Sep 252013
 

Dior Spring 2013 Nail composite

Although I love the convenience of a two-week UV gel cured manicure, I’ve been looking for ways to prolong nail polish wear that doesn’t involve the difficult acetone removal process that UV manicures appear to require. Toward that end, I’ve been playing with some of the “new generation” gel topcoats.  In early April 2013, I gave a preliminary report on Dior’s Gel Coat (reviewed here).

Dior Spring 2013 Nail Polish30

I got amazing longevity using Dior’s gel topcoat. My nails grew, protected by the tough topcoat. I got beautiful, glossy results that lasted for days longer than my usual topcoats. This gives a deep, glossy gel-like coat which dries hard but retains flexibility. In late June, I began to notice that I had used quite a bit of the Dior up, and that it was getting considerably thicker and goopier as the contents of the bottle went down.

Gel Topcoats 21

Around the end of June, I threw my Dior Gel Coat into a drawer and headed for Paris. While in the City of Light, I picked up Guerlain’s Le Topcoat Gel.  I found the Guerlain worked equally as well as Dior–given that the companies are owned by the same parent, they may be the same formula for all I know.  The key is, if you can’t find one, you can get the other and be assured of good results.  The benefit to the Guerlain is that it is $1 less, and has the ball bearings inside to keep the contents stirred.

Gel Topcoats 23

The Guerlain works beautifully, by the way. Although my bottle isn’t old yet, the hardening/goopiness doesn’t seem to be quite as bad with this one (however, I do shake those ball bearings up quite a bit).  To be honest, both of these formulas have given me unprecedented longevity for my nail polish–literally, days longer than normal and very little tipwear.  Still I would, occasionally, get chips with unusually heavy nail wear.

Gel Topcoats 15

Now for the secret sauce. Still not being satisfied with these superb results, I had heard that Revlon’s Colorstay Gel-Smooth Base Coat. The only place that I’ve found this so far is Target (accept no substitute). Using the Revlon Base Coat under my nail polish really eliminated the chipping, giving me near-perfect nails up to 3-5 days. Okay, so far so good with the Revlon Base Coat–but what about the Revlon Gel-Shine Top Coat (also pictured above)?  It is a thinner formula than Dior’s or Guerlian’s. It does does prolong my nail wear somewhat. However, the Revlon does not give me the lush gel-like glossy look of the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats. Also, the Revlon Top Coat does not give me quite the longevity and protection of the Dior/Guerlain (even when using two coats of the Revlon top coat).

Gel Topcoats 11

What of that bottle of Dior that was tossed into a drawer prior to Paris?  Regrettably, the contents became a gummy solid in the bottom of the bottle. I thought I’d try to revive it with Seche Restore– for more information about this miracle product, see Scrangie’s post here.

seche restore

I pulled out the old lab notebook like a high school science experiment.

Gel Topcoats 12

Sadly, the Dior was too far gone for this method to work. I basically ended up with a glacial-like substance with bits of liquid Seche Restore creating a little ice floe. My thesis proved incorrect, but that Dior was really far gone when I tried this. Perhaps I’ll try again with a bottle that has more life and get better results?

In summary, I found that using nail polish over Revlon Colorstay Gel Smooth Base Coat really adds wear time to my manicure. Then, adding either the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats gave me the closest thing to gorgeous, glossy and protected nails that I’ll obtain outside of a UV cured gel manicure. Using these products, I get 3-5 days of wear (which never happens), and a beautifully glossy, gel-like texture. For me, this wear time is highly unusual. I’ve heard of people getting longer wear but I’ve rarely gone this long. These all remove easily with a standard nail polish remover (no acetone needed). I love it. Of course, the downside is that one wants to use up the bottle that’s been opened (given my experience with the drying out of the Dior Gel). I’m concerned about storage for bottles once they’ve been opened.

Do you have any polish pointers?  Please share them… remember, sharing is caring!

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Sep 042013
 

Dior Fall Nail03

I’m a little late to the party with Dior Fall Nail Colors Galaxie and Destin ($24 each), but given that my favorite of the two (Galaxie) is still in stock I thought these were worth a quick look.

