Monday, August 29, 2016

Make Up or Ever Eye Brushes 238 & 256

I bought my Make Up For Ever medium smudger brush #238 last year out of curiosity. None of the eye shadow brushes in my collection looked anything like this flat blunt one, and I was intrigued by the idea of using this shape for smudging color under the lower lashes, where I typically use smaller, narrower brushes, from the old version of NARS #15 to various Hakuhodo favorites, or whatever is lean and within reach. The potential of creating a more graphic yet somewhat diffused line in one fell swoop seemed very attractive, and I was curious to see what other uses  can find for this brush.

One of the things I've discovered since I started using this brush is that my lower lashes are so thick that there's very little space for a brush to move under them. It's never been a problem before, because I've always used smaller thinner brushes. Make Up For Ever 238 is massive in comparison, and is definitely thicker. I can do the lash work with it, but I can't say I enjoy it, especially since I've been spoiled by various squirrel hair brushes, and MUFE #238 is much rougher on the under-eye area. In my opinion, this brush is much more suitable when you want to apply a very even coat of eye shadow on a relatively large lid area with minimum strokes. That's where the width and flat shape come in handy, and using feather-light strokes eliminates scratchiness.

Speaking of the brush's fibers, I can tell you that squirrel it ain't, but that's about it. The MUFE site doesn't give any details. My initial thought was  that it's too rough to be synthetic, but this blurb on Sephora's site claims otherwise:

"The 100-percent fiber brushes are available in a range of 76 handcrafted styles, each with the perfect balance of straight and wavy fibers that replicate natural hairs."

Also, it seems like MUFE has changed the brush slightly since I purchased mine. The info on the Make Up For Ever website says that the hair of the 238 is straight, while my brush clearly declares itself wavy, and it is, hence the increased volume and thickness (basically, it's like the stuff on my head).  I wonder if the same brush with straighter hairs could be more suitable for my lower lashes. In any case, to give you an idea about the size of the 238 I compared it below to a classic Paula Dorf Glimmer Eye brush (the widest in the range) and to a modern favorite, the thick and soft Marc Jacobs concealer brush (I usually use it for cream eye shadow):

See? That's one big brush.

Eventually, I decided I wanted a similar yet smaller Make Up For Ever brush to fulfill the smudging promise. I checked one of the local Sephora locations, but they didn't have #256 in stock, so I ordered it online. This brush is actually an eyeliner brush, and has short stiff bristles. I like this type of brushes for tightlining and pushing color into the base of the lashes, and the particular shape of this brush (see how much shorter the bristles are compared to my ancient Sephora brush, and how wider it is next to the classic Smashbox one) makes it pretty efficient for smudging a gel pencil under the lower lashes. It's less effective with powder eye shadow (creams work better), but Make Up For ever offers several small precision brushes (216, 204, 210, 220, 212, 208, 202, 206) that would probably do the work beautifully.

Bottom Line: good brushes, but neither is an essential if you already have good alternatives. My shopping list, however, has grown.

Make Up or Ever Medium Smudger Brush 238 ($31) and Definer Eyeliner Brush 256 ($24) are made in Mauritius (that's interesting!). They're available from Sephora,, and the brand's free-standing stores.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sonia Rykiel (1930-2016)

Sonia Rykiel quotes:
"Clothes have become ornaments again. Catalysts. It's up to each woman to protect herself."
"Being one step ahead of a fashion trend is not so important to me. What matters is to always forge ahead. " 
"First I made a dress because I was pregnant and I wanted to be the most beautiful pregnant woman. Then I made a sweater because I wanted to have one that wasn't like anyone else's. "
"People said making clothes inside out was not proper. I disagreed, because clothes that are inside out are as beautiful as a cathedral. "
"Perfume is like a parenthesis, a moment of freedom, peace, love and sensuality in between the disturbances of modern living."
"My clothes are put together out of different basic elements so that a woman can express the way she wants to look, transform, metamorphosize herself not as the woman I decided but as she herself wants to be."
"Your body can be very female, which is something you can do nothing about, but then you can have the soul, the mind and the spirit of both male and female. The women friends I am closest to somehow have this masculine side to them, they shove their hands in their pockets when they walk: I love that side." 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Guerlain- Eau de Fleur de Cedrat (Vintage Perfume)

Here's something for the dog days of summer: a classic Guerlain eau. Eau de Fleur de Cedrat was originally launched in 1920, a year after Mitsouko and five years before Shalimar. I wish I knew what it smelled like back then. Guerlain already had a "proper" eau de cologne on their shelves, Eau de Cologne Imperiale (1853), so I'm curious to know what exactly was in Jacques Guerlain's composition. My own bottle of Eau de Fleur de Cedrat is an eau de toilette and dates from 1997. That's post-LVMH but pre-IFRA and all the shenanigans of the last decade, which is why I labeled this review as "vintage perfume"

Cedrat means citron (Citrus Medica), the rather elusive relative of lemon that us Jews know as "etrog", the fruit used in the Sukkot holiday ritual. I have no idea if and how citron blossom differs from lemon or lime flower. I assume Jacques Guerlain knew what he was doing, and perhaps in  his days this perfume was more floral. what I smell is a high quality sharp citrus. It's very rindy and lemony, slightly laced with abstract green leaves that just barely soften the punch. The opening of Eau de Fleur de Cedrat is what perfume bloggers like to call "bracing", and this is exactly what one needs this time of the year.

