Showing posts with label highlighter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label highlighter. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Lancome Jason Wu Blush Subtil Duo Pressed Rose

Pressed Rose is one of two blush/highlighter palettes in the Lancome Jason Wu mini collection. The other color, Sheer Macaron Pink seemed too beige/warm and, well, sheer for my coloring, so I chose Pressed Rose thinking it'd be significantly more intense. It turned out that pigmentation is not what this blush duo is about, though it has just enough color so I can wear it without issues. However, if you're darker than my not-quite NC 35 I'm not sure how much blushing effect you're going to see.

It's been a long time since my last Lancome Blush Subtil purchase, and apparently (as they did with just about everything else) Lancome had put some serious work into the formula, which is now so silky it's almost cream-like. It's a beautiful texture, incredibly smooth and luxurious, that doesn't crumble under my brush and doesn't powdery debris all over the place. It's fabulous, and as a result I haven't experienced any issues with having a cream and a powder in the same (beautiful) compact.

Speaking of the cream side, the highlighter in this Jason Wu duo is a pretty pink champagne color that blends easily and dries within seconds. It loses a bit of the sheen within ten minutes, giving a more natural effect than you'd expect, unless the glaring sun hits it directly.

Bottom Line: very very pretty.

Lancome Jason Wu Blush Subtil Duo Pressed Rose ($30) is available from and at the counters.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

DHC Face Color Palette EX RS03 Glowing Rose & RD04 Radiant Ruby

DHC is a Japanese brand most famous for skincare and especially their olive oil-based face cleanser. I admit to not realizing they also offer makeup, which is a shame since the products I've tried so far are beyond lovely, from the sweet (not too precious, though) packaging and embossed surfaces to the very smooth textures.

The Face Color Palette EX is one of several new items from DHC. These are blush and highlighter sets that come in four shades. The ones you see here are RS03 Glowing Rose, a coolish pink, and RD04 Radiant Ruby, a warm peach. The highlighter for each blush has a matching undertone, though it's not very noticeable unless you pile it on as I did for the sake of swatching.

The colors are rather delicate and pigment intensity is medium plus. I don;t know how these colors would work on very dark skin, but fair to medium ones will find them easy to wear and very flattering. The texture is very smooth: the formula contains silicone that makes the DHC blushes apply and blend beautifully; mixing the two colors in each palette together gives a lovely glow without shimmer flecks, but you can definitely skip the highlighter or reserve it for special occasion. A brush such as Hakuhodo 210 or MAC 109 with a relatively small and round head performs best here, both in terms of precision and picking up the right amount of color (for me. If you're very fair you might want to go fluffier). I admit I like the texture of these DHC blushes more than the new Shiseido trios that were not packed as tightly and make a royal mess every time I use them.

The little brush in the compact is probably the weakest link here. The white plastic looks cheap (it would have been so much nicer if the brush matched the outer packaging) and one of the two I have was too scratchy for my liking, but it can be used on the go and in a hurry, since it's of good width and density.

Bottom Line: a great find at nearly half the price of Shiseido.

DHC Face Color Palette EX RS03 Glowing Rose & RD04 Radiant Ruby ($20 each) are available from The products for this review were press samples.

Monday, May 12, 2014

NARS Illuminator 413 BLKR

Liquid illuminators and highlighters are brilliant thing (no pun, honestly), because you can mix them with many cream and liquid products (not just for face: also eye and lip), wear them under or over the rest of your makeup, dot them, blend them... it's all good. NARS has several shades of liquid illuminators, some are more glittery than others. I prefer the subtle ones such as Copacabana, and the newest addition 413 BLKR, which is a slightly yellower version.

The amount of product I used in the swatch is twice as much as I'd typically mix with a tinted moisturizer, but I might be a minimalist when it comes to shiny faces. In any case, BLKR 413 can create an effect as subtle or as nightclub- worthy as you'd like it. The texture is NARS at its best, and I think you can see it's comparable to other top products such as Becca Moonstone (which is considerably more golden) and Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Clouds (much whiter, and what you see here is the last drops I managed to squeeze out of my old bottle, so the texture isn't as glorious as it used to be).

Bottom Line: worthy of the BLKR name.

NARS Illuminator 413 BLKR ($30) is available from NARS boutiques and The product for this review was sent by the company.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Make Skin Illuminator: Nor

Make, the new(ish) American line by makeup artist Sam Addington brings us an interesting face highlighter in a pen that comes in four shades. The one I was sent is Nor, a peachy pink shade infused with pearlescent glimmer. The pigment here is visible, so it's not a sheer product, therefore you need to make sure you apply it where your skin can take actual color (there are also a white, a pale gold, and a rich reddish gold options). It catches the light beautifully and reflects a visible yet moderate glow. I find that Nor is especially nice mixed with a tinted moisturizer, but it's also the kind of color you can apply in summer directly to bare shoulders and get a beautiful effect without any actual glitter.

