Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rouge Bunny Rouge Matte Eyeshadow: Grey Go-away Lourie and Blackpepper Jay

I thought it time I reviewed the Rouge Bunny Rouge Long-lasting Matt Eyeshadows, which I have had since last May.

Grey Go-away Lourie is a mid-toned slate grey. No blue or brown undertones, just grey. I like this because it means whatever pigment already exists in eyelids will transform this color into the most appropriate grey for you. If your lids are lilac, the way mine used to be, GGaL will appear as a blue grey. If your lids have taken on that teabag tint that comes with age/sun damage, GGaL will appear more taupe. In the pan, the color reminds me a little of wet cement.

Blackpepper Jay is a deep, sooty, charcoal brown. No matter how many pictures I took, I could not capture the rich depth of this color. BpJ is slightly too intense for me to use as a crease color, but I like it very lightly applied to the outer third of my lid to deepen and add complexity to other shadows. It also makes a nice liner, but because these shadows are so incredibly blendable, they can move around a bit. To be an effective liner, I have to use a wet aid, such as Paula Dorf Transformer.

Of all the RBR eyeshadows I have tried, I love the matte formula the best. It feels so creamy it's hard to believe it's powder. Rich and superfatted, it's easy to swipe a swath onto lids with a fingertip.

If you have dry skin, don't write these mattes off just yet. I suspect this formula can be worn by dry and oily skins alike, though oilier lids might prefer to use a primer. As for older skin, the finish of the matte formula is so velvety it never looks dry, dusty, chalky, or crepey. My only regret is that there are but four colors--all neutral staples--and only two that flatter my coloring. So far.

Bottom line: Best in class. Excellent basic colors that should become classics for many.

All photos mine

Cosmeticus Interruptus: Estée Lauder Chelsea Rose

I am going to start a series about excellent products that have been discontinued because they weren't selling well or because they were original sold as limited edition. Sometimes I feel so frustrated when I personal favorite has been killed off.

In this case, I discovered a beloved item after it had been discontinued. I blame Dain, editor and writer at Ars Aromatica blog, because this lipstick makes a frequent appearance in her articles, and now I know why. She calls it her version of nude, and I think it might be mine, too. Like Dain, my lip pigment eats up color, so this pretty mid-toned rose translates to a rosy pink on me.

Without further ado, I bring you Estée Lauder Signature Lipstick Chelsea Rose.

Bottom line: A worthy edition to my shrinking lipstick stash, even if it's the only tube of this color I will ever own!

Are there any discontinued lipsticks that you adore and wish were still available?

all photos mine

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What is Less?

Is age slowing you down? I don't mean in an achy, creaky, bone-popping way but in a logistics way, specifically: Getting ready in the morning.

My routine has changed a great deal in the last 2-3 years, and it's not as if I went suddenly from nubile vixen to curmudgeonly crone. I suspect the change has more to do with maintaining the natural, less-is-more look I prefer, than with my biological age—but age is a factor, for certain. Looking the way I want takes more product and more time than it used to. Statement of fact. So it's no wonder I feel somewhat paralyzed in the morning when trying to get myself out the door in a timely manner.

My taste in makeup is almost identical to what it has been my entire adult life:
  • Minimal face stuff, just enough to even out the coloring around my nose, but not cover my freckles and pores. Jane Iredale mineral powder has been doing an admirable job for more than ten years.
  • Minimal blush (I am naturally rosy). When I wear it, I like a glowy finish. I do NOT want to see shimmer particles on my skin, and I don't want the finish to be so matte that it sits on top of my cheeks. My current favorite is NARS Gaiety.

  • One to two eyeshadows that mimic the natural colors already found in my face/hair/eyes. I don't have a holy grain duo, but I do have a few brands I favor.
  • Lipstick (never lip gloss) with a sheer or cream or satin finish. I have around six favorites right now, but Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour in Sweet Cherry remains in my top three since I bought it last May.

So what is less, anyway? I don't know about you and your routine, but I miss the old days when I used to be able to shower and be out the door in under a half hour. My makeup routine was so incredibly simple, I could almost do it in the dark. But when you're 20 and your skin is the best it will ever look, a little mascara and lip balm go a long way.

I am now (20x2)+n. And even though my taste in cosmetics is mostly the same, nature and gravity are making their mark, causing me to augment and play with areas I never had to before.

