"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy."
                                                                                              —Yves Saint Laurent

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· Beauty Notebook: NARS Divine
· Notes: November Is The Cruellest Month
· Beauty Notebook: Mistura

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Beauty Notebook: NARS Divine
by Dorothy

I have, up to now, resisted NARS duos. For one thing, although beautiful, they're not cheap; for another, I only really got "into" eyeshadow a couple of years ago. Even now, I usually wear a highlight, some eyeliner and mascara, and a wash of neutral shadow (NARS Cairo is my current favourite), nothing beyond that.

Upon seeing the Divine duo ($32), a silky dark chocolate matte shadow paired with a highly pigmented, balls-out fuchsia, my first thought was "What am I supposed to do with this?" A friend suggested full-out, John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, drag queen makeup, which I have concluded I don't know how to do. Another friend, a bona fide eyeshadow junkie, said "Well, whatever you do, don't put it on your lower lids. I speak from experience."

It must be obvious by now that Divine takes me out of my comfort zone. No makeup routine that involves shocking pink eyeshadow is ever going to look natural, but when I applied the shocking pink as a wash and blended the chocolate shade into the crease, I was surprised at how well it worked.

This is me in Divine (please forgive the silly face, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to take these photos), brows pencilled in, concealer applied under the eyes and everywhere I have a tendency to redness, powder, but no blush, as I didn't want the colour to compete with the shadow. On the lips, I applied just a bit of a sheer chocolate/berry shade (Lipstick Queen Saint Berry), mostly for definition.

Although this is not a look to combine with a bare face, it turns out the fuchsia in Divine is beautifully judged, its undertones balanced between purple and red, so it does not make the wearer look sickly or tired. Combined with an eyeliner in a deep purple (I used MAC's Fluidline in Macroviolet) and black mascara, it actually makes green eyes "pop". I will not be changing my daytime routine, but I think I may pull this out for parties.

On the left, a close-up. I've applied Divine fairly lightly because that's my style, but the effect seemed to me like a soft echo of early '80s makeup, with its exaggerated crease definition, so I tried a heavier application:

(Ignore the hair; it does whatever it wants, I'm sure you'll read more about that.) The camera washes things out, but perhaps you can see the basic effect. I think it still works, although I doubt I would ever wear this heavy an application; it still looks like makeup and not pinkeye or a bruise, which was really my major concern with fuchsia eyeshadow.

Now I am lemming other NARS duos, which cost the earth up here in Canada. Oh dear.

I love the vague grottiness, cheek and bad taste of music videos from the early '80s. I initially thought of Cyndi Lauper's video for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", but, you know, everyone's seen that.

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11/27/2008 [4]

Notes: November Is The Cruellest Month
by Dorothy

Yes, pace Eliot, it is.

It is pretty much endless stress, is what it is, endless paper-writing and exam panicking and what on earth did I do with my October, I swear I saw it somewhere, and also it's cold and grey and it rains too damn much and did someone say it was snowing yesterday? Goddammit, not yet.

Accordingly, since I lack the mental space to come up with a coherent post, here are a few unrelated things I've gone nuts for lately:

I tried DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil in the summer and thought "hmm, nice, but I could probably just as well use regular olive oil." Except...not. Regular oil is so much messier, is the problem, and doesn't rinse clean the way this does (yes, this goes on like olive oil, but rinses very clean; such a great gimmick). I gave in and bought a full-size bottle; it takes 1-2 pumps to wash my face and the 70ml bottle ($11) lasted me about three months, so the 200ml bottle ($24) should last me quite some time. It does not "deep cleanse", but it cleanses, much better than Cetaphil in my opinion, and without stripping. This is a cult beauty product that deserves a bigger cult.

Dain sent me a sample of Frédéric Malle's Vétiver Extraordinaire, and I have a crush. It's clean, warm, dusky, fresh, without the citrusy-sweet topnotes of Guerlain's Vetiver. I am happy to wear it myself, but if I smelled it on a good-looking man, I think I might swoon. Alas, it costs the earth and I lack a man to whom I might apply it. Another time.

