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

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.

· The Sketchbook: Twenty Answers (Dorothy)
· The Sketchbook: Twenty Answers (Li Wen)
· The Sketchbook: Twenty Answers (Anne)
· Bestsellers: Shu Uemura Brushes
· Color Me In: Lindsay

Art Tattler
the glamourai
The Non-Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Lisa Eldridge
Garance Doré
Smitten Kitchen
Into The Gloss
Grain de Musc
Res Pulchrae
Drivel About Frivol
The Selfish Seamstress
Killer Colours
Bois de Jasmin
Glossed In Translation
Jak and Jil
Toto Kaelo
Worship at the House of Blues
I Smell Therefore I Am
Food Wishes
The Natural Haven
Messy Wands
1000 Fragrances
Moving Image Source
The Emperor's Old Clothes
M. Guerlain
Colin's Beauty Pages
Barney's jewelry department
loodie loodie loodie
The Straight Dope
Sea of Shoes
London Makeup Girl
Sakecat's Scent Project
Asian Models
Ratzilla Cosme
Smart Skincare
Illustrated Obscurity
A.V. Club
Tom & Lorenzo: Mad Style
Eiderdown Press
Beauty and the Bullshit
La Garçonne
Flame Warriors
Everyday Beauty
Fashion Gone Rogue
Now Smell This
The Cut
A Fevered Dictation
Nathan Branch
101 Cookbooks

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The Sketchbook: Twenty Answers (Dorothy)
by Dorothy

1. Favorite book?
Howards End. It's not a perfect book -- it's a bit sentimental, a bit didactic, and one of the central plot points is highly implausible. But it follows Austen -- whom Forster greatly admired -- in being full of recognizable people, with recognizable ways of being silly, touching or cruel.

Or Wuthering Heights, the greatest hate story ever written. It's a toss-up.

2. Country of origin:
Canada, specifically Upper Canada.

3. How many red lipsticks do you own?
15-20, depending on how strictly you define "red".

4. Most worn, beloved item of clothing in your closet?

It's a toss-up between my much-abused black Repetto BB flats and a pair of lightweight, wide-legged jeans from Paige. I dread the day when these give up the ghost.

5. How do you take your coffee?
I have a Bialetti moka pot and Nespresso milk foamer at home -- the latter being a mildly absurd item that I use daily, while more practical items like spatulas languish in the drawer. At home, I make lattes with skim milk, a little cinnamon and a teaspoon or two of sugar. When I just need a caffeine boost at work, it's Java Blend dark roast with 18% cream.

6. Pet peeve, just beauty:
Unblended eyeshadow, especially when it's dark. It invariably looks uneven and awful, as if you scribbled on your eyelids with a Sharpie. Actually, stretch that to any dramatic makeup that's ineptly put on.

7. Which product has kept your loyalty for longest?
The Body Shop's cocoa butter lip balm has been my favourite for a long time.

8. Skin type:
Normal/combination: a bit oily in the T-zone, a bit dry elsewhere, and not at all sensitive.

9. What was your undergraduate major?
I started out in English, then switched to history. I'm not sure that was actually a good idea -- I adore litcrit -- but there's nothing quite so bad as a bad English class.

10. Have you ever cut your own hair?

Many times. I can't say I was ever particularly skilled at it, but my hair is long and wavy, hence forgiving.

11. What blogs do you check daily?
The Last Psychiatrist, The A.V. Club's TV section, The Non-Blonde.

Photobucket12. The five most extravagant things on your wishlist:
- A lustrous Italian leather briefcase, in dark brown, that isn't monogrammed with anyone else's initials.
- A decent pantsuit: I don't aspire to the highest quality at this point in my life, but even J. Crew will set you back some.
- I've developed a crush on Le Metier de Beauté's lipsticks. The one I ordered from Neiman Marcus (Ken Downing's coral, btw) came broken and I still love it (and I am too lazy to complain to NM, though I really should.) I've decided that $32 USD is a stupid price to pay for a lipstick, but I still want more. Alas.
- Really lovely underwear. I spend my actual life in Liz Lemon-style T-shirt bras and pyjamas from Joe Fresh: everything else shows through clothes or is too costly and high-maintenance. But someday.
- And all right: I love the Hermès Kelly. It doesn't matter how many trashy celebrities carry it; I love it. It is highly unlikely that I will ever be able to afford a new one, and that's okay, but maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when I can splurge on one secondhand.

