If you're new to this blog, then read our guides to the basics: Skin (Part I), Skin (Part II), The Supernatural, Color Theory I, Color Theory II, Eyes, and Brushes.
Also, check out the blogsale.
Into The Gloss
Grain de Musc
Drivel About Frivol The Selfish Seamstress
Bois de Jasmin Glossed In Translation
Jak and Jil
Worship at the House of Blues
I Smell Therefore I Am
The Natural Haven
Moving Image Source
The Emperor's Old Clothes
Colin's Beauty Pages
Barney's jewelry department
loodie loodie loodie
The Straight Dope
Sea of Shoes
London Makeup Girl
Sakecat's Scent Project
Tom & Lorenzo: Mad Style
Beauty and the Bullshit
La Garçonne Flame Warriors Everyday Beauty
Fashion Gone Rogue
Now Smell This
A Fevered Dictation
After the general discussion of The Beauty Primer: Eyes, perhaps it might be useful to see these principles in action according to specific parameters. In other words, how to adjust a "look" to the idiosyncrasies of my own face. For the sheer challenge of it, I chose the classic Hollywood Pinup, the more luscious and indolent variation of the 50s, all lashes and lids and brows and contouring.
It's difficult to imagine a look less adaptable to the features of an Asian face. Our bone structure tends to be softer, flatter. While 50s contouring is gentler (Marlene Dietrich in the 30s sometimes verges on the skeletal), it still depends on sharply cut angles. The Hollywood Pinup is an aggressively European look; you would not see it on the streets of Hong Kong, Tokyo, or Seoul, where makeup follows the dictates of its native cultural mores, an obsession with fragility, purity, and childlike innocence. Instead, this is a direct translation of an American style (though the textures are inaccurate, just couldn't be bothered to buy a matte taupe I'd never use again) that was never designed to accommodate any ethnicity but white.
I don't own any pancake makeup; Chanel Vitalumière Aqua probably represents the most cutting-edge technology available (Make Up For Ever HD would be a better option for this look), medium coverage with a phenomenally naturalistic, real-skin texture that's closer to what you get from tinted moisturizer. This look is more artificial, so a heavier base is required. I amended it by slapping it on—three heavy layers—topped generously with powder. No special techniques involved. You're not looking at skin, you're looking at foundation. For blush, I used NARS Desire, a power pink.
If you've got a deep crease, this would be an easy look for you, one that offers a great deal of flexibility. You do not need to make it is this complicated. I on the other hand am faking bone structure I do not have, and artifice is always more contrived. While I do have a fairly typical Asian eye—a small, fleshy lid with a shallow crease—my coloration is weird: my skin is quite cool, more pink than yellow.
I did the contouring first, as it was the most complicated. Once drawn in, it forms an outline, of an eyelid larger than my natural one. In the photograph, the finished contouring can be more clearly envisaged: the deeper antique metallic placed within the softer haze of mushroom, blended upwards, pigment at the inner corner of the brow swept down the bridge of the nose, shadow at the lower lashline winging up to meet the contour.
After such convolutions, a quick narration will suffice for the lips: MAC Cherry pencil, Shu Uemura RD 178M, and Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Lacque. I love and recommend all three wholeheartedly. The classic 50s shape features a rounded cupid's bow, overlined slightly for a full, voluptuous lip. My lips are quite pouty, so I don't normally do this, but overlining adds a touch of artifice that the pinup look, so highly stylized, embraces.
Of course, the Hollywood Pinup is hardly tenable for every day. Even if you had the features for it, this kind of faithful representation is incredibly dated, old-fashioned. Here is a modern alternative, in harmony with my natural features. The Hollywood Pinup is a specific look with highly stylized elements: the liner, the lashes, the contoured lids, the high-arched brows, the heavy red pout. It is just red lipstick. Not retro. I'm not working backwards from a "look", from whatever a celebrity wore on whatever magazine cover, an iconic style from a long-gone decade, and above all I am not trying to fit my face into a predetermined mold. Instead, I am building the makeup from my own face, according to unique features. Since the Hollywood Pinup singlemindedly lionizes Anglo-Saxon beauty, the difference should be obvious.
