Monday, October 29, 2012

Chanel Holiday 2012 Eyes: Apparence, Nuit-Claire and Harmonie du Soir

I chose three items from the Chanel Holiday collection: Apparence Illusion d'Ombre, Nuit-Claire Eyeshadow Duo and Harmonie du Soir Quadra Eye Shadow.

Apparence Illusion d'Ombre ($36 for 4g/0.14 oz) is a stunning brassy-gold metallic. It's quite sparkly but not too over-the-top when blended on the lids. When swatched on the arms it's quite warm, on the eyes it balances out to appear a bit more neutral, but still warm and golden. The shimmer/sparkle factor is still fairly high but I experienced no fall-out. Like all other Illusion d'Ombres, this has a spongey hybrid gel/cream like texture with bounce. I like to use the applicators for intense pigment, but use a small shadow brush for a sheer wash. For everyday wear at a conservative work office, it's borderline too sparkly to pull off. Blending for a sheer wash and combining this with other shades makes it ok for me, but I probably would save this one for special occasions or any time other than just to work. (That's just me though.)

Nuit-Claire Eyeshadow Duo ($42 for 2.5g/0.09 oz) is a combination of soft classic black satin and champagne shimmer. It's very subtle and natural looking. Those who think it resembles last holiday's Noir-Ivoire are correct. This year's Nuit-Claire is a cooler version with a pinkish champagne compared to last year's duo, but without comparing them side-by-side, they appear almost identical. (Scroll down for the comparison.) The shimmer in the pale champagne side gives a subtle glow to the lids which is really quite lovely. The black is sheer but layerable for a smokey eye. I don't think it's a must-have because the colors are just so basic but if you're looking for something subtle and refined without too much shimmer then this is definitely something you should check out.

Harmonie du Soir ($65 for 4 g/0.14 oz) is a quad in the Regard Signé de Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow formula. It's the same formula as Topkapi with the embossed print texture and rich metallic smooth pigment. I didn't think the colors were a must-have but the formula of these shadows is so good, I caved. The shades include a strong metallic gold neutral, plum-taupe, lilac-pink-mauve and a cool reddish shimmer. The only shade I have issues with is the reddish color, but it adds a nice touch of warmth when layered softly over the gold and plum taupe. To apply, I've taken the gold and lilac mixed softly all over the lid, followed by the taupe-plum 1/2 way up the lid with more emphasis on the outer corners and then finished with a soft pop of the red on top blended. To me it's not an easy combination of colors to apply easily - it takes a lot of blending for me but with a bit of time it works.

Here they are swatched:

Comparisons below to a few other shades:

Out of all three new items for eyes, the only thing I feel is a must-have is the Apparence Illusion d'Ombre simply because I adore neutral gold shimmers, especially for the holiday. The other two items are very pretty, however I'm not quite as smitten with them. (It's like but not love.) I just found Nuit-Claire a bit too basic and the combination of colors in the Harmonie du Soir aren't easy for me to pull off. Still the entire collection has a lovely festive feel that's perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

Chanel Holiday 2012 Picks - Preview

Chanel's full holiday collection has finally arrived at counters near me, here is a preview of the items I picked from the Éclats du Soir de Chanel collection. Reviews and swatches to come soon.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

JINsoon Nail Lacquer - Coquette

Jin Soon Choi has launched her own line of nail polishes with a launch collection of 12 shades ($18 each for 10 ml/0.33 fl oz). I ordered several colors from and so far am impressed with the formula, pigment and color selection (there's more product info including the ingredient list online). The first colors launched appear to all be creams or sheers (no shimmers). As soon as my order arrived I swatched five different shades on one hand (loved each shade). It was hard to pick which one to try for a full manicure first but decided on JINsoon Coquette, a sheer jelly classic red. This one has a sheer formula in which the first coat appears to be a fuschia pink red. Two coats achieves a jelly finish in a vibrant red color. There is a slightly blueish sheen that makes it a cool-red. I compared it to Chanel Pirate and found that the Chanel is more pink/blue-based, while the JINsoon is slightly warmer. To me they have similar finishes - jelly-like formula but both apply smoothly with a rich vibrant red finish.

