Thursday, May 28, 2015

Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Blush In Rapture

It started when my friend Josie and I plowed through my local Ulta swatching e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. The new Urban Decay Afterglow blushes caught our eye, because blush. But I was only semi-interested in this one, Rapture, because it reminded me of a perennial favorite, Aplum by Lancome, a blush I've had in my arsenal for the last fifteen years or so (and yes, I actually have a backup). This sort of brownish plum color is admittedly not the most sought-after these days, but it's a good look for me, hence a staple. My Ulta has a full Lancome counter, so I could easily compare Urban Decay Rupture to Aplum and realize that they're different enough, both in color (Rupture is more mauve) and in finish (it has the promised Urban Decay glow). I didn't get it at the time, but kept thinking about this pretty blush, and when a couple of weeks later I've found myself again at Ulta as one is wont to do, the little box came home with me.

Now, let's talk about this 8-hour business. As far as I'm concerned, if a blush doesn't hold a full day wear, it has no right to take up space in my blush drawer. Granted, I prime, prep, and create a good base for my makeup, and seal the deal with a light dusting of a fine finishing powder, so that helps. But an eight hour work day is an absolute minimum as far as I'm concerned, which makes the name and the claim gimmicky and annoying.

However, this Urban Decay blush has other things going for it. The sturdy and intricate packaging that features a gunmetal cutout lattice work that looks luxurious and much more expensive than what it is. Then there's the texture itself, which is the best I've seen from Urban Decay in a very very long time. The powder is finely-milled and buttery, the pigment buildable to the desired level, and despite the glowing effect, there are absolutely no shiny particles that would have reduced the blush into a more juvenile product. It really is a gorgeous product.

Bottom Line: excellent.

Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Blush In Rapture ($26) is available from Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom, and

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Currently- May 2015

It's the tale-end of May, and I have no idea how that happened. House-guests, a short trip to Brimfield (quite successful), the Husband's birthday, my niece's birthday (how and when did she turn seven? SEVEN?). It's getting hot and stormy here, and the husband and I could really really use a cool and quiet weekend to ourselves, preferably with a good spa treatment. But let's get this in before June swallows us whole.

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman. The life of a suburban madam become a lot more complicated than she anticipated. I love Lippman's writing (read After I'm Gone when you get a chance). She has a knack for describing what happens to seemingly regular people under unusual circumstances.

Short Movie by Laura Marling. As far as I'm concerned she can sing the NYC phone book. I'll still buy everything she does.

Is there anything other than Game of Thrones? We still watch Orphan Black, but suspending our disbelief becomes a bit harder at times. And I want more screen time for Felix. Also, get Daario Naharis back to Ontario. I'm not sure he's long for Mereen the way things are going over there.

Lalibela by Memo. I bought the bottle in Paris back in 2008. It's big, it's perfumy, and utterly lovely. I'm pretty happy that both Aedes, Luckyscent, and Neiman now stock them.

I've gone a bit base-crazy, comparing and contrasting several new and not so new products. There's a post about it in our future. I may have ordered one from Japan (ask Lisa Eldridge).

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Dresses, long and short, in solid colors. They leave a lot more room for accessorizing.

Guilty Pleasure
Getting my nails done. At least I go to a well-established local salon that seems to be free of the depressing atmosphere uncovered by the New York Times. And I need my gel nails. They're the only thing that keeps my hands in a good shape.

My favorite dessert, Mont Blanc, at Basta Pasta (17th street). It's an almondy thing that thankfully doesn't come in pints, or I'll never fit in my dresses ever again.

Meh. You know what? I can't complain when I have some of the awesomest friends both near and far, a husband who spoils me rotten, happy and healthy kittens of every size and color, and the roses are starting to bloom.

Asian skincare makes a visible difference.


Gathering as many of my friends as possible here this summer.

Random Thought
Nothing fit to print.

How are you doing? What are your loves, joys, banes, recommendations, and random thoughts? Please share.

Erte- Swept Away.

Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick Mademoiselle #434

I'll be the first one to admit that Chanel has kind of lost me over the last eighteen months or so. Too many collections, too frequent reformulation, and in general: too much. I can't really fault them, though. Everyone is doing that, and in most cases Chanel quality is still up there. But I developed that kind of beauty blogger fatigue that causes one to not order six new lipsticks with every launch.

 But as jaded as I am, the newly tweaked Chanel Rouge Coco lipsticks are incredibly appealing, as I discovered when a dear dear friend gave me Mademoiselle #434 as a gift. The formula has never been creamier and more comfortable, and the pigment is incredibly rich and vibrant even in a mostly neutral shade such as Mademoiselle. I seem to recall the original incarnation of this color, and it was not as successful on my darker than average lips. This Mademoiselle, though? She's my lips but far far better.

As you can see on the arm swatch, the base of this color is rather warm. However, my own lips have a noticeable purple rose natural pigment, so the two balance each other and become my go-to lipstick for just about any occasion when I don't wear red (it happens). Moisture level is high, there's no pooling in the tiny scar on my lower lip, and the fact that Rouge Coco is not meant to last past a snack or the four hour mark don't bother me in the least. There's always been something to be said for taking out an elegant Chanel lipstick from your purse and carefully reapplying.

