Aesthetics

I Don’t Feel If You Don’t: Emotion in Art and the Sincerity of the Cure

Art has always been, for myself and so many others, an outlet for so many deeply personal emotions. It has not only been a way of working through the trials and tribulations of human experience, but also a means of communicating these feelings to others without explicitly recounting details. Art gives us a way to articulate emotion while circumventing circumstance: a painting or poem is often a short-cut to the heart, a way of saying, “this is how it feels,” regardless of whether the audience can sympathize with the situation that prompted it. Because human emotion is a complex and varied thing, I may not feel the sadness you experience by falling out with a friend, or the frustration you have at a romantic rejection, but I have no doubt experienced them myself under other circumstances and can recognize their presence in artistic works.

That said, when it comes to light that a piece was not, in fact, composed out of its “proper” emotion, it feels like a sort of betrayal. I recall a number of times when I found out a song I deeply identified with was written from a totally different viewpoint, or exclusively pandered to radio production and popularity. My entire existence seemed to crumble when, at sixteen, I found out Robert Smith had written “Let’s Go to Bed” simply based on what got radio airplay—the song that had defined my first ‘adult’ relationship suddenly felt like a lie. I had been convinced that Smith had written from the same insecure, fugue-like daze of affection that I had experienced. I couldn’t believe those words that had actually moved me to tears had been complete fabrication.

Let's Go to Bed

However, I was also so thoroughly touched by works of fiction in literature—I wept for the doomed loves in so many Gothic novels, and thrilled at the triumph of good over evil in works so obviously fantasy. When I read urban legends (my generation’s fairytales), I found myself jumpy and unsettled for days. Never for a second did I believe these accounts were true, but I still allowed them to move me and spark very real emotions. Whether or not the authors had experienced unrequited love, or ridden dragons triumphantly into battle, or escaped the horrors of Satanic cults firsthand was irrelevant. Whether or not I had any emotional basis of comparison was also irrelevant—the work felt authentic enough to create those for me. Years later, with more of life behind me, those feelings hold true. Now, instead of reading Leroux and thinking, “that must be what love feels like,” I can examine the dynamic between Christine and Raoul and say, “that is love” and feel just as strongly with the bonus of recognition.

We can watch Leonardo DiCaprio fight bears and struggle against a historical wildness without questioning the emotional credentials he or director Alejandro González Iñárritu have behind them. We can even give them both awards of global artistic recognition. So why did I feel so betrayed by Robert Smith for his lyrical fiction?

Perhaps it’s because it caused me to question the authenticity of his other songs, songs I aspired to experience myself. If “Let’s Go to Bed” was a total fabrication, what did that mean for songs like “Just Like Heaven,” or “Icing Sugar,” songs that summed up everything I wanted out of love? Maybe, if the emotion I felt came from lyrics confessed to be fictional, the feelings I got from other songs were just as fictional, and described experiences I couldn’t possibly have. For years, I thought that may have been painfully true—real relationships, at least as far as my experience extended, did not include the dizzy euphoria or frenetic excitement of love that Smith had promised me. It pained me that the emotions they described would exist only in these musical fantasies, and my initial feelings were replaced with resentment.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized the sincerity of Smith’s lyrics were irrelevant: my emotional reaction was no less real, those feelings no less authentic, than they would be born from my own experience. Listening to those words produced in me a reaction—that alone was totally valid. And later on, they proved an invaluable base of comparison for my own feelings in response to other life experiences. Like Aristotle’s poets, Smith’s songs had taught me to recognize love in its playful, creative, joyful form, which I had no previous concept of through my own experience. Whether or not Smith had written them out of like experience made no difference: the emotions I felt listening to those songs were real, and prepared me to identify those same emotions when they came into my life organically.

Let's Go to Bed

There are aesthetic theories that deny we, as viewers, can experience any real feelings from art. With no personal stake in the creator’s experience or the plot at hand, we go through the motions of reacting—while sitting in the dark of a theatre, watching the latest James Wan flick unfold before us, we experience what feels like a genuine stress response. Our heart may beat erratically, we may have difficulty breathing, we might even scream, but according to theorists, this isn’t really fear: at the end of the movie, we know the lights will come up and we’ll all shuffle out of the theatre safely. But those feelings stay with you. Days, weeks, months later, when you find yourself alone in the dark, that same sense of dread may creep back in and you find yourself re-living the fear you experienced in the theatre. My sister still won’t use public restrooms alone thanks to a certain Japanese horror film, and loathe as I am to admit it, I kept all my coats out of sight for days after watching the Babadook so I wouldn’t see them out of the corner of my eye as something else.

