Showing posts with label Mascara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mascara. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty - Preview of The Beauty Look Book Picks


Beauty fans will be thrilled to know that Charlotte Tilbury's beauty line has finally launched in the US. The range has launched online first at CharlotteTilbury.com, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Net-A-Porter and BeautyLish starting September 2nd. Later this fall, the line will launch in select stores starting October 7th at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC and October 10th at Nordstrom at The Grove in Los Angeles. Launch events will also be hosted with Nordstrom in other cities including Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Orange County, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas through Spring 2015.

I fell head over heels in love with the Filmstar Killer Cheekbones Set which was available at Nordstrom during the Anniversary Sale. I couldn't wait for the line to launch in the US so I decided order a few of her look sets from the UK site along with some other items. I'll have detailed reviews on all the items, but many of you have asked for a preview post wanting to know what I ordered and whether I thought the sets were worth it (versus buying items individually).

I did quite a bit of research when trying to decide what to buy. Some of the lipsticks and lip glosses looked extremely brown in stock photos so I relied heavily on blog swatches to help me pick out colors. I went with two of the sets simply because I found it easier to purchase an entire look rather than mix and match items. There are definitely duplicates in some of the sets with items such as mascara, makeup bag and some liners. (I gifted my extra makeup bag and mascara to another beauty friend.)

I ordered my items from the UK site and Paypal converted Pounds to Dollars. I think the prices I paid were slightly higher in the UK versus US prices, current US retail prices listed below. (Note all items are available individually as well).
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The Rock Chick Set ($225) includes:


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The Uptown Girl Set ($225) includes:


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Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash ($52)
Beach Sticks Bronze and Blush in Ibiza and Moonbeach (not yet available in the US)


There is a lot to digest with her line - it all looks so overwhelmingly good. I'll have reviews posted in the next week by category: face, eyes and lips with thoughts and swatches. I'm still happy I ordered the sets although you don't really save all that much buying a set versus individual items. I normally like to pick out items individually rather than stick to one preset look, but the color combinations are really good and easy to use for ideas. Even though I look nothing like the model used for each look, I found the looks helpful to see how soft or dramatic items would look on another face.

I've had really good experiences so far. I'm relieved since I spent a small fortune and bought everything sight unseen. More thoughts soon.

You can find Charlotte Tilbury in the US online at CharlotteTilbury.comNordstromBergdorf GoodmanNet-A-Porter and BeautyLish.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dior Beauty Favorites + A Few New Discoveries


Several new readers have e-mailed telling me they have just started to explore higher end cosmetics asking for advice on where to start building their makeup wardrobe and what I recommend for them to buy. Many are open to trying new brands and products but often prefer recommendations from one single brand to simplify their makeup routine. I personally like to mix it up with different brands each day depending on mood but for those who want to stick with one single brand, Dior is one of a few lines I've tried that I would feel comfortable using exclusively for everything from foundation, skincare, makeup and tools. I've partnered with Nordstrom to share some of my Dior Beauty favorites with you today.

I've been using Dior beauty since my college days (early 2000's). Over the years they've revamped almost all formulas for every product. I always panic anytime I hear "reformulate" thinking why change something when it's already really good? Dior has revamped their products for better though. Their nail polish keeps getting better, the Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer is the latest and it has a lush glossy look with rich pigment that applies flawlessly. Their Addict Lip Gloss is a classic favorite for a super glossy natural tint. It comes in a diverse range of colors from pales, brights and darker shades.



A few of my favorites which I highly recommend for anyone whether you're getting into Dior or higher end lines include:
Dior's Purifying Foam Cleanser is one of my top cleanser picks out of all that I've tried. I've repurchased this countless times. There are several different formulas of Dior cleanser, the Purifying Foam is for Normal/Combination skin. It is really effective at cleansing the skin but is still gentle. My husband loves it as well. It foams up nicely and leaves the skin feeling really clean without making it tight or leaving a film.


Diorskin Airflash Skin Foundation is one of the longest wearing foundations I've tried. There is a learning curve for application though. The Airflash comes in an aerosol spray. Hold it about 5-6 inches away from your face and close the eyes before you spray. You have to make sure your face is completely relaxed or else it will apply unevenly and miss spots. I spray in a Z motion twice from top to bottom. I don't always get a flawless application with the spray but it is easily fixable with a brush or sponge. I set with a sheer loose powder and it stays put all day. If you find yourself getting oily or shiny from this, you've probably applied too much. It is long-wearing and has fuller coverage, so to take it off, I recommend you use either a Cleansing Water or Cleansing Oil combined with your regular facial cleanser.


