Saturday, December 6, 2014

Laura Mercier Portable Colour Palette For Eyes, Cheeks & Lips Holiday 2014

Nothing beats a well designed eye and cheek kit for stress-free travel!  Not only do you save space in your luggage, it saves time in the morning when everything is contained in one little package.

The LM kit is very compact with no wasted space, but has everything you need for a full face:  three eyeshadows, cake eyeliner, lip gloss, and two colors of powder blush.  

The Second Skin Cheek Colour blushes are lovely and the colors Lush Nectarine and Barely Pink are part of the permanent line.  I love that you can choose from a bright pop of coral or a natural light pink flush.

The deluxe size Lip Glace is in the shade Rosebud, which is a surprisingly pigmented light rose color.

Lastly the kit contains eyeshadows in Vanilla Nuts, Baroque, and Cedar, and a cake liner in Ground Espresso.  Vanilla Nuts is a smooth cream colored matte.  Baroque is a pinky light browny matte with tiny sparkles, but looks matte on skin.  Cedar is a mid-toned bronzey brown with a creamy satin finish.  The two matte shades are slightly powdery but you can just tap your brush to get rid of the excess before applying.  They're pretty smooth, maybe in the middle range of pigmentation.  The darker Cedar shade is sort of a warm, antique bronze with a lightly shimmery satin finish.  It goes on pretty creamy with very nice texture and high pigmentation, although it seemed to disappear when I blended it out.

The cake liner is really good, as far as cake liners go.  I found it very easy to work with and intensely pigmented.  It went on opaquely with a single stroke.

The big disappointment for me was the choice in eye color.  A good travel kit should contain a full eye look and not require you to carry around a bunch of supplements.  Unfortunately the best I can get out of this is a very natural, almost nonexistent look, which can be amped up with winged liner.  The eyeshadow selection is so blah, I might as well have saved my money and just bought a cake liner single and would have gotten the same results.

I'm mystified why in this kit only the definer shade has any shimmer while the two lighter ones are matte  The cream color matte Vanilla Nuts would most likely be used as a matte highlighter, or maybe a base shade to brighten the lid without adding color.  The mid-tone matte Baroque looks most appropriate to me as a transition shade.  It's too boring to be used alone on the lid and on my skintone just gives me that so-attractive "Swollen Eye" look.  And Cedar, the only shade I actually liked, is too warm and not really dark enough to be a good definer color.  I feel like the color/finish choices were very uninspired as I know Laura Mercier has much better options in her permanent line.  

Overall I love the concept of this kit, and I give high points for the compact and efficient design of the case, and the blushes and lipgloss are lovely, but the completely boring and mostly useless eyeshadow choices just ruin it for me.  I know Laura Mercier has some beautiful eyeshadows out there, I mean her Artist Palette for Eyes is one of my all time favorites, which makes the selection in this kit mystifying and just plain frustrating.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lancome Artliner in Amethyst

Sigh, I keep getting taken in by Lancome's Artliner Precision Point Eyeliner.  They have the most gorgeous purples and while the colors are lovely, I just find the formula and felt-tip too fussy for every day use.  I tried Aubergine a few years ago and swore never to get another Artliner, but this time I was wowed by blog photos of Amethyst, which is a blue-leaning iridescent purple.  I think my love affair with this type of shade started long, long ago with Urban Decay's nail polish in Asphyxia (back in the 90's!).

The original problems I had with Aubergine still applied with Amethyst, unfortunately.  The formula applies streaky, with multiple strokes needed to fill in the bare patches for a solid line.  There's something about the felt tip that simply doesn't work for me-- it gets tangled in my lashes, it doesn't apply smoothly and catches on every little bump on my lids.  When I shake the pen and open the cap to apply, there isn't enough product on the felt tip to finish a line.  In fact I had to re-insert the tip four or five times just to do one eye, I mean what a major hassle. 

