Sunday, August 28, 2011

Matte Nail Polish

Part 5 of the "I Don't Get It" series.

Matte nail polish seems to be very popular these days, and if the polish itself does not have a matte finish, you can buy a top coat that mattifies the glossy or shimmery polishes you already own, such as essie's Matte About You.

I'm not a big fan of this trend. When it comes to nail polish, I want the finish to be as glossy and shiny as possible. In fact, using the mirror-surface of my nails to reapply lipstick would not be an unreasonable request!

Besides the good technique of the application, do these images look pretty to you with the flat, dull finish?

What do you think? Are you enjoying this as a passing trend or would you not touch matte nail polish with a ten-foot pole?

Photo credits:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Beauty Spotlight Team: What's in Replica's Bag?

This week at The Beauty Spotlight Team, we're taking a look inside the makeup bag Visionary beauty keeps in her handbag. A post featuring sweet goodies (albeit with strange faces and little legs) and makeup, now what could be better ... let's take a look inside.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited BR 710

Like the ever-tempting taupe eyeshadow, I continue to search for the perfect, light MLLB lip shade, and I was hoping Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Lipstick BR 710 ($24) might be it. I ran into it in InStyle's Best Of awards, and BR 710 won for fair skin. I couldn't find any online reviews for it, so I took a chance, because the color looked so pretty and cool toned.

The promise of a soft, muted brownish-pink seemed like a sure winner. I have plenty of clear red and medium-to-deep rose lipsticks, but the one that most  alludes me is the shade that's a notch above or below my natural lip pigment.

Packaging is lightweight but bulky. Call me silly, but I'd rather have a heavier lipstick that was much slimmer. At least in my own mind, heavy is synonymous with higher quality, perhaps because more materials go into the packaging. And speaking of packaging, I have never been a big fan of Shu Uemura's; I find the clear plastic to be cheap and flimsy, though to be fair, I have never had one shatter or even crack. It's the insides that count, right? And some of my all-time favorite eyeshadows are from this brand, colors I have been wearing for more than a decade (sadly, all discontinued by now).

When I first saw BR 710, I was encouraged. It looked cooler and deeper than some of the other supposed MLLB shades that ended up too pale or warm for me.

So I was rather disappointed when BR 710 settled into a slightly too-warm and too-light look on my lips.

The texture is very smooth and silky, and color lasts several hours without drying my lips. If you like nudes that border on pink, this might be just the one for you.

I was surprised at how meh it looked on my lips when I compared BR 710 to other nudey-pink lipsticks in my makeup kit.

Natural, indoor light, no flash
It looks so much cooler compared to Laura Mercier Sparkling Pink, less deep and shimmery than Edward Bess Forever Yours, slightly more pigmented and less shimmery than Bobbi Brown Rose Petal, less red and more pigmented than Chantecaille Tea Rose, and not at all like Prescriptives Rose Mystique, which really surprised me by how warm and red it looked on my hand.

I wish it appeared on my lips the way it does in photos and in the tube. I am perplexed that my lips, which have a lot of rose and mauve in them, warmed it up so.

Bottom line: Gorgeous finish and very moisturizing, but the color was a miss. For now I'll stick with what works, clear reds and roses.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beauty Spotlight 08.21.2011

Have you ever pined for longer, thicker, curlier lashes? Then Shannon at Lipstick Musings has a treat for you! Check out what happened when she tried Rapidlash for a month! You'll never want to turn back.

Beauty comes in many forms, Skeem proves that. Enter Beauty Info Zone's giveaway for a Skeem Half Pint candle of your choice.

Visionary Beauty gives us a round-up of all the Rouge Bunny Rouge Long-lasting Cream Eye Shadows SILK AETHER. Such beautiful, effortless shades these are really not to be missed.

It's true! Lisamarie from Beauty Crazed DOES have the sparkliest nails in the universe! Check out her swatches of OPI's newest editions to their Designer Series!

Everyday Beauty raised a glass to Laura Mercier Shimmer Lip Colour in Amaretto.

Over at Pretty in Dayton, Styrch's had a rough couple of weeks but she did manage to post some swatches of her first ever Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar purchase and finds that they live up to their stellar reputation.

London Makeup Girl reviews two shades of Ilia Pure Lip Care Lip Conditioners.

Over at Makeup Merriment, Jeanie believes she has discovered handbag heaven with her new Purse to Go organizer.

Modesty Brown shares un petit peu de French shopping.

How would you like to make the dreaded task of washing your makeup brushes less of a chore? Perilously Pale shows you how with her review of the BECCA Professional Makeup Brush Soap.

