Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chanel Foundation Brush #6


Chanel is currently revamping their US brushes and the first new one to be released is the #6 Foundation Brush ($45). Many thanks to Cafe Makeup who let me know this was released with the new foundation (the brush was not on the Nordstrom display and without her, I would not have realized this was out). The brush has a sleek and sophisticated look with a matte black handle and silver embossed lettering. I've tested the new one for about a week with different liquid foundations and find it performs very well to evenly blend the foundation on the face. With all foundation brushes, I find a bit of streaking because of the bristles. I typically prefer a sponge, but when I do use a brush, I always end up smoothing out my face with fingers or a sponge. This one seems to work better for me than most others because the bristles are more naturally tapered.

Here are a few closeups of the new Foundation Brush #6, the handle has a beautiful black matte finish which contrasts nicely to the silver lettering:



Compared to the original one #16, the new #6 is made of different bristles, is slightly shorter in overall length, has shorter bristles and is slightly chubbier in depth. Both the original and new versions are made in China. To me the performance is very similar but I prefer the look of the new one. It just looks cleaner and more professional. Here is the original compared to the new:





Here is the new Chanel compared to a few other brands including Armani, Prescriptives and MAC:


The other brands have worked well for me in past years. The oldest one I own is the Prescriptives Foundation brush which has held up for me since my high school days. All the ones I've tried have worked well, I have no complaints, but the new Chanel #6 definitely has the best design and at $45 seems  very reasonably priced (unlike their eyelash curler). Definitely worth checking out if you're near a Chanel counter. I'm testing out the new Perfection Lumiere and so far love it but need a few more days of use to provide a thorough review.

Have you checked out the new Chanel foundation brush? Do you own the original? What are your thoughts comparing the two?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder


Koh Gen Do's Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder ($42 for 0.42 oz/12 g) comes in one shade: a light beige with a finely milled pearl finish. It's not exactly a translucent powder but the finish is sheer and the color disappears once applied very much like a translucent powder. The pearl particles give a soft glowy look to the skin and while the shimmer is visible, it's not over the top. The finish is not quite as glowy as Chanel's Poudre Douce - Soft Pressed Powder, but the concept is similar. I would say this powder is most similar to Armani's Microfil Loose Powder with the shimmer particles being the same size. This is a beautiful setting powder but the sheerness means that it won't necessarily even out the skin, but rather set your foundation and add a subtle glow.


The Koh Gen Go powder comes with a puff but I prefer to apply with a loose fluffy brush over a creamy foundation. In the past few months, I've tried this with a number of foundations and tinted moisturizers and it works with  other brands including Chanel, Guerlain, Laura Mercier. I like that it doesn't alter the color of your foundation but rather sets it. I've used Laura Mercier's Translucent Powder for years and while I love it, I find sometimes it can look a bit chalky on my skin when I am very tanned.

Here is the Aqua foundation and Powder photographed together for a size comparison. I like that the container is large enough to easily fit a large fluffy powder brush in the top.


I've compared the Koh Gen Do powder to a few others. The color is different from others that I own but still sheer enough to work on a wide range of skintones due to the sheerness. Below is Laura Mercier's Translucent, Armani Micro-fil #2, Chanel's Naturel 30 Translucent 2.


Here it's heavily swatched on my arm although they disappear when applied with a brush or puff on the face.


Overall the Koh Gen Do is a lovely loose powder. I personally prefer something with a bit more coverage when it comes to powders and I tend to prefer the pressed kind. I will even set my liquid foundations with powder foundations even though most might find it to be a bit of an overkill. I like my liquid foundations sheer to medium and my powders to be a bit heavier. To date, I think the Chanel and Armani are my two favorite loose powders still, but the limited shade selection make them difficult for many. I think the Koh Gen Do is more universally flattering for a wider range of skintones and adds a pretty glow. Will I ever repurchase? At this time I'm not sure, the tub is so large it seems like it will take quite a while for me to use up. I go through compact powders and powder foundations at least 5 times faster than I do for loose powders.

