Jun 102014
 

Sephora Summer Faves04Sephora must have been reading about my travel/moving situation, because last week a little box of travel-to-go treats arrived at my front door. I thought I would do a little post to give you some thoughts, in case you (or someone on your gift radar) needs anything along these lines.

Sephora Summer Faves09First up is the Sephora Double Down Brush set ($46). This was my favorite item by far. It features three brushes–no wait, six brushes. This is a small artificial leatherette-type case that is roughly 6″ in length, holding mighty, mighty brushes of surprisingly good quality. The bristles are acrylic, and the weight and balance of these evidences a very well-made mini-set of three face brushes. The heads on these are not very large compared to a luxurious Tom Ford or Marc Jacobs bronzing brush (reviewed here), for sure. Yet these are remarkably well designed and surprisingly functional.

Sephora Summer Faves05

The small black ring in the middle of the brushes is a separation point, revealing three eye brushes within.

Sephora Summer Faves06

Voila! The eye brushes can even be flipped around so that these become double-ended sets. I challenged myself to do a full face with this set, and it was shockingly easy. The eyeshadow brushes allowed me to line, blend, and apply deep shades in the crease with no problem. The rounded face brush (on the bottom in these pictures), allowed for a lovely all-over application of powder. And the slanted contour/blush brush (at the top in these pictures), did a great job applying blush.  Face brushes:

Sephora Summer Faves08

The eye brushes:

Sephora Summer Faves07

The bristles are soft and on the firm side. Although the case is not made of premium materials, the design and quality went into the brushes, which is how I would have wanted it. The brushes wash and dry well. This is a nice stow-away for carry on or overnight bags, while you can leave your premium brushes at home. The case has a little pocket in the back for blushes , lipsticks and other makeup items that you want to carry along.

Sephora Summer Faves10Another helpful item is the Everything Under the Sun Tanning Set ($12).

Sephora Summer Faves14This includes the all-important exfoliating mitt, application mitt, and an erasing sponge. As a self-tanning aficionado, I have the feeling the Liz will be getting some serious use out of this little set.

Sephora Summer Faves15

The Sephora Carnivale Eye Brush Set ($22), packs five eye brushes in a slim aluminum tube. These brushes are quite lightweight. For the modest price, you get a good variety. The smudge and the angled liner/brow are nice additions.

Sephora Summer Faves11

Although these don’t compare with premium Japanese brushes, sometimes you need a low-investment set and these fit that bill pretty nicely.

Sephora Summer Faves13

The brush heads:

Sephora Summer Faves12

Sephora’s The Galaventer ($28) is a three-bag set for packing, and the small bags are nice for purses and totes.

Sephora Summer Faves01

The sizes are

- 7 5/8” H x 9 1/2” L x 2 1/4” W (large bag)
- 5 3/4” H x 8” L x 0” W (medium bag)
- 4 1/8” H x 6 1/2” L x 0” W (small bag)

Sephora Summer Faves02

I’ve got about another three or four weeks of moving and traveling. I’m currently in the 100+ degree heat of Northern California, and heading to the more temperate Colorado for a few weeks. I must admit I’ll be glad to be settled in July, and trying to stay busy and happy while the time passes. I hope that your summers are going beautifully!

 These items were sent without charge to Cafe Makeup for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

Please follow us on....

Nov 282013
 

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set01

Thera are a few more treats from the Formula X for Sephora collection to see. Above is the Formula X for Sephora Holiday Ornament, ($14) which includes Out of Sight, is a festive gold fleck topcoat that catches the light on bare or polished nails.

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set07

This sparkler adds a touch of holiday to virtually any color manicure. Probably my favorite item is this The X Look set for Formula X for Sephora ($22.50), perhaps because I love the look of layered glass fleck. The packaging is simple and modern:

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set14

This set contains a glossy black base coat (Dark Matter), and four glossy, sparkling topcoats geared to add a touch of glamour as glittery topcoats. There are also two sets of nail decals included to create an accent nail look.

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set08

The polishes in The X Look set include a deep green Positivity, the gold Bond, Ionic Bond, and Atom + Eve (a glittering red):

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set16

This well-priced, gift-able set was impressive the range of looks that you can get, especially if you have a few nail standards lying around that you can mix with these topcoat effects.

