Jul 292015

BHV/ Marais is located on Paris’ Rue de Rivoli just across from the Hotel de Ville, and has a very different feel from many upscale, large-city department stores. BHV (originally, “Bazar de L’Hotel de Ville”) may feel like a step back in time for U.S. visitors. Generally, BHV is set up to appeal to the middle-class shopper (a bit more like Macy’s/Dillards, and less Saks Fifth Avenue). That statement isn’t quite accurate, like many French things there is something lost in translation. Still, the BHV retains departments including stationary, notebooks, pencils and school supplies, pet goods, and notions (notions?? yes, notions). These have long vanished from U.S. department stores. I think you can actually buy hardware and knitting supplies there (I’ve seen them in the past). BHV is the store memorialized by The New York Times fashion photographer and genius Bill Cunningham, when he mentioned in his biopic that this very store is the source of his blue work jackets.

14-bill-cunningham.w529.h352.2xThe Marais is one of my favorite neighborhoods. It has an eclectic mix of art museums, falafel street food, shops and cafes that seem very down-to-earth, at least as that term can be applied to anywhere in Paris. Occupying several buildings (one is dedicated just to menswear), BHV/Marais is located just south of the Pompidou Center, north of Seine.

BHV map

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Sep 072014

NIP FABa1Who doesn’t love finding a fabulous little product that doesn’t cost much?  Lately, I’ve been working my way through a jar of Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Pads (about $13 at Ulta.com). This jar of 60 pre-soaked pads uses glycolic acid (2.8%) to retexture and resurface skin and witch hazel to tone. It also includes hyaluronic acid and blue daisy for brighter, smoother skin.

NIP FABa2The ingredient list is:

Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Alcohol Denat. (SD Alcohol 40-B), Disodium EDTA, Globularia Alypum (Blue Daisy) Extract, Panthenol, Lactic Acid, Parfum, Limonene, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dehydroacetic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Linalool, Geraniol, Citral

NIP FAB3The plastic container has been keeping these pretty fresh (I use two per day), and this can easily be popped into a checked bag for unbreakable exfoliation on the road. These are gentle, but effective. My skin doesn’t feel dry afterwards, and seems to look fresher and brighter. For this price point, these are a steal. At Ulta.

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Jun 212013

Revlon Lash Potion51

A few weeks ago, Revlon sent us a tube of Revlon Lash Potion by Grow Luscious Mascara ($7.99 retail). I bought a twin so that Liz and I could test and demonstrate this for Cafe Makeup.

Revlon Lash Potion52

Many who love high-end makeup don’t mind economizing for drugstore mascaras.  I can see why.  In the past, I’ve had good luck with L’Oreal’s mascara–most recently, L’Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes Waterproof Mascara. Although it’s a bit clumpy, it doesn’t leave my lashes dry and crunchy (as some drugstore mascaras do), and it doesn’t smudge.  Revlon’s Lash Potion is said to “drench[] lashes with a potion of strengthening proteins for captivating volume and length” and give “maximum volume for clump-free length.” Essentially, Revlon’s is advertised to moisturize, condition, and give dramatic volume and length.

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Feb 102013

Physicians Formuala Deluxe Bronze Booster1a

As you know, sometimes we try drugstore items as part of the Dollar Menu here at the cafe. As any sane person would, we sometimes wonder if paying $40 or more for a blush, bronzer, or eyeshadow palette makes sense. There are makeup treasures everywhere, certainly there are excellent lower priced mascaras, nail polish, and eyeliners. In this spirit, I explored the “new on the pegboard” Physician’s Formula Bronze Booster (Deluxe Edition) ($15.95) (Light-Medium) (0.42 oz).  In the pan, you could even say that it glows:

Physicians Formuala Deluxe Bronze Booster2

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Nov 142011

The beauty world is buzzing about Revlon Colorburst Lip Butters. This new line of lipsticks, each of which retails at $7.49, is currently being rolled out nationwide. I’ve heard so much about these over the past few weeks, they just seemed like the perfect little bon bon item for the Cafe Makeup Dollar Menu.

The color range is huge–there are twenty (20) different shades. The texture appears to be a drugstore version mix between the highly moisturizing sheer colors that we saw in Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Burberry Lip Mist, and Dior Addict earlier this Spring, and the old standby Clinique’s Butter Shine. Revlon realizes that not everyone is going to invest $30 or more per lipstick (go figure!) If you are looking to keep your lips moisturized during the coming winter months while adding a pretty, semi-sheer wash of color, these are a very nice budget-priced way to go.

Revlon’s press relations sent me two for review– #001 Pink Truffle and #050 Berry Smoothie.

