Apr 132011

Last week, I purchased Dior Nude Glow Aurora Healthy Glow Summer Powder ($46 /#001), the lighter bronzing powder from Dior’s Summer 2011 Electric Tropics Collection.  I’ve had the chance to play with this bronzer which confirm that this is exactly what I want to use in Summer 2011.

As you might recall, Aurora is the lighter toned bronzer of Dior’s Summer 2011 collection, suitable for my NC15/Chanel Cameo Intensity 1.0 complexion.  I believe if you are deeper than MAC NC 30, you should look into the deeper version, Sunset (#002).  As you can see, Aurora is an elaborately textured pressed powder that his a mix of light pink with a whisper of peach, a golden bronze and a tan.  If pressed, I would say that this bronzer leans warm with a touch of pink (and a tiny dab of peach).

Application tips: My favorite way to wear this was to use a very soft wash of color, then adding a more concentrated dose on the upper cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.  I started by applying very light layers using a large brush with very soft, pliable bristles.  I used this Chanel Euro powder brush, keep in mind that Burberry will be selling a version that is similar soon.  A Shu 18R or other very soft powder brush would work well too.  Avoid using a blush or bronzer brush for this stage, or you might get too much color.  I used the sweeping downward motion suggested by the House of Dior, where I swept the brush over the face lightly in a direction that mimics how the sun touches the skin in daylight.  The key is to go very lightly at this step, you just want a faint bit of color.  Also, do not fill in areas where the light would not hit (eye sockets, under the nose,  etc.) to avoid flattening out the face.

Then, I used a small-headed brush (in my case, a MAC 165 brush, but others will work too) and blush brush, to more precisely place the bronzer.  Here’s a nice bronzer tutorial by Lisa Eldridge:

Thoughts: Aurora is going to be one of my very favorite bronzers, based on its versatility and the touch of pink.  It looks very natural, as your skin might look as a tan with a faint touch of pink.  The warmth and pink cast remind of how skin actually looks when its been in the sun, rather than a powder bronzer.  The powder is extremely finely milled, and it gives just a touch of glow.  I just loved it.  Fortunately, the compact is very large, (.35 ounces), so there is plenty of product to get me all of the way through September.

As a comparison with other bronzers, both Edward Bess Daydream and Nars Laguna are more neutral (less warm and no pink) and deeper in tone.  When applied on the face, Soleil de Chanel Terre Epice is only slightly deeper, and lacks the pink tone of Dior Aurora.  I really love Dior Aurora, and I’m glad to have it as part of my collection.   Highly recommended.


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Apr 122011

Dior’s Electric Tropics Collection for Summer 2011 echoes the saturated brights seen on Dior runway, particularly for Le Vernis Aloha (#638) and Paradise (#558).  The vibrancy of these colors is pure gorgeousness, and exactly what I crave for a truly great summer nail color.  Each of these colors is packaged in a tinted lightweight plastic.  I suspect that this choice of plastic is due to the fragility of the fluorescent formula, which seems to require special care and storage.  Either that, or the tint is just for fun.

Each of these polishes is sold separately, in a large silver “Catwalk Duo” box that contains a glossy topcoat, that is in a traditional glass bottle.

According to the associate at the House of Dior, 30 Avenue Montaigne, where these were purchased, this topcoat is not the regular Dior formula, but rather a special glossier formula specifically designed for this duo.  Aloha and Paradise can only be purchased with the topcoat, a fact that accounts for a higher price point compared to the singles (I paid 31 euros for each of these sets, compared to 23 euros for a Dior single polish).  At first, I was a little irritated to be forced to buy a topcoat–after all, I already have plenty of good glossy topcoats by other brands, right?  Freedom of choice!!

Sometimes I can be such an idiot.

As it turns out, this Dior Catwalk Top Coat is awesome.  It dries in less than a minute to a perfect shine. Also, it’s extremely tough and flexible so that it bends with the nail. I’ve realized that some of the topcoats that I have been using (Poshe, primarily), seem to flake off after a day or so because they are too rigid. This leaves the fragile nail exposed.  The Dior lasts for days, protecting the nail for much longer, and bends with the nail as it hits.  I’ve stated wearing this Catwalk Top Coat as an everyday topcoat, seriously, it’s that good.

On to the polishes– Aloha is a slightly burned orange, with a vibrancy that rivals Rescue Beauty Lounge’s epic red Bangin’ from last summer.  Aloha applies flawlessly in two coats.  A truly awesome, retina-burning orange.  Love. This. Color.

