Nov 252012

Aēsop is a luxury line that focuses on premium natural ingredients. They feature skin and body care, perfume, shaving, and home products. From their website: 

Aesop was established in Melbourne in 1987 with a quest to create a range of superlative products for the skin, hair and body. We are committed to using both plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients of the highest quality and proven efficacy – particularly those with the greatest anti-oxidant properties.  

I’ve been hoping to explore Aēsop and share my findings with you, as I’m familiar with their store in Paris. From wandering through the beautifully-designed shelves of the shop, it does not take long to understand that the products are an extremely fine quality. They are a combination of classic natural ingredients formulated with modern technology to make fabulous, effective formulations.

Recently, I’ve had the chance to try Aēsop Fabulous Facial Cleanser ($33/ 3.4 oz. and $47/6.8 oz.). The scent if incredible, in the “luxury spa” sort of way. The formula is infused with a balanced blend of bergamot, chamomile and rosemary. It smells amazingto use in the morning. At the same time, the effectiveness are perfect to use in the evening. By double-checking with a toner, I’ve found that Aēsop’s Fabulous Face Cleanser removes allfoundation (including the stubborn, SPF-infused versions). The low-foaming formula works well with a Clarisonic brush. Love it.

Aēsop Fabulous Facial Cleanser was sent to me by Cult Beauty, who carries select products from the line. I’ve long been an admirer of Cult Beauty. As it happens, Cult Beauty is running a free worldwide standard shipping promotion through November 30th. This is a wonderful way to try some of the best beauty products (or send them as gifts) without extra fees (use code NOVEMBER at checkout) (excludes Escentric Molecules).

Ingredients (click to enlarge):

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Nov 232012

For a touch of tropical in this chilly holiday season, Dior has released the Cruise 2013 nail collection of three gorgeous colors:  Mango, Pasteque, and Lime ($23 each). I purchased these online at


The formula on these is excellent, shiny and smooth. The hot pink Pasteque, which I would say is probably the most duplicatable color of the three, is in fact a one-coat wonder with a beautifully shiny finish. For that reason, I suspect that I’ll use Pasteque the most. For those looking for something entirely unique, both Lime and Mango are refreshing looks that remind me of palm trees and salty margaritas. However, both Mango and Lime did require 2-3 coats to reach full opacity.

Get it: Mango and Pasteque.

Try it: Lime (this color won’t appeal to everyone).

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Nov 232012

For U.S. readers, this is the year that Black Friday has really begun to have a real impact in the beauty department. Really, it’s overwhelming.

Here are some that caught my eye:

Nordstrom has various value sets collected on this page. This includes Burberry, Estee Lauder, Laura Mercier and many more. Also, buy 2 nail polishes from Deborah Lippmann, butter LONDON, THE NEW BLACK or Nordstrom Nail Color and receive a third polish from the same brand free (no code needed). There are also brand-specific gifts with purchase listed here.

Bergdorf has the Beauty in the Bag event with many lines that have a gift with purchase. This includes Edward Bess, Chantecaille, Sulwhasoo, and more (click to enlarge or go to this page):

Saks has $25 gift cards with $100 purchase (ends today) with code Beauty12:

Omorovicza has 30% off from Friday through midnight on Monday. This is a spectacular discount for a top shelf line:

Shu Uemura has 20% off through Nov. 27th with code WISH12:

Laura Mercier is giving away free products with a Design Your Own Palette promotion.

Starting Sunday, Cult Beauty will be running a free worldwide standard shipping promotion through Friday 30th Nov. (Christmas gifts that ship for free!) Now is your chance to try Rodin, Aesop , Ellis Faasand other cult brands. Code NOVEMBER (excludes Escentric Molecules).

Bobbi Brown is tossing in samples sizes of lipglosses and other goodies with codes here.