The most important distinction is the complexion. It's been left as bare as possible: tinted moisturizer, with a featherlight dusting of Poudre Universelle from Chanel. It's not for coverage, but to enhance the inner glow of the skin; the UV filters in the tinted moisturizer and the minute shimmers in the loose powder refract the camera's flash. Eagle-eyed readers may notice that the radiance does not extend to my neck. A diffuse application of Shiseido PK304 Carnation, a glowing pink, concentrated on the cheeks but applied all over (temples, chin, tip of nose), adds a lively warmth to the skin. There might be Laura Mercier Stellar serving as a highlighter; I'm not sure. For an optimally contemporary mood, I've deliberately avoided eyeliner, though I could use some, just a wash of the warm, blunted silver from Wet 'n' Wild Comfort Zone. The outer corners are more heavily shaded for some depth. Since the look is so soft, a fairly defined brow retains some structure, but not so contrived an arch. In this sea of radiance, the only matte feature are the lips: MAC Cherry, again.
Sorry about the lighting; I've done six or so trials, so it's terribly inconsistent.
This review is specifically for the most basic from the Anthélios: SX Daily Moisturizing Cream SPF 15.
It is sometimes hard to remember how recent has been this fanaticism for sun protection. We've known UV radiation causes cancer since the 80s. But we didn't bother, not unless there was a history of melanoma in the family, not unless we were headed for the beach and there was real danger of a burn. Little wonder. Sunscreens are notoriously uncomfortable to wear on the skin, and they are still. UV filters are not cosmetically elegant. In 1995, precious few sunscreens offered broad-spectrum protection; we could count the drugstore variants on one hand (I remember using the now-defunct Basis). Nowadays, even foundations have sunscreen. What changed? Because we discovered that wearing sunscreen, the proper kind, will prevent aging. Oh, vanity!
Vanity, in a word, sums up Anthélios (anti-helios: cute). With 2% Mexoryl SX (ecampsule), 2% Parsol 1789 (avobenzone), and 10% octocrylene, it provides comprehensive UVA, moderate UVB protection. Ecampsule is exclusive to L'Oréal, so if you want it only brands within the conglomerate will feature it; in all likelihood, the FDA's unwillingness to allow it free access to the American market only excites further frenzy. L'Oréal was also a forerunner with avobenzone; with Ombrelle, they were the first to stabilize it with octocrylene, which does dual duty as the UVB blocker. The UVB protection in this particular formulation is not high, but for daily wear at 40° N latitude, it is more than sufficient. The target customer is not interested in burns, in any case. This is designed specifically for UVA protection. Since it's doubtful L'Oréal would trouble to fund very expensive research for the good of mankind, i.e. cancer, rather, gleefully throws dozens of clumsily named wrinkle creams at us, this is primarily to salve consumer paranoia over aging. This product would not exist otherwise. Perhaps I am being too much of a curmudgeon. Insofar UVA protection is concerned, it serves very well. Certainly you should be using something like it. But even for a sunscreen, this is truly a shit texture, though the characteristic sunscreen stink is lighter than most. It does sink in and become invisible after twenty minutes—deeply hydrating but truly invisible, nice if you've got the leisure—but twenty minutes is a long time to wait while getting ready for work. Also, since it's purely a chemical filter, this is not for sensitive skin; it burns if it gets near the eyes, so you'll need a separate sunscreen for that purpose.
Bottom line: if it didn't prevent wrinkles, it wouldn't have half so much mystique. We wouldn't force ourselves when there are so many nicer creams. Do yourself a favor. Buy a sunscreen from Shiseido. The expense is approximately the same. Or Neutrogena. Helioplex isn't as invisible as they claim, but it's also comprehensive protection, at a much gentler price.
Egon Schiele, Stylized Flowers in front of a Decorative Background, Still Life (1908).
You'd never pick up a bottle of Knize Ten by accident. For a long time, you couldn't even find it, it was so elusive. If you had chanced on it unawares, gathering dust in some dingy, small-town apothecary, you might have wrinkled your nose in disgust and moved on. If you were better versed in perfume history, you would approach reverently, eagerly perhaps, then warily, conscious that expressing dislike for Knize Ten would mark you as a hopeless troglodyte (such a snobby hobby), you settle for clinical and dispassionate objectivity. You see, Knize Ten is an unpleasant experience*.