If your eyelids are smoother than mine (which is very possible) and you don't mind taking a lot longer with your eyeliner, I'd say the lovely color makes it worth a try.

I decided to be brave and post photos of my wrinkly old eyes so you can see the color.  I also used Too Faced Three Way Lash Lining Tool as a black tightline beneath the Amethyst Artliner.  Oh and the messy smudges happened during mascara application and I was too lazy to fix.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Awesome Charlotte Tilbury sets at Nordstrom!

Not only has Charlotte Tilbury arrived at Nordstrom, but they've put together ten, (TEN!) beautiful full-face sets with gorgous color combinations of eye, lip and cheek products.  Available for preorder at Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, and beautylish now!  I screencapped the following photos off because they're so beautiful to look at.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dior Addict Fluid Sticks vs Lancome Lip Lover

From left to right:  Lancome 332 Beige Adage,  Lancome 355 Framboise Etoile, Dior 373 Rieuse, Dior 338 Mirage,

So many glosses, so little time!  It's hard to decide which of the season's beautiful new glosses to get!  I totally missed the train when everyone jumped for YSL Glossy Stains, so this spring I made sure to get a piece of the action.  Over the last week I've road tested two colors each of Dior Addict Fluid Sticks and Lancome Lip Lover for full-day wear tests, paying attention to texture, ease of use (is it high maintenance or not), and general wear and tear.

Dior Addict Fluid Stick

  • has unique gel feeling when first applied -- cool factor!
  • seems to "set" on my lips similar to Lancome La Laque Fever Gloss but still transfers to cups, etc
  • doesn't dry my lips out
  • super duper pigmentation
  • lasts a couple hours or so
  • color is long lasting and stains a bit
  • color tends to migrate outside my lip lines, probably needs a lip liner

Lancome Lip Lover

  • feels more like a traditional gloss, but a super luxe one
  • think it's more moisturizing than Dior
  • lasts a couple hours or so
  • Beige Adage and Framboise Etoile are plenty pigmented, but other shades may be less so
  • some shades are more sparkly than others
  • color is long lasting
  • more comfortable for dry, chapped lips

The Diors are mislabelled in the pic, sorry!  Left is Mirage, the pinker one to the right is Rieuse.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Skincare Regimen for Spring

Wooohooo, spring is finally here!  That means stepping up my sunscreen game and scaling back the rich moisturizers.  Thought I'd share what my current regimen is with a few snapshots and product descriptions.


In the mornings I love my CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for a quick refreshing clean.  

After work I start by removing makeup with micellar water (LOVE this stuff, it looks and feels exactly like water but gently cleanse off makeup!).  Currently I'm working through this ginormous bottle of Lancome Eau Fraiche (erm...may have purchased it just for a GWP last fall....*hangs head in shame*), but my "usuals" are Eau Thermale Avene Micellar Lotion or La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution (whew what a mouthful!).  Lancome was the one that first hooked me, but it's pretty $$$ compared to the others.  In a micellar cleansing water I gravitate towards fragrance-free ones that leave no residue.

If I'm not going to wash right away, I follow-up with a few refreshing and lightly moisturizing spritzes of Clinique Moisture Surge Facial Spray.

Since I've been trying out some new physical sunscreens lately, I've added DHC Deep Cleansing Oil to my routine to help fully cleanse the sunscreens from my skin.  Last year I realized that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide cause bad, nasty acne on me so this year I want to see if I can keep that under control with exfoliators and oil cleansers.  So far, so good, I'll be very happy if this actually works!  In terms of effectiveness I really prefer physical sunscreens.  I used chemical sunscreens all last year and my face is still tan!

