Saturday, May 29, 2010

Clinique Different Lipstick Raspberry Glace

My testing and posting schedule for the next few weeks is making me wish I had a few more lips and a spare eyelid or two. Yes, that's a visual no one really needed. But  before we move on to all the summer collections and other new items I have lined up, let's squeeze in this Clinique lipstick from a semi-forgotten GWP event.

Clinique's Different Lipstick range offers about 18 shades. Raspberry Glace might be the scariest one from looking at the swatches on Clinique and Sephora's websites, but since this is a mostly sheer lipstick with medium-low coverage and my natural lip color is pretty dark, the result is not all that dramatic. Raspberry Glace is a slightly shimmery cool pink. It perks up the face instantly and cheers me up. The texture is light and adequately moisturizing. It doesn't last long, though. A couple of hours or a sip of water are enough for the lipstick to fade completely, without leaving even a hint of a stain. It also tends to transfer easily if you accidentally touch your mouth, so keep your sleeves away at all times.

Bottom Line: It's all about the color. My favorite GWP item lately.

Clinique Different Lipstick ($14) in Raspberry Glace and other colors is available from every department store under the sun.

All photos are mine.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Weekly Roundup

From seahorses to curly hair, this week has been full of good stuff.

Kari at Fabulous Over Forty compiled her favorite classic beach beauty looks. See what brands she takes along to the beach (Edward Bess, Lancome, NARS, and more). I don't know about you, but I'm already in the mood.

It was all about Armani Beauty in the DC area last weekend when Tim Quinn spent two days at Saks in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Armani fans have Armani Beauty makeovers, news flashes, and tips to savor! You can read about Kristin's makeover, courtesy of Giannina Davis (herself an Armani beauty), at BeautyXposé. Then head over to Best Things in Beauty to see Lexi's makeover by Loyd Cassler and Tim Quinn. Both enjoyed their Armani glamour sessions. I'm jealous.

Kelly is letting her hair grow; she wants long hair again. She treated us to a fascinating interview with Peter Lamas, accompanied by an end-of-May progress report, at Gouldylox Reviews.

Great post on summer's bright lip trends at Prime Beauty! Find out what products Cindy used to brighten up her look.

What does KarlaSugar at The Next Best Thing to Going Shopping Yourself use to get luscious curly hair? Fekkai’s Luscious Curls Shampoo and Conditioner for a start. My curls and I are taking notes.

Been tempted by Makeup Forever's Beauty in a Box Aqua Essentials at Sephora? Find out what Lianne thought about the set at The Makeup Girl.

Carla at Product Girl tempted us all when she showed us the new Fresh Sugar Plum Tinted Lip Treatment. If you like the Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment, you will love this new one.

Annieytown at Blogdorf Goodman has the most coveted compact of the season. I have to tell you, I'm not a MAC girl in any way, shape or form, but that seahorse has me in serious lust.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Jacomo Art Collection- No. 02 and No. 09

My acquaintance with Jacomo perfumes has been limited to Silences, the 1978 wonderful mean and green creature. I wasn't aware the brand still existed outside the realms of questionable online retailers until I saw the new Art Collection trio at Henri Bendel.

The Jacomo Art Collection claims to bring "an intimate conversation between fragrance and artist presented as fragrant museum painted with paintings and compositions". Basically, three artists, Cecilia Carlstedt, Daniel Egneus and Stina Persson were invited to paint the boxes of these three perfumes and express the olfactory experience through their visual art. Did they succeed? I'm not sure. We experience scent in different ways. when I review a fragrance I often search for an image- a painting or a photo that embody my feelings. Sometimes, especially with vintage perfumes, the original ad is enough. Other times I comb through dozens of images and websites until I find the right one. Would I have chosen the specific paintings created for the Art Collection? Maybe. Maybe not.

No. 02 is the fun one. It moves quickly from sharp bergamot to new leather to play-doh with a hint of old bubblegum. I don't know how to wear it except in an ironic way, though if I were still teaching I might have chosen No. 02 for the first day of school. My students, especially the younger ones, would have enjoyed it. I actually like this fragrance up until the super synthetic vanilla becomes cloying and makes me question whatever it was I had for my last meal. It passes eventually, and the drydown, as faint as it might be, is quite delicious.

No. 09 is juicy and fruity. It opens up with sweet lemonade, a hint of berry and continues into a heart that is all orange. Musk is not listed but I'd bet money it's there- both the kind I smell and another one to which I'm mostly anosmic. As far as I can smell, 09 stops shortly after the mango note finally appears (it's pretty mellow and stays close to the skin), and the real base notes (allegedly vanilla, cinnamon and sandalwood) are nothing but a faraway rumour. The perfume isn't overly sweet and would  make a cheerful summer scent for fruit lovers.

