Jun 292013

Laura Mercier highlighter1

A few weeks ago, I found that this Laura Mercier Radiance Baked Powder Highlighter ($36/ 7.5 gm/ 0.26 oz.) was introduced, along with several matte bronzer shades in the same format.  Although the bronzer shades look lovely, I was more drawn to the highlighter for the finely-milled, natural qualities and the look that give it gives to the skin.

Laura Mercier highlighter2

I think baked highlighters are beautiful, and I love their luminzing effect. There have been a few problems with baked powders that have been released in the beauty world–some are not finely milled, some have large glitter bits that don’t work for everyone, or only available as a limited edition. With some variegated formulas, there is a color variation which makes purchasing unpredictable (Will you get a “good” one? Sounds like makeup roulette?). I appreciate that Laura Mercier created stability through a well-designed, beautiful, consistent baked highlighter. Although I love the thrill of the chase, there’s a definite niche for a steady source of products that make us look like glowing gods and goddesses. Every time.

Laura Mercier highlighter3

Laura Mercier’s Matte Radiance Highlight gives a natural sheen to the skin. It kicks up a little dust upon application, but less than others I’ve seen, and it doesn’t translate to the face.  It gives a pretty glow that doesn’t look chalky. In the pan, it’s a soft peachy color that seems transparent when applied on my warm, light skin tone.

Laura Mercier highlighter5

On Liz, you can see how the flash hits the highlight on her cheek.  She is wearing the highlighter in a “C” shape around her outer eye area, but that is hard to detect unless the light is hitting there more directly. It showed up beautifully as she wore it throughout dinner afterwards. The way that the light plays with this highlighter is gorgeous. Here, she is wearing Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick in Gabrielle and Chanel Moon River eyeshadow (which is now reaching its “sold out” stage, sadly).

Laura Mercier Highlighter liz 1

As with many baked powders, fan brushes and duo-fiber brushes work well (avoid dense kabukis unless you are going for a “superstar” glow). Here are comparisons with the finely milled, more subtle Poudre Signee de Chanel, MAC Lightscapade (limited edition, not currently available), and Bobbi Brown Nude Shimmerbrick (not currently available) (click to enlarge to see texture):

LM Highlighter `1

Overall, Laura Mercier’s Matte Radiance line is a welcome addition to the beauty world, especially the new baked Highlighter.

The Laura Mercier Radiance Baked Powder Highlighter is available at Nordstrom and other Laura Mercier sources.

 This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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Jun 272013


Let’s handle this transition beautifully, shall we?  Some thoughts:

1.  Easy one-step transition to Bloglovin’.  This link transfers all of your feeds (including ours!) to the Bloglovin’ service.  I like the format, it gives the top image and some text so that you can tell whether it’s worth your time to click through.  Here’s the Cafe Makeup page.

cafe makeup blogiovin

Honestly, I like Bloglovin’ as the best out of all of the options.

2.  Other transition sites:

The Old Reader mimics the former Google Reader

Feedly is another way to go.

3.  Follow Cafe Makeup on Twitter or through email.  All posts are automatically posted to the Cafe Makeup twitter feed within 1/2 hour of the posting time. We post lots of quick little things on there too, and retweet the other things that we think you would find interesting or fun.

Email subscribers can sign up to the right in the subscription email box.  Go ahead! We don’t sell or provide any one with access to our email subscribers because that wouldn’t be nice.


Any other ideas? We’d hate to lose you!  We’re just getting started!

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Jun 272013

MAC 159 brush1

MAC has recently released the Tropical Taboo Collection, which is all about color and texture.  The one product which really stood out to me, however, is a newly-introduced brush. Specifically, the Mac 159 brush ($35) is the most interesting new brush that’s wonderful for highlighting, and also for precise placement of baked face products. The brush is a fairly short (roughly 6 1/2″) brush with a “cats paw” shape.

Mac 159 brush

From the side:

MAC 159 brush3

This brush is pleasant to use–imaging being petted by a very soft kitten.  Also, it makes unwearably rough-textured baked products meld nicely into the skin, knocking off the powder bits as it goes. If I had not tried it in person, I would not have understood its value.  If you are near a MAC counter/store, it’s really worth trying one of their baked products on with this particular brush.  You’ll fall in love with it–or at least, I did.  I believe that this brush is now part of their permanent line (but don’t quote me, there’s conflicting buzz).

