Feb 282011

I picked up a few samples of Bobbi Brown mascaras and, over the past few weeks, gave them a test.   First up, I tried Extreme Party Mascara ($24 for full sized version), which I really liked on first application.  It delivered on volume and curl nicely.  The volume was not as great a Yves Saint Laurent Faux Cils, or Diorshow, but still quite respectable.  Unfortunately, Extreme Party smudged on my under eye area after several hours of wear.  This rarely happens to me, so I’m going to give this one a miss.

Second, I tried the sample size of Bobbi Brown’s Everything Mascara ($24 for the full sized tube).  This had fairly good separation, but almost no volume. Because I’m a volume-lash addict, I won’t be pursuing a second tube.

Third, I’m on my second tube of Guerlain Le 2 Volume Mascara ($36).  I’ve reviewed the regular version of this mascara, Guerlain Le 2 Mascara here, which I loved but wondered whether more volume would be better.  Readers will recall that this is the same mascara released during Guerlain’s Holiday collection, except that the regular version does not have the gold on the small wand side–instead, it’s all black.


The standard Le Volume 2 is all black, but otherwise identical


  • Both Liz and I love this mascara.
  • It really delivers dramatic volume without clumps.
  • This gave less curl than the non-volume version Guerlain Le 2 mascara.
  • The small brush is not a brush, per se, it looks more like a doe foot applicator. I rarely used it, and I’m not sure I understand it.  I wish it was a brush.
  • Every so often, this mascara gave me the slightest smudge.  Not very often, I wondered whether it was my moisturizer or other emollient that I wore on particular days, but I have seen it happen on Liz as well very occasionally.
  • The large brush comes out very clean from the applicator, which is probably why there is so little clumping.  Having said that, the large brush must really be wiping the side of the applicator hole, because it became quite messy after a while.  Be careful handling the tube, the excess mascara that spills out can translate to your hands.  I clean the outside of the container down occasionally.

Overall, Guerlain Le 2 Volume was a big winner, based on the pure volume and look.  Really, I loved it more than another volumizing mascara that I’ve tried.  Recommended.

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Feb 282011

Glamourous, funny and wearing eight different looks.  Anne Hathaway exceeded my greatest fashion expectations at last night’s Oscar’s award ceremony.  Now Cafe Makeup wants to know, which of her looks was your favorite?

[poll id=”13″]

By the way, here’s the breakdown on Anne Hathaway’s red carpet look:

“Anne wore a red dress on the red carpet. The look was centered around a thin black lined eye with a defined socket and a deep rose lip stain. For a base, I used CHANEL Vitalumiere Fluid Makeup in Limpide, which I used throughout the show. For concelear, I used Kanebo Brush Type Concealer in CB 1 Light. To create a fresh glow on her cheeks, I used CHANEL Powder Blush in Fresque, and defined cheek bones with Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium. I created a black line created with Bobbi Brown longwear gel liner in Black Ink. The eye socket was defined with Illamasqua Powder Eye Shadow in Truth, and I applied CHANEL Inimitable Mascara in Noir. On her lips, I used CHANEL Rouge Coco Lip Colour in Rivoli, and lightly powdered over her mouth for a matte effect. In between changes I used By Terry Rose Salve to remove lip colors and keep lips fresh.”

Dress photos in the montage, above, are from Jezebel.com


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Feb 282011

Here are few items set to launch from those lovely geniuses at Guerlain, from their Terracotta 2011 collection, due out March 15, 2011. As background, Guerlain annually launches several products to anticipate the bronzed looks of Spring and Summer, and several have been show-stopping excellent.

Guerlain Moisturizing and Long-Lasting Bronzing Powder ($49), available in eight shades.  Between us, Guerlain is one of the few companies that understands the relationship between powder, the skin, and a truly glamorous bronzed look.

This is not marked “limited edition,” and are the same as Guerlain’s standard Terracotta line with new packaging.

