Wednesday, July 02, 2014

My Hiatus



Are you all still there?  I injured my back in January. Between the pain and the meds, I didn't have the wherewithal to blog and was too fuzzy-minded to put up a post saying what had happened.  Soon six months were gone. I apologize for simply disappearing.   I've been in physical therapy for a while now, so I can stand and angle myself into positions to take photos again. The frequency of my posts will be scaled back for a while, but I think I"m back.

Instagramming has been easier, faster and dirtier than blogging: I don't have to compose much text, and the platform is more forgiving of photo quality.  You can follow my makeup (and food and knitting) posts @avaruth.

I got a bit of a makeup jump start last Thursday. Had to go to Manhattan for work and dropped into Saks where I ran into the  Armani dream team, Tim, Rhona, and Blair. I couldn't believe it because I've been trying to catch up with Rhona forever! So I felt like the stars had aligned just for me to run into them. They all kept me entertained (Tim kept me in stitches!) and Rhona gave me a lovely makeover. None of the new CC creams worked for me, but I learned some new techniques using some of their older products. I bought lip gloss, lip stick, a lip liner, and one of the fluid sheers, which I had not known how to use properly. I also picked up some Surratt at Barneys. Small, but lovely line.

I'll leave you with a photo of the lippies I've been using the most this summer.


image


I'll be back!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 Faves





I can't believe that I have not reviewed most of my 2013 faves! 

Caudalie Divine Oil:  I keep one of the  9 oz. spray bottles in my handbag to smooth over my hair, my hands or other dry spots during the day. It's too expensive to use on a daily basis, so luckily, I rediscovered

Neutrogena Body Oil, an old favorite.  It works so much better for me in the winter than the richest body lotion.  It doesn't dry down quickly like a dry oil, so I smooth onto damp skin and wait a few minutes before putting on my clothes.  They even make a scentless version these days.

Chanel Mystere Quad and Chanel Illusion d'Ombre Apparence.  I wore Mystere practically every day all summer, using Apparence as a base. Apparence's antique gold color compliments the gold shimmer in Mystere.  I beat Mystere's fall out problem by using the sponge applicators or those inexpensive disposable ones you can get at Target or Ulta.  Karen reviewed them here.  I like them better than other brands because the paddle-shaped end is not indented as most disposables are, but are curved out and textured so that they pick up the product better.

Chanel Charming:  now that I've discovered that the the meh looking matte that I didn't know what to do with is an excellent contour and brow filler,  I'm totally sold on this deceptive quad.  On me, and suspect others of similar skin tone, it looks lux.

Chanel Le Volume: Chanel came out of the mascara backwater with Le Volume.  The first coat is unremarkable, but the second one - wow!  It's Voluminous on steroids without the crumbling.  It's also fab in blue, and I even love Prune, a purpely brown color, especially with the Kaska Beige quad.

Dolce and Gabanna Ultra Shine Lip Gloss in Gold:  a simple gold tinted translucent lip gloss with golden shimmer.  It adds oomph to warm skin tones when worn alone, and to creme lip glosses. You'd think it would be loud but it's not.  Gold shimmer looks wonderful on skin with warm undertones. I hadn't given it much thought until testing a series of highlighters, all with varying amounts of silver shimmer or even sparkle as in the case of Chanel's Mouche.  Would some of those ashy products looked better on me if they had contained gold shimmer instead of silver?  My current faves - Mysteré, Charming, Guerlain's Terracotta Sun in the City, Rock and Republic's Call Me - all have it.

Hourglass Eyebrow Pencil:  runs with Tom Ford's pencil.  I think Hourglass's formula is slightly better.  The TF pencil bloomed like chocolate over time and dried out slightly, making it harder to apply.  I wish Hourglass came with that plane sharpener.

Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence:  I just love this stuff.  It smells fabulous. I love the feel of the spray in my face and the way it makes moisturizers glide on.  I thought toners or facial water sprays would have the same effect, but they don't.  But the price.  Oh.  Floral Essence was included in a packet of press samples from Space NK, and I fell in love immediately. I bought a deeply discounted bottle on Gilt or Haute Look.  Keep your eyes open for it.

L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Multi-Restorative Dry Oil For All Hair Types: goes on hair the way dry oil does on skin: leaves a moisturizing affect without oily residue. It has a scary ingredient list, but it works on my hair.

Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Keratin Intensive Treatment:  designed for color-treated and chemically processed hair.  This stopped my ends from breaking like no other conditioner I've ever used.

