Sunday, July 31, 2011

Currently


Book
:
There's the full Rosetta Stone French kit sitting here, staring at me and mocking my poor attention span and general lack of focus. I've promised myself to learn more than how to say "Serge Lutens" and "pain au chocolat". Don't bet your money on me.

Music:
I've had Andrew Bird's Not A Robot But A Ghost stuck in my head for days now. At least it's an awesome song.

Perfume:
The latest Nombre d'Or trio from Mona di Orio. I was going to review Vetyver tonight but need another day or two to put it into words. Spoiler: Love.
Oh, and last night I was kept awake by CB I Hate Perfume I Am A Dandelion. The dandelions were talking to me.

Makeup:
If it's turquoise- I'm wearing it.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item:
Black flat Manolo thong sandals. I live in them:


Food:
July was zucchini month in our garden. We've been eating them several times a week.

Bane of my existence:
Attention span. I have none.

Joy:
Summer, in general.

Anticipation:
Paris

Wish List:
This, though I prefer the green version of the earrings:


Random Thoughts:
a) One would have thought Nick Lachey has learned the lesson from his first marriage.
b) One would think that when launching a new beauty product a company might research the beauty media and make smart decisions.
c) Apparently, one tends to be wrong.

What's currently on your mind, face and body? Please share!

Art by Sarah S. Stilwell Weber, 1906
Sandals: neimanmarcus.com or saks.com (can't remember where I bought the sandals)
JAR gorgeousness from blog.bergdorfgoodman.com

Friday, July 29, 2011

Last Beauty Roundup For July


I was looking for a nice image for this week's edition of the beauty roundup, but felt a bit funny with all the gorgeous beachy photos as we're having a serious torrential rain. Looking at my backyard through the window has a weird underwater feel, only with trees and hostas.  Still, it is summer, which means makeup is all about fall collections (beauty bloggers lead strange lives).

I had something to say about scents and perfumes, but I no longer remember what it was as my hands smell strongly of the chocolate-scented shower gel the husband and I used to bathe Buffy. Yes, she's a cat, but requires semi-frequent grooming. She loves chocolate-scented stuff, so it was kind of an aromatherapy experience for her. Now I smell distractingly like pudding, as does Buffy.

Let's look at my friends' weekly adventures:

Gouldylox Reviews will not show us her feet but she shares with us her at-home foot smoothing gadget (and a cute photo).

BeautyXposé goes shopping in Miami and finds gold. Rose gold, that is.

The Beauty Look Book shows us the latest in stunning nude shades with the Fall 2011 Burberry Beauty Collection.

Fab Over Forty gives us beauty tips and product must-haves from Dior National Artist, Jeffrey Sanchez.

Daly Beauty got beautiful lashes with Urban Decay Cannonball.

Best Things in Beauty showed us Tom Pecheux's innovative Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée from Estée Lauder's Fall 2011 Collection. Don't miss her other Estée Lauder fall collection reviews.

DivaDebbi was able to lighten dark spots with a non-toxic four step product system called Lumixyl.

Product Girl shows us what "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" TV star Taylor Armstrong keeps in her makeup bag. Do we want to know?

Café Makeup reviews the newest lipstick formula and Feather Pink shade from the Burberry Lip Mist collection.

Karla Sugar gives us a lesson on Creed fragrances. There are three new fragrance releases. The guys at Basenotes will start fighting about them any second now.

And even more to love:

Zuzu's Petals is having tea with the Queen on Everyday Beauty.

Xiao of Messy Wands almost sold me on another Cle de Peau palette.

Mylinda has some injured but still beautiful Laura Mercier eye shadows on Pondering Beauty.

Dovey had a wonderful NARS makeover. See her face chart and a lot more on Cute and Mundane.

Enjoy your weekend and indulge in something beautiful!

Art by Nicholas Duers from trendland.net.

Rachel Zoe Promotes Exude Lipstick Line



I'm never sure how and what to feel about Rachel Zoe, but no one can deny that she has a sharp eye, a deep understanding of fashion and an incredible talent at marketing. So when Rachel promotes a new lipstick line I sit straight and listen closely.


Exude is a new NYC-based lipstick line, owned by Diane Breidenbach, who cofounded Exude with her husband, Laurence Mille. The first products to launch on August 2nd will be a lipstick and a gloss. Exude Lipstick has an interesting crystal applicator and a minimalist soft touch tube. The formula continues the popular trend of "good for you" ingredients and contains vitamins C and E, gogi berry and omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Sounds good to me. The lipstick is designed to be applied through the component for the perfect amount of tint. I guess no lip brush is needed.



