Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tocca Brigitte

Are you in the mood for a fruity floral? I can't say that I am, but if I were, Brigitte by Tocca might have been a really pleasant option, and I couldn't be more surprised. It has all the making of stuff I hate, and actually the first couple of times when I sprayed Brigitte all I got was that generic fruit-saturated rose-peony pink mess. But I started dabbing smaller amounts for more testing and all of a sudden the more interesting notes started to emerge.

Rhubarb is a nice choice for a fruity note. It's tart enough not to be cloying and it smells... red, I guess. There's a rumor about papaya, but I get none of that (a good thing, as I don't even like eating papaya, let alone wearing it).  The rhubarb is nicely accompanied by a mild ginger note and saffron. It's not really edgy or anything, but the saffron takes the pie into some darker places and the result on skin is quite sexy. I like saffron, with or without rose, and this could be a first step if you want to explore the note before trying the heavy hitters like Black Cashmere, Frapin, Idole and he various By Kilians that employ it.

The drydown is more sandalwood than the usual generic musk I've come to expect. Personally I would have liked a hint of vanilla or tonka bean, but I guess Tocca wasn't really going for a pie à la mode. The inspiration for the scent was Brigitte Bardot (in her younger days, I assume, and not the frumpy animal rights activist of the present) and the south of France in general. I can't say I fully get the olfactory reference, since Brigitte is more cute and naively pretty than anything else. Then again, there was this kind of naiveté to Brigitte Bardot even at her most sexualized moments, so maybe that's it.

Brigitte by Tocca ($68, 1.7oz EDP) is available at Sephora and Anthroplogie stores (and online), and for some reason also at Luckyscent.

Photo of Brigitte Bardot by Mark Shaw, 1956,

Cle de Peau Beaute Anti Age Spot Serum

I have quite a few new skin care secrets and discoveries to share over the next couple of weeks. I'm seriously giddy about the effectiveness and overall fabulousness of the new products top companies have been releasing. Skin care has come a long way since the days of cold cream, and we're the ones who benefit from it.

Many of you have been following my quest to get rid of some unfortunate sun damage that took up residence on my face in the form of freckles, dark spots or whatever you want to call them. Cle de Peau labels it "Age Spot", and I don't really mind as long as their serum actually works. And it does. I've mentioned before that I saw some change about 10 days after I first started using the serum. I wasn't entirely sure, but certain areas like the top of my cheekbones seemed a little lighter, more clear maybe, and a recent light scar (roughhousing with a cat is dangerous) has faded and disappeared almost overnight. But you shouldn't draw any conclusions until a minimum of 6 weeks using this kind of products.

So here I am, more than eight weeks later and I was right about what I saw in early May. But the biggest change doesn't even require spending hours gazing at myself. I have two annoying spots on my left cheeks. They've took up residence there about five years ago and I've been going after them with lotions and potions for several years now. The spots used to be a lot darker and more obscene, and in the beginning almost touched each other. Both faded quite a bit since then, the lower one has shrunk somewhat and the distance between them gradually grew. That has always been one of my indicators that the creams and serums were doing at least something. Now, the lower one is nothing but a dot and the bigger one while certainly present and noticeable, is much lighter and can be mostly covered by heavy duty concealers and foundations.

The overall feel of my skin is supple, soft and moisturizers seem to be absorbed very effectively. It's not that I've become Snow White or anything, but my skin is brighter and happier. So am I.

Bottom Line 1: Worth each and every one of the pretty pennies it costs.
Bottom Line 2: Wear your sunblock. Seriously.

Cle de Peau Beaute Anti Age Spot Serum ($155, 1.3 oz) is available from top department stores and select Shiseido standalone boutiques.

Snow White:
Bonne Bell ad with Cheryl Tiegs- Glamour magazine, July 1968:

Smashbox Lip Tech (Sangria, Peony, Maple)

If I remember correctly, I ordered the three Lip Tech colors from Smashbox minutes after I saw them in an email newsletter. The shades, the packaging, the applicator and the new formula were too appealing to pass. I don't have too many matte lipsticks because  dry textures rarely look good on me. But the promise of Vitamin E, emollients and a cushiony feel captured my attention.

