May 302016

NARS Hot Sand Collection - 17

It feels like this weekend has turned the corner from spring to summer. This is the perfect time to stock up on some summertime staples, NARS Hot Sand  – Orgasm and Hot Sand – Laguna powder duos. ($42 each). These slim compacts are full of summer goodness. Typically, I think of NARS staple highlighter as Albatross. For me, Hot Sand has a warmer, softer color that’s beautiful and very flattering. Of course, Laguna is an amazing bronzer that looks wonderful on a wide range of skin tones.  Of course, Orgasm is a glowing, flatter shade.

The formulations on these powders is superb.  As I go about my summer travels, these two will definitely be slipped into my carryon.  They’re gorgeous.

NARS Hot Sand  – Orgasm is available at Nordstrom and NARS online.

Hot Sand Palettes - 3

To go with these beautiful powders, this collection includes a limited edition brush, the NARS Hanamachi Kabuki Brush ($42). This fluffy, dense brush is designed to work with the Hot Sand palettes. It’s gorgeous, easy to work with and control. Here’s a comparison with the gigantic Givenchy Bronzer Kabuki ($50) and the MAC 182 brush ($53) (this one, from the Catherine Deneuve collection from several years ago).

NARS Hot Sand Collection - 14

The same brushes, set on their sides:

NARS Hot Sand Collection - 13

As you can see, NARS is a comfortable travel size but large and fluffy enough to provide a beautiful, diffused and blended looks.

The NARS Hanamachi Kabuki Brush ($42) is available at Nordstrom and Nars online.

Affiliate Links / These items were sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for review.

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Nov 272015

Marc Jacobs Brush Black Friday

The Marc Jacobs Contour & Glow Brush Collection ($105) is a fantastic way to add to your face brush collection at an extremely good price point. This set includes:

The Shape Contour Brush (retail $38)
The Blush Angled Blush Brush (retail $38)
The Bronze Bronzer Brush ($78)

With a retail value of $154, this set is a must at $109. I’ve been using The Bronze Bronzer brush for over a year, and it is beyond fabulous for a soft, natural, allover glow. It’s held up beautifully, despite frequent washes. The other brushes in the set are perfect for placing a contour and blush.  They are beautifully made, well-balanced, and the size and density of the bristles are perfect. I’m really impressed with both the Shape and Blush brushes–although I haven’t been using them as long, they are excellent, soft and pick up the perfect amount of powder. The feel so plush-y and luxurious. I. Love. This. Set.  

Marc Jacobs Brush Set 3

These brushes are available for a limited time on Marc Jacobs online (free shipping with code SHIP).
Marc Jacobs Brush Set

These brushes were sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. My opinions are my own. Affiliate link

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Sep 082015

Narsissist Hardwired Palette 3

The NARSissist Hardwired Eye Kit ($59) is fast becoming a go-to beauty item for Fall. The beautiful softness of the eyeshadows, all in beautiful neutrals with a rich green accent shade, gives a lovely mink-with-metal combination that’s sexy and striking. The set comes with the six-pan eyeshadow palette, a travel sized eye brush, and a travel sized deep bronzy-brown eyeliner.

The NARSissist Hardwired Eye set is available at Neiman Marcus (don’t forget–it’s beauty event week!), NARS online,, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Lord & Taylor,

NARSissist Hardwired Eye Kit 2


The NARSissist Hardwired Eye Kit comes with this six-color palette:

The set includes:

  • A creamy matte that can be used as a soft base
  • A minky matte taupe
  • A rich shimmery bronze brown
  • A shimmering cream
  • A rich shimmery green with a touch of metal
  • A soft matte charcoal

This set also includes a travel size #43 contour eye brush, and a travel sized Via De’Martelli Larger than Life eyeliner.  Perfect for Fall travel, or just to keep on the side of your makeup counter for the coming months.

NARSissist Hardwired Eye Kit - high res

Affiliate links. This item was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review.


