Stop, you’re making me blush!

Hello Darlings.

Obviously, today we are going to talk about blush. Generally, your blush should match the undertones of your lipstick, i.e. cool toned blush with a cool-toned lipstick, warm with a warm toned one. There are of course always exceptions, after lipstick, blush is my favourite product.

Most of the my blushes are MAC (can you see a pattern here?) with the one NARS blush, which is interestingly not the one you should be thinking of.

Look, there is a before phase and an after phase.

My before phase, was where I played it safe, wore colours that I thought would suit as a brown girl, and assumed bright colours were not for me. In my before phase I bought (or rather had my father buy me) a NARS blush called ‘Dolce Vita’, instead of the one I should’ve bought which is NARS ‘Orgasm’ (which is the one you should be thinking of as it is quite literally the most famous blush in the world).

But, can you imagine this conversation with my father? (‘Beta, what do you mean Orgasm?’)

FYI, from personal experience I can tell you that, ones face doesn’t turn a becoming shade of peachy-pink, where you look as if you’re glowing from within (that’s the Orgasm blush, peachy pink with shimmer, yes I know). Well, perhaps Edward Cullen might look as if he’s glowing from within when he orgasms, but I don’t know, we might have to ask Bella that, though as luck would have she might end up describing a unicorn rather than actually, you know talk about women having orgasms etc. (This is a comment on Ms. Meyer’s writing, rather than a comment on Bella herself) Like I said, from personal experience my face turns a blotchy pink,  this may vary of course, since human sexuality is so diverse, and I’m sure orgasms are too.

Hah, bet you didn’t expect this post to digress into orgasms; stick with me kids! I’ll take you to places you ain’t never been before.

Anyway, back to blush, you just need two basic kinds, a peach and a pink, to match warm and cool-lipsticks. Coming up in my next post, what kinds of blush I like, and maybe less talk of orgasms, I don’t know, I go where the wind takes me. I’m cool like that.

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Red Lipstick Swatches.

Hello my turtle doves! As promised here is the first of my swatch posts, beginning of course with my beloved Red Lipstick.

First off I want to say that my skin tone according to MAC’s guidelines is an NC 41-43, so assume that it varies from skin-tone to skin-tone. However, as a general rule of thumb, all red lipsticks look amazing on everyone, it’s only a matter of finding the right one.

We all know that Red is a primary colour i.e. it exists in an of itself, and doesn’t consist of two or more colours; however, despite the fact that the concept of ‘True Red’ exists, it’s not what you think it means. ‘True Red’ in make up (at least) implies that the colour is appears to be smack dab in the middle of the Red part of the colour spectrum (I hope I’m explaining this properly), but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an undertone. As I will explain with reference to each of the colours I’ve swatched, how undertones change the colour, and how to pick the perfect one for your skin.

Red Lipstick SwatchesAs you can see from each of the swatches (click to enlarge), the colour changes and differs, and so the does the intensity, texture etc. Of the six, five are M.A.C. lipsticks, and the sixth is an Elizabeth Colour Intrigue Lipstick, that I got on sale at Shopper’s Stop

Russian Red (M.A.C., Matte finish) was my second (true) red lipstick, but for a long time it was my favourite (that honour now goes to Ruby Woo; yes I’m a Ruby Woo bandwagoner, but it’s worth it) As you can see from the photo it’s the darkest of the lot. It is also what is known as a ‘True Red’ as it lacks any ‘obvious’ undertones. It is also what is known as a cool-toned red (which if you contrast with Lady Danger, you can see what I’m getting at when I say cool toned Red and a warm toned red). A cool-toned red has a slightly blue undertone to it, so it becomes what is known as an ‘Intense Blue-Red’; this is a universal red, literally anyone of any skin-tone can carry it off, any one of any gender can carry it off, all you have to have is faith and confidence in yourself. The good thing about a cool-toned red is that it makes your teeth look whiter. It instantly brightens your face, all you need is a bit of black eyeliner, and some pink blush, and you’re good to go. The texture of this lipstick is creamy, but the finish is matte. It dries easily on your lips and lasts for ages. Usually most artists will recommend a lip liner (MAC Lip Pencil in Brick or Cherry), to give you the perfect lip-shape as well as increase it’s logenvity. The Matte texture of the lipstick can dry out your lips, so I recommend priming your lips with a balm and allow your lips to absorb (wait a few minutes) then blot your lips to remove the excess, or use a cotton bud to remove the excess thereby exfoliating your lips (removing any dry, flaky skin), and then using the lipstick. It’s perfect for going out with your friends, for a little pick me up on a dull day, I love wearing it in the monsoons, when the sky is grey and overcast, it’s definitely a stunner, and you will be the cynosure of all eyes.