Now, matte is matte and will never be really balmy or cushiony, but these Lip Tech are definitely comfortable and not drying, and as a result my lips look good when wearing them and there's no flaking or pooling in the natural lip texture. You still need to make sure your lips are in great condition- exfoliate, moisturize- the works. But that's always true, right?

Every Lip Tech pan comes with a silicone applicator hidden in an inside compartment in the compact. I absolutely love them- these tiny applicators are grab the perfect amount of color, glide and coat easily and keep everything nice and clean. You know I'm not a fan of fingers in my lip products, so this is the perfect solution and saves on toting around a lip brush. Why don't other brands have silicone applicators for lip color?  Actually, I'd buy them in packets of ten at the drugstore if they were available.

I got three of the four colors Smashbox offered. Sangria is a rosy plum, Peony is a warm brownish pink and Maple is very similar withe extra brown. You can see how close the last two really are in the swatches, and I can tell you that on my lips they look practically the same. Actually, since my lips are quite pigmented, in natural indoors light Sangria looks like a slightly darker and a bit more purple version of the other two- they are much more sheer than you'd think. Strong light helps to show the difference, though, and if your lips are pale you'll get the full effect.

Bottom Line: I really really like it.

Smashbox Lip Tech lipsticks ($24 each) are available from

All photos are mine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guerlain Angelique Noire

Despite my general fondness for Guerlain's L'Art et la Matiere series, I never paid much attention to Angelique Noire other than the occasional sniffing to remind myself what it smells like. I always considered it nice, but a bit too floral and dainty for my taste. I'm a Shalimar and Mitsouko girl and often prefer my Guerlain on the dirty side. Angelique Noire felt a bit...blonde, I guess.

The above was true until some time last summer when a SA at the Guerlain counter of Saks NYC flagship store insisted I try it on skin. She took my hand and lightly misted my arm (she used the bulb atomizer) from the crook of my elbow to the wrist. It was love from the first hint of the slightly bitter green angelica mixed with citrus (bergamot, though the husband insists he smells lemons). Yes, Angelique Noire is quite floral, but it's not a pink sweater and pearls kind of floral and is unmistakably a Guerlain in the way it has threads of thick honeyed vanilla running through it.

I once made a comment that while I see the appeal in Chanel Beige, it doesn't go with my hair. Angelique Noire can suit someone who wears Beige when she wants to let her hair down and wear an outrageous (for her) dress. But it works for me just as well, unruly hair or not, and I don't even have to be on my best behavior to wear it.

Angelique Noire ($235, 2.5oz) and the rest of L'Art et la Matiere perfumes are available at Guerlain boutiques around the world, Saks 5th Avenue (only the NYC store), Bergdorf Goodman and a handful of Neiman Marcus locations. Neiman holds an occasional online Guerlain fragrance trunk show that allows internet orders. Samples and decants are available from The Posh Peasant and the Perfumed Court.

Images by Strangemagee on Flickr.

L'Occitane Eau des Baux Stick Deodorant For Men

L'Occitane Eau des Baux Stick Deodorant had two things going for it: it's an alcohol-free formula which I thought would be great for the husband's sensitive skin, and the scent- a blend of cypress and cool incense- is beautiful.

 I picked the deodorant the last time I was at my local L'Occitane store and happily gave it to the Blond. He was delighted with the scent and eager to try it on. The good news is that his armpits have never smelled so good. The bad news is that it only lasted for a few hours before nature took its course. I tried the Eau des Baux Stick myself on a day I was not going to leave the house (a lesson learned from other deodorant testings) and had to agree- it doesn't work unless you're willing and able to reapply every three to four hours.

Bottom Line: Get the shower gel instead.

L'Occitane Eau des Baux Stick Deodorant ($16) is available at every L'Occitane store and online.


Hourglass Cosmetics Illume Creme-to-Powder Bronzer Duo (Sunset)

When I first saw this cream bronzer/blush from Hourglass Cosmetics the intensity of the colors scared me. A lot. The first swatch can tell you why. It's when you actually blend the colors and apply them the way you're supposed to- either with a wide and fluffy synthetic blush brush or your fingers- and blend them , that you get the right effect and sheer finish. And it's quite nice.

