One of the most dramatic offerings from Fall 2011 is Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury Collection, particularly the Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelee in Modern Mercury ($40).  The texture is a very soft powder with pigment that seems to absolutely leap onto your applicator.  The shimmer is a strong pearl tone that has an unbelievable dimension and shine.

At first I assumed that this multidimensional wave of shimmer was an overspray. I think I’m wrong. We’ve dug down pretty far and that’s the color still.  It’s shockingly pretty if you love pearly shimmer.

Although the word “Gelee” is used in the product name, the powder block is firm and has not “gel bouncy give” of the Chanel Illusion D’Ombre gel eyeshadows released this Fall.  Rather, the powder pan bears a closer resemblance to Chanel’s Ombres Perlees eyeshadows released for Spring 2011.

Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury Illuminating Powder Gelee is more than a highlighter.  Rather, it deposits a layer of soft peach color.  In fact, Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury adds enough opaque color to the cheeks with the lightest of brushstrokes to act as a subtle blush on pale skin tones.  Today, I wore it as a soft blush/highlighter alone on my NC15/20 Chanel Cameo skintone.  Why did I think this was a highlighter?

Here are comparisons with Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury Illuminating Powder Gelee with a few highlighters in my collection.  First, Modern Mercury is much more opaque than the very sheer fairy-dust Estee Lauder Pure Color Night that was a very limited release last year.   I played with swatches from the two lightest shades from Chanel’s Ombres Perlees palette (the white and the peach/pink as marked, below).  Of all of my powders, I found that Modern Mercury bore the closest resemblance to the Chanel Ombres Perlees.  In addition, I’ve swatched Nars Albatross, which is not as shimmery or pearly as Modern Mercury.  Finally, I’ve added Chanel’s Pearl Glow from the recent Le Blanc release.  I found that Chanel’s Pearl Glow as more transparent, more gold pearly and had a harder pan texture compared to Modern Mercury.

Because comparisons for highlighters are hard to capture, I did several different swatches under different lighting conditions. Here, in sun:

Indoors with flash:


It takes almost no effort to build up the peach color that you see in these swatches.  Indeed, that color is what you get with the lightest touch of this very soft, high shimmer pigment.

On the left, Liz is wearing Burberry Tangerine alone on her cheeks and no eyeshadow (complete breakdown is here).  On the right, she added Estee Lauder Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelee in Modern Mercury to her upper cheeks and her eyelids.  You can see how much more color is on her cheeks and her upper lids:

You can see the added color:

Yes, Liz also changed her lip color (more on that in another post).

Overall, I have to love Estee Lauder Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelee, properly applied.  It’s a very pretty, light-reflective highlighter/blush on my fair skin tone.  It gives a very beautiful glow.  In addition, Modern Mercury does a lovely job of building up without being frosty. As with anything this pearly, too many layers will give a metallic effect so proceed with a single layer at a time.

The texture is a bit miraculous. Modern Mercury’s texture is extremely finely milled.  Extremely.  The pigment virtually leaps onto your brush or finger effortlessly.  As I mentioned above, the experience is a bit like the texture of the Chanel Ombres Perlees.

As with any highlighter, those with larger pores will wish to proceed with some caution.  Unlike some other highlighters, Modern Mercury is not sheer but rather gives a warm peachy glow. Adjust your blush accordingly.

Bottom line:  Pumped up gorgeous.

Please follow us on....