Apr 082011


A month ago, I offered this look inside my suitcase to show you what I brought to Paris.  Now that I’m returning, I wanted to do a quick sketch of what worked, what didn’t and what I missed most from my permanent stash.

First:  What worked? As some of you probably guessed, I brought way too much.  Like Rachel Zoe packing shoes for Fashion Week, I could have easily left one-third of these items at home.  On the road, I almost never had time to play with new looks.  Also, the culture of makeup in Paris emphasizes great skin and minimal eye color.  When I saw so many women like myself wearing understated color (except for lips, of course!), I didn’t think about deeply pigmented teal shadow.  If you’ve read Café Makeup, you already know my aesthetic.  Multiply that times 1,000, omit bronzer in favor of a nude blush and you’ll get my perfect Parisian face.

My standard everyday face included:

  • Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B10 Great coverage, no breakouts.  By the way, if you haven’t seen this video by Lisa Eldridge on Chanel Confidential about the use of Vitalumiere Aqua, you should. I highly recommend watching this, even if you already own and love the product.

  • Nars Maui multiple. This added just the right touch of nude glow, contour and highlight.  Liz picked it up for me before I left, and I’m glad that she did. I loved it, wore it nearly every day.
  • By Terry Eye Primer. Adds a touch of moisture.  I followed up by adding a touch of concealer on top (usually the Cle de Peau).

  • Sublime de Chanel Mascara. Reviewed here. I’ve falled in love.  According to Chanel, it’s coming to the U.S. in August.
  • Edward Bess Soft Smoke Eyeshadow trio. Hello, I’m in Paris–a nice neutral deep eye is perfect here.  Edward Bess’ Soft Smoke has a subtle highlight, the perfect mid-tone grey and a nice black liner color (reviewed here). I wore this almost every single day.  These colors look simple, but really they look extremely good when applied on the eye.  I’ll never take that for granted–it’s much harder to find an excellent near-matte neutral that makes you look luminous and alive than you would ever think.  It’s an investment palette–but well worth it in the long run.

  • Le Metier de Beaute Precision Eyeliner.  No extra brush required.  It can go subtle or heavy, depending on the application.  I used this almost every day.  Plus, it’s tiny and so easy to pack.

  • Lip Product de Jour. I liked the options that I brought, plus I added some Chanel Rouge Coco Shine on arrival.  Overall, I had a nice variety to add color to an otherwise neutral face.

Second:  Let’s talk skincare!

  • Suncare:  Even in the cloudy, grey days of March, I didn’t go anywhere without sun protection.  When I travel, I’m outside for hours at a time, and sometimes all day.   Sometimes the weather was gloriously sunny, but even cloudy days let some UV light do their damage.  Every day, I applied EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46, which is absolutely awesome for my acne prone skin.  It includes physical sun protection and seems to disappear into my skin without leaving a tint or white cast.  Because I wasn’t bothered by the paparazzi (note to self: work on that!) I can’t comment on how this looks in flash photographs.  In daylight, the texture was very workable.  Most importantly, it didn’t break me out.  I bought mine at my dermatologist’s office, but it’s also available online from the Dermstore and elsewhere.  Worth every penny.

  • Cleansers/toners: Good skin must be cleansed.  This time around, I threw in a travel-sized Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Buffing Beads from this Sephora Fabulous Four set, a decant of my Shu Uemura Cleansing oil, and a decant of my DDF 10% Glycolic toner.  Perfect combination.  It’s really important to bring an oil cleanser to get any sunscreen off.

Third:  What could I have left behind? My biggest packing error was too many duplicate products.  Here’s what I would have pared down:

  • Too many eyeliners.  I had three–Bobbi Brown’s Chocolate Shimmer and Black Ink, plus Le Metier de Beaute’s liquid eyeliner pen.  I should have picked one black liner.
  • Too many concealers. I have three in the picture above, then I added another in my carry-on bag.  Really, one is enough.
  • Duplicate bronzers.  NARS Maui multiple and Chanel’s powder bronzer was one too many.
  • Sephora straightener for Europe.  A few years ago, a blogger recommended buying a European-specific hair straightener because her U.S. version had blown up even when using a converter.  So I got a Sephora straightener (which is made by Corioliss) made for 220 volt systems.  This year, it stopped working the first week–what a waste of suitcase space and money.  Next time, I’ll look at a battery-powered option.

Fourth:  What did I miss?