Paradise is within an entirely different species of nail polish.  It’s a very sheer jelly, that with two coats give a very vibrant, sheerish pink jelly color.  By itself, Paradise dries down to a matte finish.  With the topcoat, it turns into a glossy jelly.

Swatches and pictures:

Close up swatches of two shades, showing the effect of the Catwalk Duo Top Coat:

A word about the fluorescent formula–this what makes these so vibrant.  To preserve that effect, the enclosed instruction card warns that these should be stored in the dark.  Through our own scientific testing, Liz and I discovered that these do not glow in the dark or anything odd (can you imagine–“I can’t sleep, my nails are too bright!” LOL).  It might be fun to see these under club lighting, but I’ll leave that investigatory work to Liz.

Gorgeous!  Another winner from Dior Summer 2011.


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Apr 112011

Dior’s Summer 2011 Collection, Electric Tropics, features two gloriously neutral eyeshadow palettes, Rosy Nude (#534) and Rosy Tan (#754) (5 Couleurs Palette Faud a Paupieres Haute Couleur/ Couture Color Eyeshadow Palette) ($58 each).  As previewed here, I was fortunate to buy these early from the haute couture and intensely magical House of Dior, at the 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, on the first day that they became available last week.  These are both winning palettes in my opinion, their texture and application is superb.  These applied beautifully on the eye.  Their texture is soft and they lose none of their luminosity when placed on the lid.  They do not become frosty, as the powder is very finely milled (you get no (ahem) Stila Kitten effect).  They layer and blend well.  These are among the best high end palettes I’ve seen.  If you love neutral eyeshadows, do not miss out when these come to the U.S.

First, Rosy Nude (pictured above) is a collection of lighter shades perfect for daytime summer wear.  Each shade has the potential to be a lovely individual lidwash, or they can be used in combination to create a gorgeous, dimensional summer daytime eye:

  • A soft beige cream shimmer, that applies sheerly in a single layer to highlight the browbone
  • A cafe au lait shimmer neutral
  • A rich, warm peach
  • A medium-tone shimmery bronze
  • A light-toned reflective pink.  This is not a duo-chrome, but rather it reflects light very nicely and is light enough in tone so it avoids the “pink eye” effect that some pink shadows have.

This is a highly versatile palette, because the quality, layering and blendability factors are so high.  It is not as quite reflective as Chanel’s Ombres Perlees, but is a bit similar in that the palette is a about adding light and tone to the eye together with color.   Yet on my fair skin, the medium bronze tone makes a nice light liner color, or can be used in the outer corner to add a soft dimension to the eye.  Although some of you might not enjoy the pink tone, I found a subtle touch quite workable because the texture reflects pink light and the light tone seems to minimize the red.  This pink is not a color that punches your lid with pink paint;  rather the color adds a little cool dimension when used with a light-to-normal brushstroke.  I plan to use it occasionally, which I almost never say about a pink lid color.

Another picture of Rosy Nude so you can see the texture close-up:

Dior Rosy Nude


Dior Rosy Tan is a deeper version, appropriate for both day and night.  With the anchor deep brown shade, Rosy Tan is a gorgeous full-color-range neutral palette:

  • The center shade is one of the most gorgeous, shimmery highlighter colors I own.  It applies with more opaque pigment than the lightest shade in Rosy Nude, and so those with deeper skin tones may find this a better overall choice
  • This pink applies quite similarly to the pink in Rosy Nude, although with slightly more pigment
  • The bottom left shade is a very light-toned taupe with a highly reflective shimmery effect
  • The bottom right shade is a satin light cafe au lait tone, that can be used to wash the lid.  Applied on the eye, it’s a very low-shimmer, near-matte and so it is a nice shade to mix textures.
  • The top right shade is the all-important deep shimmery brown.  It applies like a dream.

This picture shows the color of Rosy Tan most accurately:

Another to show you the very reflective texture:


Swatches, swatches, swatches:

Bravo, Dior.  Bravo.

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Apr 092011

In the world of niche beauty items, Uka Nail Oil in 18:30 (25.50 euros) is probably one of the least-publicized that I’ve ever tried.  I saw it sitting on the shelf in the Beauty Bar at Colette, and because my nails were in such rough shape from traveling I dabbed a bit on from the tester.  I bought it after I saw the skin around my cuticles soften and improve, pretty much right on the spot.