Pink Tuffle is a warm pink-chocolate tone that seems to have a touch of bronze. Berry Smoothie is a shimmery sheer pink with tiny multicolor micro-glitters. Of the two, I preferred Berry Smoothie. It’s a really easy-to-wear pink that’s sheer enough to go with a wide range of makeup types. Pink Truffle is pretty, but a touch on the brown side for me. These have a very slight scent that fades very quickly.

The lasting power was about the same as Burberry’s Lip Mists, and longer than Chanel Rouge Coco Shine (at its glossiest, before the Rouge Coco Shine turns to a stain).

Here is Pink Truffle on Liz:

Berry Smoothie on Liz:

I thought that for the price range these Revlon Lip Butters are revolutionary. No, I’m not going to give up buying the Chanel, Burberry or Dior’s in favor of these. However, they do look and feel wonderful for the comparatively low $7.49 (and even less if you can catch a coupon). They’re one of the better-feeling drugstore lip products out there, and quite obviously they are several notches up on the glam scale from Chapstick.

Other reviews of Revlon Colorburst Lip Butters that you might like to see:

– Nouveau Cheap is here

– The Glam Trotter is here

– Body & Soul is here (many swatches!)

These lipsticks were sent by Revlon Press Relations to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review.

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Oct 112011

I have a soft spot of new independent companies.  When Fresh Faces Minerals asked Cafe Makeup to try some samples, I said “yes,” although I’m not a pigment expert. In response, I was sent a boatload of small samples jars with sifters on top to prevent spilling.

I actually have a soft spot for pigment samples.  At only $1 per jar, one can get a variety of complex or candy-toned colors.  They’re a cheap thrill, but they also happen to be a really good product.  What impressed me about these is that they are so very finely milled.  There was no trace of the chunky quality that some pigments have.  The range of textures was impressive.  This little sampling includes mattes, complex shimmers and metallics.  Here are some of the neutral shades that have a soft glowing finish-from left to right, these are Patina, Icy Brown, Bliss and Bossy Mossy (all applied with MAC Mixing Medium).  The colors are soft and not too over the top.  These are smooth, lovely colored neutrals.  Not bad for $4 total:

These metallics were really pretty foiled in MAC Mixing Medium, Sun in the Sea, Antique Copper, Stone Khakis and Black Amethyst:

I enjoyed the eyes that I created with Fresh Faces Minerals.  The vibe is very fresh, clean and in colors that can be worn by the everyday woman.  These are very easy to use, just mix the pigment with a tiny droplet of Mixing Medium or water on the back of your hand and go.  The metallics (Sun in Sea and Antique Copper) were particularly impressive–they looked really good on the skin.  They held onto their shine beautifully.  Definitely a nice little treat and worth taking a look.

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Jun 022011

As part of my obsession to achieve frizz-free, I tried L’Oreal EverSleek (around $5-6 at drugstores).  This tub of rich conditioner is both silicon-free and sulfate-free, perfect for those who don’t want their hair products to strip color or shine from hair.  I’ve been using this for about two weeks as a daily conditioner, and find it performs extremely well.  After leaving on for 3-5 minutes, my hair rinses clean very easily.  I’ve had no skin break-outs or clogging.  My hair is significantly softer and the frizziness is reduced.  It doesn’t weigh my hair down, or feel heavy.   Highly recommended.

Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

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May 182010

Wet n Wild has undergone massive changes in the last few months, replacing many of the permanent eyeshadows with the new Color Icon line, distinguished by a swirl pattern on the pan.  So far, these have been receiving rave reviews.  I was particularly interested in Nutty ($1.99), the taupe one.

Yes, a two-dollar taupe.  Who can resist?

Pan with the swirl imprint:

So, try to pick Nutty out of a line up of other taupes that range from $28 to $30.  This picture includes the following eyeshadows-which do you think is Nutty?

  • Edward Bess Intimate ($30)
  • Chanel Safari ($28.50)
  • Shu Uemura ME Silver 945 (discontinued legend; priceless)
  • Kose Addiction Flash Back ($32 or so, depending on the exchange rate with the Japanese Yen)
  • Wet n Wild Nutty ($1.99)

Are you as excited as I am? Can you tell which one is the two-buck taupe? C’mon try! Answers after the jump…

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Apr 302010

The weather is slowly turning from spring to summer on the West Coast.  To get us all in the mood for summer, here’s a look at two drugstore bronzer items that I’ve been playing with for the past few weeks.

First, Physician’s Formula has a line of Bronze Booster Powder Bronzers ($10 to 15) that I found difficult to resist based on the packaging.  The tortoise shell coloring and gold lettering seemed to evoke the Guerlain Terracotta line.  The box promises a “glow activator” and I really like Physician’s Formula’s baked bronzers so I thought that I would give the Light-Medium one a try.  For reference, my skin tone is NC15/ Chanel Cameo (Intensity .5 or 1.0 depending on the foundation).

