Aug 082011

One of the most dramatic offerings from Fall 2011 is Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury Collection, particularly the Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelee in Modern Mercury ($40).  The texture is a very soft powder with pigment that seems to absolutely leap onto your applicator.  The shimmer is a strong pearl tone that has an unbelievable dimension and shine.

At first I assumed that this multidimensional wave of shimmer was an overspray. I think I’m wrong. We’ve dug down pretty far and that’s the color still.  It’s shockingly pretty if you love pearly shimmer.

Although the word “Gelee” is used in the product name, the powder block is firm and has not “gel bouncy give” of the Chanel Illusion D’Ombre gel eyeshadows released this Fall.  Rather, the powder pan bears a closer resemblance to Chanel’s Ombres Perlees eyeshadows released for Spring 2011.

Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury Illuminating Powder Gelee is more than a highlighter.  Rather, it deposits a layer of soft peach color.  In fact, Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury adds enough opaque color to the cheeks with the lightest of brushstrokes to act as a subtle blush on pale skin tones.  Today, I wore it as a soft blush/highlighter alone on my NC15/20 Chanel Cameo skintone.  Why did I think this was a highlighter?

Here are comparisons with Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury Illuminating Powder Gelee with a few highlighters in my collection.  First, Modern Mercury is much more opaque than the very sheer fairy-dust Estee Lauder Pure Color Night that was a very limited release last year.   I played with swatches from the two lightest shades from Chanel’s Ombres Perlees palette (the white and the peach/pink as marked, below).  Of all of my powders, I found that Modern Mercury bore the closest resemblance to the Chanel Ombres Perlees.  In addition, I’ve swatched Nars Albatross, which is not as shimmery or pearly as Modern Mercury.  Finally, I’ve added Chanel’s Pearl Glow from the recent Le Blanc release.  I found that Chanel’s Pearl Glow as more transparent, more gold pearly and had a harder pan texture compared to Modern Mercury.

Because comparisons for highlighters are hard to capture, I did several different swatches under different lighting conditions. Here, in sun:

Indoors with flash:


It takes almost no effort to build up the peach color that you see in these swatches.  Indeed, that color is what you get with the lightest touch of this very soft, high shimmer pigment.

On the left, Liz is wearing Burberry Tangerine alone on her cheeks and no eyeshadow (complete breakdown is here).  On the right, she added Estee Lauder Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelee in Modern Mercury to her upper cheeks and her eyelids.  You can see how much more color is on her cheeks and her upper lids:

You can see the added color:

Yes, Liz also changed her lip color (more on that in another post).

Overall, I have to love Estee Lauder Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelee, properly applied.  It’s a very pretty, light-reflective highlighter/blush on my fair skin tone.  It gives a very beautiful glow.  In addition, Modern Mercury does a lovely job of building up without being frosty. As with anything this pearly, too many layers will give a metallic effect so proceed with a single layer at a time.

The texture is a bit miraculous. Modern Mercury’s texture is extremely finely milled.  Extremely.  The pigment virtually leaps onto your brush or finger effortlessly.  As I mentioned above, the experience is a bit like the texture of the Chanel Ombres Perlees.

As with any highlighter, those with larger pores will wish to proceed with some caution.  Unlike some other highlighters, Modern Mercury is not sheer but rather gives a warm peachy glow. Adjust your blush accordingly.

Bottom line:  Pumped up gorgeous.

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May 082011

Like many women, my hair and skin has tended to be oily for nearly all of life.  I remember the horror of my reaction when I went to the Shu Uemura boutique in San Francisco and was given a sample of their gorgeous cleansing oil.  Why would anyone with oily skin put more oil–on their face?   Yet the boutique’s associate had glowing, absolutely clear skin and he swore that his was oily too.  I began using Shu Uemura’s oil religiously.  I learned that Shu Uemura had personally developed it as an effective way to break down the chemicals in heavy theater makeup and sunscreen gently, without clogging pores.  Followed by a toner, it works beautifully.

I was also caught up in the Moroccan Oil craze.  My one (and only) bottle, now half-full (half-empty?) is in the photograph above. I bought it without reading the ingredient list (what an idiot).  As Beauty and the Brains points out here, the product ingredient list includes more than oil and some silicons.  In fact, I thought it would be interesting to compare the ingredient list with Leonor Greyl’s hair oil:

  • Moroccan Oil:  Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Butylphenyl, MethylPropional, Argania Spinoza Kernal Oil (Aragan Oil), Linseed (Linum Usitatissimum) Extract, Fragrance Supplement, D&C Yellow-11, D&C Red-17, Coumarin, Benzyl Benzoate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
  • Leonor Greyl Huile de Palme:  Natural Oils (97%) – Fragrance

Some difference, huh?  I find Leonor Greyl’s works well as a deep conditioner, or for use as a tiny whisper to tame frizz and condition my ends.  Although the $48 is expensive, the bottle is quite large, there are virtually no fillers.  So a little goes a very long way.  I’m secretly hoping Liz steals my Moroccan Oil so I don’t have to deal with the heartbreak of throwing it away.

