Jul 102013
 

Chanel Les Beiges09

Chanel’s Les Beiges collection includes the Chanel Les Beiges Retractable Kabuki Brush, an adorable and practical brush that’s both purse and travel-friendly.

beiges chanel brush1

 This small, delightfully soft brush is every inch a “Chanel,” with the iconic logo on one end. Inside, there is a sleeve which squooshes the white bristles together (which enables the cap to be easily placed on and off).

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This sleeve slides down, revealing the dense, short brush.

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These bristles are remarkably soft and lush–truly, a luxury brush that’s well worth having. I own a Guerlain brush with a similar design.  Overall, the Chanel is much more pleasurable to use. Although the Guerlain works well, it cannot match the softness and density of the Chanel. The bristles of the Chanel are very, very fine.

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Here are the Chanel and Guerlain brushes side-by-side (sleeves up):

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Same, sleeves down so that you can see the bristles:

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Is the Chanel Retractable Kabuki a must-have?  It’s certainly worth a pause (and pet) when it arrives in the U.S. next month.  It’s certainly selling out here in Paris (I was able to get one just as it was being re-stocked one morning).  I strongly encourage you to take a look–although I’m still getting to know it, it appears to be a brush worthy of the Chanel name.

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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.

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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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Nov 042012
 

Tom Ford Cheek Brush ($75/#06) is a luxuriously soft and beautiful brush. There are some products that are so perfect, and such complete joys to use, that they are worth every penny regardless of the price. Like Tom Ford’s Bronzer Brush, the Cheek Brush is one of those products.

The head of the brush is tapered and full. After a few washes, the head looks the same as it does out of the box.

The handle is lighter than one might expect, but round and large enough to make use easy and comfortable.

There are few reviews for this brush, although the Non Blonde has done a beautiful job here. While were at it, I’m going to post some first impressions of some Tom Ford blushes that I purchased–Frantic Pink, Wicked and Narcissist ($55 each). I haven’t played with these enough for a full review, but was able to take some pictures that I can share.

First, all of these blushes have a pearly quality that gives a gorgeous, sparkle-free glow. Here is Frantic Pink, a light soft pink-with-a-peach twist:

I don’t typically love blushes that impart only subtle color. I found that Frantic Pink does give enough color to give a blush effect to my NC15 skin tone, and the soft highlighter shimmer was gorgeous.

Wicked is an amazing cool raspberry with a cool pearl.

Close up:

I haven’t had time to play with Wicked or the next blush, Narcissist (released for Fall 2012):

Narcissist does not appear to have quite the amount of shimmery pearl as Frantic Pink or Wicked. It reminds me a bit of a more luxurious, complex version of MAC Full Fuchsia Pro blush.

Swatches, outside in sun:

Swatches, indoors with flash:

I hope that you might enjoy my experiment with Tom Ford. Personally, these all look amazing to me. The packaging is compact and light enough for travel, and the color payoff is amazing. I’ve worn Frantic Pink for a few days, and love the effect. Have you played with Tom Fords blushes or brushes? What do you think?

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Oct 052012
 

First- This Chanel Inside No 5 video is brilliant. It makes me a bit breathless–I think it’s the narrator’s pacing.

Currently there are three makeup companies associating with Marilyn Monroe presently (Chanel, MAC and Dior). Two with Andy Warhol (Chanel and Nars). None of these seems to be a detraction from these icons’ incredible status. I’m enjoying every minute.

It does seem the makeup industry is having a 1960′s revolution moment.

By the way, I have some of the original Andy Warhol postcards based on the collaboration mentioned in the video. They have little peel-off fragrance samples on the back. When I get back home, I’ll have to post some pictures of them.

Second-  Louis Vuitton. Speaking of a 1960′s revival, during Paris Louis Vuitton’s models wore a simple peach shimmered eyeshadow with soft lips complete with a 1960′s headband-bob.

The show featured the Damier check, extending the pattern into four escalators which formed the stage background.

Third- Tom Ford. I took me until a few months ago to make a few tentative passes at the Neiman’s counter. I’m not done going back yet.
I’ll be posting reviews (but if you want a head start, this Bronzer Brush is to die for). I cannot say that I’ve loved everything I’ve tried, but trust me this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Jun 182012
 

The Chanel Blending Foundation Brush #7 ($54) is a brush that I’ve put off reviewing for a bit. For one thing, brush reviews aren’t as exciting to me as color makeup reviews. Trust me, a pretty eyeshadow palette or a gorgeous new pink lipstick review pretty much writes itself.

But the reality is, for me, good brushes matter.  Perhaps a pro can get by with her well-trained fingers or the ragged end of a tissue. Good for them, honestly. Personally, I notice an enormous difference when I use a good brush. So I invest in brushes and if it’s engraved with “Chanel” and has a lovely, balanced weight and lush yet feathery brush head, those are reasons enough for me.

The Chanel Blending Foundation brush has a dense base with a medium stiffness, and long white ends that feel very feathery and soft. As many of you know, this type of brush can be used to lightly apply cream or powder products–the very light end bristles apply the product very lightly like light little feathers touching the skin. If you are applying a very pigmented blush and want a light touch, a duo-fibre brush is your best friend. As the name implies, this Chanel Blending Foundation brush can also be used to lightly stipple on cream or liquid foundation for an almost-airbrushed finish.

The bristles on Chanel’s Blending Foundation Brush are lush and lovely. Out of the box, the brush has an elongated hexagonal shape that evokes the iconic Chanel No. 5 bottle stop (which, in turn, is the same shape as Paris’ Place Vendome, which is bordered by the Hotel Ritz where Gabrielle Chanel lived during some parts of her life.

 

Alas, the brush shape went back to round after a single washing. Here’s a comparison to a MAC 187 brush ($42) that is several years old. An unfair comparison, given the differences in age, but I thought you might find the size comparison useful.

The brush heads of the MAC 187 on the left, the Chanel No. 7 on the right. The Chanel is more compact and feels a bit more dense and plushy:

The two straight on:

For performance, I’ll give a slight edge to the Chanel. The bristles seem to do a lovely job without ever giving a single patch or problem. It’s a touch smaller, so it gives me a bit more control. However, if you are pretty happy with your MAC 187 (as many are!), I don’t think it’s worth the investment to switch unless your MAC is nearing its useful life.

Overall, I love the new Chanel Foundation Blending brush. I do use lots of brushes, so  I don’t regret having another good duo fibre in my brush cup. Definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a good brush for foundations and pigmented powders.

 

 

 

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