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A few weeks ago, I was taking stock of my makeup collection and decided I needed to restock on my setting powders. And by that, I mean I realized I only had, like, three powders and that was just not enough. So, I made a small haul through Camera Ready Cosmetics in order to replenish my Ben Nye setting powder, as well as pick up a new bottle of Final Seal. In addition, I noticed they offered samples of the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, so I got one in shade SX08 to see how I’d like it.
I am a long-time fan of Ben Nye products, and actually used them before I even started wearing makeup regularly.
One of my first cosplays was Mana from Malice Mizer, in his Kyomu no Naka de no Yuugi outfit. I was 14 at the time, and the makeup world (and really, the cosplay world) was nothing like what it is now. His look included full white face paint, and blue lipstick — nowadays, this is not such a tall order, but back then, it wasn’t that easy!
I turned to, at the time, the only resource for out-of-the-ordinary makeup: theater and costume makeup.
Ben Nye is well known by professional makeup artists, especially those who work in theater and the performing arts. A lot of the makeup has great staying power and water-resistant properties, especially as dancers and actors will be sweating and working under hot stage lights. For my Mana cosplay, I ordered white pan makeup from Ben Nye (through the catalog!) as well as the translucent setting powder and Final Seal.
Performers have long used hairspray as setting sprays for their makeup, but that’s not always the best for your skin (especially if you’re already wearing lots of heavy stage makeup day in and day out). Before setting sprays were ubiquitous in the mainstream makeup world, Ben Nye had Final Seal. Even today, I consider it the best one I’ve ever used, although I think it’s not necessary for every day use (I use Urban Decay’s setting sprays otherwise). It’s cheap as chips, too; this size bottle, which will last most people who aren’t professional artists forever, is only $6.50 through CRC.
It smells strongly of alcohol and mint, and once you spray it on, it feels like you’ve sprayed hairspray on your face. It doesn’t change the texture or appearance of your makeup at all, but I can promise, once it’s on, your makeup will not budge. I also set my Mana makeup with the translucent powder to help longevity, and give it a matte look in photographs. Keep in mind, I had to cover all exposed skin in the white face paint and I walked around all day like that. By the end of the day, I only had minor wear where my costume rubbed constantly against my skin (collar, sleeves, etc.) but otherwise, it looked great.
The above is the only other picture I have of that cosplay, but take note of the sun coming through the windows in the background — it was early evening at that point, and my makeup still looks great.
By the way, I never could find a good blue lipstick back then, so I used a blue eyeliner. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest it now, mostly because you can find actual blue lipsticks easily, but also who even knows if that was lip-safe! Desperate measures.
Like I mentioned before, that was one of my first cosplays ever, and it was definitely one of my bigger labors of love. I made almost everything by hand, literally. I didn’t have a sewing machine back then, so I drafted the dress pattern and hand-sewed it. I also hand-made the gloves, and ordered long blue wig wefts for the hair. I braided them into dozens of individual braids, and attached them to a hair sock which I tied onto hair buns. I also made the bangs to clip onto my natural hair. The boots were these crazy fetish stripper heels which I ordered off eBay, and had 5 inch heels and giant platforms. My feet were not happy at the end of the day, I can tell you that.
Anyway, that’s enough reminiscing! Point is, I’ve liked Ben Nye for a long time now! They’re also relatively inexpensive compared to their performance, which my wallet is always happy about.
Although I was satisfied with the performance of the translucent setting powder, I found it still left a slightly white cast if I was unintentionally heavy-handed. Luckily, Ben Nye also offers a range of tinted powders, the most famous of which is the Banana Bella Luxury powder. I’ve actually been out of this for a while, and I haven’t been able to get my hands on it because this unsuspecting-looking setting powder was made famous by Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist a few years ago. After announcing that was what Kim K uses to attain her famous face (well, part of it, anyway), the powder exploded in popularity and now most stores have trouble keeping it in stock, and those which have it, place limits on how much you can buy at a time. It’s honestly kind of ridiculous, but the powder really is that great!
I especially like it for setting under-eye concealer, because the tint helps to cancel out dark circles and its finely milled texture never looks cakey or powdery. They recently introduced a new domed packaging, which is rather nice looking.
Besides that, I’ve been interested in Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer for a long time — this stuff gets rave reviews, and everyone talks about how you need only the tiniest bit for perfect skin. But I was always gunshy to drop the money, so finding out that Camera Ready Cosmetics offered the samples was a perfect solution. It was only $5, and the samples are very generously sized, considering.
I haven’t had much opportunity to try it out so far, but first impressions are good! The shade I got, SX08, even seems like it might be a bit too yellow-toned for my skin, which is honestly a rare treat. I’m usually struggling to find any base makeup that’s appropriately yellow enough.
Most of my haul posts won’t be this wordy, I promise. I just have a lot of feelings.
Have you ever tried Ben Nye before? Tell me what you think!