In the last couple years I have added several new items to my once-simple routine:
  • Concealer. My skin thinned, hollowed, and darkened in the area between the inner eyes and the nose, and shadows deepened under my eyes. I never needed concealer until I hit my 40s. But instead of covering the shadows with opaque paste, I prefer a concealer/highlighter hybrid that lightens shadowy areas instead of covering them. It's sheer trickery, but I think it looks a little more natural, and I don't have to worry about creasing or color oxidation.

    YSL Touche Eclat is my current favorite and has been for at least two years
  • Brows. I must now fill in my brows, which have thinned. Many women who go through perimenopause experience hormone imbalances (understatement), and since thyroid is part of the endocrine system, it can get out of whack, too, causing some of us to lose a full outer third of our eyebrows. Luckily, I have avoided that side effect, but the volume has thinned enough that I must fill in the patchy areas with a good, sticky brow powder.

    I have been using Clinique Brow Shaper in Shaping Charcoaled
    since the late 80s.
  • Mascara. One coat of mascara is a must when it was previously a nice-to-have. My eyelashes, which are quite long and dark, have also thinned. I used to have a thick, sooty fringe, but now I have a smattering of Daddy Long Legs legs that could benefit from some artificial volume. I concentrate on the outer third, which helps open the eye. I rarely bother with an eyelash curler—it's too much eyelash look for me.
  • I don't like mascara, so I find one I don't hate. Tarte makes a decent one that
    doesn't make my lashes feel crispy or gummy.
  • Eyeliner. Decreasing eyelash volume has left some spots almost bare. I was using an eyelash serum, but instead of getting more volume, I got eyelashes I could braid they were so long. Yuck. Long eyelashes with no volume is as bad as growing your hair very long when it's super fine and thin. So to fill in the gaps (more artifice and trickery), I smudge a densely pigmented powder eyeshadow against the lash line.

    Laura Mercier Deep Night does the job
  • Lip pencil. Since both the philtrum and vermillion border flatten with age, I now need to line my upper lip so my lipstick doesn't feather. I don't have vertical lines (at least nothing obvious yet), but lipstick can fade from the top lip in an unflattering way, so anchoring it down with lip pencil is a good idea. I choose a pencil color that matches my lip pigment, not the lipstick, and I connect the tops of the peaks at the cupid's bow, which makes the upper lip look fuller. I don't draw outside the lines, but I don't make the marked dip I used to do in that area. Clinique Sky Violet matches my lip pigment exactly.

  • Primer. I don't need primer as much as I want something on my skin that imparts a subtle glow. I haven't found a moisturizer that does this yet, so I look to primer to do the job, and often, the primer lets me skip moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, and powder, so this is one new addition that actually cuts out several others.
With the exception of the primer, each of the new additions requires time and precision. So putting my face back to "normal" adds time to my routine. It's obviously a choice. I don't need to wear these extra items, but I like to—I feel better when I make the effort, even on days when I work at home.

Currently my morning face takes 15 minutes, but as I grow accustomed to using the new additions, I'll get my routine down and be able to shave some time.

As you get older, do you find yourself using more or fewer products? And as you grow older still, will you continue to make the effort

My images and Google images

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Lipstick Color

Has either of these scenarios ever happened to you?

Scenario 1. You head to the makeup counter to buy a new lipstick. You select a few tubes whose innards visually appeal to you and swatch them on the back of your hand. One in particular makes your knees buckle, so you whip out your wallet like a smoking gun out of a holster for a shoot-down at the OK corral. You get home, and with butterflies in your stomach, rip off the packaging and apply your new color. And ugh. It looks awful. Did they give you the wrong color? You look at the box. No, it says what it's supposed to. Oh, wait, was the wrong tube inserted in the box? No, the names match up. You sit there staring at your mouth, which mocks you like two slabs of raw salmon reeking in the hot sun, and you wonder how such a pretty color could turn so bad. You had swatched it to make sure the color complemented your skin tone, after all.

Scenario 2. You head back to your favorite counter, but this time you test the lipsticks on your lips. How else will you know? When you're about to spend anywhere from $14 to $45 you want to be sure. So you begin trying the lipsticks on your mouth, but after the second or third color you test, your lips are so flushed and so stained with pigment, and the skin around your mouth is so red from rubbing the color off, you can't tell what looks good, so you leave the store with nothing. Or worse, you make another bad purchase.

What if there were a way to improve your chances of going home with the perfect lipstick where the only prerequisite is to go to the store without any lip color on your lips?

