Nov 112012

While picking up a watch repair at the Chanel boutique in San Francisco last week, I picked up two Chanel Liquid Eyeliner in Plum and Platine. These were both released in Europe this past summer, although I had to leave Paris before either arrived on counters.  Both use the traditional Chanel packaging, with the brush-tip that goes into the tiny pot of color at the bottom.

 Of the two, Platine was a delightful surprise–it is shimmery, high-shine and complex with multi-colored micro sparkles–so pretty.

I tried to capture the color of Platine as I headed out the door for a flight–I’m not entirely sure I was able to do fully do so.

Both are beautiful–richly pigmented. Well done.

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Oct 192012

Tom Ford Noir Absolue for Eyes ($35/0.12 oz.) is a creamy dark blue-black eyeliner designed to brighten and define. Like many of you, I have a few black liners. I’ve been using Bobbi Brown’s Black Ink Gel Eyeliner for at least ten years–I’ve used up (and replaced) several pots. Tom Ford’s is along the same lines with a few differences.

First, Tom Ford Noir Absolue is infused with a pretty blue tone and slight micro-shimmer. According to the sales associate, this is intended give a brightening effect to the whites of the eye. I think it’s pretty–the blue tone is not nearly as blue as a true blue or midnight blue, such as Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner in Sapphire Shimmer.

The difference in effect is subtle–if you have a very good monitor I suspect you will see that the Tom Ford swatch on the left is cooler.

Second, Tom Ford’s Noir Absolue seems to have a firmer texture compared to my familiar Bobbi Brown Black Ink. I use Laura Mercier’s flat-top synthetic push brush, as the Tom Ford sales associate recommended using this, rather than investing in the Tom Ford brush. I have to sort of aggressively push the brush into the pot to get full eyeliner coverage. There seems to be plenty of pigment, but the product isn’t as soft as a Bobbi Brown gel. So as an application tip, get in there like a tiger woman–don’t be shy.

Because of the micro-shimmer, I have not used this on my waterline. Typically, I add tightlining to my upper waterline by using another Laura Mercier push brush and the mascara straight off the spoolie.

Finally, the overall effect is amazing particularly when a I add a tightline. It’s fascinating how a subtle twist can really make a difference that leads to perfection. This liner does look really amazing, particularly if you are using a cool toned shadow (but I’ve worn it will all colors). Lasts all day.


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May 042011

Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner in Ebene ($29/ #10) is an automatic, twist up liner that does not require sharpening.  Because I lack patience, I love this style eyeliner.  Twist and go.  Sadly, the other end does not have a built-in smudger.  I always miss those when they’re not there.

Ebene’s texture is soft and creamy, giving you just a few moments to smudge the line.  Then it sets into a waterproof, budge-proof line.  This liner really does last until you take it off.  Numerous reviews on Makeupalley confirm that this is the weapon choice for the waterline.  I must admit that it did not last more than four hours on mine, but no liner ever has.  It did give me all-day wear on my upper lashline.

Ebene’s color is a soft near-black with a subtle blue pearl.  It shows as a deep, deep cool dark gray (a bit like a black pearl), rather than a straight black.  Love it lightly touched under the eye.

Here is a comparison with Ebene on the left (swatched light and heavy), compared to another standard black pencil that I have in my stash–Armani’s standard black pencil in Smooth Silk #4 (by the way, this is a great standard black pencil).

Really, one of my favorite black pencils right now.  Highly recommended.  I love it.

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May 032011

Hourglass Cosmetics has just released a new felt tipped liner, the Hourglass Script Precision Liquid Liner ($32) (available at Sephora).  Unlike the earlier version, the Hourglass Calligraphy (pictured at top, above) (reviewed here) ($32), the Hourglass Script has a very, very fine-tipped point.  Otherwise, both have:

  • A deep, inky-black color
  • Long-lasting, no-smudge and no-flake wear
  • A smooth, even application and ink flow

Both Hourglass pens allow the liquid ink to flow without any pumping or twisting–the ink is deposited with slight pressure.  They are both well-machined, foolproof and beautifully packaged.  Both have a slight “heft factor” that is pleasant and balanced.  At $32, these are in line with the price range of other high end liquid liners (Chanel’s Automatic Liquid Eyeliner is $34).

I’m very comfortable applying liquid liners–fearless, in fact.  Start by practicing on the back of your hand.  Like Julia Child flipping a potato pancake, it’s easier if you go in confident.