Eau de Fleur de Cedrat might not have much of an emotional depth, at least in the 1997 and later versions I've smelled, but it's not flat or boring. The hint of dusty rough wood that holds the base together is bordering on cuminy. It's not as marvelously animalic as Eau de Cologne du Coq (1894), but just subversive enough to keep things fun if you spray heavily enough (you really should), and pay attention to things that happen on skin level. While I can't say that there is  a late dry-down, two hours after application you can still smell the relative complexity of what at first sniff seemed like nothing more than a fresh and pointy bright lemon. Then it's time to spritz again and complain about the weather.

Guerlain- Eau de Fleur de Cedrat ($104, 100ml eau de toilette) is available from major Guelain counters and online.

Image:  Maria Sibylla Merian, Citron with a Moth and a Harlequin Beetle c. 1701-2, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Killer Packaging: Estée Lauder Limited Edition Graceful Seahorses Powder Compact & Givenchy Magnolia Couture Edition Le Rouge Lipstick 306 Carmin Escarpin

Sometimes it's the packaging that reels me in and gives me that MUST HAVE NOW twitch. Of course, the makeup product has to be really really good, because I'm not a collector.  I buy stuff that I'm going to use or I leave it at the counter. I don't have the storage space for dead weight, and I already have a makeup collection that makes civilians question my sanity. However, the siren song of these two limited edition items was impossible to resist. And they made sense, each one in their own way.

Givenchy  Le Rouge Lipstck in 306 Carmin Escarpin is not a limited edition. It's part of the regular Givenchy makeup line, and I even had it in the regular bullet (click the link to see swatches)for over three years. It was one of my fail-safe red lipsticks, and the sturdy case made it an ideal makeup bag and purse resident, because it never opened accidentally. My Le Rouge Carmin Escarpin has traveled, went to events, and  dined out. I've managed to use up so much of it that I did't even flinch when it started to go off and emit a rancid smell. I got my use out of it. And I already had a replacement lying in wait: the same lipstick in Givenchy's Magnolia Couture Edition packaging.

Th lipstick is the same great satin finish poppy red. It has a makeupy scent that I'm not loving, but goes away quickly, and that's the only complaint I can think of when it comes to this favorite color and excellent lightweight and long-lasting formula. The magnolia print part of the case can be transferred to any other Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick, which I most definitely do at some point. For now, order has been restored to my universe and I have my Carmin Escarpin back in rotation.

I only have one other limited edition Estée Lauder compact, and it's the Zodiac Scorpio one from 2012 that holds the smaller Lucidity pan (I've refilled it once since buying). Lucidity is a great powder in a slightly luminous finish. I like it a lot, but have always wished for the larger pan (2" compared to the 1.5". I was surprised to see that the powder in the new and stunning Graceful Seahorses compact is a pressed version of Lauder's Perfecting Powder, a more mattifying product with a sheer finish. I don't mind, since right now I actually need a powder like that for upcoming travel, and I can refill the compact at any point with the large size Lucidity ($12, by the way, wherever Lauder products are sold).

The somewhat eyebrow-raising thing is that at this time there's no refill option if you want to stick with the Perfecting Powder. As a matter of fact, Estée Lauder doesn't offer a regular version of the pressed Perfecting at all. Also, the box says that the color of the powder in the Seahorses compact is "01 Translucent". As far as I could find out, Lauder's loose Perfecting powder comes in four shades, labeled "light", "light medium", "medium", and "deep". I have no idea if the powder in my new compact is a limited edition seasonal item or something that will be available in the future. In any case (pun not quite intended), I bought this for the seahorses and to use for many years to come, with any of Lauder's 2" powder pans that I feel like putting inside. It comes in a velveteen pouch for protection, which is a good idea. I'd hate or this beauty to scratch or lose a crystal.

Both items are obviously a limited edition products. Estée Lauder Graceful Seahorses Powder Compact ($175, made in Italy, though the box doesn't specify if the entire thing was manufactured there or just the powder) is exclusive to Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, in store and online.
Givenchy Magnolia Couture Edition Le Rouge Lipstick in 306 Carmin Escarpin ($38, made in France, and ditto on manufacturing/assembling) is available from Sephora and Barneys. The regular Le Rouge lipsticks, including Carmin Escarpin, are $36 at Sephora, Barneys, Saks, and Neiman Marcus, as well as on, where they may be also selling the Magnolia version at regular price (or perhaps they just haven't updated the stock photo).

Background used for the photo is the book Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The famous photo of model Jean Patchett is by Irving Penn, 1950.

Currently- August 2016

Just finished my yearly not-so-guilty pleasure, the new Liane Moriarty novel, Truly Madly Guilty. It was a bit gut-wrenching in a way that felt like an emotional manipulation, but I enjoy Moriarty's writing and the annual visit to Sydney and its suburbs.

As predicted last month, we binged on Orphan Black season 4 in one weekend. And can I just say how happy I am that the Olympics are over?

The acoustic version of Melt by Jones.

I've spent the last couple of days marinating in Arquiste's Fleur de Louis.

Mascara primers. All of a sudden I want lashes that touch my eyebrows. Also: powder foundations.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Maxi dresses, long necklaces, wedge heels, one last hurrah of summer colors.