Mac tropical taboo MSF01

While I was at the store, I looked at the new MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes from the MAC Tropical Taboo collection–Adored, Rio and Lust. I’m a highlighter fan (can  you tell?) and so I couldn’t resist picking these up. See, that’s the thing about MAC.  There’s something so fun about their “fabulous-today, gone-tomorrow” speed that’s both dizzying, intriguing and sometimes aesthetically successful.  Perhaps you’re read the same studies that I have–sometimes those who produce the greatest number of creative variations have the highest numbers of “hits”–sure, some misses too.  I try to wait on the sidelines and wait for the hits (and try to skip the misses, although I’m not always successful).

Mac tropical taboo MSF02

Of these, and for my fair warm coloring, Adored was the biggest hit.  It’s an unusual highlighter that looks almost transparent.  It adds just a touch of “glow” with peach-pink highlight where the light hits.  I’m not sure I’ve seen a skinfinish quite like Adored ever before.  It really adds something special over blushes–a healthy glow. You can use it in a “C” shape around the eye and on upper cheek, or lightly all over the blush area to add a little soft shimmer glow to the blush. Even better–when using the MAC 159 brush, I got no noticeable glitter from Adored.

Mac tropical taboo MSF03a

Rio is a cool pink highlighter. The color might be enough for a soft blush if you are very pale (but it’s too soft for me unless I’m going for a very nude-blush look).  The finish goes almost metallic in bright light.

Mac tropical taboo MSF07a

Lust is a soft pink (it’s close enough to Rio that you don’t need both in my opinion). I detected slight glitter particles in direct sunlight with Lust.  Like Rio, the highlight is quite obvious/metallic in direct bright light.

Mac tropical taboo MSF11

As you can see, the color from these is not very strong (these are two swipes each). They’re sheer.

One final note about all three–these really, really look best applied with the MAC 159 brush in my opinion.  They look much rougher  in texture when they are not. But with the 159, they are smooth and meld to the skin. Walking around in different light, I was glad that I splurged on the brush and can’t wait to try it with my other baked products (especially those non-US Chanel blushes–I’m very curious to see what the 159 will do with those!).

MAC 159 brush2

Also, all of the MAC Tropical Taboo colors seem designed for warmer skin tones. I’m not saying that a cooler toned person could never make them work, but it would seem more challenging to me.

Some other random thoughts:  Of these, Adored Mineralizes Skinfinish and the 159 brush were my favorites.  MAC Simmer blush is worth a peek if you’re in a blushy mood (I love it with Adored over it). Applied with the 159 brush, Simmer was like a red-gold stain. I didn’t look at the eyeshadows or the lip products from this collection, but Temptalia has done thorough reviews of the entire range. Also, there are some really knowledgable people on the Specktra Collection Board who post swatches, reviews and thoughts about all of them (with lots of different opinions, skin tones and preferences).

Regardless of how you feel about these metal-reflective baked skinfinishes, you might look at the MAC “cat’s paw” 159.

The MAC 159 brush is available at Nordstrom.com (the skinfinishes are here), MAC Cosmetics.com, and other MAC sources.

This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup)

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Jun 262013

Nars Primer1

Nars Radiance Enhancing Light Optimizing Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($34/ 1.o oz.) is a workhorse, oil-free primer which is designed to enhance the skin’s luminosity. Nars Light Optimizing Primer is available at Nars Comsetics online, Nordstrom, Sephora, and other places where Nars is sold.

Nars Primer2a

If you are familiar with Nars legendary eye primer, you know that Nars knows how to deliver a highly stable, tenacious primer that don’t distort the texture or color of your makeup. Nars Light Optimizing is within this same tradition. Although this formula for allover application for the face is quite different than the one designed for the eye, I found that this fuss-free, easy to use primer held onto my makeup beautifully throughout the day.

