Thursday, February 23, 2017

Butter London Sheer Wisdom Serum Shadow Review & Swatches

I have a couple of new eye shadow loves that have won me over not because of some unique color but thanks to innovative and beautiful texture. Today we're looking at the Sheer Wisdom Serum Shadows from Butter London, a product I bought out of pure curiosity. I picked four of the six available colors (kipped the pink and the mauve), and have been reaching for them at a surprising frequency (All.The.Time).

The "serum" part is thanks to the liquid shadow's viscosity. It does look and fee serumy, as in not watery or lotiony. It has a bounce, just like some skincare items (it's makeup, not skincare, but the texture is different than say, Armani, Rouge Bunny Rouge, or YSL). The Sheer Wisdom Serums also go on the skin at first touch shockingly light and sheer, just like a serum you dot on the lid and then blend. The result is an incredibly versatile eye shadow. You can keep your application at minimum and create the most perfect and beautifully blended no makeup-look. Or you can add more and layer, using the wand to load the product and then your fingers and/or a MAC 217 to build it up and accentuate the lid, crease, or any other part. Butter London has created here a complete matte skin-like finish that is utterly foolproof. The colors are natural and neutral for maximum elegance, but the darker once are up to the task of a smoky eye.

Longevity is an all-day affair. There's no sheen to fade, just a sturdy and reliable pigment that looks fantastic and way more professional than the easy application suggest. You can do a one color look or go for all four together (a method that can take some time to accomplish because one tends to play with the wands and brushes and admire her faux pro-skills as she goes). Whatever you decide, the process is fun and the result is pretty.

The colors I got are:
Buttercream- a classic vanilla that works well under the brows or even to lighten the lid like a primer.
Sepia Tan- a light warm camel color that works well in the crease or as a solid all over lid color.
Driftwood- a gray-leaning taupe. Perfect.
Maplewood- a rich brown I love to use on the outer V.

Bottom Line: maybe I do need that Mauve Mist shade.

Butter London Sheer Wisdom Serum Shadow  ($24 each, made in Italy) are available from Ulta.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy President's Day

Happy President's Day. I've marked the day by sending Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) an email of encouragement. Later there might be some shopping.

Image: George Washington, Engraved by Edward Savage, after a painting by him. Mezzotint. London, 1793

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My Valentine's Day (Night) Makeup Look

The one above was an outtake, since Gloria was there helping me get ready (meaning: reaching for brushes, dipping her paws in powder, headbutting, singing about the glorious life of being Gloria the kitten, and taking off with stuff that will never be seen again). The Blond and I celebrated Valentine's Day at our favorite restaurant, Kajitsu.  We got engaged on that day twenty one years ago, so it's always been a special occasion for us. I doubt Gloria cares, though.

I think this photo actually shows the false lashes to their full effect, even though tomorrow I'm going to get a call from my mother saying: "ужас!".

I did a full skincare routine just before getting ready, but the whole day yesterday my face felt the dryest it's been this winter, and my eyelids were practically crackling (note to husband: check humidifier). That's why just before putting on anything else I reached for a sample of Macadamia Professional Nourishing Moisture Oil. I have no idea where the vial came from, either a press sample or a GWP, but it was nice, though not different than most other face oils one can find these days.
Knowing that I was going with a high-coverage foundation I also slathered on some MAC Strobe Cream instead of a primer. There was no danger of my makeup sliding off my face last night and I was more concerned about looking at least semi-alive.
My foundation was Edward Bess Black Sea Complexion Correction Mousse Foundation in Medium 03. I've been testing it in recent weeks (sample courtesy of Osswald NYC, though they're currently sold out). It's more coverage than I usually prefer, but the finish is beautiful and velvety. Brush application is still too heavy for me, but a damp Beauty Blender creates the right balance, and I supplement with a brush just where needed and skip concealer altogether.
I did illuminate a little under the eyes with Chanel Eclat Lumiere.
Absolutely no powder was used.

