Aug 282014
 

MAC Brow set2This summer MAC released a few permanent items, including the MAC Pro Longwear Waterproof Brow Set ($17 0.17 oz.). Because brows are so important, I was curious to try it. I picked up MAC’s Brow Set in Quiet Brunette, described as a “muted mid-tone gray.” This product is available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s and other MAC sources.

MAC Brow set4

I’ve been wearing this for about a week, and find that it delivers well. The brush is short, and therefore easy to control. The product is highly controllable, so a light brush through will give a light application. You just keep adding for to add more color, drama and emphasis.

MAC Brow set6

I found the MAC Brow Set somewhat comparable to NARS Brow Gel ($22 /0.21 oz.), with a few differences. The NARS colors (swatched here) lean slightly more gray and so seem to be a touch more natural for my coloring. NARS runs a few dollars more per tube, but contains more product. NARS’ formula feels a slight touch dryer, which can translate is a bit less of a tendency to generate clumps. However, the difference is so slight that if I found that a MAC Brow Gel worked better for my coloring, I would  not hesitate to go for the MAC. Here’s a quick comparison between NARS Athens and MAC Quiet Brunette:

MAC and Nars Brown gel comparisons1

 

Here is quick MAC Quiet Brunette Brow Gel on my brow. As you can see, it covers the area quite evenly:

MAC Brow SetOverall, I found MAC Brow Gel a good workhorse product from their Pro Longwear line. I got excellent all-day wear, even in the heat and humidity and through a good workout. There are no problems from flaking, and any tiny clumps can be easily brushed away with the small, controllable blush. If you are in the market for a good brow gel, these are well worth a look.

This product is available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s and other MAC sources.

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Aug 272014
 

Nars night series pencils1

I have a number of NARS items to share with you, and I’m starting with the NARS Night Series Pencils ($24/each at Nordstrom, ). Something seriously good is happening with this line–so many new formulations, and fun/gorgeous colors! These pencils riff off of the NARS famous Night Series eyeshadows, which have deep, deep colors and a bit of sparkle and shine. These are available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Nars online and Saks Fifth Avenue.Nars night series pencils2

The Night Series Eyeliners are offered in these shades:

NARS Night Flight Eyeliner: Black with cobalt blue pearl

Night Bird Eyeliner: Black with purple pearl

Night Clubbing Eyeliner: Black with gold pearl

Night Porter Eyeliner: Black with green pearl

These are sort of awesome. I love the rich color, which applies best on the eye. I found that my arm swatches did not do these justice, so I include one quick eye shot so you could get a better sense. Please be gentle, I’m learning. Here are paper swatches:

Nars night series pencils4

If I had to narrow my choices, it would be Night Flight and Night Porter, the most vibrant shades that give a flash of color. Arm swatches:

Nars night series pencils5Here’s a quick swatch of NARS Night Flight on the eye:

Nars eye

Overall, I love the rich, dark tone of these and the little bit of sparkle that catches the light. These colors are deep enough to be a true eyeliner color, so hat there is no need to apply these over a black (although you could if you like). These are well worth a look. Beautiful.

These are available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Nars online and Saks Fifth Avenue.

These pencils were sent 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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Aug 222014
 

Tom Ford Fall 201407Some items arrived from Tom Ford Fall 2014 late this afternoon, and so I thought I’d post some quick pictures. From all experience, this appears to be another “blink and you’ll miss them” releases. In other words, limited quantities especially for the Tom Ford Nude Dip quad.  These are the times when the relationships that we’ve formed with sales associates become invaluable. Sometimes the online releases are gone in a remarkably brief time, so call your Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom, and Bergdorf counters now if you are interested. It breaks my heart to tell readers that I have no sources a month (or even a day) after some of these collections release.

Tom Ford Nude DipThe Tom Ford Nude Dip Palette ($79) includes four gorgeous neutrals that are high-pearl in texture. So far, so good–the pigment seems to leap onto my brush and apply with a beautiful smooth texture. Let’s walk through each shade separately, shall we? Oh, yes, we shall..