13. Signature scent:
I don't think I really have one because my job requires me to spend a fair amount of time in "scent free" buildings. Applying perfume is no longer part of my daily routine. But: Mitsouko. I treasure my bottle of the discontinued PDT.

14. Fashion and film---which inspires you most?

The Fred & Ginger movies, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Graduate. (Mrs. Robinson is hot.)

15. When you binge on snacks, do you prefer salt or sweet?
Usually sweets. I like to chew on Gummi Bears and Twizzlers when I'm studying for an exam.

16. How do you highlight your best feature?
I like eyeliner and mascara, a lot, and I think my fondness for red lipstick has a lot to do with the way it contrasts with green eyes.

17. Where is your favorite place to shop for makeup?
Online, definitely online. Canadian prices are jacked up from American ones -- not to the obscene extent Australians experience, certainly, but enough that it's often cheaper to order from elsewhere and pay shipping than to pay the markup here. And I live in a small city where a lot of brands are unavailable in the brick-and-mortar stores.

18. Dream vacation:
Oh god. There's almost nowhere I don't want to go, but I really, really want to visit France again.

19. Worst habit:
In a beauty context...I touch my hair way too much. I twist it, run my fingers through it, otherwise expose it to unnecessary friction, and then I'm grossed out when I get split ends.

20. The beauty maxim you live by:
Sunscreen. Always sunscreen.

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9/26/2011 [3]

The Sketchbook: Twenty Answers (Li Wen)
by Li Wen

Godard Breathless

Jean Seberg wears Jean-Paul Belmondo’s hat in a scene from “Breathless,” by Godard.

1. Favorite book?
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. I have an unabashed love of "soft" sci-fi, or what is also called speculative fiction.

2. Country of origin:
Born in the city of Shanghai in China. Lived in Australia since I was 6.

3. How many red lipsticks do you own?
22 or so lipsticks, 2 lipliners and 2 glosses. My current favourites are Cle de Peau Beaute R1 Black Baccara and R3 Leonardis, one a dark burgundy skating the boundary of purple and red, the other a reddish-rose.

4. Most worn, beloved item of clothing in your closet?
Right now, it's probably my beige snakeskin loafers from Milani for David Jones. I have had them for about 9 months, and they are scuffed, dirty, and have already been re-soled. I have a somewhat "out of sight, out of mind" attitude about things, so I am never precious with them. I tend to lose, tear, or otherwise destroy beloved items of clothing - for instance my red and white paisley jacket with faux shearing collar from Nu+Nan (disappeared, probably left on a train somewhere), the dusty pink silk blouse from Saba (bleach stained), or the white blouse with ruffled collar from Cue (cigarette burn).

5. How do you take your coffee?
Soy cappuccino with half a teaspoon of sugar. First thing in the morning, I drink a big mug of watery coffee made with a Robert Timms coffee bag, some raw sugar, and a dash of soy milk.

6. Pet peeve, beauty-related:
People who equate self-proclaimed lack of concern about their appearance - "Oh, what do I care what I wear when there are starving children in Africa!" - with moral superiority. To me, it shows in nearly all cases a blissful lack of awareness of what true monk-like lack of judgement and simplicity is.

7. Which product has kept your loyalty for longest?
Blistex Lip Conditioner with SPF 20. I've been using it continuously since high school.

8. Skin type:
Combination, tending to dryness on the cheeks in Winter.

9. What was your undergraduate major?
I had three: economics, political economy, and philosophy.

10. Have you ever cut your own hair?
No, I have no skills in that department at all, and my hair is too thick and too short to mess around with.

11. What blogs do you check daily?
The Non-Blonde, The Playlist, Red Carpet Fashion Awards, Kottke.org, Tumblr, and my reading list on LiveJournal.

12. The five most extravagant things on your wishlist (but still intend to buy some day):
Loewe Amazona, a classic, structured lady-like bag large enough to hold everything I need; Ormonde Jayne Champaca parfum; Ole Lynggaard sweet drops bracelet in olive or navy; a large framed print of Falls Creek III by Melissa; a bottle of 2001 Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino.

