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Art Stick Obsession

Last fall I discovered my favorite lipstick formula: Bobbi Brown Art Stick. I was in Sephora, minding my own business, and something called me over to the Bobbi Brown display. I bought the only Dark Autumn shade and rode off into the sunset with my beautiful new lipstick. Months later, I'm still obsessed.

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What I love about this product:

  • It looks classy. I love elegant packaging, no matter the price point. Most jumbo lip pencils come in cheap plastic tubes, even the pricey ones like Tarte. These are wooden and look like oversized colored pencils, only with lipstick. The cap is plastic.
  • Liner and lipstick in one. I usually use a clear lip liner, because I'm too lazy to match liners to lipstick (and let's be real, I don't need another product type to start stashing around here). But I always wind up correcting application mistakes with a lip brush. Art Sticks to the rescue: even when the point has worn down and become rounded, I can easily line my lips and then fill them in, no correcting required. If your lips are very thin, this may be more of a problem for you, but then again, it may not.
  • Liner and lipstick and...blush! I'm not that in to makeup multitaskers but these are so creamy and pigmented that I really like using them for blush. Just pat a little on and blend. No grease or stickiness whatsoever.
  • Pigmented, buildable color. Make no mistake, these are lipsticks! Not balms, not glosses, lipsticks. One pass is enough for opaque, beautifully colored lips, but you can easily build the color to be more dramatic.
  • Matte-to-satin texture. Bobbi Brown describes the finish as "creamy matte," which is pretty accurate. A light application will yield a semi-matte finish, while building the color delivers a satin finish with a very subtle sheen. Interestingly, I see some microshimmer in my swatches, but have never noticed any shimmer on my lips, just gorgeous color. Mark of a job well done.
  • Staying power. As long as I refrain from drinking anything within the first 15 minutes or so after application (a good guideline for any lip product), this formula sticks around for hours. Even after drinking from a Camelbak bottle, or eating (non-oily) food, this stuff stays! I frequently wear it when traveling or draping, as I don't have to worry about looking up to see the dreaded ring-around-the-mouth. The formula becomes very slightly drying around hour 5, which to me is no big deal. It fades very evenly, into a light "stain" which nevertheless can be easily cleaned off.
  • Price point. These are $26 each, which sounds like a lot, until you take into account that I've had mine since November, wear it multiple times per week, and have sharpened it only once. The pigmentation is no joke! They also come with their own jumbo sharpener. Just take care not to lose it, because as far as I know, the sharpener isn't sold separately. Nice excuse to buy a second color?

Truly, my only complaint is that I want Bobbi Brown to make more of them.

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Here are the colors as I see them:

Bright Raspberry- True Winter. Very cool, bright pink.

Cassis- Dark Autumn. Gorgeous berry, more red than brown. I have a backup, it's that good.

Cherrywood- Soft Summer. This particular color is much sheerer than the rest of the line, and I could see it working really well on both Dark seasons for a more natural look. Clinique's Black Honey is a bit redder.

Dusty Pink- Soft Autumn. I'm convinced that at least 1/3 of the world's makeup is Soft Autumn, but that doesn't stop most of it from being lackluster. This color, on the other hand, is worth picking up. (Note that the swatch of Dusty Pink above is inaccurate. For some reason it photographed much darker and cooler than it truly is.)

Electric Pink- Bright Spring. Similar in color to MAC Fusion Pink, but without the pearly finish (which can render it a bit neon sometimes).

Harlow Red- Bright Winter. Perfect bright maraschino cherry red!

Rose Brown- Soft Summer. It looks exactly like it sounds, a browned rose. Certainly not the most exciting Soft Summer option out there, but worth a try.

Sunset Orange- True Autumn, quite red and bright, but muted enough to look dirty on a spring face (got that?)

Bobbi's Spring 2015 Hot Collection features three limited edition shades:

Hot Berry- True Winter? This is the one LE shade I haven't swatched in person, but it sure looks True Winter from here.

Hot Pink- Bright Winter. Cool, hot pink!

Hot Orange- Bright Spring. Fabulous color, on the bridge between coral and orange.

When Birds Are Singing

The firefly festival is eagerly awaited all year in the Enchanted Garden. For then on this very special day, the best voices of the bird-world feed on tiny fireworks to embellish their voices and then gather to perform a single concert together. Their jubilant musical notes are inscribed in a syrup of figs and milk and preserved in tiny pots to be enjoyed all year round. Like this golden froth of musical syrup, WHEN BIRDS ARE SINGING... eye shadows are a time defying exotic enigma. This is plumage to adorn you in shades as deliciously mellow as soft silence that flows, or as brilliantly potent as jewelled notes. So addictive are these morsels that you’ll be causing your own kaleidoscopic ripples every time you wear them.