I’m working my way through Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse (sold for around $30 on as well, although it looks brand new.  It absorbs almost immediately, without leaving any little stains on my keyboard or clothing.  On legs and arms, it adds a touch of condition and sheen.  After using this for several weeks, creams feel too heavy and take too long to absorb.  L’Occitane used to sell as a comparable product, the Buriti oil, but it seems to have disappeared from their website.  As you can see, I haven’t used much of mine because I got it late last summer and neglected it since falling in love with Nuxe’s.

There are several gorgeously scented summer oils that add sheen and condition the body, together with deeply heady fragrances. I remember ordering these two–Tom Ford Black Orchid and Estee Lauder Azuree–after reading about them on Blogdorf Goodman.  Although I don’t use them frequently, they are a gorgeous addition to a summer conditioning routine.

I’m gradually learning more about oil-based skin care products (you may have seen my Rodin Olio Lusso review here).  Although I had long avoided these as an option, I’m finding that I love their benefits.  I have not experienced a single break-out from any of them.  If anything, they allow my skin to cleanse and moisturize well without chemicals.  They are lightweight, effective and pleasant (and sometimes downright gorgeous).  Although I’m not likely to re-buy Moroccan Oil, I’ve enjoyed the others tremendously.


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Nov 012010

Estee Lauder’s Pure Color Five Color EyeShadow Palette in Extravagant Gold ($42 for 0.27 oz.) is one of several warm golden toned palettes offered by the different lines for Holiday 2010.  When I tested this in the store this weekend, I was impressed with its soft, shimmery texture and remarkable pigmentation.  As the palette is warm-neutral based, it is absolutely a color palette that can be used year-round.  The quality is excellent, the blendability is beautiful, and the price is right for the generous amount of high-impact color in this palette.

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Aug 232010

Estée Lauder is collaborating with Tom Pecheux, the prominent makeup artist and designer responsible for the introduction of  Estée Lauder’s new Pure Color Series.  If you have not been near your Estée Lauder counter recently,  you may be unaware that new eyeshadow singles, glosses and lipsticks are replacing vast former categories of the Estée Lauder line.  Tom Pecheux is credited as being responsible for those changes.

In June, I reviewed a few pieces from Tom Pecheux’s initial foray into Estée Lauder’s line, the Pure Color Night series.  You can see my reviews of two items–the Naughty Black eyeshadow trio and the Pure Color Luminous Powder–here on Café Makeup. As an aside, according to this source, thirty (30) sets of the Pure Color Night series–the eyeshadow, highlighter and lipgloss–will be sold in a set at Bergdorf Goodman on September 10th, to celebrate New York’s Fashion’s Night Out on a first come, first served basis.

Estée Lauder’s Blue Dahlia eyeshadow palette ($42) is part of the lines Fall 2010 and, thankfully, much more widely available than Pure Color Night.  This five-color eyeshadow palette is designed in a pinwheel-type pattern, in a slim gold palette packaged with two tiny brushes.  Three of the brushes have lightweight sponge applicators.  The top cover has a large, usable mirror.

The quality of the eyeshadows are excellent, I’m quite impressed with their pigmentation.  Although I found them difficult to finger-swatch, I found that they drenched my eyeshadow brushes easily in rich, pigmented color.

The colors, starting with the top left:

  • Rich, deep shimmery teal;
  • Warm-to-neutral shimmery taupe, ideal as an all-over lid color;
  • Deep blue/navy with shimmer;
  • Sheer sparkle overlay, infused with purple/pink and white microshimmer;
  • In the center, a well-pigmented black with microshimmers, suitable as a liner or to smoke the outer corner or outer crease.

One conspicuous aspect of this palette is the lack of any opaque highlighter shade.  The white pan applies extremely sheerly, giving a fairy sparkle rather than a solid highlighter base.  Once put on the browbone, the shade that appears white in the pan gives a light blue-purple-periwinkle sheer sheen, but not the typical skin-tone lightening opacity that many of us have grown used to.

Perhaps Tom Pecheux is asking us to re-think the concept of a browbone highlighter.  Always one for throwing out old rules, I have no reason but to wear this palette using the fairy-sparkle pan on the browbone for evening.  For day, I may rely on a matte light cream shade (Chanel Ivory is nice) or going without.

