Showing posts with label Highlighter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Highlighter. Show all posts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Topshop Makeup

It's been years that many of my readers have been e-mailing me about Topshop Makeup with raves about their blushes and lipsticks and numerous requests to try the brand and review it. Topshop is one of those brands I don't have easy access to, but it's been on my list to try for quite some time. Topshop recently reached out to me to try a few items from their makeup line and I was thrilled to get my first look. There are so many gorgeous posts about their lipsticks from many UK bloggers. The items they sent for review included their 3D Curve Mascara, Brighten in Moonlight, Kohl Pencil in Coal and Saint Lipstick.

3D Curve Mascara ($20 for 9.5 ml/0.30 fl oz, made in China) comes in Black with a large brush. I found it did give a multi-dimensional look for my super thin and straight lashes. The color is a pure black and stayed black after it dried (some mascaras tend to look grayish on my lashes once dried). I found it lasted quite well without any smudging but I did get a bit of flaking by the end of the day. If it didn't flake I would give it an A+ rating. My first attempt at taking before/after photos of my lashes below (along top lashes only):

Brighten in Moonlight ($14 for 1.5 ml/0.05 fl oz, made in Italy) is a one-shade fits all under-eye concealer. It comes in a twist up tube with a brush applicator. I was worried this would be too pale or pink for my skin, when swatched it looks very light and very pink against my olive skin. However it has a sheer slightly luminous (but without any shimmer) quality to it that blends well with my medium/tan skin. I was really surprised how this brightened the under-eye area. I tend to avoid concealers under the eyes in general since they end up looking too heavy or cakey. This one has enough sheerness to it to even the skin without looking heavy. To apply this, I've been dabbing it under the eye over foundation and set it with powder. It lasts well all day. I'm not sure if this would work on anything darker than a Chanel B40 or MAC NC40 - if you've tried this I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Kohl Eye Pencil in Coal ($8, made in Czech Republic) is a dark black pencil. I found it to be a pure rich black with a smooth texture that doesn't tug. The lasting power is quite good and I didn't get any smudging or pulling with the pencil. It's not available online at Topshop at the moment (they still have Sable/Dark Brown). I usually do not like black pencils because they end up looking too harsh, too grey or just not really dark enough. Coal is a good true black that applies well. I couldn't ask for a better pencil for the price.

Saint Lipstick ($16 for 3.5g/0.12 oz, made in Italy) is a pale peach pink cream. This one is difficult for me to evaluate simply because the color is so light I think it will be hard for anyone to pull off this color. Since it's drastically paler than my natural lip it tends to enhance any crease or imperfection even with smooth lips. Given the raves and beautiful reviews I've seen of Topshop lipsticks on other blogs I suspect it's only the color that makes this one not work. For me to be able to wear this one I had to cover the entire lip with a darker nude lipliner, apply a light layer of Saint Lipstick and blend like crazy. If you've tried any of the lipsticks I'd love to hear about the colors and formulas you've tried.

I like the look of the Topshop makeup line although it's completely different from what I normally go for in beauty brands. I have their shop in Los Angeles on my list to check out - I'm hoping all the stores carry the full makeup line. Have you tried Topshop Makeup? I'd love to hear your recommendations. I already have a list going from readers to check out their blushes - but I'd love to hear your thoughts. (This Glow Highlighter looks seriously amazing, tell me do I need to check this one out?)

This post contains press samples sent for review and affiliate links. All opinions are my own. For more information refer to my disclosures.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes ($35 each for 0.15 oz/4.2 g) have arrived in stores in six stunning glowy shades. These are a hybrid highlighter/blush powder that have what Hourglass calls "Photoluminescent Technology" which gives your blush depth and dimension giving a perfect glow. I've been a huge fan of the Ambient Lighting Powders (previous reviews here and here) so there was no question in my mind that I would fall in love with these new Blushes. If you look at the pans in person you may think some shades will be too light but the pigment of the color in these blushes is quite intense and swirling your brush into the color creates a mix of color and highlight to give you the perfect amount of color/glow. A little swipe will go a long way. The result: radiant natural finish with buildable color for an ethereal glow.

