Contouring for Pale People: 4 products that won’t make you look like a dirty Oompa Loompa

My father likes to call my skin color “clear.”

It’s not inaccurate; my veins are permanent blue-and-purple vines along my entire body, and the last time someone asked me what SPF I used I was like, “What, you mean, for like going outside?!?!”

So when I wrote this article called 3 Ways to Use This Contour Palette (Besides Contouring) for xoVain (“this” being the Anastasia Pro Contour Palette), several fair-skinned commenters expressed concern about the warmth of the contouring shades (the article actually wasn’t about contouring per se, but never mind). It’s true that a lot of mainstream contour products tend toward a certain “Hollywood tan” aesthetic, which can look muddy and weird when applied to those of us who draw Casper comparisons on the reg.

I’m a FRIENDLY ghost!

I’m a FRIENDLY ghost!

So it got me thinking. Surely there are contouring products for pale people!

…right?

My search was a difficult one; as we ghosties know all too well, the sun-shunning aesthetic isn’t exactly “in.” But I polled my artist friends, scoured shelves, thumbed through magazines, and came up with four beautiful, unconventional alternatives to your average beachy bronze.

The Neutral Cream Contour

PaleContour1

Becca Lowlight Sculpting Perfector

I can’t get enough of the packaging for Becca’s Lowlight Sculpting Perfector. The cool metal face of this compact alone makes me want to make room in my makeup bag, but luckily what’s inside is just as great. The lightweight cream formula inside is a true neutral brown. The color goes on sheer and blends out into a very natural-looking contour that lasts. I found that the cream formula works best with a short-bristled contour brush like the one pictured below.

Blended

Unblended

Blended

Blended

The Rose Effect Blush/Bronzer

Benefit Dallas

Benefit Dallas

A makeup artist friend with even paler skin than mine confided that she uses Benefit’s Dallas blush for contouring. Described on the package as a “dusty sunset plum,” this is almost a bronzer/blush in one, but with a cool undertone. Worn as a contour product, the effect isn’t exactly natural—at least not how I applied it—but it’s truly stunning; subtle definition with a rosy flush. I think the ambiguity of the shade lends itself well to double-tasking, and I’ve found myself reaching for Dallas for easy one-and-done cheeks. Plus, the included brush is actually worth using (imagine that!).

Unblended

Unblended

Blended

Blended

The Luxe Bronzer

Guerlain

Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder

Guerlain’s Terracotta Bronzing Powders are legendary: the colors are gorgeous, the formula has moisturizing ingredients, and the texture is almost nonexistent, it’s that silky. These are on the pricier side, but so highly pigmented that just a light dusting is enough—this little compact will last a long time. For my contour, I chose shade 08 Ebony for its rich plum undertones. Though this shade is meant to be a bronzer for someone with much darker skin, the cool undertone really lent itself well to a shadow effect, and the finely-milled texture blended like buttah, so I didn’t look like I wandered offstage during a high school Our Town production (application with a fan brush also helped).

Unblended

Unblended

Blended

Blended

The Unicorn Cool-Toned Contour Palette 

It Cosmetics My Sculpted Face

It Cosmetics My Sculpted Face

It Cosmetics’ My Sculpted Face is a goshdarn unicorn. Every shade is wearable, and the highlighting shades are actually light enough to show up on my skin (I mean, WHAT)! The upper left shade is a matte white, and the upper right is a silvery-white shimmer (to be used sparingly, I found out the hard way). The two shades under that are perfect for a more natural, undetectable contour, and the last two are more my (dramatic) speed. I always go for the darkest shade, but as you can see, it blends quite easily.

Unblended

Unblended

Blended

Blended

Swatched

Swatched

Make sure you’ve got a fan brush & a sturdy, short-ish bristled brush (I like Urban Decay’s Optical Blurring Brush) to blend tell-tale streaks out in tiny circles upward toward your ear.

Oh, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen, ya pale-ass jerk. Or just straight-up vampire it (hey, sleeping in works for me!).

