Saturday, August 27, 2011

The End of the Rainbow

Managed to squeeze in some more swatching. Again, doing these both wet and dry, only now the dry is at the top and the wet at the bottom. It's increasingly clear to me that you will get no performance out of these if they're dry, as they won't even pack on without completely falling off the skin or clumping. You must also use a primer for any kind of staying power.

The Purples, Lilacs, and Lavenders:
With flash on top and without at bottom. All NYX loose pigment. From left to right: Beauty Queen, Goddess, Lilac, Amethyst, Embellish, Misty, Sand

The Blues:

From left to right: Hard Core, Space, Blue Eyes, Violet, Bayou.

You can see that by the time I got to the blues I started having a slight clue about how to photograph these with my lame phone. But it's also true that they're the favorites so far. They're not colors I can easily wear, but they're really beautiful, with all kinds of duochrome, shimmer, and even that starry glitter in Bayou. I'll need to figure out how to use them.

Hurricane Watch

So I'm not sure, you may have heard mention of this small weather event we here in the Northeast are stoically and calmly preparing for. While part of our town is under mandatory evacuation, we don't live close enough to the water to be covered, so we're cooling our jets at home WITHOUT STARBUCKS, which we discovered this morning had closed preemptively. Closed, too, is all of Broadway, naturally being the weekend that we had tickets to The Book of Mormon to celebrate Mr. Gateau's birthday.

Such is life.

Yesterday I took the 9-year old to NYC to visit the Museum of Modern Art (his choice), where he made the below painting using a very nifty digital program with a touch screen that actually simulates wet paint.
You can see, he's getting in the autumn mood already.

After that, we took a small detour to Saks Fifth Avenue, where I made a relatively modest haul at the Armani counter. My Holy Grail foundation is their Designer formula, which I'd had in a fair tone, their #4, which of course was discontinued. I despaired, and was reluctant to try to order a replacement online given how hard it is to judge foundation color in real life, much less on a monitor. There isn't a convenient Armani counter to me, so I had to wait for such a trip, and boy am I glad I did because the charming Raffy hooked me up with #5, which is a more yellow-toned fair, and perfect for me. I also finally got one of the gorgeous Eyes To Kill Intense Eyeshadows in a beautiful and useful bronze, #15 (Copper/Black Grey). Raffy helped me choose a fall lipstick, Rouge d'Armani #525 which is a mauve-pink and a matching lip gloss, one of the new Gloss d'Armani longwear formulas. I was pleased and surprised to find that these pinkier colors work well on me, and Raffy explained that I'm not really as warm-toned as I've always assumed, but really should think of my skin as more neutral. These items are definitely on the pricey side, but I have also found my Armani purchases to last a long time, perform well, and provide excellent value.

There is something about making a purchase of serious makeup that always inspires me to do a little destashing of the accumulated stuff. As I mentioned, Ms. Cake and I amassed giant collections of NYX pigments recently, and there is no way in hell I need all that eyeshadow. So I'm going through it, swatching, and figuring out which I should keep and which would make nice goodies to add to the many swaps I've been participating in at Ravelry and BPAL Madness.

Today, given as there isn't anything else to do, I got started with pinks and reds. As you can see, there is a lot of overlap, and while there are slight differences, there's a limit on how much bright pink sparkly eyeshadow one 43-year old suburban mother really needs.
Top: dry. Bottom: dry and wet, both with flash. From left to right: NYX Red, NYX Geisha, NYX Lemon Drop, NYX Cosmo, NYX Sunshine, NYX Princess, NYX Apricot, Jesse's Girl Sunset Blvd.

Obviously I'm crap at photography and lighting, but you get the idea. These definitely work better when wet, unless you're just dusting it on as a highlight. I'll probably keep the red, one bright pink and one golden pink.

Since there isn't much else to do while we wait out the storm, stay tuned for more swatching.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yes More Pencils! Yes More Books!

