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making faces :: the more like space splurge-o-matic 2015

i'm still catching up on a few reviews, but i've been planning to do a post like this forever and i figured that, forever could mean any time and now is an any time, so now is as good a time as any to write it, right? [it's possible that i've had too much coffee today.]

when it comes to beauty, we all have areas where we like to spend and where we like to save. my preferences on the splurge-y side tend to be for colour cosmetics [lipsticks, eye shadows, blushes/ highlighters], whereas a have a stricter "ceiling" price for skin care [including lip balms/ treatments], nail polish, body care, shampoo/ conditioner and with any products i perceive as "gimmicky". i'm sure i could think up reasons why i divide up my priorities that way [and there are some that fall into a middle ground, like foundations, concealers and mascaras] but it's not particularly interesting, nor important to this post.

my point is that i've wanted to do a "splurge-o-matic" for some time, with some "learn from my spending" tips on where you might want to turn if you have a hankering to spoil yourself with a little cosmetic treat. i can't promise the list will be comprehensive, but i figure i've built up enough mileage on the credit card that i can take you a good deal of the way. clearly, the results are based on what's currently available, what i've been able to sample and my own personal preferences. if you want to get a sense of what those are, you might want to peruse the past makeup reviews here on the site.

this list is organised by product, but if you'd like to sample a particular brand, you might want to have a look at the beauty brand report card i did a few years ago [and which i plan on updating]. please feel free to get back to me with any questions you might have about the recommendations.

so here's what i'd recommend if you want to splurge on...

just a few of the beautiful bunnies
eye shadow ::

rouge bunny rouge, baby. their entire range is subtle and sophisticated, with the majority of shades being wear-wherever neutrals that remain distinctive, even in a sea of neutrals. the oiliness of my lids means that i pretty much always need to use a primer; [i find that mac paint pots are a very cost-effective way of accomplishing this: at $24cad each, they're a few dollars cheaper than most "proper" primers, but they also last about ten times as long.] my experience is that, on a good base, these shadows last extremely well and show little fading over the course of a normal day. in very hot weather, wear time is shortened and some last a little better than others at any time. overall, though, i still find myself reaching for these more than any other shadows.

but it's kind of broad to just recommend one blanket eye shadow splurge. while rbr would be my first choice overall, here are a few other recommendations 

bright shades ::

urban decay. they have a wonderful assortment of brights in their permanent lineup, plus they have the electric palette, which is like the motherload of bold shades. it's a combination of incredibly saturated colour with a high-end formula.

an eye shadow palette ::

boring choice ahoy... if you want to invest in a palette you're going to use all the time, that can give you a variety of looks for any occasion, pick up one of the urban decay naked palettes. they have two smaller "basics" versions, but this is the splurge-o-matic, so if you want to invest, stick with numbers 1, 2 and 3, which have a dozen shades each. 3 is my personal favourite.

cream/ liquid formulas ::

i approach this with a major caveat, which is that i'm allergic to a lot of these, which means that, for me, they basically fall into categories of "yeah, these are pretty nice" and "aaggghh! my eyeballs exploded!!!" so of the ones i've tried of the former category, i'd recommend...

liquid emeralds from armani
armani eye tints. new this year, but with a few additional shades already appearing in limited edition, i just love the great colour payoff and smooth finish of these thin liquid shadows. i'd give a close second to ellis faas, who have a greater range of colours and finishes, but their iconic packaging is fragile. word has it that they're making improvements to the design, to make it a little hardier.

mascara ::

this isn't something that a lot of people choose as an item to splurge on, but i will say that it's one where i notice the greatest difference from one product to another. however, i already covered this in detail, so it's probably just easier to read that post.

[it likewise seems a little weird to choose eye liner as a "splurge" item, but i don't want to judge, so i'd opt for urban decay's pencils, illamasqua's liquid formula or nars eye paints if you're up for trying a cream, because they can double as eye shadows. my all-time favourite cream is illamasqua's precision gel, but it only comes in black.]

blush ::

cheeks from nars + hourglass
this answer is even more predictable than my choice for palette splurge, but nars is the way to go. they have a wide variety of shades and, most importantly, shades that are really unique [because if you're going to splurge on something, you want it to be distinctive]. they also have a wider range of finishes, from high shine frost to matte. what really distinguishes them, though, is the high quality standard they maintain over the whole range.