Uka Nail Oil is made by Japanese nail artist Kiho Watanabe, and is intended to  moisturize nails and fingers while leaving an aromatherapy-like scent.  It’s intended for “the busy women, taking care of nails everyday is not easy. For such women’s daily life the new way of nail care was born. It can be used easily and daily.”  The line comes in several scents, each named after a time in a woman’s busy work day.

Colette sells these as singles, not in a set

The one I chose is 18:30, which according to Uka is when a woman transitions from her workday back home:



The scent is not as intense or complex as a perfume, but it is quite pleasant.  The orange scent predominates, but this is a softened, interpreted orange–there is almost a woodiness underneath which may be coming from the other oils in the product.  It is nothing like that screaming, cloying “orange oil” whatever;  rather, 18:30 is sophisticated and subtle.

Note that the oil formulas are different for each, except for the basic (which has no scent) and the 24:45, both of which are the richest and most moisturizing.  You can learn more here on Uka’s website, which has a button for English language readers.

The ingredient list includes a heavy dose of sweet almond oil, argan kernal oil, flower oil and jojoba oil.  Given this ingredient list, the tube is labeled with an expiration date. There does not appear to be any filler ingredients (like water or some such); the bottle is small but intense.  Absorption is very quick (Uka’s website promises that you will not spoil your documents at work).  The applicator is a rollerball, which is spill proof.

What really impressed me is how quickly and well the product works.  In a few hours, my nails and cuticles look and feel so much better.  If you don’t mind a little scent, the product can be used on other areas as well, such as the lips, or simply to wear for the scent itself.  I bought Uka 18:30 on a whim, but I’m using it every day and really loving the results.  As niche products go, I really love this one.  Is this a “must have”?  Well, I think we both know that it’s a luxury product.   Marc Jacobs said, “I don’t know why I love what I love, but I love…that I don’t know why.”  This is one of those products, in my opinion.  I can’t logically justify why I love it, but I do.  And to some point, isn’t that why we love products like these?

It did make me more curious about beauty oils.  I feel like I’m missing out on something very fundamental when I see how effective simple products can be. I want to learn more.


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Apr 082011


A month ago, I offered this look inside my suitcase to show you what I brought to Paris.  Now that I’m returning, I wanted to do a quick sketch of what worked, what didn’t and what I missed most from my permanent stash.

First:  What worked? As some of you probably guessed, I brought way too much.  Like Rachel Zoe packing shoes for Fashion Week, I could have easily left one-third of these items at home.  On the road, I almost never had time to play with new looks.  Also, the culture of makeup in Paris emphasizes great skin and minimal eye color.  When I saw so many women like myself wearing understated color (except for lips, of course!), I didn’t think about deeply pigmented teal shadow.  If you’ve read Café Makeup, you already know my aesthetic.  Multiply that times 1,000, omit bronzer in favor of a nude blush and you’ll get my perfect Parisian face.

My standard everyday face included:

  • Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B10 Great coverage, no breakouts.  By the way, if you haven’t seen this video by Lisa Eldridge on Chanel Confidential about the use of Vitalumiere Aqua, you should. I highly recommend watching this, even if you already own and love the product.

  • Nars Maui multiple. This added just the right touch of nude glow, contour and highlight.  Liz picked it up for me before I left, and I’m glad that she did. I loved it, wore it nearly every day.
  • By Terry Eye Primer. Adds a touch of moisture.  I followed up by adding a touch of concealer on top (usually the Cle de Peau).

  • Sublime de Chanel Mascara. Reviewed here. I’ve falled in love.  According to Chanel, it’s coming to the U.S. in August.
  • Edward Bess Soft Smoke Eyeshadow trio. Hello, I’m in Paris–a nice neutral deep eye is perfect here.  Edward Bess’ Soft Smoke has a subtle highlight, the perfect mid-tone grey and a nice black liner color (reviewed here). I wore this almost every single day.  These colors look simple, but really they look extremely good when applied on the eye.  I’ll never take that for granted–it’s much harder to find an excellent near-matte neutral that makes you look luminous and alive than you would ever think.  It’s an investment palette–but well worth it in the long run.

  • Le Metier de Beaute Precision Eyeliner.  No extra brush required.  It can go subtle or heavy, depending on the application.  I used this almost every day.  Plus, it’s tiny and so easy to pack.

  • Lip Product de Jour. I liked the options that I brought, plus I added some Chanel Rouge Coco Shine on arrival.  Overall, I had a nice variety to add color to an otherwise neutral face.

Second:  Let’s talk skincare!

