Dec 312012
 

It’s been quite a year here at Cafe Makeup! We’ve had a huge year–we passed our 3rd blog birthday and we’re very thankful for our amazing readers.

As you might now, we’ve both had a very busy year off the blog as well. Between Amy’s travel schedule (she was on the road almost continuously from June through November), and Liz’s busy work schedule, we’re so pleased that we’ve been able to keep our love of beauty alive on the blog now that we’re reached December 31st. We’ve had a lot of help along the way. Cafe Makeup would like to do a special “thank you” to Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book (her Best of 2012 is here). She’s been so wonderful and and encouraging throughout the entire year. I’d also like to thank all of the lovely readers and other beauty bloggers who’ve kept us alive by linking, retweeting and continuing our beauty conversations. You might also wish to explore The Non Blonde’s Top Products of 2012–I really respect her taste.

To celebrate the year’s end, we’d like to raise a glass of champagne to our readers! As we sip, we’re going to go through our Top Ten Products of 2012.  As you know, we’ve seen many things throughout the year. Here’s a feature which tells you which ones won our hearts, which ones we still depend on, and are truly the very Top Shelf Products of the Year 2012.

1. Tom Ford Blushes: Although released in 2011, I’ve come to love the high quality, beautiful glow of these blushes. As an aside, the brush is incredible as well. The original review is here.

Tom Ford Blush02

 

2.  Giorgio Armani Maestro Concealer: I can’t believed that a concealer made my top 10 list, but there it is. This is truly an androgynous product–appropriate regardless of gender. I originally bought this on a whim. Over time, I’ve become dependent on the extremely high quality, great coverage, incredibly natural look, and skin care benefits (it contains ingredients to breaks up sun damage and dark spots). The application is incredibly natural–sometimes I cover few spots and under eyes, and skip foundation entirely. This makes this a truly travel-friendly product, as you can leave your liquid foundation at home. The original review is here, I’ve since switched to buying shade #3.

GA concealer

3. Perricone MD Skin Care: I’ve been working on my skin with intensity since February. Last week, I got a few random compliments from strangers–“your skin looks beautiful–what are you using?” As a beauty blogger, I’ve been using several different things, but I’ve added a healthy dose of Perricone MD. My favorites so far are the Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 15, the Blue Plasma Peel and the Formula 15 serum. Although I haven’t reviewed it yet, the Perricone Face Finishing Moisturizer appears to have some magical ingredients in it as well.

Perricone

4. 2012 was the year of the BB Cream:  Over the past several months, the term “BB Cream” has entered the beauty vernacular with a vengeance. Although originating overseas with formulas that combine anti-aging, skincare benefits, and sunscreen, in the U.S. some formulas are said to be nothing more than glorified tinted moisturizers. However, there are some that stand above the crowd. Cafe Makeup’s former favorite was Dior DiorSnow BB Cream, a remarkably stable version with serious sun protection(SPF 50) and all-day tenacity (even in the Florida summer humidity).

omorovicza bb cream

The Dior would still be my favorite, except that I was recently sent the Omorovicza Complexion Perfector BB Cream (SPF 20) by the company. I’ll be doing a review soon, but this creamy, light foundation is absolutely perfect is so many ways.

The most startling effect is that my skin looks improved after I remove it at the end of the day. To my eye, it’s noticeable. In 2013, we can expect to see “CC Creams,” which are next-generation products (including one from Chanel). A few have started to land at drugstores, according to Nouveau Cheap. Those new products will have some very stiff competition from Omorovicza’s Complexion Perfector.

5. Tom Ford Enchanted Eye Quad. This one makes me hear angels sing. The original review is here.

Tom Ford Enchanted Quad03

6. Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lipsticks.  Why should the MAC lovers have all the fun? These are intensely pigmented lipsticks that provide gorgeous coverage with a very thin layer of product. The colors are outstanding–complex, intense, original, sophisticated, and very beautiful. I’ve purchased several, and am eyeing several colors from the Spring 2013 collection (I’ve caved on one already). Swatches of all colors are here (except for the Spring 2013, which were just released).

Chanel Lipsticks new1a

7. Nars Andy Warhol Collection. This highly original collection melded fine art and beauty. This included an incredibly rich and thoughtful array of choices, with something for everyone. I certainly found some favorites among them, including the Flowers palettes with the incredible taupe. At the same time, the collection helped us relive just a touch of the 1960’s makeup era just as Marc Jacobs made it fashionable for clothing. I’ve read that Francois Nars plans to do another artists collaboration next year, and I’m certainly hopeful that he will. Regardless of whether you purchased anything from the collection, this one warrants serious recognition for its attention to detail and creativity, as well as its sweeping scope.

