Thursday, March 31, 2016

FotD: Evening Makeup For a Bright Blue Dress

I had a perfume event as a prelude to a mid-week date night with the Blond. I knew what I was going to wear and actually planned my makeup accordingly. Usually when wearing blue one is advised to choose warm peachy colors, but a) I look awful in them, and b) the exact shade my dress was between ultramarine and a very very blue violet, so the contrast would have been overwhelming. Instead, I chose golds and browns in shimmer and matte and muted warm colors everywhere else.

Laura Mercier Hydrating Primer.
Armani Maestro Glow Foundation (5.5)
Laura Mercier Secret Concealer #2 mixed with Secret Camouflage SC-3 applied with a tiny precision brush when needed (not under the eyes. I left that area alone).
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder.
All the Laura Mercier products are staples that I reach for (and repurchase) again and again, knowing that they will perform with no glitches.

Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eye Primer. It's the only Urban Decay Primer I really like and keep buying.
Four eye shadows from two Viseart palettes. From the Neutral Matte: the two on the far right in both the middle and the bottom rows. From Paris Nude the two middle colors in the middle row. A lot of blending happened. Is anyone interested in swatches of the other Viseart palettes I have? I never posted about this Paris one,  Dark Matte, or Sultry Muse.
TonyMoly gel eyeliner in black (a Korean brand, bought on amazon). No difference than any other decent gel eyeliner, but price is good.
Diorshow mascara primer and mascara.
MAC Teddy on the waterline.

There's also something in my brows, but I didn't write down the specifics and have forgotten what I used. Sorry.

MAC Fleur Power blush. A classic no-brainer color.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lip liner (talking about a no-brainer).
MAC Velvet Teddy lipstick  mixed with some lip balm pressed into the lips with a brush.
MAC Creamsheen Lipglass in Delight (because I was still feeling that Velvet Teddy is too dry).

Other Stuff
The dress is from J. Crew, and since it has an elaborate neckline (there are laces involved), I skipped accessories or jewelry other than a massive cocktail ring.
SotEvening was JAR Diamond Water. It went well with my shoes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow- Bronze & Dove Gray (and a FotD)

I picked two colors of the new Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow by Wander Beauty, a brand that appeared lately on Sephora's website (it's only online at the moment). It was an easy choice, as Dove Gray looked kind of taupy, and Bronze is, well, a bronze (looked more like sand-blasted copper in the tube, and closer to a rose gold on skin). Both were hard to resist.

From the Sephora directions "Just apply to the eyelid, directly from the doe-foot applicator, and blend outwards using a makeup sponge or your fingers, building with additional coats for a more dramatic effect. " I could already guess that these Wander Beauty liquid shadows were going to be on the sheer side, but I don't mind a light wash of color that can be layered, as long as the texture and finish are good. And they are, for an eye gloss.

I was a bit unsure the first time I applied them. The sheer shimmery liquid made me worried I'd end up with a less pigmented glittery mess, similar to the wretched YSL Full Metal Shadow I bought last year. But the result was closer to the old Paul & Joe Eye Gloss (I actually loved those things). It was easy to apply and blend, layered nicely without too much fuss and never flaked off after setting. These liquid shadows do take a little while to dry, and remain a bit tacky for a while, but I don't mind, because I take my time with the rest of the makeup anyway.

Once set, the Wander Beauty liquid shadows stay put and maintain the nice glossy finish for 6-8 hours. It's not Armani, for sure, but they're easier to work with, and like any eye gloss can be used as a top coat for other eye shadows. The colors turn out more muted on the lid (over various primers), but with quite a bit of shine. I like them, but I don't mind metallic shimmer on my lids, so your mileage may vary.

Bottom Line: as long as you adjust your expectations.

Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadows ($26 each, made in USA) are available from Sephora online.

Above you have a makeup look focusing on the eyes where I used Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow in Dove Gray. Here's the full breakdown:

The Face shop Glow Date-prep Butter. It's a Korean product (available from Amazon) which I used as a sort of primer, but you should only do so if your skin is dry-to-parched. I'll review it soon.
Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer in Natural Radiance. Obviously, I was piling up the glow.
MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC30.
Le Metier de Beaute Classic Flawless Finish Translucent Powder. It's the closets to the now discontinued compact version that I loved beyond reason. I wish they'd bring it back.

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Sin (from a sample that reminded me how much I dislike this version. I don't need my primer to shine).
Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow in Dove Gray.
ColourPop Fast Lane eyeliner gel (the one in the pot). I smudged the line further than originally intended, so decided to just embrace it.
Barry M waterproof eyeliner pencil in Bold Black on the upper and lower waterline. It's a UK drugstore product that I bought through Amazon (probably paying twice than the original dirt-cheap price, but still worth it).
Touch In Sol Stretchex Stretch Lash Effect Mascara. It was part of a Sephora kit and it's alright. Nothing special, but it works.

Hourglass Mood Exposure Ambient Blush.

Lipstick Queen Cupid's Bow Golden Arrow.

Other Stuff
Carolina amato scarf (I bought a bunch when Gilt had a big sale. They're mid-weight and perfect for the season).
SotD was an odd mixture of what was left from other things I wore that day: Ostara, L'Artisan  La Chasse Aux Papillons, and vintage Nina Ricci Fleur de Fleur.

Penhaligon's- Ostara

I'm a sucker for perfumes that evoke spring flowers, and Ostara, a 2015 release from Penhaligon's has been around for two springs now, and it's as perfect and beautiful as the first hyacinth and daffodil of the season. It's got everything I like about this style: heaps of flowers, dewy leaves, and the bitterness of crisp freshly-cut stems. It's that bitterness in the opening of Ostara that wins me over again and again.