Dior Fall Nail06a

Dior Galaxie is a stunning complex cool burgundy with plenty of flash and saturated color. Really, this one’s stunning.

Dior Fall Nail07a

There are multicolor shimmers in the mix, which translate in bright sunlight (indoors, there is a nice dimensionality):

Dior Fall Nail203

I’m still loving the large brush on these. For me application is quite easy. This is two coats.

Dior Fall Nail02

I had high hopes for Dior Destin in the bottle. Doesn’t it look like a gorgeous mauve satin, almost like a ball gown fabric?

Dior Fall Nail210

I also liked the color on the nail, but the texture seemed to frost up a bit and look thick. Also, this might work better on a cooler skin color (mine is warm).  So, for me Dior Galaxie was a clear “must have” winner. Sadly, Destin was not destined to be my favorite Fall shade.

Dior Fall Nail03

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Aug 162013
 

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile01

Dior is doing some impressive things lately. This fall, they’ve released two limited edition palettes–Dior Bonne Etoile and Constellation 5-Color Eye Palettes ($60 each). We’re a bit behind the curve posting about these, but I’m hoping there are a few out there if you see anything that you like. Mostly, this post is a big rave for so many changes that Dior has been making to its line. We love an innovator! 

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile02

Both palettes are part of the Mystic Metallic collections, which is a high-metal, high glamour. Dior Bonne Etoile has a range of cool blue and green-teal, a gorgeous complicated green, a sparkling bronze-brown and a high-shine cool champagne.

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile03

There’s something so happy and adorable about those little stars. Swatches:

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile20

Liz and I found that these are strong, high-shine colors. Any single one of these deeper shades was enough, all on it’s own, to make a pretty eye. This palette has so much drama and glitz that we haven’t yet worked up the courage to use them all at the same time. There’s plenty of color and pigment here, this is a beautifully done palette. Here’s Liz wearing the middle shade only:

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile13a

Dior Constellation was part of Nordstrom’s Annivesary Sale. It has a range of sparkling, metallic plums and pinks.

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile05

Up close, you can see this shimmery, highly pigmented color:

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile06

Swatches:

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile21

Here is Dior Constellation on Liz, using only the middle three colors:

Dior Constellation Bonne Etoile10

We found these are nicely designed, well-formulated and beautifully made. When the weather cools, we expect to dip into these to get some beautiful, Fall-friendly eyes.

 

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May 162013
 

Dior Paradise Duo Bronzer 203Dior does bronzers so well. This summer’s release include two blush/bronzer duos–the Dior Nude Tan Paradise Blush & Bronzer Duos in Pink Glow #1 and Coral Glow #2 ($56 each) They’re both beautiful.

Dior Paradise Duo Bronzer 207

Both are packed in a velveteen slipcover together with a small kabuki brush (which has its own velveteen slipcover).

Dior Paradise Duo Bronzer 202

Dior Nude Tan Paradise Blush & Bronzer in Pink Glow #2 has a lighter bronzer color and a cool-toned pink blush. 

Dior Paradise Duo Bronzer 11a

As with other Dior bronzers, the powder is finely milled and has a flattering sheen that mimics a healthy skin texture (without sparkle or shimmer).

Dior Paradise Duo Bronzer 14

Dior Nude Tan Paradise Blush & Bronzer in Coral Glow #2 has a slightly deeper bronzer and warm coral blush that packs a beautiful pigmentation level.

Dior Paradise Duo Bronzer 205a

Like Pink Glow, Coral glow has the same beautiful Dior texture. 

Dior Paradise Duo Bronzer 206a

The split pans are relatively small, but it is possible to keep the application separate by using a small headed highlighter or blush brush.  To play with the blush and bronzer portions separately, I’ve been using this Hakuhodo H2109 blush brush, which has a small, dense head.

