Flaky. Fallout. Mess.
I received this as a sample from Chanel. I have somewhat thick, very long black lashes. This clumped almost immediately, and flaked something awful within minutes. By the end of the evening it looked as though I had a grey cast under my eyes and across my cheekbones - and that was all from the mascara! Based on the brand, there's no way I would have predicted such terrible results. Why, Chanel, why?? I can understand the occasional flake, a little clump as the product ages - but this was brand new, directly from Chanel in a sealed package! And what's with the dark cast?! I've tried this several times and there are ALWAYS flakes, let alone the unmistakable dark hue that appears beneath my eyes as the hours roll by. While I liked the dense brush and its shape, and although it seemed to reach every eyelash, overall this was a complete fail. I've been searching for a high-end mascara to wear on its own. This wasn't it. The only Chanel product I've come across that disappointed miserably. What a nightmare.
Gorgeous! I don't know if this is still available anywhere - I found it from a reputable seller on eBay. This stuff can light up your face. It's one of those glosses that you'd swear is comprised of about 1,000 different colors as the light shifts - those are actually my favorite kind because they bring so much depth and interest to the face. I'd call it neutral - it has pink, coral, beige, and a little bronze. Fairly opaque - in fact, one coat masks my highly-pigmented lips. I don't usually go for metallic lip glosses, but this one nails it. It's thick without being sticky, and it lasts a long time. Pairs well when lightly applied atop most lipstick colors or by itself for a bronzed goddess look. While I love this alone, I usually wear it on top of either NARS Chelsea Girls or Baby Lips in Pink Punch. It's such a unique color that will compliment any skin tone. One of the very few lip glosses that I will stockpile.
Bronzers -Chanel - Soleil Tan Fluide (Sheer Illuminating Fluid) in Sunkissed
gagag 3/3/2013 1:08:00 AM
This is less of a bronzer and more of a bronze-colored highlighter. It's a little darker than my fair-to-medium cool skin tone, but when paired with foundation, it's perfect. While it has an illuminating glow, there's only some shimmer and absolutely no glitter. A little goes a long way, so be careful when using it during the day - I either place it beneath my foundation or just mix it in. For the evening, I feel like I can get away with using more product. It never makes me look sweaty, never settles into pores - it sort of gives me a waxy, smooth look which I actually love at night. The packaging leaves something to be desired, as it's heavy and the lid of the jar doesn't always sit properly - not to mention that it's not easy to get the product out each time or to gauge how much will come pouring out. In spite of that minor grievance, it's a product I use almost every day, and a staple for evening makeup. If you have warm or neutral undertones, you can absolutely wear this; if you're fair and cool, you'll need to warm up your complexion before applying. That said, it's stunning. There are similar products available, but this is the best one I've found. For me, it was between this and Becca in Opal. Since I couldn't find Becca locally, I just went with this and I have no complaints. Looks incredible with Chanel Tan de Soleil Bronzing Base, which has more of a pink undertone, while this has more of a neutral one. Despite its price tag, this illuminating fluid lives up to the hype. Love it!
Holy grail, no question. I can't believe no one has raved about this brush yet! It is far and away my favorite Sigma brush to date. I own this one, the precision flat (P80), as well as the precision tapered (P86), the precision rounded (P82), and the precision rounded angled (P84). The two I reach for most are the precision rounded and this little gem. While the rounded precision performs as billed - like your fingertip - this flat precision is like your fingertip if your fingertip had the lightest touch and tremendous versatility. Yes, it's great for stippling concealer for flawless spot coverage - absolutely, without any doubt. However, where this really shines is using it as the larger synthetic flat kabuki (the F80) was intended. To begin with, I am petite. I have a small face and small features. And horribly dry skin at times. The F80, while useful for many people with oilier skin and more surface area, just didn't fit my needs. The F80 exfoliated my skin as I used it to buff foundation - so it left me with foundation-covered flakes and dry patches still clinging to my skin - no matter how much I moisturized or exfoliated first. Also, it was too big for my face. This precision version of the flat-top kabuki is PERFECT for me. The bristles are just as soft and dense, but with the smaller size and thinner handle, I have much more control. I buff cream and liquid foundations into my skin in small sections, and it leaves everything perfectly smooth. In fact, it fills in the larger pores on my nose quite nicely, rendering them invisible. Its versatility allows it to cover large areas like my cheek while being able to get into the corners around my nose. It's much better at buffing liquid or cream into skin than the rounded synthetic precision (which is more for packing on product), and it ensures that my makeup never looks cakey. Oh, and did I mention it doesn't shed? If I could use only one brush for the rest of my life, then this would be it. Not even my beloved MAC 109 beats this HG.
