My husband’s and my wedding anniversary was a few weeks ago, but since I haven’t been feeling well lately, we didn’t get around to celebrating it until last weekend. We went out for hibachi, which is one of my favorite “special occasion” experiences, and even though the restaurant wasn’t super-fancy (no restaurant where they fling shrimp tails at you really can be), I decided to get gussied up anyway. Little black dress, pearls…and a smokey eye!
Now, smokey eyes is one of those things I spend a lot of time staring at on Pinterest and other people’s blogs, going “that can’t be so hard, the whole point is to not be exact!”, and then inevitably screw up royally when I try it on myself. So imagine my excitement when I actually more or less pulled it off this time using my LORAC Pocket Pro palette (picked up for $5 instead of $15 using Kohl’s cash a few weeks ago, oh yeah!).
With only three colors (Nude, a very shimmery ivory, though you can’t see the shimmer in the picture; Pewter, a shimmery gray-brown; and Espresso, a matte dark brown), it sort of took away the “oh god which colors do I use?” panic that I usually have when trying to put together a combination. This was also my first experience with LORAC shadows, and I must say that I absolutely see what everyone’s been going on about. These shadows are incredibly buttery and pigmented. I swatched this palette on my arm right after swatching Coastal Scents Revealed 1 palette, and the difference was just night and day in pigmentation and texture (and it’s not like Revealed is all that bad, even!).
Excuse the mismatched lighting and lack of centering in these pictures; hubby was trying to drag me out of the house while I kept yelping “but I want to get a better picture for the blog!” and I was forced to get my full-face shot in a moving car when he won the tug-of-war.
Looking at these pictures now, I see a bunch of stuff I did wrong, or could have done better, but overall I’m really proud of myself. This was the first time I managed a smokey eye that didn’t look like either “she calls THAT smokey?” or “oh dear, she tripped and fell into the vat of coal dust, didn’t she?”.
What could I have improved? Well…
Blending the darkest color back up into my crease a bit, so it looked less like a literal wing coming out the side of my head
Blending the medium color less inwards, so that there’s a clearer demarcation between light and dark on my inner lids
Acquiring a brow product that’s not absurdly too warm-toned for my eyebrows
Catching up on my waxing, which has sort of fallen by the wayside, because man, you don’t want to lay down on that table while not feeling well
Products used in this look:
Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse foundation in Classic Ivory (I’ve been using Porcelain Ivory for a while now, but the more I looked at it in pictures the more I thought I might have gone a little too…light? cool? something. So I switched to Classic Ivory, which I think is working a bit better)
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser in Fair
Essence of Beauty Brow Color in what appeared to be a dark brown but was turns out to be a dark reddish-brown
LORAC Pocket Pro palette (Nude, inner lid and lower lashline; Pewter, crease, mid-lid, and lower lashline; Espresso, outer v)
Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Kohl eyeliner for Brown Eyes in black (upper and lower lashlines, smudged out)
Urban Decay Perversion mascara
Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso
Stila bronzer in Golden, from the Portrait of a Perfect Cheek palette
NYX Butter Lipstick in Pops and NYX Matte Lipstick in Natural (I started with Natural, decided it was too pink, switched to Pops, and ended up with a sort of hybrid of the two)
So here’s something I recently realized: reviews and unboxings are all well and good, but there’s nothing unique about a blog post about those. Literally every makeup blogger does them, and if I just wanted to see how Product X looks swatched or used, I can choose from hundreds of blogs telling me just that. What I have more trouble finding is what those products look like when used by someone who’s, you know, sort of average at makeup, and maybe doesn’t own twenty MAC brushes, and is just sort of muddling along trying to make themselves look like all the awesome blog posts. I mean, if I spend $40 on the new hotness product, what is it actually going to look like when applied with my own, very uncoordinated little paws?
And then I realized, “but wait! I, myself, am someone who’s sort of average at makeup, and doesn’t own twenty MAC brushes, and is just sort of muddling along trying to make herself look like all the awesome blog posts!” And honestly, I spend a lot of time looking at pinterest, putting on makeup the way the pins say, and then looking at myself and going, “…oh. Hm. Clearly something went wrong here.”
