Showing posts with label MAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MAC. Show all posts

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Primers and Smoothers

I've been testing out a few new primers and smoothing products and thought I'd share my favorite staple primers along with some new discoveries. I'm not typically a primer kind of person. I've found most that I've tried don't really do much to extend the wear of makeup and end up adding an extra layer of product on my face that I don't really need. I've tried dozens of primers at makeover events and from tiny sample packets. There are so may different options on the market these days it can be a bit overwhelming. Different products offer a multitude of effects. Some will smooth the overall look of your skin, add a glow, give a matte look and then there are some that are just basic primers to help the application of your foundation. I have normal and sensitive skin. For your reference I've broken down my primer picks into two main different categories:

  • Tom Ford Illuminating Primer ($72 for 1 fl oz) is one of the best glow primers I've ever tried. I tested this on numerous occasions each time I was able to visit a Tom Ford counter under both the foundation stick and liquid formula. The counters kindly made a few small samples for me to test before I caved and purchased the full size (I'm still in price shock). The Tom Ford primer is packaged with a clever twist pump dispenser. It has a soothing fresh scent with a slight herbal undertone. What I like about this one is that has a more yellow-like pearly glow which I found perfect for my needs (most I've seen have a pinkish glow). It helps extend the wear of makeup and adds a glow without making you greasy. It helps smooth the skin and adds an all over glow to prevent your makeup from looking flat. Be aware that this is on the dewy side, if you're oily I wouldn't recommend this one. I also found this one works best with the Tom Ford Foundations. See The Convenient Beauty's review.
  • NARS Pro-Prime Radiance Enhancing Primer ($34 for 1.1 oz) is the next best alternative to Tom Ford's primer at a more affordable price. It has a reflective pearl quality that is the perfect mix of opal, gold and champagne. It has SPF 15 and a little goes a long way. I find this one photographs well with a flash. It has a creamy but thin and easy to blend texture to give an all over glow without being too glowy. Lasting power is better than average for me but it won't make your makeup last all day long (you will need a touch up in the afternoon). I really like this for the effect it gives and how it helps makeup look smoother.
  • MAC Strobe Liquid ($32 for 1.7 fl oz) isn't really a traditional primer, but I like to use it as one over moisturizer and underneath liquid or powder makeup. It's another great smoothing glow product with a super thin liquid texture. It dries well to help makeup stay in place and prevents it from sliding around - but note you only need a tiny bit on the face. It's on the more glowy side so I would recommend topping with a regular powder or foundation. This one is also good for mixing in with foundations to add a glow without making you look white. It has a more opal/blueish sheen.
  • Chanel Base Lumiere Illuminating Makeup Base ($45 for 1 fl oz) is one of the most fluid primer/bases I've ever tried. (I've repurchased this multiple times.) It has a blueish violet sheen but it disppears into a clear finish on the skin. The key to using this is to make sure you use a thinner lightweight moisturizer underneath otherwise it will make the skin oily. If you're a serum + moisturizer kind of person, I would recommend skipping one of the items before using this one. I like this best with Chanel foundations as it helps prime the skin with a subtle glow and also helps extend the wear of foundation. Make sure you use as little as possible - if you overdo it it will be too heavy and feel thick on the skin.

