Monday, February 28, 2011

NARS Illuminators Copacabana, Laguna & the Original O

The new illuminators in Copacabana, Laguna and Super Orgasm arrived online at last week and I decided to order Copacabana and Laguna to compare them to the original release of Orgasm from last February (see my post The Neverending NARS "O" Series). I was also anxious to see how these compared to the other NARS products with similar names, mainly the Copacabana Multiple & Laguna Bronzing Powder.

I have not tried the newly packaged Orgasm to compare to the new one, but I can provide some initial thoughts on the original O versus the two new shades I bought in Laguna and Copacabana. Both the old and new versions are similar in product amount and texture. Both retail for $29 USD. What are the differences? First I'll compare the difference in packaging:
  • Original packaging is skinnier, taller and has slightly less product inside
  • New packaging is shorter, wider and comes with a flip open lid

Another difference I noticed is that the first version of Orgasm Illuminator is sheerer in finish compared to the new Copacabana and Laguna. Here is Copacabana swatched close up on the skin. The left is heavily swatched, the right is sheered out. Perhaps it's just contrasted with my skintone because Copacabana is more white, while Orgasm is more peach.

NARS Laguna Illuminator is a warmer almost orangey bronze with gold micro glitter. It also shows up more visible on my face in a warm golden bronze shade.

NARS Illuminators old and new in Orgasm, Copacabana & Laguna all swatched together:

Heavily swatched and sheered out:

Comparisons: Edward Bess Sunlight, NARS Copacabana Multiple, NARS Copacabana Illuminator

NARS Laguna Bronzer, NARS South Beach Multiple, NARS Laguna Illuminator

The comparisons swatched plus some thoughts. The Copacabana Illuminator is whiter and brighter than the Multiple version. The Illuminator is more contrasted with my skin in color but less sparkly and more glowy. I think Edward Bess's Sunlight Cream Highlighter works better for a natural glow on my skin.

The NARS Laguna Illuminator is warmer and almost orangey next to the original Laguna Bronzing Powder but blends out beautifully on the skin. I swatched it next to South Beach Multiple for your reference.

I haven't had time to experiment with the new Illuminators much, but so far I've used Laguna Illuminator on the cheeks by itself and then also layered under a bright pink blush. It works just like a regular liquid highlighter but dries quickly so I recommend blending quickly. I tested Copacabana Illuminator on the eyes near the browbone to highlight and it gave a lovely glow without the greasy feeling that Multiples can sometimes have when applied on the eyes. So far after a few uses, no irritations or break outs. I find them to be relatively long lasting, but natural in finish.

I assume you can mix these with foundation for a glow but haven't tried it with Laguna or Copacabana. Overall thumbs up - I wasn't too keen on the gold glitter in Laguna at first but when blended with a foundation brush the result is subtle enough.

A special thanks to Karlasugar who posted an awesome online discount code for us last week!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Colors SPF 12: Bare Pink, Heather Pink & Lilac

When news surfaced that Bobbi Brown was coming out with a new full color lipstick formulation in cream colors I wasn't too interested. I thought the colors would be too opaque and boring but was proven wrong. One swipe of Bare Pink at the counter and I was in love with the smooth lightweight texture that gave full but not-too-thick coverage. I took advantage of the Neiman Marcus Beauty Event (still going on) and picked up some shades for myself and my mom.

These lipsticks are $22 each with a lightweight cream texture. They are full coverage like her regular lipsticks but glide on easier & smoother with a moisturizing feel. They're described perfectly on, "Lightweight, yet intense, Bobbi’s latest formula combines pigments with a clear base to deliver pure, crisp color with just one swipe." There's a slight sunscreen scent when you first apply it on the lips but it fades. I tested Lilac this afternoon and it had excellent lasting power without any liner. The finish is semi-matte and the packaging is semi-matte with a glossy black middle. I love her packaging of individual items because they are great size for the price, conveniently packaged with sleek and simple classic designs. As much as I appreciate her palettes, I really love her individual items more.

