Showing posts with label Powder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Powder. Show all posts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall Foundations

It's time for a foundation update now that we are transitioning to fall weather. I've been testing some new base formulas over the past few months. I have an assortment of foundations to share today by coverage type which I've found suitable for my normal combination skin. These days my skin is slightly oily in the T-zone with a few dry patches around the chin area as I'm working to clear up my skin. I still have super sensitive skin that reacts to a lot of foundations so if you're like me, I this roundup helps you find something new to try.

In case you have completely different skin type and foundation preferences, I highly recommend you give Nordstrom's online foundation search tool to help you find the right foundation for you. There is a quick and easy form for you to fill out where you select skin type, coverage and finish preference. This filters brands and formulas for you to check out. I highly recommend you give it a try.

I've split my fall foundation edit into three categories: Natural Coverage, Medium-to-Full Coverage and Powder Foundations. My personal foundation preference is for something that is natural looking and lightweight but also has decent coverage to even out the skin and create a flawless base. Many have asked me if it's necessary for add-ons like primers and powder. I don't think all foundations need a primer, but I'm a firm believer in setting with powder. Many times I set with a powder foundation by dusting the face with a brush. Some think it's too much to layer powder foundation on top of liquid foundation but if you layer it right, it's not too much. (More on primers and powders in a separate post.)

Up first are three new powder foundations I've been testing. If you've read The Beauty Look Book for a long time you will know that my holy grail powder foundation is the Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte Powder Foundation. My color is usually Warm 100 and has worked for me even though I've gotten darker over the summer. I decided to try a few new formulas.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation is indeed a high-def kind of product. It's a super pigmented and super velvety kind of powder foundation that has medium to full coverage. You can use this one wet or dry, I prefer dry with a sponge or dusted with a brush. For me trying powder foundation is tricky - as the skin warms up, powders often darken or oxidize in color. The Urban Decay Naked Skin Powder Foundation does warm up to the skin but doesn't darken. It holds up really well with minor touch ups needed on the nose for me. I use Medium Light Warm. There are a number of shade options with different undertones.

The Tom Ford Flawless Powder Foundation launched a few months ago. This is extremely pricey at $80 but the formula is amazing. With a simple base of moisturizer the sponge applies this on the skin and makes all your pores disappear. Skin appears smooth and truly flawless. It's easy to build - the texture in the compact looks and feels powdery but there is no fall out on the face and it doesn't cake. The downside (aside from the steep price tag) is the limited color selection. I'm in between Fawn and Sable. It was suggested I opt for Fawn as the closest match. I'm about 1.5 shades darker now compared to what I am most of the year. For right now I can get by with Fawn but it's a tad bit too pale. It will be perfect for winter. That being said I do hope they expand the color selection to match the liquids because this formula is incredible.

Giorgio Armani also launched a new foundation called the Luminous Silk Compact. Color selection jumps around in this one as well. I am normally anywhere from a 6, 6.5 to 7 in the Luminous Silk and Lasting Silk. The powders I saw seemed to run on the dark side. I was matched to 4 and I was super skeptical about the counter rep's matching skills because I expected to be 5.5 or 6.5. She was right. It warms up on the skin. I would say this is one of the sheerer powder foundations I've tried. If you like a super natural look this is a good one. It is very smooth and finely milled. I prefer more coverage but it's great as a setting powder or layered over a sheer foundation.

Swatches next to Chanel Double Perfection Lumiere Powder Foundation (right now I use 40 Beige) and Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte in Warm 100


Next up are some natural medium coverage foundations. Some of these are more on the sheer side but each of these will offer enough coverage to even the skin and cover minor imperfections. I have a few tried and true mixed in with a new to me formula.

Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact was featured a few weeks ago. This is the first cushion compact I've tried and my color match is Tan Gold 204. Several of you mentioned you hoped shade 102 would launch in the US and the good news is that I just noticed that it's now online at Nordstrom! The Amore Pacific Cushion Compact is the most natural looking foundation I've tried that still gives medium coverage. It melts into your face to look like skin but as you press it into your face you will see it transform into what I call your skin but better. Color selection is limited so I'm thrilled that Tan Gold is my perfect match (it warms up and adjusts within the first 2-5 minutes but doesn't darken further after it sets).

The NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is one of my holy grail base products because it's really not like a traditional tinted moisturizer. When my friends ask me for a recommendation on a foundation that's natural this is the one I recommend first. It's usually followed by a response along the lines of, "oh but I don't like tinted moisturizers, they're too sheer and greasy." I agree that most are, but this one is very different. It's more like a natural foundation with a super lightweight texture that makes the skin glow naturally. I'm usually Groenland year round but after getting a tan I've found the next shade up St. Moritz to be a better match. If you haven't tried this formula I highly recommend you do. It has the perfect natural coverage and glows without feeling too glowy and doesn't get greasy or too emollient throughout the day.

La Mer Reparative Skin Tint is something I featured over the summer. This is one of the few skincare + foundation in one kind of products that I actually like. The formula melds into the skin beautifully and offers natural medium coverage. Over time it improves the texture of the skin adding moisture without feeling heavy. The only downside is the color selection is limited and it's also very expensive but if you can find a color match it's well worth the splurge. It helps rebalance the skin and lasts all day long. If you have normal to dry skin this one is really good.

The Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream was a pleasant surprise for me. I received a few press sample recently and gave it a try. I have to say it far exceeded my expectations - the concept of a gel cream didn't sound appealing to me since most gel-like foundations feel sticky and often look too dewy on my skin. This formula has thoroughly impressed me, I like it just as much as the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and the added bonus is the color selection seems better than most lines. This is a BB Cream, CC Cream and Tinted Moisturizer in one. I'm usually not a fan of BB or CC creams because I don't like the way they feel on my face. The Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue feels weightless and blends into the skin beautifully.


The final category for my fall foundation roundup is medium to full coverage formulas. This is my formula of choice since I prefer bases that cover my skin more to create an even base. All of these have been featured before on the blog, they are my tried and true.

Tom Ford makes excellent foundation. The Traceless Foundation Stick is hands down the best foundation stick I've ever tried. It's super creamy and easy to blend on the skin. It covers imperfections without looking cakey. Since it's super pigmented I recommend layering this on areas you need extra coverage instead of applying it all over the face. I love the formula but the pigment is too rich for the entire face everyday (at least for me). The Traceless Perfecting Foundation is something I use regularly. I am normally a match to Bisque 4 but right now Natural 5 is my perfect summer match.

The NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation is another holy grail for full coverage foundations. This one gets mixed reviews - some love it, others hate it. It's super concentrated and a little goes a long way. It lasts all day on my normal combination skin and covers the face really really well. If I were to compare this to a lipstick, I would say this is similar to Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution. Both are more matte in finish but have this luminous quality that makes it look natural and not flat. I do think you need to prep the skin properly with a good moisturizer and primer if you have any dryness or uneven texture on the skin (I like the Dolce & Gabbana Primer or any of the ones from NARS). My shades are Santa Fe and Punjab, both of which are too light for me now. Since a little goes a long way I still have a lot of both shades and didn't want to purchase a third since I'll be losing my tan soon.

Last but not least, Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet is a classic staple for me. I've repurchased it several times. I alternate between Beige 30 and Beige 40 depending on my skintone. It offers medium buildable coverage and feels lightweight. Even though the name "velvet" implies a matte finish, I find it's a natural luminous matte. It doesn't look or feel heavy. In terms of foundation recommendations this one usually is #2 on my list. Many often ask, "but what about the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua? it sounds better and lighter." Both are good formulas, the Perfection Lumiere Velvet is my favorite because it covers better and has a slightly matte finish. It also lasts all day and feels weightless. The Vitalumiere Aqua is also natural looking and I know many love it. On me it feels a bit too dewy, I would say it's better suited for you if you like glowy makeup or have normal to dry skin.


If you're looking for a new foundation to try, I hope you found this roundup helpful. Finding the right foundation can take time. There are so many factors to consider from color matching, formula, finish and lasting power. As usual, I'd love to hear about your foundation favorites or new discoveries. Do you have anything that's a go-to for fall?

Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions my own. Press samples include the items from Bare Minerals and Amore Pacific. All others purchased by me. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Le Métier de Beauté Ken Downing Paris and Full Stream Kaleidoscopes

It's been over a year since I've featured anything from Le Métier de Beauté. Long-time readers know that I used to be a huge fan of the line. Their kaleidoscope kits feature some of the most beautiful colors for eyes and cheeks - over the past 5+ years I accumulated quite a few and loved them (I still do). However I found that many kits contained repeat colors and at $95+ each, I found them too pricey to end up with duplicate colors (as seen in one of my last posts on the line from 2014). Fast forward to this month and I decided to splurge on two for the Neiman Marcus Beauty Event (which ends tomorrow 9/23) - both of which seemed unique enough to justify. One is the Ken Downing Paris Eye Kaleidoscope $125 (which isn't new, but still available for purchase) and the other is a new one called Full Stream Kaleidoscope $95.

The Le Métier de Beauté Ken Downing Paris Eye Kaleidoscope has four eyeshadows. This one is more expensive than most, priced at $125 for 0.49 oz/ 14 g. I was also really drawn to the Ken Downing London Kit, but 2 of the 4 shades seemed very warm. In my experience, Le Métier de Beauté always surprises me with how wearable the reddish/orangey shades are on the eyes, especially when layered with cooler tones, but I decided to opt for the cool version.

The four shades include a soft satiny cool pink shimmer, a warm copper metallic, a cool pale silver dove grey shimmer and a warm brown shimmer. The mix of warm and cool is pure genius, especially when the colors are layered together (although I've shown them swatched separately). Pigment is easy to build. The two lighter shades are sheerer in finish with a soft satiny texture while the darker ones are more metallic, more buttery in texture and more pigmented.

Close ups of each shade:

There are four new Kaleidoscopes exclusive to Neiman Marcus. The four are called Full Stream, Lift Off, Bon Voyage and All Aboard (not available online yet). Each kit has a translucent pressed powder and variations of blush, bronzer, highlighter and eyeshadow. I originally pre-ordered two, but since all have a pressed powder, I remembered my hesitation in getting duplicates and picked Full Stream.

All four photographed in store from Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills:

Full Stream has a translucent powder, one cool pink shimmery blush, a warm tan bronzer and a soft peachy shimmer eyeshadow (also works as a highlighter). The kit is very simple and basic - but it's perfect for on-the-go and touchups. I was worried the powder would look really white on my face because swatching it showed it was really pigmented. On the face, even on my tan skin, it disappears and leaves a matte-looking finish.

Close ups of each color:

I'm happy with both of my purchases. They did make a serious dent in my wallet and although Full Stream is easily dupeable with other colors, sometimes it's nice to have something basic that doesn't require much effort or thought to apply. It brightens the face in a natural polished way and adds color without looking overdone. I can see this going really well with bold lips. Even though these are expensive at $95 and $125 each, if you break it down per pan, it's about $23 to $31 per color which isn't too bad given the product amount. Comparing it to other brands at the per gram or per ounce price, it's reasonable. Still, if you're like me, you probably budget beauty splurges at the bottom line total, so yes, these are still pricey. The only gripe I have about these two is the sticker at the top. I like the fun designs and they are really pretty - however the kits have a slightly rounded top and the stickers are flat so the result is a bubbled sticker that looks uneven. I had one in my purse in my makeup bag (I don't recommend doing this) and the tops are not scratch proof. One of mine wasn't applied on the kit evenly so the edges started to come up. It bothered me enough that I pulled the sticker off which is a shame because the designs are really cute.

In summary, I think the new kits are definitely worth looking into. You can find both the Ken Downing Paris and Full Stream Kaleidoscope exclusively in store and online at Neiman Marcus.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Favorite Setting Powders: Pressed and Loose

I've discussed foundations, primers and tinted moisturizers on this blog but haven't done a roundup on my favorite beauty powders. One of the keys to making my foundation or tinted moisturizer last is to use a good setting powder to make everything stay put. I've rounded up my favorites for my sensitive medium-toned skin.

Finding a good powder can take time and a lot of testing. Just like foundation, some colored powders look good once you apply it but can end up darkening after a few hours. Others might be too matte and make your face look completely flat. Then there are powders that are too heavy and can end up looking cakey on your skin or feel like it just sits on your skin.

When it comes to setting powders, I like both translucent kinds and ones with medium to medium-full coverage. If a powder is tinted but too sheer, I find it can look too powdery on the skin and I'd rather just stick with something that is translucent.

