Sunday, July 29, 2012

NARS American Dream Eyeshadow Palette

This fall NARS has released two new variations of their 6-color eyeshadow palettes. Product Girl gave us a sneak peek from an event she attended in July. I, of course fell in love with the neutral option, American Dream 9976 ($55 for .31 oz/9g, made in Canada) which contains Bellisima, Alhambra, Silk Road, Galapagos, Bali and Tzarine.

When I ordered mine from Saks online I couldn't find a listing of the colors. Knowing that most NARS palettes contain existing shades, I knew there was a chance that I would already own half the colors. Turns out, I already own all of them, but I still find most NARS palettes extremely convenient for ideas and also for travel (my other NARS eyeshadow palettes here and here, still wishing I had purchased last year's Nordstrom Anniversary NARS palette though).

Four of the shades come from some duos and two are available in single format. The shades with descriptions:
  • Bellisima is a pale ivory matte base loaded with tiny gold glitters
  • Alhambra is a warm champagne peachy metallic
  • Silk Road is a soft pinkish shell with pink and gold glitter chunks
  • Galapagos is a dark chocolate brown with tiny gold glitter flecks
  • Bali is a matte cool brown
  • Tzarine is a beautiful complex grey-blue shimmer with gold and silver flecks
More photos and swatches:

Under artificial light:

NARS American Dream has proved to be extremely versatile. I used it all last week and found that the shades fit nicely into any look, for both day and night, and worked well with a variety of shades from my wardrobe (last week I wore shades of black, aubergine, grey, pale mint and navy). I did have a bit of trouble with Silk Road's glitter particles. I already own this duo and most of the time I feel the glitter is conservative enough to wear on the eyes for everyday, however there can be fallout issues. With the warm weather this week, the glitter fell onto my face and would not budge.

When using this palette, I've found the colors work well over Edward Bess's Illuminating Eye Bases. I do like using a liner under the darker shades for added intensity in color, but I find it's not always necessary. I've used 3-4 shades at one time (at most) from the palette.

Two looks I did last week, which I hope will give you an idea on how to coordinate the shades with lip and cheek colors.

Look 1 with peachy cheeks and light pink lips: Armani Blush #2 and NARS Deep Throat Blushes layered, NARS Rosebud Lipliner with Chanel Imaginaire Gloss on top, four eyeshadow shades in Alhambra and Silk Road mixed all over the lid, Bali and Tzarine blended along lash lines smoked upwards.

Look 2 with pinky-bronze cheeks and a sheer glossy bronze gloss: Shadows in Bellisima and Alhambra mixed together, Bali and Galapagos layered (slightly damp) as a liner, NARS Lovejoy blush with a swipe of Desire on top for a healthy glow, NARS Hopi Velvet Gloss Pencil with a bit of Dior Addict gloss on top.

I believe this palette may be available in some stores now, however my Nordstrom associates told me they were not allowed to sell until August 1st. I purchased mine online from, I think it's also available at Barneys online too, it should be available at most NARS counters starting this Wedesday August 1st. I'm fairly certain the palette is limited-edition, but I'm not 100% sure.

Have you seen or tried NARS American Dream? Do you already own most of the shades? I personally love it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

NARS Multiple Comparisons: Luxor, Undress Me and Copacabana

This season, there is a new NARS Multiple this fall called Undress Me ($39). When I saw previews I wondered how it would compare to Luxor, another soft pale pink shimmer. Several bloggers kindly e-mailed me their thoughts after testing. I was warned about the glitter, yet when I saw this at the counter this past week, I could not resist. The official description by NARS for Undress me is a "ballerina pink with silver shimmer." Like others have described, the shimmer is actually micro-glitter. It's not the easiest to pull off with ease for everyday. The texture with the glitter is a bit chunkier and I cannot simply swipe and blend on the cheeks like I do with other NARS Multiples. After experimenting a bit I found Undress Me worked best for me when dabbing and blending lightly with fingers on top of another cream blush. It is glitzier than I am used to, but still something I believe I can wear for going out. I will need to experiment more. I highly recommend checking out the reviews from Scrangie and Product-Girl.

So how does it compare to Luxor and Copacabana? These are my thoughts:

Luxor is paler and sheerer, but gives a more natural luminous glow. The shimmer is very fine making this more glowy rather than frosty/shimmer.

