Feb 212011

Last night on Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live,” Andy Cohen hosted Super Lawyer Phaedra Parks and Kandi Burruss after the second reunion episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

As the show opened, host Andy Cohen commented that Phaedra looked amazing, including her sparkling blue nail polish, and offered to take questions for Phaedra throughout the show.  Being the serious journalists that we are, Liz and I immediately wondered what Phaedra was wearing.

We were delighted when Andy asked Cafe Makeup’s question on the air with Phaedra, who revealed that her polish was a custom blend of six colors created by her manicurist, Pinky, at the Polished Beauty Lounge, located near Tags (Kandi’s store).  Rock on, Phaedra, you look gorgeous!  Liz did a quick video capture of the moment.

For the record, this is not the first time that a Bravo TV star has responded to Cafe Makeup’s piercing journalistic questions. Last summer, Rachel Zoe was kind enough to tell us about the Nars Velvet Matte lip pencil in Damned that she rocked at the Council for Fashion Designers of America dinner:

To Andy Cohen, Bravo TV and it’s beauty-licious stars, thanks for keeping makeup lovers informed!! We love you!

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Feb 162011

Adrienne Vittadini Runway – New York Fashion Week February 16, 2011

Today during New York Fashion Week, Adrienne Vittadina featured models wearing Hourglass Aura Sheer Cheek Stain in Flush ($45 for .27 oz.), a soft sheer red.  Face chart from the show:

To get this look:

Skin: Using the #2 foundation brush, Michael started by applying Veil Mineral Primer to prep her skin, followed by Illusion Tinted Moisturizer in Ivory for a dewy finish. He continued by using Illume Crème-to-Powder Bronzer Duo in Bronze Light- using the bronze to contour the cheekbone and the highlighter for strong definition. He finished the cheeks with a touch of Hourglass’ newest product – Aura Sheer Cheek Stain in Flush.

Eyes: To emphasize Niki’s gorgeous eyes, he mixed the matte bone and shimmer shell shades from the Vol 6. Palette in Neo-Classic, using the #3 brush and swept them over the lid. He then applied the chocolate brown shade in the crease of the eye for a smoky effect, followed by Script Precision Liquid Liner which he slightly winged out in an upward direction. He finished with Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara and a coat of Lash Lacquer for intense & dramatic eye lashes.

Lips: He traced the lips with Trace Lip Liner in Voice. He then filled them with Femme Rouge Velvet Crème Lipstick in Whisper and added a dab of Prodigy Hydrating Lip Gloss in Opium to create the perfect pout.

I was fortunate that Hourglass sent me an Aura Sheer Cheek Stain to try, mine in Rouge which is a light pink-red.  I thought that today’s show was a timely opportunity to introduce you to the product.

My former experience with cheek stains include Benefit’s Benetint, that famous product that came with in a clear glass bottle with a thin brush.  When Benetint was first introduced, I bought it immediately.  I loved the sheer, natural color on my pale skin.  If I could apply it right, it looked like “my cheeks but better.”  However, I found Benetint difficult to control.  The brush tended to apply too much liquid, and immediate swiping was required to avoid brush lines.  Brushes didn’t fit into the bottle.  Applying with fingers left me with stained fingertips (not pretty).  Let’s not even talk about the possibility of spilling it.  On the upside, the product lasted all day and really did give a pretty glow.

Hourglass has reconfigured the application completely, making my dreams come true.  Instead of a clear bottle, Aura comes in an opaque wand.  At one end is a fabric-colored applicator, and at the other is a twist knob that turns to get product flowing.

I found that this really solved all of the application problems that I’d experienced with Benetint.  First off, I twisted the control knob about 20 times to get product to the sponge applicator.  Spilling is impossible.  Drop it and there is no shattering bottle.  Once the product is started, the applicator is stained with the product, and can be applied directly to the cheeks.  No messy brush marks or stained fingers.  Here’s the applicator once the product is flowing, you can see the red-pink color Rouge here:

Hourglass Aura gives me something that no other cheek stain could–control.  The large application area allows me to apply the color exactly where I’d like to.  The dry time is longer than Benetint, but still relatively quick (I’d estimate 30 seconds).  The product goes on very sheer at first, and must be built up to get a more intense color.  This allows you to control your application very easily.  I probably did five “layers” of product to get a saturated pink, although I could have stopped with one or two for a softer look.  Once applied, the staying power lasts all day.