Warhol Portrait 1

8. Le Metier de Beaute CHEM60 Pro-Peel and GLOW10ai Mask Set. Applause for giving busy women truly ingenious results at home. I love this set. The original post is here.

Le Metier Peel 10

9. Dior Nail Polish. There is something about Dior that has been excelling in the nail polish realm lately. Yes, I loved OPI’s Skyfall collection–the colors are fast, fun, and highly affordable. I got a 4-5 of them, and still wear them. Can you think of a Fall on-trend color that wasn’t part of Skyfall? I sure can’t.

Skyfall

Still, Dior’s formula spreads like butter, levels off beautifully, and has a helpful, manageable brush. Unlike OPI’s Skyfall, Dior has been truly cutting edge in its color development this year. Rather than capturing trends, Dior is setting them. I have to love an imaginative industry leader.

Dior Mango Pasteque Lime2

10. Guerlain This traditional French company has done so many things right this year. From its beautiful summer Terracotta Pucci collection, the new Petit Robe Noir perfume, and the development of new formulas of lipsticks. Liz and I both love the new Guerlain Rouge G L’Extrait Lip Color (the review for Paresse is here). I’d love to include more Guerlain in this list, if I could.

Guerlain Extrait Paresse04

Thank you for another wonderful year in beauty, Gorgeous!  And cheers!

What were your favorite products for 2012? We’d love to know!

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Nov 042012
 

Tom Ford Cheek Brush ($75/#06) is a luxuriously soft and beautiful brush. There are some products that are so perfect, and such complete joys to use, that they are worth every penny regardless of the price. Like Tom Ford’s Bronzer Brush, the Cheek Brush is one of those products.

The head of the brush is tapered and full. After a few washes, the head looks the same as it does out of the box.

The handle is lighter than one might expect, but round and large enough to make use easy and comfortable.

There are few reviews for this brush, although the Non Blonde has done a beautiful job here. While were at it, I’m going to post some first impressions of some Tom Ford blushes that I purchased–Frantic Pink, Wicked and Narcissist ($55 each). I haven’t played with these enough for a full review, but was able to take some pictures that I can share.

First, all of these blushes have a pearly quality that gives a gorgeous, sparkle-free glow. Here is Frantic Pink, a light soft pink-with-a-peach twist:

I don’t typically love blushes that impart only subtle color. I found that Frantic Pink does give enough color to give a blush effect to my NC15 skin tone, and the soft highlighter shimmer was gorgeous.

Wicked is an amazing cool raspberry with a cool pearl.

Close up:

I haven’t had time to play with Wicked or the next blush, Narcissist (released for Fall 2012):

Narcissist does not appear to have quite the amount of shimmery pearl as Frantic Pink or Wicked. It reminds me a bit of a more luxurious, complex version of MAC Full Fuchsia Pro blush.

Swatches, outside in sun:

Swatches, indoors with flash:

I hope that you might enjoy my experiment with Tom Ford. Personally, these all look amazing to me. The packaging is compact and light enough for travel, and the color payoff is amazing. I’ve worn Frantic Pink for a few days, and love the effect. Have you played with Tom Fords blushes or brushes? What do you think?

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Oct 312012
 

A few weeks ago, I became curious about color correctors. Above, are the results of my experiment and some thoughts about how things went. My adventure started at a few makeup counters where artists tried an orange or yellow-toned corrector to counteract my blue-toned dark circles and the now-highly faded remainder of sun damage (a treatment summary is here).

I used to think of color correctors as using a distasteful green color and I couldn’t imagine doing that. Well, as it turns out, green isn’t the type of color correction that I’d ever need, so I had a mental block against trying any. Yellow or amber are said to be best to counteract blue or ashiness. Here’s a summary of my experiment–first, face primers and then undereye correctors.

Face Primers

1. Make Up For Ever HD Perfecting Primer in Yellow #6 ($34) This is a sheer yellow that essentially brightens warm-tone pale skin. The line makes other colors (caramel, mauve, green). The strength is its stability. This certainly helps makes my foundation last all day. I found that the color-correcting properties were modest and subtle. However, it did keep my foundation from shifting or fading, thus maximizing coverage over problem areas throughout the day. If you are already  using a stable, long-lasting foundation, you might not notice a tremendous difference.

2. Yves Saint Laurent Tient Parfait Complexion Enhancer in #4 Apricot ($ 42) is a cosmetically elegant, luxurious mousse that provides a sheer coverage of skin-brightening, luminous color. This YSL Complexion Enhancer provides enough coverage that, when used with a light coverage of a powder foundation, is a nice, casual-day look. It really gives me a peaches-and-cream glow. No, really. Like many other YSL products that I’ve used, the Complexion Enhancer seems a bit fragile. Over time and in high humidity/heat, I noticed fading and disappearing long before sundown.

