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25

Jul

I have been thinking about my grandmothers lately, who were very different women in many ways, not least their approaches to beauty. Left is a photo of Grandma Gateau at her 90th birthday party, who died at the age of almost 93 in 2007. As you can see, she maintained a natural beauty into her tenth decade. To the right she’s pictured at around 40, when she was pregnant with my uncle.

She and my mother both maintained terrific skin by means of good genetics and the liberal application of Pond’s Cold Cream before showering. They’d just apply it as a makeup remover, tissue off, then remove the residue with a warm washcloth in the shower. That was it, no additional products.

If she ever wore much in the way of eye makeup, she gave that up in her later years because she had developed a teary eye, which would wash it away. For years she used Clinique Colour Rub, which was a liquid illuminating blush that I wish like crazy they’d bring back. It really was years ahead of its time, now that you can barely buy a blush that doesn’t contain some kind of shimmer or sparkle. The stuff turns up on eBay in its later incarnations, but I want the lovely pink she used to wear.

She also wore a nice rosy pink lipstick, generally nothing fancy, but she liked having that little bit of color on her face. I used to buy them for her three and four at a time at The Body Shop, and bring them when I went to visit. Just as my grandfather joked for approximately 25 years that he was getting too old to buy green bananas and expect to live long enough to eat them, Grandma would wonder if she’d ever manage to work through her stock. I think there was about one and a half left at the end.

All in all, a pretty wonderful natural beauty in old age role model to have.

11

Jul

Scent of a Woman

So Fine Lines co-blogger Cake has been scent-obsessed since I’ve known her, lo these last (ahem) 14 years. I always enjoyed perfume, and liked what I liked, but hadn’t ever spent much time thinking about individual notes. At most, I’d figured out that I like different scents for different seasons and moods, and left it at that. Yes, there was the Great Tuberose Hunt of 2002, which ultimately ended in a face-off between Michael Kors and Fracas (Fracas won), but I had a scent wardrobe of about a half-dozen perfumes, of which I regularly wore only three, and left it at that.

While pregnant with my most recent child, I experienced a hideous hit to my sense of smell. Soaps, lotions, and many household chemicals smells acrid and rotten to me, and I essentially had to create a perfume-free world for the duration of the pregnancy and well into the first few months after as my hormones readjusted. This included buying unscented shampoo and conditioner. My hair gel made me puke on more mornings than I like to recall. My husband was banned from wearing his Chanel Pour Homme, which in an earlier life I had pressed upon him.

Now that I have emerged from this depressing phase, I’m into perfume with a vengeance. I’ve especially been enjoying the creations of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, which include scents inspired by such sources as comic books, goth fantasy, Alice in Wonderland, and steampunk machinery. Since you can order samples of much of their catalog for a modest amount, plus there is a robust side market of swaps and resales on various websites and eBay, I’ve been working my way through dozens of testers and figuring out the kinds of notes and blends I most like, and how they play with my personal chemistry (for example, I learned that though I love the scents of aromatic woods and leather, these notes “amp” on me and drown out most other elements of the blend in the vast majority of cases). One of my pleasures now is in choosing my fragrance of the day and comparing testing notes with Cake.

The other thing I’m enjoying is making small travel-size decants of those leftover unscented bath products and scenting them at my whim with one of the ten or so essential oils I have, such as rosemary and mint or pink grapefruit.

The best thing about this new love of fragrance is that it’s ageless. I may have problems with feathering lipstick or creasing of eyeshadow, but I can wear perfume until the day I die. I will say that I’m a little tired of the perfunctory negative review ”it smells like an old lady” in online perfume forums — since many old ladies of my acquaintance have worn really fabulous scents, but I also reacted badly to the cracks about “blue-hairs” in the audience when I worked in the theater.

13

Jun

The Fine Lines Wishlist #1

It occurred to me that a really great invention would be eyeglass lenses tinted with custom color to neutralize undereye circles.

—Gateau

10

Jun

theladygrey:

To be this amazing.

 Talk about your living, breathing example of Fine Lines Beauty!

theladygrey:

To be this amazing.

 Talk about your living, breathing example of Fine Lines Beauty!

27

May

Feathering Follow-Up

Well I may have licked (so to speak) the problem — it’s not perfect, but I got through most of the day without egregious feathering when I wore the rich and gorgeous OCC Lip Tar in Strutter and laid down a foundation of e.l.f. Lip Lock Pencil first. Seems to do a terrific job, and at $3 you really can’t beat the price. So, fingers crossed, I can continue to wear dark and red lipsticks for at least a little while longer.

19

May

Thought of the day

This new illuminating foundation I got (MAC Mineralize Satin Finish SPF 15 Foundation): flatteringly illuminating, or too damn illuminating?

