Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Favorites: May 2011

Here's what I loved in May:

Becca Luminous Skin Color in Porcelain (reviewed here).

Rouge Bunny Rouge Blush in Delicata. A blush I initially disliked on sight, but which turned out to be a perfect bronzer shade for my pale skin. An enthusiastic review is coming up soon, now that I've had the chance to use this product for a few weeks. (Update to include link to review here.)

Laura Mercier Lustre Eye Colour in Topaz. A gently shimmering taupe laced with bronze and mauve. This is just one of those eye shadows I can't define but which always looks good on me. If I weren't so fickle and so easily distracted by pretty things, I could stop looking right here.

Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds Are Singing in Gracious Arasari (reviewed here). Perfect everyday wash of color, goes with everything. A surprise hit in my recent RBR purchase.

Becca Demi Matte Eye Color in Chantilly. A satiny greyed ivory with lavender undertones. I never appreciated this eyeshadow as a brow bone color, but on the movable lid, it provides instant face brightening and looks gorgeous with browns, greys, and plums.

Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour in Sweet Cherry (reviewed here). Holy cats, 'nuff said.

Bobbi Brown Blush Brush. Made from the eyelashes of a million tiny kittens (that fell out naturally, of course), I tell myself I don't need that $uqqu brush because I have this. It took me years to use any faces brushes, besides the Jane Iredale Handi, because they were all so prickly, but this brush is like tracing clouds or morning dew across my face. The more I use it, the softer it gets.

Paula Dorf Eye Primer Brush. Not tons of excitement about a synthetic brush, other than it does the job and it is the perfect size for my lids, which I use with my favorite eye primer (Paula Dorf, of course, reviewed here.) Easy to clean, holds up exceptionally well.

I have swatched the colors below in the following order:
1. Becca Porcelain
2. Rouge Bunny Rouge Delicata
3. Laura Mercier Topaz
4. Rouge Bunny Rouge Gracious Ararari
5. Becca Chantilly
6. Laura Mercier Sweet Cherry

All photos mine.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spring/Summer 2011: Vincent Longo Galaxy Dream Collection

Ten years ago I discovered Vincent Long makeup at Barney's and fell head over heels in love with his lip stains and Water Canvas Cream-to-Powder foundation. That foundation was all I wore on my face for years (reviewed here). So I was very sad when his line was pulled from Sephora and, later from beauty.com. Many of his products became hard to find, and I was afraid I'd no longer be able to buy it ever.

Two months ago, I read a post at the Non-Blonde that made me feel so happy I actually started this blog! She said Vincent Longo was making a comeback, and I waited in nervous apprehension as his web site had one huge promo after another, which seemed more like a going-out-of business sale than anything else.

I am extremely happy to report that Vincent Longo has revamped his line, with a focus on improving the formulations in his classics. He also recently launched the new Galaxy Dream collection.What's not to love about space-themed makeup, I ask you?
Pearl X Eyeshadows ($25) are creamy matte powders laced with pearlescent pigment. Each compact include a blend of warm and cool tones in a intricately swirled interstellar pattern. Pearl X comes in five shades:
  • Code 6 Pink (promo picture) contains blends of pearly magenta and gold with matte turquoise, antique rose, and charcoal
  • Novalei imparts an overall silver sheen by combining blue, silver, and deep purple shimmers with matte lavender, blue, and greyed green
  • Destiny Rose combines matte lavender, pink, and green with pearly silver, lavender, blue, and garnet.
  • Etherea blends metallic bronze, copper, gold, and topaz with warm matte brown
  • Luna Beach embroiders brown, grey, peacock blue and purple matte bases with pearlized electric blue, copper, and hot pink strands mixed with tiny flecks of green and gold
Perfect Shine V Gloss ($22) is offered in four colors and contains plumping properties derived from natural Tripeptide. The long-wear formulation is rich, moisturizing, and non sticky, leaving lips that feel like silk.
  • Alpha 7 - fuchsia
  • Carina - coral
  • Ella - mauve
  • Sexty - pink
Perfect Canvas Liquid Concealer ($28) provides long-wearing texture and coverage with cross polymers. The enhanced formula contains peptides that reduce puffiness and Arnica to minimize undereye discoloration. (Arnica is used to heal bruises.) The concealer does not require a setting powder, and the felt-tipped automatic pen makes for an even, streak-free application. (I hope these pens were not made in the same factory as the Ellis Faas pens!). The concealer comes in four shads:
  • Light
  • Medium
  • Amber
  • Tan
See vincentlong.com site for the list of ingredients.