Have you tried Koh Gen Do's powders? What are your thoughts? Any favorites?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in OC-2


In the past few months I've been testing out new skincare, powders and foundations from Koh Gen Do, Le Metier de Beaute, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana. Even though I've been getting regular use out of Guerlain's Lingerie de Peau, Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua and Chanel's discontinued Teint Innocence, I've still been on the hunt for new foundations to try. I'll be writing a review on each item in the upcoming weeks. First up is my experience with Koh Gen Do's Aqua Foundation in OC-2 ($62) from Barneys New York.
 
I first read about Koh Gen Do's Aqua Foundation ($62 for 1.01 fl oz.30 ml) on Into The Gloss earlier this year and noticed it was featured again on her Top Shelf series this past July. When she described it as "foundation heaven" I knew I had to try it. I've heard nothing but raves about Koh Gen Do and having fallen in love with their face masks, cleansing water and natural light loose powder, I had the Koh Gen Do foundation on my list of things to check out.

Back in August, I was in LA and stopped by Barneys Beverly Hills. The Koh Gen Do artists recommended that I try the Aqua Foundation for my skin type (normal, fairly clear, slightly oily in the T-zone in warm weather, but overall normal). They swatched OC-1 and OC-2 on my jawline and after seeing them side-by-side I was shocked at the difference. There's quite a big jump in between shades. OC-1 was definitely too pale, OC-2 looked like it would be too dark but on the skin blended well with my skin. Ideally I would have liked something right in between the two colors and at $62 a bottle I wasn't really keen on buying both to custom mix my own shade. OC-2 was a pretty good match and with the combination of the Moisture Milk, Aqua Foundation and Natural Finish Powder, my skin never looked so naturally flawless I was sold.



The Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation is a liquid formula and comes with a pump. It's rather pricey at $62 but the finish is naturally beautiful. It evens out the skin and has a slightly dewy finish but it's not too dewy like some tinted moisturizers. If you read the details on Koh Gen Do you will learn that they designed this with something they call "the golden ratio" which consists of 45% water, 35% emollients, and 20% powder to balance perfectly with one's skin. The finish is sheer to medium and slightly transparent so the skin shows through. It's not a pearly finish foundation but not completely matte either. I would say it's somewhere in between the texture and finish of Chanel's Teint Innocence Liquid foundation and Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer.

Here is OC-2 pumped next to Edward Bess Beige, Guerlain Lingerie de Peau 03 and Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B20 and B30. I was initially matched to Chanel B20 but is now clearly too light for me (will have to save for winter). I did not blend these out because I could not photograph them fast enough before the liquids dried and then darkened on my arm. Two things to take into consideration: 1) the inside of my arm is lighter than my face and 2) my skin is weird because so many different colors of foundation work on my skin (as long as it doesn't have a pinkish base).


Here on the back of my hand (which is closer in color to my face) you can see it blends out to disappear but give a dewy finish. This was the sharpest photograph I could get while still showing the slight sheen. Clearer photos make the hand look like it's nothing but bare skin.


I've been using this foundation for a month and a half now and have overall been pleased with the results.  No irritation, no break outs, no streaking or darkening. It lasts all day but I found that it works best when layered of the Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk (see more on Kohgendocosmetics.com). I received a small sample that lasted me about 1 week of daily morning use. It's an amazing product and made my skin look and feel like baby's skin. I haven't caved to purchase this since I just bought a cream from Le Metier but it is definitely on my watch list for the future.

For use right now I apply over Le Metier's day cream and then use Cle de Peau's concealer in Beige on areas that need more coverage. Sometimes I will finish with Koh Gen Do's powder, other days I will finish with Chanel or D&G's powder foundations.

My only wish is that the foundation came in more shades. Since it is a sheer formula, the colors are slightly more forgiving if you can't find an exact match. Since I am a bit more tanned right now OC-2 works well for me, but just barely. If I become even 1/2 a shade lighter I know this will be too dark, yet OC-1 will definitely be too pale. For more information, a list of ingredients and list of shades, I highly recommend you check out Koh Gen Do's Website. They have detailed diagrams and descriptions of each product (all of which I find extremely informative, useful and non-gimmicky).