Brie. I love that Whole Foods specify which cheeses are made with a vegetarian rennet.

Petco's shipping. Slow and unreliable at best.

It's the little things. Laughing with my best friend until we're both breathless, kitten kisses, rediscovering an old gem in my perfume collection, my new favorite makeup brush (Koyudo Fu Pa #14), oh, and a husband who's unfazed by things beauty bloggers do.

My 20th wedding anniversary.

ACNE Studios Jensen booties in black grainy leather. If I only buy one item this fall/winter this should be it.

Random Thought
I'm actually sad about Gawker going away. While sometimes the site appeared to be all that's grating and aggravating in today's online media, it had its place. Gawker offered some good writing and clever snark, but the important thing is the way things came crashing down is simply wrong.

How are you? What's on your list of loves and banes? Any wishes and recommendations?
Art: William Merritt Chase, First Touch of Autumn, 1898

Monday, August 22, 2016

FotD Featuring Chanel Fall 2016 Le Rouge Collection

Or: My mom said I'm too pale, so I've put on a red blush.

As promised, here's a serving suggestion for a daytime look that includes the reds from Chanel Fall 2016 Le Rouge Collection No.1. I went with as many Chanel products as looked reasonable, and also gave their Les Beiges Healthy Glow foundation another chance, this time loading up on skin enriching The Face Shop Mango Seed Butter Glow Date-Prep, to make sure my skin texture is at its very best. Les Beiges still sucked the life out of it for the first hour of wear, before settling into a powdery matte finish. I can't see myself wearing it unless I'm going to be outside in a super humid weather. And even then I'm not sure that's the best option. My shade match, after also testing the yellower No. 21 and the darker No.40, turned to be No.30, which was not a big surprise. Out of the bottle and unblended the color looked Trumpily orange (see below), but apparently my arm has a lot more green than my face these days, so it was the better option color-wise. I did use quite a bit of Chanel Tan de Soleil  (see: my mother's comment on my lack of color).

The Face Shop Mango Seed Butter Glow Date-Prep
Le Blanc de Chanel Illuminating Base 
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow foundation No.30
Chanel Tan de Soleil Bronzing Makeup Base
Chanel Eclat Lumiere Face Pen under the eyes and around my nose to cancel the redness and brighten up. I skipped precision concealer as there was nothing particularly glaring otherwise, and  already had on more than enough base products.
I also avoided powdering, which I never do, because Holy Mother of Matte Faces.

Wet'n'Wild primer.
Chanel Fall 2016 eye shadow quad Candeur et Experience. I used all four colors, starting with the lightest brown from the lash line up to just above the crease, then added the second-lightest on the outer two thirds of the mobile lid. Nest step was mixing the red and darkest brown into the outer V, creating a shape that I topped with a lot more of the red. I've already experimented enough with it that my lids can take an abnormal amount of this color because they're that much darker than any other part of my skin. So I was not scared to pat one last coat of red before blending it carefully.
Chanel Stylo Waterproof eyeliner in Santal, which is probably the best eye pencil they ever created. Some of the Stylo pencils have a horrible texture or a miserable pigment, but Santal is excellent (and thankfully permanent). I used it on the upper lid, waterline, and lower lash line, where it stayed all afternoon and into the evening.
Le Volume de Chanel mascara in Noir. I keep acquiring samples of this mascara, and once even bought a tube, but I still don't think it's all that.

I added even more Soleil Tan de Chanel  and topped it all with the new Chanel Rouge Profond Joues Contraste Blush. After I took the photos I decided to add a touch more blush (but my camera's battery was dead by then), because I felt I could get away with it. I was wearing a maxi dress in a pale blush color. It's an unusual choice for me, and the color had the potential to wash me out (hence all that Soleil), so I made sure it didn't.

MAC Prep & Prime lip primer (because I recently repurchased for the eleventy seventh time and it was sitting there).
Chanel Precision Lip Liner in 05 Mordoré. The name means "bronze", the color is actually nude (even according to Chanel), and I'm still trying to come up with a good Sean Bean-as-Boromir "One just not simply walk into Mordoré" meme after all these years. I'm a nerd in every possible way.
Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in the new Rouge Tentation fall shade, applied with a brush and slightly blotted.

That was it. No powder, concealer, brows or gloss. The day was oppressively hot and humid, and I was already cranky about the stupid foundation. I wore my glasses later that afternoon while driving, and when I checked I saw that my eye  makeup appeared very subtle. probably because my frame is burgundy. Maybe I should have put on more red eye shadow.

Other Stuff
SotD Chanel No.19 (it was an obvious choice)
Aforementioned dress from ASOS.
Vintage necklace.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lancome, Colourpop, Kevyn Aucoin, Marc Jacobs, Zoeva, Make Up For Ever, Clio- A (Mostly) Gel Eye Pencil Extravaganza

This has happened over the last five months, so I haven't completely lost my mind. It's just that I really really (really) love my pencil eyeliners, and all the new gel formulas are making them even more wonderful than ever, and usually also spectacularly durable. Just to be clear, none of what you'll see here was given to me by PR, but a couple (will be marked as such) were gifts with various purchases. I think that together with my last eye pencil post (the Lorac one) this concludes the latest crop of pencil liners that have landed here.