Bottom line: Not my thing but likable and better than a lot of what's out there.

Jacomo Art Collection perfumes are available in 50ml and 100ml bottles. I got my samples of No. 02 and N0. 09 at Henri Bendel.

Top image:, second photo:, orange 1950s fashion:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics- Mineral Lengthening Mascara and Lash Primer

I was a bit hesitant before applying Youngblood Mineral Lash Primer to my eyelashes. The runny texture and milky white color looked worrisome, but the promise of fuller and thicker lashes was tempting. And besides, I try stuff so you don't have to.

The way this works, you apply one coat of the primer and immediately, while your lashes are still wet, the first coat of mascara. The polymers in the primer helps the mascara cover each lash separately and gives some plumping. It's especially helpful if the mascara you're using is a lengthening one, as in the case of Youngblood's Mineral Lengthening Mascara.

This mascara is quite good. Nothing dramatic and thankfully I don't end up looking like Veruschka above. My eyelashes are nicely defined, seperated and look polished without clumps, smears or flakes. The finish is natural, not glossy (I have the black mascara). It's a clean, office-friendly look. I also tested the primer with other mascaras. It worked the same way, with the most impressive results for volumizing mascaras. The primer seems to enhance whatever the mascara was doing. Drying time doesn't seem to be affected.

Bottom line: Easy to apply and foolproof. Not revolutionary, but solid results and a nice look. Cruelty-free.

Youngblood Mineral Lengthening Mascara ($24) and Lash Primer ($22) are available at Henri Bendel in NYC and directly through the company's website ( I received both from the company's PR.


Lush Full Of Grace Serum

In which I get creative.

I have a complicated relationship with Lush. There are a handful of products I love enough to tolerate their  scent, go through them quickly and buy them over and over. The rest-  I could easily live without, especially since I find the smell of their stores mighty unpleasant. I was  pursuing Lush website as I needed to restock a couple of summer essentials (Dream Cream and Silky Underwear powder) and got curious about their solid serum bars. Not that I need another serum or that I had any intention to put this stuff on my face, but I was thinking it might be a very interesting hand product.

Which it is.

Full Of Grace (I love the name) is a smallish bar (about third the size of their body massage/lotion ones) that fits easily in your palm and melts as you touch it. It can get messy, but all you need is a quick rub between your hands to spread the product and coat your skin from cuticles to wrists. The serum feels very rich but sinks in immediately without any greasy residue. It softens the skin right away, including the rougher spots (mine are from typing). The back of my hands which I treat religiously with creams and lotions get a bit waxy for a while, but very soft. It's a nice feeling, overall.

The scent is that typical lush essential oil mess with a side of cheap soap, but it's not too strong or too bad and  I'm willing to deal with it because of the fabulous performance. I wouldn't want it on my face, though. I ordered this serum  weeks ago when the weather was cooler and there was already some minor melting in the package. This is not something you can safely order during the hot months, so a trip to the smelly Lush store is recommended if you want to check it out.

Bottom line: Scent aside, even better than I expected.

Lush Full Of Grace Serum ($13.95, 0.7oz) is available from Lush stores and online (see my warning above).

Photo of my Gracie, just because.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guerlain L'Heure Bleue

In my very subjective mind, no perfume is more Guerlain than L'Heure Bleue. I may usually prefer to wear Shalimar or Mitsouko , but L'Heure Bleue was etched in my scent memory as an icon for all that is French long before I visited Paris for the very first time.

L'Heure Bleue is flowers and pastry. A very delicate, lace-like orange blossom note hovers over the more robust carnation. The official notes mention rose and jasmine, but the blend is so smooth that for me it has always been about the peppery carnation. That's also where the melancholy romance begins. The flowers are not sunny and pink, but awash with cool shadows. I always thought there was some lavender in the mix, but that might be just my mind playing tricks because of the strong color association and the combination of anise and almondy heliotrope.

As L'Heure Bleue progresses it moves from those flowers to pastry. Just like a person strolling the streets of Paris, admiring the sights, the architecture and the atmosphere, then caught by a whiff of freshly baked almond croissants from a nearby cafe. You must enter and indulge, taking in the buttery vanillic aroma of the place. Satisfied, you leave the place and continue your walk. The sun is gone now, city lights starting to appear and you wish there was someone by your side to share it all and spend the night.

L'Heure Bleue, a 1912 release, is one of the classic Guerlain perfumes that seem to have kept most of their original character. I own it in several concentrations, and at least one that is older than me, but find the current versions of the extrait  de parfum ($317, 1 oz at Guerlain boutiques around the world, Saks NYC, Bergdorf, etc.) to be very enjoyable.