Have you tried Koh Gen Do's foundations? Which formula did you try and what were your thoughts?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tom Ford Lip Color: Indian Rose 04


Tom Ford's Indian Rose is a natural pinky rose with a slight shimmer. The color is darker than Pink Dusk, but still very natural in color. It has a beautiful full coverage and doesn't darken or turn brownish like some neutral pink roses can. It leans slightly towards a cooler pink but I find it to be mostly neutral. The color is beautiful with rich full coverage. The shimmer in Indian Rose doesn't show up on my lips but helps give it depth to prevent it from looking flat.




Below are a few comparisons to Bobbi Brown Heather Pink (which is more brown/plum), Burberry English Rose (which is lighter and more mauve), and Edward Bess Forever Yours (which is a darker plum).




Tom Ford Lip Color: Spanish Pink 01


Tom Ford's Spanish Pink 01 Lip Color is a richly pigmented light peachy-pink with a very slight hint of sparkle. On my lips it pulls more peachy than pink and the shimmer is not detectable. The lipstick goes on very smoothly blending naturally with your lips with full coverage. There is a soft delicious vanilla scent. Initially I was worried it would be too pale but this one has enough color to not wash me out. (For skintone reference, right now I'm Chanel Beige 30 in Vitalumiere Aqua and testing out the new Beige 30 Perfection Lumiere and Dolce & Gabbana's Creamy Foundation in #144 Bronze.) Spanish Pink was previously featured and swatched with a number of other shades from Tom Ford earlier this month here (shown next to Pink Dusk, Sable Smoke, Nude Vanille etc.). Below are a few more close-ups and swatches.




Per request, here are a few comparisons. Tom Ford's Spanish Pink is a peachy-pink hybrid. Burberry's Delicate Rose is a pink version. Burberry Cameo is very similar but lighter, sheerer with slightly less pink. Chanel Chintz is the most coral in undertone.



Overall I love this color. It's light, brightening, easy to wear and versatile. Lasting power of Tom Ford Lipsticks is a bit better than the average lipstick in my experience. The pigment is amazing, texture is to die for, and the scent is absolutely delicious. Are these really worth $48? This is a tough one. I'm inclined to say no lipstick is worth more than $30 even though many have reached the $32 level, prices are still increasing and I've been sucked into the hype. The formula of the Tom Ford is amazing and the lipsticks almost melt into the lip so I feel the purchase was worthwhile, but I'm still grumbling at the cost.

*Update* Also check it out on Tali at The Gloss Goss (so happy she's back!!).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Eyelash Curlers: Trish McEvoy, Chanel and Le Métier de Beauté


The first eyelash curler I ever tried was from Revlon back when I was in high school and unfortunately it didn't do much for my straight lashes. I was scared that I would accidentally pull out all my lashes so I didn't try using one again until my college days when I had a Trish McEvoy makeup lesson at Saks. My first high-end eyelash curler purchase was was from Trish McEvoy and I've loved it ever since. I've since tried curlers from Armani, Chanel, Le Métier de Beauté, Shiseido and Shu Uemura (original and the individual). I would say all are good, but my top three favorites include Trish McEvoy, Chanel and Le Métier de Beauté.

What I look for in an eyelash curler: I focus on the curve (how it fits my eye) and the density of the pads (I prefer something on the softer side but not too soft). I'm Asian without a crease in my lids. There is a curve to my lids but my eyes are not deepset. My lashes are very straight which makes them appear shorter than they are. I found Armani's pad too stiff (making it difficult to get a good curl), Shiseido's shape didn't work with my eyeshape and pinched in the corners, Shu Uemura's was good, I have no complaints yet I think there are better options. The individual eyelash curler was good in concept but impossible for me to hold in my fingers.