The cream is soft and easy to work with. The colors blend smoothly with each other or any other face product I've been using. The formula is wax free and oil free, so I haven't experienced any skin issues. Used over a good foundation/tinted moisturizer and topped with a finishing powder the color stays put all day, even when I spent time outside in the soupy NYC weather.

Hourglass labeled Illume as a bronzer and highlighter duo, but I suspect that it's only true for the other color option, Bronze Light that is a beige and bronze combination . The one you see here, Sunset, with its warm pink and brown shades is actually a blush-bronzer and should be used as such. I like the way the brown balances out the intensity of the pink, but you can also use them separately if your skin tone allows it.  The colors give a summery sun-kissed look and would probably look most flattering on darker and tanned skin. I use very little and make sure to blend within an inch of the colors lives, but when I'm done the result is a healthy and outdoorsy look.

Bottom Line: Nice, versatile and needs more color options.

Hourglass Cosmetics Illume Creme-to-Powder Bronzer Duo ($40) is available from Barneys, Sephora and I received the press sample directly from the company.

All photos are mine.

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier- Centaure

I had the hardest time finding a good art work to accompany this post. Most of what you get when you google centaur images most of what you find is either gloriously hideous or bordering on pornography. Apparently, the concept of half man-half horse captured the image of people far less talented than Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier's Jean Laporte. Centaure the fragrance deserves much better than mytho-porn.

Centaure is considered a masculine and I'm not going to argue with the label on this 1991 Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier creation. All I'm saying is it's so pleasant, balanced and well-made it has a universal appeal and wearability, as long as one does not object to lavender, tobacco and mint in a woody-balsamic setting.  The overall feel of Centaure is very refined- no rough edges or out-of-place notes. It lures you in with a friendly citrus and herbs opening that is crisp without screaming "fresh". The lavender and mint don't try to choke you on hair tonic and toothpaste. Instead, they smell alert and natural and are greatly softened by the floral heart that feels like it's almost lit from within.

The dry-down is where things get a bit darker and more opaque. There is an elegance to the way Centaure comes together and moves from the summer garden into the shade of ancient trees. Maybe that's where the mythological creature is lurking. But if he's there, he's still out of sight and smelling range- don't expect any animalics. Instead, there's an aromatic honeyed tobacco, smooth and rich with an amazing all-day longevity. It's a fabulous summer scent for those of us who get bored easily with the usual citrusy suspects. Yet Centaure has enough depth and body to offer for colder weather.

Centaure and the rest of the Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier line ($120, 100ml) is available from Henri Bendel and Luckyscent. My bottle is of the older 90ml edition. As far as I could tell from a quick spray and Sniff at Bendel they smell the same.

Art: Centaur by Azriel Awret

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lancome Concealers: Effacernes and Maquicomplet

Have I mentioned that concealer is my friend? I especially like liquid ones, though I've come across a few new thicker formulas (stick and creams) that are quite excellent. Still, I find it easier to get optimal results and control when using a liquid concealer.

These two minis from Lancome came from various GWP events, so I didn't get to pick the shade. Still, both are quite versatile and I've been using them successfully. Maquicomplet gives full coverage and has a natural satin-like finish. It smooths over imperfections and doesn't cake or make the problem area look dried up. It covers all but the darkest freckles and blends easily into any foundation or tinted moisturizer I have underneath. The sponge applicator is not ideal- I'd rather use brushes or fingertips and the idea of double dipping, especially if one has blemishes is the germaphobe's worst nightmare.

Correcteur is a bit too yellow for my liking, but I find it actually neutralizes redness very well. My choice for this Lancome concealer would be Light Buff. I tested it in store and it seems like a better match, though with department store lighting you can never be completely sure.

Effacernes is a waterproof under-eye concealer. It's very light and almost melts into the skin, which is a lot more effective than trying to coat and paint that area. Effacernes is different than my favorite under-eye products in its matte finish- I usually go for the highlighter pens (Lancome has one of those which I haven't tried yet) and prefer their results, but there's something to be said for a waterproof natural coverage, especially in the hot and super humid weather we've been experiencing lately. This tube came in Clair II, which is visibly too drak and ashy for me. If I were to get it it would have to be in either Light Buff or Light Bisque.