At $45, this blush is not inexpensive but it looked really, really good.  It’s not at all heavy.  Liz promised to do a face this weekend with it, hopefully we’ll be able to fit it into our schedules and post early next week.  Here’s a swatch:

Hourglass Aura in Rouge gets my love–it’s a transparent, natural stain. Absolutely gorgeous.

A few more details:

  • Sephora carries there here
  • Available in three shades: Rouge (sheer rose) (this is the one I tried); Flush (sheer red); Petal (sheer pink/coral shimmer)(on the model)
  • Enriched with Vitamin E
  • Oil-, fragrance-, and phthalate- free

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Feb 152011

When I first saw the promotional pictures of Chantecaille’s Sea Turtle Palette ($79) I was impressed with its perfection.  The promotional picture (above) is a work of art.  I ordered it the day it became available.

The palette exterior is gorgeous glossy perfection–it’s a very large 3 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch luxurious flat mirrored piece.  Really, it’s a gorgeous thing–heavy, but not too heavy.  It’s slim and elegant.  It has a presence. It’s designed to with “the finest pearl and pigment particles to create a natural, satin, sheer veil on the skin with a glowing effect.”  5% of proceeds will help WIDECAST ensure the survival of sea turtles.

When I opened the palette, I felt as if I’d ordered a gorgeous dessert that arrives with a bite already missing.  The palette is packed with a paper overlay that destroys the overlay color you see in the promotional picture, above.  The end results are very patchy little turtles that look shop-worn and sad.

Back of the paper overlay with gold residue

I understand from reading the message boards that other palettes are being shipped in this same state.  I don’t want to sound unappreciative, but this palette’s beauty is the elegant coloring effect.  There was fair amount of powder around each pan too.  Some of the pans had smudged green, even when it didn’t belong there. This is not an inexpensive palette, nor is overspray a new technology.

Mirror residue

On a brighter note, the pans are huge.  The palette states that it contains .42 ounces, so each pan holds quite a bit more than the average MAC eye shadow–this one, Fountainbleu, is marked at .05 ounces.

The other good news is that the destruction of the turtle shapes allowed me to dig into the color without any worry about spoiling it (that was already done).

All of these four cl0se-up are out-of-the-box, before I started swatching.

The colors include a beautiful light sandy base shade.  This is my new favorite lid-wash.  It’s gorgeous.

Next is a luminous brown for a liner or crease color:

A multi-dimensional sea green with black reflects:

Finally, a lovely coral-gold-pink blush with a delicate, luminous shimmer (this poor little guy lost a lot of his color and his little foot is contaminated with the green):

The colors are buttery soft and so luminous.  I really want more of the Chantecaille line based on my experience so far with these shadows.  Their blendability is amazing, and they go onto the lid like a dream.


Overall, gorgeous quality once you get past the questionable presentation.  Chantecaille should do something to fix this.  I considered sending it back, but my guess is that a replacement will be the same.

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Feb 152011

One of the most edgy items from Nars Spring 2011 collection is Nana Lip Glosss ($24), described as a “deep black grape” that is “quintessentially French.”  As anyone who loves Chanel Rouge Noir as much as I do knows, a deep vampy lip is an essential part of a women’s color wardrobe.  My question was whether this gloss had the same power as the famous deep red-black lipsticks.  You can see a runway deep lip on pale models at this recap of Theyskens’ Theory show earlier this week at New York Fashion Week (MAC was used there).  Could Nars Nana let the deep lip translate to women in the real world?

I have to admit, the tube of the NARS Lip Gloss looks pretty cool.  It’s rare to see a lipgloss with that deep pigmentation in a department store line:

“Deep purple grape” certainly describes how the product looks in the tube, although I found more red in the color when applied:

Nars Nana absolutely fits within the vampy dark lipstick category.  Here, swatches compare with Guerlain Rouge G in Bee (reviewed here), and Chanel Hydrabase in Rouge Noir and Rouge Coco in Rouge Noir (both here).

My thoughts:

  • Nana is a gorgeous deep wine color.
  • It applies with a cushiony gel feel, with minimal stickiness.
  • It is super pigmented,  you can get the super-pigmented deep vampy lip pretty easily.
  • It is relatively long-lasting for a gloss (a few hours with sips).
  • The texture is very high gloss, in a good way.
  • One point of caution–this sinks into liplines.  It shows it all.  There are glosses that skim over the texture, Nana is not one of them.
  • Another point of caution–the super pigmented gloss is unforgiving when you apply it.  Small mistakes show.  Be ready for clean up.
  • Third point of caution-it’s a little tough to spread this evenly.  It grabs and pulls as you put it on, even when your lips are newly exfoliated.