The colors I ended up with for myself:
  • Bare Pink is a beige nude with slight pinkish tones
  • Heather Pink is a medium nude brown-pink
  • Lilac is a cool pink

Swatched on the arm:

Swatched on the lips, FYI on the skin is Chanel Teint Innocence in Shell (liquid):

The cute GWP from Neimans with a $150 purchase is two credit card sized palettes the brushes are really crummy in these, but the actual product is a good sample size.

Overall very impressed with the texture and coverage. I really love the way these feel on the lips. The smooth full coverage finish is superb without any feathering, streaking or unevenness. There are many other reviews on these lipsticks from other fabulous bloggers.

A few reviews I found very helpful:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New From Saks: Laura Mercier Premier Beauty Collection

It's that time of year when Laura Mercier releases several limited edition value sets at Nordstrom (here), Neimans (here) and Saks (here). Each store has their own special kit with exclusive items including a mix of full size products plus minis for $68. This year, the Saks Premiere Beauty Collection appealed most to me with the following items:
  • Brown zippered bag with a paisley lining
  • Full sized Tightline Cake Eye Liner in Ground Espresso
  • Full sized Lip Glacé in Pink Lilac (sheer milky lilac pink)
  • Eye Colour Duo in Dusk (shimmery pink-lilac) & Chocolate (shimmery brown)
  • Mini Black Full Blown Volume Lash Building Mascara
  • Double-Ended Pony Tail/Flat Eye Liner Brush
To break down the cost per full sized items: Liner $22 + Eyeshadow $22 + Lip Glacé $22 = $66. For the additional $2 you get a decent sampling of other items not to mention a nice travel brush (I've collected a number of mini brushes from LM sets over the years and rely on them when traveling).

I purchased this sight unseen online, mainly for the new Lip Gloss, Eyeshadow Duo & Brush. I plan on regifting the other items. I've had the Cake Eyeliners used on me on multiple Laura Mercier makeover events but I prefer pencil or gel liners to liquid or cake (so this item won't be swatched). Dusk/Chocolate is a gorgeous combination - I already have Dusk in a mini sample size and like that it's lilac and cool-toned but not too purple. I find that lilac/lavender eyeshadows can sometimes look dated.

Pink Lilac is beautiful in the tube but very sheer and practically invisible on the lips. I think it will make a good enhancing color for sheer pink and lilac colored lipsticks.

Overall a great value and nice combination of colors. I would have preferred something other than the cake liner since there is already a dark shadow (Chocolate) - like a blush or lipstick, but I know it will be easily regift-able. The lip gloss is pretty but sheer and light, perhaps it will show up better on girls with lighter lips or lighter skintones. I know I'll get a lot of use with layering it, but I would have preferred more pigment and color. The set also comes with a mini instruction card but I found it very basic.

Have any of you checked out any of the Special Edition sets at Saks, Neimans or Nordstrom? Did any of you pick one up? Thoughts/rants/raves?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jo Malone Tea Fragrance Blends: Fresh & Light

Jo Malone has released a limited edition collection of five tea inspired colognes perfectly described as "tempting, refreshing and engagingly unexpected." There are three tea inspired fragrances Assam & Grapefruit, Earl Grey & Cucumber and Fresh Mint Leaf ($55 each for 30 ml). The other two colognes Sweet Milk and Sweet Lemon are the layering scents designed to be spritzed and combined with the other tea fragrances to reflect the actual tea drinking experience. Each scent in this collection is amazingly delicious and I ended up with four of the five.

Assam & Grapefruit citrus grapefruit with a spicy herbal undertone, mate, cardamom, almond and patchouli: Reminiscent of the Lime Basil and Grapefruit scents because of the citrus undertone, but overall more spicy and herbal with a musty smell. One of the more complex scents in the tea collection, but still simple and pure.