Lancome Concealers  Effacernes and Maquicomplet ($28.50 each) are available from every department store under the sun.

Photos by me.

Perfume and State Of Our Union

I planned to post a review of Centaure, one of my favorite MPG masculines, but this post by Denyse on Grain de Musc resonated with me so much I had to add my own point of view. After all, I've been blogging for over four years, so the ennui and disenchantment with large parts of the beauty, fashion and perfume industries feels very familiar. I've said in the past that these are strange times for perfumery- the industry and the art itself. To paraphrase Tolkien, the world is changing and we can smell it in our eau and in our oakmoss.

Denyse is asking some important questions:
When was the last time you were enchanted by a perfume, and which one(s)?

Are you starting to suffer from launch fatigue?

And are you restricting the number of houses/perfumers you follow as a result?

Do you feel moved to seek out new voices online? Or is it all just too much to keep up with?

As a blogger, these issues  take up a somewhat different direction. If I'm going to keep doing this, I have to go out there and smell the drek. I don't have to write about all of it, so I usually don't, but I need to know what's out there for the purpose of semi-intelligent reviews. I don't bother with everything and I definitely don't go out of my way to smell it all. I'm lucky to live where I do and have access to just about anything I could ask for- niche, luxury and mainstream. But there's only this much time and skin to spare, so I can be selective. Actually, I have to be selective for the sake of my sanity.

It's not much different when it comes to my other blogging interests. I do not cover every brand of makeup and skin care on the market. I can't try every lipstick, mascara or face wash, and I don't want to do that. I'm often asked why I don't write about certain popular companies. The answer is that I don't want to. I have a certain point of view and I want my blog to be a reflection of me and my tastes, not of every marketing pitch and press release in the universe.

We all know there are too many products and too many new releases. It's true for lipstick and it's true for perfume. Like most of us, news about a new exclusive niche houses no longer thrill me and send me rushing to  order samples and question the guys at Aedes, Begdorf and the rest of the usual suspects for all the details.  I wonder if there's really an artistic vision behind the new perfume entrepreneur whose PR team is emailing me enthusiastically or if it's just another cynical jump on the very tired bandwagon to make a few bucks (because we all know that perfume-making is the way to untold riches. Right). So, yes, it's easier to stick with what I know. I will never skip a new Tauer (a review of Orange Star is coming this week or next), the work of Vero Kern (ditto, regarding the new EDPs that are about to launch) and I'm always excited about a new creation from one of the Christophers (Sheldrake and Brosius). I might not feel the rush to be the first to report on anything (though it's nice when that happens), but I'm excited to be out there, smell and experience.

Compared to early 2006, when I started blogging, there really is an extraordinary number of beauty, fashion and perfume blogs. Personally, I can't keep up with everyone everyday. I don't even try. But I like that the community is expanding. After all, one of our goals is to reach a wider audience, to make more people realize that there is so much more to perfume than the people who spray them in the face at Macy's. A few of the veteran blogs are no longer being updated. Some bloggers drifted away, got involved in other projects or simply lost their mojo. New blogs come and go. Hopefully, the best ones will find their niche and readership and we all will benefit from that.

With many thanks to Denyse who started the discussion and, as usual, made me think.

Art by Kirtsy Mitchell

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekly Roundup June 25, 2010

It's summer. No doubt about it. But it takes more than heat and humidity to slow us down. Here's what my friends have been up to this week.

Kari introduced us to Judith August and her cosmetics line at Fab over Forty. Love this quote: "I was born with a makeup brush in my mouth, not a silver spoon."

Charlestongirl was converted to Edward Bess Cosmetics by me (yay for successful enabling). She showed us why Compact Rouge has landed on her list of multitasking cream blush favorites at Best Things in Beauty

Kelly dispelled any doubts that Tarte's Park Avenue Princess Matte Bronzer is waterproof. Head over to Gouldylox Reviews for the glowing proof.