Dior has a good range of gloss options. The Addict Glosses are sheer, shimmery and add the perfect tint to the lips. My favorites are Nuit Boreale (a pale iridescent pink with some blue and green shimmer), Bed of Roses (a soft pink rose) and Diablotine a sheer but bright coral. If you're one that likes more pigment, the new Dior Addict Fluid Stick is incredible. They have super rich pigment and they glide onto the lips really nicely. Blend it and the color melds with your lip flawlessly. It's a hybrid lipstick and gloss so it has that lush gloss look but pigment of a lipstick and stays put relatively long.



For nails, Dior has always been a favorite. The formula has been revamped several times over the year and it just keeps getting better. There are a lot of limited-edition shades released each season. They often don't do repeats of the trendy shades although sometimes they will release something similar at a later date. I've been a collector for years and have amassed a sizable collection. If you're just starting to get into higher end nail polishes, Dior is a great option. I am one who really believes there is a difference in formula. The ones by Dior glide on seamlessly. The pigment and coverage is phenomenal these days. The brush is chiseled at the tip for easy two-swipe application. The colors are rich and range from classic to neutral to trendy. I love the Gel Top Coat over other Dior Polishes. I can get up to 7 days of wear without any tip wear or chipping. If you're looking to start with color, my top three can't-go-wrong picks are Incognito for an everyday classic neutral, Wonderland for a brightening pink and Nuit 1947 for a classic vamp with a jelly finish.


Painting on Nuit 1947 with the Gel Top Coat




The Diorshow Brow Styler is something I discovered mid-July. One of my favorite Dior artists recommended this for me. I was skeptical since the Brow Styler only comes in one shade in the US in Universal Brown 001. It's a light taupe brown that actually works for my lighter brows and dark black brown hair. Often times an exact match to my hair makes my brows look too intense and sharp. I like to opt for a color that is lighter but doesn't contain any red or isn't too ashy. The Universal Brown appears to be really universal from what I've seen.



above, wearing Nuit 1947


For lashes, my go-to lash primer is the Diorshow Maximizer Lash Pluming Serum. It's a white base you apply to your lashes as a primer. It helps add volume to the lashes and makes them look thicker without clumping. The trick to this one is to not let it dry completely before adding mascara. You can still add it, but applying your mascara while this is still a bit wet helps the product glide on better. The mascara will adhere to the primer and if it's completely dry, I find it tugs a little. You don't need to rush application, but I wouldn't wait a long time.

For mascaras, I've tried almost every Dior mascara made. They have the best mini samples each time a new one is released. I've developed a couple really good relationships with Dior reps at my Nordstroms so they always call me when they have samples. My favorite is the regular Diorshow for the plush bristles and rich color (and it doesn't flake or smudge). Nordstrom sent me one of the new ones for review which is the Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara. It has a curved comb which helps get all the lashes in a few strokes, no need to angle it in weird ways. It's supposed to help curl lashes. For my super straight lashes I always need a lash curler, but I find this one does keep the curl well. After testing it, I found it doesn't flake or smudge. I did need to wipe off the brush with the first application (I use a piece of paper to wipe off excess) but I usually need to do that with most mascaras.

above, wearing Wonderland

For eyeshadow, Dior has so many options. Their 5 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palette also keeps getting a makeover in formula, color options and packaging. They've retained the same navy rectangular compact but the newer ones keep getting sleeker in design. Nordstrom sent Bar 056 (one of the five new fall options) for review. I normally cannot wear greys on the eyes as they turn out to be too cool-toned. Bar offers a lovely classic subtle palette of greys I can actually wear without looking washed out. If you're looking for an everyday neutral, Rosy Tan 754 is hands down one of my favorites. I jus opened my backup a few months ago after going through one entire palette.



For those new to Dior or new to higher end lines, I hope you found this helpful as an introduction to Dior Beauty. There is a lot to explore within each product family for eyes, lips, cheeks, nails, tools, lashes etc. Even though I like to mix up brands in my daily beauty routine, I find Dior is one of the few that can really be a one-stop shop. I've fallen in love with their lipsticks, blushes and bronzers (although many are limited-edition ones). If you click on the Dior tag at the bottom you'll see more Dior reviews I've featured over the years. If you're a Dior fan, I'd love to hear what your favorites are. I'm always up for discovering new things.