This will work well for someone who is looking to stabilize their makeup, but not seeking to invest is some of the options that promise significant skin care results (which can run significantly higher in price, and aren’t necessary for everyone). Additionally, this primer is ideal for skin that is prone to clogging, as it contains no oil, alcohol, and synthetic fragrance (there is a soft fruity scent on application, which fades in less than a minute on my skin). The primer is certainly non-comedogenic–I didn’t suffer a single clogged pore after days of testing.  There is a touch of sunscreen included (it’s rated at SPF 15):

Nars Primer4

The primer blends quickly into a stable, clear base very quickly.

Nars Primer5

If you look at the primer in certain light, you can see it has tiny light-reflective particles in the mix. This is virtually imperceptible once covered with a tinted moisturizer or foundation. It does, however, have a very slight luminizing effect that is very very subtle.

Nars reports:

95% agree that this product prepare the skin for effortless makeup application

90% agree that this product prolonged foundation wear

87% agree that their foundation look more luminous when applying this primer beforehand

93% agree that they feel that their makeup looked fresh and vibrant for hours when using this product

Overall, what I liked best about Nars Light Reflecting Primer was the fact that it quietly did its work–my foundation, blush and powder remained quite stable during long workdays.  As I took my makeup off at 10:00 pm, I was pleased to see it all intact. This was accomplished with adding any pore-clogging ingredients or unnecessary features. Which is, in my view, exactly what a good working primer should do.

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Jun 262013

Popsugar Must Have Summer Box6

A few weeks ago, Cafe Makeup joined Popsugar’s Select Blogger Program–yay!  We thought that was pretty awesome because we’ve been fans of the Popsugar world for several years. We love their energy!  When they asked whether we’d like a peek at the Popsugar Summer Must Have Box ($35), part of a monthly subscription service. Ours just arrived, so we wanted to share.

Popsugar Must Have Summer Box1

After an arm-wrestle over which of us would get the box (Liz won), we looked inside to see the goods.

Popsugar Must Have Summer Box2

We were surprised by the timeliness, quality and high “fun factor” of the goodies inside.

Popsugar Must Have Summer Box3

Pretty good, right? “Revenge Wears Prada,” looks like perfect airport or beach reading. There’s also a fun summer scarf by Gorjana & Griffin that’s massive enough to wear as a sarong (of course, I expect that Liz will wear it around her shoulders in proper French style). There’s a serious looking workout video “Addicted to Sweat”–hmmmm probably would help our sarong-wearing if we take a look at that instead of watching “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”  I guess if it’s one of Madonna’s routines…hmmm…

Popsugar Must Have Summer Box4

For a post workout snack, there’s some healthy looking popcorn and mints (more details about the contents are here.)

Popsugar Must Have Summer Box5

There’s some new products from Juice Beauty in the mix, including a sample of  Juice Beauty’s new CC Cream (which is getting some good buzz so far). 

Juice CC Cream

I like that Popsugar is including both shades, because trying to decide which to get (or to mix) is so much easier this way.

Overall, Liz and I were impressed.  More information about this monthy $35-per box is available here. What do you think?

This Popsugar Summer Must have was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review.

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Jun 262013

Nars Summer Shock

Nars Summer Shock 2013 includes a number of edgy products that are worth a look. The collection is available at Nars online, Nordstrom, Sephora and other Nars sources.

As an artist’s line, I always love to see Nars’ take on the cutting edge to see whether there are a few items that I might use to update my own beauty routine.

Nars summer 201301

The collection contains:

Madness Nail Polish ($19)

Paris Follies Larger Than Life Lip Gloss ($26)

Tolede Satin Lipstick ($24)

Fashion Rebel Duo Eyeshadow ($34)

Euphrate Single Eyeshadow ($24)

Puerto Vallarta Multiple ($39)

Tender Night Velvet Matte Lip Pencil (Limited Edition, $25)

Barrow Street Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner ($24)

Swatches of all products:

Nars summer 201307

Here are some thoughts on the individual products.  First, Nars Madness ($19) is a bright orange cream that is the typical, well-executed Nars formula.

Nars Madness1

 Nars Madness was the brightest of all of my oranges–here, OPI A Roll in the Hague, Nars Lal Mirchi, Deborah Lippman’s Lara’s Theme, and L’Oreal L’Orange:

Nars Summer 2013d1a

Nars Madness has a slightly less glossy finish compared to the rest (although you can add a topcoat if you prefer to do something other than this satiny finish).