The same extends to other works of art, poetry, and music. “Let’s Go to Bed” remains an emotional song for me, whether or not it was emotional for Robert Smith. I had a genuine experience, one that I relive each time I hear that song. I believe that my emotional experiences with other pieces are authentic as well—each time I’m moved to tears or imbued with excitement, I trust the feelings that evoked the response are relatable and repeatable, whether they are insights for future experiences or recall specific emotional occurrences. Those emotions aren’t packed into a box and stored on the shelf at the end of the experience, like the record that provoked them—they’re carried with me, recalled over and over again.


The Cure – Let's go to Bed by bebepanda

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Aesthetics

An Ode to my Nikon FG

Sometimes, it feels like centuries since I was growing up–not so much in the passage of time, but in the way things were done. Waiting for a phone call meant circling the kitchen for hours on end, possibly toting the boxy cordless down the hall and back for as long as it didn’t ring. Recording a school show or family holiday required a giant contraption that only my father was equipped to handle, resulting in innumerable home movies that would make you seasick just to watch. Vacation photos needed to be taken to the local photo lab and picked up days later, shared with family at gatherings and holidays sometimes months after the actual trip had ended. We have boxes of seemingly ancient Kodak prints filed in flimsy plastic albums that came free at some of the nicer labs. Now,  I can instantly show the world which latte I ordered today or get instant feedback on which dress to buy. It’s absolutely mind-blowing to think of how far we’ve progressed in just a handful of decades.

photo 1

My grandfather was something of a technological revolutionary, working on computers back when they were the size of entire buildings, so naturally he was the first person I knew to own a digital camera. For my 16th birthday, he gifted me with a boxy Hewlett-Packard point-and-shoot, equipped with one whole megapixel and then some, less than most phones come with now. At the time, it was a novelty. Rather than waiting a week or more to see evidence of the misadventures of my friends and classmates, we could view them instantly on the little LCD screen. If someone’s nose looked too big, or someone’s hair was blown unflatteringly, we could delete it and snap another. I could collect them on my hard drive, no physical clutter acquired. But then, in the Great Desktop Crash of ’04, I lost them all.

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I can’t blame that crash for the attitudes I developed towards photography afterwards. It was also the social conditioning that came with our march towards Instagram and Snapchat that led me to feel like photography was disposable, something trivial and without consequence. I never took cameras on vacations, choosing to write down my experiences or commit them to detailed, purposeful memory. The camera was cumbersome, and I would rather enjoy living in a moment than stopping to dig a recording device out of my purse, boot it up, and fiddle with the settings until I trusted it to capture the scene. When my last digital camera died in 2012, I never bothered to replace it.

image-4

Then, I found my dad’s old Nikon. Specifically a Nikon FG, with a metal body and several glass lenses, heavier than any camera I’ve ever held before, with a vintage Mickey Mouse strap. Both the camera and the strap were an engagement gift from my mother, after months of researching stats and performance and consumer reports. Sitting forgotten in the basement for years, the battery had died and the roll of film inside had expired, but it was otherwise flawless. And now it was mine. Oddly, there’s something comforting about its weight, the way the aperture clicks into place, the heavy thunk of the curtain when the shutter is hit. Rather than simply capturing a moment, taking the picture becomes its own moment. Each photo documents not only what is in front of the lens, but the ritual that accompanies it: determining the aperture size, focussing the lens, checking the light meter, setting the shutter speed, hitting the shutter, advancing the film… The roll becomes a meditation, a series of practiced movements that produce a sense of oneness with the scene. A zen in which I am merely part of the setting, and the camera is the organ by which I can achieve it. Every exposure is precious, an experiment in light and form, waiting to be revealed when I wash away the excess silver.

image-15

When I open the reel and look at the film for the first time, there’s an anxiety released with it. The negative images feel so alien, not at all like the images I thought I took, and sometimes even after printing I don’t remember the picture in front of me. It’s not exactly how my eye remembers it. But it’s almost always how my heart recalls it. A sense of placid calm, a dreamy anticipation, a distant sadness, these are the real subjects. More than any model or flower or mountain rage, the feelings we get from them are the reason to hit the shutter.