Lynggard Cle de Peau Loewe Amazona ChampacaOle Lynggaard Sweet Drops Bracelet / Cle de Peau Beaute Ultra Rich Lipstick / Ormonde Jayne Champaca / Loewe Bolso Amazona

13. Signature scent:
Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental, although this year I have also been wearing a lot of Fille en Aiguilles and Azuree.

14. Fashion and film---which inspires you most?
Jean-Luc Godard's À bout de souffle (Breathless) and Jean-Jacques Annaud's L'Amant (The Lover), both of which I saw in my early teens. You can find most of the important elements of my personal style in them: the boyish cool and insouciance of Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo's characters, the love of vintage men's brimmed hats, a minimalist aesthetic that pares accessories down to the basics in their unembellished form (shoes, bag, ring, watch). And French chic, always - ironic, nonconformist, and above all, "not aspirational", as Luca Turin defines it - underpinning everything.

15. When you binge on snacks, do you prefer salt or sweet?
I don't normally snack, and usually only on fruit - citrus and stoned fruits in particular. I am, however, very partial to dessert.

16. How do you highlight your best feature?
Objectively, my lips are probably my best feature - full, near-symmetrical and in well-maintained condition - so I wear rich, vibrant lip colours well. Brighter lip colours also help divert attention away from my skin, which lately has been less than perfect.

17. Where is your favorite place to shop for makeup?
Tangs at Orchard, Singapore and Mecca Cosmetica in Myer Sydney. Between them, they stock most of my favourite brands that are available in the Asia-Pacific region, and they get new collections fairly early. I value friendly and unobtrusive service, professional knowledge, and the patience/willingness to let me try products on.

18. Dream vacation:
The route taken by William Dalrymple in "From the Holy Mountain", across the former Byzantine Empire.

19. Worst habit:
Smoking. It's terrible for the skin (among other things), but then it apparently also improves your sense of smell, so I suppose that's some consolation.

20. The beauty maxim you live by:
Never wear something that you don't feel comfortable in.

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9/26/2011 [5]

The Sketchbook: Twenty Answers (Anne)
by Anne

Note (March 2013): The only constant in life is change, they say. A year and a half ago, when I wrote this, I believed I had changed so radically over the past few years that there was nothing left to change. Utterly predictably, I could not have been more wrong. I felt that these answers could do with updating, but rather than bore you with the same old format, I've decided to turn my updated answers to some of these questions into full-fledged posts. (Otherwise put, I'm lazy and can't think of topics for new posts.)

1. Favorite book?
My copy of Vladimir Nabokov's Ada is worn to tatters, and the bindings have long ago fallen apart. There is no way I will ever become erudite enough to understand as much as a third of his references, but I love the way he crafts his writing, weaving the threads of sound and meaning and association behind the canon of words in order to approximate almost tactile sensory impressions. Also The Mill on the Floss, mostly because I recognize a more vulnerable, less worldly version of myself in poor Maggie. I'm a sentimentalist at heart.

2. Country of origin?
Born in Incheon, raised in the U.S.A., I now go to school in Seoul.

3. How many red lipsticks do you own?
I own more pink lipsticks than red, and the one shade I'm currently fixated on Gothika, which has been discontinued anyway, damn NARS.

4. Most worn, beloved item of clothing in your closet?
An A-line coat in dark brown cashmere with just the right suppleness and weight, a pair of sharply creased black bootcut trousers that seem to take off at least 10 lbs, and a silken blouse the color of café au lait with moon and star cutouts on the collar.

5. How do you take your coffee?
I'm quite fond of Dutch coffee when I can get it, or drip coffee. When I'm in one of the big brand cafés, I also like to dilute out the dregs in the glass with cold water: the taste makes plain water a lot more palatable.

6. Pet peeve
When very short women wear very high heels, it looks very much out of proportion: all you see are the shoes, which dwarf the shortness of the legs by comparison.

7. Which product has kept your loyalty for longest?
I grew up with European pharmacy brands (Nivea, Neutrogena) in Korea, where they are much more common than in the States, and even now retain an affectionate affinity for them: my latest favorite Uriage Stick Lèvres, the only lip balm that has managed to keep my loyalty past the initial honeymoon period, only grows better the longer I use it.

