Oct 132017
 

Algenist has created a skin care serum–the Algenist Genius Liquid Collagen ($115/ 1.0 oz) that makes a visible difference in my skin, so I thought I’d share my experience. I tried this serum out as a sample, and ordered the full size immediately. This is available at Sephora and Algenist’s own website.

This serum is a liquid packed with tiny little golden beads that somehow melt into your skin on application. These little beads are, in fact, thousands of microalgae oil beads which include omegas 3, 6, and 9, and a natural source of vitamin E. The serum can be used twice (2x) a day for maximum effect. Fair warning–it has a strong perfume scent, which fades within an hour or so after application.

Of course, the process of collagen in your skin breaking down is how aging manifests. I realize that the common wisdom holds that merely applying collagen to one’s face will not be effective. Yet somehow this serum works. My skin felt younger, plumper, moisturized, and slightly glowy. The science is in the results. And this Algenist Liquid Collagen delivers. It adds firmness, makes my skin softer, and knocks a good decade off.

The product comes packaged in a tall glass bottle (again–sigh, not good for travel). This is topped with a long glass pipette and can be used to pull the product out.

I have been using this for several weeks. There is an overnight effect, that makes my skin look better the very next day. By now, I’m also seeing more long-term effects in the form of more refreshed-looking, bouncy skin that has more life. Definitely recommend. This is available at Sephora and Algenist’s own website.

Affiliate links. Purchased by me.

Ingredients: Collagen, Water, Propanediol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Betaine, Pentylene Glycol, Dextrin Palmitate, Collagen Amino Acids, Parachlorella Beijerinckii Exopolysaccharides, Chlorella Protothecoides Oil, Helichrysum Stoechas Extract, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis Extract, Niacinamide, Tocopherol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Adenosine, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Palmitic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer, Sodium Lactate, Amodimethicone, Homosalate, Polysorbate 20, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Octocrylene, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene, Beta-Carotene (CI 75130).

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Oct 122017
 

Way back in July, I listened to the hype surrounding the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask ($48)(available at Sephora). For some unknown reason, my skin was having a lot of trouble adjusting to all of the traveling that I was doing. I was hoping using this overnight could help.

Basically, this overnight mask can be layered over your traditional serums for a slight moisturizing/exfoliating effect overnight. You just scoop a bit out with the little plastic spoon (pictured above) that comes with the generous 2.7 ounce jar. The product is lightly watermelon scented. The texture feels like a mix between a gel and an oil. It feels slightly cooling and light when first applied, and then dries down so that it isn’t noticeable.

Overall, I recommend the Glow Recipe mask. I’ve been using 3-4 nights per week over my serums. I find that it helps with acne, cleans pores, and leaves my skin feeling moisturizing and refreshed in the morning. As a sleeping mask, it’s quite gentle and I have experienced no irritation–only good effects. It gives my skin that little extra oomph the help it look its best. Ingredient list:

The packaging is pretty–it’s a heavy glass with a wide-open jar lid. Of course, this isn’t ideal for my traveling lifestyle. I had to tape it closed and ship it to get it across the country, and it is not light. Some of you may have concerns about the open top, which may not be as sanitary and a pump or tube.

I will say that a little goes a long way with the Glow Recipe Watermelon Mask. Despite my consistent use for months, there’s still over 2/3 of the jar left. Overall, I find this is well worth the investment.

Available at Sephora.

Affiliate links Purchased by me.

 

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Oct 062017
 

Nars Velvet Matte Foundation Stick ($45.00 for 0.31 oz.) is a new series of creamy goodness that comes in twenty (20) shades. The line sent me ten to play with, which are swatched here. As background, I love a good stick foundation. Years ago, Chanel mades a nice formulation that I lived for. They work so well for travel, and it’s only natural that you can use an extra for contouring or bronzing. These are currently available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Net-a-Porter and Nars online.

Nars’ version adds something that the other lines don’t–a built in blender sponge (latex-free). The sponge comes with a cap, so you don’t have to worry about washing it out after application. Guess what’s going into my carry-on the next time I fly?

On my combo/oily skin that runs to Chanel Ivoire/Cameo, MAC NC15/20, Fenty 150/160 and Nars Deauville/Alaska, I chose Gobi as my closest match.

