Monday, June 27, 2016

Currently- June 2016

I should have written this post two or three weeks ago, when June was at its most glorious, full of the usual promises, this year amplified by the great gift of the three kittens we rescued. The kittens are wonderful, no worries. They're thriving, loving, and filling our house with purrs and fluffy acrobatics. I can't thank you enough for following this magic both on Instagram and through our Jersey Cat page (no membership needed, it's completely public ). I'll try to update the page tomorrow with their name stories, and some observations about their characters (other than "fluffy").

But June has brought on more than that. A serious emergency on the husband's side of the family has rattled us to our core, and has changed the outlook of the immediate and not so immediate future. 2016 hasn't been very kind to several of my friends, so we're just one family out of many. Perspective, though, is not all that it's cracked up to be.

I started reading Jennifer Weiner's Who Do You love, but had to take a break as the emotional resonance was a bit much.  I enjoyed Angela M. Sanders'  (that's Angela of NST, if you didn't know) The Halston Hit. Vintage couture, drag queens, a frothy kind of suspense... it's a god fun. And I'm about to start a book my sister has wholeheartedly recommended: Life According to Lubka by Laurie Graham. There's no eBook version, and it was only printed in the UK, so I had to order an actual paper copy from  (all of a sudden it's 1999), but I expect some pure reading joy.  My Mom wants to add that if you also speak a little Bulgarian, your enjoyment would be even greater (my own vocabulary is limited to saying "monkey", "frog", and "fried bread")

I couldn't find a video of Jono McCleary's Brightly, but everything this guy records is magic. This is the acoustic version of Tomorrow, and if you suspect that your musical taste somewhat aligns with mine, I highly recommend checking him out. (question: is anyone interested in a blog post about my favorite music? A blogger friend has suggested it and I've been kind of skeptical).

Before we get to the main event, I can tell you  that over the last month the husband and I binged the entire fourth season of The Americans. It was hard to DVR every weekly episode and avoid spoilers but we did it and I still think that this is the best way to watch this complex and heart-wrenching series. People who've never watched tend to dismiss The Americans as "that show about KGB spies", but it really isn't. It's about family, trust, love, the crazy 1980s, and the way it all culminated for people who also happened to be ruthless KGB spies, yet also loving parents going trough a massive identity crisis (brilliantly written). This season also featured a mega Emmy-worthy performance by the incomparable Dylan Baker (Colleen Sweeney, if you used to watch The Good Wife while it was still good).

Another binging worth your time was the ESPN documentary (did I just type those words?) about OJ Simpson. Those were ten hours of meticulous research, in-depth analysis of race relations, Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s, no sensationalism, and a jaw-dropping amount of authentic footage (no reenactments  or any of the usual BS). I think it's an important show.

But, aren't we here to talk about Cersei?

Beware of spoilers.

I loved the sixth season nearly as much as I hated the fifth one. Despite the general lameness in Meeereen and the way my favorite actor, Peter Dinklage, has been underutilized, I loved the pacing, the wrapping up of old storylines from Uncle Benjen to the Hound, Walder Frey eating pie, Jaime and Brienne's complicated relationship, and the brilliant Wildlings (RIP Wun-Wun). I'm still traumatized by Hodor , but somehow it was the understated and carefully filmed last seconds of King Tommen that touched me the most. I liked Tommen, I was sorry for him, I knew he was doomed, but still. And now we have a Queen. Darth Cersei. As terrifying as the Mad King himself, a fact that Jaime couldn't have missed during the coronation.  Just wow.
And one final gloating: R+L= Jon Snow. Anyone not seeing that one coming should join Giantsbane for a drink of fermented goat milk.

When your best friend goes on a business trip to Paris you end up with more Bell Jars.

I just bought the Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette. I'm officially a sheep who owns a red eye shadow.

Frequently Worn
Clothes that smell like kitten formula.

Something to help with the next nine month withdrawal: Watchers on the Wall.

I've been consisting on an odd diet that includes fresh tomatoes, Turkish delight, and scary amounts of chocolate milk. Whatever works.

