Jan 032011

Le Metier de Beaute’s Holiday Kaleidoscope palette, Splendid Frost ($95), started appearing on shelves during December.  Although a touch later than the larger lines, Splendid Frost was well worth the wait.  True to Le Metier’s high quality standards, this palette delivers some of the most beautifully pigmented and complex colors.

Yes, you heard me–it’s another winning Kaleidoscope from Le Metier de Beaute.

This palette appears in two different types of packaging–a pearl white color that is reviewed here by Charleston Girl at The Best Things in Beauty, here at The Nonblonde, and here by Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book.  I love the white packaging, which I believe comes from Neiman Marcus.  I ordered from Bergdorf Goodman, and my Splendid Frost arrived in the traditional black Le Metier packaging.  Otherwise, the palettes appear to be exactly the same.

Crystal Ball is a complex taupe to die for.  This color is soft as suede, incredibly pigmented and has a rich warm taupe shimmer.  There is a touch of metal, enough to give it a beautiful glow.  Like its namesake, Crystal Ball reacts beautifully in the light, and picks up on your brush or finger if you barely touch the surface.  Truly unique, amazing, and gorgeous.

Here are a few more pictures of Crystal Ball, which I flipped around a bit so you can see what the pan does in the light.  These pictures show an already-swatched pan, which I rarely use, but I thought the pan was pretty enough that you might not mind:

Empire is a near-matte gray, which is a necessary basic in almost any collection.  This shade will make the palette very versatile, as I’m sure that I’ll wear this color as a single wash for a simple, polished look.  If you don’t believe me, you’ll want to re-watch The Devil Wears Prada.  In the film, Miranda Priestly wears a simple gray wash in nearly every daytime scene.  This one is deeper than the one that Miranda/Meryl Streep wore (which I believe is Make Up For Ever #145).  Empire is a very winter-friendly color that fits well with the theme of this palette and is quite stunning.

Rockette is a warm gold-pink-peach that can be worn as either an eyeshadow or a blush–this is a glowing color that’s very fresh and pretty.  I actually love peach eyeshadows, ever since I went through two Chanel Abricot singles, I’ve found them to be a good brightening, everyday wash.

Sugar Plum is a magical deep blue with a touch of violet.  There are tiny micro-reflects if you get very close.  Like Crystal Ball, Sugar Plum is a breathtaking, pigmented and richly complex color.

Swatches (click to enlarge):

Overall, I’m extremely happy to own Splendid Frost.  I cannot wait to play with this palette more, and will update when I do.  I could not wait any longer to post this initial review, as I was afraid that this palette will sell out and I wanted you to see it.

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Dec 182010

This year’s Holiday makeup has been all about shimmer, shine and metal.  Several collections were quite large, offering something for literally almost everyone.  Others were narrow and theme-focused.  After living with some of my choices for a few months, I thought it would be fun to review some of this season’s favorites.

First, Geurlain Perles D’Or Metorites, reviewed here.  A surprise hit for me, I’ve used them more than I could have imagined, and will continue to do so.  No coverage, just a beautiful, glowing finish when used as an overall powder.  True love.

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Dec 132010

When Giorgio Armani announced a new eyeshadow formulation, Eyes to Kill, I was electrified.  First, Giorgio Armani understands creams, fluids, powders, textures and–let’s face it–glamour.  My hope was that they were execute a formula as no other company has.  The current buzz is that the three introduced for Holiday 2010–#13 (black), #15 (gold) and #16 (silver)–are a first step into a more extensive line.

I ordered the gold, #15, to test the formula.  Armani’s are $32 each (20% off if you catch a Friends & Family event).  By comparison, other pot eyeshadows are somewhat less–Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams are $22 each, and Shiseido Hydro-Powder eyeshadows are $25.   However, if you have read Café Makeup before you will probably not be surprised that I am undeterred by this disparity.

#15 is a blackened gold, in a little pot topped with a little loose lid, and a screw top:

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Dec 102010

Holiday 2010 has been all about metal textures, shimmer and shine.  To this season, Giorgio Armani adds the Gold Rush collection, which includes the Platinum Palette Sheer Shimmer Powder ($55).  Although the name infers cool toned silver tones, in fact the palette imparts a soft candle lit glow.

