It´s been a great few days. First off, I got The Big Cheese on a flight out of Singapore next week, thereby avoiding the Bangkok mess entirely. The BKK airport is nominally “open” — with a trickle of flights and a total head-in-the-sand approach to security checklists, operational protocol, and potential violence if the two main political factions start fighting in earnest. Fingers crossed.
Second, Louise and I got together at my house and tried on samples of seven variations of vintage Mitsouko (four parfum, two EDT, one PDT) and it was heaven, as well as quite an education. Smelling the tweaks in the scent over a forty-year span, with shifting emphasis from peach in the early days (what a glorious smell!) to patchouli to oakmoss, was fascinating. I was wafting some serious sillage for the rest of the day, and I was insanely happy.
Third, at the risk of provoking eyerolls – wow, Le Labo Poivre 23 really is All That. I´ve almost finished my sample and have bought into a split. It might be my Holy Grail incense – not as churchy as Avignon, not as floral as Passage d´Enfer, not as woody as MB03, Annayake Miyako or Tsukimi, not as austere as Bois d´Encens… it´s peppered incense perfection. It´s also a $400 London exclusive >sob<. In general, the idea of a $400 perfume has me rolling around on the floor, laughing. This one might, in fact, be worth it, depending on how you price your desires.
Fourth, for anyone passing through DC before January 11, let me recommend a stop by the National Gallery of Art´s phenomenal exhibition of the work of Jan Lievens, a contemporary of Rembrandt who was considered his equal in their time yet has largely disapppeared from the public consciousness. The paintings are extraordinary – from his earliest featured painting (at 14!) his brushwork and his handling of light and texture are a delight. One of the best shows I have seen at the NGA in years.
Finally, catching up on some of the makeup/lipsticks that you all recommended to me recently. Some of your recommendations I’m still tracking down.
1) You´re right, Sephora/OPI Metro Chic nail polish is fabulous. Indoors on me it´s greige. Outdoors it´s more in the purple-gray direction. It´s a weird color, definitely in the jolie-laide category, but sophisticated and neutral enough that people don´t stare at your hands in horror – you could wear this to the office, in my opinion. Three cheers for weird colors that aren´t super-dark, glittery, goth or otherwise extreme.
2) Gina the makeup artist who reads the blog gave me a couple tips I have to pass on. First, if you want to gloss up your matte lip a little, with something that is long wearing but not super-shiny-vinyl, the makeup artist trick is … Lansinoh Nursing (nipple) cream. Yep. $8 for a big tube from your local drugstore. I scammed an empty sample pot from the nice folks at Sephora so I can tuck it in my makeup bag. Plus it´s healing/moisturizing, although I feel obligated to mention (possibly incorrectly) that as it´s made from pure lanolin, people who are allergic to wool might have an issue with it. Also, Gina´s a big fan of Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder (which also gets raves on MUA). Powder mostly makes me crazy, it settles in my fine lines. The Mercier is super fine milled and looked great all around and under my eyes – brightening indeed but not scary white. It comes in two shades.
3) Let´s say you like the idea of a red lip, but a matte lip sounds unappealing (Too Much or too dry.) For a light shine and a great, neutral red, you all were right – MAC Lady Bug is the bomb. You can work it pretty sheer, but it´s also quite buildable. One step up from that in terms of pigment density, but also shiny and true – Smashbox Legendary. FWIW these colors are almost identical on me, Legendary being both a bit denser and a hair lighter in tone, but really, they are very close.
Also in the shiny-red lip department, I´m going to grit my teeth and mention Lancome L´Absolu Rouge in Absolute Rouge. I hate Lancome. I hate their stupid prices (my teeny tube of miracle concealer is now $29!). I hate their GWP palettes. I hate (ask Louise) the comically bitchy SA at our local Nordstrom Lancome counter, and the fact that Lancome counters in this area are routinely out of whatever it is you´re looking for. I hate the fact that the Macy´s SA always tries to ring up something I´ve asked to see, not to buy – and I hate that I had to bully her into lending me a lip brush, for Pete´s sake. However. Absolute Rouge (also $29, this is the “plumping” one, which is b.s. as far as I´m concerned) is a glossy red with an almost imperceptible shimmer, veering one baby step in the direction of cool/blue undertones – I´m thinking this is not for the warm toned gal. Against pale skin it is exquisite. I got stopped twice on the five-minute walk through the mall from Macy´s to my car by two separate women who wanted to know what lipstick I had on. Wear is decent – for something glossy it settles on there pretty well, and you have to reapply after you eat. It’s a look that’s so lush I felt it might best be reserved for evening.
4) MAC Strada!!!!! Recommended by several commenters when I was looking for a neutral blush that wouldn´t clash with my new red lips. Who knew?!?!?! Pale Pretty Princesses, take note – if you are looking for a neutral blush/contour, you seriously need to check it out. Pay No Attention to how truly ugly it is in the pan. (Depending on the store´s lighting, the color looks terrible – lavender, concrete, or gray/taupe.) Ignore the fact that the young, tanned SAs will look at you in horror if you ask for it. Repeat to yourself this mantra: Strada achieves an 88% buy-again rating on MUA, based on a lot of votes, which is significant. For all of you who´ve applied “bronzer” and had it turn 1) orange or 2) brown, this is your baby. I loved how buildable it was, and how initially subtle – for once, here´s a cheek color I don´t have to put on with extreme caution. On the skin it´s neutral but (unlike in the pan) warm without being any discernible color. I don´t know how or why it works, but work it does. Another reader recommendation, a slightly darker blush – Laura Mercier´s Wild Bouquet, which garners an 86% MUA buy-again — looked peachy-nude and quite pretty on my cheeks and didn´t clash with my red lips. MAC Strada strikes me as something that might go “invisible” if you´re much darker than a MAC 20/25, in which case you could try the Mercier, which seems to be adored by the MAC 25 – 30 crowd, who use the word “natural” a lot when describing it. I had to be a bit more careful with that one, but it looked great.
I´ll end with another hot blush tip from Gina, in the little-things-make-a-difference department: where are you putting your blush on your cheek? Are you blushing your “apples,” like they always tell you to do? On my face, my apples are directly under my eyeballs. Stop doing that. To quote Gina: “The top of your cheekbone, right under the eye socket, is typically a ‘highlight’ and the bottom of your cheekbone is a ‘shadow’. You can feel the bone, where it sinks in and is usually naturally shaded. You want cheek color to be in between this highlight and shadow, joining the two together, sort of. I start at the back of the cheekbone, near the ear, and swirl the brush forward towards the nose. Try not to go much further than the outer corner of the eye and don´t go lower on the cheek than the nostril. Is this confusing? I wish I could show you. You don´t want color too low or too high on the cheekbone, especially too high – it tends to make the face look ‘flat’ if you put it on the high part of the bone, near the eye.” Moving my blush further down and away from my eyes made a huge difference in appearance on my small-ish face – I was totally doing that flattening thing.
This blush rearrangement not only looks much more flattering, it also solved my application problem with the Exhibit A – that insane red blush I got. Now I put the MAC Strada all over the cheeky area, sort of where you´d put your blush and your contour powder, if you´re into that sort of thing. Then my foundation´s powdered, so – duh – I can go back and put a teeny bit of Exhibit A on top where the blush goes, without it glomming stubbornly onto my foundation. It´s a little less eye-popping used on top of Strada, and easier for me, a non-makeup-artist, to get a natural looking finish.
Okay, that went on forever. Anyone still reading this? Chime in on anything you want to!
Jan Lievens, Self Portrait, from the exhibition, nga.gov