Let’s compare the Hourglass Script, the Hourglass Calligraphy, and the Le Metier de Beaute Precision Liquid Liner ($42) (reviewed here).  As shown here, the tip of the Hourglass Script is quite precise–the tip is tiny.

I was surprised to find how distinct all three liners are.  You can see that when Hourglass says that the Script is precision, they are not kidding–the fine point allows you to draw an extremely fine line.  It must be layered to get a thicker line.

Below, on the left you can see a light and a heavy line that I drew with Le Metier’s Precision (in Noir).  In the second line, you can see how lightly Le Metier’s can be applied.  Here, the ink isn’t quite a deep and dark (it looks almost brown).  Had I added another layer or two, the Le Metier would be as black as the Hourglass swatches.  Hourglass Script (in Jett) is swatched in the center.  Hourglass Calligraphy (in Ebony) is on the right.

Both the Hourglass Script and Calligraphy provide a deeper, blacker line out of the brush, compared with Le Metier de Beaute’s.

No, you don’t need all three.  If you have light-toned skin, delicate features or prefer a very natural look, you will prefer the ability to draw a more subtle line that the Le Metier Precision Eyeliner allows. The Le Metier must be applied with some pressure, or in built-up layers, to get a full-on black line. “Priming” the brush helps, by holding it down on the back of your hand for a second to get the ink flowing freely (but that’s a little messy).

If you want a deep, black ink out of the pen, the Hourglass delivers beautifully.  Between Script and Calligraphy, it’s going to depend on whether you prefer a thin or thick line.

Note that I found that I was able to get a very fine line with the Hourglass Calligraphy by using just light pressure on the very end of the tip, but it was not easy.  Really, if you want a fine line then go with the Script.

However, I’m glad that I do own all three.  I find myself reaching frequently for my Hourglass Calligraphy when a want a good, quick defined black line.  I love the Le Metier when my makeup is very subtle.  I have no doubt I’ll use up the Hourglass Script, because it adds something that the others don’t have–a quick, very deep black fine line that works well for my coloring and features.  I love it–highly recommended.

Hourglass Script and Calligraphy were provided to Cafe Makeup for review/consideration by Hourglass.



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Feb 072011

If you were paying very close attention to Giorgio Armani’s Spring 2011 collection, you heard a sudden warmth and enthusiasm when beauty lovers discussed La Femme Bleue Long Wear Waterproof Eye Pencil ($27).  There was slightly hushed tone and a “don’t miss this one” intensity from those in-the-know.  The only item I ordered from this collection was this black pencil for one reason–to find out if it was, truly, the miracle pencil.  I’ve concluded that it probably is.

Released in three colors (black, brown and a deep green leaf), this pencil was previously released only in black and was sold out in an instant.  Although I’m enamored with my Le Metier de Beaute’s Precision Liquid Liner, I knew if I didn’t leap now that I’d risk missing out.

I’m not usually a fan of pencils because they tend to tug and pull, and go on unevenly.  Some have trouble smudging.  There are some exceptions, in fact Armani’s black pencil in their regular line is one of the best I’ve used.  Some of the Chanel and Shu Uemura’s are stellar.  I’ve had a few MAC Pearlglides that I’ve enjoyed.  For drugstore, Prestige’s Total Intensity is nice.

The Armani Le Femme Bleue blew them all out of the water.

This pencil goes on as soft as a gel.

It can be smudged.  I used my Chanel smudge brush (but any will do) during the first minute to create  perfect smudge.

Once it’s set, it’s really set.  Yes, it will last all day.

It lasted through a massive cry without budging.

The texture is very, very soft.

And its very waterproof.

And very black (no glitter, no shimmer, no gray).

Will it last on my waterline?  Yes, but I cannot say with certainty that it will last on yours–I’m to be cautious in this review as I’ve found that quality varies from person to person.

Downsides:  Curiously for a $27 pencil, there is no sharpener included (according to Charlestongirl at The Best Things in Beauty, sharpeners are free at an Giorgio Armani counter for the asking).  Unlike Armani’s standard pencils, there is no smudger on the flat end.  Unlike pen liners, it must be sharpened frequently to get a very thin, fine line.  Limited edition.

Bottom line: Expensive but buzz-worthy.  I deeply, deeply wish these were permanent.  Karlasugar has the other colors swatched here.