Ostara is the entire garden on an early spring day when the clear blue skies compete with the flowers on who has the best and most striking color around. There's just enough air and earthiness to keep things interesting and very modern, yet it's all about wisteria vines heavy with blossoms bowing downs and almost touching your face. The opening of the perfume has all that and also something that reminds me of tagetes and mums, two not-so-spring-like blossoms that I love dearly in perfume and elsewhere. It's a phantom note, conjures by those very green stems that hold Ostara together,

I tend to spray this perfume with a very generous hand, trying to get it into every space in my clothes and every pore in my skin. Delicate floral notes often don't cling to me as much as I wish, and I need to trap them somehow,  to maintain that impression of first step into the garden. Marinated in Ostara, I can live in my flower bubble for a little longer, and then either reach for more or allow the fragrance to take its natural progression onto a softer and fuzzier stage where yellow flowers take center stage, and the languid ylang-ylang is heady and tempting.

Eventually, Ostara becomes a slightly powdery ambery skin scent with little sillage and no projection. This base is pretty and pleasant, but it doesn't quite live up to the addictive quality of the floral hook. I wish there was more heft there, but I must admit that few perfumes in this genre seem to offer that (notable exceptions are Chamade and Grand Amour, as well as Bruno Fazzolari's Au Dela Narcisse de Montagnes). I'll take what I can get from this stunner.

Ostara was released a little over a year ago, but rumors of its demise started not long after, mostly because Penhaligon's offered it at a very  deep discount a couple of times on their website as well as through several e-tailers. The perfume is definitely still in production, and the official stockists charge full price ($90 for the 50ml bottle on Luckyscent, $120 at Twisted Lily). You can find it for less if you search around, and I can't fault you if you do. Penhaligon's has not done themselves and their retailers any favors by cutting the prices.

Image: Seventeen Magazine October 1958 ~ photo by Francesco Scavullo via

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope- Black Tie & Private Party

Poppy King of Lipstick Queen has so many lipstick ranges in her own line and as collaborations that it can get very confusing. But there's no mistaking Lipstick Queen's Velvet Rope collection for anything other than her top drawer luxury product. The boxes are coated with a velveteen material, the cases are heavy Art Deco style (actually these are only the caps. The tube itself is much lighter, and the base is thin and flat like a tester. That's kind of an odd choice). They're meant to be displayed next to one's Tom Ford and Guerlain lipsticks and other items in this price bracket.

There are five shades in the Velvet Rope range, and I could have easily bought four (the nude pink Star System is too light for my taste), but I picked the two I knew I was going to wear the most: Private Party, a red-based hot pink that's actually very wearable because it's free of neon, and Black Tie, a deep berry red. The lipsticks have an about 75% coverage and a silky finish that is not really matte, so I find the combination to be the most flattering on non-filtered face and lips.

Both Velvet Rope lipsticks leave a good and even stain behind them, which is especially nice with such a lightweight formula. They have a reasonable longevity (can survive a drink or a snack if applied in the classic liner-brush on-blot-brush on a second coat method), but they transfer onto teacups, corn ears, and cats. The lipsticks are comfortable, slightly hydrating, and make a good choice for a night out: they won't become dry or patchy, and pulling the chic tube out for a touch-up is an elegant move.

Here's where I get cranky, though: The ingredient list is not printed on the box (you can't really print much on the velveteen) and there's no leaflet attached. As a matter of fact, the only place you can find the content of the lipstick is on the Lipstick Queen website. Here it is:



The lipsticks have a light minty smell. It's from the use of natural peppermint oil which is a is known irritant.Some people can be very sensitive to it, just as much as to an artificial fragrance. I don't have a problem with this ingredient and I like mint, but this is not necessarily the best choice for a luxury lip product.

Bottom Line: As long as you're not allergic to peppermint it's a good use for your Ulta points.

Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope lipsticks ($50 each, made in Canada) are available at Barneys, Nordstrom, SpaceNK, and Ulta (!).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Colourpop Crème Gel Liners: DLTA & Fast Lane

Colourpop is quickly becoming a favorite treat: stunning colors, delectable textures, made in the US and shockingly cheap. That's the case with their two forms of gel eyeliner, a thin retractable pencil and a cream-gel in a pot. Each color comes in both versions, and I'm not sure I can say which one I prefer. They're both wonderfully soft and easy to apply, richly pigmented with a sophisticated finish (most are matte, a few are metallic), set quickly, and last for as long as you need it.

The pencil is perfect for use on the waterline and it's ideal for travel, since it takes minimal space and frees you from the need to pack a brush. It is very soft, so one needs to be careful not to break the tip (don't expose too much of the product at one go). The pot version is slightly creamier but also sets quickly, and works well for more elaborate designs as well as for the most basic thin lines or tightlining.

The "rain" is drawn with Fast Lane pencil, while the "bird" with the gel in the pot. Obviously, on your eyes you'd use a thinner brush.

The first colors I picked from this Colourpop range were DLTA and Fast Lane. DLTA is a gorgeous navy blue, while Fast Lane is a dark teal that leans more green than blue. They're fun colors that are still easy to wear while creating a visual interest. Colourpop offers both more traditional black and various browns as well as pink, yellow, and pastel shades for the more creative among us. I've got my eye on the metallic bronze of Over Board as my next purchase, and maybe the cool brown of Stomper.

Bottom Line; I'm in love.