  • Lancome Visionnaire 1-Minute Blur ($55 for 1 fl oz) is currently available at Sephora locations in the US. I received a press sample of this (hence the white lab tube). It's a skin smoother/finisher designed to smooth the skin, erase imperfections and pores. It has a creamy neutral colored texture that disappears on the skin. This video has a good visual of what this will do for the skin. I suggest testing at the store if you can, reviews indicate this is either a hit or miss. I saw a noticeable difference in my skin texture when using this and used it under a liquid foundation (tested with Chanel and NARS). I loved the results for the overall look and it truly erased any signs of pores on my face. It helped my makeup last all day long (quite impressive) well through the evening. There is a very light fragrance to this which I found on the subtle side. The only thing I didn't like about this was that I could actually feel the layer of product on my face - not necessarily a bad thing, but I tend to prefer face makeup that is more weightless and thinner in texture.
  • Clinique Superprimer Color Correcting ($27 for 1 oz) I bought this at Sephora after reading rave reviews about the Superprimers. I was a bit overwhelmed with the color options and honestly have no idea if I picked the right one for me. I decided to go with the peach color corrector since traditional white ones are often too pale and white for my olive skin. I didn't notice any color correcting quality with this one but the color matched my skin pretty well once blended. It has a thicker airy creamy texture that has a velvety feel on the skin. The result: long lasting makeup all day long from morning until late at night (around 11ish before I took it off). The peach color disappeared and gave the skin a smooth matte look. If you test any of the options at the store you will see a noticeable difference on the back of your hand. I like that the primer didn't change the color of my foundation even though it has a peach tint. I'm not sure I picked the right option, if you've tried the any of the Clinique primers I'd love to hear your thoughts.
  • Dior Pore Minimizer Skin Refining Matte Primer ($42 for 1 oz) is a primer that wins for most innovative packaging. It's a tube with a pump dispenser. I have not purchased this after testing a couple counter-made samples but wanted to share my thoughts. This offers the most matte finish that I've ever seen. It smooths the skin out similar to the Lancome but has a thicker feel on the skin (at least for me). I found this blended well on the skin and provided a lovely smooth look. There was a huge noticeable difference. I felt it was too dry for my normal/combination skin even though it didn't look dry at all. I suspect if you have skin that is on the oily side, the Dior Matte Primer will work wonders for you.
Packaging and dispenser details:

My top three picks:
  1. For the best glow, I like Tom Ford's Illuminating Primer
  2. For the price and performance I like Clinique's Superprimer
  3. For the most visible smoothing result, Lancome Visionnaire 1-Minute Blur is a winner
Do you have any favorite primers, smoothing products or glowy bases? I'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences for what has worked on your skin tone or skin type.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Loving Right Now

I can't believe it's already March. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I wanted to share a few things I'm loving right now. As always, I'd love to hear what is on your favorites list - please share in the comments below. I often discover new favorites through my readers.

White lacquered tray is from West Elm
  1. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat - this is the perfect glowy pink-poppy flush (see my swatches from yesterday here)
  2. MAC Cremesheen + Pearl Glass in Floating Lotus - these were released a while ago with the Cremesheen+Pearl collection, I'm so glad MAC made the lipsticks and glosses permanent, there are some really gorgeous classic pinks, Floating Lotus is a lovely sheer natural pink
  3. Giorgio Armani Gloss d'Armani #513 - this is one of the prettiest cool beige shimmers, it has a hint of pink and it doesn't wash out the complexion (swatches here)
  4. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse - see my review on body oils here, I usually prefer the Caudalie, but right now I keep reaching for the Nuxe
  5. Tom Ford Foundation Sticks in Bisque 04 and Natural 05 - I started with Natural 05 but got a bit of a tan so was in need of one shade darker, it was a good thing I asked the artists at the counter for their help because the odd thing with these is Bisque 04 is actually darker than Natural 05 even though the shades are supposed to be in sequence (lighter shades are supposed to be the lower numbers) I'll have a more detailed review soon, this is very pricey but it's an amazing product and worth every penny
  6. L'Artisan Mûre et Musc - a discovery thanks to one of my long time friends, this is a beautiful blend of blackberry and musc, it's not overly sweet, my review on this from a holiday the trio a few years ago here
  7. MAC Viva Glam IV - this is a classic rose frost, not too red, berry or neutral, just the right mix of pink and rose
  8. Malin + Goetz Lip Moisturizer - this came in last month's Barneys Love Yourself gift bag, it's my first time trying anything from the brand, the price seems very reasonable for a lip balm, I'm incredibly impressed, it feels amazing on the lips
  9. Tom Ford Lip Sheer In the Buff - I've been wearing this non-stop, some have mentioned it doesn't show up or is too pale, but for me, it's my perfect everyday nude (swatches here)
  10. Chanel Glossimer Sonate 179 - from the spring collection, this is a lovely coral gloss from Chanel that actually shows up on my pigmented lips (swatches here)
  11. Tom Ford Eau de Parfum Oud Wood - I don't wear a fragrance everyday, I'm often rushed in the mornings and this is often last on my list, if I were to have an everyday fragrance this would be it, it's neutral enough to not be overpowering at the office (review here)

