Sep 292013

Nars Eye Paints pots more1

I’ve been playing with these ten NARS Eye Paints ($25). These gel colors are well saturated with tenacious color (click to enlarge):

Nars Eye Paints pots01

 These come in glass pots with screw-top closures.  I’ve been wearing these primarily as liners (applied with a liner brush).  A few, including the matte brown Mesopotamia, work well as allover lid shades (I’ve used finger application for these).

Nars Eye Paints pots02

The colors are…

Black Valley: a black cream

Nars Eye Paints pots more2

Mesopotamia: a matte dark brown

Nars Eye Paints Mesopotamia

Transvaal: a medium gray cream

Nars Eye Paints Transvaal

Solomon Islands: a bright turquoise blue cream

Nars Eye Paints pots07

Mozambique: an olive cream

Nars Eye Paints pots09 copy

Snake Eyes: a dark green/black with green shimmer

Nars Snake Eyes

Tatar: A violet/black with purple shimmer

Nars Eye Paints pots11

Ubangi: A blue/black with blue shimmer

Nars Eye Paints pots13

Interstellar: A bright cool, highly pigmented metallic silver shimmer

Nars Eye Paints pots14

Iskander: A bright shimmery, pigmented warm gold

Nars Eye Paints pots15

 These pack a lot of pigment into a small amount of product. Here are swatches of all shades:

Nars Eye Paints Swatches all


Nars Paint Pots Swatches 3

As the above swatches are so pigment-rich, I tried to do some slightly lighter swatches of the shades so you can see them with a messier less-than-full pigment. Here are the olive Mozambique, the bright turquoise Solomon Islands, and the gray Transvaal.

Nars Eye Paints swatches01a

The brown cream Mesopotamia, Black Valley, and the gold Iskandar:

Nars eye paints 21

These three shimmers are stunners–the blue Ubangi, the violet Tatar, and the rich green Snake Eyes (my favorite):

Nars Eye Paints swatches17

Finally, the last of this set of ten, Interstellar:

Nars Paint Pots Swatch 3

Some may find these too rich and pigmented for daily wear all over the lid, although most make gorgeous liners. These are in the same family as Bobbi Brown Gel Liners, and MAC Fluidlines. Personally, I’ve loved Black Valley, Mesopotamia, Tatar and Snake Eyes the most.  Some are quite bold for me–the Interestellar and Iskandar–although with the right look they might work.

Overall, the Nars Eyes Paints deliver rich, pigmented, long-lasting color. According to the company, these are opthamalogist tested.

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

Please follow us on....

Sep 262013

Sephora Buffing Brush1

Sephora’s Mineral Powder Brush #45 ($24) is a well-priced brush that does well with powder foundations. Although the brush is designed to work with mineral foundations, I found that the shape and buffing ability worked well with non-mineral, standard powder foundations as well.

Sephora Buffing Brush2

Sometimes I’m not sure how to apply my pressed powder foundations.  The sponge gives me great coverage but a dense, dry look.  Loose powder brushes don’t seem to give me enough coverage, depending on the one that I’m working with. This brush gives me a good balance–the soft duo-fiber bristles allow me to buff the product into my skin without depositing too much.  Yet the density and firmness of the bristles allow me to build up coverage easily.

Sephora Buffing Brush6

I used this brush with a few of my pressed powder foundations, including Dolce & Gabanna The Foundation Perfect Finish, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, and Chanel Vitalumiere Eclat (reviewed here/ not sold in the U.S.).  I got very good results using the brush-it gave me good control over the application, and the product could be buffed in very well to eliminate an overly-powdery look. The construction seems solid, and the dry time is average.  I ran into no problems cleaning it.

Sephora Buffing Brush3

Overall, I was quite happy with the Sephora’s Mineral Powder Brush #45. At $24, it’s well worth a look.

Cafe Makeup was sent this product without charge for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see About Cafe Makeup.

Please follow us on....