Swatches:

My first attempt at application consisted of applying little streaks from the stick directly on my face, and blended out using my fingers. It worked great. I found that the product wasn’t as matte on me as the Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint, but tended to have a skin-like sheen. The lasting power was excellent, although I had to powder mid-day (I almost always do). The product is quite soft and blendable. The next time, I added Punjab as a contour shade which worked quite nicely. My attempt to use Tahoe as a contour did not go quite as well–the shade is more of a deep warm bronzer on my skin tone rather than a contour.

 

Another fabulous foundation from Nars. Bottom line–recommended.

Available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Net-a-Porter and Nars online

 

Samples provided at no charge for consideration for review. Affiliate links.

 

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May 312017
 

It Cosmetics sent over their line of three Confidence in Your Glow Palettes ($32 each), which are all-in-one palettes that include a highlighter, blush and bronzer in three coordinated shades. Although this isn’t a brand I know extensively, I thought it best to post these as they may be of interest. These are available at Ulta Beauty and QVC online.

As we launch into the summer months, I’ve been craving a bronzer that gives me that natural flush of pink, red or warmth that mimics the look of skin that’s seen some a kiss of sun . Of course, no single powder can do all that. A separate blush and bronzer is the only way to give a natural looking effect. Pop a highlighter in there and you are good to go. The packaging is reinforced cardboard, which isn’t ideal for traveling but serviceable for home use. Notice that the One Sweep Wonder Brush ($48) (above) has a flat, duo-fiber soft and feathery head that is designed to lightly pick up the very soft, merged powder of these products. This is Instant Warm Glow:

This format is similar to Kevin Aucoin’s The Neon Bronzer ($58), with the highlight on the left, the blush in the middle and the bronzer on the right. The One Sweep Wonder Brush is narrow enough to pick up each shade individually, although a small-headed brush of another type (a typical highlighter brush) would do as well. Here are all three shades–Instant Warm Glow, Instant Natural Glow, and Instant Nude Glow.

The texture of these is extremely soft and pigmented. Using a typical blush brush picks up more product than I’m used to–I can see why the One Sweep Wonder Brush has duo-fiber styled bristles. You do not need much to get significant color, at least on my fair skin tone. Also, the powder is very, very soft. The colors are summer-wonderful. My favorite was Nude Glow, but all of them gave that “day in the sun” glow. The highlighter shades were fabulous. Swatches:

So pretty!! Once applied to the skin, the texture of these was quite nice. They weren’t the most super-finely milled, but extremely nice. The colors are gorgeous.

These are available at QVC online and Ulta Beauty.

These were sent without charge for consideration for review.

Affiliate links

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May 232017
 

A few weeks ago, Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book and I shared a glorious day in New York City, makeup and perfume shopping, lunching, and generally having a wonderful time. In the many years that Sabrina and I have corresponded, this was the first (and hopefully not the last) time that we’d met in person. I can say that Sabrina is one of the smartest, kindest and most generous people that I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

Consistent with her fabulous personality, Sabrina invited me along to her appointment at New York City’s Creed Boutique (794 Madison Avenue) on the Upper East Side. This little jewel-box contained an incredible range of hand-crafted fragrances, knowledgeable sales people, and a welcoming atmosphere in which to try some truly outstanding fragrances. Sabrina’s review of our visit is here. For those shopping online, Creed is sold at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman.

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My Thoughts: Hylamide Finisher Photography Foundation (Golden Tan)

 Foundation, Skin care  Comments Off on My Thoughts: Hylamide Finisher Photography Foundation (Golden Tan)
May 182017
 

When I was playing on The Ordinary’s website, I wandered over to one of their sister brands Hylamide to find the Hylamide Photography Foundation ($21). Part of their Finisher series, this is a foundation add-in that improves the overall look of your skin once the foundation is applied. It’s an unusual product, and I haven’t ever seen anything like it (although perhaps this Peter Thomas Roth 24K Prism Cream might be in the same neighborhood).

