Aug 082011

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.

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  23 Responses to “Estee Lauder Modern Mercury Powder Gelee”

  1. Great post! I NEEEEED to go see it in person!

  2. It looks a bit too dark for me as a highlight, but I think this would look gorgeous all over the lids. =)

  3. It looks so gorgeous! How much does it contains? 🙂

  4. The sales lady helping me at Nordstroms said it was indeed sparkly all the way through and not an overspray. It’s possible I squeaked a bit in a joy.

  5. I was so disappointed about this – it’s far too dark for me as a highlighter, so I had to let it go to live with someone who has darker skin. Sigh.

  6. I also like to use perlees de chanel in white as a cheek highlighter!! I just ordered my Ombres Tissees from the Aquarelles de Chanel collection… I cant wait to get it!!! It looks awesome.

  7. You know Amy, I was really curious to see if you were going to buy/review this product. I was playing with it during the Nordy’s anniversary sale at the counter and just stopped short of buying it. I have been thinking about it for the last several weeks since swatching it on my hand/cheeks and I’m definitely going to pick this up. I think for $40 and the amount of product, it’s a win for sure. If you haven’t seen this beauty in person – go look! I heard that it’s an LE as well (not sure if you heard the same…). Thanks again for the lovely review!

  8. Thank you for confirming my need for this product – pay day can’t come soon enough.

  9. I smiled when I saw that you showed two of Les Ombres Perleés with the highlighters. I’ve used all of the pink and almost all of the white–not just on my eyes–but on my cheek bones as well! If Chanel had come out with a full size of the pink, I would have snatched it up in a nano-second.

    • That is my dream too Eileen!!!!

    • I AGREE!!!

      • Does the Chanel Ombres Tissées Beiges from Les Aquarelles compare at all?

        • Not even close, JillZ. The pink Ombre Perlée is magic 🙂

          • Eileen have you used the Illusion D’Ombre in Emerville? It is very close to the pink from the Ombre Perlee (just a little peachier). I tried it on my cheeks as a highlighter and thought it looked pretty good. And since the Illusion D’Ombre are part of the permanant line they may come out with one that is more pink :)….fingers crossed.

  10. I’m so in love with this product! I think I may have to cave 😉

  11. I bought this because I liked it very much and I was really curious about your opinion about it 🙂 I am only sorry I missed the Pure night highlighter, that one looks amazing too… maybe someday there will be something similar available, if this will be the case, please let us know about it. Thank you for your excellent reviews.

  12. Love Liz’s lip in the second photo!

  13. Hi Amy,

    I am just curious how this compared to Guerlain’s limited edition sublime Inca poweder that came out this summer.

    BTW, love your new layout with the new pics.


    • Hi Daisy, Modern Mercury is more shimmery and more peach (Guerlain is shimmery but not as reflective, and more bronze)

  14. I really like the finish to the Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury Collection

  15. I saw this in the store and found it so beautiful but I thought I really do not need another highlighter so I did not buy it. I went home and went to see it you had reviewed it and to my surprise yes! What a great review and yes it is so much more than a highlighter I ran back to the store the next day and let them put some of the tester on my face the salespersoon even put it onder my eyebrows just like Liz’s (he did this totally on is own I did not tell him to) and as a blush on my cheeks as well. I got the last one in stock and I am so happy with it and greatfull to you for posting this great review!

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