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making faces :: berry xmas

you are powerless to resist. well, i am, at least.
well i've no doubt exhausted all of you with the litany of red lipsticks in my possession [or, if i haven't, let me tell you how spectacularly awesome i think you are], but can i share a little secret? i actually love me a really rich berry-toned lip as much or more than a good red. well, it depends on who we're talking about here. reds are strong, classic, timeless. berries are cooler, more reserved, perhaps a little more difficult to pin down.

and speaking of difficult to pin down... what exactly constitutes a "berry" shade anyway?

well, it's not like there's an organisation that makes rules for these things [yes there is, it's called pantone -ed.]. i'll just give you my idea of what "berry" means, which, considering i'm the one who's writing this blog post, is really all you'll need to navigate your way through the shades that follow.

a few months ago, i did a post on "coral", a shade that gets talked about a lot, but which is actually a whole range of tones with varying degrees of orange, pink and red. i sort of consider "berry" a similar sort of animal [and, for the sake of argument, we're going to say that i didn't just create a colossally mixed metaphor there]. however, where corals always have a warmth to them, i'd say that berries are always cooler, being a mix of pink, red and purple. shades that are called berry can lean towards one more than the other, but normally have some element of all three included. and since i adore both reds and purples, it's obvious why berry shades should be so particularly to my liking. 

if you prefer a more visual way of seeing this, here's my advice: go pick up a mixed berry/ field berry/ bumble berry pie. important: you will want the pie to be warm but not hot for this test. cut yourself a slice of pie and let the filling leak out a little on the plate. scoop up a bit of the filling with your finger and place it on the back of your hand. gently spread the filling from the back of your hand in a nice line, allowing it to become sheerer and sheerer until you don't see any more colour. what you have created is both a mess and a range of berry shades, from the dark spot where you originally deposited the pie filling to the last faint bit of colour. actually, this will also give you an idea of how berry shades will look on you, when you find them in cosmetics and not food.

wash [or lick] the back of your hand. think about which shades you liked the most of your "berry continuum". eat the pie.

although reds tend to hog all the attention [they're like that], berry-tones are actually just as stunning for a night-out-friendly look. and although the shades themselves tend to be cool, like corals, there's enough complexity to the colours themselves that they can work on warmer skins as well as cool, dark and light. it's just a question of finding one [or two] that you really like.

here are some that i do an which i felt were particularly in keeping with the holiday season.

guerlain rouge g :: gigolo

from the moment i laid eyes on this deep, saturated, glossy berry shade, i knew we were meant to be together. it packs a powerful colour punch, without seeming incredibly bold or overly dark. like most great berry shades, its mix of red, pink and purple shifts depending on the light. you can see on the lip swatch that the red tone is more pronounced, but if you look at the shots taken with flash, the pink and purple tones are much more evident.

whereas something like chanel's dragon is linked in my mind to the glamour icons of the forties and fifties, gigolo seems like something from a slightly earlier era, like the darker lips sported by flappers in the twenties. so when i donned this look [for dom's office christmas party, which is possibly the most awesome office christmas party in the history of office christmas parties], i actually kept that in mind, pairing it with a fairly thickly lined eye and not much else.

as an aside, i wish i'd taken a full shot of what i was wearing, because the whole thing was very 20s-inspired, including the dress, the costume beads [which you can see a bit] and- although a photo wouldn't have made a difference here- the perfume i was wearing. as a nod to their aspirations to gender equality, flappers used to don scents traditionally worn by men, leading to one of the first unisex scent trends. i chose tom ford's "extreme", which is intended for men or women and has a bold, smoky-and-spicy presence i love [and which seems to love me]. 

eyes ::
giorgio armani eyes to kill e/s "purpura" [purple-gold mix]
laura mercier e/s "african violet" [orchid purple with gold shimmer]
inglot e/s "351" [matte peachy highlight]
mac eye kohl "smolder" [black]
benefit they're real mascara

cheeks ::
mac mineralize skinfinish "lightscapade"* [cool white highlighter]
mac blush "strada" [cool pinkish taupe]

lips ::
guerlain rouge g "gigolo"

*suggested alternates :: lightscapade = guerlain meteorites teint rose

now that i think of it, was it wrong of me to wear a lipstick called "gigolo" to my boyfriend's office party?

