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making faces :: getting cheeky

blush might just be the last thing that a beauty lover comes to appreciate, seeing as it can be a matter of slight degrees that separates one product from another, and it's most difficult to tell from just swatching a product how it's going to look. and it did take me a long time to appreciate that, despite loving my refined pallor and believing that my natural rosy flush was more than enough of a blush for me, blush is my friend. it softens, sculpts, perfects and, although you might not see it at first blush [yuk yuk yuk], it is something that subtly harmonises with the other colours in a look to make it "complete". yes, it's the most tricky thing to pull off when you're wearing something that doesn't mesh with your own undertones. but it's also the thing that can take a face from gloomy to glowing with a swish of the magic wand known as a makeup brush.

highlighters are an even trickier lot, since many of the more brilliant ones have a tendency to emphasise pores and they can make you look sweaty rather than glamourous. but they can also make you look like you have your own lighting crew with you. it's just a matter of finding the right one.

i bring this up, as you might have guessed, because i've been particularly attentive to my blushes and highlighters lately, and because i wanted to share some recent favourites.

nars :: i think i've said just about everything that can be said about nars blushes, unless it's negative, in which case, i haven't said it. no company has the range of colours, finishes and textures as nars. no company has made blush more exciting than nars. so when they launched an extremely small number of liquid blushes this year, i paid attention. i'm not normally a fan of liquid blushes, because i don't find that they ever look like more than a pinkish smear, but, yes, nars have outdone themselves. although it's only four shades, this already looks like the best thing since sliced powder blush [yeah, i'm sure that's a thing].

i picked up "dolce vita", because it's one of their powder shades that i've been eyeing forever. what can i say? it is rich and pigmented and, beyond that, super-rich and super-pigmented. it's a deep rose red that i'm going to be buried with, because i seriously cannot begin to imagine that i'm ever going to go through an entire bottle of this stuff. i need just the tiniest amount to add a significant but lovely flush to my cheeks. it buffs out nicely [because, no matter what i tell you, you're going to end up putting too much on] and lasts for as long as you need it to last, which is my way of saying that it's still visibly there when i remove it at the end of the day, no matter how trying that day might have been.

here's a look at what just a bare smidgen looks like against my skin. [and yes, i am a pale character, but seriously, unless you're lupita n'yongo or grace jones dark, you need only a tiny bit. even dark-skinned lovelies could overwhelm their colouring with this.]

i also managed to get a sample of "orgasm", the ubiquitous nars pink-peach shade that they release in every collection, in every format. i've never been an "orgasm" fan, exactly. when it comes to a natural blush, i find that the pinkier "deep throat" is more suited to my particular needs, and that the whole "orgasm" collection is too golden-toned for my tastes. but free is free and so i figured i'd give this particular "orgasm" a try. and my god, am i glad that i did.

in liquid form, "orgasm" is much pinker and fresher, while the golden shimmer is a more subtle addition. here are a couple of photos of it in regular light, and with a flash, which allows you to see both its pinky beauty and its hidden golden iridescence.

orgasm, natural light
orgasm, with flash
and, in case you were wondering, it has plenty of pop on the cheeks, enough to raise it, i'd say, from the realm of the everyday natural to that of the sweet pop of colour that borders on doll cheeks. [incidentally, my favourite blush look.]

the bottom line? damn, nars needs to release more of these, pronto.

becca :: i still feel like i'm feeling my way around becca's product offering, but i sat up and paid attention to their recent launch of "light chaser" highlighters, all of which have a duochrome finish. basically, i am a sucker for anything duochrome. i get fascinated by anything that shifts in the light and i'm eager to incorporate such things into my makeup routine.

i picked up the "opal flashes jade" light chaser, because, of any of the colours on offer, i was most eager to see something that gave off a blue-green light. and, indeed, "opal flashes jade" does indeed show an aqua-green iridescence over a warm beige base, one that can be very striking when the light hits it directly. it's also incredibly smooth and blends well, although, like most becca highlighters, it can be a little unkind to visible pores.