Advertisements

Killer Queen: A Royal Revolution Katy Perry Tutorial

This confession appeared on xoVain today, prefacing my review of Katy Perry’s Killer Queen: Royal Revolution fragrance. I liked it, okay? I TRIED THIS PERFUME AND I LIKED IT, HOPE MY BOYFRIEND DON’T MIND IT.

The makeup tutorial I created to go along with the review ended up getting cut, so I figured I’d post it here in case any of you are going to an 80s party or wanna be a goofy pop star for Halloween. I’m not exactly a Katy Perry fan, but her music is catchy and I gotta give props to the chicks fighting the good fight by daring to be curvy in public.

A quick note first: Perry is a cultural appropriation lightning rod right now. A battle is being fought in the pop music sector as socio-political gaffes (like a popstar co-opting another cultural style in a music video) are no longer getting swept under the proverbial rug. I’m not a radio listener (or a music video watcher), and I don’t exactly have much feminist theory under my belt, so I’m going to leave that conversation to the more experienced writers of the internet.

All right, onto the dumb stuff!

When Tom walked by, he said, “That’s very … makeup-y.” Nailed it.

When Tom walked by, he said, “That’s very … makeup-y.” Nailed it.

I’ve always wanted to try a Katy Perry makeup look (if you haven’t, you’re lying), so when Topshop’s gorgeous 4-pan Atlantis Eye Palette came into my life, I knew the time had come. They say blue shadow isn’t for the green-eyed? Psssh. There are no rules in beauty!

Topshop Atlantis

Topshop Atlantis Eye Palette

I started out with a full-coverage base à la Ms. Perry, using Hourglass Immaculate Foundation and Too Faced Cocoa Powder Foundation for a matte, doll-like finish. (The latter smells like chocolate. I think Katy would approve.) KP’s got some Brows with a capital B, so I used Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil with bold, steady strokes. The waxy formula helps tame unruly hairs, while the rich pigment fills in everything evenly (and don’t even think about buying a brow pencil without a spoolie on the other end!). Check out my gradient brow tutorial on xoVain for more detailed info.

Tap some highlighter (like Benefit High Beam) onto the high planes of your face, then blend with a damp sponge.

Tap some highlighter (like Benefit High Beam) onto the high planes of your face, then blend with a damp sponge.

Palette time! Pack the light blue-turquoise shade onto your upper lid with a short-bristled shadow brush (I love this MAC #219 Pencil Brush’s tiny tip), then bring it down along your lower lashline.

brush

Don’t worry about achieving perfection; we’ll blend later. Add the navy blue shade in a V-shape around the outer corners of your upper and lower lash lines.

Swirl a fluffy blending brush into the shimmery white shade in the palette, and buff out the blue edges in tiny circular motions. You can pack extra white shadow into the inner corner of the eye and directly under your brow arch for a brightening effect.

collage_photocat

Use a black liquid liner (my favorite is Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner) to draw a rounded cat eye. Think ‘60s mod; Katy’s got the Zooey Deschanel wide-eyed thing going on. Use a concealer pencil or white eyeliner to line your lower waterline for that huge cartoon-eyes effect.
IMG_2438
KP9

It’s not Katy Perry if you don’t wear fake lashes. I used a random drugstore pair that was on hand, but I’d definitely recommend a thicker strip for more authenticity. Finally, I used NYX Butter Gloss in Créme Brulee for a muted lip that didn’t compete with my crazy upper face.

IMG_2466

KP extra

Lunatic transformation complete.

Bonus: my gorgeous friend Sara in the same makeup! My pictures of her ended up kinda sucking (still working on the whole how-to-use-a-camera thing), but we had a blast anyway.

sara

Add some bright pink lips and a Marilyn wig and you’re Jessica Lange from the American Horror Story: Freakshow Bowie tribute.

Is there life on Maaaaaaaars?

Is there life on Maaaaaaaars?

Can we talk about how fantastic that sequence was for a second? Four days later and it’s still stuck in my head. Ryan Murphy, you ridiculous genius.

How fucking excited are we for Halloween?

Copy Examples from Sephora

Ever heard of a little site called Sephora.com? I had a blast this summer when I was under contract there—I’ve wanted to work with Sephora for as long as I can remember.

I made the decision to jump back into freelance beauty writing instead of staying on, but it was great fun to see how the glittery sausage gets made. And holy shit, there are some talented people making it!

