Holiday Makeup for the Rest of Us, Part Two

 Bobbi Brown, Eyeshadow  Comments Off on Holiday Makeup for the Rest of Us, Part Two
Dec 192009
 

This is the second post in a series about holiday looks for anyone who (like me) admires the glamorous looks of Lady Gaga and others, but wishes to modulate them for her own individual lifestyle.

A new decade is about to start.  I was so heartened to see this article describing H&M’s Paris fashion show at the Grand Palais.  It looks fun. The holidays are a great time to play.

What better way to play than to go out?  An easy way to add some shimmer and shine to your look is a wash of shimmer across the lid.   Using a liquid eyeliner adds more glamour.  Add two or three coats of a high-volume mascara.

My favorite eyeshadow of this entire year is Bobbi Brown’s Chrome Eyeshadow in Pewter ($22).  This is fool proof.  It’s neither a bright silver nor a harsh gold.  Rather, it’s a soft, warm glowy color that brightens the eye area without taking over your entire face.  In other words, you can still see the person, without being struck by the eyeshadow.  I am not alone in my love for this eyeshadow;  if you aren’t convinced read this review, or this one.  The texture wonderful.   Want to wear it to the office?  Pair it with a dark suit or dress–it really works, especially if you do a light sweep with your brush.  It’s limited edition, so if you want to try this one you should move fast.  Another nice choice for the holidays is Shu Uemura’s ME Silver 950, although I find this shade less daytime-friendly because it is both brighter and a little more difficult to apply sheerly.

Just for fun, I’m including some Becca Jewel Dusts ($24), which are subtle, grown-up shimmery pigments.  The colors are less vibrant, and so more wearable, than more striking color pigments on the market. Becca’s Jewel Dusts come in small, easily storable containers with square lids that don’t work themselves loose in your makeup drawer.  Also, Becca adds a sifter top to minimize spilling.  Because these are loose powders, try wetting your brush to intensify them.  In the swatch, they’re applied dry.  Applying them with a wet brush would give a perfectly even surface.  (If you’re still intimidated, here’s a quick primer from the Makeup and Beauty Blog that describes most of what you need to know about pigment eyeshadows).

I hope that you are enjoying this holiday season!  I have one more post on this topic before we move on.  Thanks for reading!

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Dec 162009
 

Picture 7Last summer, I visited the Avenue Montaigne in Paris.  If you’ve been there, you’ll know that some of the finest designers have a boutique there such as Louis Vuitton, Paul & Joe, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana.  It is not the only boutique-lined street in Paris, but it is certainly a lovely one.  The Champs Elysees is at one end and an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower over the Seine is at the other.

Picture 5

I went into the Caron boutique, which sits on a corner across from Dior. Reader, I had done my homework. I had scoured the almost-breathless blog postings that described their incomparably fine finishing powders, glamorous sparkling evening powders, perfumes and powder puffs made of swan’s down and  satin ribbon.  I searched Make Up Alley for both fragrance and makeup.  The fact is, the brand is very difficult to find in the United States.  Given that I had never touched their product, and my French can charitably be described as “very rough,” I wanted to stumble through without too much embarrassment.

My research disclosed that everything about their products was excellent.  I immediately rejected attempting to purchase perfumes, as traveling home by plane made packing liquids challenging.  But the powders….the powders!!!! From my research, it appeared that they were made by faeries from the wing dust of angels, mixed via a stir of Tinkerbell’s wand.  I prepared my shopping list, my budget and set out to tackle the boutique.

If you get to Paris, treat yourself to a stop in the Avenue Montaigne Caron boutique.  It’s lined with very large, gilded Baccarat crystal perfume dispensers, from which one is supposed to fill the bottle of their choosing.  The amount of marble, gold and crystal inside, together with the multi-colored swan’s down puffs scattered everywhere , was as close to the inside of a jewel box as I’m ever likely to get.  Luckily, the boutique was empty except for a rather formal woman there to assist.  To my relief, she spoke English.

