Nov 142013

Chanel Charming Palette01

The Collection Nuit Infinie collection brings us the Chanel Charming Ombres Matelassees eyeshadow palette ($80), a neutral-with-a-twist palette that gives a foolproof dark smokey eye. This selection includes five workhorse shades that lean toward the deeper side of the neutral palette.

Chanel Charming Palette03

 Chanel Charming is housed in the traditional 5-pan format of the Pearl River and 51, Montaigne.

Chanel Charming Palette05

Inside are four near-matte shades and one near-shimmer. The overall impression of this palette is matte once applied to the skin:

Shade #1 is a neutral matte beige that is the only truly light shade in the palette, and it is not very light. In  tonality, it is close to my natural skin tone although it is a touch cooler/neutral. It can be used as a matte highlight (for example in the inner corner), or to add a bit of light once the other darker shades are applied.

Shade #2 is a neutral light brown that provides a good base color for the overall lid.

Shade #3 is a complex shimmery metal cinnamon color that applies as a soft red-brown.

Shade #4 is a dark neutral matte brown.

Shade #5 is a dark mauve grey.

Chanel Charming Palette08

 The shades are finely milled, well-formulated and look appropriate in numerous work and play situations. As I said earlier, the overall impression on the eye is much deeper than many neutral palettes. Although it looks “dupable” compared to other palettes such as Urban Decay’s Naked, the superior, more refined texture sets Chanel Charming apart. In sun:

Chanel Charming Palette10

However, I will say that I did experience a little deja vu using this palette–it reminded me of a deeper toned version of the Guerlain 10 Rue Des Francs-Bourgeois 6 pan palette (reviewed here) ($86), a palette in Guerlain’s permanent line which has been my neutral go-to eyeshadow palette over the past few weeks. The palettes are close in price (about a $6 difference). The Guerlain palette does not have the mauve dark shade of the Chanel Charming palette, and the metallic shade in the Guerlain’s is more prominent and brighter. Here are swatch comparisons (the Guerlain on top, Chanel Charming on the bottom row):

Chanel Charming Palette12

Another (with Guerlain 10 Rue Francs-Bourgeois on top, and Chanel Charming on the bottom.

Chanel Charming Palette11

As you can see,  Chanel Charming is the choice for a darker, smokier look. Given my paler skin tone, I find Guerlain 10 Rue Francs-Bourgeois a better choice for an everyday, work palette.

Overall, Chanel Charming is not the ‘star product’ of the Holiday 2013 line that I was expecting with Chanel’s unparalleled creativity that we’ve seen in past seasons. However it is a well-formulated, beautiful everyday palette and genius for an easy, dressy eye for the Holiday season and beyond.

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Jun 142013

Chanel Mystere01

This is a first look at Chanel Mystere Eyeshadow Quad ($59/.24 oz./#43), a shimmery mysterious eyeshadow combination of deep greens, soft cream and light taupe.

Chanel Mystere12

This comes packed in the same elegant compact as all other Chanel eyeshadow quads.  In some light, the quad can look a touch gray, but in reality there are some very subtle and complex colors in this beautiful palette.

Continue reading »

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May 292013

Chanel Moon River1

Chanel has released a collection of six shimmering cream shadow sticks for Summer 2013.  Cool to the touch, most of these are vibrant colors that include a warm gold, an electric blue, and a shimmering jade green. I understand that these look fabulous on dark skin tones. Unfortunately, these are not colors that I can wear. A sales associate at a major retailer didn’t even try to contradict me when I confessed that “these don’t look like my colors.” However, she did convince me that one of them–the shimmering champagne Chanel Moon River ($34)–was necessary.

Chanel Moon River12

Summer calls for simplicity, particularly for day. Chanel Moon River is a twist-up pencil in a chic slim cylinder. This is an easy-to-swipe-on lifesaver that, when paired with a black liner and a brown powder crease color, gives me an effortless eye that looks polished and pretty.

Chanel Moon River16

Applied by itself in very warm weather, a few swipes gives a cool silver-cream sheer wash of shimmer. It’s so glowy and pretty, adding a touch of a moonlight-toned lightness to the lid.  The formula is a little unusual–it’s tenacious, but it creases on me after several hours (no primer, warm weather).  A quick swipe in my crease will allows the creasing to dissipate, and there is still plenty of shadow left for a pretty look.  It feels cool to the touch, and very calming, which is helpful when the thermometer starts pegging.

Chanel Moon River15

You might be surprised to find me recommending Chanel Moon River anyway. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No one does shimmer sparkle like Chanel. No one. Their imperfect, creasy crazy cream eyeshadow is glowy, elegant, magical and lovely.  It just looks so good, and adds something to my face that no other shimmering eyeshadow does. It makes my eyes and skin look better, even though it isn’t a textbook-perfect formulation.