M.A.C Red (M.A.C, Satin) was a lipstick that I bought because I had a really bad day. This is another cool-toned red, but warmer, and brighter than Russian Red. However, this is not a true red. There is an obvious pink undertone to it; when it fades it leaves behind a bright magenta stain, which is also very lovely. This is a colour for largely cool-toned people (refer to this post about undertones), however, if you swatch the lipstick, and try it out (ask the assistants at the MAC store, they will sanitize it for you and allow you to try it) and you like it and it looks good, then WEAR IT. This is definitely a lipstick, I’d call ‘wedding lipstick’ it’d look great in the evening for a Sangeet, or a reception. In fact I wore it for my friend S’s sangeet, and paired it with gold eyeshadow, and a classic cat-eye liner. But I would also wear it, just to go shopping at the mall or something, whenever I want to brighten my face up but at the same time, I don’t want the intensity of Russian Red. The finish is Satin, in that it’s creamier, and glossier (you can see the sheen in the picture) than the Mattes, but not as long lasting, and not as drying, you can forgo the lip balm for this.

Ruby Woo (M.A.C., Retro Matte) another cool-toned true red, but more vivid, and brighter than Russian Red, and definitely less pink than MAC Red, but this is one of the most iconic lipsticks in the world. Everyone from Taylor Swift to Rihanna (who introduced her own Limited Edition version Riri Woo) has worn it. It’s perfect for everyone. (see above for notes about how to wear it) It’s the retro matte texture which is insanely drying you WILL need a lip balm. I would wear this lipstick literally anywhere. ANYWHERE. In the day, in the evening, in bed, to a club, on a flight; I wore it this weekend to my friend A’s party. Refer to this video by Lisa Elderidge, where she talks about how to get the Dita Von Teese matte lip. Ruby Woo, paired with the most minimal make up, neutral eyes, where all eyes are drawn to your red mouth is what it’s all about. I believe it’s a popular colour with Indian brides. (Lip Liner: MAC Cherry)

Lady Danger (M.A.C., Matte) this is another iconic red. Famously associated with ‘pin-up’ girl look. Though, I personally associate it with Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger; where she wears Lady Danger, while being a fabulous spy, and raising the proverbial middle finger to repressive social mores by founding SHIELD. Lady Danger, is a vivid-coral red. This is an obviously warm toned red, with a distinct orange undertone, I recommend trying out the colour, since someone people may like how they look, and some people may not, because the orange undertone is really in your face, personally I think that people with darker skin-tones would look amazing in this. I’ve definitely seen Lupita Nyong’o wear this at least one during the award season. Personally this is as orange as I can go (there have been two aborted attempts to try orange lipsticks, which I blame my friend A2 for). Again, refer to my notes on matte lipsticks, and how to wear them. A make-up artist recommended, MAC Lip Liner in Redd as a complimentary liner, however, I would seriously suggest checking out Colorbar (or other brands like Revlon and Rimmel) for cheaper options.

Viva Glam IV (M.A.C., Frost) MAC’s Viva Glam range, donates the entirely of it’s profits to the MAC AIDS Fund. VG IV, is a Frost finish, i.e. it’s glittery, shimmery and creamy. It goes on easily on the lips, and is a warm-toned red. I don’t really have much of an opinion on this one since I bought it on a whim, and when I was more timid, and didn’t think I could wear the bright reds mentioned above. It should suit medium-toned people, and should more or less not look jarring with cool toned or warm toned people. It’s not very long-lasting, frankly, I bought as  newb, so it’s one I probably wouldn’t buy again.

Sugarplum Shimmer (Elizabeth Arden, Frost), this was again before the days of bright reds, it’s very similar to VG IV, but a bit more pink, and I use it about as often. Again, nothing I would recommend to anyone.

Other reds of note: Here’s are reviews (by other people) of MAC’s Chilli and Viva Glam I (which is famously associated with RuPaul), I don’t own either (yet) so I only have second hand opinions on this.

Notes: All MAC lipsticks are now priced at 1190/- INR, as are their lip liners, hence I recommend looking for cheaper liner options. But I would buy the first four again, though the products last a really long time. MAC also has the ‘Back2MAC’ scheme, where you can exchange six empty product containers for a free lipstick. MAC is available at Shopper’s Stop at Viviana Mall, R-City, Juhu and Andheri (based on my personal visits), and individual MAC stores at Phoenix Market City, Kurla and Palladium in Lower Parel all in Mumbai. In Delhi/NCR, MAC is available at Select City Walk, Saket, DLF Promenade and Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, and Ambience Mall in Gurgaon. MAC could be available in other malls in both cities, but I don’t personally know. Also, MAC is available in Pune, Kolkata, Bangalore etc. check out their website MACCosmetics to find more stores in India.

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Why I wear Red Lipstick

I was going to do a red lipstick post, but I missed a lipstick while swatching, so I’ll have to redo it. Also, I’m lazy. But I will get to it, and to others on Sunday.

Instead I will treat you to a mini-essay on the politics of Red Lipstick, because believe me, the personal is definitely political.