Photo: Paris Sunset, 2009 from

Smashbox High Definition Concealer (Light and Medium)

I bought Smashbox High Definition Concealer because I liked the idea of a high-def liquid concealer and all the promises of a good for your skin formula and soft focus pearls (whatever those are). The theory was very appealing, but after a week of testing I was ready to write a grumpy review because of texture issue. For some reason I kept working with it, trying the concealer with different foundations, brushes and on various parts of my face until I had it all figured out:

1. The biggest issue is inconsistency. I have two tubes and the the liquid in Light keeps sweating and separating. Medium is thicker though not really dry. It might be a fluke or a faulty batch, but I bought the concealers directly from I'd expect them to have the highest turnover and freshest products.

2. That said, the concealer is very easy to apply and blend. The liquid is feather light and doesn't cake or pool where you don't need it and doesn't settle into fine lines.

3. It's the first concealer I've come across that clearly works better with some foundations and not with others. My initial frustration was because lighter products like Chanel Vitalumier and the tinted moisturizer from Le Metier de Beaute don't blend well with this concealer, unless you apply them over it and work it with your brushes. My preference is to start with foundation to get and even basic coverage and then use as little concealer as possible.In any case, Smashbox foundation works best with this concealer.

4. The best brush to use with the High Definition concealer is Smashbox no. 4. It's quite thick, soft and spreads the concealer over areas that need it. Thinner brushes and especially pointed ones don't grab the liquid well enough.

5. Which leads us to this concealer's strength and weakness. It's best for covering dark circles and patches of discoloration. It's not the right product for blemishes or tiny imperfections that call for precise work and brushes.

6. I got the concealer in two shades (there are five available), Light and Medium. Both have the yellow/beige undertone I need. I blend them according to the area I'm covering: lighter under the eyes, darker on the cheeks or chin.

There you have it. Bottom line: Not perfect but a pretty good product after all.

Smashbox High Definition Concealer ($18 each) is available from Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta and

Photos by me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

By Kilian- Rose Oud (Arabian Nights Collection)

The last time I tested a perfume centered around a rose and oud theme it was Montale Black Aoud, which sadly turns my skin into a sour mess with a side of tangy burnt rubber. I still try it from time to time, just to torture myself a little. Recently the torment has been even worse. I was not supposed to like Rose Oud from Kilian Hennessey's Arabian Nights Collection, part of his By Kilian line. But I adore it, of course. Montale is such a cheaper date.

The rose in Rose Oud doesn't turn sour because it's almost candied, like a rose preserve (what happened to those Hungarian and Bulgarian rose confitures they used to have at some delis? I haven't seen any in ages and would love to get some). It's enriched with a fruity pulp and  reminds me of the rose note in Amouage Lyric for women, only dirtier. It has a very sensual quality, even if it's not really feminine. The perfume radiates warmth and a velvety feeling.

The oud itself has a black leather quality- that's where less opulent ouds turn into rubber, but Kilian's is smoother. So smooth, in fact, that it's almost drowned by the rose and accompanying spices. I wonder if I like this one because it goes down so easily with the rose dessert, but I'd like to think it's because the combined notes work so well together on my skin. Speaking of which, the strength and  lasting power of Rose Oud are beyond phenomenal. It requires more than a quick shower to get rid of it, so I end up reapplying and living with it for a couple of consecutive days. No complaints from my nearest and dearest so far.

Rose Oud ($395, 50ml) is available anywhere the By Kilian line is sold (Bergdorf, Aedes, Luckyscent). I got a sample at a press event.

Make Up Forever Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil (5L, 20L)

The Make Up Forever display at Sephora is so big and engaging it makes me forget and ignore how much the store itself annoys me. It's all about the colors, and I've been in the mood for some interesting eyeliners. Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner Pencils come in 24 shades, from the classics to some that are really out there (metallic fuschia and yellow, if that's your thing).

The pencils are, indeed, waterfoof. Still, they glide on very smoothly without tugging or pulling and can be nicely smudged to shade the lid (see swatch). They maintain their texture in heat and humidity, don't melt even after a hot shower and require a good makeup remover when you want to take them off. I'd predict these Make Up Forever crayons are going to be my summer staple, especially for long days spent outdoors.

20L is a blue based dark green. I've been after this color for a while and this is perfect (use with sand or beige eyeshadows and blend with a little taupe or mocha color on the lid to keep it from looking too 80s). 5L is a golden khaki with a metallic finish. It's easy to wear and would look flattering on many a skin tone, tan (fake, please!) or not.

