Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Got Draped! (Seasonal Color System)

I got up at 2:30 AM this past Monday and rode shotgun while my husband drove us 5.5 hours (one way) so I could get my colors done. As a special man-treat, he got his colors done, too.

With the highest recommendations possible, I had booked a PCA (personal color analysis) with Maytee Garza of Reveal Style Consultancy. Maytee, along with Amelia Butler—who designs the 12 Tone seasonal fans at her True Color studio in Australia (a palette you receive at the end of a color consultation)—are two of the four people that the late Kathryn Kalisz personally selected to teach others to become analysts in her system. It would not be a stretch to say that Maytee is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable people in the Northern Hemisphere using KK’s system; in fact, Maytee wrote the training manual.

The theory

After offering us coffee, Mr. Zuzu and I sat on comfortable sofas while Maytee gave us an overview of color theory and the system she uses, showing us charts and diagrams. Her system, 12-Tone SciART, pioneered by Kathryn Kalisz, is based on Munsell's scientific approach to color, where hues in each of the twelve tones (seasons) can be scientifically verified based on their respective position in their three-dimensional color space.

SciART 12-Tone is a true color system that can be explained by science. Though ultimately it is still subjective (the analyst evaluates what looks best), it can be measured, and decisions aren't made in a vacuum. You—the customer—are present, too. You see what she sees, and a good analyst will explain why something works or doesn't. If you don't see it, you should ask the analyst to point out the subtleties of how color affects your appearance.

A SciART color analysis is performed in a controlled environment where walls are painted a specific neutral grey. I sat in a chair facing a giant mirror under full-spectrum lighting (5500 kelvin, which approximates the color temperature of sun + sky). A neutral grey cape went over my clothing and a grey cap covered my hair to hide non-natural (e.g., dyed) color. Men also wear caps, probably to keep as much color away from the face as possible. Maytee also wore a grey smock to prevent her clothing from muddying the analysis.

The practice

After being seated in the spotlight, the process of elimination began. Maytee took a series of drapes that are about the size of a bath towel, which are grouped in trios. She draped them across my chest, and then pulled one away, revealing the one underneath. Sometimes she did this process in reverse. All the while, she watched my my face and under my chin. She never looked directly at the color of the drape. In other words, she looked at how my skin reacted to the color, rather than how the color looked on me. There's a difference.

A color was discarded if it:
  • Caused ruddiness
  • Deepened shadows, especially along the nasolabial fold
  • Brought out sallowness
  • Created unattractive highlights, like causing shiny yellow areas above the brow to appear
A color was put aside for further evaluation if it:
  • Enhanced/intensified the eyes
  • Cleared the skin
If my skin reacted negatively to any combination of the first four elements, Maytee moved on to different drapes until she found colors that cleared the skin—meaning my complexion smoothed out, looked calm and rested, and even younger.  Some of the drapes made me look as though I were wearing makeup, even though I'd been instructed to arrive with nothing on my face, not even sunscreen.

Colors that "intensified" my eyes (made them appear more vibrantly green or blue or grey) earned bonus points, but sometimes the wrong color can enhance the eyes while doing unflattering things to skin. We discovered this with Soft Summer's slightly warmer and more muted teals, which made my eyes look like exploding planets but turned my skin a pasty yellow-grey. Going by eye reaction alone (not to mention that my natural ash hair color contains warmth), an analyst in another system might start down the Soft Summer path—or even Autumn—but Maytee knew exactly what to look for. She was like a forensics detective, digging deeper until she found the perfect clue. The point here is that many colors can look good on all of us, but a 12-Tone SciART analyst's primary goal is to find her customer's best.  

Why look good when you can look great?

A personal color analysis can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, and Maytee was extremely extremely thorough. If she has any doubt, she draped again and again and then did it again in reverse until she there was no doubt in her mind. It was just as important that I saw what she saw. She lives for that ah-ha moment when a customer's own unique coloring achieves harmony with the hue, chroma, and value in the test drapes.
  • Hue is a color's most obvious characteristic and is generally what we mean when we describe something's color, such as a red tulip. Hue in 12-Tone Sci/ART relates to the coolness or warmth of a color (as well as in our skin, which contains melanin, hemoglobin, and carotenes). Between each of the major hues lies an infinite number of possible hues. For example, you will find many different shades (hues) between red and blue. Just think of all those purples: lilac, orchid, magenta, mulberry, plum, violet, and so on.
    Munsell's five major hues (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purples),
    along with the 5 intermediate hues in between
  • Chroma represents color purity and is the quality that distinguishes the difference between a pure hue and a grey shade. High-chroma colors are saturated and rich, whereas low-chroma colors appear muted and soft (grey), like a summer garden enveloped in morning fog. Chroma is often referred to as a color's saturation.

    The above chart shows red, magenta and blue hues in a range of chromas, all with medium value.
  • Value (lightness) represents the quality by which we distinguish a light color form a dark color, from white to black through various shades of grey. The neutral greys lie along the vertical axis between black and white.

    The above chart shows low-chroma red, magenta and blue in a range of values.

    Munsell's value scale, from Cleland (1921)
All colors can be described in terms of their hue, chroma, and value. For example, a dark brown color has a hue in the yellow-red region of the color wheel. It has a low value because it is dark, and its chroma is also low. A light brown color would differ from dark brown only in its value (lightness) because browns are soft and muted.

A couple decades ago, when Carole Jackson wrote Color Me Beautiful, there were only four seasons. For many, it was a revolutionary system, and it certainly opened my eyes to the potential of simplifying my life. For example, there was an entire range of colors I no longer looked at when shopping, and to this day my eyes automatically skip over the forest greens, mustards, and bricks. On the other hand, some readers of that book were still left wondering why we didn't fit neatly into one of those seasons where the concept of neutral (or seasons with a flow) had not yet been described. In later years, the four seasons were expanded, and many now have 12, some even 16.

