29 January 2015

making faces :: the brand tour [rouge bunny rouge]

i noticed earlier this week that rouge bunny rouge is having a pretty interesting sale on both of their lipstick formulas: all shades are 50% off. that includes the more satin/ opaque "colourburst" lipsticks and the glossier/ sheerer "succulence of dew" shades as well. the number of shades in both ranges has been culled gradually over the years and now it seems that the company will, indeed, be introducing a new formula that will replace both. i don't have much information beyond "something is coming", but i do know that if any of the existing shades appeal to you [and they should], you'll want to grab them as soon as you can or risk being disappointed.

this sale dovetailed nicely with a series i'd planned to do of "brand tours"- general swatches from brands whose products i've collected regularly. these won't be close to complete, of course, but i figure if people are looking for pictures of stuffs and i have those stuffs, i'd like to help them out. i've linked "real" reviews that i've done below and provided a few thoughts on those that i've just never gotten around to reviewing [and likely never will]. rouge bunny rouge are available in brick and mortar stores in only a few cities in the world, so they're a brand where people rely more than usual on what images they can find on line. luckily, there are lots of bloggers who have taken up that challenge, which means it's probably one of the easiest brands to find swatched across a range of skin tones.

so... here we go with the pictures:

first up, da glosses. i only have a couple of these, one each of two different formulas. the lighter of the two formulas has unfortunately been discontinued, although the slightly heavier "glassy gloss" formula remains. when i say "heavier", i don't mean that as a pejorative. the glassy glosses aren't sticky or prone to clumping, there's just a little more to them than to a lot of high end glosses. i find that "mousse fandango" is a shade that i return to more than i might have thought. my initial impression was that it was a very pretty, everyday kind of pink, but having worn it a lot now, there is definitely something about the formula that makes my lips look smoother, fuller... better. and, while it might look at first glance like the kind of colour that's easy to duplicate, it's more unique than you might think.

"uncaged tigress" is sadly discontinued, but hopefully, we'll see something similar from them in the future.

l to r :: mousse fandango, uncaged tigress

rouge bunny rouge is known for their exquisite complexion products. i haven't samples these as often as i would have liked, just because there always seems to be something more colourful catching my attention. [i'm easily distracted that w- ooh!! magenta!!!]

i have been able to try their "as if it were summer still" liquid bronzer, thanks to a couple of generous samples and two shades of their "sketches on sunny water" highlighting liquids. since i'm not a great fan of bronzer to begin with, and since bronzers often look more like dirt on my face, i may not be the best person to evaluate "as if it were summer still". it is a very nice, warm shade and definitely has some impact. i don't think there would be any issue getting this to show up on deeper skin tones [although on dark skin, of course, it would be adding warmth rather than colour]. when i've used it, i've had to be very careful not to overdo things, because a little goes a long way. the formula feels light and lovely, so if you do like bronzers, i think it would be an excellent choice.

more clearly up my alley are the highlighting liquids, which are very similar in terms of formula [i.e., lightweight, thin but even consistency, very fine microshimmer], but made in colours to light up the complexion rather than deepen it. "sea of tranquility" is extremely versatile, a very pale rose gold that adds light, a hint of colour and a hint of warmth. because it's a liquid and because the shimmer is so delicate, it won't ever turn chalky and because it doesn't pull too cool or too warm, it'll be suitable to a large range of complexions. [for those who do want something really cool toned, "sea of clouds" is a stunning shade of the same formula described, extremely accurately, by rbr as "moonlight on the water. i got a sample of that some time ago and used it until i'm pretty sure there were only a few atoms left. it's been on my list of things to order for a while.]

l to r :: sea of tranquility, as if it were summer still

i've only picked up two of the brand's blushes thus far, although, to be fair, there are only six shades [and one of the ones that i have has been discontinued]. here are "gracilis", a warmish mauve pink and "florita" [no longer available], a lovely reddened raspberry.the formula on these blushes is incredible- they're more similar to cream products, but they have the longevity of powder. i do hope that we'll get to see some new shades introduced, hopefully with a few more cool-toned options. [one of my only criticisms of the brand is that their products are overwhelming slanted in favour of those with warmer and softer colouring.]

l to r :: gracilis, florita

now, if you've heard about rouge bunny rouge at all, chances are it's their eye shadows. they are a cult favourite with reason. well, reasons. the formulas- shimmer, satin and matte- are all impeccable. they last well without fading, blend smoothly and easily and the shades are both unique and "lively" on the skin. they have regular pressed powders, loose powders and cream shades, although the greatest amount of attention is given to the first of those. [it's also by far the formula with the largest number of available colours.]