Sep 252013

Dior Spring 2013 Nail composite

Although I love the convenience of a two-week UV gel cured manicure, I’ve been looking for ways to prolong nail polish wear that doesn’t involve the difficult acetone removal process that UV manicures appear to require. Toward that end, I’ve been playing with some of the “new generation” gel topcoats.  In early April 2013, I gave a preliminary report on Dior’s Gel Coat (reviewed here).

Dior Spring 2013 Nail Polish30

I got amazing longevity using Dior’s gel topcoat. My nails grew, protected by the tough topcoat. I got beautiful, glossy results that lasted for days longer than my usual topcoats. This gives a deep, glossy gel-like coat which dries hard but retains flexibility. In late June, I began to notice that I had used quite a bit of the Dior up, and that it was getting considerably thicker and goopier as the contents of the bottle went down.

Gel Topcoats 21

Around the end of June, I threw my Dior Gel Coat into a drawer and headed for Paris. While in the City of Light, I picked up Guerlain’s Le Topcoat Gel.  I found the Guerlain worked equally as well as Dior–given that the companies are owned by the same parent, they may be the same formula for all I know.  The key is, if you can’t find one, you can get the other and be assured of good results.  The benefit to the Guerlain is that it is $1 less, and has the ball bearings inside to keep the contents stirred.

Gel Topcoats 23

The Guerlain works beautifully, by the way. Although my bottle isn’t old yet, the hardening/goopiness doesn’t seem to be quite as bad with this one (however, I do shake those ball bearings up quite a bit).  To be honest, both of these formulas have given me unprecedented longevity for my nail polish–literally, days longer than normal and very little tipwear.  Still I would, occasionally, get chips with unusually heavy nail wear.

Gel Topcoats 15

Now for the secret sauce. Still not being satisfied with these superb results, I had heard that Revlon’s Colorstay Gel-Smooth Base Coat. The only place that I’ve found this so far is Target (accept no substitute). Using the Revlon Base Coat under my nail polish really eliminated the chipping, giving me near-perfect nails up to 3-5 days. Okay, so far so good with the Revlon Base Coat–but what about the Revlon Gel-Shine Top Coat (also pictured above)?  It is a thinner formula than Dior’s or Guerlian’s. It does does prolong my nail wear somewhat. However, the Revlon does not give me the lush gel-like glossy look of the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats. Also, the Revlon Top Coat does not give me quite the longevity and protection of the Dior/Guerlain (even when using two coats of the Revlon top coat).

Gel Topcoats 11

What of that bottle of Dior that was tossed into a drawer prior to Paris?  Regrettably, the contents became a gummy solid in the bottom of the bottle. I thought I’d try to revive it with Seche Restore— for more information about this miracle product, see Scrangie’s post here.

seche restore

I pulled out the old lab notebook like a high school science experiment.

Gel Topcoats 12

Sadly, the Dior was too far gone for this method to work. I basically ended up with a glacial-like substance with bits of liquid Seche Restore creating a little ice floe. My thesis proved incorrect, but that Dior was really far gone when I tried this. Perhaps I’ll try again with a bottle that has more life and get better results?

In summary, I found that using nail polish over Revlon Colorstay Gel Smooth Base Coat really adds wear time to my manicure. Then, adding either the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats gave me the closest thing to gorgeous, glossy and protected nails that I’ll obtain outside of a UV cured gel manicure. Using these products, I get 3-5 days of wear (which never happens), and a beautifully glossy, gel-like texture. For me, this wear time is highly unusual. I’ve heard of people getting longer wear but I’ve rarely gone this long. These all remove easily with a standard nail polish remover (no acetone needed). I love it. Of course, the downside is that one wants to use up the bottle that’s been opened (given my experience with the drying out of the Dior Gel). I’m concerned about storage for bottles once they’ve been opened.

Do you have any polish pointers?  Please share them… remember, sharing is caring!

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

Please follow us on....

