Jan 012011

Last October, I reviewed Le Metier de Beaute’s Le Cirque Kaleidoscope Palette ($95), which is a gorgeous fall palette released for the Fall season.  Since then, I’ve discovered that The NonBlonde has uncovered names for the eyeshadows in the palette.  Further, I wanted to respond to some of the comments that asked me to post a few pictures that show the palette using Le Metier’s layering effect (called “Couches de Coleur”), which can add incredible depth and beauty to an already amazing palette.

I’ve added Le Metier’s names to the pictures this time through–here are the swatches with no layering:

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Oct 282010

Le Metier de Beaute’s Fall 2010 collection includes a Kaleidoscope Eye Kit in Le Cirque ($95), a soft, cool and beautiful collection of four colors.  The pigmentation in these pans is superb–there is light reflectivity without metal or glitter.  Instead, the shadows provide a reflective glow using only the thinnest layer of this finely milled powder.  The colors are beautiful and subtle, and seem to strike a nice neutral balance in a season where we’re seeing a lot of more dramatic warms and cools.

Like the other Kaleidoscope palettes, Le Cirque is packaged as a small, round compact for easy packing and storage.

This compact expands and opens to reveal the products inside, together with a mirror to ease application.  The closures rely primarily on friction and magnets, which makes opening up each individual layer easy to do with a gentle, though deliberate, touch (translation:  you will not chip nail polish on this thoughtfully designed palette).

This picture shows the overall structure of the package, but what is more difficult to show is that these shadow change almost magically in the light.  They have a reflective quality that is not as obvious as a duo-chrome, but a much more subtle (and attractive) change as the colors interact with light.  It’s stunning–not overwhelming, but subtle and with an elegant shimmer.  After the fold, I’ll explore each of these layers in more detail.

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Oct 042010

Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Fall 2010 Collection “The Housewives of Tudor England” was designed by its artistic founder, Ji Baek, based on the wives of Henry XIII inspired by “the opulent fabrics, quiet luxury and return of ladylike fashions.”  Each of the four color is named after one of the wives–Catherine, Catherine H, Jane and Anne–sells for $18.  According to Baek. “The more I learned of the queens’ wardrobes—the layers of embroidery, embellishments of pearls and fur and rich jewel toned fabrics” the more she saw parallels in this Fall’s fashion trends.

I’m a great admirer of Rescue Beauty Lounge–I believe in Baek’s philosophy that nail polish acts as an accessory.  It creates an undeniable impression–consider speaking to someone wearing bright red nails, then picture her with a light pink sheer, or no polish at all.  As Baek explains in her excellent book Rescue Your Nails, the color makes a subtle, but certain, difference.

Baek’s release process was interesting–she pre-released it three bloggers (the NailPhile, Scrangie and All Lacquered Up), who posted pictures in July  just be pre-orders could be placed.  When I saw the pictures, I pre-ordered all four although I wasn’t entirely sure that all of the colors would work for me.

Let’s walk through them.  First, Catherine, a dark gray purple with subtle multi-colored sparkles.  As with many of Rescue Beauty Lounge’s polishes, the quality of this polish is excellent.  Smooth application and excellent pigmentation.  I liked Rescue Beauty Lounge’s deep take on this Fall’s smoky purple trend.  This is two coats without a topcoat:

Anne is a dark, deep warm green.  Like Catherine, the quality of Anne’s formula is excellent.  I was glad that Rescue Beauty Lounge did a deep intense green, and found the warm sparkles a nice touch.  This is two coats with no topcoat:

Catherine H. is a medium blue with subtle sparkle.  Although this is a pleasant color for clothing, I’m not sure that it works for me for nails.  When I wore the color for about a day, the color still seemed a little startling even at the end.  I would love a shirt or scarf this color, but I wasn’t enamored with with this shade of blue for nails.  This is two coats with no topcoat:

Jane is an oyster greige with a slight sparkle that comes off as a pearl once applied. I found Jane a little difficult to apply.  Although there is plenty of pigment, the texture was thinner than the other Tudor’s and I needed three coats to get rid of the patchiness.  No topcoat:

This is a lighter, warmer and pearlier version of some of the greige tones we’ve seen this season.  By comparison, Lippman’s Waking Up in Vegas ($16) is far easier to work with.  Although Lippmann’s greige is darker and cooler, Waking Up in Vegas applies like a dream:

Overall, I’m still in love with Rescue Beauty Lounge and the inspiration that drives its founder Ji Baek.  I found her Summer 2010 Surf collection brilliant, and Bangin’ unquestionably deserved to win the Allure award.  As a summer color to wear outside in bright sunshine, Bangin’ is that good.

By comparison, the Tudor collection feels a little unfinished–I wasn’t sure that the rich fabric tones were perhaps too literally translated–particularly, Catherine H. and Jane.  Their formula did not seem fully refined for either Catherine H. or Jane.  All of the Tudor polishes really benefit from a topcoat, which is unusual for my other Rescue Beauty Lounge polishes.

I realize that I had a good opportunity to look at the posts by three excellent bloggers before ordering, and I did have a hesitation about some of these colors–an instinct that I should have listened to.  Were I to do it over, I would have gone with Catherine and left the rest.

Perhaps some of you are more enthusiastic about the collection?   Which of these do you like (you can vote for up to four):

[poll id=”12″]

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Sep 022010

Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Fall 2010 Night Viper collection includes a limited edition eyeshadow Maestro eyeshadow quad ($59).  Packaged in the sleek and delightfully sturdy round packaging, these four shadows are placed in a striped pattern with a full, usable mirror:

These eyeshadows carry through the blue theme we’ve seen in so many lines this year–Estee Lauder’s Blue Dahlia Palette, Bobbi Brown’s Denim & Rose collection, and others.  The Armani blue swatches as a deep-toned color with a hint of gray and a touch of purple.

Photographed in warm sunlight with flash

The overall impression that these arm-swatches give is neutral-to-cool.  I found that on my fair, warm (NC15- Chanel 1.0) skin, the entire Armani palette applies as very cool.  This is because the highlighter shade is so extremely cool in its tone.  I cannot emphasize enough that this highlighter becomes shut-the-door, out-of-control dramatic on warm skin–indeed, Armani Beauty describes the white shade as “silver.”  Those with warm skin will want to ensure that their brows are well-manicured to go with this highlight shade.

Photographed in shade with flash

This last shade borders on a very cool-toned taupe, and is appropriately described by Armani beauty as an “icy brown.”  The blue is described as the “star shade” of the palette–indeed, it seems the most multidimensional and interesting, and it seems the other colors are designed to set off this deep blue shade.

When applied to the eye, the dark brown shade is a light-absorbing, shadow-creating cool brown.  It can give you a dramatic socket.  The blue is pretty, it’s deep enough and mixed with other colors to be modern.  I like layering it over the khaki (which is a grey off-gold),  or using the blue just in the center of the eye near the lashline for a little color.

All shades are shimmery but not as shimmery as the Steel Black Eyes to Kill Palette that I recently reviewed.  Also, note that the texture of this Fall 2010 Maestro quad is harder and similar to the formerly-introduced Armani quads in the same configuration.  They are workable with a stiff brush, or by using sufficient pressure with a standard brush.  If you are looking for buttery soft, look elsewhere.  If you are looking for something of an average softness, look at Armani’s Eyes to Kill line.

Because of my warm skintone, this palette is pure drama.  Although I love to wear cool shades for that effect, the Fall 2010 Maestro is particularly cool.  Those who are warm toned and fair will want this for the very formal or evening occasions, rather than for everyday.

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Aug 272010

Was I the only one who ordered Deborah Lippmann’s Waking Up in Vegas ($16) after All Lacquered Up reported that this polish was used on Lady Gaga on September’s Vanity Fair cover?  Or that wondered whether “Greige”–the name used to described this color was “The New Taupe”?