Tom Ford Nude Dip

The top left is a pearly champagne highlight color.

Tom Ford Nude Dip

The top right is a soft light brown.

Tom Ford Nude Dip

The bottom left is a soft pearly taupe.

Tom Ford Nude DipThe bottom right is a deep pearlized brown. Here are some early swatches in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Tom Ford Nude DipAnother set of the Nude Dip palette.

Tom Ford Nude DipThere are two Tom Ford Contouring Cheek Color Duos ($77 each). Stroked is a soft warm golden coral combination,and Softcore is a dramatic pink-highlight and deep, complex red-mauve-burgundy.. These powders include a highlight color, and a blush/contour shade. They are fabulous.

Tom ford Soft Core Stroked

Here is Tom Ford Stroked:

tom ford stroked

The highlighter portion of Stroked:

Tom ford Soft Core StrokedThe blush shade of Stroked:

Tom ford Soft Core StrokedHere is Tom Ford Softcore:

Tom ford Soft Core StrokedThe highlight color of Softcore is slightly cooler and whiter than the highlighter in Stroked.

Tom ford Soft Core StrokedThe Softcore blush:

Tom ford Soft Core StrokedI did some quick swatches, again not in ideal lighting conditions. When I ordered these from Bergdorf, they suggested that Stroked was perfect for day, and Softcore for evening.

Tom ford Soft Core StrokedAgain, I’m working quickly because I suspect that anyone interested in this collection is going to need to move this week to find the items. I haven’t had time to play with these extensively yet, but I can say that I’m very impressed so far.

Tom ford Soft Core Stroked

These are available at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

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Aug 212014
 

I picked up a few items from MAC’s A Novel Romance Collection, a large Fall collection that had a few neutrals with a twist that seemed pretty and fun. I’m going to post these pictures here quickly, rather than doing a full review which could take more time that I have before sellout. This collection is currently for sale at Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomingdales.

This time around, the eyeshadow quads struck me as both interesting and high-quality. For the $40 price point, I found these original, pretty neutrals-with-a-twist with good pigmentation and a lovely, soft formula.

novel romance quad

 MAC A Novel Romance Quad ($40) is a mix of deep colors and a soft shimmer yellow-gold as a highlight. This seems to favor cooler skin tones, but not exclusively. Swatches:

Novel Romance MAC swatches

 

The taupe in the upper right is a pretty all-over lid color.

MAC Novel romance03 copy

I think I will get the most use out of Amorous Adventure. Swatches:

A novel romance

The above swatch include the two blushes, Fun Ending and Animal Instincts ($22 each). These actually look nice together on the cheek (the deeper Animal Instincts in the cheek hollow, and Fun Ending on the upper cheekbone area). Fun Ending will work on most lighter skintones.

MAC-Novel-romance06

Although MAC’s lipsticks are always popular in these limited edition collections, I passed on them this time around. Did you get anything?

This collection is available at Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomingdales.

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Aug 212014
 

YSL Skin Tatoo1For some reason, over the past year I’ve been really clicking with Yves Saint Laurent Beauty in a way that hasn’t happened before. Encouraged by my love of their new Couture Eyeshadow Palettes, I took a chance and tried the new Yves Saint Laurent Fusion Ink Foundation ($60/ 0.84 oz.). This is currently available at Yves Saint Laurent onlineNordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Sephora.

YSL Skin Tatoo2According to the line:

24 hours of soft-matte perfection and comfort. Our exclusive fine-as-ink formula perfects the skin yet wears weightlessly all day. Never cakey or heavy. Feel the difference of all day perfection and freedom. SPF 18. Available in 21 shades.