Colourpop Crème Gel Liners (pencils $5 each, pots $6 each, all are made in the US) can be purchased from

Thursday, March 24, 2016

FotD: The Bare Necessities

I was feeling very low-key last Saturday. It was a gray and kind of chilly day, some errands to run, a very late lunch at a favorite cafe, and a quick stop at a local antique store. I decided to see what's the minimal amount of actual color I could wear and still not look dead. The key was choosing high-glow products and still define the appropriate features. My mom is going to say that I need more color, and she'll be right. Still, it was an interesting experiment (the next day I wore a bright plum lip color and navy eyeliner).

YSL Blur Primer. I'm officially in love with this. It reminds me a bit of the Guerlain primer with the gold flecks, but easier to blend.
Armani Maestro Glow foundation in 5.5. Second only to the new YSL Touche Eclat.
I dealt with a very small unsightly issue by dotting a microscopic amount of Keromask Camouflage Cream in Light No.13, and setting it with a feather-light touch of Shiseido loose powder.

Good old Fergie eye primer (Wet'n'Wild)
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Plum blended up to the crease.
Anastasia BH eye shadow in Victorian patted and blended with my current favorite eye shadow brush, Chikuhodo GSN-09 (it was a one brush eye look, which rarely happens here).
Lancome Drama Liqui-Pencil in Noir Intense on upper and lower lashes.
Clinique High Impact mascara.

Clinique Just Browsing in 03 Deep Brown (I'm loving brow tints with tiny brushes lately).

Kjaer Weis cream blush in Abundance. It's a nude mauve color which I love dearly, even though it's probably not that good for me (kind of like my relationship with chocolate milk).
Anastasia BH highlighter: Hard Candy from the Gleam Glow Kit.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lip liner
Hourglass Femme Nude Lip Stylo #6
MAC Creamsheen Glass in Delight, which was an afterthought because the nude lip color needed some added life to it, and the gloss gave it a slightly pink boost and some healthy shine.

Other Stuff
SotD: Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles
Sweater by Phillip Lim
I swapped these vintage earrings at the last moment for a pair of dangly yellow amber ones that added a splash of color.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Youngblood Eye-Mazing Liquid Liner Pen (Marrón & Noir)

One of the things that makes a really great eyeliner pen is consistency. I expect my liner to perform the same way from one day to another until it dries up. I get cranky when it doesn't. You might remember that a few weeks ago I complained that the brand new Eye-Mazing Liquid Liner Pens I was sent by Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics have dried up after four or five uses. Well, apparently they haven't, but the flow of product in both pens became uneven and less predictable. The key to a good application has become using just the lightest pressure, no less and certainly not more, or the pen would just stop releasing color.

It's a bit of a fuss. Too much fuss, perhaps. But I keep reaching for both Marrón and Noir because I absolutely love the felt tip of these pens. It's perfect for both a thin line across the lashes (as well as tightlining), as well as turning slightly to the side and drawing a thicker more graphic shape, as you can see in the swatch of Marrón. When getting the pressure just right, the line is nice and even. The problem can be if you feel a need to go over what you've drawn. Since the product sets immediately, the very stiff nib rubs it off and almost removes the previous line. It can get annoying rather quickly.

The colors themselves are great. Both Marrón and Noir have a nice matte finish. Noir is adequately black and rtains its intensity throughout the day. Marrón is the perfect dark chocolate brown, not too warm. When applied in a very thin line along the lashes it looks almost black, especially when the pen is brand new. The true color is more evident on subsequent uses. I like Marron a lot, especially when going for a slightly softer look.

As I mentioned above, longevity is excellent, and the line once set doesn't move or flake. The pen design is good, except for the dispensing mechanism, and that can mar the entire experience. I have since figured out how to deal with it and have been using both pen successfully for weeks, but I was very close to giving up and binning them at one point.

Bottom Line: a nice product in need of some reworking.

Youngblood Eye-Mazing Liquid Liner Pen ($26 each, made in USA) is available from select salons and The products for this review were sent for my consideration free of charge.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dry Shampoo- Living Proof, CoLab, New York Streets

Dry shampoos feel like a dirty little secret. Literally. That's what one uses on unwashed hair, and I deeply dislike unwashed hair. However, with a long thick mane such as mine, doing a the whole hair routine every morning is not always feasible or advisable. I also prefer washing my hair before bed, so it can more or less air-dry overnight. Also, during pollen season it's much better to rid hair of the allergens it's collected during the day and try to minimize stewing in it all night long. Do I paint a pretty picture or what?

In any case, some days hair washing is pushed aside due to weather conditions or schedule and I find myself unhappy with that. Other times I'm testing a new product only to realize that my scalp feels itchy or greasy, while my hair is perfectly fine. These instances call for a quick and dirty solution. Enter dry shampoo.

The problem with most products in this category is that they're formulated to give a certain lift to greasy hair, so it can resume some volume and texture. I, however, want for neither. Even at its lankiest my hair still has more volume than average because of the way it grows (it's also the reason that layers are my natural enemy). Our status-quo is that I leave my hair alone and it doesn't rebel and go wild in every direction. And "texture" when it comes to the stuff on my head is the last thing I'd want. I go for silky and shiny, not the weather-beaten "beachy waves" that seem so popular. They're pretty on a photoshopped Jennifer Aniston, not on my head.

Speaking of Jen, I should have known better than to fall into the Living Proof trap (Aniston is a co-owner and a spokesperson for the company). Nothing I've tried from them has ever worked for me, which is understandable considering their ideal is Jennifer's hair, which I can only achieve by buying a wig. The immensely popular Living Proof Perfect Hair dry shampoo was a mega fail for me: the powder is too coarse and gritty, and it absorbs the life out of my hair, scalp, and brain. I tried to under-apply, hoping it'll be less aggressive, but results were the same. This dry shampoo makes my hair dry, matted, and unmanageable.

Bottom Line: No.