Translucent Loose Powders

I have two favorites for translucent loose powder that I've repurchased several times over. First is the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder which is an oil-free loose powder. It has a silky texture and colorless finish. The powder itself looks white but it doesn't make you look pale or turn the skin white. At my darkest, I am a Chanel B40 and this works when I have a tan. It's lightweight but you can definitely see a soft transformation on your face once you apply it. This one sets foundation really well without looking too powdery or cakey. It's also good for my sensitive skin, doesn't irritate my face or emphasize pores.

My next favorite is the NARS Light Reflecting Loose Powder. This is another colorless powder that has contains what NARS calls a Light Reflecting Complex which optimizes light-reflection on the skin. It doesn't add any visible shimmer or glow but it sets the makeup really well and once applied it melts into the skin and photographs really well. It does help to blur any lines or pores but won't make them disappear completely. This gives a slightly more matte finish to the face compared to the Laura Mercier but it doesn't make the skin look flat.

Loose Powders - Tinted

I've tried and used up a number of loose powders including Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Laura Mercier (Mineral), Becca and Clinique. Loose powder is one of those things where I use up entirely even if I don't 100% love it as long as it doesn't irritate or break out my skin. For me it's challenging to find a tinted loose powder that has enough color or coverage. So many darken or look so powdery on the skin. Laura Mercier made several Loose Powders in Ivory and Beige but it appears they have been discontinued. I am hoping it makes a comeback or is simply being repackaged because Beige was one of the best loose powders I've used. The Laura Mercier Mineral Loose Powder is another alternative I've used before, it has a pearl finish similar to other mineral powders. In terms of loose mineral powders, the Laura Mercier is the best one I've tried, but it's a bit heavy for my personal preference.

My all time favorite loose powder is Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder. It comes in one shade that will suit fair to medium skin tones. I do hope they add more colors in the future because this one is really good. It's made of an ultra-fine pearl powder formula that works to set foundation and add a bit of coverage to even out the skin. The soft pearls particles cover pores and balance skin surfaces for a natural glow. The shimmer in this one is visible but it's not over the top and it won't make your face look shimmery.

Powder Foundation

I typically prefer powder foundation to set my liquid foundation. I know you might think it sounds too heavy, but I've really loved the way dusting powder foundation with a brush over liquids gives a flawless canvas to work with. Those who have seen me in person usually can't tell I'm wearing foundation (which is always a good thing because you don't want it to look super obvious). My all time favorite used to be Chanel Double Perfection Powder but they've reformulated it several times and I've found that I am sometimes in between colors. Right now I'm in between Beige 20 and 30. If you can find a good color match this is a really good silky smooth powder that adds the perfect amount of medium coverage. Using a sponge will add more coverage but I prefer applying this one with a brush. It's a good touch up powder too for mid-day. It won't cake if you touch up your nose or forehead.

My current favorite is the Dolce & Gabbana Powder Foundation in Warm 100. I have alternated between Warm and Tan depending on how dark my skin is, but 100 has been my exact match for a long time. This one covers perfectly and flawlessly. It won't irritate or break out my super sensitive skin (MAC and Bobbi Brown always break me out). It has a soft velvety finish that doesn't cake, darken or look overdone while still giving you a decent amount of coverage to even out the skin.

Pressed Powder

I've avoided regular pressed powders for a long time because so many just don't look good on my skin. They look like they sit on the face or alter the color of my foundation. I've found three that are phenomenal. The Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Powders are among my favorite. (Review + swatches here). #20 is my match for an all over dusting powder. #30 and #40 are good for subtle contouring or adding color for warmth. These are ultra smooth powders that have a sheer to medium finish that just melts into the skin. I dust with a powder brush to set powder and it gives a sheer smooth finish.

The Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder is as good as pressed powders get. I saw this one applied on my friend at the Nordstrom Charlotte Tilbury counter at the grove. My friend already had some tinted moisturizer on, she just needed a touch up. I watched her skin transform into this amazing airbrushed finish that looked amazingly natural. It evens out the skin but won't alter the color of your foundation (as long as you get a good match). The only downside is the color selection is pretty limited and there's a big jump in between the three colors. I use #2 Medium and am a Chanel B30 in foundation. My friend is a Chanel B10 in foundation and was matched to #1 Fair.

