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My Thoughts: Clarins Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Bases in Rose and Champagne

April 8, 2014

Clarins Opal Primers01

Clarins has recently introduced two shades of the Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base in 01 Rose and 02 Champagne ($37 each). Who doesn’t like champagne and roses? Given my ever-present interest in the perfect completion, I thought that I would take these out for a spin. (note: These are available at Macy’s and Nordstrom)

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According to Clarins, these Complexion Bases are each “a moisturizing base that illuminates and corrects your skin tone, while hydrating and soothing with moisture-rich Katafray Bark extract.” The company explains: “Two shades cast a veil of corrective light on the skin: Rose brightens all complexions, Champagne corrects redness. In just seconds, the complexion becomes luminous and radiant.” I used these as moisturizing primers with a touch of sheer color correction.

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My thoughts on the “PRO’s” of these products:

  • Although not advertised as such, both helped provide a smooth base for foundation and really extended the wear time for foundation.
  • On my light, warm skin tone (MAC NC15/Chanel Ivoire), I preferred 01 Rose on a completely subjective basis. The rose color seemed to add the slightest hint of luminosity (it was not as dramatic as Burberry Fresh Glow). More significantly, Rose neutralized the warm tones in my skin.
  • Clarins’ claim that these are moisturizing held true for me. My skin looked refreshed and healthy after removal. Neither of these had any drying effect.
  • Even more delightfully, neither seemed to make my skin any oilier or “glowier.” Perhaps the hydration was not overdone, but my skin looked very good without making my forehead or t-zone area break through with shine.

Now for the “CON”:

  • Unfortunately, there is some ingredient in these that disagreed with my skin.  This may not happen to you, but after using these continuously for 2-3 days, I noticed that some of my pores were clogging. Now that I’ve discontinued use, this effect has stopped. Although I can’t be certain that it was this product, I’m a bit wary and thought it best to pass this along, so that you can sample before you buy.

Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

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Here are a few heavy swatches of the shades (you’ll want to use these more sheerly):

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Clarins primer opal

Overall, if my skin had agreed with these, I would have loved them (especially the Rose!). These gave me an excellent base for long-term foundation wear, nice skin-care benefits, and lovely texture. Clarins Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base are available at Macy’s and Nordstrom.

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Primer Skin care

Bite Beauty Lip Primer and Agave Lip Mask Reviews: One is Extraordinary

February 28, 2014

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This is a quick little post to highlight some lip products that I’ve been enjoying from Bite Beauty. A relative newcomer in the beauty world, they’ve been generating some good buzz.  Still, I wasn’t sure whether I’d love them too. I’ve been intrigued by their display at Sephora, and thought that my winter-battered lips could benefit from their TLC.

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Few lipsticks last for hours on me, and some more emollient formulas certainly benefit from having a good base to help their staying power. The Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer ($22.00) was a good problem solver. The product comes housed in a matte dark gray tube.

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The product is clear and does not cause the lipstick to color shift. The tip is pointed, so that you can get a good sharp line (there’s a sharpener in the back to keep the point fresh). There is a slight mint scent, which fades after a few minutes.

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Ingredient list (click to enlarge):


Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer does deliver. It probably doubled my wear time, and had a slightly moisturizing formula that is kind to lips. It has a slightly tacky, matte feel that allows lipstick to grip and hold on longer. I liked the easy packaging, and the easy twist-up formula that allows the product to be used quickly and easily during quick day-to-night changes.

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I thought that the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask ($26) was extraordinary. This rich conditioner was both pleasant and transformative in its effect. It’s a youth-giver for dehydrated lips, delivering a clear satin-glow that makes lips looks beautifully healthy.