Monday, February 10, 2014

MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lipstick and Lipglass

MAC released two new vibrant classic reds for their Viva Glam line with Rihanna. There is a Viva Glam Rihanna Lipstick ($16 for 3g / 0.1 US oz) and a Lipglass ($15 for 4.8 g / 0.17 US oz). The colors are bold with rich pigment. I rarely wear reds but could not resist these two. I've missed out on previous limited-edition Viva Glam shades, I did not want to miss out again.

The Viva Glam Rihanna Lipstick is a frost formula. It's described as a blue-red but on me goes on much warmer without blue tones. It has a metallic warm red frost but on the lips it doesn't appear too frosty like some MAC Frost formula lipsticks can. It's a very pigmented bright red color - pigmented enough to cover the entire lip and show up true-to-tube on darker-toned lips. It's a striking shade - something I'm not brave enough to wear everyday or to the office, although it's a classic enough shade that I think one can.

The Viva Glam Rihanna Lipglass is a semi-sheer hot pink red infused with tiny red and fuschia micro sparkles. The base is a bit sheerish but layering with a brush will increase the pigment. When worn alone, it's a bit transparent so you can see a bit of the lip underneath. When layered over lipsticks it adds sparkle and shine.

Both the lipstick and lipglass versions are fairly similar in color, they are almost an exact match. The lipglass flashes a bit more blueish due to the cool-toned sparkles. Swatches side by side:

I pulled a few other darker colors I have to compare. Most of my lipsticks are neutrals or peachy colors. As you can see the darker ones I have are still more on the neutral side. Below shown is MAC Viva Glam IV Lipstick, MAC Viva Glam VI Lipstick and Lipglass, MAC Astral Cremesheen Glass (discontinued), Chanel Pink Pulsion Glossimer (discontinued) and Burberry Mallow Pink Lip Gloss (swatched here).

Both are classic reds I think are truly universally flattering. I'm not sure that I think I could pull them off for everyday or for every occasion, but I do think I can wear them for more special occasions. The pigment of the lipstick is very impressive. I wish more MAC lipsticks had that kind of color payoff (although I am a huge fan of the sheers and lustres). Did you pick up the new Viva Glam Rihanna shades? What's your favorite Viva Glam to date?

MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lipstick and Lipglass are both available at all MAC stores and counters now. Online at, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Macy's.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MAC Huggable Lip Colour: Touché, Fresh & Frisky, Out for Passion and Rich Marrón

MAC Huggable Lip Colours ($20 each for 3.2g/0.11 oz, limited-edition) are a new lipstick formula that were released several weeks ago. I would have missed out had it not been for Café Makeup who pointed them out to me and recommended I check them out. As she noted, the colors have been selling out quickly. I had to visit two different stores to track down shades. After surveying the swatches on Café Makeup, Temptalia and Weekend Ramblings, I picked out four: Touché, Fresh & Frisky, Out for Passion and Rich Marrón.

These new Huggable Lip Colours have a similar feel to Dior Addict Lipsticks (like Diablotine reviewed here). They have a creamy moisturizing feel. They are very emollient but with a thicker texture so they really adhere to and hug the lips. What surprised me is the level of pigment. The colors have a rich payoff with a soft shine finish. Lasting power is also quite impressive. You can control the coverage by swiping back and forth a few times for more color. If you have time to go to the counter to test, I highly recommend you visit soon.