CoLab is fronted by Ruth Crilly of A Model Recommends. She was also involved  in the line's creation and her influence is especially apparent in the scents of the various shampoo (she's a bug fan of Tom Ford, and some of the fragrances were modeled after the Private Blend). The brand is not sold here in the US, but I was curious enough to order a can via Amazon. I just had to. I already knew that CoLab has separate formulas for texture and just for a dry cleanse, so I went with the Sheer Invisible, which is very fine and light. I like it a lot, and would have used it regularly (or regularly for me), had the husband not complained about the scent repeatedly. Tokyo is labeled as an "oriental fragrance", and it kind of is. If I'm not mistaken, it was inspired by Tom Ford's Plum Japonaise (discontinued), and it has the projection and persistence of a big-boned eau de parfum. That's more than I want to carry on my head, and it definitely competes and even drowns my perfume.

Bottom Line: Too much of a good thing.

I've never heard of New York Streets Dry Shampoo until the can appeared here in some PR package several years ago. I looked at it, shrugged, and put it aside for months until one day I really needed a good lashing of dry shampoo and couldn't find anything else around the house before remembering  New York Streets. I gave the can a good shake, whipped my hair down, and sprayed gingerly. As I stood back up and worked the product into my hair I heard the angels sing. The shampoo is very light (as fine or even finer than CoLab), it felt nice and calming on my sensitive scalp, absorbed just the right amount of oil without feeling too dry, and felt my hair looking and feeling fresh, not matte. The scent is a negligible powdery floral thing that smells like a non-desript shampoo, and that's what I want from my dry shampoo. It should smell clean in a generic non-obtrusive way, and not remind me it's there with every head movement (attn: Ruth). That first can was the first time I've ever used up a full commercial size can of dry shampoo, and went on to purchase and repurchase. I buy Streets of New York on Amazon and would cry buckets if it were to disappear.

Bottom Line: Yes, please.

Are you a dry shampoo user? When, how, and which one is your top pick?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jean d'Albert- Casaque (Vintage Perfume)

It's been nearly three decades since Parfums Jean d'Albert ceased to exist. Casaque, a 1956-57 release, was in production for twenty years. It seems to have been quite popular in the USA, as the pretty bottles (and boxes, if you're lucky) can still be found here and there, tempting with their retro look and smell of a lush floral bouquet.

I wasn't sold the first time I smelled Casaque. I'm a big fan of Jean d'Albert Ecusson, but Casaque hit me with a massive creamy carnation that reminded me too much of White Shoulders (I'm not a fan). Subsequent wearings revealed a more sophisticated blend of flowers, where earthy carnation and crisp hyacinth help ground the white florals, while the latter grant the fragrance a sweet playfulness. Jasmine is quite noticeable, as is muguet (lily-of-the-valley, which I suspect is responsible for the White Shoulders throwback). There's a lot going on there, and I suspect that the note list on Cleopatra's Boudoir is the most complete. Nigel Groom's original Perfume Handbook lists Casaque as a fresh floral, and I can see why. It has that "first day of spring" vibe with tender little blossoms surrounded by a lot of greenery, piercing the cool dewy morning air.

The dry-down is another intricately-woven tapestry, where the most prominent note is sandalwood in all its creaminess. It is further softened and warmed by a lovely musk (I'd go out on a limb and guess that differences between versions and vintages of Casaque are caused by changes in the musks used by Jean d'Albert over the two decade lifetime of the perfume). My bottle of the parfum is most likely from the 1960s: it's the one you see in the top image dating from 1967, nestled in the blue floral box),  It's interesting to note how the late dry-down still holds a lot of that bracing carnation note I smell when first dabbing, but as it develops on skin it becomes more lived-in, and dare I say, sexy. It's also nostalgic and romantic in that way most vintage perfumes tend to be, giving us reasons to keep hunting these bottles decades after they've vanished from the shelves.

*With thanks to Joy from Wyoming who reminded me that I have a bottle of Casaque*

FotWeekend- Two Evening Looks

Two very simple evening looks from the weekend. One focuses on the eyes, the other on the lips. I could have named them "makeup looks for when the husband is waiting", since I did both rather quickly, with said husband reminding me that traffic to the city is getting worse by the minutes.

Laura Mercier Hydrating Primer (I usually have a sample or three, and like it very much)
Laura Mercier Natural Radiance Tinted Moisturizer- Illuminating. This time the base didn't oxidize, and I really liked the finish.
NARS Creamy Concealer (Honey. A frequent repurchase)
Guerlain Meteorites pressed powder

I decided to find a use to Rouge Bunny Rouge Eyes Wide Open Brightening Liner Duo, which is probably the only RBR product I never liked. I used the white side as a base for my eye makeup and it worked alright, but definitely wasn't as long-lasting as a real primer or a high quality cream eye shadow. Time to let this one go.
Bobbi Brown Cement eye shadow in the crease, a random and unlabeled shimmery beige on the lid, and Kjaer Weis eye shadow in Divine on top and bottom lashlines.
Lancome Artliner in Navy.
Lancôme Drama Liqui-Pencil Eyeliner in  Minuit on waterline.
Rilastil mascara.

NARS Goulue blush

Shiseido Shimmering Rouge RS308 Iron Maiden (I'm very happy it wasn't a limited edition).

Other Stuff
Vintage earrings. These ones are a mid-century Norwegian design (sterling and enamel), which is among my favorites.
Top by DVF
Perfume: Serge Lutens L'Orpheline.