Here is an interview with Lloyd Simmonds, the Creative Director of Yves Saint Laurent Beaute, which states that the formula was developed to be both long-wearing and lightweight, so that it appears to adhere to the skin without looking cakey. According to Simmonds, “It’s the perfect foundation for fashion shows because even four hours after application, it’s still there by the time the models hit the runway.”  I had to smile a bit when I read that. I really do need a foundation that lasts more than four hours. Although I loved the look of YSL Tient Touche Eclat, I could not get all-day wear from that foundation on my combination skin. Thankfully, YSL Fusion Ink really does deliver on longevity (more on that later).

YSL Skin Tatoo21

I tried Yves Saint Laurent Fusion Ink in BD 15 (Warm Buff) for the past week plus, which is an excellent match for my NC15/Chanel Ivoire/ Nars Deauville skintone. This is roughly where I am in all foundation shades–warm, fair. The serum feels light a very light oil going on, a bit like Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Foundation.  YSL’s Fusion Ink is very pigment rich–a light first pass all over my face gives me roughly medium coverage. I find this very layerable.  Because you do not need much product to get good coverage, a second layer (or third, in places) doesn’t seem to give any textural build-up. There’s a light scent that fades quickly (ah, the French! They do love the scents!) For me, coverage is nearly full on a second layer.  Still, it doesn’t look as “masky” as some foundations do at that level of coverage.

YSL Skin Tatoo5

The texture takes a while to dry down, I give it a good two or three minutes before I apply any powder products. While it’s setting, I often add a liquid bronzer like Giorgio Armani’s Liquid Summer (other nice ones include Perricone MD’s No Bronzer Bronzer and MAC Prep & Prime BB Cream (in Amber)). It’s nice to add some alight bronze for summer.

YSL Skin Tatoo6

 YSL Fusion Ink is rated at SPF 18, but one does not use much of this product, so a separate sunscreen is necessary. There is no pump for this serum-textured foundation. Instead, there’s an applicator that looks like the YSL lip applicators (or a super-stylized bubble blower, whichever you prefer). I sweep this over my cheeks, forehead, and dab it on my chin before using my fingers to spread the product.

YSL Skin Tatoo3So, this dries down to a velvet finish. It’s beautiful. It doesn’t need a setting powder. Adding one didn’t seem to increase it’s already day-long longevity. YSL Fusion Ink takes highlighters well if you want to add. There’s shocking longevity here, even though I get caught in occasional muggy 90-degree heat, the foundation doesn’t break apart, disappear, fade, or shift like the tectonic plates (as some foundations seem to do). After a day that starts at 4 am and ends at midnight, going in and out of heat and air conditioning, it really does look amazing at the end. My forehead is only ever-so-slightly dewier in the evening, but much less so compared to most foundations.  YSL Fusion Ink is well-named, and does it while feeling lightweight and melding into the skin perfectly. Ingredients:

YSL Tatoo ingredients

The foundation didn’t cause any of my pores to clog, gave me a beautiful all-day finish, and covers any discolorations like mad. The price point is on the mid-to-higher end these days, but it does look expensive, and makes my skin look amazing. It reminds me of Chanel’s new Perfection Lumiere Velvet foundation (but a bit lighter because the YSL is a true serum), and a bit like Giorgio Armani’s Maestro serum with a higher coverage formula. I was concerned that the bottle includes slightly less than the typical 1 ounce of most other lines. However, if you are looking for medium to nearly-full coverage, you’ll get to that level with a small bit of product.

YSL Skin Tatoo22Overall, I was impressed with Yves Saint Laurent’s Fusion Ink. I believe that there’s some innovation at the company right now, and it’s showing as new products are rolling out. This foundation certainly fills a real need for a very long-wearing, medium-to-high coverage formula. Bravo, YSL!

Available at Yves Saint Laurent onlineNordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Sephora.

