Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dolce & Gabbana Chocolate Nail Lacquer

Dolce & Gabbana Chocolate Nail Polish is a rich dark chocolate color, just as it is named. In the bottle it's a reddish warm milk-chocolate brown. On the nails it darkens to a deep espresso shade without any visible red tones. The formula seems a bit thicker than most Dolce & Gabbana nail polishes but applies smoothly with 2 coats. There is a naturally glossy finish. In my experience, Dolce & Gabbana nail polishes last well past the usual 4 days for me for manicures and over a week for pedicures. I just applied Chocolate today for swatching purposes (not a full manicure) so I can't assess the lasting power of this color in particular. Overall Dolce & Gabbana's nail polish formulas seem very consistent for me and are highly under-rated.

Two coats without any top coat

While Dolce & Gabbana Chocolate is very basic, there's something about the depth of this color that seems sophisticated to me. It's not the most unique brown since I found it very similar to Dior Underground (from the Rock Your Nails collection) and Chanel Imperial. The difference is very slight with Dolce & Gabbana Chocolate being the richest and darkest, Dior Underground has more grey, Chanel Imperial has the most visible red. I added a comparison of Bronze Libertine from Dior (I think this was a Neimans exclusive?) for another brown-bronze comparison. Although it's not super unique, I still like it.

In the bottle Dolce & Gabbana Chocolate looks most similar to Chanel Imperial. But when applied on the nail, you can see Dolce & Gabbana Chocolate actually resembles Dior Underground more. Odd, right?

Finally one last comparison to Jake's spots. He wouldn't sit still for a photo as he was too busy chomping down his treat. Compared to Dolce & Gabbana Chocolate his spots now look more tan rather than brown. Here you can see the natural shiny finish of the polishes (all without a top coat).

Overall lovely, rich and deep. This will be perfect for fall. I do however suspect this color will be easily dupeable. If I had had the access to all these shades at Saks I would have passed on this since it's so close to the Dior. However, this is never the case because so many shades are either limited edition or exclusive to certain stores (why we all often end up with dupes). I suspect that this will also be very similar to the upcoming US release of Dior Ebony (as seen on Cafe Makeup from her Paris trip).

What do you think? Will you be wearing chocolate tones on your nails this season? Or when the real fall season arrives? Or are there other colors that catch your eye? This year, the colors for nails seem to be all over the place!

Dolce & Gabbana Autumn 2011: Cinnamon Eyeshadow Duo & Shimmer Illuminator Powder

Dolce & Gabbana has released soft angelic shades for eyes and cheeks in their Autumn/Winter 2011 collection called Sweet Temptations. Cinnamon # 80 Eyeshadow Duo has a shimmery combination of soft opal pink and soft beige-gold. Shimmer #6 Illuminator is a soft finely milled sheer glowy pink-beige. The shades are soft and neutral and make the skin glow with a subtle sheen. Each shade has this beautiful multi-color reflective quality which makes the product look either more beige or more pink depending on how the light hits the shimmer particles. Above is more pinkish, below in different lighting you see more warm beige tones. Both items are very neutral, nude and sheer. On my medium skintone, these blend in with my skin for a barely-there glow.

Cinnamon Eyeshadow duo has a soft opal pink and a soft champagne beige gold. Both are shimmery neutrals. On the fingers and arms you can clearly see the difference in color. On the eyes for me, they both look the same (whether they are layered or applied separately). These give just the slightest glimmer to the lids. Layering actually makes these look chalky but then I reminded myself other duos like this did the same. The best way for me to apply duos like Dolce & Gabbana Cinnamon is to put on a dewy eye base first, mix both shades by swirling a brush and then dusting lash to brow in a back-and-forth sweeping motion. Just add liner (like a bronze) and mascara. Cinnamon no doubt is a stunner when you see the compact. On my skin it doesn't translate the same - it's very similar to the colors you get with others like Stila Kitten, MAC Deckchair Pigment, Bobbi Brown Seashell, Chanel Island, just more subtle and not quite as frosty.

Swatch comparisons: Dolce & Gabbana Cinnamon, NARS New Delight, MAC Shimmertime Pigment, MAC Deckchair Pigment, Bobbi Brown Seashell Shimmerwash Eyeshadow

Shimmer Illuminator is a soft neutral nude pink. I'm not sure what to make of this one. I had anticipated a glowy highlighter because in the compact you can see a soft luminous glow. On the skin however it goes on darker and the shimmer is non-detectable. Fair skinned ladies who are looking for a good contour shade for your cheeks, Dolce & Gabbana Shimmer is the answer to your prayers. The grey undertones of most contour shades that make us look ashy are non-existent here. It does have some brownish qualities but they are soft-nude-browns meaning this will go well with your natural skintone. What I swatched on the fingers was very true-to-pan. What I applied on my arm and face was just completely different. Hence my confusion on the name "Shimmer" for this product. I can't say whether or not it will show up on darker skins. This one is hard to tell for me.

