Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Budget Makeup Tips: Fixing Broken Pressed Powder

I have this terrible habit of losing everything I own, and makeup is no exception. While I've been seeing tutorials for fixing broken pressed powder makeup around the internet for ages, I didn't have much reason to use it, as it's rare that I drop or break my own makeup. Then this week I was browsing Target's clearance makeup section, and had a revelation: much of the makeup in these sections are still perfectly good and fashionable, but have been dropped and broken by other patrons and therefore no longer deserve their initial price tags, despite otherwise being perfectly good and unused. I found a Pixi palette that I love, but which had two shattered shadows in it. I rolled up my sleeves, and decided to expand my arsenal of budget makeup skills by fixing the palette and scoring a $12 product on clearance for $3 and a little elbow grease!

The premise of this craft is that a powder eyeshadow mixed with liquid will turn into a malleable goop that can be molded back into its original shape. Water would take too long to dry or compromise the integrity of the powder, but rubbing alcohol evaporates after a short period, leaving the newly-formed solid makeup in whatever shape you mold it into. The makeup is now solid and good as new!

Fixing a broken makeup palette

You will need:

  • Small, blunt tool: I cut one head off a cotton bud/Q-tip, but you could use a toothpick or the end of a makeup brush, depending on the size of your palette. The smaller it is, the smaller your tool should be
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol: This is the type that all of the tutorials I saw online used, so I'm not sure if other concentrations will work as well as this one, or better
  • Broken pressed powder makeup, obviously!
  • Thin plastic wrap
  • Optional, but recommended: angled makeup brush
  • Completely optional: small spatula/butter knife for smoothing the top (I just used the flat side of my headless Q-tip)
  • Completely optional: small eye dropper
First step: break up the broken powder even more to remove or lessen the size of the lumps that are present. This will ensure that the alcohol penetrates all of the powder evenly when you're stirring.

Next, mix in the isopropyl alcohol a few drops at a time. I just poured a small amount into the cap and used that to drip the alcohol into the powder, but if yo
u have an eyedropper handy it's probably much easier and more efficient to use that.

Stir the powder and alcohol together so that the powder is completely saturated. Make sure you get into the corners, and be careful - for me, making sure that the powder stayed in its little container within the palette was one of the hardest parts of the entire process!

Once the two substances are completely mixed comes the other hardest part: smoothing the goop over. I used the side of the Q-tip, like I said above, and gently ran it over the top, making sure to apply slight but even pressure over the whole thing. When I was done, I used my angled eyeshadow brush to squish any particles back into place which may have been moved by the Q-tip.

Now that it's mostly smooth, I used the plastic wrap (I used super thin stuff that I cut from a produce plastic bag - it seemed like it was probably twice as thin as regular plastic wrap you'd use for wrapping up leftovers, and that was really helpful, so I'd say the thinnest plastic you can find would probably be good, as long as it's food-safe!) to smooth it out even further. I gently covered the goop so the plastic was just barely touching all of it, and then slowly and gently dragged it all the way across toward the edge of the plastic. Once it was at the edge, I continued dragging it all the way off - if you just pull it off regularly, it could mark up the beautiful smooth goop with craters, which are definitely not what you're going for! This was the most frustrating part for me, because I don't have very steady hands (SO MUCH CAFFEINE), so I had trouble applying even amounts of pressure and moving slowly and gently enough over the surface.

Using the still-in-tact head of your cotton swab and/or your angled brush, clean the loose powder off of the rest of your palette so it looks shiny and new!

For me, the final step was using my angled brush again to slightly angle the edges so it looked a bit more like the other shadows in the palette, but at this point it took me so long to smooth it out that I didn't want to mess it up and have to start over again because I was angling them too much. It's a tad more obvious in the topmost white powder in the palette, which was also broken when I bought it and which was my test run of this whole process.

Tada! Your once-broken palette is almost as good as new. As you can see, a great budget makeup shopping tip that applies to makeup fanatics of all denominations (lolitas included!) is to buy broken palettes from the clearance section and fix them yourself! You could also try mixing multiple shades of broken powders together to make your own custom colors: imagine an iridescent blush made of your favorite pink with a white or peach highlighting color, or one with your favorite subtle bronzer mixed with a blush - there are so many possibilities!

Anyway, I hope this helps you get more mileage out of your beauty budget, so you can put all that money you're saving into new brand (or offbrand!) Let me know if you try this out, okay? 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

OTT Classic Inspiration: Empress Elisabeth of Austria

 Seeing as it's Women's History Month, I figured it would be appropriate to discuss one of my historical lolita fashion inspirations: Empress Elisabeth of Austria.I've come across paintings of Empress Elisabeth a few times during my studies and have always found her elegant garments striking, but it was only after coming across an image of the gown from her Hungarian coronation (seen at left, and further below) that I really realized her potential as inspiration for classic lolita style. Characters such as Alice and Anne of Green Gables are sometimes cited as inspirational for toned down sweet-classic styles, but in my opinion, for the increasingly-popular OTT classic style, Empress Sisi is the figure to emulate. While she may have had her own problems and plenty of habits which you wouldn't want to mimic, her fashions are definitely worthy of praise.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary, also called "Sisi," was a Bavarian-born monarch of the mid-late 19th Century. Though she ruled Austria for 44 years, she found the atmosphere of the court stifling and often traveled around the continent alone, developing a deep kinship with the rulers of the more relaxed Hungary. She helped to bring about the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, and she was also a huge fashion icon, both during her life and afterwards. Unfortunately, she suffered with severe anxiety, anorexia, and depression for most of her life, particularly after the death of her children.

If you find Empress Elisabeth's style inspiring like I do, you should know that we're in good company! Not only has she personally been portrayed in many films and plays over the past century, but her sense of style has cropped up in other productions as well. If you've seen the 2005 movie rendition of Phantom of the Opera, the dress at the left probably looks very familiar to you; Sisi's get-up in the portrait "Empress Elisabeth of Austria with Diamond Stars on Her Hair" by Franz Xaver Winterhalter served as inspiration for one of Emmy Rosum's stage costumes in the film.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria's gown for her coronation as Queen of Hungary
Empress Sisi's Hungarian coronation gown, as mentioned above

Empress Sisi's Style

If you want to emulate the empress yourself in a classic lolita coordinate, here are a items you should consider including:
  • Thick, complex braids
  • Luxurious materials befitting a queen and empress, such as velvet, rhinestones, and pearls
  • Natural elements like ivy wreaths, flowers, sea shells, or jewels which mimic the stars
  • Purple, her favorite color, or other jewel tones, which suited her pale complexion and dark hair, though she also wore quite a bit of ivory
  • Necklines that show a generous amount of decollete or corsets with waspish waistlines, as these were fashionable during her reign
  • Accessories: gloves, fans, and double-stranded pearl necklaces were all favored by the empress
  • Hair pieces: tiaras, flower wreaths, and veils, because how could you not?!
For this Sisi-style coordinate, I took inspiration from the luxurious styles of the European royal courts of the nineteenth century. Lavish fabrics like velvet and chiffon combine with naturally-opulent materials like gold and pearls, and an elegant corset emphasizes the waist and decollete. Elisabeth often spent hours at a time getting her hair done, so this outfit is paired with artistically-wrought braids and a golden flower-motif crown. I included as many items as I could which created a juxtaposition between the natural and the luxurious, as these motifs played out in the empress's fashion statements quite often.

Who is your fashion inspiration? 

If there are any other historical fashionistas you'd like to see featured,
let me know in the comment section below!

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