Undress Me is the darkest nude-pink of all three. The base is easy to blend and on my skin it looks very nude with only a slight hint of pink. I personally would love this as a nail polish (reminiscent of Chanel's Pink Satin nail polish from many years ago).

Copacabana is the palest and most frosty on my skin. On my olive skin it gives a sharper contrast since it's so pale. This is a classic shade that's great for highlighting. It also makes a nice eyeshadow base (although I prefer St. Barts since it suits my olive/medium skin better).

Under artificial light: 

 Swatched on bare skin, straight from the tube:

A blurry swatch picture, but here you can see the glitter particles in Undress Me:

A few more comparisons (Le Metier Mystique is similar on me, but more pink and more dewy and also minus the glitter):

I hope these comparisons help. Did you try Undress Me Multiple? Thoughts? How are you using it?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Davines OI/OIL Absolute Beautifying Potion

I recently discovered a new product called Davines OI/OIL Absolute Beautifying Potion at my local salon. Normally Phyto products are used by my stylist for shampoo, conditioning, treating and styling, but this time several different items were used. The product that caught my attention was the Davines OI/Oil mainly because of the scent (mixture of soft vanilla, freshness and powder) in which two pumps were used to coat my damp just-cut hair before blow drying. The OI/Oil is a multi-purpose styling treatment that can be used on both damp and dry hair. It comes in a small pump bottle (135 ml/4.56 fl oz). I can't recall the retail price, but I believe it was around $36-39 US.

Davines is a new brand to me. In researching a bit about the company, I found out they were founded in 1983 in Italy and began as a research lab for high-end hair and skin care products. You can find more information about their philosophy on

A bit of background on my haircare: When it comes to haircare, I'm low-to-medium maintenance. I have thick hair that has a slight natural wave that frizzes without blow-drying or straightening (which I usually do both almost every day). I don't color treat my hair and usually get it cut 3 times a year. My staple products include: my Super Solano hairdryer, HAI ceramic flat iron, Phyto's Phytojoba Shampoo, Phyto 7 Cream, Neutrogena Body Wash (yes, as shampoo), and occasionally various Pantene shampoos. I've used a number of Frederic Fekkai and Kiehl's hair products in past years, but prefer Phyto. There is one photo I've posted of my hair from a Dry Bar visit (here) but this might help give you an idea of my hair type.

This is my first experience with a styling oil. I've use other styling sprays and conditioners before but never an oil. I was really surprised that this was able to deliver a sleek soft shine. I personally have used this for a few weeks on damp hair before blow drying. One pump is sufficient to cover most of my shoulder-length hair. A little goes a long way and I use this at most every other day (usually every other other day). It leaves the hair feeling soft and smooth and also works wonders to detangle hair after it is washed. I find it keeps the hair looking nice all day without getting a greasy or heavy look/feel. I do find that you definitely need to wash your hair at the end of the day though when using this (especially in the summer months). The ingredients:

I found this YouTube tutorial very helpful: Tutorial OI/OIL by Davines with Angelo Seminara.

Since purchasing this, I've stopped using all other styling creams (even my Phyto 7). I do think everyday use will be a bit too heavy for me but it works wonders when used sparingly. Given my love for this new discovery, I'm anxious to try more products from Davines. Since I'm new to the brand I'm not sure where this item is carried online. I noticed carries a few select Davines products. You can try using the Davines US Salon Locator to find a salon near you that carries this too.

Have you tried anything from Davines? Any recommendations or thoughts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Loving Right Now

Right now, I'm loving ...
  • Giorgio Armani's newest Eyes to Kill Intense shadows, my top three this moment are #24, 27 and 28, they really stay put (reviewed and swatched last week here)
  • Chanel's Concealer Brush #10 for cream shadows, I find this brush works really well with the Armani shadows
  • NARS Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara has made my top picks list multiple times this year, it thickens, holds curl, defines and doesn't smudge
  • Frédéric Malle En Passant trio from Barneys New York in Beverly Hills, a perfect light summer scent, (reviewed here)
  • Chanel Le Vernis shades in Frenzy (here), Delight (here) and Paradoxal (here)
  • Edward Bess's Deep Shine Lipgloss in First Kiss, the perfect healthy pink (here)
  • Bobbi Brown Pink Sunset Shimmer Lipgloss from the new Twilight collection, sheer but shiny, reminds me a bit of the older discontinued Rose Gold Shimmer Lip Gloss (I don't have it swatched but Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog has the entire collection swatched here)
  • Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Fetiche is a nice healthy but soft pink (here)
  • MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Highlighter in Light Year gives a beautiful angelic glow when dusted with a fluffy brush (I don't have this swatched, but love the feature on Temptalia)
  • Davines OI/OIL Absolute beautifying potion, a more detailed review to come soon, but I discovered this recently and love love love this, I use it either before I blow dry or after as a finishing product (in the meantime you can read more about this on their website which also has a salon locator for where to purchase)