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Aug 182014
 

simplehuman01Designer simplehuman has just released two Sensor Mirrors (available at Sephora and Nordstrom) that are really worth a strong look. For the past several years, I’ve played with the idea of getting a lighted mirror installed in my makeup-application area. As someone who is into photography and really sensitive to light colors, crisp images, and good design, I’ve never found something just perfect. I’m so glad that I waited. Little did I know that the geniuses at simplehuman were  designing something that really is perfect for the job.

simplehuman03To digress a bit, I’ve owned a simplehuman trash can for at least six years, ever since my husband insisted that our dog stay out of our trash. Neither one of us having the bandwidth to watch him 24/7, I got one of simplehuman’s for its simple, functional design that meshed well with the brushed metal appliances in our kitchen. Although my husband balked at the price (“you spent what on a trash can?”), even he now admits it was money well spent. It looks brand new years later despite years of abuse, is easy to clean, and looks 1000x better in our kitchen than most of the others out there (and our dog has stayed out of trouble the entire time because, well, dogs will be dogs).

simplehuman02

This was originally shipped to my home in California, then to my home on the East Coast. I was worried about its fragility, but I needn’t have. This is shipped in a protective shell that absorbed every jiggle along the way.Do you know how terrible it is to be very excited for a new thing, only to have it arrive nicked or broken? Heartbreaker!  I’m sorry to be geeking out on the design but I have to hand it to simplehuman in the packaging arena-well done!   Also, the light comes with a five-year warranty. (Can simplehuman design a hair dryer right now?)

simplehuman04The simplehuman Sensor Mirror ($200) is sort of like the iPhone of beauty mirrors. This is the perfect weight and size–it’s extremely well machined, it’s heavy enough to stay put by itself, is intuitive to use, and provides the perfect amount and color of light for close-up, perfected beauty work. It’s adjustable in all the right ways, but not too much and without any gimmicky extenders or no-slip pads that just to attract dust and look terrible. It has a clean, beautiful design.

simplehuman07The simplehuman Sensor Mirror comes with everything. The light charges via either a USB input or wall plug. Which means you don’t have messy cords on your makeup table. Also, your light isn’t fighting with your dryer, straightener/curler, and Clarisonic for outlet space. Thank you! Although the company recommends a good seven-hour charge when it arrives, mine seemed to be fully charged after two (I left it charging overnight anyway, just to be safe).
simplehuman05

The light tilts and can be raised and lowered:

Simplehuman positions

The simplehuman Sensor Mirror has flat on/off button on the bottom that only needs to be turned “on” once, given that the light is motion-sensitive. There is an indicator light along the bottom:

simplehuman mirror4

The light glows green when the “on” button is first hit, it flashes while the unit is charging, and it glows steady when the unit if fully charged.

simplehuman17The light glows red when the unit is first turned “off,” and also when it needs to be charged.

simplehuman16

I made this little video to show how the sensor light works. I’m sorry that the “light on” made my camera’s automatic mode freak out a bit, but this still gives you a good idea. I waved the light “on,” and then it automatically turned off in a bit when the light wasn’t being used.

Of course, the most important part of the simplehuman Sensor Mirror is the light. I’ve actually studied light a bit as a formal subject matter, and I can tell you that this description is both true and exactly what you’d want a makeup mirror to be:

At 600 lux, our tru-lux light system is more than twice as bright as the next best. We disperse the light evenly with a unique pattern of micro-reflectors throughout the ring — no light loss or hot spots.With a color rendering index (CRI) of 90, it closely simulates natural sunlight and contains the full color spectrum to show every detail. Looking good in this light means you will look flawless in any setting.

Here’s a video from simplehuman that explains the light:

The simplehuman mini version also comes in a mini-version ($130) that can be seen in this video:

I haven’t tried the smaller one. If I had to choose, I’m glad that I got the larger version. The mirror seems like the perfect size and shape. The surface allows me to see the entire look in the larger version. Unless you have a space/budget concern, I’d go for the larger size. I really like having the larger surface area.