The bottom line is that, much like how science values negative results in experiments, I feel like poor reviews and failed looks have value to those of us who aren’t already makeup artistes of great expertise. So I’m going to try my best to produce that kind of post every now and then, taking something from a blog or pin and seeing how it works in my real, wonky world. I’m not trying to debunk looks or anything; I don’t doubt that every one of the looks and techniques I’m going to try has been done, and beautifully, by any number of makeup lovers. But I’m probably not one of them, based on all available evidence and the fact that I’ve already spilled two meals on my shirt today.
And so today…
…I’m going to start by trying out a pin I’ve had on my makeup board for a while. This blog post provides a not-particularly-detailed tutorial (below) for how to use Urban Decay’s first Naked Palette to do an “everyday smokey eye” with three colors. Sounds pretty easy, right? “Everyday” usually means “pretty neutral”, and “pretty neutral” usually means “even if you screw this up it won’t be too noticeable.” Works for me!
I do not, however, own the Naked palette. Any of the Naked palettes, actually. At fifty-some dollars a pop, they’ve been on my “one day” wishlist for a while now. In the meantime, I’ve picked up some popular dupes of the Naked palettes: the Coastal Scents Revealed palettes. There are two of these palettes; Revealed 1 is said to have dupes for all the shades found in Naked 1 and Naked 2, while Revealed 2 has dupes for everything in Naked 3 (as well as a bunch of non-dupe shades).
I obviously can’t attest to how perfectly duplicative they are in real life, but based on internet pictures (which totally never lie!), they’re pretty damn close. So I feel relatively ok using Revealed 1 for a Naked 1 tutorial. Pinterest even hooked me up with a couple lists of which colors in Revealed are dupes of which colors in Naked 1. Unfortunately, the lists didn’t entirely agree, which means I labeled them on my Revealed palette once, then had to re-label some of them with the “some other person thinks this is actually…” color names. As a result, I can’t guarantee that the colors I use from Revealed are the dupes of the named ones for Naked 1, especially because as I put them on, they didn’t seem to match the pictures I was working off of. But their shades relative to each other at least looked pretty close, so, you know. The spirit of the thing is mostly intact.
So here’s my version of a pictorial of me following the tutorial. I apologize for where the pictures are blurry; I’m experimenting with a new tripod and I swear these pictures looked perfectly clear when I eyeballed them immediately after taking them. Anyway, here’s me with just foundation and mascara on, to start.
If you can’t tell, I have some discoloration on my lids, partly just because I have massive dark circles in general, and partly because I have a small patch of eczema on the eyelid we’re looking at here, and it’s irritated.
The tutorial’s instructo-picture said to start with putting Virgin…somewhere that looked vaguely like “all over the lid” (guys, seriously. Words don’t cost money. Use more!). So, I did.
Pale and shimmery. This looks nothing like the eye in the tutorial. I’m not sure if I suck, or I mislabeled my colors, or it’s just very different lighting and skin tones between me and the tutorial model (who, incidentally, looks like she starts the tutorial with a crease color already in place. I’m so confused).
Next, “Buck in crease and outer corner”. Ok, I can handle that.
If you can see anything through the blur (sorry, I totally blame the tripod) and the fact that I switched eyes (also sorry, I was one step ahead on the other eye before I remembered that I hadn’t taken a picture), you can see that…I sort of suck at putting stuff in my crease. I’m not entirely sure I even know what my in-makeup-parlance crease is, because when I put color in the actual physical area where my eyelid creases into my browbone, it doesn’t look anything like all the internet pictures of people putting color into their creases. So instead I end up picking a “sort of looks like the right location, ish?” area and pretending it’s my crease. This is some military precision, right here in the Porter household!
After staring at this picture and then the tutorial picture for a while, I’m wondering if maybe I have a very high browbone or something, because my browbone starts, like, where my eyebrow is, and hers seems to start halfway between her eyebrow and her eye. Hm. This is something to think about; I wonder would would happen if I put “crease” colors where my crease actually lies? I suspect clown-makeup eyes. Sadface.
Anyway, that was Buck (maybe), smooshed into my crease-ish area (maybe).
