Saturday, October 27, 2012

What is the most important thing?

When you buy makeup, what are your primary criteria—besides a flattering color match? For example, must your foundation contain sunscreen before you will even consider it? Do you love or eschew the feel silicone-based ingredients? Do you abhor cream eyeshadow? Do you prefer lip gloss or lipstick, with no chance of merging the two? 

When I wonder about these questions, my mind drifts naturally to the the most important thing I want from my makeup, a quality that extends beyond texture or scent or color, and which might even eclipse it in importance. I discovered it was finish that mattered, how the result interacted with my skin by reflecting light, something I could look for in all my makeup products, whether it be for skin, cheeks, eyes, or lips. Once I realized that the finish mattered most, I knew I could eliminate the "noise" from everything else—much the way I have trained my eye (post color analysis) to race past colors that don't flatter me, as well as linger longer over natural fibers. It seems silly, but such a small thing saves a lot of energy, time, and even money, because I make fewer mistakes.

When I shop for makeup, the following are the most important things I look for in my most-often purchased items:


Because a lipstick is my first choice on that desert-island, I expect it to behave as lip balm. That means it MUST be moisturizing on its own. What's more, if I use the same lipstick exclusively—all day every day for weeks on end—my lips must feel conditioned, not flaky or parched or get that disconcerting "cracked" feeling at the corners of my mouth that happens with some lip products over time, almost as if the shimmer were made of fiberglass (e.g., MAC).

Loving right now:
  • Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Bonheur, still, for its glossy feel and subtly shimmery finish. It doesn't hurt that it's an MLBB shade.
  • Chantecaille Super Sheer Lipstick, which feels exactly like lip balm but adds a hint of color. Look for a review on the color Maia soon, as I may have found a replacement for the tinted versions of Julie Hewett Lip Balm.
  • Chanel Lèvres Scintillantes (Glossimers), which feel and wear more like a liquid lipstick than gloss, and if you read this blog regularly, you know I don't care for lip gloss. So, yes, these are pretty spiffy  to keep me going back for more. Favorites (so far) are Jalousie, Désir, Imaginaire, Magnifque, Star, Venus, and Glaze—pretty  much all the pigmented pink/rose ones.
  • Chantecaille  Brilliant Lip Gloss, another gloss that makes the cut due to its outstanding formula and finish, so comfortable on the lips. Like with Glossimers, I prefer the ones with more pigment, like Allure, Magic, Patina, Charisma, Glee, and Glamour. I will review more of these soon, as I now have a decent collection that get regular use.


My strong preference for an eyeshadow formula is one with a satin/sateen/semi-matte finish. I don't mind a little shimmer, and I use creamy mattes, but an eyeshadow that catches the light and imparts a subtly-radiant glow is my favorite.

Loving right now:
  • Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade in Meteorite and Lilac Rose. I can't wear Granite and Sel (too warm) so I swatch them on the back of my hand so I can enjoy their glimmery beauty.
  • Prescriptives Rose Powder (satin), loving since 1989
  • Laura Mercier Topaz (luster) and Sparkling Dew (sateen). Sparkling Dew is currently offered in Laura Mercier's Cool Classics Trio and is a mirror image of my beloved Morning Dew, except it has the preferred sateen finish.
  • Becca Chantiilly, one of their demi mattes.
  • RBR's Gracious Arasari has THE most gorgeous finish; too bad the color makes me look like dog meat.


I don't care for concealer, but I love the concealer/highlighter hybrids. Instead of covering, they deflect, which means I don't have to inspect my undereye area mid morning to see if my makeup is caking or creasing or if the concealer sucked all the moisture out of the skin, making it all pruny and wrinkly.

Loving right now:  Estée Lauder Ideal Light Brush-on Illuminator, Soft Pink. I actually prefer it to YSL Touche Eclat #1 for my pinkish skin tone, and I thought nothing would ever replace my beloved TE..


Eyeshadow looks best on me if I wear a primer. Because my eyelids are moderately discolored (due to sun damage), I need a primer that conceals without drying. It's harder to find than you might think. Primers like UDPP or TFSI don't work because they are clear (or shimmery!); the popular MAC Paint Pot, Painterly, is far too warm on my skin (looks yellow); and even the Laura Mercier eye primers are too drying. I guess this makes sense; most women are using eye primers to keep their eyeshadow from creasing due to their oily lids. Well, my lids don't produce as much oil as they once did, and the surface can actually look parched.

Loving now and always: Paula Dorf's primer. It's soft and smooth and evens out my skin tone by concealing the beige and blue and red discoloration, making the perfect canvas for what comes next (if anything). No change in holy-grail status for more than a decade.

Lip pencil

I have reached a point in my life where I need a pencil to keep lipstick from feathering or gloss from migrating. I used to work diligently at matching a lip pencil exactly to a lipstick color, but choosing the perfect match every morning became tiresome. I now have one lip pencil that almost exactly matches my lip pigment and another that's completely clear, so both go with everything, including low-pigmented lip gloss.

Loving right now:
  • Julie Hewett Hue 011, a blue-based mauve that interplays nicely with the blue in my lips.
  • Laura Mercier Lip Pencil, Clear. The tip is soft but firm with a slightly waxier finish, so I find it preferable to Lipstick Queen's clear lip pencil, which has too much slip.



I still prefer powder over other formulas, mostly because liquids and creams settle in my pores, but in order to make the cut, the finish must be smooth and semi sheer. Despite a 10+-year love affair with Jane Iredale PurePressed powder, I fear the relationship might be winding down.

Loving right now:
If I want something sheer but with a tint, I turn to Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre, #20 Clair ... or I'll just apply a lighter-than-usual dusting of Jane Iredale PurePressed, Ivory and then spritz my skin with a finishing spray, such as JI's Pommist (smells heavenly).


I no longer wear matte blush because I have fallen in love with satin finishes, which add the most subtle glow to my cheekbones.

Loving to pieces:
  • NARS Gaiety 
  • Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Color, PK304 Carnation. 
  • I also like Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color, City Pink, but that one is discontinued, and I like Heather Pink, too..

What is the most important thing you look for when you shop for beauty products?

All photos taken by me, except where noticed in caption with link to the source.