Alas, I don't have a foolproof method. Existing lip pigment, bad lighting, lipstick formula, and other conditions conspire against us, but here's how I minimize the risk of picking a dud:
  1. Select. I choose between 3 to 5 colors from the display. Like wine tasting or perfume sniffing, I can suffer from sensory overload so I try to keep the contenders to a minimum. This means I go shopping for a specific range: red or rose or pink or nude; I try not to go bonkers over the entire lipstick display.
  2. Swatch. Swipe my selection on the back of my hand or on a sheet of plain, white paper. This is the best way to first see if a color will complement my skin tone and let me examine the lipstick's undertones, which lip pigment will mask. It's also easier to write the color names down on the piece of paper, and if the counter person looks at me like I'm a weirdo, I mention that I'm trying to avoid a return. That proves to be a conversation stopper.
  3. Examine. Walk the swatches over to the store entrance and examine the colors in natural light. Anything too (fill in the blank*)  is immediately disqualified. I am ruthless at this point as I remind myself: Why look good when I can look great? (*For my coloring I reject anything warm or colors with obvious undertones of peach, coral, brown, or beige.)
  4. Fingertips. Take my final 2-3 choices and swatch them on a fingertip. Huh?? Yes, my fingertips are almost the same color as my lips when I force the blood into them. See for yourself right now by using your thumb to press firmly just below one of your fingertips on the same hand--between the first knuckle and the fleshy bit. See the blood flow into the tip. When testing in stores, I swipe the color there (making sure I continue applying pressure); then I walk over to the natural light again. (Tip: If you smoke, swipe the fingertips on your non-dominant hand so your skin is as free from overtones as possible.)
  5. Test pt. 1. Now with choices narrowed down to 1 or 2, I can try the lipstick on my lips. I never use lip pencil unless it is clear--not flesh toned--clear like Lipstick Queen's. I start with the lightest color and work toward the darkest. To remove a previous color, I use an oil-based remover and gently blot to avoid making the lip area red. 
  6. Test pt. 2. When I have the lipstick I think I am going to buy, I put it on my lips and ask for a hand mirror. I hold the mirror over my head and tilt my head all the way back so I am looking directly at the ceiling with the mirror over my face. This position helps ameliorate some of the awful  department-store lighting by cutting down on the shadows.
Using the above method usually helps prevent lipstick fails like those shown below, which were all pretty enough for me to buy them, but which did not look good on my lips once I got home:

Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited BR 710
A cool, clear pink in the tube but my lips EAT the pigment into oblivion
Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L301 (Ellis Red)
I love most EF lipsticks, but this version of Ellis Red is too warm
Chantecaille Lip Chic Zinnia
Do you see any color there? Cuz I don't
Ellis Faas L307
Color failure on me--would look great on a warm-toned redhead
Laura Mercier Sparkling Pink
So pretty swatched and in the tube; corpse lips on me

Do you have any near-fail proof lipstick-testing tricks?

Photo credits: (1) Lipstick Tubes Fine Art Print - Garry Gay; (2); the last 5 are mine

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On Aging

I'm just going to come out with it. I'm aging. Boo!

Still there? That should come as no surprise to anyone since we have all been growing a day older since the day we were born. Still, I have reached a point where the thought of losing my looks, whatever those are, is starting to feel like something to be swept under the rug and pretend it isn't happening.

When I was younger, my fresh-faced looks opened doors, but now that my once-sharp eyesight is fading, I try not to walk into those doors. In fact, I recently picked up my first sexual deterrent from the pharmacy, better known, dear readers, as READERS, so I can make out the tiny print on the bottom of my lipstick tubes. Mr. Zuzu agrees that the OTC spectacles don't foster that Sexy Librarian look, even if I manage to look very stern. Oops.

Some of us visibly age more slowly or quickly than others, but I suspect we all arrive at that fated day when say to ourselves, "Holy cats, I never noticed that before," when suddenly our freckles no longer fade in winter or turkey wattle is all we see. Or a crazy thought comes to us one morning in the shower that perhaps the real reason our eyelashes stopped holding a curl is because our eyelid creases are pushing against the lashes! Or when we finally lost that weight, The Girls, who used to sit up high and perky, are now pointing due south, such that you could almost toss them around your neck in a flesh-toned pashmina.