Note: His web site is currently offering free shipping on any order. I have already placed mine from the Galaxy Dream collection. What will you get?

All photos from vincentlongo.com

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector and Luminous Skin Color

I was already a Becca fan when I first heard about the Shimmering Skin Perfector ($41), but I didn't know how to use it (I assumed it would turn me into a greasy mess) until I ran across a Lisa Eldridge. She demonstrates how to apply the Skin Perfector below, starting at 04:05:

I immediately bought Pearl, applied it exactly the way she demonstrated, and I could not believe the gorgeousness. After that, I was encouraged to try it other ways. I'd mix a tiny dot into my tinted moisturizer or foundation or sometimes I'd dab a bit into the center of my eyelid over eyeshadow. I cannot recommend that method for a long-term look because the humectants in the highlighter will eventually cause eye makeup to slide off, but it looks nice for a short while.

I want to be clear that his highlighter, even though water based, does leave a slightly tacky feeling on the skin, so if your skin is really oily (e.g., you use blotting papers on your cheeks by afternoon, not just on nose and forehead), you might not like how Shimmering Skin Perfector feels.

If you mix it into foundation or moisturizer, you need a tiny amount, about the size of a rice grain--you don't want your entire face to shine. For highlighting I use about the size of a pea and blend it in really well so there are no visible edges. The foundation brush eats up a lot of the product but I get a more flawless finish using one over my fingers.

I had also heard such great things about Becca Luminous Skin Color ($42). There are so many color choices--especially for pale skin tones, which is quite unusual. There are many brands where I cannot get a color match, as they are all too dark. I wrote to Becca customer service, and they recommended Cashmere, which is for fair complexions with neutral undertones. But I don't have neutral undertones. I have a decided amount of blue and pink undertones and beige overtones, so I bucked the suggestion and went with Porcelain, which is recommended for light to fair complexions with pink undertones.

I could not have chosen a closer match if the foundation were custom blended for me.

The first thing I noticed was that Luminous Skin Color is more a tinted moisturizer than a true foundation. Coverage is ultra-light, and despite being water based, the finish is quite dewy. Very oily skins might not care for this, and if you want your foundation to cover imperfections, you probably won't care for this. Luminous Skin Color is ideally for skin that hasn't got much to hide.

This is a hardworking foundation. It provides a hint of color, plenty of moisture, and acts as treatment. It contains broad-spectrum SPF 25, as well as vitamins A, B, D and E, which together fight free radicals, enhance tissue repair, bind moisture, promote collagen production, and protect against environmental damage. The dewy finish makes me wonder if it contains some of the ingredients from the Shimmering Skin Perfector. It makes the high points of my face glow, and if I were to set with powder, I'd use the lightest most translucent powder I own.

Here are a few swatches of the Pearl Skin Perfector and Porcelain Luminous Skin Color on the back of my hand.

Pearl is a shimmering clear color; Porcelain is a pinkish beige

Smeared out

Blended into skin, both will become invisible and provide that second-skin effect
Because both products are water based, I can wear them together, and they won't cause my look to slide about by midday.

Bottom line: Essential for that youthful summertime glow.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rouge Bunny Rouge Gleaming Temptations Lip Gloss in Coy

I am a lipstick person. I occasionally buy lip gloss because I am captivated by the pretty colors, and Rouge Bunny Rouge Gleaming Temptations Lip Gloss in Coy ($31) was a total lure. I could not resist a product described as "Warm sheer strawberry, glistening with silver, gold, and fuchsia pearls. Could you?

Image from rougebunnyrouge.com

I was unable to capture the silver and fuchsia, but you should be able to see the warm strawberry infused with gold.

Swatched on white paper
I was moderately disappointed that Coy managed to mute my rosy-mauve lip pigment. I was hoping the fuchsia particles would play on the blue in my lips and make this a face brightening color, but instead of adding a splash of color, it blends into my skin tone. Not enough contrast for it to be a winner for me, though I might end up using it on top of lipsticks. Nevertheless, Coy is a sweet and fresh color for the warmer months. It is not too sticky, and the color and shine last about an hour.