Even including this category seems wrong and self-indulgent. But I have a list of petty complaints and you're going to hear them. All of them.

When my old laptop kicked the bucket last month the husband immediately ordered me a new and amazingly spiffy machine. Only the one that arrived a few days later did not have a working touch pad. No biggie. Lenovo did good on their customer service promises and replaced it within a week. I love my new toy and its spectacular performance, but the keyboard is slightly different, ending up with me making so many typos that I write like the comment section of People Magazine.

Then the washing machine died. The technician arrived, congratulated me on sixteen years of good washer stewardship (there was not even a speck of rust), and told me that fixing the thing would cost more than 50% of a shiny new high-efficiency Whirlpool. Guess what we're doing on the 4th of July weekend?

Because that's not enough, I woke up with the mother of all back spasms that caused me to throw out my back. It's stress (it's always stress). I have a massage booked for tomorrow, but that makes me feel even more guilty.

Those three whiskered faces that start purring when they see me.

Saturday afternoon with the husband.
A date to Home Depot.
Aforementioned massage.
2017 (maybe). Let's make it 2020.

Sea Change.

Random Thought
I want my mommy.

How are you? What's on your list of loves and banes? Any wishes and recommendations?

Art: Rose Garden, Camille Pissarro 1862

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A "Let's Try Not to Melt" FotD

I've been all about simple looks using a moderate amount of product that can survive the revolving door between the piping hot soup outside and the instant freeze of air conditioned spaces. Doing all that while maintaining a happy supple skin is quite a task. This look survived at least six hours of activity before I washed it all off and changed into kitten feeding gear.

Smashbox oil primer. This one has  become a staple and I will repurchase when it's gone.
Edward Bess Compact Foudation 03 Nude. I've gone through too many to count.
NARS Creamy Concealer in Custard to even out areas under the eyes (lack of sleep) and around the nose (allergies).
Tom Ford stick foundation in Natural 5, dabbed with a mini brush for spot concealing. I didn't use enough of that, to be honest.Color is a good match, and I've always loved using stick foundation as concealers (I used to have a precious staple from Estee Lauder).
Rouge Bunny Rouge powder

Urban Decay Anti-Aging eye primer
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Copper. It came with a Sephora Bronze Favorite Kit that sold out before I had the chance to even take photos. The Caviar stick itself is available individually at Nordstrom.
From Lorac Pro3 palette I used Clay in the crease and to create my usual shape.
Stila Stay All Day eyeliner in Black
Guerlain Maxi Lash Curl Sculpting Mascara.

Clinique Just Browsing 03 Deep Brown. It might be my favorite product in this category due to color, ease of application, performance, and longevity.

Milani Coralina baked blush.  The photos wash it out, but it looks pleasant to the naked  eye.

Colourpop Fric'n'Frack pencil and Ultra Satin Lip. I like the color more than the texture. I'm old. I prefer real lipsticks.

Other Stuff
SotD: Rainmaker by En Voyage. It's become my constant companion, making it harder and harder to review. It's my second ski nowadays.
Earrings: vintage. Thank you dear Lawrence (and Rosa de Gata).
Dress by Norma Kamali (current collection)
Denim jacket by Current/Elliott

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tarte Tarteist™ Metallics Single Eye Shadows- Swatches

I think I was bottle-feeding the kittens at some ungodly hour when the Tarte newsletter announcing the new Tarteist Metallics popped in my mailbox (I had the iPad next to me).  I no longer remember the thought process that led me to ordering nine out of the eleven available colors. Maybe it were the kittens sprawled on my lap in a food coma. Or perhaps I really wanted pretty metallic eye shadows. The package from Tarte arrived the other day and I have yet to actually put the eye shadows to the test (I'm going out tonight, so that will be a start), but I wanted to show you swatches and give you the basic information. I will most likely tell you more about performance and longevity as part of an upcoming makeup look.

