Thursday, February 28, 2013

NARS Rue Bonaparte Larger Than Life Eyeliner


I've worn my Paula Dorf Baby Eyes Enhancer to a tiny stub, so it was time to pick a replacement. I decided on NARS because I like the Larger Than Life Eyeliner formula (I just realized that I have yet to review the pencils I have. I'll do it soon), and find it easy to wear and long-lasting, something that's very important for a brightening pencil you use on your inner rim (the waterline).

NARS Rue Bonaparte is paler and more... beige, I guess, than Paula Dorf's pencil. It's more obvious on the waterline but also brighter, which makes a difference when what you're aiming for is canceling the depressed rabbit look. It's a bit more stark when you first apply, but as the eyeliner settles onto the tissue it appears more natural. I'd say that if you're using an eye brightening to look more awake in a photo, Rue Bonaparte will give you a better result. If you're going out on a date and want to look very natural, Paula Dorf is a better choice. However, since NARS Larger Than Life is much longer lasting, I'd say go with it.

Bottom Line: an essential.

NARS Rue Bonaparte Larger Than Life Eyeliner ($24) is available at the counters, Sephora, and

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (Honey & Custard)

Concealers can be a girl's best friends, as long as they're in the right color and texture, of course. I guess I have some new BFFs now that NARS released their new Radiant Creamy Concealer. It's a very high coverage concealer with the promised creamy texture that's heavier and denser than a foundation, but still very smooth and pliable. The consistency makes this NARS concealer excellent for covering just about everything and anything: redness, hyper-pigmentation and blemishes.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer comes in ten shades. I chose Honey and Custard (see swatches of the other shades on Cafe Makeup), as they're meant for light-to-medium complexions. I knew I'll have to mix the two together in various ratios to get perfect matches for various areas of my face. I may also be able to get away with ginger, but since the concealer is so pigmented and opaque, Ginger's decidedly golden undertones are a bit too much and too dark-- my undertones are olive and green, and I don't have any hint of tan/golden/sunkissed color (I live on retinoids and high SPF).

Custard is a pale yellowish beige while Honey is decidedly peachy. Peach tones are excellent for dealing with the under-eye area as they neutralize and correct blue and purple darkness. Since NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is thicker and more opaque than Armani Master Corrector, I only need the tiniest drop of product and get a more impressive (and more even!) result. I mix another drop of Honey into Custard to get a good match for other areas and cover what remains from an old sun spot.

I'm a big believer in setting powders, and as such rarely have any longevity issues. In the case of this NARS concealer, the formula is so long-lasting that some people may be able to get away without powder. As creamy as it is, the concealer stays put and doesn't slide or migrate. It's very impressive, really, as the finish looks like natural skin and doesn't cake or dry. Even in the swatches above, where I used a massive amount of product (about three faces worth), once I buffed the concealer onto the skin there's barely a trace left and no cakiness.

Bottom Line: Highly Recommended.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer ($28) each is available from and starting tomorrow will also be at the counters. The products for this review were sent by NARS PR.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Etat Libre d'Orange- Rien

The first time I wore Rien by Etat Libre d'Orange was in Paris. It fit right in, just as it does in NYC. This Antoine Lie creation was  launched in 2006 as part of Etat Libre d'Orange's original lineup, and was the one fragrance that made me get what ELdO was about. There was no doubt that Rien was edgy. It's dirty, animalic, leathery, and smoky. There's a hint of hot asphalt and burnt rubber, the kind you get when notes of black leather, cistus, and cumin come together. But Rien is also directly connected to Robert Piguet's Bandit, not just in the smoke, leather and uncompromising oakmoss, but also in the softening that happens when the fragrance unfolds and gives a peek at its floral heart (more apparent in Bandit's extrait concentration).

I used to think of Rien as very butch. I'm not so sure nowadays, though it is completely gender neutral. Rien is urban, has a distinct and deliberate synthetic twist-- rubber, smoke, and some metallic parts, but also very human and warm. Wearing Rien is like taking a whiff of skin warmed under the biker's leather jacket. Rien, like many Etat Libre d'Orange perfumes, suggests an adventure. This one is less of a boudoir experiment and more outdoorsy.