Lipstick -Lancome - L'Absolu Rouge in Rich Cashmere
gagag 11/10/2012 4:08:00 PM
HG NUDE FOR FAIR SKIN WITH COOL UNDERTONES - ESPECIALLY WITH HIGHLY-PIGMENTED LIPS! Just the right mix of peach, pink, and beige for those of us with pale skin and naturally rosy cheeks. Even though I bleach my hair blonde and wear full-coverage foundation to mask my ruddy complexion, this is my natural coloring: my hair is very, very dark, almost black; my eyes are emerald green; my skin is pink (well, my face is pink - the rest of me is more neutral). I tried, to no avail, to match a nude with my foundation and chemically-enhanced hair color. Useless. Every nude lipstick I've ever tried was somehow... off. They looked peculiar. I finally decided to look for a nude lipstick meant for pale girls with dark hair and pink undertones; in addition, I had to find one that could cover my highly-pigmented lips. Not only does this one work perfectly with my coloring - it actually camouflages my natural lip color! The only other light color that could do this was Chelsea Girls by NARS, but that's a thick peach lacquer so it's not exactly nude. Rich Cashmere is not the sort of nude that will make it look as though you have concealer on your lips; it's definitely more pink than flesh-color, but it works with this odd mix of coloring some of us naturally have. In addition, it's very emollient, lasts a fairly long time, and it actually makes teeth look whiter thanks to the cool undertones of the formula. There's no shimmer or glitter. There is a richness about it that gives it some shine, but nothing akin to laminated lips. It's not the least bit sticky - just a rich cream. Mostly, I use this alone, but sometimes I'll throw a gloss on top that I could never wear by itself because of my pigmented lips (such as Laura Mercier Bare Blush Lip Glace). I receive compliments on this all the time, and it really brings out light eyes if you have dark features. Pricey but worth it. I hope they never discontinue this!
Bronzers -New York Color - Smooth Skin Bronzing Face Powder in Sunny 720
gagag 11/10/2012 1:20:00 PM
Well, this stuff sort of blew my mind. This is far and away the best powder bronzer I have ever used on my fair, cool-to-neutral toned skin. HG for fair skin. I'll repeat that. HG for FAIR skin. Don't expect this to even show up if you have medium skin. I've been using NARS Laguna for the longest time, but it's highly-pigmented and requires a light hand. While Laguna contains a very slight bit of shimmer or glitter or something sparkly I see in that pan, this one does not. This is a completely matte, warm color that is not highly-pigmented - which is why it works on pale, fair-skinned folks. It cannot be overdone - it never looks muddy or dirty as so many powder bronzers can (I'm looking at you, Hoola). While it's buildable, it never appears too dark or fake. It is not orangey in the slightest. It reminds me of Guerlain's Terracotta Bronzer but not as red; it just gives the loveliest natural flush of color to fair skin. It can warm up your face if used all over with a very heavy handed-kabuki, or it provides the most natural contouring you can imagine with an angled contour brush or even a MAC 109. This can actually be buffed into the skin without looking artificial. This is the only powder bronzer that gives my Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel a run for its money. Speaking of money.. the price alone is ridiculous. A drugstore bronzer that has trumped my high-end brands by miles?! I try makeup as if money were no object, because this is how I choose to spend my disposable income. I'll buy anything if it really works, and I'm probably more critical of drugstore brands because I believe you get what you pay for. However, some inexpensive products defy all logic, and perform magically. This bronzer is one.
These are unscented and there's wide variation among colors. They range from sheer to highly-pigmented, but the sheer ones are buildable. For reference, I am fair-skinned with cool-to-neutral tones, dark features, and green eyes. My thoughts:
BERRY SMOOTHIE - my favorite - the most emollient of the ones I tried. Definitely a MLBB color but maybe the best of its kind that I've found. It's a cool-to-neutral mauve/pink with plenty of shine. Completely buildable. Great when you don't want to look too made-up but you want a healthy glow.
CHERRY TART - a cool-toned inoffensive red that provides a sheer red-lip look. No glitter or shimmer here either, but shiny. Very happy with this one.
SWEET TART - a neutral-toned highly-pigmented bluish-pink. Very buildable. This could easily work on both cool- and warm-toned skin; maybe that's why it was sold out in 2 of the 3 stores I went to. Every woman should have a great pink lip color in her collection.
SUGAR PLUM - a cool-toned pink/purple that's a deeper, darker version of Berry Smoothie. Highly-pigmented. No shimmer or glitter, but tons of shine and hydration. Gorgeous with green eyes. It's hard to find a somewhat-sheer but buildable plum hue; this one hits the mark.
PINK TRUFFLE - a warm brown/pink, but not one I'm going to keep - it doesn't work as well with my skin. I'm sure this would be the MLBB color for those with olive skin or yellow/warm undertones.