photo-87

Since my adventures with the Nikon, I’ve amassed an arsenal of old cameras: a Canon Rebel, a Minolta 110 Zoom, a reproduction Diana F+, each producing a totally different sort of image. But when I pack my bag for adventures unknown, it’s the Nikon that finds its way inside. Our love affair isn’t over yet, and despite the age gap between us, I suspect we have many years of tenderness before us. I might find myself out with another camera on occasion, but nothing has been able to replace the feeling I get with my Nikon in-hand.

photo-89

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Aesthetics

Muse Food 09.04.13

When it comes to creating, it can be just as important to take in other work as it is to produce your own. Without knowing what moves you, it can be difficult to feel fulfilled by your own work. Each week, I’d like to start featuring some articles that have stoked my own creative flame in a feature called Muse Food: this week, some intriguing new ways to work with old materials, some creepy flatware, and beautiful words!

Have a link to an article or archive you found inspiring? Share it with me on Facebook or Twitter!

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Aesthetics, Cosmetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 124.0 – Sheer Heart Attack: Shiro Cosmetics’ Death Note Collection

When I was a kid, there were some things that were just terminally un-cool. Being labeled a “nerd” or a “geek” was the death of your social life, and anyone who willingly embraced the title was committing social suicide. I was in a whole different realm of social exclusion what with my piles of black eyeliner and floor-length lace skirts, but I dangerously bordered nerd territory: aside from my voracious reading, I also watched anime.

Now, it seems like people are going out of their way to be called “nerds,” and “geek chic” is an actual aesthetic. Niche companies are springing up left and right to appeal to people’s nerdy tendencies, whether they want a Companion Cube made of soap, comic book character-inspired perfumes, or eyeshadows named for they’re favourite anime.

Shiro Cosmetics is one of these companies. Offering several collections of themed eyeshadows and a line of lipsticks based on internet memes, they’re definitely a fan favourite. But when they released their latest collection of shadows inspired by the anime series Death Note, I was immediately drawn in by the deep, complex colours. I have to admit, I haven’t seen much of the series. By the time it reached popularity in America, I had sort of fallen out of the scene. But you don’t need to be a die-hard fan to appreciate these shades. Of the ten new shadows, I ordered five and received samples of two more.

Heart Attack (top) is described as a “deep maroon with blue duochrome.” It has a distinct pink-red tone with a satiny finish and a purple-blue shimmer. I kept my camera slightly out of focus so you can see how delicate the blue shimmer is. Task Force (bottom) is listed as a “shimmery deep burgundy,” and swatches velvety-smooth and intensely pigmented. The shimmery particles in this shade seem larger than those in Heart Attack, giving this a slightly more dramatic feel.

Shinigami is a “dark royal purple with silver sparks.” You can see the sparkle is intense, with several different sizes of silver micro-glitters sprinkled though this amazing plush purple. I have not experience much fallout from this shade, especially when worn with a tackier primer like Evil Shades spectrum pots or Darling Girl glitter glue.

More Coffee (top) is a “creamy shimmer in a rich coffee base,” producing a brown-taupe shimmer. Heaven Nor Hell, a “velvety, shimmer gunmetal gray,” has a slightly different texture than the other shades, and is indeed incredibly velvety. The base shade appears to be a very dark, charcoal gray overlaid with a thick blue-gray shimmer.

Other Kira is a “charcoal with bright golden sparks” and is one of the most beautiful and interesting blacks I’ve gotten my hands on. The base is an intense, deep black absolutely loaded with gold micro-glitters. Like Shinigami, this looks like it should be a glitter bomb but with the right primer I have not had any difficulties keeping it all in place.

I received Detective as a sample with my purchase, which is described as a “taupe with strong blue duochrome.” This is an incredible shade with a very noticeable blue shift over a medium brown-gray base. Taupe lovers will absolutely want to get their hands on this one.

Perfect World, a “pure (not yellow-leaning) and slightly metallic gold,” was also included as a sample in my order. This is light, shimmery gold and is not at all yellow or green. It’s also not really metallic as much as frosty, and I imagine it would make a nice highlight for brown or bronze eye looks.

The following shots were taken indoors, without flash to better show the sparkle in a lot of these shades that my camera simply cannot pick up in daylight.