I passed o two colors from the Tarteist Metallics range: Pin-Up, which is a pearl white with what looks like a holographic sheen, and Hussy, a yellow gold that appeared too yellow for my taste. My enthusiasm for the  Tarteist shadow texture is making me reconsider, but truly, these nine are enough. They're all incredibly pigmented, very soft, and have slightly more of a gleam than a true metallic finish, making them somewhat easier to wear than I initially expected. The aforementioned softness is probably responsible to the fact that Speakeasy arrived shattered (and crumbled even more when I attempted to swatch it). Tarte's customer service has already sent a replacement.

Here's what I've got:



Poker Face


Shake Down



Dame- Mauve/rose brown (Tarte calls it a "dusy rose").
Grind- A sliver taupe with khaki leanings (especially on warmerskin tones).
Poker Face- A complex lilac taupe with a silvery gleam.
Scandal- A coppery terracotta.
Scarlet- A red plum in a brown base
Shake Down- A light-to-medium taupe
Sinful- A very rich and complex brown with traces of cool purple.
Speakeasy- A reddish dark brown
Whiskey- A warm bronze

The Tarteist Metallics are meant to be popped out of their cases and placed in a magnetic palette, which is an excellent thing for space saving, even if the outer box is quite attractive and has a helpful colored panel that tells you what's inside.  I'm pondering which single matte eye shadows I should transfer to said palette to make it a complete set for various looks (Tarte doesn't offer single mattes in a similar format).

Bottom Line: Stunning pigmentation, but the jury will have to wear them several times.

Tarte Tarteist™ Metallics Single Eye Shadows ($14 each. Made in the US) are available from Ulta (online only) and No idea if and when they'll arrive at Sephora.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sephora Collection Pro Featherweight Blending Brush #93

Sephora Pro brushes have long been a go-to line for great brushes that are easily available and are often as good if not better than many department store brushes. Over the years Sephora has updated and changed the Pro brushes, adding new shapes that work with current trends and popular products. Such is the case with the Featherweight Blending Brush #93 that was launched about two months ago.

Sephora Collection Pro Featherweight Blending Brush #93 is a super fluffy pointy brush with long tapered hair that's meant for use to apply and various powder products: heavily pigmented blushes that require a very light touch, highlighters (especially many of the most popular ones that act have a beacon effect), setting powders under the eye or adding a light veil of a glowing finishing powder, as well as for cleaning up excess powders, and blending the whole thing seamlessly without moving too much product around. That makes the #93 a multitasking superhero that has seen quite a bit of use since I received it.

This Sephora brush is related to Hakuhodo G5537, a brush that's become a favorite for me in the four years since it appeared on the market. The shape is not identical (Sephora is slightly longer and more tapered), but they're both very soft, lightly packed, and have a lot of give due to the length and no density. I use them interchangeably everywhere I need a feather-light touch of color or powder. For those looking for a vegan alternative to Hakuhodo's goat hair G5537, this is the answer.

Below you can also see a comparison to Hakuhodo's medium Yachiyo (pointed). It's only here because the size of the head is in a similar ballpark, and the Yachiyo is a magnificent blending tool. The goat hair head is denser and the length/shape of the Hakuhodo gives it more snap.

Bottom Line: a semi-essential.

Sephora Collection Pro Featherweight Blending Brush #93 ($30, made in China) is available at Sephora, in-store and online. I received the brush as part of a free press kit during last month's NYC Makeup Show.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow Palette 01 Moss Green

The last time I replenished my Suqqu Eyebrow Liquid Pen (the Stila one is a very decent alternative, but dries up in about third of the time) I decided to live dangerously and also order the Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow Palette. These trios come in two colors, 01 Moss Green and 02 Brown. I hesitated a little before picking Moss Green, because unlike the pen, where the brown version is clearly for blondes and those with much warmer toned brows/hair, the powders seem more forgiving, and the brown palette has a taupe color that could have been a good fit. In the end, I decided to trust Suqqu and assume that the palettes correspond with the pens. Maybe I could have pulled off 02 Brown, but why risk it?