8. Skin type
Temperamental, with the main problem being redness and overheating, with congestion, hyperproduction of oil, and peeling flakes as secondary consideration. I've found that layering gentle products, alternating between hydration and emollience, leaves my face the most comfortable: gentle exfoliation with a cloth or salicylic acid, a soothing face spray, hypoallergenic mid-weight emulsions, and face oils.

9. What was your undergraduate major?
I am currently working through my medical degree, hoping to match into psychiatry upon graduation, though I'm open to just about anything at this point.

10. Have you ever cut your own hair?
When I used to have longer hair, I sometimes trimmed my own bangs when I had no time to see the hairdresser, but even then I much preferred professional results: now I really have no choice, as I can't afford to dick around with hair this short and coarse.

11. What blogs do you check daily?
Cooking blogs
Smitten Kitchen
The Pioneer Woman Cooks!
Style blogs
Style Fish
The Sartorialist
Sewing blogs
The Selfish Seamstress
Male Pattern Boldness
Petit Main Sauvage
The Grand Narrative

12. The five most extravagant things on your wishlist (that you still intend to buy some day)?
1) a full bottle of L'Artisan Iris Pallida, provided it's still available, 2) the forthcoming iPad 3 (rumored to boast a freakishly high screen resolution), 3) a full set of hair / scalp care from Leonor Greyl, 4) a pant or skirt suit in black or charcoal wool, perfectly tailored to my specifications and measurements.
Really though, that's not even half of the list, just the four lemmings I'll most predictably follow through with, and I'm sure to think of the fifth one soon enough. As for more impulsive or frivolous purchases—the Leonor Greyl is a little outlandish, but at least there's a predefined niche for it in my catalogue of wishes—I'll probably burning through my paychecks as soon as I start getting them: I do believe my mother predicted with dead accuracy—when I was four, no less—that I need to study hard, because I have expensive tastes and I'm not one to marry for money.

13. Signature scent?
Vol de Nuit: an assertive perfume with a personality of its own if there ever was one, but it settles on my skin like a live thing, gravitating close like a reassuring hand on my arm.

14. Fashion in film—which inspires you most?
Irène Jacob in La Double Vie de Véronique manages to project grace in the kind of voluminous silhouette we come always to consider as the antithesis of sophistication: not only chunky sweaters and oversized men's bomber jackets worn with slender skirts—short, but not enough to be considered mini—but also demure pleated woollen skirts of the kind your granny wears paired with stubbornly utilitarian winter boots and what seems to be a man's winter overcoat. The setting is always the city—Krakow or Paris—but a different kind of urbanity, where everything is worn to a patina that glows all the more in the golden light that saturates each scene, for a kind of drowsy charm that feels lived-in and comfortable.

15. When you binge on snacks, do you prefer salt or sweet?
I suspect my body does a poor job properly metabolizing sucrose or fructose, because I always feel slightly ill when I've had too much sweet to eat. This is rarely the case with savory snacks: potato chips, string cheese, pretzels drizzled with melted butter, dumplings (mandoo in Korean), leftover fried chicken, cold shredded chicken breast seasoned with a little salt and pepper and sesame oil... hell, I can happily eat sea salt straight.

16. How do you highlight your best feature?
Brows are probably the one thing I will always "do" before I go out, because they instantly lift my face and bring out the symmetry and regularity of my features. Mascara draws more attention to my almond-shaped eyes, while a faint dusting of blush brings out the contour of my cheekbones.

17. Where is your favorite place to shop for makeup?
I've received very good service at AK Plaza in Bundang, and CVSs like Olive Young and Watson's are always fun to browse. I buy a lot of basics at the pharmacy too, where they stock Uriage, Johnson's, and Vichy.

Photography by JSLEE
18. Dream vacation?
A trek across western China, Tibet, and northern India. Krakow, Hokkaido, and Antarctica are other prime destinations.

19. Worst habit?
Biting my nails—down to painful, bleeding nubs that eventually get inflamed—a habit I succeeded in breaking myself of, only to take up again when exam stress got to be too much in medical school.

20. The beauty maxim you live by?
Discreetness is one thing: nothing is more shaming than making it obvious you're trying to hide something—and believe me, the more you try to hide it, the more glaringly obvious it will become.