T3 Blow Dryer: I was forced to learn how to blow out my hair when, in an infuriating 30 seconds, my stylist cut the top far shorter than the curlers I owned for wet setting. Rolling my hair on half- inch rollers just wasn't going to cut it, so blowing it out was the only solution.  I taught myself by watching this Dry Bar video, and watching another stylist who blew out out my hair in the interim. Not knowing which blow dryer to buy, I settled on the T3 because Nordstrom was selling one that included a free travel-size T3 flat iron, also an excellent product.  So blow dryers have come a long way since I last used one. I can't believe how quickly it dried my hair.  

What were your 2013 faves?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Chanel Charming Eyeshadow Palette



Is it December already?  Late December?  The last few months have flown by - it all started with my organization's busy season in early fall, and escalated when we began rescheduling projects in anticipation of the government  shut down.  Luckily we weren't furloughed; instead, our work schedule intensified.  Some of us are recovering.  For a while I didn't have the time to blog (or read blogs), then I lost my momentum.  Ugh!

Anyway. I still managed to pick up some makeup, including Chanel's Charming palette.  I ordered mine from Nordstrom's Chanel studio in Seattle. As you probably know, it is one of the Limited Edition Ombres Matelassées de Chanel, and part of the Holiday 2013 Collection.  Chanel described the colors as soft beige to rich purple...offering "endless opportunities for custom-blending."



Well, no.  I was disappointed when I opened it because it is so plain looking, and particularly because the dark brown/gray shadow on the end doesn't look purple in the pan as  Chanel said it would, and it doesn't pull purple on me either.  The colors look pigmented enough when switched on my arm, but imminently dupable.  How could this be the centerpiece of the Holiday Collection?

Turns out that for my complexion, these colors are just pigmented enough to define my eyes without looking made up.  Like my eyes but better.  



The lightest color on the far left is a peachy pink, with the barest hint of shimmer.  The effect is a subtle, pearlized finish.

The matte taupe second from the left goes on a shade or two darker than than my skin tone, but I'm so accustomed to shimmer or colors that pop on my skin that this just looks blah to me.  I'll keep playing with it.

The center color is the most interesting one.  It's a medium brown infused with just enough golden shimmer to make the shadow glow a bit without adding that ashy, flashy,  sparkling look. Golden shimmer looks really good on warm skin tones - why is it used less frequently than silver?  I use this color on my entire lid and the lower to create a daytime smoky eye.

The brown second from the right is matte, though the shimmer from the medium brown almost always sprays over it, so it's hard to tell.  I use it most frequently on the outer corners, including on the bottom, blended well with the medium brown to complete that daytime smoky eye.

The darkest color on the far right is just an unremarkable brown/black. I use it sometimes instead of the dark brown on the outer corners.  Even when applied wet, it's still not really black, in keeping with the subtlety of the palette. 

Charming comes with two applicators, one double-ended sponge applicator, and the another with a sponge on one end and a brush on the other.  The sponge applicators pick up and apply lot of product without a much fallout.  The small brush was also handy for getting shadow into the corners. 

So why did I keep this palette despite my ambivalence you read here?  It's the only palette I have that gives a finished yet unmade up look that's perfect for meetings in a conservative organization or anytime you may just want to define your eyes.  I grumble when I put it on every morning ("$80 for brown eye shadow? You fool!"), yet I'm so pleased with the final polished look, which I haven't achieved with other palettes.  There are dupes, but they haven't created as subtle and sophisticated look as Charming.  Most of the time I can wear as much flash at work as I want but sometimes a look this subtle is perfect.  Was this Peter's last creation?  




Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chanel Healthy Glow Sheer Color (Les Beiges) in #40




I've been waiting for Healthy Glow Sheer Color SPF 15, aka Les Beiges, to come out since seeing them on the Canadian blogs.  I wasn't disappointed. 



Using the small half-moon brush that comes in the compact, a Nordstrom Pentagon City SA dusted #40 lightly over the powder foundation I was wearing that day.  I immediately loved the look - that natural radiance that Chanel claims Les Beiges is supposed to impart. Lit from within. I got the same result over liquid foundations and when worn on bare skin.  The bristles of the half-moon brush aren't very dense and only seem to pick up only a small amount of product, though enough to cover your blush if you're not careful. 

I also tried Les Beiges as  a  powder foundation using a traditional powder brush and Lisa Eldridge's buffing technique using a kabuki brush.  I didn't see much difference between them though I suspect that the kabuki technique uses more product and leaves more in the brush.  Les Beiges is not buildable so I needed to use a concealer for some areas.  The foundation brush and kabuki techniques covered these concealed areas nicely.  Here's how it looks as a powder foundation, applied with a kabuki brush.



