Nov 302010
 

As you might already know, I love liquid highlighters.  If Holiday 2010 collections so far are any guide, metallics are the “it” product to have this season.

For Holiday 2010, Yves Saint Laurent released Touche D’Or Golden Touch / Highlighter for the Face ($40), a liquid highlighter in the same brush pen format as its renowned Touche Eclat.  Touche D’Or is a limited edition glow and sparkle version, meant to add illumination, shimmer and shine.

Unlike many liquid highlighters, Touche D’Or has a creamy consistency that forms a more creamy layer of shimmer on skin.  That is to say, while many liquid highlighters can be sheered nearly out of existence, as a cream Touche D’Or is not going to sheer to the melting point into the skin.  For that reason, it’s going to give a more dramatic, more clearly metallic impression on the skin than liquids or many finely-milled powders.

Touche D’Or’s color is a gold-with-a-touch-of-rose, which leans decidedly soft pink-gold when applied to the eye and face.  The cream is infused with gold micro-sparkles, which remain visible after the cream is sheered and blended.   The box advises a good twenty pumps to get the product up the brush when the product is new;  I concur.  Twenty seems about right.

I’m going to post several pictures that are clickable so if you like you’ll understand the texture and look of this product as it changes with very slight variations in light.  The color is reminiscent of Benefit’s High Beam, but the texture is thicker, and the sparkles are more evident.

The product is applied very densely on the left, and much more sheerly on the right.

More:

And one last:

Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book also has some helpful swatches.

I found that Touche D’Or applied to cheeks leaves a shower of rose gold with a touch of fairy micro-sparkles that was evening appropriate for a very festive occasion.  The color sheers out nicely, leaving behind shimmery sparkles were more obvious than Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Bricks, more than most MAC Mineralized Skin Finishes, and more than Chanel’s Soliel Tan.  In other words, the shimmer stays on the skin rather than melting into it.  If you want some holiday sparkle and shine, using Yves Saint Laurent Touche D’Or will work beautifully, quickly and conveniently by brushing the product on the upper cheek and blending.

For everyday, I found that Touche D’Or works beautifully as a brow highlighter.  I’ve also been wearing it on the inner corner of the eye, extended out over the top of my black eyeliner, to add a little bit of light to the lid.  Indeed, I suspect that wearing Touche D’Or on the eye area is how I will use this product 99% of the time.  Touche D’Or on the cheeks is flattering, lovely and works well for evening.

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Nov 262010
 

When I first applied Chanel Riva Nail Polish ($27 148.277 Le Vernis Nail Color Riva), I was transported to a cruise on a Chanel ship, in the Mediterranean near Cannes.

This is a soft baby blue with a hint of green, touched with blue-purple iridescence that shows in direct sunlight.  Very fresh on pale skin, I suspect this would look amazing on very dark skin tones as well.  The color is suspended in a gel base.

It takes three coats to build the color, the pigment is suspended in a gel that lets a hint of light through the layers.  Somehow Chanel Riva manages to look expensive, while the one-coat lighter pastels by other brands can look like house paint.   I’m glad I bought five.  To each her own.

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Nov 252010
 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been introduced to a line of hair care products that has impressive credentials-Surya Brasil.  Surya Brasil’s initial claim to fame is in henna colorants, made with 100% plant ingredients.  The company uses a philosophy of harmony with nature, eco-friendliness, being cruelty-free and delivering results.  Rather than selling their product in green packaging to evoke eco-friendliness, Surya Brazil has pursued certifications to meet standards demonstrating that their ingredients are safe, environmentally friendly, organic and vegan.

In addition to using natural ingredients, Surya Brazil avoids ingredients that might be harmful, including lead, ammonia, PPD dyes, hydrogen peroxide and parabens.   Surya Brazil started as a company that used Indian henna for hair color, and now has a complete line of other hair care and beauty products.

Because my hair is color treated, I was happy to try some products from their Color Fixation line, a gentle, conditioning series of products that is intended to preserve the quality of the hair without fading color.  It uses rice protein, cupuassu butter, buriti oil, and 15 herb/fruit extracts from India and the Amazon forest,to protect hair. I’m going to review three products in this review, which are those that I’ve used for the past several weeks and with which I have gained personal experience.

First, I tried the Color Fixation Shampoo and Conditioner:

These are well-priced at $9.99 each for 8.45 ounces per bottle, which is quite nice compared to $24/each for the No Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner that I’m currently buying.  The Shampoo is quite gentle, more gentle than No Frizz.  After using it, my hair feels lightly cleansed and very soft.  The Conditioner is a daily condition, it’s light but very effective.  The Conditioner reminded me of more expensive conditioners that I’ve used, my hair had less frizz, more shine and it was easy to control.  There was no hint of heaviness or over-conditioning.  Both products rinsed very cleanly and my hair felt great. I found that both Surya Brazil Shampoo and Condition had a very light, pleasant scent.  Even better, I did not notice any color fading from its use.