Rien can be downright dangerous in large amounts. I've noticed it the very first time I tried it and I maintain this view to this day. It's one of my favorite perfumes from ELdO, but its non-perfuminess and the medicinal quality it takes when sprayed lavishly can be a major turn-off for those who don't appreciate its style and heavy dusty leather boots. Applied responsibly (dabbing is better, by the way, the fragrance last forever anyway), Rien is seductive and daring, like the road-trip you still dream of taking.

See also Victoria's review on Bois de Jasmin.

Notes: Incense, rose, leather, cistus, oakmoss, patchouli, amber, cumin, black pepper, aldehydes.

Etat Libre d'Orange- Rien ($80, 50ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent, MiN NY, Henri Bendel, and

Photo: Elspeth Beard in London after completing her solo ride around the world on her bike 1984, by Peter Orme.

New From Edward Bess

There are new products coming from Edward Bess, as well as the much awaited re-release of the lipsticks in their previous formula (and round packaging) with new shades joining the existing ones (and a couple of reissues).

There's a new compactblus, Blush Extraordinaire, in three shades (Bed Of Roses, Secret Affair, and Filled Desire). Take note that the older Blush Imperiale no longer appears on Bergdorf Goodman's site (it's still at Sephora and on Edward Bess website, both not yet updated to include the new products). $43.

The revamped lipsticks include old favorites as well as new ones. I'm especially curious about Endless Dream and Island Blossom. $32.

There's no release date yet, but the new products are available for pre-order from

Addiction Sheltering Sky Eye Shadow

Addiction is a high-end Japanese makeup brand designed by makeup artist Ayako (@ADDICTION_AYAKO on Twitter). It's another one of those highly-coveted lines that get us jumping through hoops to acquire, as it's not available in the US or in Europe through regular retail venues. My first Addiction item was their beautiful blush in Rose Bar. I've now added  a few eye shadows, and all I can say is that it's true love.

Addiction eye shadow in Sheltering Sky is a medium blue, somewhere between cobalt and sapphire with a slight purple leaning, and has a very (VERY!) subtle pearlized finish. The pigment intensity is out of this world: the swatch above was done with a MAC 217 (not an ideal tool for this product) brush that has barely touched the pan's surface. I'd recommend working with smaller and very soft brushes when dealing with Addiction eye shadows (unless you're going for a more edgy high-fashion look), use a light touch and blend with a neutral matte. The eye shadow offers excellent longevity and doesn't lose one bit of oomph. I apply it over a primer/base and the color stays put through thick and thin, NYC weather, mall overheating, and a rainstorm.

Bottom Line: worth the effort.

Addiction Sheltering Sky Eye Shadow is available in select Japanese department stores (¥2000 JPY) or online through with a substantial markup (¥3200JPY).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ramon Monegal- Pure Mariposa (Neiman Marcus Exclusive)

I keep a playlist on my iTunes titled "Happy Morning".  There are no Nick Cave or Jeff Buckley songs on it, nothing particularly current or edgy (the newest song is Sirena by Calexico); instead it has oddities such as Sing (Travis), Beautiful Worls (Colin Hay) and far too many 80s favorites (Toto's Africa, Laura Branigan's Gloria, and New Song by Howard Jones) next to wonderful oldies such as Sittin' On The Dock By The Bay and a long forgotten gem from Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. Other than revealing the murky place that is my brain, what does it have to do with perfume? Probably not much, except for the uplifting  effect of listening to these songs, which is oddly similar to how I feel wearing the new fragrance from Ramon monegal, Pure Mariposa.

Pure Mariposa was composed by Ramon Monegal exclusively for Neiman Marcus. The white packaging is decorated with Neiman's butterflies (mariposa=butterfly in Spanish) and has a white cap, to differentiate from Ramon Monegal's regular line that's encased in black. The fragrance has a major spring theme, full of sunshine, colors, flowers, a touch of fruit and daytime lightness.

The note list sounds like a botanical garden (orange, grapefruit, bergamot, yuzu, black currant, plum, osmanthus, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose wardia, tuberose, sandalwood, cashmeran wood, iris, peach, tonka bean, amber), but what's more interesting is that Ramon Monegal chose to also list several of the synthetic molecules: helional (a green hay-like grassy odor), melonal (excatly what it says), calone (usually the worst marine-ozonic offender), ultrazur (another fresh-ozonic beast, sweeter and greener than calone). It sounds like a warning sign and it took all my trust in Ramon Monegal's perfumery skill and style to make me take that first spritz on my wrist.