Hourglass sent me Diffused Heat for review and I purchased four shades in Radiant Magenta, Luminous Flush, Dim Infusion and Mood Exposure from Sephora. I tested each shade for 2-3 full days each which is why this has taken me so long to write this review. Lasting power of these blushes is particularly impressive, most of the colors lasted from morning to evening without fading. The only shade that seemed subtle and less dramatic was Dim Infusion which applies very very naturally on the cheeks. Much like the Ambient Lighting Powders, these blushes have a soft powder texture. It's lightweight and easy to blend and layer. I've been applying these with either Chanel Blush Brush #4, MAC #129 or Tom Ford Cheek Blush brush, but really any blush brush will do. Two soft brush swipes is really all you need with these.

Radiant Magenta is one of the most pigmented and one of my favorites. It's described as a golden fuchsia blush combined with Radiant Light for a summer glow. This is a beautiful glowy fresh pink. The golden bronze of Radiant Light mixed in creates a perfect pink that won't darken or turn muddy on the skin. This one had the most impressive lasting power. The shimmer is very fine in this. It's not frosty, just a perfect glow.

Luminous Flush is a champagne rose blush fused with Luminous Light (my holy grail highlighter) to evoke a candlelit glimmer. Since these are all hand-made, some will have more pink, others like mine will have more champagne color. I was worried this one would be too light but the pink is quite pigmented so it does show up on my face.

Dim Infusion is one of the lighter colors. It's a subdued coral blush fused with Dim Light to add warmth. I found it showed up quite well on my skin, it gives a soft peach glow. Looks fairly light but I recommend you test in store if you can. I think it will show up on medium-tan skin, but may look nearly invisible on darker skintones. I've noticed from some comments that those with very fair skin found this did not show up on them. It might be one of those shades that shows up better if you're skin does not match the Dim Light powder. If it does, this may just blend in with your skin and disappear. If you've tested this please share your thoughts in the comments.

Diffused Heat (press sample) is the color that surprised me the most. This is a vibrant poppy blush combined with Diffused Light for a subtle halo effect. Poppy colors can be hard for me to pull off for blush. They often look so gorgeous in the pan but then darken and look muddy-ish on my olive skin. In the pan Diffused Heat looks like it could be too orange or warm but the mix of colors turns a pretty coral pink and brightens the entire face. This is one of my top 2 picks. It is a color I think will be universally flattering.

Mood Exposure is another surprise. It looks like it might be a flat and boring neutral rose based on what you see in the compact. It's a soft plum blush fused with Mood Light to brighten the complexion. The plum is almost bronzey on my skin and gives this wonderful rose-bronze-pink. It  looks different on everyone I've seen this on. For some it pulls more rose, for others like myself, it pulls more warm. I would describe it as unexpectedly gorgeous. I highly recommend this color as well. It is highly pigmented, I think this one will show up on everyone.

Swatches below, note these apply much better on the face than any arm or hand swatch can show:

Comparisons to corresponding Ambient Highlighting Powders. The blushes are smaller in size but have the same style packaging. Each compact is mirrored.

Click photo for better viewing:

Bottom line: Truly amazing. Everyone needs at least one. (Yes, everyone!) I normally blend blush with highlighters to create some kind of depth, these new Hourglass Ambient Lighting blushes save me the extra step. You can control the level of pigment or color depending how you apply these.

Over a powdered face the effect will be softer. If you have dry skin or a well-powdered face you may find these won't show up as well. I have normal skin and found these applied just fine over powder. If you need more color, I recommend using these over a slightly dewy face or cream highlighter (such as Armani Fluid Sheers, NARS Multiples or Edward Bess Afterglow Highlighters). A sheer cream base will help the pigment show up better if you're on the dryer side without impacting the color too much. The pigment will be richer and more dramatic. I don't have a preference for either application - both ways will give a lovely effect. (I didn't test the lightest shade Ethereal Glow because I thought it would be too pale, but I may try it the next time I'm at Sephora.)

For reference I put together a collage on all the shades for you to see how each blush has a mix of each corresponding with a particular highlighter. Although I already own a number of the Hourglass Ambient Light highlighters, I do think these blushes are unique enough to justify owning.