Smashbox oil primer
YSL Touche Eclat (B50 Honey)
Cle de Peau concealer
Cle de Peau powder

Wet'n'Wild Fergie Primer (it was repackaged recently as part of the regular WnW line, and I've compared the ingredient lists- they're the same. I still have several backups of the old one, though).
Burberry Midnight Brown eye shadow
Youngblood eyeliner pen in Marron
Guerlain Maxi-Lash mascara

Laura Mercier Cheek Veil from the Bonne Mine palette. I used the darkest one and blended it into total sheerness. Any reddish cream blush will do if you missed out on the re-release of the palette (I suspect they'll keep bringing it back every once in a while).

NARS Cruella lip crayon.

Other Stuff
Vintage earring (an antique store find)
Top: Rebecca Taylor (Fall 2015)
SotD: Serge Lutens MKK

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

YSL- Touche Éclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation (B50 Honey)

When the first iteration of YSL Touche Éclat foundation was launched in the summer of 2012 it was a very big deal, and expectations were as high as the hype around it. I bought it as soon as my nearest Yves Saint Laurent counter got the first shipment (they gave me samples from the testers a couple of weeks earlier, so I was all set to pull the trigger), only to spend six months testing and trying to figure it out. Touche Éclat was an incredibly beautiful foundation with the most dismal performance I've come across in a very long time. No matter what I did, it just didn't last. I ended up re-homing my half-full bottle, because it took up precious space.

When it comes to makeup I'm an eternal optimist, and that's a very good thing. I was as thrilled about trying the sample of the newly reformulated Touche Éclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation as I was the first time around (Sephora was incredibly generous with samples), and I ordered a new bottle with even more enthusiasm. And this time it is staying.

The new Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation is exactly what I wanted. I suspect that it's ever so slightly thicker than the original Touche Eclat, but the way the foundation melds with the skin is very similar. I don't know about the awakening/fatigue reducing claim (a cup of strong tea will awake you, while a nap is the only anti-fatigue solution I know), but the foundation feels very nice on skin, it's slightly hydrating, so everything looks better underneath and on top of it. What you see below is how the foundation looks over naked skin about ten minutes after application. The back of my hand is extremely dry, and I did not apply anything prior to (too much) foundation. It simply looks like my skin. This photo was taken in natural light:

Touche Éclat Le Teint Radiance is less glowy than its predecessor, but it's still on the dewy side. I always use a primer on my face, and I've found that I especially like this foundation with an oil primer (Smashbox) or mixed with a tiny drop of face oil (usually Aftelier), at least until the weather gets too humid. YSL's own Touche Éclat  Blur Primer is also a good option, but it's actually heavier and feels more silicony than the foundation, so it's a matter of preference. In any case, longevity, even diluted with oil, is an all day affair. It's too early to say if Touche Éclat will hold as well in hot weather, but it's been my go-to in the last couple of months. You can see me wearing this foundation here.

The active ingredient is Octinoxate 6.8%, a sunscreen. The fragrance is the same cucumbery thing I remember from the older version, but it vanishes before I finish my makeup.

This foundation, like its predecessor, is liquid and rather on the runny side. I like it either with my fingers or with large oval Artis brush that was made for this consistency (like most flat-top brushes). Some paddle brushes can make Touche Eclat  look a bit streaky, but it also depends on your skin and primer. A damp Beauty Blender soaks up a bit too much of the product for my liking, but there's no denying the finish is gorgeous.

My color match is B50 Honey. It looks infinitely better than the BD50 I used to have, since my skin is far more neutral than yellow (in the first swatch at the top of this post you can actually see the green undertone coming through. That's what I look like without makeup). I could probably also get away with B40 Sand, with a little help from a bronzer, or with the two shades mixed together, but I wasn't feeling the purchase of a second bottle, and I think that B50 is one of my more accurate foundation shades. As for SPF, the new formula has a slightly higher protection level (22, the previous one was 19), but as I always wear an SPF50 during the day I can't comment on that.

Bottom Line: big love.

YSL- Touche Éclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation  ($58, made in France) is available at the counters, Sephora, and on

Currently- March 2016

I've been tearing through some beauty books for a future post. My favorite so far is Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup by  Kerry Thompson and Coco Park.

Iggy Pop- Gardenia, from his brand new album.

There's been no binge-watching or new discoveries lately. I guess we're in a waiting mode for the new seasons of The Americans, Orphan Black, and Game of Thrones.

I'm a bit iffy about most new releases (except DSH Rendezvous). Which sends me right back to my vintage bottles. I'm wearing Samsara tonight, both the vintage eau de parfum and a generous lashing of the extrait.

My old standbys: a rosy lip, taupe eye shadow, and lots of navy eyeliner.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Lots of blue, mostly very dark, with vintage scarves as punch of color.

Mary's Gone Crackers (gluten free crackers that are very flavorful and just wonderful).

Losing about 75% of my contacts when transferring them to my new phone. I was not amused.

I have some cool new photography equipment to play with.

A classic black trench coat.

Maybe, just maybe, the end of non-disclosure is near.

Random Thought
Wake me up when Instagram makeup is dead.

How are you? What's on your list of loves and banes? Any wishes and recommendations?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Youngblood- Stay Put Eye Primer

Eye primers are as essential to me as the beautiful colors they hold in place. The thin extra layer on the lid and the 40 seconds it takes to apply a primer repay themselves ten times over with a smoother makeup application and by keeping eyeliners and eye shadows from moving or fading. It's just a matter of finding the ones that work.

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics' Stay Put Eye Primer definitely works. It has a light waxy texture that adheres nicely to the lids and gives makeup something to grab onto. I've been looking for a good replacement for my old Paula Dorf primer (it's still in production, but I stopped buying from them since the brand has changed hands and manufacturers), and Youngblood is the closest I've come so far. The primer is translucent on the lid and have an exceptional hold. colors look true to pan over it, and survive all day long through, thick, thin, and rain.