Morning products

I start off with Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum, which is a light gel that sinks right in.  Next is Paula's Choice RESIST C15 Super Booster, which is a 15% Vitamin C solution.  Vitamin C is this awesome thing that's supposed to slow melanin production, which means fewer brown spots!  I wouldn't suggest starting off with a 15% concentration though, since it can cause irritation if your skin isn't used to it.  Then sometimes I layer on my Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex which is a nice light fluid, not too heavy for summer.  On the days I'm going to use a physical sunscreen, instead of the retinol serum I use Philosophy's clear days ahead oil-free salicylic acid treatment, in hopes that it will work to clear any pores that get clogged by that nasty zinc oxide.  The Philosophy was a recent purchase and I'm wondering why I didn't try it earlier!  I love that it absorbs so quickly into my skin leaving no stickiness behind.

The All-Important Sunscreen

Here's my current lineup.  I like to experiement a little too much so I have a bunch of sunscreens lying around.  Be careful if you're a skincare hoarder since certain ingredients break down and lose effectiveness over time (another reason I prefer physical over chemical sunscreens).  Typically I use OBAGI Nu-Derm Physical UV Block SPF 32 over my eye area.  It's a 18.5% zinc oxide sunscreen with a thick, creamy consistency that does leave a bit of a white cast.  

Then I follow-up with one of the other three:  Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF 30 has been repurchased a few times as I really like the thinner formula, it doesn't feel goopy or sticky on me.  Also it's surprisingly hard to find a sunscreen that also includes good stuff like niacinamide, vitamin c + e, and even a bit of retinol.  I just picked up Philosophy help me SPF 30 Retinol Day Treatment Lotion, another chemical sunscreen containing sodium hyaluronate (for hydration) and (a small amount of) retinol.  It's a similar texture and feel as the Neutrogena, both absorb pretty well and don't pill under my makeup.

Lately I was curious about Paula's Choice RESIST Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 which is a physical sunscreen containing 13% zinc oxide and is chock full of antioxidants and good stuff like reservatrol, quercertin, vitamin e, vitamin c, etc etc etc.  Unlike the overly thick OBAGI, this is still a pretty creamy consistency, but pretty light as far as physical sunscreen formulas go.  What kills me is the awful pink cast to the product.  I guess they thought adding a flesh-tone color would be better than leaving the white cast you typically get from physical sunscreens.  Guess what Paula?  Not everyone has pink undertones!  Blah.  I really wanted to love it, but the awful grey-pink cast makes it unusable on my face.

Sometimes You Just Need Some Exfoliation

I greatly prefer chemical over physical exfoliators.  I lucked out last year when I discovered that glycolic acid really helps to control acne, and also helps the acne scars disappear a lot faster than normal.  I wish I had tried it years ago!  I started off using Peter Thomas Roth 10% Glycolic Acid Moisturizer which I still love, but it's better used in the wintertime as I find it too thick for the hot humid summers.  After phasing it into my routine I used it nightly, sometimes as a spot treatment twice a day.

I'm almost through my last bottle of c.booth derma-e Glycolic Acid Skin Resurfacing Lotion, which is basically a liquid solution containing 10% glycolic acid.  I LOVE THIS STUFF BUT IT'S DISCONTINUED!! :(  I cannot for the life of me find a good replacement, all the other liquid formulas contain huge amounts of alcohol which is irritating for my skin.  *moment of silence for c.booth derma-e Glycolic Acid Skin Resurfacing Lotion....RIP*

Maybe once a week or so I turn to my Glycolix Treatment Pads 20% Glycolic for a real deep cleanse.  It turns my face red and might sting a little, but that wears off after a while.  I definitely don't recommend anyone start off with a 20% glycolic solution unless you're already well-acclimated to 10%!

Recently I decided to try out a stronger salicylic acid product when Paula's Choice released a new RESIST Weekly Retexturing Foaming Treatment 4% BHA.  It literally foams right out of the nozzle!  How fun!  Then it gets all liquidy and you have to massage it into your face.  It definitely feels pretty strong, so I only use this maybe once a week at most.

I'm not sure I've really noticed much anti-aging benefits from using relatively strong chemical exfoliators, but it definitely helps keep my acne under control!