We just got our school supply lists for our soon-to-be 4th grader and kindergartner. Instead of my annual rant about how stupidly our district handles school supplies, I will focus on the sense memories I have of this time of year.

There is a certain something in the air when it gets to be back to school time. It's a quality of the light, the way you can feel just the tiniest breath of fall air even though it's still officially summer. Back to school always meant very distinct smells to me -- new school supplies, that certain scent of clothes straight off the department store rack, new leather shoes, floor wax in the school building, apples. When I started college, instead of getting new shoes (one pair of oxfords and one pair of mary janes) I might have new boots or a leather jacket, and I added the smell of new-mown grass warmed in the late summer sun with a touch of turning leaves inhaled while crossing campus or sitting outside reading (or better yet, professors catching those last chances to let class meet outside).

So Fantasy Perfume #4 is my back to school blend: new books, a touch of pencil shaving cedar, beeswax, apples, autumn leaves, sun-warmed grass, and a touch of soft brown leather.

Pinky Tuscadero

This weekend we went to the Berkshires to pick up No. One Son and his impressive pile of seriously filthy socks from sleepaway camp. I am now back in the scrum of my three boys, so naturally I had to bust out my girly pinks today. As Pinky Tuscadero showed us all, it's a vile myth that redheads can't rock pink.

On the eyes I used MAC Expensive Pink on the lid, with Brown Down in the crease and Mylar on the browbone. I love Expensive Pink, as it's salmon enough to work with my coloring, with just the right amount of gold shimmer to look warm and illuminating but not glittery. On the cheeks I used MAC Mineralize blush in Dainty. On the lips I'm scraping the bottom of a tube of Clinique Different Lipstick in Rose Taffy.

With all that pink I knew I needed a scent including rose, but I didn't want the full-throttle rose experience of Two, Five & Seven. I went for BPAL Endymion, which includes d'Anjou pear, Lily of the Valley, bois du rose, and white musk. This is a funny one on me, because I can't really make out the pear as a distinct note, but it's definitely there adding a little juicy fruit to the florals. The musk gives it a nice warm undertone, and it's white musk so it doesn't do the horrible sour thing that darker musks do on me. This one goes through a phase on my skin that makes it smell quite soapy, as if a bar of Ivory had hung out for a while with some rose. It's not unpleasant at all, but it's not generally what I'm looking for. Fortunately, once that passes I'm left with a pretty warm, light floral with a touch of pear.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hermia and Helena Go To White Castle

If you know me even a little bit, you know that I have a background in the theater and if you know me a little bit better than that you know that I have a special fondness for A Midsummer Night's Dream. In fact, for the last few years I've been noodling around on a young adult novel that imagines the characters in a contemporary setting.

Thus, when I started getting interested in Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, I was delighted to learn that they offered a collection, called Illyria, inspired by Shakespeare characters, including Hermia, Helena, Titania, Lysander, Robin Goodfellow, and Oberon.

I can't try Helena, because the notes include night-blooming jasmine, which might as well be labeled "cat urine" for the way it smells on me, or Robin Goodfellow, which is another collection of death notes, including dark musk. Titania, which includes white grape, white peach, iced pear, musk rose, sweet pea, moonflower, and snapdragon, is super pretty on me, and what you might imagine Titania might smell like. It's a good thing I like it, since I managed to spill half an imp of it all over my desk. Lysander turned out to be a sweet-smelling men's blend, but that I didn't care for even though most of the notes (tonka, lilac musk, lime rind, etc.) sounded nice to me. I haven't yet received Oberon, but with orchid, bergamot, white musk, juniper berries, and earthy patchouli, I look forward to it.

That left Hermia, who is my favorite character in the play, and today I got around to trying her scent. With pink pepper, golden amber, honeysuckle, and passion flower, what's not to love? The pink pepper leaves a spicy tingle that stays on top of the blend, even as the sweet flowers and warm amber float around. It really does capture the essence of "little" and "fierce" Hermia.