Other promos du jour:

  • Becca has 20% off any $50 purchase with code GIVETHANKS.
  • Butter London is giving away a free Wallis nail polish with $50 order with code CELEBRATE12 (but see, the Nordstrom promo has buy 2, get 1 free for this brand)
  • has 30% off with code BLKFRI
  • Estee Lauder has a special lip gloss set until 1 pm only.
  • Inglot has 20% off everything (no code needed) through 3 am November 27th.  You bet I ordered from this site–the reviews have been fantastic.
  • SkincareRX has 22% off with code FRIDAY22 with deeper discounts for select products
  • L’Occintane is running so many gorgeous packages and promos.
  • Origins online has $10 off and free ship with $25 purchase.
  • Philosophy online has gifty treats on discount.
  • Sephora has a dizzying number of items discounted. Things are selling out early, so they may not be here if you’re reading this later in the day.
  • Ulta has massive door busters here.
  • Don’t forget to use Ebates–double cash back at over 500 sites today.

This was my email box this morning, summarized for you here. I hope all the links work, if not my apologies as I’m just running through the entire lot.

Cafe Makeup hopes that you have a fun and productive day. Driving back from the movies last night at 10 pm, Liz and I saw that parking lot at our local Target literally full.  For my part, we’re braving the crowds to get a new washer and dryer as our gave out yesterday after running nearly continuously for the past 10 years (no exaggeration, we got our money’s worth). Perhaps we’ll see you out there in the sea of people. Wish us luck and the same to you!

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Nov 172012

There are several blogs that cover the drugstore and mid-end steals and deals– Nouveau Cheap is one of my favorite for this type of information. What is happening on the luxury end?

Cult Beauty is running a fantastic goody bag with any order over £40. Just add the code GOODYBAG at checkout.

Inside the Goody Bag:
1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius (2.2g)
2. Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel (15ml)
3. Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask (10ml)
4. Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil (3ml)
5. Eve Lom Rescue Mask (5ml)
6. DuWop Mini Lip Venom
7. Jouer Cosmetics Mini Essential Lip Enhancer
8. Kai Perfume Oil Vial (1ml)
9. Alison Raffaele Mini Reality Base Foundation

Stivectin is having a 20% friends and family wide sale right now, with the code FRIENDS at checkout.

Various Nordstrom are having holiday shopping event evenings which include 10x points when using a Nordstrom charge. This applies to beauty, and it is a nice way to stock up on gifts. If you are a Nordstrom card holder, check your local store for the specific event dates as the dates vary by location.  Also, some Burberry counters are having gift with purchase days which varies by location.

Omorovicza Cosmetics is running 15% off some of its gorgeous beauty sets.

Perricone MD is having a 25% off Friends and Family sale on November 18 and 19th only, using code JOY25.

Happy shopping!  If you’ve heard of any other promo’s, perhaps put them in the comments? Thank you (and Cafe Makeup readers thank you also!)

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Nov 172012

 I hope you accompany us as we look at the new Christian Dior beauty area at Neiman Marcus San Francisco. Liz and I went to the Union Square store last week to see the new larger, Dior-exclusive area.  Come inside with us!

The area is beautiful, fully renovated and exclusively dedicated to Christian Dior makeup and perfume. The area is a new construction, creating a calm and elegant enclave featuring Dior’s entire makeup and skincare line. The crowning jewel of the space is in-person access to Dior’s La Collection Privée series of fragrances. Aside from this Neiman Marcus location, the only other locations where this line is sold is Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, and the Dior Las Vegas Boutique.  For anyone visiting or near the beautify City by the Bay, this is a delightful place to stop and browse.

This new space reminds me very much of Dior’s studio inside the Le Bon Marché in Paris.  As this press event, Dior’s La Collection Privée was elegantly displayed in two locations throughout the studio.

Liz and I were treated to a tour of the line by Dior fragrance consultant Michael Gizinski.

At the event, hors d’oeuvres were elegantly displayed and Liz was able to have nip of champagne as we sampled the fragrances. In the background, a stylized image of La Maison Dior in Paris reminds me of the line’s heritage. As you may know, Monsieur Dior returned from the war wishing to infuse life back into Parisian fashion.  He developed The New Look, with tiny waists, large elegant skirts and adorable jackets with stylish lapels and pockets placed to emphasize a woman’s form. Together with a number of other signature looks, Christian Dior ensured that Paris dominated couture for the next decades.

La Collection Privée evokes an elegant balance of the line’s heritage. For example, the Neiman Marcus Dior space features  a display of extrait de parfum versions of its fragrances. Below, an image of one named after Dior’s 1947 New Look , which I understand are not for sale but for on-site experience only.

