Sample Review, Round Two: Elizabeth and James Nirvana White

I received a small sample of Nirvana White by Elizabeth and James from Sephora a while back. The product page describes it as “a captivating blend of delicate peony, chic muguet, and tender musk for a feminine scent with dark sophistication.”

Nirvana White

 

My immediate reaction to the scent was something to the effect of holy floral top notes, Batman! 

Peony hit my nasal passages hard. Not in a bad way, mind you–I just want to make it clear that whoever named this a floral musk definitely emphasized the “floral.” It’s a pretty heady scent with a strong, verdant top note. When the initial shock of peony subsided, I could detect a little lily-of-the-valley action that was reminiscent of Elizabeth Arden’s 5th Avenue. The sillage is strong with this one–not recommended for office wear.

The initial scent, though powerful, was not terribly long lasting; I would describe the longevity as moderate, at best. What really disappointed me was the way this particular fragrance dried down. What started as a nice, true-to-life floral devolved into a synthetic, almost cheap-smelling musk. While I truly enjoyed the first hour or two of Nirvana White, I merely tolerated it for the rest of the day.

The Verdict: I know several people who loved Nirvana White, but it just wasn’t for me. You could do a whole lot worse, but at this price point ($75 for 1.7 fl oz) you could do a bit better, too. As an alternative, Stella by Stella McCartney is a comparably priced floral perfume with peony that dries down nicely.

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Stolen From Your Granny’s Vanity

Revlon Moon Drops Lipstick in Persian Melon (top) and Blasé Apricot

Revlon Moon Drops Lipstick in Persian Melon (top) and Blasé Apricot

For years I have harbored an intense jealousy of older ladies. They have cool, colorful, eclectic style which favors piling on brooches and costume jewelry with wild abandon (a trend documented in the popular blog Advanced Style). They have awesome hair. And, like tiny white-haired hipsters, they were into vibrant lipstick before it was cool.

There is a little old lady product that has been doling out fresh, fierce pouts for eons. It’s in a tiny green tube that’s probably hidden on the bottom shelf of your local drugstore’s Revlon display. It has the flowery, powdery, perfumy scent of so many eccentric senior citizens in a church’s basement rec center on bingo night. It is Revlon Moon Drops lipstick. These tubes were available in delightfully vibrant hues before Bold Neon Lips were even a stray thought in Anna Wintour’s head (because we all know that Anna Wintour has been behind every major trend since 1965, and when she dies, Suri Cruise will inherit her fashionable throne).

As I previously mentioned, orange makeup in all its iterations is going to be a big trend for spring. I have embraced this trend in the lower frames of the above posted picture, in which I am wearing the shade Blasé Apricot. I’d describe this particular hue as falling somewhere between coral and heirloom tomato on the orange spectrum. The creme formula applied smoothly and wore beautifully for a couple of hours. It’s not a long-wear shade, but it had great color payoff and felt pleasantly moisturizing without feathering or bleeding. Persian Melon is an intense pink that is available in the same wonderful creme formula. They are currently available at Walgreens for $6.99.

Cop some fierce old lady style and try out Revlon Moon Drops lipsticks. The fragrance takes some getting used to, but the creamy formula is really top-notch.

Orange Is the New Black: Beauty Trends for 2014

We’ve been having a chilly (though unseasonably sunny) few days here in Seattle, and my understanding is that things are generally enveloped in a foggy grey blanket of blah back home in Chicago. When things turn chilly, dim, or generally depressing weather-wise (and, I suppose, life-wise), I like to amp up the cosmetic fun factor with a whole lot of orange. When I need to pull myself out of a dull, quotidian routine, a smattering of of tangerine powder and cantaloupe cream will do the trick in a jiffy. This surprisingly flattering hue that can create a range of impressions, from high-impact to subtle swaths of color.  Continue reading

Drugstore Goodies: The Best on a Budget

Spoiler: I will be doing a post on contouring later in the week.  In order to adequately prepare for said post, I’d like to take a moment to discuss contouring products.

It is my belief that the most difficult part of contouring should be the actual technique and execution, not the acquisition of funds to buy a contouring product. Not everyone (dare I say, a very select few) can find the room in their budget to drop $75 on Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate contour cream and highlighter duo, or $44 on Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder, or even $16.50 on MAC Sculpting Powder. Moreover, these brands are not competing to win the business of regular drugstore shoppers or casual beauty consumers. I doubt they care about me diminishing their sales in these demographics, because in reality, this isn’t their target customer base. In the spirit of fostering inclusivity and beauty participation at any price point, I’d like to share a drugstore favorite of mine.

And the best part: it’s only $5.

NYX Powder Blush in Taupe (PB11) is a fantastic dupe for MAC’s Sculpting Powder in Shadowy. It’s a cool-tone powder, totally devoid of any shimmer and ideal for mimicking the effect of real shadows on the face. Don’t settle for using your regular bronzer; the orange undertones make cheeks look harsh and dirty rather than sculpted. If you want to create believable dimension on your face without breaking the bank, NYX is where it’s at. 

Stay tuned for this week’s contouring tutorial!

Eyeliner Week: Colored Eyeliner

I have previously mentioned how, as a child, my folicular and sartorial choices were a regular source of embarrassment to my family. In addition to my odd taste in hairdos, I combined some colors, patterns, and textures that didn’t, in a traditional sense, “go together.” I was pretty well known among elementary school teachers, daycare providers, and family friends for my penchant for stripes, florals, and neons. Mind you, this was the early to mid ’90s, and get-ups like this where considered normal; you had to be pretty unique to stand out in a sea of day-glo crop tops and swishy wind breakers. The point of all this exposition is that I have long been a fan of color and makeup, and so you should probably trust me when it comes to recommendations for colored eyeliner. Below are some of my favorites, as well as two looks I created using exclusively colored liner. Stay tuned for the final post of Eyeliner Week: a tutorial for dual-winged liner that will feature (you guessed it) more fun, colored eyeliner! Continue reading

Universally Flattering Look: Brown Eyeliner

Black eyeliner is a staple in every makeup artist’s (or makeup addict’s) kit. It’s classic and can be used to obtain a variety of looks, from a demure 50’s wing to a thick, smudgy ring à la Nancy Spungen or Joan Jett. I am not here to smack talk black liner. I just want to open eyes to alternative possibilities. Alternative possibilities like brown eyeliner.

Hear me out.

Brown is ultra-versatile. It comes in both warm- and cool-based tones to flatter a variety of skin types. While black is sometimes appear jarring against pale skin, brown can impart a softer look. With a growing selection of shades and levels of opacity, there is a brown liner out there for everybody. I’ve culled a list of favorites, as well as created two flattering looks using brown eyeliners. Continue reading

Desert Island Necessity: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

For those who just read my Perfect Winged Eyeliner tutorial, you are a lucky bunch. You had the opportunity to see the Kat Von D Tattoo Liquid Liner Pen in Trooper in action. It applies very smoothly, dries quickly with minimal bleeding, and leaves a slightly glossy, carbon-black finish.  Continue reading