My mother has these rules about wearing dark, bold colours in the evening. I’ve tried to explain to her that she prefers to hide-away from people’s gaze (as separate from the male gaze, which I will definitely touch upon later), where I choose to actively occupy public space. Largely this is linked to the politics of space, wherein in women and their access to public space, where we are told to occupy as little physical, visual, emotional space as possible. (check out the blog: Move the fuck over Bro!, which shows how men physically occupy space, much more so than women, as it relates to a more abstract occupation of space by women)

Therefore the act of wearing a bold red lip at any hour of the day that suits my fancy, is not an act of attention, it is primarily because I fucking like red lipstick, and I love that it makes me feel like a fucking Queen, and also, at a deeper level, an act of rebellion, that says I refuse to hide myself away because patriarchy demands that I wear subdued colours in the day time, I want to visibly occupy space.

This is why I always, always recommend red lipstick to anyone who asks me for colour recommendations. Wear Red, wear Fuschia, Green, Black, each act of rebellion is another fuck you to patriarchy!

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Figuring out your undertones!

There is literally nothing on Earth that can make me feel like the benevolent despot I wish I was, like Red Lipstick.

I have five six. It’s still not enough. But first, you need to know that literally everyone on earth can wear red lipstick. And at this point I want to point out that I hope people of all sexes, genders and sexual orientations who are interested in my blog, are reading it.

Before wearing red lipstick, you need to figure out the undertone to your skin. There are some basic ways of figuring it out, I fully understand two of them:

First the jewellery test: If Gold jewellery looks better on you then you are more than likely warm toned i.e. you have yellowish skin, or more famously olive-toned skin – us brown people tend toward the warmer tones. If Silver jewellery looks better on you, then you’re more than likely cool-toned, usually that means you have slightly pinkish skin. However, if both look good on you then you’re probably neutral, which means lucky you, you can literally wear any colour. (also high five, I’m a neutral too!)

The other test is to hold your wrist up, in natural light, if the veins in your wrist are green then you’re warm toned (see above for detailed explanation) and if they’re blue then you’re cool toned, and if you can’t tell (like me!) you’re likely neutral.

Similarly, if you look better in warm colours then you’re warm toned, cool colours – cool toned, all colours – neutral, and so on.

But if you want my advice, fuck all these rules, and just try on a colour on your fingers (which in texture and colour are closest to your lips) hold it up against your face, and see if you like it, and you feel you can rock the fuck out of it, then buy it and wear the fuck out of it.

FYI, at MAC & Inglot stores, they’ll sanitize lipsticks for you and allow you to actually wear them, be sure to ask the make-up artist tho, because in my experience wearing it and swatching it sometimes shows a difference in colour.

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Matte Red Lipstick:

Lisa Elderidge, showing us all how to wear red lipstick.

My red lipstick swatches are coming up next, until then bask in the meliflous tone of her voice.

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How to Use Lip Liner

That’s obviously not me. But the wonderful blogger behind: Makeup Tips

But I think the video demonstrates how to use lip liner correctly. Lip Liner, is exactly that, it doesn’t just outline your lips or provide shape, it exists as a liner between your lipstick and your lips and make them last longer.

At makeup counters at Shopper’s Stop etc., I’ve seen the assistants wear a darker liner outlining their lips, with a super light lipstick, which is not what its only purpose is.

I also saw a friend last weekend, line her lips and then use the lipstick, which arguably defeats the purpose of it, thankfully they were the same colour. However, since I’d already pointed out that the blush she picked was one that was ill-suited for her skin (in that it wasn’t pigmented enough, more about how these non-pigmented blushes that are hawked by L’Oreal et al, are horrible for us Indian girls, later) I didn’t want to seem like a pedant, so I resolved to tell them later, which is why I decided this needed to be my first make-up post, since most people use it wrongly or don’t understand it’s purpose.

Lip-liners can be used as an alternate to lipstick, I saw a post over at XOVain the other day where the poster said their Make up artist friend suggested the best to way have long-lasting red lips is to wear the liner and nothing else. (I’ll post another video later with Lisa Elderidge talking about how to get the perfect red lip), I cannot comment on the efficacy of this, since I have yet to try it, so more when I do.

Alternatively, lip liner are used largely under bright matte lipsticks, like red lipstick, to make them last longer. But one can also use a nude/same shade as your lips liner and wear some clear gloss over it to get a nude lipstick. Or what I like to do is, to make a nude lipstick pop, wear a similar shaded liner beneath it, and wear the lipstick over it. I’ll post swatches later.

But apart from wearing it correctly, you really need to just experiment. Most of these tutorials should be guidelines not gospels.

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Hello, my non-existent audience, have you missed my wise words?

So someone on facebook (all names have been redacted, hah, see what I did there?) pointed out that, apparently a post I made about an Urban Decay eyeshadow palette (they are the best in the world, any make up mules willing to ferry some for me?) convinced them to buy it.

So another friend said I should start a make-up blog, you know in addition to my fandom blog, wherein in I wax eloquent on the perfection that is Steve Roger’s backside or cry many many tears of the state of Jean Grey in comics, or where I claim to have accepted Emma Frost as my Lord and Saviour (To my friend who convinced me to , I apologise, but I’m now a convert) . ANYWAY, this now a blog, where I will talk about many things but particularly, my feminist and political engagement with The Beauty Myth and with my attempt at subverting the use of make-up.

Coming up: Lip Liners, what are they and how to use them.

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