A good look at myself at the magnifying mirror made me grab Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum. It was an Influenster freebie, and it's nice though you and I know that if you want to lift something just get a crane. The serum is light, moisturizing and works well under makeup, so that's all I can ask for. I used the eye primer from Cinema Secrets because it's also light and liquidy yet does the job well.

I wanted to go relatively light on the eyes, so I picked Viseart Paris Nudes palette: 1 in the crease, a mix of 2 and 3 on the lid and outward, and a touch of 4 to highlight. It ended up lacking contrast so I grabbed my Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow duo and used the matte bronzer to blend the crease and everything else I wanted to intensify, proving once again why this is probably Tilbury's best product.
To finish thing off I lined my upper lashes very lightly with Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen. I recently went back to using it as I discovered that I much prefer its longer side, and that I can use it to tightline even without the magnifying mirror.
Then came the falsies. I was going for a used and trimmed pair of Ardell Demi Wispies, but Gloria intervened and took off with one of them. Instead, I decided to live dangerously and go for Eylure Naturals No.27. It's a full strip that doesn't look heavy or too artificial and was kind of fun. For reference, I have no falsies skills, so I use the Revlon glue that comes with its own brush (wipe it down well before applying), and can't do it at all without a bent applicator (not regular tweezers).

Still in the spirit of adventure I reached for a GWP brow pencil by Milk Makeup and promptly remembered why I hate it. The gel pencil is too soft, therefore hard to control and gets everywhere. The color I have, Pilsner, their medium brown is far too dark for me, so I've found myself combing most of it off like a madwoman. With just a hint of color left in my brows I abandoned the mission.

That Charlotte Tilbury duo was already out on the dresser, so I used the bronzer lightly (with a duo-fiber brush) to give myself a little color. The highlighter side always looks a bit off (I wish it were lighter) until I put on a luminous blush. I went for the gorgeous Burberry Silk & Bloom, as I do two out of three times lately.

I mixed MAC Prep & Prime Lip with Colourpop Frick &Frack pencil liner (yes, not the actual lip color) and applied it with a brush in two layers. It stayed on for most of dinner.

Other Stuff
Vintage earrings
SotN was Aristoqrati by Moresque (the Blond wore Bel Ami Vetiver).
Dress from Flō by Ella Braitman . A must-stop boutique if you visit Tel-Aviv.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope your day is full of sweetness and warm fuzzies.

Illustration: Eric Fraser, 1936.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Oriza L. Legrand- Rêve d'Ossian

In this still place, remote from men,

Sleeps Ossian, in the Narrow Glen;

In this still place, where murmurs on
But one meek streamlet, only one:
He sang of battles, and the breath
Of stormy war, and violent death;
And should, methinks, when all was past,
Have rightfully be laid at last
Where rocks were rudely heap'd, and rent
As by a spirit turbulent;
Where sights were rough, and sounds were wild,
And everything unreconciled;
In some complaining dim retreat,
For fear and melancholy meet;
But this is calm; there cannot be
A more entire tranquility.
William Wordsworth, 1803 

"Ossian Poems" was a  reworked collection of ancient Gaelic folktales published in 1760 and attributed to a mythological Irish bard, but in fact written mostly by Scottish poet James Macpherson (1736-1796). Authenticity aside, these poems influenced many writers and painters throughout the centuries. The opening verse above from Wordsorth's Glen Almain; Or, the Narrow Glen (part of his Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, 1803) is a great example with the visual and sensory picture it creates. Fast forward to 1905 when classic perfume house (back then there were actual "houses" and not just "brands") Oriza L. Legrand created a fragrance named Rêve d'Ossian (Ossian's dream). Was it an olfactive imagining of ancient Celtic wars? An ode to wood sprites, the wise men who worshipped them? The deep forest of bygone eras? I have no idea. I've never smelled the turn of the 20th century perfume that was accompanied by this advertisement:

The 2012 reboot of Oriza L. Legrand as a brand makes me think of James McPherson and the literary licence (or forgery) he took with the Ossian's tales. I doubt that this modern green, and coniferous incense came from the original archives.  Still, I cannot help but enjoy it for what it is.  I love my incense burnt to embers as well as white and clean as it is in the case of new Rêve d'Ossian. It's a lovely mix of fresh evergreens, the coldest soapiest incense that evokes an early winter morning on its crystalline air and plumes of smoke. And some spice.

