Sep 022011

I swear, I’m not trying to turn Cafe Makeup into “Chanel dupe” central (far from it).  We previously examined how Revlon Carbonite compares.  I learned from via a twitter message from Nouveau Cheap that this year’s L’Oreal Color of Hope collection included a near-Graphite color, L’Oreal Valiant.  Above, the bottle shows that they are all certain part of a trend of gray-green–they look like cousins.

 On nail, you can see that L’Oreal Valiant is more firmly in the chrome/frost texture, rather than the embedded sparkle of Chanel Graphite.  Here’s a picture of all three:  L’Oreal Valiant, Chanel Graphite, and Revlon Carbonite:

More comparisons in sunlight with flash:

One more in shade with flash:

My conclusion is that these aren’t true dupes, although between the two Revlon Carbonite is closer.  To me, Carbonite has more of the sparkle quality of Chanel Graphite while Valiant is a sheeny frost in texture.

Please follow us on....

Jun 262011

Chanel Le Vernis in Graphite ($25 #529) is a rich metallic gray with a slight hint of gold.  This warmth seems to give a slight hint of green in warm light.  There is a rich metal/glass sparkle effect that gives Graphite depth and life.

The formula is the familiar excellent, smooth and fast-drying metallic formula that I’ve come to know and love from Chanel.  Graphite is opaque in two coats, but this is three:


This color is strong, edgy and dramatic.  A lovely choice for fall, although perhaps a bit strong for summer.  You can see how there is a very subtle hint of metallic green that appears in the strong warm sunlight.


This is the sort of little trick of light from Chanel, executed with mastery.  Graphite lives up to the name “Illusion D’Ombre.”  Bravo, Peter Philips!

Please follow us on....

Jun 262011

Chanel Le Vernis in Quartz ($25 #525) is a  soft mink brown with a touch of champagne.  This is one of those extremely easy colors to wear on days when you have no idea what to wear.  The slight silver sparkle gives this warm color a cool, neutral edge.  At the same time, there is a soft gold color that works well with warm toned skin.  The delicate frost gives it dimension galore.  This is a very rich, light everyday color that can hold its own with business formal clothing.

The above photograph, taken in sun, shows there is a subtle multi-dimensional sparkle that  is can never be mistaken for glitter.  It’s the soft, fairy-like sparkle that is reminiscent of a subtle glass fleck.

In shade, the color goes to a soft cashmere tone:

One more in sun:

Bottom line:  So pretty–so Chanel.

Please follow us on....

Jun 262011

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Color in Peridot ($25 #531) has the life of the jewel after which it named.  A release for Fall 2011, this color is designed to add an intense flash of shifting color to your deep-toned winter wardrobe.  As a lover of deep, matte wools as the weather cools, I know that Peridot will be a beautiful addition to the dark colors that I wear during that season.

The color is a chameleon, changing as the light plays across the surface of the nail.  There is a strong clear metallic peridot-green-gold effect, plus the slightest blue duochrome that mixes with a metallic sparkle.  In sun:

The color is opaque in two coats–this is three in the pictures.   Each layer dries in about 2-3 minutes.  In shade:

One last:

The color is dramatic and unusual. It’s going to look epic if you love to wear black.  For me, this is spectacular. If you love it, you’ll need a backup.

Please follow us on....

Apr 202011

Chanel Summer 2011 Les Fleurs D’ete de Chanel includes three shades of the Le Vernis Nail Colour ($25 each).  Mimosa (#577) is the bright, highly-anticipated “must have” shimmery yellow.  Beige Petale (#567) is a light sheer high-shine beige.  Morning Rose (#557) is a semi-sheer pink with gold glitter sparkle.  Like flowers in a bouquet, these three shades could not be more different from each other.  My assumption is that together this extreme range is intended to be a complete summer wardrobe, to be worn for entirely different occasions.  It is true that, during the summer months, I feel pulled in so many different occasions and events that a variety is welcome.

Mimosa is a fitting for a runway (or, for most of us, beach and poolside).  This color is probably best captured on a cell phone, at a distance.  It is distinctive, daring and says “Yes, I have this year’s Chanel.”  Like a wink across a room, I imagine that women across the world will be flashing this color as the not-so-secret sign of summer chic.  Learning from beauty bloggers who tried this color before me, including the British Beauty Blogger’s helpful instructions, I realized that this formula worked best on a slick base coat.  By this writing, I’ve applied Mimosa six separate times, and I want to pass along what I’ve learned.