It's time for Monthly Favorites! See what made Pammy Blogs Beauty's list of July Star Products!

Does NARS new lip gloss Larger Than Life live up to it's name? Is Cindy really a giant? Find out at Prime Beauty!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chantecaille Pure Brilliance Trio

The Chantecaille Pure Brilliance Trio ($68) comes in a gold faux-leather pouch.

The pouch contains three full-sized Brilliant Gloss tubes at 3ml (1 ounce) each.

The colors are:
  • Crystalline, a warm beige-champagne with gold shimmers
  • Glaze, a warm strawberry red with red glitter
  • Patina, a deep, velvety burgundy with very fine silvery shimmers
Chantecaille's Brilliant Gloss has a unique texture. It's incredibly smooth and cushiony with an almost jelly-like feel, and many are fairly pigmented. For a lip gloss, the color sticks around a good long time. They aren't long wearing by any means (which for me means 4-6 hours without a touch up), but they stay put for a solid 2+ hours if I am not eating and drinking.

The applicator had a brush end (not a doefoot), and you get more than enough product on the brush in one pull, so you don't have to keep dunking. The wand actually dispenses more than I need, so I scoop off what I want using a second lip brush. The brush is very soft, and I have never had one splay.

They do feel a bit goopy, but the texture is not sticky, and yes, there is a distinction, at least for me. Chantecaille claims these plump the lips, but I don't notice it on me, even if I detect the tiniest tingle, almost like there's mint in the formulation. Still, I credit the shine and texture for making my lips look full, rather than any lip-plumping technology. I learned after I bough them that they contain wheat protein, so if you are sensitive to gluten, take note.

I like my lip products pigmented, so I don't get as much use out of Crystalline as the others, but since it puts down virtually no color, it makes a pretty layer over lipstick, especially if you want to tone down a too-cool lipstick.

Glaze is a beautiful warm berry.

Patina is superreal star of this trio, as the most deeply pigmented—yet still sheer—with good, even coverage. I read KarlaSugar's review, where she said that said Patina reminded her of the color of vintage, velvet theater seats. So true!

Here are all three colors swatched on my hand. You can see that Glaze almost looks like a crushed strawberry with its little fibrous seeds. I find it disappointing that you can buy Glaze and Crystalline as a single, but not Patina. I guess most women wants to wear what Angeline Jolie wears, and hardly anyone likes the darker colors the way I do.

Bottom line: A nice intro to Chantecaille Brilliant Gloss at a good price (you get one for free), but you might do better buying one or two singles that you love.

(1) Image source Chantecaille web site
All other photos mine

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    NARS Sheer Lipstick in Manhunt

    NARS Manhunt ($24) is a sheer lipstick, which I prefer over the semi-matte, satin, and shimmer formulations, because it is not as drying. Manhunt is still not a particularly moist or glossy lipstick, but that's just the way NARS lipsticks are; the have good traction, so they last. I like the sheers because some deliver a bold shot of color while still being natural looking, letting my own lip pigment show through. The texture is soft and silky, and when it wears off it leaves a light stain behind.

    Because the formulation is so sheer, I occasionally dot a tiny bit high on the apples of my cheeks and blend.

    Described as poppy red, the color leans warm overall, but I find it can be a bit of a chameleon, so it really depends on your own lip pigment. Since my lips are medium mauve-rose, Manhunt appears as an almost watermelon color on me. It reminds me of that Kool-Aid red punch, which I can't believe is still on the market.

    Without any adulteration, and in direct sunlight, you can see the orange undertones, which are not too strong. I also see pink, giving this lipstick an overall impression of being coral.

    Direct sun
    Natural light
    Direct sun
    Natural light
    No scent and no shimmer, just coral shine. Because Manhunt is not too bold, it's a great lipstick to wear on a hot summer day.

    Bottom line: Excellent quality and color—work having for coral lovers.

    All photos mine

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    The Nude Eye

    source: Film: Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil

    Olivia's Neapolitan ice cream-eye post pushed something I have been thinking about for the last couple weeks to the front of my brain. Anyone who regularly reads this blog probably knows how I feel about nude lipstick (which is part of my "I don't get it" series), but a nude eye .... now that's something entirely different.

    Obviously I don't mean truly nude. I wake up with that look every morning, thank you very much.What I mean is an extremely natural, polished eye makeup look, similar to the screen shot I captured above from a film on the NARS web site. I have written to NARS customer service to ask what they used for the model's eye makeup, which I tried to capture in a still screenshot of the film below.

    screenshot taken from NARS web site

    Before I heard back from NARS, I went on a mission to duplicate that look, and it was much harder than I imagined it would be. I would show you swatches of the colors I tested from my own eyeshadow stash, but 1) my Mac is still at the Apple doctor so no photo transfer from camera > computer > blog and 2) the look I seek is so subtle that any swatching would be lost against my skin tone or even on white paper. 