Next, “Darkhorse in outer corner and inner most crease inside Buck perimeter.” Ok well for one thing, I forgot to read the “inside Buck” part of that sentence before picking up my brush again. Then again, it’s not like I’m coordinated enough with my brushes to get things inside or outside the “perimeters” of other things. So it probably evens out in the end.
Yep, that there’s some eyeshadow, on my eye. It’s brown. Woo.
Having slapped all the colors on approximately as the tutorial told me to, it was time to blend. This helped!
Heyyy. Less blurry and it almost looks like an actual, you know, look. It looks nothing like the colors in the tutorial, but still, a look! Of some kind! Unfortunately the eczema splotch on my eyelid makes it look like I’m even less coordinated with the darker colors than I am.
Now at this point, I realized that though the tutorial had said nothing about what to do on my bottom eye area, the model was clearly wearing shadow there. So I winged it with a combination of Buck (maybe) and Darkhorse (maybe).
Despite my unconvinced expression, this seemed to balance pretty well with the rest of the look. So I moved on to the next step: “line eyes”. Not so hard, right?
Erm, well. I sort of suck at liquid liner (and pencil liner. Gel liner I’m not so bad at!). And this liner is…shiny? Why the hell is it shiny, NYX? Who’s looking for shiny black liquid liner, for god’s sake? But I guess I’m stuck with what I have, since it’s already on my eyes. And it looks a bit better with my eyes closed, anyway:
I think part of the problem with the eyes-open picture is that I might have mutant eyes? The amount of space between my eyelashes and the fold in my eyelid when my eyes are open seems to be much smaller than the space on people who I see pictures of on makeup blogs. As a result, what’s quite clearly a thin line with my eyes closed ends up taking up nearly all the lid space I have with my eyes open, making it look way thicker than it is.
Or maybe I’m overthinking this and it looks just fine. That’s also a possibility!
Anyway, having made my makeup bed, it was time to lie in it and add the finishing touches to the rest of my face: Milani Baked Powder Blush in Corallina, and Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain lipstick in India Intrigue.
So, there you have it: expected result vs actual result.
On the bright side, I don’t look bad, per se. On the not-so-bright side, I look pretty much nothing like what I thought I was imitating. Also I look like a toddler did my eyeliner.
So what have I learned from trying to imitate this look – about makeup, my anatomy, or anything else?
I’m probably a mutant in one or more ways
Damn, I’m pale
Tutorials are much more useful when they use complete sentences. I should probably consider working off a video tutorial next time; I suspect it will be useful to see someone actually performing the actions I’m supposed to be performing
I need to figure out a way to make eyeliner work with the small amount of lid area I seem to have available. Perhaps the whole “chunky wing” thing just isn’t suited to me, or perhaps I’m just doing the “chunky” part overzealously. Needs investigation.
I shouldn’t be afraid to blend color not just up, but out. When I open my eye, especially if I have eyeliner on, anything on my lid is pretty much not in play; color has to come from outside that area.
Makeup that seems way overdone when I’m squinting at myself in the mirror turns out to be way underdone when I take a photo and plunk it next to what I’m “supposed” to look like
What seems like extreme curl and length from my mascara is nothing compared to whatever ninja mascara-falsies “look” models wear. Pile it on, Amy!
I don’t know how to do lower lid shadow. Like, at all. Every instinct I have screams that smearing dark colors onto an area where I already have dark bags is a bad idea…and yet it seems to work for everyone else!
On that note, I should consider investing in some hardcore undereye concealer, maybe from somewhere like MAC. If I’m not competing with the dark circles, maybe I’ll be more comfortable using dark colors there.
My strategy for lipstick picking currently consists of “open drawer, go ‘ooh that one’s pretty’, apply lipstick”. There are probably some coordination considerations here that I should be aware of, but I have no idea how to figure out what they are
So, my fellow klutzes, that’s what happens when someone who’s just about figured out which end of the brush to hold tries to imitate a blogged look: too much eyeliner, not enough eyeshadow.
What looks have you been trying to imitate lately? Anything you’ve learned, especially if it seems utterly obvious in retrospect but still never occurred to you? Any insight you can offer about the things I need to work on?