A Word About Duty Free Makeup Shopping

 Chanel, Dior, Guerlain, Lancome  Comments Off on A Word About Duty Free Makeup Shopping
Jun 072010

Every trip to Paris must end sometime, and most U.S. residents leave the city via one of the airports.  I’ve flown in and out of Charles de Gaulle airport several times, and even stayed overnight in the Sheraton hotel located inside the terminal.  One thing I will say about this airport–my experiences have varied vastly based on the airline and the terminal.  This last time, I flew Air France out of Terminal 2E.  What an incredibly organized, pleasant experience in comparison to others that I had in the past.

So, back to makeup.  As many international travelers know, after emerging from security there are a vast number of choices and stores for alcohol, tobacco, souvenirs, perfumes and makeup that await you just before you go to the gate.  At Charles de Gaulle, the lines that are carried include Chanel, Guerlain, Lancome, Serge Lutens, Clinique, Dior and a variety of others.

Here are some pointers:

  • If you want genuine products at a discount, here’s your chance.  Bring your math skills (or at least a calculator) if you are hoping to save some money.
  • Here are some examples of the savings:
    • Chanel products were several dollars less than U.S. prices, even with the conversion of dollar-to-Euro.  For example, a Chanel Glossimer was 19 euro’s, which converts to $25. In the U.S., Glossimers sell for $27.00 plus tax.
    • L’Eau Serge Lutens fragrance was priced at 90 euros (which converts to $116.10 U.S.).  It sells for 100 Euros ($129) in Paris at Galeries Lafayette.  It is priced at $150 on Barney’s U.S. website.
    • Guerlain’s Meteorites Voyage compact sells for $170.00 in the U.S.  At the duty free store, it was priced at 100 euros ($129).  It sells for 125 euros ($161.00) in stores in Paris.

  • At the duty free store, you do not need to get involved with the paperwork and delay involved in getting a VAT tax refund, described here.  There is no minimum purchase.  You just pay the lower price, take your sealed bag and go.
  • The duty free stores have wonderful little gift sets and palettes.  For example, Guerlain had some adorable little blush, eyeshadow and eyeliner kits that fit together with sliding parts that were both clever and beautiful.  Guerlain also had a three-pack of mini-meteorites (the older style) packaged with a brush in a gift box.  There are multi-packs of mascaras, lipsticks and glosses that were money savers, as well as nice gifts.
  • You must have your boarding pass with you to purchase products.  I do not know how you ever would get through security without one, but if you are asking a family member to hold yours for you, get it back before you purchase.
  • There is no option to shop around–each terminal has one or two stores maximum.  If the store is out of stock on an item that you want, you are out of luck. I got the last Guerlain Voyage Meteorite compact, for example.
  • You will not typically find special, limited edition products at these stores.  Looking for Estee Lauder’s Tom Pencheux’s very exclusive sets?  Cutting edge products like Tom Ford’s lipsticks?  Not going to happen.  Also, the Serge Lutens display had about ten fragrances, which is fewer than compared to the twenty or so that the department stores carry.
  • Most of the core products for each line seemed to be on display. Testers for the Chanel Joues Contraste blushes (Euro version), eyeshadow quads, glossimers and lipsticks (Rouge Allure and Rouge Coco)  were all ready to go.   Whether or not they boxed products, ready to sell and in stock is a good possibility but not an absolute certainty.
  • Service is multilingual.  Obviously, these stores are built for convenience and not for make-overs or detailed beauty advice, so plan accordingly.

The amount that you save depends on the exchange rate;  a rate that changes daily.  I locked in my rate for my purchase, because the store offered to allow me to purchase in U.S. dollars.  I also saved a bit on currency exchange fees that way.

Keep in mind that several terminals have other types of boutiques.  For example, Le Printemps had a micro-store, as did Hermes. By the way, the Hermes scarves were of a limited selection, but priced at 240 euros for the standard size (compare this with the 280 euros in the Parisian boutique).

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May 282010

On the Champs-Élysées in Paris, right next to the Sephora, is the Guerlain flagship store.  Although this is not the company’s first location, it has been there since 1914 and is its most iconic.  It holds not only a unique architectural style, but incredibly informed staff and is a tribute to the company’s history.

I have previously done a shopping report for this store at this link, although after reflecting on my previous experience I was better prepared for the boutique during this summer’s visit.  I read other internet reviews of the store, and spent some time on Guerlain’s website learning more about the company’s history.  If you have not done so and like the line, I encourage you to look at the Guided Tour.

The store is the very definition of elegance.  It is an incredible treat for the senses.  If you ever get to Paris, you must go.