From left to right:

MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner in M-10 (matte black), $21, made in Germany, at Sephora
BUXOM Hold The Line Waterproof Liner in I'll Be Waiting (metallic pewter), $17, made in Germany, at Ulta (GWP)
COLOURPOP Creme Gel Liner in Honey Dude (warm natural flesh tone), $5, made in USA,

I should buy more MUFE. This liner is an overachiever, a good solid black that sets quickly, lasts forever, makes a good base for a sheer shadow, and is all around a satisfying product. All the MUFE liner you'll see here were part of that Charli XCX Favorite set. It sold out quicly because the price was a bargain, but the colors are available individually.
The Buxom one is pretty, but despite the waterproof claim it melts or fades before the day is gone. I looks like Sephora doesn't stock the pencil range at all, but Ulta has them. I'm jst not very inclined to explore further.
You can't go wrong with Colourpop for the $5 price. It was my first experience with their nude options, and Honey Dude might be my favorite in this category color-wise, but like all liners that live exclusively on one's waterline, longevity is less than five hours.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner in M-30 (matte pastel green), $21, made in Germany, at Sephora
Lancôme DRAMA LIQUI-PENCIL™ Longwear Eyeliner in Paradís - pearlized tropical green, $23, made in Germany, a Sephora exclusive
COLOURPOP Creme Gel Liner in Teaspoon (lush green grass in Emerald City), $5, made in USA,

I own more mint green eyeliners than a normal people should, but this one by MUFE is the most opaque of them and can easily used as an eye shadow, smudged nicely and quickly before it sets. I think it performs better than NARS or Lorac, and that says something.
The Liqui-Drama pencils are real drama queens. I think Paradis is the softest one of the ones I own (a growing number), and above you can see what happens when you let it sit for too long under hot lights. Below you can see it again after a good sharpening and making sure not to apply any pressure (perfect for the waterline).
Colourpop's teaspoon is probably the truest green I own's a fun little thing, especially for tightlining and on the waterline, paired with neutral colors on a summer day.

Lancôme DRAMA LIQUI-PENCIL™ Longwear Eyeliner in Ampoulé - pearlized bright purple, $23, made in Germany, a Sephora exclusive
MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner in M-80 (matte plum), $21, made in Germany, at Sephora
CLIO GelPresso Waterproof Pencil Gel Liner in 17 Black Plum, $22, made in Korea, (also on Amazon for far less through third-party vendors).

Lancome Ampoule was an impulse buy. I was playing at Sephora last week with my nine year old niece and we both felt this was the most glorious shiny purple ever. We shall see how I can incorporate it into a non-9-year-old looks (taupe will happen), but it made me happy.
Once again, MUFE deliver a wearable, reliable, and opaque color. It looks ready for fall, but worked well with summer  sandy hues.
Clio is a youthful Korean brand that makes fun and shiny things. I love the almost truly waterproof smooth gel liner enough to wish they had a few more middle-aged appropriate colors.

Zoeva Graphic Eye+ in Taupe, 7.80 EUR, mae in Germany,
COLOURPOP Creme Gel Liner in Call Me (plummy brown), $5, made in USA,
COLOURPOP Creme Gel Liner in Stomper (cool one brown), $5, made in USA,

Zoeva is a much-hyped (on YouTube, at least) German brand. Their affordable brush sets were the first one to be sent to vloggers around the world, followed by their palettes (very pretty). I got curious enough to order a thing or two, one of them being this irresistible taupe liner. It's not a gel and not extremely long-lasting, but the color is all I could hope for. I'm still learning all that I could do with it, but I can say that it was worth the long wait for my package to arrive from Germany.
The differences between the two brown Colourpop pencils barely show on my lids or waterline. You can go with either one, unless you're so pale (and blue-eyes) that the variations actually matter.

MARC JACOBS Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner in Midnight In Paris 72 (metallic blackened blue), $25, made in Korea, at Neiman Marcus and Sephora
KEVYN AUCOIN The Precision Eye Definer in Evergreen (dark greenish teal), $32, made in Germany, at Sephora and most department stores
Lancôme DRAMA LIQUI-PENCIL™ Longwear Eyeliner in Côte D'azur- a careless summer blue, $23, made in Germany, a Sephora exclusive (a GWP).
MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner in I-24 (iridescent blue with green sparkles), $21, made in Germany, at Sephora.

Previous incarnations of Marc Jacbos eyeliner had various issues (from stinging to disintegrating), but I'm fully impressed with the current Highliners. Midnight in Paris is a metallic denim color that glides on very smoothly. I was intrigued to learn that it's made in Korea (It Cosmetics and Stila have been sourcing their eyeliners there very successfully).
I first tested the latest formula of Kevyn Aucoin eyeliners back in May during the NYC Makeup Show. That swatch lasted for for five days, through oil cleansing, showers, and cats. The one I tried was a navy blue, but a few days later I decided to buy something different and go with Evergreen that reminded me of MAC eye shadow in Plumage  Longevity around the eye is not as insane as on the wrist, but it's still phenomenal.
You already know the story of the Lancôme pencils. I will end up owning almost all of them.
MUFE I-24 is a fun bright color for blue-lovers. The sparkle is toned-down, so it's reasonably easy to wear.