Burberry Dark Spices

Liz and I discovered that a soft matte brown is key to making Moon River work. Here, we used the second shade from Burberry Mocha quad.  Using a powder in the crease also seems to keep Moon River from creasing.

Chanel Moon River Eye11b

Here’s a look on Liz using Chanel Moon River, Chanel Rouge Coco in Gabrielle, Burberry Light Glow Blush in Hydrangea Pink, and Laura Mercier Matt Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight (review to come soon), over Chanel Perfection Lumiere Foundation. Overall, this gives her skin and eyes a pretty, elegant glow.

Chanel Moon River look 1

Here are some swatches of Chanel Moon River, next to MAC Powerchrome in Rich Glance (the most tenacious, most crease-proof, and most pigmented), Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Rosegold (runs pink-gold and is a more standard metal cream formulation compared with Chanel’s fairy-ephemeral glowy-sparkle), and Dior Twin Set in Beige Ribbon (messier, more subtle compared to Chanel).

Chanel Moon River swatches10a


Chanel Moon River swatches12

Aside from the nail polish (review to come) and Moon River, I didn’t get anything else from Chanel Summer 2013. For the first time in my memory, Chanel did not release a bronzer, blush, highlighter or other product. I didn’t fall in love with the lip products.  As I am a tried and true Chanel fan, I feel like I’m missing something. Did you find yourself getting anything?

Chanel Moon River is available at and other sources of Chanel makeup.

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Mar 102013

Chanel Hong Kong 201

Chanel has just released a limited edition Hong Kong collection which features the Chanel Ombres Matelassées Pearl River Eyeshadow Palette ($80). This is available from online, Chanel Boutiques which carry the beauty line, and Chanel Studios (I purchased mine from the counter at Nordstrom Seattle, which is a designated Chanel Studio location).

Chanel Hong Kong 205

The palette consists of a range of shades, all shimmery except for the deep brown which is a satin:

  • A cool pearly white highlighter with strong blue tones
  • A light shimmery yellow
  • A medium shimmery gold
  • A medium toned shimmery orange
  • A cool satin brown with a slight touch of taupe

There is a delicacy to the texture of the shadows:

Chanel Hong Kong 204

Although these are a pressed powder format, the powder in four shades has a very high level of pearl compared to most palettes. These are not gel or translucent like the former limited edition Chanel Ombres Perlees

Chanel Hong Kong 203

As fitting for the “limited edition” niche, this palette is not likely to have mainstream appeal. There is a delightful edgy-ness to the palette that breaks “the rules” just enough. The bright and soft pops of yellow-gold color combined with the strongly blue-toned highlighter are quite striking.

Chanel Hong Kong 207

One of the reasons that I love Chanel as a line is that the company provides high quality with a high fashion twist. I suspect that less innovative companies will do edgy looks based on this palette in two or three years, when Chanel has already led the way. Still, Chanel Pearl River isn’t entirely new. It feels a bit like a more sophisticated, wearable, and coordinated re-mix of the colors like MAC’s Gold Dusk pigment of yore (which had texture issues of its own, although it was a popular shade).

Chanel Hong Kong 208

We found that the pearliness that appears in the pan and on the arm became much more subdued on the lid. Liz applied the middle gold color as an all-over wash, with just a touch of the brown in the crease and moving into the lid area. We don’t love bold eye looks on Cafe Makeup, although I’m sure you could spice this up by adding the orange and deep brown if you prefer to do so:

Chanel Hong Kong 11

I actually found the Armani Eyes to Kill Shimmer in Mirage #10 to have a stronger pearl effect once applied to the eyes, compared to Chanel Pearl River. Here is Chanel Pearl River on Liz (open eyes):

Chanel Hong Kong 14

 Liz is also wearing Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine in #4 Rouge in Danger. She’s also wearing a mix of Burberry Coral Pink and Rose blush, over Chanel Vitalumiere liquid foundation. I think that Chanel Pearl River is a nice balance to the bright orange Hermes scarf (it would also balance well with a bright saturated blue). This is also a palette that looks good with a soft aqua or teal.

Chanel Hong Kong 15

For reference, here is Chanel Ombres Matelassées Pearl River Eyeshadow Palette swatched next to Armani Eyes to Kill Shimmer in Mirage #10. 

Chanel Hong Kong 62

Overall, Chanel has created an unusual palette based on gold, yellow and orange. These are colors that you don’t see often coordinated in a palette. In the pan and on the arm, these swatched in a stunning way, but we found the texture far more satin-like on the lid. The pigmentation was quite good, although not quite as stellar are Chanel Topkapi. A limited release, this palette would be lovely as a go-to for a summer color. Those in the market for a more mainstream version are more likely to gravitate toward the Armani Eyes to Kill Shimmer in Mirage.

