Jun 302012

First, there’s a new online free foundation matching service called Findation. If you tell it your foundation match, it gives you suggestions for other brands. I was surprised to see how many brands they do include–it gave me a suggested match for Chantecaille, for example. I thought it worked pretty well for me, give it a spin and see what you think?

Second, I’m obsessed with the dance that is performed while trying on perfume (and makeup, too) in Paris. In the U.S., sometimes we  think nothing of walking up to a counter and spritzing away on our wrists. I’ve seen some amazing things done with department store testers, I’m sure I’m not alone. At any rate, I went to the house of Dior to see whether I could find the Violets nail release (reviewed here by The Beauty Look Book, and rumored to become available at Nordstrom Anniversary Sale). After the incredibly elegant Dior associate found two of the polishes for me, she invited me very politely to try the new Dior Addict fragrances.

Caron Cut Crystal Perfume Globe

First, she sprayed each separately on white Dior cards so that I could test each one and we could discuss them in depth. She pointed out their differences in notes (in perfect English, I might add). When I chose my favorite of the two, she asked politely if I would like to wear it. I agreed, and she spritzed around my head as if she were circling me with a garland (no direct contact with the skin). I walked  out enhanced by a cloud of Dior. It was such an elegant experience.

Third, the Paris fashion houses are readying to show their annual couture collections this upcoming week.

Chanel Invitation to Couture 2012

They must be so very busy right now. If you’d like to learn more about the last day before a major show, the Sundance Channel has produced some documentaries in a series called The Day Before (available on iTunes). The one that focuses on Jean Paul Gaultier shows the incredible craftsmanship of an haute couture collection very well. (Note that the one about Karl Lagerfeld is about his work with Fendi, not Chanel).

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Jun 292012

I’ve been wearing two sunscreens this year, so I thought I would do a comparison between them. The vast majority of my days I wear Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50 ($52/ 1 oz.). This is my second bottle, so I’m very familiar with the product. This sunscreen is a cosmetically elegant, hard-working, and high-protection product. It’s a perfect size to tuck into my purse, and I usually have one in there.

Chanel UV Essential SPF 50 feels slightly moisturizing as it goes on, and it dries down fairly quickly (about a minute or two). It acts as a nice buffer between my skin and my foundation. Generally, it works very well for a day where I’m in the office most of the time, or running a few errands.  I notice that I pick up far less color from sun exposure when I do re-apply it just before leaving for the day (Chanel recommends re-application every 2 hours).

 Chanel UV Essential SPF 50 uses active ingredients of  Octinoxate 7.5% Titanium Dioxide 2%, Zinc Oxide 17.1%. Using this sunscreen table, we can see that the first ingredient Octinoxate is a chemical sunscreen, and the last two (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are physical sunscreens. This combination allows Chanel to provide a broad spectrum of protection for both UVA and UVB rays. According to Chanel, there are other skin care ingredients as well, “free-radical and anti-pollution shield with a Vitamin E derivative and plant extracts empowers this oil-free, lightweight formula to safeguard skin against environmental pollutants. Licorice Root Extract and a highly effective combination of UVA and UVB filters help diminish and prevent the appearance of dark spots and signs of premature aging.”  I’ve had no breakouts, clogged pores, or cosmetic concerns wearing this. It looks fabulous under foundation, and it is very good to my skin.

However, if I’m going to be out in the sun for several hours, I’ll use Institut Esthederm’s No Sun. This is a French line that prides itself on innovative chemistry. I purchased this on my second day in Paris, and I’ve been wearing it during my long afternoon walks (along with a visor) to protect my skin from the sun. This is a complete block against any sun reaching one’s skin, and I don’t get a hint of color when I apply it properly.

This is not a cosmetically elegant product, compared to Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50. It comes out as a thick white goo. When I first apply it, it looks like I’ve streaked, well, white goo all over my face. It takes about 20 minutes for the white color to fade, and even then it doesn’t fade entirely. It seems to create pores when I never had them before. I wear Nars Tinted Moisturizer over it, which helps immensely to make my skin look very close to human again.

The reason that I love this product is that it means exactly what it says–“No Sun.” According to Institut Esthederm, “the effects of the sun are blocked. Skin is protected and can be exposed without tanning in any sun conditions.” I get absolutely no color wearing this. At all.

Also, I get no breakouts or clogged pores, which really surprised me. I remove this with an oil cleanser and a thorough cleaning with a Clarisonic brush, sometimes followed by a toner. Still, the heaviness of this had me concerned. In fact, my skin is left feeling quite soft and good after I remove this at the end of the day.