Tom Ford Translucent Finishing Powder is another really good pressed powder. I've had this one applied on my face numbers times at the Tom Ford counter and it took me a long time before I was willing to splurge on this one (it's $77, yes ouch!). My match is Ivory Fawn which looks light in the compact but it has a sheer enough finish to be quite forgiving (I use the Traceless Perfecting in Bisque 4). The only downside (other than the ridiculous price tag) is the color selection is limited. There is a huge gap between Ivory Fawn and Sahara Dusk which is the next shade up. If you are either fair or tan you will have better luck finding a match compared to those of us with medium skin. Once I get tan in the summer, I will be in that gap.

For translucent pressed powders, I've found most end up looking and feeling too powdery on my skin. The only one I've tried and loved is the NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Powder which performs the same way on me as the loose version. It sets the foundation with a sheer finish and gives the skin a slightly matte looking finish. I prefer the loose version because I find it lasts longer on my skin compared to the pressed.

I hope you found this roundup of setting powders helpful! As always I'd love to hear from you what your favorites are. Do you have any tried and true powders? Do you prefer loose or pressed?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Marc Jacobs Beauty #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder and The Shape Contour and Blush Brush No. 15

For spring Marc Jacobs Beauty released three contouring duos called the #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder ($49 each for 0.31 oz each side) along with the Shape and Contour Blush Brush No. 15 ($38). I've put these to the test for a few weeks now and can say that I am extremely impressed. The contouring duos are finely milled powders with a buttery soft texture that melt into the skin. They give a natural contour with medium buildable coverage. Both shades blend flawlessly into the skin without looking cakey, powdery or fake. There is enough color for the shades to be visible on the face but they are soft enough that you won't be left with any harsh edges.

Top to bottom, Dream Filter, Mirage Filter and Hi Fi Filter

When it comes to contouring I am usually not a fan. I find most powders or creams are good for photographs but in real life I simply find it too harsh (no matter how much I blend). I prefer a soft tan powder or bronzer applied in a 3-shape motion around the edges of my face from temples to chin to create soft dimension. I have friends who are very much into the contouring right now and their biggest challenges they have with contouring include powders darken too much after a few hours or they just end up looking too harsh. If you're not a contour pro and want something that will define and highlight, the Marc Jacobs #Instamarc duos are the solution to give a goof-proof contour that looks natural and flawless.

Each color has one highlight shade that naturally highlights in a non-shimmery way, and one contouring shade that helps add definition and dimension. Both sides melt into the skin and blend easily. The lighter colors help soften any harsh edges. There are three different colors, all three seem to be designed for the light to medium skin color spectrum:

Dream Filter is pink-toned described as a soft pink / medium bronze
Mirage Filter is cool-toned described as light gold / light bronze
Hi Fi Filter is the darkest with neutral tones described as warm peach / deep bronze

Dream Filter is a soft neutral pink. It resembles NARS Paloma Contour Blush which is more pink (the Marc Jacobs is more neutral and softer). On my skin this is the most natural. Both shades have a satiny finish. They look like mattes in the pan and on the face, but there appears to be a very slight satiny sheen which gives these dimension on the face. If you're afraid of shimmer, no need to worry, there is no shimmer on the face. On the flip side if you don't like mattes, these aren't your typical matte powders. They won't make the face look flat.

On my medium olive toned skin, Mirage Filter has the sharpest contrast since it has cool-tones. I was worried the light gold/yellow side would be too yellow, but it blends into the skin beautifully without making the skin look sallow. The darker contour side is what I think of when it comes to traditional contour, it's a cool-toned tan with a very slight hint of grey undertone.

Hi Fi Filter is the darkest option but on the skin it's the most neutral in tone. This one warms up the skin nicely. It's the warmest option so if you prefer warm tones on your skin, this is a good one.