Sep 202013

I’m continuing to play with various parts of the Marc Jacobs Beauty line. Here, I’m looking at two of the Marc Jacobs Beauty Hi-Shine Nail Lacquers in Sally and Blue Velvet ($18 each), two stunning deep shimmery jewel toned shades.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish1

As the name suggests, Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet is a sparkling deep blue.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish3

The formula is really nice. Blue Velvet goes on very smoothly, it’s sort of the perfect consistency. This is opaque in one coat, but here I’ve used two. On the nails:

Marc Jacobs Nails01

I had a little bit of a tough time removing Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet–I had a little bit of staining that required me to do another round of remover to get all of the color off. Another:

Marc Jacobs Nails06 copy

Marc Jacobs Sally is an emerald green that is so deep that is is a near-black.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish2

Like Blue Velvet, this formula is good–very smooth and easy to apply. Sally required two coats to reach opacity. On nails:

Marc Jacobs Nails07

Here is a comparison with both Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet and Sally, together with China Glaze Emerald Fitzgerald, OPI Live and Let Die, Chanel Nuit de Russie, Chanel Blue Satin, and Butter London Big Smoke:

Marc Jacobs Nail Blue Green1

I liked both Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet and Smoke. Both are unusual deep tones that are quite pretty for fall and winter. Definitely worth a look. Both are available exclusively at Sephora.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see About Cafe Makeup.

Please follow us on....

Sep 192013

Can we discuss exfoliation? Sometimes my skin needs a little ooomph —a little reminder that underneath it all, there’s still a fresh, dewy bit that is dying to get out and greet the world.  Although I don’t think I’m quite ready for the dermatologist’s version that forces me into seclusion for a few days afterwards, I am ready to explore the over the counter versions. I’ve enjoyed the daily exfoliators, like Perricone MD Blue Plasma (reviewed here),  Bare Escentuals Intensive Glow Pads Brightening Treatment (reviewed here). I’ve also used Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel in the non-extra strength version (reviewed here).

Dr Gross Alpha Beta Peel1 copy

I really liked Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula (5 treatments/$15 and other sizes available). I got this in a little “try it” version of five applications. This is a two-part system that consists of two pre-moistened pads in little foil packets. The system is quite easy to use.

Continue reading »

Please follow us on....

Sep 152013


Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths ($39 for 3/pack of 10 each) are a top shelf takes-it-all-off product. These are gentle cleansing wipes designed to remove every trace of mascara, foundation, sunscreen, and every other item. Between my heavy travel schedule and life as a blogger, I’ve got a fairly large set of experiences with cleansing cloths. I’ve used several drugstore brands (Ponds, Olay, others), I’ve usually got a pack of the MAC 100-count wipes around, and I’ve enjoyed a few varieties of L’Occitane (their Lemon Verbena is nicely scented).

Having a packet of wipes in my travel bag has been invaluable on long flights. It allows me to remove my makeup, and having a bit of moisture left behind while doing so is a nice quality on those long, drying flights. Actually, I’ve made a few friends sitting next to someone who’s spilled a drink or exploded a pen. People really appreciate the offer when they don’t have their own. And I appreciate a little bit of luxury onboard because–let’s face it–flights are not always the most pleasant experience of one’s week.


The size of the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths is on the large side–each sheet is about 7 1/2 inches across, with a very soft texture. They are infused with Koh Gen Do’s gentle Cleansing Spa Water, which feels a bit like a micellar water cleanser.  It’s soft and moisturizing– It doesn’t feel heavy or oily. My experiments confirmed that these cloths do take off all visible color, including my mascara (Armani Eyes to Kill Excess) after holding the cloth on my closed eye for less than a half-minute. They feel very gentle–there is no stinging or stipping feeling. Unlike the other brands that I’ve tried, my face feels a bit softer and moisturized after use.



Koh Gen Do’s Cleansing Spa Water Cloths have a very light, pleasant scent that is not very strong. Best of all, the re-closure of the packaging is very thorough. The adhesive has some serious re-attaching properties to help preserve the cloths moisture (unlike some of the drugstore brands that I’ve tried).