You really cannot get a more convenient, all-in-one for this price.  This has a multi-layered package with a built-in mirror and a pretty decent brush is pretty usable.   That makes this a real value.  Plus, if you do travel in rough conditions, this would be a great bronzer to throw into a bag.   Sand or squirt of sunscreen, plus some juice spilled all over?  No worries, the price point makes the bronzer relatively replaceable.

After some experimentation, I found the following:

  • Near-matte finish (if you are looking for a sheen or shimmer finish, try Physician’s Formula Baked Bronzers)
  • Adds some coverage–you will not need as much foundation in areas where you apply this bronzer
  • Seemed to last well throughout the day
  • I did not notice any skincare benefits from using the product. However,  this did not cause any breakouts or adverse skin reaction either.

Tip:  Buy the right shade for your coloring. When I tried to build up more coverage to get a darker look, I got a decidedly orange color begin to show.

Bottom line: Not my favorite bronzer and I will probably donate this to a friend.  This will work well if you are looking for an almost-matte bronzer that you will use lightly applied.  I find it worrisome that this turned a bit orange on my skin, and it didn’t seem as flattering as some of the other bronzers that I use.

The other product that I tried was Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips in Malibu Strip/Pink Sand Bronzer ($11).  Of all of the choices on the pegboard, this one had the rosiest tones and so I thought this had the least chance of turning orange on my warm skintone.

This product resembles the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Bricks in many respects.  However, the packaging is clear and minimal.  On the upside, this clear acrylic seems significantly stronger than the average Shu Uemura package.  This is a BYOB (“bring your own brush”) product, but so is Bobbi’s.

This is really pretty…

I found Physician’s Formula’s Shimmer Strips excellent for the price.  I had a very difficult time telling much of a difference between the texture of the Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strip from the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick when applied–with one important exception.  To my eye, the Physician’s Formula seemed warmer–more gold and in some light slightly more orange–than the Bobbi Brown Nude Shimmer Brick that I used as a my primary point of comparison.

Physician’s Formula’s packaging advertises the Shimmer Strips as capable of being used on the eye.  I’m reading this as saying that the product is eye-safe.  Do you want to wear this as an eyeshadow?  Because this is designed as a highlighter, you will find that using the product on the eye will give you a very shimmery look.  Also, I found that the lightest shade didn’t seem to have very rich pigmentation for a highlighter shade.  Here are some swatches of the individual bars.  I loaded up the lightest shade for the swatch with several layers:

Bottom line: Despite the warm cast, I liked the product and will keep this in my stash.  I found the performance impressive for the price point.  The package seems like it will travel well, it’s slimmer than Bobbi’s Shimmer Bricks.  I like that I can use it as an eyeshadow in an emergency.  The texture and look was very nice for the price.

Here are swatches of the Bronze Booster and Shimmer Strip side-by-side:

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Apr 012010

Café Makeup is starting a new feature!  To play off of the fast food idea of the “dollar menu,” I’m going to review a few easily affordable beauty items to add some variety to the Café’s offerings. I can’t promise that all will be winners, but I wanted to experiment and post some pictures and thoughts along the way.

First up is Wet n Wild’s Greed Palette (around $5 at drugstores), part of the Color Icon line (others in the line include Pride, Lust and Vanity).  It contains three matte shades, each paired with a corresponding three shimmer shades.  The packaging is the typical rigid plastic with a clear lid (no mirror).

The peachy and grey-black tones of the palette are an interesting mix of shades–I can’t think of any palette that I’ve seen over the past few years that has a similar combination of colors.  This has potential to work on both warm and cool toned skin types.

I found that the lighter shades suffered from a little bit of chalkiness, but they were pretty easy to build up.  The sparkle in the shimmery shades is on the large side, so if you dislike glitter then this is a “pass” for you.  The best shade in the palette is the matte black–it was extraordinarily pigmented for such an inexpensive palette.  Click to enlarge:

I didn’t get as much of a chance to play with as I would have liked to complete this review.  I will say that the colors went on quite nicely, considering that you get six decently-sized pans for around $5.  The matte shades didn’t exactly melt into the skin but they held their own with plenty of color.  The light gray shimmer sparkle was nearly transparent, more texture than color.  The peach sparkle shimmer was not nearly as strong or as pretty as Chanel Abricot or Lorac Serenity.

However, I have to give the palette a major break because of the price point.  I’d say this is worth it if you are looking for a fun little treat that won’t break the bank.

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