Friday, November 23, 2012

Burberry No. 02 Mocha Complete Eye Palette

Burberry No. 02 Mocha Complete Eye Palette contains four warm-toned neutrals. I'm one who always falls in love with shimmery neutrals, but this palette seemed a bit too similar to shades in Burberry's existing line. I'm all for no-fail safe colors and I really loved the texture, pigment and convenience of all the shades in one palette. I just wish the colors were a bit different from what Burberry already released in singles. The colors included:
  • a soft matte ivory that matches my skintone when applied, very similar to Trench but a tad warmer
  • a warm golden beige-tan with subtle shimmer, nearly identical to Gold Trench
  • a warm matte chestnut brown, lighter than Chestnut
  • a warm bronze shimmer, unique compared to other browns from Burberry, but still very basic

The texture is just as smooth and soft as the singles. There is a bit of a powdery finish with debris from dipping a brush into the compact, but I experienced very little fall out when applied on the eyes. The colors layered beautifully to give a perfectly natural contoured eye. Lasting power was excellent and the colors did not budge at all during the entire day.

Comparisons below to Burberry Trench, Chestnut and Midnight Brown as well as Guerlain Les Cuirs which is very similar but not quite as warm:

Overall I'm very pleased with the performance of Mocha. The pigment and wear is excellent. However, if you own Trench, Gold Trench or Chestnut, I don't think you need this quad. I personally prefer the texture/color of Trench rather than the ivory matte in the quad, but they are still very close. It's a lovely quad that has a nice earthy feel. It works amazingly well with pinks, peaches and bronzey colors for lips and cheeks and is perfect for everyday wear.

Did you try or buy Mocha? What were your thoughts?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! This week we have a zoo at our house. We have a little chihuahua visiting named Coco. Right now there are four fluffy friends in our home: two jack russells, a ragamuffin kitten, and a chihuahua. It's been non-stop cuteness. They've all become quick friends, but the cat and the chihuahua have become particularly smitten with each other and are now BFFs. I have so much to be thankful for. I hope everyone who celebrates is able to enjoy time spent with loved ones.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Burberry No. 01 Smokey Grey Complete Eye Palette

Burberry No. 01 Smokey Grey Complete Eye Palette ($59 for 5.4 g/.19 oz, made in Italy) is a beautiful classic palette for a sultry smokey eye. The Complete Eye Palettes by Burberry have four shades in an embossed diagonal-shaped pan. The compact size is the same as the light glow natural blush compacts. The eyeshadow quads come encased in a velvet pouch with three small applicators (sponge, angled and eyeshadow).

The colors in No. 01 Smokey Grey include a frosted cool white, a shimmery gunmetal, a matte smokey grey and a satiny soft black. The texture seems to be identical to the individual eyeshadows, perhaps not quite as buttery smooth, and slightly more powdery, but still very close. Pigment in this quad is excellent. The finish allows for either a sheer application of color. Each shade is easily layerable and after testing this for a few days I found the lasting power was quite good. What I love about this quad is that it works remarkably well with my olive skintone. Most classic smokey eye quads with white, greys and blacks look ashy on my skin. This one has a good balance of cool and warm (the matte grey goes on slightly warmish on my skin) to work for me.

A few more photos and swatches:

Update, here is another swatch set under artificial light, I don't know why the matte grey goes on so warm on my skin. On the eyes it's more true to what you see in the pan:

Several have asked how this compares to the new Armani Eyes to Kill quads, Chanel Smokey Eyes and the Burberry singles. My thoughts:
  • I didn't test all the Armani quads, but based on the two that I have, I feel the Burberry has a softer more buttery/blendable texture but more pigmented payoff in color. The Armani Maestro 01 seems to be cooler-toned and more subtle judging from swatches on Fruity Lashes, Beautezine and Best Things in Beauty.
  • Chanel Smokey Eyes is a quad I used to have (but think I gifted it away). It's a quad that was extremely high maintenance and often clashed with the yellow tones in my skin. I think the Burberry has more buildable pigment (from what I remember). The Chanel appears to be cooler-toned as well. Cafe Makeup has excellent photos and swatches.
  • Compared to the Burberry single shadows, I found the texture and pigment similar. This particular quad was slightly more powdery, but I didn't experience any fallout when I applied it on the lids. For color similarities, the white is very similar to Pearl White, but not as blue as Porcelain White. The gunmetal metallic shimmer is more pigmented and deeper than Pearl Grey. The black shade has better pigment than Midnight Black. You can probably achieve the same effect and don't need the quad if you have the singles.
Comparisons to Pearl White, Pearl Grey, Midnight Black and Edward Bess's Soft Smoke Trio (which is my favorite smokey eye palette).

I most likely won't use the applicators since the quality isn't anywhere near regular brushes. The handles are longer than your average machine-made small sponge applicators which is nice. The pouch is handy, but I don't see myself carrying the quads in my makeup bag at work, so I probably won't use those either. For the actual product I give it a huge thumbs up. I like that the colors are separated by the compact dividers - this makes it so much easier to apply and dip different shaped brushes into each well without mixing the colors. (I prefer to mix and blend on the eye.)

The quad worked well with a soft pink cheek (Burberry Peony) contoured with a matte tan shade (MAC Strada). I used Edward Bess's eye base to help it stay put all day and paired it with a glossy pink lip (NARS Frivolous with Burberry Nude Rose):

Have you checked this quad out? What's your current favorite classic smokey eye palette? Do be sure to check out other swatches and reviews (ones I found helpful linked here) to see how it looks on other skintones.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Loving Right Now

Right now I'm really loving the Burberry Beauty Complete Eye Palette Quads. I've tested three so far ... eventually I think I will need one of each shade. (They are really that good.) What I'm loving even more is what beauty bloggers have done for those of us who don't have easy access to those hard-to-find brands. Burberry Beauty still has limited availability in the US in terms of being at your nearest counter to try-before-you-buy. I love that so many dedicated bloggers have taken the time to photograph and swatch the palettes (in many cases all the palettes!). Detailed reviews to come soon on The Beauty Look Book, but for now a few blogs that helped me decide which ones to order below. Thank you ladies for saving me a long drive to the nearest counter:

Burberry Beauty Complete Eye Palettes retail for $59 and are available online at The cosmetic line is available at the following Nordstrom counters (I heard South Coast Plaza and San Francisco have these in stock):
  • Bellevue, WA - 425-455-5800
  • Topanga, CA - 818-884-7900
  • San Francisco Center, CA - 415-243-8500
  • Walnut Creek, CA - 925-930-7959
  • South Coast Plaza, CA - 714-549-8300
  • Valley Fair, CA - 408-248-2180
  • Michigan Avenue, IL - 312-464-1515
  • Oakbrook, IL- 630-571-2121
  • Garden State Plaza, NJ - 201-843-1122
  • Standford Mall, CA - 650-323-5111
  • North Park, TX - 214-231-3900 
A quick sneak peek at the ones I bought:

Also loving right now:
  • Paris in Four Months is a must-read, beautiful photos that brighten up my day (everyday)
  • Makeup Magpie is the perfect hand model for Lancome's Holiday Nail Polishes
  • Café Makeup team Amy and Liz shared their experience at a Christian Dior Event at Neiman Marcus San Francisco (beautiful!!!)
  • Temptalia features one of the prettiest natural looks with Giorgio Armani's Moonlight Beige palette
  • Specktra Chanel Fans have scoured the web for previews of the Chanel Spring 2013 collection, see some photos here, here and here
  • Rouge Deluxe has the scoop on YSL Spring 2013

