Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kjaer Weis Spring Look

Here's another thing I love about Kjaer Weis: a fresh makeup look that doesn't require purchasing a limited edition palette. While I do tend to go gaga over all those special seasonal colors in collector's packaging, there's a special place in heaven for creative directors who create gorgeous and fresh looks with their permanent collections. And this is exactly what Kirsten Kjaer Weis has done for her April Look of the Month (it's not too late for that, is it?). It's a fresh-faced pink cheek with a classic smoky eye. Spring with a little edge, I think.

Here's the how-to (Links go to my reviews and swatches of the products used):

* Foundation:
Model is wearing Kjaer Weis Skin Perfecting Foundation in Like Porcelain (my own color match is Illusion). According to Kjaer Weis you can use it as lightly or as heavily to build the coverage where needed (I'll test it soon). Since the foundation sets to a semi-matte finish no powder is needed (and actually discouraged).

*  Eyes:
Eye shadow is Cloud Nine (an ivory-champagne), applied from the lashline to the brow bone as a sheer wash that evens out the lid. Wisdom (a perfect taupe) is used to create depth and shape from the lashline to the crease, extended up towards the brow and in towards the nose as much as possible (depending on your own eye shape, of course). Using a thin brush, define the eye by applying Onyx eye shadow along the upper and lower lashlines. Blend Onyx into Wisdom on the top lid, until the two colors seamlessly meld into each other. Finish with black mascara.

Blossoming Cream Blush ( a bright rose) generously patted into the apples of the cheek. This look really  require some serious cheekbones (I have none, so I'd take the color a bit higher and blend upwards).

* The look is completed with a pale, pinky-nude lip. Kirsten Kjaer Weis combined Bliss Full Lip Tint with a dab of foundation and applied with a lip brush (the Kjaer Weis one is excellent, by the way). You'll need to make sure that your lips are well moisturized and appear in top shape, since the opaque texture of the combined lip tint+foundation might be a bit dry and enhance flaws.

Details and photos courtesy of Kjaer Weis. You'll notice that their website is under (re)construction at the moment, but products can be purchased from Osswald ( online, in store, as well as by phone, where Nik and Josie will be glad to assist (and both of them know their stuff and are glorious human beings). 

YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014

Blue water, blue sky, red hills. It must be summer in the Mediterranean.

YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014 is an irresistible piece to my blue eye shadow-loving little heart. The compact is gorgeous and I love that it's not just about blue, though, and offers two additional salmon colors, one with more sheen than the other as a counterbalance that lets you create wearable looks.

All five colors in YSL Bleus Lumiere are saturated and rich. The glimmer you see in the pan is more subtle on skin, and the texture is beautiful and soft. The eye shadows are NOT of the YSL wet-dry formula of the Pure Chromatics, and as you can see, they perform beautifully dry. The darkest blue, which is meant for use as a liner does create some fallout (visible in the swatch photo), so I do prefer using it with a damp brush (the line swatch) to eliminate the issue.

The colors in the YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette are classic. The two salmon shades end up looking very similar on the lid, except for the shiny finish, so I would have loved a golden sand color instead of either one. The blues are gorgeous: aqua, medium teal, and a shimmery navy as the liner.

Bottom Line: where is my yacht?

YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014 ($60) is available at the counters and from

Book in the background is Yves Saint Laurent: Style

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Profumo Emozioni Olfattive: Perfume Shopping In Naples, Italy

See Smell Naples and Die.

There are several impressive perfume stores in Naples, but only one that caters to hardcore fragonerds:  Profumo Emozioni Olfattive on Via Carlo Poerio 33. The space isn't huge in NYC terms, but it's utilized to the max and beautifully designed and arranged. The number of brands available and displayed at Profumo Emozioni Olfattive is nothing short of amazing. They stock most of the big and small names in niche and independent perfumery. Everything from classics such as L'Artisan and Amouage to Tauer, Mona di Orio, Vero Profumo and many more, including newcomers like Nu-Be, Masque Milano and O'Driu.

The Blond and I were there to sniff stuff we can't (yet) find in New York City. But even when concentrating on rarities and smaller Italian lines it was a lot to take on. I was most curious about Nu-Be (the line has since landed at Luckyscent) but I don't think that the quick testing in store was sufficient to form an opinion, other than that these perfume smell very modern and perhaps even stark. I didn't make an emotional connection there, so samples are in order for some quality time.

Then there was O'Driu by quirky perfumer Angelo Pregoni. The store only offers Eva Kant and Peety from this line (there are several others) which I think are the first commercial (well, relatively speaking) releases by O'Driu that specialized in tiny and limited editions collections. Both are breathtaking and deserve a dedicated discussion.

I tried several other perfumes, as did the husband. We both fell for Boccanera by Orto Parisi, the new line from Nasomatto's creator Alessandro Gualtieri, so that was the bottle that came home with us. I'm wearing it tonight and still getting to know this gorgeous smoky animalic gourmand. You'll hear all about it soon.