here's my one representative of the loose powders, "night wind sailing"

night wind sailing
but truly, it's with the pressed powders where i've truly, hedonistic-ally gone berserk. this is one of those rare cases when hype should be believed, because the shades and the formulas are so very exquisite.

first up, here's a look [again] at the raw silence :: chronos palette released last year [and recipient of the 2014 shrunken head for best palette]

raw silence :: chronos
there are some lovely, glistening shades in a formula unique to this palette and i hope that we get to see more of them in the future. i suspect [note: suspecting is very different than knowing. i know nothing.] that there will be more of this style of palette in the future.

next up, here are the two matte shades [bashful flamingo] and my very favourite satin shade [gracious arasari] that has sadly been discontinued. these are real workhorse colours, the kind of things you can use to improve any look, whether they're the central colour on a neutral eye, or used to blend and smooth a stronger look.

l to r :: gracious arasari, bashful flamingo, sweet dust seriema

i've organised some of my rbr shades into their own little palettes, like these three, lilac reef currasow, trumpeter koel and golden rhea. the first two clearly go together, but i think the logic behind including the third was that it came out around the same time and i wanted to get shades to fill one of rbr's three-pan palettes.

l to r :: lilac reef curassow, trumpeter koel, golden rhea
 
in the interests of conserving space and saving money, i have taken to ordering shades in pan format- the ones that can fit into palettes. i was delighted to find that, while the pans are a little too big to fit into the new mac palettes, they fit perfectly into older mac palettes. since i have some of those kicking around, and my mac shadows can fit into the older or the newer palettes, i managed to create a couple of "curated by me" [because everything is curated now] combinations.

first up, there's my cooler-toned slightly taupe-y, plummy with highlight shade included grouping: snowy egret, solstice halcyon, delicate hummingbird and eclipse eagle.

l to r :: snowy egret, solstice halcyon, delicate hummingbird, eclipse eagle

and then we have the warm-toned neutrals that anyone can wear grouping: rain dove, rufous-tailed weaver, bohemian waxwing and umber firefinch.

l to r :: rain dove, rufous-tailed weaver, bohemian waxwing, umber firefinch

this second palette contains the rbr shades i probably reach for the most, since they're the most versatile. rain dove and rufous-tailed weaver were the winner and runner up for the best individual eye shadow category of this year's shrunken heads and i stand by that choice. rouge bunny rouge shadows are in a class by themselves. never assume that neutrals need be dull, because these are complex and thrilling.

here are the shades that i have in their individual pots, included is "abyssinian catbird", probably the best-known shade in the rbr range and one of its most popular. i'm personally partial to "periwinkle cardinal", which is a more delicate shade and one that's hard to find in other brands. i also think that "alabaster starling" doesn't get the love that it should, possibly because it's written off as "just a highlight", it is so much nicer than that and so much more enchanting to see in use. but truthfully all of these are major winners and there's not one i'd caution you to avoid.

l to r :: abyssinian catbird, angelic cockatiels, periwinkle cardinal, alabaster starling, whispering ibis

and finally, we have come to the lipsticks. thus far, i've collected five of the semi-sheer "succulence of dew" shades and four of the semi-opaque "colour burst" ones. the lipsticks are a little tougher to predict than other rouge bunny rouge products. i find that the differences in formula are more apparent between some shades than others. the semi-sheer "dark juices" is deeper, more opaque and longer-lasting than "nothing unknown", for instance. i love both colours, that's just an example of how it's best to evaluate these one at a time. [and quickly, dammit, quickly, before they're gone!]

of the semi-sheer colours i've tried, "murmurings" and "fluttering sighs" are much softer, glossier and slicker than the more shimmery shades. i've avoided reviewing "fluttering sighs" because i think my particular tube might have been compromised in transit. it arrived [during the summer] with a half-melted consistency and it has never been able to achieve real solidity. as a result, it applies in a rather thick, goopy layer that's difficult to get even and impossible to get to last. it's testimony to what a surprisingly lovely shade it is that i keep using it anyway. normally, peachy shades like this are normally anathema to me- literally the worst type of colour i can pick- but this one is really nice. i haven't seen any other reviews that mention the particular textural problems i have and believe me, they would have been noticeable. i suspect that the formula is supposed to be like "murmurings" and mine just took a wrong turn somewhere... the dangers of international traveler lipsticks.