Tom Ford Eye Shadow Contour Brush #12

Tom Ford's Eye Shadow Contour Brush #12 has been my beauty BFF for the past few weeks ($55 individually or part of the 5-piece brush set at $365). When Tom Ford released his beauty line back in September of 2011, I was drawn to his lipsticks, blushes and glosses. I was told that the brushes were best in class, but the high price points prevented me from even daring to touch one at the counter. Since then I've been scouting the web for reviews and features on his brushes. More and more raves from loved and trusted sources kept popping up.
  • The Non-Blonde raved about the blush brush
  • Café Makeup gushed about the amazing softness and lusciousness of the bronzer brush
  • Product Doctor found the cream foundation brush gave a flawless streak-free application
  • Sweet Makeup Temptations did a thorough feature on 7 of the brushes (excellent resource and feature)
  • Karla Sugar photographed the entire brush lineup on her blog (good for sizing reference)
My curiosity got the best of me and I'm glad it did. I've tested a few of the brushes now - all have been amazing. Tom Ford's Eye Shadow Contour Brush #12 measures about 6.4 inches and comes with a mahogany-colored handle with white natural hairs (made in Japan). It has a slight angle with densely packed hairs, but it's soft enough that it doesn't feel like a normal smudge or liner brush. Others have reported that it's great for contouring the crease or making an outer v for the eyes. I have crease-less lids, but this is the perfect tool for making a killer smokey eye. I've found it to be extremely versatile. It applies color to the lashline like a normal smudge brush. Since it's thicker it creates a smokier look (rather than a more precise line). Turn the brush flattened against the skin and it blends out any harsh edges perfectly.

On the nails: Chanel Riva with YSL Premiere Neige

The price of $55 is quite high. Because of this, I can't say this is a must-have. There are a number of other brushes which are more affordable that will achieve the same result of either a well-contoured or perfect smokey eye. For me though, having no crease, getting that smokey eye look often requires tons and tons of blending with multiple tools and layering of 2-3 shadows. This is where I feel Tom Ford's #12 is worth the price in terms of time saving and performance. It's the all-in-one smokey eye brush. Rather than having to use 3 different brushes for lining, smudging and/or blending, I now have the perfect tool that can do all three steps for me. (Of course for a precise defined line I do still need a finer-tipped brush.)

Here are a few comparisons: My MAC eye brushes are among my favorites for price, shape and quality. The white-haired brushes by MAC were the softest in my collection and best for blending. The Tom Ford beats it by far in terms of softness while still managing to be dense enough to be a good smudge/contour tool.

Bottom line: performance is amazing and love that it's also a time saver. Have you tried Tom Ford brushes yet? Which ones?

As a side note, many have been emailing me reports of my photos showing up on places (such as ebay), some with watermarks, some with removed/edited watermarks. As a reminder, I currently do not sell on ebay so any listings with my watermarked photos are not from me. I've been doing what I can to get certain listings removed, but since it will be a time consuming and never-ending process (content is continually being lifted without permission), I felt the best thing to do was just put a warning/reminder/disclaimer that I currently do not sell on ebay or any other sites.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chanel Intuition #36 and Variation #37 Quadra Eye Shadows

Les Expressions de Chanel 2012 brings us new options for the eyes. There are new eyeshadow quads, cream eyeshadows, liquid liners and a new mascara. (See the US lineup on La Chanelphile and the European lineup on Café Makeup.) In the US, it appears the whole collection is scheduled to launch Black Friday (at least according to four different counters I've talked to in Southern California) although some have reported early sightings at some boutiques and select counters. I think at this time the exact release and availability dates are unclear.  I have yet to see the entire collection in person but ordered 36 Intuition and 37 Variation eyeshadow quads online from Neimans ($58 each).