Shop my favorites from Nordstrom:



Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. The Dior Bar Quint and Iconic Overcurl Mascara were provided for review. All other items purchased by me.

Friday, July 18, 2014

In Rotation | Beauty Look Book Mascara and Lash Primer Picks


I typically limit myself to a couple of mascaras I use at any given time since I keep them for 3 months max before tossing but I've been testing new ones and I've discovered some new favorites. I have half a dozen I'm using right now and I've picked out my favorites to share.

When it comes to my lashes, I'm really picky with mascaras or lash primers. I have really straight ones that often don't hold the curl with most mascaras even with a lash curler (my essentials here). I also find a lot of black mascaras turn grayish looking after they dry on my lashes, smudge or end up feeling crunchy and flake during the day. When it comes to mascara I look for something that will last all day without clumping, flaking, smudging and something that stays a true lush black color and holds the curl.

I'm hesitant to try lash primers and lash serums because I don't like having an extra layer of product on my sensitive eyes. I'm a novice in this area so if you have any recommendations I am all ears.
The mascara and lash products I have in rotation right now:

  • Shu Uemura Lash Builder ($33) is a lash builder serum to help create a longer lusher lash look, I've been testing this for a few weeks and am still undecided on what I think but it's been in my lash rotation, it darkens and defines the lashes when you apply it but I haven't seen a visible difference after I apply colored mascara, reviews seem to indicate you will see results over time
  • Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum ($28.50) is something I've used for several years, I don't use it everyday but it's a favorite base that helps mascara adhere better to the lashes and makes it catch the lashes resulting in a fuller look, I like that it doesn't impact the curl after using a lash curler
  • Guerlain Maxi Lash Waterproof ($30) is something I discovered thanks to RaeView, it's the first waterproof mascara I've tried that doesn't make my lashes feel crunchy, this one needs 2-3 uses to break it in, it gives lush rich black lashes, volumizes, doesn't clump/flake/smudge and defines the lashes nicely, I haven't tested it at the beach or pool but it seems to be sweat proof and lasts all day
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch ($32) is a staple in my beauty arsenal, I've repurchased this numerous times (probably a dozen tubes by now), it's my favorite mascara of all time because it does everything I want - lengthens, defines, thickens, darkens the color and stays put, it's easy to apply and gets the little corners easily because of the tapered brush tip, the bristles are well designed to grab on to the lashes and glides on easily
  • Chanel Le Volume de Chanel ($30) is the only Chanel mascara I like, it's a lightweight mascara that glides on easily and doesn't clump, it stays put and doesn't dry to a grayish finish like other Chanel mascaras do (at least for me), I like the Black and Bleu (navy) for fun, but mostly use the black
  • NARS Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara ($25) is another favorite that I've repurchased numerous times, it is one of my favorite volumizing mascaras that doesn't flake or smudge, this one has a big fluffy brush so it can be prone to clumping after a while due to buildup, I wipe down the brush with a small piece of paper wrapped around the tip (tissue or paper towels will get caught in the bristles, so paper actually is best to clean the brush) and then it's back to perfection
If I were pressed to pick just one mascara to live with the rest of my life, it would be the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch. If you're looking for something more wallet-friendly, a few other  less expensive favorites I've tested and purchased numerous times include Clinique High Impact Mascara ($16), Topshop 3d Curve Mascara ($20, or in this Eyeliner/Mascara Set for $24) and MAC Plushlash Mascara ($16) has been a long-time favorite. I've tried dozens of drugstore mascaras (literally) and for some reason they've all turned grayish in color on my lashes and I've never found one that holds the curl.



What are your holy grail lash primers, serums and mascaras? I've been researching lash serums and would love your thoughts on any you've tried.

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. (Also available in Sable/Dark Brown). Finding a good true black for me is difficult. Most black pencils end up looking too harsh, too grey or just not really dark enough. Coal is a good true black that applies very smoothly and stays put. 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, February 16, 2014

The Beauty Look Book Essentials | Eye Basics


This is Part 2 of my Essentials Series. Today I'm sharing my favorite eye basics tools and products such as bases, mascaras and brow products. Details listed below for each product, followed by some swatches and extra photos below.