The other products used included: Chanel Kaska Beige Eyeshadow Quad; Chanel Eyebrow Pencil #30 Brun Naturel; Chanel le Volume Mascara, Black; Guerlain Terracotta 4 Seasons #08 Ebony; Claudio Riaz Eye & Face Conceal 9; Chanel Lip Pencil, Nude; Chanel Glossimer #149 (discontinued).  Note to self:  CR concealer shows up in photos.

The effect of Les Beiges reminds me of T. le Clerc's loose powder, which I've been using for years, and reviewed here.  They never look powdery, even when first applied, and both give a "lit from within" look.

I don't understand the rationale for the color range that Chanel produced, though I would really like to know.  The SA chose #40 for me, which is slightly darker than my complexion, appears warm on my skin and gives me that healthy glow.  As a reference, I wear Chanel Perfection Lumiere #60. MAC NC45, Burberry Shear Luminous Foundation Trench 8, and LMdB Classic Flawless Finish #10.  I've read many contradictory reviews and color assessments of this collection.  I think it may be important to test it in store before purchasing.  I'm looking forward to experimenting with the other colors in the Les Beiges collection, especially for contouring. 

About the packaging:  I love the beige cover.  I wish though that Chanel would find a way to put the brush on the bottom of the compact.  It's really a PITA to deal with the loose protective cover that sits under the brush.

Have you tried Les Beiges?  What do you think of it?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chanel Mystere Quadra Eye Shadow and Khaki Precieux Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eye Liner



I wish Mystere, the quad in Chanel's fall collection wasn't limited edition as it fills an niche n my eyeshadow collection.  It's a brilliant neutral on my medium skin tone that pulls a subtle khaki  and clearly and subtly creates a different color tone than the grays and browns in my collection.



Rather than use all of the colors together for one look, I created two - one cooler and conservative, the other warmer and more sparkly.  I used the two bottom colors for the conservative look, applying the lighter, silver-infused satin taupe to the entire lid, and the darker matte khaki on the bottom right in the outer corners.

The two top colors are infused with a beautiful golden shimmer. The darker color is greener than the bottom color and the lighter color is a pale yellow.  Unlike the palest colors in other quads, this one has enough pigment so that it's actually yellow on medium-toned eyelids - I think the golden shimmer helps too.  It was hard to pick up the shimmer in the swatch photo below.


There was significant fall out when applied with a brush.  There was none when I used the sponge applicators that come with the quad.  I especially liked the narrow one that allows me to get into the narrow space in the outer corners of my eyes.

The Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eye Liner in Khaki Precieux is swatched on the far right.  It has a more obviously khaki hue than the quad and intensifies the quad's look.  I find that it glides more easily than Rose Or and Rose Plantine.  I love it.



Though these are fall releases, this beautiful quad and liner harmonize well with summer coral and orange lip colors I've been wearing (and my new yellow sweater set!).

I bought these at Nordstrom Pentagon City.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Spring Skin Care Regime: Jane Iredale's PurePressed® Base Mineral Foundation and Sun Screens



I've got my winter regime down:  I discovered that using cleansing oils and Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer for day and Josie Maran 100% argan oil at night seemed to control my skin's oil production.  No need to blot throughout the day.  I was so pleased with the results that I've decided to continue it.  Realizing that some liquid foundations can make oily skin look oilier in warmer weather, especially those that provide more coverage, I turned to my powder foundations.  Obvious, right?  Well, it took me a while...
 My current fave is Jane Iredale's PurePressed® Base Mineral Foundation.  I bought my compact at a resort four years ago after discovering that I'd forgotten to pack face powder.  Back then the box and description didn't contain the word "foundation," so I didn't realize that's what it was.  I thought it was just powder that matched my skin tone perfectly.  It's all scratched up from rattling around in my handbag without its velveteen pouch for all that time! Too bad because it's refillable and I definitely plan to refill.



 


Photo from Jane Iredale.com



Here's my old compact - the color is Butternut.
 
It is sheer, it doesn't look cakey that is, even immediately after application.  It lived up its claim to act as a concealer - I simply dabbed a bit more over the areas in need.  I was really surprised that it covered the dark spots around my eyes even better than the concealers I've been using, though I still need to use a corrector to cover under eye circles.  No oily spots appeared around my nose around lunchtime (the first place oil appears).  I understand that you have to buff on most mineral foundations and this one comes with a round sponge, but I just dabbed it on with a fluffy foundation brush. It  wore for eight hours. It claims to be water resistant for up to 40 minutes, which I can't verify, but we'll see how it does when it gets really muggy and I begin to "glow" on my way to work!
 