In SciART's system, each primary season (Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall) has two neutral counterparts that flow into or are informed by its neighboring season, though none shares the same colors. The SciART system contains the following seasons:
  • Bright, True, and Light Spring
  • Light, True, and Soft Summer
  • Soft, True, and Dark Autumn
  • Dark, True, and Bright Winter
As example of 12 Tone SciART color theory, a Light Summer falls between Summer’s cool, soft blues and Spring’s warm, sunny clarity. Although Light Summer is still predominantly a cool season, Spring's sunlight flows into it, adding a tiny drop of yellow to some colors, tinting some cool pinks with a touch of coral or lending other colors a sun-bleached appearance. Light Summer is the lightest and brightest (most clear) of the Summer seasons. Soft Summer, at the other end, takes on the darker, rich, earthy, velvety, muted tones of Autumn. In the middle of the Summer trio stands True Summer, purely cool, slightly muted, and medium in value.

My result was TRUE SUMMER. Even though a couple friends had predicted exactly that outcome, I was very surprised. I had zero doubt I was cool-toned, and I had always strongly suspected Summer, but I  thought I might lean neutral because my dark ash blonde hair takes on red and gold highlights the minute I step into the sun, I get caramel-colored freckles, and my eyes are not the typical blue-eyed-blonde shade. They are navy with grey-blue rims and a yellow starburst around the pupils. But it's not about how a person appears to the rest of the world; it's about how the skin reacts to the color draped across you. Mr. Petals, who had his own draping, turned out to be the Light Summer I was so certain I was going to be.

At the end of the appointment, Maytee went through all my makeup, which she has asked me to bring. As a beauty blogger, I assume some of you know what this meant! She divided the lot into No, Maybe, and Yes piles by comparing each item to my palette. Items did not have to be a 100% match, as long as the color blended tonally and harmoniously with the palette overall. As human beings, we aren't just a dot of color, we're a blend of many.

To finish up my appointment, Maytee selected items from the Yes pile and applied that makeup to me for the photos in my "reveal" session, which is where she draped me in all of my best colors using the SciART luxury drapes. She then revealed them to me one after the other, while Mr. Petals took pictures. A splendid eye opener. 

What's next?

Now that my analysis is over, how do I live the rest of my colorful life? As a True Summer out shopping, I must look for items with a cool hue (zero warmth for me in clothing, makeup, and jewelry). The value (lightness/darkness) must be light to medium, and the chroma (saturation) also medium. My color palette's predominant dimension is that of hue with an overt coolness whose chroma is softened by blue-pink (mauve) undertones. Cool and soft is my new mantra, not clear and bright or rich and deep or golden and warm.

"Mid-toned" is another new mantra, with my best colors flowing right up the middle, such as blues slightly softened by grey, as though enveloped in twilight: true and sky blue, Wedgwood, Chinese blue, periwinkle, greyed, mid-toned navy, and rich royal blue. My skin also lights up when I wear muted shades of lavender, mauve, thistle, and purple, but I must maintain a critical eye for the reddened purples (lilac, orchid, wisteria, grape, plum) because the red gives those colors warmth. My browns must be rosy, my greys blued or mauved, and my greens rich and blue based. Pastels look outstanding on me, which surprised me because I have not been drawn to them since I was a little girl. I can also wear many blue-based roses, pinks, and reds such as strawberry, briar rose, soft fuchsia, watermelon, and blue-red. I have always loved most blues, but I discovered that the right green is an outstanding color for me.

A True Summer's most flattering neutrals are pale yellow, mushroom, pebble, quartz, dove grey, soft (winter) white, all of which look stunning when worn in contrast with soft teal, jade, sage, turquoise, and cocoa. When I wear raspberry, rosewood, aubergine, burgundy, purple, navy, or charcoal, the softer edges of those darker shades, will look best when worn in contrast with their pastel counterparts. For example, mint with clover, dusty rose with cocoa, pearl white with morning grey, Wedgewood with navy. Contrasts must be soft and low-medium, as opposed to the high contrast of black worn with white. No more black for me, but I have always preferred navy, anyway.

My new True Summer palette contains no dark, bold, bright, or warm colors. That's great news to me because for what seems like eleventy billion years, every makeup artist I've encountered has insisted that my eyes require blue's complementary color: an orange-based or golden-brown. Pretty as those colors are in the pan I never liked how they looked on me, but I blamed myself for not being discerning enough at the makeup counter. I assumed I had not yet found the right brown, so I continued searching. No need. There are no golden browns, warm beiges, golden yellows, yellow-greens, oranges, rusts, orange-reds, warm pinks or corals in my True Summer palette.

My palette:

I could not be more happy and relieved. The PCA confirmed long-held suspicions, and it was fun that both my husband and I ended up as Summer seasons. Given our summer-ness, Mr. Petals won't have a leg to stand on when I begin redecorating the house in our colors. Because you just KNOW there are paint chips that go with every one of my palette's swatches, right? Check out Luminosity! Maybe I'll start by painting the front door Wedgwood blue.

Unlike many who are color analyzed and surprised by the result, I am not facing a major wardrobe overhaul. I have been instinctively drawn to soft cool colors since I was a child, though I will need to weed out items that are too dark or bright. As for makeup, I can finally abandon the search for the perfect taupe eyeshadow. It simply doesn't exist for me. Greys and greyed-purples are my taupe.

If you live in the greater NY metro area (or you don't mind a road trip or a flight) and you are interested in having a seasonal color analysis, I cannot recommend Maytee highly enough.You can also check out her Facebook page, Personal Color Communication.

UPDATE: Maytee has moved and is currently not practicing draping. 

See also Dain's articles on Color Theory I and Color Theory II at ARS Aromatica.

Photo credits and references:Great Reality, Wikipedia, and Encyclopedia Britannica

Friday, December 16, 2011

Everyday Beauty's 2011 Favorites

It has been many months since I wrote a "favorites" article, so I figured I'd wrap up the year early, rather than wait for January to weigh in with this epic post. Maybe something on my list will help you with your Christmas shopping, heh. Or maybe not, since I am not listing this year's hottest new products here, just items that were new and interesting to me.

I decided to put some structure around what I pulled out of my makeup pit; otherwise the table holding it all would splinter and collapse like Titanic hitting the iceberg. In order to qualify for my 2011 Best, an item had to either be new to me this year (not necessarily new in 2011 itself) or it had to be something I repurchased this year after completely using up the original. And in this time of year for miracles, my using anything up is a small miracle unto itself. Apologies to Jesus, Mary, et al.