The lipsticks offer a cream formula and come in nine shades, ranging from Nude to Cranberry (Rachel Zoe’s favorite. I'm also interested in Red #1, Plum and Rosy Brown). The gloss is available in five hues, out of which I'm especially curious about Scarlet Red and Crimson. All lip products are scented with a hint of mint. For now they will be exclusive to the company's website, exudelipstick.com (not functional at the moment) and retail for $29.

Here's what Rachel Zoe had to say about lipstick in general and the Exude line in particular:
“Of all the makeup I use, I’m most intrigued by and infatuated with lipstick. I have full lips, so playing with color and texture has always been fun for me.”

I would never [promote] something I don’t wear myself or that I don’t believe in. I really believe in this product."

What say you? Are you buying?

Info: WWD, photos via Zimbio and shesomajor.com

Trish McEvoy Brightening Pink Beauty Booster Lip Gloss



You're right. The intense pink shade of Trish McEvoy Brightening Pink Beauty Booster Lip Gloss is not exactly my signature color. The mini tube you see here was a gift with purchase and I tested it more out of obligation; the whole "I try stuff so you don't have to" thing. I'm so glad I did.

I have few Trish McEvoy lip products, but really like all of them. I checked, but none of the ones I own have the  minty smell of this gloss. I was worried at first that the mint meant tingle and irritation, but once I realized it wasn't the case I found myself enjoying the scent (it's not overwhelming, but you do need to like mint). The Beauty Booster gloss is very hydrating and comfortable. It makes my lips look and feel softer and fuller by supplying them with moisture, and the SPF 15 doesn't hurt, either.

The big surprise, though, was the color. What looks like crazy pink  in the tube and bright pink on my wrist ends up as a very acceptable rich rose that allows enough of my natural lip color to dominate while adding a bright cheerful hue. It's a great daytime color for me (your mileage will vary) and one I find myself grabbing and putting in my purse very often this summer.

Bottom Line: a very nice and wearable surprise.

Trish McEvoy  Beauty Booster Lip Gloss ($25 for a full size tube, also comes in several lighter shades) is available from most department stores and Blue Mercury. Mine was a GWP.

Smashbox Arced Liner Brush #21



I don't know why I only have one bent eyeliner brush in my collection, the Smashbox Arced Liner Brush #21 you see here. It's a good and efficient tool for gel, liquid and cream eyeliners, and one that is wonderfully easy to use. As a matter of fact, this is the brush I often recommend to liquid/cream eyeliner beginners, and have also bought it for my mother-in-law when she ventured outside of her makeup comfort zone.




When it comes to size and proportions, Smashbox Arced Liner Brush #21 is right between MAC 209 and 210. It's a case of not too wide/not too narrow, very easy to control and create a line as thin or as thick as one desires. The angled shape of the ferule ensure that you can get right into the lash line while holding the brush in a very comfortable grip that allows you to see exactly what you're doing and where you're going. This is why it's such an essential brush for eyeliner novices- Smashbox #21 takes out a lot of the guessing from eyeliner application. More experienced users will be able to create a super thin line (just like the one you will get from the Sephora #19, which is great but not as easy to use. By the way, Sephora does offer a similar brush, Professionnel Platinum Angled Eyeliner Brush #23. I might pick it up eventually as a backup).

Smashbox is a PETA-approved brand and all brushes are cruelty-free. The hair of the Liner Brush #21 is made of a "sable substitute", whatever that is. In any case, the head is finely shaped and has the necessary firmness for precision work without poking you in the eye.
Bottom Line: an essential

Smashbox Arced Liner Brush #21 ($20) is available from Ulta, Sephora, Nordstrom and smashbox.com.

Happy Birthday, Tim Gunn!


Making it work since 1953!

Diptyque Eau d'Elide


Five years ago I completely dismissed Eau d'Elide. I went through the sample March of the Posse sent me, trying to figure it out, but could smell nothing but candied bitter orange and weirdness. Months later I woke up with the memory of Eau d'Elide in my head and nose, and not only did I get it, I was craving this odd perfume. A bottle was quickly purchased and all was well in my world. Then came the big mayhem of 2008 and Diptyque discontinued four of their most unusual (and under-performing) perfumes, including Eau d'Elide.

Diptyque released  Eau d'Elide in 1988, which should help us all appreciate it even more. Can you even imagine this oddball in the same universe with Eternity and Cool Water?  I would have loved to see my 18 year old self smelling Elide then for the first time (that year I wore Tamango by Leonard and Ted Lapidus Creation).