Bottom line: As good as it gets.

Make Up Forever Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner Pencils ($17 each) are a Sephora exclusive, also available online.

Photos by me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mona di Orio- Oiro

Just like the name implies, Oiro is golden. Big white florals heavy on jasmine and indoles can go horribly wrong or blindingly gorgeous.Mona di Orio has knack for opulent perfumes with an animalic base unlike anything else currently on the market. Her perfumes smell of skin, ripeness and larger than life flower bouquets and are as non-apologetic as anything can be. Oiro illuminates jasmine, just like Carnation is a study of skin and musk. It takes you to some fantasy land where everyone is 80s style glamorous, attending decadent parties all night long and lounge in the shade of cool patios during the day.

Despite the hint of debauchery, Oiro isn't dark and doesn't loom on the skin. It's alive and surprisingly sheer and sparkling. I was expecting the ylang-ylang to go creamy, but instead the vetiver note holds a certain crispness that I find very appealing and makes this Mona di Orio scent easy to wear on a summer day, as long as you don't have an immortelle aversion.

Mona di Orio perfumes are once again losing their US retailer with the closing of Takashimaya. The closing sale is still on until the end of the month (40% off the $180 original price). After that we're left with Les Senteurs in London (they ship worldwide).

Art: Transition by Henry Asencio

Sephora by OPI Under My Trench Coat & Essie Jazz

I've been having a nail polish crisis. All of a sudden I got tired of super bright colors and ultra shimmer. Everything looked off, too much, overdone and just plain wrong. I also got tired of the three coat ritual to get that perfect utterly unnatural finish. So I dug out my namesake, Gaia by Zoya, which is a white with gold flakes. I used it as a wash of color more than a full coverage manicure, but even that was not quite what I wanted because Gaia looks better mid-summer. I have several beige options but somehow none made me happy, until a quick shopping excursion for other items led me to these two colors.

Sephora by OPI Under My Trench Coat is a taupish nude beige with very light shimmer. It's not quite as mushroomy as Chanel Particulier and other colors in that range, but it has a cool undertone balanced by the almost gold shimmer. Essie Jazz is a bit warmer, more opaque and creamy- there's no shimmer there.

Texture-wise, The OPI is much thinner and dries quickly. It's perfect as a quick one coat, not-quite full manicure look, though with a second coat and a clear top it's as elegant and sophisticated as any color can be. Jazz is very creamy and a lot thicker, which means streaky, so I must take more time to let it dry properly and apply a second  coat . It's worth it, though, because the result is quite refined and looks effortless and very chic.

I bought Under My Trench Coat ($9) at Sephora Union Square (also available online) and Essie Jazz ($8) at a J. Crew store.

All photos are mine.

Notes From The Perfume Front

1. Annick Goutal is back with a vengeance. While I've heard some kvetching about Barneys not having most of the scents online, the NYC store has everything, including the newest one, Ninfeo Mio. The latter (and several other Goutals) is also inexplicably available at Antropologie.

2. Speaking of Anthroplogie, I just looked at their website. If you dig deep enough to find their perfume section (someone on their web team needs some lessons in information architecture), you'll find not only Goutal and the rest of the brands they've been carrying for a while (Tokyo Milk, Tocca, Lollia, Anna Sui), but also an edited selection from Histoires de Parfums and D.S. Durga.

3. While not much is left at Takashimaya's closing sale, there are some worthy perfumes to be found. Mona di Orio, Neil Morris and several Histoires de Parfums bottles are still available, as well as Debut and Emotionelle by DelRae. Everything is 40% off.

4. The SAs at Barneys are becoming pushier than ever.

5. I saved the best for last. MiN NY (117 Crosby Street ) is a good reason to deal with SoHo mess and masses even on the weekend.  The store is spacious which allows for sniffing without suffocating. There's a good selection of skin care and grooming products, home fragrance and, of course, perfumes. The entire L'Artisan range, Parfum d'Empire, Frapin, Linari (I think I love Angelo di Fiume in all its heavy caramelized glory) and Miller Harris. Speaking of which, MiN is not only getting the classic line, but will soon be the exclusive US retailer of Miller Harris Nouvelle Edition, body products, home fragrance, oils and teas (I can't wait. Thé Bigarade sounds especially amazing). Everything is (or going to be) available online. But it's not just about exclusive brands and wonderful products. There's also friendly, welcoming and super knowledgeable service. That alone is a reason to celebrate.

Photo: People inside a perfume store by Hans Wild, 1947.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend Roundup

We've all been enthralled with Bobbi Brown's Pretty Powerful campaign. Well, Charlestongirl from Best Things in Beauty took a young friend to a Nordstrom Bobbi Brown counter for her own Pretty Powerful makeover. See the glowing results.

