a stupid-looking holster that held my iPhone to my arm so I could listen to a carefully curated mix of uptempo k-pop songs during my workout. 


Then, in mid-June, I resolved to run every day for a week. I ended up running only five days that week, but I was astonished at my improvement. Yes, there were days when the sun beat down relentlessly and every nerve in my body screamed NOPE NOPE NOPE and I gave up and went home after five blocks. Yes, I had repeated flashbacks to a sixth-grade P.E. exam in which, as the last in my class of 30 to finish running a mile, I had to ignore the taunts of a few asshole boys standing on the sidelines while I struggled along. But after that first week, my endurance had tripled (tripled from practically nothing, but still). Now, about three weeks later, I can run for 12 minutes without stopping to rest. That might not sound like much, and don't ask me how much ground I actually manage to cover in those 12 minutes, but it's more than I've ever been able to do before. 

If anyone reading this has more running experience than I do (not hard), please tell me: Does running ever become, you know, fun? Right now it's endurable, but can I trust it to be enjoyable eventually?

And, last but not least...

The U.S. Supreme Court

Or, at least, the five justices who voted to strike down the federal ban against same-sex marriage, making it legal in all 50 states.

Source

 It was a long time comingmuch like the end of this post.

:D

19 comments:

  1. I've tried valiantly to take up running and I hate it. I get no enjoyment out of running, I've never gotten a runner's high, even when I did things like play soccer for years, and I've entered a couple of 5k races and hated them heartily. I asked my partner's sister if she likes running (since she does a lot of it) and she told me that she still hated every minute of it. So. It didn't encourage me.

    But hydrangeas are beautiful!

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    1. Ugh, I'm even worse at soccer than I am at running. At least soccer is about running in short bursts, not maintaining the same speed over miles.

      I've never gotten a runner's high either, though the endorphins definitely kick in after a run and I feel pretty pleased with myself...or maybe that's just an ego-fueled placebo effect. It's certainly discouraging to hear from multiple committed runners that running is never actually fun, though it must be for some people, right? I have a friend who runs hundreds of miles per week, and I imagine she must be deriving some kind of pleasure from it, because that would be pretty sad otherwise.

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  2. Also adoring purple lipstick right now. I only have one but it is like in your face true purple. (3CE 602 V in case you're curious). And totally agree with you, colors don't have to be reserved for certain seasons. I just wear whatever goes with my mood.

    Lmao at the running bit. Your struggles echo my own! When I first started out I remember my mile times were faster walking than "running". 8 years after I first started running, I still have a hard time every single day. Basically have to beat my body into submission and make it take that next step. It ain't easy but it is rewarding. Blah. Time to go for a run now.

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    1. I looked up the 3CE lipstick and it's beautiful, and certainly purple! I've been curious about 3CE products for a while now (due mostly to that gorgeous website), but I have yet to try anything from the brand.

      Haha, I'm pretty sure I'm a faster walker than "runner." I'm actually infamous for walking at a breakneck pace, so you'd think running would be easier for me, but...nope.

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  3. I'm still looking for a purple lipstick that doesn't look atrocious on me. Same with fuchsia. The only thing in that vague family I have is Revlon's Adorned gloss which for some reason looks okay and is just so pretty. But anything else makes me feel like the make-up is wearing me rather than the other way around.

    I used to really hate hydrangeas, which is pretty weird. They reminded me of seventies wallpaper. I'm warming to them these days but the flower of the summer for me are huge poppies. I love poppies. Not least because of SYMBOLISM.

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    1. I have Adorned and never wear it! It's so pretty, but I feel the same way about ultra-pigmented glosses that you do about purple lipstick.

      I don't love the shape of hydrangeas, and my favorite flowers are still roses and lilacs, but I'm enamored of the soft blues and pinks and purples. Not as much color variation as roses, but I quite enjoy the restricted yet still so varied color palette.

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  4. Running for the sake of running is so boring. I used to sprint when younger and was considered very fast even through high school but my endurance was crap. I still can't run halfway up my street without panting like an idiot. Good for you for not giving up! Wish I could care about running more, lol.

    And allllll for purple lipsticks throughout the year. Your collection is great! I'll have to pull out MAC Heroine for a go this week.

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    1. WHY must so many forms of exercise be so boring?! At least running outside gives you some variety, but running on a treadmill while staring at the wall is just torture. Most boring of all for me is swimming laps, which I used to do in my first year of grad school. After a few weeks, though, I was going mad from boredom and my legs were breaking out in rashes from the chlorine.

      I've been seriously considering buying Heroine. The Bite lipstick (which I'm going to review soon) is the same color, but it applies so unevenly and comes off on everything. Heroine seems to have a far superior formula.