You can purchase the full range of colors, from very light to dark, at Jane Iredale online.  Its color selection is meticulous:  it's broken down into three ranges of Neutral, Warm, and Cool, with light to darker shades included in each one.  (I wear Butternut in the Warm range.)  Nordstrom carries the light to medium colors but doesn't specify which range they come from. 
 
 PurePressed® Base Mineral Foundation also provides broad spectrum SPF 20 and UVA P++  protection (moderate UVA protection).  The Jane Iredale site provides this list of ingredients:
 
Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 14%, Zinc Oxide 3%. Ingredients: Mica, Boron Nitride, Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Plankton Extract, Algae Extract, Pinus Strobus (Pine) Bark Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Ultramarines, Chromium Oxide Greens.

 
I'm fine with this level of sun protection since the Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer I apply under my foundation is SPF 40.  I don't spend a lot of time in the sun, but get some exposure during my daily commute.  After dark spots appeared around my eyes a year or so ago I've been more diligent in my use of sunscreen.  I dab the Iredale powder over the spots if not over my entire face before I leave the office in the evening.   
 
The recently released Australian sunscreen study confirmed that those "white people," to use the New York Times' term, under the age of 55 who "diligently use [SPF15] sunscreen every day can slow or even prevent for a time the development of wrinkles and sagging skin," but was inconclusive about the sun's affects on darker skin, because none were tested.  American doctors interviewed in follow up said that results for darker skin were likely to be the same though the sun's effects take longer to become apparent. 
 
There are other reasons to use sunscreen besides as defense against photo aging:  it is critical in the prevention of skin cancer, which people of color also get. The products I'm testing in an attempt to fade the dark spots around my eyes also advise using sunscreen because the tested areas become even more sun sensitive. 
 
Pink Sith has posted loads of very useful links about sunscreens in a review of Supergoop! SPF 50 Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C.  I don't know about you, but I have found the subject of sunscreens confusing because there are so many kinds - some stable some not, some physical some chemical - which is which?  I only recently learned that sunscreens can deteriorate and/or expire.   Expiration dates are printed on the containers.  Check the dates before you buy.
 
Every spring Sephora sells a Sunsafety Kit containing travel-sized sunscreen products (and a bronzer or two) from a variety of companies.  This year's kit included Shiseido, Clarins, Peter Thomas Roth, Tarte, Josie Maran and several others.  I was really pleased that it also included a hand lotion from L'Occitane.  I always forget my hands and décolletage.  The kit sold out immediately this year, but they released a second round last year so keep your eyes open.  Most of the products contain chemical sunscreens - if you have no concerns about them, the kit's a great value and opportunity to try different products. 

What's your spring and summer skincare regime?  How do you fight the "oilies?"  I know I'll have to make adjustments when it get's muggy here!  What's your favorite sunscreen?

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, Radiant Light






It took a while for Hourglass' Ambient Lighting Powders to arrive in the DC area, and given the range of opinion about them from angry disappointment to rave reviews, I thought I needed to check them out in person.

Only one of the shades worked for me, Radiant Light.  Its golden peach tone warms my face and it gives it a golden luminosity unlike other products that I've tried.  Upon close inspection you can see a fine golden flecks.  Its not sparkly like Chanel's Mouche de Beaute, just warm, bright, and, well, radiant.  It softens my face, as if in a candle-lit restaurant.  I love it.

It's not as translucent as Hourglass claims.  I accidentally applied too much the first time and almost completely covered my blush, so it requires a light hand.   If you apply too much it looks cakey and emphasizes pores. 



The swatch below is heavily applied with a sponge applicator.  The tiny golden particles appear in the photo, but they are barely perceptible on my face.  In fact, I never noticed them until I looked at my face with a magnified mirror.



I bought the small brush Hourglass sells separately to use with the powders though applying with other soft, fluffy brushes works just as well.  I used an Essence foundation brush at first, which I bought at the drugstore, but the Hourglass brush is designed to fit the breadth of the compact, so makes for faster application.  It's about two inches wide, and soft and fluffy, and comes with its own pouch.  I suspect it will make a fine foundation brush as well.

The compact is plastic.  It would have been nice if it came in its own pouch too.




For whom this is important, the Ambient powders are free of parabens, talc, fragrance, nano-particles, and gluten.

I'm going to get a lot of use out this powder, I think.  Pinkish gold products suit my medium skin tone,  and it's very wearable for day since it does not add shine.  You could also use it as a very subtle highlighter.   I bought my compact from Marina at Space NK in Bloomingdales Tyson's Corner, 703-556-4569.  Marina is great with colors and she'll give you honest advice.  Give her a call. 




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