And here is the thing about the woman in the Caron boutique on the Avenue Montagne in Paris.   She did not want me to buy anything that I wouldn’t use properly.  She cautioned me not to use the sparkle powders during the day (“For the night only.“).  I asked whether I should get more than one color daytime powder?  No, she replied, you get one color that looks good on you.  I wondered whether I should get a swan’s down puff.  Looking at me with a squint, she asked, Didn’t I own a brush?  The loose powder can be applied with a small puff (included, made of cotton), and that I should then knock off excess off the skin with my brush.  She suggested that I buy a compact with a pressed version, but I thought it best to try the loose powder first before investing further.

I left spending about only 1/2 of my budgeted amount, with a loose powder and one refill. So, how is the powder?  It’s a really finely milled, high end powder. Converted to U.S., a loose powder runs about $60, which comes in a polished metal container with a tight-fitting lid (but not too tight-fitting) that keeps the powder very dry even on messy countertops.  There’s a plastic screw-top inside to avoid disasters.  The refill runs roughly $30.  The quality is on par with La Mer, Chanel, Laura Mercier.  I typically use it over foundation, although sometimes I use it completely alone when I’m not worried about coverage.  The powder doesn’t last any longer (or shorter) during the day than other high end brands, and it does look quite natural.  It mattes the skin down, but still leaves a barely perceptible glow that looks very polished.

I’m not 100% convinced it’s made with fairy dust.  Ultimately, and with the Caron staff’s help, I made good practical choices that I’ll use until they’re all gone.   Rather than using a puff, I’ve been applying it  with Lancome’s Mineral Powder Foundation Brush, which is well-priced and works beautifully.

Caron case copyCaron Powder Final copy

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Chanel Ombre Essentialle Soft Touch Eyeshadows: Gold, Bronze and Khaki

 Chanel, Eyeshadow  Comments Off on Chanel Ombre Essentialle Soft Touch Eyeshadows: Gold, Bronze and Khaki
Dec 142009
 

Here are three more Chanel Ombre Essentialle Soft Touch Eyeshadows from my collection.  All pictures are click-able if you’d like a closer view. You can see others here.

First, Gold is a warm yellow toned shimmery shade.

Gold edit

Second, the lovely shimmery Bronze.  It makes and amazing crease color, or for a soft dash of color near the lashline:

Bronze 2

Third, the amazing Khaki.  This reminds me of the very pigmented green Shu Metallic Olive or Scarab from MAC’s Thunder Eyes quad that was part of the Catherine Deneuve release. Heaven!

Khaki 2

Finally, swatches of all three together:

Khaki Gold Bronze Swatch copy

As with other Chanel single eyeshadows, these are very soft and pigmented.

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Les Tissages Lames de Chanel: Can It Make You Happy?

 Chanel, Highlighter  Comments Off on Les Tissages Lames de Chanel: Can It Make You Happy?
Dec 122009
 


Chanel SuitFor Holiday 2009, Chanel released its annual over-the-top “creation” called Les Tissage Lames de Chanel ($60).  This year, its a tweedy gold shimmery compact, with a surface that resembles the classic Chanel tweed fabric used on its iconic suit developed by Coco so many years ago.  As every year, the product is packaged and sold beautifully, with a silver shimmer overspray that sparkles like diamonds.  When I opened it, it was gasp-worthy.

I demand more from beauty products than to sit on a counter looking pretty.  I want them to actually work well. And confronted with this product, I had to ask myself–could I use it?  Could I wear it to Starbucks without looking like “The Crazy Sparkling Chanel Lady”?  In other words, could it make me happy?

I rarely go anywhere draped in pearls and shimmer.  I never play with mini-birdcages.  But I did want to use the product several times a week to make the purchase price worth it. Chanel Birdcage copy

So after purchasing Les Tissages online, I went to my local Chanel counter.  As luck would have it, a Chanel representative was visiting that day, and gave me a lot of ideas. After a demonstration, I was convinced that I could actually use the item to pan.  First, she showed me that I could use this as an eyeshadow wash for an everyday look.  It leaves a sheer gold sheen that’s really pretty.