An overview on what I've looked for in each category:
  • Bases - I have normal to dry lids so I tend to look for products that are a tiny bit moist and dry down slowly so I can layer shadows without having to rush. At the same time I want something that will also dry to a finish that is longer-lasting and something that will stay put throughout the entire day. For color I know many like to match the skin color exactly to even out the lids. I prefer something with a bit of shimmer or a few shades darker otherwise the lids end up looking very flat and washed out.
  • Pencils/liners - I have found many basic browns or blacks are not dark enough or don't have the right texture. Many look great for a few hours then slide off or fade. Finding the perfect combination of color, texture and lasting power has been a challenge. Sometimes layering a powder shadow over a liner can help extend the wear-life of eye makeup. I usually prefer bronze or navy colors instead of your basic brown or black.
  • Mascaras - I have very straight lashes so without a mascara to lengthen, hold curl or volumize, I end up with raccoon eyes or look like I don't have lashes at all. Some long-wear mascaras end up feeling crunchy (if that makes sense) as they stiffen, I prefer something that has a bit more of a glossy looking finish but one that will stay put. Color is also key, I look for mascaras that look like they are a true black. Some dry down to a lighter color than what you see when it's moist.
  • Brows - I am still searching for my perfect brow pencil. I found one with NARS in Panama but they discontinued it and came out with a new formula and colors.
My tried and true list of products I've found over the years. While this is quite an extensive list, note that these were accumulated over time. There is always debate over shelf life of products, I usually keep items until they dry out, start to smell funny or just don't perform the same. Some liners/bases have lasted over 2 years - I think as long as you use clean brushes and occasionally wipe down the surface with a paper towel or cotton pad you should be ok. The only eye items I throw out regularly are mascaras at the 3 month mark.
  1. Chanel Eyelash Curler ($34, limited-edition) is a classic black eyelash curler. It was released a few years ago at all counters but you can only find it now at select places like Chanel.com. Detailed review with photos here. It works for my eyelid shape so it doesn't pinch around the edges and curls perfectly. Since it's black and I have black lashes, it can be hard to see what I'm curling unless I have good light, but the results are good.
  2. Le Metier de Beaute Eyelash Curler ($18) is a favorite at a relatively inexpensive price for a high-end curler. The pad has a bit more cushion to it but is gentle. This curls my lashes well and fits the eye shape perfectly.
  3. MAC Paint Pot in Groundwork ($20) is a classic cream tan brown color. I like it as a base for 1/2 way up the lid or as a soft contouring shade. It's darker than my natural skin tone but blends well and stays put. It helps add definition in a subtle way.
  4. RMS Cream Eyeshadow Solar ($28) might sound odd as an eye basic but the gold shimmer makes for a perfect swipe-and-go kind of color. It's all I need on lazy days and also works well as a base. The shimmery gold color helps brighten powder shadows and also intensifies colors when applied over the cream.
  5. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Liner in Bronze Shimmer was a classic for years and then Bobbi Brown discontinued it. You may still be able to find this at various outlets (I have and stocked up). The closest color from Bobbi Brown is Chocolate Shimmer Ink (which is still darker and redder). Urban Decay has close matches as well but the lasting power doesn't match.
  6. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Liner in Caviar Ink ($24) is a dark black but not quite a true black. There's a hint of brown in this so it's not too harsh. It's my perfect black liner.
  7. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Nude Beach ($25) is another discontinued favorite. It was limited a few summers ago and is my holy-grail nude eyebase with shimmer. I wish it were permanent but the good news is Shore is a close match (just doesn't have the shimmer).
  8. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Shore ($25) is a good matte nude. It's an amazing base that covers the lids and helps shadows adhere better. Depending on your skintone you may need something darker - Bobbi Brown has a wide range of neutrals to choose from. Shore is the one that matches my skin the best.
  9. Edward Bess Defining Eyeliner in Deep Brown ($29) is the best basic brown liner I've tried. It has a smooth texture so it glides on easy but it lasts all day after it sets.
  10. Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof in Noir Intense ($32) is the blackest black I've found that stays put. It's darker than Ebene (Chanel's classic black). I like that it's a twist-up kind of pencil. The end pops off so you can sharpen the tip.
  11. NARS Larger than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner ($24 each) in Via Appia (bronze) and Rue Saint-Honore (navy) are amazing eye pencils. These are twist up pencils as well with a removeable cap at the end to sharpen the tips. These are rich in color and easy to blend (if you blend quickly after application). Once they set, they don't budge.
  12. Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Eye Pencil in Champagne ($36) is the classic taupe pencil that you can use as a shadow base. If you've had a makeover from any of the artists from Le Metier de Beaute, they will almost always use this - it's universally flattering and works wonders to add a bit of color to the eyes.
  13. Edward Bess Illuminating Eye Base in Suede ($30) is my holy grail eye base. There's nothing else that will help my shadows last as long as this base does. See my review and swatches here.
  14. NARS Volumizing Mascara ($25) is one of my favorite volumizing mascaras. It really does what it claims to do. It volumizes and thickens the lashes. I love that it doesn't budge or smudge. It's a rich black color which I love.
  15. Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara - Stretch ($32) is another favorite, if I were pressed to pick one favorite, this would be it. It's my does-everything mascara. Lengthens, thickens, defines, stays put, darkens and volumizes the lashes like no other mascara. There are several other variations of Eyes to Kill Mascaras. I've tried them all and they are all very good. This one grabs my thin lashes better and defines the best out of all of them. Artists I work with from Armani all have their different favorites.
  16. By Terry Eyebrow Mascara in Dark Brown ($38) is something new I've discovered. (I'll have a more detailed review later.) I have the worst brows ever. Everytime I have a makeover or work with an artist, they always ask me "what do you do to fix your brows?" My answer is usually nothing because there's usually very little I can do to "fix" them. Most pencils are too warm or too dark in color. The By Terry Brow Mascara in Dark Brown is the best brow product I've discovered. It helps define the brows and keeps them groomed. It dries to a natural feel (not a crunchy finish like many do). With this one I suddenly have defines brows that don't look so bad anymore.
  17. Bobbi Brown Tweezers ($30) grip the brows and tiny stubborn hairs. I've tried Tweezerman and Anastasia before - both of which are good, but nothing compared to Bobbi Brown. There is something about the design of the tips that helps grip hairs better. I like the classic silver design. It comes with a rubber tip to cap it so you can store it in your purse or makeupbag.
  18. Shu Uemura Slant Tweezers were my favorite of all tweezers. I'm very sad they discontinued this in the US. I keep checking Shu Uemura's website to see if it pops up again. No luck so far. Bobbi Brown is my close second for now.
  19. Leftover mascara wands are what I use to groom and brush brows or lashes. After my mascara is used up, I wash the brushes with warm water and soap and then they make their way into my brush containers to be recycled and reused. 
Eye Basics / Color Swatches