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Sep 012015

mac studio waterweight

If you’ve been following MAC artists during this year’s fashion weeks, you’ve noticed a new foundation on the runway: MAC Studio Waterweight SPF 30 ($33).  This is due to hit online September 3rd on Mac Comsetic’s online site, and is due everywhere else September 10th. Here are a few images using this in the tester phase:

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Jul 272015

Sephora No 50 blush brush - 1This is a quick review of the Sephora Pro Flawless Light Powder Brush #50 ($38). Sometimes while testing products as Sephora, I’ve asked the makeup artists to borrow a brush. Each time that I’ve borrowed this Sephora #50, I’ve admired its easy of use and excellent results. For example, I’ve used it with Laura Mercier’s Ritual Baked Bronzer ($36), and loved, loved, loved the results.

Sephora No 50 blush brush - 5

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Jul 242015

artis 6A few weeks ago, I picked up the Artis Oval 3 Brush ($36 with free shipping from Net-a-Porter), to use with sparkling or highly shimmery eyeshadows that need a bit of buffing. Artis is a niche brush company that uses animal-free CosmeFibre to create a line of brushes with an ergo dynamic shape that is said to provide even, easy application with superior performance. Their bushes are said to use product more efficiently, because the ends of the bristles are designed to pick up and lay down products in a superior way. As you can see, their brushes use significantly more brush fibers than traditional brushes.

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Jun 232015

MAC Le Disko eyeshadow 01I picked up a few Dazzleshadow eyeshadows from the MAC Le Disko collection. At $20 each, I thought it worth spending a few minutes discussing these somewhat unique shadows. Although NARS has brought us a few shades with a similar multi-dimensional qualities, there are few other products out there like these. MAC Le Disko is currently available at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and other MAC sources.

MAC’s Le Disko eyeshadows have an insane amount of duochrome, sparkle, and a widely different look depending on the technique, base, and brush used. Really, the duo chrome effect is strong with these, my friends.  As you move your eyes in the light, these will give you a stunning variation. These are challenging eyeshadows to work with, but really crazy beautiful. If you’ve got some experience, patience and decent tools, I’d prepare to pick up at least two or three. Here are the shades that I got.

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Feb 222015

Nars blushes1I’ve been dying to get a look at these. I was able to take several pictures today, so I thought I’d share these to get the party started. These are set to be released through Nars online and boutiques, as well as Sephora, on March 4th. Everywhere else April 1st. I’ll be doing a full review with swatches soon. This collection also features a beautiful new brush.

According to the line:

For Spring 2015, NARS Cosmetics introduces the new Dual-Intensity Blush. Featuring NARS’ exclusive Translucent Prismatic Technology, the newly-imagined formula allows for multi-dimensional effects with a uniquely weightless, luxurious texture. Six modern shade pairings curated by François Nars offer a universal spectrum of hues that works across all skintones. Sweeps on dry for a bold flush or wet for a translucent wash of color. Dry pigments impart a natural glow that warms the complexion and fuses weightlessly. Dampen NARS’ exclusive Wet/Dry Blush Brush before application for a watercolor effect—dab over the apples of the cheeks and swirl in a circular motion to paint on a subtle tint. Designed in a sensorial, soft-touch square case with a modern magnetic closure, six luxuriously embossed duos heighten the art of transformation.


NARS sent these blushes to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review.

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Oct 292014

NARS Holiday Brush Set01 copyNars has outdone itself this year for its Holiday gifting offerings. This is a look at the Nars Kabuki Brush Set ($125), a beautifully packaged, modern, and wonderfully made set that would be an amazing gift to give or receive. This is currently available at NARS online, and will come available at other Nars locations on November 1st.

NARS Holiday Brush Set03The three included artisan brushes appear to be magically suspended in a modern clear crystal lace pattern is adapted from architectural designer Chris Kabatsi’s digitally-rendered Nebula print. This cube is reusable for storing other items throughout the rest of the year.

NARS Holiday Brush Set06 copyInside are three brushes that have amazing performance, elegant design, and are a pleasure to use. These are:

  • MIE KABUKI BRUSH Ideal for soft, all-over face application of loose and pressed powders. Luxuriously layered with a double-dome design that deposits product evenly.
  • MIZUBAKE KABUKI BRUSH Contour and sculpt blush and bronzer with this distinct design for controlled application and precise definition.
  • KABUKI EYE BRUSH Blend and diffuse eyeshadows for a soft-focus, seamless effect with this limited edition domed eyeshadow brush.