Second, she showed me that it could be used under foundation to give a subtle dewy look.  Here are the steps:

1. Apply foundation

2. Apply Les Tissages on the upper cheek, over the brows (yes, over), on the chin and even on the bridge of the nose.  If this is too shimmery for you, apply another layer of foundation over the highlighted areas.  These areas are circled on the facechart, below.  Stand back and gasp.  Yes, that’s actually your dewy skin.

Third, it can be used as a beautiful, sheeny highlighter all by itself.  This will give you the strongest look, but can work for daytime looks.  I’ve done a swatch in the shape of an “x” below, on my arm so you can see the full color and highlight effect.

As I left, I felt that although $60 is high.  However, I will use a substantial amount of the product.  And, it is a beautiful and useable product once you know how.  I especially like the “under foundation” trick.

For comparison, I would say that this has about the same amount of shimmer (tiny tiny glimmer bits) as a Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, but more overall light-reflecting sheen.  The silvery sparkle that you see on the surface does come off with the first use.  This will mean that the shimmer bits will only be obvious for the first few uses, but the sheen goes through and through.

Les Tissages with Overspray

Facechart

Tissage Swatch

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Chanel Ombre Essentialle Soft Touch Single Eyeshadows: Lavande, Amethyst and Magic Night

 Eyeshadow  Comments Off on Chanel Ombre Essentialle Soft Touch Single Eyeshadows: Lavande, Amethyst and Magic Night
Dec 112009
 

This is the first of a series from Chanel Ombre Essentialle Soft Touch Single Eyeshadows.  I own quite a number of eyeshadows from this range.  Overall, I’ve found that texture of all of these is very soft.  There is a range of about three categories of textures:  matte, shimmer and duochrome.

Overall, this features two from the permanent line, Lavande (shimmer) and Amethyst (duochrome), and one limited edition shade, Magic Night (duochrome, but subtly so). Lavande is a soft lavendar, appropriate to use as a mid-tone lid shade. (All pictures are click-able for a closer view)

Lavande

The second is the duochrome Amethyst, one of my favorite.  This is absolutely stunning, with a lot of dimension.

Amethyst

Finally, here is a limited edition Magic Night, which is a brown infused with some purple.  It looks quite brown in the pan, but you can from the swatch below there is a deep purple cast once applied.

Magic Night

Here’s an effort to swatch all three, so that you can see how they look applied to the skin.  I applied these a bit unevenly, so that you can see how they look sheerly applied and some areas with more dense application:

Purple Swatches copy

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Dec 102009
 

Picture 3Some eBay shoppers have reported getting the following message when attempting to access some auctions, which reads:

“Unfortunately, access to this particular listing or item has been blocked due to a Paris commercial court decision that bans trade of certain authentic perfumes and cosmetic products on eBay because of French selective distribution laws. eBay is appealing this ruling but is nevertheless required to enforce it. We are blocking your viewing in an effort to comply with this court decision. Regrettably, in some cases, we may prevent users from accessing items that are not within the scope of the decision because of limitations on existing technology.”

What is this???  Some users report getting this notice even when they are not looking for makeup items from France.

The answer to this question is complicated.  Essentially, this stems from n a ruling last year issued by the French Tribunal de Commerce de Paris, the Commercial Court of Paris.  The case was filed by Parums Christian Dior, Kenzo Perfums, Parfums Givenchy and Guerlain (all owned by LMVH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) against one of the world’s largest online sellers, eBay.  In a decision issued November 30, 2009, this court fined eBay to pay a significant sum of money for failing to properly implement an earlier decision that prohibited eBay from  advertising certain makeup and beauty products made by those companies.  Although the decision was issued by a Paris court, eBay’s efforts to implement the ruling have resulted in some erroneous blocking.  For example, people have reported that the block message appears even for searches that don’t encompass these companies’ products, such as hair conditioner and gift cards.  Given the large volume of auctions that eBay must monitor, it may take a little time for eBay to iron out the implementation of the decision.