It can be a challenge to see how these all compare unless you find a retailer that carries all the brands. Right now, there are various Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom stores that should carry most of the above brands. For the three that I do love, here's the breakdown and photos first, then detailed thoughts below:
  • Trish McEvoy wins for all around function, price and design (for me)
  • Le Métier de Beauté wins for having the most lightweight easy to use design with the softest pad
  • Chanel wins for aesthetics and has the thickest pad





Trish McEvoy's Eyelash Curler ($18) is a silver colored curler that comes with 1 replaceable pad and is made in Japan. If this came with refills available for purchase separately this would be holy grail material. The Trish Curler has the best feel in my hands. I have small fingers and while most eyelash curlers are virtually identical in shape and size, I sometimes find it difficult to hold some because of the angles or size of the handles. The pad has a medium density which I find ideal for getting a consistently even curl on both eyes by applying slight pressure. The pads last quite a long time and clean easily. I've repurchased numerous times. I find the Trish method of application to be helpful (although it might seem like common sense to most): "Position the Eyelash Curler as close to the base of the lashes as possible. Gently squeeze for 10 seconds, then 'walk' the curler out along the length of the lashes, squeezing as you go." I typically only squeeze for 4 seconds before releasing and moving the curler. I find curling the lashes in 3 sections helps get an even natural curl.

Chanel's Eyelash Curler ($34) is one of the newest on the market for the US. It was released in Asia a year ago, is made in Japan, and comes with 2 replacement pads. The Chanel curler comes in all black and out of all the curlers I've seen, the Chanel has the sleekest most sophisticated look. It has a very similar feel to the Trish McEvoy with an almost identical curve. The Chanel pad is thicker and stiffer but not too stiff. The curler gives a very good curl. For me, there is just one problem. Having black lashes with a black eyelash curler makes it very difficult to see exactly what I'm curling. The dark color of my lashes blends with the curler no matter what lighting I use. This requires a magnified mirror for me to see what I'm curling. This isn't too big of a problem though - if I start at the base of my lashes, I can see where to place the first curl and then work my way to the tips in three evenly spaced squeezes. Still I wouldn't use this if I were in a rush, the Trish and Le Métier work just as well and I don't have to look super closely to know what I'm curling.

Le Métier de Beauté's Eyelash Curler ($18) is finally available for sale at Neiman Marcus stores. For a while it was only available as a gift with purchase at various locations. This curler has the most curve out of all three that I'm reviewing in this post. It also has the softest most cushy pad I've ever tried. This was something I was not used to when I first tried it. Being softer I found that my first attempts gave me an uneven curl on both eyes as I was not able to apply consistent pressure. I was able to achieve a nice curl easier than ones with stiffer pads, but the result was uneven. After a bit of practice I was able to get used to the softer pad and have fallen in love since. A softer pad means that this curler doesn't last quite as long. I believe a replacement pad is included.

My general eyelash curler thoughts: I've been told that one needs to replace pads every 3-4 months and the actual curler every 9 months. I find the pads do wear down but am not always good about replacing consistently. I do clean after every 2-3 uses with makeup remover. For the actual curler, I'm equally bad about replacing. I've been told that the alignment of the hinges goes out after use which is why replacement pads are not sold for a number of brands. I always thought this seemed like a marketing scheme, but have noticed that replacing the curlers about once a year does make a difference when you compare a used one to a brand new one.

For more resources, tips and insights, I recommend these:
  • The Non-Blonde's review on Le Métier de Beauté's Eyelash Curler
  • Café Makeup's beautiful review and comparisons on Chanel and Le Metier (these are a must-read!)
  • Thoughts on replacement frequency, cleaning tips, brand comparisons see the Q&A at Sephora.com

What's your favorite eyelash curler?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Burberry Sheer Eye Shadows: Pearl White, Pearl Grey & Lavender


I stopped by the Burberry counter at Nordstrom San Francisco last month and was helped by the most wonderful, artistic & knowledgeable staff. After chatting a few minutes about my past experiences with Burberry, the artist quickly urged me to try something new and non-neutral. He mentioned most women gravitate towards the safe colors of Trench, Gold Trench, Rosewood and Taupe Brown. His observation was that while these colors are good, he felt there were better colors in the Burberry Beauty Range to take a woman's looks from good to great. I eagerly listened. As I swiped my finger in Pearl Grey No. 17 to see how the color blended on my hand, he picked up Pearl White and Lavender to show me how I could mix and match these two shades with my existing products by blending and layering on the back of his hand. The three new shades I ended up with included: Pearl White No. 01, Pearl Grey No. 17 and Lavender No. 14 (all $29 for 2.5 g/ 0.088 oz).