What are you loving right now?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Burberry Beauty Light Glow Natural Blushes

This month marks the two year anniversary since Burberry launched their Beauty Line at select Nordstrom counters. To celebrate, Nordstrom is offering a limited-edition set of Lip Glows featuring the top 3 sellers for their Anniversary Sale this year in Rosewood, Blush and Nude Beige. The glosses are all full-sized and will retail for $65. In addition, Nordstrom San Francisco is offering a special gift with a $125 purchase which includes a black Burberry cosmetic bag, mirrored compact, mini lipstick and mini Body fragrance (see the details and photos on Cafe Makeup). You can ask for Adina at the Burberry Counter at Nordstrom San Francisco (415) 243-8500 ext. 1422.

Those who are fortunate enough to have visited a Burberry Beauty counter in person know first hand that everything in the line is of extremely high quality. The products are very well made and the packaging is heavy-weight and sturdy. The blushes, lip colors and glosses are lightly scented with a soft floral scent, but it's something I find subtle for my sensitive nose. I've reviewed a number of Burberry items before, but since the brand is still rather exclusive to a select few counters, many have asked for a comprehensive post on all the blushes. Up until this month, I had purchased all except two of the blushes. Burberry kindly sent me two for review.

To recap: Burberry's blushes are called Light Glow Natural Blushes. They retail for $42 each for 7g/0.24 oz. and are made in Italy. Each blush comes in a mirrored square compact and small angled brush. The quality and shape/cut of the bristles is very good the brush is big enough to contour the cheek. I personally prefer a full-sized brush, but the ones in the compact work for when you need a touch-up. Each blush comes with an embossed pattern in the signature Burberry check pattern. The texture of these is finely milled, almost powdery to the touch. When you swipe these with a finger or a brush, the texture looks so lightweight it appears they might apply chalky. Not the case at all.

At first glance, I did a quick pass-over all the blushes. In the compacts they looked so dark and when swatched on the hand it appeared they would be almost drab on the skin. I must advise you to have one of the counter artists apply this on your face. The application of these is absolutely flawless and the colors are easily layerable to control the intensity. These are among my favorites for blushes. I've already hit pan on Earthy and Peony (I'm on my second for each). Most of these have a matte finish on the skin but not flat. There are a couple shades that have some shimmer but it doesn't really show up.

The description of the colors plus other resources (hope this isn't too link-heavy):
  • Russet 01 is a medium reddish burnt orange color with subtle shimmer. I thought this would be an unflattering color and too orangey but it's surprisingly flattering. Much like Chanel Tempting Beige and NARS Lovejoy. This one provides a gorgeous contour. See it here, on Cafe Makeup, on Orange2LA and Temptalia.
  • Rose 03 is a deeper warm pink rose. There is tiny bit of shimmer to this. Again, even though it's on the darker side, it's still very wearable and makes a lovely flushed pink blush. This color is very pigmented so I prefer a looser brush (versus a dense one) to apply. See Rose also featured on Cafe Makeup and crystalis007.
  • Cameo 02 is a dusty classic rose. This was the first blush I tried from the line and thought it would be too dark. I don't recommend this one for oily skin as it did darken slightly. Make sure your cheek area is well powdered (not too heavy but just well-covered) to help the color be truer to what you see in the compact. This one seemed similar to other Bobbi Brown blushes (like Blushed and Desert Rose) but what I love about Burberry Cameo is that even if it did darken a little on some occasions, it doesn't turn muddy or brownish. See Cameo on Temptalia and Blush is the New Black.
  • Peony 04 is a light pink in the compact that looks powdery. On the skin it's more of a neutral medium angelic pink. It looks a lot better on the face than in the compact and swatched, but still it's true to color when applied with a brush (sounds confusing but it's a beautiful shade). This is one of my favorites. It's easy to wear everyday or coordinate with a stronger lip. See this one on Lisa Eldridge, Fruity Lashes and a Touch of Blusher.
  • Blossom 05 is bright coral shimmer. This is a stunning color on the cheeks. Another very pigmented shade but still easy to wear and layer. See this beauty on The Non-Blonde, The Ultimate Makeup and Orange2LA.
  • Tangerine 06 is a soft browned-peach. Not quite what I'd envision "tangerine" to be, but more of a faded peachy brown. This is a gorgeous shade on fairer skintones but is still dark enough for medium-tan skintones. I think it's particularly stunning on Liz at Cafe Makeup and Christine from Temptalia. It's a classic.
  • Earthy 07 is a matte taupe. When I first saw it I found it looked like death. On the skin it works wonderfully as a contour. Some might find it wears better when layered with a warmer color (such as Russet, Tangerine or Blossom). I think adding pinks personally makes it look chalky and more grey. Adding something with warmth creates a natural contour. Some have told me they use this as an eyeshadow, I personally haven't tried it that way though. See the natural contours on Messy Wands, comparisons on Cafe Makeup and also on a look at Orange2LA.
  • Misty 08 light powder blue pink. It's very similar to Peony, just a few shades lighter and more blue-based. I prefer Peony only because I have medium-toned skin. You can see it definitely shows up on Delicate Hummingbird. On Makeup and Beauty Blog it's more subtle. For me, I'm somewhere in between.