That concludes this eyeliner roundup. Any favorites? Do I need anything else?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cargo Mendocino Blush & Bali Swimmable Blush

I know that we're all digging into fall collections now, partly in an effort to forget that it's August and the weather is downright insufferable. However, it is still summer, and these two blushes from Cargo are quite a good fit for the current mood. They have a summery packaging (I love the seaside illustration on their boxes), and the Swimmable range is spot-on for days you feel like you're walking through thick soup as soon as you get out of the door.  Both were sent to me months ago and I almost forgot about them for a while, only to rediscover that I could put them into good and effective day.

Cargo regular blush and the water-resistant Swimmable feel very different. I only have one example of each, so they might be slight variations between colors, but here's what I've experienced. The regular powder blush in Mendocino, a true berry shade with the finest shimmer, feels almost gritty when first swatched. It has put me off slightly, because there are so many finely-milled blushes competing for cheek space that it was surprising to encounter this hard-pressed dense texture. It's a good reminder, though, that powder blushes are not applies or blended with fingers, and the test is in the final look on one's face.

A standard blush brush picks enough product at first swipe (it is richly pigmented) and blends it nicely with little effort. Mendocino looks healthy and radiant on skin, and in my opinion is a great summer-to-fall color. I like it quite a bit, but here's where I understood Cargo's need for a second, long-lasting formula. It might be because of the texture and the way the blush sits on skin, but on very well-prepped face it absolutely requires a setting-spray if I expect it to stay put throughout the day. Otherwise it fades within three hours or as soon as I touch my face. Applied over a cream blush Mendocino lasts significantly longer. Still, I expected more.

Bali Swimmable blush provided a different kind of surprise. Looking at it in the pan I expected this warm desert rose shade to be significantly bolder. Touching the surface, I thought this was Cargo's big win. The silicone (beware if you're sensitive) gives the blush a great texture and a beautiful sheen. However, it affects the way the pigment appears o my skin, unless I build it up to a level I usually don't dare to go. It requires a dense, preferably synthetic flat-top brush and some buffing. Another way to go is to use Bali as a blush-topper.

As for the water-resistant claim, the jury is still out. I'm not a swimmer, so that hasn't been tested. I think Swimmable holds through sweat and a summer rain reasonably well, but then again, almost every blush in my collection does, so I don't see the big deal. It doesn't require a special cleanser, doesn't leave a stain, and a quick swipe of pre-cleansing Bioderma removes all traces of Bali.

Bottom Line: For the colors, not the formulas.

Cargo Mendocino Blush & Bali Swimmable Blush ($26 each, made in Canada) can be purchased from Ulta's website (not in store, though). The products for this review were sent to me by PR.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Chanel Fall 2016 Candeur et Experience Eye Shadow Quad & Rouge Tentation Rouge Allure Lipstick Le Rouge Collection No.1

Add this to the list of FotDs I must create in the coming days (what are you doing this weekend?), because my brushes and fingers are itching to see what I can with the stunning Le Rouge Collection No.1 Chanel has launched for Fall 2016. Funny enough, I only picked three items, and none of them appears to be a limited edition (the counters sell out but restock rather quickly).  I wasn't even going to buy the Candeur et Experience Eye Shadow Quad, but this is just not something a Chanel fan can pass (and I am, all kvetching aside). An all-matte, silky smooth eye shadow palette with colors that definitely veer fro the champagne, peach, hunter green stuff I end up buying every fall. The lipstick was a no-brainer, like the blush I've shown you last week. A Rouge Allure in a berry-based red? Why, of course. It did take me some digging and searching to verify that I do not currently own not have I ever had a Chanel lipstick called "Tentation(s)". I finally decided that I was thinking of the 1996 Paloma Picasso perfume, Tentations, which I'm pretty sure I never liked. Order restored.

I have a nice little collection of Chanel Les 4 Ombres eye shadow quads in various formulas and finishes, but none resembles Candeur. The fairy wing matte of all four colors is spectacular. I find that I need a good creamy primer, not so much to bring the pigment forward, but to make sure that the gentle blending I unleash does not take away from the sophisticated gradient. The colors are three must-have classics: camel, milk chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate, and one trendy burst of awesomeness, an ancient red brick (think of those old old masonry wonders in England).

You know me. I am not prone to go antiquing in a red eye shadow all over my lid, nor would I venture on an outing with various nieces and nephews sporting a red wing. I layer and I blend, and I've found that the infuriating dark skin of my lids (blood vessel galore) is not just forgiving, but also encouraging experimenting with colors. The red can go in the crease with a brown chaperone, used with a lighter color on the middle of the lid, or just go anywhere I see fit. Worst case scenario I break out the Bi-Facil.

The beautiful rich and easy to wear formula of Chanel's Rouge Allure lipstick needs no introduction. I don't buy the Velvet versions, because  I have a nightmare of being buried alive under barely used matte lipsticks. But the regular Rouge Allure as an elegant and moderate satin finish, enough pigment to leave a stain behind, and is is among my favorite treats. Rouge Tentation appears significantly warmer and redder in the tube than on my skin and lips, and will depend on  your own natural lip pigment. When I wear it I get the perfect fall berry, with just enough true red to complement the other items I picked from this collection.

Bottom Line: It's Chanel and it's red. What do you think?