Overall, if you are looking for a premium cleansing experience, the Koh Gen Do are well worth a look.

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

Please follow us on....

Sep 132013

Nars brow pencils sleeve1

Nars Brow Perfector Pencils ($22 each) are twist-up colors that add a touch of emphasis to the brow while still providing a natural look. Unlike the Nars Brow Gels which is delivered on a large brush that can cover a brow in a single sweep and (if enough product is used) sculpt the brow’s shape, the Nars Brow Perfectors are a softer, gentler way to add color and shape to a brow.

Nars brow pencils sleeve2

These come in four shades:

  • Salzbourg is a soft light brown, suitable for very light brows
  • Kalamata is a light-medium brown
  • Caucase is brown (this shade and Kalamata are quite close in color).
  • Suriname is black.

These aren’t meant to be sharpened, rather they come out of the plastic holder by a quick little twist. Their shape is very slightly oval to help you direct the size of the stroke that you’d like to use.

Nars Brow Pencilsa1a

I felt that the pigmentation of these is quite controllable depending on how much pressure you use when feathering the brow. It’s important to be consistent–if you mix heavy/light pigmentation, you’ll get a spotty effect.  Consistent pressure (whether for heavy or light application) works best.  These give all-day lasting power.

Nars Brow Pencilsa2a

The Nars Brow Perfectors work quite well–I’ve switched between Caucase and Kalamata and liked the natural effect. I had no problems with fading or the like throughout the day. If you find a good color match, these are well worth a look.

Nars Brow Pencilsa6

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



Please follow us on....

Sep 132013


 I’m still mulling over Marc Jacobs’ striking Spring/Summer 2014 show last evening. In the meantime, here’s a look backstage.
François Nars, Founder & Creative Director, NARS created a variety of looks for the show. He says, “This is a summer look that’s all about the eye. Most of the girls have a teal blue line, but some have a royal blue,  extending past both the inner and outer corner. The skin is very transparent for a flushed look.”
Blue Dahlia Larger Than Life® Eyeliner (Limited Edition for Holiday 2013; for now try Rue Saint-Honoré Larger Than Life® Eyeliner with Outremer Eyeshadow)
marc closeup 2
The nails featured an upcoming nail color from Marc Jacobs Beauty in a shade called “Bark” (limited edition) together with black crystals rimming the tips, which echoed the theme of some of the highly embellished, tasseled clothing.

marc closeup

Close up:

marc nails

A look at the Marc Jacobs Bark from celia_ellenberg’s Instagram feed:

A look at the clothes:

marc ss 14 clothes

Please follow us on....

Sketchbook: New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014 Beauty Inspiration

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Sketchbook: New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014 Beauty Inspiration
Sep 102013

The press from this season’s New York Fashion week is overwhelming. I pulled a few looks from various artists just to keep a little sketchbook of some upcoming Spring/Summer 2014 beauty inspiration. The names on the images are the names of the makeup artists.

This look from Altuzarra:


 Diane von Furstenberg:

diane von furstenburg1

Jason Wu, using Lancome products (unsurprising, given his recent collaboration with this beauty company):

Jason Wu

Donna Karan (unfortunately, product names were not specified).  I wonder if these “MAC cream eyeshadows” are the new Pro Longwear Paint Pots (just guessing), which have lots of neutrals for contouring an eye. Looking like a glowing summer goddess:

donna karan

Do you have any favorite looks from this year’s shows?

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

Please follow us on....

NARS Beauty Report: Naeem Khan SS’14

 NARS  Comments Off on NARS Beauty Report: Naeem Khan SS’14
Sep 102013
NARS created the look for the Naeem Khan SS ‘14 runway show. Nars lead artist James Boehmer stated, “The starting point of the inspiration was Frida Kahlo, but we didn’t want the makeup to be a literal interpretation. Instead, eyes are softly defined yet translucent; the lips are the focal point with a faded and diffused berry shade, complementing the collection.”
Triple X Lip Gloss (lash line)
One more look:

Please follow us on....