The secret here is in application. While Youngblood state that you can place the primer using your fingertip, I've found that doing might result in a patchy and uneven surface, and blending is not as smooth as it should be. I prefer to use a flat synthetic brush, preferably with some width like the Paula Dorf one above or a cream eye shadow brush (concealer brushes are often too narrow to cover a good amount of space). You only need a the tiniest amount of product (just the pan's surface lightly. It's enough), and the brush spreads it evenly into an invisible but just sticky enough layer. And that's all one needs.

Bottom Line: Yes.

Youngblood- Stay Put Eye Primer ($18, made in USA) is available from the company's website, The product for this review was sent by PR.

Clinique- Aromatics Elixir (Current Version)

Aromatics Elixir was the perfume of other people's mothers. My mom used to walk in a cloud of white flowers, wafting tuberose, orange blossom, and jasmine with a tropic flair that stood out among the billowing green chypres of the 1970s. Aromatics Elixir by Clinique was one of the most recognizable and persistent fragrances I remember from those years, a scent that lingered in hall closets and teachers' lounges. My mom couldn't stand it (she dislikes chypres in general), and I was sufficiently intimidated by Aromatics Elixirs that it took me decades to stick my nose in it again, and by that time it was not what it used to be.

I've recently got back to this classic Clinique, after a friend had asked me if it was still a good perfume. Surprisingly or not, I've fallen in love. It's true that Aromatics Elixir has lost most of its bite. If you remember it as a patchouli, oakmoss, and even more patchouli monster, you'll find that the beast has been neutered. The patchouli has been power-washed and smoothed, and as oakmoss as a raw material has been reconstructed, the modern use of it is tamer and lighter. It can be disappointing (it often is), but in the case of the current Aromatics Elixir version, the reformulation allows other notes to shine without being smothered.

Take rose, for example. It's the heart and soul of AE, and is now more clearly defined by a crunchy, thorny, and green spiral of leaves and herbs. It's the first time I fully get the Aromatics part, and it's a bracing and rather wonderful. Vetiver is more dominant, making the scent dryer and probably even  less gender-specific than it's ever been (I've always thought that in a blind testing Aromatics Elixir would be pegged as unisex). Herbal, peppery, and very much alive, the only nod to my childhood I smell is in the abundance of red geranium. I'm being reminded of the way crushing juicy geranium stems between my fingers used to feel and smell, and how I used to rub them all over my hands. There are far less secrets hidden in Aromatics Elixir as it is today. It's more open, and easier to approach. Kind of like meeting an intimidating teacher or neighbor from your past and discovering you can have an adult conversation of equals.

One thing that hasn't changed at all is the perfume's longevity. Aromatics Elixir is still incredibly potent, and it lingers on clothes and bedding. It's a proper perfume, even with all the sunshine that was let in. It's as sophisticated and layered as one hopes to find in a good perfume, and amazingly, you can get it at Ulta.

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique ($54, 1.5 eau de parfum) is available anywhere Clinique products are sold.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Weil Zibeline And Secret de Venus (Vintage Perfume)

It seems that no two bottles of Zibeline by Weil, or its sister, Secret de Venus body & bath oil, smell exactly alike. I have two of each, mostly from the 1960s, and that's definitely case. They are all good, rich, fascinating, and dirty in the best possible way. Some are slightly more floral, while in others the sweet beast of civet is dominant. I love them with equal parts passion and shame, since I can't ignore the basic fact that Weil is not just Parfums Weil but first and foremost Fourrures Weil, and Zibeline has started its long career as a product to scent sable coats. I don't do furs, so why do I love Zibeline so much? 

The answer is in the skank and all that surrounds it. 

Assorted Weil ads from 1928 to 1948

I've long believed that the main justification for muguet is when it accompanies civet. Zibeline, and even more so Secret de Venus oil, offer a glorious and lush floral bouquet surrounded by leaves and stems, which acts as a canopy above an equally thick base of civet and musk. The depth of the composition in all its forms captures my imagination as much as it dazzles the senses. Fifty years after these bottles were produced (I can only try to imagine what Zibeline in its truly original form from the late 1920s and 1930s was like) they are crawling with life like a jungle at nighttime. Flora and fauna surround you from all directions,  pawing gently, not clawing at you, but dangerous nevertheless. 

Zibeline more than Secret de Venus also has a honey-steeped wood in its core. Honey notes at their best are as animalic as civet can be. The sweetness of both presents a temptation, an illicit warmth that you're not sure you want to know where exactly it's been before it engulfed your skin with so much care and softness. Secret de Venus, at least the bottles I have, feels cleaner at first, thanks to more greenery, a spicy and crisp peppery carnation that jolts you awake. It is a fantastic after-bath treat, and it layers beautifully with Zibeline, probably adding to the more vintage perfume a touch of the top notes it had lost over the decades.

Both Zibeline and Secret de Venus have a long and convoluted history. I first read about them on The Scented Salamander back in 2006, which started my quest for vintage Parfums Weil. Elena from Perfume Shrine added more information about Weil's history, and Angela's review on NST of both Zibeline and Secret de Venus has perfectly nailed both. I'm with her: I wish I could travel back in time and hoard gallons of this stuff.

Photo by Virginia Thoren, 1960. Coat by Fourrures Weil, crocodile handbag by Hermès,

Thursday, March 10, 2016

From Freezing to Heatwave: One Week, Four Makeup Looks

I've been going through my drawers, pulling out samples and items that need to be used up. That's the only thing these four looks from the last week have in common. We've gone from freezing temperatures to a freaky heatwave in less than a week. I'm kind of in a more glowy mood, but these last couple of days the main influence on my makeup has been allergies. Doing eyeliner when I can barely see has been interesting.