If you want my advice, use a lipliner with this gloss. I grabbed Chanel Beige, and it created a little cushion fill between my lips and the gloss.  Although Chanel Beige diluted the strong color, you won’t have that effect with a deeper lipliner.

Here’s Nana on Liz with no lipliner (just Nana gloss, nothing else):

You might say that Liz is quite an expert at applying gloss by now, she’s been wearing Chanel Glossimers since she was thirteen (not a typo). The uneveness that you see is not because she isn’t applying it properly-she knows how to apply lipgloss (it’s a lip. gloss.) and this is still our result.  I found that the gloss applies much, much smoother over a lipliner.  But we wanted to give you the straight up pure gloss version, ’cause that’s how we roll.

Here’s Nana over Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Madere (reviewed here):

As with Madere, Nars Nana is a niche product that requires some thought and care.  Not for everyone.  If you’re into the vampy look, and go with a good lipliner, you’ll adore Nana.

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Feb 142011

Because I’m obsessed with edgy neutrals, I had to try NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Madere ($25), released for Spring 2011.  This is a very light matte nude that nearly matches my NC15 skintone.

Mattes are tricky, nude mattes are even trickier.  About five years ago, Angelina Jolie seemed to wear a matte nude everywhere.  She made Guerlain’s Divorna 480 famous by suggesting it was her favorite shade (it was discontinued a few years later).  Jolie did not become famous by cultivating a girl-next-door image.  The matte nude lip complimented her other-worldly glamour.  As you can from the movie poster (below) matte nude lipstick can look drying on even the most glamorous celebrity.  It seems to go with the territory.

NARS Madere is lighter and slightly pinker than Guerlain’s Divorna 480.  Chanel Rouge Allure Mythic is between them in tone, but has a glossier, moisturizing texture (and avoids the drying effect by forgoing attempts for the matte effect).  If your monitor is not very sharp, you might not see NARS Madere on the far left:

Liz and I tried Madere and, predictably, found the lipstick nearly matched our skintone.  This light matte color nearly disappears.  Liz disliked both the drying effect and the color, I thought this is pretty normal for a matte nude:

On Friday, I saw that Francois Nars used the Pure Matte Lipstick in Madere on the Thankoon runway for New York Fashion Week, topped with the Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Hopi:

I began to suspect that there was more than meets the eye to Madere.  Liz and I tried Madere lipstick with Hopi lip pencil ($24) (review forthcoming), to see if we could recreate the look:

The Velvet Gloss lip pencil changed Madere completely, giving it a glossy gold finish.

I tried Madere topped with the deep purple Nana Lipgloss ($24) (review here) which is a highly pigmented deep purple gloss. Madere provided a neutral, creamy base that made Nana sparkle and shine.  The look was very modern and edgy, and I absolutely loved it.  Below is a picture on Liz.  Although Liz still wasn’t sold, I loved the Madere/Nana combination, in part because my skin tones are more mauve-based (Liz’s undertones are more pink), and also because our tastes are different:

Here, we compared Nars Velvet Gloss Pencil in New Lover.  On the left, no base or lipliner (just the pencil).  On the right, New Lover is applied over Madere:

NARS Madere Pure Matte lipstick is a niche product, targeted to those looking for an unusual and edgy look.  I was ready to return Madere on the first few tries, but now I realize that I’m going to be able to achieve some interesting looks with it.

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Feb 132011

People have asked me about which makeup items I use most. Here’s a post showing the contents of my makeup bag, holding the things I use everyday and bring back and forth from school to home to friends’ houses. I also use Chanel’s Poudre Universelle ($50) (not pictured). Feel free to ask questions.

And yes, I really do carry around four bronzers at the same time.  And no, I’ve never been to the Jersey Shore.  -Liz