Typical of Institut Esthederm, the ingredient list is a bit hard to understand: Anti-dehydrating complex, 
UV Incellum Technology.  
Internal protection: High definition hydrolysed proteins, Nucleotides of natural origin, Tocotrienol, Creatine, Vitamin complex, 18-β-glycyrrhetinic acid 
 External protection: Combination of filters and screens, Cellular Water, Water, ATP, Carnosine, mineral salts.

I’m going to add some random sunscreen advice here:

  • First, don’t go without sunscreen just because you think you’ll break out. If you have really oily skin, Elta MD Clear  SPF 46 is a great sunscreen that is designed to keep your skin clear while you are wearing it. No excuses, now, this is important.
  • Some women don’t seem to want to re-apply this once their makeup is done for the day. I’m less concerned about driving home with a perfect face. When I’m at work, I have makeup remover wipes, my sunscreen, and my Nars Tinted Moisturizer ready to go. I just reapply everything and don’t worry about finishing powder & blush on the way home (or I’ll bring a Nars Multiple, which is super easy to swipe on). If I’m not at work, I just re-apply the sunscreen over what I’m already wearing. I’m not sure if this is the “right” way to handle it, but to me sun protection is too important to skip.


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Jun 272012

As the famous line from The Devil Wears Prada goes, “Gird your loins!” The French government authorizes only two sales per year. No, I’m not kidding. Today was the first day (except for store cardholders who got to first pick over the past week). It can be an absolute madhouse. If one is serious about these sales, one is waiting at the door at 8 am. This year, I was not one of those people.

By the time I arrived mid-afternoon, the aisles were packed with shoppers. By the way, why are some rolling suitcases behind them? Does any one know? Are they buying so much? Some of the major couture houses had lines outside the door. Guess which line I was in?

As I expected, only very trendy/seasonal items had been marked down and the selection had been whittled down to the unappealing by the time I arrived. Even a discount isn’t really a discount if you’ll never, ever wear it. On a happier note, I did find some patent red Lanvin flats for 30% off at another store.

 Now to figure out how to get that gorgeous box home in my already-overstuffed suitcase. The sales will run until July 31st, consisting almost entirely of the spring and summer items. In the meantime, the stock shrinks, the discounts get deeper, and lines start to put out their Fall 2012 merchandise to tempt you into paying full price for the newly-released items.

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Jun 262012

The French skin care line Caudalie has just released the Caudalie Divine Oil ($48/3.4 oz/ 100 ml.). This is a dry oil that can be used on hair, body and face, and is intended to moisturize. This is a blend (grape, hibiscus, sesame and argan) combined with Caudelie’s own anti-oxidant polyphenols.

According to the company, grape oil is particularly good for skin in the long term–“A priceless treasure from the vine, grape oil contains a high concentration of Omega 6 and vitamin E which gives it nourishing and regenerative properties.” I’ve been reading up on free radicals and antioxidants lately, and whew! To summarize, free radicals are not our friends.

This oil is being heavily promoted in Paris right now, many of the pharmacies have large poster-boards and prominent displays. That makes sense. Dry oils are particularly nice for summer, when more skin is showing and a pleasant, moisturized glow is the best accessory. For me, the best time to apply Caudalie Divine Oil is right after bathing or showering. Those who are out in the sun will find it very soothing. Also, I like to use it as a hand moisturizer–I find using a dry oil on my nails and cuticles keeps them moisturized and healthy. When I’m not wearing nail polish, the oil gives my nails a little glow.

If you haven’t used a dry oil before, you might find the concept of putting oil on your hands a little counterintuitive. Keep in mind that a dry oil is designed to absorb into skin quickly, emphasis on the word “dry.” It can actually feel much lighter and more pleasant than many hand cremes, which sometimes can feel a bit heavy or waxy. The oil leaves the skin with a pretty glow that looks like natural, healthy skin.

This dry oil feels very rich, and a light coating absorbs nicely in under five minutes. There is a pleasant fragrance, not unlike the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. I’m sure there are Caudalie and Nuxe fans that find subtle differences, but the similarity was there for me. The scent is far less strong that scented dry oils, such as those released periodically from Tom Ford.

Unlike the Nuxe dry oil, Caudalie has a spray top which is nice for doing hair and body. For the face, I spray a bit into my hands before touching on. Also, note that Caudalie has a generous 3.4 ounces per bottle while Nuxe’s is labeled as half as much product (Caudalie with 100 ml, and Nuxe at 50 ml).

U.S. buyers (particularly those outside of Manhattan) are likely to find Caudalie’s easier to obtain. It’s currently available on Caudalie’s website, and  now comes with a free Des Vignes fragrance with the code DIVINE.

Bottom line–highly useful, really delivers. Would love to see this is in an airline-friendly 1 ounce version for those heading off for distant beaches, or business travelers who want on-the-road luxury with an all-in-one skin and hair moisturizer.

