Dec 102010

Holiday 2010 has been all about metal textures, shimmer and shine.  To this season, Giorgio Armani adds the Gold Rush collection, which includes the Platinum Palette Sheer Shimmer Powder ($55).  Although the name infers cool toned silver tones, in fact the palette imparts a soft candle lit glow.

The round, sturdy sleek palette uses the same design which draws me to reach for Giorgio Armani when I need an elegant product that fits into virtually anything and holds up through the roughest handling.  Inside:

A close-up shows the beautiful texture of this palette:

The palette is roughly the same circumference as the Armani eyeshadow palettes, but is a solid pan of highlighting powder.  In direct flash:

It’s safe to let the pictures do the talking to demonstrate how beautiful this palette is.  The effect of this is subtle– here I’ve swatched it quite heavily over a base to bring out the color and shine:

Another, also applied heavily over a base to show the candlelight soft shimmer color:

Here’s a comparison between Giorgio Armani’s Gold Rush Platinum and Yves Saint Laurent’s Colorama Highlighter:

Do you need them both?  No, unless you like the versatility of the different color choices.  Both a beautiful, excellent quality palettes that give a soft, beautiful glow.  Gorgeous.

Here is the ingredient list for the Giorgio Armani Platinum highlighter (click to enlarge):

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Sep 022010

Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Fall 2010 Night Viper collection includes a limited edition eyeshadow Maestro eyeshadow quad ($59).  Packaged in the sleek and delightfully sturdy round packaging, these four shadows are placed in a striped pattern with a full, usable mirror:

These eyeshadows carry through the blue theme we’ve seen in so many lines this year–Estee Lauder’s Blue Dahlia Palette, Bobbi Brown’s Denim & Rose collection, and others.  The Armani blue swatches as a deep-toned color with a hint of gray and a touch of purple.

Photographed in warm sunlight with flash

The overall impression that these arm-swatches give is neutral-to-cool.  I found that on my fair, warm (NC15- Chanel 1.0) skin, the entire Armani palette applies as very cool.  This is because the highlighter shade is so extremely cool in its tone.  I cannot emphasize enough that this highlighter becomes shut-the-door, out-of-control dramatic on warm skin–indeed, Armani Beauty describes the white shade as “silver.”  Those with warm skin will want to ensure that their brows are well-manicured to go with this highlight shade.

Photographed in shade with flash

This last shade borders on a very cool-toned taupe, and is appropriately described by Armani beauty as an “icy brown.”  The blue is described as the “star shade” of the palette–indeed, it seems the most multidimensional and interesting, and it seems the other colors are designed to set off this deep blue shade.

When applied to the eye, the dark brown shade is a light-absorbing, shadow-creating cool brown.  It can give you a dramatic socket.  The blue is pretty, it’s deep enough and mixed with other colors to be modern.  I like layering it over the khaki (which is a grey off-gold),  or using the blue just in the center of the eye near the lashline for a little color.

All shades are shimmery but not as shimmery as the Steel Black Eyes to Kill Palette that I recently reviewed.  Also, note that the texture of this Fall 2010 Maestro quad is harder and similar to the formerly-introduced Armani quads in the same configuration.  They are workable with a stiff brush, or by using sufficient pressure with a standard brush.  If you are looking for buttery soft, look elsewhere.  If you are looking for something of an average softness, look at Armani’s Eyes to Kill line.

Because of my warm skintone, this palette is pure drama.  Although I love to wear cool shades for that effect, the Fall 2010 Maestro is particularly cool.  Those who are warm toned and fair will want this for the very formal or evening occasions, rather than for everyday.

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Aug 302010

In my quest for the perfect neutral palette, I investigated Giorgio Armani’s Eyes to Kill Palette in Steel Black ($59).  This palette was released some time ago, but I recently acquired it.  As we head toward Fall, I’m leaving my bronzer behind and investigating soft washes of dark eyeshadows.

This is my first (but not my last) eyeshadow palette in the concentric circle target “Eyes to Kill” format.  In fact, my last Armani eyeshadow palette purchases were an older formulation that was quite hard and required a very stiff brush to mine the pigment.

As with all Giorgio Armani powder products, Eyes to Kill in Steel Black comes in the delightfully sturdy and packable round palettes.  I’ve dropped these into every conceivable packaging situation, and they always come through perfectly.  These palettes don’t waste space on a brush that you’ll never use, instead they can be tucked virtually anywhere and withstand almost anything.

As a neutral basic for everyday (or travel), Steel Black offers the potential for a toned-downed professional look or an amped up evening look. The two outermost colors–the grey-taupe and cool cream–have shimmer bits.  The center is matte.  Unlike the old maestro quads, I was pleased to see that my standard eyeshadow brushes pulled pigment out of this palette.

