Addiction Flashback: Gorgeous Metallic Taupe Eyeshadow

 Eyeshadow  Comments Off on Addiction Flashback: Gorgeous Metallic Taupe Eyeshadow
Jan 092010

I just received a new eyeshadow from Kose’s Addiction line of makeup.  The creative director of the line is Akayo, a makeup artist said to have worked with Nars.  This line was launched last summer, and some of the products are getting rave reviews on London Makeup Girl and Birkin Bag Beauty.  The Addiction website is absolutely gorgeous.

Based on these reviews, I ordered Addiction’s Flashback, listed as a metal-textured taupe.  The only sources I found charge roughly $31 (U.S.) for a single eyeshadow.  I ordered Flashback from The Mihiko Shop, which ships EMS directly from Japan.  Shipping is free if you order $150 worth of product, otherwise shipping is $15 (yes, even if you order only one item).  My order arrived in about eight days.  I recently found another source, from which I ordered two additional metal shades.  I’ll post about that experience after that order arrives.

Flashback is a multidimensional beautiful taupe.  The texture is extremely pigmented and soft, on par with Shu’s ME Silver 945. Yes, I believe that the quality is as good as the pre-2006 Metal Shu’s.  It’s really incredible.  The shadow is placed into a sleek black compact (no mirror or applicator), although the Addiction website features an intriguing line of empty palettes.  Like Shu Uemura eyeshadows, it is evident that the original packaging is intended to be discarded in favor of paletting, although of course there’s no obligation to follow that plan.

Click on the picture if you would like a larger view:

Here is swatch of Addiction Flashback (right) next to Shu Uemura’s ME Silver 945 (left), another beautiful metal taupe.  Addiction is slightly lighter, a bit more reflective and a bit warmer.  Shu ME Silver 945 has a touch more mauve and brown than Flashback.  Both are quite beautiful.  Again, to see the multidimensionality of these, click on the picture for a larger view:

Finally, here is a comparison between Addiction Flashback and a few of the other taupes in my stash:  Shu ME Silver 945 (same as above, discontinued)), MAC Moth Brown (LE), Chanel Safari (current), Chanel Vega (discontinued), MAC Coco Pigment (very shimmery!) and Guerlain’s Holy Smoke pigment (this one’s still available if you love it).  Click to enlarge:

I took all of the above pictures myself.  If you’d like to look at one of Addiction’s own pictures, here’s a shade range from their website (click to enlarge).  As you can see from the product description, there are other textures available:

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MAC Pro Blush: Full Fuchsia

 Blush, MAC  Comments Off on MAC Pro Blush: Full Fuchsia
Jan 092010

If MAC’s Azalea swatch posted yesterday wasn’t bright enough, meet Full Fuchsia.  Another of MAC’s Pro blush colors, Full Fuchsia applies slightly more pink, a shade less blue a bit lighter in tone than Azalea.  Despite its name, by comparison Full Fuchsia is less violet and a bit less cool.

This is swatched heavily so you can see the color in my picture.  I used a very compact eyeshadow brush to apply this color to my arm.  I would never suggest wearing this color on your cheek like that.  Like Azalea, to avoid a full-on MAC force field effect, apply very lightly with a skunk (duo-fiber) brush, or wipe a standard blush brush on a tissue several times before applying to the cheek.  Again, keep this blush in a small area of the cheek will be key to allowing it to enhance your skin color rather than taking over your face.  The reason why this blush is sold in the Pro line is, I suspect, that it’s a “handle with caution” sort of color that can be pretty but can become overwhelming in the wrong hands.

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MAC Pro Blush: Azalea

 Blush, MAC  Comments Off on MAC Pro Blush: Azalea
Jan 082010

MAC’s Pro blushes include Azalea, a gorgeously blue-based pink that looks crazy in the pan.  I’m fair-skinned and warm, but find that cool blushes work well.