Bottom line: If you like lip gloss, this is a very pretty color that feels incredible on the lips.

All photos mine except where noted.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Just Because ...

...Christopher Walken is a thing of beauty, and this video NEVER fails to make me smile.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Edward Bess Platinum Concealer in Ivory Nude

Edward Bess Platinum Concealer ($38) is offered in four shades and is packaged in a short twist-up tube, like a portly lipstick. The black metal packaging is quite nice, though I'd have preferred it to be slimmer so it takes up less room in my bag.

I chose Ivory Nude this time because the color Soft Beige (reviewed here) is too dark, although it is a better color match. Ivory Nude is also too dark, and it has yellow undertones that are not harmonious with my skintone.

The concealer is very soft, which makes it blendable, but that also makes it fragile because if twisted up too high, it could break off at the base with just the slightest pressure. I leave the surface just below the lip and I use my ring finger to swirl around the top. The warmth of my finger softens the concealer and makes it easier to blend into my skin.

This concealer works best under my eyes, where my circles are not too blue, and it also works quite well as a spot concealer to hide freckles or spots. (I use Becca's round point Spot Concealer brush.)

In the photos below, I swatched the concealer heavily to get it to show up.

Unfortunately, Nude Ivory leaves a slightly yellow cast under my eyes and makes me look jaundiced, so I reach much more often for Soft Beige, which although darker, is a better match for my skin with its beige overtones and pink undertones.

Platinum Concealer is fairly long lasting. It applies like a cream and dries down to a powder finish. If your skin is very oily, you might need a setting powder. Coverage is medium and and requires a midday touchup.

Here's a very short video of Edward Bess applying his Platinum Concealer to a model:

Bottom line: A good all-purpose concealer with a ton of product in the tube.

For additional swatches, check out:
Edward Bess products are available at Bergdorf Goodman and select Neiman Marcus stores, as well as at the Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Edward Bess online stores. In the UK, Edward Bess is sold exclusively at Zuneta.

All photos mine.

Beauty Spotlight 05.28.2011

Welcome to the Beauty Spotlight. Every other week our beauty blog team will shine a spotlight on our favorite posts. We'll being you the latest and greatest, the tried-and-true, and the most fun-to-find beauty products  worldwide!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Choosing a BECCA Beach Tint or Cream Blush for Summer

Beach Tint
Screenshot taken from Zuneta YouTube video
Cream Blush
Screenshot taken from Zuneta YouTube video
This time of year I often switch to cream and liquid blushes because I think moist and dewy skin looks nice in summer--especially now that my skin is much less oily than it used to be.

Zuneta has uploaded an excellent video to help us choose a BECCA Cosmetics Beach Tint ($24). Beach Tint is a water-resistant liquid blush that can also be worn on the lips, and it is very natural. Last year I had outpatient surgery, and I was told I could wear no makeup in the operating room. No makeup? Were they delusional? If I was going to die, I was going to die pretty, so I snuck Beach Tint on my cheeks and lips and wore the very subtle Eye Tint on my eyes. Heh.

After the swatches, Zuneta's charming makeup artist demonstrates Guava, Fig, and Watermelon on the cheeks and lips.

I have Watermelon and Fig, and I really love Watermelon. It provides just enough contrast on my lips. Now that I have seen this video, as well as bump into online reviews, I would like to get Guava as well.

A tip: Becca tint products that come in a tube need to be shaken well. Shake shake and then shake some more. What comes out should be thick and creamy, not thin and watery. If it's thin, shake again, though sometimes I just squirt out the watery stuff and am perfectly happy with the gel that remains behind in the tube. Losing some of the liquid does not affect the product.

I also discovered an excellent Zuneta video showing swatches of BECCA Cosmetics Cream Blush ($30). I have Turkish Rose, and it looks as good on the reviewer's arm as it does on me! You can also wear these on the lips.

The Becca cream blushes apply like room-ripened butter and last a long time, especially if you pop a bit of powder over top. The Beach Tint, however, does not require setting powder because it sinks into the skin rather than sit on top. At least I don't need powder, but oilier skins might, and it might also be fun to layer another BECCA product on top, like the Shimmering Powders or the new mineral blushes.

I don't have a retailer nearby that sells BECCA, so I can never see the colors in person. Thus, these videos from Zuneta are extremely useful. I can't think if a single other store who is showing swatches like this, and it's really great customer service.