Chanel Fall 2016 Candeur et Experience Eye Shadow Quad ($61, made in Italy)  and Rouge Tentation Rouge Allure Lipstick ($37, made in France) are available at the counters and from

Book used as a background is Chanel Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott, published by Thames & Hudson.

Bois de Turquie- Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier

Poor Bois de Turquie. It was launched in 2008 just around the time the North American distributor of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier went AWOL or out of business or into a new venture including llamas and purple crystals. It was also around the time that fragonerds started to eye new releases more suspiciously and  use spreadsheets to outline their five year purchase plans. Bois de Turquie was launched with little fanfare and quickly departed the shelves right along with the rest of the line, but since the US distributor never got crates of stuff stashed in the basement, it also never became a discounter's dream. I've mostly forgotten about it, and I suspect I was not the only one.

Which is a shame, because MPG's Bois de Turquie has all the makings of a solid niche hit, starting with that juicy spicy  opening that announces its heavier intentions upon application. It's a sweet perfume, not quite in the vein of  Tobacco Vanille, but slowly inching there on the back of myrrh, incense, and sugar-dusted sandalwood. There's quite a bit going on there, with a beautiful spicy accord that points towards exotica and fantasy Orietalism. Then there's a rich body and dry-down that will smell familiar in its Lutensian blend of sweet sweet cedar and magic.

That's maybe the argument against MPG's Bois de Turquie. Most of us have significant shelf space dedicated to Uncle Serges's Bois and other classic cedary potions. Why do we need this one from MPG? Probably because we love this style, because it smells good enough to drink, because we're (I'm) a sucker for Orientalism in perfumery and the stories they tell about palaces and markets, mosaics in inner courtyards, steamy halls full of flowers and incense, hand-crafted silver bowls overflowing with ripe figs, grapes, and pomegranates. Just reach out through the incense-smoke-air and grab some.

Bois de Turquie- Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier ($130, 100ml eau de toilette) is available from Aedes, but let's just say that Google is your friend and leave it at that.

Art: Edward John Poynter, Corner of the marketplace, 1887

Monday, August 08, 2016

Suqqu Eyebrow Brushes G & S

One would think that the glut of brow products at the stores (including by brands that focus or became a household name because of eye brows), or the time YouTubers take making up thei brows on screen and then featuring them on Instagram, would make eyebrow brushes the nest big tool craze. After all, gone are the days where you could either buy a mediocre scratch and overpriced makeup brush at the counter, or tiptoe into a MAC store for the real thing. Makeup brushes are the power tools of the makeup nerds, so why not talk more about eyebrow brushes? They're more than just spoolies (though you can and should buy online packs of disposable ones).

In my continuous mission to go where the obsessed go, I've been collecting Suqqu brushes, so it was time for the two eyebrow brushes (I'm a devoted used of the liquid pen and he pressed powder). Suqqu offers two distinct brow brushes:

Suqqu Eyebrow Brush S, a stiff and precise angled brush made of a 50-50% blend of weasel and badger hair.
Suqqu Eyebrow Brush G, which is rounded, slightly thicker, and have an almost uneven natural edge. It's made of  100% raccoon hair.

The only other brush similar to G I've had until now is the one by RMK. Learning to use it and take advantage of the beautiful natural texture it gives to an eyebrow was a revelation (perfect for powders or for a powder plus gel combination). This is the brush to use when you want to take your time and create the most natural-looking yet health brow that works with what you have naturally and avoid any and all sharp angles.

Suqqu Eyebrow Brush S is of a classic shape and size and top-notch quality for an angled brush. I'm showing you comparisons to other classic Japanese brushes of the same style, Shu Uemura 6 OB (Badger) and my pretty princess of a brush, Hakuhodo S163. All of them are perfect for drawing life-like thin hairs where the're missing and creating crisp edges. For me, those are brow-tail essentials, since mine naturally stop about two fingers from the end of the brow bone (I was born this way. Yet another thing my dad deserves to be blamed. Like my flat feet).

There are many options in various price ranges for the classic angled shape, including various widths and slopes (Hakuhodo has a legion), but sadly the more organic shape isn't as popular, and I can't see an equivalent on Hakuhodo's US site or among the Chikuhodo brushes offered by Beautylish. A close shape but significantly softer are the delicate rounded tightlining brushes (Hakuhodo G5512, Chikuhodo GSN-11 Shadow/Liner, or Chikuhodo PS6 Edge (the pink ones). It's either that or a phone call to your friendly Selfridges SA (they stock both RMK and Suqqu, with crazy shipping but none of the temper inducing markups of

Suqqu brushes are officially sold at Selfridges ($25 for Suqqu Eyebrow S and $34 for G, the fabulous exchange rate has been brought to you by Boris Johnson). They're made in  Japam, like all Suqqu products.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

FotD Featuring Charlotte Tilbury Instant Beauty Palette - The Dolce Vita (and some more Charlotte stuff)

I've had several weeks to play with the Charlotte Tilbury Instant Beauty Palette - The Dolce Vita, see what it can and cannot do, and decide how best to use it while adjusting some expectations.  There's no doubt that it's a beautiful makeup set: gorgeous neutral colors, delicate textures that yield to most brushes. It's good. The two main issues are the sizes of the pans, making standard makeup brush a less-than-ideal tool. Then there's the depth of the colors themselves,which is much more accommodating than the original Instant Beauty Palette (as stunning as it was Scandinavian-friendly, which certainly has its place. I can't see ethereal blondes slap on the colors I use on a daily basis). Yet, it's still not quite as richly pigmented and deep as I would have preferred for my own little green face.