Hakuhodo H21091

Another good choice is a MAC 165 Cheek & Highlighter brush. Of course, any blush/powder brush can be used if you with to swirl the colors together, which gives a beautiful effect as well. Here are swatches of both bronzers, separately and mixed. As you can see, mixing Pink Glow with the bronzer really warms up the color nicely. In fact, the more that you mix Dior Pink Glow with the bronzer the coolness of the pink blush disappears almost entirely:

Dior Paradise Bronzer Swatches3

Here is Liz in Dior Pink Glow #1:

Dior Bronzer Paradise No 1a

And here she is in Dior Coral Glow #2:

Dior Bronzer Paradise No. 2b

As you might expect, we love these (Liz prefers Coral Glow, I love both). Another lovely summer bronzer set from Dior–well done, beautifully executed in its packaging and quality.

Available at: Nordstrom.com, Sephora.com, and other Dior points of sale.

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May 142013
 

Dior Nude Tan BB Cream07

For Summer 2013, Dior has released a new BB Creme, Diorskin Nude Tan BB Creme ($44/1.0 oz). This product is intended to enhance and prolong an existing tan, as well as to add hydration by adding jisten, mauve and hibiscus, as well as green, red and white tea extracts to offer the skin-illuminating effects. Despite being a summer product, this is offered as an SPF 15.

Dior Nude Tan BB Cream09

I find these types of products useful for a few reasons. First, sometimes my body sometimes picks up more sun than my face (where I use the strongest sunscreens).  A deeper tinted moisturizer can really even out the difference. I have been using the Guerlain Terracotta Tinted Moisturizer to mix with my standard foundations during the summer months to deepen its tone to add just a touch of sunny color. Also, these products can add a sort of “bonne mine” effect (that is French for the concept of a healthy glow).

Dior Nude Tan BB Cream10

The packaging is Dior-licious, it’s convenient, perfect for travel, and sanitary with the pump applicator. On application, I got a strong scent of alcohol, which is not my favorite ingredient.  

Dior Nude Tan BB Cream08

I purchased this in Shade 001 (the lightest of 2) without trying it first, a decision I soon came to regret. This shifted to a too-dark color with a strong orange tint just as it dried down. Within a few minutes, this look very unnatural especially on my forehead (for reference, I’m about a MAC NC15/ Chanel Ivoire/Cameo). As with all makeup, your mileage may vary, but I was surprised because it happens so rarely for me.

I certainly didn’t expect a skin match.  I wear sunscreen and hats so I’m pale. I’m familiar with the “darker for summer” genre of face products. In fact, I’ve used more than half of  a bottle of Guerlain Terracotta Tinted Moisturizer, which is not a true match for my skin-tone either. Between the two, I’d definitely recommend Guerlain’s (this year’s version is here). Guerlain’s feels moisturizing and lovely. It actually improves my foundations when I add it in, making my skin look better (Dior’s did not have this same smoothing, moisturizing effect). Guerlain’s has that blurry, yet natural, thing that helps everyone’s skin looks smooth and pretty. Guerlain’s doesn’t have the alcohol scent (although it does have a perfume scent which fades with a few minutes).

Here are some comparison swatches. These swatches aren’t perfect, because the Guerlain looks warmer here. This doesn’t reflect the color shift that happened when the Diorskin Nude Tan dried down. When applied to my face, the Guerlain looks far more natural in skin tone (and I can always add a kick of foundation to soften the color if I like, because it plays well with others):

Dior Summer BB Creamb1

Here’s the ingredient list for the Diorskin Nude Tan BB Creme (click to enlarge):

Dior Nude Tan BB Cream03

More:

Dior Nude Tan BB Cream04

You should note that this Diorskin Nude Tan BB Creme is not just a tinted version of the Diorskin Nude BB Creme—a quick comparison reveals that the ingredient lists are quite different.

In other news, I have a few more new summer BB Cremes to review over this week and into next, so stay tuned! In the meantime, with deep regret I’ve concluded that Diorskin Nude Tan is not a match made in heaven for me. I advise a sample before you buy, especially given my own individual experience with the product.

Available at Nordstrom (Guerlain’s Terracotta Tinted Moisturizer and Diorskin Nude Tan BB Creme).

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