beauty, consumption

“houston, we have a problem”

favorite nude lipsticks

T-B, L-R: Clinique Chubby Stick “Curviest Caramel;” Armour Beauty “Edie;” YSL Pur Rouge “No. 5 Rose Bergamasque;” NARS “Blonde Venus;” Rimmel London Lip Liner “Addiction”

Spotted, this morning 7:55 a.m. EST, while rummaging through my handbag for my iPhone charger was a horde of lipsticks, all of which are nude-ish. Five my-lips-but-better shades, all collecting in one pocket of my handbag.

I’m not sure which of these are worse: the fact that…

(a) I have a gratuitous number of lipsticks with me;

(b) They’re all within two shades of one another; or

(c) I rarely wear anything beyond lip balm these days.

Can we talk about this for a moment?

From where I’m standing (or sitting, rather), there are two ways to look at it. I’m either living in excess (valid) or I’m a bona fide lip junkie whose habits can easily serve public good. And given that I’m the ever-eternal optimist, we’re going with the latter perspective. My hoarding tendencies will have saved you the heartache of trial-and-error when it comes to finding the perfect natural lipstick:

– Clinique Chubby Stick no. 1, Curviest Caramel

Terrible name (really? ‘Chubby Stick?’) and certainly not the prettiest when it comes to aesthetics (kindergarten flashbacks are welcomed with every uncapping of this oversize crayon), but without a doubt a beautiful product. If you can get past the cheesy alliteration, “Curviest Caramel” is a gorgeous, pink-mauve shade that gives your lips a rosier tint. It’s pigmented, it’s non-drying, it fades beautifully, and best of all, it’s non-fussy. This is perfect for days when I need to look more alive or put-together but haven’t had the time. A swipe of mascara with this on the lips and blended as a cream cheek color instantly awakens and perks up the complexion.

– Armour Beauty lip gloss, Edie

I’ve written about it before, but to reiterate, it’s a delicious formula and beige-nude shade. I find it hard to wear when I’m tanner, but come winter months, it’s perfect.

– YSL Rouge Pur Couture no. 6, Rose Bergamasque

Yet another lipstick I’ve waxed poetic about. It’s a nude lipstick with peachy — almost apricot — undertones, which makes it ideal for golden or olive complexions. It’s a beautiful summer shade to complement bronzed skin, and when paired with natural/mauve lip liner, gives you perfectly pout-y lips. YSL makes some of the best lip products on the market, with the Rouge Pur Couture line being my favorite from the brand. The formula and packaging are both unsurpassed.

– NARS Satin Lipstick, Blonde Venus

NARS is another brand that does incredible lip products (and everything else, really). “Blonde Venus” is the only natural/nude shade I’ve found that works for my skin at its palest and at its darkest. It’s a unique shade with strong golden-brown undertones — there’s no hint of pink or mauve in it whatsoever — which is why I think its so versatile. I love the slightly matte finish, and even more so I adore the shade: “Blonde Venus” gives off a 70s Sharon Tate vibe which I can’t get enough of.

– Rimmel London Full Exaggerate lip liner no. 018, Addiction

Perfect natural, mauve shade. If there’s one thing Rimmel does well it’s lip liner: cheap as chips and just as good as MAC. I rotate between this one and Kevyn Aucoin for day wear; for evenings (special occasions, nights out, performances), MUFE is unbeatable.

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beauty, consumption

estee lauder bronze goddess eau fraiche skinscent

estee lauder bronze goddess eau fraiche skinscent

You would think that as a professional working in the beauty industry — in marketing and copywriting specifically — that I’d be immune to adverts. (It’s hardly the case, I am a proud contributor to American consumerism!) I’d like to think that it’s because I’m now hyper-aware that I have a soft spot for the products that excel in the packaging and overall branding department. I’ve developed an intense appreciation for the craft!

Pfft. You know, I can see you rolling your eyes from across the screen.

One of my latest adventures in consumption may or may not have involved a late-night, pre-holiday mini-spree. Mini, because it involved one thing and one thing only (eyes on the prize, here): Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent 2014. Late-night, because why would I waste my day doing something as menial as, say, shopping? Insomnia isn’t practical otherwise…

… but I digress. For years I’ve been looking for the perfect summer scent, and for years I’ve been stumped by sniff after sniff of some saccharine imitation of “coconuts” and “sea” that came across more like a cheap Almond Joy mojito. I was perfectly content with my rotation of Tom Ford Black Orchid and L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier; those seemed to fit better with my monochrome wardrobe.

But what of summer, when sun calls for skin and white denim and color? Musk and amber may fare well in the colder months or for evening outs, but it becomes irrelevant — jarring, even — at the first given temperature rise. I don’t wear little white shorts in the dead of winter; I’d like to think similar rules of appropriateness apply to fragrance as well. Into my drawer my perfumes would go, and in their place would be the lingering scent of all the things I’d slather on that day: monoi oil, coconut oil, Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil, sunscreen (all of which happen to be a large chunk of my favorite things in life).