Left to right: Heart Attack, Task Force, Shinigami, More Coffee

Left to right: More Coffee, Heaven Nor Hell, Other Kira, Detective

Top to bottom: Heart Attack, Task Force, Shinigami, More Coffee, Heaven Nor Hell, Second Kira, Detective, Perfect World

These are beautiful, deep shades with velvety-smooth formulas, perfect for smoky, blended looks regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the series.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Aesthetics, Cosmetics, Impressions

Metamorphosis 119.0 – Julep Maven It Girl Box October 2011

I realize it’s almost November and I’ve been terrible with swatching lately. I seem to sit on colours for weeks before they make it up here. Thus is the case of October’s Julep Maven box, which arrived here much earlier this month. Why have I been holding out on you? My nails are in terrible condition and I’m sort of embarrassed. They take quite a beating in school.

This month’s It Girl box included a brightening hand cream (review to come) and two polishes: Leighton and Jaime. To be honest, I almost requested a shelf pull this month since I thought I had too many similar colours. But in the name of science, I decided to keep the box as-is and compare with my existing polishes.

Turns out, my fears were entirely unfounded. I can’t find exact dupes for either of these polishes. In the case of Jaime, described as an “ultra-saturated, dark turquoise blue,” is rather similar to a few in my collection (Zoya’s Breezi, butterLONDON’s Blagger), but none close enough to consider a dupe. If you don’t wear a lot of blue and have either of those, you can probably live without this, but if you’re a blue-lover like me it’s a good one to keep around.

I have a ton of silvers. True silvers, pewter-silvers, borderline-gunmetal-silvers, you name it. And I have them in every finish imaginable. It was hard to imagine that Leighton wouldn’t be a dead-on match for at least one of them. But…it’s not. Despite my massive arsenal of silver nail polishes, this is a colour I definitely do not own. While it’s described as a “pure liquid silver,” it’s not the metallic foil I anticipated. Rather, it’s sort of a frosted grey, like brushed steel. It’s a lovely colour, dramatic without being vampy. I think it will be a lovely winter colour. However, as with all frosted polishes, be careful applying or it can look wonky.

That’s not bubbling you see, that’s actual damage to my nail plate. Some of them have been repaired (which you can also see), but I wasn’t able to hide much. Below is a larger shot of the shade on my nail: you can see it’s not really a “metallic” as it is a “frost.” I actually held this against some brushed steel and it was the exact same shade.

Once again, I’m quite pleased with the shades and products Julep has included in the month’s box. I’ve all ready received the preview of November’s box and can honestly tell you, I can’t wait to see it!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Metamorphosis 110.0 – Julep Stella, September “It Girl” Maven Colour

The weather has officially dropped below 70 here and I think it’s safe to say Autumn has arrived. Considering I’ve lived most of my year in reds and golds and burgundies, I’m not sure I can say I’m in full-on Fall mode, but this month’s Julep Maven It Girl polish definitely helped me along.

When I received the preview email, I was instantly intrigued. Yellow nail polish was hot this summer, but Julep pulls the trend into fall seamlessly. Rather than the vivid, sunny shades we saw from companies in May and June, Stella looked deep and rich in comparison. Simultaneously described as a “yellow bronze,” and a “bright & bold” mustard, I couldn’t wait to see this in person.

The formula seemed similar to other Julep polishes, neither thick nor thin and easily spread. It did, however, seem a bit more difficult to build opacity: after three coats, I felt like I could still see my nail in places. Four, however, left my nails evenly covered. My hands have a sort of love/hate relationship with yellow. I love the colour and I think it works well with my olive undertones, but it’s a dust magnet. No matter what I did, I could see some dust particles that ended up trapped in the polish.

The following photos are four coats over butterLONDON’s Nail Foundation base coat. There is no top coat to show the natural finish of the polish.

Apologizes for not cleaning up my cuticles. As you can see, it’s actually a bright sunflower yellow though it looks lighter in the bottle.

Zoomed to show some of the dust trapped between the layers. It may look like the brush strokes are still visible, but my nails have been growing odd ridges lately. Gotta kick the biting habit once and for all.

I’m very pleased with this latest colour from my Julep Maven It Girl subscription. It’s a beautiful way to transition from summer to fall, or to add some warmth to chilly autumn days. I can definitely see myself getting good use out of this once the leaves start to turn.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Metamorphosis 109.0 – Fear Itself, a look at Cocoa Pink’s Halloween Phobias

There are scents for all season, but in my opinion Autumn is in an olfactory league of its own. Gone are the powdery florals of Spring, the sparkling fruits of Summer. Autumn brings a much-needed warmth and comfort before we’re hit with the barren ozone and frosty evergreens of Winter. Fall is the season that drains the contents of my wallet into bottles of perfume.

The first of my scented indulgences this year comes from Cocoa Pink. In addition to their new fall scent catalogue, they released a collection of Halloween fragrances inspired by phobias.