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9/26/2011 [4]

Bestsellers: Shu Uemura Brushes
by Li Wen

BrushHeads 5R 10 60B 12 600px
BrushHeads 12 11 15 18 600px
Top L-R: 5R Kolinsky, 10 Kolinsky/Sable, 6OB Badger, 12 Synthetic; Bottom L-R: 12 Kolinsky/Sable, 11 Kolinsky, 15 Kolinsky, 18 Goat

More so than with any item of cosmetics - with the possible exception of foundation - quality makeup brushes are best tested in person before purchasing. Unless you are a collector, the most highly rated and exquisitely handcrafted tool is not going to be of much use if it does not perform - if it is unable to conform to the demands of your preferred products, techniques, and your own face. And this can be a difficult judgement to make without having handled the brush, perhaps even taken it for a test drive. If you are going to spend upward of $100 AUD (or $300 AUD in the case of the Kolinsky 15) on a single brush, it would be shame if it went the way of those skis that have been lying in the back of the closet, still-new, for years, or those boots that you bought a size too small because it was on sale, and subsequently have never worn.

...Which, to those of you in North America, probably only compounds the frustration of seeing Shu Uemura pull its counters from your region.

MAC's line of brushes are more popular and extensive, Bobbi Brown's more accessible to laypersons, but the range of natural and synthetic brushes from Shu Uemura - with their slim, black varnished wooden handles - are tough to beat in terms of sheer quality, hardiness, practicality and quiet luxury. Hakuhoko is taking a pretty good stab at it, from all accounts, but I am in no great hurry to leap onto the bandwagon and order some of their brushes online when the ones I already own do all I could want from them, and more. Of those ten or so most frequently used brushes - the ones I carry in my brush roll when I travel overseas*, sometimes for months at a time - fully half are Shu Uemura.

* * *

Eight brushes are featured in this article, so let's get some generalities out of the way first. All these brushes are beautifully made - meticulously shaped and put-together, with not a hair out of place or a loose ferrule anywhere. The lettering on the handles does not fade over time, unlike with MAC brushes. All the natural brushes are made from the finest grade of hair (hence the price tag on some of them). While not all of them are what I would consider personal essentials, every Shu Uemura brush I have tried is a well-designed, functional tool. There is no unnecessary bulk around the handle to clutter up my brush roll, and properly cared for, they will last for years. (The 10, 5R and 11 brushes above are more than 4 years old, and look like new.) If I had to stick to one brand of brushes for the rest of my life, it would easily be Shu Uemura.

Before going on to look at each brush individually, a few comments about fakes. All the Shu Uemura brushes reviewed were bought in person at actual counters, either in Shanghai, Sydney, or in airport dutyfree. However, you will find a proliferation of fake Shu Uemura brushes on places like eBay and in less-reputable stores across Asia, at prices that would be a steal, if only they were anywhere as good as the real article. For the sake of comparison, I acquired a couple I suspected were fake. I can attest that, cosmetically, the ones I got are very similar to the genuine Shu Uemura brushes - both have "Made in Japan" stamped on the underside of the handles, and are roughly the same shape, if distinguishable by their difference in length (fakes have shorter handles) and other details (the lettering is smaller, more defined on the genuine brushes).

The biggest and more important differences are in quality: floppy and less densely crafted brush heads, coarser bristles, shortcomings that obviously affect the performance of the brush. To avoid disappointment, my advice is that you buy direct from Shu Uemura, either their website or one of their counters. If you are buying from an intermediate retailer, beware of bargains. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

BrushWhole 18 600px
18 Goat ($42 USD) / Edward Bess Island Rose / Chantecaille Future Skin

Described on the website as a foundation brush, the 18 Goat looks nothing like your traditional synthetic paddle-shaped foundation brush. It is rather unassuming in real life, smaller than you'd expect, and there is a little bit of a learning curve to applying foundation with it (there are tutorials to help you on YouTube). But the porous and fluffy 18 Goat rewards by delivering a "skin-like" finish with cream and stick foundations that I find is nearly impossible to achieve with more conventional brushes or your fingers. The head of the brush is round, a flattened dome shape from the top, made from uncut goat hair. It is a very versatile tool - the perfect size for fitting the contour around the nose and under the eye, to buff in concealer, or to dip lightly into a cream blush to produce a soft, natural flush. It is slower to dry after washing than a synthetic brush, though, so between uses I usually just spot clean with the Shu Uemura's brush cleaner.