I have thought about fading outer beauty in the months since I started this blog. If I were not so guarded about my privacy (I really don't want colleagues to know what I get up to in my spare time) I'd regularly feature my face on this blog so you could see what over 40 looks like.

As fun as all the product reviews have been for me to write, I have reached a saturation point. Buying new makeup just isn't as much fun as it used to be—at least not if I do it every week. I'm not a makeup artist, so there's little point in my being a curator. Too much stuff makes me stressed and unhappy. Remember this, when last summer I drove to Ikea and bought an Alex to consolidate my masses of beauty products?

Since then, I have carefully culled down those six drawers to one. One drawer contains all the products I use every day. And along the way, as I was testing the makeup I wanted to keep or not keep, I made the interesting discovery that I actually look better with less.

No, that was not a typo. This beauty blogger thinks she looks her best with not so much makeup. And it's not because I am some fine-boned, classic beauty. It's more about looking real. This crazy thought became obvious to me recently when I went through photos of myself from teenage years to present. I was gathering them because I was looking my natural hair color to bring to my color consultation. I noticed that the candid photos taken of me at times like Christmas mornings (hair by Dairy Queen) or on weekends—both of which are times when I tend to wear little more than tinted lip balm—were times that I looked fresher, younger, even prettier. And not just when I actually was younger.

The looking-younger revelation should not have surprised me, as one of the surest ways to add years is to put on makeup. All we have to do is look at the 12-16 year old models on the pages of any fashion magazine to witness that.

So what's "a little makeup" to me? I'll write a separate article for the desert-island items I reach for every day, but for now let's just say that my daily items are the ones that allow much of my own skin to show through, flaws and all, because flawless skin looks good only in advertising ... and maybe not even then. I choose colors that either match my skin completely or extend colors present in skin, veins, hair, and eyes. Pale pink, antique rose, dusty lavender, muted peackcock, cadet blue, dove grey,  etc. Currently this translates to:
  • The simplest skincare possible with the fewest ingredients possible (unscented, of course).
  • My ever reliable foundation (Jane Iredale), which I apply to the T zone only, so I don't dull the glow on the high planes of my face.
  • Well-groomed brows. Above all, brows are essential. Eyebrows frame the face, and as we get older, the hairs thin, lighten, and might even turn white.
  • An easy, subtle eyeliner for those days when I want to make my lash roots look thicker. (Brows aren't the only hairy bits to thin—less volume on head, brows, lashes, and ... elsewhere are what many of us have to look forward to. Tightlining lets me skip mascara.
  • A skintone-evening eyeshadow or primer for the entire lid space, preferably in a semi-matte or satin finish.
  • A matte eyeshadows for subtle contouring, one that mirrors the colors found in my skin.
  • A face-brightening lipstick. Being an ashy "Summer" type, I need something to liven up my bland coloring. A sheer, clear, rosy shade is ideal—something just a touch darker than my own pigment but not too dark. A punch of color is more important than ever as I get older and my coloring fades and becomes more cool.
  • [Optional] a glowy blush, like NARS Gaiety.
My current don't-leave-the-house-without-it look is:
  • Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46
  • Clinique Brow Shaper in Shaping Charcoaled
  • Lipstick 
All other items negotiable.

I expect the above list will change over time. Certainly the go-to products I used in my 20s/30s do not all work now, and I have even noticed changes in the last 5 years. I also have a few friends 10-15 years older than I who say they no longer wear eyeshadow at all, but most every woman of a certain age I know is still wearing lipstick.

I love makeup. It's part of who I am because I love to adorn myself, even if the adornment is very subtle. So I don't intend to go completely barefaced any time soon, and I still want to have fun.

My personal definition of what real beauty is may evolve as I begin to accept the reality of what I see in the mirror. I would live a very sad and shallow life if beauty were only skin deep, so I wonder what the new face of Everyday Beauty will be this year.

No matter your age, young or not so young, have you noticed any changes? If so, how do you deal with them both mechanically and in your head space?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top Beauty Secrets Revealed!!

Thanks go to my dear friend Pansy for turning me onto this important new product.

If this hasn't gone viral, it should soon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My First New Year Fail

I got up earlier than I would have liked, feeling a bit blue about the end of my Christmas vacation. I dressed for work, did my hair, put on my makeup, prepared and packed a healthy lunch, drove to work in very light traffic, and walked into a pitch black office building at 8:40 AM.