Kari at Fabulous Over Forty shares with us her interview with Liz Earle, creator of Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare. See what expert advice she has for us.

Ready for some sun-loving fun? Kelly at Gouldylox Reviews shares with us some of her fun, fresh summer finds that will keep your skin in youthful shape.

Wouldn't we all love to own a Chanel bag or a Hermes skirt? As spendy as they are, Lauren from BeautyXposé teaches us why these luxury pieces can cost us so much of our hard earned money.

Custom makeup or already pre-packaged? Cindy from Prime Time Beauty shows us both worlds with Three Custom Colors range of beauty.

Carla from Product Girl continues her Stila product reviews. This time it's the new One Step Prime Color, for lips, cheeks and eyes. See what she thinks of this new tube of color.

Can you imagine being in beauty heaven? KarlaSugar from The Next Best Thing to Going Shopping Yourself attended The Makeup Show last weekend, her own beauty heaven! See some of the people and products she was in awe of.

Have a lovely weekend filled with beauty and laughter!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Parfum d'Empire- Cuir Ottoman

Someone wrote a few years ago either on one of the blogs or a perfume message boards that wearing Cuir Ottoman is like wearing your leather couch. I think they meant it in the best possible way. Personally, I think of Cuir Ottoman as wearing a supple, exquisitely cut leather jacket over a feminine dress- a vintage floral print or ethereal silk.

I never got the Parfum d'Empire obsession with empires and emperors of yore. Naming a perfume after the Ottoman Empire makes as much sense to me as doing the same for Palpatine and his Galactic Empire. But that quirk aside, there is something about Cuir Ottoman that evokes a romantic westernized idea of that part of the world, like a sepia photograph from the turn of the (previous) century. But this perfume is mostly about iris and leather, a weird synthetic note that appeals on the same level that causes some of us to enjoy the smell of a gas station, a hint of ripe fruit and a vanillic drydown.

Cuir Ottoman is just weird enough to be interesting, but never crosses the "do I like it because it's odd?" line. No, this is one of the best smelling leather perfumes I own, on all its quirks. I find the powdery iris aspect very appealing and the vanilla-benzoin of the base very sumptuous. While the first instinct regarding leather scent is to only wear them between Labor Day and Memorial Day, I find that it develops nicely even in the heat of summer and never turns sour.

Cuir Ottoman ($110, 100 ml) , like the other Parfum d'Empire scents, is available from MiN New York, Luckyscent and Aedes.

Photo: Leatherist on Flickr.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics- Lipstick, Lip Gloss, Lip Liner

A couple of makeup artists who've done my makeup recently put a lot (and I mean A LOT) of emphasis on my eyes and used lighter shades than what I normally choose for my lips. Some looks worked better than others and I was sold on the suggestion from Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics national guru and got the colors you see here. Next week I'll show a couple of other lip gloss colors from this line, as well as the Lip Shine that comes in a compact.

The lipstick in Bliss is a shimmery golden pink and looks full of sunshine. It's a neutral-to-warm color, but without any trace of orange. It glides on nicely, offers medium coverage, feels soft and stays put through a quick drink. The formula is semi-moisturizing, though not as much as what you get from some of the top brands. The same goes for the finish. It looks good, but lacks a bit of dimension.

Toping the lipstick with Youngblood's Mesmerize lip gloss enhances the gold and takes it straight into summer. It has vacation and beach parties written all over this look. The result is very similar to Chanel Amberlight Glossimer from Fall 2008. The gloss itself is more moisturizing than Chanel.

It wasn't too long ago that I was struggling to find lip liners that looked natural on my lips. The colors that used to pass as "nude" were usually too beige and chalky for me (a review of a couple of much better nudes from Chanel and Edward Bess are coming soon). Youngblood's liner in Plum is an excellent example for a color that blends seamlessly with my natural pigment. Yes, it's plum, but that's exactly what I need. The liner serves to define and anchor the lipstick in place without making its presence known. The texture is a bit dry, so I don't use it to fill the entire lip area without a good moisturizing lip base.

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics lipstick ($17),  lip gloss ($21) and liner ($13) are available from Henri Bendel, which was where I bought mine, and on the company's website (

All photos are mine.

Nanette by Nanette Lepore

Elizabeth Arden, the owner of Nanette Lepore's perfume license, clearly didn't put much effort into naming the 2009 release from the brand. Not a good sign, considering the original Nanette Lepore by Nanette Lepore (I'm getting annoyed typing the name) was a boring fruity floral and only marginally better than its follow up Shanghai Butterfly with its barfalicious apple note. But Nanette actually deserves better.