i'm not an aficionado of cream and liquid formulas, so i'm of limited use to you there, sorry. dior has made the best i've tried of either, but only in limited edition, the bastards.

highlighter ::

highlighters aren't actually something i'd recommend as a first time splurge, since their effect tends to be so subtle, but if you feel comfortable with the rest of your makeup game and want to get your glow on, go with hourglass. their ambient lighting powders are worth the hype and they do each give a unique effect on the skin. they seemed gimmicky to me at first and now it's rare that i go a day without using one.

guerlain grenade, my very first

lipstick ::

if you're going to invest in a hard-copy dictionary, don't mess around: buy the oxford english. so it is with lipstick. if you're going to splurge, then splurge and buy a guerlain rouge g. most high end brands like to "lead" with their lipsticks, so there is an embarrassment of choice when it comes to these perfect little tubes of happiness and i love many of them, but there's no getting around it: rouge g's are in a class by themselves. there is a beautiful range of permanent shades that will hit most of your lipstick colour needs and the formula is almost uniformly magnificent: long-lasting, hydrating, richly pigmented. what impresses me most about these, though, is how nuanced each shade seems to be: its either more saturated, or slightly muted, or contains a faint dusting of shimmer, or has a sheen in a complementary colour, but when you see them swatched next to other lipsticks [although it's not always visible in photos] you realise: only a rouge g is a rouge g.

of course, not everyone loves full-coverage lipsticks like i do, so if you want to splurge on something a little softer...

sheer lipstick ::

i like a lot of sheerer formulas well enough, but the only one that really stands out to me as offering something different is the rouge d'armani sheer. i find that it lasts a bit longer, smudges less and balances nicely between offering enough colour to warrant purchasing a higher-priced product and allowing the natural lip colour to come through, which is the point of a sheer lipstick. it's a criminally overlooked product and they've just added a half a dozen new shades to their permanent assortment [not that you'd know it from them].

voluptuous glossiness
lip gloss ::

i feel like it would be cheating to say my favourite gloss is yves st. laurent glossy stain, because it's a much fuller-coverage product than your usual gloss, even when it's applied fairly lightly. but i'd also feel badly if i didn't mention it, because it's a remarkable formula, in a category of its own.

if we're talking real glosses- sheerer, lighter colour, lots of shine and perhaps some shimmer- i'd still have to say yves st. laurent is the winner with their gloss volupté formula. yes, the watermelon scent makes me gag and no, i'm not really a gloss girl to begin with, but these are exceptional. they're probably even more thrilling if you like watermelon.

i was going to do a section on foundations and concealers, but those products are just too complicated to recommend: you need to find one that works with your complexion, that has options to suit your colouring, that gives you the amount of coverage you want, that gives the type of finish you want, that's appropriate to the climate you live in... it's a highly personalized thing. i'd also say that these are not things you should choose for a first splurge, at least not unless you have the opportunity to test the formula beforehand. [sephora will make up handy little samples for you of any liquid foundation and a lot of concealers. a lot of online retailers will allow you to get samples of foundations with an order, so it's worth asking.]

there are also some areas where i think there's work to be done before they're splurge-worthy. liquid lipsticks are really having a moment right now, but i've never come across a formula that struck me as being so much better that it justified paying a much higher price. i do like the armani maestro, but a lot of liquid lipstick fans don't, because it doesn't set to that coveted flat matte finish that doesn't budge.

where i think there is real room for improvement, however, is in the range of colours available. brands that offer "offbeat" shades are generally those that are geared towards a younger demographic, which makes two assumptions i find baffling: 1. older women who like high end brands don't want to try new shades [which gets more ridiculous the longer it persists: people now in their fifties have seen black lipstick used in counter culture and high fashion from the time they were teenagers]; and 2. that young women won't splurge on makeup. i promise, that's not true. last year, when tom ford launched his monumental "lips & boys" collection, the first shade to sell out almost everywhere was the cool grey-taupe "stavros" [see temptalia's review here].

shades don't have to be far out of the comfort zone to be original, either. how about a little blue or green shimmer on a red or pink base? or highlighters that have a multicolour pearl, so they reflect different shades from different angles. there's lots more to do on all fronts and the penalty of not trying to offer things that are a little oddball, or risky, is that you eventually exhaust the narrower range you leave available to yourself.

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