IT'S JUST BURSTING WITH BERRIES AFTER THE BREAK...



mac :: desire

this is described on mac's web site as "warmed burgandy wine". aside from that appalling typo [burgundy is one of those words that the cosmetic industry seems to have an inordinately difficult time spelling], what stands out to me about the description is that not one of those words is accurate.

in this berry, the purple tones dominate, which in my mind disqualifies it from ever being a truly warm shade and both "burgundy" [however you want to try to spell it] and "wine" imply reds tinged with more brown than is presented here. but you're not buying the description, you're buying the colour. or, in my case, buying it and buying it and buying it again.

"desire" is one of those examples of what happens when mac does absolutely everything right. there is a reason why it's been a steadfast presence in their lipstick lineup for a decade or more: it's pretty much flawless.

for starters, it's an object lesson in why people love mac's lustre finish so much. although it's a dark colour, almost intimidating in the tube, it applies in sheer layers and can be built up. it's never 100% opaque, but it can be made fairly dark. you can fine tune it to your needs [which, incidentally, makes it a perfect day-to-night shade if you can't change your makeup or don't feel like bothering]. it applies evenly and fades the same way, usually leaving a lovely stain in its wake.

every time i start to think that mac are losing their way, i pull this little wonder out and remind myself why i was so impressed with them to begin with.

eyes ::
mac e/s "white wheat"* [shimmery white-gold]
mac e/s "twillery"* [warm shimmery neutral]
mac e/s "velour"* [soft matte plum-grey]
mac e/s "inventive"* [deep berry]
mac fluidline eye liner "dark diversion"* [dark plum]
makeup forever concealer pencil "light" [flesh-coloured pencil used along water line]
benefit they're real mascara

cheeks ::
mac blush ombre "vintage grape"* [deep berry-purple]
mac mineralize skinfinish "perfect topping"* [mauve-being highlight]

lips ::
mac l/s "desire"

suggested alternates :: white wheat = mac white gold pigment; twillery= mac prolongwear e/s "sweet satisfaction; velour = mac quarry; inventive = mac trax; dark diversion = bobbi brown gel liner "black plum ink"; vintage grape = mac dirty plum, but it'll also be available starting monday december 26th as part of the daphne guinness collection; perfect topping = guerlain meteorites teint beige

yves st. laurent rouge pur couture :: pourpre carmin

a little while ago, dom and i were taking the subway home, having stopped for a quick peek at some makeup counters [i like to torture myself while i'm shopping for other people's presents] and he mentioned that yves st. laurent had really upped their game and that they suddenly seemed to have a lot of great products he hadn't noticed.

now, let's be clear, dom doesn't hang out at cosmetic counters in his spare time. he just lives with someone [me] who thinks and talks about these things too much and he's polite enough to pay attention so that a surprising amount of information actually sticks. but it's not like he's digging through these things every day. so it says something when a more casual observer notices improvements like that.

more specifically, it says that it's probably true and it is.

leading the charge, for me, is the rouge pur couture lipstick line. these are gradually replacing the plain ol' "rouge pur" variety, which only makes sense since the formula is smoother, richer and lasts longer. the idea, as one of their makeup artists explained it to me, is that the company will discontinue shades in the old formula and add equivalent shades in the new. which makes perfect sense, it's just that even if you ignore the improvements in the quality, the new shades are so much nicer than anything they had before.