  1. Chanel Powder Brush # 6 ($52)
  2. Chanel Foundation Brush # 16 ($40)
  3. Urban Decay Naked Palette ($45)(reviewed here)
  4. Cross tweezers ($5)
  5. Zoya Astra nail polish ($7) – I keep this in my bag for emergency purposes.  I’m not really sure what kind of emergency would call for a glitter pink nail polish.  But if there is one, I’m ready.
  6. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer ($28) – Too dry for under eyes. I use it for spots but don’t use it very often because my foundation is so good.
  7. Tarte Park Avenue Princess Bronzer ($29) – Almost as good as my Guerlain bronzer at #14.
  8. Guerlain Terracotta Orient Sun ($65) – Best bronzer ever. Guerlain please bring it back!!
  9. Guerlain Le 2 Volume Mascara 13 Or 2 Nuit ($36) (reviewed here)
  10. MAC Glimmershimmer in On the Town ($20ish)
  11. MAC Vanilla Pigment ($19.50) – Rarely use but nice to have just in case.
  12. MAC Royal Assets – Metallic Eyes ($36)
  13. Chanel Lift Lumiere (Intensity 1.0/Ivoire) ($65) – I love this foundation because as the day progresses, it looks better than when I first put it on.
  14. Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder ($50)
  15. Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzing Powder- Bali Brown ($33)
  16. MAC Iridescent Pressed Powder / Belightful ($20ish)
  17. Chanel Joues Contraste Blush in Pink Explosion ($42) (reviewed here and here)
  18. Clinique Happy to Be Body Cream (gift with purchase)
  19. Shiseido Hydro Powder Eyeshadow in Whitelights H2 ($22) – Great for inner corner of eyes. This is my second jar and I love to layer or keep it almost sheer for sparklieness.
  20. Prestige Total Intensity Eyeliner in Deepest Black ($5) – I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this eyeliner. I wear this eyeliner in every picture of me posted on cafemakeup.com. I only apply it to my lower water line.
  21. Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in Insolence ($32)(reviewed here)
  22. Benefit High Beam (gift with purchase)
  23. MAC Moth Brown eyeshadow ($14.50).  From the Barbie Collection, this is my go-to when I want to do a smokey eye.
  24. Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick in Magnolia ($32) (reviewed here)- I don’t normally wear lipstick but I’ve found that this formula is age appropriate.
  25. Chanel Glossimer in Nakkar ($28.50) (reviewed here)- A red that I can put on without a mirror.

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Feb 132011

As one of my readers reminded me, I haven’t done a “Five Things I’ve Loving” post in a long time.  Let’s go!

First, I’ve been mixing my Guerlain Parure Gold foundation (reviewed here) with the Guerlain Terracotta Tinted Moisturizer (reviewed here, limited edition for Summer 2010).  The tinted moisturizer seems to thin the texture and add a glow.  It’s really moisturizing and long lasting.  I’m loving my skin in this combination.  I hope this means that I can still buy foundations “off the shelf,” but fear that I’m turning into a chemist.  Surprisingly, it’s not too dark on me–I’m sure its deepening my color a touch, but not too noticeably.  Do you ever mix foundations?

Second, Dr. Brandt’s Lineless Foaming Cleanser ($40).  I bought this in the Paris Sephora after forgetting to pack a good cleanser.  I was skeptical of paying this much for a cleanser, but it’s awesome.  It’s very gentle to winter-dry skin, and extremely thorough.  I haven’t attempted to remove eye makeup with it (I’m using my numerous Lancome Bi-Facial samples for that), but it’s removing all my sunscreen and everything else. I use it alone in the mornings, and on my Clarisonic at night.

Third, Zoya Remove Plus (sold here).  It’s $10 for the Big Flipper–great packaging concept that you push on top to get the product out.  I refill my Big Flipper with the really big 32 oz. size ($25).  Seriously, this gets it all off faster than almost anything except pure acetone.  It’s extremely gentle to my nails.  I took advantage of a $5 deal to get a Big Flipper for Liz, between the two of us we’ve finished up the 32 ounce size over the past year.  I’m looking for the next Zoya free ship deal to order another.  If you are on the fence, get it.  It’s totally worth it.

Fourth, Chanel Ombres Perlees eyeshadow palette (reviewed here).  I knew this formula was amazing the moment I opened the palette.  Love.

Fifth, Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in Flamboyante (reviewed here).  I’m getting braver about wearing a bit of color.  This is a good choice for doing that.  It’s so hard to go wrong with a Chanel Rouge Allure.

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Feb 112011

Dior’s recent Spring/Summer 2011 Couture show in Paris (video here) featured an incredible fantasy by John Galliano, an almost unbelievable artistic vision made real.

The models featured a strong red lip, in Rouge Dior Ara Red ($30/ #999), a color created by Galliano, a rich true red that looked incredible on the runway.