Swatches:

Under Eye Color Correctors

1. MAC Studio Finish in Pure Orange ($12) I became curious about this product watching this video on the MAC website. It features concealers for hot climates (where I’m currently visiting). After researching it, I found advice that this will work to color-correct light skin tones if it is blended with concealer or foundation. I’m sure a makeup artist has no trouble doing that, and this is the most cost-effective corrector on the market. It’s highly pigmented, and would probably last a year if not longer. I found that I lacked patience to dilute this on a daily basis, I just didn’t have the knack–some days it was too orange, some days not enough. Not for me. This also comes in a pot for $18.

2. Bobbi Brown Correctors in Porcelain Peach and Peach ($23 each).  Bobbi Brown makes four (4!) different peach correctors. Porcelain Peach is lightest and Peach is the third darkest. These worked pretty well. They are not as cost-effecient compared to MAC Pure Orange (nothing is!) but they were super easy to use. They blend well, and look close to natural.

3. Tom Ford Illuminating Highlight Pen in Amber Eclat ($52) This worked best of all of the options that I’ve tried (I bought two), even better than Armani’s Master Corrector in #2 Orange. This looks quite natural and has good lasting power. I use a concealer over this.

Close up of the Tom Ford brush:

Although Tom Ford makes concealers, Amber Eclat is a corrector–so it has a decided amber-orange tone. Here’s a quick comparison with some other concealers that I happen to have with me on this trip–Burberry Sheer Luminous Concealer in #1, Armani Maestro Corrector in #2 and Chanel Pro Lumiere Corrector in #10 (this may be discontinued):

As you can see, the Tom Ford leans orange, and the Armani almost disappears in its natural look. They actually work nicely together.

Some Results of My Experiment

For face primers, I did not find a corrector which really does the job. I fell in love with the YSL Perfection Enhancer in Apricot for a peaches-and-cream glow, does that count? I only wish it has the longevity of the Make Up For Ever HD Primer. The best thing that works if I want a flawless canvas is a light concealer. As I said here, the Giorgio Armani Maestro Concealer gives me a very natural, undetectable look.  If you need more coverage,  Make Up For Ever Full Cover concealer ($32) is absolutely bullet proof and comes in a wide color range. Vichy Dermablend Liquid Foundation ($28ish) is another good choice.

For eye primers, Tom Ford won my heart. Although I use a concealer over it, I find my concealer lasts longer, and I need far less of it, wearing the correct. It just works well. 

For more about correctors, I found Goss Makeup Artist video here very helpful.

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Oct 222012
 

Tom Ford’s Bronzer Brush ($115) is a luxurious investment. Rather than attempting to create a brush that might mimic others, this brush is lovingly made to deliver incredible results, albeit with the price tag to match. The bristle end is soft as kitten fur, lush and thick.

 The handle is balanced without being too heavy.

Of course, the brush is designed to work with the large, luxurious pan of the Tom Ford Bronzer. Below is Gold Dust, which is a beautifully shimmered glowing-with-gold powder perfect for light, warm skin tones. It has a very large, flat pan.

In fact, the bristle head of the Tom Ford Bronzer brush is far larger than the pan of a Chanel Joues Contraste blush. Of course, most bronzers are on the larger side. Some of the Guerlain special edition pans are almost the size of European dinner plate. However, if your favorite bronzer has a small pan, the Tom Ford Bronzer Brush might actually be too large for it.

Together, the combination of the Tom Ford Bronzer Brush and Gold Dust is a wonderful experience that delivers beautiful, transformative results.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see About Cafe Makeup.

 

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Oct 112012
 

The Tom Ford Enchanted Eye Color Quad ($75) is one of my favorite makeup purchases of the year. The color applies with a beautiful luminousity that is smooth and incredibly flattering. I invite you to click to enlarge:

Tom Ford’s Enchanted quad has a pearly texture that the other eye color quads in the line. There is subtle sparkle throughout, rather than a single shade. The texture applies beautifully with my Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush. Typically I use the lower left taupe-mauve shade as the base color. I tuck some of the deepest burgundy shade in the outer corner. Then, I use either of the top shades in the inner corner.

In shade:

Packaging: 

I found that using a base was necessary, particularly so because I am currently in a very humid warm climate.  I used Laura Mercier’s Eye Basic as mine. Swatches:

The department store stock images of this palette give a peach impression, which is quite inaccurate. Instead, the shades are mauve burgundy. The taupe shade in the lower left is incredible.