Bottom line: Summer essentials.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Cheeks in Bloom Blush Wand in Vermeer


Rouge Bunny Rouge Cheeks in  Bloom Blush Wand in Vermeer (around $43) is a soft tea rose that provides a healthy glow. The blush contains a blend of natural oils and spherical powders, providing a cream-to-powder finish. You twist the blush up, like a lipstick, and I love the packaging. Extremely portable and no worries about crumbling compacts.

I have come to appreciate cream blushes for that lit-from-within look, and I really like them in stick form. This blush is very smooth and creamy, not stiff and tacky like some cream blushes can be (MAC), and it comes with a little clear cap to protect it from drying out. It lasts all day and does not settle in pores.

I often wear Vermeer with Rouge Bunny Rouge powder blush in Delicata, which I now wear as a bronzer.

I dot the cream blush onto my fingertips to warm it up, gently blend along my cheekbones, and then follow up with the powder blush in the hollows and across the bridge of my nose. Prettiest combo I have ever used, and I have been anti blush the last 10 years because I always find it so disappointing.

I also like to dot Vermeer on the brow bone over my eye crease for a fresh-faced weekend look. This blush also looks surprisingly decent on my lips, but I prefer a bit more contrast, and I haven't experimented with this look long enough to know if it's drying over time.

Here is Vermeer swatched on my pink-porcelain skin. So subtly soft.

Bottom line: A worthy splurge.

All photos mine.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour in Sweet Cherry

It seems that new Laura Mercier products are introduced quietly, without much fanfare. I had heard of her new gel lipsticks, but I was hesitant to buy one, as the colors looked lurid online, almost neon. At the recommendation of a trusted friend, however, I decided to purchase Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour in Sweet Cherry ($22).

The Laura Mercier web site claims that this "innovative gel-based lipstick will cushion your lips in soft-comfort colour with a shine finish. The clear lip colour base allows for a bold bullet with pure colour registration while the super smooth formula leaves lips with a soft colour payoff."

I guess that means colorful but sheer. All I know is that this lipstick is A. MAY. Zing.

Sheer and incredibly shiny, if you are a lip gloss lover, consider trying this lipstick formula, with its incredibly glossy finish that does not fade as quickly as the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks do.

Outdoors, indirect sun
Inside, natural cool light
The gel formulation feels so comfortable and smooth on the lips. I don't think a lip balm could feel any nicer than this, and it blows Chantecaille Lip Chic out of the water, which I now find to be more sticky. For such a silky-sheer product, the color lasts an impressive 3 hours on me. When it fades, it fades evenly. No smearing or feathering, and I do not use a lip pencil because I want to keep it natural looking.

I could not love this lipstick any more than I do. It makes my lips look juicy. So I will tuck away Laura Mercier Bing Cherry (reviewed here) for fall/winter wear, which is probably too warm for me, anyway, and wear Sweet Cherry all spring and summer.

I don't currently own many sheer red lipsticks. Below are swatches of Sweet Cherry compared to Lipstick Queen Medieval and Chantecaille Lip Chic in Dahlia. Medieval is really sheer (barely a tint of color) and Chantecaille is more warm, so I guess I won't be wearing that anymore.

I have heard people complain about a scent, and there is something fruity about it. Not in a cloying Bubblicious bubblegum way, but I could do without the fragrance. It fades pretty quickly, but if you have an aversion to scented products, you might want to test this one first.

Bottom line: I have found my absolute perfect hot summer love. ♥ If you are interested in exploring red lips but feel intimidated by red's POWAH, get thee to tester and try this on. Stat.

UPDATE: A few months after I posted this review, I had a Sci\ART seasonal color analysis where I was asked to bring all my makeup. At the end of the session, when we'd arrived at my season (True/Cool Summer), Sweet Cherry was the analyst's absolute favorite for people with my coloring. I have since the used it up and bought my second tube.

All photos mine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Model for Excellent Customer Service

What, you might ask, does the web's most popular shoe store have to do with a beauty blog? Did you know they have been selling cosmetics for a while now?

Last year I ordered what appeared to be the last set on earth of the Became Cosmetics Enchanting Lipstick Set in Pink (below image is for the red set).