One of the favorites that captured Liz and I was Milly-La-Forêt, which is named for Christian Dior’s garden retreat, with a beautifully balanced combination of mandarin, neroli and white musk. The medium 4.25 ounce spray in $155, and the large 8.5 ounce spray is $230. I love that both size bottles are rather large and generous for the excellently executed fragrances.

There is so much to learn in this space, I feel as though we only touched the very top level of information. For example, the space had a sample of the rare Diorama, formulated by Monsieur Dior in his Paris studio (not for sale in the U.S., although there is some possibility that it might be ordered). This subtle and beautiful combination reminded me quite strongly of the city of Paris–complicated, floral, and oh-so-interesting.

Also is Christian Dior Jules, which has a beautiful combination of leather and wood.

Of course, the space is designed for beautiful makeovers as well, with Dior’s amazing line of foundations, eyeshadows, brushes, powders and nail polishes. Each station has a lighted mirror, seating area so that several clients can be assisted at the same time.

As the event moved to makeovers, Liz and I decided to come back for more investigation. 

In the meantime, you owe yourself a trip to Neiman Marcus San Francisco to investigate Dior’s La Collection Privée.


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Nov 122012

Kevyn Aucoin’s line has just released several new products, including some buttery soft, highly pigmented eyeshadow duos.  I screeched to a halt when I saw them at a Space NK counter inside Bloomingdales in San Francisco.  As you likely know, Kevyn Aucoin’s line is also sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Here’s a quick snapshot of all the shades. Not being Karlasugar (plus I was already late for a meeting), I apologize but I do not have the names or swatches of all (click to enlarge):

Most of these shades have a gorgeous shimmer quality that reminds me of the old Shu Uemura eyeshadow singles circa 2004. Amazing complexity and beautiful texture. I did purchase one (just to play), which is the front-and-center duo with two highlighting shades, Kevyn Aucoin The Eye Shadow Duo Shimmering Wheat #202 ($42).

I recognize that Shimmering Wheat is an unconventional first choice to get into a new line. There are several amazing duos which would be safe, stand-alone palettes (look at the shades toward the left, especially the middle and bottom rows). Nonetheless, I’ve bought more than a few highlighter shades that seemed to lack complexity and pigmentation recently.  When I saw the gorgeous complexity, pigmentation and softness of Shimmering Wheat, I knew that I’d use it immediately with several items that I already own. Swatches:

One more:

In the meantime, I took a quick picture of the new Kevyn Aucoin matte eyeshadow singles as well:

It is lovely to see the line infused with products that meet the excellence of the existing line. If you are in the neighborhood of a counter, these are well worth a look.


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Nov 122012

The other day, I was thinking that I hadn’t seen a truly great mascara from Chanel since 1998.  One release in Europe last year–Sublime de Chanel–had promise on the first try.  However, even Sublime did not seem to be as dramatic as the former Chanels, or the current Armani Eyes to Kill, or Guerlain Le  2 Mascara.

Le Volume de Chanel mascara, just now being released in the U.S., has a winner that is very similar in effect to Guerlain Le 2.

The name “Le Volume de Chanel” suggests that the mascara will add volume to lashes. Put aside your visions of caterpillar-lashes, as this mascara gives a surprising amount of length, curl and definition. Le Volume gives your lashes an oooomph factor times one hundred, yet still manages to ensure that one looks appropriate.

According to the sales associate at the Chanel San Francisco boutique, the wand is called a “snowflake” design and it ensures clump-free application.

I found that the wand was very intuitive and effortless to use. Sometimes mascaras can be too dry, but Le Volume applied easily and quickly. There were a few tiny clumps, easily pushed away with the wand or nearby lash comb. Some of my lashes did stick together, but it wasn’t nearly in the same category as Benefit They’re Real.

I’ll try to do a review with Liz over the next few weeks–we’re on opposites coasts at the moment but still doing our very best to bring you everything we can under the circumstances.

Bottom line–love. I’ve only worn it for one entire day, as this is a preliminary report. No flaking, no smudging, no fading. Good curl, great lasting power. Great definition. Definitely has the high oooomph factor of the former great Chanel mascaras.

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Nov 112012

While picking up a watch repair at the Chanel boutique in San Francisco last week, I picked up two Chanel Liquid Eyeliner in Plum and Platine. These were both released in Europe this past summer, although I had to leave Paris before either arrived on counters.  Both use the traditional Chanel packaging, with the brush-tip that goes into the tiny pot of color at the bottom.