Imagine watching a silent masterpiece, or maybe Fritz Lang's M, barely a sound film. The sound editing is choppy, the actors veer wildly from hammy to wooden, the premise is sensational, the visuals are saturated with the human grotesque, and the sophistication of the camerawork demands a subtle and patient audience. And yet, in spite of these imperfect modulations, M achieves a potency rarely seen. It is not quite originality. However, it is informed by an independence of artistic vision that has a very different tenor from the struggle-against-convention that underlies most contemporary art film. Nor is Knize Ten, in its own interpretation of Weimar decadence and of birch tar, an original, but it lacks the self-consciousness treatment that marks a modern niche perfume. Comparing Knize Ten to a contemporary leather would be akin to comparing M to The Silence of the Lambs. Vero Profumo Onda knows why it is different; it is legible to us because of that knowledge, because it plays against expectations already extant in its audience. Knize Ten cannot. The top notes feel harsh and synthetic, like a warm, flat bottle of Coco-Cola. Then it shifts into a crisp leather—never quite satisfying the urge towards tactile, buttery richness of a modern leather, such as Cuir Ottoman—against a backdrop of herbal bitters more frequently seen in a fougère. This places greater emphasis on the sylvan origins, rather than the animalic facets, of birch tar. For texture, the composition relies heavily on powdery, melancholic purple florals. In some ways, Knize Ten is no less an essay on violet and iris, yet it's not quite so obvious, not so mannered as Chanel's Cuir de Russie.
Sometimes, context is everything when it comes to perfume. You would not approach Knize Ten unless context drove you to it. This is so far distant from Sephora's bestsellers you'd have to be looking for something different, but it is also not as affected, so deliberate about its own unusual status as a niche would be. Knize Ten belongs to 1924; it is not "ahead of its time". In the same way that patchouli became indelibly associated with the late 60s, this belongs to that grey-toned interwar era. It is strange and wonderful, as magnetic a presence as the great sadeyed repellent Peter Lorre, who played against Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant and never diminished in their shadow.
The Scented Salamander
The Scented Salamander (Part II)
Now Smell This
Pere de Pierre (Mark)
Pere de Pierre (Dane)
Pere de Pierre (Thomas)
* I personally like it. I don't mean to sound like this is a negative review. Except for Songes, none of my perfume reviews are negative. It's difficult to write on something so tenuous as scent unless you have good reasons.
More than any other feature, a woman's eyes lend a characteristic mood to her face entire.
And more than any other feature, they are the focus of maximum inquiry, a confusion of brushes, colors, and techniques. Conventional wisdom tends to rely heavily on eyecolor; if you dug a little deeper, you might be able to mine more pointed advice on winged eyeliner or contouring. Ultimately, there is no substitute for practice. After a few years, you find you've settle on a few favored (maybe even predictable) techniques. It's not necessarily conscious. We all make minor adjustments to fit our individual features, perhaps not to the same degree of success, but always with the design that the makeup flatter. Naturally, we gravitate towards the particular techniques that complement our particular anatomies. If you look good with a defined contour, then most of the time you'll sport one—whether the look is natural or dramatic, whether the pigments are brown or purple, whether irises are grey-green or golden hazel—these considerations, though important, come secondary to anatomy.
Three blue-eyed women of European extract, and not the least bit alike in appeal.
It is little wonder that Leslie Caron was cast again and again as the naïf, her big blue eyes set far apart on her face, tilted upwards for a slightly elfin effect; even in this photograph, when she was 33, she could be easily be mistaken for a teenager. But while large eyes suggest youth, their very prominence is limiting and requires the utmost restraint: mascara alone is probably enough emphasis. Normally, small hooded eyes are considered a disadvantage, one that grows ever more pronounced with age. They do not invite makeup. Rampling, with the instinct of an actress, has trained her deficiency into a trademark—that withering gaze is sharper than ever. The intelligence of her expression both suits her features, and transcends them. Finally, Marilyn Monroe's stylized bedroom eyes are as meticulously orchestrated as a skyscraper: lightly contoured, an echo from an older Hollywood, where bone structure determined everything, but the weight primarily concentrated on the lashline via liquid liner and false lashes. The visual suggestion, as if you were viewing her from above, while she lies prone, in bed... oh my, these eyelashes are so heavy...
A diet of peaches and golds and warm browns, the standard prescription for blue eyes, would cause no harm here. Beyond that, we cannot reduce these women further, Makeup-For-Blue-Eyes, with this much variation in size and shape. Each merits a unique application, tailored to her face. More than choice of colors, eye makeup depends on technique, the structural underpinning, born out of practice and familiarity with your own features*. Proper application always, always comes first. It sounds obvious, but there's not much use in slavering over Chanel's trendy new release, if your technique is poor.