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set22

I spent a bit of time playing with both the Formula X Holiday Ornament’s Out of Sight, the colors from The X Look set, and my own bottle of OPI’s New York Apple Red.  Here’s the whole mix (click to enlarge):

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set30

Here are some close ups:

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set32

I was happy to see that Sephora Formula X Dark Matter (which is also a permanent seperate item in the 0.4 ounce size) can be used as a base coat to give a good glossy nail-line-covering opaque black in a single coat.  It tries my patience to do multiple layers for slow-drying sheers, but these were not that way. In fact, the ease of use and quick dry time of these polishes made this process fast and fun.Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set34

Here are some looks over OPI New  York Apple Red from my stash:

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set36

 I loved the black and gold combinations, especially adding Atom + Eve, Out of Sight and Dark Matter as a 3-coat layer. It’s crazy stunning in a fun way.

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set40

An even closer look of Dark Matter, Atom + Eve, and Out of Sight (click to enlarge):
Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set48

You can even say it glows–more in sun over OPI New York Apple Red:

Sephora Forumula X Holiday Set45

The accent decals are meant to go on only one finger for a manicure. They were fun to play with–here’s a short little tutorial that shows that they are easy to go on (although this is my first decal experience):

Sephora Accent Nail Directions

All in all, I’d say that The X Look  won my artist-loving heart for the most sheer hours of fun, and something I’d enjoy playing with through the next month leading to the holiday. The Holiday Ornament is a good Secret Santa gift, because it goes over everything (including a clear gloss, if you like). It contains the Out of Sight glorious glitterfest which is not work appropriate, but who’s going to be thinking about work as you cup your hands around your cocoa mug with your jewel-loned nails showing?

The X Look and Holiday Ornament were provided to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

Please follow us on....

Nov 262013
 

creaive gifts from sephora

For the nail artists in your life, Sephora is offering a few fun options including this The Twenty Two Formula X for Sephora set ($55). Before you start singing Taylor Swift’s 22 (ooohh ooh ooh!), keep in mind that this Sephora set includes a variety of twenty-two shades and textures in small-scale 0.13 ounce bottles.

Sephora The Twenty Two01

The packaging looks expensive and generous–Liz and my husband were both quite impressed (and I think it’s safe to say, by now they’ve een quite the range of beauty products go through the house). Inside, there is enough variety and color to keep someone happy for months to come. Click to enlarge:

Sephora The Twenty Two06

I’m sometimes daunted by Sephora’s Formula X range–it’s really extensive and this sampler gives you a nice chance to play in case you wanted to get it for yourself. The set includes a sample from all of the formulas, which according to Sephora’s website are:

Creams provide ultralong wear and incredible saturated color in just one swipe.

Neons are mega bright and dry down to a matte finish.

Chromes glide on creamy and dry to a smooth, reflective finish.

Xplosive top coats create the ultimate splatter effect with a matte confetti glitter that can be worn alone or over any nail color.

 I found the formula quite good. The chromes applied in one smooth coat. The paler creams when opaque in two coats, which is better than average.  The topcoats were fun and interesting–I sort of scooped up the bits to get a cool splatter paint effect. The neons were good with two coats, as well.

Sephora The Twenty Two08

 Let’s start in with some closeups and a review of the shades:

Sephora nails 21

Two topcoats included are Wham! is a white confetti and Turbulent, which has bright blue and black confetti. White Matter is an opaque bright white.

Continue reading »

Please follow us on....

Sep 262013
 

Sephora Buffing Brush1

Sephora’s Mineral Powder Brush #45 ($24) is a well-priced brush that does well with powder foundations. Although the brush is designed to work with mineral foundations, I found that the shape and buffing ability worked well with non-mineral, standard powder foundations as well.

Sephora Buffing Brush2

Sometimes I’m not sure how to apply my pressed powder foundations.  The sponge gives me great coverage but a dense, dry look.  Loose powder brushes don’t seem to give me enough coverage, depending on the one that I’m working with. This brush gives me a good balance–the soft duo-fiber bristles allow me to buff the product into my skin without depositing too much.  Yet the density and firmness of the bristles allow me to build up coverage easily.