opal flashes jade, natural light
opel flashes jade, with flash
the light chaser range can be worn as either a highlighter or an eyeshadow. it's nice to know that, especially since i wore it as an eyeshadow before checking that... hooray for still having eyes! in celebration, here it is used on eyes [on the inner lids] and cheeks:

earlier this year, becca also came out with their "prismatic amethyst" highlighter, an opalescent purple that reads more as a cool-toned wash than as a thick layer of colour. i'm going to back off what i said earlier about becca highlighters being unforgiving on pores, because this one is an exception. it's a gorgeous lilac shade that brightens the complexion without drawing attention to anything that you don't want attention drawn to.

prismatic amethyst, natural light

prismatic amethyst, with flash

there are a number of shades, as well as products, that becca has made exclusive to places other than sephora. and while ulta and becca themselves do ship to canada, i sure do wish that i could combine all those other goodies with a sephora order and save myself the shipping charges and hassle.

most recently, becca have also released their highlighters in miniature sizes, with miniature prices. you can choose from a selection of becca favourites, or you can choose "vanilla quartz", an off-white, yes "vanilla" shade with pink shimmer that is an absolute must-have for neutral-to-cooler-toned complexions.

vanilla quartz, natural light
vanilla quartz, with flash
seriously, this shade is everything i wanted from a highlighter, and serves really well as a complex eye shade, although, i must add, it's not intended for use as an eyeshadow. [who cares??? i used it that way anyway and i lived to tell the tale!] here's the eyes + cheek proof!

benefit :: i feel like benefit don't get the attention they deserve from me, but, to be fair, that's because i'm allergic to a number of the products in their assortment, basically everything that isn't a powder. that said, i am a great and long-time fan of their box o'powder blushes, but i sometimes blush [heh heh heh] at parting with the $38cad that they charge, given that the blushes used to be less expensive and have more in them.

i finally got persuaded to come back to benefit because of "galifornia", a bright pink-with-apricot-undertones blush that they launched this spring and that basically had me hypnotised from the first time i swatched it in store.

galifornia, natural light
galifornia, with flash

what can i say beyond the fact that it is a beautiful pink that would suit both cooler and warmer tones [but maybe not muted tones, since it does have an inherent sunny brightness]? benefit's blush powders have always been champs when it comes to lasting power, and the fact that there's less product than there used to be is a debatable minus when you consider that there's still more than you're likely to go through in a couple of years, unless you're literally using it every day. of course, you could use something this beautiful every day, and i wouldn't blame you. i'm just saying that you don't need to...

so all that to say... yes, it is absolutely worth paying attention to the way your cheeks flush when you wake up in the morning, and how they continue to do so throughout the day. blushes are a subtle but crucial part of your makeup routine and, despite what you may think, they do not all look alike. these are just a few of the best new options from some of the best brands. go forth, my pretties, and blush!!


Kyle said…
I support blush, and I don’t write about specific topics. But here it is:

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


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: soft touch

ah winter, how my lips hate you. it's too bad, really, because the rest of me likes winter, down to about -12 or so. but there's no arguing that i get dried out. nuxe rĂªve de miel is my super best friend at this time of year, even more so than otherwise. [i gave bite's agave lip mask a try only to find out i'm allergic to something in it.] but our [still] new apartment is somewhat drier than the old one [electric vs hot water heating], which meant that, for a long stretch, virtually every kind of lipstick was uncomfortable. the horror. [i wrote a post a while back about the formulas that are friendliest to chapped lips.]

faced with this dilemma, i decided to try something not exactly new, but [for me], out of the ordinary: being a gloss girl. now, i don't mind glosses. i buy them from time to time, and i used to buy more until i discovered that i just wasn't using them near enough to justify the continued purchases. my issues with glosses are that they feather…

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…