The 2011 winners—big group hug
So here's the entirety of this year's favorites. I forgot to include a couple (they were out of sight, waiting to be washed, or suddenly turned up missing), but I give them a mention anyway. I've provided links for the products I have reviewed in case you want to read further (I mean this post is clearly not long enough) or see more pictures.

Ahh! Doesn't that make you feel all squishy inside?

Cleansing, treatment, and moisturizing
Let's start with the body and haircare products:

Front row
  • Luster Now toothpaste. Boy does this stuff whiten teeth! The bland taste took some getting used to, but I will continue buying this as long as they make it.
  • Clinique All About Eyes. This lightweight eye gel sinks in so quickly I can apply powder eyeshadow almost immediately after. Yes, I use it under eyeshadow.
  • Laura Geller Sugar Lip Scrub. Great lip exfoliant that tastes good.
    Middle row
    • Clarisonic. People seem to love or hate this device. I was skeptical about it--especially given the price, even though I've been happily using the Sonicare toothbrush for over 8 years--but the Clairsonic really works for me. It clean my skin so thoroughly I can use the most gentle cleanser, and the soft friction from the (delicate) brush head removes every last trace of makeup. I even use it to whirr off tubing mascara.
    • Basis soap. This year my body developed a sensitivity to almost everything, even Dove Sensitive, so I switched to Basis, which rinses cleaner than Dove.
    • Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum. I bought this after watching one of Lisa Eldridge's Best Of videos, and it's wonderful. I have mild rosacea that I keep at bay with diet (no drugs needed), but sometimes a flush is inevitable. This serum is so cooling and soothing, it's what I reach for when my face turns beet red.
    • Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA serum. A very thin layer of this gel a couple times a week keeps my congested pores clear and happy.
    • John Masters Organics Deep Scalp Follicle Treatment and Volumizer. This spray doesn't volumize my hair as well as some others, like Phyto or Bumble and Bumble, but it causes the frizz from new hair growth to lie smooth, so my hair looks more shiny. It doesn't weigh my hair down, and it contains few ingredients. I recently finished it, and the bottle is such good, solid glass, I rinsed it well, filled it with filtered water, and now use it to spritz my brushes. I will definitely reorder this product.
    Back row
    • Baltic Collagen Face & Neck Gel. My miracle product of the year. Truly. I have been using this serum daily since May,  and I will continue using it as long as it's being manufactured. 
    • Caudalie Foaming Face Wash. Just a good, basic, gentle cleanser that rinses clean and smells good. I am on my third bottle with at least one backup in storage, so that should indicate how much I like this cleanser. 
    • Clinique Clarifying Lotion II. This "lotion" was, perhaps, the biggest surprise this year in that it did not irritate my pink-prone skin. My skin will look a little red immediately after using it, but it calms down quickly and my skin has never felt smoother. I used  Clinique's 3-step program many years ago but drifted away to other brands. I don't know what made me try this again, but my skin has never felt better. I feel like it immediately clears away dead skin sells so my serums and treatments can penetrate better.
    • Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion. I'd been using various other body lotions, but one day I noticed a bottle of this on the sink area in the ladies room at work. The soaps used in offices are so harsh, so I pumped some of this on my hands and was instantly hooked. 
    • WEN Cleansing Conditioner. Another big surprise. I was introduced to this by Jeanie of Makeup Merriment who sent me several huge samples to try out when I was complaining about my fine hair, which either looked like straw or turned limp. I could not believe this product didn't weigh it down, especially over time, but I have been using it since June, and I still love it. I even shave my legs with it.
    • Bioderma Crealine H20 Micellar Solution. Fantastic eye makeup remover and excellent pre-wash makeup remover in general. It is so gentle, if I need to remove and reapply makeup on the fly, I can do so multiple times and my skin does not turn red. 

      Among my favorite tools this year, I neglected to include my BeautyBlender sponge because it has been missing for several days. I fear it's under a piece of furniture somewhere in the house (or it bounced down into the basement), now completely unrecognizable, as it is without doubt, encrusted in dust bunnies (suspected cat toy). Time to ask Santa for a new one.

      • Shu Uemura eyelash curler. Not a new discovery this year, but I re-purchased the whole curler because my gaskets were spent, and they do not sell refills. It is still my favorite after more than 10 years. I love how it curls, not bends, my lashes.
      • Jane Iredale Flocked Sponge. Sometimes I like to apply my facial powder with a sponge instead of a brush. It allows for more targeted application, since I generally apply to the center of my face where I am most pink and blend out, not wanting to cover all of my skin. I also use the sponge to apply Jane Iredale Pommist finishing spray (included in a best of category below). I spray the sponge, dab on my face, and my mascara stays intact. The sponge is velvety soft and washes/dries beautifully. (Yes, that is a JI sponge—I just carry it in an Alima envelope, because the JI sponges do not come with a case).
      • Conair bamboo rollers. I have had these for a couple years, but I wanted more of the big rollers, so I purchased another box this year. I LOVE them. I roll my hair dry (or mostly dry), leave in for 15 minutes, remove, and I get instant, bouncy body that lasts all day. No gunky thickening goo or damaging heat implements required.
      • Mason Pearson brush. I repurchased when I lost my original, because nothing makes my short bob look shinier than the boar bristles of this brush.. I cannot blame my cats for the loss, but a few years ago, Ferret Bueller stole my original Mason brush and stowed it in a little hole he ripped in the mattress lining under my bed as his hiding place (I also found a TV remote with the buttons all nibbled off, a Timex watch, and an empty carton of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby). 
      • Becca Professional Brush Soap. I stand corrected on my initial opinion, and now this brush cleanser is a favorite. My original review was lukewarm, which garnered comments from people who loved the soap. So I stopped thinking of it as "any old soap in a tin" and more about a cleaner targeted specifically for my brushes, and I do admit it cleans beautifully—even my white goat hair brushes return to their natural color. My brushes seem to dry more quickly, so I suspect there's something in this soap that expedites the process. Hopefully not alcohol.
      • Sephora nail file. I was intrigued by a file made of glass, and I found this to be a very effective file at smoothing over rough edges after a real file. Just don't drop it!
      • Laura Mercier Velour Puff. After almost 15 years of using the now-discontinued Shiseido puff of the same style, which had been washed so many times it looked like that bit of fluff that erupts out of an overfilled vacuum cleaner bag, I needed a replacement. The Laura Mercier puff does what I want—lets me roll and press finishing powder into my skin and then flick off the excess with a soft, fluffy brush. The little strap on the back makes it easy to control, and it washes very easily inside a lingerie bag. I toss it in the dryer on the air setting (no heat) for a few minutes to make it fluffy again and then air dry it the rest of the way.
      Face brushes
      These are my favorite brushes in 2011. Trying to choose favorites from among all of my brushes would have been a much longer article, and I would have had to break it down by task. If you want to read excellent brush reviews, be sure to check out Gaia's articles at The Non-blonde and Dain's brush reviews at ARS Aromatica.