Each palette has three colors: two brow powders, and something they call a "blending powder", which if I understand correctly, is to be used if you need to lighten or add some warmth to the brow powders. I admit that I don't use it for this purpose, but it makes as an occasional eye shadow base if I can't be bothered with anything else. There are also two semi-usable brow tools: a stiff angled brush and a fluffy brush (for said blending). They're too small for precision work in my abnormally large hands, but they work for travel, I guess.

All three powders are of fantastic quality. The warm beige blending powder is fine enough to perform as an eye shadow (I've recently discovered it works well in the crease). The brow powders are a cool-toned dark brown and that excellent hybrid of gray-green and and brown. I mix both and call it a day. The super-fine powder clings nicely  to the hair and adds some texture as well as fills in the gaps. When I use this (or any other high-quality brow powder) I find that I can usually skip brow gel, unless I'm going for the full effect and need my brows to survive a long day. The powder and the pen do work together well, though. Since the tail of both my brows is oddly short, I can use the pen to judiciously add a hint of length (carefully, since my brow bone really ends nearby and I'm trying to avoid the downward pointing look), and the powder to make everything blend together naturally. The result is as good as it gets, and is extremely durable.

Bottom Line: now if we could only get Suqqu directly here in the US.

Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow Palette 01 Moss Green is available in Selfridge's (£38.00, made in Japan), if you're lucky enough to live in the UK (their international shipping charges are insane, unless you order your weight in stuff). You can also order through, which charges an eye-watering markup (¥8350 JPY, which is around $88). Seriously, can someone strike a deal with the brand and bring it here?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Feline Update




I have the attention span of a kitten these days.

Even if I tell myself I'm only going to do ingredient research or gather price information for an upcoming post, within minutes I'm googling capybaras as pets. Because obviously we need more pets around here. But mostly I'm focusing on how much formula and canned kitten food goes into each one of the little ones (a lot), how quickly they're developing new skills (every day), and how amazing they are (very).

We haven't had any success with their mother, which is going to be a problem since she has started working on her next batch of babies. And relocated to our back yard, bringing with her every virile male cat in the neighborhood. We've been playing phone tag with the local cat rescue group, but we need them to get here as soon as yesterday, as our house in full capacity.

Our older cats don't seem to mind any of this. They watch the indecent cat action that's going on outside with minor interest (they prefer squirrel porn), and are only mildly curious about the new kittens. Most of them have been through this several  times before. We're started careful introductions today. Josephine is determined to make new friends, Cedric seems to greatly approve, while Marigold and Gemma are ready to recruit them into their squad. Philip ran for his life. Bob took a nap.

Normal service will resume soon.

Friday, June 10, 2016

FotD (and Kittens)

The best FotD belong to the kittens, obviously. Gloria, Georgie, and Lilian are doing wonderfully.  They have distinct personalities and are amazing to watch. I know that not everyone is on Facebook, but our Jersey Cats page is completely public, so you don't need an account to see any of the photos and the videos. I also try to post different photos on Instagram, to keep things interesting. While it feels like I'm constantly making bottles, washing bottles, or feeding kittens while wearing formula-stained yoga pants. But I also managed to leave the house a few times in full makeup, so that's what we have today.

Someone recently asked for a makeup look using Pixi pencils, so that's what we have here today. A pencil-only eye makeup that only utilized one brush (Chikuhodo Z10). The colors here are neutralish, but I did use quite a bit of color and extended the shape because I was going to wear my glasses and wanted some impact. I might post another Pixi eye look based on teal or blue.

Giorgio Armani Fluid Master primer.
Chanel Les Beiges 30. This one absolutely require an oil primer, or it looks dry and porous on my face. Since I didn't use any I tried to fix the situation using Smashbox Primer Water (meh), and eventually it all settled. But this Chanel foundation is only for really clammy days.
Hourglass Hidden Concealer in Natural and YSL Touche Eclat No.2 to correct and even things out where needed.
Youngblood Hi-Def Hydrating Powder.

