Dec 152013
 

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush01

Although my reactions to the new Marc Jacobs makeup line have not been uniform, I felt that it was important to look at several items in the line to get a sense of the quality level. It is not everyday that an important fashion designer launches a beauty line, especially one so comprehensive in scope. I did not love the mascara, the foundation, and I haven’t felt compelled to try the blushes. But one of the items that has won my heart is the Marc Jacobs The Bronze Bronzer Brush No. 12 ($78), a consistent, well-made tool that has increased the usability and beauty of the other products in my collection.

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush02

I knew this brush was special the first time that I saw it, and Seth Barton-Roberts’ video review also piqued my interest. Running nearly 8 inches in length, this oversized powder brush is well balanced and substantial, without being heavy.

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush03

The head is densely packed and soft, like a combination kabuki/duo-fibre. It gives superb control for all types of powders, including blushes, powders, bronzers. It applies baked products, including MAC’s Mineralized Skin Finishes, like a boss.

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush10

The bristles have plenty of oomph, so that you don’t have to spend too much time building up product. Designed for bronzers, I found a few sweeps adequate. It gives a similar application effect to the large (and now unobtainable) Chanel must-have powder brush that I bought in Paris years ago.

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush12

Because of the oversized head, I tend to reserve this for products that are used over larger areas of the face. Just to experiment, I also tried this with my hyper-pigmented blushes (such as the MAC pro blushes, and some NARS). I found that I still had to be careful about how much pigment I put on this brush. Some of the pigmentation of those blushes are pretty nuclear, so I wasn’t surprised to find that I still had to sweep the brush over a mirror or tissue to knock product off before applying. However, I did find that the Marc Jacobs The Bronze brush  did allow me to apply the blushes with very soft, soft, soft blended edges.

Marc Jacobs Bronzer Brush04

I reaching for the Marc Jacobs The Bronze brush almost every day since I bought it. I wash it the same way as my other brushes, and dry time is overnight if I remember to shake out excess water (but a day and a half if I forget).  I haven’t experienced any staining with any of my products (including the super-pigmented blushes). Everything seems to wash out easily. According to Sephora’s website, the brush is made from synthetic, antibacterial hair. The feel is pure luxury and the function is perfection.

Jacobs brush with annotations

Bottom line–this is one of my favorite buys from the past several months. It is available exclusively from Sephora.

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Dec 092013
 

Marc Jacobs Mascara1

When the Marc Jacobs Beauty line opened in August, I went to a Sephora in New York City (where I was visiting at the time), and asked the store manager to point out the hero products for the line. He pointed to a few products, including Marc Jacobs Lash Lifter Gel Definition Mascara ($26).  I took a chance, and bought a tube. I’ve been playing with it for the past few months, on and off, trying to pull my thoughts together to create a cohesive review.

Marc Jacobs Mascara3

First off, the packaging is oversized in that Marc-Jacobs-fun sort of way. Getting out this giant tube feels both luxurious and a little playful. The packaging has a large hole in the top–far larger than most mascara openings. I mean, it’s noticeably larger than any I’ve tried before.

Marc Jacobs Mascara23

Because the hole is so large, and there doesn’t seem to be much resistance pulling out the brush, you don’t get much “scraping” action when you pull. With many formulas, that might give you clumps. Not this one. The formula is decidedly very wet, without any clinging fibers that I could see. The brush can be quite loaded up with uber-black gel formula.

Marc Jacobs Mascara5

Whether you like this mascara will depend, I think, on how much you like your own lashes. It will magnify what you have, so if you like your lashes you will be pretty happy I think. It doesn’t give a natural look because it adds a super-dark black, a bit of length and bit of curl. So, yes you will get a fringe effect. However, the Marc Jacobs Lash Lifter is not consistently transformative in its effect, in my opinion, to give va-va-voom lashes. If you find your lashes aren’t as long as you’d like them to be, or too straight, and you want to add far more drama, you might keep looking. I didn’t think that Marc Jacobs Lash Lifter curled as dramatically as Yves Saint Laurent’s Baby Doll or Guerlain Le 2. I did not find that this mascara had as much of a volumizing effect compared to Yves Saint Laurent Faux Cils, Giorgio Armani, Guerlain, NARS, or some of the Chanel formulas over the recent years.

Marc Jacobs Mascara2

The formula is quite long-lasting, I experienced no smudges or flaking. My lashes didn’t get any “crunchy” feeling. They remained soft to the touch throughout the day.

Also, and I may be the only individual who noticed this, I had some inconsistency with application. This might be because there can be a lot of mascara on the brush when you pull it out on some days, while perhaps not on other days. Honestly, I’m not sure. But the inconsistency happened several times and so I cannot write this review without mentioning it. Some days I was pretty happy with the effect. Other days, much less so. That’s unusual for me–I usually know what’s happening when I pick up a tube.

Perhaps a more expert makeup artist would say that the wet formula, and generous amount retained by the brush, gives one better control. After several weeks of trying, I didn’t figure out why one day my lashes looked acceptably long and separated on the first coat, and the next day needed three coats and still seemed a bit inadequate. Also, one word of warning with this mascara. Never, ever, ever touch your lashes without giving them some serious dry time. If I tried to touch up my liner after applying this mascara, it destroyed the nice separation that the brush allows with normal application.