I picked out some of my favourite formulas to try out these new scents. I’ve posted about Cocoa Pink’s hair products before, but I need to say it again: if you’re looking for a great Indie company to make your hair look and smell amazing, Cocoa Pink has a formula for you.

Princess Poo is an SLS and Paraben Free gentle cleansing shampoo. If you’ve never used an SLS-free shampoo, you probably equate lather with clean. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This low-lather cleanser cleans away dirt and product residue without stripping colour or healthy oils from hair, giving bounce and shine without feeling “squeaky clean.” When your hair is as dry and damaged as mine, this is important. If you’re worried that this will leave your hair too greasy, fear not: my teenage sister uses this same formula as a daily cleanser on her oily, colour-treated hair with the same fabulous results.

Shine + is protein and silicone free to moisturize hair without weighing it down. I learned long ago that silicones are not my friends: my skin hates them, my hair hates them, and as a result, I hate them. Sure they help detangle hair and create that luxurious slippery feeling in all water types, but it keeps my skin from breathing and weighs down my fine hair. The butters and oils used in this conditioner leave my hair silky and bouncy like nothing else ever has. For those who like shiny hair, this is for you–despite my high-lift colour, this still imparts a healthy shine to my mane.

But the real beauty here is in the scent: Cocoa Pink will scent their products with any fragrance from their current catalogue. This season, I chose Fear of Cemeteries from their Halloween Phobia collection. I’ll admit, it was the description that sold me:

Cool damp graveyard dirt with a single white carnation placed cautiously against an old granite headstone, covered by dying crimson and yellow autumn leaves with a soft whisper of wood smoke carried in a crisp breeze. 

This is the perfect Fall incarnation of the grassy green scents I loved all Summer: this is rich, loamy earth beneath piles of wet leaves and cut flowers. There’s a note of ozone to the background and just a hint of bonfire as well as minerals. It’s rainy and wet and chilly and green, which is exactly what I wanted this to be. I have a sneaking suspicion that a large size of this will be making its way to my doorstep before the season is over.

If you’re really worried about product buildup or have an excess of oils in your hair, Squeaky might be the s’poo for you. This clarifying shampoo is still gentle enough for use on coloured hair while getting the job done. I’ll alternate this into my routine once every couple weeks to get rid of any styling products that might be hiding in my hair. I do feel like it’s a little much for me, but anyone who has a bit of extra oil or loves their hairspray will definitely go for the formula–it definitely delivers a “Squeaky” clean!

This was a sample included in my order, scented with Fear of Witches:

Warm baked bread fresh from the oven, gentle wisps of bonfire smoke drifting through the frigid autumn air and smooth buttery caramel sprinkled with coarse black sea salt is your best bet in keeping them at bay.

I had no idea how to imagine this scent in my head. Anyone who has ever baked bread knows the scent: yeasty, warm, a little dusty… I think the “bread” in the formula here is more of a sweet. While there is a crustiness, this gives the distinct impression of baked goods, pastries, sweet things in ovens. The combination of salt and caramel is distinct, and it’s all rounded off with woody smoke.

I really don’t buy scrubs often, but not because I don’t like them. I simply don’t go through them as quickly as other bath products. This was another sample with my order, and the first time I’ve tried the Soft Bubbles Foaming Sugar Scrubs. I’ve used CP scrubs in the past, but not since the grand reopening under the new owner–the old formulas were often thick, rich, and full of moisturizing ingredients with a texture like cookie dough. The Soft Bubbles formula claims to be a light and fluffy lathering scrub, textured like buttercream. It does foam softly with water, but I find the texture a bit harder–maybe like buttercream that’s sat in the fridge for a while.

This was scented in Fear of Ghosts:

Glowing marshmallow orbs and smoky vanilla spectral mists swirl aimlessly around an old bonfire in the Crisp October night air – Fresh vanilla puffed marshmallows, toasted marshmallows, hints of bonfire smoke among scattered sharp grains of white rice to ward unwelcome spirits away

I love this scent. If you’ve never smelled a Cocoa Pink fragrance before, start with their marshmallows. This is a perfect toasted-marshmallow scent, rich with wood smoke and sweet vanilla. It’s a toasty Autumn version of Vanilla Bean Noel, with a healthy dose of marshmallow on top. I definitely need to order this scent before the collection is retired–I just need to figure out which way to wear it!

