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Illamasqua Naked Strangers Collection — Makeup Inspired By Carnal Desires

British makeup brand Illamasqua tends to find inspiration in the taboo, obscure, and peculiar, discovering the beautiful in what many dismiss as eccentric or vulgar. Even its latest makeup collection, Naked Strangers, explores matters of the flesh through an unfiltered lens, without imposing any sense of judgment or operating via some arbitrary moral code. Instead,the collection uses colors and textures to interpret different types of sexual encounters and carnal desires. Sexual exclusivity within the context of a relationship is interpreted as a creamy fleshy pink, seen in the Monogamous Nail Varnish ($14 at Sephora.com), whereas loyalty is depicted as a rich, coppery brown with a metallic finish, seen in the Faithful Nail Varnish ($14 at Sephora.com); one-night stands are referenced via rich gold tones such as the one seen in the richly pigmented Stanger Intense Lipgloss ($20 at Sephora.com); and open relationships are referenced  via a disco-worthy, glittery golden metallic nail polish aptly dubbed Swinger ($14 at Sephora.com). The final result is a collection that combines understated neutrals, fleshy pinks and peaches, and sultry metallics that all manage to feel adventurous and deeply satisfying.

Below, you’ll find close-up photos of some of my favorite offerings in the collection, along with swatches and looks created with them. Dive in!


Though it was introduced before the Naked Strangers collection hit shelves, the  Illamasqua Neutral Palette ($42.50 at Sephora.com) is an essential component of this particular collection since it grounds the flashier, more extravagant colors and the demure, barely there shades of beige and pink. Unlike other neutral eye shadow palettes that focus exclusively on shades of cream, taupe, rusk, chestnut, and mahogany, this one incorporates four powder eye shadow shades: a velvety ecru hue with a matte finish, a deep muddy brown with a satin finish, a dark carbon black, and a tarnished-looking gold shade with an all-over sheen.

Here are swatches of the four shades in the palette:

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Many makeup companies have developed adventurous shades of lipstick and lipgloss, but how often do you find a heavily pigmented gold lipgloss? Count on Illamasqua to make that a reality! The Illamasqua Intense Lipgloss in Stranger ($20 at Sephora.com) is as richly pigmented as traditional lipsticks, so that the color you see in the tube is the same exact color you get when you apply the product — in other words, it’s not a more distilled, watered-down, wimpy version of the high-wattage color you see in the packaging. In terms of its coloring, the Stranger Lipgloss is quite similar to Illamasqua’s Trash Lipstick, with both being yellow gold hues that feel a bit tarnished and weathered. The main difference between the two, aside from one being a gloss and the other a lipstick, is that the Stranger Intense Lipgloss feels slightly cleaner thanks to the white light-reflecting particles added to give the shade shimmer and dimension.

Take a look at how the Stranger lipgloss looks on the skin:

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When it’s hot outside, many of us feel like applying a powder blush is an act of futility since, after all, it tends to melt in the heat and humidity practically accosting us. Enter the Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic ($24 at Sephora.com), which you can apply to bare skin or above foundation. The texture of the cream blusher is absolutely delicious — as soon as you glide your finger over the surface, the color will practically melt onto your fingertip, allowing you to then dab the hue onto your cheeks or cheekbones. The Zygomatic shade, in particular, has a deliciously fleshy color, a warm caramel hue with golden apricot pink undertones. The finish, meanwhile, is rather glaze-like, creating a nice luminous veil of color.

Take a look at how the color looks on skin:

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As one of the purveyors of the most stunning, long-lasting nail polishes on the market, Illamasqua satiated fans’ appetites with three new shades: Monogamous, a fleshy, creamy light pink with a matte finish; Faithful, a copper brown hue with a scintillating metallic finish; and Swinger ($14 at Sephora.com), a molten gold hue with a metallic finish that’s almost gravel-like, giving nails a sense of texture.

Since metallics are huge for both Summer and Fall 2012, I predict I’ll be reaching for the Swinger Nail Varnish quite often — whether it’s to coat my entire nails with the Studio 54-worthy shade or to create a gilded French manicure.

Here’s what the shade looks like on nails:

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Lastly, here’s a look I created with the Illamasqua Neutral Palette. I started off by applying the light cream color all over my lids, stopping right below the brow area. Next, I applied the dark brown color to lids, sweeping the shade into the crease area. Next, I took the gold shade and, starting at the outer corners of the eyes, layered it over the brown color on the lids, stopping halfway along the lid. I made sure to also work the gold color into the crease area to better define the eyes. Next, using a very fine brush, I swept a bit of the carbon black polish to the outer corners in a “V” shape, with one prong of the “V” extending through the crease” and the other one tracing the contours of the lower lash line. Using the light cream color, I then buffed and blended the shades together until the makeup look appeared seamless. For the finishing touch, I applied two coats of Maybelline’s Illegal Length mascara.

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