Mimosa Application Tip #1:  Although I usually use CND Stickey, that would be an very, very unfortunate choice for Mimosa.  Because Mimosa’s formula is notoriously unforgiving, the most ridge-filling, smoothest base is the best.  I chose Chanel’s own Protective Base Coat ($25), reasoning that if any base worked well with a Chanel polish, it should be the Chanel base coat.  Chanel’s Protective Base Coat is a milky color, and it dries to a very even, non-sticky surface, and even seems to slightly fill ridges and imperfections along the way.  The British Beauty Blogger actually used a topcoat under Mimosa, to get a perfectly even surface.

Mimosa Application Tip #2: Let the brush “float” over the nail, keeping a layer of the polish between your brush and the nail surface.  Like many opaques, Mimosa’s brush can “scrape” off the color that you’ve already applied, leaving a bare patch.  Do not allow the brush to touch the nail.  Instead, load up the brush with enough for a full swipe, and deposit it with virtually no pressure as you go.

Mimosa Application Tip #3: Allow plenty of dry time between coats.  Although this formula is opaque, I need three coats to get good coverage.  Unlike some Chanel formulas that seem to dry in less than a minute, Mimosa needs a good full 5-10 minutes to fully dry to avoid dents.

Although I (and other bloggers) found Mimosa challenging to apply, once deposited it seems to dry to a nice shiny finish.  Still, I’d use a topcoat because a color this vibrant does tend to show wear easily.  Unfortunately, I do not believe my application is perfect and bright yellows are not the best color for my warm skin tone (which are still a bit trashed from traveling), but I’ll post my results nonetheless:

Morning Rose is a sheer pink with a touch of gold glitter.  It’s an easy color for brush-and-go, a polite pink that gives a pretty wash of color and allows the natural nail to show through.  The glitter dries to a bit of a bumpy surface, which is easily remedied with a topcoat.  I chose Chanel Extreme Shine Nail Lacquer ($25), although certainly others will do.

Here, I applied two coats of Morning Rose.  I do not believe that this polish is intended to be worn fully opaque, it feels more like a glossimer than a lipstick.  And we all know that a soft stain of shiny color in the summer can look very fresh.

Beige Petale is a very sheer, shiny beige.  The Beauty Look Book has accurate, clear pictures of the color worn alone together with some comparisons.  It gives the nail a very healthy, even appearance.  It’s one of those shades that I find myself using up because it can be applied without thinking, dries quickly, and takes you anywhere.  It softens the nail line but looks very natural, like a good finishing powder.  Are there dupes? Probably, but I’ll still use Beige Petale down to the bottom of this gorgeous, classic bottle rather than spend the same amount (or more) trying to hunt down a duplicate in another brand.

To alleviate the boredom from seeing one more swatch of sheer Beige Petale here, I decided to play with my Beige Petale by dressing it up with some colors from Creative Nail Design.  As many of you know, Creative Nail Design makes a line of Colors, plus a line of Effects that add different textures and tones to a standard nail polish.

Here, I applied Beige Petale on my Chanel topcoat, then topped it with the Creative Nail Design Effect in Gold Pearl. I then topped it with a sheer coat of Creative Nail Design sheer color in Rosewater, which is genius for knocking down the slight green cast of Gold Pearl.  As an aside, if you are looking for something similar to Beige Petale but in pink, Rosewater is a good choice.  The result using all three of these color layered has a milky irridescence:

Overall, Chanel’s summer nail offerings offer a pleasant variety of colors.  Generally, I’m pleased that I have them in my collection.  Chanel seems to have perfected the modern classic, with a touch of edge and trend that we look for every summer.

Please follow us on....

Feb 082011

February seems a good time to delve into red nails.  Today, I played with a few of my Chanel reds, all applied in two coats with a Poshe topcoat.  The current shades run $25.

  • Dragon (#475) is an instant classic red creme. Currently available, this is a must-have red in my book.  It infuses me with confidence, it’s hot and gorgeous.  Made in France.
  • Enthusiast (#377) is a bright warm red creme that was released with a coordinating Rouge Allure lipstick for a very few weeks during 2009, never to return.  It’s as close to Rescue Beauty Lounge Bangin’ as Chanel has created in recent years.  I love the bright clarity of this color.  Made in France.
  • Shanghai Red (#183) is a cool red with shimmer, and is slightly cool.  Made in U.S. This one is spectacular in the light–the shimmer just lights up and adds some fire.  This is the oldest of this lot (2006), and my bottle’s nearly empty. Still applies beautifully.
  • Rouge Fatale (#487) is a deep brown red creme, still a current shade. Made in France, it’s not as intense deep and blue as Rouge Noir or Vamp (past or present version).

Please follow us on....