The nail polishes come in a square-shaped bottle with a pull-off black cap. The brushes have a good length for easy application. The bristles have a good shape with a slightly wide/flat tip making application very easy.

More photos and swatches below:

So far I'm impressed with the lasting power. I'm on day three of Coquette and it's showed no signs of tip wear, chipping or fading yet. In terms of uniqueness this color is pretty standard in terms of the classic red, but I think it's still striking for a killer-red shade. I'm looking forward to trying the other shades very soon. For now, head on over to Messy Wands to see Auspicious and Rhapsody. They look amazing on her.

Have you tried these yet? What were your thoughts?

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Current Skincare Routine

Many have asked me to share my skincare routine. I had plans to write about it earlier in the summer, however just when I was ready to publish the post, my skin decided to act up (about 3 months ago) and certain problem areas would not clear up. I thought it could be attributed to stress or weather changes. I tried a number of different things: I drank more water, changed my eating habits, washed my brushes and pillow cases more frequently etc. After several months of no improvements, I decided it was time for a skincare change. My prior routine consisted of: Clé de Peau Beauté's Gentle Cleansing Foam or Clinique's Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser, La Mer's The Tonic, Clé de Peau Beauté Eye Cream, Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge Day Cream, and Koh Gen Do's Cleansing Water (plus the occasional mask treatment). I suppose my skin became so used to holy-grails that the items became less effective (if that makes sense).
Thanks to the help of my trusted sales associates from various brands, I was given some recommendations and mini sample packets to try. In just a short time, my skin has cleared up and is almost back to it's normal blemish-free state. I also changed my foundation routine. My holy grail loves started to seem a bit heavy (but still amazing).

My current skincare routine is split up into two categories, The Basics and The Extras. I'm not a skincare expert and unfortunately can't elaborate on the benefits of each product, nor do I have the ingredients listing on the items. This is a list of what works for me. I'm hoping others who have tried the same can chime in the comments below. Also check out Makeupalley Product Reviews - this is an excellent resource.

The Basics:
  • Morning Cleanser - Clé de Peau Beauté Gentle Cleansing Foam ($63) is one of my holy grail cleansers, it's a gentle foaming cleanser, a little goes a long way leaving the skin feeling clean but not dry. I've repurchased this numerous times.
  • Night Cleanser - Dior Purifying Foaming Cleanser ($33) was recommended to me by my local Dior artist. The Cle de Peau became less effective for me, so she recommended that I try this one from Dior. I found it to be amazing in terms of really purifying and cleansing the skin. Given the weather changes, I found it to be a bit too stripping for both morning and night, I like to use this one in the afternoon/night because it removes the makeup better.
  • Toner - Giorgio Armani 'Regenessence 3.R' Pre-Regenerative & Retexturizing Lotion ($48) is a gentle toner that works to refresh the skin and noticeably improved my skin texture. I have not purchased this item yet, I received a generously sized sample in one of the Neimans Armani Gift With Purchase sets (they have generously sized skincare samples). So far it's lasted me 3 weeks and counting. I intend on purchasing once it's used up.
  • Moisturizer/Serum - Giorgio Armani 'Luminessence' Bright Regenerator Concentrate ($150) is a brightening concentrated serum. I actually really liked some of the creams by Armani but my Armani artist felt that they would be too heavy for my skin and age (31). He personally said he loved the Luminessence Concentrate and used it under makeup alone (no other moisturizer or creams, other than eye cream). He made a small sample for me which I've been testing. So far I love it. I'm waiting for a gift with purchase event before I buy since it's pricey.
  • Eye Cream - Clé de Peau Beauté Intensive Eye Contour Cream ($250) was gifted to me by Cle de Peau and Neiman Marcus a year ago. I had my doubts about it's effectiveness, but it's everything it says it is. I've tried a number of eye creams (Clinique, NARS, Shiseido, Chanel, Lancome, Dior) but am still at the stage in my life where eye cream isn't a necessity yet. I don't have under-eye wrinkles or creasing (yet). All women told me to start using eye cream in my early 20's so I did occasionally. I never saw any changes, nor did I feel anything different. The Cle de Peau is the first that I've actually seen and felt results. It fully hydrates the eye area and gives a smoothing finish with the moisture. It doesn't dry out and it isn't too greasy. It's the perfect prep for a bit of concealer under the eye because it primes the skin for a more natural look (sometimes concealer can look a bit cakey under the eyes, the CdP helps prevent that). My husband uses this too.
  • Essential Cotton - Shiseido Facial Cotton ($9.50 for 165 squares) is by far the best facial cotton out there. I've tried many other brands and nothing compares for me. The Shiseido is perfectly sized, very soft and gentle and sold at a decent price. They are more expensive than drugstore cotton but well worth every penny.