While not an innovative creation, Nanette is a very pleasing floriental that doesn't insult the intelligence and nostrils. It was part of the pink pepper epidemic, but I'll take this ubiquity instead of most super clean and fresh top notes. At least pink pepper smells alive and semi real. It is followed by mostly synthetic floral notes. They say it's rose, violet and muguet, but they lack the vibrancy of real flowers. It's pleasant, though, and while I smell berries and maybe nectarine (not listed, but most certainly there), Nanette is not sticky, sickly or overly sweet. It actually moves and develops on my skin in an unexpected way. There's a lavender-vanilla accord somewhere in the drydown, a hint of powder and a sweet amber-incense base. It's not sophisticated but an easygoing and friendly perfume has its place.

I can't say that I'm moved to buy a full bottle, but I wouldn't feel miserable to be stuck in an elevator with a Nanette fan.

Nanette by Nanette Lepore ($68, 1.7oz) is available from most department stores as well as from Sephora. Most retailers have samples on hand.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This & That

1. Here's what Miller Harris PR (one of the most straightforward, competent and helpful I've come across in a very long time) had to say about L'Air de Rien:
As for L’Air de Rien, this is still going strong! We launched Un Petit Rien as the fresher, ligher alternative to the original, which is not being reformulated nor phased out. Both fragrances will co-exist (Un Petit Rien being L’Air de Rien’s softer, younger sister perhaps) and we also have a candle and body cream in the original scent.
2. It's only been eight days since I started testing Cle de Peau Anti Age Spots serum (couldn't they find a better name?), but I already see something happening there. I'm not fully brightened just yet, but there's a change and some shifting in the discolored areas. It's too early to tell much, but I have a good feeling.

3. Why is there a cheeseburger on the cover of Martha Stewart Living? Not a good thing, seriously.

4. I can't wait for Lost to be over. The show has jumped the shark around the time they opened the hutch, yet I found it impossible to stop watching. The sooner they're gone the better. Yes, Sawyer too.

Photo by Abe Schrader, 1960, from

Cle de Peau Beaute Luminizing Enhancer Base

Clé de Peau Beauté Luminizing Enhancer Base is not your average makeup primer. It takes a bit of adjustment- the first couple of times I ended up with a bit of a Kabuki face because it's pearly white, not sheer. The base targets and evens skin tone and not necessarily texture, so my guess would be that if you need a primer to fill lines or scars and provide a a smooth surface, this Cle de Peau product might not deliver. However, it does affect the foundation and finish, so there is a visible smoothing effect and at least some enhancing of your foundation performance and lasting. Not as much as most silicone primers that really cement your makeup in place, but enough to make a difference.

So what does the Clé de Peau Beauté Luminizing Enhancer Base actually do?

Mostly, it brightens and gives the face a subtle and an unidentified glow while reducing the appearance of discolorations, uneven skin tone and dark circles. I'd say it's like Nars Brightening Serum on steroids, or maybe with a hefty dose of Touche Eclat. I saw a significant difference when using the base on the dark circle under just one eye compared to the other one. I tried taking photos, but this is beyond my skills or my camera's capabilities, so you'll have to take my word for it. This photographing experiment has also shown a certain glare that affected the pictures. I'd strongly suggest consulting with an experienced makeup artist before you wear it for a photo shoot.

Clé de Peau suggests adding a coat or two for darker areas, and that's true. Unlike most primers, this base builds up. It can also be used over your foundation with very nice results (again, be careful  if you're using it before having your engagement picture taken). I also mixed some with sheer coverage foundations (Chanel Vitalumiere) and with a tinted moisturizer. It worked every time. Used under mineral makeup, the Luminizing Base requires a very light hand and cautious when buffing the minerals. It required some practice, but once I got it, the results were great. Just make sure your skin is very (VERY) well-moisturized. At least if you're my age and trying to look alive.

Which brings us to two usage tips:
1. Despite claims, the base is not an adequate moisturizer for normal to dry skin.
2. Avoid your eyebrows, or better yet, use brow wax or something similar to protect them. It's a hassle to get the liquid out of the eyebrows, and I promise you, pearly white is not a good look for that part of the face.

Bottom line: Probably not a must-have, but used judiciously it can be a great addition to the makeup addict arsenal.

Cle de Peau Beaute Luminizing Enhancer Base ($90) is available from top department stores, including online. I bought it at my local Saks and highly recommend you get a SA/ MUA to demonstrate it before you buy. Thankfully, Cle de Peau people are among the best you can find and they seem to be extra passionate about the line.