I'm a sucker for anything hinting at the otherworldly, so Rouge Bunny Rouge pretty much had me at "firefly festival." Everything about the brand speaks to incredible luxury and a fairy tale sensibility: two qualities that send my heart aflutter.

Rouge Bunny Rouge is a Russian brand, produced in Italy, with very few counters in the United States. Happily for me, Circe Swag in Louisville carries a large variety of RBR products, and I walked in ready to do some swatching.

I was immediately impressed with the range of colors, which are light years beyond the typical autumnal nudes--and only autumnal nudes--offered by many brands. The range is weighted toward satin and shimmer with only a few matte selections, but rest assured, these are not your chunky glitter nightclub shadows! Each shadow is finely milled and buttery--never chalky or powdery--and I haven't seen a speck of fallout. Most impressive for this color geek is how truly multidimensional the colors are. Like beautiful paintings, the longer you look, the more colors you see. In fact, the danger of trying them is that you may begin to look upon your old favorites with condescension. As I have.

Creasing hasn't been a problem for me with these shadows. I have somewhat oily lids and any shadow will crease on me without it. Fading is another story; many brands fade on me throughout the day even with said primer. These don't. When I remove my makeup at night, the colors are just as luscious as the moment I put them on. Every shadow is easy to blend and nicely pigmented. Top notch.

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Abyssinian Catbird

Of course, there's a teeny list of things not to like. I wish there were a few more matte shades, simply because these mattes are unlike any other mattes I've tried, with subtle color shifts usually reserved for satin or shimmer. That's a small quibble. My main criticism regards inconsistency in sizing and availability. For example:

  1. Refill pans are smaller and less expensive than individual pots. That's normal and great. However, about half of the shadows are currently unavailable in refill form. Only one matte shadow is currently available as a refill.
  2. A couple shades are sold as individual pans, not refills, because they aren't magnetized for the pans. They are also a couple dollars cheaper.
  3. Single pots come in two sizes (2g and 2.4g). Read carefully!

Flawless packaging design, however: duo keeper and single eyeshadow pot.

Clearly the pros outweigh the cons by a landslide, since I'm so obsessed that I may never use another eyeshadow brand again. Whimsical names, beautiful and flexible colors, gorgeous luxury packaging, what's not to love?

Here are the products I was able to swatch, with RBR's description in parentheses.

First, the mattes:

Stila Chinois on top (Winters) and RBR Papyrus Canary on the bottom (Autumns and Springs). Easy to see its warmth here.

Stila Chinois on top (Winters) and RBR Papyrus Canary on the bottom (Autumns and Springs). Easy to see its warmth here.

  • 42 Papyrus Canary (semi-opaque palest creamy beige) - Autumns and Springs. This is the one matte shade that comes in a refill pan.
  • 43 Chestnut-Napped Apalis (semi-opaque chestnut puree with a hint of cocoa dust) - Everything an Autumn ever needs. Use it all over the lid or as a contour, you can't go wrong.
  • 44 Grey Go-Away Lourie (semi-opaque smoky slate grey) - This grey is grey. Just grey. And that makes it very flexible. All three Winters will wear it well. Bright Spring can use it as a contour. Could be too cool for Dark Autumn but worth trying; the same goes for True and Soft Summer due to darkness.
  • 45 Blackpepper Jay (semi-opaque smoky black brown) - Dark Autumn and Dark Winter.
  • 71 Sweet Dust Seriema (semi-opaque cool dusty mauve taupe) - Soft Summers, you need this. You need it badly. Dark Winter is pretty in it, too.

L to R on my warm-neutral DA skin: Sweet Dust Seriema, Blackpepper Jay, Abyssinian Catbird, Bohemian Waxwing, Chestnut-Napped Apalis, Papyrus Canary, Unforgettable Oriole. I don't wear all of these personally.

And the rest:

Unforgettable Oriole

Unforgettable Oriole

  • 14 Unforgettable Oriole (delicate, metallic white gold) - Oh, an absolute Bright Winter dream! Lovely for Bright Spring, too.
  • 15 Abyssinian Catbird (metallic bronze with golden highlights) - Dark Autumns, buy this and thank me later (with more RBR eyeshadows, of course). One blog described it as "Think MAC Sumptuous Olive mating Woodwinked on crack." That's pretty darn accurate, a lovely olive bronze. True Autumn could wear it too.
  • 17 Delicate Hummingbird (cool, dusky sugar-frosted plum, iridescent with pink shimmer) - all three Summers, with a lighter hand for Light Summer due to the dusky quality. Really striking. It brings my Summer envy out of hibernation.
  • 27 Solstice Halcyon (semi-matte mauve beige) - Interesting color with a lot of pink in it. Soft Summer and Soft Autumn.
  • 64 Golden Rhea (iridescent pale gold, pure and simple) - all Springs and Soft Autumn. Very peachy yellow compared to Unforgettable Oriole. Beautiful.
  • 65 Olive Violetear (smoky olive with satin finish) - Hard to pin down, a beautiful warm greened grey. Soft Summer and Soft Autumn, certainly. True and Dark Autumn wear it well. Bright Spring and True Spring could give it a shot. Just an amazingly versatile color.
  • 66 Bohemian Waxwing (iridescent bronzed champagne) - This is a taupey rose gold. I had hopes that it would be similar to MAC's Woodwinked, but it's quite a bit lighter and cooler. All Autumns, but Soft Autumn will be especially lovely in it.
Blackpepper Jay