 Of the two, Platine was a delightful surprise–it is shimmery, high-shine and complex with multi-colored micro sparkles–so pretty.

I tried to capture the color of Platine as I headed out the door for a flight–I’m not entirely sure I was able to do fully do so.

Both are beautiful–richly pigmented. Well done.

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Nov 072012

I’ve been living out of suitcases for a while now, trying to balance my beauty goods on the corner of tiny bathroom ledges and stock up on travel sized luxuries. I thought I’d do a quick “Loving Right Now” for a few items that are making life on the road a little easier. I’m really looking forward to the end of the project in a few weeks so that I can cocoon at home and spread out.

1. Travel sized Caudalie Divine Oil ($18/Sephora) and L’Occitane Eau Essentielle Immortelle  mini-spray ($13ish). The full review of this mini-travel Caudalie Divine Oil is here, one of my discoveries in Paris this summer. How delightful that our local Sephora stores carry this wonderful, moisturizing oil in a travel size. I keep one in my desk at work as well, to moisturize my hands and nails throughout the day.

I occasionally stop by any nearby L’Occitane boutique and ask them whether they have any tiny sprays.  Usually, they have a stock of them in the back, former limited editions that haven’t sold out yet. These are wonderful for bringing on flights to add moisture mid-flight. The types of waters and toners varies by season, so do ask. These little in-flight luxuries make those delays much nicer. By the way, this Eau Essentielle Immortelle is a wonderfully moisturizing spray for the dry winter air.

 2. Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Moisturizing Lather Shampoo and Paul Mitchell Wild Ginger Keratin Intensive Treatment (roughly $20 each on and salons). I know, Paul Mitchell–it’s been years since I’ve thought anything in the line was worth exploring. Hear me out. 

My salon gave me a Wild Ginger treatment, which is a professional treatment. My hair was remarkably softer and smoother, and the stylist suggested that I maintain the look with the Wild Ginger Shampoo and Keratin Intensive Treatment. They are fabulous! They really leave my hair much more moisturized, softer and smoother than my more expensive home cleansers and treatments. They smell gingery too–very pleasant! Even though it was weeks since my in-salon treatment, I found these two products were worth checking out.

3. Perricone MD Formula 15 Serum  ($125). The original review for this product is here. That same evening that I published the review of the bottle sent by Perricone MD without charge to me, my bottle took a dive off of my tiny hotel bathroom ledge. Hysteria ensued. Now I’ve purchased my own. Awesome treatment for tightening, lifting, and generally youth-ifying. I love this and wish they made it in a great big bucket.  A plastic one.

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Nov 072012

Själ Skincare has just introduced the Själ Saphire Concentrate Anti Aging Face Oil ($175). I was sent these three mini-samples for review.

Like the other Själ products that I’ve tried, this is an extraordinarily refined and effective product. Literally, a tiny drop provides clear, pleasant and surprisingly immediate benefits. IThe first time that I tried this product, I had a dry patch from a “skincare experience gone wrong” on my cheek. During the course of a few minutes after I first applied Själ’s Saphire Concentrate, I literally watched the area become smooth and healed. Before my eyes. Overall, it provides a glowing, well-oxegynated look to my skin.

The company’s description:

A powerful, modern treatment oil made with an artisanal blend of rare essential oils and supra-3, a proprietary anti-aging bioactive complex designed to visibly diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increase elasticity, plump and revitalize skin. This ‘liquid silk’ weightless oil is infused with Himalayan blue sapphires and aquamarine known to facilitate clarity, calming and balance.

I keep hoping to find something “just as good” for a lower price whenever I try Själ products. No dice–I’m sorry. I’ve tried.  As with some luxury products, this oil will last for a very long time given its high concentration and effectiveness.  It’s a gorgeous product that works.

No breakouts or adverse effects. Wonderful as a moisturizer to take along on a flight–this substance is remarkably effective at preserving my skin in the unforgiving over-10,000 feet air.  As someone who has tried her share of face oils, trust me there is something really fantastic about this one.

Bottom line: Love to the last drop.

This is available at Själ’s online site, at Barney’s New York, as other online skin retailers. This was sent by PR to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. My samples did not come with an ingredient list.

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