The round, sturdy sleek palette uses the same design which draws me to reach for Giorgio Armani when I need an elegant product that fits into virtually anything and holds up through the roughest handling.  Inside:

A close-up shows the beautiful texture of this palette:

The palette is roughly the same circumference as the Armani eyeshadow palettes, but is a solid pan of highlighting powder.  In direct flash:

It’s safe to let the pictures do the talking to demonstrate how beautiful this palette is.  The effect of this is subtle– here I’ve swatched it quite heavily over a base to bring out the color and shine:

Another, also applied heavily over a base to show the candlelight soft shimmer color:

Here’s a comparison between Giorgio Armani’s Gold Rush Platinum and Yves Saint Laurent’s Colorama Highlighter:

Do you need them both?  No, unless you like the versatility of the different color choices.  Both a beautiful, excellent quality palettes that give a soft, beautiful glow.  Gorgeous.

Here is the ingredient list for the Giorgio Armani Platinum highlighter (click to enlarge):

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Dec 092010

Yves Saint Laurent is not a brand that comes onto my radar screen very often, but when Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book posted pictures of the YSL Holiday 2010 Metallic Colorama Highlighter ($65/ Palette Metallic Colorama 0.35 oz), I placed an order.

The palette is housed in a metallic leather confection, with a magnet closure and full sized mirror.  It feels as though there is a plastic reinforcement inside, in any event the palette seems quite sturdy and therefore travel-friendly.

In my mind, the palette design evokes YSL’s Belle du Jour metallic clutches released as of late (très  chic!):

Inside is a generous cake of finely milled rose gold powder that imparts an angelic glow:

The back:

I’ve worn this highlighter for several weeks by now, and I kept trying to over-do it.  Do you now how, if you aren’t careful, you can build up a MAC Mineralize Skin Finish until you get a metallic frost sheen?  You really have to start one of those with a skunk brush and see.  Maybe a powder brush will be fine with some, but some require careful handling or your got an other worldly sheen–and not the good kind.  Very unflattering.

But I never seemed to be able to get there with the Yves Saint Laurent Colorama Highlighter.  Layer after layer gave me more glow, but I was never able to get frosty metal.

What would it take?  Day after day, I tried to push it further and further.  YSL’s Colorama Highlighter still looked good.

Finally, reader, I pushed it as far as any makeup junkie would ever go.  Oh, yes.

I reached for my kabuki.

Okay, I heard that gasp.  Fine.  But I had to know, right?

Well, I’m happy to report that I was never able to apply too much-the combination of the finely milled powder and excellent quality kept the product looking angelic, not leathery.  Fabulous powder, and the rose gold will look beautiful on both warm and gold tone skin.

Highlighters are difficult to photograph.  I did my best with a very heavy swatch, using application with a dense eyeshadow brush.  Sabrina’s posts has some lovely ones as well.


Lovely highlighter and highly recommended.  Yves Saint Laurent has made a product that makes me more curious about its line.  I’ve already worn this, and the color is so beautiful that I know that I’ll continue to do so.

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Dec 072010

Dior Holiday 2010 includes a Nail Polish Vernis in Timeless Gold ($21 #226), a sophisticated take on this season’s metallic theme.  Timeless Gold is a shimmery champagne gold, one of the coolest toned golds that’s been released in the later half of this year.  At some angles, the polish is so cool that it appears to pick up a touch of gray that is both sophisticated and flattering.

This polish is part of a new generation of Dior polishes.  Timeless Gold applies like a dream on ice skates.  The brush is quite large, and shaped to fit the nail.  A few swipes vertically along the nail bed gave me near-perfect application.  Two coats was enough, and the dry time was remarkably fast.  Here’s the new brush:

Timeless Gold fits beautifully with Dior’s Evening Gold holiday theme:

Another just for fun:

Here is a comparison of Dior’s Timeless Gold with a few recent golds.  Ginger + Liz Got My Groove Back and OPI Glitzerland both have a shimmer/glitter embed that is similar to Dior Timeless Gold.  However, Dior’s Timeless Gold has a subtler sparkle, and a champagne-to-grey tone, and a somewhat finer texture.

China Glaze’s 2030 is quite different, it has a far smoother texture and it is quite warm compared to the others.

I probably didn’t need another gold nail polish but I do love Dior Timeless Gold.  The grey undertone hooks me in.  The interesting thing about gold polishes is that they look fabulous during the holidays, and they also work well for summer.  Dior’s Holiday 2010 collection includes both Timeless Gold and Czarina Gold, the latter Czarina Gold is more unusual and probably impossible to duplicate.  Still, I get the feeling that Timeless Gold is going to be quite versatile and will be useful on its own.