36 Intuition is a warmer but still somewhat neutral option for the eyes. All the shades are medium in shimmer. It has a soft seashell pink shimmer, a warm sheer gold sparkle, a neutral bark brown shimmer and a warmer brown tan. Pigmentation and coverage is medium-sheer. It performs like most Chanel quads and on my eyes works best over a dewy cream base (Edward Bess's Eye Base or Laura Mercier's Metallic Cream Shadows). A few others to check out with features on this quad:

37 Variation is a cooler-toned option. The shades are also on the shimmery side but not quite as sparkly as Intuition. It has a cool-toned powdery pink satin, a silvery sage metallic, a warm brown and an eggplant shimmer. I thought this would be my favorite out of the two, but it's borderline too cool for my skin. It's still quite lovely on olive complexion but I prefer Mystic Eyes to this one. I haven't seen the European/baked version of Variation in person, but judging from online reviews/swatches, I think I prefer the color payoff of the Euro one better. Some other swatches to check out:
More photos and swatches below: 

I didn't have time to do comprehensive comparisons or swatches but caught one slightly blurry photo today for reference. You can see Variation isn't quite as purple as Vanities, but not quite the same as Mystic Eyes. Intuition is very different from Spices but resembles Dior's Fairy Golds in color family (which I have not tried yet).

For me Intuition was a lovely surprise. It looked like it would be too neutral or unoriginal but it really is quite lovely. Variation on the other hand was a slight disappointment. The colors are really lovely but needs a bit of warming up for my skintone.

Have you spotted the Les Expressions de Chanel collection yet? I'm still waiting to see the whole collection, but at this time think I will probably pass on everything else. Perhaps I will consider the mascara?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Palettes 02 Terra Sienna and 06 Boudoir

Giorgio Armani has reformulated and repackaged their eyeshadow quads into eight new color options. The new Eyes to Kill Eye Palettes ($59 each) come with a double tiered black lacquered compact. The top layer has four eyeshadows, underneath there are two sponge-tipped applicators. At the Armani counter it was hard to not to fall in love with them all. I decided to try two safety neutrals first: 02 Terra Sienna and 06 Boudoir. The packaging below:

Both shades I picked turned out to be fairly similar. They are both neutrals with two shimmery light shades and two darker matte shades. Those who have been long time Armani fans will be pleased to learn that the latest eyeshadow formulation is a significant improvement in pigment and texture over the past quads. Over the years it seems Armani has reformulated almost all their color products. I noticed many of the Maestro singles are no longer for sale - I asked the Armani rep if they were being reformulated too and at this time he wasn't sure but said it wouldn't surprise him if they did.

Terra Sienna is the cooler-neutral option with a light cool champagne frost, a lovely warm taupe shimmer, a matte brown and a matte dark brown. The texture is soft and well pigmented and easy to blend and layer. The matte shades did feel a bit dryer in texture but still applied beautifully. This is a great neutral for everyday.

Boudoir is another beautiful neutral but warmer. It has a soft peachy shimmer, a soft seashell shimmer, a warm terracotta matte, and a warm dark matte brown. I normally wouldn't have looked at this in the past because of the terracotta shade, but I found that layering it brings warmth and depth to the eye. It's quite lovely.

Close ups and swatches:

The shades I picked are similar to the Neo Brown Eye and Face Palette from fall. Here they are side by side for reference:

I've tested these for a few weeks now and can report that these are amazing in pigment and texture for a natural soft eye. The look is natural but not too natural and the shades are easy to layer. I've been applying with brushes rather than the sponges but they are nice to have for touch ups. If you're looking for something even more basic and neutral, check out the 04 Effeto Nudo - I thought it was too basic for me but the formula of these palettes is really nice so I might go back to check it out. I didn't pull any palettes or eyeshadows to compare or dupe. Given the fact that these are neutrals I'm fairly certain there are close dupes out there, but I like the convenience and texture of these. Plus Armani always releases the most amazing neutral shimmers I couldn't resist.

