Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Estee Lauder Pleasures Bloom

Reading Angela's review of Estee Lauder Pleasures Bloom on NST yesterday I kept nodding in agreement:
It’s a drinkable, refreshing potion, like a sipped glass of chilled pink zinfandel from a box on the patio at a baby shower. It doesn’t offend and it definitely refreshes. While it cuts the heat and takes the edge off those irritating baby games, it also doesn’t inspire me to ask for a second glass.
Although I decided I don’t need a bottle of Pleasures Bloom, it would make an easy gift for the aunt you don’t know well. Almost everyone would like Pleasures Bloom even if no one loves it
Yes. Exactly.

A kind SA at Ulta gave me a couple of samples the day my local store got Pleasures Bloom and I admit I enjoyed wearing it. Except for the little problem of getting a piercing headache every time. Which is really unfortunate, because Pleasures Bloom is a rather well-made fruity floral that should be fun and easy to wear. While I'm not much of an Estee Lauder fan (Amber-Ylang Ylang is the only Lauder perfume I bought in 17 or 18 years), I always admired the way the company seems to respect its customers. The fragrances might not be my style but they're clearly made for people who enjoy wearing real perfume. In today's dumbed-down market this is a notable and commendable approach.

Pleasures Bloom smells like a summer fantasy of spending a mid-July day in a shabby chic garden, reading chic lit while lounging in a hammock. Reality is that I avoid the sun, suffer from allergies and get horrible insect bites as soon as I set foot in our yard. My idea of "outdoors" is 5th Avenue and having my phone and laptop around me at all times makes the lounging thing highly uncomfortable. Oh, and shabby chic style is as foreign to me as rococo.

Still, this pink smelling Lauder is fun, light enough to not go sour on skin even though it's loaded with roses, peony, lychee and other imaginary fruit and I've worn it on some seriously scorching days. It smelled good. It smelled nice. It was so decidedly not me I felt like crawling out of my skin even without the aforementioned headache.

I'd love to smell Pleasures Bloom on women around me. But I'm taking a shower and going to spray myself with Patou's 1000.

Estee Lauder Pleasures Bloom ($52, 1.7 oz EDP) is available at just about any department store under the sun.

Image: vintagefresh.co.uk

Laura Mercier Undercover Pot

Today we'll be taking a much needed break from all the shiny and new colorful items to talk about a hardworking perennial staple: Laure Mercier Undercover Pot. This 3-in-1 multitasker is travel-friendly both is size and sturdiness and offers two concealers (one for dark under-eye circles and one for other facial imperfections) and a loose setting powder in a double decker format.

In the left pan at the top there's Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage. The oil-free and rather dry formula is mostly intended to cover blemishes and other unsightly issues. I use it to hide discolorations and the annoying redness that occurs around the nose, but since it's a bit to dry for comfort I mix Secret Camouflage with other substances according to need: cream, lotion, liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer. It gives a very good coverage without caking or looking too obvious. Using a concealer brush and blending carefully is essential, but that's a given.

Secret Concealer, the emollient substance in the right pan, is designated to hide under-eye darkness. It's more pigmented than one would expect and much darker than your Touche Eclat-style brighteners. As a result I use it in a somewhat different way- not so much to highlight the area but to blend and even out the part where the dark circle merge with the rest of the face. It makes any discolored areas disappear and gives an even look.

It's important to blend and work both concealers into your foundation or tinted moisturizer to make your face really polished and flawless (and not resemble a calico kitten). A technique I learned from the wonderful makeup artists of Le Metier de Beaute is to mix different ratios of foundation and concealer before applying to various parts of your face. This way you have maximum control over color, texture and coverage. Obviously, this  works with any brand.

The bottom of the pot contains Laura Mercier's Translucent Loose Setting Powder. The one that comes in the #2 shade has just the right hint of yellow to it, so it doesn't turn an olive complexion into an ash-covered mask. It melts right into the skin, giving it a natural finish and keeping everything in place. The pot is really small, so full size powder brushes aren't ideal here. What I use instead is the mini Kabuki brush that comes with those Bare Escentual trial kits.

Bottom Line: A staple in my travel bag.

Laura Mercier Undercover Pot ($34) is available from most decent department stores as well as from Sephora.