Cocoa Pink’s linen spray is a fairly new addition to the line, so I was excited to try it. Because of the gentle formula, it has a variety of uses: not only can it be used to scent bed linens and clothes, it’s also safe for use on the hair and body as well as a general atmospheric spray. I’ve been using this on my clothes, spritzing it into my dresser drawers to keep my things smelling beautiful. I ordered in Fear of Spiders:

Dragon’s blood resin, the memorable scent of fine pipe tobacco, chopped bundles of firewood, fragrant sprigs of wormwood and bright scarlet apples.

The unifying theme in this collection is definitely smoke. The wood smoke is definitely present here, but there is also pipe smoke and incense. This is a rich, resinous scent polished off with tart apples and bitter herbs. It’s incredibly sophisticated and mysterious and I will definitely be ordering a larger size of the linen spray so my clothes can smell like this year round.

I am incredibly pleased with the Autumn offerings from Cocoa Pink, and I know I need to try the rest of the Phobias collection before they disappear. Whether you’re looking for sweet, confectionary fragrances or deep, mysterious perfumes, Cocoa Pink has something for you this season in products your hair and body will love.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Metamorphosis 100.0 – the Colours of Decay, a review of Detrivore Cosmetics

When I first heard of Detrivore Cosmetics, I was a little confused. Their products are labeled with various insects and crustaceans and a vast number of colours are named for decomposed matter, bodily fluids, diseases…I love it. This, however, is coming from a girl who has no problems naming a beauty blog after an insect and has virtually no internal censor when it comes to “gross” subjects. It’s a widespread joke that I’ve been banned from polite dinner tables across the Tri-State area. But the fact that an independent cosmetics brand could name itself after creatures that live on decomposing matter and remain successful definitely left me scratching my head. Several orders later, I know exactly how: their products speak for themselves.

I ordered during one of Detrivore’s 10 for $20 sales and received my order with incredible speed. All shadows came in 5 gram sifter jars, heat sealed with ingredient labels stuck to the sides. The bottom labels contain the shadow name, stock number, and some details on the formula: whether it is a matte, satin, highlight, or original, also indicated by the type of critter pictured. Mattes are represented by a lobster, satins a spider, and original a beetle. There are no ingredients on that label, so make sure you look before opening the jar.

Some of the shades I ordered look radically different in the jar than they do on skin: many of the original formula shades do not appear nearly as shimmery in the jars. I personally love a good shimmer, but some might be surprised by the punch these pack. The following lists my order by shadow type.

Original Shadows in Dagon, scar, Marine, Mildew, Fungus, Dr. West, Gangrene, Plague, Vitriol, and Misery. I received Saprophyte as a sample.

Satin Shadows in Hysteria, and Guillotine

Matte Shadows  in Asylum, Facade, and received Plasma and Glacier as samples

I also received a sample of Harlot, a shimmery pink highlight.

The following swatches are taken in natural light (unless otherwise indicated) over UDPP (top), bare skin (middle), and MAC Painterly (bottom).

Harlot, Plasma, Dagon, Scar, Glacier

Glacier, Saprophyte, Marine, Asylum, Mildew

Mildew, Hysteria, Fungus, Dr. West, Gangrene

Dr. West, Gangrene, Plague, Vitriol, Guillotine, Misery, Facade

Indoors with flash

Swatched over DG Glitter Glue:
Harlot, Dagon, Scar, Saprophyte
Marine, Mildew, Hysteria, Fungus, Dr. West
Gangrene, Plague, Vitriol, Guillotine, Misery

with flash

Below, I used Glacier, Saprophyte, Marine, and Mildew over UDPP and DG Glitter Glue:

You can see how the colours really pop over the Glitter Glue–just a note, that’s not a crease, that’s very lightly applied Glacier over just UDPP. I completely underestimated the power of the Glue. …and yes, I forgot to put on mascara.

All in all, would I buy from Detrivore again? Yes–in fact, I have another order on the way right now for more shadows and a handful of blushes! Right now you can take advantage of 10 for $20 shadows and 3 for $10 blushes on Detrivore’s site! There are five new shades up as well as a new mattifying powder and primers.

Interested in the sale but not sure what to get? Stay tuned–I’ll have more swatches later in the week. The sale is on until September 2nd!