 

This shows the subtle sparkle:

The best way that I can describe this is as a more robust version of Chanel Ombres Perlees. The Tom Ford Enchanted Four Color Quad seems to be infused with fairy pearl and beautiful things, yet the palette remains sophisticated (as you would expect from Mr. Ford). If I hadn’t gotten this quad, I would have regretted it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of my life.

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Apr 012012
 

Thus far, I’ve been tempted to try Tom Ford’s Nail Lacquer ($30/each for 0.41 oz.), but didn’t cave on that impulse until I saw the limited edition Spring 2012 line of four colors (all four are swatched on The Makeup and Beauty Blog, and three are featured on The Beauty Look Book).  The only color that I found interesting was the platinum toned Silver Smoke, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Generally, Tom Ford’s Silver Smoke Nail Lacaquer is a complex platinum taupe color that has some golden tones in some light. It’s complexity means that it looks very different according to the light that it reflects. All pictures in this post are the same nail polish–Silver Smoke–but taken in different lighting conditions. This is a real chameleon, but all of these are pretty.

The application was smooth and opaque in two coats, although I’d allow plenty of dry time. It didn’t seem to become frosty/streaky as with some high-shine formulas.

 In some late evening sun, Silver Smoke turned into a cool gold.

Overall, Tom Ford has made a highly wearable, gorgeous, and rich polish to wear with gorgeous, luxurious fabrics that are the hallmark of his line. There is a lot of multicolor sparkle and color-changing pigment in Silver Smoke… a bit of magic perhaps? At any rate, it’s both bold and appropriate at the same time. It was a good choice for me to try out this line, and I’m sure because I love metallic accents that it is a color that I’ll use often.

 

 

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Apr 012012
 

I picked up a few items from Tom Ford Spring 2012 collection, a series of limited edition items based on a metallic, multidimensional texture. Here, I’m reviewing the Cream Color for Eyes in 01 Platinum and 02 Guilt ($40/each). Both smooth creams are in heavy glass containers, with 0.21 oz. of product. This $40 Tom Ford item includes more product than the 0.14 oz. in the Chanel Illussion D’Ombre (which sell for $36).

Chanel’s Illusion D’Ombre which are a cross-linked gel, which tends to hold together like a gummy bear–indeed, my Chanel’s still behave nicely, have plenty of moisture, and apply well although they are several months old. In contrast, Tom Ford’s Cream Eyeshadow have a soft, soufflé buttery texture almost like the inside filling of an excellent French macaron. Both lines have a texture that is unbelievably complicated–I would imagine it is nearly impossible to get this type of complexity and depth in a powder.

There are four colors in the release (all swatched here on Karlasugar), but I limited my selection to two–a warm golden Guilt, and a cool minky brown called  Platinum.  The price for these is high–although not as high as the $700 Tom Ford velvet slippers that I tried on just to confirm that they were fabulous (they were).  But at $40 each, the total for one eyeshadow approaches the cost of a single palette in nearly any other high end beauty brand, and the $80 for both of these is equal to a palette in Mr. Ford’s own line.

First up, Guilt is an over-the-top beautifully sparkling pot of richness:

The label:

Second, there was Platinum, an extremely complicated brown-taupe, which goes on more silvery on my eye that it does on my arm. Again, this looks very brown in the pot, but more silvery mink when applied:

Label:

Swatches:

This combination reminds me of two Guerlain Terracotta liners from a few seasons back (Gold Rush and Smoky Metal), but the texture, color, and overall look of these Tom Ford Creams is far superior. The Tom Ford’s are so easy to apply and to blend, and to get a quick, sophisticated look.

I used Guilt on my inner lid, then dabbed Platinum in the crease and outward from that. I used my finger, although a concealer brush would work well too.  So pretty!  Platinum applied slightly cooler and the silvery sheen really came out. The colors have a slight micro sparkle that’s absolutely lovely. So far so good. I hope that I don’t fall completely in love with these, or I’ll need the two remaining colors. I’ve paid so much for these, I know I’ll make a point to use them over the next several weeks to see how much of a dent I can make. They’re gorgeous, flattering and universal colors.

At $40, these are clearly a luxury product with a unique texture and complexity. They feel plushy on the lids, and have a luxury look and feel. They don’t emphasize lines, bumps.  They can be worn sheerly or with heavily for extra pigment.

Some might look at L’Oreal Eternal Sunshine and L’Oreal Bronzed Taupe as the closest substitutes. In my personal opinion, these aren’t “dupes,” given the texture difference, but these will put you in the same color family. The L’Oreal’s don’t have the plushy, buttery feel of the Tom Ford, and they are not as complicated. The L’Oreal’s have a thinner (although highly metallic and pigmented) texture.

You can see more reviews of these eyeshadows here:

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