Eye Basics / Tools


I hope this comprehensive post gives you a list of ideas on what to try. We all have unique eye shapes, skin tones and skin types, so what works for you will depend on a number of factors. I hope the descriptions and details above will either help narrow down what to look for. If you can schedule a sit-down session with your counters, I recommend it. Artists have a wealth of knowledge - sometimes scheduling in advance can help them make sure they have extra staff on hand.

If I were to pick only 5 items for eye basics, they would be:
1) Le Metier de Beaute Eyelash Curler
2) Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara - Stretch
3) Edward Bess Illuminating Eye Base in Suede
4) NARS Larger than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in Via Appia and
5) Shu Uemura Slant Tweezers


What are your holy-grail tools and eye basics?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Minimalist on Monday


I think every week should have a three-day weekend. Two days simply isn't enough time to do the things I want to do (the fun stuff). Today's look is quick and easy with a simple black cotton dress, tan belt, black flats, ivory leather bag. Outfit is almost entirely J.Crew (I can always rely on them for a classic simple look). Leather bag is by Balenciaga. Makeup is all barely-there natural colors. I'm a minimalist at heart even if my natural "no makeup" look isn't really minimalist if you break it down to what I'm wearing.


Inside the bag:


What I'm wearing today: Chanel Tweed Rose Blush, Chanel Taupe-Délicat Eyeshadow Duo, Chanel Espresso Stylo Yeux, Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara, Chanel Confidentielle Rouge Allure, Chanel Star Glossimer, Jo Malone Orange Blossom Cologne, Chanel Peche Nacree Le Vernis


I hope each and every one of you have a great week! Remember Chanel Rouge Coco Shines come out this week in the US!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Battle of the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Mascaras: Excess vs. Regular


I've gushed over and over again raving that Armani's Eyes to Kill Mascara is my holy-grail-life-changing type of product. I have medium length lashes that are super straight which makes them look shorter than they really are. After discovering the magic of eyelash curlers I still found it challenging to find the right mascara for my eye shape and lash type: one that thickens, lengthens, defines and does not smudge, flake or irritate my eyes, and most importantly, one that also holds the curl.