I realize that MAC’s Next to Nothing Foundation (review coming soon!) is billed as an “Instagram filter for your face.” However, this very humble, functional deep grey plastic squeeze bottle includes a formula designed to actually accomplish that same goal but in a completely different way. According to the line, this product is a “Next-generation golden tan foundation is designed specifically to make the skin look better for the camera lens while blurring away imperfections in real life” and let me tell you it works.

Here are the details from the line:

Fractionated Blurring Silica Suspension: Nano fractions of silica-based prisms create light confusion to reduce the looks of visible lines and pores immediately without looking like traditional makeup, while specifically creating a perfect backdrop to highlight facial features through the camera lens.

Prismatic Camera Hue Yellow-Red Correctors:Ultra-advanced super-fine hue correctors black out unwanted tones in real life while creating the look of angular shadows for more definition on camera.

Prismatic Gold Technology: Adds a discreet golden glow instantly for a visibly radiant, healthy-looking skin while adding a cinematic look in photographs.

Oil-Free Bio-Sugar Complex: Super-light oil-free biotechnology complex is clinically proven to offer comfortable hydration immediately with an effect that lasts with continued use.

The formula comes in three shades: Transparent, Golden Tan and Dark Tan. I purchased Golden Tan.

Right out of the bottle, the liquid is a reflective deep yellow gold. Those on the paler side will notice that this color darkens foundation slightly (pictures below using NARS Tinted Moisturizer in Alaska), so it may help to start out with a foundation that is on the lighter side. It adds a touch of glow to the foundation, but if you don’t use more than a drop it’s very flattering. For me, the product is too dark to use as a highlighter so my experiments have only used it to mix into my foundation. You can see how much darker this is compared to Marc Jacobs highlighting Dew Drops, below.

Sometimes I struggle with uneven skin tone, and I’ve noticed that this product virtually eliminates that. It makes my skin look healthier, more even-toned, and more dense and creamy. It doesn’t seem to add to the coverage of the foundation I’m using, but it does seem to just make my skin look perfected. There’s an enormous payoff for this little extra step. Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

I’m not sure why the product works, but in my experience it actually does. The Finisher Photography Foundation is available from the Hylamide website.

Sephora links are affiliate links. Purchased product.

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NARS Sunwash Diffusing Bronzers: Seaside, Laguna, Casino and Falaises

 Bronzers, NARS  Comments Off on NARS Sunwash Diffusing Bronzers: Seaside, Laguna, Casino and Falaises
May 172017
 

For Summer 2017, NARS has created its Sunwash Diffusing Bronzer range. This is a set of four bronzers that have a unique chevron pattern that’s both beautiful and modern in Seaside, Laguna, Casino and Falaises ($40 each/ 0.28 ozs.). These have a sturdy, rectangular packaging and a subtle range of tonality that offers something for everyone. These are available from Sephora, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Barneys New  York

Seaside is the lightest, with a touch of a warm peach undertone.

Laguna is the same lovable shade that’s perfect for so many light to medium skintones.

Casino is the familar deep-toned bronzer that you’ve seen in NAR’s standard line.

The new Falaises is the deepest shade that incorporates a touch of red.

All shades are matte.

Another set of swatches:

A few thoughts:  Laguna and Casino are dupes of the standard shades, so if you like the pretty pattern then this gives you a nice option. Seaside is very very pretty, although I like the deeper red-undertone Falaises very much.  These pans tend to be harder compared to the standard NARS formulation. I got virtually no fallout or powder kick-up. But I found myself using stiffer-bristle brushes to get the right amount of powder out of the pan.

It’s wonderful to see a company appreciate that even slight variations in undertone and shade make a huge difference in the bronzer area. This gives us a full palette or choices, depending on what is going on with your summer skintone and preference. This is a beautiful range that increases the traditional NARS range into some very useful variations. These are available from Sephora, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Barneys New  York

Affiliate links–Items sent from NARS to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review

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May 052017
 

The beauty world is a-buzz about The Ordinary Skincare, a subdivision of Deciem which is housed in Canada. The brand was started to essentially hack the world of high-priced skincare with effective formulations that sell at an extraordinary price point–many formulations are under $10. As the website says, “The Ordinary exists to communicate with integrity and bring to market effective, more familiar technologies at honourable prices.” The line is free of parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, animal oils, benzalkonium chloride, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, mercury, oxybenzone. For many of us who are used to paying in the range of $60 to several hundred, this idea is a breath of fresh air. Certainly a shelf of high-end products quickly escalates. The concept that The Ordinary offers clinical formulations at below-drugstore prices is quite attractive. The line ships from their own website as well as from Beautylish.