  • Suncare:  Even in the cloudy, grey days of March, I didn’t go anywhere without sun protection.  When I travel, I’m outside for hours at a time, and sometimes all day.   Sometimes the weather was gloriously sunny, but even cloudy days let some UV light do their damage.  Every day, I applied EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46, which is absolutely awesome for my acne prone skin.  It includes physical sun protection and seems to disappear into my skin without leaving a tint or white cast.  Because I wasn’t bothered by the paparazzi (note to self: work on that!) I can’t comment on how this looks in flash photographs.  In daylight, the texture was very workable.  Most importantly, it didn’t break me out.  I bought mine at my dermatologist’s office, but it’s also available online from the Dermstore and elsewhere.  Worth every penny.

  • Cleansers/toners: Good skin must be cleansed.  This time around, I threw in a travel-sized Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Buffing Beads from this Sephora Fabulous Four set, a decant of my Shu Uemura Cleansing oil, and a decant of my DDF 10% Glycolic toner.  Perfect combination.  It’s really important to bring an oil cleanser to get any sunscreen off.

Third:  What could I have left behind? My biggest packing error was too many duplicate products.  Here’s what I would have pared down:

  • Too many eyeliners.  I had three–Bobbi Brown’s Chocolate Shimmer and Black Ink, plus Le Metier de Beaute’s liquid eyeliner pen.  I should have picked one black liner.
  • Too many concealers. I have three in the picture above, then I added another in my carry-on bag.  Really, one is enough.
  • Duplicate bronzers.  NARS Maui multiple and Chanel’s powder bronzer was one too many.
  • Sephora straightener for Europe.  A few years ago, a blogger recommended buying a European-specific hair straightener because her U.S. version had blown up even when using a converter.  So I got a Sephora straightener (which is made by Corioliss) made for 220 volt systems.  This year, it stopped working the first week–what a waste of suitcase space and money.  Next time, I’ll look at a battery-powered option.

Fourth:  What did I miss?

  • Brow pencil. I had nothing for brows–no pencil, and no good powder substitute.  I bought Chanel’s new Crayon Sourcils Sculptant almost immediately when I arrived and used it every day.  I like that it includes an eyebrow brush on one end, because I hadn’t packed one of those either.  I loved the texture.  I bought it in the lightest shade, Blond Clair 10, which is a touch too yellow for me.  I’ll be excited to see the other shades when they arrive in the U.S. in August.

  • Clarisonic Skin Cleanser. I made the right call to leave this at home.  It’s really bulky (although the new, smaller Mia might be better).  Unlike my computer and camera equipment, it’s not compatible with Europe’s 220 electric system.  There is no comparable product sold in Europe.  So, even though I was correct to leave this out of my already-overflowing suitcase, I really missed it.

  • I missed my nail polish range. Again, I made the right call not bringing more than two bottles–a clear Sally Hansen and Chanel Strong. My nails get completely trashed when traveling, there’s no avoiding it.  Still, I missed not having any nude or taupe options, or a nice clear red.  I don’t think there’s a good answer for this.  You just have to give up some things when you’re on the road.

Well, my dearest readers, how did I do?  Do you have any travel tips you’d like to share?


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Apr 072011

Nars Velvet Gloss Pencil in Baroque ($24) is a deep blue-based red that adds a sheer wash of glossy gorgeousness.

If you aren’t sure you were meant to wear reds, trying a sheer red like Nars Baroque will give you a good chance to experiment.  It will allow some of your natural colors show through.  The deeper color looks great with both fair and deep skin tones.  The touch of blue helps whiten teeth just a touch.

On Liz:

This is one of my favorite sheer reds.  I love the pencil format.  Although it has a slight crayon scent (which I believe is the packaging and not the gloss), these are so easy to use.  A nice, fool-proof burgundy red.

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Apr 062011

As my time in Paris comes down to a few hours, I’m posting a very few quick pictures of the two five eyeshadow palettes for Summer 2011 for the Electric Tropics collection, in Rosy Nude ($58 #534) and Rosy Tan ($58 #754).

Rosy Nude is a light toned palette, which will look beautiful for daytime for a summer look:

Another of Rosy Nude:

Here is Rosy Tan, which has the deeper tones that can be used for evening or for a more intense day look:

One last one of Rosy Tan:

I played with these at the Dior boutique, and the pigmentation seems quite good although I did not do a full swatch of all of the shades. I’ll do my best to swatch these next week.  In the meantime, hopefully you will find these helpful.