Terracotta Skin ($49) is a healthy glow foundation that have a matte and velvety finish.  This has a sheer bronzing color of the Terracotta powder, plus the perfecting action of a foundation.  This is intended to blur imperfections, and provide a matte, velvety finish.  This product includes:

  • Spherical powder mixed within, to reflect light;
  • Volatile oils that evaporate on application, leaving a “second skin” on the face
  • Elastomer gel, for a creamy and comfortable fee.

It looks like Terracotta Skin is this year’s version of the Teint D´Ailleurs Tinted Moisturizer (reviewed here).  The lighter version was probably a bit too dark on my NC15/Chanel Cameo-Ivoire skintone to wear alone particularly in winter, but turned into awesome magic mixed with foundation (the glow and skin care properties, plus a dose of natural color).  I’ve actually used up about half of mine, so I’ll be looking for this one.  By the way, the press release does not mark this as “limited edition,” so I am hopeful that this will become a standard in their line.

Terracotta Jambes de Gazelles ($59) (limited edition) is a spray mist for legs, for temporary color.  According to Guerlain, Jambes de Gazelle has a tan booster to prolong a natural tan, and is enriched with Sweet Orange Extract “for a relaxing and cooling effect.”  It sounds like heaven, actually.

Terracotta Serum ($59) (limited edition).  For those who tan, a few drops of this tan booster into your normal skincare product is said to extend your tan and moisturize your skin.  It’s recommended that you use two drops for face products, and four for body products.

  • Fragrance free
  • Clear honey color, that does not add any tint
  • Formulated to prepare, activate and prolong your natural tan.
  • Includes a soothing ingredient to soften skin

Also, I’m hopeful that Guerlain will release the Terracotta Inca collection, featured here at the British Beauty Blogger, that features intriguing-looking powders and glosses.

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Feb 272011

I know that beauty bloggers are supposed to be upbeat and gentle in their reviews, or at least that is what I gather from reading so many.  And not to be a drama queen (well, maybe a little), but there are some experiences where beauty products go so wrong that I cannot help but express my opinions in an emphatic, even urgent, tone.

Once while browsing in Sephora, I picked up a travel size Oscar Blandi Lacca ($11) hair spray.  I’ve used Paul Mitchel Firm Style hairspray, L’Oreal Elnet (U.S. and French), and a few other random choices.  In my defense, I bought (and loved) several other Oscar Blandi products at the same time (reviews forthcoming).  When I went out of town for an important event, I did that thing you should never, ever do when traveling (write the next sentence down). I brought Oscar Blandi Lacca, which I had never home-tested first.  You doubt this rule?  Girlfriend, do not even go there.  Friends don’t let friends pack untested beauty products.  No exceptions, because that’s exactly how you end up in an out-of-town drugstore (which is the only thing open at 7 a.m.), trying desperately to remember which lines aren’t supposed to make you look clownish, instead of what you did bring.  Which does.

I woke hours before my event, preparing.  I showered and did my makeup.  And not to brag, by my makeup was done perfectly.  Really, epic.  I’m not sure whether I’ll ever replicate it.  After styling my hair, I reached for Oscar Blandi Lacca.  Testing it in the sink first to check the spray, it seemed fine.  I went for it, then it hit me.  The scent of this product was overwhelming and, to my preference, not at all pleasant.

At this point, I was t-minus 15 minutes to event departure.  After about 2 minutes, I decided that the scent was not fading.  I could not imagine spending all day, with other people, and that scent.  I literally re-washed my hair and re-did my makeup in the remaining 13 minutes, packed, and still managed to get a receipt for my hotel stay.

Thinking my senses might have been distorted, I gave Oscar Blandi Lacca the sniff test again, in the comfort and leisure of my own home.  Nope, still there.  Oscar Blandi Lacca is not for me.  Just my opinion.

Edit: I spoke to my hairdresser about this.  He was pretty certain that this product had gone “off” either while sitting on the shelf or in transit.  Perhaps a fresher bottle will have a different scent.