Well, presumably eBay’s designers will get things back on track soon enough, and the company plans to appeal the ruling.  So why should anyone care?  The interesting part of this decision is that the products that are the subject of the lawsuit are not necessarily “fakes.”

Rather, the basis of the Paris court’s ruling is LMVH’s right to selectively distribute its goods, including genuine goods.  This means that, under French law, LMVH is claiming that it has the right to control where, how and by whom its goods are sold.  In other words, LMVH doesn’t want its genuine goods re-sold on the Internet.  If this concept were applied in the U.S., this would mean that purchasers of beauty products (well, any products really), wouldn’t be able to sell them to someone else on eBay.  Although the French court’s ruling doesn’t apply to sales in the U.S., it certainly presents interesting things to think about in the beauty world.

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Speaking of Cake Eyeliners….

 Chanel, Eyeliner  Comments Off on Speaking of Cake Eyeliners….
Dec 082009
 

Here is a close up of Chanel’s La Ligne de Chanel Professional Eyeliner Duo in Celadon-Lame, out for the holidays 2009.  It’s a deep, dark, wonderful green. You can see how yummy it looks in the pan if you click on the picture, below. Go on, click it — it’s so pretty!

Celadon-Lame

Celadon-Lame

Swatches are available at Karlasugar’s blog.

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Cake Eyeliner: So Defined, Yet So Smudgy

 Chanel, Eyeliner  Comments Off on Cake Eyeliner: So Defined, Yet So Smudgy
Dec 082009
 
1 copy

Eyeliner is one of the trickiest makeup products to apply. One mis-step, and it can change the look of the most important area of your face. I find gel eyeliners extremely easy to use, and very long-lasting. However, one of the most classic eyeliners is a cake liner. Typically, one uses a cake liner wet. This is most easily accomplished if you wet the brush, not the liner cake.

I find cake eyeliners tremendously versatile. I use two brushes–the first to actually line the eye. A good flat-topped brush (here, Laura Mercier’s, but there are lot of companies that make them) is best for making a sharp, defined line around the lash lines.

1 copy

Second, I use a smudge brush (again, this is Laura Mercier’s but several companies make them) to smudge the liner, and to add a bit of powder over the sharp line to add a bit of smoke.  Alternatively, you could add a lighter color to soften and lighten the liner color.
2 copy

I find that it’s best to use these brushes wet. First, most cake eyeliners are hard and give off very little pigment unless you fight them for it. A wet brush is a great weapon to beat some pigment out of the cake. I find that a spritz of water isn’t enough. Also, using my tongue usually leaves a color mark so I avoid that too. It’s best to run the brushes under water, then “squeegee” the excess water out by using two fingers, or dab the brush on a towel. Here, I’m using Chanel’s black cake eyeliner duo.  I’m starting with the flat-topped brush in the matte side of the duo, to make a sharp line within the lash line.

3

This next picture shows how versatile a cake eyeliner can be, and why I love them.  You can use them to make the thinnest possible line, or really layer it on for a thick, dark look.  The reality is, that a cake eyeliner can give me the kind of control that I cannot get from other eyeliners. This is why I don’t mind the complication of using them.  I cannot get a line of the same thinness and pigmentation with a gel, or a pencil–the thin, flat, wet brush and the highly pigmented, light powder makes using a cake eyeliner unique.

5

Next, I take a wet, squeegee’d smudge brush and put it into the shimmer side of the eyeliner duo.  You can use a black eyeshadow (like MAC Carbon) for this part if you aren’t working with a duo.

6

I applied the smudge brush to the same three tester lines from the previous picture, so that it shows how you can “soften” the edges of the cake liner to the look that you are trying to achieve.

7

You can see around the edges of the largest and narrowest lines that you can sweep the smudge brush to a very soft edge if you like.  I’m constantly amazed how easy cake eyeliner is to use, even on some busy mornings.  And the layering helps the eyeliner last all day and into the evening–I had a very hard time washing this off with a tough cleanser!

Let me know if you have any questions!

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