The Rappaccini's Garden collection offers a Love-in-Idleness scent, so naturally I had to sample that as well. Unfortunately, like many in that collection, this one, while pretty at first, has a rooty base note that reminds me of nothing so much as washed armpits. I'm keeping my vial of it, though, in case I ever need a sniff for inspiration while writing, or have any opportunity to cause someone to fall in love with the first person seen upon waking.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Eyes Have It

I spent Sunday happily engaged with my best friend, Ms. Cake, in sampling, testing, and sharing a gigantic heap of Black Phoenix imps and NYX eyeshadow pigments. First, though, she had to play several rounds of Foosball with my 5 year old, a cutthroat Foosball player.

It got so that I had a different perfume oil approximately every four inches up and down both arms. We had a can of espresso to sniff to try to clear our palates, but eventually the cacophony of smells was overwhelming. So we switched to eyeshadow.

This was fun -- a number of months ago, some pathological wave came over me and I managed to convince Ms. Cake that what we really needed to do was order and split a full set of NYX loose eyeshadow pigments offered up for sale in two batches on the discount website HauteLook. The deal was something like for $55 each we'd have about 100 eyeshadows between us and could divvy them up. As it happens, we have completely opposite coloring. I wear gold tones and she wears silver. So we got them, and they sat in bags, along with a heap of little jars and spoons and mixing medium and magnetic palettes and whatnot that we'd ordered from Coastal Scents in order to be able to press our own eyeshadow pans. See, it's not just makeup, it's CRAFTS.

With the "help" of the 5 year old, we traded gold tones for silver tones, as applicable, and for those colors we both thought we could use, we split the powder between containers. So now instead of 50 (or however many) jars we each ended up with a number of full jars of certain colors and another 30 or something of partial jars. So now I have approximately a million little jars of eyeshadow pigments jammed into a little cabinet I use for makeup, in every color you can imagine. Just click that NYX link and see the assortment of colors and their often wacko names (Lemon Drop for bright pink? 3 Wise Men? WTF?).

So what have I worn on my eyes this week?

Why, NEUTRALS, of course! Monday I used Urban Decay in Virgin and Naked to create a gently shadowed pale eye with black liquid liner. Tuesday I splashed out with some gray, using Urban Decay Gunmetal with Wet 'n' Wild Color Icon jumbo pencil in a charcoal. Today I went with Wet 'n' Wild Nutty and Brulee, two real workhorses in my collection, with a touch of gray liner. I went wild and added the smallest touch of bright violet liner in the outer V, which added with the gray gave a nice toned-down blue-violet.

I've also acquired a new batch of BPAL testers, so will be playing around with those in the weeks to come. Naturally, that means I've been keeping to my usual scent wardrobe of Blue Morpho, Aelopile, and 51. I really live the life, don't I?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday I'm in Love....With This Lip Tar

I was moaning just the other day about how I'd allowed the otherwise magical Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar to migrate all over my damn face when I tried to soften it up with a little lip balm. That was before a package of goodies I'd ordered from ACW, the discount cosmetics retailer, arrived. I'd included two new Lip Tars -- Petty Beige (oh how I love that name! if only I were a drag queen!) to try to brown down some of the brighter colors, and Clear, to sheer them out a bit. Today I mixed up a bit of each with Trollop, which is a bright pink, and found great success. My lip color isn't blinding, the feathering factor is greatly reduced (though I'm still making careful use of lip-colored liner), and the Clear medium adds a bit of sheerness without compromising the long wear, non-sticky texture.

Eye makeup subtle and pretty -- NYX Skin Tight (shimmery peach) with a little MAC Woodwinked (golden bronze) in the crease, plus a touch of MAC Eye Kohl liner in Teddy (bronze) and NYX Propel My Eyes black mascara. More on that another day. Pinked up my cheeks with NYX cream blush in Rose, which is a new favorite.