Night products

Night-time isn't that exciting, it's basically a rehash of the morning, with the Dr. Dennis Gross eye serum, Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex, and then on top of it all a 5% benzoyl peroxide product.  Clinique has a good one also which includes a bunch of anti-irritants and sometimes I follow-up with that one if I've just used a chemical exfoliator.  The Paula's Choice one is thin, almost liquidy though so I greatly prefer it in warmer months.

Feel-good Moisturizers

Sometimes my face feels a bit dry so I might add an extra layer of moisture.  This is where GWP minis come in really handy!  I just opened a Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus eye cream which is a beautiful silky cream that glides right on.  The Algenist Firming and Lifting cream is another favorite, just the right amount of hydration, not too thick, a pleasure to smooth over my skin!  CeraVe is my good old standby for angry skin days or if I don't have any eye cream on hand.  The dropper bottle is a hyaluronic acid solution, I just use one drop around my eye area and cheeks for lightweight hydration when needed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Nude

The Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Nude is a milky caramel on the lips (a bit orangey brownish).  Aside from Nude there were no neutral options, just brights (hot pink, orange, bright pale pink, coral, you get the picture).  In spite of the similarities in tone in the swatch comparison, when applied the Too Faced Nude actually ends up about two shades lighter on my lips than it looked on my hand and appeared significantly lighter than the other three.  Come to think of it, the color of the tube itself is a much closer representation of what it looked like on my lips.  If at all possible this is one you need to try on your lips for an accurate color assessment.

The formula is a thin liquid with a lot of slip, which slides on effortlessly and is completely weightless on the lips.  Once it is applied you barely even notice it's there, and the nice thing is that it's every bit as pigmented as you'd expect from a liquid lipstick.  It doesn't exactly dry down the way a stain would, and the finish is not glossy but more what you'd expect from a satin lipstick.  On me it didn't seem to set and still transferred easily the way you'd expect from a gloss.

I really liked the applicator although I can see it getting gross over time.  It's sort of like a velvety felt tip pen with a nib that's just the right size for precise application.  When you squeeze the tube the lipstick comes out of four tiny holes on the applicator tip so you don't need to worry about it gushing out and making a mess.

Unfortunately for me, it was very unforgiving of dry lips, seeming to highlight and magnify every area of dryness.  Although there was plenty of slip in the formula, it was definitely not moisturizing for me, and over time I could feel the skin on my lips drying out underneath the product.  Your mileage may vary though, as honestly I can't figure out why that happens to me only with certain lip products.  Another one that works for 99.99% of the population but not me is Clinique Chubby Sticks, which unfortunately dry my lips out horribly.  And the L'Oreal Colour Riche Balms too.

Probably the worst aspect was a weird chemical scent/taste that frankly was so unpleasant it tipped this product into  "must return to store" territory.  And I can count on one hand the total number of times I've ever returned a beauty product.  For me this was a good example of  the dark side of impulse purchases.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Longevity Test: Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick in Dynamic

I spent some quality time today with my new Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick in Dynamic and was really happy with the results.  It still looks great at the end of the day (with a few touchups of course).  Usually I just give up on a lipstick a few hours in and end the day with gloss but the Envy was very manageable and easy to maintain throughout the day.

Since it was Sunday, this didn't go through my most rigorous test, which is a long work day filled with meetings, presentations, and calls.  Frankly I'm afraid to put anything through that test other than a neutral that I can reapply quickly without needing a mirror for fear of the dreaded "Ring of Leftover Lip Color" around otherwise bare, chapped lips.

First off was the shower test.  Just for fun I applied it first thing in the morning on dry chapped lips without any lip balm underneath.  It felt nicely smooth and creamy and the color was even.  It didn't look gross even though I hadn't exfoliated first.  When I came out of the shower it had faded a little but most of the pigment was still there.  Nice.