This blush must be handled with care. This is swatched very heavily using a compact eyeshadow brush so you can see the color in my photograph.  I would never suggest wearing this color on your cheek like that.  To avoid a full-on “MAC force field” effect, apply very lightly with a skunk (also called a “duo-fiber”) brush, or wipe a standard blush brush on a tissue several times before applying to the cheek.  This delivers an incredible, unusual and beautiful color.  However, keep in mind that this is a Pro product and so can be far too intense if you apply this in the same way as a standard blush.

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Jan 072010

MAC sells a Pro line of products in selected stores, referred to as “MAC Pro Stores,” in major cities throughout the world.  I find myself in a Pro store only once or twice per year, and with only a few exceptions have received excellent service in every one of them.  I’m not sure whether the company has better hiring or training in those locations but their associates are usually a few steps ahead.

Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas has an enormous selection of shops (called the “Forum”)  that has been upgraded and expanded over the years.  It includes a MAC Pro store.  If you enter from the Strip, you must go up some escalators and travel through the reproduction Roman streets to locate it.  Ceasar’s is always very busy, and I can imagine that the MAC Pro store gets an enormous amount of traffic.

I was greeted by a sales associate who, typical of MAC makeup artists, was an expert wearing their products.  I asked to explore MAC’s Pro blushes, especially Taupe which I had heard was an excellent color to contour the cheeks.

The MAC artist quickly informed me that MAC had discontinued Taupe.


MAC has a reputation for issuing limited releases and short product cycles.  It makes economic sense from their perspective (it must, they do it so frequently!)  For makeup buyers, this scarcity means committing to buy now or risk paying outrageous prices on eBay later.  Fortunately, my brilliant makeup artist found a pro pan version of the product.  See, I told you they know their stuff.  These pro pans  can be easily placed into one of MAC’s blush palettes, which look like this (first one closed, second one open):

For $12, this palette is a nice way to accommodate six blushes in a very small space.  The palette’s spaces and the back of MAC’s pro pan blushes are both magnetized, so it’s very easy to create and change the palette.

My patient MAC makeup artist helped swatch nearly all of the MAC Pro blushes.  Another artist pitched in too.  At the end, the backs of our hands were swatched in vibrant colors, sometimes with the same color in varying degrees of heavy to light. By the time I left, I owned six MAC Pro blushes ($15.50 each) to fill my new palette.  Each is pressed powder held in a little metal pan, sold in a cardboard sleeve.  I’ll be reviewing and swatching these in the days that follow.

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Jan 062010

As promised, here are product reviews for two items purchased at Guerlain’s boutique in Las Vegas, Nevada.

First, the Terracotta Kohl in Oriental Metal ($34) (Khol Poudre Libre) is a shimmery, multi-dimensional silver-taupe.  This loose powder is packaged in a glass vial.  The ornate cap opens to reveal a long, semi-rigid stick to which the loose powder adheres.  To apply the loose powder, you simply draw the long stick along the lashline with your eye closed (called the Eastern Method).  I learned how to use this by watching this video.  Of course, you can run the stick above the lashline instead if you prefer (the Western Method).  But try the Eastern Method as least once, you’ll be surprised how well it works.  Guerlain’s directions are here (click to enlarge):

I own this product in a few other colors, including black.  Surprisingly, this eyeliner applies much faster than any other eyeliner I own (pencils, gels and cake) and lasts all day.  When I saw Oriental Metal online, it looks sort of grey and dull.  However, in real life this kohl gives a glowy sheen that looks beautiful next to the eye–it enhances the natural color rather than overwhelming.

Second, I bought a Guerlain Rouge G lipstick in a neutral shade, Garance (#6) ($45).  Although this is an outrageous price to pay for a lipstick, the price is not out of line for a piece of costume jewelry that delivers a really unparalleled lipstick formula.  As you probably know, the lipstick is sold in a beautifully-machined compact with two built-in mirrors, designed by Lorenz Bäumer, a jeweller from Paris’ Place Vendôme. Although I’ve used many high-end lipsticks, I’ve found that this formula is rich, moisturizing and looks like it has (as Guerlain advertises), crushed rubies in the forumula.  There is a sparkling glow that I haven’t found in any other product.  If you want to know more, Guerlain has a somewhat dramatic website that can walk you through the product (there’s a soundtrack, so if you’re reading this in your office with the door open….um…)

Because these lipsticks are somewhat an investment, I highly recommend trying them out before you purchase.  One’s own natural coloring can mean that a lipstick which looks one way on one person, can look quite different on another.