Photos are mine.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Luxe Edition

Some longtime readers might remember that I used to count Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist among my mortal enemies. It's not that I didn't get why so many people love it: I have a friend who smells absolutely exquisite in it. It's just that on my skin Cashmere Mist turned into a very synthetic musky powder mess. But something has changed some time during the last year. It's not that I started to like this Donna Karan perfume, but I've either softened with age or simply smelled so much real dreck, that a mediocre powdery crowd pleaser no longer annoys me.

This should tell you that I had no expectations, good or bad, from the samples of last year's release, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Luxe Edition EDP. I was so indifferent I put the samples away and promptly forgot about them. They languished in a drawer until a quick rummage revealed I had enough of them for a thorough testing. That was about three or four weeks ago. I'm down to my last sample and there's very little holding me back from heading straight to Ulta for a small bottle.


First, the main difference between the Luxe Edition and Cashmere Mist (EDT. I don't have a sample of the regular EDP) is that it smells more skin-like and less chemical. It seems like to celebrate the 15 years anniversary of CM, Donna Karan (Lauder, actually, who is the owner of Donna Karan Beauty) upgraded and improved the formula. It certainly feels more luxurious- softer and richer. It's closer to the skin and actually more cashmere like, though I've had no problem wearing it on some hot and humid August days.

More than anything, Cashmere Mist Luxe Edition feels fluffy. It has soft wood and barely sweet vanilla that reminds me of the Whole Foods brand marshmallows- they are soft, pillowy and not too loaded with sugar, making them an ideal adult guilty pleasure. The musk is of the deceivingly elusive kind. You think it's gone but all of a sudden you catch a whiff of a delicate and pleasing skin scent that comes from your neck and/or clothes. There's something sensual about it, I guess, but the perfume is still daytime and office appropriate. The sillage is low but the subtle dry-down survives for at least 8 hours, even if by the end of the day I need to stick my face in my shirt to smell it.

Bottom Line: What's wrong with me?

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Luxe Edition is available from most department stores and fragrance retailers. Ulta seem to have exclusivity on the 1 oz bottle ($48).

Photo by Charles Gates, 1920

Orna Lalo- The Birds And The Beads

I guess I'm having a hard time letting summer go. I was actually looking for interesting fall jewelry but nothing caught my eye. Instead, I was captivated by the Bird And The Beads collection from Israeli designer Orna Lalo. There's something so happy and lively about this necklace, even if it's too busy for me and I rarely (if ever) wear purple. So pretty!

This necklace ($179) and other Orna Lalo pieces are available from canaan-online.com

Buxom Lash Mascara Special Effects Blue Noir

The blue mascara obsession continues.

The black Buxom Lash from Bare Escentuals has been a favorite of mine for nearly a year because of its great tenacity and the superb separating abilities of the brush. It was reason enough to get over my fear of too bright colors and give Blue Noir a try (what's with the hybrid English/French name?)

The blue shade looks scary on the brush and is much brighter than many modern blue mascaras: see the photo comparison to Givenchy PhenomenEyes (review coming next week). On dark lashes, though, it becomes a demure navy. Still, if you're pale and your lashes are very light, I'd advise you proceed with caution, as this Buxom mascara has the potential to give you a serious pop of color. I find it very wearable and it works well with both summer and early fall colors.

Performance and texture-wise, Blue Noir is close to the original Buxom Black. It gives an even coating, enhances both volume and length without looking exaggerated and holds a curl nicely. It is much more prone to smudging, though, and on occasion I found myself with an unintentional deep blue smoky eye, so I'd suggest finding another alternative for super humid days or if you tend to rub your eyes.

Bottom Line: Decent, but not as good as I hoped.

Buxom Lash Mascara Special Effects Blue Noir ($18) is a Sephora exclusive.

All photos are mine.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekly Roundup- Last One For August

Ever since I quit teaching, the back-to-school rush has made me a bit nostalgic for the smell of pencils, crayons and other supplies, a freshly painted classroom and the excitement of new beginnings. I guess that's what revamped routines and fall collections are made for. Last week has passed too quickly here. We had a house full of guests, including my ultra-adorable 2-year old niece who is already a budding fashionista-perfumista. She sniffed perfume samples with her mother and watched me apply my makeup with interest and wonder I have every intention to cultivate. This aunting gig is fun.