Here are some clips of the copy I wrote for the site/email campaigns (oh man, now you can see my shamefully high Rouge Reward points):

YSL Spotlight YSL Brand Page Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 4.19.02 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 4.19.12 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 4.42.25 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-15 at 4.42.34 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-31 at 3.33.41 AM Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.08.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.12.43 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.05.47 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.06.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.06.49 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-04 at 1.09.40 PM

The Fuck is on Your Face? Vol. V: At First Blush

Drew is a playwright and wordsmith and an all-around fantastic human being; you know, one of those friends you adore but never get to see because they’re across the country? He had a few words to say on the subject of blush:

In a nutshell: let’s try to avoid a Raggedy Ann situation here.

Blush is tough for me because it’s a type of makeup that doesn’t intend to really blend into the skin, or emphasize naturally-occurring lines. Although it can effectively mimic what your face might look like if you’ve just accidentally crotch-flashed a foreign dignitary, let’s not be mistaken here: it’s artifice. And because of this, and how prominently it changes one’s entire appearance, no makeup mistake raises my eyebrow more than an over-rouge-ing.

As far as more “experimental” tones of blush go, I say: huh? Let’s keep in mind what we’re trying to improve here: a woman’s face. There’s nothing more exquisite in the world than a woman’s face. If you held up a woman’s face next to an assortment of, like, colors, guess what I’d be most interested in? Yup, the goddamn woman’s face.

So for the love of all things sacred, please don’t go all Rothko on those cheeks.

Aw geez, Drew. Flattery will get you everywhere (as will a good art reference).

I’ll admit to not being a huge blush user. I’m not sure why, exactly. It’s a lovely concept; it certainly can look very fresh and pretty. I guess it’s just one of those things I forget to wear. I’m more of a bronzer person, and only then to warm up my complexion if I feel a bit pale or I got some unexpected sun on the rest of my body (high planes of the face where the sun would hit) or to contour (slightly darker bronzer applied with an angled brush in the hollows of the cheeks under cheekbones). My favorite bronzers are Hoola ($28) and Smashbox Halo ($39) — both matte and very natural. A couple of great bronzer/blush multitaskers are Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights ($30) and Too Faced’s Caribbean in a Compact in Snow Bunny ($29), though both have some shimmer to them. If I am using blush by itself, I’ll generally go with worldwide favorite Nars Orgasm ($28, and also available in a split compact with Laguna, a soft matte bronzer), or Benefit Dandelion ($28) for more of an ethereal, subtle glow. If you’re looking for a foolproof way to pick a color, try pinching your cheeks (old beauty magazine trick) and pick a color similar to your natural flush. And make sure you pay attention to the level of shimmer in the product — a little can bring out your cheekbones, but too much can make you look like a disco ball. Check yourself out in direct sunlight to be sure.

When it comes to choosing a brush, just remember: the denser the bristles, the more color they will pick up and deposit on your face. The lightest, most subtle brush you can use is the fan brush. Apples of the cheeks are a good place to start, but you can experiment with different planes of your face for different effects. When in doubt, just smile and apply along the part that bulges out most (heh).

As always, just make sure you blend the shit out of it (for the record, I do not want this written on my gravestone). 

We can’t all have Drew’s natural healthy flush (also pictured: me and my bronzer habit).

I hijacked this bio from MTV Voices, where Drew sometimes writes:

Drew Paryzer (a.k.a. Andrés, אַבְרָהָם, ட்ரூ, and Shnookums) is a playwright, journalist, couch-surfing traveler, pun-lover, reflective listener, and heat-seeking missile.

He thinks he might have discovered the meaning of life looking into a pond one time, but then he had to start paying rent. Wrested out of Hebrew day school in Miami at a young age, reared with saxophone and Super Mario in the Rocky Mountains, and raised in South India, South America, and at Sarah Lawrence College, Drew now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. and has little idea what the hell is going on in this world until he starts writing about it. He once tried to climb up a palm tree and uprooted the thing. He’s mostly convinced that we’re all becoming cyborgs. Follow him on Twitter; you’ll be glad you did.