The staff of Profumo Emozioni Olfattive is friendly and enthusiastic, which made up for the language barrier. It took them a little while to understand that we really weren't interested (on that occasion) in Amouage, Maison Francis Kurkdjian or anything oud-related, and that we really and truly are familiar with many of the brands in the store. But once they did (and let go of "fresh" as the way to get either one of us to try something) things went along swimmingly. We left the store happy and smelly. In the best possible way.

From the usual suspects to true classics, old and new.

Eva Kant and Peety by O'driu

It's always lovely to meet beloved old friends

On the back wall: Masque Milano on the shelf above Ramon Monegal, Grossmith on the bottom.

The store also stocks Memo (on the shelf above the MPG display).

Sisley Express Flower Gel Mask

My travel baggie was almost bursting at the seams but I stuffed the sample packets of Sisley Express Flower Gel Mask in there, because I had a feeling they'd come in handy. And they did. I used them at the end of each flight to revive my skin, and even though I've been diligent about repeated moisturizing and protecting my face during the long hours in the air (and on the tarmac. The flight out of JFK was delayed while we were already seated), it was obvious that the extra step was much needed.

This Sisley mask is mostly made of water, rose water and silicone and infused with a bunch of floral extracts and oils. The formula is such that delivers the hydrating boost very efficiently. The mask feels deceivingly light (compared to the creamy Sisley Black Rose mask), but it's instantly plumping and reviving. You can't see it and barely feel it at first, but it forms a light protective film that traps the moisture inside and makes the skin look smoother right away. There's no visible residue, and since my skin needed every drop I had nothing to wipe away, just let it stay put prior to applying my tinted moisturizer and the rest of my makeup just before landing.

Since I only had a couple of samples I can't talk about any long term effects. I wish Sisley would sell this mask in boxes of single use doses, as it would be the most brilliant and useful thing to have in a makeup bag for just such occasions, as well as for refreshing the face before a date night when you're already on the go. Do note that the ingredient list (below) shows several raw materials that are considered potential allergens. Isn't it funny that IFRA regulates this stuff in perfume like a skin rush on your wrist is going to kill you, while the cosmetics industry has a far more reasonable approach and assumes that people with contact sensitivities are capable of reading labels and would not put iris root extract on their face if they suffer from such an allergy?

Bottom Line: Highly effective, at least short term.

Ingredients: Water, Rosa Centifolia (Cabbage Rose) Water, Dimethicone, Iris Florentina Root Extract, Sorbitol, Lilium Candidum Flower Extract, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Butylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer, Octoxynol-13, Sodium Methylparaben, Propylene Glycol, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Geraniol, Citronellol.

Sisley Express Flower Gel Mask ($136, 60ml) is available from select department stores. The review is based on a press sample.

Image: Cecilia Paredes, 2010.

Chizu Saeki- The Japanese Skincare Revolution (Book Review)

Chizu Saeki is a famous Japanese esthetician and beauty consulted who after a long career working for Guerlain and Dior opened her own salon. Her methods rely somewhat on classic Japanese traditions, but she  puts has her own twist on things, rejecting the Japanese tendency to over-wash the skin (Ms. Saeki is very much against the two step cleansing routine of oil+detergent), and preferring the use of lotions and creams over oils. The book teaches Chizu Saeki's philosophy and techniques in a clear and organized way, tries to give an answer to common skin concerns, with the most focus on anti-aging.

The Chizu Saeki method relies on getting to know your skin and it needs and doing the work yourself, which includes thorough cleansing, massage, and the frequent use of lotion masks:

The most useful parts of the book are the detailed and illustrated explanations of applying the mask and the various facial massage techniques. I also like Ms. Saeki's non-fussy attitude and joie de vivre. She's very relaxed and is all about common sense and gentleness,  no scary and attainable perfectionism to be found here, both in her work and in her views of beauty and age.

The focus of the book is on the actual work, not on products. I did find it a bit weird that in the only part that lists cosmetics, seven out of the nine products listed are by Lauder-owned companies: Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Origins, and Estee Lauder (the other one is from NARS). These products are pictured and named, but are not actually part of Ms. Saeki's text, which makes me raise an eyebrow at whoever is responsible for the American edition of the book.

I also thought that the lotion mask could have used a bit more explanation for those not familiar with the use of Asian paper masks. The "lotion" part might be confusing to some, as we think of lotions as a milky substance, while in Asian cosmetics the term refers to a rich liquid that's often called toner, though it has nothing in common with the astringent alcohol based (and really awful for your skin) toners of our youth. There are many excellent options on the American market, which gives me an idea for another post. It is worth noting that hydrating watery lotions are not the only thing that can be used in a mask like this, but also milky ones and light creams (as I've mentioned here). Respectively, instead of cotton squares you can use the aforementioned paper masks (you can find them on Amazon, eBay, or Asian markets).

All in all, the book is a good read, especially for those looking to learn more methods of skincare or reboot their own routine. It's probably not a must-have as you can google all the important information, but for the price of this little paperback and the hour you spend reading it, you do get some wisdom and inspiration that will make you feel a little more beautiful and confident in what you do. That must be worth something.