Nars Paris Follies Larger Than Life Lipgloss is a sheer strawberry red:

Nars summer 201302

Liz fell in love with this one immediately, as a light, summer, easy everyday color (applied full force, although this can be patted on lightly for a soft pink):

Nars Summer gloss3

Nars Tolede Satin Lipstick ($26) is a sheer pink with a slight touch of warm coppery brown.

Nars Summer 2013e3

Nars Tolede is somewhat sheer. On Liz’s very light lips, the color applies as a soft warm pink. On my darker toned lips, the color is much darker.

Nars summer 201309

Here are some Nars Tolede comparisons with Nars Bilboa, Nars Autumn Leaves, Burberry Rosewood, and Burberry Lip Mist in Copper.

Nars Summer 2013d2

Nars Fashion Rebel is a striking yellow and violet combination.

Nars summer 201304

I have to hand it to Nars–“Fashion Rebel” is well named.

Nars summer 2013a1

On Liz, who quickly created an eye (no base, using Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush):

Nars summer 201310

I suspect with bases and layering, you could get more vibrancy. As applied here, it reminds me of a flower.

Nars summer 201306

Nars Puerto Vallarta is a shimmery soft peach cream.  It’s more subtle than some of the corals and oranges we’ve seen during the year, and would work beautifully for a subtle touch of color. Here is a comparison with Nars Puerto Vallarta (two swipes), Nars South Beach Multiple (two swipes), Nars Sex Appeal powder blush (piled on and it’s still subtle), and Chanel Frivole (2 swipes):

Nars Summer 2013f1

Tender Night Velvet Matt Lip Pencil ($25) (swatched above) is quite sheer–it is nearly invisble on my pigmented lips.

Nars Summer 2013e4

 Nars Barrow Street Larger than Life Longwear Eyeliner ($24) is a light creamy mint.

Nars Summer 2013e1

This is going to look amazing on a cool toned person as a lower waterline color, especially with Euphrates eyeshadow single on the eye and the Puerto Vallarta multiple on the cheek.

Nars Euphrate eyeshadow2a

There is a full review of my new love, the Euprhate eyeshadow single, here.

The collection is available at Nars onlineNordstromSephora and other Nars sources.

Here’s a lovely video with application suggestions:


This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup). Nars sent these products to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review.


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Jun 252013

Tatcha camillia lip balm01

Tatcha’s Gold Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm ($36/ 0.28 oz.) (available here on Tatcha’s website and Barney’s New York) is a best-in-class, luxury lip balm. The texture is quite moisturizing, the presentation elegant and the ingredients are pure, beautiful and simple.

Tatcha camillia lip balm03a This little treasure comes with a nice touch. Once the understated box is opened, and the little drawer pulled out, you will see a letter that describes the product’s heritage on artisan paper.

Tatcha camillia lip balm12

The jar is a heavy glass with a plastic lid. Inside, you can see a thin sheet of 24 karat gold that lends a beautiful touch to the presentation.

Tatcha camillia lip balm07

 Once opened, one dips in.  Go ahead. It’s an amazing product and meant to be enjoyed. The instructions read:

Scoop a small amount of the lip balm, tearing part of the gold leaf. Gently dab onto lips, allowing the gold to crush and create a subtle gleam.

 Tatcha camillia lip balm11

Once the gold sheet is broken, the gold mixes in with the product and essentially dissolves into the luxurious clear balm underneath.

Tatcha camillia lip balm13

The balm has a slight natural floral scent that has a touch of woodsy lemon. It’s gorgeous and fresh, very sophisticated.  It makes my lips feel really amazing–soft, moisturized. The balm has enough weight to last for a very long time.  It’s a lovely conditioner. 

Bottom line–Tatcha Gold Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm is an elegant treat. It’s large enough to last, and luxurious enough to use everyday (or evening for an overnight treatment). Love.

Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

Tatcha camillia lip balm02

This product was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This post contains an affiliate link (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).