    Could the NARS model be wearing only powder or foundation on her eyelids (aside from the black eyeliner and mascara)? I thought that at first, but when I looked more closely, I could see very subtle depth in the crease. Here's the short film of the ad. Aside from the silly wind machine and the sexually provocative head turning and gratuitous lip pursing, I really like her makeup:

    Maybe such a look only occurs in 20 year old skin! I had my time and now it's over. But I don't think so—surely there's the right beige out there for me, but I don't know what it is. That's where I need your help, and I am hoping that someone out there can recommend a cool-toned light beige/greige, a whisper darker than pale skin, that I can wear in the crease.

    My criteria are not legion for this perfect shade I have yet to find:
    • I prefer matte and will consider satin formulas
    • It has to be light enough that it complements my porcelain-pink (NW15) skin
    • The hue must be cool or neutral-cool
    • The eyeshadow cannot be warm, golden, or yellow
    My oddly-colored eyes (navy blue irises with grey rims and an amber starburst around the irises) make choosing eye makeup more challenging than it probably is for many of you.  Blue-green eyes (which is how my eye color appears from a distance, almost olive) seem designed for brown eyeshadow, especially golden or orange-tinted bronzes; yet, those colors make me look like a cadaver, as do almost all brown eyeshadows that do not heavily lean grey.

    When I was on the NARS web site, I wondered if NARS Biarritz might be it. I have not yet seem this eyeshadow in person, and it could be more yellow based than it appears online, so I'll have to add this to my list to test. So far, it's the only one on my list!

    I also considered NARS Blondie, but I have a strong suspicion it would be too dark and almost certainly too warm (although NARS web site calls it taupe, which implies at least some grey). The following image looks like a warm red-brown to me.

    Obviously the eyeshadow does not have to be NARS just because I love the look of the model.

    Here are the colors I tested, some of which worked better than others but none of which was The One for my crease:
    • Bobbi Brown Cement. This could very nearly be The One if it didn't oxidize. I have this problem frequently with BB eyeshadows and don't know how to stop it. My eyelids aren't even that oily any more. But Cement is certainly exactly what I am looking for ... in the pan. Boo hiss.
    • Bobbi Brown Woodrose. Too pink.
    • Bobbi Brown Flesh. Too yellow.
    • Chanel Slate 88. A perfect complement for my skin but too dark for the nude look.
    • Chantecaille Basalt. A slightly lighter dupe of Chanel Slate, but still too dark.
    • Chantecaille Pewter (from the Tiger palette). A near-perfect color, but it's too shimmery.
    • Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes E107. Too dark and, sadly, too warm.
    • Jane Iredale French Toast. A gorgeous pinkish greige, but slightly too light. Discontinued, anyway.
    • MAC Wedge. Too warm and dark. Same for Omega, which is darker and even more yellow on me.
    • Prescriptives Mushroom. Described as "nude plum" this color used to be The One. I wore it on and off (mostly on) for decades, but now it oxidizes on me, even over Paula Doff primer. I'm disappointed it no longer works because it's still being manufactured and is still available online.
    • Shu Uemura M Beige 835. Nearly perfect but slightly too dark. Discontinued.
    • Shu Uemura M Beige 804. The color I use as the all-over wash, so it does not work as the crease color. Discontinued.
    • Stila Chinois. Too yellow and not enough contrast.
    That exhausts all of the matte beige-grey, beige-plum and dusty lavender eyeshadows in my stash.

    Those of you who are pale or just enjoy wearing pale, natural matte colors, I'd love to hear what your favorite nude crease colors are so I can check them out.

    UPDATE 1: Here's what Tanya, a NARS artist told me: "... the list of eye shades used on the model in the Velvet Gloss Lip Pencils [film] were not archived. Based on the film, it looks like she's wearing matte vanilla in India Song Duo Eyeshadow and a light dusting of the pale peach in Key Largo Duo Eyeshadow into the crease and above."  

    UPDATE 2: The colors used in the NARS film were too warm for me, but I finally found a very good "nude eye" shade combination: Chanel Quartz (or the well-loved Prescriptives Rose Powder) all over as a base, and NARS Violetta (the light shade from the duo or from the Douceurs de Paris palette) in the crease. Since I have a lot of blue in my eyelids, the very pale lavender makes sense. I wish I could get that color as a single. Two other matte lid options are NARS D. Gorgeous and Rouge Bunny Rouge Sweet Dust Seremia.