The passing week was not just about Hello Kitty and chocolate milk. Here's some of what has been going on in the beauty blogging world:

Charlestongirl of Best Things in Beauty attended a Bobbi Brown Master Class. She's sharing some cool beauty tips, including Bobbi's recommendation of doing your eyes last(!) to a more modern smoky eye.

It's Emmys weekend. I'm not sure how excited I am, though I'll do my usual red carpet live blogging. Hopefully we'll see some beautiful gowns and gorgeous faces. I'm mostly rooting for Modern Family and Mad Men, but wouldn't be disappointed if The Good Wife snags an award or two. Julianna Margulies and the others are pretty awesome. Anne from BeautyXposé is giving us easy to use at-home tips on how to get a red carpet worthy white smile.

We all want that flawless face before applying makeup and Kelly from Gouldylox Reviews shares with us a Jouer product that takes care of pore and fine lines. I'm curious.

Nothing beats an advice from a pro. Makeup artist Victoria Stiles will be doing "Flawless Faces Web Series". See Makeup Artist Backstage to learn about it.

Purple is one of the hottest colors for fall (what else is new?). Kari from Fabulous Over Forty shares with us some of her favorite purple beauty products. Could there be a purple in your future? I'm contemplating a purchase or two.

Sabrina from The Beauty Look Book shows us all things beautiful in grey. From nail polish to kitchenware- she has an exquisite taste.

Sadly, there have been times when we've all overdone it in the sun. Carla from Product Girl tested a Caudalie product for her sunburn. Did she get the relief she needed?

While my week was full of Cheerios, cheering for successful potty usage and shopping at Gymboree, I also brought you quite a bit of new beauty products. From Butter London's tribute to Alexander McQueen (perhaps most gorgeous nail polish color I own) to the newest leather perfume by Mona di Orio. There was also the newest Givenchy eye shadow quad and an Edward Bess lipstick, because I can't get enough of the guy.

Have a gorgeous weekend!

Photo by John Rawlings for Vogue, 1941

Friday, August 27, 2010

Valentino by Valentino (1977)

The original Valentino perfume is one of very few fragrances (if not the only one) I seem to prefer as an EDT over the extrait de parfum concentration. Maybe that's because my very first bottle of it (bought around 1991) was, indeed, an EDT. I wore it over several summers but never repurchased until last year when I found old bottles of both the eau de toilette and the parfum on eBay and on a dusty shelf at an antique store.

This green floral is probably not the most balanced in the genre, as something about it (my money is on it lily-of-the-valley heart, a note that's ridiculously easy to mess up) can get loud and screechy. I don't mind the hint of a peachy melon (or melony peach?), as it seems to function as a sweetening and softening backdrop for the flower bouquet, but one must admit this is no Le Parfum de Therese.

A drop of the parfum under a couple of EDT spritzes is nice, but more than that is the stuff that gives floral perfumes a bad reputation as being too suffocating. Other than this little issue, the original* Valentino is a pretty, super feminine perfume. My favorite part is the green and hyacinth combination that is all about spring and wearing pretty dresses with a cute purse and adorable sandals (all by Valentino, of course).

Valentino is easy to wear on a late summer day, when you've had enough of the crazy weather, already exhausted your summer perfume collection and want something a bit different. Some would argue Valentino smells dated. It has a hint of an animalic base (though not enough to raise the eyebrows of your nearest and dearests) and enough oakmoss in the base to choke an IFRA bureaucrat. I don't care, though. Sometimes a perfume that smells like a perfume is a very good thing.

Notes: citrus, peach, basil, green notes, jasmine, muguet, rose, carnation, cyclamen, hyacinth, oakmoss, musk, cedar, civet.

Valentino by Valentino is available online fairly easily, but it seems to have been discontinued at some point, since there's a new(ish) and very different perfume under the same name.

*Valentino was released in 1977 and again in 1986. I can't find any info on what, if anything, was changed in the formula. Since both bottles in my current collection seem to smell identical to the way I remember it from 1991 I'm assuming all I know is of the later version.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open Thread: How High Maintenance Are You?

Your answers the other day to the open thread about high maintenance products- items that are more work than they're worth, made me think about the subject of high maintenance in general. One doesn't become a beauty blogger without being very into everything making and cosmetics and greatly enjoying it. So yes, I'm definitely high maintenance. To a point.