Blackpepper Jay

  • 67 Lilac Reef Curassow (pale lilac with iridescent effect) - All Summers. Gah. Stunning.
  • 68 Trumpeter Koel (dark lead-grey with lilac blue iridescence) - Soft Summer. Dark Winter could wear it well, too.
  • 69 Umber Firefinch (iridescent dark umber chocolate) - all Autumns. Since it's fairly dark, Soft Autumn would wear it as a contour.
  • 73 Snowy Egret (smoked palest gold iridescence) - Shines for Summers, but I could see True Winter in it, too. Very ethereal.
  • 74 Eclipse Eagle (dark brown-grey plum with platinum iridescence) - Absolutely MADE for Bright Winter. Similar to Merle Norman Storm in theory, but prettier and plummier. I think Dark Winter and Soft Summer could wear it very well too, as they do nicely in greyed plums.

There's a hefty handful of other lovely shades available on the Rouge Bunny Rouge website, including cherry blossom pink, apricot pink, peacock blue, silver moss, sterling silver, blackened silver charcoal, rich fern green, and others. Yes, I am drooling on my keyboard right now.

You can purchase RBR products online at Beautyhabit (U.S.-based) and Rouge Bunny Rouge. I've found their descriptions and swatches to be quite accurate. At the time of this writing, eyeshadow pots are $25, refills are $19, unmagnetized pans are $15, duo keepers are $12, and trio keepers are $18.

I've also swatched blush, mascara, glitter pigments, and highlighters, so look for that post in coming weeks.

My PCA Philosophy

I believe that everyone is beautiful.

I used to scoff at people who said things like that. I was convinced it was a pat on the head from the true beauties of the world, who felt badly for the rest of us.

I had no idea that everyone's eyes were capable of glittering, the rind of the iris crisp and clear. Eye patterns? What's that? If you'd told me that an eye could contain spokes, webbing, or little stars, I'd have given you major side-eye. My awareness of eye color was limited to the information required for a driver's license: Blue, Green, Brown, maybe Hazel. I didn't know that an eye could resemble cracked aqua glass, or licorice nestled among moss.

This is the eye of my lovely friend Emily. Stunning.

This is the eye of my lovely friend Emily. Stunning.

I didn't know that hair color like dishwater blonde or mousy brown were mirages. I've seen ho-hum hair gain subtle highlights with the change of a drape. Hair that appears coated with baby powder against one drape is freshly-washed with the next. I dyed my own "dusty" hair red for years, trying to match the brightness level of my clothing. When I stopped dyeing it, I was shocked to find that it was, indeed, rich.

I grew up on a media diet of airbrushing and Photoshop. I had no idea that rosacea, vitiligo, freckles, birthmarks, crow's feet, and other "imperfections" were no more imperfections than the texture caused by hammering silver.  I'd always found crow's feet particularly adorable, but in my mind they were something I found appealing in spite of their flawed nature.

I bought into my generation's truths about beauty and measured my worth against them.

In 7th grade a boy told me I had a big nose, so I spent over a decade assuming I'd get a nose job one day. I had a big gap between my front teeth, so I stopped smiling with my mouth open. I decided my breasts were too small, so I decided to wear push-up bras forever. I had naturally curly hair, so I woke up early every day to straighten it before school.

My daughter Simone is 5. She's funny, empathetic, terrifyingly smart, and very pretty.

She has a gap between her teeth just like I do, and I think it's precious.

She tells me that she loves the gap between her teeth because it makes her look like me.

At a bookstore last weekend, Simone was coloring at a table with another little girl. I heard the little girl ask Simone if she had lost a tooth. Without looking up from her picture, Simone said, "No, I just have a space between my teeth." The little girl passed her the sequins.

I believe that everyone is beautiful.

When you're sitting in my studio, I'm not interested in changing the architecture of your face, giving you paler skin or an artificial tan, fitting you into a fashion mold, or insisting that you need makeup to look your best. Makeup can be fun--clearly my daughter thinks so too, since she's always asking to try on lipstick--but it's not necessary.

I believe that everyone is beautiful. Sometimes we just need help seeing it.