Makeup: 10 posts

My Name is Red : Chanel Rouge Allure Ink and Guerlain Nahema

“I’m so fortunate to be red! I’m fiery. I’m strong. I know men take notice of me and that I cannot be resisted… Wherever I’m spread, I see eyes shine, passions increase, eyebrows rise and heartbeats quicken. Behold how wonderful it is to live! Behold how wonderful to see. I am everywhere. Life begins with and returns to me.” Orhan Pamuk’s description of my favorite color in My Name is Red has stayed with me ever since I first read the book, and I often think of it whenever I see another red that draws my attention–fabric, autumnal leaves, lipstick, the lacquer of Japanese bowls or perfume. Yes, perfume can also be red.

The impression of red in fragrance is subjective the way synesthesia tends to be, but Guerlain Nahema is a perfume that makes me feel as if I’m enveloped in layers of crimson silk. The effect comes from the combination of rose essence and the damascones, aroma-materials with the aroma of rose jam and stewed apples. This accord alone has a lipstick red hue, but paradoxically it comes across as even more saturated against the background of green citrus and hyacinth. Reds often stand out best against contrasting colors, and this is the case with Nahema.

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Why I Love Japanese Magazines

I had originally planned something completely different for today, but having spent the past several days working on a grueling technical report, I devoted this weekend to my neglected pile of Japanese magazines. And so I bring you this.

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It wouldn’t surprise me if Japan produced more types of magazines than any other country. There are publications catering to all interests and lifestyles, no matter how obscure. A magazine about nothing but makeup? Sure! A digest that shows you how to turn yourself into a gothic Lolita? Why not!

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Pink, Perfume and Blush

I like pink. It’s one of the most intriguing and unpredictable colors–cheerful and aggressive, uplifting and alluring, delicate and tawdry. Pink in its pale, ballet slipper manifestations can seem precious and dainty, but saturate it–or contrast it–and the effect becomes much more subversive. Move anywhere outside central Europe, and pink’s reputation for girlishness and frivolity begins to appear less certain. Already in southern Spain and Italy the simple coquetry of this shade turns seductive and smoldering–in the hot pink of the matador’s cape and flamenco skirts, the Sicilian church frescoes and the intensity of bougainvillea against the chipped white stucco of Moorish palaces. Forget about pink being just for debutantes when in India; real Indian men wear pink. The intense tropical  sun bleaches pastels to nothingness, but pink holds its own, forcefully.

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The monochrome January palette needs an infusion of brightness, so my interest in things rose and fuchsia colored is correlated with the length of winter. This is probably why by the time spring arrives and the beauty magazines insist on pastels, I instead turn to greys and ambers. Pink can find its many expressions, in perfume, blush, lipstick, and it need not be only about roses.

Consider Frédéric Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur. The polished woods and musk would give it a sober air of an Oxford don, if it weren’t for a vivid geranium boutonniere. It’s bright and dramatic, an interplay between geranium’s green metallic and velvety floral notes. Pour Monsieur uses a particularly intense geranium essence, and I see it as shocking pink, nothing delicate about it.

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Lipsticks for Roses

Elisa on matching lips to rose perfumes.

Recently, my friend (and author of the perfume memoir Coming to My Senses) Alyssa Harad joked on Twitter, “I have accidentally matched my shirt to my lipstick and it’s bothering me so much I have to change.” A matchy-matchy outfit and lipstick combination may qualify as faux pas, but what about matching your lipstick to your scent? Since roses almost always smell like a shade of red or pink to me, I get a synesthetic pleasure out of wearing a color that “rhymes” with what I smell.

Here are some favorite match-ups from my rose and lip product collections.

Dark Roses & Matte Reds

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L – R: Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Rich Ruby, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Amsterdam, Sephora Nano Lip Liner in Real Red, Clinique Long Last Soft Matte in Matte Crimson

Dark roses are probably my favorite category of perfume, and they seem to call for drama. I don’t have the talent, patience, or eye shape for winged liquid liner, so when I want dramatic impact, I do a rich matte red lip. The Maybelline matte above (which I’ve heard is a pretty good dupe for MAC Ruby Woo) goes on super-smooth, and is a perfect match for the gorgeous, complex aged patchouli in Tom Ford Noir de Noir; it smells like red roses and bittersweet chocolate. The brighter, warmer lip pencil from Sephora is great with a classic rose chypre like Ungaro Diva or L’Arte di Gucci (try Lumiere Noir pour Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian if you can’t find the latter).

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Lips Like Rose Petals

I blame my current infatuation with color on taking up embroidery after a long hiatus. As I play with fabric and thread and search for the right kind of ivory to sparkle against white linen, I give more thought to the colors around me, sometimes even too much. “Wouldn’t that be a great pairing!” I think as I walk over a chocolate brown grate that my Brussels commune stamps with its lemon yellow seal. When I’m not admiring the exquisite detail of local plumbing, I indulge my color obsession via my makeup kit.

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Makeup is a natural way to explore color, because face products–lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, powders–allow for an infinite variation of shades and gradations of tones. Depending on the texture and transparency, the same hue can take a different cast, not to mention the effect provided by your own skin. Of course, it’s also an excuse for adding to my makeup wardrobe, because as I delve further into my embroidery and as the summer roses bloom with more abandon, my collection grows steadily. One pink is suddenly not enough. I want all of the roses on my lips.

But alas, roses proved to be a difficult case. While reds and berries suit my pale complexion well, roses and pinks can emphasize the yellowish cast of my skin and make me look as if I haven’t slept for days. The swatching exercise below was done chiefly to organize my stash. The result is a selection of mini-reviews. I prefer my cosmetics unscented, but some of my favorite formulas have a strong scent. I added short fragrance notes, in case you’re picky about this aspect of your lipstick.

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