Beauty mavens love to talk about their Holy Grail (HG) products — that one color and formulation that is the One you’ve been looking for your whole life. Woe betide you if it gets discontinued or comes from a limited edition collection! Back in the olden days when I was in my beauty formative years (a/k/a the 80s) you used to read a lot about finding a signature scent or signature lipstick, but I’ve never been able to commit to just one look, and fortunately I think that approach is fading. We see ourselves as having vast choices and we like to change our look with our mood or atmosphere.
But if I really had to choose my favorites, the things of which I’d take a lifetime supply if stranded on a desert island (a desert island where I want to wear makeup, naturally), here are some of my current picks.
Giorgio Armani Gloss d’Armani in Plum. This is the most money I’ve ever paid for a lip gloss, and I was a little nervous when I bought it, given the number of glosses I have languishing in my lip color drawer. But I’ve thoroughly incorporated this one into my daily life and expect to use it up, an amazing feat for me. It’s truly long-wearing, which is impressive in a lip gloss, without feeling sticky. The color is rich with the right amount of microshimmer to add depth without glittery grit. The shade works perfectly to brighten up lipstick or just on its own.
Urban Decay Naked Palettes. Naked and Naked 2, I suspect, would be on many, many desert island lists. From vanilla shimmer to deepest black matte, there is an endless number of looks to be derived from these neutral shadows, which include a variety of tones and textures. If I were forced to limit myself to just a single eyeshadow for eternity, I’d go for Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Copper-Black Grey. One swipe over the eyelids gives a beautiful metallic sheen in a neutral color, and it can be layered on for a more dramatic look. Budget choices I could live with for a long time would be NYX’s Skin Tight, a beautiful frosted peach that enhances my natural skin tone and adds polish, and the wonderful Wet ‘n’ Wild Color Icon singles in Brulee (matte cream) and Nutty (shimmery taupe) which are extremely versatile.
Nars Orgasm blush. It pains me to say this, because I really hate the oooh-we’re-so-risque name, and I’m always dubious about products that get the massive hype this one got from the time it was introduced (see, edgy name), but this peachy-pink blush with gold shimmer sets my complexion off just perfectly. One compact of it lasted me for years, and after I’d long hit pan and had only bits left in the corners, I scraped it all out and repotted in a smaller pan for travel. I really need no other blush for the rest of my life.
OPI Teenage Dream from the Katy Perry Collection. Since I’m stranded on a desert island, I no longer have to care about looking my age or office appropriate, so I choose a color I could stare at for hours. It’s a cool-leaning shimmery pink that’s loaded with tiny bits of holographic glitter and pink glitter. It makes my nails shine like diamonds, and it’s fun to get the prismatic effect in different lights. Sometimes I use this just on the tips over a shimmery neutral, which works beautifully and tones it down a little. Another polish I could stare at for hours is Chanel’s Peridot, which morphs from gold to emerald to cobalt depending on the light.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab TKO, Celeste, and Halloween: Las Vegas. Readers of my blog, All Your Base Notes Are Belong To Us know that in the last year I’ve become a devotee of indie perfumer Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL). Their scents are inventive, playful, decadent, and creative. Plus affordable! I’ve fallen hard for two limited editions: Celeste, which is a floral vanilla, and Halloween: Las Vegas, the perfumer’s homage to her pirate-themed wedding, with booze, smoke, cake frosting, incense, and her and her husband’s signature scents swirled together. It’s a party in a bottle! I’ve also become quite addicted to a sleep blend, TKO, which smells like frosted lavender cupcakes and knocks me out every night, leaving lavender-vanilla scented sheets in the morning.
What are your desert island picks?