The Extras:
  • Cleansing Water - Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water ($39) reviewed here is my go-to for removing makeup from the face in the afternoon (before cleansing), it's also perfect for cleaning up eyeshadow-fallout around the eyes.
  • Mask - Koh Gen Do Brightening Moisture Mask ($75) is pricey but lasts a long time. I did a brief feature here before. To recap, this is a great purifying yet moisturizing mask. The Macro Vintage Face Masks are equally amazing, but the Brightening one helps purify while the Macro Vintage moisturizes and hydrates more.
  • Eye Makeup Remover - Chanel Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover ($32) is one of the few eyemakeup removers that really removes all traces of mascara without burning my eyes, Neutrogena's is also awesome but has a slightly more emollient feel.

I hope this helps give you ideas on what works for me. Everyone's skin is different so I can't say these will work for everyone. My skin is normal but sensitive. I try to keep skincare items I use minimal. Most of the testing has to be done over long period to see if it really works. I also usually test only one new thing at a time while keeping the rest of the routine the same to test the effectiveness of that one product (even though sometimes it's a combination of products that may make something work better). Also due to the pricey nature of skincare, I try to spread out my purchases. Most of the items are long-lasting with a little product going a long way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chanel Notorious Ombre Contraste

Chanel Notorious Ombre Contraste - Sculpting Veil for Eyes and Cheeks ($43 for 4g/0.14 oz) is a new limited-edition release from the Contrastes Essentielles Collection. We first saw a glimpse of this back in March as seen on Café Makeup's Chanel Runway Report. It finally arrived on counter just a few weeks ago. I purchased mine from Saks NY, it is available at select Chanel counters and right now on

Chanel Notorious is a multi-purpose contouring product for both eyes and cheeks. The description "mauve-taupe" suits the product perfectly. On me it's more taupe with a hint of mauve-grey. It has a satiny finish - glowy but very subtle on the shimmer factor. The texture is soft and blendable - based on the pan, it doesn't resemble the European/Asian baked formula, but it doesn't quite resemble the US formula either. I suspect since this is more for eyes and cheeks it has a completely different consistency than the Joues Contraste blushes.

Based on the runway previews I expected a pigmented grey that was layerable for a strong contoured effect. It does layer well for a more intense effect, but I found the formula rather sheer. For me, the color didn't show up well on the face - I suspect it's my medium-tan skintone that prevents it from showing up well. I tried a number of techniques with different brushes, no luck. A number of others have shown this to be a success on the face - I suspect they are lighter in skintone than I am.

On the eyes however, I absolutely loved it. Notorious provides a wonderful contour. It's one of those magical shades that is so versatile. It layers well over metallic creams or sheer shimmers, it looks amazing layered with other colors, it's a wonder-product to help blend out harsh edges for a smokey eye. The sheerness and layer-ability helps contour the eye to create a soft gradient. It's a much-needed shade in my collection. In the compact it's the same color as what I envision a space-rock to look like.