Sephora Buffing Brush6

I used this brush with a few of my pressed powder foundations, including Dolce & Gabanna The Foundation Perfect Finish, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, and Chanel Vitalumiere Eclat (reviewed here/ not sold in the U.S.).  I got very good results using the brush-it gave me good control over the application, and the product could be buffed in very well to eliminate an overly-powdery look. The construction seems solid, and the dry time is average.  I ran into no problems cleaning it.

Sephora Buffing Brush3

Overall, I was quite happy with the Sephora’s Mineral Powder Brush #45. At $24, it’s well worth a look.

Cafe Makeup was sent this product without charge for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see About Cafe Makeup.

Please follow us on....

May 272010
 

The Champs-Élysées can be a controversial topic–once a field of greens and gardens, the avenue has become a prominent location for historic events, including parades and the final piece of the Tour de France, as well as a site for various retail stores and tourist attractions.  The site of the Arc de Triomphe visually dominates the street.   Crowds of people are attracted from all over the world.  Although unquestionably French, the street has an international feel.

The avenue is lined with stores, many of which are large retailers and some of which are French-based.  Sephora’s largest store in Paris (and perhaps its largest store anywhere) is there.  It just two doors down from the Guerlain boutique, so if you go to one it is worth seeing the other.

I have been going to this store nearly every year for the past ten.  The traffic volume that this store gets is unprecedented–there is an enormous, multi-lingual and multi-cultural crowd in their nearly every waking hour. The Champs-Élysées is populated by people carrying Sephora bags, all the way.  It is a credit to the valiant efforts of their staff that such a hands-on styled business is able to function.

The front foyer area includes a featured brand that changes out every few weeks.  This typically includes several counters, makeup testing and application areas and large, splashy graphics.  Here is one for Giorgio Armani:

Sephora’s Champs-Élysées store carries several brands not carried by the U.S. Sephora, but still familiar to U.S. buyers. These include Chanel makeup (Euro versions only), Bobbi Brown, Armani makeup, By Terry, Shu Uemura and MAC.  It also includes some French brands, such as Institut Esthederm.

In the main store area, the perfume section lines both side walls going about halfway back.  In the middle are featured brands, such as Bare Escentuals, an enormous mens skincare section, Sephora exclusives and Sephora’s own brand. The back is skincare, and somewhere inbetween are the other main beauty brands, including Nars, Make Up For Ever, Shu, Dior, Givenchy, YSL Bobbi Brown and the rest.

As far as I know, this store is the only Sephora that carries MAC.  They carry all  non-Pro products, just as any U.S. department store does.  This time, they featured MAC’s Back to the Beach collection (and yes, Marine Life was in stock). The MAC sales associates seem to work only in the MAC sections;  formerly, one had to pay for MAC items separately here but now all of check-outs have been combined.  This MAC used to carry a special lipstick, called “Sephora Red,” it was a pretty shade similar to the Sephora accent red used in their graphics.  I could not locate one this time around, although I did ask a few of the MAC staffers, perhaps it has been discontinued.

When I first started visiting this store, they had amazing selection of Paul & Joe and other boutique lines but those are long gone now.  The staff is multi-lingual and most seem to know English.  There are plenty of Sephora staff around at all times, just as in the U.S. your browsing will be frequently peppered with offers of assistance.   Half of what I wanted was out of stock, so I left without buying this time.  Although the staff is helpful and pleasant, there does not appear to be a way to keep the supply going with the constant demand.

Generally, you will not find tremendous bargains here.  Most of these items are available in the U.S., and depending on the exchange rate the prices are lower in the U.S.  If you plan to visit, I would absolutely focus on items that are not available in the U.S. because otherwise you are better off buying at home.  That being said, the samples can sometimes be quite generous.  Also, the store does arrange for VAT tax refunds (which helps even out the price disparity considerably).

Of course, there are many Sephora locations in Paris.  Most are surprised to see a tiny Sephora in the basement shops under the Louvre Museum (art…and makeup!).  There is another across from the two large department stores, Le Printemps and the Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Hausmann.

Here is another on the Rue Rivoli–this one has a very good Guerlain display:

In both the Boulevard Hausmann and Rivioli stores, the crowds are fewer and the stock level is far greater, however some of the brands (MAC, particularly) are absent.

Please follow us on....