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Jun 262012

So many people visit Paris and look at the breathtaking architecture. Most of these buildings are in everyday use in the city. For example, the Palais Garnier (above) is an incredible building that actively houses ballet, opera and concerts throughout many months of the year.

One of the very best ways to see these theaters is while attending a live event. As a major cultural center, Paris presents some of the most incredible performances in the world.

It’s best to order your tickets online before your trip, because performances sell out. The other day, I went to the theater with a glowing complexion thanks to Edward Bess South of France Quad Royale. To compliment its pink tones, I also used Nars Gaiety blush, Chanel Variation Quad Eyeshadow, and Burberry Hibiscus Lip Glow Gloss. I loved the effect. Bravo!!

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Jun 262012

On the Cafe Makeup menu today, this mille-feuille pastry (also called a Napoleon). This, made of an unbelievably flaky and light pastry, includes a touch of custard and cream. This one is from Lenôtre, which consistently presents picture-perfect, stunning creations that only the human hand can create. With something so beautiful, who needs to actually taste it?

If you enjoy learning more about excellent French pastry, you might enjoy a documentary called The Kings of Pastry (trailer is here). It’s a charming little film.

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Jun 252012

Chanel recently released a small eye collection Les Expressions de Chanel outside the U.S. (details here). This includes three eyeshadow quads, including the new Chanel Eyeshadow Quad Variation (#37), part of the Violet Expression Set. The collection also includes Eclosion, which was previously released in the U.S. (reviewed here by The Beauty Look Book), and a neutral set called Intuition. I’ve heard from various sources that this collection is slated for release in the U.S. in either October or November 2012, in the more traditional U.S. square-pan format.

Outside the U.S., these three eyeshadow quads are released in the baked, rounded format (the back of Variation reads “Made in France,” although sometimes the U.S. releases are as well). When I tested these in the store, I found the non-U.S. Eclosion and Intuition very noisy with fallout, and the texture seemed a bit uneven based on my finger swatches. I’m hoping the U.S. versions of these quads will be the more traditional, pressed powder type. Intuition in a U.S. format could be a nice neutral to have, so I passed on the non-U.S. version because of the rough texture.

Of the three, Chanel Variation had the smoothest texture, it is similar in texture to Chanel Rose Envolee. There are micro glitters the taupe, medium rose, and deeper eggplant color, but they are very pretty, Chanel micro-glitters–very fine in texture and very wearable. The U.S. version will likely have a very different texture altogether (and perhaps slightly different colors), so I picked up Variation to have in this formula.

Chanel Variation has a shimmery-satin light pink highlighter, a soft light taupe, and medium mauve-rose and a deep eggplant liner. It could certainly be used to create an eye similar to the one in Lisa Eldridge’s most recent video “Grown Up Girly” (here), where she relies on Bourjois Rose Variation. Alternatively, the taupe could be used as the main lid color with a touch of the Vamp-like liner to add depth as the liner over and smudged under the eye, with a touch of the highlighter in the crease.

This will compliment well with Chanel’s Illusion D’Ombre in Abstraction. Overall, Chanel Variation is a lovely, feminine quad. I’ll be curious to see how Chanel reinterprets this for the U.S. market.


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Jun 222012

Chanel has released two new Illusion D’Ombres outside the U.S. market, including the pink-coral Illusion D’Ombre Abstraction and high-shine metallic gold Illusion D’Ombres Vision (28-29 euros each, depending on location). This is a gel cream formula introduced by Chanel during their Fall collection last year. My original six are still doing well–there is no sign of drying out or aging. Although the product tends to pull away from the sides, I understand that this is because the gel is cross-linked and so holds together rather than a traditional gel or creme. I tend to believe that explanation, they still seem as moist as the day that I first opened them.

Unlike the first series, Abstraction and Vision seem to be more opaque. The earlier six (particularly Epatant and Illusiore) have a texture that had complex inner layers of color that sheered out beautifully. Although Abstraction and Vision still have the magical texture, the color of both is more opaque, less complex, and (especially for the gold Vision) harder to sheer out.

Of these two, most readers will find Chanel Illusion D’Ombre in Abstraction suits most occasions easily. This is a color that looks almost coral in the pot, but applies as a soft pink pearl. I can see that this will pair well with Illusiore (or any other powder shadow in the violet category). Readers who dislike wearing pink on the lid should heed that instinct. This does lean pink when applied (Chanel calls it a “peach rose”). Abstraction’s light and pearly tone keep this from giving me a full pink-eye effect, particularly when mixed with another shadow. However, the other colors in the original six are much more in my comfort zone.