I pulled a few other greys and contouring shades to compare: Chanel Furtif, Gris Exquis, Burberry Pearl Grey, Burberry Earthy, MAC Emote and NARS Notorious (discontinued). I found Chanel Notorious to have enough warmth to suit my olive skintone as the perfect contour - other greys tend to be quite a bit more silver/blue-based (which is nice, but more sharply contrasted with my skintone).

Update: I've added one more comparison photo below. Some have commented it resembles Burberry Rosewood. It's in the same family, but I feel quite different. I apologize I don't have time to swatch these but I hope this helps as a reference guide. It's definitely likely there are dupes - in doing a quick search I couldn't find any, but I didn't search for all the possibilities. Below: Burberry Rosewood, Le Metier Corinthian, NARS 413 BLKR, MAC Satin Taupe, MAC Smoke & Diamonds, NARS Ashes to Ashes.

I really like Chanel Notorious. I didn't like it as a blush/contour, but I love it on the eyes. Perhaps it will take more experimenting for it to show up on my face. For reference on other skins, see it swatched on Blondy Candy, Messy Wands, Best Things in Beauty and Indigo-Kir-Royale. As an update, a darker-skinned follower tweeted me an additional look at Notorious on darker skin at Adventures In Makeup.

If you're considering this, I recommend you order soon. It's limited-edition. Did you try or buy Chanel Notorious? What were your thoughts? If you tried it - can you share your skintone too for my other readers below?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Loving Right Now

A heart-felt thank you to each and every one of you for your support, kind e-mails, tweets, comments. I haven't had much time to blog these days but love what I've been reading on others (discovering amazing new ones each week!). First an update on our kitty: he's a two month old ragamuffin (part Siberian), and we named him Calvin. He's already settling in quite well with our two jack russell terriers (matched energy, lol). For those wondering about our other cat, he disappeared back in late July (yes, a total heartbreak, we had him about 6 years). I thought I couldn't possibly replace him - but it was love at first sight when I saw this little white fluff ball in a local pet store window. (On the nails above is NARS Storm Bird.)

Onto beauty related loves ...
  • NARS opened a new store on Melrose, I can't wait to see it in person! For now, amazing photos were posted by others of the grand opening on Twitter and Instagram here, here, here, here, here and here
  • Burberry Beauty is releasing new Eyeshadow Quads next month, see previews on Bella-Shmella and swatches on British Beauty Blogger
  • Edward Bess is also releasing three new stunning Eyeshadow Quads next month, the Bergdorf Blog 5th/58th has some preliminary information
  • Giorgio Armani has revamped their eyeshadow quads (yet again), I fell in love with 2 and 6 (reviews to come soon), Best Things In Beauty has done extensive testing and swatching
  • Guerlain Holiday looks amazing this year, I went for the nail colors only, but the Wulong Meteorites Pressed Powder makes Temptalia's skin glow (I'm tempted)
  • Cafe Makeup posted swatches of all the new Burberry Lip Velvets from Nordstrom San Francisco (great reference)
  • The Non-Blonde has a sneak peek of Laura Mercier's new Illuminating Eye Color
What are you loving right now? (For those who aren't on Twitter, here's a picture I tweeted from yesterday.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Le Métier de Beauté Nouvelle Vague Kaleidoscope

Le Métier de Beauté Nouvelle Vague Kaleidoscope ($95 for 0.56 oz/16gms) has been widely raved about by many. I've been waiting for this kit since August when I saw the press release and previews in the Neiman Marcus book. It finally arrived at Neiman Marcus counters and online. It's a beautiful palette of pinks combined with an intense true black. It does not disappoint and fully lives up to my expectations.