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  5. What a super long and chatty post!!
    Re: xoVain: all the contributors I like are gone!!! Alle and sable and Hannah mostly. Now I check out of habit.
    Re: purple lipstick, I like revlon icy violet. It's frosty but reads kind of nude on me while being distinctly purple. Kind of like the purple that doesn't scream in other peoples faces.
    Re: japanese+Maiko etc: I also learnt 4 years of japanese in school so it was fun to read. More pedantry Pls!
    Re: running, my interest in running has waxed and waned. I did a 21km at my peak but I haven't run for like 2 years now, lol. You don't actually need shoes, I've been without running shoes for the last year or so of my running and felt it more liberating. Sports bra is a total necessity though. As you get better it gets fun for awhile, I guess. When I did my first 10km I was like holy crap, it's TEN KILOMETRES, I am immortal now!!
    And re the supreme court ruling, yay! :)

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    1. The high turnover rate at xoVain is a shame! Alle, Sable, and Hannah all wrote great stuff, AND they each had a coherent aesthetic and some knowledge of beauty history. The current writers are just so...basic by comparison, and there's a lot of repetition of articles because of the sloppy editing.

      I remember Icy Violet from that vintage Revlon collection! It looks a bit like NYX Castle to me, though less silvery. I'm all for purple that screams in people's faces, though. ;) And I'm glad you appreciate my pedantry! I studied Japanese for nine years but have had no excuse to use it since college, and I really miss it. I'm considering applying for some kind of postdoctoral position in Japan, actually.

      Haha, I felt immortal the first time I ran ten minutes without stopping. I have low standards for immortality.

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  6. XOVain was the worst, until Millihelen came along (the name alone irritates me). I guess I have been guilty of the, "Whoa, orange lipstick is wearable?" type post, though, but only because I tried several times and failed before I lucked into some that was flattering on me.

    No wait, running is the worst. (But my boyfriend tells me that eventually it feels good and is awesome. I have my doubts. Maybe it does for some people, who are not me.)

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    1. I think the "Whoa, orange lipstick is wearable?" sort of post is perfectly acceptable on a personal blog, since the whole point is that you're writing about your own makeup experiences. If your experience involves teaching yourself to wear orange lipstick, so be it! My problem with xoVain and similar sites is that they can't seem to decide whether they're personal blogs or authoritative sources of information. The purple lipstick article annoyed me because the writer was speaking from a position of authority ("Traditionally, the beauty world...") and wasn't even getting it right. I actually pointed this out politely in the comments and received a patronizing answer. Ugh.

      RUNNING IS THE WORST. I haven't been able to run for a few days, so I'm hoping today's run won't see me back at square one.

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  7. For the longest time I was convinced that I was no good at running. I was always the slowest at the one-mike run in grade school and generally was just not that athletic. About 2 years ago I vowed to train for a 5k. I used the "couch to 5k" program, which you can easily find online. There's also an app for your phone. It alternates walking and running, slowly ramping up the length of time you run, until you can run a 5k. It took me a few months of running 3x per week, but it worked. I'd definitely recommend it.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I'm going to check that out. It might be helpful to have a set program instead of trying to figure it out myself.

      5k might be doable for me eventually, but I'd be extremely surprised if I ever got up the endurance to run a marathon...

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  8. I, too, read that xoVain article, and had the sort of "...." reaction that I think means I have finally given up on that site. Which is honestly tragic, I credit Alle with convincing me to finally try blush and I was a devoted reader for over a year.
    Sadly I haven't worn much purple lipstick this summer or in recent memory, despite it being one of my favorite colors! Purple lipgloss on the other hand... yes.

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    1. I miss Alle! I think I read every single one of her articles. The site had so much potential, but it just blew it. These days, I click on maybe three xoVain articles per week, and I can't remember the last one that truly impressed me. The weekly LOTW thread is cool, though; I love seeing other readers' looks. It's a shame when the commenters know more about beauty than the writers do...

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  9. I stopped reading xovain a while back for many of the same reasons as you. I just prefer more personal beauty blogs these days, although I'll always have a soft spot for Into the Gloss!

    I'm impressed with your running efforts -- mine have always petered out after a couple of weeks, mainly due to knee and ankle problems. I'm convinced that I'm just not built for medium and long distances! Short distances for other sports I can do, but I'd much rather rowing or swimming for cardiovascular. And weights! My new goal is to deadlift my body weight.

    Love the details about the maiko! The tiny snail kills me.

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    1. I think ITG's content has taken a nosedive in the last year (some of the recent articles are at xoVain level: crystal dildos, really?), but I still read all the Top Shelf interviews.

      I have a feeling that I'm not built for a lot of running, either. I have a pronounced hourglass figure and successful runners seem to have fewer curves, no matter their size. I've also had hip problems for years. Fortunately, I can't be said to be running long distances right now--the route I take is a mile and a half at most.

      TINY SNAIL! :D I love the attention to detail in maiko outfits.

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  10. Oh, yes, as someone else said, the "couch to 5K" is a good program - there are several variations of it, and I just picked one that seemed reasonable. I can run a couple of miles a few times a week, but I don't love running, even though I do it pretty regularly (albeit for short distances only). My husband is a runner, and gets much more enjoyment out of it, so...different strokes for different folks, imo, lol. I like aerial arts, climbing, yoga and resistance training. And dancing! But those are mostly things I discovered as an adult. Just keep trying things!

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