I used as many Charlotte Tilbury products as I had around, which is not that many. My admiration of Charlotte's hustle and work far surpasses my appreciation for many of her products. But that didn't stop me from eventually getting a makeup look I'm happy to share with you.

Shu Uemura Stage Performer Primer Instant Glow. It was a sample (I've finished off my tubes eon ago, and was reminded why I didn't repurchase: I suspect it clogs my pores).
Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in 5.5. I know that Charlotte pushes her face and base products very aggressively, but I just can't get over the feeling she knows diddly-squat about skin.
MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC30.
By Terry Hyaluronic powder. It's always there on my dresser these days and sees a scary amount of use.

Wet'n'Wild primer
From the Instant Beauty Palette, I used the bronzer shade in the crease, to map out the perimeter.
I used eye shadow no.1 from the palette on the 2/3rds of the inner lid, and no.3 on the outer part,not taking it too far towards the brow bone. The eye shadows are shimmery and I wanted it contained.
No.2 is completely invisible on my mobile lid or anywhere above my eye. But I've discovered that it's brilliant for lining and slightly smoking the lower lashline without making my eyes appear even more like a hollow skull.  I used a Z10 Chikuhodo brush and on another occasion a  Suqqu M, and loved the lightly diffused result. A complementing product for this look is Rimmel Waterproof Kajal in taupe on the waterline (it's as waterproof as a cat, but the color is unique and the texture is soft and gel-like).
My eyeliner was Bare Minerals Lash Domination. Not miraculous but it works.
The mascara I picked against my better judgment was that new Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes that came as a freebie. It was the fourth time I used it, and at this point I'm over the flakes and mess that the mascara creates right at application (not to mention as the day goes by. No, Charlotte. Just No.

Cheeks & co.
I used a small Yachiyo brush to mix bot blush colors together and swirl them on my cheeks. I loved the result, but those tiny pans drive me nuts. There's no way I will use them individually.  The pictures shw you that I'm very light handed, but you ca always go to tow.
I used a Hakuhodo G528 to highlight the high point pf the face, and whatever fluffy brush that jumped into my hand to add the subtle and very flattering bronzer where my face desperately needed it. The problem is that unlike my face, I don't prime and spackle my neck enough to make the bronzer grab and last there, hence a perpetual shade difference. I can only care so much.

I brushed'em.

I mixed on the back of my hand a drop od Charlotte Tilbury's Bond Girl lipstick (it's one of her Perfect Mattes or whatever she calls them) with a good amount of her lip liner in Pink Venus and applied the goo with a brush. Bond Girl alone would have been too brown for the delicate glow of the palette colors. I finished up with defining the edges with more Pink Venus (my lower lip is thick yet somewhat amorphous, and my cupid bow could use all the help it can get).

Other Stuff
Striped dress by Sonia Rykiel
Slouchy cardigan from Joyous
Vintage necklace was a thrift store find
SotD was Vintage by Chabaud.

Chabaud Maison de Parfum- Vintage

My original plan was to do a general overview of the entire Chabaud Maison de Parfum line, because all of a sudden I realize that there are about fourteen of them (I was familiar with five. Maybe). However, I've been wearing Chabaud 's Vintage quite frequently, over the last couple of months, enough so to dedicate a post to this odd floriental. First, this is not a vintage perfume. While I couldn't pinpoint its exact launch date, it's somewhere between 2002 and 2014, probably closer to the latter.

The "vintage" in Vintage refers to an attempt to evoke the olden days, whatever that might mean to any of us. Is it classic beauty and classic perfumery? Or maybe the comfort and security of some people's childhoods? Perhaps it's the fantasy of a long sunny vacation during an endless summer, when no black clouds of dread and worries ever appear on the horizon? I vote for all of the above, plus my own vague and utterly misguided ideas of 1970s glamour. Please humor me for a bit (you too, mom).

Three elements give Chabaud's vintage its unique character. There's a very elegant and French-smelling floral bouquet that steps forward with a piercing dianthus-carnation note. But before you get the chance to say Bellodgia or L'Air du Temps, a modern blend of rich femme fatale white flowers burst out of a cornucopia that includes the juiciest and sunniest bowl of ripe fruit, and you are totally invited and allowed to bite into them. Tubersose, jasmine, and ylang-ylang can be forbidding and dangerous, but this is not a mysterious visitor dripping Fracas. Instead, the bog pitcher full of vanilla-flavored almond milk with a side of caramel candy is more like Stacy's mom lounging by the pool wearing Shalimar Parfum Initial. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

The white floral bloom with gusto when you apply Vintage and leave the house into a hot summer day. Doing so and enjoying every minute is also a vintage-like practice. Personally I enjoy it more outdoors than in a climate-controlled room where the flowers, milky almonds and lashes of dulce le leche can't really meld and melt into each other to form the seductive concoction that Vintage should be. It's too fragmented and sugary if the blend doesn't envelop you evenly, showing that it's sexy as all get out, only with a wink.

Chabaud seems to be an OsswaldNYC exclusive in the US. Vintage ($135, 100ml eau de parfum) is out of stock right now (I swear I didn't do it), so I'd suggest contacting the store to inquire when it'll be back.