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Dec 012010

Dior’s Holiday 2010 includes Czarina Gold ($21 Or Tzarine Vernis) nail polish, which coordinates perfectly with their deeply jeweled golds and metals.  Czarina Gold is a deep bronzed gold with a faint bit of olive.  At certain angles, I’m picking up a patina of aging metal, evoking the history of the Russian empire from which the name derives.

The polish has a deeply jeweled shimmer, and would coordinate beautifully with Dior’s Five Golds Palette. In a season of richly textured metals, Czarina Gold is both seriously on-trend, yet timeless.  Here you can see the olive patina that the polish can take on in certain angles of light:

Czarina Gold is extremely easy to work with–two fast-drying coats provide opaque coverage.  Dior’s Czarina Gold is uniquely beautiful– I cannot think of any polish in the same color range or anywhere in the same league of complexity as Czarina Gold.  The depth is stunning, yet the deep color is appropriate for wear nearly anywhere.  The color is in the neutral range, but the combination of the shimmer and the color set it apart. Highly recommended–but find it fast, it seems to be selling out very quickly.

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Nov 302010

As you might already know, I love liquid highlighters.  If Holiday 2010 collections so far are any guide, metallics are the “it” product to have this season.

For Holiday 2010, Yves Saint Laurent released Touche D’Or Golden Touch / Highlighter for the Face ($40), a liquid highlighter in the same brush pen format as its renowned Touche Eclat.  Touche D’Or is a limited edition glow and sparkle version, meant to add illumination, shimmer and shine.

Unlike many liquid highlighters, Touche D’Or has a creamy consistency that forms a more creamy layer of shimmer on skin.  That is to say, while many liquid highlighters can be sheered nearly out of existence, as a cream Touche D’Or is not going to sheer to the melting point into the skin.  For that reason, it’s going to give a more dramatic, more clearly metallic impression on the skin than liquids or many finely-milled powders.

Touche D’Or’s color is a gold-with-a-touch-of-rose, which leans decidedly soft pink-gold when applied to the eye and face.  The cream is infused with gold micro-sparkles, which remain visible after the cream is sheered and blended.   The box advises a good twenty pumps to get the product up the brush when the product is new;  I concur.  Twenty seems about right.

I’m going to post several pictures that are clickable so if you like you’ll understand the texture and look of this product as it changes with very slight variations in light.  The color is reminiscent of Benefit’s High Beam, but the texture is thicker, and the sparkles are more evident.

The product is applied very densely on the left, and much more sheerly on the right.


And one last:

Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book also has some helpful swatches.

I found that Touche D’Or applied to cheeks leaves a shower of rose gold with a touch of fairy micro-sparkles that was evening appropriate for a very festive occasion.  The color sheers out nicely, leaving behind shimmery sparkles were more obvious than Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Bricks, more than most MAC Mineralized Skin Finishes, and more than Chanel’s Soliel Tan.  In other words, the shimmer stays on the skin rather than melting into it.  If you want some holiday sparkle and shine, using Yves Saint Laurent Touche D’Or will work beautifully, quickly and conveniently by brushing the product on the upper cheek and blending.

For everyday, I found that Touche D’Or works beautifully as a brow highlighter.  I’ve also been wearing it on the inner corner of the eye, extended out over the top of my black eyeliner, to add a little bit of light to the lid.  Indeed, I suspect that wearing Touche D’Or on the eye area is how I will use this product 99% of the time.  Touche D’Or on the cheeks is flattering, lovely and works well for evening.

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Nov 232010

The metallic theme that seems to run throughout the Holiday 2010 collections is manifest throughout MAC’s Tartan Tale.  Recently, the second phase of the collection–Tartan Tale Chapter 2– was released with its little caches of pigment/glitter charms.

Tartan Tale Chapter 2 includes three sets–Warm Thrillseekers, Cool Thrillseekers and Smokey Thrillseekers–each a set of the five pigment charms for $32.50 each. Unlike NARS Sweet Disposition set, which earned my undying affection for including only pieces from NARS’ standard line, MAC’s pigment/glitter charms are a mix of standard or discontinued pigments spattered with  unique only-available-in-the-set colors.

Something about this mix precluded me from order all three sets just to own the unique ones. I’ve always been fascinated by MAC pigments, but this year’s crop seems especially targeted to those who don’t already have an extensive collection of MAC’s past pigments.  I do not think many collectors will spend $ 32.50 to get a set of five pigment charms that include 3 or 4 of the colors that she already owns.  However, I can see how they might be a fun gift or first purchase for someone that doesn’t own any (or owns just a few).