PEACH PARFAIT - a warm dark peach with too much glitter to muster. The least pigmented of the ones I've tried, but it's buildable. This was my biggest disappointment as I love the color but the glitter kills it. I don't mind glitter if it stays put, but this stuff migrates like crazy. Lovely shade on fair skin were it not for the migratory glitter.
UPDATE: Much to my dismay, after prolonged use, these lip butters actually had a drying effect on my lips. I think another reviewer had the same issue and suggested it may be a barrier issue with the skin's natural oils and the lip butter formula. It's a shame, because they're pretty and affordable, but there you have it.
Primer/ Corrector -Giorgio Armani - Master Corrector
gagag 10/21/2012 8:52:00 PM
I have this in #1 (pink). It does not provide full coverage, but it does counter my undereye blueness/darkness flawlessly. It brightens my darkest areas in the most natural way imaginable and its performance persists throughout a long day. It never cakes - even on the thinnest areas around my eyes. It's essentially a second skin. I would never think of putting on my concealer without using this first, and most of the time I use this corrector by itself - it's that natural-looking. Nothing else works as well. With makeup, especially foundations and primers, I've found that you get what you pay for - this stuff is worth every penny!
Foundations -Vichy - Dermablend Corrective Foundation
gagag 10/3/2012 4:18:00 PM
This foundation is unlike anything else on the market, and I mean that in the best way. The color range is rather limited, and I've found it has slightly cool undertones. I'm fair and somewhat neutral, but this still works for me. While one shade works well enough, combining two shades will make a perfect match; I mix Opal and Nude. It leaves a satin finish - somewhere between matte and dewy. There is no sheen. The lasting power - at least in the heat/humidity of Miami - isn't the best when used alone. The coverage is remarkable when first applied, but it slides off by the end of the day. I wouldn't recommend using this with primer or moisturizer, as that will only quicken the slide. That said, it is possible to make this last 16+ hours as the package suggests, but it requires a little more effort: I first combine the Vichy Dermablend Foundation with MUFE Full Cover with my fingertips, then I set everything with MUFE HD powder, and spray my face liberally with Skindinavia's No More Shine. Together, it's flawless, natural-looking, AND bulletproof - but since it requires 3 additional products to arrive at that point, it's clearly not perfect. I suspect this foundation might hold up better in a cooler, dryer climate. By itself, it wears like a second skin and does not cake no matter how much it's layered - if nothing else, this makes a great undereye concealer because it never creases. It's highly-pigmented, so I recommend using sparingly at first and layering only as needed. I prefer this foundation in liquid form to the stick version. This stuff is just one of those staple foundations that everyone should own, but it definitely takes a little experimentation at first.
Concealers -Make Up For Ever - Full Cover Concealer
gagag 10/3/2012 12:13:00 PM
This should be a staple in every makeup collection. Not the best range of colors for me personally, as I'm fair and somewhat neutral. These either have yellow or pink undertones. If this weren't such a great formula, I wouldn't splurge on two of these to combine, but I have. The packaging is fantastic - I'm a huge fan of tubes, especially ones that come to a narrow point at the opening - I find I waste less product this way. The formula itself though is where this really performs like a champ. Aside from being one of the best I've come across at spot coverage, this stuff does not budge. While I have some AMAZING foundations that look flawless when first applied, they're always gone or patchy 16 hours later in the heat/humidity of Miami. One day last week was especially brutal, so I combined one dollop of the Make Up For Ever Full Cover with my BB cream (which usually lasts no longer than 4-5 hours). Lo and behold, this combination still held up at hour 14. This stuff is bulletproof! While I still use this as a fantastic spot concealer, it is now the Holy Grail product I use in conjunction with whatever foundation I'm using that day - be it Vichy Dermablend, Nars Sheer Glow, Chanel Lumiere, Laura Mercier (both the TM and silk creme), my beloved Skin79, and yes, I even combine it with my dense cream foundations. It's crazy, because this product sat in my makeup drawer for the longest time, save for those occasions when I needed maximum spot coverage, and now it's one of the few products I consistently use on a daily basis.