People get work themselves into a furor over eyecolor, but insofar makeup is concerned, it is probably the least critical characteristic. Eye makeup that considers only eyecolor is quite limited, even old-fashioned. As a rule, the shade most directly opposite your eyecolor will provide the strongest contrast, on the condition it is not too strictly observed. Obviously, red-orange eyeshadow, directly opposite sea green eyes, is not at all advisable (though you might pick it up through coral blush and warm red lipstick, skin tone permitting). This trick is particularly useful for finetuning neutrals. If you need a high-quality beige, you might as well calibrate the undertones in concert with your eyecolor: to bring out the green, you might favor NARS Cairo for its subtle inflection of rose over the peachier Laura Mercier Sandstone, but you could hardly err with either regardless of eyecolor. With more vibrant shades, color for the sake of color, a certain independence from your natural skin tones is desirable; otherwise it won't pop. There's no sense in avoiding a beautiful green shadow simply because your eyes are green. A final note: colored contacts and circle lenses are UGLY. I will not sanctimoniously intone that natural is better—makeup itself is fundamentally artifice—it's just that colored contacts are fundamentally hideous.
Perhaps more important than eyecolor is skin tone. With dark brown eyes, one could theoretically wear greens and purples and blues equally, but against pink undertones, I am better served by blues and cool purples; I can never wear browns unless "dirty" is my deliberate design.
In combination with the setting (the size of your eyelids, the depth of your crease), the size of your eyes, measured against the proportions of your face, determines the amount of makeup you can carry. It's not exactly restrictive, but the range of options is narrower if your eyes are disproportionately small or disproportionately large.
If you have the alternate option of defining the crease, it will also open up the eyes. People make eye contact with your pupils first, and a distinctive shade in the crease, even if it's a shimmery variant on your usual taupe, automatically draws the [viewer's] eye upward. Keep your eyeliner minimal and your base muted and neutral—too much will read as a block of color, which drags the eye down—so that the movement upwards is uncomplicated.
If the space between your is the same as the width of a single eye, your eyes are evenly spaced. If less, they are close set, if more, then wide set. Surprisingly, for such an absolutely straightforward, minute detail, they alter a face considerably.
Eyes that droop at the outer corners appear sad and serious, sometimes even old, an echo of the inevitable drag of age. Contouring adds lift, but if your eyes drag down at the corners, a graphic flick of winged eyeliner is your best friend. Marilyn Monroe countered the downward tilt of her eyes by both methods. An upward tilt, while more flattering, sometimes looks a bit catlike. Additionally, the inner corners can feature a pronounced tear duct that tucks down, which varies how you might apply the inner-corner highlight.
By far, the size and shape of the eyelid is the primary factor when it comes to makeup techniques, because it serves as the canvas for eyeshadow. It is also the most variable, depending on the prominence of the orbital bone (brow bone, in cosmetic parlance, technically, it is seven different bones that shape the eye socket) and the depth at which the eyeball is set into the hollow of the skull. There are four major variations, in reality the diversity of eye shapes is staggering; for the purposes of moving our discussion forward, these have been grossly simplified. Conventional terminology for describing eye shapes is virtually incoherent. We have to start somewhere.
If your eyes are deep set and the orbital bone is very pronounced, you might describe them as hooded; essentially, the eyelid is hidden beneath the brow bone, and therefore, not the best candidate for eyeshadow. It can sometimes give the face a slightly masculine appearance. At the extreme, Blake Lively's makeup artist focuses on getting her lashes fluttery and perfect through precision mascara work and false lashes, taking care to define her lower lashline for balance. If your eyelid is somewhat more generous, say along the lines of Katharine Hepburn or Gisele Bündchen, or if your have become more hooded out of maturity, contouring, a little higher than the standard crease, to make the brow bone recede slightly. Blend well, concentrating pigment at the outer corners where the orbital bone is flatter, if it still seems harsh, apply over a lighter matte contour, so that depth builds up more gradually. For drama, you can wing the pigment out; hooded eyes are well suited for this shape, with your head tilted down, after Bacall.