My 18 Goat does shed a bristle occasionally, and I have had mine for about 10 months now. It is the only one of my Shu Uemura brushes that experiences this problem, and I would be interested to know if it was common for this particular brush, or if mine just happened to be slightly inferior.

BrushWhole 12 600px
12 Synthetic ($42 USD) / Shiseido Magnolia Shimmering Cream Eye Color

The 10 Synthetic (which I don't have, but which Dain does) and the similarly-shaped but larger 12 Synthetic are concealer and cream shadow brushes - which I don't have much use for, to be honest, preferring to work with my fingers instead. The 12 Synthetic is too large for detail work on my lids, so mainly I use it to smooth on thin veils of cream shadow over the entire area above the eye. It is a flat, paddle-shaped brush, better suited to patting on product that blending it.

BrushWhole 5R 600px
5R Kolinsky ($60 USD) / Stila Perfecting Concealer / NARS Jolie Poupee

When I bother with point concealing, I use the 5R Kolinsky. Circular at the base, coming to a soft point at the tip (not stabby at all), it is a great brush for those with small lids, or who prefer detail work - a touch of highlighter in the inner corner of the eye or the bow of the lip, a hazy rim of strong pigment behind the lashes. Not indispensable, but very nice to have.

BrushWhole 60B 600px
6OB Badger ($29 USD) / NARS Bali

Now we come to the essentials, the brushes I cannot do without. The 6OB Badger, an angled brow brush, is a little smaller and shorter than the MAC 266, the only other brush of this kind I own. It draws a more subtle line than the 266, so the look is more natural, and since acquiring the 6OB, I never use any other brush to define and fill in my brows.

BrushWhole 10 11 12 600px
10 Kolinsky/Sable ($68 USD) / 11 Kolinsky ($140 USD) / 12 Kolinsky/Sable ($123.73 AUD) / Giorgio Armani 02 Nude Gold Maestro Eyeshadow / Shiseido Jungle Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio

In the toss up between flexible, silky-but-firm kolinsky and whisper-soft squirrel hair, my strong preference is for kolinsky brushes, as they are easier to control and better suited for precision.

Between the pair of them, the 12 Kolinsky/Sable (base) and 10 Kolinsky/Sable (contour, outer corner) are up to almost any eyeshadow task you can throw at them, which is why they go with me everywhere and I have a back-up of each. Fuller and more tapered than the 11 Kolinsky, with the shorter, wavier sable fibres to give the brushes more "fluff", they pick up, deposit and smoothly blend both pressed and cream eyeshadow so quickly and so well, it is nearly impossible to go wrong with them, even if you happen to be doing your makeup in 2 minutes flat (which is the case for me most days). Nothing is real substitute for a practiced hand and a discerning eye, but the right tools will elevate even the work of an amateur.

BrushWhole 15 600px
15 Kolinsky ($280 USD) / Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre

I had the 15 Kolinsky on my wish-list for nearly 3 years before I managed to find one (in Shanghai, last year) and finally worked up the resolve to buy it. Lavish, it most certainly is. As Dain deduced from photographs, it is too large to act as a common eyeshadow brush, as least on medium-sized eyes like mine.

Furthermore, what the photos on the website do not show you is how incredibly dense this brush is. At 10 mm, it is roughly twice as thick, looking from the side, as the 12 Kolinsky/Sable, despite being only about 5 mm longer from base to tip. A back-and-forward blending motion is clearly not what is intended for this brush. So what is it good for?

The reason that the 15 Kolinsky, like all the other brushes is in my travel brush roll, has a special place in my heart is that it does one thing better than any other brush I have, and that one thing, to me, is absolutely essential: the targeted application of powder. Unlike powder puffs, a kolinsky brush will never pick up too much loose powder, thus forcing you to blow (ew) or shake (messy) to remove the excess. To set concealer, I just dip the 15 Kolinsky lightly into my Poudre Universelle, and then press (not sweep!) the brush over the area that I have just concealed, before powdering the whole face diffusely with a conventional powder brush. It is the perfect size to cover my under-eye circles, and both its firmness and rotundness are assets when it comes to going around curves of the nose or the sides of the mouth. Is it extravagant to have a $280 USD brush for that dedicated purpose? Perhaps, but this was a case of "I never knew I needed this brush until I got it", because until I started experimenting with the 15 Kolinsky, I never thought to use my powder in that way, to make my concealer last longer.