Wet'n'Wild primer
Pixi Lid Last Shadow Pen in Mocha Mauve all over the mobile lid.
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Bronze Beam smudged on the lid with the Z10 brush and used to tightline.
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Copper Glow applied generously under the lower lashes and again smudged with the same brush.
Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara.

Wunderbrow gel in Black/Brown

Lancome Blush Subtil Duo Pressed Rose (Limited edition from their Jason Wu collaboration).  I used both the blush and the highlighter for a quick and easy look. Any combination of a natural rosy blush and a pinkish frosty highlighter will do, and I use a light hand anyway.

Giorgio Armani Smooth Silk lip pencil #9 all over the lips
L'Oreal Glossy Balm 260 Vintage Rose

Other Stuff
Top by DVF
Antique earrings
Frames by Tiffany (available from LensCrafters on special order)
SotD Rainmaker by En Voyage.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

More Top Perfumes You can Actually Find- An Updated List

A friend who was combing through my various perfume lists happened upon this post from 2008, Twenty Five Top Perfumes You Can Actually Find. She had a good laugh at the "Actually Find" part. Who wouldn't? Some have been axed (R.I.P Eau de Shalimar) and most have been gutted by reformulations and reconstruction of the entire line (Annick Goutal, Robert Piguet, Miller Harris, L'Artisan). A few of Uncle Serge's best have been put (or put back) into the exclusive bell jars, making them not exactly "hard to find" (because nowadays you can even order them online in the US), but still nearly impossible to sample (and the price markup in the US makes my eyes water every time I think of it). So what are the best perfumes currently on the market?

I stand by my selection of everything you can buy from Serge Lutens (minus the Eaux), as well as the older perfumes by Andy Tauer (though it's a good idea to let the bottle macerate longer. From what my nose tells me, they don't smell as rich right off the shelf). Tom Ford's Black Orchid is still a favorite (the Private Blend on the other hand has gone downhill and rolled into the gutter, in my opinion), as are the elusive but available (in Paris and NYC) JAR perfumes. Vero Profumo is doing as well as ever (Rozy is everything), and I'm willing to consent that you can find something good at Guerlain, even if it's becoming more and more difficult (and infuriating).

Still, among the jaw-dropping number of new brands and new releases there are quite a few perfumes that deserve a place on such a list. Major new players in the field that have appeared since 2008 include the current incarnation of Roja Parfums, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, and Aedes des Venustas store line. I've picked single perfumes and entire brands that I think are worth your time, skin, and nose power, and are most likely here to stay:

Bruno Fazzolari. You knew I was going to mention one of my most favorite American perfumers. With the exception of Room 237, which is a conceptual perfume that give me an anxiety attack upon sniffing (it's meant to do that, actually), I find his work smart, satisfying, and just beautiful all around.

Chanel Misia (from the Les Exclusifs range). A somewhat Guerlainesque Chanel that seems to work for just about everyone, and with a good reason.

This is as good a time as any to remind people that Pierre Guillaume is a brilliant perfumer, and almost everything under his Parfumerie Generale brand is a Good Perfume (I'm not a big fan of his Huitieme Art line, and find Phaedon too uneven). My personal favorites include but are not limited to Felanilla, Ilang Ivohibe, Bois de Copaiba, Musc Maori... I could go on. You know what? All of them.

Aftelier by Mandy Aftel is an all-natural line, but deserves to be regarded just as any other brand. Palimpsest, Haute Claire, and Bergamoss are in the "Soul Stirring" category for me.

Maai from Bogue Profumo by the inimitable Antonio Gardoni. Once upon a time perfumes used to smell like that.

Salome and Anubis by UK-based perfumer Liz Moores are magical.

Lavande Ombre by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger is an incredibly sexy take on what's considered a very pedestrian note. You'll never look at lavender the same way again.

George by Jardin d'Ecrivains just might be the best modern interpretation of orange blossom.

The late Mona di Orio has left a serious legacy, and the brand she created is now better established than ever. Vetyver and Nuit Noire are the standouts for me.