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Jun 252012

Chanel recently released a small eye collection Les Expressions de Chanel outside the U.S. (details here). This includes three eyeshadow quads, including the new Chanel Eyeshadow Quad Variation (#37), part of the Violet Expression Set. The collection also includes Eclosion, which was previously released in the U.S. (reviewed here by The Beauty Look Book), and a neutral set called Intuition. I’ve heard from various sources that this collection is slated for release in the U.S. in either October or November 2012, in the more traditional U.S. square-pan format.

Outside the U.S., these three eyeshadow quads are released in the baked, rounded format (the back of Variation reads “Made in France,” although sometimes the U.S. releases are as well). When I tested these in the store, I found the non-U.S. Eclosion and Intuition very noisy with fallout, and the texture seemed a bit uneven based on my finger swatches. I’m hoping the U.S. versions of these quads will be the more traditional, pressed powder type. Intuition in a U.S. format could be a nice neutral to have, so I passed on the non-U.S. version because of the rough texture.

Of the three, Chanel Variation had the smoothest texture, it is similar in texture to Chanel Rose Envolee. There are micro glitters the taupe, medium rose, and deeper eggplant color, but they are very pretty, Chanel micro-glitters–very fine in texture and very wearable. The U.S. version will likely have a very different texture altogether (and perhaps slightly different colors), so I picked up Variation to have in this formula.

Chanel Variation has a shimmery-satin light pink highlighter, a soft light taupe, and medium mauve-rose and a deep eggplant liner. It could certainly be used to create an eye similar to the one in Lisa Eldridge’s most recent video “Grown Up Girly” (here), where she relies on Bourjois Rose Variation. Alternatively, the taupe could be used as the main lid color with a touch of the Vamp-like liner to add depth as the liner over and smudged under the eye, with a touch of the highlighter in the crease.

This will compliment well with Chanel’s Illusion D’Ombre in Abstraction. Overall, Chanel Variation is a lovely, feminine quad. I’ll be curious to see how Chanel reinterprets this for the U.S. market.


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Apr 302012

Chanel Sable-Émouvant Eyeshadow Duo ($42) is quite possibly my favorite item from the easy, soft, feminine Chanel Summer 2012 collection. It’s a stunning, soft, pigmented shimmery confection of a shimmery sandy creamy ivory and a warm reddish shimmery brown.

The duo in soft light:

In sunlight, so you can see the shimmery sparkles:


Comparison with Chanel Misty Soft eyeshadow duo, which is far more mauve:

Sable-Émouvant Eyeshadow Duo is highly blend able, easy to work with, really this duo is perfection. It’s going to coordinate well with this season’s corals and pinks, however this classic combination is going to be an awesome duo for almost anything that you’d want to throw at it. Just layer the lighter color on the lid, and smoke the darker color in the crease. Or use the darker color as a lid-wash, then add a touch of the cream in the inner corner.  It couldn’t be easier or more foolproof. Gorgeous perfection.

….And this is why I love Chanel. They take a classic combination and simply do it more beautifully.

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Oct 292011

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Blazing Gold ($28.50/#407) is a medium yellow eyeshadow with large shimmer particles.

I feel the same way about Chanel Blazing Gold as I do about many of the items in Chanel Holiday 2011.  That is, these Holiday items are amped up, or glitzed-up, versions of other items that Chanel has done before. I’m not criticizing–Holiday is not the time for fashion-forward, necessarily.  Niche collections like Fashion’s Night Out or mini-collections for boutique-only release are for pushing the envelope.  Holiday can be for making the beautified version of the familiar, a classic with a little more, I suppose.  Sometimes I wonder if Holiday collections are for women who buy makeup once a year.  We see the large, blockbuster palettes (Bobbi Brown), the well-priced sets (everyone), another highlighter with a twist (everyone) and the metallic infused color versions of the permanent line (Dior, perhaps?).  Those with more extensive collections should be selective.

Here is a comparison swatch of Chanel Blazing Gold next to Chanel Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Gold–as you can see, the colors are very, very similar.  The difference is that Blazing Gold has larger shimmer pieces for evening wear and the texture is not as smooth.

For context, I included a soft yellow Lancome Moonlight which is only sold in Europe (reviewed here).  Also, I’ve included  a metallic gold (Bare Escentuals True Gold) to show that Blazing Gold is far more in the “yellow” category rather than a gold metal.

Someone’s going to look amazing in Chanel Soft Touch in Blazing Gold.  Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.  I can make it work (sort of), if I confine its use to a very small lid area or inner corner highlighter.  But in general yellows don’t favor my fair, warm toned skin.  Those who already own Chanel Gold should evaluate whether Blazing Gold makes sense given their similarity.

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Oct 282011

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshdow in Beige Lamé ($ 28.50/ #417) is a very subtle, sophisticated eyeshadow.