Comparisons to some other contouring products and bronzers, below you can see how large the Marc Jacobs compacts are:

  • Chanel Les Beiges #40 (review here) is quite a bit warmer than any of the Marc Jacobs contouring duos, this one is good to add depth and warmth all over the face
  • MAC Emote (discontinued) is darker and cooler toned compared to any of the Marc Jacobs duos, it's also a full matte with no satiny sheen or texture
  • NARS Paloma Contour Blush (reviewed here) is a pinker darker version of Marc Jacobs Dream Filter, the texture is similar in that it's also buttery soft and easy to blend
  • Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow (review here and here) is warmer and significantly more blowy than any other bronzer or contour duo I've used without being orangey
  • Marc Jacobs O!Mega Bronzer (worn here) is a really good warm bronzer, swatches below make it look orangey by comparison, but on the skin it's not orangey at all

In addition to the three powders, Marc Jacobs released a brush designed for contouring called The Shape Contour and Blush Brush #15. It's ultra soft with an extremely sturdy handle. This is the first brush I've tried from Marc Jacobs and I thought due to the synthetic material it would be somewhat problematic to use. The bristles are extremely soft but dense and work surprisingly well to pick up quite a bit of powder. It blends product nicely on the face and is soft enough for sensitive skin so there's no poking, tugging or harsh feeling if you blend.

These are definitely worth looking into. Do note that they swatch much better on the face than they do on the hands. On the hands swatched with fingers they can look a bit chalky. Once you apply with a brush on the face you will be surprised at how smooth they look. The above swatches show that these are on the neutral-cool side compared to some warm bronzers, so if you prefer warmer tones you may want to stick with your regular powder bronzer. Also if you can't do satiny mattes at all these will be a skip, although I will say you should still give these a look. They don't look flat, cakey and don't emphasize pores.

You don't need all three although I do like each one for different purposes. My top two picks are Dream Filter #20 and Hi Fi Filter #60. Mirage Filter is sharper on my skin because of the cool undertones, it works but I prefer something with a bit more warmth.

The #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powders retail for $49 each and The Shape Contour and Blush Brush No. 15 retails for $38. Both available now at Sephora and Marc Jacobs Beauty. (PS right now there is a promo code for 2 minis with any $50+ order online at using code SPRING).

Have you tried these yet? If you're a contouring fan what's your favorite contour?

The Marc Jacobs contour duos and brush were provided courtesy of Marc Jacobs Beauty for review consideration. All other items purchased by me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sneak Peek: Marc Jacobs Beauty Spring 2015 New Nudes, (P)Outliner and #Instamarc

Here's a quick sneak peek at some new items from Marc Jacobs Beauty to which I have two words: nude perfection. In addition to the 20 shades of the Le Marc Lip Cremes released earlier this month, Marc Jacobs also has released a collection of items for lips and cheeks with a nude theme. The new spring items this season:

(P)Outliner Longwear Lip Pencil ($24 each)
  • Nude(ist) 300 - cafe au lait
  • Prim(rose) 304 - cocoa spice
  • Honey(bun) 302 - rosy nude
#Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder ($49 each)
  • Dream Filter 20 - soft pink/ medium bronze
  • Mirage Filter 40 - light gold/ light bronze
  • Hi Fi Filter 60 - warm peach/ deep bronze
New Nudes Sheer Lip Gel ($30 each)
  • Strange Magic 102 - warm nude pink
  • Have We Met? 108 - shimmering warm pink
  • Understudy 114 - terracotta pink
  • Eat Cake 150 - rosy nude
  • Role Play 110 - dusty rose
  • Anais 146 - spiced ginger
  • Moody Margot 106 - brownish nude
The Shape Contour and Blush Brush No. 15 ($38)

I will say right now that when they call the lip liners "longwearing" it's no joke. They last a ridiculously long time and are ultra creamy with super rich pigment. Some of the New Nudes Sheer Lip Gels appear to be repromotes/repackaged shades of the original Lip Gels. I'll do a swatch comparison of the original vs new of the shades I have to see how close (or how different) they are. Also shown above is the Style Eye-Con 3 in The Ingenue 102 which isn't new but fit the nude theme so I've featured it above.

All available now online and in stores at Marc Jacobs Beauty and Sephora

Items above sent courtesy of Marc Jacobs for review consideration.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation and Soft Velvet Loose Setting Powder

This spring NARS has released some new products for the face including the All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation ($48 for 1 fl oz) and the Soft Velvet Loose Setting Powder ($36 for 10 g). I've been testing these for a couple weeks now. I purchased the liquid foundation in store after swatching several of the shades. The NARS team kindly sent the powder for review with Beach as their best guess for my color match. Today I'll be sharing my thoughts on the formulas, wear time, texture and swatches with comparisons.