I was disappointed when I discovered that two of the lipsticks had little bubbles on the surface. I called Zappos customer service and--without question--they immediately sent me a new set, next day delivery (which, as it turns out, WAS the last pink set on earth). I was also told I could keep the defective set! I was quite pleasantly surprised and assumed I'd caught the young man with whom I spoke on a good day.

Fast forward a year. I ordered two london BUTTER nail polishes, and when the polishes arrived the bottles and their caps were covered in a wide paper sticker, the kind that won't peel off without a blowtorch. Normally, I'd have dealt with the disappointment and used some kind of solvent to remove the stickers, but now that I take pictures for blogging, I felt annoyed and inconvenienced. I didn't want a bottle covered with glue residue and/or scratch marks from my attempt to remove the label.

Not planning to do much more than provide feedback to Zappos, I called their customer service department and had the most pleasant experience. Not only did the woman sympathize with me (she apparently hates dealing with those nasty stickers on the surface of a new mirror or picture frame), she declared that given technology, one would think that all warehouses would be using the easy peel-off labels.

It felt like having a cathartic gripe session with a girlfriend, so no one was more surprised than I when she said she would refund the cost of both polishes and that I did not have to send them back. Happy was I!. But you cannot imagine my surprise when I received a hand-written thank you note from the customer service rep with a happy little illustration drawn on the inside.

I've been ordering shoes and other leather accessories from Zappos for years, and I have always been pleased with the service I receive, but they have gone beyond what was necessary to resolve my issue. I am now a customer for life. They really DO focus on the customer in customer service. When I compare that to my experience with Chanel online service, there is simply no comparison. Zappos treats its customers with dignity and respect.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Eyeshadow in Nude

Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Eyeshadow in Nude ($30) does not get a lot of love, certainly not compared to his other eyeshadows. There's nothing special about it in the pan; in fact, it looks like just about any other base eyeshadow color.

Nude was the third eyeshadow in the trio that I purchased almost two years ago. Thanks to fantastic online swatches and reviews, I knew without question that I wanted to buy Intimate and Dusk (reviewed here) but I was on the fence about Nude because I already owned several workable ivory-colored base shadows like Shu Uemura M 800, NARS Edie, Stile Ecru, and so on.

No, Nude is not terribly exciting, but maybe that's the point. Sometimes the most plain colors work out the best. Nude is soft ivory with cool yellow undertones that goes with everything. Yellow is not a color I would normally be drawn to, but what sets this shadow apart from others of its ilk is that it brightens the eyelid area and make me appear fresh and well rested. Nude looks like a second skin and makes my eyes glow with radiant good health. I often wear it by itself on weekends, and it gets a huge amount of use in the summer. In fact, Nude is one of the few eyeshadow I have repurchased.

The finish is somewhere between a matte and shimmer, similar to Laura Mercier Sateen or Becca Demi Matte formulations, and the texture is outstanding. Creamy and superfatted, you could apply it with a fingertip. Nude is less pigmented than Intimate or Dusk, but that is exactly how I would want it to be. I use a big fluff brush to apply from lashes to brow and then press/roll the finish with my fingertips so the extremely fine microparticles lie flat and augment that glowy look. Edward Bess eyeshadows are perfect for maturing eyes.

The following swatches show the eyeshadows in different lighting conditions:

Indoors, natural light
Outdoors, indirect sunlight

If it appears powdery, that is because I had to swatch heavily to get the pigment to show up. However, this eyeshadow is so finely milled, I can use any brush (even a crappy one), and there is no skipping or dragging. I like to use the Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush (reviewed here) to apply base, lid, and crease colors for an everyday, neutral Bess eye:
  • Nude from lashes to brows
  • Intimate in the crease
  • Dusk on the outer edge of the lid and then just under the outer third of my lower lash line. 
Blend blend blend, and I can achieve a look that stands up to fluorescent office lighting without screaming EYE MAKEUP!

I have linked to the following Edward Bess/Zuneta video before, but I think it bears repeating. In it, Edward applies his eyeshadows (Nude, Intimate, and Mystery) to a model.

Bottom line: If you already have a base you're happy with, there's probably no need to also get Nude, but this is a really lovely color that provides instant eye brightening. .

Edward Bess products are available at Bergdorf Goodman and select Neiman Marcus stores, as well as at the Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Edward Bess online stores. In the UK, Edward Bess is sold at Zuneta.

All photos mine