      Left to right:
      • Make Up For Ever Kabuki. Synthetic and so incredibly soft. Perfect for applying HD powder (which it's made for) or for flicking off powder excess. Its soft carrying case is a plus for me, as hard cases take up more room.
      • Becca Cream Blush. Has nice short bristles to keep the cream color from flopping all over my face and a relatively short handle for precise control.
      • Bobbi Brown Blush. I don't know how I got so lucky with this one because Bobbi Brown brush quality can vary wildly. But this is the softest blush brush I have ever owned. I treat it very gently, use only one color with it, and wash it infrequently so I can keep this in excellent shape for many years to come. I have returned countless Bobbi Brown Powder and Face Blender brushes for being prickly (in fact I won't leave the counter without testing now), but this one is divine.
      • Laura Mercier Fan. Ideal for super-pigmented blushes or when you want to add only a dusting of highlighter to cheekbones. Diffuses color like a dream.
      • Hakuhodo S114 Highlight. I use this every single day. It lays down the most subtle layer of highlighting powder (I use Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade in Perle on my cheekbones). It was my biggest Hakuhodo splurge, and although I do not own any Suqqu brushes, I am willing to bet the Hakuhodo rivals Suqqu in softness. It feels like my cheeks are being kissed by a million newborn kittens' eyelashes.
      • Jane Iredale Handi. Outstanding brush in every way, absolute holy grail. Lately I have wondered if her brushes are made by Hakuhodo because they are so incredibly silky and so well made. I have been using the brush you see above since the late 90s—almost every day. It has been washed countless times and it still looks as good as I did the day I bought it, though the end of the handle is fading a bit. The bristles have only become softer over time. It is my favorite brush to apply Jane Iredale PurePressed foundation. I don't use it for anything else. It's my Precious <3 

      Eye brushes

      I did not buy that many brushes this year, so I was very fortunate to love the ones I purchased. Here are my favorites for applying eyeshadow:

      • Hakuhodo S133. This brush is like a mini version of the S114 Highlight. The bristles are just as exquisitely soft, and they are long enough that I can use it as a lid-into-crease brush. It also works very well as a highlight brush for tighter spots.
      • Laura Mercier Smudge. Perfect brush for smudging out eyeliner on the top lashes or for applying eyeshadow (as liner) underneath the lashes and blending out. It is also great for cutting a crease.
      • Laura Mercier Finishing. This makes a great blender brush because it gently diffuses color without dusting it all away. What I use this brush for most often is to apply cream eyeshadow to my lids and blend into the crease. The synthetic tips are perfect for this. I also use it to apply and diffuse concealer, where it leaves an airbrushed finish. This brush is an excellent multitasker.
      • Bobbi Brown Eye Blender. Another lucky find, as this brush is so incredibly soft and great for blending gradations of eyeshadow color or for applying very sheer washes of color to the upper crease.
      • Edward Bess Luxury. I am cheating a little here because I bought the Luxury Eye Brush at the end of 2010, but I didn't actually start using it in earnest until January. I love this brush. The handle is metal, so it is heavier than most brushes, and it feels substantial in the hand. I love to apply color quite densely in the crease and then diffuse it down toward the lashes from the outer corner inward. I've seen slightly different shapes when this brush is reviewed online. My bristles come to a bit of a point, so I can direct it into the crease. Adore.
      • Hakuhodo G5533BkSl. Sort, firm bristles make this brush idea for applying color all over the lid. It's especially useful for patting down non-matte shadows so they don't look sparkly.
      • Becca Extra Fine #6. I'd been searching for a very long time for a brush with this fine a point. Bobbi Brown's "extra fine" is laughable, and MAC's were not much better. Too thick. The Becca bristles are as thin, maybe thinner, than the brushes that come in most liquid eyeliner bottles. I loved it so much I panicked that it would be discontinued and bought two backups--and I don't even wear eyeliner that often.
      • Paula Dorf Transformer. I first heard of this brush on The Non-blonde's blog. I had no idea there was a flat-topped eyeliner brush that was curved to follow the line of the eyelid. Brilliant! I immediately purchased one, and I agree that this is a great brush for tightlining either over or under the lash line.

      Left to right: Bobbi Brown Blender, Laura Mercier Finishing, Edward Bess Luxury, Hakuhodo G5533, Hakuhodo S133, Laura Mercier Smudge, Paula Dorf Transformer, Becca #6.
      Face stuff
      Believe it or not, I am not as fickle with my face stuff as I am with eyeshadow or lipstick. When I find something I like, I stick with it, though I am not immune to temptation. Thus, there were a few notable additions this year.