l to r :: fluttering sighs, dissolved in dreams, murmurings, dark juices, tongue tickles

among the semi-opaque shades, i don't see a lot of textural differences from one shade to another. they are all quite warm in undertone and their warmth is earthy [autumnal] rather than sunny [vernal]. i do find that the shades have a surprising complexity, which makes them wearable even for people like me, who normally look like death warmed over in a soft neutral lip.

l to r :: scrumptiously devious, watch out eve, nothing unknown, word of mouth




along with introducing a new lipstick line, rouge bunny rouge is going through a process of general renewal, bringing back some products with new formulations, changing their beautifully whimsical packaging to be even more whimsical and beautiful and adding some things which have apparently been in demand. i don't know what the enchanted gardeners have in store for us, but i can pretty much guarantee you that it will be very special and well worth tracking down.

28 January 2015

world wide wednesdays :: all hellene breaks loose

in case you've been held prisoner by american news coverage for the last week, it behooves me to tell you that the rest of the world has not been overly occupied with northeasters or remote control toys on the white house lawn. it's not that those aren't news, it's just that they're not the only news. for instance, a lot of people have been more interested in the fact that greece, the country that brought us the term "austerity financing", just elected a communist/ socialist government who could implode the european union. given that the e.u. is the largest controller of wealth in the entire world [about 30% of all global wealth is owned or managed by e.u. member states], its collapse, or at least destabilization, has the potential to wreak some pretty major havoc.

part of the problem of covering this, of course, is that talking about the 2015 greek election on its own is like starting the story of the lord of the rings with the bit where frodo is about to throw the ring into the pit of mount doom. it makes for an interesting scene, but it's sort of difficult to evaluate if you don't know what's gone on before.

a lot of people did hear about the greek government's flirtation with economic collapse back in 2009-10. the story in most of the media was that greece had apparently not been doing any kind of work for several years, but they had been maintaining social programs that took care of people. i wish i were joking about how simplistic and biased media coverage was when it came to the greek financial situation, but allow me to share with you the first line of the first article that comes up when you [or at least i] google "explanation for greek economic recession":


The financial crisis that has crippled the Greek economy serves as a cautionary tale against irresponsible spending. source

it's certainly true that there is an object lesson in what to avoid if you want to run a national economy when you look at greece. one of the top learnings might be "don't lie about how much you're actually spending versus how much you're bringing in when you're part of a multi-national currency group". because it's clear that the greek government did fudge their numbers to make the country look like a better investment than it actually was. 

of course, lots of countries do that. lots. of countries. and the fact is that, in most cases, agencies like the i.m.f. make a show of getting all huffy about it when the blandishments become untenable and the offending government [whether or not they were the ones who were actually responsible for cooking the books, but that's another story] goes back and plays with the numbers and comes up with a way for everyone to be happy. a lot of the time, that involves the government agreeing to devalue its currency. argentina, often lauded as one of the rising star economies on the global scale, has devalued its currency multiple times in order to force a correction to its books. [people who would be inclined to sell a country's currency because it is dropping in value against a baseline such as the u.s. dollar are dissuaded from doing so because suddenly that currency can't be exchanged for the amount of baseline money they thought. since most countries use their foreign cash reserves as a combination investment bargaining chip and a rainy day fund, this measure stops the bleeding. although it's really like forcing the bleeding to become internal.] [side note :: i should say that argentina was lauded as a strong emerging economy, up until their current president started doing things like nationalizing resources and industries and redistributing their wealth among argentinians. the country has gotten a lot less popular as an investment opportunity since then.]

but greece never had that option, because no one country can just devalue the euro to take the pressure off. and before you point out that devaluing currency is a kind of a cheat anyway, please take note of what i said above: it happens all the time. it's all well and good to say that something is bending the rules, but if you never enforce those particular rules, it's hard to blame the people doing the bending. 

the other thing that is not widely acknowledged is that a key reason for greece's revenue shortfall is that greece has a tax evasion problem. a massive tax evasion problem. it's estimated that greece loses thirty billion euros a year in unpaid taxes. 30 billion a year pays for a hell of a lot of public services and, indeed makes a big difference on the books [which in turn makes one wonder the extent to which the cooking of greek books reflected estimated versus actual tax revenues]. cracking down on this problem has been a touchy issue, since high-profile citizens like prime minister antonis samaras, the man who was earlier this week unseated by baby-faced alexis tsipras and his "radical leftist" coalition, were supposedly among those implicated. reporter kostas vaxevanis was arrested in 2012 for publishing the so-called "lagarde list", a list of nearly two thousand greek nationals who were squirreling away money in swiss bank accounts handed over to the greek government in 2010 by france's then finance minister christine lagarde. he was later acquitted, but consider the optics of the situation: faced with a report of thousands of wealthy greeks avoiding taxes, the response of the samaras government was to arrest the journalist who published their names. 