I tried a few products from their line to see how I thought the line stacks up against a higher-end experience. To jump to the conclusion, I found that several of their products are quite effective. However, I noticed a lack of refinement in a few areas that users of high-end products are likely to notice, and one that just didn’t seem to stack up at all.

First up is The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% ($5.80). This white cream definitely delivers the Vitamin C. It didn’t take more than a week for my skin to look better, brighter and more fabulous. As you likely know, Vitamin C is a tried-and-true active ingredient that works well for anti-aging. The ingredient list offers Ascorbic Acid (another name for Vitamin C) as the first ingredient, followed by squalene (an anti-oxidant). Click to enlarge–

The actives are delivered in a highly emollient white cream in a travel-friendly squeeze tube. For those who have experienced dry skin with typical Vitamin C serums, this may be welcome news. Unfortunately, the cream has some white lumps in it (which seems to dissolve as you apply it) and a very distinctive (not very pleasant) scent. For me, the cream was too moisturizing to wear under foundation and it felt quite heavy. You might not notice any of these qualities if you wear it overnight, but be forewarned those with clog-prone skin may tread cautiously because this formula is on the heavy side.

One product that really delivered was The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG ($6.70), a water-based serum that firms and tightens the undereye area. We all know that caffeine can get rid of puffiness tout de suite, and this one delivers on that score.

Delivered in a glass bottle with a serum pipette, a 1/2 drop under each eye wakes up the undereye area all day long.

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Apr 282017
 

Once again, Cafe Makeup is returning to its long-loved NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils ($27/each). This shade expansion offers long-wearing, moisturizing feel and the famous NARS matte texture. These are love down to the last nub. And, by the way, how cute is this Crayola-style box that they shipped these in?  It even came with a built in sharpener. For a more portable option, go with this NARS sharpener ($6), which works beautifully with these. It’s well worth the small investment.

These are available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Barneys New York, Selfridges UK, Net-a-Porter, NARS online, Ulta, Bloomingdales, Blue Mercury, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor (press samples/affiliate links)

Let’s start with the nudes, shall we? Here are:

Some of my favorites are Dolce Vita (I’ve used up more than my share of these), Bahama, Intriguing and Bettina, and of course Do Me Baby and Consuming Red.

Here are some amazing reds:

 

As usual, I go for deeper reds (Mysterious Red, Dragon Girl and Cruella) but your preference may vary. These red velvet mattes are probably the best of the line, each of these provides rich, vibrant color. Long wearing, comfortable, and beautiful, once you find one that works for you, you’ll never want to be without out. Spectacular!!

These roses (and one blue) are such a wide range of shades that I’m having a hard time imagining a color that isn’t represented here.

Of course, I adore Damned and Train Bleu. I feel like NARS has to continue to make these classics forever.  Unspoken is little too edgy for me personally, but I can see someone else rocking it. It’s definitely a runway, edgy shade.

Amazing, yes? Which are your favorites?

These are available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Barneys New York, Selfridges UK, Net-a-Porter, NARS online, Ulta, Bloomingdales, Blue Mercury, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.

These items were sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review/ Affiliate links

 

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Apr 032017
 

Tom Ford Reflects Gilt Highlighting Duo ($78) is one of the premier highlighting palettes of the Summer. Although tiny in size (the compact is the same as last year’s Bicoastal Blush duo), the formula of the two colors is absolutely superb.

It is a soft, well-made, pigmented, smooth and perfectly formulated to adhere directly on the skin.

The top shade is a warm yellow gold. As such, it looks best over bronzer or for an evening look. The bottom color is an amazing rose gold that looks beautiful as a shimmery blush (or applied lightly as a highlighter).

These shades have a life and complexity that is absolutely spot-on gorgeous. Yes, good things do come in small packages. This one is an amazing highlighter, a standout in a crowded field.

The Tom Ford Reflects Gilt highlighter palette is now available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus.

Affiliate links

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