I personally really like Burberry Beauty blushes. Yes, there are many other brands that offer similar neutrals, but I like the texture of these blushes and the fact that they don't turn muddy or brownish on my skin (like some neutrals can like MAC Prism/Cubic, Bobbi Brown Tawny/Blushed/Sand Pink etc.). $42 is steep for a blush but Burberry has made these very high quality and well worth the price in my opinion. Burberry Beauty can be found at select Nordstrom counters and also at a few Saks stores. It's also available online at both retailers. Note that appears to only offer a few of the shades. This appears to be a glitch. My suggestion would be to order through a counter to take advantage of the gift with purchase offerings.

Those who want to shop the sale and take advantage of the gift, click on the Burberry tag below to search for prior Burberry reviews. Nude-pink lip lovers will find a diverse range of neutral lipsticks in the line. My personal top ten picks (all featured on this blog):

Peony Blush, Russet Blush, Blossom Blush
Cameo Pink Lip Stick, Rosewood Lipstick
Nude Beige Lip Gloss, Blush Lip Gloss
Rosewood Eyeshadow, Midnight Brown Eyeshadow, Pale Barely Eyeshadow

Have you tried any Burberry Beauty blushes? Thoughts? Favorites? For those who have tried other things in the line, what are the items you love?

Russet, Peony, Blossom, Tangerine, Earthy and Misty were all purchased by me.
Two shades in Rose and Cameo were provided for review.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense - Aqua Collection Summer 2012

This summer Giorgio Armani has released a few mini collections focusing on lips and eyes. The new Gloss d'Armani shades from the Skin Lacquers Collection was featured last month here. The latest release is their Eyes to Kill Aqua collection featuring six new Eyes to Kill Intense shades, waterproof mascara and eyeliners. I ordered all six of the Eyes to Kill Intense shades from Saks sight unseen ($32 each for 4g/0.14 oz, all listed as limited edition, made in France). The colors looked amazing online and I am happy to report these indeed are stunners. The newest shades are #24, #25, #26, #27, #28 and #29. Some sources have actual names for these. For Armani, I always reference the numbers since the names are rarely printed on the box or packaging for shadows or lipsticks or glosses. Here is the lineup from Saks online and then one of my photos below. I have to give the thumbs up to Armani and Saks for improving their online swatches for these.

I've reviewed the Eyes to Kill Intense formula before, but to recap for those new to these shadows, Armani's Eyes to Kill Intense are a potted hybrid cream/powder eyeshadow. The texture is spongy and almost-cream like but not quite. They are indeed intense in pigment and sparkle. Most contain a complex blend of colors almost like a kaleidoscope making them multidimensional. I like to think of them as a pumped up version of MAC's MSFs but for the eyes and in a cream formula. Armani boasts that these are long-wearing shadows with 24 hour lasting power. I have never worn any type of makeup for 24 hours straight, but I do find the lasting power to be stronger than the typical shadow. If I don't touch my eyes at all during the course of a regular day, I find that they last without fading.

The formulas are easy to blend and layer under and over shadows. I do find layering a powder over these will sometimes make the Armani cream shadow fade a bit. If you want to layer over these but still want to maintain the sparkle intensity, I recommend you pat. These aren't emollient enough for me to be a base though.