Earl Grey & Cucumber top notes are bergamot with cucumber, vanilla & musk undertones: Earl Grey is actually one of my least favorite teas to drink simply because it reminds me of a flower. The scent of Earl Grey is very soothing and delicious, I just am not a fan of flowery teas. Put into a bottle combined with cucumber and a hint of vanilla translates into a fresh and light cologne. Those who are familiar with Aqua di Parma's Mirto di Panarea Eau de Toilette is similar in undertone (the bergamot) however, the Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber is a lighter, milder and less spicy and overall less complex version of the Aqua di Parma.

Sweet Milk creamy sweet blend of star anise, almond and vanilla: This smells like a scrumptious tea cookie. Sweet creamy vanilla scents are hit or miss for me. There's something calming about milk based scents but sometimes on the skin the fragrance can turn once mixed with one's natural body chemistry. The result is sometimes nauseating. At a first spritz of Sweet Milk on the small paper strip, I almost gagged. My Jo Malone rep assured me it was not as sweet on the skin and he was right. I layered this with the Earl Grey and it turned out to be a surprisingly nice combination. Still, I don't think this scent is for everyone, if you get a chance to smell this, try this on the skin rather than just on the paper.

Sweet Lemon lemon, sugar, pineapple, peach and fresh green cypress: A fresh sweet lemony scent that smells like something picked fresh from a garden. The peach undertones evoke a slight pear-like scent (very slight). The cypress gives this a slightly earthy smell which prevents this from being overly citrus.

Fresh Mint was absolutely delicious but I simply couldn't picture myself wearing the scent. I think it would have made a lovely candle. The intensity of these colognes is soft which, unfortunately, makes lasting power only about 4 hours. After 4 hours, I can still smell remnants of the cologne on my wrist, but it is significantly faded. Still, I prefer more natural scents. It would be great if these were upped in intensity a few notches to last longer, but I love each of these for their pure and simple quality. Other than the intensity, the only other things I wish were different: why limited edition and why not in other forms like candles, body creams, and bath gels?

Have you tried Jo Malone Colognes before? $55 for the amount seems extremely pricey, but the exquisite clean packaging along with the luxe boxes make these irresistible to at least pick up and try. Neiman Marcus currently has a gift with purchase instore and online. The top photo features two mini colognes in Grapefruit and Orange Blossom in a small leather case with a $150 purchase.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Neutral & Bright: Zoya Naomi, Rescue Beauty Lounge Pink Shimmer, Chanel Enthusiast

Nails of the day (from Sunday):
  • On the fingers = 1 coat of Zoya Naomi + 1 coat of Rescue Beauty Lounge Pink Shimmer on top
  • On the toes = 2 coats of Chanel Enthusiast

Yesterday I featured Zoya Naomi and mentioned how I felt it was a bit too warm for my olive-beige skintone. I experimented layering different sheer and glittery shades on top to see what different effects I could make and decided adding a coat of a sheer white-opal-pink shimmer created a nice neutral. The winner was adding one coat of Rescue Beauty Lounge Pink Shimmer (previously reviewed here). Here is the final result:

I decided to go super bright on the toes with Chanel Enthusiast 377 (Part of the London Madness mini collection from Summer 2009 & a Neimans Exclusive). It was a limited edition shade but extremely close to Chanel Coromandel, previously reviewed here (scroll down for comparisons). The difference is that Enthusiast is more vibrant, more orange, and has no shimmer.