Comparisons to MAC, NARS and YSL

Overall thoughts: I fell in love with these the moment I saw them at Beverly Hills. Upon finger-swiping my heart skipped a beat. However, after playing with these at home, I think while these are gorgeous, they are just not must-haves for me. I believe I that my skintone is at that point (slightly tanned) where these blend into my skin so well they barely show up. Granted, they are neutrals intended for a "natural look" I find them a bit too natural for me. They are beautiful and high quality products though. Lighter skin ladies, if you can get to a Dolce & Gabbana counter, you must try Shimmer on your cheeks. Given the fact that it's less brown than NARS Douceur (for some reason this one turns brownish on me), I think many will love Dolce & Gabbana Shimmer and find it a wonderful natural contour. As for Cinnamon, it's so pretty in the compact, nothing would have stopped me from owning this. However, most light pearly shades end up looking the same on me no matter what variation. The shimmer is subtle so those who have found other brands too frosty will like Dolce & Gabbana Cinnamon.

Have you been to Saks lately to see these or try these in person yet?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Coming Soon ... Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2011 Picks

Dolce & Gabbana's Fall 2011 collection has arrived in-store at select Saks stores. Those who did not like the metallics or dramatics we've seen to date this season will be happy to learn a number of brands are going natural and nude for fall. Dolce & Gabbana has released a soft palette of neutrals this season. After seeing a few things at Beverly Hills combined with Saks Houston's recommendations from Nikki, these are my picks: Shimmer #6 Illuminator powder, Almond #77 Shine Lipstick, Praline #102 Lipgloss, Chocolate Nail Lacquer #203 & Cinnamon #80 Eyeshadow Duo. Reviews to come soon.

Also in the fall collection (sorry I don't have all the names or descriptions), are two new eyeliners #17 (golden grass green), #18 (high frost white-gold), #28 Mocha Blush, #115 Cocoa Quad, #11 Berry Lipliner. I do not believe these are available online yet. For more information, I highly recommend you contact Saks Houston (ask for Nikki) for descriptions, recommendations & details. The items she sends via phone orders are always packaged in a beautiful exquisite black box.

To date, Dolce & Gabbana Makeup is exclusive to select Saks Stores in Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Houston, Miami, San Francisco & New York. Check Dolce & Gabbana's website for international locations.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dior Blue Tie for Fall 2011: Blue Tie Palette & Serum de Rouge Crystal

Dior's Fall Collection this year is called Blue Tie with a heavy emphasis on deep rich navy blues for eyes and nails. The look featured for Dior is quite dramatic with an intense smokey eye and soft pink lips. The collection launched several weeks ago and I initially decided to pass on the entire collection. I can't pull off navy on the eyes and I was already smitten with Chanel Blue Satin for the nails. The colors for lips are amazing (there are some amazing pinks and nudes) but did not seem like must-haves for me.

So how did I end up with items from this collection? Well, after I played at the counter and passed, I saw Karla Sugar's Blue Tie swatches and knew I had to go back. The Serum de Rouge formula is among my favorites (I'm not sure why I haven't written about them before) for lipsticks. They are truly moisturizing and make the lips glow and feel hydrated without having too much slip. The colors work well to enhance the lips while making them look completely luscious. I picked out Primrose Crystal 215 and Tea Rose Crystal 455.

The Blue Tie Palette in Smoking Blue 001 was kindly sent to me by Dior (a lovely surprise!). I would not have purchased this on my own since navy looks too sharp on my skin and especially given the reports of sheerness and chalky textures on KarlaSugar, Temptalia and  Beauty Moogle. The packaging is indeed stunning in a heavy silver mirrored compact complete with applicators and a swivel lid to protect the lip product from shadow debris. I was a bit weary of how this would perform, but a few beautiful look reviews gave me hope, especially from The RAEviewer, Lipstick Musings and Tiffany's Makeup Story. Photos first and then my review at the bottom of this post.