Photo of a Balenciaga cocktail dress by Gordon Parks, 1950.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Glow Primer Face-Off: MustaeV Lustrous Cream Base vs. Studio 10 Youth Lift Glow Plexion

Glow-enhancing primers predate Instagram and the seen-from-space highlights that's still all over social media. There were the original one from Lancome, and even before that I remember buying overseas a mattifying gleaming base by Boots No.7. That was around 2001. In less prehistoric facts we've had the beautiful ones by Burberry and Armani, and later came Laura Mercier who usually does it better than everyone else. Nowadays, though, if you don't gild yourself from top to bottom you'll get kicked out of Snapchat (no, I'm not on there, and even my Instagram is not about beauty but about my personal life). In any case, today we're literally shining some light on our faces.

Months ago my curiosity about UK brand Studio 10 sent me shopping for an interesting-looking palette. While it wasn't the Second Coming, this is a product I use sporadically and find it seful enough. If I'm not mistaken, it was on the same order that I got a free bottle of studio 10's much lauded Youth Lift Glow Plexion. I no longer remember for sure. Maybe it was before the GWP thing and I actually paid for it,  I just don't know.

Here's what I can tell you. I've given Studio 10 Youth Lift Glow Plexion five tries over the months I've had it, during varying weather and humidity conditions. Each and every time I used it (over my skincare and a good coat of chemical SPF 50, because that's what I do when I leave the house), the results were the same: first I got the dubiously attractive finish of the Tin Man (If I only had a heart), which in return made every base makeup I applied on top oxidize to an alarming level. And this is not a political commentary. I truly turned orange. Metallic orange. Is is the generous amount of Mica in the formula (it's in 5th place)? I can't tell. But those were really bad makeup days.

 Studio 10 Ingredients
I was even more ticked off by the obvious sponsored stories that kept running on People magazine, hailing Studio 10 Youth Lift Glow Plexion as an anti-aging serum that will deliver us from sin (screen capture from People's front page below). Despite the hyaluronic acid this is not what I consider brilliant skincare, just a paste of mica and silicons.

A couple of months later I attended the NYC Makeup Show and got acquainted with a new-to-me brand, MustaeV. It's a Korean brand, and as far as I could tell from a quick inspection, the products are, indeed, manufactured in Korea (South, you know. Not the other one). The SA who helped me was a gorgeous wooden creature in blue hair, blue makeup, blue contacts and blue tattoos, and could have probably sold me their entire catalog. I've shown restraint and limited myself to the MustaeV Lustrous Cream Base she demonstrated on me. First on my hands, which looked and felt fabulous, and ten on my face, that at that point could have used all the help I could get (hormonal skin, pain from the infamous leg injury, a walk in NYC's worst oily-feeling rain, general crankiness, and a lack of breakfast).

The cream base felt hydrating and calming on contact. It had a glowy sheen that even I couldn't declare obnoxious, and once the blue pixie massaged it through and redid my base with MustaeV Skinny Tint Foundation I felt like a new person with an old foot (I would have bought had the shade range made more sense. There are only three colors, and  had to mix two parts of the light with one part medium). I liked the result, the natural appearance of healthy and happy skin, and I get to recreate it every time I use the base as m primer.

MustaeV Ingredients
Bottom Line: Goodbye Yellow Brick Roads.

 MustaeV Lustrous Cream Base ($33 for 40ml, made in Korea) is available from
Studio 10 Youth Lift Glow Plexion ($40, 15ml) is available from

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Chanel N°5 The Hair Mist (Le Parfum Cheveux)

I'm a sucker for Chanel No.5 paraphernalia. A hopeless sucker. Which reminds me that I've just finished my most recent tub of body powder (must rectify soon).  I 'm devoted to the limited edition body oil (a backup bottle is stashed away), so it was obvious I was going to buy the new (or newly launched?)  Chanel N°5 The Hair Mist . If I can make my hair smell like No.5 I'm so going to do it.

The thing is that the hair mist is not quite up to standard. Yes, it smells like Chanel N°5 . Ish. Sharper, more like a cocktail of vodka and aldheydes.  The No.5 DNA is there, but less fatty and round than in most other product, it's too far removed for my taste from the eau de parfum or eau de premier, and obviously lacks the dirty bite of the very vintage eau de cologne. It's too sterile, and to be honest, also far too ephemeral.

My hair is a scent trap. It's thick and retains the fragrance of shampoo, conditioner, and the various hair masks I use. Moreover, it stays fragrant until the next washing. To test the hair mist I washed my hair in Head'n'Shoulders or baby shampoo, trying to get the full effect of my Chanel. I was rather disappointed, with a 1.35oz bottle you can only spray with so much abandon, and it never seems enough if I restrict t to my hair (and I have a lot of hair). However, I did find that allowing the mist to graze a hair scarf or a summer shawl gives me a bit of extra No.5 around me, so it was not a total waste. Otherwise I'd say that Le Parfum Cheveux is rather overpriced, and I'd stick with the brilliant bath and body products and keep scouring yard sales for the vintage perfume.

Chanel N°5 The Hair Mist ($65, 1.35oz, made in France) is exclusive to

Image: Candice Bergen for Chanel No. 5,1960s.