  • Brow pencil. I had nothing for brows–no pencil, and no good powder substitute.  I bought Chanel’s new Crayon Sourcils Sculptant almost immediately when I arrived and used it every day.  I like that it includes an eyebrow brush on one end, because I hadn’t packed one of those either.  I loved the texture.  I bought it in the lightest shade, Blond Clair 10, which is a touch too yellow for me.  I’ll be excited to see the other shades when they arrive in the U.S. in August.

  • Clarisonic Skin Cleanser. I made the right call to leave this at home.  It’s really bulky (although the new, smaller Mia might be better).  Unlike my computer and camera equipment, it’s not compatible with Europe’s 220 electric system.  There is no comparable product sold in Europe.  So, even though I was correct to leave this out of my already-overflowing suitcase, I really missed it.

  • I missed my nail polish range. Again, I made the right call not bringing more than two bottles–a clear Sally Hansen and Chanel Strong. My nails get completely trashed when traveling, there’s no avoiding it.  Still, I missed not having any nude or taupe options, or a nice clear red.  I don’t think there’s a good answer for this.  You just have to give up some things when you’re on the road.

Well, my dearest readers, how did I do?  Do you have any travel tips you’d like to share?


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Mar 072011

I’m heading out of town for 30 days. Comments are turned off, and I cannot answer any of your wonderful emails.  My apologies.

I’m packing very late into the night but took a few minutes to post my makeup for my upcoming trip:

  1. Chanel Ombre Perlees eyeshadow palette (reviewed here)
  2. Soliel Tan de Chanel powder bronzer in Terre Epice
  3. Tom Pecheux for Estee Lauder Pure Color Night Luminous Powder (reviewed here)
  4. Various brushes and tools, including tweezers, scissors, cuticle nippers, eyeliner and eyeshadow brushes
  5. Powder brushes, including MAC 168, Chanel Powder brush and MAC blush brush
  6. Chanel Le Vernis in Strong (reviewed here).  I’m also taking a Sally Hansen clear polish (not pictured)
  7. Le Metier de Beaute Precision Eyeliner (reviewed here)
  8. Le Meter de Beaute Peau Vierge Concealer
  9. Guerlain Issima concealer pen
  10. Chanel Rouge Coco in Patchouli (here)
  11. Lipglosses, including Nars Angelica (here), Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in Confidence (here) and Emoi (here)
  12. Edward Bess Soft Smoke eyeshadow trio (here)
  13. Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation in B10 (here)
  14. Chanel Ombre Essential eyeshadow in Taupe Grise (reviewed here)
  15. Bobbi Brown gel eyeliners in Chocolate Shimmer and Black Ink
  16. Guerlain Illuminating and Mattifying Compact Powder (reviewed here)
  17. Cle de Peau concealer
  18. Nars Multiples in Angelica (reviewed here) and South Beach
  19. Guerlain Le 2 Volume Mascara (not pictured) (reviewed here)

I can create several different looks, and sometimes even use up products completely.  It’s  nice to pare down to a finite set of beauty products. I have to remind myself that my original makeup bag, not that long ago, was much smaller and every item was used almost every day.  This helps me get some perspective-you really don’t need very much to get a lot of very versatile looks.

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Dec 312010

This year, I discovered new beauty products as never before!  Here were my top ten favorite discoveries of 2010:

1.   Edward Bess:   Which products? Well, everything I’ve tried so far–bronzer, highlighter, blushes, eyeshadows…. I love new brands, and the quality of these products are superb.  These always make me look and feel my very best.

2. Burberry Beauty:   Introduced during 2010, this full line of luxury cosmetics has been a real pleasure to explore.  Coincidentally, I’ve been able to keep up with the line through the fabulous assistance of Kristy, the sales manager at Nordstrom at San Francisco Centre.  Yes, the packaging is gorgeous but the quality of the products is excellent.  My favorites so far:  Lipsticks, lipglosses, foundation and eyeshadows.  Next year I’ve heard rumors that we should see their beautiful brushes for sale, concealers, more lipstick shades, and eyeshadow palettes.

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Dec 182010

This year’s Holiday makeup has been all about shimmer, shine and metal.  Several collections were quite large, offering something for literally almost everyone.  Others were narrow and theme-focused.  After living with some of my choices for a few months, I thought it would be fun to review some of this season’s favorites.

First, Geurlain Perles D’Or Metorites, reviewed here.  A surprise hit for me, I’ve used them more than I could have imagined, and will continue to do so.  No coverage, just a beautiful, glowing finish when used as an overall powder.  True love.