Eau d'Elide walks a fine line between being very foody and very outdoorsy. The candied orange peels here were cooked in lavender honey and were sprinkled with lavender sugar, instead of my mother's homemade vanilla sugar. Well, maybe there is some vanilla there. A whole unbroken bean. There are other aromatics there, with a sharp Mediterranean edge. I'm pretty sure I can smell thyme (or is it thyme honey?) and marjoram. Maybe a wild oregano, slightly dried in the punishing sun of a summer afternoon.

With all the candied fruit and honey you'd think Eau d'Elide is horribly sweet and cloying. It isn't, and it's not even feminine. This perfume is somewhat linear, which is probably a good thing considering how unusual it smells as it is, straight from the bottle. One needs to get used to the bitterness, dried herbs and candy.I can't blame Diptyque too much for discontinuing Elide, as I can't imagine it being a big or even medium seller. But I am sad this beauty was taken away from us (well, other than my lifetime supply, that is).

Notes (from the Perfumed Court, where samples and decants are still available): bitter orange, wild lavender, musk and aromatic shrubs.

Photo: mylovelylife-blog.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shu Uemura Natural 18 Foundation Brush




Once upon a time I was wary of using brushes made of natural hair for cream and liquid products. Luckily, I got over it.

Shu Uemura Natural 18 Foundation Brush is made of goat hair and I love it. This brush works for me with everything from LMdB Peau Vierge to the creamiest foundations. It applies the coverage in a thin and even layer and doesn't streak. While nowhere nearly as soft as Hakuhodo 210, this is still a gentle enough brush to use on days my skin feels tight and sensitive. Unlike many a goat brush of similar shape, I doubt my Natural 18 has lost even one hair in the 8 or nine months I've had it.



Shu Uemura Natural 18 brush is on the medium to medium-small side. It reaches most nooks and crannies and doesn't require any special technique. It's like a smaller and more precise version of an old favorite, Cover FX #160 foundation brush. The shape is nearly identical and both are made of white goat hair. I love this shape for foundation brushes, because they're excellent for blending and they give a quick and easy application. They're not meant for stippling or serious buffing, but that's why one needs variety, right?

Bottom Line: you can't go wrong with Shu.

Shu Uemura Natural 18 Foundation Brush ($42) is available from shuuemura-usa.com. If you live outside the US you can also find it at your nearest Shu counter.

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics- Ultimate Concealer (Medium Tan)



I received this Ultimate Concealer from Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics last year, but the shade, Medium Tan, was and is too dark for me and also a little orange. I was quite impressed with the creamy texture and the way it blended with skin and foundations, but the color didn't work, so I didn't get to really test and review the concealer.

One night a couple of months ago, a cat (not even sure which one) used my right shoulder as a springing board while I was sleeping peacefully. In case you wondered, being clawed at 4 am is not the best way to start the day.  The incident left me with a fairly deep scratch right on my collar bone, and it was quite unsightly and not compatible with my wardrobe. I tend to wear v-neck and scoop neck tops. To make things even worse, I did a really wonky job at applying sunblock to my neck, shoulders and chest one day around the same time and added with two misshaped tanned patches.

Covering myself with scarves for the rest of the summer was one way to deal. But I was looking for another solution. Rummaging through my concealer drawer, I found the forgotten box of Youngblood Ultimate Concealer. A quick look at the shade revealed that this time Medium Tan had a good chance to work.

I applied the concealer and blended it both on my healing wound and to even out the chest catastrophe. Youngblood's concealer offers some serious coverage but the formula can be sheered with minimal work or even built up as needed. This concealer is wonderfully creamy and never looked cakey; it reminded me of Laura Mercier's Secret Concealer (that's the soft one, not the waxy Secret Camouflage). Medium Tn took care of the uneven skin tone, and I diluted it when needed as my skin healed.

Bottom Line: the lighter one in Medium is on my shopping list as we speak.

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics Ultimate Concealer ($30) is available at Henri Bendel in NYC and from the company's website, ybskin.com. The pan you see here was sent to me by the company's PR.

Guerlain Meteorites Perles Light-Diffusing Perfecting Primer


I first encountered Guerlain Meteorites Perles Light-Diffusing Perfecting Primer during a makeover and was quite taken with its sophistication. It wasn't just the beautiful appearance of the heavy pump bottle with the delicate pearls suspended in clear liquid; the performance of this primer is just as  impressive.

I was a bit worried that the light pink cast of the pearls might show up on my skin and clash with my olive undertones, but it doesn't. As you pump out the primer, the pearls get smooshed and mix with the serum-like liquid (without ever contaminating what's left in the bottle. Don't ask me how). The product applies very sheer with a very subtle glow- it's far less obvious than a regular liquid highlighter (Becca, Rouge Bunny Rouge), though until everything sets and dries down you will see the occasional tiny particle.

Speaking of drying- it's highly recommended you give Meteorite Perles a couple of minutes to fully set before applying foundation on top. This primer has a wet consistency at first, though it's not tacky. Once dry, foundations and tinted moisturizers go beautifully smooth over it. The glow is more apparent the thinner your foundation is. I find that compact foundations cover it up completely and you don't see any special effects. However, you can also mix a little of this Guerlain Meteorites Perles with your foundation to add luminosity.

As far as cementing foundation into place, Guerlain Meteorites Perles is adequate but not the longest lasting one on the market. It holds makeup nicely and prevent it from slipping and sliding, but it was not made to keep makeup alive for 12 hours, at least not in the summer. I've experienced fading occasionally, but have noticed that topping my face with Meteorites powder (pearls or pressed, it didn't matter) definitely helps.

Guerlain Meteorites Perles has the familiar Gurelain violet scent. I love it and its classic makeupy feel, but the sensitive of nose or skin should take it into consideration.

Bottom Line: a real luxury.

Guerlain Meteorites Perles Light-Diffusing Perfecting Primer ($69, 1oz) is available from most decent department stores and Sephora, including online.

Parfums Monsillage- Ipanema Posto Nove


The best thing I found in Montreal (other than some fabulous patisseries) was Parfums Monsillage. A local perfume house that currently offers four fragrances. I came home with a bottle of Aviation Club and samples of the others. I have a feeling this is not the end of it.

Ipanema Posto Nove was inspired by the orchid sanctuary in the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. It's a rich summer perfume, sweet and tropical, without crossing the lines into fruity-floral vulgarity and other perfume cliches. I guess it's the violet, sheer but prominent, that keeps things ladylike. It doesn't hurt that Ipanema Posto Nove smells of quality and a sure hand that created it. Violet perfumes often remind one classic perfumes of yore, but this Monsillage creation is very modern and is not likely to cause mayhem at the office.

I've been enjoying Ipanema Posto Nove the last couple of weeks. It's pretty and lovable and hits a similar spot for me as Uncle Serge's Nuit de Cellophane, only with violet. Monsillage perfumes, other than the eau de cologne-type Eau Fraiche are very long lasting on me and have a decent yet inoffensive sillage. I've been happily marinating in my milky violet bubble. It was the equivalent of a pretty floral sundress.

Notes: jasmine, rose, clove, coconut milk, violet, rosewood, mandarin, sweet fern, patchouli, cedar, incense

Ipanema Posto Nove by Parfums Monsillage ($95, 1.7 oz  EDT) is available from monsillage.com (payment accepted through PayPal) and in select locations as listed on the website.

Art: Cattleya Orchid And Three Brazilian Hummingbirds by Martin Johnson Heade

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rouge Bunny Rouge Blusher Brush 002





Because one can't have too many excellent brush brushes.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Blusher Brush 002 is every bit as excellent as this makeup line has taught us to expect. Soft natural hair, sturdy beautiful handle, strong ferule and perfect proportions for most powder blushes, including those that need some building up. The brush is thick and dense with  just the right amount of flexibility for quick and easy blending.

Normal people who only use a handful of blushes and require a minimal number of brushes should consider Rouge Bunny Rouge Blusher Brush 002 as an investment*. It's effective and exquisite, feels wonderful on the skin and would be an excellent go-to brush.





As you can see, the closest brush to the Rouge Bunny Rouge in head size and shape (and also performance) is the Le Metier de Beaute blush brush. Those of you overseas where LMdB is unavailable at the moment will find 002 to be a great alternative, since Zuneta ships worldwide.




Bottom Line: Worth the price.

* We're a couple of blush brush reviews away from a "Top Blush Brushes" post. Stay tuned!

Rouge Bunny Rouge Blusher Brush 002 (about $72 in the current exchange rate) is available from zuneta.com.

Bite Beauty Zin Luminous Crème Lipstick





There are so many fabulous lipsticks on the market that smaller brands can get overlooked in favor of the biggest names and advertisement budgets. But Bite Beauty, a Sephora-exclusive line of lip products is worth our attention. I've already shown you one of my picks, the Luminous Crème Lipstick in Shiraz. Today we're looking at Zin, a soft muted berry that's easy to wear while brightening the face.