The cold incense is somewhat related to Heeley's Cardinal, so I'm guessing there's a churchy incense reference. My first thought, however, was of a friendlier Cardinal with some sense of humor. The ghost of warmth and spice keep Rêve d'Ossian from being too austere (if that's what you're after pick a bottle of Tauer's Incense Extreme). It's very wearable, and as I've been using up a couple of samples I had around and catching leftover whiffs from cashmere cardigans and scarves I started thinking it would also make a wonderful candle. Guess what? A quick search has revealed that such a thing exists. I know what I'm buying next at Twisted Lily.

Oriza L. Legrand- Rêve d'Ossian ($165, 100 ml eau de parfum) is available at Luckyscent and Twisted Lily. The candle , which I haven't smelled yet, seems to only be stocked at Twisted Lily ($54, 130gr).

Top image: cover of The Poems of Ossian,  Imray´s Edition, 1799.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

La Prairie Eye Shadows: Les Cristals Palette & Quartz Single

La Prairie makeup is a pure indulgence. You can tell that from the second you open the box and look at the packaging, to the way it feels to dip your brushes in the colors and apply them gently, hoping to create the most elegant ladylike look. La Prairie color range has always been understated with plush textures that do their best to flatter the skin. With that said, one of my most beloved blue eye shadows was La Prairie Hematite. It's discontinued now, probably because the brand's typical customer is not likely to be a blue eye shadow kind of person. It's too bad.

The subtle neutral hues in the current range are still very satisfying to use. The satin smooth texture is easy to place and blend. It takes very little effort (or planning) to achieve a sophisticated and very polished look, and I've yet to meet a brush that doesn't work with this light yet rich formula. Swatching is probably not the most impressive introduction to La Prairie eye shadows. Like all of the others I've tried, these are gossamery and delicate, mostly buttery if you stick a finger them, and create a puffy cloud of powder if you're only trying to get the pigment to show. It's when they're actually on the lid that you see the subtlety of the light hitting the various colors.

The single shadow in Quartz is a baked peach kind of a color. It's like a very light cinnamon or a pinkish brown, and is rather unique.  It's also a warmer color than La Prairie's beautiful Agate. I find Quartz to be a great companion to the eye shadow quad in Les Cristals, especially if you want an extra warmth in the crease or to take it to a slightly different place. Les Cristals is a classic neutral palette: cream, pale taupe, silver, and an almost matte charcoal that's a bit more stiff (all the other shadows, including Quartz have a satin/sheen finish).

Two things are annoying about these La Prairie eye shadows. This is a super luxury product, near the top of the price/weight. They perform as such, but you will see fallout when you start working with them. The extremely fine texture makes cleanup a non-issue (kick it off with a fluffy brush), but I know enough people who will find it a drawback. Then there are the silly little applicators that come in the compacts. This is 2017, not 1971. We all have quality brushes, so please give us a little more actual product in the pans and acknowledge that we know how to use makeup tools.

Bottom line: there are far worse ways to indulge yourself.

La Prairie Les Cristals eye shadow quad ($70, made in USA) and & Quartz single  ($45, made in USA) are available at Neiman Marcus and other select locations.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kiko Milano Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow

Back in August 2015 I declared my eternal love for Kiko Milano's Long Lasting Shadow Sticks:

"I'm not sure I'd be able to tell them apart from my beloved Caviar Sticks by Laura Mercier if they came as identical colors in non-marked packaging (both products are made in Italy, and your guess is as good as mine about exact manufacturing locations and specs). Kiko's version is just as creamy, pigmented and tenacious as Laura Mercier's. The colors are intense, give a full coverage, and once set (within less than a minute, depending on the primer underneath, not that one is necessary) they do not budge. Removing them requires an oil or a dual-phase cleanser and letting and a little soaking."
 Nothing has changed since. I have similar products from Laura Mercier, By Terry, NARS, and Bobbi Brown, and the only differences are the actual colors and finishes. Not application, performance, or tenacity. The six shadow sticks above are the ones I picked during Kiko's Black Friday sale (it was a "buy three products, get three free ones". Basically a half off sale as long as one wanted six products. And I did.Boy, did I).