Masque Milano Tango, Montecristo, and Russian Tea. It was love at first sniff.

Etat Libre d'Orange has moved from being a gimmick to a major player that offers pleasurable high quality perfumes at palatable prices. My top picks are Tom of Finland, Like This, La Fin du Monde, and Rien, but I could probably own more than half their line and be very very happy.

What would you add to the list? The only rule is that these perfumes need to be in production right now.

Image: A 1951 press visual of the Miss Dior bottle. Another one that doesn't smell the way you remember it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Lorac Pro 3 Eye Shadow Palette- Part 2- The Shimmers

This is part two of my Lorac Pro 3 Eye Shadow Palette review. Last time we took a close look at the top row with all its beautiful and blendable matte shades. Today is about the bottom row, a nice collection of shimmery colors. They're all pretty with the typical Lorac Pro texture that's incredibly soft. They almost feel pliable, like loose dough, which means that you need very little product to get the full impact. Sense but soft lay-down brushes work the best, and I recommend adding them to an already "done" matte base, crease, and shape. The colors are a full range from luminous "bridal" ones to dark and smoky, so there are many interesting possibilities. However, my personal opinion is that Lorac's biggest triumph is in the matte colors.

Here's what we get here:

All swatches done dry with a MAC239 brush, which is a bit too stiff for regular application of these buttery eye shadows.

Light Gold. Pretty much that. On my skin it skews light rose gold.
Almond Pearl. A toasted version of the above.
Medallion. More brassy.
Light Pewter. A good crowd-pleaser, warmer than real pewter, kind of taupy.
Amethyst. Plummy copper. Less intense than in the pan, but still a scene stealer.
Rose Bronze. A classic.
Dark Mocha. Ditto. One color to rule them all and on the eyelid bind them.
Truffle. The least convincing of the bunch. The only way to get a good use of it in my opinion is used as an eyeliner with a damp brush, and nicely smoked out (though overblending doesn't work with these).

Bottom Line: This will probably be my summer default.

Lorac Pro 3 Eye Shadow Palette ($44) will be available online from Ulta on June 12th and in store June 26th. I bought mine during the Platinum members pre-sale event.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Kittens of the Day

The Blond and I have been on a rescue mission today, and this is the result. Two girls, one boy, no names yet, except for the biggest female with the three colors/tortoiseshell marking who's Gloria. You can read more details on our Jersey Cats page,  and we'd love to hear name suggestions for the male and other female kittens.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Coty- Nokomis (Vintage Perfume)

I didn't know anything about Nokomis by Coty when I picked a half full bottle at a random estate sale. To be honest, I barely remembered it ever existed. Let's face it: Coty of the late 1990s* was no longer the legendary perfume house of the early 20th century, and I wasn't paying much any attention to what they were doing. But for a dollar... I was game. A quick digging revealed that Coty named this perfume after a character from The Song of Hiawatha (1855) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The only things I remembered about the epic poem was that it was sad, had too much hunting, and was excruciatingly long. An interesting choice for Coty, wouldn't you say?
Downward through the evening twilight,
In the days that are forgotten,
In the unremembered ages,
From the full moon fell Nokomis,
Fell the beautiful Nokomis,
She a wife, but not a mother.
  She was sporting with her women,
Swinging in a swing of grape-vines,
When her rival, the rejected,
Full of jealousy and hatred,
Cut the leafy swing asunder,
Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines,
And Nokomis fell affrighted
Downward through the evening twilight,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
On the prairie full of blossoms.
"See! a star falls!" said the people;
"From the sky a star is falling!"
  There among the ferns and mosses,
There among the prairie lilies,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
In the moonlight and the starlight,
Fair Nokomis bore a daughter.
Opening lines from Part III of  The Song of Hiawatha, Hiawatha's Childhood

My very first impression of Nokomis was that it was a less-refined take on Samsara. It opens with some aromatic greenery and a sharp jasmine that doesn't fully mask the full-bodied (and very very nice) creamy sandalwood base. It also reminded me several favorite florientals from the nineties, with its bold tuberose. I'm a sucker for this style, with or without a moon lady attached to it.