Here's the list for the photo above:

Studio 10 Youth Lift Glow-Plexion as a primer. This one will require a dedicated review, but so far I'm not loving it. I'm all for glow and lift, but used alone, this thing gives me the Tin Man finish.
Chanel Vitalumier Aqua in 30 Beuge. I forgot how much I dislike this formula. Now I remember.
Cle de Peau concealer.

Youngblood Primer. My new love.
Chanel Eclat Lumiere in 35 Medium under the eyes. I could probably go down to 25 Light Medium,
Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks in Amethyst and Plum. These are staples, and I've gone through several sticks of Amethyst.
Kiko Infinity eye Shadow in 241
LMdB Precision liquid liner in Acqua (discontinued. I had a stash of them at some point. We can all move now to Stila Indigo, though I do think that LMdB was more precise)
NARS Larger Than Life pencil in Khao San Road on the waterline. It doesn't move.
Bobbi Brown mascara sample. Meh.

Paula Dorf cream blush in Doll Face. Sigh. I miss the old Paula Dorf line, from when Paula was still the owner and the quality was top notch.
Clinique Chubby Highlighter. I wish it were a little less pink, but it is nice and easy to blend.

Neutrogena Color Stick in Berry Brown.

Other Stuff
Vintage earrings
L'artisan Fou d'Absinthe

The next day I somewhat overdid the shimmer, probably to compensate for the lackluster foundation. It was fun. By the way, I never include it in the makeup breakdown, but unless it's an evening look I always always always start with an SPF. I use Hada Labo Cream Gel SPF 50.

Smashbox oil primer.
Lancome Teint Idole  Ultra 24H in  320 Bisque. The color was way too yellow, but I fixed it with the powder. I'm guessing that this foundation really didn't like the oil primer, because by the time I got home that evening it was disintegrating into small patches. It was a luxe size sample, so I can test it several more times, but I don't know if I want to deal with adjusting the color.
Concealer was an identified Lorac sample. It did the job.
Smashbox Halo Hydrating Powder in Fair. It's a spectacular powder for dry skin. Mine is a press sample in a color I can only use to fix things with foundations that are too yellow. At some point I might buy the Light/Neutral shade, which is my true match.

Youngblood primer. I should just review it already.
Buxom eye shadows: Jetsetter in the crease, Mink Magnet and Patent Leather blended together on the lid, Haute Couture in the outer V.
Youngblood eyeliner pen in Noir.
MAC Teddy on  the waterline.
Buxom Lash mascara. On my nth tube, I still love it as much as I did my first.

Clarins blush 05 Rosewood.
Clinique Chubby Highlighter. I should use a lighter hand.

Essence lip liner 06 Satin Mauve
Tatcha Sunrise Plum Blossom lipstick.

Other Stuff
Vintage scarf (Pierre Cardin).
SotD: Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily (sample. I'm still unconvinced).

This was a very minimal look for an evening in. I didn't care much about longevity or light-reflection, just evening things out, lightly defining, and smelling good.

YSL Touche Eclat foundation (new formula) in B50 Honey, mixed with a drop of Aftelier jasmine face elixir. I often do that when not testing a new-to-me foundation, and I find that my skin is happiest with a drop of this fantastic oil.
Cle de Peau concealer (Almond). It's my go-to most days.

Studio 10 Visible Lift I-Definer palette. I used the primer all over the lid, and then the Naturalize and Contour colors to create some shape.
Youngblood Marron eyeliner pen.
Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara.

Kiko Mosaic Blush 08 Hypnotic Mauve. Any plummy mauve color will do, but I love this one very much.

Lipstick Queen Jean Queen. Another day, another nude lip.

Other Stuff
A vintage necklace I bought at Brimfield a few years ago.
Serge Lutens Vitriol d'Oeillet

This is from yesterday. I can't believe that I managed to take even one barely-decent photo, since I had the worst allergy day I can remember in a very long time, and the dry hot weather was not contributing. I also made a poor choice in face products, added a shockingly unpleasant SPF 50 spray (CeraVe, after taking the photo, thankfully) and could not wait to wash it all off by the time I got home.

Studio 10 Youth Lift Glow-Plexion as a primer. I had to powder within an inch of my life to counteract the shine.
Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer in Natural Radiance. The last thing I needed was another illuminating product on my face. And to add insult to injury, it oxidized on my face to a very unattractive metallic shade. Maybe the primer is to blame, but I went from Tin Man to Brass Man.
MAC Studio Finish concealer in NC30 on a couple of fading blemishes.
Bésame Cosmetics Brightening Face Powder in Vanilla. There was not enough powder in the world to fix the situation, but it gave a good fight.

Youngblood Primer
From Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 palette: Skimp on the lid, Frisk in the crease, and Primal to blend the eyeliner a little more.
The last breathe of NARS Stylo eyeliner in Atlantic. It served me well.
Clinique High Impact mascara.

Lorac Soul blush. Long discontinued, and much loved. It was part of the Croc palette (remember that?), and I loved it enough to get a couple of singles as backups. I have to say that I liked Lorac as a brand much better before they overhauled it completely and became a major YouTube sponsor. If you're looking for a blush with a similar effect, LMdB Echo is still around.

Rouge Bunny Rouge - Long-lasting Lip Pencil - Marco (067)
Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo 214& 216 mixed together and applied with a brush.