On the perfume front, I slathered on Amsterdam today, for something fresh and pretty. But then like an idiot I skin tested anothe BPAL that I knew wasn't going to work for me, as much as I love most of the individual notes. This is The Great Sword of War, which contains mandarin, tonka, saffron, black tea, cocoa, tobacco leaf, "sanguine red musk and five classical herbs of conquest." To date, I have not found a fragrance containing red musk that doesn't make me want to wash it off immediately, and though I want to love mandarin as a single note, it's never blended in such a way that I can stand the result. Ditto cocoa. And it just figures that the perfumes I hate are the ones I can't wash off. So please remind me not to skin test stuff that I know won't work, or that has death notes in it, just for the sake of being complete.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose

Today I (finally) got myself into my fitted black puff sleeve blouse and black pencil skirt, which I consider a triumph in light of the post-baby body stuff. Naturally, this black-on-black look required red accessories. So I put on my wonderful Cole Haan lipstick red patent leather peeptoe slingbacks and whipped out a really killer red lipstick: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' Lip Tar in Strutter. Lip Tar is an unusual product, in that it's a liquid that comes in a tube applicator with an angled plastic dispenser end like a lip gloss, but it's really a long-wearing liquid lipstick that is best applied with a brush. Sometimes when you're looking at color swatches you see that some users don't get this, and instead apply it like a gloss, with a goopy effect. But that's WRONG.

Anyway, I brushed on my Strutter, making sure to line first to keep the stuff from migrating into the fine lines that have crept up on me and appeared around my lips when I wasn't looking. On the eyes I did a very simple pale neutral, using Urban Decay Virgin on the lid and Naked in the crease (b0th from the justifiably adored Naked Palette) and did a nice sort of retro black line on the upper lid using NYX Felt Tip Liner in Jet Black, which even a eyeliner idiot like me can get to work. And I looked great! Crisp black blouse and skirt, deep red lips, a defined but subtle eye.

At some point in the afternoon, though, I went to touch up my lipstick and discovered that the bit of balm I'd applied, coupled with the clear e.l.f. Lip Lock Pencil had conspired to mush my gorgeous red lipstick all around my lips, but skipping over the area where the pencil had been applied so I looked like the result of the unholy union of Baby Jane and The Joker. My eyeshadow, I realized, lacked precision. I've already ranted about my frustrations with getting red lipstick to stay where I put it here, but I thought I'd nailed that down. This Lip Tar is going to last longer than actuarial tables will have me live, so I'd better get my act together.

Anyway, I smelled good, that I know. I wore Two, Five, and Seven, so I smelled like a rose garden.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It is Easy Being Green!

I was when I got up today. Not emerald or kelly or olive, or even green-around-the-gills green. It was more an off-kilter kind of green. So first I headed off to the bathroom to do my makeup. First thing I reached for was MAC Club, one of my favorite eyeshadows because, like everything else I seem to love, it's a duochrome (reddish brown with green frost) that gives the look of an iridescent beetle shell or dragonfly wing. I used that on the lid and topped with a simple vanilla color, MAC Mylar. Then I used a dark bronze eyeliner on top and bottom and traced over that with a touch of Jesse's Girl Antique Green pigment and added highlights with their Pixie Dust iridescent white pigment. The finished look is something like this, though this isn't me, as you can tell by the exquisite long and lush eyelashes:

Then it was time for scent. I chose "51" from the Black Phoenix Wanderlust collection, inspired by places in the real and fantasy worlds. First of all, it tickles me to wear a perfume inspired by Area 51. But it suited my mood exactly. It's described as "luminescent, glowing, and otherworldly" and contains green mandarin, neroli, honeydew, white amber, guava, freesia, white and green musks hovering over desert scrub, smashed wood, and the dry, biting scent of night air over the Groom Lake salt flats." The liquid is palely green in the vial, and the scent is brightly fruity and floral with a nice underpinning of dry wood. It gives me a color impression that is neon green and pink, but as if seen from a distance.

I should probably have some pesto for dinner, just to keep the streak alive.