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· Beauty Notes: Pinch Your Cheeks

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Beauty Notes: Pinch Your Cheeks
by Dain

For unmakeup, lipcolors, skincare routine, please read the previous installments of my stash breakdown.

My freeform Anothersoul. Planning to switch to the stronger magnet of Z Palette.

This is still a work in progress. I started expanding my blush collection very late, after a longstanding exclusivity to bright but muted pinks. The only criterion I've established thus far, informed by a lazy bare minimum of blush and lipstick, is the basic job description: to enhance the skin. However, to achieve the desired effect, unless you're blessed with a neutral skintone that swatches true-to-pan, you have to accommodate how your undertones alter pigments.

The process of deconstructing undertones is not exactly intuitive—the proverbial mustering of the blind around an elephant. You might guess at an overall skintone, by working backwards from a handful of reliable favorites, with further experimentation leading you ever closer to intimate knowledge. What confuses the matter further is that most people must address a mix of undertones. It does not necessarily follow, however, that you should narrow your sight on the color deemed an ideal fit. You might favor one undertone over another, with some slight adjustments, and even a clash can be worked to advantage, as a statement. The only 'inferior' shades sit somewhere in between, almost flattering yet vaguely off, which you instinctively blend into oblivion, the same intuition that rejects ill-tailored clothing.

I've managed to pull together a fair prediction for how my own skintone, a peachy blend of pink and yellow, affects pigment. Against the pink undertone, ruddier when I tan, even a hint of brown is apt to turn muddy. The yellow is extremely warm, so that all pigments shift yellower when swatched. Only when I'm ill and drawn can you detect any olive. A sheer mauve I might pull off, but plums and berries look bruised.

Sleek Pink Spirit // Laura Mercier Heather Pink // Becca Wild Orchid

Warm pinks, like Laura Mercier Heather Pink or Shiseido PK304 Carnation, I can wear with impunity, provided no browntones are involved. Since they are yellow-pinks, they settle very naturally and easily onto my skin. Heather Pink has become the chosen one for its silky texture, white base, matte finish, and its readily depottable size (note the alcohol stains). But finding a cool pink that won't be neutralized by the yellow in my skin proves trickier. Raspberries and blue pinks, like Sleek Pink Spirit, simply turn ruddy, losing most of their cooler tones. Instead, I've relegated Pink Spirit into the role of a dark cool red, as it wears on my skin, when the desired effect is a wintry flush.

For a true cool pink, it's the secret hint of grey within the mauve-touched rose of Becca Wild Orchid (sadly discontinued) that best counteracts the warmth of my yellow undertone. Though it looks more muted than the others, the grey prevents that yellow-tone shift, so it stays cool-toned—in fact, the coolest of the three. It is my favoritest blush, ever.

Shiseido RD402 Orchid // Sleek Chantilly // RMS Smile

Peaches and corals harmonize well with the yellow undertone, provided they're clean, bright colors, without too much brown. A brighter coral like RMS Smile, tempered by the barest tendency towards pastel, looks more like very healthy skin than makeup, that mythical peaches-and-cream complexion. I generally like strong blush, so I do favor the higher contrast that pinks provide, but certainly a natural glow is useful from time to time, especially with warmer lipcolors. I don't need to make quite so many adjustments with warm-toned blushes, since warmth is very much the point, so even a tangerine like Sleek Chantilly works well as a more intense, powdery counterpart to Smile. I will likely upgrade to Burberry Blossom or Illamasqua Lover some day.

To finish off bronzer in a realistic manner, I find that a warm red like Shiseido RD402 Orchid closely mimics the ruddiness that accompanies my natural tan. On their own, red blushes look off, almost sunburnt. (I suspect it may be because I don't flush naturally.)

Shiseido WT905 High Beam White // Dior Aurora // Laura Mercier Soft Iris

Admittedly, I rarely reach for bronzer. Faking one convincingly requires more labor than I generally want to invest in my makeup. Plus, there's all that pesky brown: nude blushes resemble bronzer, while the majority of bronzers go glaringly orange—a very little goes a long way. If the brown base is relatively sheer, as in Dior Aurora, with plenty of peach for liveliness and the aforementioned Shiseido Orchid to keep the bronze from looking flat, the result is a fair approximation of a tan. I walk softly and carry a big brush, even so.

For me, highlighter plays a supplementary role. As much as I admire the satin sheen of Shiseido High Beam White for its subtlety, especially on the browbone, more often than not I skip that step.

With my flatter bone structure, the sheer amount of product required to effectively sculpt my face would be grotesquely heavy-handed. As such, I've never bothered with a dedicated contouring product. After watching Mary Greenwell deploy a nude blush to sculpt the cheekbone, however, I've been thinking that a nude blush, less brown than a traditional contour, might be used to similar effect. With a brighter blush on top, it's a softer way to create dimension along the cheekbone. For the moment, I have a couple of candidates on trial. Unfortunately, Armani #5 is too brown, too close to bronzer; the greyer mauve Soft Iris from Laura Mercier is more promising. We shall see.

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2/16/2013 [7]

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