Skip to main content

making faces :: magic mushrooms

it seems like such a short time ago that i was criticising bite for not providing me with enough unique colour options in any of their fine products. last year, not only did they reformulate their core lipstick line, replacing their original luminous creme with the amuse bouche formula, but they also started coming out with some of the most original shades on the market. much of their line is still made up by classics, like all lipstick collections, but they've done an excellent job of populating the fringes with surprises. and that's a boon to someone like me, who has perhaps collected just a few more shades of berry and red than maybe she should have during her time on earth...

this spring, bite came out with what might be their most daring collection ever, which is saying something considering that their 2016 summer collection [winner of a coveted shrunken head award] included a nearly glow in the dark purple and a blackened green. it's called "edgy neutrals" and never in marketing history has a collection's name so perfectly reflected what it was. i'm pretty sure the name started life as what the marketing team called it while it was being developed, and that they eventually realised they weren't going to find anything better.

it's hard to think of a neutral lipstick as being anywhere near "edgy", because there are so many neutrals and everybody has at least a couple they turn to on those occasions when they want or need to wear makeup, but really don't want to have to think much about it. or those times when they really want to play with makeup by doing crazy, fanciful things with eyeshadow, and don't want to end up looking like they're dressed up for an 80s theme party. but the fact is that the range of neutral shades available is narrower than you would think; yes, there are millions of them, but all seem to start on a base of pink, orange or brown, which really means that you're starting from a base of red.

with the new shades introduced in "edgy neutrals", bite has taken a different path: these neutral-brown shades are yellow based. does that mean that they look yellow? not really, but when you place them next to other neutrals, the difference just leaps at you. even i didn't expect it to be so noticeable.

there are four shades introduced specifically for this collection, all of which are named after mushrooms. there's "enoki" a light yellow beige, "cremini" are sort of creamy ochre colour, "porcini", a  slightly deeper, richer oak leaf brown and "portobello", a dark, earthy brown. of those four, the only one that looks even a little wearable at first glance is "portobello", because deep browns are known. the others look like they might be intended for aliens.

nonetheless, the second i looked at the collection, i knew two things: 1. i had nothing like these shades and 2. i was drawn to them like a dung beetle to yesterday's diapers. [sorry, but as this collection illustrates, "shades of babyshit" are having moment in the sun. i just made that worse, didn't i?]


i wasn't sure which of the new colours i wanted to try. because it was the most easily replicated, i eliminated portobello right away. because light nudes generally make me look sick, i eliminated enoki. which left me with two options. i ended up selecting "porcini", because... just because. when i received it, i was both elated and nervous to realise that it was everything that i'd expected: a medium yellowy-brown that no one in their right mind would reach for.

when i tried it on, the nervousness dissipated, because, as i'd thought/ hoped might happen, the colour really did connect with something in my skin. it didn't look like i had food or worse smeared on my face. it looked like a deep shade of caramel or, if we're being honest, a creamy mushroom gravy. the formula is as good in this colour as it is in the incredible berry shades and beyond: it's fully pigmented and tenacious, but it feels amazing on the lips. [the amuse-bouche lipsticks don't feel as moisturising as the luminous cremes, but they are.]


when i ordered it, i'd been concerned that it might just be a duplicate of mac "yash", which had been my standard for medium yellow-brown shades for years. but just look at the comparison between the two:

l to r :: porcini, mac yash

having cross the scary brown bridge, i knew i wanted more. i stopped by sephora one day with the intention of picking up "cremini". and, indeed, i did pick it up. then i put it down. then i picked it up again. then i swatched it on my hand. then i compared it to "porcini". they aren't replicas, but they are close, and i wondered if i wanted to further my adventure in earth tones by such a small increment. i mean, i'd just done something scary. the only way to top that is to do something even scarier.

and that's how i ended up coming home with "enoki". this really qualifies as cosmetic insanity for me: i don't wear light neutrals well at all, and now i'm going to try my luck with a light neutral that's yellower? it was a "crossing the streams" kind of experiment for me.

"enoki" is indeed an odd colour to look at. it's not entirely unlike the strange white fungi that bear the name, just a bit yellower. the formula on this one is very nice, although it is just a little drier than other amuse-bouche lipsticks i've tried. the colour is still very even and opaque, which almost never happens with nude shades.


once again, i thought it might be similar to a shade i already have, the limited edition mac viva glam gaga 2. i'd say they're closer, but it's still surprising to me how pink the mac shade looks next to enoki. even more interesting, the slight peachiness makes "gaga" more of a true nude shade on me, while "enoki is definitely a colour.

l to r :: enoki, mac viva glam gaga 2 [l.e.]

and what a colour. i was surprised enough to find that "porcini" worked on me, but this one really threw me. i was fully expecting for this to be one of those shades [looking at you, mac "vegas volt"] that i was just going to have to play around with in order to get the balance right, or one of those shades that was going to need a liner, or gloss, or something to take it into willing-to-leave-the-house territory.