I went with vintage Shalimar eau de cologne. It had a hard time competing with the CoLab dry shampoo I used, which is a topic for its own post.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence

I owe this one to Eileen, a long-time reader whose comments are always inspiring and enlightening. She recommended Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence as a first after-cleansing step, and remarked that it's nearly identical  to the incredible SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($165, 5oz). I never met an SK-II product I didn't love, but I know enough about skincare ingredients to realize that their prices are aspirational. Missha, a much-respected Korean brand (SK-II is Japanese) looked like a great alternative.

I just finished my first bottle and already had a new one waiting. The Essence has become indispensable to me, as it not only feels incredible on skin (I apply it right after cleansing), but also seems to make the products that follow absorb better and perhaps perform better. I can say for sure that my skin is very very happy. There's a lot of good stuff in this unassuming clear odorless liquid. The fermented yeast that Missha mentions is chock-full of Vitamin B. Niacinamide is also very high on the ingredient list, which is another form of Vitamin B and a major anti-aging, anti-inflammatory,  and it enhances the absorption of ceramides in human skin and improves the epidermal barrier, which is exactly what you want your skincare to do.

One doesn't have to do the full seven (or nine, depending on your skincare guru) layers of product routine known as the Korean Method. I've been using the Essence under my tried-and-true Advanced Night Repair, BFF oil, or  retinol (Peter Thomas Roth), plus snail products, and any old moisturizer. They all seem to spring into life a bit faster, as does my face.

Eileen has pointed out that when buying this Missha Essence one needs to make sure to get the new version (the product was reformulated last year) that says "Intensive" in red print on the bottle and box. The product shown on Target's website (yes, Target now carries both Missha and Mizon) is the old one, but I don't know if it indicates that they're selling old stock or maybe it's just an error. I can tell you that the one sold on Amazon (for lower than list price) is the good new stuff.

Bottom Line: Highly recommended.

Ingredients: Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Bigida Ferment Lysate, Propanediol, Niacinamide, Polyquaternium-51, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Betaine, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Pirper Methysticum Leaf/Root/Stem Extract, Beta vulgaris (Beet) Root extract, Phellodendron Amurense Bark Extract, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pentylene Glycol, Water, Trehalose, Disodium EDTA, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Adenosine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Raffinose, Tromethamine, Acetic Acid, Lactic Acid, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Caprytyl Glycol, Hexapeptide-9 Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate.

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence ($49) is available from, Target, and Amazon.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Isabey- Fleur Nocturne

Of course I love Fleur Nocturne. It reminds me of the grand florals of the late 80s and early 90s,  and feels right at home between Tresor and Jil Sander No.4.  It's also a sister fragrance to Isabey's Gardenia, a creamy and warm white flower composition. Gardenia is featured prominently here as well, pared with magnolia and peach and apricot blossom (instead of the ylang in Gardenia) that give it the character.

The first few times I've smelled Fleur Nocturne I questioned the "nocturne" part. This perfume felt  too sunny and cheerful for that. But think about an evening gown and the skin it leaves exposed. Fleur Nocturne is exactly about that: the tactile sensation of peach skin and human skin come together, and the visual of a candle-lit face, the light reflecting from mirrored Art Deco surfaces. That is kind of nocturnal, right?

The creamy gardenia is intertwined with vanilla that gives it a tropical touch as well as the larger-than-life sillage. It's a very sexy composition, something to wear on a date night, especially in the summer when the perfume blooms and wafts, sending a not-so-subtle invitation. It's a style you either love or you really really don't. It's a bold perfume, very feminine, and it walks the line between retro and modern very successfully. If it were a truly Art Deco perfume you'd get a plush animalic base (and a leopard print chase lounge). As it is, the peach fuzz and sweet jasmine is as close as it gets. Sometimes that's more than enough.

Isabey- Fleur Nocturne ($170, 50ml eau de parfum) is available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent and Aedes.

Photos of the magnificent Norma Shearer in the 1930s via

Youngblood Intimattes Lipstick- Boudoir, Ooh La La, Secret, Vain, Vamp, Vanity

I'm a big fan of Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics' original lipstick formula. Their unassuming Bliss has been a multiple repurchase ever since I had a makeover at the now-defunct Youngblood counter at (the now mostly-dead) Henri Bendel. Youngblood has recently released a new range of matte lipsticks, Intimattes, and I was sent six out of the nine colors available.

Matte formulas can be more than a little tricky, especially for those of us with dry lips. The Youngblood Intimattes formula tries its best to compensate, with the emollient oleyl alcohol and jojoba oil the top ingredients. The result is a texture that even I can't complain about, though I still must prep my lips and use a balm underneath to prevent the lipstick from sinking into every line. One the lipsticks, Vain, seems to be dryer than others, so I make a point to apply it with a brush to ensure an even coverage. As you can see, all the lipsticks have an impressive pigmentation, and the formula is rather long-lasting (though my zealot use of balms makes them less so).

If you've been reading for a while, you probably realize that not all six of these pretties are my kind of colors. I rehomed three of them right after swatching, because there was no way I could ever pull off colors such as Boudoir (classic beige-nude pink), Ooh La La (light warm pink), and Vanity (what IS this color?). I kept Secret (a rusty nude that looks more intense on my lips), Vain ( a brownish plum) and Vamp (a red brick-plum).  All of them have a faint pleasant aroma that doesn't linger. They stay put, and if I weren't a stickler for precision could have lived without a liner.  I've also experimented with mixing a dollop of color with a balm (like Bite's Agave masks). Of course, it defies the matte purpose, but sometimes I just want a hint of a pretty color (isn't Vamp gorgeous?).

Bottom Line: Youngblood deserves a lot more attention.

Youngblood Intimattes Lipstick ($19 each, made in USA) is available from the company's website, The products for this review were sent to me by PR.