    All photos from the NARS web site

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Laura Mercier Shimmer Lip Colour in Amaretto

    I don't normally wear lipstick with shimmer, but I could not stop myself from buying Laura Mercier's Shimmer Lip Colour in Amaretto ($22).

    Amaretto is is described as a "mauvey-pink bronze," and I think Laura's marketing gurus nailed for the most part, but the description does not truly illustrate just how unique and complex this lipstick color is. Depending on the light, I see red, rose, taupe, gold, silver, sienna, plum, and definitely bronze. The shimmer is understated and I cannot feel it on my lips, but the added dimension helps my lips look more full.

    Sometimes I dab a bit on my cheekbones and eyelids--I just wish it contained more plum than bronze, as it leans a little too closely to rust for my cool coloring.

    This is a full-coverage lipstick, but the texture is incredibly silky, and lightweight. The fact that you can buy 4 grams for $22 makes it an outstanding value, especially when many of its competitors are far more costly and weigh in at 3.5 grams or less. This is lipstick that feels like skincare.

    The following images show the lipstick and skin swatches in different lighting conditions, mostly direct and indirect sunlight, as well as indoors/natural light with no flash. Can you see the bronze and plum? I found it difficult to capture.

    I have nothing to compare Amaretto to, as I generally buy sheer/clear reds, deep roses, and berry creams. Amaretto is what I'd hoped Le Metier de Beaute Gloss in Summerland would be like on me. Unfortunately, Summerland was a disappointment, and I prefer Amaretto in every way--color, texture, and the fact that when the color fades, I am not left with a mouth (or face) full of glitter.

    When I blot Amaretto down to a stain, I see nothing but plum on the tissue, while what remains on my lips is a bronzed, gleaming almost-metallic finish (lips need to be in good shape or every flake will show). Since I want to keep those plum tones, I find that a lipstick brush is the best way to apply this lipstick to get the amount of pigment I want. Despite being a little outside my comfort zone with the hints of metallic bronze, I like how Amaretto looks on me, if only because I have nothing else like it, not even close.

    Bottom line: Beautiful and unique. Get one.

    All photos mine

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    My Problem with Eyeliner ... Until Chantecaille Le Stylo Liquid Eyeliner Pen

    I have always struggled with eyeliner, and until recently, I had never found a method that suited me enough to use every day. I do not, for example, care for eye pencil; I don't see the point. If I am going to apply anything that close to my lashes, I want it to match the color of  my eyelash hair--or at least match my mascara. I don't like the appearance of a thick  line of color at my lash line because it looks so contrived on me. I do like how it looks on other women, just not on me.

    More often any other method, I'd take an angled eyeliner brush, dip it into a powder pan (sometimes with a little help from Paula Dorf Transformer), and push the pigment into the roots of my upper lashes only. I'd almost always choose a sooty grey brown (like Laura Mercier Coffee Ground) or a true charcoal with no blue undertones (like MAC Typographic). If I ever went for color, it would be a deep navy, but I don't much care for how greens or purples look on me as eyeliners. If my eyes were brown, perhaps I would feel more comfortable enhancing my lashes with more colorful color.

    Through beauty forums and blogs I learned about tightlining, which was an absolute miracle for me, the best beauty tip I had learned about in decades. I found out that I could add a shot of deep color directly at the lash line--from underneath the lashes--and all I'd see was an intensity to my eyelashes that looked incredibly thick and lush at the roots. Since I'd see no obvious color there, it was a perfect day look for me when I wanted to fake a no-makeup look ... except that my eyes would often become irritated and red, even if I carefully avoided the water line.

    So what else was there? I have always liked the precision of liquid eyeliner, but sometimes it can look a bit harsh.

    One day, I was trying to fill my cart at to get one of their full-sized gifts with purchase when I came across the Le Stylo Eyeliner Pen ($30). I looked for reviews, liked what I read, particularly Gaia's review and swatches at The Non-Blonde, and ordered both the brown and black pens.
    Le Stylo is, without question, one of the best eyeliners I have ever used. Color is delivered by a long felt-tipped nib that comes to a fine point that is both firm and flexible, allowing for the utmost control and precision. I push the color into my lash roots, from above, and I can almost make it appear as though I am not wearing eyeliner at all. If I turn the tip on its side, I can widen the line as I pull it along my eyelashes, especially if I apply more pressure. I end up with one long, continuous line that does not drag or skip. The cap closes with a tight, satisfying click, so I am not worried about it drying out.