Just for fun, I tried using the fairy-sparkle shade over the blue shades which I applied wet on the swatches, below.  It came out delightfully vibrant, although my brush was barely damp:

This picture tells the whole story:

  • On the left, the white pressed powder becomes a sheer sparkle leaves only a nascent shimmer when applied;
  • The taupe is a pretty, light-toned color with a lovely shimmer;
  • The teal is a rich warm green-blue, that becomes quite intense when used with a damp brush and layered in sparkle (to the right of the black shade);
  • The deep navy is pretty, and hits a very deep, pigmented note when used wet with the sparkle overlay (swatch at the far right)
  • The center black has a slight sheen due to the light microsparkles.

Playing with this palette for a few days, I achieved a nice, everyday look using the taupe as my primary lid color.  I used the black as my liner, then added the deep blue/navy using a damp brush over the area above the black liner, smudged.  The teal color looked equally nice using this same technique.

Estee Lauder's Promotional Image for the Blue Dahlia Palette

Time will tell whether I would ever use the palette more dramatically, or whether  Estée Lauder’s promotional picture is only inspirational.

1946 film "Blue Dahlia," a dark and brooding film noir

This season is bringing may blues, purples and taupes– all traditional deep, rich colors for the fall season.  Of all of them, I’m glad to have picked up Blue Dahlia.  The quality of the eyeshadows is lovely.  This cool blue color palette is not something that I would traditionally buy, I was unable to resist something from Tom Pecheux based on my former favorable experiences with Pure Color Night.  Like Pure Color Night, Blue Dahlia is pushing me to re-think my traditional all-neutral look.  I am unable to wear acid greens or neon blues, I have neither the lifestyle, coloring or the inclination for bright reds on my lid.  Nonetheless, the teal and blue in Blue Dahlia seem appropriately rich and interesting, and when used with the warm taupe make Blue Dahlia a highly wearable palette.

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Jun 112010

Tom Pecheux for Estée Lauder’s Pure Color Night collection includes the Naughty Black eyeshadow (Pure Color Ombre Effect EyeShadow, L’ombre a paupieres) ($20), is an ombre of three very closely-matched deep blackened brown shades designed for drama.

The Pure Color Night collection is Tom Pecheux’s entre into Estée Lauder.  This eyeshadow trio, originally intended to be sold exclusively in Paris but now expanding to London and New York, reflect Parisian beauty.  Certainly applying this all over the eye area with intensity would be perfect for an evening smokey eye.  However, by using a lighter application, combined with a few heavier shadings, you will also have a wonderful daytime eye.

Packaged in a translucent blue-black case with a mirror and sponge brush, the trio includes:

  • On the left, a metallic deep brown shade with shimmer;
  • A middle shade that is slightly lighter with a slight shimmer; and
  • A deep matte brown-black shade (on the right side of the compact).

Small criticism:  I’m not crazy about the packaging.  The outside is a pretty color, but the gold trim looks a little dated to me.  It would have been fun to use a different interior color or texture to distinguish Pure Color Night from Estée Lauder’s regular line. Dear Estée Lauder–the lid displays your name, we get it.  Maybe be more playful with the design of the Tom Pecheux compacts to let his voice shine through?  Also, sponge applicator?  Give us more powder, or less packaging and I’m fine without that little applicator.  It usually falls out when I’m juggling things at my mirror anyway.

The pigmentation and application of this trio is absolutely beautiful.  The pigment is so finely milled, again I am very surprised at how this seems to become part of the skin.  Where does the powder go–it seems to leave pure color behind.  I am a great admirer of products that seem to get the science right–that is, does the designer seem to understand chemistry, and how color interacts with light and the skin?  This is one of the reasons that drew me to the Shu Uemura line, and this trio is in the same tradition.

There is no highlight shade with this trio–this is formated as a single eyeshadow and not a palette.  Plus, it’s called “Naughty Black.”  If you wish, you can apply these eyeshadows with just a whisper of color as you approach the brow.  Or add a white or ivory from your collection if you wish to  add a brow bone color.

When applying the product, the pigment seems to go naturally where one would want to place it.  So far, I’ve used the trio successfully with five different brushes–each one seems to give a different effect.  Below, I’ve swatched using a very heavy application–multiple layers for maximum pigmentation:

Here, I played with a sharp-edged eyeliner brush and a single layer of application.  Each of the three shades are portrayed.  On the right is a very light smudge swiped with a Chanel tapered blending brush:

Here, I had a Jackson Pollack moment, playing with a standard Chanel #2 eyeshadow brush using both heavy and light application.  This is six swatches total:  each of the three Naughty Black shades, with one heavy and one light application.  I think that you can see that you could do an beautiful ombre eye with this trio:

I have to say that this little trio impressed me.  The quality is extremely high–the pigmentation is absolutely beautiful. Using a variety of techniques, one could accomplish a lovely eyeshadow look.  The very limited edition Pure Color Night line is well worth exploring.  Considering the high quality of this compact, I love that this was only $20 (!)-its adds quite a bit of versatility to my eyeshadow collection.  I definitely want to see more (and more!) of the Tom Pecheux- Estée Lauder collaboration.

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