Overall, I’m beyond happy with this mirror. It’s a revolutionary in that it’s exactly what is needed. The line has really focused on the end-user (which is exactly how it should be). Both are available at Sephora and Nordstrom).
simplehuman12

This item was sent 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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Aug 152014
 

Chanel Poesie1As nearly everyone knows, Chanel has released a new series of eyeshadow palettes ($61 each). Unlike the pressed powder versions previously released in the U.S., these are “baked” textures that are released in the same format throughout the world. Chanel’s new quads are available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales.
Chanel Poesie3As with Chanel’s past releases outside the U.S., the packaging is the same from the front. The little velveteen pouch, the size and the like is all identical of course.

Chanel Poesie2From the back, you can see that the pans are now all round and the weight/size of the eyeshadows is lighter. Although my prior quads all vary in their weight, most seem to be more in the 6 and up gram range. Of the numerous ones available, I chose Chanel Poesie, a limited edition palette that sold out very quickly.  I was surprised, because prior Chanel limited edition releases seemed to be available for a while before sellout.

Chanel Poesie4The colors are pretty and subtle–certainly these quads are well-behaved, work friendly combinations. Like Poesie, many of them are baked-shimmer. Poesie has no matte shades in the mix. The deeper shades are more complex than the two softer shades. Overall, they create a very pretty. softly colored eye. Swatches:

Chanel Poesie swatches3

Another set of swatches:

Chanel Poesie swatches1I’ve worn this several times and it’s very easy to create a fool-proof, work-friendly eye. These aren’t the most dramatic formulas. Sometimes Chanel excels at quiet little basics like a pretty ballet flat that goes with everything. Many Chanel lovers will adore this system makes a pretty eye so easy.  Others might add a dash of drama–for example, I added at touch of MAC Black Swan to the liner to add some pretty dimension.

Something in me hopes that we will see some astounding creativity in this format from Chanel, as we have seen in the pressed powder versions of the past. Certainly, some companies seem to be going through an eyeshadow revolution right now and it seems appropriate that Chanel issue some new colors right now as well. Still, I plan on picking up a few more–Gabrielle, Venitienne and Rivoli are calling my name. For now, we have a collection of eight easy pieces for everyday (and night) wear.

Chanel’s new quads are available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales.

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Aug 132014
 

liz in oprah magazineIf you are an O Magazine reader, you might look at the cover story of O’s September ’14 issue on page 140 for a picture of Cafe Makeup’s owner and editor Liz, who got a haircut makeover by the magazine in June.

Labelle Day Spa Palo Alto StanfordI’ve always wondered if those magazine makeover features were real, and in this case we can personally verify that, O yes!, this one certainly was. In June, Liz got a haircut that earned her the name “Mrs. Brady” around the office (the back was even worse!). So much for “take off an inch with just a few layers near the face,” right? She had it done at LaBelle Day Spa in Palo Alto. This clearly required Oprah-level intervention to save it. Liz took a redeye to New York to get expert assistance by Garnier hair stylist Tommy Buckett. The change is entirely due to the cut, there are no added weaving or extensions. What do you think of the result?

Liz O magazineThe makeup was by Andrew Sotomayor.

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Aug 102014
 

Skincare Sunday3I’ve been hearing about Charlotte Tillbury’s Magic Cream ($95.00/ 1.7 oz) for so long, and am pleased to report that it is finally coming to the U.S. via Beautylish, Nordstrom and some other retailers including Bergdorfs. There’s a 24-hour pre-order window today if you’d like to reserve one for purchase. Given that the cream has sold out internationally in the past, I suppose that it’s nice to know that yours is reserved. If you miss the window, I’m presuming that the product will be made permanent.

Skincare Sunday7I was fortunate enough to receive a review-sized version as a give from Wayne Goss (thank you Wayne!!). Overall, this is a luxe moisturizing multi-tasker that Charlotte Tillbury has been using on her clients for years. As she says:

The BioNymph Peptide Complex is a unique, patented anti-age ingredient that multi-tasks in the skin, fighting the ageing process on all fronts. It increases collagen & fibre levels, prevents fibre break-down, fights free radicals and stimulates cell energy to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, improve skin elasticity & generally smooth things over.