Compared to Chanel's Illusion d'Ombres, Armani's Eye to Kill Intense last longer and have a less bouncy feel in texture. Although some are more sparkly, I find Armani's easier to wear and pull off for everyday or for evening. Now onto the colors:

#24 is a blackened gold sparkle. It's beautiful for a smokey liner or smokey eye. What I love about these is that they the pigment is easy to control by layering.

#25 is another black-gold sparkle but with more of a lighter khaki base. On me it pulls slightly olive because of the gold tones.

#26 is a beautiful warm gold. Some of you may wonder how close this is to #5, #6 and #15. It's close but slightly less khaki and more golden/warm. I'll show a few comparisons below.

#27 is a complex silver-taupe-red sparkle. I expected a silvery-taupe but mixed together it pulls more purple on my skin due to the red metallic streaks.

#28 is a gorgeous gold with burgandy/purple blend. It's what I wanted NARS Kuala Lumpur to look like on me (which was way too warm/red). This has just the right amount of copper and burgandy blend to work for me.

#29 is a pale frosted pink-white pearl. I would say if you have either #8 or #9, this might be too similar to justify owning for you. I do find it's brighter and whiter (even with the pink veins) so it's a bit more contrasted on my skin (especially with a tan). This one and #28 arrived a bit cracked/separated from the container. If you search other reviews you will see the packaging comes with a black insert which you can use to press down the product. I used those to try and press down the shadows and fix the cracks a bit.

Now swatching these will definitely vary depending on what kind of brush or how much pressure you use. I've swatched these a few different ways and under different lighting to show the complexity. Messy Wands has swatched these on her skin (which I believe is lighter than mine), definitely check out her blog to see how they look on her.

Swatch set #1 on the arm:

Swatch set #2 at an angle so you can see the sparkles shine in the sun:

Swatch set #3, bigger swatches blended:

These were all swatched without a base and with a variety of cream shadow brushes (from MAC, Bobbi Brown and Becca). Note that while these look uber-frosty and metallic, they are wearable on the eyes without being too frosty. At least on me. I only had time to swatch a few comparisons to other Armani shades, sorry my schedule can't accommodate more comparisons right now. I do find these relatively unique compared to the existing Armani lineup. Two views below.

Overall a huge thumbs up. I do think #24 and #25 are very similar and you definitely don't need both. I prefer #24 because it's darker and more intense. Have you checked out the new Armani Eyes to Kill Intense shades yet? Thoughts? Did you pick anything up?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chanel Caprice #67 and Troublant #68 Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss - Fall 2012

This post finalizes the Chanel Fall 2012 roundup for me. The last two items are Chanel's newest shades in the Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss formula: Caprice #67 a delicate soft pink shimmer and Troublant #68 a gorgeous plum brown pink shimmer ($32 each). The Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss formula was introduced in August of 2010. I often refer back to Cafe Makeup's summary report and Karla Sugar's swatch lineup for reference on colors, reviews and comparisons. (I highly recommend you read their reviews on the formula, lasting power, texture etc. they are both extremely helpful!)

The formula of the Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss was designed to be a pigmented ultra-shiny but long-lasting type of gloss. They indeed are glossy without being too sticky. The formula is thick enough and has a rich shine that lasts quite long on the lips without bleeding. It's one of the few gloss formulas that doesn't require a lipliner to help the color stay within the lip lines. Past releases have brought a diverse range of pinks and reds and corals. The colors released this season are on the more natural subdued side.

Caprice #67 is a soft light pink shimmer. It goes on fairly light on my lips. It's still visible but very soft. Troublant #68 is a soft brown plum pink shimmer. The color is fairly natural on my lips but very pretty and easy to wear. If I had to pick one, it would definitely be Troublant.

More close up photos and swatches:

I found both to be good go-with-anything type of colors. They are on the more natural side for my skintone right now. I think fairer ladies will find these show up better on them. Troublant is a must-have for me. I'm not so sure about Caprice mainly because it is just so natural looking on me.

Now that I've had a chance to play for a few weeks, my top picks:
  • Frenzy Le Vernis
  • Vertigo Le Vernis
  • Troublant Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss
  • Complice Eye Shadow
  • Rose Initiale Blush and the Fall Highlighter are tied
By now I hope everyone has had a chance to go to the Chanel counter to play with the fall colors. What did everyone come home with? Or order? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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