i think i can explain this, the magical powers of colour analysis: after ages of fuddling around with different colour groupings, i'm pretty clear on the fact that i'm either a bright winter [saturated, cooler, darker] or a bright spring [saturated, warmer, lighter]. opinion has fallen to the winter side of that equation because my colouring does look quite cool, and i look more balanced when i'm wearing things that tip to the dark rather than the light side of the colour spectrum. however, it's things like trying the "edgy neutrals" that leaves the door slightly open in my mind.

either "bright" season has a certain amount of springtime yellow [not gold] in their face, which is something that will mesh well with these shades. i always remember the words of analyst/ guru christine scaman, who cautions that people with bright spring colouring have "more yellow than is apparent" hiding in their complexion. wherever i fall in the spectrum, it's clear that i have lurking yellow.

alongside the new shades, "edgy neutrals" sees the return of "cava", one of the most missed colours from the luminous creme assortment. "cava" is a scary colour in a different way: a very greyed-out lavender. things this cool and muted are great for that other group that struggles with nude shades: the summer group. being cool and light and muted, the reddish tones inside most nudes look like mud on their faces. lilac, lavender, taupe, or silvery shades are much better suited.

for me, "cava" was probably a greater risk than "enoki", but i'm so besotted by purple shades that i couldn't resist. i'd never gotten around to purchasing the luminous creme version, so i couldn't really resist the chance to grab it this time. this was definitely one of the most unique shades bite had in their original assortment, and it remains pretty hard to duplicate. it's on the same continuum as "thistle", but it's lighter and cooler- more lavender, less taupe. [this photo skews red/ brown. you can see how "cava" looks in the photos below, and how "thistle" looks in the linked review above.]

l to r :: thistle, cava

accompanying these new arrivals in the collection are three permanent shades: "honeycomb", "thistle" and "molasses". if you haven't looked at those before, consider this as good a reason as any to do so.

so now that you've read my thoughts, how about a peek at these shades combined with an actual face?

well, here's "porcini" for you:

the base ::
clarins skin illusion natural radiance light reflecting foundation 103
clarins instant concealer 01
guerlain pressed meteorites 01 "clair"

the eyes ::
viseart "bijou royale" e/s palette shades 1, 6, and 7
mac e/s "dazzlelight"
gosh intense eyeliner pen "brown"
colour pop creme-gel liner "exit"
marc jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

the cheeks ::
nars blush "outlaw"

the lips ::
bite beauty amuse bouche l/s "porcini"

and "enoki" [you can find the full breakdown of this look here.]

and finally we have "cava"

the base ::
clarins skin illusion natural radiance light reflecting foundation 103
clarins instant concealer 01
joe fresh illuminating primer "pure glow"
guerlain pressed meteorites 01 "clair"

the eyes ::
nars e/s duo "vent glacé"
viseart "bijou royale" e/s palette shade 12
mac e/s "dazzlelight"
nars eye paint "baalbek"
marc jacobs e/l "peridot"
marc jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

the cheeks ::
hourglass ambient lighting powder "radiant light"
hourglass ambient strobing powder "euphoric light"

the lips ::
bite beauty amuse-bouche l/s "cava"

this last look is an example of how i deal with shades that i love, but that i know aren't my best: pair them with things that work much better for me. the shimmery green-tinged tones work much better on me than a greyed lavender, and i think it's the eyeliner that ends up stealing the show in the end. [and isn't that what you want from a good neutral lipstick? to play a solid supporting role?]

one word in parting about the status of these lipsticks: officially, the four brown "mushroom" shades are limited, while "cava" will be joining the permanent collection. however, at the moment i'm writing this, the "limited edition" note has been removed from all four shades on the sephora website. does that mean they've become permanent? hard to tell, but they were tagged as limited edition when the collection launched. [also, the two limited purple shades from last summer's "sweet and savoury" collection never disappeared, even though they are still flagged as limited edition.] let the slothful emptor be caveated.  


Siti said…
hi Kate! i'm a relatively new reader, and never commented. But I had to this time, because your green eyes and lavender lips combination is gorgeous. it's not a combination i can ever think of, and i've never seen it done anywhere else either.
Kate MacDonald said…
Thank you so much, Siti! It's funny, because I don't think I've ever tried those colours together either. I've done brighter looks with green and purple shades, but never with lavender. Glad to know you like it and thanks for visiting the blog :-)

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


no, i am not dead, nor have i been lying incapacitated in a ditch somewhere. i've mostly been preparing for our imminent, epic move, which is actually not so terribly epic, because we found a place quite close to where we are now. in addition, i've been the beneficiary of an inordinately large amount of paying work, which does, sadly, take precedence over blogging, even though you know i'd always rather be with you.

indeed, with moving expenses and medical expenses looming on the horizon, more than can be accounted for even with the deepest cuts in the lipstick budget, dom and i recently did something that we've not done before: we asked for help. last week, we launched a fundraising campaign on go fund me. it can be difficult to admit that you need a helping hand, but what's been overwhelming for both of us is how quick to respond so many people we know have been once we asked. it's also shocking to see how quickly things added up.

most of all, though, the ex…


just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …