On top of all the usual, our office in downtown Washington, DC is moving (planned pre-COVID, then delayed, now inevitable, unfortunately.) LOL I just deleted the rest of this paragraph because nobody needs to read my tale of woe.
I’m writing this post over the weekend while I have time. Phase One of a two-week move process, which I’m in charge of, is scheduled for Tuesday, and by Tuesday night I’ll either be celebrating an initial success or (far more likely) none of the IT is up and running, and I’m hammering away at that while looking forward to a future point at which I can laugh about it all.
Today, I’m in the mood for writing about Makeup, the Unusual Shades Bonus Edition.
I’m still working from home, lots of Zoom meetings, and makeup application has been a daily – sometimes hourly — form of self-soothing, a far less problematic choice than some others I could be making. It speaks to my love of color and attention to detail, and my interest in art in many forms. I’ll take my time putting on an eye look and choosing a blush, then wipe it all off at lunch, and do something else for the afternoon – similar to the way I sometimes wear perfume when I’m on a fragrance bender. The meticulous application of, say, varying shades of green eyeshadow from pale chartreuse to deep olive is just what I need to get me through the day right now. I don’t always have the time to do something more elaborate, but the effort never feels wasted to me; its low-stakes impermanence is part of its charm, rather like fragrance.
Here’s the thing, and also the topic of today’s post. Like niche perfume, makeup sometimes allows us — forces us, even — to re-evaluate our definition of what is beautiful to include the unexpected and unfamiliar. None of these items is deliberately ugly or anti-makeup or an attempt to deface us. To the contrary, I’d argue that we’re in a mini-Renaissance of makeup artistry right now. Sure, the makeup mainstream chugs along, and more power to it; I still love a good peach blush, and pretty pinky-nude lips, and taupe eyeshadow. But in mainstream makeup right now there’s also a wave of imagination and riotous color and a re-examination of what can be called beautiful, and I am absolutely here for it. For example, Fenty, with its bold, boundary-pushing lewks, is at mall-friendly Sephora and at a price point that, while not cheap, is not wildly expensive either. Colourpop and Juvia’s, both at Ulta and inexpensive, have built their brands on high-quality product with unconventional color stories.
With that in mind, here are some brands, and some specific products, that fall at various points on the odd-but-beautiful spectrum. They may be acquired tastes and not suited for everyone, and that’s just fine – makeup, like perfume, doesn’t need to appeal to everyone. If you were sitting here with me at my makeup desk, and you said show me some cool stuff! the way people do about my less-mainstream fragrances, this is what I’d hand you to play with.
Rituel de Fille. Run by three sisters with an interest in astrology and the occult (one of them a makeup artist), their whole line has a chic Morticia Addams vibe, dark and alluring rather than goth-grunge, and not a single product that makes me think, oh, I’ve got one just like that already. For $15 you can buy samples of five products, which comes with a coupon for $10 off a future purchase. They have gorgeous multi-tasking balms and powders, as illustrated in this photo from one of their ad campaigns.
Smashbox x Vlada LE duochrome highlighter in Prismatic Petal. I love shiny things — eye and face products that gleam, shimmer or sparkle. Among like-minded makeup lovers there’s this jokey phrase of “glow for the gods” and it’s no surprise that highlighter is in this post. The other two highlighters in the Vlada release are lovely but more conventional (I wear the deep bronze-pink Rosemantic as a glowy blush, actually), and then there’s Prismatic Petal. It’s a warm copper with a strong pink-purple duochrome shift, and goodness, it’s stunning on the skin.
Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle highlighter duo in Sand Castle / Mint’d Mojito (pictured in the photo at right). For makeup lovers, Fenty Beauty has been a gift of imagination that keeps on giving. If you love makeup (or are just makeup-curious) and you haven’t dipped your fingers in Fenty’s less-typical options for cheeks and lips, you are absolutely missing out. Just look at those shades. Why would you want a foiled cheek highlighter duo in taupe and mint green? Man, why wouldn’t you? To clarify – I’m pale with cool pink undertones, and I think this looks truly beautiful on a wide variety of skin, pale to deep, with undertones that work with silver jewelry. (Hey, if all else fails, the duo is gorgeous as eyeshadow.) Sure, some Fenty stuff looks bad on me – the orangey-coppers and warm golds, for example – but they’re not for me. Rituel de Fille has an even more blinding, surreal version of this highlighter in blue, by the way.
Dose of Colors Cutting Edge eyeshadow. This grungy palette just came out and I couldn’t get my credit card out fast enough — honestly, with green or brown eyes it’s ridiculously beautiful, online photos don’t do it justice. Or, if you’d like to try something fresh and colorful that’s also pretty easy to get ahold of, at least here in the states, I recommend this palette duo (on sale half off!) from Juvia’s website. The formula is easy to work with, and the shades are so, so beautiful.
An unexpected shade of blush. I love blush, and I have plenty of perfectly standard shades. But there are times and places when I want something a little (or a lot) different, whether it’s the focal point of an otherwise-muted look, or as a complement to my eye makeup. Some less common options: NARS Exhibit A (bright red matte,) NABLA Adults Only (a deep, bronze-red shimmer), purple (Fenty Drama Cla$$, Lorac Ultraviolet, Lime Crime Virtual Orchid), orange (I’m better with a peachy and/or muted orange, like Flower Beauty Nectar, Anastasia’s Miami, or Kosas’ Papaya; for a stronger, warmer orange there’s NARS Taj Mahal, MAC Bright Response, or Fenty’s Fuego Flush or Chili Mango) or hey, even yellow (Rituel de Fille Wasp below).
Lipstick. Lipstick is arguably the item most commonly cited and/or available for going outside your comfort zone. I’m constantly trying offbeat eye or cheek looks, but an exotic lip shade is in general not something I like on me, although I regularly find myself appreciating it on others. I love a strong red or a hot pink, and I’m dabbling in some interesting brown-y burgundies, but that’s about as wild as it gets. Maybe this is my growth area.
Whew! Not a “typical” shade in the bunch! Are you interested in makeup brands, or specific products, that fall at various points of the unexpected-yet-beautiful spectrum? What are your favorites? Now I’m feeling like doing a post on some long-time, conventional loves as well, the makeup equivalent of comfort scents.