My top three picks are Radiant Magenta, Mood Exposure and Diffused Heat.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes retail for $35 each. These are free of parabens, talc, fragrance, nanoparticles and gluten. No Animal Testing. Available at Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Net-A-Porter, Sephora, Space NK and

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chanel Sakura #87 Blush and Jardin de Camélias Illuminating Powder - Exclusive

There are two new cheek products in the Chanel Jardin de Camélias collection Sakura #87 Joues Contraste ($43 for 4g/0.14 oz, made in France) and Jardin de Camélias Illuminating Powder ($70 for 16g/0.54 oz). Both products are lovely classics true to Chanel form. It appears that the blush has already sold out online but I've pulled quite a few other blushes in attempt to find a dupe. Scroll to the bottom for comparisons.

Sakura #87 Joues Contraste is a soft peachy pinky color with a soft shimmer. This is the baked Euro/Asia version of blush which I've found to be hit or miss. Some are powdery on the surface with a hard texture underneath which can be difficult to apply. I've had better luck with some of the more recent releases but prefer the US formula. Sakura applies quite nicely on the skin with a soft pink glow. It's a softer sheerer color but you can build it. It's still very very natural on the skin. Lasting power is medium from morning to the early afternoon (like most powder blushes). There is a slight shimmer to the blush, on the cheeks the shimmer doesn't show up but it does give the blush depth. This is a much-needed in between shade in Chanel's line. Most blushes are either more rose or a straight peach. This is a good in between color with a mix of pink and peach.

Jardin de Camélias Illuminating Powder is a very pale ivory tinged with a hint of light rose pink. The color of the product in real life is true to what you see on There is a slight iridescent quality to the powder when applied on the skin. On my face it just looks like a sheer pale white with a hint of pink pearl. It resembles a soft finishing powder with a hint of an opal pink glow. I personally wouldn't use this all over the face for me. It can be used to tone down harsh edges of blush. I didn't remember to photograph swatches of this next to Hourglass Dim Light but the effect is similar. The difference is Hourglass is more beige while the Jardin de Camelias is more pink. The first time I tried this I did not like it. I found it extremely subtle and almost invisible on my skin. I've been testing it some more and find it adds a lovely glow when applied on top of any blush (powder or cream). Still, the $70 price tag is hard to justify something that is extremely subtle in effect.


I have two sets of comparisons below. First set shows the colors next to Chanel Rose Initiale (review here), Fleur de Lotus (Nordstrom Exclusive, miraculously still available for sale), Poudre Signee de Chanel Powder (discontinued), Hourglass Luminous Light (review here) and Chanel Rose Tourbillon (discontinued).

I later pulled a few more blushes after someone emailed me asking if the #87 Sakura was the same as the recently released #87 Émotion blush. Although they have the same numbers, the colors are completely different.

Left to right: Chanel Rose Petale, Chantecaille Laughter (discontinued), Chanel Emotion (review here), Chanel Narcisse (US version, discontinued), Inspiration Blush Creme (apparently discontinued now as well, more swatches here), MAC Dainty Mineralize Blush and Tom Ford Frantic Pink.

There's no dupe from what I've found although MAC Dainty and Tom Ford Frantic Pink (my all time favorite natural pink blush) are very close. If you click to enlarge you might be able to see that the Chanel is more satiny with less shimmer while the MAC/Tom Ford have more shimmer. I tried Sakura on one cheek and Dainty on the other and they were almost identical on my skin.

Did you order anything from the Jardin de Camélias line? What were your thoughts? Or if you were waiting for my swatches, has anything caught your eye?

Chanel Jardin de Camélias - Exclusive

Chanel just launched the Jardin de Camélias Collection exclusively online at in the US. I ordered the following items:
  • Sakura #87 Blush ($43, Euro/Asia baked version)
  • Jardin de Camélias Illuminating Powder ($70)
  • four Aqualumière Glosses ($29.50 each) in Eau Rose #86, Rosace #87, Pink Pivoine #88, Baie Rose #89
  • two Rouge Allures ($34 each) in Fleurie #139 and Charmeuse #142
I'll be uploading more detailed reviews as quickly as I can. I swatched and photographed everything over the weekend but need to do a bit more testing. For now here are swatches for your reference. Quick note on the glosses, they all apply very sheer on the lips like most Chanel glosses do.