      My new and favorite products for face (foundation, primer, concealer, highlighter) this year are:
      • Rouge Bunny Rouge Love Lights Highlighting Powder. Sweet to Touch (a pale shell pink) is a very pretty, subtle highlighting powder that can actually be worn all over the face, and not just on the high points. 
      • Cindy Joseph BOOMSTICK. Of the CJ trio I purchased, Glimmer was my favorite. It's a pearly champagne-pink highlighter that leaves a subtle metallic sheen, not obvious shimmer.
      • Rouge Bunny Rouge Metamorphoses Mattifying Primer. This primer gives a suede finish instead of being completely matte, so a bit of natural-looking skin still emerges. I wear it on face and lids.
      • Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector and Luminous Skin Colour. Essential for lightweight coverage and pearly glow. The tinted moisturizer (Porcelain) is dewy on its own, so I don't actually wear these two products together, but they are just gorgeous items to have on hand for days when your skin already looks good.
      • Jane Iredale POMMIST Hydration spray. This spray instantly transforms mineral power from matte to a more satin finish. There is no need to wait a couple hours for the natural oils in my face to emerge, and why would I, when this spray delivers a goodly dose of antioxidants. And, as mentioned above in the flocked sponge bullet point, I spray the sponge and dab the mist onto my face, rather than spray my face directly ... unless it's a hot summer day or night and I want an instant cooling boost that smells of delicious botanicals. In summer, POMMIST is often all I need for moisturizer. Sometimes I spray my feet, too, and it is delicious to do so after refrigerating the spray for a couple hours.
      • MAC Fashionflower Beauty Powder. Another beautifully subtle highlighting powder, Light Sunshine is a very pale pastel pink with gold and pink microshimmer. If a genie touched his magic wand to the pan and zapped away the gold shimmer, this product would probably have a dip in it already.
      • Paula Dorf Eye Primer. I've been wearing this primer in 'Light' for about ten years, but I continue to repurchase. Since I bought one this year, it deserves an honorable mention. Perfect for my fair  skin, this stuff conceals all eyelid discoloration and makes eyeshadow colors look more true (instead of being muted by whatever colors are in my lids).  This primer is the best I have ever used.
      • Jane Iredale PurePressed Foundation. A product I have been using and re-purchasing for over 10 years. Currently I am wearing Ivory, though I also have Light Beige, Bisque, Warm Silk, Natural, and have worn Honey Bronze as bronzer. Unlike the other mineral powders I have tried (Bare Minerals, Urban Decay, Laura Mercier, Alima, and so on), Jane Iredale gives me the most natural, believable finish, which I can apply from sheer to medium to full coverage. I can also use the Jane Iredale concealer or foundation brush to spot "treat" red areas and get away with wearing very little on my face. I love that I can buy this mineral product in pressed form, as I actively dislike using loose powders.
      • YSL Touche Eclat. I can't believe I have not yet reviewed this item. I realize it is meant to be a highlighter, but I like using #1 Luminous Radiance under my eyes to lift the shadows. I occasionally apply it to other areas where I have shadows (alongside my nose, at the inner corners of my eyes, under my lower lip) and it works nicely as an overall highlighter on the brow, cheekbones, and down the bridge of my nose. The peach-pink color is perfect at minimizing blue shadows and pink undertones.
      • Cle de Peau Beaute Brilliant Enhancer. This is similar to Touche Eclat but lighter and slightly more shimmery. It seems the Brilliant Enhancer now comes only in a flesh-toned color, but mine is pearly white, like Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl. I guess I won't be buying this specific color again, since it appears to have been discontinued, but I carry it with me and love applying it midday to perk up my face.
      • Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector. Clinique makes outstanding pore minimizing products. They have done so since the ancient Pore Minimizing Foundation that I wore many many years ago in New Ivory. I can smooth a tiny bit of this in my T-zone, where my pores have enlarged over time due to oily skin, and call it a day. No foundation needed, and even though this mattifies the frankenpores, the Invisible Bright "color" also adds back a hint of luminosity. Great stuff, I am on my second tube already this year. I like that I can reapply over my makeup. It's like smoothing on liquid powder.
      • Cle de Peau Concealer. This dense, creamy formula stays put all day. This stuff is super duper pigmented, and because I apply it so sparingly, it doesn't crease on me. It will last a hundred billion years. 

      I didn't wear blush for more than a decade. My skin is naturally rosy, so blush feels redundant, but there are so many beautiful colors I just can't help myself, especially if I add a hint of glow along the cheekbones. Here are my favorites this year:
      • Edward Bess Blush Imperiale. A friend gave me this blush in Soft Orchid, and I could not have picked a better color myself. It appears almost lilac in the pan, but it turns into a soft rose warmed by the barest whisper of peachy coral. The texture is divine.
      • Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Color. I have Dain of ARS Aromatica to thank for recommending Shiseido's blush formula when she learned that I was looking for a gleaming blush in order to skip highlighter. Based on her tip, I purchased Carnation, and although it is a very new addition to 2011, it has quickly become one of my favorite blushes of the year because it really is luminous. 
      • Rouge Bunny Rouge Original Skin Blush. After reading several online reviews, I chose Gracilis, sight unseen, and I was not disappointed. Gracilis is a stunning mauve rose that glides on like silk. 
      • CARGO blu_ray. This is Cargo's original blu_ray blush in Pink (unlabeled), not the Peach one that came out later. I love the giant pan and how easy it is to swirl my brush in it, as opposed to so many blush packaging that forces the color into a thin strip. I give it high marks for the lovely glow it leaves behind without outright shimmer.
      • Bobbi Brown Blush. Both Nectar and Pale Pink are extremely pigmented blushes, but with the lightest of hand and a specific, non-blush brush (I use the Laura Mercier Fan brush or MAC 188), I get just the right amount of brightness on the apples. My own natural blush is quite bright, so the pretty  muted roses that are so popular do not look as natural on me because they make my skin look muddy.
      • MAC Blushcreme Ladyblush. This is my favorite cream blush, beating Becca, Rouge Bunny Rouge, and Laura Mercier.
      • MAC Mineralize Blush. Love Thing surpassed Chanel's limited edition Rouge in my affections. The texture is very soft and silky, but it's a bit powdery, so I have to be really careful when I apply this or it could end up splattered on the ceiling.
      Out of all, I'd have to say that Cargo, Shiseido, and BB Nectar are my favorite favorites, though Pale Pink has been in my top 3 for a few years and got an honorable mention this year because I repurchased it.