The four colors I picked (with links to where the colors are located right now online):

Touché is a good nude without being too nude:

Fresh & Frisky is a fresh natural peach that brightens the face:

Out for Passion is the best watermelon pink I've ever tried:

Rich Marrón is a nice classic, a bit brown but still nice for everyday:

Overall really pleased with these colors and formulas. I didn't have time to pull comparisons but these colors work well without any tweaking needed. My husband loves Out for Passion on me so I bought one more as a back-up. Right now the colors are limited-edition. I do hope that MAC considers making these permanent. There are 12 colors in the US, but various stores have certain shades sold out. You may have to do a bit of searching but stores probably still have stock of most colors. For the ones I reviewd:
Did you pick up any of the MAC Huggable Lip Colours? What were your favorites?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

MAC Magnetic Nude - The Beauty Look Book Picks

MAC's Magnetic Nude Collection was just released a couple days ago (in stores today). Thanks to other bloggers with early access and amazing swatches, I was able to pick out a few items the day before Christmas and order online to avoid the crowds. I've been a huge fan of the Extra Dimension products (unique shimmery items that are not quite creams yet not quite powders). Superb Extra Dimension Skinfinish (from 2012) has been at the top of my list even though the frost is quite intense. Those who missed out before will be happy to learn it's made another appearance in the Magnetic Nude collection this year. The items are selling out online fast, you may have to order from multiple sources if you opt for online ordering. I hope these swatches and reviews will help if you can't get to a store or counter. My picks:
The Extra Dimension Skinfinishes in Magnetic Appeal and Fairly Precious are both stunning shimmery colors. I do think both are must-haves. They are more glowy versions of Tom Ford's Illuminating Highlighter Sticks (limited release from May, now discontinued). What I like about these is that there is more pigment than frost (even though they are very shimmery). They give the skin a glow with color rather than just a pale frost. Magnetic Appeal is a soft tan gold while Fairly Precious is a lovely warm light pink. Superb has been re-released. It's paler and significantly more frosted. Right now all are available online at Nordstrom and

The Extra Dimension Eye Shadows have quite a few repromoted shades. I didn't double check my stash to see that I already had Sweet Heat (in the larger size from 2012) so I have a duplicate now. Sweet Heat is a frosted champagne. Silver Dawn is every taupe-lover's dream. It's a metallic taupe silver. Both shades are layerable and the pigment is easy to control. A light swipe will give a sheer wash. Use a denser brush or your fingers for more coverage. For these I actually prefer using my fingers to apply by smudging on the lids. Sweet Heat is online Nordstrom. Right now Silver Dawn is still at

For the lips, I narrowed down my pick to just one lipglass in Oh My Darling, a light shimmery pink pearl, and Morning Rose Cremesheen Lipstick, a soft cool pink. Both are fairly safe feminine neutrals. I like the cremesheens for their high pigment and full coverage with a non-matte finish. Oh My Darling Lipglass is semi-sheer. You can definitely see a light pink pearl on the lips but it doesn't wash out the face. Morning Rose is available at Nordstrom. Oh My Darling is available at

All the items I picked out swatched on one arm:

I'm really happy with all my picks. Even happier I managed to pick out a few things before the entire collection sold out. If I had to limit myself to three items, I would pick the Skinfinish Highlighters in Magnetic Appeal and Fairly Precious along with the Morning Rose Lipstick. I haven't had a chance to compare the other items, but they are pretty basic colors - knowing the volume MAC releases, there's a good chance there are similar items (which is a good thing if you miss out on their fast-selling limited items).

Did you check out the Magnetic Nude collection? What did you think? Any highlights or loves?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chanel Les Beiges Comparisons

Here are a few comparisons of the new Chanel Les Beiges to some other powders including the Poudre Douce Soft Pressed Powder in Pêche Tendre 20 (discontinued), Double Perfection Lumèire in 20 Beige and MAC Golden Bronzer.