Without flash:

With flash:

You can find the collection now online at

Stay tuned for the swatches and photos of the Chanel Sakura Blush and Jardin de Camélias Highlighter next. I'll be adding a few finishing touches and thoughts on my review for these during my lunch break. Review should be up the review in a few hours.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #13 and Belladonna Highlighter (Limited Edition) | Effetto Nudo Spring 2014

Armani's spring collection this year is called Effetto Nudo. I saw the items a couple weeks ago at my local Armani counter. My favorite Armani artists called me and kindly set aside some items for me which turned out to be a good thing since items were literally flying off the shelves as soon as they arrived in store. I picked up the new Fluid Sheer #13 ($62 for 30 ml/1 fl oz) and Belladonna Highlighter ($88 for 5g/0.1777 oz).

Fluid Sheer #13 is a pale opalescent cream shimmer. Belladonna is a cream-colored champagne shimmery highlighter in a mirrored compact. Both are very light in color but not overly pale on the skin. They have a transparent luminosity that gives a nude glow effect without washing out the skin.

The Fluid Sheer #13 (limited-edition) is new for spring. True to classic Armani form, this is a beautiful sheer liquid highlighter that you can use mixed in with foundation or on top of the cheekbones for a luminous glow. #13 is a very pale cream with an oyster-shell-like opalescent sheen. It flashes a bit of pink which I think is unique compared to others in the market. Compared to other Fluid Sheers, #13 is significantly sheerer with a softer shimmer. On my skin the color almost disappears when applied over foundation/cheekbones. The shimmer adds a luminous transparent glow to the skin. Although this is sheerish - the pink shimmers show up in a way that makes your face glow. The effect is very subtle with this highlighter but still visible. If you need more color or shimmer, I'd recommend you opt for #2 or #10. If you are one who can never find a suitable highlighter because you find most too shimmery, #13 is the right pick for you.

The fluid sheers come with a sleek black pump:

Comparisons below to Fluid Sheer #2 and #10:

Swatched along with NARS Copacabana Illuminator swatched below, note these are blended and sheered out. These were hard to photograph blended, the effect is better seen in person. I recommend you google for other swatch examples to get a better idea of what these look like:

The Belladonna Highlighter (limited-edition) is a solid cream that comes in a mirrored compact with a brush. It has a beautiful embossed floral design on the compact. It's described as having a texture that is both dense yet incredibly light. I did not intend on purchasing this when I saw press releases. The $88 price tag had me saying no, but I caved on purchasing this due to the stunning embossed floral design combined with the limited-edition factor. On the skin it gives the perfect halo effect. The brush that comes with the compact is the perfect shape and density for this cream.

The Belladonna highlighter comes with a brush stored in the bottom of the compact:

Comparisons to other previously released limited-edition highlighters: MAC Superb (discontinued, but has made a few comebacks), MAC Whisper of Gilt, Chanel Poudre Signee de Chanel, Chanel Mouche de Beaute:

Swatched below, also with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light swatched beside:

One last photo/swatch set:

Both items are limited-edition for spring. They are on the pricey side - if you already have a lot of highlighters that you love, I'd say you can safely skip these. I do really love the Belladonna Highlighting palette - it gives a soft halo effect to the skin, I'm just not in love with the $88 price tag.

The #13 Fluid Sheer is a gorgeous sheer highlighter - one that is different from anything I've seen before - it makes the skin glow in a way that makes you look like you glow from within. If you are always finding most highlighters end up looking too frosty, Fluid Sheer #13 is the best shimmery glowy highlighter I've tried that is also the most natural and luminous.

You should be able to find these at your Armani counter now, although note they are limited-edition items. My counter sold out of the Belladonna highlighter the first day they arrived instore, but your counters should be able to locate one and have it shipped. The spring collection items are also online at Giorgio Armani Beauty, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Selfridges.


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