 As many readers know, Cafe Makeup has a soft spot for beautiful neutrals with a kick.  In the case of Chanel Beige Lamé, the color is a soft neutral beige embedded with barely visible pink, teal and clear microsparkle adds a little depth.  Never over the top, Beige Lamé is a soft spoken shade.

 Here is Chanel Beige Lamé on Liz’s lid:

 Chanel Beige Lamé is a Chanel version of MAC Naked Pigment.  It’s a very neutral medium beige with a hint of shimmer. The texture is lovely, it goes on easily with one swipe.  Its a very easy sweep of color for a pretty, neutral lid.

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Aug 192011

Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow in Vanites ($57 /#08) is a re-release of an eyeshadow quad that was formerly launched years ago, then discontinued.  It is now back as part of Chanel’s Sophisticated Eye Collection.  For some reason, I missed the earlier version and so picked Vanites up this time.

Pursuing old reviews, it appears that the first release garnered efforts to duplicate the shades using MAC eyeshadow shades.  Now that MAC custom quads are only a few dollars less at $53, I suspect that some of the steam has gone out of that engine.

In the pan, Chanel Vanites has a mix of colors that include a pink highlighter, a light lavender, a duochrome purple/gold and the deep violet-blue liner.  Applied, these colors have a strong purple tone that predominates.  Even the golden bottom right color applies with a strong, smokey purple tone.

Swatches, with arm tilted to show the shimmery shades:

With my arm tilted, you can see how the two right shades have a duochrome effect.  I found that this is the way that the gold/purple duochrome shade (the third) looked applied to my eye (below):

One more:


I found that the colors had very good pigmentation, texture and tone.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the quality of the quad, which is right in line with Chanel’s recent U.S.-powder formulated options.  The tones in this collection compliment my blue-green eyes, as violets tend to bring out the green tones.

Overall, I recommend Vanites.  I found that the overall purple/violet tones had a slight red undertone, particularly the two deeper shades (swatched on the right, above).  Those who dislike wearing pinks and red in the eye area will want to note that.  Also, these colors looked best on me using an opaque base layer (such as a MAC paint pot, Laura Mercier Eye Basic, or the like).  That seemed to keep the colors at their most vibrant and flattering.

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Aug 172011

Chanel has recently released two new Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadows, always an occasion for rejoicing.

Chanel Ombre Essentielle in Twilight ($28.50 #89), part of the Sophisticated Eye Collection, is a cool candy pink:

Twilight has some sparkle and pigment. Here it is compared to Chanel Fauve (reviewed here), also released in the U.S. with the Sophisticated Eye Collection, the pink side of Chanel Irrellee Duo in Orient Express (now discontinued), Chanel Pink Lamé (a long-ago limited edition tweed effect eyeshadow, no longer available), Chanel Lotus and Chanel Sillage (reviewed here).


As you can see, Twilight bears the closest resemblance to Chanel Pink Lamé.  Note that Twilight has more sparkle compared to Pink Lamé.  No other color is similar to Pink Lamé.  Also, you can see that Twilight would coordinate well with Chanel Fauve.  Another set of the same swatch colors:

Because Twilight runs blue, it does not have the unfortunate tendency of some pink eyeshadows to give a “rabbit eye” effect.  Like Pink Lamé, I can wear the color comfortably, preferably with Fauve or Chanel Taupe Grise (reviewed here).

I would expect that Twilight would coordinate beautifully with Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Gris Exquise ($28.50 / no number provided).  Then again, Chanel Gris Exquis is a color that will coordinate with virtually everything.

Gris Exquis is a medium matte gray, that can be softly applied to create dimension in the crease, or softly smoke out a liner.

This is the color that Chanel suggests be used with Chanel Ombres Tissees in Beige (reviewed here).

Here are some comparisons with the second layer of Le Metier de Beaute’s Splendid Frost (reviewed here), Bobbi Brown Steel (discontinued), the darkest shade of the Edward Bess Soft Smoke eyeshadow palette (reviewed here), MAC Silver Ring, Guerlain Instant d’une Emotion (reviewed here).

Comparison swatches:

Another swatch set, same colors:

I’m a huge fan of gray eyeshadows (as you can probably tell from this post).  Because they tend to be slightly cool, they add a little kick of drama to my warm skintone but still manage to be quiet neutrals.  They work as a wash, or as a way to add depth to the crease.  Overall, I did not find an exact match to Chanel Gris Exquis in my colleciton, although the second layer of Le Metier’s Splendid Frost was the closest.

The texture of Chanel Gris Exquis is excellent–it is very soft and pigmented.  Unlike so many mattes that can go on chalky, Gris Exquis goes on buttery smooth.  It’s an excellent quality shadow that is very versatile.

Note that Chanel has also re-released Chanel Magic Night (reviewed here), and Chanel Fauve to the U.S. market (reviewed here).

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