A few other reviews I highly recommend you check out:
So many brands are releasing new quads this time of year - Armani, Chanel, Burberry and Edward Bess. Have you checked them out yet? What were your thoughts about Armani's?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chanel Star Dust #73 Powder Blush - Holiday 2012

Chanel's new blush for the holiday is Star Dust #73 ($43 for 6g/0.21 oz). I found this blush to be more of a glimmering highlighter rather than a regular blush. It has a sheer soft pink base loaded with tiny micro sparkles in shades of pink, silver and platinum. It's quite stunning in the compact. In testing this, I found that I need some kind of a cream highlighter or blush on the cheeks to make this show up (I experimented with NARS Luxor, a few other NARS Multiples, Edward Bess Sunlight and a couple Armani fluid sheers). Alone over foundation and powder (like a regular blush) resulted in a barely noticeable powdery pink cheek. When layered over a cream product, it goes on a soft pink loaded with sparkles. The effect is similar MAC Silver Dusk or Laura Mercier's Star Dust powder but even more sparkly with a pink base (versus silvery/champagne). Overall the name Star Dust fits the product performance - it gives a sparkle effect to the cheeks. I can only see myself wearing this for evenings out - for me it's too sparkly for everyday wear.

Close up:

Swatched you can see it's very sheer. Even with heavy layering, it's a soft warm sheer pink:

Star Dust is a warmer pink when compared to other soft pink shades, but it's still clearly pink (not a peachy pink). I pulled a few comparisons to show, I couldn't find a dupe in my Chanel or MAC collection. Here are a few views to show the shimmer and undertones. First in direct sunlight: Chanel Ombres Tissees in Beiges (limited-edition from August 2011), Chanel Winter Shimmer (discontinued), MAC Porcelain Pink MSF, NARS Miss Liberty, Le Metier de Beaute Whisper:

Comparisons under artificial light (same set of colors):

Swatches, two views:

I'm not completely in love with Star Dust mainly because it didn't apply on the face like I expected it to. Based on what I saw in the compact and what I'm used to for Chanel blushes, I expected something more pigmented and not as sheer. I'm usually a die-hard Chanel blush fan but this one was just ok for me - the lightness of the color can look a bit chalky for my skintone and emphasize pores if not applied with a super light hand. Still, as a highlighter it's very pretty and nice for evenings to add that extra sparkle. It's unique enough compared to other highlighters in the sense that the shimmer/sparkle isn't your standard silver or champagne. It's subtle but makes the skin have a really pretty glow as long as you have a dewy base first.

Did you try Star Dust? What were your thoughts? If you're interested in this I suggest you check your counters soon to try it. Three counters near me were already sold out - although I think it will be easy to find online for a while.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chanel Holiday 2012 Glossimers: Allégorie 347, Mystery 357, Intrigue 367

Chanel has released three new glossimers for the holiday: Allégorie 347, Mystery 357, Intrigue 367 ($29.50 each). The shades are semi-sheer on my lips with the classic natural gloss finish that Chanel glossimers have. They are great neutrals that are suitable for any season, however, those who already own a number of Chanel glossimers may find these have a similar effect on the lips to shades released in prior seasons. The shades: 
  • Allégorie 347 is sheer transparent light sparkle pink (goes on fairly clear on my lips)
  • Mystery 357 is a warm-neutral nude peachy pink (slight tint but sheer)
  • Intrigue 367 is a warm reddish pink with slight brown

Swatches show the colors are true to what you see in the tube, on the lips the colors sheer out quite a bit:

A few comparisons to other glosses show that the releases for holiday are different from other releases, however on my lips many of the lighter pinks appear very similar once applied (probably due to my pigmented lip color). I couldn't find dupes in my Chanel collection.

My personal favorite is Mystery. I think this shade filled a gap in Chanel's glossimer releases - they needed a good neutral pink-peach shade. Intrigue is also lovely for a healthy tint that's still natural. Allegorie is gorgeous in the tube but is best as a layering shade over other lipsticks (alone it's virtually clear). I personally give them all a thumbs up but I feel that Mystery is the only one that I can say is a must-have.

Did you check out the Chanel glossimers for the holiday? What were your thoughts?

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