This time, I bypassed the first floor displays of perfumes and headed up the stairs at the back to the second floor.  As I previously described, the upstairs foyer is covered in yellow-gold shimmery tiles, and the walls have organic, flowing shapes.  The clientele tends to be well dressed, and everyone seems to be well treated regardless of their dress.  There were only four or so staff visible; I was immediately greeted by a friendly woman about my own age who gave me the typical “Bonjour madame!” in her lyrical French.

I can get excited about some Guerlain products, although others leave me a bit cold.  I have never loved Meteorites, the round powder complexion enhancers.  I reasoned that if I were to ever love them, this would be the place to fall in love.  So I asked to see them first, remembering from my last visit to pronounce the product with the French style (Meet-ee-or-eets), rather than the U.S. which sounds more like a celestial object.

“Aah!” my assistant led me to the large makeup area.  I should note that this boutique does not seem to have any makeup products that are exclusive to that location, although there are some special perfumes.  After examining the Meteorites display, I could not conjure up any more love for them than I already had.  I wish I did.  This boutique is the perfect place to finally get that gorgeous compact.

I did ask about the new Guerlain bronzers for Summer 2010, which I had not seen before in person.  There are two series–first, the Four Seasons ($74) in two shades:

Both of these swatched very dark, and a bit orange, for my NC15/Chanel Cameo skintone.  Second, the Terracotta Light Collector ($50/ 46 euros) which looks very much like the sheer bronzing powder with the mosaic of five different colors:

I already own a similar looking product, called the Terracotta Sheer Bronzing powder in Blondes, which has good reviews but which I rarely use.  It’s another product that I wanted to love, but it seemed to lack…something.

I told my sales associate that I already owned Blondes, pointing to the prior version in the display.  “Ah,” she said, “that one is too beige for you.”

And just like that, she won me over.  She was right.  The prior Blondes was too beige for me.  The new one has more intense color, we tried it on and indeed it was gorgeous.  She then explained that the new Terracotta glosses had been reformulated this season.  She pulled out a beautiful bronzed pink-rose one (#4 Amber) that looked amazing with my skin tone.  Because I was buying two items from the Terracotta collection, I got the boutique’s gift with purchase– a rather large soft makeup bag with a mini-Terracotta bronzer #1 and a mini-kabuki brush.

After paying, I wandered around the perfume area, which is a large room with an incredible display and adorned with glass bead curtains.  I was drawn to a large display featuring the L’Art et la Matiere series (168 euros each).  These were accompanied by little still-lifes of the notes featured in the accompanying bottles, bi-lingual descriptions and antique versions of the fragrances that appeared to be a century old with reductions of the scents lining the bottom.  I fell in love with each one, each one as life-changing as the last.  I particularly loved the white chocolate of Iris Ganache and the incense of Bois d’Armenie.  I had seen a display at the register which indicated that Guerlain would engrave the bottle with your name if you had a few days before pick-up.  Although very tempted, I decided to think about it before plunging ahead.

I wondered about all of the women who have experienced this store over the last century, all of the occasions celebrated with a gift of one of these perfumes, and the hours spent enjoying the scent.  I suspected that some of these perfumes were still being sold today, although perhaps their notes had been subtly refined through the years.  The atmosphere was quiet and polite, allowing me to experience each of them, including the new additions, for myself.

This location also has a luxurious spa, which I did not visit.  I’ve been very impressed with the few Guerlain skincare products that I’ve sampled, so I’m certain that such an experience would be lovely.

If you are interested in the history of Guerlain, this website (Monsieur Guerlain.com) is an incredibly rich source of information.

As you can probably tell, I have the view that one does not need to go to a museum to experience history.  If you are of the mind, or simply enjoy experiences rich in culture, I would put La Maison Guerlain on your list if you get to Paris.

Architectural detail above Guerlain's door

And so, readers, if we were to go back to this store together this weekend, what would you look at?  What would you get?

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Guerlain L’Instant d’un Rêve – Review and Swatches

 Eyeshadow, Guerlain  Comments Off on Guerlain L’Instant d’un Rêve – Review and Swatches
May 172010

This is the last post in a series about Guerlain’s recently-released single eyeshadows, featuring L’Instant d’un Rêve (The Instant of a Dream) (Ombre Eclat 1 Couleur L’Instant D’une Reve) ($35).   This one is also packaged in the irregular-square shaped bit of luxury, with the full mirror and little sponge applicator.

This is a soft brown that borders on taupe, with small multi-colored micro-sparkles.  It is one of those shadows that you can use up without really thinking about it, because it’s such a nice basic color.  I wore this as a single-color lid wash a few days last week–it looked quiet, subtle, polished and effortless.  I paired this with a matte ivory brown bone color, and either a black or dark brown eyeliner.  It’s a basic go-to eyeshadow that has a very pretty, glowy look to it.  You can be confident that this is always going to look appropriate.  On the other hand, it doesn’t have the drama of the greens, blues and oranges —but I’m pretty sure that goes without saying.