Rather than invest in all three sets anew, I secured samples of some of the new colors so that I could get an up-close look, compare them to already released pigments, and report them in this sketchbook that is this blog.  All swatches are applied wet with MAC’s Mixing Medium for Eyes.  Here we go!

First, I’d heard fabulous things about the shimmery taupe Jigs & Jive from the Smokey Thrillseekers set.  I compared them to two prior releases–Coco and Subtle:

To my eye, Jigs & Jive is more red  than the warm/golden Coco.  Jigs & Jive is closer in tone to Subtle, although Jigs & Jive leans slightly coppery red, and Subtle more purple/mauve.  Also, Jigs and Jive seems less shimmery than either Coco or Subtle.  The swatches show them as very close cousins, with Jigs & Jive slight copper tint that sets it a bit apart:

Overall, my heart still belongs to Coco.  It may be my skintone, but I’ve long loved Coco as one of the very few shimmery warm taupe–most taupes trend cool and Coco is a beautiful exception.  As a practical matter, I don’t believe that Jigs & Jive is worth a splurge because it is not terribly different from MAC’s prior taupes.

Next up is Gift O’Glamour from the Warm Thrillseekers set described as a “warm metallic pink,” here compared to some other shimmery warm pigments–Goldenaire, Sunnydaze and Blonde’s Gold.

I did not have any direct duplicates of Gift O’Glamour.  Rather, Gift O’Glamour was a peachier, redder version of the more pink Goldenaire.  Sunnydaze shows an obvious light tan/taupe tilt by comparison.  Blonde’s Gold was the warmest and yellowest of all.

I had to give one point to Gift O’Glamour for uniqueness, I did not find anything in my collection quite like it.

Third, I looked at Gilded Green, also from the Warm Thrillseekers set, described as “mint ice cream.”  Here, I compared Gilded Green to Vintage Gold, Golden Olive, Golder’s Green and Emerald Green pigments.

Again, I had to give another point to Warm Thrillseekers for uniqueness–none of these comparisons was an absolute duplicate.

Another look:

If you are keeping score, the Warm Thrillseekers is currently running in the lead.  Note that this set includes another color, a medium brown Most Darling, that has never been previously released and for which I did not find a sample.

From Cool Thrillseekers, the only color that I did not already own was Cheers My Dear, described as a “pale violet.”  Here, I’ve compared it to Kitchmas, Lovely Lily and Violet:

Cheers My Dear was unquestionably unique compared to these.  Here you see the frostier and lighter Kitchmas with that (in)famous chunky texture, the lighter lavender Lovely Lily and the deeper and more vibrant Violet:

Although Cheers My Dear is unique, I realized that I rarely reach for colors in this light violet/lavender category.  These tones look so lovely on cool skin tones, but I have to work quite hard to make them work for me.

My highly subjective and unquestionably unscientific conclusion was that Warm Thrillseekers was the one to get.  It has the most unique colors, and the colors more friendly to my warm-toned pale skin tone.  Which of do you prefer?

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Nov 222010

Guerlain’s Holiday 2010 collection includes Ombre Eclat 4 Shades in Velours D’Or (#410 $59).  As with Guerlain’s other special edition palettes, the compact’s finish varies from the cool gold finish on Guerlain’s standard compact.  This Holiday version is a much warmer golden shade, but with the same beautiful, heavy, luxurious feel:

The theme of this quad is dark with an added bright, warm 24-karat toned gold.  The palette comes with two small sponge-tipped brushes, and the pans are patterned with the golden bee theme that runs throughout the collection.

The gold is absolutely beautiful, with a warm iridescent glow.  The violet shades seem a bit shimmery in the pan but are designed to apply nearly matte.  The black is a rich, pigmented dark matte shade appropriate to use as a liner or to add depth to the crease.

My skin is very pale, so I was nervous about using the palette.  After trying the palette, I found that the shadows could be used for either day or night.  A wash of the lower left shade looked like a smoky purple version of Chanel’s Taupe Grise, which is lovely with pale skin.  I do have to ensure that I cover any dark circles first, as using violet/purple tones on the upper lid can otherwise emphasize dark circles below the eye.  Overall, I loved the look as a very formal, dramatic and deep color.  For some applications, I layered the intense violet shade from the upper right, which is just gorgeous.  I used the black liner shade near the lashline.  The deep golden shade is beautiful on its own, used in the inner corner or layered over the other shades.

Applied dry:

Applied wet:

Final verdict:  Beautiful for dramatic occasions, and it can be toned down for everyday.  I love it.

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