I shouldn't have worried. While Pure Mariposa opens with a burst of sharp and fresh citrus oil, I don't smell the sea or any rotten melons; just air from a window opened early in the morning, letting in cool air. It's a mix of bright yellow and bright green: the freshly mowed grass, a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, meyer lemons arranged in a bowl on the table. Then things become more floral as the day (and Pure Mariposa) starts to unfold. New blossoms open every day, white, pink, and orange. The heart is rather abstract, I can't say "here's muguet! there's rose!", but it is very floral, slightly honeyed (those fresh water molecules are gone and forgotten), juicy and a bit pulpy. I do smell quite a bit of peach and it goes hand in hand with a strong tuberose note. There's a point that Mariposa becomes a blend of powder and tuberose, very feminine on my skin (dry and woody on the husband) and if you over spray it really takes over the room.

 It's a good thing that I fully enjoy this ride, because the longevity and sillage are both very robust (16 hours easily). Pure Mariposa is a daytime fragrance, but be careful if you're around grumpy office people who don't appreciate this colorful scented presence. Personally, I think it's a fun first date perfume, or something to wear for a Sunday brunch. We're at the tail end of a semi-miserable winter and the ennui is at full swing; it's a good time as any for some butterflies.

Ramon Monegal- Pure Mariposa ($200, 1.7oz EDP) is exclusive to Neiman Marcus, available online and in store. A press sample for this review was provided by Ramon Monegal.

Artwork: Butterflies (Abstract) by Marcia Baldwin.

Washing Makeup Brushes

There are many guides and tutorials for cleaning makeup brushes, some written/demonstrated by pros who are much more qualified than me to advise on the subject. But I keep getting asked how I wash and dry my brushes, and since I'm still working on my comprehensive brush guide (it takes forever), I figured this is a topic worth discussing.

I'm only semi-fussy about the soaps and detergents I use. Whatever shampoo I have on hand, Dr. Bronner soap, Caldrea gentle dish washing liquid-- they all work. I also use various face washes, especially Shu Uemura cleansing oil. I only have one rule: if it's bad for my skin it's also bad for the brushes. My hands are very sensitive and dry, so that's a good guideline as far as I'm concerned.

Another thing I do: condition. Natural hair brushes, just like or own hair, benefit from conditioning (synthetic brushes don't need it and can usually undergo a more vigorous washing with more stripping detergents, especially if you're suffering from acne and use liquid foundations and concealers). Again, I'm not fussy, and any conditioner formulated for dry hair will work (I'm partial to TreSemme for this purpose, as the bottle is massive and cheap). Do make sure to wash the conditioner thoroughly and then some, since product buildup reduces the brush's performance.

The most important thing in washing brushes, though, is to never ever soak the head above the ferrule. You need to make sure to let as little water as possible get into the base where the fibers are held together, otherwise the glue is softened and compromised and the brush will start disintegrating. So: as little soaking as possible and always in the shallowest water, even if it means placing ten different cups with varying levels of water on the counter.

Rinse in plenty of water, make sure the water run clean with no makeup or soap residue.

The rule of drying is always with the head down (again, to preserve the glue). That's why the cute brush tree from Benjabellle ($34.95, is a good solution. The design isn't perfect (I wish the silicone parts were stiffer as to not let the brushes move), but it's good and effective. I stick several brushes in each slot, except for massive kabuki brushes, and it keeps them in place with their head down and out of harm's way. The other essential drying aids are brush guards in various sizes ( or through Amazon). They prevent splaying and loss of shape, and are the only way to make newer MAC 217 brushes last (it's infuriating how ten year old 217s retain their shape better than the newer ones, unless you use these hairnets). Yachiyo brushes (both Hakuhodo and NARS) also benefit from using these. Brush Guards come in four sizes and I use all of them. They make a visible difference and can restore even older brushes to a better state.

Now, as much work and thought as I put into washing the hair part of my brushes, I'm much harder on the handles. I make sure they're clean and shiny, often using wet wipes between washings, and I don't mind that some of them lose the embossed letters or numbers (Hakuhodo brushes are especially prone to it). Makeup brushes are tools, not home decor, so I want them clean and in tiptop shape, but don't mind normal wear and tear to their handles. That said, you can coat the handles in clear nail polish if that's your thing, and wash them gently.