I sat around for a half hour, all by myself, going through my mail, starting to feel a bit creeped out, when it dawned on me that today just might be a company holiday. *cue big eye roll*

So now I am back at home, happy with the gift of another free day, planning next spring's gardening tasks (landscaping) and curb appeal improvements (hardscaping).

Have any of you ever showed up for work only to discover you had the day off?

Photo credit:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My New Year's Evolution

Photo credit
Resolutions are for my past weenie self. I don't like making overly-ambitious promises I know I won't keep longer than it takes me to click 'submit' (talk about a confidence crusher), but I do like to set smaller, manageable goals. So without further ado, here is my intent for 2012:
  • Maintain a simplified skincare and hair routine. It can't get much simpler than what I am already doing, as I use very few products. I clean my hair with WEN or Revita and occasionally use a clarifying tea tree shampoo. I don't use conditioner. Skincare comprises the fewest products with the fewest ingredients: I currently cleanse with Boscia oil and/or gel, use one serum (Baltic Collagen), and moisturize only when I need it. I use my moisturizer as an eye cream.
  • Release into the beauty ether the makeup I am not regularly using. This includes duplicates of the same basic shade and items I bought on impulse (the lure of pretty colors in pretty packaging) that never looked that good on me. After witnessing with my own eyes the transformative power of the right (and wrong) colors during my recent seasonal color analysis, it will be so much easier to let the bulk of The Great Unused go. Blog sale coming soon!
  • Forget about brown. Brown eyeshadows and rose/red/pink lipsticks with a brown undertone all look ghastly on me, so I am not sure why I tried so hard to make them work. Maybe it was because they looked so pretty in their packaging, but brown makes me look tired, dirty, and older. Good-bye taupe. <sniffle>
  • Keep it cool. As I snatch my hand back from reaching for those brown-based makeup items, I must re-train my eye to consider only those colors coolest in hue. This should not be hard, as my internal cool-seeking missile previously guided my natural instincts back in the days when you could not even force  my corpse to wear brown eyeshadow. No cool is too cool for me, as long as I consider Munsell's color theory and keep value (darkness/lightness) and chroma (saturation) in the middle of the range and stray neither too dark nor too muted and definitely not too warm. Golden browns, for example, are so awful on me, pureed wet lentils would be a better look.
  • Be patient. I feel very smug today after avoiding a near head-on collision with the Bobbi Brown Neon/Nude and Dior Garden Party collections for Spring 2012. I wanted them both so badly I had butterflies in my stomach, along with a sense of panic that if I didn't hurry, they'd be gone forever. But I waited, telling myself it would be helpful to see the first swatches appear on the blogosphere. Within 12 hours the urge had passed. I was able to look more objectively at those collections and acknowledge that I had experienced that all-too-frequent, momentary derangement over pretty packaging and bright, clear colors that would look better on me in clothing than as an eyeshadow. And, yes, Bobbi Brown's Bluebell below would be a spectacular sweater or scarf or coat color for my True/Cool Summer self.
    Google images (Bobbi Brown)
  • Be discriminating. I do not need that seventh version of the newest dusty lavender or softly-shimmering grey eyeshadow when I already have more than one just like it in a different line from a different season/collection. No one is ever going to look at my face and think, "Her eyeshadow is so last season," so there is no need for me to keep up with every new thing that gets released. As fun as it is, I'm not having these things sent to me for free, and I'd rather have that retirement cottage on the ocean than a drawer full of makeup. Seagulls don't care how I look unless I drop dead on a sand dune. 
  • Use something up this year. I really mean it. Really. I can certainly use at least one product in full. It would be nice to stop buying new stuff and use up all of what I currently have, but I just made myself snort at the thought. Remember: goals I can easily achieve, not overarching resolutions I'll break within a matter of weeks the way the gyms fill up in January, only to see membership peter out by March.
  • Focus on skincare and inner health instead of plastering goo on the outside. No amount of pretty makeup will fully conceal a bad diet, poor sleep habits, and a stressful lifestyle. Nuff said.
It's hard to believe I started this blog only 9 months ago, and I admit I have been caught up in product-acquisition fever. Writing only product reviews was never my original intent--at least not the primary one--and I never wanted to be a makeup curator, so I look forward to exploring the many sides of  beauty in 2012. I am setting my intent to have a beautiful year!

Meanwhile, many heartfelt thanks to all of you who follow and actually read what I write. Without you, this blog would not still be active.

Photo credit:
What are your beauty-related goals, plans, or desires for 2012?