      Lip lube

      I am a total lip balm junkie, and if lipstick had not improved so much in the last 10 years (much less drying than it used to be), lip balm would be my desert island item, preferably tinted. In fact, dedicated a post to my favorite balms, and while I still love those mentioned in the article, I found some new ones this year.
      • Julie Hewett Camellia Lip Balm. It looks apricot colored, but it applies clear. And although this balm is not new to me this year, I repurchased it three times this year alone and used them all up. I just bought my final backup for 2011. This stuff is pricey at $16, but it feels so great on my lips, as well as rubbed into my cuticles or applied to the delicate skin under my nose if it gets irritated and dry from nose honking. You can probably tell how much I like it from the photo. Highly recommended.
      • Prescriptives Lip Specialist. Despite being a near 100%-loyal Prescriptives fan for almost a decade, I'd never noticed their lip balm. So when Phoenix rose from the ashes earlier this year and it became clear that Px would not go the way of the Dodo bird, I started ordering some of my favorites again. I was pleasantly surprised by how soft and silky their balm felt on my lips. The only thing that keeps it from rising to the top of my lip treatment favorites is that it comes in a pot.
      • Rouge Bunny Rouge Kiss Elixir Lip Balm. This balm is excellent. It applies clear and smooth. It is not tacky/sticky, and it makes my lips feel like butter without slipping and sliding all over the place. I often wear it to bed, and the only time it gets nasty is when an over-excited cat slams his flank into my face and I end up with fur-coated lips.
      • Peter Thomas Roth Un-wrinkle Lip Balm. This little gem is a plumping, smoothing lip treatment with sunscreen (SPF 15) and the softest pink shimmer. For a while it looked like the Un-wrinkle balm had been discontinued, but it is back in stock at

      Ah, my favorite makeup. Ever. The above lineup represents my top 10 new lipsticks this year. Don't go scrolling down for a "best of lipgloss" category.  There isn't one. I am a die-hard lipstick person, have always felt that way. So without further ado:
      • Guerlain Rouge Automatique 164 Chamade. A mid-toned cool pink-red with coral undertones. It is bright but sheer and very face brightening. 
      • Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Lipstick Night Romance. A creamy-smooth blued raspberry softened by a hint of brown. The formula has plenty of slip and yet maintains good amount of traction for the amount of moisture it delivers. Bess lipstick formula is really wonderful if you can get past the fruity scent.
      • Rouge Bunny Rouge Hues of Enchantment Colorburst Lipstick Word of Mouth. When you finally tack on the color name, it should be called Word of Mouthful. This color is a silky mid-toned rose with a hint of something that pulls it in the coral direction but only very slightly. The formula is smooth, and it smells like Christmas.
      • Bobbi Brown Creamy Lip Color Rose Petal is as light as I can go. Rose Petal has enough brightness to be a MLLB shade. The very fine blue microshimmers in it are flattering, but this formula is quite goopy—so be forewarned.
      • Chanel Rouge Allure 28 Romanatic. Another cool, mid-toned rose that is similar to Edward Bess Night Romance but more clear and not quite as dark. I was previously not a fan of Chanel lipsticks. Either the formula was too drying or the rose fragrance made me gag. Either Chanel lip products have come a long way since they phased out the Hydrbase formula, or my chemical sensitivity went away. Rouge Allure has a wonderfully silky texture that moisturizes my lips and no discernible scent.
      • MAC Cremesheen On Hold. I have a hard time describing this color. MAC calls it yellowed raspberry, but on my mauve lips, it's watermelon kissed by coral. I don't buy many MAC lipsticks, because I find them drying, but I love this, and it takes a lot to get me excited. On Hold is pigmented and bright and it leaves behind a serious stain. As in, don't plan to wear a light lipstick at night if you wore this one all day. 
      • Prescriptives (via Three Custom Colors) Rosmarine. Discontinued for many years, Rosemarine was the only lipstick I wore for almost a decade. It's the most beautiful shade of blue rose with a whisper of brown, which takes on an entirely new dimension when worn over Prescriptives Aubergine lip pencil (also discontinued). No other lipstick in my entire life generated as many compliments as this one. I will always have Rosemarine on hand and am so grateful for companies like 3CC who can do a perfect reproduction in every way (outside the packaging). Sometimes it's good to let discontinued colors go so you can find something new to love, but then certain colors are worth holding onto for as long as you can.
      • Chantecaille Lip Chic Tea Rose. Lip Chics were a new discovery for me last year, and Tea Rose is a color I repuchased so I could have one at home and one at work. Both are now worn down do little rosy nubs. Smooth gel-like texture with the prettiest, sheer wash of muted rose.
      • Laura Mercier Gel Lip Color Sweet Cherry. I raved about this in my review, and this is still THE best red lipstick I have ever worn. Apologies to Ellis Faas, but this sheer, creamy red cannot be beat for my coloring and contrast levels.
      • L'Oreal Infallible Lipstick Eternal Rose. This is the first drugstore lipstick I have ever liked. The texture is surprisingly smooth and moisturizing. I had terrible luck with L'Oreal lipsticks drying my lips to cracks in the past (they used to be smelly, too).
      • (Not shown) Jane Iredale Lipstick Brett. This color is getting hard to find, and I am digging pigment out of the end of the bullet, so there is nothing to photograph here. Brett is a beautiful, silky berry shade.

        A closer view of the first five:

        And a closer view of the second five. I noticed after the fact that Eternal Rose was missing from the second shot of ten, but it's included below.

        Things in stick format

        I grouped my pens and pencils in one shot, even though some are lips and some are eyes.
        • Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L303. For a lipgloss hater, the formula of Glazed Lips is wonderful and L303, a cool berry, is an outstanding color. I don't mind the brush, which seems ideally suited for lip color delivery. I consider it less a lip gloss than a liquid lipstick.
        • Prescriptives Lip Pencil Dusty Rose. This color is not quite a perfect match for my lips, which are a bit deeper (and Dusty Rose goes on slightly grey), but it is, so far, the only pencil I have found that is a cross between my skin and lips, and it keeps pigment inside.
        • MAC Lip Pencil Soar. This is a MLLB shade, a mid-toned mauvish rose.
        • Paula Dorf Eye Enhancer Baby Eyes. Not new, but a repurchase, this flesh-toned pencil is excellent for rimming the lower waterline.
        • Chanel Style Yeux Eyeliner 84 Taupe. It reminds me of a crayon version of Laura Mercier Topaz. It's not really taupe as much as a taupe-bronze cooled by mauve-violet undertones.
        • Rouge Bunny Rouge Feline Gaze Long-lasting Eye Pencil Calypso. This color is a super-saturated jet black base aqua-blue and silver reflections. So pretty and practically bulletproof!
        • Shu Uemura Hard Formula Brow Pencil Seal Brown 02. After reading about this pencil for years, I finally bought one and understand what the fuss was about. Whereas most brow pencils that claim to be taupe are too red or yellow or orange for me, Seal Brown is an almost-perfect cool brown that goes on so lightly and can be built up to the desired amount. 
        • Lancome Defincils Mascara. I've noticed this mascara since the 80s, but it took me two decades to finally try it. Smooth, not too wet, slightly volumizing without looking spiky. A perfect everyday mascara.