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This comes in a sealed tube, similar to a small toothpaste tube. The product is clear, and can be used under lipstick (some matte formulas really need something). This has a very slightly sweet taste that lasts for a bit, but it’s subtle and sort of pleasant. For what it’s worth, I find this tube formula is more friendly to bringing along in a makeup bag (compared to pots, which seem to have lids that can loosen and cause all kinds of shenanigans inside a bag). Ingredient list (click to enlarge):


Overall, I found both Bite Beauty products impressive. The Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask gave me the most impressive results, although the Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer is a good practical product that fills a good niche–that is, for a clear, pleasant, primer that can form a good base for lipsticks.

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Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer Review

February 17, 2014

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I’ve really enjoyed using the Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Primer ($48/1.0 fluid ounce) on those days when I want an absolutely flawless complexion that lasts until removed. Over the past several months, it is not unusual for me to be in several series of meetings and dinners that run up to 18-20 hour days. I simply don’t want to look ragged or tired as the day wears on, despite how I might feel. When it really matters, I’ve depended on Sunday Riley’s Effortless Breathable Primer to make sure that my skin looks incredible for the entire time.

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Sunday Riley’s primer is available in three shades: Light, Medium and Deep (I’ve been using Light). As you might guess, this sheers out to near-invisibility. Yet there is an ever-so-light flaw-reducing property that acts like a very subtle veil. It’s a beautiful effect, and with a bit of powder I think I could almost wear this alone. So color choice does matter, although nearly not as much as a foundation.  The effect lasts all day, working hard to prevent those little “something somethings” from peeking through.

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This is an ideal workhorse product. The texture is very light and fine. A very slight (orange-ish?) scent fades quickly. The texture is elegant, and it feels literally like nothing. As the name suggests, you won’t know you have it on. It’s less noticeable than serums, sunscreens, and anything else that you might wear under foundation. It’s certainly lighter than any foundation.  The product leaves a very slight, skin-like sheen that dries down to a near-matte. It seems to have some oil-absorbing properties, because when I wear it, my foundations do not get glowy until after 15 hours or so of wear (your results will vary with your skin type).  In other words, this product is a cosmetically elegant, “Confident-on-the-Red-Carpet” primer. I love it.

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This liquid primer comes in a packable plastic bottle with a pump top. Primer swatch of the Light, to show how it sheers out:

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Here’s a comparison to the color/texture differences with some other primers. First, the yellow color-correcting Make Up For Ever HD Primer in #6 (yellow), Guerlain’s Meteorites Perles, Burberry’s Fresh Glow, and Nars Radiance Enhancing.  Except for Make Up For Ever’s, these all sheer down to near-nothing color. Nonetheless, comparisons are always useful so I thought I’d include these.

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A little more about the product (click to enlarge):

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Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

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Overall, the Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Primer is an A+ primer. It has a noticeable texture-refining effect that reduces pores. It gives foundations that would otherwise fade and shift very noticeable long-wear properties. It helps hide flaws, and textual issues. It’s gorgeous, has a refined texture, and gives me the confidence to face the most scrutinizing eye. One of the best primers on the market.

Available at and

This primer was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This post includes affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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NARS Primer Skin care

NARS Pro-Prime Instant Line & Pore Perfector Review and Comparisons

January 18, 2014

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NARS is adding to its Pro-Prime line, which has already brought us some lovely facial primers and a highly effective eye primer. New to the line is NARS Pro-Prime Instant Line & Pore Perfector ($28/0.05 oz.). Do you have large pores on your cheeks that prevent you from wearing shimmery blushes?  Well, now you don’t. This small tube acts as a “magic wand” to provide a smooth, pore-less finish. With a bit of time, this product also minimizes very fine lines.

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According to NARS, this new “targeted primer features an advanced, lightweight formula that smoothes and preps skin in a single stroke, creating the ideal canvas for makeup application.

Line and pore-filling microspheres with hyaluronic acid instantly smooth and provide a gentle plumping effect to fine lines

Spherical Line Smoothing Powder visibly reduces the appearance of wrinkles to create a seamless look. The spherical shape and innovative optical technology reflect light evenly to brighten the dark areas within wrinkles

The angular stick format provides artistic precision and convenience for touch-ups, while the non-greasy formula absorbs oil and mattes out shine without drying the skin.

