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, 
Xylitol 
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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