Few things can induce me to brave midtown Manhattan on a Monday afternoon, but lavender blush is one of them.
Tony Moly is a Korean drugstore brand that has recently made inroads into the American market, most notably through Urban Outfitters, which sells a surprising number of Tony Moly products online. Over the summer, the company also opened a store several blocks from Penn Station, in Manhattan’s Koreatown. I was in New York this past weekend for my birthday, and I decided I needed to make a stop at the Tony Moly store before getting on the train home. I’d wanted to try the Cristal Blusher in #04 Milky Violet since reading an article about it in xoVain, and the brand’s adorable skincare products intrigued me, too. It turned out that “several blocks from Penn Station” actually meant “a fifteen-minute slog through crowds of hustlers, hawkers, and tourists,” but as in any quest, it helped to keep the end goal in mind. Plus, the neighborhood has surprisingly picturesque architecture, if you cast your gaze far enough above the clouds of grit and the hot-dog-stand umbrellas.
The Tony Moly store was hard to find. I expected a large, gleaming space overflowing with pastel makeup and fruit-shaped containers of hand cream, but the store was a tiny (albeit gleaming) hole-in-the-wall affair, tucked into a small fraction of a shabby building. Two walls of skincare products, an island with color makeup in the middle, and that was it. Since my boyfriend was waiting outside and I feel uneasy in tiny stores, I didn’t linger, but bought my Milky Violet for a wallet-friendly $8. I also picked up three “I’m Real” sheet masks for $3 each: “moisturizing,” with aloe; “skin purifying,” with seaweed; and “vitality,” with broccoli. I can’t read Korean, so I’m not sure how prominently these plants actually feature in the masks, but no one can deny the cuteness of the packaging.
Back home that evening, I decided that my skin needed an extra dose of vitality after two days of biting winds and New York grit; I’m in my late twenties now, after all. I was also very curious what a broccoli sheet mask would be like.
As I’d expected, the mask didn’t smell like broccoli at all, but had a subtle fruity fragrance. The fabric sheet was thin and translucent, and the clear liquid in which it was soaked felt cool and refreshing on my face. As the pictorial instructions directed, I left the mask on for 30 minutes, then massaged the extra liquid into my face. I’m not sure I’ve experienced a noticeable increase in vitality, but my skin does look smoother today, and my pores seem to be diminished. I think I’ve been converted to the sheet-mask lifestyle.
I was excited to try Milky Violet this morning, even though swatching it meant marring the pristine faceted surface, reminiscent of a crystal (or, well, “cristal”).
The font and the clear plastic pan look late-’90s to me; in fact, the lettering reminds me of the title text from TLC’s “No Scrubs” video. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.
Milky Violet is a soft pinkish lavender. If you’re afraid of purple blush, you can rest assured that this one won’t make you look like you’re on the way to a Hunger Games party. That said, it doesn’t have the brown or mauve undertones of, say, NARS Sin; it’s a crisp, white-based matte pastel. Formula-wise, Milky Violet is a soft, finely milled powder that applies very smoothly. Swatched once on the left, thrice on the right:
Update: I’ve swatched Milky Violet between my two coolest-toned pink blushes, both by NARS: Mata Hari (left) and Coeur Battant (right).
Here we have three swipes of each color. Mata Hari has some dusty plum undertones, but it’s nowhere near the bright lavender of Milky Violet. Coeur Battant is cooler than Mata Hari, but it’s a very clear, pure fuchsia–no white base. Blended out, Mata Hari and Coeur Battant look much closer to each other than either one does to Milky Violet.
On my face, Milky Violet is less a pop of space-age pastel than a cool-toned highlighting powder. One layer is completely invisible against my skin; in the following photos I’m wearing three or four layers of the blush high on my cheekbones, with almost no blending, but the effect is still very subtle. I thought Milky Violet would become the focal point of any look in which it appeared, but I found that I needed to help it out with other cool-toned purples.
Here’s my attempt at a monochrome silvery lavender face. I applied NARS Lhasa all over my mobile lids and on my lower lashlines, then blended Kiko Infinity Eyeshadow #251, a sparkly lavender, into the inner third of each lid. Lipstick is NYX Castle. And, hey, my skin looks a little more vital than it did yesterday!
For my final experiment, I put on Revlon Fire and Ice, a lipstick that I’ve always found difficult to wear. I wanted to see how Milky Violet would interact with an unambiguously warm-toned lip color, and I thought the searing coral red of Fire and Ice would supply an interesting contrast.
As usual, Fire and Ice tries to outdo every other color on my face, but you can see a hint of lavender if you look closely.
Overall, I’m delighted with my first Tony Moly purchase. I was hoping for a more opaque lavender than Milky Violet actually provides, but it looks like I’ll have to turn to indie brands for truly futuristic blush shades. Still, Milky Violet interacts well with both warm- and cool-toned makeup, and it’s subtle enough that I’ll think nothing of wearing it in an understated look. I also have a hunch that it will pair well with dark purple lip colors like & Other Stories Droguet Purple. Spacegirl goes goth? We’ll see.