the tax avoidance problem is laughed off [if it's mentioned at all] as a part of the terminally corrupt greek political system, but it's worth noting that the austerity plan imposed on greece as a condition of even moderate financial assistance never contained any requirement for tax reform or the closing of loopholes that allowed corruption to occur. instead, it focused on reducing the number of public agencies by two thirds, taxing pensions, raising the retirement age, raising property values [which would in turn increase the taxes owed on those properties by greeks who owned them], and raising the valued-added tax [sales tax, which is paid equally by everyone, regardless of income]. thus, the brunt of the austerity measures was borne by the poor and middle class. in case you were wondering why the people would be willing to take a chance on a radical left-wing government, the answer may well be "how much worse could it realistically get?" [side note :: the issue of corruption and tax evasion in greece may have deeper roots than it appears. when the ottoman empire ruled the country, up until the greeks successfully waged a war of independence in 1821, cheating on taxes was seen as an act of patriotism- refusing the imperial overlords their due. as such, it was something that was tacitly approved by greeks tasked with collecting taxes on behalf of the empire, who would happily accept a "little envelope" to look the other way and fudge their numbers a little, as long as the result was that more greek money stayed in greek hands.]

the current result of all this is that greece and the european community are about to engage in a fairly high stakes game of chicken. what the e.c. but as anyone who has ever gone looking for food after a night of drinking and carousing can tell you: greeks are really good at chicken

in this non-food version, consider the options: 
  • the entire debate on how much and when greece will repay is to do with money that's already been invested/ received/ spent. no one is offering greece the promise of greater assistance [and, in fact, they have never really offered much, other than when it became obvious that the government was going to collapse under public pressure], so the idea that greece has something to lose in the future by unilaterally changing the terms of its debt payments is facile. 
  • the "big stick" wielded against greece is that, if it were to reduce its debt payments, foreign investors could easily collapse the country's central banking system by withdrawing money from it. that sounds like a very big stick until you consider the effect on the european union as a whole if investors were to collapse the banking system of one of their member states. aside from the fact that it would seem to be a de facto coup against democracy [the people elected this government, after all, and came close to handing them an outright majority, which is comparatively rare in multi-party europe]  
  • if greece were to be expelled [or to leave on their own initiative, which is not beyond the realm of possibility under the current government] from the european union, it sets a potentially dangerous precendent: once the union is broken once, it becomes clear to everyone that it is not inviolable. reactions against enforced austerity raise the possiblity that countries like spain and portugal could choose to withdraw, reclaiming control of their national economy. [side note :: it is ironic that the deciding factor in how central europe reacts to greece might well be determined by how likely another european country is to follow their example. there are many who might choose to split, but by far the biggest player is spain. as troubled as their economic management has been, they are a huge economy- the fourth largest within the eurozone- and, were they to start making serious noises about withdrawing from the union, it's likely that the whole system would fall apart. there is already plenty of skepticism about the benefits of european membership within the country, especially since regions that have been less willing to enforce austerity measures, like the basque territories, have performed better economically than those who have embraced "the new reality".]
  • finally, it's questionable how much foreign investors will even care about any changes that the new government makes. slashing debt repayments will make a massive difference to greece, but either way, the payments are a pittance to most of the country's creditors, especially if you take the eurozone and the i.m.f. out of the equation. the difference between payments being maintained at their current levels and being cut in half or greater is astonishingly small if you're anyone except the greeks. by that measure, it's unlikely that investors are likely to push europe to employ a hard line. because that's the difference between getting some money and getting no money, which will ultimately be about pride and principle rather than economic necessity. 

i've no idea where the current greek experiment will end up. i tend to think that it will work reasonably well for them, if for no other reason than those against whom they have stood their ground has any self-interest in making things otherwise. the more relaxed, the more friendly and the more quiet everyone can keep things in greece, the better it will be for the status quo everywhere else. of course, that puts all the power in the hands of greece's newly elected government. that's where things get really interesting.  
The financial crisis that has crippled the Greek economy serves as a cautionary tale against irresponsible spending. - See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/explaining-the-greek-economic-crisis-with-students.shtml#sthash.UzhppIUv.dpuf
The financial crisis that has crippled the Greek economy serves as a cautionary tale against irresponsible spending. - See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/explaining-the-greek-economic-crisis-with-students.shtml#sthash.UzhppIUv.dpuf
The financial crisis that has crippled the Greek economy serves as a cautionary tale against irresponsible spending. - See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/explaining-the-greek-economic-crisis-with-students.shtml#sthash.UzhppIUv.dpuf