        These were the standouts for 2011, with most of them new and a couple repeaters:
        • Bobbi Brown Long-wear Cream Eyeshadow Heather. My don't-make-me-think muted purple shade. Great, simple bulletproof. The only thing I dislike is the shape of the pot. Too narrow and deep.
        • Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade Perle. A workhorse. Perle is a gleaming ivory with pink/purple duochrome reflects that manages to look radiant instead of sparkly. You probably can't tell from the photo below, but I am about to hit pan. This is my absolute favorite highlighter shade of the year, and I use it nearly every single day on all parts of my face, as well as collarbones.
        • Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade Quartz. The perfect fleshy pink nude with a satin finish.
        • Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade Granite. A gorgeous, glimmery taupe that is a little too warm for me, but I love it anyway.
        • Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade Meteorite. A stunning dirty grey that is face brightening. It wins the prize as being one of my most flattering eyeshadows ever, and that's no small feat considering how sludgy it looks in the pan. 
        • Bobbi Brown Matte Eyeshadow Heather. The matte sister to the cream version. Highly pigmented, almost staining to the skin.
        • Bobbi Brown Long-wear Cream Shadow Sand Dollar. The first shimmer-based cream shadow I have been able to wear. Most are too warm (champagne, peach, etc), and this one is a pale silvery taupe. 
        • Stila Eyeshadow in Ecru. I have repurchased this eyeshadow 3-4 times already, and bought several backups this year when I learned Stila had discontinued this lovely satin base, which is cool cream with a trace of pink. I overbought, but I panicked.
        • Becca Demi-matte Eyeshadow Chantilly. This demi-matte is a new shade for me, a dusty lavender that looks gorgeous from lashes to brow with a deeper shade in the crease, like Chantecaille Meterorite.
        • Becca Shimmer Eyeshadow Lamé. A complex, muted licorice.
        • Laura Mercier Sateen Eye Color Sable. The Sateen formula is, by far, my favorite, and Laura Mercier eyeshadows are so underrated. I so rarely see them reviewed. Silky, easy to blend, Sable is a glowy greyed brown.
        • Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds are Singing Long-last Eyeshadow Solstice Halcyon. This color might be about as universal a color as you can get, a semi-matte mauve beige. I don't see beige. I see a muted, dusty plum with brown undertones. The light taupe is there, but there's definitely something purple going on, as well. 
        • Alima Pure Semi-matte Eyeshadow in Bramble and Dawn. I hate loose powder, but this pairing is really gorgeous. I go through periods where I push these to the back of my drawer because of the powder-mess thing, but then I pull them out again because they provide such a gorgeous, cool-neutral, no-makeup look. 

        Nail Polish

        My favorites this year:
        • Rescue Beauty Lounge Teal. A really beautiful deep sea green-blue. 
        • Dior Bond Street 797. This is the perfect greyed blue, and I am so grateful I picked it up before it was gone forever. I paid through the nose (off retail) but it was worth it.
        • Dior Gris Montaigne 707. Since my skin is cool-toned, this grey worked really well. It's almost a neutral, in that it isn't an obviously GREY nail polish. I like to wear it on my toes in winter when no one knows but me.
        • Dior Lemon Balm 703. I was not smart enough to pick this up before it sold out, but I did find one later. The color defies description. Suffice it to say it is complex, and like its namesake, it calms me when I wear it. It would be nice if it smelled of mint.
        • Sephora by OPI Mermaid to Order. Mermaid is a great name for this color, a metallic green blue that looks completely different in different lights, even if you turn your hand back and forth in the same light. Like the ocean from which the mermaid comes, this color is changeable. When I wear this on my toes in the summer, I feel happy.
        • butter LONDON All Hail the Queen. A cool-neutral pink-bronzed taupe with gold shimmers that goes with everything; in other words, I can wear whatever footwear/sandals and my toes don't stand out—they just look neat.
        And now for my favorite roses.
        • butter LONDON Dahling. A gorgeous, creamy rose. New to me this year and I just bought a backup, even though I will probably never use it up.
        • Chanel Le Vernis 491 Rose Confidentiel. The perfect ladylike rose beige appropriate for any setting. Period.
        • Chanel Le Vernis 185  Rose Paradise. I think Rose Paradise was reintroduced this year after being briefly retired. It is a beautiful gently-shimmering rose that leans slightly warm without being too gold.
        • Chanel Le Vernis 457 Tulipe Noir. This is such a complex rose-red-bronze. I believe it is discontinued, but I still managed to pick one up this year.
        • Chanel Le Vernis 455 Lotus Rouge. The perfect red shade for me, a neutral-cool strawberry red, rich and , creamy.
        • essie Angora Cardigan. I believe this shade is about two years old, but I saw it a couple months ago at Target. It's a deep red-violet, perfect for fall and winter.
        • Revlon Teak Rose. I have repurchased this humble nail polish so many times—more than any beauty product I own. I often get compliments when I wear it, so I composed a goofy sonnet to honor it. : )


        I neglected to add this item to the body care group, but it was worth an honorable mention at the end. Among a few other fragrances, I wear both Chanel No.5 and No.19, but I have never been a fan of their body lotions. They are too thin and the scent fades quickly—they also smell a little synthetic. But the creams! I adore rich, fragrant body creams, and Chanel No.5, did not disappoint.

        Bottom line: So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my favorites. I can't believe I only started blogging nine months ago, and this year has been a fun one with many happy discoveries and many new friendships. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and peace.

        All photos mine except for Clinqique's Iced Lotus.

        Saturday, December 3, 2011

        What's in Zuzu's Bag?

        On any given day, I lug a lot around in my tote: laptop, lunch, iPhone, camera, Kindle, digital recorder, sunglasses, Moleskine notebook. I also don't go anywhere without my makeup bag, but it tends to hold just the basics, and some items aren't even makeup!