If you have a morbid sense of humour or tend to see the romance in darker things, Detrivore might be a great company for you. Even if you don’t and just want some well-formulated, unique colours that wear well without creasing, there’s still plenty for you at Detrivore. It has most certainly made it’s way onto my list of Indie Companies I Trust and whole-heartedly recommend!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

PS: for kicks, this is the lip I wore with the above eye–a combination of Hi-Fi’s Phantasm and Evil Shades’ Miscreant:


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Metamorphosis 84.0 – the Stuff of Life: a review of Blood Concept fragrances

I am convinced that someday, I will find myself a signature scent. I will buy countless bottles of it and bathe myself in it so that when I walk by, it will waft in the breeze and everyone who smells it will know I’m around. I’ll wear it every day and when I die, everyone will remember exactly what I smelled like–it will be an elegant, mysterious, beautiful scent and it will be very me.

…Okay, that will probably never happen. But it doesn’t stop me from reading up on every last perfume available to man. One of my favourite hobbies is pulling up the Sephora site and reading fragrance descriptions for hours. And I was doing just that when I stumbled across Blood Concept. Sephora’s blog had written up a brief (and heavily illustrated!) post on strange perfumes–the infamous Bacon perfume among them–and mentioned an Italian brand releasing a series of perfumes based on human bloodtypes. The general consensus seemed to be “oh how gross” but I was instantly struck by an overwhelming need to find these perfumes. Whether or not blood was actually a note didn’t matter: the concept was so bizarre, so grotesque, so romantic that I needed to own a piece.

The website is quite simple and contained no more information than Sephora had given me, except for a list of notes on each fragrance type. There was no option to buy, no list of stores that carried the line, no date it might become available. It did, however, contain a link to the company’s Facebook page. It was there that I found the information that nearly crushed my spirit forever: it was not available. At least not yet. The entire line still seems to be in the pre-production, conceptual stage. However, press packets and sampler sets were available on a limited basis. I immediately posted a note on the wall asking to be updated on the line’s progression–my life might actually end if I didn’t get my hands on this fabulous line. Not an hour later, I received a request for my mailing address for a packet to be sent out.

Fast forward several months: I found a strange-looking envelope on my desk marked only with my name, address, and an odd postal stamp I’d never seen before. It wasn’t until I realized it was priced in Euros that my heart leaped into my throat. I thought they had forgotten me, or maybe seen my blog and deemed it not worth the waste of a press packet, or any number of other self-deprecating things that sometimes go through my head. Inside was a neat white pamphlet roughly resembling a CD sleeve.

Once the seal was broken, it unfolded to reveal concept art for each fragrance, instructions on how to access the fragrances themselves, and four scented cards.

Basically, the samples are scratch-and-sniff cards. I understand, however, why they don’t call them such since that would cheapen them significantly. They actually seem to be some sort of micro-capsule: scratching them releases a sort of oily residue on the cards, allowing you to smell each layer of the fairly complex scents. It actually transferred to my skin if I scratched and then rubbed immediately over my wrist. Obviously, my curiosity drove me immediately towards my own bloodtype, A.

Each bloodtype is illustrated with key notes in the blend, A being heavy with ripe tomato, green grasses, and seeds. The back of each white card contains fragrance notes and details on the type of perfume.

I really like A, but I tend to like green aromatics. I rather imagine it smells like a scythe or a gardening knife that has been used to harvest herbs: there’s a distinct metallic note to it, but it doesn’t make the blend any less earthy and green. The star anise almost adds a boozey note, but that could be the association I have between anise and absinthe.

B’s concept art is a little different: there’s a hot air balloon floating over a sea of licorice, and a giant pomegranate-sun casting cherry-shadows onto the world. Aside from those gargantuan fruits, I’m not even sure how this relates to the blend. Despite all fragrances in this series being unisex, this is distinctly masculine to me–possibly because it reminds me of the Burberry London cologne my boyfriend wears. Also odd, it shares absolutely zero fragrance notes with London, either. This is dominantly wood notes to my nose, with a hint of sweetness that borders medicinal, probably thanks to the pomegranate. I think the tea note might cause it to go dusty on the wrong person (me).

They claim that O is the oldest bloodtype, so Blood Concept ran with that idea. The art for O depicts cracked skin, presumably leather, with silhouetted spears and a dark red fault running down the page. The back says it’s a leather based scent, but honestly I get more herb. The eucalyptus and cypress stand off the strongest, sweetened by the scents of thyme and raspberry (more leaf than berry, I think). The leather is definitely there, ever-present in the base, but it’s the herbs that get me.