Chanel occasionally releases a color in its line that is over-the-top fantastic in the catwalk sense of the term. For many reasons, this is why I love the line–they are an haute couture design house, so it should be no surprise. Vision fits within that category–this is a highly-reflective shimmery, sparkling pot of gold. If worn full-force, it’s worthy of a high fashion moment. One might pat out the color or wear it sheerly. As one of the Cafe Makeup commenters noted, Vision is a gold version of Chanel Illusion D’Ombre Fantasme. I did experience a bit of fallout, and layering Vision takes practice because it can get a bit patchy. I got the best results mixing Vision with a moisturizer first–it allows the product to be worn sheerly without any patchiness.

Readers should note that Chanel Illusion D’Ombre in Vision is a high-reflect, glitter-rich product. The micro glitter in the other Illusion D’Ombre (except for Fantasme) is far more subtle than Vision. I experienced fall out during application, and the glitter twinkles a bit like a MAC Reflects–it’s prominent.

Here are swatches of Chanel Abstraction and Chanel Vision, applied both heavily and lightly. There is no moisturizer used in this image, these swatches are straight from the pots:

Another set:

 I have a feeling that Abstraction and Vision will go into a “don’t use much” category of Illusion D’Ombre, along with Fantasme. Abstraction can work with the new eyeshadow quad Variation released with this collection (review to come). Vision is a niche, glamorous product that is highly reflective, metallic and glittery.  I did find this makeup look wearing Abstraction on Emma Stone on Chanel’s Facebook page:

To Abstraction has been sheered out to get this look (or perhaps the lighting has washed out the color a touch). Either way, it looks amazing with Emma’s eyes. Here’s the complete break-down from the Chanel release:

  • Face: Le Blanc de Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base, then applied CHANEL Vitalumiere Aqua Hydrating Cream Compact Makeup SPF 15 in 10 Beige, buffed with a soft synthetic brush.
  • Eyes: I applied a wash of CHANEL Illusion D’Ombre Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in Abstraction, a shimmery peach rose shade available in November. I finished the eyes with two coats of Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara in Noir.
  • Lips: The focal point of the makeup was definitely the lip. I used CHANEL Rouge Coco Lip Colour in Rivoli. I love the contrast of a deep lip shade on fair skin; it’s always so arresting and takes a real commitment to wear. Only a girl with real confidence can pull it off with grace.


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Jun 202012

Living in the U.S., I’ve heard so much about Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micellaire. European bloggers and vloggers have recommended this product as a gentle, effective, and very inexpensive makeup remover on a consistent basis. Lisa Eldridge has recommended this product in five videos, including her “French Pharmacie Favorite Skincare.”

As many of you already know, Bioderma Crealine is a “micellaire water,” which is a clear makeup remover that looks like water but has many more gentle and effective ingredients, including typically very small oil particles. You soak a little on a cotton pad, whisk across the face, and obtain soft, cleansed and moisturized skin.

Right now, Bioderma Crealine is so cheap it’s practically running out of the faucets here in France— you can get two giant bottles for under 20 euros and it’s available everywhere.  As I’m paying about $30-60 for a much smaller quantity of makeup remover oils, I couldn’t resist trying it. I added this tiny travel sized bottle for 4.95 euros to my overloaded arms at the local Monoprix to find out…is it really that good?

The answer is “yes.” It’s gentle, it takes off everything (including mascara, sunscreen, and bb cream) with the greatest of ease. My skin is left feeling soft and hydrated. It’s lovely.

The problem in that in the States, no stores carry the product near me close to this price. So one of its major selling features in Europe (the affordability) isn’t so. New London Pharmacy carries the product at $48 for a single bottle. Although Mon Guide Sante lists this two-pack at $24-ish, shipping these heavy, bulky bottles to my U.S. address adds another $39 bringing the total to $63. Under those circumstances, the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water at Sephora begins to look quite reasonable at $39 for one bottle (adding another $11 to your cart gets free shipping).

Bottom line–awesome if you live in Europe or near a reasonably priced source. As your total price ratchets up, I’d explore another micellaire option. If you have any U.S. recommendations (high or low end, given our options) we’d love to hear about them!

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Jun 182012

I’ve just been told that Burberry will be offering this Lip Glow Trio for the Anniversary Sale this July. This includes the most popular shades, Rosewood, Blush and Nude Beige, and sells for $65. I find the formula of these glosses are fabulous. In fact, they are edging out Chanel Glossimers in my purse these days.

The Burberry counter will also be holding an Anniversary event on July 20th & 21st that features a gift with purchase. This includes a bag, mirrored compact, Body fragrance sample, and mini-lipstick for a $125 minimum purchase. I’m sorry, we don’t know the lipstick mini shade. Please call your local Nordstrom counter to see whether they are also having this event.



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