The shades in the palette have names, but they aren't labeled anywhere on the packaging so I will refer to them as layer 1, 2, 3, and 4 but according to Le , the shades are named as follows:
  • Layer 1: Nouvelle, described as a "sheer mink negative" is a soft warm shimmering seashell pink, to my eye this is almost identical to the one in Antiquité Poupée
  • Layer 2: Gamine, described as a "satin pink celluloid", a frosted cool pink
  • Layer 3: Icon, described as a "silky matte Parisian mauve", a lovely mauve-nude satin, the perfect contour shade, but not in the traditional nude or brown
  • Layer 4: Fin, described as a "smoldering black carbon", an intense true black with slight shimmer, definitely the deepest darkest black I own (darker than MAC Carbon, my older Shu Uemuras, Chanel Black Star, Burberry Midnight Black etc.)

The texture is smooth and colors have amazing pigment. The Couches de Couleur layering technique is pure genius with all their kaleidoscopes. This one is no exception. While most press photos showed this kit in the black packaging, mine arrived in silver from Neimans. It appears most others are also in silver packaging. The actual kit is cooler-toned than online promotional photos. When I first saw it, I was concerned that it might give me a pink-eye look with all the pinks. However, the combination of the mauve and the black prevent it from looking too pink.

Close ups and swatches, (L to R) Layers 2 and Layer 1:

(L to R): Layer 4 and Layer 3:


A few sets of comparisons, first up pinks compared to Le Métier de Beauté Antiquité Poupée, Rose Champagne and Bobbi Brown Pink Pearl:

Second, the mauve compared to Burberry Antique Rose and swatched next to MAC Mauvement:

The black shade swatched next to Burberry Midnight Black, Le Métier de Beauté Thunder, and Urban Decay Zero:

I think it's a beautiful kit that will suit a wide range of skintones. It stands out among other beautiful releases this winter season. I've found it beautiful for both day and night looks. The black is finally what I've been searching for for many years. It's a true intense deep black that doesn't go on grey or blue (like most other blacks do). It made the perfect look for a night out (went perfectly with a little black dress) last week when my husband and I celebrated our four year anniversary. I matched it with a sheer pink cheek (Bobbi Brown's Pale Pink + 24k Shimmer Brick) and a rosy pink lip (Chanel Stresa Aqualumiere plus Bon Bon lipgloss, both discontinued).

It should be available to all Le Métier de Beauté counters now. I found mine at Neiman Marcus in store. Did you try or buy Nouvelle Vague? What were your thoughts?

See two beautiful eye looks on Messy Wands and Temptalia.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chanel Malice #637 Le Vernis - Holiday 2012

Chanel Malice #637 ($26 for 13 ml/0.4 oz) is the newest nail polish release for holiday this year. I found mine at Neiman Marcus in-store, but the entire holiday collection had not yet arrived (and there were no testers). It's a stunning drop-dead gorgeous dark wine vamp infused with red shimmer. It's quite dramatic and deep. The finish is a smooth shimmer. It's not quite as shimmery or frosty like Delight or Island, but the shimmer isn't invisible like it is with shades such as Distraction or Jade Rose. I've worn this color for three days now with no wear/chipping/peeling. I haven't been this smitten with a nail color since Black Pearl. I do find it different enough from Vamp to justify owning both.

When the light hits Chanel Malice, the ruby red shimmer glows:

Here it is without direct sunlight hitting the polish:

Malice is a full-coverage polish. One coat was sufficient for full nail coverage but two is better:

Without a flash or sunlight, it looks like your basic vampy polish. A few shots below shown with the latest addition to our family (still not yet named):

I closest shade I could find to Chanel Malice is OPI's Glove You So Much (from holiday 2009). There are definitely other shades similar in effect and finish. I didn't find another exact dupe but here are some comparisons to: OPI The One That Got Away, OPI Glove You So Much, Rescue Beauty Lounge Black Russian, Chanel Gondola, Chanel Tulipe Noire, Chanel Rouge Noir, Chanel Red Dream, Dior Icone, Dior Apparat, Chanel Rouge Fatal and OPI Black Cherry Chutney.