At BeautyXposé, Anne (and esthetician Renée Rouleau) reminded us why our everyday activities can lead to more cumulative sun damage than lying on the beach now and then.

Ever heard of Beecology Bath & Body products? You'll want to read Prime Beauty for Cindy's frugal find. It's good for you, and, it turns out, good for charity too!

We haven't checked in on Debbi for awhile. Find out why St. Tropez Self-Tanning Mousse has left her gushing at DivaDebbi.

Victoria Stiles recommends Urban Decay's Midnight Cowboy Body Shimmer Lotion at Makeup Artist Backstage. It's packed with good-for-your-skin ingredients.

Laurie gave us a preview of Chanel's Fall 2010 Makeup Collection at Product Girl. A few of us are in the "virtual line" to buy these gorgeous pieces the second they hit the stores. You know I'll be there.

Amber reviewed and swatched the new Bare Escentuals BUXOM Big & Healthy Lip Sticks at Beauty Junkies Unite.

After several yawn-inducing duds, finally something interesting from Bobbi Brown- The Denim & Roses fall collection. Find out why it put Lianne in the mood for fall at The Makeup Girl.

Stay cool and enjoy your weekend!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Laura Mercier Satin Lip Colour, Lip Glace and Lip Pencil

These three Laura Mercier mini  lip items were part of various GWP events over the last several months. I didn't keep track of what came from where, but it doesn't really matter. We're here to test and discuss the products, after all. As you can see, none are exactly my kind of colors, and looking at the swatches it's pretty obvious why- I think they bring out the yellow undertones in my skin. Nonetheless, the textures and quality are nice and at least in the case of the lipstick and gloss I've been putting them to good use by mixing and layering. I have enough dark lip colors that can be toned down a little for the season.

Duchess Rose is not the first time I've come across Laura Mercier's Satin Lip colour formula. I was in love with Currant but had to pass because the semi-matte texture didn't work for me. This problem is less acute in this much lighter color, and since I have to blend the lipstick with other products anyway, it's even less of an issue. Duchess Rose was more appealing to me in the tube. When applied it's a bit too warm and peachy to look good on me. It's also significantly lighter than my naked lips, which is not a look I'm comfortable wearing.

As you can see, the lip pencil in Natural Lips doesn't match the lipstick. It doesn't match anything else, either, and definitely doesn't look natural. I'm not sure who might have lips in this light brown or why would anyone want to have them. This liner was definitely a dud for me.

The Lip Glace in Bare Beige managed to get me interested in other Laura Mercier lip glosses. While the color is nothing to write home about (I apply it over red), the texture is very pleasant and light, the shimmer is subtle and the shine last after one drink. I see Brownberry in my future.

All these products in full size($19-$22)  are available from Most decent department stores stock at least some of them.

Photos by me.

Coty Les Muses (Vintage Perfume)

I don't have a complete list of notes, any official (or semi-official) information or even a copy of a print ad from the 1946 release of Coty's Les Muses. All I have is my bottle of the 1970s-80s reissue, my nose and a slew of compliments I get whenever I wear it. Seriously, even my husband likes it and doesn't complain about it "smelling like vintage", probably because it doesn't have a thick layer of expired aldehydes in the opening and the overall impression is sweet and smooth.

Les Muses smells pretty. Very pretty. It's enthusiastic and uplifting to the point of elation- something in the sunny floral blend, I assume. I smell tuberose and muguet and they hang in the air and reverberate like the sound of a silver bell. It makes sense that such exuberance was created just after the end of World War II. It's the kind of scent that makes me want to take the stairs two at a time, wear a cute dress and skip outside.

I smell wood in the drydown, especially a very nice sandalwood- a little sweet, not too creamy. Les Muses lasts and holds its structure for hours, even though my bottle is only of the EDT (it looks the same as the Chypre reissue from the same time period). It's another reminder of Coty's past and heritage, now sadly gone and drown in a vat of celebrity perfumes and cheapened drugstore scents.

Les Muses was originally released in 1946, discontinued at some point in the 60s and reissued again in the late(?) 1970s together with Chypre and La Rose Jacqueminot. Bottles keep popping online, though mostly are of the later incarnation like mine. I have no idea if and how much it differs from the original.