Image: vintage Japanese cosmetics ad from

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Diptyque- Philosykos

The figs on the box of Diptyque Philosykos always looked to me more like mutant hazelnuts than as my favorite fruit. But that's the only imperfection in this Olivia Giacobetti creation that set the standard for fig perfumes.

Philosykos has all the elements we usually find in a fig scent- green leaves, bleached dry wood, a little sap and just a hint of barely there sweet creaminess without going fully into coconut milk territory. The secret of Philosykos is in the careful balance between all these elements. I'm not brave enough to test myself on blind identifying each of my fig perfumes. I'd like to think that I can- each one of them highlights another aspect of the tree and its fruit. Philosykos would probably require the most attention because none of the notes takes center stage for very long. It's the most synergistic of the ever-growing bunch.

Philosykos maintains a crispness that makes it appealing for men and women alike. It has cool green leaves and smooth warm wood in a perfect (here's that word again) balance. I like my fig fragrances in winter, when they remind me of long summer days to come, just as I love them as the easiest choice when summer days finally arrive and one needs a perfume that can stand up to them.

Philosykos ($88, 50ml) is available from all Diptyque stockists- Luckyscent, Aedes and Beautyhabit, as well as Barneys and Saks. There's also a travel set and body products. I've been eyeing the body cream for a while now, so maybe it's time I do something about it.

Art: Study of a fig tree by John Singer Sargent

Shiseido The Skincare Gentle Cleansing Cream

Shiseido is one of my go-to skin care brands and one I often recommend when asked for advice. I like their eye  creams and the White Lucent range and always count on them for performance. That's why I find the Gentle Cleansing Cream so odd. They promise a lot- a cleanser that works with or without water to remove makeup and impurities. Only it doesn't.

Maybe my primers have superpowers, but if other cleansers and wipes can take care of a full face of makeup, Shiseido's Gentle Cream should be able to do it, too. Yet, no matter if I use it wet or dry, about half the makeup (foundation, blush, powder) just smudges and smears, so I must follow up with a better cleanser rendering the Shiseido utterly pointless. I've tested it with three sample tubes from different sources (including one from the Salon du Palais royal Shiseido in Paris), always with the same results. It might be a nice product for morning cleansing, when you don't have any makeup on (I hope), but even I'm not so high maintenance to require a morning and an evening cleanser.

Bottom line: Not for me.

Shiseido The Skincare Gentle Cleansing Cream ($30, 4.3oz) is available from most department stores. Nordstrom is quite generous with samples.

Image: vintage Pond ad from


Frederick Reiken, the author of what might be my favorite books of all time, The Lost Legends Of New Jersey, has a new novel out, Day For Night. The husband is currently reading it, so I have a day or two to locate my attention span and start reading.

Just discovered two Canadian singers/songwriters: Justin Ruteledge and Amelia Curran. Saw them last Friday in The Living Room, NYC, and bought just about everything they ever recorded.

Frequently worn outfit/item
Just got these DVF Opal wedge sandals. I'm going to live in them in the coming months. Very comfortable for 4" heels (I need all the help I can get in that department).

Vintage Lauren, the original formula. I'm on a green kick.

Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complexe Tinted Treatment Fluid. This tinted moisturizer is pure magic. Review coming soon, after I spend another week or so testing it.

Tabla restaurant in NYC (wonderfully friendly to vegetarians) has this new salad on the menu, made with fresh green chickpeas. I didn't even know such a thing existed. It tastes like a cross between fresh green peas and chickpeas.

Fresh lime juice in soda water.

Guilty Pleasure
Buying baked goods from Whole Foods instead of making them from scratch. I'd feel more guilty, but those chocolate madeleines were to die for.

Bane of my existence
The cats found the bag of catnip and had a party all over my dressing room.

Having my makeup done again by Pamela from Guerlain. This is going to be good.

These Diego Dolcini and Sergio Rossi sandals.

What are your current thoughts, loves, banes and recommendations this week?

Guerlain Coriolan and L'Ame d'un Héros

Two years ago while visiting La Maison Guerlain in Paris, The Blond got a sample of L'Ame d'un Héros (soul of a hero), one of Guerlain's less famous masculine perfumes. He liked it it, but not enough to buy the 125ml Les Parisiennes bee bottle on the spot, especially at the outrageous exchange rates of summer 2008. L'Ame d'un Héros smelled like a very suave woods and greens cologne,  understated and easy going but having a strong backbone.