The mani & pedi combo:

L to R comparisons: Rescue Beauty Lounge Ani, Zoya Naomi, Rescue Beauty Lounge Pink Shimmer, the mixed shades, Chanel Enthusiast, Chanel Dragon, Chanel Coromandel

I sometimes get off the wall comments - just an FYI, I'm in Southern California where wearing sandals this time of year is do-able. We've had on and off rain, but the sun peeked out enough for me to slip on the flip flops and not freeze my toes off.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trying Out A Few New Nudes: MAC, Burberry & Zoya

I'm always looking for that perfect shade of nude even though I have quite a few favorites (Chanel Mythic & Luminous, Bobbi Brown Beige Gold, MAC High Tea). Everyone has a different interpretation of what they see as a true nude (see an older post here, What's Your Definition of Nude?) - for me a true nude is something flesh colored. Light nude beiges don't always work for me, many require tweaking with layering of extra gloss or liner (what I call my high maintenance nudes). Sometimes there are nude colors that are simply too neutral or beige and end up washing me out, but my curiosity always gets the best of me, I can't help but check out every variation of beige.

A few new discoveries, thoughts, and swatches: MAC Viva Glam Gaga 2 Lipstick & Lipglass, Zoya Naomi Nail Polish, Burberry Trench Eyeshadow, MAC Gana Blush (from the Mickey Contractor collection).

First up are the newest additions to the MAC Viva Glam series: Gaga 2 Lipstick and Lipglass. Both are creamy neutral grey-beiges in the tubes but go on with a slightly peachy cast on the skin. These are true nudes, both of which I find fall under my "high maintenance" nudes category. The Gaga 2 Lipstick resembles concealer on my lips. It has full coverage (the amplified formula) with rich and creamy texture. Having tried other MAC nudes like Cherish, Creme d'Nude and Peachstock, I know this one will work better once layered over a darker liner (and blended of course) like MAC Stripdown and then topped with clear lipglass. I've swatched it alone below. Thumbs down by itself - the color just makes my skin look dirty and I look lifeless. Gaga 2 Lipglass is the exact same shade of nude, it's not quite as flat and has the tiniest bit of sparkle in the tube. The shimmer doesn't show up on the lips. For some reason the glossy texture makes it more forgiving on the lips. Thumbs up for this one! It's a wearable nude, but I think MAC Revealing Lipglass is a more universally flattering beige nude. This one is also featured below alone (no lipstick or liner underneath).

In direct sunlight:

Zoya Naomi is an opalescent beige with a soft silver sheen. I ordered this from sight unseen along with a few of the Zoya Spoons. I haven't tried too many Zoya Nail Polishes yet, but so far I've been extremely pleased with the finish, pigment and wearability of the colors. However, my experience with the Zoya neutrals is similar to my experience with Essie neutrals - what you see in the bottle doesn't always translate to what you get on the fingers. In this case, I found Zoya Naomi a bit too warm for my beige skintone. I had to tweak it with a layer of a sheer silvery pink to get it to work. (Stay tuned for tomorrow's post to see what I used.) Lovely color with 2 coats, just needed a slight change for my own liking.

Burberry Trench Eyeshadow is one of the best nudes I have ever tried. It's deceptively boring and dull looking in the pan and swatched on my fingers, but it has a soft velvety texture that brightens and evens out the eye lids with a subtle luminescence. I love it. This isn't entirely new (bought it back in late August in San Francisco's Nordstrom) but I haven't gotten around to reviewing it. I really love Burberry's soft eyeshadows. I can't wait for them to release more colors.

Burberry Trench finger swatched (on the hands it just melts/blends):

MAC Gana Frost Blush from the Mickey Contractor Collection was exclusive to select MAC Pro Stores and online. It's a soft champagne grey pink shimmer powder that looks pretty on the eyes and as a highlighter on the temples. I don't know if it's still available or easy to find. It's the closest thing I've found to Estee Lauder's Tom Pecheux Highlighter (reviewed here) but with a pinkish/grey sheen. Those who can't find it and want something similar that you can still find, MAC's Beauty Powder in Play it Proper similar in effect.

Gana Swatched on bare skin:

All the new nudes swatched on arm, two views:

Have you tried any of these nudes I just reviewed? What are your thoughts if you have tried them? I'm especially interested to hear your thoughts on the Viva Glam Gaga 2 Lipstick and Lipglass - how are you making these work for you?

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