    The brown is a mid-toned color, somewhat sheer, with no obvious red or bronze, and zero shimmer. On my fair, pink skin it has charcoal undertones, which is perfect, exactly what makes the brown Le Stylo a great choice for daytime. The color dries to a semi-matte finish, not so matte that it closes up the eye, and not that shiny-plastic look that some liquid liners provide.

    The black is more deeply pigmented, an obvious choice for evening looks. It's too dramatic for my daytime getup, but I have experimented with tightlining, being very careful to apply right into the roots (and not anywhere on the water line), and it lasts all day without much fading and without collecting black gunk in my tear ducts, the way Revlon ColorStay can do. Chantecaille's formula does not seem to bother my eyes, so far, but I suspect if my eyes became very watery, the color would fade and eventually run, as this eyeliner is water resistant, not waterproof.

    I love this eyeliner so much, I have been using it every day, even on weekends when I am not leaving the house. One thin application lasts all day, even on a hot and humid summer day on my oily lids. Totally backup worthy. I have even been considering throwing away all of my gel eyeliners, which I do like but never appreciated the nuisance of having to wash a brush every every use.

    I realize this review is lacking in photos. I took several, comparing Le Stylo in brown with my other brown or brownish eyeliners, but unfortunately the photos are stuck on my camera with no way to transfer them to my Mac, which goes to the Apple doctor this morning. If I remember, I will update this post as soon as my Mac is back, but in the meantime, I thought I would share the best tutorial on tightlining I have ever seen, by Beau Nelson of Beauté Cosmetics (who I think goes by the alias Ghost on Makeup Alley.)

    Bottom line: One of the best eyeliners ever. I just wish it came in charcoal.

    Photo credit: Chantecaille
    Video credit: via YouTube

    The Beauty Spotlight Team: What's in Shannon's Bag?

    This week at The Beauty Spotlight Team, we're taking a look inside Shannon's makeup bag from Lipstick Musings. Although the bag isn't that big, even Shannon was astounded at how much she had packed into it! She was going to edit it down a bit, but that's cheating, right? Let's see what she has hiding in there...

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Ellis Faas Concealer S201

    Ellis Faas Concealer ($40) in the S20x series is a liquid concealer that you dispense by clicking a pen that resembles a rocket launcher or a large bullet casing.

    Photo source
    The concealer is offered in eight colors and contains Karité oil (liquid shea butter), rice wax (an oil extracted from the rice bran that delivers antioxidants in a silky, non-sticky texture), and vitamins C and E for hydration and antioxidant protection. I can imagine this concealer working on all skin types, and the color selection is quite good, even for super pale-pink faces like mine.

    Photo source
    I get a pretty good match in the S201 color (the lightest), which is a neutral beige with yellow undertones to counteract blue shadows. Because of its liquidy-thin texture, the Ellis Faas concealer blends quickly and seamlessly into the skin with the lightest touch to provide a flawless finish.

    I use S201 primarily under my eyes, but I also apply it to small areas of hyperpigmentation or redness around my face, and coverage (medium to full) is so good, I can skip foundation. (I don't like to cover my entire face with foundation, anyway, as if gives my face a flat, one-dimensional appearance.) I can even skip a setting powder, because Ellis Faas concealer dries to a silky, almost-powdery texture. My skin's texture still comes through because this concealer looks like skin.

    Like many of you, I have tried dozens of concealers, liked them at first, and then quickly fell out of love. This concealer is so good I have just repurchased my second, and in the 18 months since I started using this product, all my other concealers are receding so far away from my thought that I finally threw most of them away.  If only the Ellis Faas concealer were offered in a fair color that contained a bit less yellow, I would be over the moon.

    In the following photo, I applied the concealer straight from the pen, quite thickly, and then I blended a second stripe out, but not very well or it would have disappeared into my skin and there would have been little point in showing it! The S201 color is not a bad concealer for pink porcelain skins.

    I like to pat the concealer in place using the pad of my ring finger, and then I smooth it out using just the tip of my Laura Mercier Finishing Eye Brush, which provides an almost airbrushed finish, smoothing over pores. The result is weightless on my skin, and coverage lasts about 10 hours. In that timeframe, there is no notable caking or settling into lines.

    One application tip: Sometimes the silicone-like moisturizing properties leak out of the brush end when I  prime it—this happens most often with a new pen. To stop this from happening, shake the pen vigorously before each use. This issue seems to occur only with the concealer, as I have not experienced "leakage" with any other Ellis Faas pen, and the tiny bit of seepage occurs inside the cap. Never a messy purse mishap with these and virtually no waste. It's almost an insignificant nuisance but I thought I would mention it anyway.

    Bottom line: One of the best concealers out there, and that's saying a lot given such a vast ocean of bitter disappointment.

    All photos mine except for the one from the web site