Nokomis won me over by being just sweet enough and satisfyingly rich. It has a peachy rose facet that leads the development beautifully from the attention-grabbing jasmine and tuberose to the smoothness of the musky sandalwood base. Nokomis is at its best worn under my clothes, where the warmth of skin allows it to bloom, spread and envelop me with its best features. It's sexy, romantic, and to me represents young femininity, probably because it's the kind of thing I used to wear most of the time in my early and mid-twenties. Most of all I wish I paid more attention back in the day and stocked up when Nokomis was a drugstore mainstay and not an eBay rarity.

*Once again I have to apologize for calling a 1997 perfume "vintage". It's not, but "discontinued and mostly forgotten outside of eBay" is less catchy.

Art: From the Full Moon Fell Nokomis by Illustrator Maria Louise Kirk, 1910

Lorac Pro Palette 3- Part I The Matte Eye Shadows

In which I shop in the middle of the night.

It doesn't make much sense considering I had zero interest in the first two Lorac Pro palettes or in any of the holiday Mega collections. I can't even explain why, other than feeling that I have enough variations on this theme, and the fact that Lorac as a brand has changed dramatically from an indie makeup artist venture to this YouTube/Instagram beast. Twelve years ago I used to be very excited about Lorac, but over the years my interest has waned considerably, even though the quality of the product seems to have held. It still doesn't explain why all of a sudden I needed to have the Pro 3 palette, which after several hours of internal monologue found me in the middle of the night clicking frantically on the pre-sale link Ulta had sent to Premium members.

It's pretty, and I like the summery vibe of the packaging (same cardboard as the other Pro palettes, just beige). The box includes a mini Lorac Behind the Scenes eye primer. I've never had much luck with Lorac primers, so I only use them when swatching stuff on my arms. It's a beauty blogger thing, obviously, having eye primers, face primers, and arm primers. As you can see, the box tells us that the Pro 3 palette was "assembled in the US of US and non-US materials". It can mean just about everything, and is annoyingly vague. I still have some really old Lorac palettes that were manufactured in the US, as well as a newer ones that were made in China (last summer's Heartbreaker palette is a good example). I do prefer my ancient Croc and Snake Charmer palettes, but it has more to do with the combination and the gorgeous blushes they included. But non of this is relevant to Lorac Pro 3, which stands on its own and has won me over completely.

Lorac Pro Palette 3 offers sixteen eye shadows, half matte and half shimmer. The Pro formula can be used wet or dry, which in my opinion is  more significant for the shimmer shadows. The mattes are better and easier to blend when dry, but they do kick a powdery cloud when you get your brush in there. Since pigment intensity is above excellent, a soft semi flat brush works best for me (Hakuhodo Kokutan or S100 series are especially great, and that's what I used for swatching here).  The top row is all matte and that's what we're looking at today. The names are mostly self explanatory, but I'll try to be more specific.

Blanc. A warm parchment, not snow white.
Canvas. Beige. Nearly identical to my skin color, so I'd say it has a dirty yellow undertone.
Cool Taupe. Pretty much.
Pink Nude. Spot on, though my skin skews it towards peach, especially on my lid which is darker.
Clay. A warm mauve taupe. Born for the crease.
Terracotta. More like Siena, or somewhere between Siena and camel.
Dark Brown. On the cool side.
Jet Black. Lorac really does makes great sooty blacks.

Lorac has definitely nailed the mattes. This is an excellent selection of the most usable matte eye shadow colors one could ask for, and grouped together they make a strong statement for the quality of the palette. And don't forget it's only half. Next time I'll show you the shimmer shadows, which we all know are the most exciting part.