My thoughts:

The Blue Tie Palette in Smoking Blue 001 has a quad of smoky colors in sheer matte navy-black, deep denim blue shimmer, deep charcoal with silver flecks and a metallic smoky grey. The lipgloss seems to be a lipstick-lipgloss hybrid and is a sheer petal pink without shimmer. When swatched on the back of my hand, the shadows barely showed up. The texture is indeed rather dry. I layered a primer (UDPP) on the arm and then swatched the shadows as heavily as I could with the sponge tip applicators. As you can see, they are still fairly sheer, especially the top left matte shade. I applied this on the eyes following the tips from the other vlogs and blogs. I was pleasantly surprised to find the color shows up better on the eyes (but only over a  well primed eye.) Still, the product looks so much prettier in the palette. The result for me was a soft smokey eye. If you're scared of over-doing a smokey eye, then sheer-darks are the way to go because it will be virtually impossible for you to mess up your eye makeup. The colors are layerable for a medium-intense smoky eye. Still, the colors aren't really me, I would not have purchased this palette on my own. It's workable, but takes more effort than your average eyeshadow palette to get a decent application.

Primrose Crystal is a nude pink-beige and Tea Rose Crystal is a sheer brighter pink. I picked the most neutral of the options but really all of the colors in this collection are lovely. The colors I picked look sheer when swatched but they work well with your natural lip color to enhance the lips and they do show up. Karla's swatches are a better representation of the true color (in my opinion). These are pricey at $32 but completely worth every penny. I love the twist-up and click feature. Makes these easy to use and non-messy. They are your easy swipe-and-go kind of lipstick and require no extra tweaking.

Did you try anything from the Blue Tie Collection? What were your likes/dislikes?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Edward Bess at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills: Thursday and Friday, July 28th & 29th

I just received news that Edward Bess will be making a personal appearance at the Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills store this Thursday and Friday, July 28th & 29th. He plans to be at the store both days from around noon to 6 pm. You can call the counter for more details and information (310) 550-5900, ask for Leah or Jaime (the lovely girls who manage the counter).

I've reviewed quite a few items (refer to the EB tag at the bottom), but if you want to know what are my top 5 picks for right now, be sure to check out the following:
  1. Sheer Satin Foundation $60 - I wear Beige and unfortunately used mine up before I had time to do a proper review on this. Beige is the equivalent of in between MAC NC30-35 or a Chanel Shell. If you remember Shu Uemura's Nobara Cream foundation - EB's is 100 times better (in my opinion). I've been told it has a built-in primer. I need to replenish as soon as I use up a few of my others.

  2. Daydream Bronzer $48 - This is summer perfection. It's the bronzer of all bronzers which gives the most beautiful natural healthy glow. There is a subtle shimmer in this that adds dimension to the skin. Daydream is the lighter shade which I prefer. It's the bronzer for both bronzer-fanatics (like me) and also perfect for the woman who is scared of bronzer. (See reviews here and also at Cafe Makeup.)

  3. Sunlight All Over Seduction $38 - While this may seem pricey for the tiny compact, a little goes a long way and it gives a luminous natural glow without getting greasy (even though it's cream). I saw this applied on women of different ages and skin/hair colors when at Beverly Hills, it's magical. (See reviews here and also comparisons at Cafe Makeup.)

  4. Compact Rouge in Island Rose $38 - Natural healthy pink flush that's a life-saver in times when I'm super rushed because it has a suitable texture for both lips and cheeks. Works on both warm and cool skintones. Jaime applied this on my friend who is fair with pinkish tones (think Liv Tyler's skin coloring) and she glowed. See my reviews here, but I really recommend you try it out yourself.

  5. Luxury Eye Brush $40 - This review says it all here. It's the most dense of it's kind compared to other brands. Also check out The Non-Blonde's review.
I can't emphasize enough how lovely the EB team is. Edward did an amazing job in picking the most lovely artists and has trained them well. Every woman at the counter looked amazing and glowing whether it was Edward, Jaime or Leah who did their makeup. If you can't make it in the next few days, don't fret. I hear there will be more appearances in the future and I will do my best to keep you updated.

P.S. For those who haven't been to the Beverly Hills Neimans before, if you enter the store from the Jo Malone entrance, walk straight to the back toward the right and you'll see Edward's counter.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Burberry Fall 2011: Nude Rose, Nude Cashmere & Midnight Brown

Burberry has some new items for fall currently available instore at select Nordstrom counters. The items I ordered from Nordstrom San Francisco: Nude Rose No. 25 and Nude Cashmere No. 26 Lipsticks along with Midnight Brown No. 21 Eyeshadow. These are beautiful neutrals that will definitely become weekday staples.