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Shopping Report: Guerlain Boutique, The Palazzo Hotel & Casino (Las Vegas, Nevada)

 Foundation, Guerlain  Comments Off on Shopping Report: Guerlain Boutique, The Palazzo Hotel & Casino (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Jan 052010

The Palazzo Hotel & Casino is a high-rise situated between the Venetian and the Wynn on the Las Vegas Strip.  The second floor — which sits just above the casino–is jam-packed with high-end boutiques from many of the world’s major cities.  These include stores that do not have a dense population on the west coast, including Barney’s New York, Christian Louboutin and Van Cleef & Arpels.  Tucked in with these other luxury stores in a delightful Guerlain boutique.

Small in comparison to La Maison de Guerlain on Paris’ Champs Elysees, this boutique features a pleasant array of perfumes, a long stretch of makeup testers and several mirrored makeup stations.  When I walked in, it was mid-morning and therefore extremely early by Las Vegas standards.  If you want good service in Las Vegas, go before lunch.  It’s sort of unbelievable.

Have you ever met someone who truly loves their job?  They are so perfectly enthusiastic about it, you can’t help loving it too?  This describes the sales associate in the Guerlain boutique at the Palazzo.  His card reads “Beauty Advisor,” but he was more like “my friend who knows all about Guerlain and is going to be perfectly honest with me and yet does this without making me feel like I need to cake on makeup to really rock it.”  Although I’ve since flown home from Las Vegas, I would not hesitate to call for advice.  By the way, he pronounced the company’s name as “Guuurr- lan” with the second syllable using a flat “A” that rhymes with “pan.”

I was interested in Guerlain’s Parure Gold foundation ($78), so I got a “light” makeover–that is, I kept my eye makeup on but replaced most of my present foundation so that we could test colors.  This foundation is a new addition to Guerlain’s line, and it feels and looks remarkable.  It seems to add luminosity, it feels very light and moisturizing, but doesn’t give me “forehead shine” hours later.  It lasted all day without shifting or breaking down.  This was topped with some Meteorites (or Meteor-eeetes, as I now think of them) powder.  It’s packaged in a black container with a gold pump, and along one side is a slotted window so that one can tell how much foundation is left.

While at the boutique, I examined Guerlain’s Spring 2010 line, primarily the Jeu D’Ombrelles eyeshadow palette and Blush Eclat.  Both of these products are beautifully embossed and packaged.  The eyeshadow palette read very violet on me in a way that doesn’t compliment my skin tone.  Unfortunately, even a good healthy does of the Blush Eclat applied was not fully visible even on my fair skin.  The color leans peach with a hint of pink, but applies very sheerly.  Although I had wanted to get both, I have decided not to purchase either.

I left with my Beauty Advisor’s business card, Parure Gold in #2, and a few other products that I’ll review tomorrow.

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Shopping Report: La Maison Guerlain, Champs Elysees (Paris France)

 Guerlain  Comments Off on Shopping Report: La Maison Guerlain, Champs Elysees (Paris France)
Jan 042010

In the summer of 2006, I learned that Guerlain was discontinuing the iconic lipstick Divinora 480, described as the “perfect nude.”   I’ve since learned that “nude” is a term of art that applies to a wide range of color shades, but I somehow thought that if Angelina Jolie wore this shade that (somehow) I needed it too.