Waking Up in Vegas–like the song that becomes an earworm stuck in my mind–is an easy, edgy, so-this-season polish that I’ll reach for again and again.  Application was very easy, coverage was nearly opaque in one coat and completely covered in two.  The color attracts enough attention, and is deliberately different enough from last winter’s taupes, to look fresh for Fall.  If you wear neutral grays, blacks and whites, it’s the easiest color in the world to integrate into your wardrobe.  Pair this with a nude (or a deep red) lip and you’ll be ready.

I’ve been wearing this over Creative Nail Design’s Stickey basecoat, topped with Poshe’s topcoat successfully.  I’m sure other base and topcoat (taupe-coat?) combinations would work equally well–this nail polish has a good formula with a medium-to-fast dry time.

Out of the bottle, Waking Up in Vegas is a gray with a touch of warm beige.  It’s light without being delicate and applies like a true creme in texture.  There is no shimmer, no frost, no fleck, no jelly.  Just straight, uncompromising color (which may be what gives the polish its edge).

The warmth of Lippmann’s Waking Up in Vegas is readily apparent after comparing it to a true gray, here Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Concrete Jungle.  Of course, Waking Up if Vegas is much lighter and softer than the comparatively brown Chanel Particuliere.

I looked for close duplicates in my stash, and the nearest shades were Essie’s Body Language (which is more pink) and Essie’s Playa de Platinum which is a bit lighter.  Because of its lightness, Playa de Platinum feels more summery to me, and it may be a little harder to integrate Playa de Platinum with Fall’s deeper colored clothing.

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Aug 262010

NARS Fall 2010 release of the NARS Rajasthan Eyeshadow duo ($32), is a must have.  I’m not alone here.  If there is any possible way that you have missed bloggers, reviewers and me shouting from my rooftop, Rajasthan is an awesome eyeshadow duo.

This powder duo includes a medium toned greyed-down gold/bronze, together with a highly complex blue-grey-black.  Both shades have medium shimmer and excellent pigmentation.  The combination of the warm lighter shade with the deeper cool black is a perfect combination of warm-cool complexity that is both interesting and quite flattering.  Neutrals with an edge–just what I want this fall.

NARS Rajasthan is remarkably easy to use.  For the past few days, I’ve been using the lighter shade as a wash.  I then take my brush edge, and apply the darker color smudged over my eyeliner.  Done. Sometimes I use the darker shade to add some smoke to the outer edges of the lid, or a touch in the crease.  Literally, less than a minute with one brush.   Can it be used by those who love to spend hours crafting with several brushes?  Sure, but it’s easy for me to pull out when I do not have the time.

Despite some earlier conflicting reports and controversy, it now appears that Rajasthan is a permanent addition to NARS line.  Highly recommended.  You can compare Rajasthan to NARS Tzarine duo at this post, which has comparison swatches.

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Aug 262010

In addition to NARS beautiful and versatile Rajasthan duo, NARS brings us Tzarine ($32), a softer and less dramatic warm-cool eyeshadow combination.  Like Rajasthan, Tzarine is a “cannot miss” powder duo that makes application so effortless, with a beautiful result, that I strongly recommend considering it.  I ordered it immediately after Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book posted her review, an impulse purchase that was later confirmed as the right choice by Joeybunny’s review at The Pink Sith.  Both of them were absolutely right–Tzarine is so pretty and enhances one’s individual features.  I can imagine that this duo will look lovely on a wide variety of skintones.

My schedule has been out of control the past few weeks, and Tzarine has been my makeup BFF.  It’s so easy to sweep on the lighter shade as an all-over lid shade, from lashline to crease.  I think work the deeper grey into my crease, then adding another layer over the top of my black eyeliner.  Like Rajasthan, it’s one brush, one minute and I’m done.  The effect is simple, polished and very pretty.


Comparison between Rajasthan and Tzarine:

At a reader request, I add this last picture, which compares the grey of NARS Tzarine with a few other greys in my collection.