Finally, there’s AB: a cityscape in snowfall under  a diamond moon, the shadow of a gun hanging in the sky…according to Blood Concept, AB is the newest bloodtype and their cool, hyper-metallic scent reflects that. This is another unisex that strikes me as masculine, but likely because my father wore so many aldehyde-heavy colognes when I was young. This is a lot like my memory of Polo Sport, highly aquatic in a less-mermaid-more-manly way. It’s all air and water, with that metallic tinge that underlies all Blood Concept fragrances.

I honestly can’t wait until these come out. There’s no information available on their release, but I’ve signed up for their mailing list and their Facebook page updates regularly, so I’ll keep everyone updated. Personally, I’ll be springing for a bottle of A, and possibly O as well. Leave it to Italy, birthplace of giallo, to bring us such an intriguing set of dark and romantic perfumes.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Aesthetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 77.0 – Untouchably Delicious: a review of CocoaPink’s Black Chocolate

I’ve been a very bad blogger this week. My camera died and I had myself convinced I couldn’t post anything without swatch photos or FotD shots. It’s still dead, but I realize now there are other things I can post on without requiring pictures. Like scent reviews!

Every once in a while, I come across a scent I’ve had in my collection forever and simply forgot about. In this case, it’s been a very long time… Cocoa Pink was one of the first indie brands I ever purchased from, and definitely the first indie brand I trusted with my hair. Owner Ilona was making SLS-free shampoos and bath products long before the sulfate-free trend hit drugstore hair care brands, and I loved the idea of feeding my hair with nutrients it craved rather than stripping oils out of it and leaving it “squeaky clean” and damaged. I really credit Cocoa Pink for turning the kinky, frizzy waves of my adolescence into living silk. And I was devastated when she closed the shop.

Luckily for me and countless other hopeless devotees, a fan bought the brand, learned the formulas, and reopened the website. Bev has really gone above and beyond when it comes to delivering the service and quality we’ve come to associate with Cocoa Pink and even improving the formulas and the amazing customer service.

But as great as the products are, it’s the scents that really keep me coming back. Bev has kept a lot of Cocoa Pink classics (like CP White and Harajuku Bananas) and also formulated new and beautiful blends of her own (like English Cathedral). But one scent that kept me buying year after year was Black Chocolate.


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I first sniffed this delicious blend years ago when Ilona first produced her Lolita Giftsets. There were four different varieties: Gothic Lolita with dusty musks and dark fruits, Eastern Lolita with bright citruses and green teas, Classic Lolita with white florals and elegant greenery, and Sweet Lolita with sugary cakes and deep, rich chocolate. The girls on the forum went crazy over the re-release of one of their longtime favourites, Black Chocolate.

Naturally, I had to figure out what all the fuss was about. I generally like gourmand scents, and chocolate is no exception. But the interesting thing about Black Chocolate is that it’s mixed with healthy doses of amber. Cocoa Pink’s signature “Black” scents are all paired with a blend of different ambers. Normally, I despise amber in my perfumes. It’s dusty, too perfumey, and an instant headache. But at the time I first ordered Black Chocolate, I did not know this.

Upon first sniff, Black Chocolate is a dark, bittersweet chocolate bar. It’s pure, rich, designer chocolate, a perfect blend of bitter cocoa liquor and heavy cocoa butters, sweetened ever-so-slightly with true, exotic vanilla and pure cane sugar. But there’s something else to it, more and more noticeable as it wears. It’s earthy, organic, and it keeps the chocolate from smelling too young–like real gold leafing on an elegantly moulded chocolate, it makes it too beautiful to touch.

But even better, this scent can last for hours–an entire day–without morphing into something dusty or sour, as many chocolate and amber perfumes do on my skin. Perhaps it has to do with the way Cocoa Pink blends their scents: up until fairly recently, EDPs were not offered. Scents were blended into a variety of body creams and hair products–I honestly did not wear perfume for a year or two. The creams absorb easily into my dry skin and my hair eats up the conditioning spray, Ends with Benefits. Any time the air got humid or my hair got wet, I would get a new burst of fragrance even if I hadn’t washed my hair in a week.


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I do have to admit, Black Chocolate was a little too much for me to handle as a shampoo or conditioner scent. With the humidity of the shower amplifying the perfume, the ambers really came out and did their usual number on my poor resin-sensitive brain. It’s a long-time favourite of mine in lotion and leave-in form, but I just can’t do it in the shower.

Black Chocolate is always available at Cocoa Pink in hair-care, body lotions, and EDP form. In fact, I’ve got a bottle of EDP queued up in my cart as we speak!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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