Make Skin Illuminator, or at least this one is Nor reminds me of an improved version of YSL Dare to Glow Luminizer. It performs better and the peachy apricoty color looks better on me than the more yellow Tempting gold. It actually adds warmth and life to the face (used carefully on top of what passes as cheekbones on my face). The applicator is similar to the By Terry one: a click pen with a wide thick brush with soft synthetic hair.

Bottom Line: makes me dream of summer nights.

Make Skin Illuminator: Nor ($34) is available at select Barneys locations,, and directly from the company's website,, where 33.3% of each purchase will directly benefit the WE SEE BEAUTY Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds women-led co-ops in the US.
The product for this review was sent free of charge by PR.

Monday, January 20, 2014

NARS Adelaide Illuminator- The Final Cut Spring 2014

The Final Cut is a sub-collection in NARS Spring 2014 offering. It's all about pink, pink, and more pink, which is not necessarily my thing, but I have to say that right now anything lively and fun is welcome. Still, the new NARS Illuminator, Adelaide, looked scary in the tube and out. It's a very cool toned light pink (according to NARS it's a lavender pink but I wouldn't go that far) with a very shimmery finish. Very.

Surprisingly, on sallow winter skin Adelaide gives a very subtle boost of pink freshness, so the color itself is far more flattering than I ever expected. It made me realize that I can and should wear more pink. Since this is a highlighter and not a blush you need to apply it sparingly and only where you need it to catch the light. You only need a small dot of the product (about half the amount I squeezed out in the photo above), which you'll blend upwards on the cheekbones.

Adelaide unblended. This is enough product for both sides of the face.

blended, photo taken with flash to show the shimmer particles

Now let's talk about the shimmer factor. The particles used in Adelaide are larger than I prefer. You can see in the photo above that the flecks are visible, making this Illuminator more of a high glam product. I felt a bit self-conscious wearing Adelaide during the day over the weekend, but mostly got over it because it is such a pretty little thing. The formula is quite sheer and the finish is neither metallic nor frosty: just a glowy pink; with lots of shimmer, that is. I experimented mixing Adelaide with various liquid face products and liked it best with NARS tinted moisturizer and Guerlain Terracotta Blush Sun Shimmer Highlighter. I'm sure you can find other combinations. I would say that if your skin tone is lighter and cooler you'll probably have more play options for Adelaide, but it does work for darker/olive skin tones.

Bottom Line: Shiny.

What do you think? Can you live with this amount of shimmer?

NARS Adelaide Illuminator- The Final Cut Spring 2014 ($30) was sent for my consideration by NARS PR. It's already available online from Nordstrom and will eventually be offered also from NARS boutiques and

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Urban Decay Naked Illuminated Shimmering Powder For Holiday 2013

My first thought when I saw this Urban Decay Naked Illuminated Shimmering Powder from the Holiday 2013 collection was that there was no way I'd use it on my face. Naked Illuminated packs some serious shimmer that is meant to be seen and noticed. However, dipping into the powder has revealed a finer texture than I expected. In fact, I think it's smoother and more usable than the face highlighters in both Urban Decay Face Case palettes for Holiday 2013.

Still, the pale gold shimmer of Urban Decay Naked Illuminated is at its best when lightly dusted over bare shoulders. It has a fairy dust look, and the powder base melts into the skin without leaving any chalkiness. The result is pretty yet wearable and makes me smile. An added bonus is that there's no flying glitter that tends to get caught in the cats' hair. Marigold above may wish to be an internet star, but I'd rather she doesn't achieve it for glowing whiskers.

The packaging is made of stiff cardboard and so far has proven to be sturdy enough. The pan is large and accomodates the largest body/bronzing brushes. I've found that a large fan brush, a massive Botan brush or Smashbox bronzer brush work well and leave just the right amount of glimmer on the shoulders. I haven't actually dared to leave the house sporting a shimmery cleavage, but one day soon I may. Perhaps for my 43rd birthday.

Bottom Line: for the young and young-at-heart.

 Urban Decay Naked Illuminated Shimmering Powder For Holiday 2013 ($29) is avaialble at Ulta and The product for this review was supplied by the company.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders have been my constant companions since their release in the beginning of the year. Hourglass has created a sophisticated finishing powder in several shades that give the skin a certain luminosity without looking too obvious. Holiday 2013 brings us a palette of three Ambient Lighting powders : Radiant Light and Dim Light from the existing range, and Incandescent Light, a limited edition highlighter. The palette comes as a gift set that also includes a travel size 5ml tube of Hourgalss Veil Mineral Primer. The pans are smaller than the regular size compact, yet big enough for use with  a large face brush. The palette itself is sturdy and convenient for travel, though it might be too large for smaller makeup bags.