27 January 2015

making faces :: can't somebody else do it?

i like to keep track of how people find their way here, both because i find it interesting for me and because it also helps me see what posts have the greatest power to draw interest from people who otherwise wouldn't know this blog existed. on such a check yesterday, i noticed a lot of referrals coming from one post.

this post.

i've played around with a number of ways of looking at colour analysis and what works for different people, but i don't know that i've ever done something as clear and informative as what this writer has. beauty bloggers, of course, make great subjects for study as to what works on certain skin tones, because they're constantly trying on all sorts of different things. so it's a great starting point to look at different bloggers wearing different shades and comparing what works the best versus what doesn't.

the post is specifically to do with choosing lipstick shades, but the idea could easily be extended to other items. it uses a slightly different system for evaluating colour than i have, but it's every bit as valid and extremely well explained in the post.

i like that the author makes it clear that going against your inherent colouring doesn't make you look bad, it just doesn't look as harmonious. [i think the high-contrast look from nikkie tutorials is striking in a way that i like and at the same time, the lower contrast look is clearly more at home on her natural colouring.] it's also an excellent object lesson in how appearances can be deceiving: look at all the different skin tones and how those that are closest on the surface can be opposites in terms of what works for them.


so after reading through this article, i have come to one clear decision: playing around with doing your own colour analysis can be fun, but it's actually way easier without being less rewarding when someone else does it for you. like most things in life.

26 January 2015

making faces :: apple of my eye

this should also be known as the "see? i can review things that aren't nars audacious lipsticks!" post. embarrassingly, this is a product that i've had for a month and it's even been documented on the blog that i've had it [in one of my nars lipstick reviews]. so i should have done this earlier. i guess i could claim that i was doing testing, but, as i'll get to shortly, the testing was pretty consistent and there's no reason that i couldn't have just said something earlier. but i'm going to talk about it today. any minute now. are you excited?

well, you should be excited. everyone should be excited. because this winter [which many cosmetic companies call "spring"] sees the release of a brand new eye shadow formula from giorgio armani. they're dubbed "eye tints", which made me think that they would be more of a sheer wash of colour, but the signature image for the collection says different:


she does indeed seem to be sporting some serious colour.

the inclusion of water in that image is important because, as it turns out, this formula is watery. not in a bad, thin way. consider it like holy water for makeup addicts. i'm not a huge fan of eye shadows that come in any form other than powder, but armani is one of those brands that i'll experiment with, because i've had such luck in the past. [ironically, their regular pressed powder shadows, reformulated and relaunched last year, were a bit of a disappointment.] i happened to be at my armani counter the day that their product and testers arrived, and after swatching the half a dozen shades they'd received [there are twelve in total, but the others hadn't arrived yet], i settled on purchasing just one to start: shade #11, "rose ashes".

mental health mondays :: let's talk [begrudgingly]

this will be a quick one, because there's only so far i can go praising an initiative from bell canada before i start to vurp.

nevertheless, as much as i might detest them as a former customer [and i do], i appreciate the fact that bell has mounted a campaign for the last three years on raising awareness about and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness. the "let's talk" campaign is also, of course, a fundraising effort and bell donates money per tweet, per call, per text and per facebook share on wednesday, january 28th. they also have a community fund that provides grants to organizations seeking to improve access to mental health programs. plus they've given an arseload of money to hospitals, research bodies and organizations like kids help line.

the web site for the campaign is itself a solid resource for information on mental health issues and the corporation has even developed a nifty little toolkit so that you can organize your own mental health events/ discussions.

as i say every year, being a bell canada customer might not have been good for my personal mental health, but their "let's talk" initiative is doing a lot to help others. so yes, even bad corporations can do good things sometimes. and just as we should hold them to account when they screw up, we should give them a salute when they do things right. [otherwise they'll never learn.]

i will be making a concerted effort to create a tweetstorm on my own with their #bellletstalk hash tag, but please feel free to join in [especially if you're a bell customer, since that's where the call/ text money will come from] and speak up about your crazy and the right of all of us to have our crazy treated seriously and respectfully.
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