For quick reference, I use the foundation in Punjab and powder in Beach:

The All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation is incredible. It has a lightweight fluid texture that gives you full coverage with one to two pumps. To me it has a similar texture to the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Foundation but has a more natural looking finish that has just the right amount of glow. On me this one covers most of my scars and imperfections flawlessly. Coverage is slightly heavier than the Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation but the overall look and effect is similar to me.

In terms of wear, the new NARS foundation blends into the skin flawlessly without streaking or caking. It gives medium to full coverage and evens out the skin beautifully. For wear time, I found it lasted all day long without getting oily or glowy. I do think what you use underneath will make a difference, since this is on the luminous side, if you are oily you may want to go lighter on the moisturizer or base. For me, these days to prep the skin these days I've been using Ole Henriksen's Pure Truth Serum and Sheer Transformation Moisturizer. Sometimes I'll use primers and my current favorites are the NARS Pro-Prime and Tom Ford Illuminating. For me I find the texture of the NARS foundation is easy to blend so I find that it doesn't need a primer.

For color, I am a match to the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Punjab. I've been matched to this color in most of the formulas, it's a good medium color with olive and yellow tones. Finding something with the right mix of olive and yellow undertone is hard for me. I'm often in between shades or find that I have to mix colors. Most foundations are not yellow enough or too olive. Punjab is the perfect match for me and I was thrilled to find that the new formula's color to be an exact match. If you're similar in skin tone to me but not as olive and are a bit more pink/peach go with Santa Fe. For reference, I found the swatches of all the foundation shades on Café Makeup extremely helpful.

I have two sets of swatch comparisons below to other NARS foundations and other brands. I've reviewed most of the items below before. I'll link reviews where applicable:

  • NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Alaska
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard and Ginger (I mix them, review)
  • NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Groenland (my match)
  • NARS All Day Radiant Weightless Foundation in Punjab
  • NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in Punjab (review)
  • NARS Soft Velvet Loose Powder in Beach
  • NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation in Punjab (review)

  • Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet in B30 (review)
  • Cle de Peau Beaute Cream Foundation in O30 (review)
  • Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation in Bisque 04 (review
  • Dolce & Gabbana Luminous Foundation in Caramel 110 (review)

Bottom line I give the foundation a huge thumbs up. I think it's their best foundation released to date. I'm a huge fan of the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer for texture and finish but sometimes I want more coverage. The new foundation is exactly what I wanted for an amped up version of the Tinted Moisturizer. I love that there is no detectable fragrance and on me it really did last all day from morning to evening without budging or sliding.

Next on to the powder. I tested a number of NARS powders in the old formulas at makeup events (both pressed and loose). I didn't like any of them because I found they caked on my skin on top of foundation. It wasn't until NARS released the Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder that I changed my mind about their face powders. It's one of my top picks for setting powders because it doesn't alter the color of your foundation and even though the powder is white it doesn't make you look like a ghost or powdery. Given my love of the reflecting powders, I was excited to try my sample of the new Soft Velvet Loose Setting Powder in Beach. After playing with this for a few weeks, I have mixed feelings.

There are eight different colors of the loose powder. Even though I was sent Beach for review, I went to the counter to look at the shades in person to make sure it was the best color match. Eden is also very close in color but it's more pink, while Beach is more yellow. On my skin they looked almost identical, but since I prefer yellow tones, Beach is the better of the two for me.

The powder is a soft and lightweight with a very finely milled texture. It feels silky on the skin and truly weightless. When dusted over the All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation I found it set nicely if I applied while the foundation was still a bit dewy (as in it didn't set all the way). A little goes a long way so you only need a sheer wash of powder to set the entire face. The powder performed well over the NARS tinted moisturizer too creating a soft sheer matte finish.

It didn't work so well over other foundations though and I'm not entirely sure why. It caked over the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Foundation, the Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation, Cle de Peau and also the NARS Radiant Creamy Compact Foundation. It settled into pores that seemed to be blended and covered perfectly by those foundations. My personal preference is to use the Light Reflecting Loose Powder or the All Day Luminous Powder Foundation as a setting powder. Still, I have seen some pretty good reviews on this one, if you're near a NARS counter I recommend checking it out to see how it wears on you. My experience might not be typical with this one.