In general the Les Beiges powders are among the sheerest of the sheer when it comes to pressed powders. They aren't quite as sheer as MAC Blot Powders though (which I always found chalky-looking). You can definitely layer the Les Beiges over tinted moisturizers or foundations. Buffing in a circular motion with a denser brush helps build color.

I would say the Les Beiges are most similar in concept to the discontinued Poudre Douce Soft Pressed Powders even though these only came in lighter shades. Pêche Tendre 20 (no longer available in the US) has a more glowy finish with visible shimmer. Les Beiges No. 20 has no visible shimmer and goes on the skin more pinkish.

Below you can see that the Double Perfection Lumiere in 20 Beige has significantly more coverage than the Les Beiges powders and that in general the darker Les Beiges powders are quite a bit warmer in undertone. They aren't quite as brown as MAC Golden Bronzer (which also has more of a glow at a cheaper price) but Les Beiges have a similar natural finish.

Close up of the lighter shades:


Right now my favorite finishing powders are tied between NARS Light Reflecting Loose Powder (I haven't tried the pressed) and Dolce & Gabbana's Powder Foundation (I currently mix 100 and 140). Chanel Double Perfection used to be a favorite before they reformulated to the current Double Perfection Lumiere formula.

The more I use the Les Beiges the more I like them. My initial thoughts were slightly less than impressed due to the sheerness. I've found that buffing in a circular motion creates a nice glow - something definitely more natural and suited to my preference than mineral powder foundations (pressed or loose), but similar in result by blending out imperfections (only when layered over liquid foundations though for me).

You can find Les Beiges now at Nordstrom.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Glow

Finding the right bronzer or illuminator to achieve the perfect well-balanced summer glow can be a challenge sometimes. There are slight differences in the undertones, shimmer factor and pigment that can make some products make the skin look muddy, too shimmery or too dark. I've always been one to favor stronger contrasted bronzers but sometimes I want something just a bit more subtle. This season there are a number of new bronzers and illuminators that are well balanced in both color and shimmer. The result is a more naturally flattering summer glow. A few of my new favorites mixed in with some older ones in both powder bronzers and liquid highlighters.


Giorgio Armani's Bronze Palette (previously swatched here) gives the perfect luminous light warm bronze highlight. It's a goof proof naturally flattering shade that has just the right amount of shimmer. MAC's Pro Longwear Bronzing Powder in Nude on Board is a finely milled darker cooler-toned bronze that makes you look naturally tanned. I like that it has a soft sheen and that it's more on the neutral side for bronzers. The pigment is richer than most other MAC powder bronzers but doesn't darken on the skin. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Radiant is a more sparkly option, it gives a warm glow (detailed review to come soon).

Above left to right: Tom Ford Fire Lust $65 at select Neiman Marcus and Saks stores // MAC Strobe Liquid in Golden Elixir $31 // Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer No. 10 $59 // Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel in Sunkissed $48

I usually prefer to wear illuminators over foundation and powder as a highlight. I find most liquid highlighters either too shimmery or pale to mix in with my foundation. The result is often a clash with my olive skin making me look like a shimmery statue. There are several peachy/bronze ones now that I find perfect to mix in to give that all over luminous glow without looking like a bronze statue. Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel is a classic favorite, if you haven't tried it yet I highly recommend it. Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer 10 (see it swatched here) is a lovely warm golden shimmer (this one is the most fluid and sheer). MAC Strobe Liquid in Golden Elixir is a definite must-have that I've already backed-up. It just might be my holy grail bronze liquid highlighter. Tom Ford Fire Lust (reviewed here) is a pretty sheer natural peachy highlighter. Due to the price I usually don't mix in with foundation but just use on the cheeks and temples as a soft highlight for a luminous glow. 

If I could only pick two items this season, it would be the Giorgio Armani Summer Bronze palette and MAC Strobe Liquid in Golden Elixir. What are your favorite items you use to get that summer glow? Do you usually mix in a highlighter with foundation? Share your skintone and favorite go-to items.

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