Pearl White No. 01 is a pure pearly white. It has scared me every other time I've been to the Burberry counter so I never gave it a chance or even a swipe. I thought it would be too pale, too chalky and just not me. However, Vaugh, the artist at Burberry, showed me on his hand how Pearl White is not like most other white shadows. Its finely milled texture and beautiful pearly quality gives a beautiful sheen to the skin. It looks amazing when combined with Rosewood on the eyes either as a soft blending shade, a highlighter on the brow, or for a subtle highlight to the inner corners of the eyes. I particularly enjoyed The Non-Blonde's lovely review and Café Makeup wrote about this shade in a recent Burberry Makeover which will give you ideas on how to coordinate this color. Although Trench is still my favorite nude shade for a base and Porcelain is my favorite for an all over neutral wash, Pearl White is going to become a staple in my stash.


Pearl Grey No. 17 is something I've had my eye on for quite some time but never pulled the trigger to purchase. Most medium grey shimmers can look ashy on my olive skin. Most of us first saw Pearl Grey featured on Lisa Eldridge's Burberry Beauty Review Video (eyeshadow application starts around 4:12), however given her amazing makeup skills, beautiful features and fair skintone, I wasn't sure this color would be as pretty on me. This color is a fairly sheer grey shimmer with a loose fluffy brush. I found the best application and finish for me was to pack it on with a dense MAC 242 brush directly over a cream base (like Laura Mercier's Satinée Crème Eye Colour or Metallic Crème Eye Colour). It layers well over Rosewood, but if you layer it on top of too much powder, the color loses its luster and quickly looks dull. Once the color is on the eye, I think it best to not touch or blend too much or else the color/sparkle disappears quickly. It's fairly cool which is hard for me to pull off easily for everyday, although it makes a lovely going out/evening color.


Lavender No. 14 swatched so beautifully on the back of the hand. Unfortunately, the application to the eyes did not translate quite as well. On the fingers and hands you see a gorgeous blue-purple with a slight lavender periwinkle sheen. It's quite lovely. When applied with a brush, the shimmer disappears and the color looks a bit flat. I tried this numerous ways with different brushes and bases and have resorted to just applying as a liner with a damp brush. Yes, I can create a smokey eye by layering this with a slightly damp smudge brush, but for deeper vibrant colors like this, I want something with high impact and pigment that is easy to blend (similar to what Midnight Brown is). With a bit of work, this color looks amazing, but I find it too high maintenance to love it. I know that Burberry shades are meant to have a subtle glow and finish but I was still slightly disappointed with this color. If you've had better luck with the application please share!


Here are all three swatched, two variations of lighting (I wish that Lavender would look as good on the eye the same way it swatches on the arm or hands):



I pulled a few other shades from Burberry (Trench and Rosewood), Le Metier (Thunder) and Armani (Maestro 21) to compare. I didn't really try to look for dupes, but just similar shades.



Overall I'm still very impressed with the quality of Burberry Eyeshadows. To date there are only 2 that I've tried that I did not love (Midnight Black and Lavender).

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Few Dior Mitzah Quint Comparisons


Although Dior's Mitzah Quint is quite basic and very neutral, I had a hard time finding another palette similar. I pulled a few with similar tones but none are dupes. Above shows Dior Endless Shine, Chanel Kaska Beige and Dolce & Gabbana Nude. Unfortunately I did not get swatches of all the palettes today before the sun went down and my camera battery died. I do have Endless Shine swatched to compare for you in decent lighting so you can see the difference in shimmer/finish. Most Dior Quints have at least one high frost color, Iridescent Quints have the majority of the shades frosted. As you can see below Mitzah is satiny and almost matte.


Here is Mitzah at night swatched next to a few other palettes, Chanel Kaska Beige, Dolce & Gabbana Nude and Chanel Variations.


Some might say Mitzah is too basic and lacks luster. It doesn't make the eyes pop or have that intense wow-factor, but it has a kick that gives a beautiful subtle defined eye that can be intensified for a soft-smoky look. I personally love it for everyday. For a bit of an extra shimmer or kick, I'd recommend layering over a more sparkly cream base to add a bit of luster.
 

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