Rouge Bunny Rouge- Delicate Hummingbird Long-lasting Eye Shadow

Rouge Bunny Rouge Long lasting Eye Shadow in Delicate Hummingbird has a cult status that's much deserved. Fans of Rouge Bunny Rouge (and I'm definitely one) adore the texture of all their eye shadows- both matte and shimmery. Delicate Hummingbird is of the latter group, and it adds light and life to the face without any glitter or particles that get everywhere. It's the right kind of shine that comes with a very complex and hard to describe color- a purplish taupe? a plummy milk chocolate with pink glaze? or maybe the most accurate description comes directly from Rouge Bunny Rouge: "Cool, dusky sugar-frosted plum, iridescent with pink shimmer".  All of the above, if you ask me.

The beautiful shade of Delicate Hummingbird works for countless looks from a daytime neutral to attention-grabbing evening glam (apply over a dark cream base or a black pencil, add some cobalt blue). The texture is wonderful and easy to work with. I'm a Rouge Bunny Rouge devotee who hopes to own every single color from their When Birds Are Singing range, but if you're new to the brand this is not a bad place to start.

Bottom Line: Gorgeous.

Rouge Bunny Rouge- Delicate Hummingbird Long-lasting Eye Shadow ($27 full size, $19 for the smaller refill) is available from BeautyHabit, Zuneta (for international shipping) and directly from Also: several eye shadow colors that were phased out from the other retailers were NOT discontinued, just made RBR site exclusive.
The product for this review was sent for my consideration by the company.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tommi Sooni- Eau de Tommi Sooni I

Tommi Sooni's Eau de Tommi Sooni I smells very romantic. It has an almost-vintage-but-not-quite vibe, probably thanks to its full body feel and a smoky oakmossy dry-down that fills the heart with a certain longing. Eau de Tommi Sooni I was released in 2011, proving that there are always exciting surprises where and when you don't expect them: a brand new Australian perfume house in this case.

Eau de Tommi Sooni I opens with a very rich and lightly spicy citrus and leaves accord. Citrus is everywhere, of course, but not like this. My wrist gets glued to my nose immediately, as I try to figure out what it is exactly that captures my attention and heart. It's the lime and bay leaf, I think, that make this such an interesting dry and spicy opening. I don't get any of the rose listed in the nose and have to really look for the jonquil. Eau de Tommi Sooni I is not a floral perfume in my opinion; instead, it's about many shades of green, from the cool and dusty pine and moss to the bright and zesty lime.  The whole thing becomes smooth, slightly sweetened and with a hint of booze and smoke.

If you look for Eau de Tommi Sooni I on Luckyscent's website you'll see that they place it at the very feminine end of the gender spectrum. However, I think it's as unisex as they come. There's nothing girly or soft there; Eau de Tommi Sooni I is not scruffy, but it has a pulled-together toughness that can go either way. The hint of chyper tradition will appeal to lovers of this style of both genders, as will the clean green aspect. I simply think that it's beautiful, easy to wear, as well as highly satisfying.

Notes: Lime, lemon leaves, bergamot, bay laurel, jonquil, rose, Cuban cigar accord, Huon pine, sandalwood, benzoin, oakmoss.

See more reviews on EauMG and NST.

Tommi Sooni-  Eau de Tommi Sooni I ($165, 100ml high concentration EDT) is available from Luckyscent (right now on sale for $125!) as well as directly from The samples for this review were acquired during the Elements Show in NYC.

Photo of Bogart and Bergman on Casablanca via

Discontinued: Le Labo Aldehyde 44

As you probably know, Barneys New York is closing their Dallas store on March 2nd. Barneys Dallas had a Le Labo counter that offered the city exclusive Aldehyde 44. I was just informed by Le Labo that as a result of Barneys Dallas shutting down, Aldehyde 44 will be discontinued. We'll have one last chance to stock up on this perfume as it will be sold online ( throughout March, and will continue to refill customers bottles (50ml, 100ml, and 500ml) until they run out of juice; after that it's a goner.

Insert appropriate "not amused" emoticon.

Photo courtesy of Le Labo.

Ginnifer Goodwin In NARS Makeup- Vanity Fair Oscars Party 2013

Yes, I know we're all celebed out after last night, which is why I won't even bother to comment on the dress Heidi Klum wore for the 2013 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscars Party. But I couldn't pass on the stunning look NARS makeup artist Mai Quynh created for Ginnifer Goodwin who attended the Vanity Fair Oscars party. I love Ginnifer, and I love blue eye makep. According to NARS PR, the products used on Ginnifer's eyes were Larger Than Life eyeliner pencil in Abbey Road, and eye shadow duos in Rated R and Cordura. I don't know about you, but I see some NARS shopping in my immediate future.