The swatches above are very heavy and only meant to show you the difference between the three colors. Normally you apply the Ambient Lighting powders with a fluffy brush-- either the one you can buy from Hourglass or just about any favorite brush you already have-- from a large yachiyo for the sheerest application, which is what I prefer for the more pigmented Radiant Light, to an itabake brush for a more concentrated/precise highlighting (or just a good ole' round powder brush for an all-over veil). As you can see, Dim Light is lighter and more beige than the peachy Radiant Light, while Incandescent Light is a gorgeous highlighter that has the perfect amount of flash tone pigment. The way it melds with the skin is nothing short of glorious, and I already have several other powder highlighters. I think Incandescent Light might be my favorite.

Sabrina of the Beauty Look Book has more photos and suggestions on how to wear these Hourglass powders.

Bottom Line: Love. Big Radiant Love.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette ($58) is available from the counters at Barneys and Bergdorf, Sephora, and The product for this review was sent by the company.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

By Terry Touche Veloutée Highlighting Concealer Brush

As a devoted user of skin luminizers, I've gone through countless pens of YSL Touche Eclat over the years. I've also used up a few units of Guerlain Precious Lights. My previous discovery in this arena was Rouge Bunny Rouge Luminous Skin Wand, which I love dearly but only use around my nose and above the cupid bow because the color range is extremely limited. I keep hoping RBR would add more shades to the existing two, but one can't hide her dark circles with hope.  I don't know what took me so long to give a chance to the much-praised Touche Veloutée Highlighting Concealer Brush from By Terry, but Finally I did. Where has it been all my life? (the answer is: at Barneys).

Like most By Terry products, Touche Veloutée Highlighting Concealer Brush has a distinct luxurious feeling. The wand is nice and thick, and most importantly, the brush is made of very soft hair (synthetic, I assume) instead of the usual horrible plastic bristles. The brush head is smooth, thick and actually feels nice on skin, so you can really use it on the go instead of transferring the blob of product to the back of your hand and picking up with a real brush.

My color in By Terry Touche Veloutée Highlighting Concealer Brush is #3 Beige. It's an excellent match that works well under my eyes. Like the Rouge Bunny Rouge wand, this product offers good coverage as well as light reflection. If you look at the swatches above you'll notice a cat scratch on my arm (Marigold, Pippa, and I were rough-housing). In the first photo, before I blended the concealer, the mark is quite red. Now look at the second, where I lightly touched it up with Touche Veloutée-- my skin looks much more even.

Bottom Line: as close as I get to a holy grail product these days.

By Terry Touche Veloutée Highlighting Concealer Brush ($58) is available at Barneys, Osswald, and

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Laura Mercier Fall 2013 Spellbound Face Illuminator- Dark Spell Collection

Laura Mercier is responsible for one of my all time favorite face highlighters, Rose Rendezvous, from Holiday 2011, so I was thrilled to see that the fall 2013 collection, Dark Spell, includes a new illuminator: Spellbound. The surface of this new Laura Mercier illuminator looks like a shiny meringue. It's truly appetizing. The color of Spellbound is a pale rose gold, less peachy pink than Rose Rendezvous, and not as metallic. It'll delight those who found Rose Rendezvous not subtle enough or too pink, but will satisfy just about anyone else.

I've tried applying Spellbound with various brushes and my conclusion is that everything goes. You can pat it on top of the cheekbones, blend it into the skin, mix with a blush-- the texture of Laura Mercier's highlighter is very fine and easy to work with. The swatches show you Spellbound applied with a flat synthetic brush (Shu Uemura #14) in a patting motion (two or three touches to the skin). It looks marginally more sheer than the second swatch that was a quick buffing of the highlighter with a Hakuhodo 212 (natural hair, full round head). Obviously, you can use bigger or smaller brushes, depending on the area you're illuminating. Spellbound also looks beautiful in the inner corner of the eye.

Bottom Line: Love.

Laura Mercier Spellbound Face Illuminator ($42) from the Fall 2013 Dark Spell Collection is arriving at the counters and already available online from Nordstrom and

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shiseido High Beam White Luminizing Satin Face Color

I love highlighters. I love them in liquid, cream and powder form. I love them golden, pearly or with a champagne tint. I love them shiny or muted. I just love the way highlighters can give the skin an extra shot of pretty. Shiseido High Beam White is probably considered a classic by now. It's the most subtle of its kind, as understated than Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight,  but a bit easier to catch in a photo because Shiseido is pearly white. I swatched heavily using the scratchy little brush that came in the compact. Normal application (a small  Yachiyo or Laura Mercier fan brush are far more suitable, as is Chikuhodo Z2) will not look as white and will add just a little bit of light where you need it.