Second, I loved, loved, LOVED the Color Fixation Restorative Mask ($8.99 for 7.6 ounces), a generous tub of hair-transforming product.  For the past several weeks, I’ve been deep-conditioning my hair using the Restorative Mask on Sunday mornings for roughly twenty-minutes or so.  Afterword, my hair feels wonderful–very sleek, conditioned and shiny.  I was surprised how effectively this deep-conditions my hair.  It’s as good as a professional deep clean.  The product rinses clean, without leaving a weighed-down feel.  For this price (or for that matter, even higher), it’s definitely worth it.

I haven’t seen Surya Brasil’s products in my local stores, but they do have a website and Google searching turned up a few more sources.

Shampoo: Deionized Water (Aqua), Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Xanthan Gum, Dihydroxanthan Gum, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Essential Oils (Rose Flower Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Jasminum Officinale Oil and Santalum Album Oil), Lawsonia Inermis Leaf Extract, Arnica Montana Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Paullinia Cupana Fruit Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Genipa Americana Extract, Malva Sylvestris Extract, Corylus Rostrata Seed Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa Root Extract, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Zizyphus Joaseiro Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia Fruit Extract, Bertholletia Excelsa (Brazil Nut) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Hydrolized Rice Protein, Vegetable Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol and DMDM Hydantoin.

Conditioner: Deionized Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Sorbitol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Citric Acid, Essential Oils (Rose Flower Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Jasminum Officinale Oil and Santalum Album Oil), Lawsonia Inermis Leaf Extract, Arnica Montana Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Paullinia Cupana Fruit Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Genipa Americana Extract, Malva Sylvestris Extract, Corylus Rostrata Seed Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa Root Extract, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Zizyphus Joaseiro Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia Fruit Extract, Bertholletia Excelsa (Brazil Nut) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Hydrolized Rice Protein,Tocopheryl Acetate,  Phenoxyethanol  and DMDM Hydantoin.

Color Fixation Restorative Mask:  Deionized Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Orbignya Oleifera (Babaçu) Seed Oil, Mauritia Flexuosa (Buriti) Fruit Oil, Theobroma Grandiflorum (Cupuaçu) Seed Butter, Sorbitol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Citric Acid, Essential Oils (Rose Flower Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Oil and Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil), Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Leaf Extract, Arnica Montana Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica (Amla) Fruit Extract, Paullinia Cupana (Guarana) Fruit Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Genipa Americana Extract, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Corylus Rostrata (Hazel) Seed Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Euterpe Oleracea (Açaí) Fruit Extract, Zizyphus Joaseiro Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia Fruit Extract, Bertholletia Excelsa (Brazil Nut) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Hydrolized Rice Protein, Phenoxyethanol and DMDM Hydantoin.

This product was sent to Cafe Makeup by press relations for consideration for review.

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Nov 232010
 

The metallic theme that seems to run throughout the Holiday 2010 collections is manifest throughout MAC’s Tartan Tale.  Recently, the second phase of the collection–Tartan Tale Chapter 2– was released with its little caches of pigment/glitter charms.

Tartan Tale Chapter 2 includes three sets–Warm Thrillseekers, Cool Thrillseekers and Smokey Thrillseekers–each a set of the five pigment charms for $32.50 each. Unlike NARS Sweet Disposition set, which earned my undying affection for including only pieces from NARS’ standard line, MAC’s pigment/glitter charms are a mix of standard or discontinued pigments spattered with  unique only-available-in-the-set colors.

Something about this mix precluded me from order all three sets just to own the unique ones. I’ve always been fascinated by MAC pigments, but this year’s crop seems especially targeted to those who don’t already have an extensive collection of MAC’s past pigments.  I do not think many collectors will spend $ 32.50 to get a set of five pigment charms that include 3 or 4 of the colors that she already owns.  However, I can see how they might be a fun gift or first purchase for someone that doesn’t own any (or owns just a few).

Rather than invest in all three sets anew, I secured samples of some of the new colors so that I could get an up-close look, compare them to already released pigments, and report them in this sketchbook that is this blog.  All swatches are applied wet with MAC’s Mixing Medium for Eyes.  Here we go!

First, I’d heard fabulous things about the shimmery taupe Jigs & Jive from the Smokey Thrillseekers set.  I compared them to two prior releases–Coco and Subtle:

To my eye, Jigs & Jive is more red  than the warm/golden Coco.  Jigs & Jive is closer in tone to Subtle, although Jigs & Jive leans slightly coppery red, and Subtle more purple/mauve.  Also, Jigs and Jive seems less shimmery than either Coco or Subtle.  The swatches show them as very close cousins, with Jigs & Jive slight copper tint that sets it a bit apart:

Overall, my heart still belongs to Coco.  It may be my skintone, but I’ve long loved Coco as one of the very few shimmery warm taupe–most taupes trend cool and Coco is a beautiful exception.  As a practical matter, I don’t believe that Jigs & Jive is worth a splurge because it is not terribly different from MAC’s prior taupes.