A big part of this beauty obsession is the desire to know as much as possible about the subject, have the best items on hand and do it right, which to me means getting results in the most efficient way. As much as I love color and everything pretty, my right brain and left brain have always been at war, maintaining a weird status quo. It's a curse, really, because it means I don't go all the way with either. I need both logic and creativity in my life. But I digress. Back to the high maintenance topic.

While I spend far less time and energy on my hair than you'd guess, and I prefer a simple yet effective skin care routine, I like taking my time with makeup. Mixing, blending and applying colors to the best of my abilities, planning looks and playing with new items. It's fun. Yet, I can be quick and efficient when needed, do a "five minute face" in less than that time, or do my best with a liquid concealer, black eyeliner and a red lip gloss if things are truly dire.

I never ever leave the house without perfume, though.

So, how high maintenance are you? What are the steps you never skip? How quick can you be? Any shortcuts you take in a pinch?

Photo of actress Ann Sheridan from stirredstraightup.blogspot.com

Giorgio Armani Fall 2010 Blue Grey Night Eyes To Kill Mascara (05)

From the Chronicles of the Blue Mascara.

Giorgio Armani's Eye To Kill mascara has set a new standard for what a top mascara should be. It doesn't only deliver excellent volume and length, but it's also dreamily weightless. There's no goopy stickiness even when the tube nears the end of its life (and I know, since I'm on my second black one). I don't think I ever needed a lash comb after using Eyes To Kill.

The new color, Blue Grey Night (#5), is the fall 2010 exclusive shade, part of Giorgio Armani's Night Viper look. It's a muted steel blue that isn't too obvious- the shade is darker than Graphite (#3) which look too dusty on me. Blue Grey Night looks good on my almost-black lashes and delivers that subtle brightening effect one gets from a (good) blue mascara.

Performance-wise, Eyes To Kill is as good as it gets. While I keep wondering if #5 is quite as lengthening as the black version (or maybe it's just my imagination and the fact the mascara is not black, thus creating less contrast), I'm very happy with it.

Bottom Line: You can't go wrong with this one.

Giorgio Armani Fall 2010 Blue Grey Night Eyes To Kill Mascara ($30) is available from giorgioarmanibeauty.com, Saks and Barneys.

Photos are mine, cute nose is Sophie's.

Guerlain Habit Rouge

Several years before Ralph Lauren used horsey-set images and branding for his colognes and perfumes, Guerlain did the same thing with Habit Rouge. So what does a masculine perfume named something like "red riding hood" smell like? Surprisingly, pretty much like a butched up Shalimar.

It makes sense, really. Shalimar, at least in its former incarnations, is gorgeous and very complex. Many men like Shalimar and would have loved to wear it, but not everyone finds it easy to get over the branding, marketing and that powdery facet. So Guerlain kept the structure, the citrus top (made even crisper with spicy greens), the smooth sandalwood and rich amber base, took away some of the powder, added leather and poured into a pour homme bottle. The result is a smooth and sophisticated scent, lighter than Shalimar but still instantly recognizable as an oriental Guerlain.

Habit Rouge is sweet and creamy, thus making it stand out from the crowd of commercial masculines of the last couple of decades. Of course, it is a 1960s creation, a time when a good perfume was not a thin airy little nothing. I would have liked to conduct a blind testing of the Guerlain classic masculines in a college dorm and see the young men's (and women's) reaction. After all, this is the generation born into a world of CKWhatever.

In any case, those of us who like to dig deeper when searching for a good perfume can easily appreciate Habit Rouge. It's one of those masculines women like to adopt for themselves just as much as to smell on a man's neck (it promotes some serious nuzzling). I originally bought the (vintage EDC) bottle for the Blond, but have found myself wearing it often during this sizzling summer, often as a morning scent before switching to vintage Shalimar EDC. It's a splash bottle, but I find that dabbing isn't very satisfying (it is an eau de cologne, after all, so I shouldn't be surprised). Spraying gives a better impression of this sweet but tasteful concoction, and while the modern version seems a bit flat and less leathery, it's still light years better than any of the modern Guerlain releases for men.

Vintage Habit Rouge perfume ads: vintageadbrowser.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Givenchy Midnight Look Le Prisme Eyeshadow Quartet

Josephine, the kitten in the photos, is not the only one enjoying Midnight Look, the new Givenchy Le Prisme Eyeshadow Quartet. I'm completely enamored with the sheer colors and the silky smooth application. Givenchy Le Prisme eye shadows have a way of having enough pigment to give a beautiful veil of colors without ever looking painted or harsh. Blending is quick and easy, so even a novice can get a sophisticated look with minimal effort. 

The swatches on my arm don't do justice to the color or texture. They're prettier and look far smoother (with no debris on skin, though there is some crumbling in the compact) on the lid. The colors in Midnight Look are cool toned and shimmery. They include a soft not-quite white pearl (1), light silver (2), gray (3) and midnight blue (4). They are fabulous for evening but I've worn 3 and 4 during the day (light application, of course, over a non-shimmery nude base) and liked the look.

Bottom Line: I'm already considering adding a Le Prisme Quartet in Khaki Egerie to my collection. You can see it in Karen's review here.

Givenchy Midnight Look Le Prisme Eyeshadow Quartet ($56) is a new addition to the permanent line. Exclusive to Sephora.

Photos, arm and kitten are all mine.

Mona di Orio - Cuir (Les Nombres d’Or)

The best perfume news I heard lately came from Luckyscent/Scent Bar- they now carry the three new Mona di Orio perfumes, Les Nombres d’Or. Of course, it would have been even better if they got the entire line- I'm out of Chamarre and now kicking myself for not buying a bottle when I had a chance. But I can't whine too much when the gorgeous trio is here and readily available.

Cuir is another proof one can never have enough leather fragrances. It stands out even among my cuir-rich perfume wardrobe because like each and every one of Mona di Orio's perfumes, it's breathtakingly animalic. These perfume come alive on skin, develop and morph into shapes, feelings and memories. It is what perfume was supposed to be before the days of scrubbed clean and shower fresh scents. Cuir is everything I hoped it would be: smoky, raunchy, yet civilized. It's not as raw as a caveman or a biker dude, but also not quite the floral lined expensive handbag of Cuir de Russie. Mona's Cuir is urban and just elegant enough to make me feel like a million dollar, but it's also spicy, quirky (cuirky?) and quite out there.

The most important thing here is that Cuir smells really really good. It's glorious- from its opening notes that are on the masculine side with dry (though not tarry) smoke and absinthe to the way it softens and envelopes the skin. The animalic facet is stunning.  The husband's response was "mmmm... dirrrty", so with the right spouse Cuir is definitely sexy. It's softer than Gomma and Cuir Mauresque and doesn't have that new sofa smell of Cuir Ottoman. My sister still found it too much to take, but I adore this perfume style and find it comfortable and easy to wear- just like my DVF wrap dresses that respond and move with my body in the most flattering way without feeling restrictive.

All three Les Nombres d’Or perfumes come as an EDT, but I have no complaints about the lasting power-about 6 hours for Musc, 10 hours for Ambre and Cuir.

Bottom Line: Must love animalics.

Mona di Orio Cuir ($150, 100 ml EDT) and the other Les Nombres d’Or are available from luckyscent.com and its earthly incarnation in Beverly Hills (reviews coming soon. My brilliant scent twin, Tom, loved Musc, of course). My sample came directly from the company.

Photo: George Hoyningen-Huene, 1928

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

High Maintenance Products

In my dressing room in front of the mirror there's only room for one diva and it shouldn't be any of the products and item I'm using. One of my biggest makeup pet peeves are finicky products that require extra work and special accessories or conditions to function. This list includes:

  • Nail polish colors or brands that do not work with most common base or top coats
  • Foundations that refuse to cooperate with my favorite stippling brushes
  • Primers that hate my foundation and show through,
     and the worst-
  • Eye shadows and other products that leave so much fall out of glitter or pigment you can't leave the house without a serious cleanup job.

I'm sure there are other high maintenance products I'm forgetting. What annoys you?

Photo by John Rawlings for Vogue, March 1943

Edward Bess Midnight Bloom Ultra Sleek Lipstick

Today we have more Edward Bess lipstick goodness. There are only a couple of reds in Edward Bess' Ultra Sleek lipstick line, and the other one, Eternal Passion, while also a cool red is too bright for me. Midnight Bloom, on the other hand, is just perfect.

Midnight Bloom is the kind of red you want to wear when doing the French thing- you know, black eyeliner, pale and minimalist everything else, perfect skin, black or navy little dress with an exquisite scarf and no toe cleavage. Like all the other Edward Bess lipsticks, Midnight Bloom is creamy, has a beautiful lively finish, lots of pigment and decent staying power. It wears comfortably and feels luxurious even if one is not too crazy for the fruity scent.