Bottom Line: I guess now I'll have to buy #446 Etienne.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shiseido BR 727 Fog Shimmering Cream Eye Color

Here's another review that practically writes itself. Shiseido has added an impressive number of new colors to their much-loved Shimmering Cream Eye Color range. My personal wishlist includes at least five more shades, but I've been good and only gotten this one as a start, BR727 Fog.

Upon first glance Fog appears on the gray side of things, but there's a reason Shiseido's numbering system has it listed as a BR (brown family). The color is incredibly complex and changes with the light and the movement of the lid. I find that applying with a finger and blending the edges with a brush gives me the best results, as a color-packing brush doesn't conform perfectly to the eye contour. But it's a matter of preference, technique, brush, and mood.

The important thing is that the formula of Shiseido Shimmering cream shadows is incredibly light, quick to set, and keeps its vitality all day long. Since Fog is such a sophisticated neutral I find it a great every day color, despite the glimmering effect (even just a dab at the center of your lid will do wonders). Primer is not utterly necessary, but you know me: I'm a purist. It's one of those colors and products that lend themselves to a swipe-and-go application, perfect on an early morning or when you really can't be too bothered. The result is always more polished than just about anything else you could do.

Bottom Line: which one will be next?

Shiseido BR 727 Fog Shimmering Cream Eye Color ($25) is available at the counters and online.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ellis Faas- On The Edge Of Beauty (Book Review)

What a disappointment!

I was incredibly excited about On the Edge of Beauty, the new book by Ellis Faas. I've been a long time admirer of her work, her products, and her approach to makeup and beauty, and I admit to also having a girl crush after meeting Ellis Faas in person. So what could be better than a book depicting and describing her artistry?

On the Edge of Beauty is not that book. The photos are gorgeous, but if you're an Ellis Faas fan chances are that you've already seen most of them. They're on her website (look under "Visuals"), and some of them were released as promos for various makeup product launches or for special events (such as the coronation of King Willem-Alexander of the Nederlands) . I wouldn't have minded the redundancy had there actually been any content accompanying them, but there's none. Absolutely nothing.

The only bits of text in On the Edge of Beauty are the promotional statements that appear in press releases and on the website: "The only red is Ellis Red", "Only tested on supermodels", and the stuff you see above. There are no look breakdowns of the work, no explanations of the techniques used, and not a single essay on Ellis Faas' approach to beauty, edginess, or her own artistry. Basically, the book is a compilation of pre-released images and marketing slogans from the website. It's not a makeup book, and the smallish paperback format (64 pages) prevents it from being a proper album. It's a brochure, I guess, that goes nicely with the makeup products, but it lacks any educational value whatsoever, which is a shame. Such a missed opportunity!

Bottom Line: don't bother even if you're a die-hard Ellis Faas fan.

 Ellis Faas- On The Edge Of Beauty  ($20) is available from

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Providence Perfume Company- Provanilla

Photograph by  Nick Knight for W Magazine, model: Karlie Kloss 
Vanilla perfumes are usually labeled as cold weather staples. It's a generalization, of course, with several notable exceptions (the discontinued L'Artisan Vanilia was a good example, but the light Eau Duelle by Diptyque is an easily available option). Joining them now is Provanilla from Providence Perfume Company, an all-natural perfume which to me is a perfect choice for day the temperatures climb and climb (and climb).

Provanilla is a deceivingly light vanilla fragrance that goes from a sheer floral to an airy gourmand. Floral vanillas are usually based on the relationship between  vanilla bean and the vanilla orchid. The aforementioned classic Vanilia came to my mind the first time I sprayed Providence's Provanilla because of this connection. But this new perfume took a surprising turn into an almost watery, cucumbery territory, which I usually deeply dislike. But something about this composition grabbed me and didn't let go. I was reminded of a favorite refreshing summer drink: ice cold almond water laced with a whiff of vanilla. This Middle Eastern treat that takes what you usually think of "comfort" ingredients and gives them a summer spin.

Eventually the watery notes disappear in favor of a deeper vanilla. This time the gourmand aspect is more pronounced, yet the sheerness of the perfume brings to mind a delicate embroidery on a silk chiffon fabric that moves around you in the light summer breeze. The dry-down is absolutely beautiful. It walks the line of "yummy" very carefully: yes, the temptation is there, but vanilla ( a good vanilla, that is) is more interesting than that and has an inherent complexity that includes smokiness, booze, fantasy orchid, and creamy desserts. Vanilla-centric perfumes are not too common in natural perfumery, making Provanilla an even bigger standout. Perfume Charna Ethier managed to use all the facets and create a vanilla fragrance that expresses all the most skilled  perfumers who restrict themselves to natural ingredients.

Provanilla by Providence Perfume Company ($35 7.5ml eau de parfum, also in other sizes as well as samples) is available at Twisted Lily and directly from Samples for this review were supplied by the perfumer.

