Saturday, January 24, 2015

Estella Sparkles: ColourPop Cosmetics

I find out about lots of cosmetics I wouldn't otherwise know about from watching YouTube. One of my recent finds is ColourPop Cosmetics. In truth, if you go over to YouTube and search "ColourPop" you'll be inundated with hits. The company is based out of Los Angeles, and they recently burst onto the beauty scene when they distributed their unique eyeshadows to lots of YouTubers for review. Then, they started spreading like wildfire! I know I couldn't resist when I saw videos like this one and this one from one of my favorite beauty YouTubers, KathleenLights.

So what's all the hoo-hah about ColourPop? 

  1. They have unique, colorful, high-impact eye shadows that are a really weird, fun texture. Like a cream-to-powder finish that you can apply with your fingers. They feel wet, but they're not!
  2. Their lippie stix and lippie pencils are incredibly soft and pigmented.
  3. All of their products, shadows, lipstick, and pencils are $5 each on their website. 
Soooo, I jumped right on this bandwagon. After watching the rave reviews on YouTube and lots of cool tutorials, like any good capitalist, I ordered my own! I grabbed, from left to right, a matte taupe called "Hanky Panky," a purple/blue/greenish duochrome called "Bae," an olive with pink sparkles called "So Quiche," and a gorgeous coral satin called "Cheeky." As for the lippie stix and pencils, I grabbed Lumier, by KathleenLights who I mentioned up top, and I got the lippie stick and pencil in the coral shade, "Fancy." 

What do I think? 
  • I LOVE the colors and fun glitters in these shadows. They go on easily with the fingers or a brush, and they wear all day over an eye shadow base. 
  • I love the creaminess and pigment in the lippie stix and pencils. I use a very light hand with the lip products to get a soft effect. They will last forever because a little goes a long way, and they smell heavenly.
  • I will skip their matte shadows, like Hanky Panky, in the future. I can get the same effect from a regular matte shadow that I already have in my collection. 
Here are a couple of eye looks I whipped up. 

Hanky Panky blended into the crease, with some matte navy in the outer v area and Cheeky on the inner lid. 

A matte terra cotta color in the crease and So Quiche all over the lid.
Who will like these? 
These shadows are great for beginners or those who don't want to be bothered with brushes because they blend so so so easily! While the colors look fairly loud in the pot, you can wear them in a way that's more daytime appropriate and doesn't scream COLOR AND SPARKLE! 

If you DO want more color and sparkle, I suggest misting a brush with setting spray or dampening it with eye drops and then patting over the shadow with the brush. It definitely intensifies the color.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

That's Me, in the Wall Street Journal

Sometimes you write a blog post and then you get an email from the Wall Street Journal. Such was the case when I got an email on Tuesday asking  to interview me for an article on "no-makeup makeup." You might remember I wrote a post about it here earlier in the week. So after a quick phone call and a follow-up to fact check, I have a paragraph in a WSJ article today. It's titled, "It Takes a Lot of Makeup to Look Like None."

In my case, it really doesn't take a ton of makeup to look like none, but it's a good story nonetheless...

Beauty trendsetters are pushing a very particular look for spring: the bare face. And much to makeup companies' relief, it takes new products to achieve it.

“It's an aspirational look," says Jennifer Balbier, senior vice president of global product development for artistry brands, including MAC Cosmetics, at Estée Lauder Cos.

The fresh face is a swing of the style pendulum away from the camera-ready, fully made-up look of reality TV's Kardashian sisters. Social media helped spread that look, with product-laden video tutorials on YouTube drawing millions of views.

...Andi Miller, a 34-year-old mother of a 4-year-old who lives northeast of Dallas and works at a local university, says she sports the look several times a week. She says she has swapped her foundation for a BB cream, adds a little dark-circle corrector under her eyes and then swipes on some blush, light eye shadow and lip gloss. “For me, it's all about looking fresh and awake," she says, “like maybe I slept better than I really did."

There's MUCH more. It's a fairly long, in-depth article, but I was tickled to be the only "normal person" as one of my Facebook buddies said, to be included in the piece.

If you have a subscription or if the website just happens to let you view it, you can see the whole article here or in today's paper.

If you follow me on other social media channels, you've probably already seen this. Sorry to beat you over the head with it, but stuff like this doesn't happen too often 'round here! I'm cloud ninesy right now!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Don't Forget the Glasses: Details Elevate Storytelling