Left is Nude Cashmere, Right is Nude Rose

Nude Cashmere No. 26 (left above) is a cream neutral nude brown. To me this is in the same color family as Edward Bess Sundown. It's very fleshy-nude-taupe kind of shade. For me this is not a flattering shade. It makes me look dead. However, if you're one of those lucky girls who can pull off colors like MAC Spite Lipglass, then you will love this.

Nude Rose No. 25 (right below) is a neutral cream pink-rose-peach. The color changes depending on the angle you look at it. Sometimes it looks like a straight rose, other times it looks more peachy. On the lips, it goes on fairly nude (like the name suggests). I like the smooth creamy coverage.

Midnight Brown No. 21 is a beautiful complex shimmery taupe-brown. This is definitely a must-have in any taupe-lovers collection. Although it's more brown (rather than taupe) there is a beautiful taupeish tone that comes from the shimmer. I believe this is the most complex shadow Burberry has released to date. I absolutely adore it. Even though the shimmer factor is higher than most other Burberry shadows (on par with Rosewood's complexity), the texture is still very smooth and finely milled. The pigment is just amazing with this and you can blend and layer easily to achieve the intensity you want. LOVE.

Swatched 3 ways

Overall ... if you're not digging the metallics or greens and blues from other brands this season, Burberry has a few beautiful neutral options that will be suitable for year round. While Nude Rose isn't the most unique, it is easy to wear - sometimes finding a good nude pink rose can be difficult. This one has just the right mixture of nude and pink. Midnight Brown is the must-have for me. There are so many different ways to wear this shade and it's texture makes it easy to apply.

I haven't pulled any other products to compare so I can't really say how unique/similar these are to existing colors. I do believe regardless of existing dupes that Midnight Brown is a must-have. I recommend you also check out The Ultimate Makeup for her thoughts and swatches :) She's done a few helpful comparisons.

Serge Lutens L'Eau Eau de Parfum

I've been interested in trying Serge Lutens L'Eau ever since I read about it on over a year ago. I've had it on my list to smell every time for ages, yet this fragrance always manages to slip my mind when I am at Barneys - there are simply way too many distractions. This past weekend I finally remembered. It's been reviewed as the perfume for those who do not like perfume. I was instantly intrigued since I am one of those women who doesn't really like perfume. Yet after reading so many mixed reviews I spritzed this with an open mind.

I sprayed it on my wrist and was pleased with the simple, clean and pure scent. At first it seemed a bit too simple, slightly unoriginal and very familiar to something else I've tried before. Still I liked the freshness and the beautiful bottle. I told the sales associate that I would think about it. It wasn't until 3 hours later that I decided to go back and purchase it. Throughout the afternoon I kept sniffing my wrist. I was surprised by the longevity of the perfume, especially given the "lightness" of the scent. Also, after a few hours, I did not have a headache  which was a huge plus (I find many fragrances migraine-inducing). Also, as simple as this scent is, I personally found a bit more depth than "simple clean." Hard for me to describe, but click on over to Nathan Branch's review and it will make complete sense to you.

As I was looking at all the Serge Lutens bottles, smelling them one by one again, the sales associate recommended I also try the Nuit de Cellophane layered over L'Eau. The combination was interesting but a bit sharp for my taste. A bit too floral, but a sharp floral. She kindly made me a sample to take home which I will be trying out more in the upcoming weeks.

From the fragrance reviews I've written you can tell I gravitate towards the simple scents.  I've been getting regular use out of all the Jo Malone Tea Fragrances. This is my first Serge Lutens purchase which I know many say is not typical of his fragrances, but I love it. I've always been drawn to Un Bois Vanille, yet every time I've tried it I find it slightly too heavy for my taste. It smells so much better on my friends. My quest for the perfect vanilla continues. Most are simply too sweet and cloying for my nose. Un Bois Vanille comes so close to the perfect combination of notes for me ... but not quite what I've been looking for.

Do you own any Serge Lutens? What are your recommendations?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bits of Saturday in Beverly Hills

I spent the day in Beverly Hills yesterday. It was beautiful and sunny but extremely crowded with tourists & shoppers. One day was not enough and I only lasted about 4.5 hours before deciding it was time to go home. I had planned to take so many photographs but the streets were crowded and it was impossible to get shots of the store fronts without people walking in front. Note to self: next time go early in the morning and make sure the trip is more than 1 day. The must-sees for me: Neimans, Saks, Barneys and the Chanel Boutique.


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