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaed,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

OPI Holiday 2010- The Swiss Collection

I'm still in denial about the fall collection that are coming out in the next few weeks (and going to be sold out by August), and here's a glimpse from OPI holiday 2010 collection. This time they are inspired by Switzerland, so I expect at least one of the twelve colors named after Heidi (of the Alps, not the Hills) and a milk chocolate shade. But those are just my wild guesses. This is what we know for now (from the WWD coverage of a special show in Milan):
"The palette runs from a dark green, named Cuckoo for This Color, to Glitzerland, a sparkly gold, to a vibrant pink red called Diva of Geneva. The collection will hit shelves globally in October and will be priced at $8.50."

Info and photo: WWD

Givenchy Gloss Interdit (14 Sensual Chocolate)

I originally intended to buy the limited edition for summer 2010 Pop Gloss Crystal Sun in Island Cocoa (474), but the amount of glitter has put me off, but since I really like Givenchy lip glosses I opted instead for Sensual Chocolate from the regular Gloss Interdit range. The full name of this Givenchy product is Gloss Interdit Ultra-Shiny Color Plumping Effect (try saying it three times), and if you're familiar with the line you already know not to expect any burning or tingling sensation because the plumping effect is not through irritation but through the extra moisturizing from skincare grade ingredients (hyaluronic acid micro-spheres and cameline oil). The comfortable wear and beautiful shiny finish have made the Gloss Interdit line a favorite.

Sensual Chocolate is a brown based rosy plum. It's not too purple and not too brown, especially if worn lightly (the color and coverage are buildable). It's a little shimmery and works well with a (fake) bronzed summer face as well as when I opt for a pale look, and is neutral enough to be paired with aqua and turquoise eye makeup (such as Givenchy Le Prisme Island Lagoon). The staying power is average- it fades after a couple of hours and a drink, which means reapplying and dealing again with the cloying fruity scent.

Bottom Line: Like.

Givenchy Gloss Interdit ($25.50) is a Sephora exclusive. Available online and in store.

All photos are mine.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tom Ford Private Blend- Champaca Absolute

Is Champaca Absolute the big  fruity floral in Tom Ford's Private Blend line? Yes and no, I guess. The floral heart notes take center stage and they are accentuated with sweet round plums and a plum liqueur. But, really, this is not something that belongs in a pink bottle on Sephora's shelves. The first blast is very alcoholic and boozy. Something between Armagnac and a plum brandy. It reminds me of the smell of the Slivovitz my father's Bulgarian cousin has brought when he visited many years ago. I couldn't decide back than if it smelled good or not, but it's much easier this time. Champaca Absolute smells really really good.

The flowers (jasmine, violet, orchid, champaca) are blended into a single accord of prettiness.It leans to the tropic side, a little loud and exuberant, but after wearing it enough times and learning to listen I've begun to smell the softness that lies underneath. It feels like a layer of silk, not quite powdery and not quite sweet- I guess that's the steamed rice quality of champaca. I have yet to find it when wearing Ormonde Jayne's Champaca which I like well enough, but Tom Ford's version works better on my skin for one reason or another.

Maybe it's the base. Champaca Absolute dries down rich and sweet. After four or five hours it becomes a full blown oriental, even though the floral accord is tenacious enough to still be hover and appear here and there, especially in the heat. I can't say I get the promised marron glace note, but there is quite a bit of sweet creaminess to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Champaca Absolute, like the rest of Tom Ford Private Blend perfumes ($180, 1.7oz), is available from Bergdorf Goodman, select Saks, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus locations and their online stores.

Art by the wonderfully talented Kirsty Mitchell 

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics- Pressed Eyeshadow Quad (Vintage)

Eye shadows in mauve-eggplant-pink colors can be a little tricky, because the wrong shade in this range can make the eyelid look bruised. There needs to be just enough red pigment in the base but not much to appear weird, and the right combination of colors varies from face to face.

Vintage is one of seven pressed eye shadow quads offered by Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics. Some of the colors in the quads (Bordeaux and Merlot, in this case) are also available as singles, while others are exclusive to the palettes. Vintage, with its range of soft weather-washed mauves, is my favorite collection of these colors and the most flattering for my skin tone I've come across in a long time.