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Dec 042010

I’m always on a quest for the latest and greatest, and have been noticing a recent surge in new foundations.  I’m hoping that this means that we are moving forward into a new era of product formulations.  At any rate, I thought it might be useful/fun to collect some of my research here.  Do you know of any new foundations about to be released?  Have you tried anything new that you’d recommend/or not?

I don’t own any of these yet (except for Le Metier de Beaute’s), so please consider this post is a scrapbook of new foundation ideas and not recommendations because I’ve never tried most of these or compared them (although several look intriguing).

All pictures are clickable:

1.  Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua ($45)


A “new generation” texture from Chanel.  I cannot wait to try this one, which is rumored to be a replacement for Chanel’s current Tient Innocence Fluide.  Vitalumiere Aqua is said to be water based, although based on my reading so far the texture is creamy but applies very lightly and sheerly.  There are three tones:

  • Beige which is normal to warm
  • Rose Beige which is rose-based
  • Beige Ochre which is natural (and not released in the U.S.)

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua comes in a very limited color range, has SFP 15 and a “crystalline fragrance.”

2.    Guerlain Lingerie de Peau ($56)


Liz and I had the chance to try this out during our Guerlain makeover in San Francisco, discussed here.  Lingerie de Peau is a light-to-medium coverage foundation that looks remarkably like natural skin.  The technology relies on a series of silk-like fibers to fuse to the skin while creating a re-texturized surface.  It looks very soft and pretty, the effect is very natural.  It was extremely pleasant to use, and if you have very pale complexion the range goes up to quite a pale shade (I’m very pale–Chanel Cameo / MAC NC15 and I was matched to Lingerie de Peau 30).  A definite contender.

Lingerie de Peau has an SPF 20 and a scent which fades on application.

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Nov 052010

Well, another page of the calendar has been turned.  As we move forward through the month of November, I’m pausing to think about which products have stood the test of time?

1. Guerlain Le 2 Mascara – reviewed here.

I’ve had an unusually busy past few months.  Most days, I barely have time to do my makeup but refuse to go anywhere unless I’m happy with my lashes.  Like a trustworthy friend, Guerlain’s Le 2 Mascara has stood by me every single day giving me perfect lashes in a wink.  I started using this in September, and it’s still going strong.  When it runs out, I’m going to switch to the Le 2 Volume Mascara.  The Holiday version of this is reviewed here by The Pink Sith, but the mascara is sold in a non-holiday black as well.

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Oct 052010

Edward Bess Eyeshadow Trio in Soft Smoke ($60 for 0.159 oz.) is quickly becoming my go-to palette for a sophisticated eye look.  Purchased as part of the Bergdorf Beauty Event together with the Bess Moroccan Rose blush, I became very curious about Soft Smoke after reading Sabrina’s review at The Beauty Look Book.

Part of me thinks that the pictures of the palette tell the whole story.  But I don’t think that it’s fair not to tell you that this palette is the probably the most effortless one that I own.  Here is what I’ve been doing– after applying a touch of primer, I covered my brow area with the lightest shade, my lid with the middle shade and line with the darkest shade. Done. Beautiful.  I look like myself, but with more gorgeous eyes.

These soft tones make a beautiful eye that lasted all day over my primer.  The colors are quite neutral (neither warm nor cool), and they really set off the natural color of my eyes.  The pigmentation was excellent, but natural.  There is no metallic shimmer or artificial looking duo-chrome.  It looks both appropriate and beautiful.

The compact is the same size as the slim, square blush compact, includes a full size mirror and a small brush with soft bristles (no sponge tip, thank heavens).  Very travel ready.

These colors look so right, it’s impossible for me not to feel confident wearing this trio.  Although it’s expensive, it’s one of those items that I’ll be glad on those days when the pressure is on and I have to look right—whether at home or on the road.  Fool-proof application, even at 5:00 a.m. (these days, I should know!).

If you can wait, pick it up during an event.  If you don’t get it from Bergdorf’s, try for Neiman Marcus–various stores are introducing Edward Bess products across the country.

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Oct 012010

When Bergdorf’s had their latest Gift Card Event, I couldn’t resist ordering Edward Bess Blush Imperiale in Moroccan Rose (#03) ($48).  Unlike the earlier cool pink Edward Bess Soft Orchid, Moroccan Rose is a deep, highly pigmented rose plum.

This color is so beautiful and unique, and lovely for fall.  It gives a fresh flush of rose on my pale skin.  The high pigmentation mean that the blush will certainly last.  For those in my skin tone range (MAC NC 15/ Chanel Intensity 1.0), I recommend trying this first with a duo-fiber (also called a skunk) brush.  Even a light application gives plenty of deep pink/plum to last all day.  I’m certain this would look lovely on darker skin tones as well.

