17 September 2012

making faces :: guerlain should take my advice more often

time to get wild. or tawny.
ok, i don't want to brag, but... well, i do want to brag actually, because when i did my "beauty brand report card" a few months back i said that the one thing i thought guerlain had to work on was their blush. and apparently, they take my opinion very seriously, because for their fall launch, they've featured a new collection of six blushes that join their permanent lineup.

that's not all they did, of course. they also introduced a new liquid lipstick formula that's stealing all the headlines. plus there are four new and permanent rouge g shades and two new glosses which everyone is ignoring, despite the fact that they're the only things that aren't permanent. and then there's the new [and, yes, permanent] eye shadow quad called "les fauves", a symphony of late autumn foliage shades in brown, copper and coral-orange.

i'd like to thank guerlain for making all of these things permanent, because it saves me having to harvest my internal organs for makeup money. yes folks, it's that pretty [the makeup, not the organs]. unlike the moodier shades of nars or the ladylike colours of chanel, guerlain's fall palette is bold, rich, strong, saturated... you get the idea. there are some more restrained shades of the blushes available, but the colour scheme for the collection is alive with rich tones of copper and orange and reds, with flashes of bright pink. there's something about it that reminds me of the shades associated with the tapestry-laden dens of morocco [as filtered through the orientalist european eye].

now, just because things are permanent doesn't mean a lady like me doesn't want them right now. so i have already helped myself to two little goodies: one of the new blushes and the new eye shadow quad.

SEE WHAT DELIGHTS LIE BEHIND THE VIRTUAL CURTAIN...



guerlain introduced their new "ecrin 4 couleurs" palettes with their 2011 fall collection and have included one with each subsequent collection they've offered since. i'm a huge fan of them in general- although i've been remiss about reviewing the ones in my collection- but even comparing it to my favourite guerlain palettes, "les fauves" is pretty exceptional.

part of this might be the colour choice. in general, i've noticed that getting rich, pigmented shades of warm brown and copper is something most companies can do [and why i absolutely cannot forgive one that's sub-par], so i would expect that guerlain would be able to do these well. but "well" doesn't come close to describing this. swatching them for this post, i noticed myself getting hypnotised by their beauty. each shade is incredibly nuanced, which is important if you're going to shell out for a luxury palette [although i maintain that if you divide the $64cad price tag by four shadows, you end up with a per shade price that's lower than you might think]. i love the fact that there's no "typical" metallic copper- which has been done by every company a hundred times- and despite this having been the year of orange, there's no true orange either. none of the shades is predictable or flat and all of them are densely pigmented and smooth.

the word "fauve" on its own in french means "tawny", which is a nice description of these colours. they aren't quite orange, aren't quite brown, but mostly in that space in between. if you pop an 's' on the end, though, as guerlain has, "tawny" becomes "beasts". so there's a nice double entendre at work here. or triple entendre, since "fauvism" is also a school of art associated with the primal, the wild, the raw and the powerful. yes, it's possible i overthink my eye shadows, but i wasn't the one who decided to use such a delightfully ambiguous name.

the first shade is a rich bronzy brown, very pigmented and deep.

natural light
with flash
i expected this to be the most easily duped of the four colours, but i didn't have a real match for it. mac "twinks" is a shade darker and more brown, less red. nars "blade runner" is noticeably redder.

l to r :: mac twinks, les fauves, nars blade runner :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
the second shade really defies description. it's an intense terracotta kind of colour, a mix of brown and orange without being either. it's satiny in its finish, although it can look matte and there are faint pink and gold sparkles hidden in its depths, which do give the shade a faint pink tinge overall. i've honestly never seen anything quite like this colour.

natural light
with flash
i compared it to mac saffron, a rich brick red with a brown undertone, but "saffron" is lighter, brighter and a lot redder.

l to r :: les fauves, mac saffron [l.e.] :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
the third shade appears very matte, in that it doesn't reflect light at all, but there are a few white sparkles in there. it's an orange-coral shade that's a little more powdery than the others, but still packs a lot of punch. i love guerlain for including this colour, because it takes the whole combination from a sort of expected, rusty kind of look to something more electric. [i'll have to get you to imagine photos of it on its own, since i seem to be missing mine...]

mac's limited shade "hot hot hot" has a bit more pink but is similar. "firecracker" another mac limited shade is very close, but has a frost finish, which makes it look very different on the eye.

l to r :: mac hot hot hot [l.e.], les fauves, mac firecracker [l.e.] :: natural light
same as above, with flash
finally, there is a sandy beige shade, very shimmery, that can be used as a highlight or- if it's a little dark to be used as such- can be blended with others on the lid. if there's one thing that irks me about guerlain's quads, it's that their highlight shades tend to be either a bit too dark, too frosty or both. this one is easier to deal with than some, in that the shade doesn't look quite as shimmery applied as others. it does have an understated coppery note to it, which makes it a very interesting colour to play with.

natural light
with flash
the only shade i could find that was similar was an older mac one called "time and space" from 2008's "neo sci-fi" collection. they don't look too similar in the pan and, in fact, "time and space" looks darker on application, but they both have a mix of beige, copper and brown going on.

l to r :: les fauves, mac time and space [l.e.] :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
guerlain's new blushes are each made up of two shades- split in a 2/3-1/3 combination. in theory, one is more of a colour/ highlight and the other [smaller] one is more of a contour, but it varies considerably. some combinations are more a highlighter + colour, whereas others are more colour + contour. usually, one shade is more matte and one shade is more shimmery, but not always. 