Photos of Ginnifer Goodwin: Getty via Zimbio.

Kjaer Weis- Romance Lip Tint And Lip Brush

Kjaer Weis products are a feast for the eyes and a pleasure to use. They offer what I consider the most beautiful and sleek packaging on the market (designed by Marc Atlan), and incredible textures in flattering wearable colors. Take, for example, this Kjaer Weis lip tint in Romance. The pink coral shade looks a bit menacing in the pan, but the balm-like sheer texture makes Romance an everyday color that adds just the right amount of life to the face. I've been using it on its own and also mixed with Kjaer Weis Passionate Lip Tint (I'm on my second refill) to add a bit more red.

Kjaer Weis lip tint doesn't have a discernible scent and barely a taste. The product is easy to spread on the lips and color intensity can be built. The tint holds onto the lips, and depending on the amount one applies, it's fairlylong lasting, drink resistant and leaves a light stain when it fades (quite evenly, I must say). I always use a brush-- not a fan of dipping my finger into the pan, but it can be done for a very natural and casual effect.

Kjaer Weis lip brush is an effective tool. It's elegant, of course, and matches the rest of the line, but also well-designed (Kirsten Kjaer Weis, the founder and owner of the company is a makeup artist). I like the tapered round edge of the brush that makes it east to do precision work, line the lips and reach every corner.

The formulas of Kjaer Weis products are 95% organic (and even the ingredients that aren't certified organic- certain color dyes- are FDA and EU approved). The packaging is refillable (the refills are reasonably priced), and the overall feel of the brand is very luxurious.

Bottom Line: Love.

Kjaer Weis- Romance Lip Tint ($48 with the compact, $24 refill only) and Lip Brush ($18) are available at select salons (Woodley & Bunny in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, if you're in the NYC area) and online from The products for this review were sent free of charge for my consideration.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars 2013 - Live Blogging The Red Carpet

I don't know what to call the color of Jessica Chastain's Armani Prive dress, but it's almost as beautiful as Jessica herself, and just about as perfect as her hair and makeup.

In comparison, Amy Adams who is usually radiant and lovely, looks washed out. Is it Oscar de la Renta's fault? I'm not sure. But Amy deserves to look much more glamorous.

I'm bored with Resse Witherspoon's LV dress, but it's all about her hair, anyway (the makeup is also beautiful).

That's not the case with Amanda Seyfried who's dress is glorious, her makeup stunning, but whoever did her hair seems to have forgotten the hairspray. Messy is not a good Oscar look.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is wearing the Oscar statue, and her face is equally expressive.

No commentary is needed for the face of Dior, Jennifer Lawrence:

A sure sign a dress is all wrong: when my husband takes one look and says "Oy". That's Anne Hathaway's Prada dress tonight (the necklace is also a mistake. I wish she had chosen bigger earrings instead).

Some dresses had very interesting tops. Kerry Washington and Zoe Saldana had massive embelishments on their bodices, while Naomi Watts had my full attention with her asymmetric silver dress.

I love Sally Field in red, but do wish she had a belt or at least some kind of embellishment on.

Jennifer Aniston is not wearing black. Do we care?

I'm probably the only person in the world (other than Jane Fonda, obviously) who likes this shade of yellow.

Another controversial look is Nicole Kidman's. Let's face it: she's at her best when she looks a little bit scary.

Speaking of scary, Salma Hayek is ready to take over Narnia (she's fabulous, though).

I can't believe I'm saying this: Stacy Keibler looks better than George Clooney.

I don't know if Jennifer Garner will be able to sit in her Gucci dress, but I guess it doesn't matter when you look that good. The color is stunning and original.

Poor Kristen Stewart had a horrible week. Between the Razzies, the UK poll that declared her the least sexy actress in the known universe. Then came her "unexplained injury" that had her hobbling onto the red carpet on crutches, where she fought bravely to keep her balance and smile for the photographers. Her Reem Acra dress is very pretty, and considering the leg or foot situation I can't blame her for not accessorizing and keeping the distractions to a minimum. But a better hairstyle might have helped her greatly.

Photos: Just Jared and Faded Youth Blog.

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