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Apr 062011

For Summer 2011, Dior’s Electric Tropics Collection includes two Catwalk Duo nail polish. These are the searing deep orange Aloha (#638) and the bright jelly pink Paradise (#558). Each is packed with a super glossy topcoat to give you the option of adding a special flash of shine to your summertime nails.

The enclosed instructions suggest that the topcoat be applied about 30 seconds after the second coat of color. Also, these warn that these nail polishes should be stored in a dark place.  The Dior sales person at the 30, Rue Montaigne store told me that these are fluo formula, which pick up a glow when one is out at night.  I can’t wait to test that out.

As my flight leaves in less than a few hours, I can’t swatch these but I thought that some color shots would help those of you who need to know.  I promise to swatch these when I return next week.

Aloha is a drop-dead dark orange.  It’s opaque in two coats, and is going to look amazing with very pale skin or with a deeper tone.  I love Aloha. Here, you can see that Aloha comes with the special topcoat in the same box:

I did a single nail while playing at Dior, and so far Aloha seemed to apply like a dream.

Paradise is a cool baby pink.  My quick test at Dior indicated that Paradise applies more as a jelly, there’s a sheerness to the vivid color.  The dry time was longer with Paradise, which is typical for a jelly.  It’s a gorgeous color, and the texture of it is unique because it is so intense yet there is a luminosity because of the jelly quality.  With flash:

One more of Paradise, in natural light, which has turned cool at the end of the day:

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Apr 062011

Dior Summer 2011 is Electric Tropics, and the stars of the collection are two beauty bronzing powders, called Diorskin Nude Glow Healthy Glow Summer Powder.  The lighter is Aurora ($46 #001), and the darker is Sunset ($46, #002).

I went to see this on their very first day for sale at the House of Dior’s original headquarters at 30 Rue Montaigne in Paris.  I believed that if anyone knew how to use these beautiful powders, it would be at Dior’s main location.  It was a glorious warm spring day in Paris, and I could think of nowhere else in the entire world that I would rather look at Dior’s new summer makeup collection.

The powders come with large silver compacts with the beautifully woven top, which include a mix of bronze tones with subtle gold sparkles, plus a coordinating shade.  Aurora has a soft pink tone, and Sunset has a soft peach.  Here is a close up of Aurora:


I am NC15/Chanel Cameo, so fairly fair skinned.  I tried to talk the sales associate into admitting that I needed both Aurora and Sunset.  She refused.  “But I’m from California,” I implored.  “Everyone is so bronze there in California–it’s like Jersey Shore–do you know it?”  She laughed, admitted that she did know Jersey Shore.  Still, she wasn’t going to let me walk around on this Earth with a too-dark bronzer, because that’s what a great makeup professional does.

She explained how to use these Healthy Glow Summer Powders.  First, they come packaged with a wide brush:

One places the powder on the wide brush, then swipes the brush downward over the entire face in a downward motion.  The motion is intended to mimic how the sun hits the face.  So the eye sockets, under the nose area, and other receding areas will not get any bronzer, but areas that would be hit by the sun are touched with the powder.  Because one puts this bronzer on such a large area, the skin-tone match must be good.

In indoor soft light:

My finger-swatch of Sunset confirmed that she was absolutely right.  Sunset is a dark bronzer similar to the deeply- toned Nars Casino.  One would want to be NC35 or darker to choose Sunset.  There is no way that Sunset will work on my fair skin.

Aurora in sunlight to highlight the texture:

I looked at the Nude Healthy Glow Fluid ($46), but passed.  These come in three color tones.  These are very sheer and glowy, and they promise no skin care benefits.  Essentially, the are intended to add a very soft sheen to the skin.  Indeed, these did so beautifully, and the lightest available shade was light enough for my skin tone without adding much (if any) color.  Personally, I didn’t feel the need for another glow product at this time, although I might reconsider when I get back to the U.S.

One more Aurora picture because it’s so pretty:

To see more products from Dior’s Electric Tropics collection, see these posts:

  • Dior Aloha and Paradise Nail Polish is here.
  • Dior Rosy Nude and Rosy Tan eyeshadow palettes are here.

There were several gorgeous Lip Addict colors as well, but I thought I’d wait to pick up those.

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Apr 062011

NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Happy Days ($24) is a sweet coral with a tiny gold twist.

These Velvet Gloss Pencils are so easy to use and apply.  There’s enough color and shine to add some pretty, but they are not so opaque that you have to be super careful with the application.


This is a great, easy summer color.  On lips, it adds just a touch of shine and peachiness to Liz’s naturally pink lips:

Note that, because of its sheerness, Happy Days will look different on different lip tones.

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