There is something really beautiful and alive about the texture of Edward Bess’ products.  It’s difficult to describe, but there is a very soft glow in the powder that looks very flattering.  I always feel beautiful when I wear Edward Bess’ products.

I was surprised to find how unique the color was–when I first saw that color at Bergdorf’s counter, I was sure that I already owned something with the same feeling.  As it turns out, my deep medium pink-plums are quite different.  For example, MAC’s Dirty Plum (this one from this year’s Liberty of London Collection), was much more of a true plum.  Plum Attraction, from Chanel Fall 2010, is much more red than the rosey pink infused in Moroccan Rose.

Overall, Edward Bess’ Blush Imperiele in Moroccan Rose is very easy-to-wear blush that looks very polished and beautiful.  Love.

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Sep 082010

As described here, Joeybunny and I had a wonderful time at Bergdorf Goodman’s makeup counters last week to investigate lovely new things. This includes new lipsticks and glosses from Edward Bess, which will be available in December for sale.

I’m really happy that Neiman Marcus has begun carrying Edward Bess’ products–the more Edward Bess used in the world, the better.  I’ve been really pleased with everything from this line that I’ve tried so far.  In fact, I have a little corner of my top makeup drawer where my Edward Bess items are–he makes such beautiful basics and I use them so frequently.

During our visit, Joeybunny and I took a look at three new glosses and three new lipsticks that will be launching soon.  First up, the new Deep Shine Glosses are red Amore, pink fuchsia First Kiss and a soft, light pink called French Lace ($30 each).

The new Ultra Slick Lipsticks are the pink Blush Allure, medium pink Rose Demure and deep nude Demi Buff ($32).  As you can see, these were displayed in new, square-tube packaging that coordinates nicely with the other sleek packaging in Edward Bess’ line.  In the picture, the older round packaging is in the back, the square packaging is used on the new shades in the front:

You can see these colors, courtesy of Joeybunny’s swatches, here:

While I was at the counter, I couldn’t resist placing an pre-order for Bergdorf’s upcoming gift card event— for a $100 purchase, you receive a $25 gift card–nice, right?  If you are interested in taking advantage for some Edward Bess items, you can call Susan at the Edward Bess counter at Bergdorfs (212 872 8826).  Susan has helped me with phone orders several times in the past, and she has been wonderful with advice and service.  At the same time, you might want to ask her about Edward Bess’ new blush– a well pigmented mauve-rose called “Moroccan Rose” that I couldn’t resist, which will be available for the gift card event.  There is also a new compact rouge called Love Affair, reviewed here by The Beauty Look Book, that will be available for the event.

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Aug 312010

I’ve noticed a tradition of some beauty bloggers, who do a month-end wrap of “10 Things I’m Loving Right Now,” to let readers know which products are getting the most use.  In some ways, I find those posts the most valuable because it helps me understand which products have taken center stage, and so worth checking out for myself.  As August nears its close, I thought that I’d give this format a try:

1.   Chanel Flat Powder Brush (European)— Reviewed here. Used with Caron powder, this brush gives me a perfect airbrush finish.  Amazing, soft feel and very natural application.  A great investment.  If you can’t get this one soon, perhaps look at the MAC equivalent–which I haven’t tried but which seems to be a similar shape.

2.  Edward Bess Daydream Bronzer— Reviewed here.  I love this on a train, I love this in the rain, I love this in a boat or when wearing a coat…you get the picture.  Always looks amazingly natural and beautiful.  The Perfect Bronzer.  Times ten.

3.  Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in Confidence—  Reviewed here.  Can you bottle confidence?  No, but you can put it in a heavy glass tube with a doe-foot applicator.  Always looks wonderful.  Here it is worn by January Jones at the 2010 Emmys:

4.  Burberry Foundation—  Love the finish and ease of using this foundation.  It lasts all day, although it is a very lightweight foundation.  This can be layered for extra coverage where needed.  Well worth investigating.  Swatches are here.

5. Butter London All Hail McQueen— reviewed here.  I’m the last person to ever expect to enjoy wearing a holographic polish.  But I’m going to have to buy a second one of these soon.  The color is so on-trend, it’s a very light taupe/griege.  Indoors, the holographic quality doesn’t show, it’s only when the nail is hit by light that it turns magical.  Easy, perfect application.

So tell us what you are loving right now?

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