Sodium Hyaluronate forms a film of hyaluronic acid over the skin to seal in moisture, whilst extracts of Wild Pansy promote the renewal of hyaluronic acid in the skin surface to retain moisture. Skin is plumped-up and youthfully dewy.

A mix of rose hip oil, camellia oil and anti-oxidant vitamin E transforms a grey complexion into hydrated, mirror-shine skin, nourishing Vitamin A helps improves skin firmness and smoothness and energetic Vitamin C is able to promote collagen activity for more youthful skin.

Damask rose water and organic aloe vera stimulate skin regeneration, fighting the signs of ageing, naturally and gracefully.

Extracts of Frangipani, the symbol of eternity, form a soothing, purifying and hydrating comfort-blanket on the skin.

When Charlotte’s Magic Cream is applied to skin, it gives it a fabulous youthful glow.  Really, it’s very pretty by itself and adds a lovely glow under foundation as a primer. It gives a glow comparable to Tom Ford’s Illuminating Primer, but Charlotte’s Magic Cream is richer in texture (meaning that Tom Ford’s feels lighter, and not quite as deeply moisturizing). Certainly, Charlotte’s Magic Cream would work as an overnight moisturizer although with an SFF 15 rating (including UVA protection), it’s clearly geared for daytime wear as well. Tom Ford’s Primer is clearly, well, a primer. The Charlotte’s Magic Cream does have a scent, which is of course quite the norm for luxury products that are born in Europe.

Skincare Sunday8

Overall, now that I’ve been introduced to this lovely cream, I’m going to continue to use this generous sample to look for longer-term results. For now, I would say that anyone with dry skin, or those looking for anti-aging benefits, should investigate this cream. It feels lovely, luxe, and illuminating.  Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

tillbury magic cream ingredients

Charlotte Tillbury’s Magic Cream is available Beautylish, Nordstrom and some other retailers including Bergdorfs.

Skincare Sunday6

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

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Aug 092014
 

Temptu AIrbrush System1

We’ve always been curious about using airbrush makeup systems. Whether watching a pro, or watching a live demonstration, Liz and I have wondered whether airbrush system give a better result and how manageable such systems are. When Temptu offered us a chance to try their system, we took the chance. We opened up the Temptu Flawless Complexion Kit ($170). The company included two foundation colors (the lighter Ivory and medium Beige), Washed Rose Blush, and Champagne Highlighter.

Temptu AIrbrush System2a

Neither of us had any experience with airbrush systems, but the Temptu was quite easy to put together.

Temptu AIrbrush System5

Basically, the air compressor (which runs from the power from the AC Adapter) pushes air through the brush’s nozzle, to give you a extremely even, controllable application. The air compressor has a hose which is stuck into the brush:

Temptu 4

The hose connection to the brush:

Temptu AIrbrush System6Liz had things up and running in just a few minutes. The next step was to connect the Ivory foundation to the brush/nozzle by placing it into the brush device.

Temptu AIrbrush System7There was a little cap on the foundation that had to be removed, which allows the liquid foundation to flow from the pod into the brush.

temptu 1

The same procedure works for the blush and highlighter.

Temptu 2

All together now.

Temptu 3

Liz found the brush surprisingly easy to use. Se was able to control the application and color very intuitively.

Temptu AIrbrush System review04This was our very first attempt. Liz used the darker Beige foundation color to contour. The highlighter and blush were a breeze.

Temptu AIrbrush System review05Liz swapped out the blush and highlighter pretty easily. The final results:

Temptu 5Considering that this was Liz’s first try, I think the results are quite flawless.  Overall, although the Temptu is used by professionals, we thought that it delivered excellent, perfected results by a non-pro. The colors were light, layerable, and delivered true airbrushed results.  These units are available at Temptu’s website.

Temptu AIrbrush System review03

Temptu sent these products to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review.

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