i must admit, when i first swatched the guerlain blushes, sticking my grubby little fingers in the pristine pans, i balked. the colour payoff was terrible. not just on one, either, but on almost every single shade. i was shocked that guerlain could have let these pass. i've rarely if ever seen them fail on any product, let alone on a whole line. then the makeup artist working at my counter offered to try one on my cheeks. i let her go ahead and even let her pick the colour- one called "peach boy". she swept her dense, fluffy brush quickly through the pans, mixing the colour and totally ignoring the whole highlight/ colour/ contour thing and brushed the shade onto my cheeks. when i looked in the mirror, i jumped, because i had to ask her to blend the colour out a little more.

she did so happily, explaining that she wanted me to see what the shade looked like at full impact. that was full impact? watching her apply it had been like watching a hummingbird's wings. how had she gotten so much colour from such a quick gesture?so here's my advice to all: skip the finger swatches and just ask for a brush. a couple of the colours [like the deep, warm "red hot"] will give you more of an idea of what they look like in practice, but the only way to really gauge these is to see them on your sweet cheeks.

i selected "pink punk", because it reminded me of a combination of pink and plum i used to have back when i was first discovering makeup. also, it's called "pink punk" which is reason enough to buy it as far as i'm concerned.

both of the shades here are nearly matte and they feel fairly dry to the touch. applied, the colour goes on smoothly and blends well [maybe not as well as the other blushes, but very well for a matte formula]. the larger portion is a bright, warm pink with a bit of red to it. it's quite pigmented and is great for giving a "doll cheeks" kind of look on pale skin. on dark or olive-toned skin i think it would be a rich, stunning blush. although it's matte, the colour does have a certain quiet glow to it, like it's feeling smug about how intense and pretty it is.

the contour shade is, for me, an absolutely perfect contour shade. it's a soft, dusty plum that perfectly complements the pink tones in my skin and really makes my cheekbones look sharply defined and quite elegant, without giving that harsh eighties "spray paint" kind of look. i found that the application for this one was extremely smooth- a bit more so than for its neighbour.

combined, the plum mutes the brightness of the pink, which in turn warms up the plum shade a little. of course, you can adjust the combination to a ratio of your choice by focusing more on the plum or more on the pink.

l to r :: pink side, plum side, mixed :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
there are lots of pink blushes around and blush is one of those products that is very dependent on the colour of the skin that's wearing it- it's never opaque unless you're doing something wrong, so what you see is a combination of your own skin tone plus the blush. for that reason, i'm always a little hesitant to give comparisons on blushes. what looks close on me might not look close at all on others. but in the name of thoroughness, here goes.

benefit "bella bamba" is more coral/ peach than the mixed shade and more subdued than the pink half on its own. mac's "dollymix" is similarly bright, but quite a bit cooler than either the pink half or the mixed shade. mac "mocha" is kind of similar to the plum half only, but it's pinker and lighter. sorry about the quality of these shots. my arms weren't long enough to get everything comfortably in the shot and my patience wasn't long enough to take each shot individually. mea culpa.

t to b :: pink punk mixed, plum, pink, mac dollymix, mac mocha, benefit bella bamba :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
both shades lasted very well, which on my blush-eating face means that i could still see some colour at the end of the working day [about ten hours after application]. i suspect that the lighter colours wouldn't last quite so long, but i think it's about the maximum i could expect. that said, nars blushes cost around 40% less but have the same lasting power, so longevity isn't a reason to splurge on a guerlain blush.

the chief reason for splurging would be the flexibility that two shades in one gives you. as i mentioned, you can wear either one, both applied separately, or both applied together in different ratios. that's a lot of options for one product. in addition, the soft, finely milled powders apply well, build and blend nicely and have a lovely, refined appearance on the skin. whether that's enough to warrant spending $56cad on a blush is up to you. one thing i noticed was that these blushes have a violet scent that's typical of guerlain products, but not typical of blushes in general. i don't find it bothers me, but if you're scent-sitive, you might want to ask to do a sniff test before committing.

a couple of words about the products that i didn't buy: the liquid lipsticks are quite intense, but the colours lack the nuance of guerlain's other lip products. if you're a fan of a matte lip, though, pucker up. the four new rouge g lipsticks they've introduced are all beautiful. i'm glad to see them expanding the line into more daring, modern, vibrant colours in the last year or so. "genna"- my personal favourite- is a bright orange-red. it's slightly redder and a touch sheerer than hourglass "raven". and if you missed "gardner" last year, "gisela" from this launch is almost indistinguishable. [y u no call it by same name, guerlain?]

and finally... what the heck do these things look like on your face, anyway? well, i can't tell you what they'll look like on your face, because i don't have your face here with me- something for which you're probably quite grateful, since i'll bet you like having your face with you all the time. but i can tell you what they look like on my face and, even better, i can show you what they look like on my face.

if i've learned one lesson this year [and i really try not to learn more than that, so that i don't run out of excuses for my mistakes], it's that orange-toned shadows really love my eyes. it's the colour wheel in action- opposites make each other look brighter and more intense. so i do have to put a special word in here to my blue-eyed ladies: you probably need "les fauves" now.

other than that, i'll let you see how things look and make your decisions accordingly...

the base
marcelle beauty balm "light/ medium"
urban decay naked skin foundation "2.0"
gosh liquid concealer "light"
marcelle pressed powder "translucent"

the eyes
guerlain e/s quad "les fauves"
mac eye kohl "fascinating" [white]
mac fluidline eye liner "blacktrack" [black]
benefit bad gal mascara

cheeks
guerlain blush "pink punk" [hot pink/ dirty cool plum]

lips
guerlain rouge automatique l/s "shalimar" [cool fuchsia pink]

hey! no suggested alternates! everything i used here is totally available for all time until the end of the world... or something.

i got my guerlain products at shoppers drug mart in canada. they're probably the most widely distributed prestige brand in north america, available at most major department stores, sephora [although not all sephora stores have the new collection in stock] and in canada through shoppers drug mart and murale.

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