The shades are left-to-right MAC Swan Lake, MAC Smoke & Diamonds, NARS Tzarine, Chanel Silvery and Gunmetal from the Urban Decay Naked Palette.  Of these, Urban Decay in Gunmetal is closest in color.  However, the texture of the two shadows is quite different. Urban Decay Gunmetal applies quite heavily and with a metal sheen.  By contrast, Tzarine has a lighter, softer look and must be built up to reach full pigmentation–even then, the grey in Tzarine does not have the metal of Gunmetal.

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Aug 252010

Guerlain’s Fall 2010 collection includes Rouge G lipstick in Gilian (#14) ($46) fits well with the neutral grey, taupe and brown tones of the 68 Champs-Élysées collection.  When I was in Paris last month, I quickly stopped in the 2 Place Vendôme boutique.  The Fall 2010 display units had arrived that same morning, and Gilian was suggested to work well with my coloring.  After trying their newly-uppacked tester, I agreed.  Indeed, this neutral color is likely to work for a wide variety of skintones.

The packaging is gorgeous.  Every time I pick up one of those beautiful heavy metal cases, designed by jeweler Lorenz Bäumer of Paris’ Place Vendôme, the experience feels so elegant.

The engraving on the bottom:

The complex assembly operates magically, using a magnet mechanism, into a butterfly-shape that holds two mirrors perfect to ensure that your touch-up is applied as I intend.  Inside, Gilian is a soft neutral pink-nude:

The best description that I can offer is that Gilian gives the lips a highly moisturizing glow. I have a natural pink-mauve color to my lips, and it knocks out only some of my natural color.  The moisturizing texture softens any natural lines and becomes a “my lips but better” polish that looks natural with a beautiful luminosity.

Here is between Gilian and two other nudes in my collection, Chanel Rouge Allure lipsticks in Nude (#59) and Mythic (#69).

Here are the differences as I’ve experienced them:

  • Gilian applies as a semi-sheer pink nude;
  • Chanel Rouge Allure Nude applies as a golden nude;
  • Chanel Rouge Allure Mythic applies as a neutral nude.

Liz is wearing Guerlain Rouge G in Gilian here, over Chanel’s lipliner pencil in Beige.

The final effect, which shows the soft nude glow that Gilian imparts:

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Aug 162010

China Glaze’s Vintage Vixen Collection includes Bogie ($3-6.00), a deep purple that borrows the name of the famous film star of the Film Noir era.  Unlike some the purples that we saw over the past year, like flashy, beautiful NARS Purple Rain, Bogie is a softer, grayer and moodier purple that evokes brocades and wools.  Purple Rain is for showing the world that Baby, I’m a Star;  but Bogie is for meeting friends for a warm mug of coffee.  Bogie has a slight bronze flash that comes and goes, softening its hues further.

Like the other colors in the Vintage Vixen collection, Bogie has small glassy flecks that add some tiny flash.  It’s going to look lovely with fall colors.  Also, Bogie is beautifully pigmented-it’s a one-coat wonder with a fast dry time.  For $3 from Transdesign, it’s a real steal.

Here's looking at your nails, kid!

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Aug 162010

Earlier today, I reviewed OPI’s Glitzerland from the Fall 2010 Swiss Collection.  As a comparison, China Glaze has its own version of cool gold fabulousness in Swing Baby ($3-6.00) from the Vintage Vixen collection.  We’re seeing a lot of glass-flecked sparkle this upcoming fall, and the trend is expected to continue at least through the Holiday collections.

Here, I’ve swatched China Glaze’s Swing Baby next to OPI’s Glitzerland for your comparison.  As you can see, Swing Baby is slightly less yellow (it has a touch of bronze), and seems to have a dark undertone that gives the polish more dimension.  By comparison, Glitzerland looks brighter and more yellow-gold:

Like Glitzerland, Swing Baby is best used for occasions–it’s not a typical office-friendly color.  However, the price is right at $3 from Transdesign.com.  China Glaze’s formulation on this is excellent—Swing Baby is opaque in two easy coats without streaky frosty lines.  Fast dry time.  What more can you ask from a $3 polish?  I recommend it, it’s a fun fall/winter bronze-gold at a very friendly price.

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