Bronzers -Chanel - Soleil Tan de Chanel - Bronzing Makeup Base
gagag 9/29/2012 5:38:00 PM
I can see how this might require a bit of trial and error, but once you're comfortable with this product you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. Having watched several youtube videos that hailed this as the second coming, I wanted to try it but the price on Amazon was over $100. However, if purchased directly from the Chanel website or a Chanel counter, then it's around $48. Yes, it's pricey, but rest assured it will last a really long time because it's dense and a little goes a very long way. I'm naturally fair. Though I burn easily, it is possible for me to tan if I do so very gradually. This product is literally the color I turned back in the days when I tanned: a pinkish bronze. It is far and away the most natural tan color I've ever come across. It definitely takes a light hand and quite a bit of blending to achieve the best results. It's completely buildable, so use sparingly at first. I use this with a MAC 109 brush, and lightly bounce the bristles into the product - a well-designed shallow jar - and then I go directly on to my face. I skip using the back of my hand to disperse the product, as a lot of pale folks do, because it seems like such a waste; just don't pick up so much product, and use a light touch when you apply it. The density of the 109 makes it easy to blend, so that helps. There's no shimmer and the consistency is very smooth. While it's lovely for contouring, I use it to help mask my ruddy complexion by using it as a base to warm up my entire face. It doesn't provide much coverage, but that's not really the purpose. I use this beneath my foundation as an all-over color, and sometimes I use it on top for contouring. It's one of the few cream bronzers that looks just as beautiful on top of powder as it does beneath. It reminded me of why I used to ignore all the warnings and tan in the sun. It really makes my green eyes stand out and my teeth look whiter - and not a hint of fake bake about it! Plus, unlike a real tan, it leaves my skin supple and luminous. This is an outstanding product if you experiment with it a bit - it's really not as difficult as it may seem, and it's well worth the effort!
Lip Gloss -Smashbox - Lip Enhancing Gloss in Pulse
gagag 9/18/2012 3:41:00 AM
I generally use this product with other colors in order to soften orange tones. Pulse is a true violet color, and makes teeth look whiter as a result. Even when I'm only wearing lip balm, I apply just enough Pulse to brighten my teeth. It looks glittery in the package, but it's one of those glosses in which the glitter isn't apparent once applied. On lips, it just looks shiny - not very shimmery and not sticky at all. It's a subtle gloss, but it changes the look of anything applied beneath it. I like to combine Pulse with Smashbox Lip Stain in Guava - it takes a bright coral and transforms it into this multi-toned hot pink. I saw the combination in a youtube video about creating a leopard eyeshadow look; it's the two lip products that blew me away. I don't think the Guava is necessarily a must-have, as there are plenty of corals out there, but this is the best violet I've found to create tonal dimension. I had hoped my MAC lip glasses were up to the challenge, but Pulse does a far superior job. I took off a lippie because, like all Smashbox lip glosses, the applicator brush leaves a lot to be desired.
Misc Beauty Tools -Unlisted Brand - Flo - Atomizer
gagag 9/18/2012 3:20:00 AM
After a horrible experience with Travalo atomizers, and deeming sen7 too expensive for my budget, I decided to try the atomizer I saw at Sephora. I purchased this from Amazon for about $10. It addressed all the issues that I had with Travalo, in that it's mostly glass and metal and does not have a plastic valve. While it doesn't have the capacity for much fragrance, I can attest to the fact that it doesn't leak or evaporate - just periodically make sure both the top and bottom are screwed on tight as you would with any container in your purse. Aside from wishing it held more fragrance, I have no complaints. I've even grown to trust it with my pricey Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche, which is a milestone for me following the Travalo debacle.
The best cleansing oil on the market. I started out with some of the higher end brands like Laura Mercier, Shiseido, and Shu Uemura. They worked, leaving my skin clean and soft, despite the fact that they were oils, but they were so much more expensive. I tried DHC on a lark, and soon realized that nothing else dissolved my long-wear makeup like it. The mid-range price was a bonus. I swore by this stuff. Even during my esthetician training, and all the free samples that came with that line of work, this remained the best solvent I had ever found. Then Japan's nuclear catastrophe struck, and I was suspicious of my beloved DHC because it was comprised of materials grown in Japan. I tried various other cleansers, and even found an oil cleanser with ingredients grown in North America. I put up with a shoddy product for nearly two years before I finally caved and purchased DHC again. I'm still not thrilled with the origin of DHC's ingredients, but nothing beats the solvency power of this stuff, and it rinses cleaner than any other oil I've tried.
I thought I hit the jackpot with the Ben Nye Neutral Set. Not even close. I'm fair with cool/neutral undertones, and the Banana Powder gave me the slightest but most beautiful cast possible. It doesn't give me a yellow cast - more of a luminous glow if that makes any sense. I applied my cream foundation, dusted on the Ben Nye Banana Powder with a large powder brush - being careful to press the foundation into my t-zone. I then followed with a dampened BeautyBlender (dampened with MAC Fix+) which I lightly stippled across my face just to eradicate any hint of powder and voila! A perfect complexion the moment I walked out the door. Then my face was subjected to the heat and humidity of summer in Miami. After a mechanical issue with my car, running up and down 4 flights of stairs, and finally returning home, my hair and clothes were drenched with perspiration. I looked in the mirror, and my face had beads of sweat but no oil, no shine. The color and finish remained flawless. How is that possible??? I need to go revise my previous reviews on other powders. This is unquestionably Holy Grail status. I purchased the small sifter just to give it a try, but I'm ordering a tub of this stuff at the moment. I will never be without this again.