Holiday 2010: Chanel Mica Rose Nail Polish

 Chanel, Nail Polish  Comments Off on Holiday 2010: Chanel Mica Rose Nail Polish
Oct 172010

Chanel’s Holiday Collection for 2010 includes Mica Rose ($23).  I already own Mica Rose (#495) from their permanent collection, and so for the sake of completeness post this swatch of the color.  It is a sheer pink with shimmer. This is three coats with no base or top coat:

I do not have a color that is exactly like this one–Chanel does shimmer in nail polishes quite well.

Please follow us on....

Oct 162010

Chanel’s Holiday 2010 Collection includes Pulsion ($23 Le Vernis 547 Nail Colour), a deep cool pink creme.  The formula on this polish is incredibly nice–it goes on smoothly and spreads to a perfect finish.  It dries very quickly to a glossy finish.  Here are two coats, without any base coat or top coat.

Seriously one of most lovely nail polish formulas I’ve ever used. The color is strong and feminine, and would look good on a woman of virtually any age.  True love.

Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book has some comparison with other recent Chanel nail polishes.  I did a few comparisons with some other deep cool pinks in my stash, here OPI’s Passion for NY Fashion and Essie Funny Face.  Although both are in the same neighborhood, neither is quite the same:

My other medium pinks, including OPI Elephantastic Pink and Zoya Lo, were not anywhere close.  Both were far lighter and not as cool.

The strong pink thread through Chanel’s Holiday collection includes the Pink Pulsion Glossimer:

Another is Tweed Fuchsia blush:

Please follow us on....

Chanel Summer 2010: Le Vernis Riviera

 Chanel, Nail Polish  Comments Off on Chanel Summer 2010: Le Vernis Riviera
Apr 282010

Chanel Summer 2010 has a delightful pink nail polish, Riviera ($23)(Le Vernis Nail Colour Riviera #537) which has the capability of putting me in a summer frame of mind.  Although there are many pinks on the market, I particularly enjoy Chanel’s vibrant creme nail color formula and so I knew that I had to have this one.

Two coats gives me a vibrant look that somehow looks appropriate without moving into the neon category.  Somehow, Chanel still makes the color looks special.  I have several medium-to-dark pinks, it’s a color that I love, and I’m  hard pressed to find a duplicate with precisely the same look.
Riviera will (as you can see in Chanel’s promotion picture) look fabulous with this summer’s Rouge Allure in Super–they have the same color tone.

Here is my on-the-nail swatch, taken with a flash as I had already lost the sun for the day:

I find this formula very easy to work with–it seems to spread without any problems.  The above was done over Creative Nail Design’s Stickey base coat and with a topcoat by Poshe.

Please follow us on....

Apr 262010

Chanel seems to have a tradition of micro-releases that are regional, edgy and sometimes ground-breaking.  Chanel’s Black Velvet nail polish ($25) (Le Vernis Nail Color Black Velvet 430) is part of Chanel Orient Extrême, an exploration of new textures.  I must admit that I have a high tolerance for just such experiments– for me, tried and true formulations evoke yawns and “I’ll catch it some other time.”  Makeup is all about play, excitement and trying something new.

Black Velvet is an unusual texture–not matte and certainly not  shine or shimmer.  To warn you (and to separate Black Velvet from the others Chanel’s in your stash), the bottle is a matte texture and uses a stick-on label with gold lettering, rather than the traditional painted-on white lettering.  All other aspects of the bottle are familiar–the same square shape and brush are the same as the rest.

The nail polish is  a black with soft, near-matte texture that evokes the same look at a soft leather or lambskin.  It’s going to look amazing with layers of textured blacks–perhaps a mix of patent black leather, wools or silks.  It looks both new, and soft, yet dramatic.  Is this appropriate for Spring?  Chanel doesn’t seem to care–those who are looking for something different will wear it anyway, because it’s all about making your own rules at this point.  Certainly, the color can wait for fall and winter for everyone else (although, unless its re-released, it will likely be sold out by then).

Comparison, with Chanel’s shinier Black Satin (U.S. version) and OPI for Sephora’s Where’s the Tire, Jack? (matte):

A few practical considerations:

  • This polish exhibits tipwear typical of black polishes.  Using a topcoat destroys the central value of the polish–the texture.  It does not seem more fragile (or more robust) than other black polishes, but unlike a sheer this black will not look pristine after three days of typing.
  • This polish did not apply well on a sticky basecoat (in my case, CND Stickey).  A smoother basecoat will be your best option.
  • This might be fun to try as a reverse french manicure with a gold tip.
  • Available now on and at Chanel Boutiques.  As with other Chanel highly limited edition releases, these are not currently available at department store counters.  (But I have to wonder, will these be back next Fall?)

Please follow us on....