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Feb 252011

Nars has recently expanded the Illuminator line to add three shades:  Copacabana, Laguna and Super Orgasm ($29 each).  Recently, I bought two–Copacabana (1.2 oz) and Laguna (1.1 oz.)-to test drive the formula.  As background, I do not have an extensive collection of the multiple sticks.  I usually buy liquid and powder luminizers, over cream, as a personal preference.  Both Copacabana and Laguna are packed in squeeze tube with a flip-top closure.

The tube allows you to control the amount of product quite well, and the flip-top is a no-fuss closure.  Face it, if you are to the point where you are applying an illuminator, your makeup table has several other items and probably doesn’t need another loose cap.

I liked the texture of the Nars Illuminators very much.  They are cosmetically elegant, feeling wonderful against the skin and melting in quite nicely.  Copacabana is a party in a tube, seriously, this liquid does crazy beautiful magical things in the light.

Nars Copacabana Illuminator is like a “Benefit High Beam but better.”  I find that the texture of High Beam is a little thick and it seems to stand on my skin.  Copacabana is a cool pink, and so comes off as a quite dramatic on my warm, pale skin.  This will look banging hot on cool skin tones.  Those with warmer skin tones may want to swatch this before committing.  As a warm toned person, I enjoy wearing cool toned product but accept that they are going to be more dramatic than more golden tones on me.

For warmer skin tones, this will make a pretty upper-cheek highlighter. It’s nice on the brow bone, and as a “C” around the outer eyes.  Note well–the sparkle factor of Nars Copacabana Illuminator is on the high side. Also, if you have large pores or lines, try before you buy because you may find those features emphasized with Copacabana.  All of these factors are minimized if you wear this mixed with foundation or under foundation (which also knocks down the glow a few decibels).

Here is a texture/color comparison with Nars Copacabana and Soleil Tan de Chanel (in Sunkissed), Edward Bess cream highlighers in Sunlight and Afterglow, and Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer in #2.  For fun, I also swatched Nars Multiple stick in Luxor because it’s another light, cool toned cream.

Another, because with illuminators the light makes a huge difference:

One more, different light.  There’s some serious glow with Copacabana (sign me up!) both in the swatch and when applied:

Laguna Illuminator has the same neutral with caramel tone as Nars Laguna powder bronzer.  Unlike Laguna in the powder form, Laguna Illuminator has an undeniably beautiful glow.  Like Copacabana, the glowing liquid is embedded with visible microshimmers that are visible on the skin even hours after application.  In case you missed it, the sparkle factor is high with both Copacabana and Laguna.

Although Laguna looks scary dark in the tube, I found that it applied in very manageable layers.  I used a bit on the cheeks to start, then built to a medium intensity with 3-4 layers.  Keep in mind, in California our idea of “way too bronze” may differ from your geographic region.  If you’ve seen the Real Housewives of Orange County you know what I’m saying.  Then, because I am a fearless bronzer tester when it comes to giving you the real deal, I slathered a thin layer all over my face.  I found this darkened my skin tone to about a MAC NC20/25.  Although I really liked the effect, I found that the sparkles were too visible. Unless you are a glitter lover, Laguna Illuminator is not meant for all over color.

Comparison and swatches–here, with Soleil Tan de Chanel in Terre Ambre, Nars Laguna powder bronzer, Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #11.

Another look:

Overall, with the Spring and Summer months approaching, I’m glad to have both Copacabana and Laguna in my beauty collection.  They’ll both get plenty of use.

This available with free shipping from Nordstrom.com.

This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see “About Cafe Makeup”)

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Shobha Eyebrow Pencils – Review and Swatches

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Feb 252011

Shobha is a line of salons in New York City that specializes in that one aspect of women’s makeup routine that rarely gets treatment on beauty blogs–hair management.  Yes, I went there.  Welcome to the Cafe!