Lorac Pro Palette 3 ($44, origin somewhat questionable but assembled in the US) will be available from Ulta online on the 12th of June and in store on the 26th. I bought it during the pre-sale.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Lipstick Queen- Jean Queen

Not a new one, but perfect for the season and any casual day. Jean Queen by Lipstick Queen is a sheer rose color that functions almost like a lip balm but gives a surprisingly saturated look. The swatch above is of a single swipe, which makes it a very satisfying little thing. It's perfect on the go, because the sheer formula is very forgiving and doesn't require a liner or a brush. Still, there's more than enough pigment for said casual look. You can build it a bit, but I wouldn't recommend applying more than two coats because of the very balmy texture.

Obviously, you don't buy Jean Queen for longevity. Lipstick Queen creator, Poppy King, has other options for that. Jean Queen is just a simple good lipstick that can go from the beach to a date night, and give you both color and a "good for you" feeling. The lipstick is unscented, not shimmery, and not sticky. It's hard to ask for more.

Bottom Line: A permanent resident of my purse.

Lipstick Queen- Jean Queen ($22, made in USA) is available from Barneys, Nordstrom, and Ulta, as well as directly from the company.

Bruno Fazzolari- Jimmy & Monserrat

Because one cannot wear Cadavre Exquis every day in a 90-degree weather.

It's a good time to remember that Bruno Fazzolari has a special gift for handling floral notes. Jimmy and Monserrat were among Fazzolari's original five perfumes from 2013. They were somewhat overshadowed by the superstars Lampblack and Au Dela, but I've recently dug out ever last sample I had around and spent some quality time with these two beauties, gaining new appreciation for the compositions and evocative atmosphere they create.

Jimmy was actually love from the very first sniff. A cool floral with a generous dose of violets and heliotrope that immediately paint a green and pale purple picture, tinged with rosy geranium. I don't know if it's a cultural conditioning for everyone who grew up admiring and loving L'Heure Bleue and Apres l'Ondee to associate these notes and their colors with sweet and sentimental melancholia. all I can say is that Jimmy for me is the scent of late spring, when you're acutely aware that all this beauty is fleeting and soon this very landscape, the very flowers you see and touch will be no more.

Jimmy was inspired by the poetry of James Schuyler (1923-1991), who obviously meant a lot to Bruno Fazzolari. I think we can find a hint of this poem in Jimmy:
"Another day, and still the sun shines down, warming   
Tulips into bloom, a redder red than blood. The dandelions   
Cringe before them. In the evening there will be time enough   
To drive from here to there, study the vegetable patch, admire   
The rosy violets. Life in action, life in repose, life in 
Contemplation, which is hard to tell from day dreaming, on a day   
When the sky woolgathers clouds and sets their semblance on a   
Glassy ocean. "
From James Schuyler, “Hymn to Life”, published in 1993

Monserrat is summer. It was named after a paint color, and I had to do some digging to find exactly what it looked like. I was surprised, actually. In my mind and because of the juicy fruity-floral nature of Monserrat the perfume, I expected the color to be more lively and vibrant. Instead, it's this toasted warm shade:
Obviously, I should have paid closer attention to Bruno Fazzolari's own words describing Monserrat:
" I was thinking of worn and repainted urban walls and the matte surfaces of Italian fresco painting".
Oh, Italy. That makes perfect sense when I think of Rome, Florence, and even much smaller towns I've visited. Italy for me is forever a mix of colors and flavors, the incomparable light as it falls on old city buildings as well as on farmlands, the richness of flavors, and the way art surrounds you wherever you go. That's a lot of expectations to lay at the feet of a bright and cheerful perfume, but Monserrat handles it with aplomb, completely confident in the softness of its apricot note, energized with a bright and sunny citrus and resting on a not all that clean and wholesome musk (only slightly naughty, and perfectly hospitable for daytime wear anywhere).

Jimmy and Monserrat by Bruno Fazzolari ($110, 30ml eau de parfum) are available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, Tigerlily Perfumery, and directly from The samples for this review were sent by the perfumer, for consideration and as a gift with my various purchases.

Top photo: a Franciscan monestary in Sorrento Italy, April 2014 (from my personal archive).