Deep set but without the prominent orbital bone, the typical Asian eye has a shallow crease that often looks comical when emphasized. To create depth, a wedge blended softly inwards against a softer wash is much more flattering. Like all deep-set eyes, the eyelid is small, and in the case of Asian eyes, fattier, which may or not fold. Though the fold is made much of among Asian cultures, it does not significantly alter how you apply makeup; other factors, such as the size, shape, spacing, and tilt of the eye, are more important. If anything, the monolid is better suited to makeup, since the fold gets in the way (My Tiger Lily has written an excellent article on the subject in further detail). Sometimes the Asian eyelid can appear quite puffy, so restrict medium-to-dark pigments close to the lashline, no higher than a third of the lid; deeper pigment well diffused counteracts the puffiness, which means you may proceed with more colorful washes, what is typically known as a gradation. Perhaps a better term for the "Asian eye" would be "shallow crease"; unfortunately, terminology for eye shapes is limited. Many Asian women have a pronounced orbital bone, closer to the hooded eye, while some even have a large eyelid, with a crease. Sometimes Caucasian women, such as Vodianova, feature a shallow crease.
If luck would have it you've got a generous eyelid, the orbital bone makes more room for the shallow-set eyes, protruding slightly from the socket, so that the eyelid dips into a deep crease, before rising again over the brow bone. This is the most versatile eye shape for showing off technique, therefore a common feature among models for beauty shots, since the makeup artist doesn't have to work around any asymmetries. Elizabeth Taylor, who often prefers the sex appeal of smoky eyeliner over contouring, could most likely wear any kind of eye makeup, even the hieroglyphic eyeliner and blue eyeshadow from Cleopatra. The classic contour is best exemplified by Marlene Dietrich; given the technological limitations of black-and-white photography during the 30s and 40s, makeup was all about bone structure. The eyelid droops as we age, so contouring is a useful technique to add lift. A matte taupe well blended is enough for everyday, but for extra emphasis layer a deeper shade over the haze of medium shadow; sweep a matte taupe along the sides of the nose, up towards the inner corner of the eyebrows, then blend well (it is part of the orbital bone, so it balances heavy creasework). For smaller lids, drop a bit of metallic frost to highlight the center. But be wary, old-fashioned contouring can look old fashioned, even when reworked in colorful pigments. Also, the more you emphasize the shape of the eye through eyeliner, the more neutral should be your crease. A graphic flick, for example, might gain better balance from a gentle contour, but messy rock-'n'-roll black eyeliner would be better without.
If your eyes are even more shallowly set, or the orbital bone is less prominent, then the eyes seem to bulge, as Bette Davis's do. Contouring, here, might be overkill, since it is a technique that draws attention to the size of the eyelid. Instead, focus on eyeliner, dark or vibrant, layering medium eyeshadows onto the lid, growing lighter as you reach the crease; deeper pigments will make a prominent eyelid recede. This is why heavy contouring and statement eyeliner do not mix, unless the intended purpose is to create a dramatic eye. They compete with each other. With prominent lids, you can carry eyeshadow, even in a wide variety of color combinations, to excess.
A hundred hundred tutorials show you how to achieve the perfect smoky eye, step by meticulous step, until you watch them all and apprehend dozens of variants: some with cream shadows, others with powder, some with graphic eyeliner, or deeply contoured eyelids, or with a dab of frosty highlight at the inner corners, others still rimmed heavily with kohl. How does one begin to make sense of it?
The smoky eye spans a breadth of techniques, from the most stylized, with the eyes mapped into zones of pigment ("let's get another pair of lashes on" sums it up) to Eldridge's extreme reduction of eyeliner and very, very deft blending, to effect the proper intensity and haze. I've yet to see a guru who does not repeat the same techniques, for the simple fact that good eye makeup is about adjusting techniques to the shape of the eye, the unique combination of these characteristics. So, rather than showing you how to apply a crease (medium shade into the socket, blend well) or wedge, how to apply a diffused eyeliner or draw in a perfect flick, it seems more important to emphasize that eye makeup is about individualizing these techniques to your particular anatomy. Buy a basic set of inexpensive shades (L'Oréal HIP, Wet 'n' Color Icon, and NYX are good brands to consider), a basic set of brushes from Sonia Kashuk, and practice. Learn to blend, layer powders over creams for intensity, and through this process of trial and error, refine what flatters you.
Sorry about the delay. It took me a couple weeks to write; many strands to capture at once.
* This is readily obvious if you are a makeup artist, but not necessarily to a layperson.
Labels: the beauty primer
I'm currently working on a difficult Beauty Primer, so just a quick post today. On a related note, I've updated Desert Island: Skin, and should get to the others as well.
Why some palettes are understandably limited edition; they're labor intensive.
The Mnemonic Sense
The Beauty Primer
On The Label
The Hit List
Color Me In
The Makeup Artist
& orientals arc