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Jan 192011

Le Metier de Beaute’s Precision Liquid Eyeliner ($42) in Noir has been my go-to liner since I got one a few weeks ago.  My typical routine is a gel eyeliner (nearly all Bobbi Brown).  I’m still in search of the perfect pencil liner in black, although Giorgio Armani’s in certainly in the running.

I’ve used liquid liners in the past, including using up two of the Ecriture de Chanel ($34).  The liquid liners that I’ve used in the past give a bolder, crisper and more dramatic look than gels or pencils.

This isn’t necessarily true with Le Metier de Beaute’s Precision.  This liquid liner truly gives control–it can be used to give a more subtle or dramatic look–and is rekindling my love for liquid liners.  I find liquid liners very easy, you don’t need a separate brush, they go on very quickly and they’re quite easy to slip into a bag for travel.  Plus, I love the pen aspect to them–like other makeup addicts, I love great writing supplies and am sometimes lost looking at sites like JetPens. (By the way, if you are in the market for a good writing pencil, these in 6B are seriously good!).  Sometimes I wanted a softer look, something that I can achieve with Le Metier’s Precision.

Some women find liquid liners difficult to apply.  The best advice I can pass along is to practice on the back of your hand, using very short strokes to build up your line.  Trying to do an entire eye in a single stroke is reserved for master makeup geniuses, for me using little feather-lines to build up a solid line is the best way to go.

Le Metier’s Precision is based on the concept of fine writing instruments–the ink flows out at your touch.  Unlike Chanel and Shu’s liquid liners, there is no pump or twisting action to get the ink flowing.  Out of the box, the pen brush is black and ready to go.

I noticed that Le Metier’s Precision is physically smaller than other liners;  it’s quite slim and petite.  Here is a picture of Le Metier’s next to Shu Uemura’s (both list the same amount of product at .002 oz)(below).  The Shu uses a pump on the bottom of the product, which you push to get the product moving to the brush.  In contrast, Le Metier’s feeds the brush without requiring any pump–there simply is no pump on Le Metier’s Precision.  The ink flows as you apply it:

Another–as you can see, the brush on the Shu liner is still white because I haven’t started using it yet.  Le Metier’s Precision was black out of the box:

Generally, I found that Le Metier’s Precision gave me far more control than other ink liners.  The liner goes on in a very fine line, and typically I stop right there.  My fair skintone and smallish features do not hold up well with a Marilyn-Monroe-thick-black eyeliner.  It becomes overwhelming.  Le Metier’s Precision allows me to do a simple fine line that looks natural, gives my lashes a nice black base, and doesn’t look over-the-top.  Le Metier’s is a good normal black, but it’s not extreme, dark or overwhelmingly dark (if you’ve ever tried L’Oreal’s Hip Cream Eyeliner in Black, you know what I mean.  Some blacks are too dark for my coloring, and I have a hard time applying gel liners very sheerly).

Having said that, if I want more black, Le Metier’s Precision can be layered and built up very easily:

  • If you want a darker black, go over the same line more than once until you get the deep color that you want;
  • If you want a wider line, make another fine line next to the original, and keep going until you get the effect you want;
  • If you want both, do both!

If you want to really saturate the tip with ink, press it against your finger with some pressure for a second or two.  Ink will flow fairly quickly to it.  Le Metier’s Precision gave me excellent control to get exactly the effect that I want, which I find more difficult to do with gel liners and pencils.  It’s very intuitive to use, very clean and beautifully made.  Yes, you can go bold with it–but you don’t have to.

As a complete aside, there are a few reviews and other rumors floating around that the tip of Le Metier’s Precision Eyeliner is made by Mont Blanc.  The other day on twitter, Le Metier dispelled this rumor and said that this is not the case-rather, instead stating that the eyeliner is inspired by fine writing instruments and “100% LMdB.”

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Dec 052010

Chanel Collection Côte D’Azur includes Le Crayon Yeux in Berry ($28 Precision Eye Definer #58).  Berry is a gray infused with a mauve-purple tint that adds a touch of shimmer.  The color is a gorgeous and complex, it would work beautifully with Chanel’s Stupendous quad released with the Chanel Soho Collection.