Looking online I realized that L'Ame d'un Héros had somewhat of a murky history and several incarnations, the most distinct was in 1998 under the name Coriolan. One look at the note list for Coriolan reveals that with bergamot in the top notes and an oakmoss-patchouli drydown, it's most definitely a chypre. A quick search has also revealed that while discontinued and replaced with the newly orchestrated (Guerlain-speak for reformulation) L'Ame, bottles of Coriolan were still available online at a deep discount.

A bottle was promptly ordered.

Interestingly enough, I probably wear Coriolan more often than the husband does. I love the almost tactile feeling of juniper branches and berries. It's green and can feel a bit sharp at times, and the lack of sweetness or smoothness in the base is unsettling, but I discovered that one tiny drop of Shalimar extrait on the décolleté fixes and Guerlainifies Coriolan for me. Most men probably don't need this gilding. Coriolan is easy to wear and despite the military association of the bottle, it has the same suaveness of L'Ame and bedroom eyes of the model from the ads.

Coriolan can still be easily found online for under $30 (1.7oz, 50ml). The oakmoss-less gentrified version, L'Ame d'un Héros, is available from Guerlain boutiques around the world ($225, 125ml)

Coriolan 1998 ads:

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Monday... time for more PR weirdness

My reading comprehension skills are failing me. I can't for the life of me figure out this email, other than that someone wants me to write about something. The thought process that resulted in this piece of PR drivel  is way beyond me, though. Maybe my friends and readers can figure it out. Once again, my own comments are in red.
Hi Gaia, (at least she got my name right)
It’s Father’s Day again and you might be thinking how you should reward yourself for the years of dedication and hard work that you have put into your family.(Because obviously I'm not only a man but also a father)
Take a quick look in the mirror and you might realize that the greasy hamburgers, genetics, and extra beers have left your body in need of a little TLC. (Why, thank you. My vegetarian no-drinking self might forgive this. My mother? not so much)
So what to do? It’s not that you haven’t been to the gym, but nothing can hide the fact that you still suffer from cellulite and a little extra flab that didn’t used to reside on your thighs and stomach.(I'm about ready to cry)
It’s Father’s Day and you deserve to treat yourself to what you really want; a body that more closely resembles the one you had 10 years ago. This is where [our wonderful product] comes into play, offering a perfect solution to a less than perfect dilemma. (Still haven't figured out how my deteriorating girly figure fits in with Father's Day. Maybe I'll ask my dad)
[blah blah blah about how diet, exercise and cosmetics products don't work]
We have partnered with several top physicians in the area and would love to coordinate an interview. Please let me know if you would like any additional information at [email protected] or 1-800-fail

Smashbox Iconic Eyes Kit

There's some major beauty news today about Smashbox being bought by Estee Lauder. Acquisitions of this sort are usually only good for the ones pocketing the money (the Factor brothers, in this case). But since Lauder isn't necessarily known for cheapening products or artistically assimilating the companies it purchases, I'm not freaking out yet. Though I would most certainly will if I see signs of MACification.

Smashbox is well-known for creating kits and sets that are not only good value, but also carefully edited. That makes them a very appealing gift, because it's not just a bunch of random items. These kits also simplify things for travel, unless you're me and go nuts when packing.

The  Iconic Eyes Kit is exclusive to Ulta and I was so keen on getting it because of the eyeliner duo, the two full size brushes and the beautiful indigo eye shadow. The opportunity to test a new (to me) eye lid primer also didn't hurt. The set also includes a full size Bionic Mascara, and the eye shadow is actually part of a four color palette. And there's an insert with a step by step instruction for two different looks.

I absolutely love the cream eye liner duo. I have several blue eyeliners, but this navy with a touch of violet is quite unique. The texture is softer and more smudgeable  than similar Bobbi Brown or Lancome products, so take this into account. It's perfect for creating a smoky eye, not so perfect when you need an eyeliner that would stay put under any and every condition. Setting it with a powder eye shadow helps, but it still can't make it utterly firm.

The primer is thicker than the Urban Decay but not quite as creamy as the top product in this category, the Sensai by Kanebo Eye Base. Still, it does the job quite well. I haven't had the chance to test the performance on a rainy day, but I don't foresee any issues.

Smashbox eye shadows are not all equally created. I've had better success with the ones that come in the trio pan than with last season's Heartbreaker palette. I'm happy to report that I really like the quality of the four shadows here. They are all silky smooth, blendable and reasonably pigmented- even the lightest ones in the bunch.There is some fine crumbling, but not the at the chunk level of the previous palette.

Bottom line: Irresistible.

I bought this Smashbox Iconic Eyes Kit ($47) at my local Ulta. It's also available online.

Photos by me with the help of Giselle. In our house the cat with the most iconic eyes is actually Betty (named after Bette Davis and her eyes):