Pan shot:

Here is a swatch on the left, together with a comparison with Guerlain’s L’Instant d’un Emotion reviewed here:

The application is beautifully smooth and creamy for a powder eyeshadow.  Like the others, the pan is large enough (.12 oz. 3.6g) to last a long time.  Here is a comparison with a few other browns from my collection so that you can see the type of brown more clearly:  the brown side of Chanel’s Brun Express Irreelle Duo, MAC Brun and Shu Uemura’s ME Brown 810:

Lovely, yes?  It’s amazing how many shades of “brown” there are!

For reference, here are links to the remaining two in this series:  The shimmery-sparkle white L’Instant d’une Caresse and the white-peach shimmery smooth L’Instant d’un Baiser.

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May 142010

Guerlain L’lnstant d’une Émotion ($35) is a large pan on multi-dimensional deep grey powder eyeshadow.  Of the four released by Guerlain recently, this is the most smooth, pigmented and multi-dimensional.  Therefore, it is my favorite.

Although I don’t usually like darker eyeshadows, every collection needs to have a few and this is a beautiful one to have.  Like the others, it is packaged in a beautiful square gold that is nicely engineered and easy to hold.  As you might expect, it is subject to fingerprints but the little dips and waves seem nicely placed to allow a nice grip on the container so that it will not be dropped.

L’lnstant d’une Émotion is a charcoal color with mulit-color shimmer.  The pigmentation is beautiful–it applies easily.  The shimmer is so small that it does not have any sparkle or gritty feel.  Rather, the shimmer is part of the shadow.  Here is a picture of its pan gorgeousness:

Here is a swatch of the single.  As you can see, this is charcoal rather than a black.  This was taken in sunlight, so there is a little gold cast to it:

Here is a comparison with some other grays in my collection taken with an indoor flash.  The color is more neutral here and looks more like the color does in every day light.  The comparisons are between the shimmery Chanel Silvery, the matte Chanel Ebony and the very deep grey (almost black) Shu ME Black 990 that has tiny microsparkles:

Bottom line:  Worth checking out if you like neutrals with a little drama.

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May 132010

Guerlain recently released L’Instant d’un Baiser (Ombre Eclat 1 Couleur  L’Instant d’un Baiser)($35), an eyeshadow single with a name that translates to “The Instant of a Kiss.”  As with the other Guerlain singles, the pan is a large .12 oz (3.6 g), which is more than twice the amount of product of a typical MAC eyeshadow, and about 1/3 more than a Chanel single.  The packaging is Guerlain luxury, with a smooth gold square outside and mirror in the inner lid, plus a sponge applicator (does anyone use these?).

Compared to L’Instant d’une Caresse, L’Instant d’un Baiser is much more smoothly textured and warmer/peachier in tone.  L’Instant d’un Baiser does not have the shimmer bits of L’Instant d’une Caresse, and L’Instant d’un Baiser applies much more consistently.  Both apply as very light colors, typical of a browbone highlighter, inner corner highlighter or a sheer wash to brighten the lid area.  Of the two, I prefer L’Instant d’un Baiser–this may be because I am warm-toned, although in the end I believe the texture is better.

Here is a picture of L’Instant d’un Baiser in the pan:

Here is a comparison between L’Instant d’une Caresse and L’Instant d’un Baiser:

Finally, here is a comparison between L’Instant d’un Baiser and some other peachy shades in my collection.  As you can see, L’Instant d’un Baiser applies much more lightly in tone.  By comparison, Chanel Abricot melts into the skin in a more subtle way.  Lorac’s Mesmerize is a deep peachy tone.  Typical of MAC, Say, Yeah (this was an LE veluxe pearl) brightly captures the light yet gives quite a bit of color saturation:

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Guerlain L’Instant D’une Caresse Single Eyeshadow

 Eyeshadow, Guerlain  Comments Off on Guerlain L’Instant D’une Caresse Single Eyeshadow
May 122010

Guerlain has recently released four single eyeshadows, including L’Instant D’une Caresse (Guerlain Ombre Eclat 1 Color 183) ($35).  These singles are expensive but enormous.  For comparison, Guerlain’s eyeshadows are .12 oz (3.6 grams) for $35.  MAC’s are .04 and .05, depending on the style, and run $14.50.  Chanel’s are .07 ounces for $28.50.  So although Guerlain’s are among the highest among department store brands, they are the largest so buying one is a commitment.  The question is whether you love any of them enough to commit.