Armani's Eyes to Kill was the answer to my seemingly never ending quest for the perfect mascara. There are a number of other mascaras I like, but none had the wow-factor like Armani's. It's also interesting to note that I've been a long-time Armani fan, but I hated every single previous mascara release from the brand. So I was skeptic when I first tried Eyes to Kill, especially at a jaw-dropping $30 per tube, but I'm glad I did. I actually tried a mini sample first before buying a full-sized tube. The heavy weight sleek black tube makes it feel worth it when it's in your hands.

Left = Excess, Right = Regular

Armani has since released 2 other variations, a waterproof version and Megan Fox's Eyes to Kill Excess. I never tried the waterproof version - my experience with waterproof versions is that they tend to be too harsh on my lashes, the formula is just too thick and dries to a consistency that makes my lashes feel brittle. Not to mention they are a huge pain to remove from the eyes in the evenings. The new Eyes to Kill Excess has a killer slogan, "exceptionally volumizing mascara, drop dead seduction in a single stroke." As soon as I opened the e-mail about this, I had to try it out.


So how do they compare? You can read more detailed product information about the Eyes to Kill Excess formula on Armani's website (linked here for your convenience). I will start by saying that I prefer the regular formula, read on to find out why. Here is what I noticed about each:

Eyes to Kill Regular: According to Armani, "Dress the eye with powerful, plush, voluminous lashes. Fine, fluid Microfil technology creates intensely captivating lash texture. Micro-waxes combined with a fineness agent allow for smooth and easy application, revealing weightless volume and length."

I'm featuring my #5 Blue Grey Night in the photos, but mainly rely on my #1 Steel Black (currently missing in action). The formula dries to a stiffer finish which holds the curl and lasts all day (unless you start crying or are splashed with water). There's also something about the texture of the mascara + the big bristles that grabs onto your lashes coating them evenly and fully. This results in thick lush lashes for me. The #1 Steel Black doesn't look like a true black when wet, but applies darker than what you see resulting in a true black finish. Finding a true black is hard for me - many brands have black mascaras that dry down to a greyish finish making my lashes look ashy. Even though my lashes are black, I've often had better success with dark brown mascaras. I love the way the sleek heavy tube feels - it's simple, straight and nice to look at.


Eyes to Kill Excess: Seems to be the exact same in bristle shape/size to me. The difference is in the formula which, according to Armani contains "The fusion of a Wax™ Complex and the new texturizing agents creates a fluid and creamy texture that glides onto the lashes and allows for an easy, homogeneous application." Also, the Excess formula is supposed to be a darker black color than anything they've made before.

My personal observations is that the Excess is a great mascara. I definitely notice that it's a deeper more dramatic true black. I also notice a difference in formula in the sense that it's more creamy and less stiff. There is no smudging or flaking. It holds the curl and lasts all day. I personally found that I had to pump the brush a bit inside the tube to get more product on the brush for a better application. On me it clumped a bit the first few applications. I had to experiment with my application technique to get a smooth finish and thick even look. It definitely has a softer feel on my lashes. The packaging is still heavyweight and sleek, it just has a glossy finish on the tube.

Regular vs. Excess: Because I have such wimpy lashes, I need all the help I can get. The Regular formula has a stiffer, thicker, more volumizing dramatic finish, but I can definitely feel like I am wearing mascara. If you have sensitive eyes and found the Regular formula too much for your lashes, but still want a similar finish with a weightless more natural feel, try out the Excess formula. Unfortunately the Excess only comes in 1 shade, black.
My review might seem odd since the Excess formula has been marketed as a darker more dramatic version of the Regular Eyes to Kill. I like them both.

Summary comparison of the features for the Black shades (sorry for the confusion, I can't find my regular Steel Black right now):
  • Color: Both are true blacks, Excess is a deeper darker black
  • Volumizing: Regular is more volumizing
  • Defining: Excess is more defining
  • Lasting Power: Same, all day, but not waterproof or cry-proof
  • Texture: Regular is thicker
  • How it Feels on the Lashes: Regular is stiffer more dramatic, Excess is softer and more gentle
  • Smell: Same scent, not noticeable once on the eyes
  • Overall Effect: Regular has more of a wow-factor, Excess has a darker blacker finish
  • Brush Size & Shape: Same, although in the photo, the blue seems fuller (it just has more product on the bristles from more frequent use, the excess has only been used 4 times so far) - this can show you the difference in formulas though, the regular just seems to adhere to bristles and lashes better


Both retail for $30. I usually buy mine from Neimans or Bloomingdales. At this time I don't know if the Excess is limited edition or not. I can only say that I hope they keep the regular formula. I don't regret buying the Excess and have no intention of returning it. Sometimes it's nice to have variety.