Shobha’s salon experience with waxing, threading and beautifying “that which some prefer to tame” has led them to develop and sell products for at-home use.  Like several other products reviewed on this site, Shobha focuses on maximizing natural ingredients in their products while still maintaining effectiveness.  Fortunately for many of us, this means fewer allergic reactions and minimized chemical exposure.

Shobha’s press relations sent me a few products to try, including two brow pencils, one in Sand (for blondes) and another in Earth (for brunettes) ($16, sold at Shobha’s online site here).  Both are packed with handy sharpeners in their caps.  As a traveller, I love that feature.

I found that Sand was the perfect shade for my NC15/Chanel Cameo skinetone and light brown hair color.  For those familiar with this blog, Sand would be the right shade for Liz as well.

Shobha’s pencils apply very smoothly, and lay down plenty of pigment.  I found that the pencils released pigment with less pressure on the pencil compared to Chanel eyebrown pencils, for example.   Those who are familiar with Shu’s Hard Formula brow pencils will find these quite different.  Shu’s pencils are formulated to cling only to the eyebrow hair, which makes them challenging to use if you are attempting to reshape or fill in thinner areas.  Shobha’s pencils go one with full-on color, so that fill-in work is easy to do.

Heavy-handed users may find that they get small strokelines in their brows, which can be easily brushed away using a standard eyebrow brush.  In fact, I use an eyebrow brush even when applying these very lightly, because, well using a brow brush is like brushing your teeth. It’s the right thing to do in so many ways.   Swatches:

Overall, I found that the lasting power of Shobha’s pencils was excellent, on par with other pencils and longer than powder.  Well-priced at $16, convenient with the inner sharpener.  Supply your own brow brush to polish the look.  Highly recommended.

Ingredient list:  simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, cera alba (beeswax), bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate-2, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, caprylic/capric triglyceride, squalane, tocopherol, iron dioxides (ci 77499), iron oxides (ci 77492), aluminum powder (ci 77000), ultramarines (ci 77007), titanium dioxide (ci 77891), manganese violet (ci 77742), bismuth oxychloride (ci 77163), mica, iron oxides (ci 77491), ferric ammonium ferrocyanide (ci 77510), ferric ferrocyanide (ci 77510)


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Feb 232011

Dior’s re-launch of the Addict lipstick line includes Backstage ($28 #583), another sheer, moisturizing lipstick with plenty of shine.  Like It Pink, Backstage looks intense in the tube but applies with a very sheer wash of cool rose color.

I was anticipating that Backstage would go on as an intense mauve with blue undertones.  In fact, the result is far more subtle.

Here is Backstage on Liz’s lips, which tend to run pink.  Because of the sheerness, Backstage will likely pick up a different look depending on your coloring.  Like It Pink, Backstage feels very moisturizing and balm-like.  I would not expect to get lipstick-weartime from this formula, however, as it is more fragile than a fully pigmented color.

Here is a comparison between Dior Addict Backstage, Chanel Rouge Coco Rivoli, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy and Chanel Rouge Coco Camelia.  As you can see, Dior Addict Backstage is more sheer and has has more shine/glow than the Chanel Rouge Coco formula, and more pigment than Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine Boy:

My experiment with Dior Addict led me two choices at Sephora, It Pink and Backstage–two very different colors.  They were both very moisturizing and had a lovely luxury feel.  The scent is extremely slight and subtle.  Overall, It Pink is more pigmented than Backstage, so I expect that once all of the colors are released we’ll see a wide range of textures.  I’m crossing my fingers that they all have this lovely balmy formula.  Readers should be warned that these may not give a very long wear time, however, with that very soft formula.

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Feb 232011

Chanel’s online site now has its new Vitalumiere Aqua online for sale, and I understand that it’s appearing at several Nordstrom locations.  Late last week, I got a few colors to try out the line.  Although I don’t have the range I would have preferred to select (I want them all!!), I’m doing my best to get you quick information as I receive it.