—Gateau

17

May

NYX Redux

In case you can’t tell, there are two of us at Fine Lines. You can call me Gateau. Here is my version of the complaint letter to NYX. I really have never seen anything like this. Count me among the many disappointed and angry NYX customers whose best efforts to participate in your 12th anniversary sale were thwarted by a piss-poor customer experience.   It’s hard to comprehend that a company with an established web presence could run a promotion in so dysfunctional a manner, but since Sunday, May 15 I’ve watched NYX do just that. From the social media cheerleading NYX engaged in to drive interest in this sale, it’s apparent that either the e-commerce backbone of your operations was being run by amateurs incapable of handling higher than usual traffic (which should have been expected, given the heated promotion of the sale as a limited-time offer), or NYX had no intention of selling more than a handful of product at the advertised price, which goes beyond incompetence into false, misleading, and deceptive trade practices. As an attorney specializing in marketing issues, I can only say that if my clients ran a program like this, they’d receive at the very least a stern talking-to about an advertiser’s obligations under FTC and state law regarding sales and promotions.   NYX’s management of the crisis it created not only didn’t solve the problem, it actually made things worse. Blaming customers for flooding the site with too much traffic (after NYX itself feverishly promoted the start time and the race to get product before it all sold out), constantly moving the goalposts regarding what NYX would do to make good (check back in an hour! check back tomorrow! check tomorrow morning for a discount code! email us unspecified information to get your personalized code! we’ll email you soon, promise!), and finally all but disappearing from view has turned an enthusiastic customer base into an enraged mass. “Congratulating” the handful of customers who managed to complete the ordering process against the odds infuriated the majority of us who spent literally days hitting refresh over and over and over and trying to load our carts with merchandise, only to fail by the time the “sale” ended. And to see the NYX website working without a hitch shortly after pricing reverted to full price only added insult to injury.   I’d like to request a 50% discount code, given that I think the NYX line has good things to offer, but you have failed to make clear what information you require of customers wishing to take advantage of this offer. Given the reporting of insecure credit card transactions and the receipt of spam by people who have tried to communicate with you, it’s hard to feel confident that this communication also won’t come back to bite me. It’s impossible to trust NYX to engage in a fair transaction.  

Ix-nay on the NYX

As you may know, NYX Cosmetics had a giant fiasco of a sale on Sunday. To make a long story short, they were offering most of their products for $1.20, but the servers crashed completely and very few, if any, customers were able buy anything. To make matters worse, they mishandled the situation on social networking sites, continually posting that they were “working on it” and that customers should simply be patient. They then blamed customers for “swarming the site” and making it crash. Really, NYX? Anyway, I don’t intend to do any business with them again, period; I don’t deal with companies who treat their customers poorly. Here’s my email to their customer service:

***********

I’d like to point out the sentence that appears on the “Contact Us” page of your website. It says, and this is a cut and paste:

You are our number one priority!

Given NYX’s abysmal performance over the last couple of days, I find that very hard to believe.   I don’t suppose I have to recount the fiasco that you called an anniversary sale. Nor do I suppose it would do any good for me to note the embarrassing Tweets and Facebook posts from your representatives, which, among other things, blamed customers for the complete failure of the NYX website; made snide remarks to complaining customers; assured customers that the site would be up and running by 3 PM PST (it wasn’t, of course); and then, to add insult to injury after the entire sad situation was over, posting on Twittter, “Congratulations to all that shopped with us!” as though the sale were a lottery or contest instead of a commercial transaction. (In future, by the way, you may want to keep in mind that the correct phrase for your customers is “thank you,” not “congratulations.”)

You then offered a 50% off code, which, for some reason, customers had to email you to receive. I have not heard of one customer who has actually received this code. Not one. I certainly didn’t, despite two requests.  

I’m sure I won’t be getting any response to this email, which is fine, and, judging from the cavalier and rude responses that customers have received from NYX over the past few days, I’m sure the customer service rep reading this will have a good laugh over it, post it on her cubicle wall, and forget about it. However, I can assure you that I will not be buying any NYX products in the future. It’s a shame, because I do like your very affordable products, but there are plenty of other companies who make affordable products and know enough not to treat their customers in the shoddy and downright rude fashion that NYX has.

Goodbye, NYX, and good luck. With customer service like yours, you’re going to need it.

I am about to give up on red and dark lipstick, because no matter what I do, no matter which products I use, the stuff has started feathering on my like a mofo. For any of you younguns reading this, I’m talking about the phenomenon of the color bleeding into the teeny fine lines around the lips. This only recently started happening to me, and it’s depressing, partly because it means I have fine lines for the lipstick to seep into, but also because I’ve recently found so many great burgundies and reds that work on me, like OCC Lip Tar in Strutter, MAC Dubonnet, and UD Gash. And it’s not limited to lipsticks — I’ve noticed this happening even with my more pigmented glosses. I’ve tried lipliner, I’ve tried lip primer, and nothing works.
If there are any Fine Lined ladies out there who have tips to share, I hope you will!

I am about to give up on red and dark lipstick, because no matter what I do, no matter which products I use, the stuff has started feathering on my like a mofo. For any of you younguns reading this, I’m talking about the phenomenon of the color bleeding into the teeny fine lines around the lips. This only recently started happening to me, and it’s depressing, partly because it means I have fine lines for the lipstick to seep into, but also because I’ve recently found so many great burgundies and reds that work on me, like OCC Lip Tar in Strutter, MAC Dubonnet, and UD Gash. And it’s not limited to lipsticks — I’ve noticed this happening even with my more pigmented glosses. I’ve tried lipliner, I’ve tried lip primer, and nothing works.

If there are any Fine Lined ladies out there who have tips to share, I hope you will!

30

Apr

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ Lip Tar is one of my favorite products. A liquid lipstick in a tube, a tiny amount is applied with a brush and this highly pigmented formula creates a very long-wearing, velvety finish without drying or caking. It’s very blendable (the color range includes primaries and black and white for creating custom colors). 

I just love that the very of-the-moment pinky-coral is called “Grandma” and conjures, at least for me, images of South Beach Art Deco (before it became chic) and vibrant old ladies in flowery bathing caps and bright lips in the Florida sun.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ Lip Tar is one of my favorite products. A liquid lipstick in a tube, a tiny amount is applied with a brush and this highly pigmented formula creates a very long-wearing, velvety finish without drying or caking. It’s very blendable (the color range includes primaries and black and white for creating custom colors).

I just love that the very of-the-moment pinky-coral is called “Grandma” and conjures, at least for me, images of South Beach Art Deco (before it became chic) and vibrant old ladies in flowery bathing caps and bright lips in the Florida sun.