In the bonus point category, this formula makes an awesome eyeliner. Sometimes I used my Laura Mercier push brush to pick up some of this deep black formula and worked it into my lash line. This was a perfect, long lasting liner that went perfectly with this mascara. Really, so long lasting and awesome when used that way.

Marc Jacobs Mascara21

Overall, the Marc Jacobs Lash Lifter Mascara is a premium version of a super-wet formula. I don’t know any high end mascaras that give this same ultra-black effect in a wet gel. There is some lengthening and curling, and a very long-lasting and non-crunchy formula. Those looking for dramatic volume or length might wish to keep looking elsewhere. As with all things in the beauty world, viva la difference– although I personally prefer a more dramatic formula, I know that some readers might have been looking for something with these qualities for a very long time. Undoubtedly unique, I’m sure that there will be many aficionados who will find that this is their “hero” formula. Again, these are just my opinions and (of course) your mileage may vary.

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Dec 012013
 

Quick post61

First, the Holiday season is here, so much love and fun (and a dash of stress!). To relax, I love to indulge in bath products. Between us, Liz and I have gone through about a dozen Lush bath bombs in about a month–is there anything like too much indulgence? We say no, if Tom Ford can take five baths a day, we say “Lush bath bombs away!”  I think I’m moving toward a L’Occitanne obsession next.

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Second, giving the gift of good skin is always a lovely thing to do. I couldn’t resist this Clarisonic Mia First–perfect for travel–for $99 at Nordstrom yesterday (also available at Sephora). For the worldwide traveller, the charger converts automatically from 120 to 220/240 volts so that you can use this elsewhere with just a plug adapter.

Burberry oxblood lip mist

Third, Burberry Beauty is back in a big way. After a transition from an outside manufacturer, they’ve released a Holiday collection that includes a gold nail polish call Light Gold with a gold-toned cap. Above is their new Burberry Oxblood Lip Mist.  The Burberry eyeshadow range is back in stock, and I’ve been told that their highly build able and long-wearing Sheer Luminous foundations have not been re-formulated (thank heavens! I’ve just bought my third bottle).

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I’ve also picked up their Burberry Kohl eye pencil to try. It’s short, but I’m hopeful that the quality level is there. We’ll see.

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 I’m also excited to see the items that Burberry will be releasing in 2014–they definitely have some exciting new formulas and colors on their release list.

nars eyeliner

Fourth (I know, more than three), I’ve concluded that the Nars Stylo Eyeliner ($27) has won out over the Marc Jacobs Beauty Magic Marc’r ($30) in my book. Although slimmer, the Nars Stylo lasted far longer (it never seemed to quit) and contains more product. Also, I found that the Nars brush pen held up better than the Marc Jacobs (although I use them both the same way, and I’ve used my Nars far more). Although I enjoyed using the Marc pen, I won’t be re-buying it. However, I did re-order the Nars Stylo replacement this morning.

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What are you obsessed with right now?

The NARS Stylo was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review (although I bought my replacement with my own funds). This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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Oct 042013
 

There are a few nail things to talk about as this week comes to a close….

Gel Topcoats 23

First, to update my Gel Topcoat post, I was able to fully revive the last dregs of my Guerlain Top Coat with the Seche Restore (described here in the original post).  The Guerlain formula was getting a little thick as I reached the bottom third of the bottle, but a healthy dose of the Seche Restore makes it like new again.  Now that my top coat is good to the last drop, my only reservation is that I wish that the brush was a little longer, because I’ll be using this one all the way to the end.

Sephora Formula X1

Second, Sephora’s full Formula X line is up online. Although not all of these polishes are new, they are fun. I was able to play with Brain Power (the camel) and Chaotic, an impressionistic topcoat that mixes all kinds of shapes to look like a splatter painting. At around $10-12, these are a creative way to do nail art even if you aren’t a wizard with a brush.

Sephora Formula X21

Here’s Chaotic over Nars Galatheé (also available at Nordstrom.com).

Nars Fall Nails3

Third, Marc Jacobs has finished his last show as lead designer for Louis Vuitton Ready to Wear with a lovely deep blue Marc Jacobs Beauty Midnight in Paris. This is due out as a limited edition shade next Fall.

marc jacobs nail

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Sep 202013
 

I’m continuing to play with various parts of the Marc Jacobs Beauty line. Here, I’m looking at two of the Marc Jacobs Beauty Hi-Shine Nail Lacquers in Sally and Blue Velvet ($18 each), two stunning deep shimmery jewel toned shades.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish1

As the name suggests, Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet is a sparkling deep blue.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish3

The formula is really nice. Blue Velvet goes on very smoothly, it’s sort of the perfect consistency. This is opaque in one coat, but here I’ve used two. On the nails:

Marc Jacobs Nails01

I had a little bit of a tough time removing Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet–I had a little bit of staining that required me to do another round of remover to get all of the color off. Another:

Marc Jacobs Nails06 copy

Marc Jacobs Sally is an emerald green that is so deep that is is a near-black.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish2

Like Blue Velvet, this formula is good–very smooth and easy to apply. Sally required two coats to reach opacity. On nails:

Marc Jacobs Nails07

Here is a comparison with both Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet and Sally, together with China Glaze Emerald Fitzgerald, OPI Live and Let Die, Chanel Nuit de Russie, Chanel Blue Satin, and Butter London Big Smoke:

Marc Jacobs Nail Blue Green1

I liked both Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet and Smoke. Both are unusual deep tones that are quite pretty for fall and winter. Definitely worth a look. Both are available exclusively at Sephora.

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