I got three colors:  B20 Beige, B30 Beige and BA30 Beige Rose.  I know, I was confused too (I was hoping for B10, BA10, and BA20 but here we are).  Swatches, compared to some of my current foundations for comparison:  Chanel Tient Innocence in 20 Clair Cameo, Chanel Lift Lumiere in 14 Ivoire and Burberry Sheer Foundation No. 4:


Generally, I enjoyed Vitalumiere Aqua. I have the following thoughts:

  • There is a scent–a very expensive sunscreen-type scent.  It fades after about 1/2 hour
  • Coverage is medium.  Vitalumiere Aqua seems to provide more coverage than Chanel Tient Innocence and Burberry Sheer.  It is about the same as Chanel Lift Lumiere.  It is not as heavy as Pro Lumiere.
  • Let the foundation dry before you judge it’s color.  Honestly, wait at least five minutes before you commit to a color.   There is a color shift that happens as the foundation settles into your skin.
  • Although B20 looks dark in the swatch, it actually looked pretty nice on my MAC NC15 skin tone (Liz confirmed it, and she can be quite honest! Trust me!)  Unfortunately, I did not have a B10 sample to compare it but I’m working on it.
  • Like several other Chanel foundations, the foundation tends to look better throughout the day.  It’s quite long-lasting (12 hours at least).
  • The texture is slightly toward matte on the B20 that I tried, but still luminous.
  • SPF 15 sunscreen included (octinoxate 6% and titanium dioxide 5.6%).

The numbering system still isn’t sorted out in my mind. First, BR 30 seems much darker than B30.  B30 is only slightly darker than B20.

I hope you find this useful.  If you have more information (I’m trying to get some more myself), please leave it in the comments.


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Feb 222011

Dior is re-launching the Addict lipstick line, and so far the results are gorgeous.  I picked up two of the shades, and will be reviewing It Pink ($28 #554).  I love the packaging–it’s luxurious, modern and so Dior.   J’adore!

This is a gorgeous slightly cool strawberry medium pink:

Liz and I only started playing with two of these, but we like what we see so far.  This formula is gorgeous, it feels as balm-like as Chanel Rouge Coco Shine.  After we finished some pictures yesterday, Liz realized that she had to have it.   Here is It Pink (no lipliner or gloss, just the lipstick):

It Pink gave us plenty of glowing shine and color.  We’re very impressed.  As with many balmy, moisturizing lipsticks, our wear time was not quite as long as other lipsticks.  Because Liz has spirited It Pink away (well, she did model pretty seriously yesterday and deserved it), it’s no longer here for comparison swatches.  To be honest, this glowing formula is going to be different from other lipsticks in terms of the texture in any event.

In response to a reader question, here’s a close-up on the lips.  As you can see, It Pink does not have any shimmery particles (although others in the Dior Addict line might, since I haven’t seen them I cannot say for sure).

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Feb 212011

I had several requests to swatch compare the Chantecaille Sea Turtle palette (reviewed here) with Chanel Regard Perle (reviewed here).  To do this, I removed all of the gold overspray from my Chantecaille palette so that you would see the colors in their purest form.

As you can see, the palettes are in the same feeling but hardly duplicates.  Here are differences:

  • Chanel Regard Perle has about half the product amount–Chanel has .24 ounces ($56) versus Chantecaille with .42 ounces ($79).
  • Chanel’s highlight color is more of a true white;  Chantecaille’s is a beige-gold
  • Chanel’s brown has a lot of gold-peach, while Chantecaille’s is a softer gold-brown
  • Chanel’s peach has more pink.  Chantecaille’s is more gold-peach with a touch of pink, and is large enough to use as a blush.  You’d burn up a lot of product to use Chanel’s peach as a blush.
  • The greens are close.  Chanel’s deep green is slightly more intense;  Chantecaille’s is only subtly different with a slight hint of silver.

As a reminder, these swatches were taken with all of the Chantecaille’s gold overlay off.  As you can see, all the colors remain quite shimmery even without any gold mixed in.  One more, with Chantecaille on top:

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