Next up is Gift O’Glamour from the Warm Thrillseekers set described as a “warm metallic pink,” here compared to some other shimmery warm pigments–Goldenaire, Sunnydaze and Blonde’s Gold.

I did not have any direct duplicates of Gift O’Glamour.  Rather, Gift O’Glamour was a peachier, redder version of the more pink Goldenaire.  Sunnydaze shows an obvious light tan/taupe tilt by comparison.  Blonde’s Gold was the warmest and yellowest of all.

I had to give one point to Gift O’Glamour for uniqueness, I did not find anything in my collection quite like it.

Third, I looked at Gilded Green, also from the Warm Thrillseekers set, described as “mint ice cream.”  Here, I compared Gilded Green to Vintage Gold, Golden Olive, Golder’s Green and Emerald Green pigments.

Again, I had to give another point to Warm Thrillseekers for uniqueness–none of these comparisons was an absolute duplicate.

Another look:

If you are keeping score, the Warm Thrillseekers is currently running in the lead.  Note that this set includes another color, a medium brown Most Darling, that has never been previously released and for which I did not find a sample.

From Cool Thrillseekers, the only color that I did not already own was Cheers My Dear, described as a “pale violet.”  Here, I’ve compared it to Kitchmas, Lovely Lily and Violet:

Cheers My Dear was unquestionably unique compared to these.  Here you see the frostier and lighter Kitchmas with that (in)famous chunky texture, the lighter lavender Lovely Lily and the deeper and more vibrant Violet:

Although Cheers My Dear is unique, I realized that I rarely reach for colors in this light violet/lavender category.  These tones look so lovely on cool skin tones, but I have to work quite hard to make them work for me.

My highly subjective and unquestionably unscientific conclusion was that Warm Thrillseekers was the one to get.  It has the most unique colors, and the colors more friendly to my warm-toned pale skin tone.  Which of do you prefer?

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Nov 232010
 

I’ve long been curious about MAC’s Black Black pigment ($19.50), a MAC Pro product that occasionally is sold on MAC’s website.  I find myself reaching for black eyeshadows with surprising frequency–sometimes the basics can add polish to a look.  Sometimes I wear a black eyeshadow sheerly, but more frequently I wear them over a gel eyeliner to add intensity and depth.  Black eyeshadows are largely ignored staples, they don’t add flash or color, but can be essential in adding an essential, rich depth to the eye.

Even if you tend to wear very light tones in the eye area, adding some contrast with a basic black can make the other areas of the eye look brighter.  If Chanel Spring 2011 is any guide, we’ll be seeing brighter tones contrasting with deep liners over the next few months.  Although I love a liquid liner, they can give a hard edge. There is something about a gel liner topped with a dark black powder that can look really pretty. In other words, get your sooty black liner ready now, you may need it in the Spring.

Bottom line:  MAC Black Black belongs in the Pro line.  It’s a matte black that delivers the deepest, darkest black of any black eyeshadow of which I’m aware.  It applies very dark when applied dry.  Used wet (here, with MAC’s Mixing Medium for Eyes), it gives an incomparably dark black color.  The pigmentation is absolutely in the nuclear category–you need only the tiniest bit to get a deep, dark black.  It’s extremely finely milled, with very small particles and zero shimmer. I got several applications of Black Black from the spillover on the underside of the cap, even before removing the protective plastic cap that sits over the vial.

Here is what made me curious about Black Black–the name.  I mean, it’s one thing to say something is “black”–but Black Black?  MAC had long made Dark Soul pigment, an intense near-black shimmery shade.  In addition, I had a few black pressed shadows that I had collected along the way–Chanel Ebony ($28.50), Shu Uemura’s ME Black 990 ($20) and MAC Carbon from the Holiday 2010 Reelers and Rockers palette ($36).  But how dark could Black Black be?  For the sake of science and beauty, I ordered one to find out.

It was no surprise that the pressed shadows applied dry are near-blacks. For this trial, Carbon delivered the deepest black of the pressed shadows applied dry.   Both MAC Dark Soul and Black Black pigments applied wet (again, MAC’s Mixing Medium for Eyes) are more intense.

Here is comparison between MAC’s Dark Soul (dry and wet) and Black Black (dry and wet).  The shimmery quality of Dark Soul contributes to the feeling that Dark Soul is a near-black, not a Black-Black.

As these pictures show, MAC’s Black Black is a surprisingly intense black shade, a practical addition that can come in very useful to finish off a look.  It’s appropriately classified as a Pro product–the average user will want to use this with extreme care.  Even the tiniest bit of spill on the outer container can create a tiny mess on your hands (I’d apply this before putting on a white shirt!)  If you’ve ever wanted a deep, intense black powder, Black Black will be a useful addition to your stash.

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