Full nail wheel - lightened so you can see the shimmer undertones:

Full nail wheel, same shades/order - darker lighting (more true to the real color):

I think Malice is definitely a must-have. Many may find it too similar to Vamp to justify owning but I adore Malice. I have yet to see the entire Chanel Holiday collection in person yet. I did purchase all the glossimers, the quad and illusion d'ombre. I will do my best to review them in the upcoming week - however right now I'm fully distracted by our new kitty.

Have you seen Chanel holiday yet? Thoughts? I'm dying to see the new blush and eyeshadow duo and anxiously waiting for them to arrive instore.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dark Vampy Lips - Fall/Winter 2012

I've always been one to wear neutrals, pinks or peaches on the lips. The darkest I tend to go is Clinique Black Honey, MAC "O, or MAC Desire Lipglass. I'm slowly but surely venturing into darker more dramatic colors for makeup. There have been a number of others who have inspired me to try new things :) With a bit of nudging/encouragement from friends and after seeing some lovely swatches on other blogs - these are my new discoveries: perfect vampy lipsticks that are great for fall. I tried to get good lip swatches - unfortunately I failed miserably to get good lip photos. Most of these turned too red with a flash or purple without a flash. I will do my best to supplement with descriptions.

Burberry Lip Mist in Blueberry ($30, found at select Nordstrom and Saks counters) is a sheer glossy red-plum-brown. Out of all the darker colors in the feature this one is the easiest to wear for those scared of dark lips. As others have noted - it's not really a true blueberry color on the lips. This one is the most forgiving when it comes to fading though. The glossy texture makes it look more natural on the lips and the fading is more subtle than with something that is sharply contrasted to the natural lip tone. I loved it at Cafe Makeup and The Non-Blonde.

Tom Ford Black Orchid ($48, found at select Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Nordstrom counters) is pure luxury in a tube. This one is quite dramatic, but it has enough warmth and red/plum in it to not be too dark. I really love Tom Ford's lipsticks (just not the price). This is a gorgeous dark burgandy wine plum. There is shimmer in the tube but it doesn't really show up on the lips. I recommend a darker lipliner like Trish McEvoy Iced Nude or Chanel nude to help with the application. Since this one is so dramatic, it does require precise application - blending with a brush over a lipliner will help even out any areas that aren't 100% accurate. I loved this on Lisa Eldridge (she has a brilliant video) and Buy Now, Blog Later. Also see it on KarlaSugar.

Chanel La Provocante ($32.50, I found mine at Nordstrom Seattle) was part of the twin sets for 2012's Fashion's Night Out and sold out almost immediately online. It's a deep dark purple-red color. On my lips the texture was a bit blotchy and uneven, it took a few swipes back and forth to get even coverage. To me this was the least forgiving in terms of application/fading. It required precise application and it looked  Check with your local Chanel boutiques or studios to see if they still have this one. This one I still haven't quite mastered yet. It's the perfect dark vamp - a bit too dark for my taste, I would probably have to lighten it with a touch of gloss to warm it up. See it on Front Row Beauty, Christy-Tb and Indigo Kir Royale.

Dolce & Gabbana Dahlia ($30, at select Saks counters) is a classic cream formula and more pinkish/mauve out of all these. It's borderline non-vamp because it's not quite dark enough to be a true vamp, but still dark for me. I couldn't find many reviews/photos of this one. I did like the feature on The Non-Blonde and comparisons on 3 19 29.

Le Métier de Beauté in Castelo ($32, available at Neiman Marcus) is a beautiful wine shimmer with brownish tones. It's my perfect vamp without being too dark/goth. I fell in love with this after seeing it on Messy Wands (her post says it all). It's also swatched on KarlaSugar.

I do apologize again for not having more useful lip swatches. Here are the ones I've done on the arm which I hope will compare the intensity of each shade.

To date I've worn Burberry Blueberry and Le Metier Castelo to work - the others not yet. I've matched these with a neutral eye and soft contoured cheek (Burberry Earthy, Dolce & Gabbana Tan or a soft bronzer like Edward Bess Daydream).

What's your favorite vampy lipstick? Do you prefer the softer ones like I do or do you like to wear the dark/dramatic shades?

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