The rest of the day I was running errands in windy, rainy weather and it held up like a champ even through a pastry and then lunch.  It faded a little throughout the day but even after lunch there was enough pigment left so I still looked like I had lipstick on.  The fading was pretty even too, so it's not like my purple fish lips were showing through while the edges of my lips were still covered in lipstick.

By itself it wasn't moisturizing enough to last me the entire day, but I doubt anyone with chapped lips would expect that.  I layered on my Smashbox Lip Enhancing Gloss in Debut every so often (is that cheating?).  I liked that adding a hydrating gloss on top didn't affect how evenly the lipstick pigment looked good and presentable all day long.

What I loved most was how low maintenance this lipstick was.  When it faded, I simply touched up a bit in the mirror.  Same thing after eating lunch.  Not sure if this will sound very amazing to people with normal lips, but usually by that time I have to scrub my peeling lips and redo them (or just give up and apply balm) because the dry flakiness becomes too apparent and it's just a relief to get it all off.  Not so with Envy; this lipstick was a pleasure to wear all day long.

Summary From A Person With Chapped Lips

Longevity: lasts pretty damn long if you ask me.  color clings to lips, almost stain-like, and fades slowly and evenly.
Feathering:  none for me (obviously YMMV).  the lipstick stayed put and did not slide all over the place.
Peeling:  minimal.  it's just my lips being annoying, not caused by the lipstick.
Drying:  none, nada, zip (this is a weird one...Clinique Chubby Sticks dry out my lips like crazy for some reason, who even knows why?)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dior Addict Fluid Sticks in 338 Mirage and 373 Rieuse

Holy *bleep* I've been on a crazy bender ever since the Nordstrom Beauty Trend show!  The online orders keep rolling in and every time I get into a conversation with an SA at a cosmetic counter I end up leaving with a crapload of random stuff that I hadn't planned on buying!

For the longest time I avoided department store cosmetic counters for fear of the hard sell.  I hated the way the SAs hovered around as if expecting me to shoplift or run off with the testers or something the minute they stopped breathing down my neck.  I always felt too nervous and self-conscious to comfortably browse.

Well, no more!  These days beauty counter SAs are practically my best friends!  They introduce me to gorgeous little things I never knew I needed.  They ply me with GWPs and offers of makeovers.  They oh-so-gently separate me and my hard-earned cash with the sweetest of smiles and sincerely wish to see me (ok, my wallet) again.  What's not to like?

(huh?  I thought this was about the Dior Addict Fluid Stick?)

Diorshow Fusion Mono Long Wear Professional Mirror Shine Eyeshadow in 821 Chimere

 Dior Addict Fluid Sticks in 338 Mirage and 373 Rieuse ("she who laughs"?)

I barely even knew these existed when I saw them front and center at the Dior counter in Macy's.  The knobbed cap is good old familiar Dior Addict territory, but the lipstick-shaped container?  Soooo... was Maybelline copying on Dior, or....?  Anyways I only meant to gaze at the pretty colors for a moment but next thing you know the SA had me sitting down to try on a few shades.

She mentioned there were fifteen (I think? wasn't paying close attention) shades total at Macy's but only eight (I think?) shades in the permanent lineup.  Among the fifteen I had trouble finding a workaday neutral as they seemed like mostly brights or nudes that were way too light for me (see: purple-tinged fish lips).  So first I tried 479 Magique which was a freaking beautiful super bright pink.

I wasn't paying much attention to the color at that point, as the sensation of that smooth luscious gloss meeting my lips was just too distracting.  The formula felt incredible going on and was so, so opaque.  Hallelujah!  Those of you with dry lips will understand about the quest for a hydrating gloss that's also pigmented -- usually it's a tradeoff but lately with all these hybrid formulas coming out there's hope for us chappies after all!

I just love the applicator size and shape -- flat little bowl shape to really hug my lips and apply the gloss evenly in quick swipes, but also small enough (thinking of Lancome's La Laque Fever Gloss here) for detail work and accuracy.