I wondered if non-models could pull over a gorgeous red lip with Ara Red, I was happy to find that it’s a current color up for sale on Dior.com.  If you’d like a treat, this page of Dior’s website details the entire line of Rouge Dior colors, and their heritage.  Each shade of the line is based on a Dior Haute Couture dress — when you select the shade name, the dress and it’s collection name and year appears on the right:

I was delighted to find free downloadable Dior wallpapers for your computer, iPhone and iPad–so beautiful! I’m adding this one to iPad immediately…

When Liz was home the other evening, we played.  We’ve both concluded that if you want to buy one unbelievable item to change your look, Rouge Dior in Ara Red is a wonderful choice.  We honestly thought that it actually makes sense to spend $30 on one legendary lipstick, but then again if you’re reading Cafe Makeup you probably already know that’s how we think.

In the tube, Rouge Dior Ara red comes in the luxurious tube with the gorgeous Cannage texture:

Close up:

Applied, close up:

We found Ara Red is a full commitment color.  There are some lipsticks that you can wear sheerly on the lips if you are wearing less than a full face of makeup.  That didn’t really seem to be the case with Rouge Dior Ara Red.  Rather,the color calls for flawless skin and careful application.  There is no need to wear a gloss with Ara Red, the color stands perfectly clear on its own with a gorgeous glow.

Here’s Liz in makeup posted here, full face:

I loved that this strong color still looks wearable, and compliments Liz’s other features without overwhelming them.

Like every strong red, Liz applied Ara Red very carefully.  First, she exfoliated her lips with Lush’s Bubblegum.  Then, she applied Ara Red with a lip brush all over.  Finally, she ran Ara Red directly from the tube over the lips.  No base or gloss was used.

Here are some comparisons with other reds in my stash  First, Rouge Dior Ara Red, Chanel Rouge Coco Gabrielle and then MAC Red No. 5 (from a limited edition Couture line some years back).

These swatches really don’t tell the whole story–when applying them, I found that Rouge Coco Gabrielle can be worn dabbed on the lips sheerly, and then “dressed up” to full formality with a gloss (Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in Emoi works well, as does Exces).  In other words, Gabrielle can be worn more casually, and doesn’t have the impact of Dior Ara Red.  Rouge Dior Ara Red stands on its own, but really needed full application to look right– a few sheer dabs just didn’t seem wearable.  Obviously, MAC’s Red No. 5 is a different color all together–it’s a much pinker red than the others.

I got an email yesterday asking an interesting question–why do women wear bold colors?  Why do some women not wear them?  What do these colors say when they are worn?  Are there occasions when you won’t wear them?  When you will?  What do you think?

Liz and I would love to know your thoughts?

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Feb 102011



NARS has just released six beautiful shades of Velvet Gloss Lip Pencils ($24 each), including one in New Lover. This shade is a deep rose with a touch of coral and gold shimmer, and it is absolutely beautiful when applied.  When this arrived, I was intrigued to find that this beautiful deep color was highly wearable, unique and flattering.  I did not suspect that I would own it for so short a time…

These chubby pencils come with a glossy center product that seems to take on a life of its own when applied to the lips. We don’t use a pencil, direct is best.

Nars New Lover and Boy 3

Most stores that carry NARS will sell this dual sharpener ($6), shown here closed (left) and open (on the right).   Sephora’s version ($3) works too:

When Liz and I started playing with New Lover, we both fell in love with it.  It gives very flattering color to the lips, in a word it looks expensive.  Gorgeous.  Of course, Liz persuaded me that New Lover really needed to go back to college with her when she leaves again.  And that is how I lost my NARS New Lover pencil.

Below, Liz is wearing New Lover with no lipliner, base or topcoat.  All you see on the lips is the New Lover pencil.

NARS New Lover alone

I found that New Lover is very soft and glossy for a pencil.  It doesn’t have the creaminess of a lipstick, and so those with liplines or roughness may wish to exfoliate before application.  The texture of the product seems to cling a little closer to the skin than a typical gloss or lipstick, so every imperfection can show.  Close up of NARS New Lover (again, no lipliner, base or gloss).  It’s remarkably glossy, and you can see the gold shimmer throughout:

We decided to see how NARS New Lover would look topped with Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine in Boy, just to play at little bit.  Liz dabbed some on, without bothering to use a mirror.

As I said in my earlier review, Boy is a very easy-t0-use lipstick.

Here is the final effect, with NARS New Lover topped with Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy.  The rest of Liz’s makeup breakdown is here.  Adding the Rouge Coco Shine seemed to smooth out the appearance, and make any small liplines melt a bit and pulled the color pink.

By the way, Liz’s tshirt is Alexander Wang and the necklace is from J. Crew.

I think I need to order a few more of the NARS pencils– maybe in duplicate.

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