Vitamins A, C and E help provide antioxidant protection. Dermatologist & ophthalmologist tested.”

Notice, although the effect of this primer is temporary, there are some anti-oxidants also provides some skin-care benefits. This product has a highly effective, magic wand quality against pores. Now you see them, now you don’t. The pore-elminating effect is immediateMy one request is to increase the size of the tube, because after I saw how wonderful this made my skin look I sort of wanted to use it over my entire body. I sort of wanted to take a bath in it, actually. However, to help manage your expectations, the tube is small–about the same size as a NARS Pure Matte Lipstick.

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Here is a comparison of two images on which I used the product on my arm. Both images are the same, but with one I’ve outlined the area where the primer is applied (no photoshopping):

Before and after nars pore perfector

Another with the same format. These are the same unretouched image, but one has the area marked where the NARS Pore Perfector has been used:

NARS Pore Perfector before and after 3 NARS also intends this product to be a line-filler. As you can see from these images, the tiny lines on my hand are arm are, in fact, softened and in some cases erased. As you might expect, this does not eliminate deep creases and expression lines, for which you would typically go to a dermatologist for an injectable or surgery. Also, the results for fine lines take a bit more time to appear–I would give it a full minute, or even five minutes, for the product to warm and work. I tried to do a little experiment on the bottom part of some fingers to show you. I’m not sure how successful this experiment is, but I thought it best to post it.

nars before and after

 Overall, I applaud NARS for the pore-reducing and line-softening properties of this effective primer. NARS Pore Perfector is another well-formulated, workhorse product from this innovative line.

NARS Cosmetics sent this product to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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NARS Primer

Nars Radiance Enhancing Pro-Prime Primer Review

June 26, 2013

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Nars Radiance Enhancing Light Optimizing Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($34/ 1.o oz.) is a workhorse, oil-free primer which is designed to enhance the skin’s luminosity. Nars Light Optimizing Primer is available at Nars Comsetics online, Nordstrom, Sephora, and other places where Nars is sold.

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If you are familiar with Nars legendary eye primer, you know that Nars knows how to deliver a highly stable, tenacious primer that don’t distort the texture or color of your makeup. Nars Light Optimizing is within this same tradition. Although this formula for allover application for the face is quite different than the one designed for the eye, I found that this fuss-free, easy to use primer held onto my makeup beautifully throughout the day.

This will work well for someone who is looking to stabilize their makeup, but not seeking to invest is some of the options that promise significant skin care results (which can run significantly higher in price, and aren’t necessary for everyone). Additionally, this primer is ideal for skin that is prone to clogging, as it contains no oil, alcohol, and synthetic fragrance (there is a soft fruity scent on application, which fades in less than a minute on my skin). The primer is certainly non-comedogenic–I didn’t suffer a single clogged pore after days of testing.  There is a touch of sunscreen included (it’s rated at SPF 15):

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The primer blends quickly into a stable, clear base very quickly.

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If you look at the primer in certain light, you can see it has tiny light-reflective particles in the mix. This is virtually imperceptible once covered with a tinted moisturizer or foundation. It does, however, have a very slight luminizing effect that is very very subtle.

Nars reports:

95% agree that this product prepare the skin for effortless makeup application

90% agree that this product prolonged foundation wear

87% agree that their foundation look more luminous when applying this primer beforehand

93% agree that they feel that their makeup looked fresh and vibrant for hours when using this product

Overall, what I liked best about Nars Light Reflecting Primer was the fact that it quietly did its work–my foundation, blush and powder remained quite stable during long workdays.  As I took my makeup off at 10:00 pm, I was pleased to see it all intact. This was accomplished with adding any pore-clogging ingredients or unnecessary features. Which is, in my view, exactly what a good working primer should do.

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