Monday, December 21st, 2009

Chanel Les Impressions de Chanel Collection

Hot–No, Lukewarm–Springs with Empreinte de Chanel

Chanel Empreinte de Chanel ($65.00  for 0.49 oz.) is the signature product (and limited edition, of course) from Chanel’s Les Impressions de Chanel Collection for the spring.

Chanel describes the product as a “radiant glow highlighting powder” designed to brighten cheeks and brow bone with shades of rosewood, beige, and brown. It also includes an angled brush (the size you’d typically find in a compact, not a full-size brush), which is surprisingly soft and usable–though I’ll still use my full size brushes myself.

The compact has these lopsided circles in creamy white-gold, bronze, and peach outlined in the bronze. Then there are, of course, the two signature interlocking Cs in a shimmering, gilded gold (not quite a true gold). I was trying to furiously swatch away anything that would be an overlay, and though it seems like the circles seem to fade away, the color remains the same regardless. The Cs seem to be shimmery (as far as I could tell without destroying the compact) to stay shimmery as well.

Empreinte de Chanel is a warmed-up, peachy gold. It’s surprisingly pigmented, and it’s definitely something that would lovely as an eyeshadow as well as on top of cheeks. It reminded me of a more pigmented, way more shimmery version of Lancome’s Sparkling Cherub; Empreinte is also warmer and less brown (more gold).

Bottom Line: It’s soft, silky, and certainly looks beautiful on, but it is definitely a shimmery highlighter; so if you prefer a more subtle highlighter, you may want to test this in person first! The price is steep, and Chanel fans won’t be surprised, but if you’ve never considered Chanel, this probably isn’t the best product I’d take the plunge on (they have better; including Kaska Beige Eyeshadow Quad, if you are jonesin’ for spring).  The only thing that compensates for the price is you do get 0.49 oz. of product, which is quite a bit for a blush/highlighter product (typically 0.20 oz. or so).

P.S. – The entire Chanel Spring collection is now available at Nordstrom and Saks. You’ll probably have to search by name or click through the Chanel categories, but they’re up there. I just purchased Particuliere through Saks ’cause Saks has FREE EXPRESS SHIPPING (!) right now.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Chanel fans will likely enjoy this piece, but the price tag is a little steep for a product that’s good, but not great.

Availability: Nordstrom and Saks

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Monday, December 14th, 2009

Get Glowy Cheeks for the Holidays with Benefit

Benefit Cosmetics Sugarbomb ($28.00 for 0.42 oz.) is the newest powder addition to Benefit’s line-up. It joins cult favorites like CORALista and Hoola, and Benefit describes it as a “sugar rush flush” for the face.

The powder comes with four triangles of color, which Benefit describes as “rose, shimmering pink, soft plum, and peach.” The powder is designed to be used all at once, rather than one triangle at a time. I’d completely agree with that notion, particularly because the space is just not big enough to really grab one shade over another that well.

When swirled together, the outcome is a beautiful peachy-pink shade with a very, very subtle golden sheen. This is half blush, half highlighter, because it’s not ultra pigmented and on my skin tone (which you could describe as “medium”), while it shows up, it looks very soft. It’s certainly not invisible (which would make it more like a highlighter), but it’s not vibrant. This is good and bad, depending on your usage — but it’s a good thing to me.

It actually reminded me of a peachier version of CORALista, but they are different, since CORALista is much more pigmented and pinker. On my skin, it gives me just enough color and really gives me that “glow.” That super sought after glowy cheek look? That’s what this is in a cute lil’ box.

Both the texture and the results reminded me quite a bit of my beloved Dior Skin Shimmers (particularly Pop Diamond). The shade itself is a reminiscent of NARS’ Orgasm, but it’s less orange (on me) and the shimmer more refined. But here’s something fun: Benefit is way, way cheaper than both. Benefit’s Powders are HUGE–a whopping 0.42 oz.–compared to the average blush that weighs in at a mere 0.20 oz. NARS’ blushes are $156/oz., MAC’s are $88/oz., and Dior’s are $150/oz., but Benefit is $67/oz.