This post originally ran on Panels
Comics communicate to us with their body language. Maybe they can’t literally wink or snigger, whisper under their breath or roll their eyes, but in their own way, they can. Text and illustrations working together create a gorgeous, magical thing. The words inform the images and the images build on the words, and it’s a sensory feast. You can’t really privilege one or the other in comics because the story is never complete without both of them to tell the reader what’s shakin’.  If we don’t pay attention to the teeny tiny details in a comic, we’ve missed a layer of inside jokes, visual quips, and scads of insight.
I’ve been teaching for a long time, and I’ve had the pleasure of bringing comics into my college and university classrooms on a number of occasions. The thing I often find with new comics readers is that they forget to look closely at the illustrations. They’re so accustomed to reading for plot and evaluating text that the images can slip completely to the back of their minds. Or perhaps they glance over the images, but they don’t study them fervently enough to see the clues that enrich the story.
I recently posed the question to our Panelteers, “Do you ever get so caught up in the written text that you forget about the images?” We have a variety of readers from newbies to lifers, so I thought it would be interesting to know how the breadth of experience plays into the ways we read. The answers were quite varied from, “I read my comics multiple times to catch the details,” to “I’ve been reading so long, I have one eye on the text and one eye on the images.”
Personally, I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I pre-scan through a page of illustrations, then read the text while attempting the “one eye in each direction” method. It’s still a work in progress.
For many of my classes, I’ve suggested they read a comic two or three times. Many times students are so excited by experiencing a new-to-them medium that they don’t give me much flack. It’s like a treasure hunt…a Where’s Waldo approach.
Fables, by Bill Willingham and a large cache of artists, is one of my all-time favorite comics series. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but essentially, our favorite fairy tale characters live on the sly in New York City. This includes Big Bad “Bigby” Wolf who atones for his years of pig chasing and tormenting Little Red Riding Hood torment by becoming Fabletown’s sheriff. Most of the time he exists in human form, a gruff, grizzled noir figure. However, when he’s angry or needs to throw on some speed, he transforms into a giant wolf.
One of my favorite moments of text and visual action is in Fables: Legends in Exile when the reader is just getting to know Bigby and his secrets. He’s standing, talking to Snow White in an ominous, chiaroscuro-lighted hallway. He’s very plainly in his human form but his shadow on the wall is very clearly a wolf.
It might seem like a simple thing. An old trick. But it’s so subtly wonderful, too. To read along and find these little visual bombs that don’t just illustrate a story, they also enrich and elevate it. They tell a rounded, whole story.
Another, and bigger example of art informing a story and enriching plot and characterization is in Daniel Clowes’ quirky coming-of-age story, Ghost World. If you haven’t read the graphic novel, you may be more familiar with the 2001 film adaptation by comics lover and director, Terry Zwigoff. The film stars Thora Birch as the protagonist, Enid, and a young Scarlett Johansson as her best friend, Rebecca. The duo have just graduated high school, and while Rebecca is becoming more responsible, Enid is floundering to find her identity and her priorities.
It can be especially easy to overlook visual details in Daniel Clowes’ work because the artwork itself is subtle.Ghost World is drawn in stark black and white with some washes of turquoise. It makes for a great, moody layout, but there’s also a sense of the world being washed out…lacking clarity and vigor. It’s fitting, since that’s the way Enid sees the world. She’s perpetually bored and cynical, always searching for meaning and an authentic emotional experience.
I pulled one specific chapter of Ghost World into a film adaptation class a few years ago, and after my group read it through one time, the response was a resounding, “So what?” They found the characters bratty, jaded, and unpleasant to the point of being unlikeable.
I wasn’t surprised. They are all of those things. The reason the characters come off as irrevocably bratty is because in one isolated chapter, we don’t get the whole story. I did it on purpose. A sneaky way of making them look closer and dig deeper into the text and the images. As a class, we tackled the story panel by panel. We went beyond the stark words and snarky dialogue. Everyone sounds like a jerk if they say jerky things. Without knowing the characters’ backgrounds and lives at home we struggle to empathize.
What my students found within the images in Ghost World was that ability to empathize. Enid, in particular, is really unpleasant, but she’s grappling. From scene to scene she changes herself constantly. In particular, the frames of her glasses change, and her hairstyles aren’t far behind. Both of these visual indicators tell the reader that Enid is trying on new identities. She’s a punk in one scene, a hipster in the next, and finally, just plain Enid.
It was even more fun to analyze the glasses, specifically. Dark ones, light ones, rounded, square. Glasses quite literally change the way we see the world, and for Enid, who was trying to see it in a variety of ways and always looking for the “right” way, the glasses are a telling clue to her inner life. If she’s guarded, her glasses are often rounded shades. If she’s a little more open and introspective, they’re square and the lenses are clear. It sounds like such a small thing, but it was amazing to see students pop up with their own ideas about why the images change and how they reflect Enid’s inner turmoil.
For an illustrated detail that the students completed missed the first time around, the realization was remarkable and profound. Most of them saw the chapter in a whole new light, and when we took our observations to screen, they were far more capable of analyzing visual queues within the film as well.
It feels a little like preaching to the choir to talk about the wonder and fabulousness of illustrated details on a comics website, but our experiences reading comics, and even our methods of reading them, can be as varied as our backgrounds and interests. Even a devoted comics fan may not catch all the pertinent detail in a comic or graphic novel the first time around, and when we do catch the details, our interpretations can vary. Just as our impressions would vary if we listened to a speaker or interpreted each other’s body language. Comics are alive in text and image, and getting to know them can be a complicated, nuanced process. One I happen to love.