  • The star of this show is the shimmery grey-taupe in the outer ring.  This works really beautifully as a lid wash.  Because this is my favorite of the three colors, I was happy that the palette includes the greatest amount of this color.
  • The cream color is a low-toned highlighter.  Unlike a bright white that might be found in many palettes, this highlighter is a deeper tone.  Although not as dark as a mid-toned highlighter, it applies deeper (and more golden) than Nars Abyssina.  Steel Gray’s highlighter has small glimmery-shimmery bits.  This cream shade was not as pigmented as the grey-taupe, application was sheer-to-medium.  A tapered blending brush (MAC 226 or equivalent) worked fine to cover my brownbone and inner corner.  This lighter tone applied far more smoothly on my eye than it did on an arm-swatch, so if you are looking at this at a counter, ask for a brush and a demo.
  • The center black is best used to smoke out the crease, or smudge into a liner or under-eye.  This black is not deep enough to wear alone as a liner color, even wet, so if you like a very black liner (like I do!), supplement this with a pencil, gel or liquid.

Here is a comparison of the Eyes to Kill Steel Black taupe, compared to MAC Satin Taupe, Shu Uemura Silver 945, Addiction Flashback and Chanel Safari.

Overall, I found Giorgio Armani’s taupe to be more glimmery, on the warm side and less plum than others in my collection. I am glad that I tried Steel Black.  I place a heavy emphasis on the quality of any line’s eyeshadows, and Armani’s eyeshadow line is certainly extensive.  I was impressed with the complexity and quality of Steel Black, which I’m sure that I’ll use extensively.  At the same time, Steel Black made me more interested in looking at the other eyeshadows in Giorgio Armani’s collection.

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May 202010

During the summer months –and yes, they are almost here– I love to wear an illuminator.  Here are few different ways to try them:

  • Mix a few drops with your foundation to add some glow
  • Place some on the upper cheek, bridge of nose and in a “C” shape around the eye area, touch a bit on the brow bone
  • Put some under foundation, if you don’t like too much shimmer, to add just a touch of light

I pooled a few from samples and a friend’s stash to give some comparisons.  As you can see from the swatches, almost every liquid illuminator has a color cast that make all of them quite distinct.  Here, I look at the following:

  1. Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #2 ($59) in a shimmering sandy gold
  2. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter in Opal ($41) in a light gold
  3. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter in Topaz ($41) in a deep gold tan
  4. Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #10 ($59) in a shimmering gold-beige
  5. Benefit High Beam ($ 24) in a sheer pearlized cool pink
  6. Soliel Tan de Chanel Illuminating Fluid ($ 48) in a shimmering multi-dimensional gold


Of the ones that I own, I get the most use from the Chanel and Becca’s Topaz.  They are really distinct in their look–the Chanel adds a glow, while Becca’s Topaz adds a little bronzing effect.  Both seem to last all day, and neither has broken me out.  On the other hand, my friend who has the same skin tone as I do (MAC NC15/Chanel Cameo Intensity 1.0), prefers Benefit’s High Beam.  The High Beam gives a more dramatic look, the shimmer is easier to see and she prefers that look.

Another set of swatches (slightly different light):

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Jan 162010

Giorgio Armani’s Spring 2010 “Nude Contrasts” collection includes a beautiful neutral palette that I purchased from their online site “Nude Contrasts Palette 2.” ($58).  The packaging is a shiny black version of Armani’s iconic disc.  Both beautiful and functional, these palettes withstand endless and ruthless travel conditions.  Not all of my compacts have survived the airline’s checked luggage handling, but all my Armani’s work as well as new.

Inside are four gorgeous spring colors, three are variations of nude.

Who knew that nude could be so…. complicated? There is no overspray–what you see is what you get.  Fortunately, what you get is a lovely shimmery range of neutrals that can span a range of skin-tones from cool to warm.  There’s a multi-dimensional shimmer throughout the pressed pigment that’s just so (sigh!) pretty.

This is a light-toned shimmery palette.  Adding a touch of black is a useful addition.  You need a dark, even for this palette.  So use this black, which coordinates perfectly and and isn’t going to overwhelm the other shades.

Is this palette a must-have?  Probably not, but the quality of the shadows is discernibly better than a $10/palette neutral version.  There is a very finely milled texture and subtlety that allows the shimmer to look elegant and refined, rather than harsh or too-obvious.

Swatches below (two angles, the swatches are in the same order in both, only one is labeled) so that you can see the texture and shimmer more specifically under different lighting.  Click to enlarge:

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