You can see my reviews of Forever Yours and Tender Love (Night Romance is coming soon). KarlaSugar has swatches of the entire line.

Edward Bess Ultra Sleek Lipsticks ($32) are available exclusively from Bergdorf Goodman and edwardbess.com.

All  photos are mine.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coty Emeraude (Vintage Perfume)

Those who only know Coty and its classics from the drugstore versions of the last couple of decades would never guess the cheap smelling vile liquid called Emeraude used to be a magical and sensual perfume, something a well-coiffed fashionable woman would wear when dressing up. Four years older than Guerlain's Shalimar (1921 vs. 1925), the similarity between these two big orientals are striking, especially as the scent opens and unfolds. Emeraude has the same wood and vanilla lusciousness, and a distinct opoponax note.

Between the various versions and concentrations of vintage Shalimar I own and my small bottle of 1950s or 60s Emeraude parfum I doubt I'd be able tell which is which in a quick blind test. But the late drydown of Emeraude is gorgeous and so distinct- it manages to smell both cleaner and more animalic than Shalimar. Don't ask me how it's even possible. Maybe it's the absence of the somewhat murky and burnt note in Shalimar (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's also less powdery, I think, and feels a bit more hard-edged, which I enjoy quite a bit. Not more or better than Shalimar (my heart still belongs to the Guerlinade), just different enough to make knowing and wearing both worth my time.

The bottom line is that Emeraude used to be dazzling and majestic. It's one more example proving the fall of the House of Coty. Don't bother with the stuff at Wallgreens. Instead, go rummage through your great aunt's belongings and borrow the bottle she saved for special dates. Maybe she also have a good story or two.

Vintage Emeraude perfume ads from the 1940s and 1950s- vintageadbrowser.com

La Via del Profumo In The New York Times

For most of the New York Times readers, this article is probably the first time they've heard about La Via del Profumo and the nose behind it, Dominique Durbana. Perfume nuts in general and those interested in natural perfumery in particular might already know him as AbdesSalaam Attar. I couldn't be happier to see him get the exposure he so deserves.

Photo: The New York Times

Butter London All Hail McQueen Nail Polish Fall 2010

The most exciting color on the current nail polish scene is...


But it's more than just beige, really. All Hail McQueen is part of Butter London fall 2010 collection and is a tribute to the late Alexander McQueen. I love how instead of going with some fad color that would be utterly unwearable in a couple of seasons, Butter London chose the most classic color, made it as pretty as possible and added an incredibly beautiful multicolored micro glitter. It's just glam enough to get noticed but so wearable you will get addicted in no time (speaking from experience here).

Application is smooth and easy, two coats get you the perfect finish and it dries quickly. My only complaint is that it's a typical glitter polish as far as removal goes: It takes a lot of work to get rid of it completely, which gives one another reason to reapply All Hail McQueen again and again.

Bottom Line: I need a backup bottle.

All Hail McQueen ($14) and the rest of the collection are available from butterlondon.com

All photos are mine.

Nars Rajasthan Duo Eye Shadow Fall 2010

It's pretty safe to say that Rajasthan, the midnight blue/metallic beige eye shadow duo, has proven to be the most irresistible item in the (very strong) Nars fall 2010 collection. Most brands have come up this season with a deep dark blue, but this one is unique enough to justify a purchase even if one already has a couple of the others.

At first I didn't think I'd wear both colors from this set at the same time. The beige looks darker in the compact than it is on skin, and while it's still not exactly a highlighter it's soft and neutral enough to be worn on the lid when I'm using the blue shade in the outer corners and along the lash line. My photos don't do justice to the depth and richness of the blackened midnight blue. It's absolutely gorgeous and can work both as a daytime eyeliner or for a super dramatic evening look. The shimmer is grownup, the texture satin-like, and while it's not as buttery as Guerlain or Shiseido, I think I prefer these Nars shadows to most Armani equivalents.

As with all Nars eye shadows, I find a primer necessary to keep the integrity and finish of the look. Used over my favorite base by Kanebo Sensai, Rajasthan stays put from morning to night and looks almost as fresh throughout the day.

Nars Rajasthan Duo Eye Shadow Fall 2010 ($32) is available from narscosmetics.com.

All photos are mine.