Chizu Saeki- The Japanese Skincare Revolution ($12.62) is available on Amazon.

Photo via Reuters.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Parfums Retro- Grand Cuir

Grand Cuir, the first (and so far only) offering from Parfums Retro, comes galloping at you on his horse, bringing with it the scent of  a well-traveled steamer trunk, an old cape, mossy forests, and mystery. It's Mr. Rochester's first scene from Jane Eyre, showing confidence and vulnerability at the same time. It needs to be worn in the open air or while moving around from place to place. I've found that closed spaces stifle Grand Cuir and don't allow it to take shape and cast its shadow properly. It's also too romantic for the simple and definite "masculine" label (Luckyscent's gender spectrum places Grand Cuir at the extreme masculine end).

Grand Cuir opens with a blast of aged leather and dry flowers. It reminds me of some versions of vintage Cuir de Russie (Chanel), where the leather is almost soapy yet layered and complex. Parfums Retro's leather develops very dry, though, moving between the great outdoors (lots of birch tar and clary sage, only slightly more restrained and civilized than Lonestar Memories) and the gentleman's quarters where a valet has just brought the shaving supplies to his master. I concede that this part of Grand Cuir is definitely masculine, but despite the steam and lavender, when the perfume is free to interact with the skin there's a lot more there than my father's old shaving brush. I smell hay and moss, wood and a purple bouquet, and above all: a slightly animalic leather that feels warm and soft, welcoming me home yet guarding a secret.

Garnd Cuir is a treat for leather lovers with a taste for vintage perfumes. Leather notes can be an acquired taste, especially when they lean towards the not-so-fresh side. I'm a sucker for these, though, and have no problem wearing Grand Cuir. Men? Horses? Bring them on.

Notes: Cistus-labdanum, birch tar, clary sage, orange flower, lavender, carnation, rose, violet leaf, geranium, cinnamon leaf oil, tarragon, pine moss, sandalwood, rosewood, patchouli, musk, rosewood.

Parfums Retro- Grand Cuir ($155, 100ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent. This review was based on a press sample sent for consideration.

Photo of Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester from the 2011 Jane Eyre via

La Bella Italia

I never take enough photos when on vacation. I don't even bother taking the big camera, which I know is a mistake when it comes to preserving the memories, but the tiny point-and-shoot does an acceptable job without the fuss and the extra weight to schlep around. Remembering to actually pull it out and use it is a different matter.

We were in Italy. Mostly on the Sorrento Peninsula, spent a day in Naples, a day driving along the Amalfi Coast (it rained), but most of the time explored Sorrento and its surrounding area. The original plan was to stay at a B&B up on the cliff, but we escaped after one night, as the hosts' attitude about the shortage in hot water and a questionable wi-fi connection was "This isn't New York". No, it wasn't, so we headed down into town and didn't regret it.

We also spent a day in Frascati, a town south of Rome that boasts several 16th century villas. We only visited the grounds of one, Villa Aldobrandini (the photo above and the first four below), but we'll probably go back for more. It's a very convenient location if you need to spend a night within a reasonable drive from or to the airport without dealing with Rome itself.



St. Francis Cloister, Sorrento

Sorrento in the rain

Massa Lubrense, Campania

Mt. Vesuvius, view from Sorrento

Sorrentine sunset

A local

Shu Uemura Calligraph Ink Liquid Eyeliner Pen

I was ready to dislike the new Shu Uemura Calligraph Ink Liquid Eyeliner Pen based on the annoyance of the several tries it took me to insert the cartridge the pen. The instructions were printed in the tiniest imaginable font (yes, I was wearing my glasses), and I really wanted to avoid an explosion of black liquid liner all over me, so I was probably a bit too careful. It took a few minutes to get it right and hear the satisfying little click, and then there was the issue of ink flow, but even at that first attempt I could tell that annoying or not, this Shu Uemura product was interesting.

The pen arrived a few hours before I boarded a flight, so it was a very last minute addition to my travel baggie. I first applied it on the plane, and kept using the Shu Uemura pen throughout my trip even though I packed a couple of other eyeliners. The ease of drawing a fine line with the unique brush (my hand is not the most stable) won me over, as did the true black color. But it's the formula itself that sealed my opinion: I was on the go for nearly two weeks with little time for touchups or dealing with messes. Shu Uemura Calligraph Ink Liquid Eyeliner Pen held from morning to night through thick, thin, beach weather and rain.

I actually like the idea of a refillable pen that you keep using with new cartridges. I don't know how long the brush applicator can hold with frequent use or how far each cartridge will last, but so far the ink flows as beautifully and as black as it did three weeks ago, so I'm a fan.

Bottom Line:  More colors, please!

Shu Uemura Calligraph Ink Liquid Eyeliner Pen ($20 for the applicator, additional $15 for every cartridge) is available from and in other countries also at Shu counters.

* Book in the background of the photos is Style Eyes by Taylor Chang-Babaian.