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Jun 242013

Camellia Oil Tacha1

This beautiful Tatcha Gold Camellia Beauty Oil ($125 /1.69 fl. oz.) (available here at Tatcha’s website and Barney’s New York). This is a highly moisturizing oil which has lovely moisturizing and anti-oxidant properties to restore the skin.  I love a good beauty oil. Despite the fact that my face is combination-oily, I’ve found that oils are some of the best moisturizers that I own.  They are surprisingly light and highly effective. When used overnight, they making my skin look beautifully alive. Tatcha’s Gold Camellia Beauty Oil sinks into the skin instantly, and if you apply just a bit gently plumps the skin cells to make skin look moisturized (but never oily).  It leaves the skin with a quiet, youthful glow.

tatcha camelia oil10

This product is one of those luxurious essentials that, once you start using it, make you wonder how you ever lived without it.  The bottle is a generously large size.  A tiny drop can be used to moisturize the entire face. Another few drops can be rubbed into your hands and then patted onto your hair to tame and restore. The oil is also designed to be used as an all-over body moisturizer.

Continue reading »

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Jun 222013

Nars Euphrate eyeshadow2a

Lately, I’ve been reaching for Nars Euphrate ($24) eyeshadow to add subtle visibility to a cool eye. New for Summer 2013, this is a cool off-silver with some complex blue undertones. It’s effect differs significantly depending on how heavily you apply it. I prefer Euphrate applied lightly as a soft wash, or to add subtle drama when integrated into a smoky eye palette (in particular, the Edward Bess Soft Smoke eyeshadow trio). Unlike some silvers, Nars Euprhate does not have any big shiny obvious glittery bits.

Nars Etrusque comparions1

Unlike some silvers in my collection (Shu ME Silver 950 and MAC Elite), Nars Euphrate doesn’t have quite the sharp highlight effect that forces those into the ‘evening only’ category.  Instead, Nars Euphrate is more of a brushed silver effect–glowy rather than reflective–and slightly deeper in tone.  It’s daytime appropriate, but very nice at night with a thicker black liner and more smoke.

Here is Nars Euphrate with Shu ME Silver 950, MAC Elite, MAC Silver Ring (darker), Chanel Starlight (has visible microglitter, which Nars Euprhate does not) and Chanel Silvery (much deeper in tone).

Nars Etrusque comparions2

Overall, Nars Euprate is a color that’s extremely useful and well done. It’s easy to miss–but don’t.  It’s worth a look. This type of color can be beautiful with soft cool pinks (like Nars Undress Me Multiple) and roses.

Available at Nordstrom, Sephora, and Nars, and elsewhere.

Euphrate was sent to Cafe Makeup by Nars without charge for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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Jun 222013

1.  Marc Jacabs Beauty is due at Sephora and select Marc Jacobs boutiques on August 9th. Keep updated through registration on their website.  This recent story was reproduced on Marc Jacobs’s website.

Marc jacobs beauty


Prices are rumored to run in the moderate range ($24 for a lipbalm and $59 for the seven color eyeshadow palette).

2.  What do we think of another designer-makeup line?  Women’s Wear Daily‘s recent article “When Fashion and Beauty Worlds Collide” (paid subscription) included a quote by a Youcef Nabi, the former president of Lancôme, who coordinated the recent collaboration between the brand and Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz, stating “Brands are selling a point of view and storytelling. With this collaboration, you can’t say, ‘This mascara lengthens your lashes more than the competitor’s.’ People don’t care. They want the product that everyone is talking about.”

elbaz comparisons

Well, Cafe Makeup cares.  We care deeply about how much mascara lengthens your lashes–quite obsessed with it actually. I don’t think we’re alone. When we learned through Mostly Sunny’s Blog that some products in the Lancome-Elbaz collaboration were repromoted items already in Lancome’s line, we were disappointed.

Elbaz is one of the most creative designers of this generation. The colors in Lanvin clothing can be so complex, striking, and beautiful.

3. A few more glimpses of Fall makeup:

  • Guerlain Violette de Madame (Fall 2013) here at Edelich’s Notes from My Beauty Life.  I can’t wait to see which products make it to the US markets.
  • Tom Ford will be releasing a men’s skincare line that includes some makeup items–men’s concealer and bronzing gel. My guess is that these will be both expensive and perfect. I cannot help but think that these will be very natural no-makeup makeup–which is exactly what one wants for both concealer and bronzer. Calling these men’s products won’t stop us from stopping by a counter for a swatch or two.
  • Clarins Fall 2013 looks pretty (again, from Edelich’s Notes from My Beauty Life).


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