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making faces :: the goddess and the princess

meet my inner princess
ah, the height of summer. the apogee of relaxation. the longest light. the compressed nights. it is here. [actually, the nights are getting longer all the time at this point, but that's like telling people in january that spring is right around the corner.] at no time of year can you be bathed in more flattering natural light and at no time of year do you want to spend less time fussing around with your appearance.

for a cosmetic aficionado to deal with these times, i recommend two things:

1. find an eyeshadow duo you like, because it's the easiest, most cost-effective way to get some different options without having to think about different products.

2. find a nice lipstick in a semi-sheer or semi-opaque formula that can transition from day to night.

so you just know those two things are what i'm reviewing here...

ok, first of all, i'm just going to acknowledge that when i did my initial review of products from mac's "alluring aquatic" collection, i made a statement that i simply couldn't buy "goddess of the sea", because i had similar shades already. i even singled out one limited mac shade in particular that i'm not even close to finishing as an example of such a shade.

ahem. so apparently willpower is not my thing. i bought "goddess of the sea".

i personally blame my mac counter associates, who go by the book when it comes to the amazing mac recycling program [return six and get one free lipstick, gloss or eyeshadow for free]. "by the book" in this case means that they follow the rule book which states that you're allowed to trade for any product unless it's one that's manufactured under license from another company. that means that you should be able to trade for limited products, even if their in special packaging, as long as that packaging is done by mac and isn't, say, a tie-in with a film or other non-mac entity. so i was allowed to trade in some deader than dead soldiers and get a lovely new berry lipstick that i needed like a hole in the head.

there are lots of things i could have traded for, but what can i say? teh purpleberrieez. dey callz to meh.

in fact, i'm happy that i did choose to get "goddess of the sea", because it made me very aware of just how much the mac cremesheen formula has improved in the last few years. when it originally launched, back in 2008, i really didn't care for it. i found it somewhat drying and it also seemed to be prone to migration. but i've found that over the years, things have improved and there could be no better example than "goddess of the sea". it applies smoothly and evenly, doesn't dry my lips or bunch up in my lip lines, lasts well and doesn't find its way outside the vermilion border. it's creamier, less glossy, than the mac lustre lipsticks, but it's not totally matte.

in terms of the colour, it is a berry-toned purple of medium depth, not translucent, but still semi-opaque. it will have a little variance from one person to another because of this. it can be layered to achieve a deeper shade or applied lightly for something quite subtle. the more it's layered, the more purple/ less berry it looks.

goddess of the sea
goddess of the sea
goddess of the sea
for me, this kind of colour is catnip, which is why i can't resist even when i know that i have similar options. in particular, it reminded me of the limited edition shade "bust out" from mac's summer collection a few years back [2011]. seen side-by-side, they are fairly similar, but i will say that "goddess of the sea" is noticeably redder and therefore warmer. "bust out" has a cooler greyish cast. the importance that you attach to these nuances will depend on how much you love such shades. i can easily spot the differences between them, but that isn't going to apply to everyone. [likewise, if you show me a dozen different semi-sheer nude pinks, i'm going to be at a loss to describe the distinctive qualities of any of them, whereas others will have no problem.]

l to r :: mac bust out [l.e.], goddess of the sea
if you want to see more colours that are in the same ballpark, check out my original review of "bust out".

next up, we have something that is considerably more original from the first glance: nars eyeshadow duo in "tropical princess".

one of the reasons that nars has such a cult following is their genius for combining unexpected shades like an icy lavender and an electric lime green. these are the sort of unions you never would have considered, but which work undeniably well. i get more excited about the seasonal nars shadow offerings than almost anything else in the cosmetic world.

"tropical princess" is just so outrageous that it demands to be taken home, even without being seen in person. of course, if you do get to see it in person, it's only going to tempt you more, because trying the shades on my hand, they looked even more incredible than in the pan.

the icy lavender shade has a pronounced white frosted effect- hence the "icy". it's so shimmery that it almost looks like a gloss. from some angles, it may look like a very cool tone of white, but i find that i can always spot the slight lilac cast. it applies sheerly at first and can be built up to something more opaque. because it's so dazzling when built up, i think that it's a blessing that a single swipe is much more delicate. if it always looked the way that it does built up, it wouldn't be a very versatile shade. [note: swatching the colour with your finger will give the effect you get from building it up in application. don't worry, you can make it more muted in use.]

indirect light
direct sunlight
i didn't make any comparisons because i honestly don't have anything that's both this light and this cool. there are highlight shades that have a similar effect, but none of them lean violet. i'm surprised that it is so unique, since very light shades tend not to be. i'm not saying that there aren't similar colours out there, just that they aren't in my collection.

i do find that after a few hours wear, the lavender tones disappear, so what you get is more of a chilled white. definitely, by the end of the day, even over a primer, the effect is one of a lot of shine, but relatively little underlying colour.

the acid lime shade is a heavy hitter as well. its light green base and dense yellow shimmer create a colour that appears almost neon. it's buttery in texture and dazzling when swatched. like its partner, a light application gives you more a hint of the colour- closer to a chartreuse yellow. as you build it, the green tones and the inherent brightness move to the fore. however you apply it, the colour has a great clarity- it never appears in any way muddy, a difference that became obvious when i tried to compare it to a couple of others.