The pigments are very rich,  so a soft brush and a light hand can achieve a lot of depth. The texture is very smooth, soft and blendable. The colors are matte and have a muted finish which I really like. I've been using the quad over various lid primers with perfect lasting results- the eye shadows stay in place and still look fresh by the end of the day.

The one color in this Youngblood quad that doesn't work for me is Blush, the pink one. It's too pink and too dominant to serve as a highlighter under the brow bone, and has too much red in its base to be worn anywhere else. So I need a single highlighter/base color whenever I'm using the other eye shadows here, which makes it less efficient for me to use on the go but is perfectly fine at home.

Bottom Line: Pretty.

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics Pressed Eyeshadow Quads ($43) are available from Henri Bendel (in store only) and directly from the company ( A press sample was sent for my consideration.

Creed- Love In Black

The problem with Creed's Love In Black is its pretentiousness. I happen to think it's a pretty little thing, but it doesn't live up to any of the promises. It starts with the name. Love In Black should be dark, sexy and  mysterious. Not a juicy berries and violet jam. Then there's the whole Creed ethos, from the rabid fans to the unjustified reputation of only using the best and most natural ingredients.Considering Love In Black's obvious synthetic quality this is not even funny. Then there's the Jackie O aspect. The marketing literature claimed Olivier Creed's inspiration for Love In Black was the style and grace of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. All I can say to that is "Whatever".

On my skin the berries and candied violet take center stage in such an aggressive way nothing else emerges for long hours. When I smell it from a bottle or a sample vial I can tell there's other stuff in there, but since my skin amplifies fruit in general and berries in particular, Love In Black is all purple sweetness when I wear it. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I can think of several more interesting variations on this particular theme just in my own collection: Tom Ford Private Blend Black Violet, Balmain La Mome and Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste. It reminds me mostly of MPG's Fleur d'Iris, only the latter seems to have more iris in it, at least in its original incarnation (I haven't tried it since the re-bottling).

Love In Black was supposed to be an iris fragrance. It takes most of the day and lots of patience for me to find the iris note, and it's week and lacks any of the mystery or elegance associated with it. The same goes for Jackie Kennedy's ghost. Love In Black is cute and sweet and is more of a débutante than a gracious First Lady. It's a sunny and optimistic scent, easy to wear and uncomplicated. If you insist on finding Jackie in there it is the young Jacqueline Bouvier, long before politics, losses, Marilyn Monroe, Dallas or Greek millionaires entered her life.

Love In Black ($130, 1 oz) is available from Creed authorized retailers, such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Luckyscent and Aedes.

Photos of a very young Jackie:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shiseido Ocean Summer- Red Triton Lipstick (RD 630) and Rainbow Lip Gloss (SV 809)

As promised, here are the two lip products from Shiseido Ocean Summer 2010 collection. Perfect Rouge lipstick in Red Triton RD 630 is a beautiful rich color that has been functioning lately as my everyday red. It looks warmer in the tube, so I was surprised to discover that it's actually quite rosy. The lipstick is very pigmented and darker than you'd expect from a summer color, which makes it a great day-to-night item.

Shiseido Perfect Rouge lipsticks tend to be on the dry side, and Red Triton is no exception. I usually top them with a gloss, so the new Luminizing Lip Gloss in Rainbow (SV 809)- a clear shimmery little thing- was just what I wanted. The gloss has a wonderful gel-like texture. It's not sticky at all, feels rich and moisturizing and has a lasting nourishing effect on the lips. I love the lacquered finish and the way it transforms the lipstick and makes it very glamorous. I don't love the glitter. It's very fine, but still quite noticeable and I'm just not a glitter person. The shimmery particles remain on the lips after the gloss itself wears off, which is another thing I could live without.

By the way, this is a red triton:

Shiseido Ocean Summer Red Triton Lipstick ($25) and Luminizing Lip Gloss in Rainbow ($22) are available from most department stores as well as from Sephora. Mine were purchased at Nordstrom online.

Shiseido makeup and swatch photos are all by me. Red triton photo by Richard Ling.