By that time, it appeared that sources for this shade were quickly disappearing in the U.S.  I had heard that the Guerlain boutiques in Paris had the best selection of their products, so while I was in the city I stopped into La Maison Guerlain on the Champs Elysees to investigate.  The store is just next door to the large Sephora and is a must-see for anyone who loves perfumes.  There is an impressive conservative marble lower floor, populated by some of the line’s latest and most popular products.  A staircase leads to the upper floor which is where the real action is for beauty and perfume lovers.  A beautiful series of pictures of the store, including a little guided tour of La Maison, is available on Guerlain’s website.

The second floor has a very unusual architecture (a picture from Guerlain’s website appears at the left).  Just at the top of the stairs is an area that has warm golden, organic walls, created by a mosaic of tiles.  It’s a little Versailles-meets-Whoville.  Sorry, I mean no disrespect.  I know that this represents an institution, not a mere corporation or a brand.  And truthfully, it’s stunning. This is a space where both Chanel flats and very tall Louboutin’s can be comfortably worn.  As if to prove my point, an impeccably dressed woman carrying a beautifully manicured dog stood in this foyer as her purchases were totaled.  My more practical Teva’s, which seemed so perfect for my several-mile walk through from the Marais, suddenly seemed very wrong.

There are a few rooms upstairs–the largest of which has the greatest selection of Guerlain perfumes anyone could ever imagine.  I’m not knowledgeable about perfumes, but honestly if you are then you must place this building near the top of your lists if you go to Paris.  This space is dripping in glass-bead curtains that are evocative of the round glass stopper on the top of many of Guerlain’s perfume bottles.  Again, the picture to the right is from Guerlain’s website.

There is a separate room for makeup.  There, I used my very rudimentary French to get a few tubes of Divinora 480.  The sales associate looked at my coloring worriedly, suggesting another Divinora lipstick with more pink.  Or perhaps something with a little shine?  I declined, a decision I now regret.  If someone that knowledgeable offers to help you out, I’ve learned to now accept and take notes.  Not literally “notes,” but you know what I mean.

I also asked to see their selection of Meteorites, Guerlain’s multi-colored finishing powders.  When I asked for them, I said “Meteorites” using the standard English pronunciation as one might refer to the celestial bodies traveling through space.

“Meteorites?” the sales associate asked.  “Qu-est-ce que c’est?”  Uh-oh.  When a Guerlain makeup expert doesn’t understand my pronunciation of one of their most famous products, it is not a good sign.

I looked around for their selection, finally resorting to pointing to Meteorites after I found them.

“Ahhhhhhh! Meteor-eeeeetes!” the sales associate exclaimed.  “They are right there.”  She gestured to where I had been pointing.  Unfortunately, their selection was no different from those available in the U.S.  But, now I know how they are pronounced.

I paid for my lipsticks.  Which, as the sales associate probably suspected, didn’t work at all for my coloring.  The picture, below, is the image I photographed to sell my unused tube on eBay.  By the way, Guerlain used to sell these with a nifty little mirror in the cap.  I’m told that they discontinued the mirror around 2004 or 2005.

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Jan 012010

After the bright blingy New Year’s Eve manicure of yesterday (that’s so last year!), I’m welcoming in 2010 with open arms and dark nails.  This one is Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Film Noir, which typically retails for $18 but which I picked up at their recent sale for half price.

Film Noir is the movie genre that was began in the 1940’s and is, I would argue, still echoed today in such places as AMC’s Mad Men.  These films are characterized by black and white cinematography, heavy on dark shadows and hard-bitten characters with devastating crime (usually murder) thrown in for good measure.  The dialogue seethes with emotion, although delivered in fast-talking monotone.  Consider this from “Hollow Triumph,” released in 1948:

He:  You’re a bitter little lady.

She:  It’s a bitter little world.

Dark enough for you?  Okay, so let’s go back to talking about nail polish now….

Film Noir is a deep dark black-burgundy jelly that lets in just enough light to show some color.  Evocative of Chanel’s early 1990’s Vamp, Film Noir looks absolutely fabulous when wearing blacks.  Vamp did, so does Film Noir.  A black-burgundy always has, and it always will.  Classic.