Overall, huge thumbs up on the foundation, mixed thoughts on the powder. If you've tested these please share what you thought and what shade you were matched to. I know readers often need to order sight unseen and your comments on color matching are always helpful!

You can find the NARS All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation and Soft Velvet Loose Setting powder at all NARS counters now. Online at Nordstrom, SephoraSaks, Neiman Marcus and NARS.

The Soft Velvet Loose Powder was provided as a press sample for review consideration. The All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation was purchased by me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kevyn Aucoin Celestial & Sculpting Powders

I'm a newbie to the Kevyn Aucoin beauty line. I used to use his Celestial Powder in Candlelight a long time ago when it came in the large compact packaging and liked it for a soft glow, but after using it up never really explored much of the line. Recently I decided to give the brand a closer look. I ordered both of The Celestial Powders ($44 each for 3.1g/0.11 oz) in Starlight and Candlelight and The Sculpting Powder ($44 for 3.1g/0.11 oz) in Medium.

The Celestial Powders are small compacts of finely milled shimmery powders. Candlelight is a soft champagne color with a very smooth shimmer. In the pan it's neutral and almost has a slight yellow/gold tinge. On my olive/medium skin it pulls more cool-toned. The shimmer is apparent but very natural. It does give a lovely glow and I know it's reached cult status for many. For me it makes a lovely highlight and also can double as a shadow, but my heart still belongs to Hourglass Luminous Light as my favorite for a light powder highlighter. I favor the Hourglass because it glows more and the color is more luminous on my specific skin tone. If you want a cooler-toned or neutral champagne highlighter that glows but won't emphasize pores and is on the subtle side, this is a good option.

above, Candlelight

The Celestial Powder in Starlight is a soft warm pink highlighter with a medium level shimmer. On me this one has more visible shimmer and frost on the skin but the color is darker than your traditional highlighter. It has a lovely medium but soft pink base mixed with a hint of silver sheen. This one is just so beautiful on the skin. I don't think I have anything like it. It's hard to find a light to medium pink shimmer that isn't too dark or light. The shimmer in this one is more visible but not frosty.

above, Starlight

The Sculpting Powder in Medium has been one of the most-raved about contouring powders. I am not a contouring kind of person. I think the contouring process can result in really good photographs but in person/real life I find it often looks overdone and fake. That being said I am all for a subtle contour that looks natural. Medium is a medium color that is a neutral grey/taupe/tan. There's no orange undertone and no shimmer. It's pulls neutral-cool and is very finely milled. On my skin it blended beautifully with a very soft but layerable texture. The only problem for me is that I found it too grey and too brown. For contouring I need something softer or warmer, but I think I'm in the minority - I know many prefer the opposite wanting something cooler with good pigment.

above, Medium

Some comparisons below to some other shades for reference:

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Luminous Light (review)
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow (glow portion, review)
Armani Fluid Sheer #2
NARS Illuminator in Adelaide (review)
NARS Multiple St. Lucia (review)

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow (bronze portion, review)
NARS Contour Duo in Paloma (review)
Dolce & Gabbana Blush in Tan (review)
MAC Sheertone Blush in Tenderling

After testing these products I feel all three are very good and of high quality. The powders are smooth and blend nicely on the skin without streaking of fall out. The texture melds beautifully with the natural skin texture and they lasted all day without fading. I also found that the three powders photograph phenomenally well especially with a flash. In real life however, I found The Celestial Powder in Candlelight and The Sculpting Powder in Medium didn't fit what I was looking for, mainly because of how these worked with my skin tone. Candlelight is a bit too cool for me, Medium is a bit too dark and brown for my medium/olive Chanel B30/Tom Ford Bisque 04 skin. The price of these powders is on the steep side for the amount of product given. I think Starlight is worth the price tag for the unique color and formula. For the others, I'm not so sure.

You can find Kevyn Aucoin at a number of retailers. I bought my items from Nordstrom. Also online at Neiman Marcus, Beautylish, Net-A-Porter, Bergdorf Goodman.

Do you have any Kevyn Aucoin favorites? What do you recommend that I check out from the line?


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