        So I am afraid you might be disappointed, especially compared to all the other excellent, interesting, overstuffed makeup bags out there, filled with dozens of lip glosses and surprises galore. Because makeup is so long wearing these days (and my skin is less oily) I find the only real thing I tough up during the day is my lips, maybe take the shine off my nose and comb my hair. Therefore, I have become a minimalist when it comes to what I lug around with me.

        So without further ado, here it is, emptied out but neatened up for your snooping pleasure:

        Seriously, that's it. And what's even more silly, I swap out my lip product every night, so I don't generally accumulate multiples and never more than two.

        In my bag right now:
        • Mason Pearson comb. Just a basic, pocked-sized comb for my fine, short bob.
        • Jane Iredale PurePressed base. My favorite foundation powder ever.
        • Rouge Bunny Rouge Kiss Elixir lip balm. A lovely balm that doubles as clear gloss. 
        • A tin of Nivea cream for my ever-dry hands. 
        • Shiseido Pureness blotting papers.
        • Bobbi Brown Long-wear Cream Eyeshadow in Sand Dollar.   
        • Sephora by OPI cuticle oil. 
        • Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon--good for lips and cheeks.
        • Chantecaille Hydra Chic Lipstick in Water Lily. 
        • Becca lip brush. 
        • YSL mascara ini.
        • A baggie containing a hair elastic, thumb drive, thingambob to access the company VPN, a Bobbi Brown double-ended travel brush (blending/concealer), sunscreen packet, and hiding in the back is a wee pantiliner--just in case. 
        • KIND's dark chocolate cherry cashew antioxidant bar (my crack cocaine).
        Carry on.

        Thursday, December 1, 2011

        Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Eyeshadow: Sand Dollar, Galaxy, and Orchid

        I can't believe I haven't yet reviewed a single Bobbi Brown Long-wear Cream Eyeshadow ($22, 12 oz./ 3.5g). I adore these little pots and wear them more often than any other eyeshadow.

        With the exception of Navajo, which I found to be stiff and dry no matter how many times I purchased, returned, and repurchased (Navajo has now been discontinued in the cream form), these eyeshadows are incredibly silky and velvety. Their smooth formula lets the pigment glide on easily, using a synthetic brush or a fingertip, and it lasts all day without creasing or smudging. Truly. When I swatch colors on the back of my hand, I have to scrub off the color.

        This formula was awarded 'Best of Beauty' 'Allure' Magazine (2011) and 'Elle' Magazine's 'Genius Award' (April 2010) and rightly so. Nothing is more simple on a rushed morning than quickly swiping on my favorite Bobbi Brown cream shadow, dabbing on some lipstick, and racing out the door. I find myself reaching for these shadows on days when I'd normally be too busy to bother. They are as appropriate for weekends as for the office.

        Although Heather is my most used color, this review is about the more complex Sand Dollar, Galaxy, and Orchid shades.

        Sand Dollar is a lightly-reflective silvered taupe that looks like Cement's shimmering sister. Often I find that Bobbi Brown's color names do NOT match the product in her lineup, but this time they got it right. Sand Dollar looks exactly like a greige sea creature washed up on the glittering sand. Overall, this color leans warm, but because the undertone is more grey than beige, with the slightest whisper of mauve, it is acceptable on my cool, pink-porcelain skin. This shimmer is very subtle, more of a delicate gleam, thus it cannot be compared to the uber-sparkly Metallic Long-Wear Cream Shadow, which I just can't make work on me.

        If I am not in the mood for shimmer, I'll quickly dab a bit of Cement cream shadow on top of Sand Dollar.

        Galaxy is the most complex shadow in this trio. At first I thought it was just another mid-toned, shimmering silver-grey, similar to Make Up For Ever #2 Steel, and I swear that Galaxy is identical the the discontinued Prescriptives Colorscope Eye Color in Smoking Gun, but my Px pot is too old and tacky for an adequate comparison. The Bobbi Brown web site calls Galaxy a deep silver shimmer, but it's more than that. Galaxy is pewter, the color of a shiny meteorite. If hold to the light I can see both silver and gold, and maybe even the faintest trace of moss. The finish is slightly more metallic than Sand Dollar, but it's not over the top for day wear if applied sheerly.

        Orchid is described as a light lavender, which isn't true. In nature, if you look at the flowering buds, lavender is a greyed blue, more softly muted than periwinkle, whereas Orchid is a mid-toned, satiny, reddened purple--more like a lilac blossom. Or orchid petals. I find Orchid can be an eye intensifier in that it makes green or blue eyes appear more vibrant and brown eyes more sparkly. There is definite color payoff from Orchid, but overall it does not scream PURPLE. That said, I don't think everyone will be able to wear this color because of the red undertones.

        Here are some skin swatches on my NW15 skin.

        I detect no fragrance in this product, and the fact that it's powder-free makes it even more wearable for me. The cream shadows are ophthalmologist tested, and although I do not wear contact lenses, my eyes are extremely sensitive, and these eyeshadows do not bother me at all, even when I use them as eyeliner underneath my lashes.

        Though not quite as buttery as Benefit Creaseless Cream shadows, Bobbi Brown's color selection is slightly better for pale, cool-toned people, and although comparison can be the thief of joy, it's what we bloggers do so we can make informed purchasing decisions. For my $, Bobbi Brown's cream shadows blow MAC Paint Pots out of the water, which I find drying and oxidizing. My only complaint about the Long-wear Cream Eyeshadow is its delivery system. Like Benefit or MAC's cream shadows, I wish the mouth of Bobbi's jars were a little wider. I prefer to use my fingers to apply because the warmth of my skin lets me better control how much pigment I apply, and it also spreads more evenly. As designed, when the product is half gone, it becomes challenging to pick up color on my fingertip without it getting under my nails, so I use the Laura Mercier (fiber optic/skunk) Finishing Eye Brush, which I prefer for cream shadow application over the typical flat-paddle cream shadow brush. I don't use eye primer with these, and I even apply them directly over eye gel that has sunk in (Clinique All About Eyes). No creasing, wears like it's bulletproof.

        Bottom line: Love.

        All photos mine