It’s packaged exactly like other Benefit powders, which is in a cute little cardboard box. If you don’t dig Benefit’s packaging, this is probably not going to do it for you either. It’s typical Benefit–and I say that as a good thing–and even though I do prefer sturdier packaging, this will hold up quite well, even if you do keep in your purse. Of course, if you toss it in your bag, the outside will get dinged up a bit, but in the end, it should still survive with the product intact, which is the more important part.

Bottom Line: This is a beautiful get-glowy-cheeks product if you’re light to medium-dark. If you have a deeper or darker skin tone, I think this will end up being more of a highlighter–if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s worth considering, but I don’t think the color will show much very well. I fell in love with this product at first swatch (and I had a hunch it’d be mine kind of color just from looking at it, too) – it’s everything I love: soft, subtle shimmer (think Dior Skin Shimmers, mmm!) that gives me glowy, naturally flushed cheeks. This is something I could wear everyday, with or without other makeup. Benefit, I’m totally impressed by this!

P.S. I also want to give props to Benefit’s website for showing incredibly color accurate photos of Sugarbomb, too. You don’t always see such accuracy in official product imagery, so it’s really a nice touch.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 30/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you love glowy cheeks, check out Benefit’s Sugarbomb!

Availability: Benefit Cosmetics, Sephora

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Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Add a Little Holiday Opulence to Your Look

Estee Lauder Opulent Shimmer Powder ($32.00) is a limited edition, holiday highlighter from Este Lauder’s Ultimate Red Collection.

It has this kind of basketweave-esque pattern on the outer portion of it, which is slightly bronzer, while the inner hexagon is flat and more of a beige-y shade. Nevertheless, you swirl and mix both sections together to get a shimmery shade of beige-y gold. It was surprisingly subtle and not at all frosty or glittery — very smooth, soft, and appropriate In my swatch, you can see that it doesn’t show up too bright or look glittery, but it lays on skin quite well. I’d say my arm is somewhere around NC20 or so, for reference.

Certainly not as pretty (just as far as the pattern goes!) as Lancome’s Sparkling Cherub, but it’s more my style and something I’d reach for more often. I found Lancome’s Sparkling Cherub to run deeper and have more of a semi-matte finish–it just felt more like a bronzer than a highlighter to me. I do feel like they’re very different products, so it’s more a matter of what you’re looking for and what you want the product to do. If you’re just looking for a shimmery highlighter, Estee Lauder’s is your better bet; if you’re looking to add more warmth to your skin, Lancome’s is the way to go.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you’re in the market for a soft, smooth golden highlighter, you might like this limited edition holiday offering.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Clarins’ Palazzo d’Oro Collection: Gold Attraction Face Palette

Clarins Gold Attraction Face Palette ($57.00) is an elegant holiday highlighter from Clarins’ Palazzo d’Oro Collection.

It’s a particularly pretty to look at with the texture and design of the palette itself, and the overall shimmer and shade of it is quite lovely, too.  It swatches as a shimmery, sunny yellow gold with just a little peachiness to it. It’s shimmery, has a golden sheen, and it does warm up the complexion (but not in a bronzy way, as Lancome’s Sparkling Cherub does).

I would say it can run a little too shimmery, so if you’re more of a subtle-barely-there kind of gal, this might not make the best highlighter for your face.  (For your body?  Oh, yeah, dust this on your decolletage for some va-voom!)  I don’t mind using it as a face highlighter, though, and if you use a stippling brush (like MAC’s 187), you can get a more toned-down look than if you used a denser blush brush.

Bottom Line: It’s certainly not a must-have highlighter at $57 (which is a little spend-y), but it is an item that is worth a look at and perhaps purchased as a splurge during the holiday season.   The packaging is particularly luxe (has some heft to it), with a brilliant faux gold finish.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: If you’re keen on lovely gold packaging and highlighters, this Clarins’ highlighter might be for you.

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Friday, November 6th, 2009

NARS Luxor Multiple

NARS Luxor Multiple ($37.00 for 0.50 oz.) is the newest Multiple to debut as part of NARS’ Holiday Collection. NARS describes it as, “[a]n iridescent pink to be used on eyes, cheeks, lips and body.”

Luxor is an icy pink that almost runs a little lilac on me because it is definite cool undertones. It has a slight iridescence that’s noticeable without being over the top; it’s about the right about of shimmer I’d expect from a product best used as a highlighter. It’s surprisingly pigmented and can definitely be layered for a more opaque look. It does blend easily once warmed against the skin.