Here is Berry swatched next to a plethora of other colors, so you can place it in a spectrum of other well-known eyeliner colors:  A matte black (here, Prestige Total Intensity Black), Chanel Cassis, a warm matte brown (Prestige Waterproof Sepia) and a shimmery brown (here, Laura Mercier’s Brown Copper):

Note that it took a bit of layering to build Berry to that intensity, although when I applied Berry on my lashline it went on fine in a single stroke without any need to layer.

Berry comes with a sharpener and a convenient smudge tool on one end:

When I first saw Berry online for sale, I hoped it would resemble Chanel’s Rouge Noir/Vamp nail polish.  I’ve been looking for a Vamp-colored eyeliner ever since Chanel released a Vamp-toned mascara a few years ago.  Unfortunately, my search continues.  As you can see, Berry is more mauve-gray, compared to the robust deep red of Chanel’s Rouge Noir nail polish:

Chanel Le Crayon Yeux in Berry is a beautiful and unusual color, it reminds me of a lovely tweed fabric.  As eyeliners go, it gives a softer impression than many blacks and metallic vibrants–Berry is unquestionably appropriate for the upcoming Spring season. Berry will work well with deep cranberry toned eyeshadows, which can be remarkably flattering on eyes.

Berry is a beautiful eyeliner, and one that I’m very happy to have to compliment my blue-green eyes.

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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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Speaking of Cake Eyeliners….

 Chanel, Eyeliner  Comments Off on Speaking of Cake Eyeliners….
Dec 082009

Here is a close up of Chanel’s La Ligne de Chanel Professional Eyeliner Duo in Celadon-Lame, out for the holidays 2009.  It’s a deep, dark, wonderful green. You can see how yummy it looks in the pan if you click on the picture, below. Go on, click it — it’s so pretty!


Swatches are available at Karlasugar’s blog.

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Cake Eyeliner: So Defined, Yet So Smudgy

 Chanel, Eyeliner  Comments Off on Cake Eyeliner: So Defined, Yet So Smudgy
Dec 082009

Eyeliner is one of the trickiest makeup products to apply. One mis-step, and it can change the look of the most important area of your face. I find gel eyeliners extremely easy to use, and very long-lasting. However, one of the most classic eyeliners is a cake liner. Typically, one uses a cake liner wet. This is most easily accomplished if you wet the brush, not the liner cake.

I find cake eyeliners tremendously versatile. I use two brushes–the first to actually line the eye. A good flat-topped brush (here, Laura Mercier’s, but there are lot of companies that make them) is best for making a sharp, defined line around the lash lines.

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Second, I use a smudge brush (again, this is Laura Mercier’s but several companies make them) to smudge the liner, and to add a bit of powder over the sharp line to add a bit of smoke.  Alternatively, you could add a lighter color to soften and lighten the liner color.
2 copy

I find that it’s best to use these brushes wet. First, most cake eyeliners are hard and give off very little pigment unless you fight them for it. A wet brush is a great weapon to beat some pigment out of the cake. I find that a spritz of water isn’t enough. Also, using my tongue usually leaves a color mark so I avoid that too. It’s best to run the brushes under water, then “squeegee” the excess water out by using two fingers, or dab the brush on a towel. Here, I’m using Chanel’s black cake eyeliner duo.  I’m starting with the flat-topped brush in the matte side of the duo, to make a sharp line within the lash line.


This next picture shows how versatile a cake eyeliner can be, and why I love them.  You can use them to make the thinnest possible line, or really layer it on for a thick, dark look.  The reality is, that a cake eyeliner can give me the kind of control that I cannot get from other eyeliners. This is why I don’t mind the complication of using them.  I cannot get a line of the same thinness and pigmentation with a gel, or a pencil–the thin, flat, wet brush and the highly pigmented, light powder makes using a cake eyeliner unique.


Next, I take a wet, squeegee’d smudge brush and put it into the shimmer side of the eyeliner duo.  You can use a black eyeshadow (like MAC Carbon) for this part if you aren’t working with a duo.


I applied the smudge brush to the same three tester lines from the previous picture, so that it shows how you can “soften” the edges of the cake liner to the look that you are trying to achieve.


You can see around the edges of the largest and narrowest lines that you can sweep the smudge brush to a very soft edge if you like.  I’m constantly amazed how easy cake eyeliner is to use, even on some busy mornings.  And the layering helps the eyeliner last all day and into the evening–I had a very hard time washing this off with a tough cleanser!

Let me know if you have any questions!

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