Monthly Archives

September 2013

Eyeshadow NARS

Nars Eye Paints Review and Swatches

September 29, 2013

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).

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The colors are…

Black Valley: a black cream

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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

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Mozambique: an olive cream

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Snake Eyes: a dark green/black with green shimmer

Nars Snake Eyes

Tatar: A violet/black with purple shimmer

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Ubangi: A blue/black with blue shimmer

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Interstellar: A bright cool, highly pigmented metallic silver shimmer

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Iskander: A bright shimmery, pigmented warm gold

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

Nars Eye Paints Swatches all


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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:

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

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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).

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Brushes and Tools

Sephora Collection Mineral Powder Brush #45 Review

September 26, 2013

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.

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Dior Guerlain Nail Polish

Sketchbook: Adventures in Prolonging Nail Polish Wear

September 25, 2013

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!

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Marc Jacobs Beauty Nail Polish

Marc Jacobs Beauty Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer in Sally and Blue Velvet

September 20, 2013

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:

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

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

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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.

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Skin care

Power Peels Compared: Ole Henricksen Power Peel Professional Spa Grade Kit and Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Face Peel

September 19, 2013

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).

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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.

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