indirect light
direct sunlight
mac "true chartreuse" pigment is yellower, matte and slightly more muted. mac "lucky green" eyeshadow has a dirtier quality. looking at the three of them together, "true chartreuse" has just a hint of grey in its base, while "lucky green" has a little brown. "tropical princess", by comparison, is like glass or a gemstone- pure colour, unadulterated by undertones that would dampen its brightness.

l to r :: mac true chartreuse, tropical princess, mac lucky green
i really wish that the formula of this colour made it easier to achieve that incredible clarity as easily in use as it does in a small swatch. as breathtaking as the colour seems to be on the smoother skin of the hand or arm, it becomes surprisingly finicky on the eyelids. i tried several ways of making it work, with decidedly mixed results. again, it's easier if i show you pictures.


look #1

i thought i'd try the duo with a stronger purple accent on the outside and a purple lip. unfortunately, i found that those things overwhelmed the unexpected delicacy of "tropical princess". the darker purple is the deepest shade from the "high society" trio. looking at the photos, i find that all i see on the eyes is the darker purple. i should add that it took several passes with my mac 217 brush to build up the green to the level you see. [to the point where it's starting to emphasise the crepe-iness of my lids.] this is a brush that normally gives me a good deposit of colour, so i was a little surprised, but there is a lot of competition.

i think part of the problem with this look is that the lip is a little too dazzling. it's a combination of yves st. laurent glossy stain in "violet edition" [a single layer] with yves st. laurent gloss in "white gold topaz". it's really something i'd normally reserve for nights out [other than these photos] and it's definitely the most attention-grabbing aspect of this look.

look #2

this is what i'd call "the fallback". whatever happens, all nars duos can be successfully worn with the left hand colour on the inside of the lid and the right colour on the outside. i have yet to find an exception to that rule and, to be fair, it's one of the things that makes the duos so easy to work with.

again, though, it took me a long time to get the green built up to this colour. this time, i used my trusty mac 239 brush, which is built for patting colour into place and probably the best tool for applying brights to the eye. i could get the colour on there, but i found that the second i tried to blend it with the lavender even a little, it took the green down to nearly nothing. i like the end result, but i've never had to work this hard to get a nars duo to look like this. by the end of the day, even after all my work, there was a significant amount of fading, especially on the green side. [that's another ysl glossy stain, "fuchsia tomboy" on my lips, by the way.]

look #3

i call this my "daffy duck" look, because as i was applying it, absolutely determined to get that beautiful green to its full potential, i kept hearing daffy's voice in my head saying "this. means. war."

nars shadows can be applied dry [which is what i'd done previously] or with a damp brush. since dampness usually equals brightness and i was absolutely determined to get brightness because i was not going to be outsmarted by an eyeshadow, i figured i'd have a go at it with an urban decay shadow brush. [i prefer to use synthetic brushes for damp application, but that's a personal thing. the 239 would do just as well.] the result?

halle-freakin-lujah! it's bright green! it looks like i thought it would! you have to pat it carefully into place to avoid patchiness, but it looks terrific.

and now the bad news... wherever you apply it, you'd better be sure you're happy with it, because i could not get this baby to blend if i used a shoe buffer. i brushed the lavender on either side of the green and under my eyes [the sort of eye-brightening technique i talked about here], but with a dry brush [217 again], because i felt that it didn't need the added oomph. it turns out that while the green tends to blend to nothing when applied dry, it won't budge when applied damp. i worked at it with three different blending brushes with no luck and finally ended up softening things with a little of the green applied dry over the damp application to soften things a little. and i still don't think it looks great. plus- and keep in mind that this is only a little while after i applied it- you can see the green starting to crease.

this is the sort of thing that makes cosmetic wearers lose just a tiny bit more of their sanity.

oh- that's "goddess of the sea" on my lips. a two-second application that looks perfect and wore well. it's kind of like cosmetic valium after the work i'd been doing.

look #4

having pretty much given up on getting the green to look bright, i went back to where i started, but decided not to mix things up by adding any darker elements. actually, the one darker element i tried to add was liner [illamasqua "wisdom"] but it just doesn't seem to take when applied over shimmery shadows. this isn't the first time i've noticed this, but it is the most obvious. the liner has faded to almost nothing.

in this case, i went for a different brush than when i did this kind of application the first time. i used makeup forever's artisan brush #242, an angled applicator that usually gives a much softer wash of colour. since i knew that trying to get the green very bright was probably doomed, i figured i might as well go the other way. i think that it's pretty clear that this results in a much nicer look. everything about this is softer than what i've done before and i quite like it that way. that said, since the colours are both prone to fading, this was a pretty damn minimal look by the end of the day.

i'm wearing nars "deep throat" on my cheeks and a limited edition mac gem from 2010 called "jealousy" on my lips. it's a green gloss, but a very sheer grey-green with golden shimmer that gives a delicious, honeyed look. can't believe this one has never been repromoted, but apparently not everyone loved the "fabulous felines" collection as much as i did.

so after wearing this a few times and trying it out in different ways, i can honestly say that i'm a little disappointed in "tropical princess". i feel like it's promising at first glance and at first touch, but it can't quite perform when push comes to shove. [let me guess, you used to date someone like that.] strangely, i prefer the icy lavender shade, since i find it delivers more of what i was expecting. the green can look very pretty, but not quite the way you think it should when you first see it.

the combination is bewitching enough, and i'm familiar with nars enough, that i plan to continue exploring how "tropical princess" can work for me, but i'm coming to terms with the fact that it's never going to be a simple, no-thought-required option. that's what shades like "goddess of the sea" are for.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…