Bobbi Brown Sheer Lip Color: Orange & Berry

I nearly forgot to show you the last bit I bought from Bobbi Brown's Hot Collection (aka the "What In The World Was I Thinking?" shopping excursion. See my review of the Berry blush palette and the lip crayons). The two Sheer Lip Colors were actually the best decision of the bunch, as I've always loved this Bobbi Brown sheer lipstick formula, and I can wear just about any color as long as it's this see-through.

Orange and Berry Sheer Lip Color lipsticks can be worn over the matching Art Sticks to make them not as matte and add some hydration. Of course, they're perfectly nice on their own, giving a shot of bright yet light color to a summer makeup look (my lips are naturally dark, so the lipsticks can only show up so much, but if yours are less pigmented you'll get a lot more color and probably a good stain effect).

The colors are bright and self explanatory. Not much complexity there, just straight up reddish orange and a raspberryish purple. They're perfect for summer and make me smile every time I use them. I've also mixed them on the back of my hand with the more intense Art sticks and applied with a brush to great results, but I admit that it defies the idea of a quick and low-maintenance sheer lip color. Still, something to think about.

Bottom Line: winners.

Bobbi Brown Sheer Lip Color in Orange and Berry ($26 each) are available at the counters, Sephora, and

(Book in the background is Bobbi Brown's Makeup Manual)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Kjaer Weis Beloved Lip Tint

One of the many things I love about Kjaer Weis makeup is the carefully edited collection. New launches are few and far-between, so one can really appreciate it when a color is added to the line. This season Kirsten Kjaer Weis released three more colors of her Lip Tints, all in the plum-to-purple family. My choice was Beloved, a rich blackberry shade that will look slightly different on everyone, depending on the ratio of purple-red of your lips. It's pretty, it's sexy, and as I've demonstrated above can be sheered or layered for the desired results.

The formula of Kjaer Weis Lip Tint feels like a dry balm (think Nuxe) and is comfortable to wear even in the winter. Pigmentation is strong for a sheer product, and longevity is that of a lightweight lipstick. some of the tints have a somewhat glossy finish, but Beloved appears matte. I prefer to use it with a lip brush, both for germy and precision reasons. 

Bottom Line: Yes. 

Kjaer Weis Lip Tint in Beloved and the other new colors (Rapture, a bright purple/pink, and Amazed, a lilac) are available from Osswald NYC and directly through They come either in the packaging you see above ($49) or as a refill ($29) that can be added to any magnetic free-form palette. The product for this review was sent by PR.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Revisiting Monyette Paris Perfume Oil

The very first perfume "review" I posted here was of Monyette Paris eponymous perfume oil. It was a little over nine years ago, and I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted to talk about a perfume I fell in love with despite my (now defunct) aversion to white flowers. I also wanted to describe the process of giving a second (or was it a third?) chance to a fragrance that didn't particularly appeal to me at first sniff. I failed miserably. But I did love Monyette Paris. I loved it so much that I started, finished, and repurchased a new roller-ball within a year. That rarely happens these days. Of course, we're talking about a 1/8 oz little thing, but still.

The tropical night charm of Monyette Paris is still as captivating as it was back then. At times it smells incredibly simple: isn't it just a sweet and creamy gardenia? On other days the oil seems to be constructed of endless  layers of white gauzy material that adds up. Gardenia? Yes, sure. But also coconut milk, vanilla, phantom white flowers that go in and out, a touch of champaca or plumeria (even after all these years I often get the two mixed up in some blends). It's heady, of course, enough to make it a perfect sultry summer night favorite; but the tropical fantasy floats over a surprisingly comforting vanilla base. I rely on Monyette Paris as a winter pick-me-up just as much as I do in the heat. A fantasy of a chilled pudding on a warm island? Yes, please.

 Regular readers know that I can't deal with Datura Noir (Lutens) that has a lot in common (coconut, white flowers, an oriental base) with this little oil. But Monyette is far more easy-going. Not as green, not as loud, and smiles a lot more. For some this might be a dumbed-down simplification, but I find it a relief.  Monyette Paris doesn't go all the way to the beachy suntan lotion category, despite its creaminess. It isn't a light and fresh, and the way the oil blooms in the heat might be too assertive for some. But it's a lot of fun.

Monyette Paris used to be grouped with other 1990s-early 2000s perfumes with an unmistakable California vibe that blonde celebs liked to buy in small Los Angeles boutiques. Stuff like Kai and Child Perfume (still one of the worst names I can think of) that were all the rage in a world that had much fewer perfume releases and even less so outside the department store counters. I have no idea how many people still remember, wear or buy any of them. It seems that Kai is still the most popular of the bunch (and it was supposed to be the inspiration behind Jennifer Aniston's insufferable fragrance). Is Monyette all but forgotten? It deserves to be reintroduced.

Monyette Paris Perfume Oil ($45, 1/8 oz perfume oil, still the same price it was when I bought my second bottle) is available from Luckyscent.

Photo of Dorothy Lamour via her fan site.