take, for example, "pourpre carmin", alternately know by the whimsical moniker "no. 32". i'm not sure what shade this is replacing, but i am pretty damn sure that there was nothing this beautiful in the old ysl line up. as a berry shade, it's just on the cusp of being full-on vampy [although it can be applied lightly for a less dramatic effect]. i find that the pink notes dominate here, although it's dark enough that you see some of the purple as well. one thing that's interesting is how this formula really seems to catch and reflect light. in the full-face shots, i find it looks much lighter than it did in person.

like some of the other very dark rouge pur couture shades, i find that this one works a bit better when lined. it can last really well on its own, but does become a little fuzzy on reapplication [unless you just wipe it all off and start from scratch]. this is a tiny quibble. everything else about the satiny, rich colour is spot-on. and that spot is a simply stunning dark berry colour.

eyes ::
mac e/s "silverthorn"* [cool light grey]
mac mega-metal e/s "noir plum"* [deep grape purple]
mac mega-metal e/s "unflappable"* [purplish black]
mac e/s "pincurl"* [dirty off-white]
mac e/s "white rabbit"* [shimmery white]
mac powerpoint eye liner "black swan"* [black with silver shimmer]
guerlain eye kohl black
benefit they're real mascara

cheeks ::
lancome glowy ballerine butterflies fever blush* [very pale cool pink]

lips ::
yves st. laurent rouge pur couture no.32 "pourpre carmin"

*suggested alternates :: silverthorn = mac e/s "electra" [brighter, a more true silver]; noir plum = mac grape pigment; unflappable = mac e/s "smut"; pincurl = mac e/s "crystal [a little darker and more purple]; white rabbit = mac e/s "crystal avalanche"; black swan = urban decay 24/7 liner "oil slick"; butterflies fever = mac blush "well dressed"

guerlain rouge g le brilliant "bee"

i'll just make my apologies now. i thought about throwing something else in just for the heck of it, because i don't want to be a source of cosmetic frustration to anybody, but my heart just wasn't there. i really can't do a piece about my favourite holiday-like berry shades without including guerlain's "bee", because it's so lovely. and it's discontinued. and i'm sorry.

originally launched as part of their holiday 2010 collection, "bee" is part of the "rouge g brilliant" line, which are normally shades that are sheerer than the regular rouge g lipsticks. but "bee" is having none of that. while it might not be as opaque as "gigolo" [there are walls that are less opaque than "gigolo"], it is by no means a sheer lipstick. i would say that the formula is softer and shinier than a regular rouge g, which also means it doesn't last quite as long, but there's plenty of colour punch.

"bee"'s magic is in the sparkle that's strewn throughout it, not in a tacky way, but in a way that gives an almost unbelievable sense of depth to the colour. light plays on it like stars reflected on a still pond in the middle of the night. i've honestly never seen anything quite like it. [well, almost never. mac actually had a purple-berry shade of their own years back called "so original", which had a similar kind of sparkle, although it was a little frostier. in neither case do i have the faintest idea how this strange effect was accomplished, nor do i know if it's a coincidence that both use a purple-berry base colour.] this shade always looks incredibly lustrous, remarkably like that wonderful pie filling i had you smear on your arm earlier.

yes, it is currently unavailable. but that doesn't mean you can't get it. if you keep an eye out, it's bound to turn up. i actually didn't get mine until it was technically "sold out" and if i can find it, so can you. and trust me, this one is worth hunting down.

eyes ::
mac e/s "vex" [dirty ivory-green with pink duochrome]
mac pigment "pink opal" [white with pink sheen]
mac e/s "restless"* [soft neutral grey]
nars e/s duo "grand palais" [rosy taupe side only]
mac e/s "bravado"* [shimmery rose]
mac greasepaint stick "dirty" [dark grey-taupe]
benefit they're real mascara

cheeks ::
mac blush "amazon princess"* [wild rose pink]
mac magically cool liquid powder [peachy highlight]

lips ::
guerlain rouge g le brilliant "bee"

*suggested alternates :: restless = mac copperplate; bravado = nars caravaggio e/s duo [darker side]; amazon princess =  mac "love thing" + mac "dollymix"

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