I personally prefer to use Luxor in a way that might be considered a little unconventional. I like to pat a little on the areas I want to highlight just before I apply my moisturizer. Once I’ve done that, then I apply my facial moisturizer as usual (which I do apply with my hands and slather all over). I find that it gives the highlighted areas this very soft, refined highlight and lends a certain glow to my face overall (because some, of course, does get mixed up in the moisturizer). It’s an interesting effect, nonetheless. I was inspired to try it this way because of how I use MAC’s Strobe Cream. Luxor reminds me a bit of it, only amped up–like if you took the Cream part out of Strobe Cream and just left the Strobe!

You can also take a fluffy brush and lightly dab on Luxor onto lids to give eyes a more awake look, or you can lightly dust it on your lips before layering on a gloss for some extra sparkle. The more traditional use of this as a highlighter would be to dot it along the areas you’d want to highlight, blend with a stippling brush, and then set with loose/translucent powder. You can definitely do this with Luxor, so have at it — after all, it isn’t called The Multiple for nothing!

My only big issue with The Multiples, in general, is that they’re pretty pricey. I don’t actually feel like you get a ton of product for your money, because I think these can be used up quicker than you’d think. They can be very emollient, so you may end up wearing more than you necessarily need (if you use a brush to apply, it helps to mitigate any potential over-use). I don’t think they’re a rip-off, but they do feel a little overpriced.

My secondary issue is I do find I need to use a translucent powder to set these in place to prevent them from fading too much throughout the day (I then get about four to six hours of good wear before it starts to fade).  Since I’ve found a way to combat fading, it’s not a biggie, and I tend to set my makeup anyway, so it’s not adding an extra, otherwise unnecessary step either.

Bottom Line: I think Multiple fans will enjoy Luxor. I still haven’t found a Multiple that really turns my head as others have, but I am eagerly awaiting the day it happens!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’ve been looking for a cream-to-powder cool-toned highlighter, Luxor may be your new best friend.

Availability: NARS

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Friday, October 16th, 2009

MAC Magic, Mirth, & Mischief Collection
Hocus Focus Colourful Face Kit

MAC Magic, Mirth, & Mischief Review: Face Kits

I like that MAC tried something new – a face palette. I haven’t seen them put out a face palette in quite some time, and the tiered system of this compact is convenient. These palettes actually do have some heft to them, so they’re not ultra lightweight or anything. (I was very surprised at how heavy my bag was when I purchased the palettes in general–sure felt like I was walking out with a lot!) I think at the price range, these feel a little steep. It’s hard to tell just exactly how much product you’re getting of each and if it’s really a better deal than if you bought them separately.

Hocus Focus Colourful Face Kit ($38.00 U.S.)

  • Pretty Baby is a soft, powdery pink beauty powder. Beauty powders can be used as all-over powders, blushes, highlighters, etc. It’s really up to you on how you want to use it, and depending on your skin tone, what may be the best use for it. I remember when it launched with the Diana Ross collection and I’d use it everyday, but I couldn’t tell you what it did for my skin/face.
  • Sunsparked Pearl is a pearly peach highlighter. It’s one of my favorite MAC highlighters, because it has subtle shimmer and a great “glow” factor. I’ve always felt it worked particularly well on warm skin, but it’s also nice on cooler skin.
  • Peachykeen is a peachy-coral blush shade that is available all the time. It’s one of my favorite blushes (MAC has an excellent line of permanent blush shades).

Fab-racadabra Bronze Face Kit ($38.00 U.S.)

  • Golden is a golden-brown bronzing shade with subtle gold pearl shimmer.
  • Buffed & Polished is a glitzy gilded bronze with golden shimmer. It reads a little chunky shimmer to me, though, so it’s not my favorite to use on the face.
  • Sunbasque is a deep bronzy peach. Again, it’s an excellent blush and part of the permanent shade range.

I liked the Hocus Focus Colourful Face Kit best. I think it’s wearable for both warm and cool skin tones, and I think it works well to give you a brighter, glowier look without a fuss. The Fab-racadabra Bronze Face Kit is exactly that–a bronzing kit. Since I’d rather just opt for a single bronzer than a whole kit full, it’s not my thing. I think it may lean too orange for some as well.

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

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