I bought NARS's Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Forbidden Red a while back and then didn't wear it, since I lack the courage to wear red lipstick all the time. Also, it smudges easily on first application, which led me to think it was a smudgy product. No. Once it sets, it stays put for hours, through multiple alcoholic drinks (ahem), through pretty much anything except excessive lip-licking or greasy food. It is fantastic.

Forbidden Red is a brick red, best suited to people with warm undertones like mine, but of course NARS makes other colours. I need another red like...well, I don't need another red, but I kind of have my eye on Walkyrie.

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11/18/2008 [3]

Beauty Notebook: Mistura
by Dorothy

I must confess that I've never been a fan of multi-purpose products. I'm used to powder blushes and eyeshadows and creamy lipsticks; I don't like having to mix things. I've been playing with the NARS Multiple in South Beach lately, but most of the time I use it on my cheeks. So when I read about Mistura, I was very skeptical.

Mistura's 6-in-1 Beauty Solution is a fine, mineral-based pressed powder sold as a replacement for/alternative to not only blush, bronzer and eyeshadow, but also foundation, concealer and lipstick. At left, the open compact (which, as you can see, has a mirror). It retails on the Mistura website for $36.99 (I assume that's in American dollars, although Mistura is a Canadian company).

Mistura is sold as "one shade for all"; however, the colour is not far off the blush shades I usually wear, a warm, tawny pink-brown. The Mistura website claims that it "adjusts" to your skintone, but it's far from the first cosmetic touted that way, and in my experience, those claims are usually too good to be true. Hence, I'm not sure Mistura would flatter those with cool undertones. Perhaps it's sheer enough to work.

Because of the warm shade (somewhere between blush and bronze), the sheerness and the fine shimmer, Mistura certainly would work on a variety of warm and even neutral skintones; it will add colour to pale faces and highlight darker ones. Can it really do more than that, though? I was skeptical about the "6 in 1" claim, but gave it a try:

On the left, I am freshly showered, in all my makeup-free glory. Oh, the glamour. (Apologies for the weird faces; it's really hard to do these photos). As you can see, I'm rather shiny, I have some redness, and I have pronounced dark circles under my eyes (somewhat obscured by the flash; it was a toss-up which to show you, the circles or the shine, since I usually wear makeup to deal with both).

I normally wear, at a minimum, brow pencil, undereye concealer and powder.

On the right, brow pencil, black mascara, and Mistura, used on eyelids, as blush, mixed with gloss for "lipstick", and brushed all over the face. As usual, the photo washes out the intensity a bit, but the difference is indeed subtle. I do look a bit more alive and awake in the second photo, which may be all you want if you're into minimal makeup.

As a colour cosmetic, Mistura's very good. I'm not convinced that the colour adjusts to every individual skintone (how would it even do that?), but it's very sheer and subtle. As a blush/bronzer, it's excellent for warm skintones like mine; the colour is natural and flattering, and the shimmer adds light without being glittery or obtrusive. It makes a flattering, subtle eyeshadow, especially for blue or green eyes. Even mixed with gloss or balm, it feels a bit powdery on the lips, which bothers me, but might not bother everyone; certainly, the shade is pretty, a shimmery peach-pink.

I can't see Mistura working as a concealer for any but the subtlest flaws. It's more of a highlighter, disguising minor flaws by reflecting light off them. As you can see, it didn't do much for my undereye circles. Likewise, it tones down shine, but doesn't eliminate it. If you were blessed with relatively shine-free skin, or you like the glowy look, that might be okay; personally, I think I need something heavier-duty.

So, is this a real 6-in-1 product? In my opinion, no. But I have been using it as a blush lately, and if I ever find myself looking particularly sickly this winter, I shall use it to restore some of the colour to my face.

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11/02/2008 [3]

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