NARS Holiday Brush Set10 copy


With the brush protectors taken off:

NARS Holiday Brush Set18 copy


I love the eye brush–it’s perfect for a lovely wash of color.

NARS Holiday Brush Set20 copyAnother picture of the Kabuki Eye brush:

NARS Holiday Brush Set17 copy

NARS Holiday Brush Set16 copy

Here is the amazing Mie Kabuki brush, which is a wonderful brush for all-over powders or the soft application of bronzer. Also the Mizubaki brush, which has a smaller head for contouring or precise highlight placement.


NARS Holiday Brush Set19 copyOverall, this is an amazing, well-priced and high quality brush set that is beautifully packaged and ready for gifting (or using for own makeup application).  Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!! It’s already up for sale on Nars online, and will be available at other locations soon.

NARS Holiday Brush Set12 copy

This set 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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Jun 102014

Sephora Summer Faves04Sephora must have been reading about my travel/moving situation, because last week a little box of travel-to-go treats arrived at my front door. I thought I would do a little post to give you some thoughts, in case you (or someone on your gift radar) needs anything along these lines.

Sephora Summer Faves09First up is the Sephora Double Down Brush set ($46). This was my favorite item by far. It features three brushes–no wait, six brushes. This is a small artificial leatherette-type case that is roughly 6″ in length, holding mighty, mighty brushes of surprisingly good quality. The bristles are acrylic, and the weight and balance of these evidences a very well-made mini-set of three face brushes. The heads on these are not very large compared to a luxurious Tom Ford or Marc Jacobs bronzing brush (reviewed here), for sure. Yet these are remarkably well designed and surprisingly functional.

Sephora Summer Faves05

The small black ring in the middle of the brushes is a separation point, revealing three eye brushes within.

Sephora Summer Faves06

Voila! The eye brushes can even be flipped around so that these become double-ended sets. I challenged myself to do a full face with this set, and it was shockingly easy. The eyeshadow brushes allowed me to line, blend, and apply deep shades in the crease with no problem. The rounded face brush (on the bottom in these pictures), allowed for a lovely all-over application of powder. And the slanted contour/blush brush (at the top in these pictures), did a great job applying blush.  Face brushes:

Sephora Summer Faves08

The eye brushes:

Sephora Summer Faves07

The bristles are soft and on the firm side. Although the case is not made of premium materials, the design and quality went into the brushes, which is how I would have wanted it. The brushes wash and dry well. This is a nice stow-away for carry on or overnight bags, while you can leave your premium brushes at home. The case has a little pocket in the back for blushes , lipsticks and other makeup items that you want to carry along.

Sephora Summer Faves10Another helpful item is the Everything Under the Sun Tanning Set ($12).

Sephora Summer Faves14This includes the all-important exfoliating mitt, application mitt, and an erasing sponge. As a self-tanning aficionado, I have the feeling the Liz will be getting some serious use out of this little set.

Sephora Summer Faves15

The Sephora Carnivale Eye Brush Set ($22), packs five eye brushes in a slim aluminum tube. These brushes are quite lightweight. For the modest price, you get a good variety. The smudge and the angled liner/brow are nice additions.

Sephora Summer Faves11

Although these don’t compare with premium Japanese brushes, sometimes you need a low-investment set and these fit that bill pretty nicely.

Sephora Summer Faves13

The brush heads:

Sephora Summer Faves12

Sephora’s The Galaventer ($28) is a three-bag set for packing, and the small bags are nice for purses and totes.

Sephora Summer Faves01

The sizes are

– 7 5/8” H x 9 1/2” L x 2 1/4” W (large bag)
– 5 3/4” H x 8” L x 0” W (medium bag)
– 4 1/8” H x 6 1/2” L x 0” W (small bag)

Sephora Summer Faves02

I’ve got about another three or four weeks of moving and traveling. I’m currently in the 100+ degree heat of Northern California, and heading to the more temperate Colorado for a few weeks. I must admit I’ll be glad to be settled in July, and trying to stay busy and happy while the time passes. I hope that your summers are going beautifully!

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

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