Oh yeah so back to the colors.  Magique was practically neon and since I'm no longer a teenager the SA found me something still bright pink but less neon, 373 Rieuse.  There didn't really seem to be anything neutral (except the too-light nudes) so I tried on 338 Mirage which was a very pretty coral.  Another bonus:  no glitter or shimmer in either one.  Cha-ching!

Short-term impression:  Holy Hybrid Lipgloss, Batman!  I like, totally love this formula.  My most favorite hydrating gloss is (was?) Smashbox's Lip Enhancing Gloss but even the True Color ones barely have any pigmentation.  Still it's a great non-sticky lightweight gloss and is one of the few products I can use all day without peeling like crazy or feeling parched like a desert by the end.  This felt a lot like that except it was waaaaaaay more pigmented and had such a fun, bright color selection.  Oh and Rieuse at least seems to stain pretty good.  When removing the swatches with my Lancome Eau Fraiche Douceur micellar water, I really had to scrub hard and even then I could see a faint impression of the swatch.

About my lips:  Dry, chapped, purple-tinged, please just cover them up with something!
My lippie requirements:  Hydration, pigmentation, prefer no shimmer, and definitely no glitter.
Day-long wear test:  Pass!  This lipgloss feels different from normal gloss when applied...more of a gel feeling than anything else.  It "sets" a little bit.  On me (since my lips are so chapped) I'm guessing the moisture gets absorbed more quickly than on normal lips, but as far as glosses go it's definitely nicely moisturizing.  The lasting power of the color probably depends on which color you get.  For me, Rieuse was much more noticeable after a couple hours than Mirage was but both of them seem to have a bit of staining effect which is great.  However with Rieuse after several hours and a couple of re-applications I really wished I had a lip liner on me as the gloss migrated a bit over my lip lines and looked a bit disheveled.  

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick in 410 Dynamic

Thanks to the weirdly overblown marketing copy, I had no desire to even try this on until -- you guessed it, a friendly Estee Lauder SA in Nordie's started up a conversation and next thing I knew I was sitting in the makeover chair trying on different shades of this beautiful new lipstick.  The selection of twenty-one shades definitely has something for everyone, from conservative neutrals, nudes, bright pinks and fuscias to dramatic reds.  Supposedly these are long lasting, moisturizing, and pigmented (everyone seems to be saying that about their new lippies this season, is it contagious?).

I thought the packaging was just gorgeous, so sleek with just enough heft to feel substantial, but not like an anvil in your pocket like *cough* YSL *cough* others I could name.  The dark blue metallic case is trimmed with gold at either end (not real gold!) with the Estee Lauder logo embossed on the top.  It's magnetic and closes with a satisfying "snap."  Nice design, Estee Lauder!  Simple, elegant, and classy.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick in 410 Dynamic

Short-term impression:  The formula felt very lightweight and silky and glided right on with a pretty satin finish.  It's more or less full coverage with one swipe, although as always lighter colors seem more translucent.    Dynamic (swatched above) is described on the EL site as a mid-tone warm neutral and looks like a nice warm rose.  I also swatched Rebellious Rose which was the same mid-tone but with more pink in it (sadly they were OOS already).  Intense Nude (mid-tone rosy neutral) was, weirdly, exactly my natural lip shade.  Emotional was in the brick red category, described on the site as warm rusty brown.

About my lips:  Dry, chapped, purple-tinged, please just cover them up with something!
My lippie requirements:  Hydration, pigmentation, prefer no shimmer, and definitely no glitter.

Conclusion:  Did this lipstick cause six foot tall blue-eyed blond women to glare at me in envy (see ridiculous ad campaign)?  No.  Did it make me feel powerful because everyone was apparently envying me due to this magic lip product (see ridiculous ad copy)?  Heck, no!  But the formula definitely feels in line with newer lipsticks that somehow manage to be lightweight, silky, moisturizing, AND pigmented all at the same time.
Day-long wear test coming soon!