Donating my face to science I once tried using Shiseido High Beam White as an allover finishing powder. Don't try this at home. As finely milled as Shiseido makes this product it is not a substitute for Guerlain Meteorites. The effect was like using Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea Of Unicorns or whatever they call their liquid highlighters (which I love. They're beyond beautiful) on your entire face over foundation. Not a good look for an adult woman.

In any case, Shiseido High Beam White Luminizing Satin Face Color is an excellent highlighter. If you're very warm-toned maybe it will be too white (Shiseido also makes a pale gold version that's too yellow for my green undertones), so do test at the counter before you decide.

Bottom Line: there's a reason why Shiseido makeup is so revered.

Shiseido High Beam White Luminizing Satin Face Color ($30) is available at the counters, Sephora and It's part of the blush range.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dolce & Gabbana Eva Illuminator & Tan Blush: Highlighting & Contouring

Among the many face products in the Dolce & Gabbana line there's also The Illuminator -Glow Illuminating Powder in two shades: Eva 3 and Shimmer 6. The latter is pink-based, so I skipped it, but Eva, a nude beige powder with a smooth finish, seemed like the right choice.

Now, despite the name and some of the marketing materials this  Dolce & Gabbana Illuminating Powder is not a highlighter. It's a light reflecting powder that's more of a finishing product than a topical illuminator. Eva works along the same lines of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in the way it diffuses light and creates a soft glow with no visible particles (Hourglass Ambient Lighting comes in several shades, though, and some are more glowing than others). I like the silky softness of this powder, but  it's  colorless and subdued that when it comes to allover sheer light diffusing and a perfect photoshopped finish I much prefer the loose powder from NARS (that I still need to review. I know, it's been months), and for adding a visible glow Hourglass is far superior.

The other side of the shade/illuminate equation is contouring. With my facial structure I do this less on my impossible to find cheekbones (I have none) but more to narrow the nose and define my jawline. Dolce & Gabbana Luminous Cheek Color in Tan #22 is a good product for this purpose. This nude tan blush has no hint of orange. It's a very neutral shade, light enough not to require an hour of diffusing but visible and effective. The texture is soft and smooth (Dolce & Gabbana blushes have many fans because of their silky finish), and it's easy to work with.

The packaging of Dolce & Gabbana products is sturdy and detailed. One might not be crazy about the blinding gold, but it's luxurious and nice in its way. The Illuminator's (half decent) brush comes in a separate pocket attached to the compact's velveteen pouch. Blushes are packaged more traditionally with a scratchy little brush inside the compact.

Bottom Line: Tan is definitely worth trying if you're after a nice contour powder. The Illuminator is overpriced for its quality and performance.

Dolce & Gabbana Eva Illuminator ($50) & Tan Blush ($45) are available from Saks and Sephora.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hourglass Cosmetics Illume Creme-to-Powder Bronzer Duo- Light Bronze

Sunset, the brilliant cream-to-powder bronzer/blush duo from Hourglass has been a favorite since it came out three years ago. It took some practice to get the most out of the very saturated colors, but the light texture helped a lot since it's incredibly easy to blend and tweak for the desired results. I don't know why it took me quite a while to add Bronze Light, its sibling to my arsenal, but I'm very glad that I've come around.

Illume Creme-to-Powder Duo in Light Bronze brings us a bronzer and a highlighter. As far as I can tell the bronzer is the same one Hourglass used in Sunset, but the highlighter takes it in a different direction. It's very subtle (I applied quite a bit for swatching purposes. You'd use about half the amount) so there's no disco ball  effect. As you can see, the highlighter has a distinct gold tone, probably the yellowest highlighter I own. It blends easily into your foundation and dries down into a very long lasting powder that doesn't budge.

Both the bronzer and the highlighter cling to the skin with everything they've got. Once they're dry, that is. Before that point they blend like a dream, but I find that unlike regular cream or liquid products they don't respond well if you try to mix them with your foundation before application. Both Hourglass Illume products prefer to be on top, though they do perfectly fine when I use my Hourglass Ambient Powder as the finishing touch.

One word of caution for the very fair: test first. I'm not sure how such a yellow golden illuminator would translate on a pink porcelain skin. My own undertones are olive-to-neutral, and I use a very light hand, so take that into consideration.

Hourglass Illume Creme-to-Powder Bronzer Duo- Light Bronze ($40) is available from select department stores and from