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making faces :: inspired by hydrangeas [and clinique]

i can't remember when this happened, but at one point- and fairly recently- i looked down at a flowering hydrangrea bush and thought "those things are amazing". i'd seen them around, but perhaps because i'd seen them rendered in silk on my grandmother's living room table, partially sun-bleached with ratty edges and coated with dust despite the fact that she cleaned regularly, i'd never taken much notice of them. but one summer, some time in the last ten years or so, i noticed how incredibly vivid they were, how eerily unnatural their colours were, how they seemed to glow, as if fluorescent lighting is trapped inside the petals.

i've never found anything that accurately reproduces the colours of hydrangea, because that luminosity just can't be captured. that doesn't stop me from trying, however, because that perfect mix of blue and purple, very slightly misty and cool against the backdrop of summer heat [like it would be refreshing just to touch them], is something that charges my imagination. [i will add at this point that i know that not all hydrangeas are this colour. in fact, most species have flowers that are white. however, other varieties, including h. macrophylla, the popular version that one often sees as an ornamental in north america, develop flowers that range anywhere from pink to blue. the colour of the flowers is determined in large part by the composition of the soil. the shade of blue-purple that so fascinates me is indicative that the plant has absorbed aluminum and that the soil has a lower ph level. in fact, you can nudge nature in the direction you want- more pink or more blue- if you're after a particular shade. some tips on doing so can be found here.]

for a hydrangea-themed look, i thought i'd try to capture the magic of the flowers' blue-purple shift by using eye shadows that contained visible elements of both. the idea was to recreate the optical illusion of hydrangeas in the "wild"- at least the wild of the front yard- where your eye can't definitively say where the purple ends and the blue begins.

i chose to complement the shadows with shades of cool pink, because when i see a hydrangea bush, the overwhelming impression i get is of coolness. i used an image of hydrangeas for a post on lipsticks for those classified as summers in the sci/art colour analysis system because they have the qualities i associate with that season, like the relief of dusk after a hot day. [note: i'm not a colour analyst. that's just an amateur's impression.] normally, because my complexion is quite neutral, i try to balance cool tones in one area with warmer ones in another, but when thinking of the hydrangea, that just didn't seem right.

as part of the overall look, i wore clinique cheek pop blush in "pansy pop". pansies are clearly a different flower than hydrangeas, but "pansy pop" comes as close as i think one is likely to get to the breathtaking cool and luminous shade of a proper blue hydrangea without resorting to using actual blue eye shadow as a blush. it's my first experience with one of the clinique cheek pop blushes, despite them having been available for over a year. "pansy pop" is one of eight new shades that launched this spring exclusively at sephora and based on this shade, there will be more in my collection.

pansy pop

the formula on "pansy pop" reminds me a little of the rouge bunny rouge powder blush formula. it's a powder that feels rather hard, but yields a lovely, glowing [but not shimmery] colour on the cheeks. this particular shade is fairly sheer, so it takes a few swipes to build up the proper colour, which is a pink verging on lavender, or vice versa, i can't decide. that said, it layers really nicely and doesn't come close to looking powdery, so it's the sort of thing that would work on any cool-toned complexion.

it occupies a unique place in my collection, in that it's a lighter blush, but still considerably more than a highlighter in terms of colour payoff. mac "azalea blossom" is the closest shade i have [and it's close only when i focus on the lavender side of the blush], but it's deeper and more matte. mac "dame", which i think of as a cooler pink, looks almost brown/ orange in comparison. hourglass "ethereal glow", which i expected to be close, is a lot lighter.

l to r :: mac azalea blossom [l.e.], mac dame, pansy pop, hourglass ethereal glow


although i find that very cool blushes can sometimes have a "deadening" effect on my complexion, i've been really happy with how "pansy pop" has worked out. a definite keeper.

here's the final look that i came up with.




products used

the base ::
nars all day luminous weightless foundation "mont blanc"
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
estée lauder pure colour gelée e/s "arctic sky" [periwinkle blue with pink sheen]*
urban decay e/s "asphyxia" [magenta-violet with blue sheen]
mac e/s "seedy pearl" [dirty grey-tinged pink]
rouge bunny rouge e/s "alabaster starling" [oyster white with pink undertone]
illamasqua precision ink e/l [matte black]
marcelle volume precision mascara [navy]

the cheeks ::
clinique cheek pop blush "pansy pop" [pinky lavender]
chanel ombre contraste blush "notorious" [lavender-tinged taupe]*
bobbi brown brightening finishing powder "porcelain pearl" [soft white]

the lips ::
mac cremesheen l/s "yield to love" [cool rose pink]*

*suggested alternates :: arctic sky = urban decay dive bar; notorious = mac strada [lighter, warmer, pinker] or nars lhasa [deeper, more shimmery]; yield to love = armani rouge ecstasy 510 dolci

the look didn't quite have the brightness that i was hoping for, but i do think that it captured some of the hydrangea-ness i wanted. the most surprising thing to me is that the mascara i'm wearing is so very blue in the photos. in real life, it read more as a soft, dark blue-grey, a gentler alternative to true black.

so that's my take on the thrilling hydrangea. what inspires your colour adventures? or are you more a "tried and true" kind of person? please share!

Comments

I don't believe this: I've been planning a hydrangea-themed post myself! Well, at least partially hydrangea-themed (i.e. lots of photos of my neighbors' flowers). This is the first year I've really noticed them, too. Maybe it's just a good year for hydrangeas?

Pansy Pop is gorgeous, by the way.
Kate MacDonald said…
Great minds think alike? :-D

I would love to see your interpretation of hydrangeas. It's funny, too, because I thought about you while writing this- that I think Pansy Pop would be beautiful on your skin tone.

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