In the picture swatch here, I applied two coats then topped with a thick coat of Poshe’s fast-drying Topcoat.  I might use three coats, but I wanted to make sure that some of this rich color would show on the blog.

Rescue Beauty Lounge Film Noir

Because this is a dark jelly, this is not a polish to try for the first time while in a rush.  The deep color is very pigmented, so mistakes tend to show.

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New Year’s Eve Nails: Go Bling or Go Home

 Nail Polish  Comments Off on New Year’s Eve Nails: Go Bling or Go Home
Dec 312009

The absolutely most wonderful thing about nail polish is that you can change it almost every day.  With quick-dry drops and top coats, it’s usually very easy to get an entirely new look with a few swipes and brushes. Also, nothing seems to give off an impression like a nails with, as Rachel Zoe would say, “zzzzzhuzzzhhh.”  (I’m not sure on that spelling!).

Here are some quick suggestions for New Year’s Eve nails:

1. Zoya Trixie:  An easy-to-apply bright silver with tiny tiny sparkles.  This is very easy to work with.  The picture is two quick coats.

2.  Zoya Astra:  By far my favorite this year (pink glitter!!), but some cautions are appropriate. This is three coats of a deep pink glitter in a deep pink base coat. The formula of this is thin. Application is a bit patchy, but with obvious sparkle seems to take over and makes the patches harder to notice.  Or maybe it’s the raspberry mojito’s that makes the patchiness harder to see.  I can’t be sure.  This polish is very difficult to remove. You may want to leave a cotton pad with remove soaking on the nail for a few minutes before you try to swipe.  Some suggest wrapping aluminum foil around the nail together with a remover-soaked cotton for a few minutes for the quickest, least damaging removal.

3.  China Glaze 2030:  A chrome warm pewter-gold.  This one glows, but does seem to make any nail ridges more apparent. Here, two coats.

4.  Zoya Richelle.  Like Trixie, this formula delivers lots of bling and is easy to use.  Applies like a dream in two coats, delivers a beautiful warm yellow gold with tiny sparkles.  Richelle is less sparkly than Trixie.  Again, two coats here.

These swatches were applied with CND Sitckey as a basecoat and no topcoat to highlight the out-of-the-bottle texture of these polishes.

For Astra, you may wish to add one or more topcoats when you use it, because the glitter gives the nail a rougher texture.

Zoya advertises their polishes as free of toluene, formaldehyde, camphor and DBP (dibutyl phthalate).  You may see Zoya’s sold at salons and stores around the U.S.  In fact, my local grocery stores carries a nice selection (mostly sheers, though, yawn!). Zoya’s entire line is here, selling for $7 each.  China Glaze’s polishes are sold from around $3 to $9, depending on your source.  I bought this one at Victoria’s Nail Supply for $3.10.

New Year's Eve Nails

Happy New Year!!!

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Chanel Spring 2010: Lip Pencil Beige and Eye Pencil Khaki Dore

 Chanel, Eyeliner, Lip Pencil  Comments Off on Chanel Spring 2010: Lip Pencil Beige and Eye Pencil Khaki Dore
Dec 302009

There are two pencil products in Chanel’s Spring 2010 line.  First, Le Crayon Yeux Precision Eye Definer in Khaki Dore ($28), a shimmery gold-green that is similar to Chanel’s liquid eyeshadow Torrent.  I have to admit, I love the smudge tool on one end of the eyeliner.  I always miss this feature when I buy a pencil and it isn’t there.  This eyeliner is a bit too light for me to wear on my upper lid alone.  I pair this with a darker black or dark brown, and/or use it smudged underneath the lower lid.

Second, Chanel’s Le Crayon Levres Precision Lip Definer in Beige ($28), which gives a nude effect to the lips.  Chanel has needed this type of pencil for a long time.  This is the perfect base for nude or neutral lips.

Each is packed with a separate sharpener.

Chanel Spring 2010 Pencils

Chanel Khaki Dore and Nude PencilsThis post contains an affiliate link (for more information see About Cafe Makeup)


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