I love the rich formula of Bite Beauty lipsticks because it's as pigmented and creamy as it is moisturizing. The lipstick feels luxurious, has a beautiful satin finish and lasts reasonably well (especially when carefully applied in two coats with a lip brush); Zin is a great addition for my lipstick wardrobe, and makes me even more eager to try other Bite products. It doesn't hurt that the lipstick smell a little lemony (a very delicate and pleasant scent) and contain anti-oxidants aplenty (Bite Beauty made a point of using all-natural ingredients including organic shea butter, superfoods, and food-grade colors while avoiding the more questionable materials).

Bottom Line: highly recommended.

Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick ($24) are exclusive to Sephora, online and in store.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Nerolia



When Gueralin released Aqua Allegoria Flora Nerolia in 2000, the ad campaign said something about "The New Emotion". Someone who's only familiar with the newer part of the Aqua Allegoria line would probably raise an eyebrow, as very few of these perfumes seem to have any emotion going on, let alone a new one. But Flora Nerolia, a Mathilde Laurent creation (later attributed to Jean Paul Guerlain), has enough personality and, yes, even emotion to offer.

Flora Nerolia opens with a nice and rich neroli note. It's not quite as thick and sweet as the legendary one from L'Occitane, but enough to be both sunny, honeyed and satisfying. But soon things change in unexpected directions. Full bodied (and then some) jasmine, heady and more than a little indolic. It's a heat of the night kind of thing; quite voluptuous. However, if you think you know where Flora Nerolia is going, think again. There's a bunch of ideas going on there all at once- from honeysuckle and vintage French soap to incense, cold and churchy. All that, while there's still a lot of naughty jasmine playing its game on warm skin.

So, what is the new emotion promised by Guerlain (and am I the only one who wonders if they took this line from Here Comes The Rain Again by Eurythmics)? Actually, I'm not sure if the emotion is so new. The playful battle between sacred and profane, pure and filthy was not invented by Guerlain perfumers. But they did give it a fun and wearable interpretation, that was sadly discontinued by the Powers That Be several years ago.

For another review of Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Nerolia see Perfume Shrine.


Photos of Madonna from her Like A Virgin video, found somewhere on the web. The Eurythmycs clip is from a 2007 live show. I think its phenomenal . The original that rocked my 13 year old world is here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sue Devitt Refined Eyebase and Lash Line Definer Brushes



I'll be the first to admit that small flat eye shadow brushes are among the least exciting makeup tools. Their shape is simple and the modest size jut doesn't get a "wow" reaction, unless they're exquisitely soft. Sue Devitt's  Refined Eyebase and Lash Line Definer brushes are the smaller eye shadow brushes in Sue Devitt's Essential Tools collection. The biggest one, the Eyebase Kolinsky brush is a long-time favorite and sees enough use I needed a backup.



The Refined Eyebase brush is a smaller and thinner version of its big brother. It works well for packing on color and is reasonably soft, though not nearly as luxurious as Shu Uemura or Hakuhodo brushes. The Refined Eyebase is made of cruelty-free red sable and for a thin brush it's fluffy enough to allow blending and diffusing pigment.



The Lash Definer brush is not my favorite tool, but it's because of my habits and technique, not the brush's quality. I prefer either tiny and very precise brushes for detail and lash line work (Louise Young LY16, Chantecaille Eye Perfector, Paula Dorf Smudge) or small but round and fluffy smudgers (Sephora Platinum Domed Smudge brush, Paula Dorf Smokie Eye) and also pointy smoky brushes (Laura Mercier, Sephora).

Bottom Line: perhaps not best in class but nice to have.

Sue Devitt Refined Eyebase brush ($32) and Lash Line Definer ($28) are available at Barneys and other department stores, as well as from suedevittbeauty.com.

Chantecaille Sel Iridescent Eye Shadow






This is another one of those reviews that almost write themselves. Chantecaille Iridescent Eye Shadow in Sel is so pretty, versatile and basic that I find myself incorporating it into many eye makeup looks. It's gorgeous,  both on its own and when combined with other eye shadows, neutral and bright.

Chantecaille Sel is a very light taupe. I use it as my medium shade all over the lid, and on lazy days as the only color with smoked dark eyeliner. The result always looks a lot more refined that the effort that went into create the look. Chantecaille Iridescent eye shadows are all high in shimmer, but the buttery texture and careful elegance of the shades chosen for this range makes them a sophisticated choice.

Chantecaille eye shadows are among my top rated in quality and ease of use. Many of the shades they offer are too light or pastel-leaning for me (meaning they look perfect on the fair and blonde), but Sel is a a beautiful and unique color that would work for a broad range of skin tones.

Bottom Line: Love.

Chantecaille Iridescent Eye Shadows ($30) are available from top department stores and online.

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