Until now, I’ve only loved one –Sable Blond 101–which was released with Guerlain’s Summer 2009 collection.  I absolutely love this color (swatch below), it’s a wonderful neutral shade that gives a pretty soft shimmer to the lid.  Based on Karlasugar’s swatches, I thought it was time to venture a little further into Guerlain’s line.  I’ll be running through four of these in the next few days.

L’Instant D’une Caresse is a shimmery off-white shade that evokes a beige.  This will not turn opaque on your brow bone (which is probably a good thing).  It’s pigmented, but not intended to go completely white unless you really work at it.  There are some shimmery bits once this is applied.

Here is a swatch of Guerlain’s L’Instant D’une Caresse, along with Sable Blonde and a pearl Shu highlighter, P 800:

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May 112010

For Summer 2010, Guerlain has produced another beautiful collection –the Meteorites Collection–which includes an eyeshadow palette, Ombres Perlées (Fard a Paupières Eyeshadow 409)($59).  These are very soft summer colors are extremely easy and pretty eyeshadow tones.  As usual, Guerlain’s summer eyeshadow palette has been released in special edition packaging, this year in a matte-silver with slight undulating dips and dents that make the product a pleasure to hold like a large beautiful shell.

The eyeshadows are imprinted with a large flower design that is not an overspray–the white shimmer eyeshadow powder that forms the petals of the flower are permanent.  However, the ridges that look likes rays of light that come out from the flower across the four powder pans do wear down rather quickly.

There is a soft white, a malt-lavender-gray, a soft peach and a medium grey-brown shimmer.  Although you can see some micro-sparkles in the pan and in some kinds of light, generally the four main pans apply with a matte look.  Yes, in certain light the swatch can catch a tiny bit of the sparkle from these four shades.  However, with a full eye the tiny bit of sparkle seems all but impossible to detect unless you add some eyeshadow from the flower petals that contain the white shimmer shade.  Although these are matte, they are so finely milled that there was not a trace of chalkiness.

This palette is clearly designed for a soft summer eye.  It is extraordinarily easy to use–really, it’s hard to go wrong.  I put the peach shade on my lid, used the brown-gray in my socket, and the highlighter on my browbone.  This gave me a very natural daytime eye that is very easy for anyone to do.  For your reference, here’s a quick look at the back label of the palette.


Can this palette be duped?  The colors can of course–but what I find difficult to locate in other brands is the finely milled powder that give a natural (but more beautiful) look to the lid.  Mattes can be tricky–there are many out there but so many disappoint.  The Guerlain is a sure thing–it’s going to meld with the skin.  It gives a soft glow that doesn’t give an obvious “I’m wearing eyeshadow” look.

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Easy Summer Look

 Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Guerlain  Comments Off on Easy Summer Look
May 102010

Spring is turning slowly into summer where I live–sometimes our weather will seem warm, while others (like today) there is a grey rain with the attendant cloud cover.  Summer brings some of my favorite months, and so I’m impatient for it to arrive.  To get me in the mood, here is an easy summer look that I wore over the weekend:

  • Avene Emulsion 50+ Sunscreen
  • Guerlain Terracotta Tinted Moisturizer in Blondes (this is truly moisturizing–I wish Guerlain made this in an everyday version) reviewed here.
  • Chanel Joues Contraste Blush in In Love – reviewed here
  • Chanel Aqualumiere Gloss in Bondi – reviewed here
  • Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner in Espresso Ink, topped with Guerlain’s Terracotta Eye Kohl in Mirage (reviewed here)
  • Yves Saint Laurent Faux Cils mascara
  • RMS Beauty eyeshadow in Lunar (reviewed here).  This was a sample that I got gratis from the Spirit Beauty Lounge, but I recently discovered that similar samples can be purchased quite cheaply at this link.

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May 072010

Via Lushious Beauty, these photographs of Guerlain’s Fall 2010 Collection, with one of the most beautiful compacts I have ever seen.

There is an eyeshadow palette:

Palette packaging, which evokes the unfolding theme and excellent metalwork that is used for the Rouge G lipsticks:

Also new Kiss Kiss and Rouge G lipsticks…

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Apr 292010

I’m going to try a new feature—to post some ideas for how some of the makeup can be worn together.  For a first start, I’m going to try this bronzy-neutral look that I’ve been loving lately.  For this, I’m using Guerlain’s Brun Mordore Eyeshadow Quad ($59, on Sephora.com) together with Guerlain’s Terracotta Pearly Bronzer in Orient Sun, which was a limited edition product that acts as both a bronzer and a blush.

I’ve been combining these with a deep matte brown eyeliner, here Bobbi Brown’s Espresso Ink Gel Eyeliner ($21).  In addition, I’ve been using Chanel’s Aqualumiere lipstick in Bondi ($28.50), topped with Chanel’s Aqualumiere Gloss in Bondi Beach ($27).

Here’s are some closer swatches:

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