Now, I am not by any means recommending this as the best (or even good) way to go about picking brushes to buy, but using this as an example of how, by playing around with something unfamiliar and new, you can make discoveries and establish new routines.

If you do not wear concealer very often, the 15 Kolinsky is also a good shape and size for highlighting the tops of the cheekbones. Dain has suggested using it with cream products - and I have in fact tried it with cream eyeshadow (it gives beautiful richness of colour and softly blurred edges) but ultimately balked at the thought of subjecting such an expensive brush to frequent washings.

*Here is the full list of its current contents: MGPin P5 Blue Squirrel (a softer dupe of the Shu Uemura 20 Natural), NARS Yachiyo, 15 Kolinsky, 12 Kolinsky/Sable, 11 Kolinsky, 10 Kolinsky/Sable, MAC 239, Chanel 12, 6OB Badger, MUFE Eyelash Brush.

My thanks to Melissa D. Graf for taking the product photographs.

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9/16/2011 [12]

Color Me In: Lindsay
by Li Wen


Light ash brown to dark blonde


Light olive rose brown

Light hazel

Natural as possible, I don't wear makeup all the time

Jojoba oil, any brand (perfectly balances my skin), Thayers Alcohol-Free Unscented Witch Hazel with Organic Aloe Vera, and my most favorite lipstick of all time, Clinique Different Lipstick in Shy.

I would like to find very natural, barely-there shades for day, along with a spot-concealer that can cover my blemishes and another one for my under-eye circles. When I use jojoba oil on a regular basis, my skin doesn't get too oily, so I'm not sure if I should use powder or minerals or liquid foundation. I would like a little more color for evening, something to make my eyes pop.


As Lindsay has already discovered that jojoba oil balances her skin, we would suggest adding a gentle exfoliant to the mix. When you consider that acne is an immune response, it should be classified as a type of sensitivity, instead of being prescribed aggressive cleansers and scrubs. Consequently, we think an alpha-hydroxy solution, like Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner ($8.95), should help clear the excess skin that leads to congestion without damaging Lindsay's skin. As the mildest of the alpha hydroxies, lactic acid is a good place to start; she can supplement glycolic or salicylic acids if her skin responds well and something stronger feels appropriate. One note of caution: alpha-hydroxies not only increases sensitivity to the sun but also should be left on the skin for twenty minutes at least for full activity. It's best for nighttime use.

Most people require more than one concealer. It would be hard to beat Laura Mercier Secret Concealer ($28) for acne—the customizable match, yellow undertones to counteract ruddiness, and a high-pigment, dry texture that sticks to spots—but a creamy texture and peachy tone is more appropriate for the sallow-mauve discoloration around the eyes. We also think a sheer base, with a hint of yellow to minimize ruddiness, might make a nice addition to Lindsay's routine when she feels like taking an extra step. Mineral makeup won't aggravate her acne, and it's not too fussy, easy to incorporate into her minimalist approach to makeup.

Since "peach tends to skew orange" on her, we've chosen Giorgio Armani Sheer Blush #5 ($43), a dusty rose that won't overwhelm but add a hale and sunkissed glow.

We've no intention of dissuading Lindsay from her favorite lipstick, Clinique Shy, but a richer, intensified variation on this plummy theme might be fun to play around with, the gold-touched raspberry of NARS Gothika Lipgloss ($24) perhaps, or Revlon Blackberry ($8) sheered down to a berry-red stain. A well considered palette of neutrals like the Dior Rosy Tan quint ($59) will reward investment with versatility. They may resemble a million other neutrals, but the exquisite Dior finishes elevate the satiny malt and lustrous taupe (bottom corners) from your everyday browntones. Against feathery lashes, the subtle pink and the sparkle of the cream highlight will create a bright, wide-awake look. And that deep brown, with a hint of plum smoke lurking in its depths, will form a sultry haze against Lindsay's hazel eyes.

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9/03/2011 [3]

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