It seemed obvious then, to pick up a bottle of the limited edition Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent. A whole collection called Bronze Goddess seemed self-explanatory enough; plus, who am I to turn down claims of being:

“The fragrance that worships every inch of you. A sensuous, sun-drenched blend of Bergamot and Mandarin, cooled with Tahitian Gardenia Petals and Coconut, warmed with Amber, Sandalwood and Vetiver. All heat. All desire. All woman.”

… all bottled in a pretty, minimalist bronze glass?

It’s light, but not fleeting; Eau Fraiche Skinscent is certainly an appropriate and accurate name. It’s the ideal summer fragrance: I distinctly get a deeper version Hawaain Tropic’s sunscreen and tanning oil — which I suppose in the perfume world translates to notes of coconut and tiare. There’s a hint of something citrus-y that cuts the initial sweetness, but once settled into the skin, becomes this creamy, addictive scent. It smells like skin — a little musky after a day at the beach — mixed with all the best sun creams and oils and lotions. Nothing too refined (because what beach girl really is?), a little like the essence of the quintessential Victoria’s Secret Angel, and definitely tropical.

.   .   .

Shop: Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess

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lagent_by_agent_provocateur_penelope_black
consumption, designers, fashion, femininity, flirting, girl talk, sexy little things, shoppables, shopping!, smart shopping, yours truly

l’agent by agent provocateur

I’m no lingerie snob — I’m not above a good Victoria’s Secret set now and then — but according to my growing lust list, one might say otherwise. What can I say? (Or, better yet, why do I feel the need to justify myself when it’s unnecessary, especially when it concerns my hedonistic tendencies? The heart wants what the heart wants…) Pretty things make my heart palpitate, but pretty, unmentionable things make me weak at the knees.

Unfortunately, brands like Agent Provocateur simply aren’t in my budget at the moment because I only buy in sets — mismatched things just don’t make sense to me, you might as well not bother — so unless I forfeit my food and commute fund, dreams of owning collections modeled by Monica Bellucci and Josephine de la Baume, as well as favorites from their Classics range, will have to be put on hold. (But only for the moment, I promise you, by which I mean me.) Thus, when a little birdie whispered word of an AP diffusion line, I couldn’t help but be giddy with anticipation. Skeptical, perhaps — “affordable” lines rarely do right by their parent brand and tend to read more as cheap substitutes rather than alternatives — but excited nonetheless.

L’Agent by Agent Provocateur is a collaborative effort between sisters Monica and Penelope Cruz (Monica Cruz starred in AP’s A/W 2012 campaign) and Agent Provocateur, with a price point about half of what the mainline usually is. It isn’t necessarily cheap, per se, but it certainly is more attainable, and for the quality and fit, everything is well worth its price tag. That means a few trade-offs, of course: L’Agent by AP features a few familiar, albeit seasoned, AP designs but with less intricacy in details, and I’m assuming they’re conserving with fabric type/usage. Regardless, the collection is beautiful in its own right.

L’Agent by AP encapsulates the essence of Agent Provocateur, if a more youthful side to appeal to that younger market: it’s all a little quirky but definitely sexy, crafted in satin, lace, or mesh in bright colors. I love that everything is a full set, complete with suspenders. A sense of completeness certainly satiates my (and all of humankind’s, really) innate need for wholeness. Below are a few of my favorites from the latest campaign:

Danita

Danita

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Rosalyn

lagent_by_agent_provocateur_leonara

Leonara

lagent_by_agent_provocateur_alyce

Alyce

lagent_by_agent_provocateur_monica_purple

Monica

lagent_by_agent_provocateur_maribel

Maribel

lagent_by_agent_provocateur_penelope_black

Penelope

lagent_by_agent_provocateur_penelope_corset

Penelope

I’m lucky to own one of the design duo’s namesake — the “Monica” in purple — which just so happens to look be the neon update of AP’s classic “Shazam.” For starters, the purple is delicious, it’s a welcome departure from the usual color palette in my lingerie drawer. Photos have the set looking like just another pretty little number, but it’s not just another lace set: it’s a set with AP fit and structure. I haven’t yet tried an AP set for comparison’s sake, but from scouring the web, the main line is catered towards “petite, proportioned girls” (reviewers’ words, not mine). I’d say L’Agent is no different: the Monica is well-made and does all the right things for a lady.

I’ll leave it at that.

Next on my list is the Penelope three-piece, the Leonara, and Rosalyn — and yes, in that order (I’m very particular, blame it on the Aries tendences). Is that greedy, or careful investment planning? You tell me: I hear the collaboration is signed to last the next five years at the very least, so cheers to pretty L’Agent by AP dreams…

.   .   .

Shop L’Agent by Agent Provocateur on Net-A-Porter.

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