The color I chose were great companions to the other sticks I have from various brands and work together or as stand alone eye shadows.

10 is an emerald green with the faintest sheen
11 is more turquoise than teal and dries down somewhere between satin and matte.
20 is matte black, which is an essential for those of us who like to layer a duochrome shadow over a cream black base.
28 is a cream ivory with a satin finish, great for layering, mixing, or just creating a flawless natural-looking eyelid.
39 is a murky dark coffee.
44 is my comfort color in the mid of a sad sad winter. One day it will all be over and  will sit on a beach looking at the blue blue water Either that or we'll all be dead.

I've tested and timed the window for smudging and blending, and it came to six minutes for all of the shadow sticks. That's ample of time to create a look, sheer things out, do a one-and-done look or mix colors together. after the six minutes mark the eye shadows are set and become budge-proof to the extreme. That's why shadow sticks are third only to the husband and my iPad as my travel companions.

Bottom Line: There are still six or seven colors that I want to get.

Kiko Milano Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow ($12 each, made in Italy) are available at Kiko stores at select malls (there's one at the Garden State Plaza) and online from They frequently run sales or do a clearance on discontinued colors.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Edward Bess- Spanish Veil

The name Edward Bess is probably familiar to those interested in elegant makeup. In the early days of his eponymous line Edward himself used to man the Bergdorf Goodman counter and help his customers and admirers choose the right colors. If you were lucky he'd do your makeup, which was always a wonderful experience that would have left you feeling beautiful and understood. Mr. Bess has always talked about having his own perfume line one day. I remember him telling me that he mixes his own personal fragrance out of some oils, and the blend worked beautifully as a skin scent you could only smell when he was right there wielding his brushes on your face.

It took a few years and a false start (a massive gardenia called Eau La La, 2012), but now that Edward Bess hired perfumer Carlos Benaim to create the first three fragrances in the rebooted line he has matched the aesthetics of his makeup. It's the equivalent of a taupe eye shadow, black liner, and a red lipstick. I do know that not all of you reading this care about makeup. It doesn't matter. The perfumes are great on their own merit and bring to mind the golden age of beauty counters when you could get excellent and courteous service while picking your items and smelling the few highly-coveted perfumes that completed the glamorous atmosphere.

Spanish Veil was a love at first sniff for me. It's a woody oriental and only three notes are listed: tonka bean, sandalwood, guiac wood. There's a lot more there, obviously, and I smell a sheer but prominent incense in the core of the perfume. The opening is very perfumy. Not powdery, nor is it sweet or aldehydic. But it says PERFUME in the best possible way. The wood notes are subtle. I'm not sure I would have picked sandalwood had I not known it was supposed to be there, because despite the smoothness the wood is neither creamy nor has it the pepperiness of a cedar (sandalwood's common companion). I might have said cashmeran, but it doesn't matter: there are smoothed down woods like a well-worn banister railing in a beautiful old house, lace and silk worn close to the body on a hot day, capturing the scent of skin and the afternoon sunlight sneaking i through the French doors and gliding over slightly dusty potted palm trees, and the sweet scent of incense kept in a family heirloom box in one o the bedroom upstairs.

I marvel at the technical balance of using just enough tonka bean to create the "oriental" effect. It must have been tempting to go with a sweeter, more commercial vanilla (do you remember the trend of wood steeped in sugar water that was induced by Lauder's 2008 Sensuous?). instead we get a grownup and sexy perfume that wafts around, stays on skin, scarves, and coats, invites you for a hug and whispers a naughty secret in your ear.

Edward Bess- Spanish Veil ($175, 3.4oz) is exclusive to Aedes and select Edward Bess counters.

Photo of model Julia Stegner by  Alexi Lubomirski for Vogue Germany, 2008.

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