If you have tried either, what are your thoughts? Experiences? Rants or raves?

For your reference, my other mascara loves include DiorShow, Dolce & Gabbana, NARS Volumizing, Estee Lauder Projectionist, Clinique High Impact Mascara, MAC Plush Lash, Kiehl's Marvelous Mineral Mascara, Shu Uemura Basic.

Mascaras I've tried and did not like include MAC Zoom Lash, all of Chanel/Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier Thickening, Lancome Definicils, YSL Faux Cils, Trish McEvoy High Volume, Le Metier Waterproof, Clinique Naturally Glossy, Clinique Lash Doubling, Benefit BADGal (note - this is based on my own personal experience). In general I do not like waterproof formula mascaras.

There are a number of mascaras I've tried that I'm indifferent to - ones that weren't great but weren't bad. Too many to mention, although I definitely haven't tried all types or brands.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Giorgio Armani Fall 2010 Picks For Me


When I saw that the fall collection from Armani had launched online, I knew I had to get the new Eyes to Kill Mascara in #5 Blue Grey Night ($30) and the Powder Blush Duo ($49). I've loved every single powder blush released by Armani and the new one for fall is exquisite. The Fall Quad ($59) purchase, I credit to Gaia from The Non-Blonde (see her sneak peek here) who has a way of creating major lemmings for me.

My sales associate called me as soon as they came in, which I highly appreciate (it pays to be a loyal customer). For some reason, Armani has been distributing extremely limited quantities of stock to the counters near me. For the past year they have received extremely limited stock and usually don't get testers until months after they receive the product to sell. For this collection, she only received 3 blush duos and 3 quads. There were no testers, but being familiar with the quality of their eyeshadow quads and blushes, I didn't need to test these before purchasing.



My thoughts on each item:

Eyes to Kill Mascara #5 (not swatched) - For this one they had a brand new tester so I eagerly tried this one out with a tester mascara wand. In the tube it's a metallic smokey blue-grey. It goes on darker than it appears in the tube and looks lovely on the eyes. This is my first non-black mascara purchase. There are a number of gorgeous shades by Chanel (plum, bronze, aubergine, etc.) however, the formulas cannot compare to Armani's Eyes to Kill (my all time favorite mascara). The Eyes to Kill Mascaras defines the lashes, thickens, lengthens and holds the curl. All without flaking or smudging or making the lashes feel brittle. It's pure love and worth every single penny.

Maestro Eyeshadow Quad Fall 2010 - The pigment on this is incredible. The colors however are definitely out of my personal comfort zone. I think the combination of colors are odd for use all at one time. I really have no idea how I will be able to pull off all shades at once. I'm not sure that I think "fall" when I see it. The blue and navy makes me thing "nautical" which is not something I really associate with fall. Still the colors in the palette are stunning and unique to Armani (see comparisons to Maestro Singles 6, 21 and 33 below). In it there is a denim-colored shimmery bright navy, smokey deep brown with plum, pale silvery blue, shimmery olive almost khaki colored brown. The artist suggested mixing the navy and dark brown together for a smokey eye.

Blush Duo Fall 2010 - Lovely fresh hot pink with a soft pale pink. In typical Armani Blush style, soft texture/finish, natural semi-sheer finish, makes the cheeks just glow. The pale side has more color and is more pink than Blush #12. I used this blush duo as soon as I got home mixed together. It's just so pretty. I've compared it below to some other pinks from D&G, Bobbi Brown, Paul & Joe and Armani. No swatch comparisons as blush shades are extremely hard for me to swatch accurately. *Note* someone mentioned this is $80+ on the armani website and is also listed under the cream-blush duo, I think this an error but I'm not certain. Mine was $49 US (before tax) and it's definitely powder on both sides. The price can be confirmed on Nordstrom.com.

More photos.








I passed on the new Purple Eyes to Kill #7 (simply too purple for me, just as Gaia described). I didn't see the new lipsticks, but they seem a bit dark for my taste.

 

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