June 26, 2012

Nars Summer 2012 products: a look and mini review.

While I was in London in May, I stopped by the Nars counter to get a few Summer goodies e.g the eyeshadow trio in Ramatuelle and the blush in Liberté. Bummer, Summer hasn't really arrived yet, so I haven't gotten around to wear this much so far.
But we're enjoying a sunny and warmer day today, and I thought it was a good occasion!

I found several descriptions on the web of how the look on the promotional picture had been created, and I tried my best to achieve a similar result on my much paler skin! I used:

  • Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Finland
  • Nars Liberté blush on the cheeks, but not before I had added some Givenchy bronzer
  • Nars Ramatuelle trio on the lids
  • Givenchy Noir Couture mascara
  • Dior Addict Ultra Gloss Glow in Rouge Croisière (Summer 2012)

The application of the eyeshadow is pretty easy: mix the two paler colors on the lid, then add the darker peach in the crease. Higlight under the arch of the brows and on the inner corners with one of the paler colors - the peach works well for a more subtle effects but the icy blue works too,  it's what I used here.

How do I like the products?
I think that the eyeshadows, although they're not overly pigmented, are really pretty and combine greatly to create a summery but very wearable look. You can add some liner for a bit of drama.
The texture is easy to blend, not overly frosty or shimmery, and I think this is pretty foolproof to use. Also, the combination of colors works particularly well for blue or grey eyes.

The blush, on the other hand, is trickier to use. It is very dark and more terracotta-ish than peach. On the promo picture, the blush is actually used like a bronzer to contour but on me this just looks ridiculous (yes, I tried, of course!). I need to apply it with a very light hand and a skunk blush, but even this way I don't find the texture to be the easiest to work with. I'm not really conviced by this one. I think that the darker peach shade of the eyeshadow trio would actually make a pretty blush with this look!

June 25, 2012

Breaking news: a new way to find your foundation match.

We all know how hard it is to find our match in a new foundation, not only when we're buying it at the counter, let alone when we need to order it online. Lots of guesstimations that can end in Ommpa-Loompa disasters!

There is now a website that should help us all with this delicate task : it's call Findation.
Findation is currently in a Beta version, which means that there is still improvement to come in the way they work. Basically the website is based on a algorythm that calculate your match in any foundation from the correct matches you give. You start by giving at least 2 very accurate matches that work 100% for you, then you will be given a list of foundations marked with a percentage of accuracy for you.

In my case, I used Nars Sheer Glow Gobi and Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B10 as references. I know now that Shu Uemura Face Architect in Fair Beige 784 would be a 100% match for me, while Revlon Colorstay in Ivory would only be good at 62%. Isn't that impressive?

From what I understand, the more request the website collects, the more accurate the matches are going to be. In the future they also plan on being able to give you your matches based on just one reference you'd provide.

I'm not sure this kind of thing can ever be 100% accurate but I think it's a very good base and a pretty cool tool that will take some of the guessing out of the process of finding our match!

June 20, 2012

Mascara Review: Givenchy Noir Couture

You know how all my mascaras review end up with "bottom line: this is not as good as YSL Faux Cils"? Well, stay tuned this time, as it might be different!

I was actually shopping for a backup of Faux Cils when I saw the promo image for the new Givenchy Noir Couture mascara that has just been released in Europe (I think in the US it will be released with the Fall collections).
I have never tried a Givenchy mascara before, I never was attracted by the scary Phenomen'Eyes, I must say. But this one reminded me of Rimmel Sexy Curves, which I used and enjoyed years ago but never repurchased because rubber brushes usually irritate my eyes and I prefer fibers. 
Noir couture seemed to fit the bill perfectly, plus, I can hardly resist anything Liv Tyler would try and sell me.
(Don't be fooled, though, she's definitely wearing falsies in this promo pic!)

My experience with the product.

The tube is super wide, very heavy and the packaging definitely feels luxurious. That's always nice, and with Givenchy, I rarely find packagings disappointings.
The formula of this product has enough body and thickness but is still relatively wet. It has no perfume, which is definitely a bonus (Faux-Cils is heavily scented, even though the fragrance mostly disappears after a few uses).

Here's the product pitch from the brand:
One step, four gorgeous reasons to give in to the new couture mascara by Givenchy.
Instant volume, length and curl: brush and formula come together in optimum synergy to defy the extreme and give your lashes the promise of a perfect silhouette.
Lasting lash care: Givenchy’s newest exclusive formula enriched with Lash Booster Expert Complex and Cotton Nectar revitalizes, nourishes and protects with every application.
Stunning lashes now: Noir Couture pushes the boundaries to create a strikingly bold eyelashes. With its fluid, glide-on texture, Noir Couture is easy to apply, creating precise lash definition with a smooth finish. Noir Couture is every woman’s beauty must-have.
A 4 in 1 action with a traditional simple gesture. Result: Couture eyes that are more beautiful day after day.
Now what's my experience with it?
Ladies (en gentlemen, maybe), I have been using it daily for 2 weeks and I haven't cracked open another tube of Faux-Cils. Now, does that say something?

This does take a bit of experience to work with. The brush comes out of the tube very full of product and you have to wipe some off or you will put mascara all over your eyelids, and you will end up with 5 huge lashes, if you see what I mean. Separation can be a bit of an issue here. Application requires a bit of technique too: I find that a combination of wiggling motions then straight motions works the best. 
Once you get the hold of it, the result is quite pretty :

And I find it works extremely well on the bottom lashes, too, as you can lightly use one of the little balls.
I have noticed a bit of smudging if your eyes get wet, which I usually don't experience with Faux-Cils. But on the other hand this doesn't claim to be waterproof so I don't expect it to last through rain and tears.

Now of course, I haven't used it long enough yet to tell me if this is beautifying my lashes on the long term, but I don't really care, what I'm looking for in a mascara is instant nice lashes, not special properties.

Bottom line: it's probably as pretty as YSL Faux-Cils... but it's also even more expensive! €28 (versus €27 for Faux-Cils), however I'm hoping it doesn't dry as fast and I can use this one for 3 months instead of 6-8 weeks. That would be a saving in the end.
It's a bit trickier to use, but it's fragrance-free. All in all an expensive, luxurious but very effective mascara.
I might repurchase, I don't know yet, but I will use up this tube with great pleasure, that is for sure.

June 14, 2012

Book Review: Beauty Pure+Simple - A Holistic Guide to Natural Beauty

A lot of product ranges have been launched these past years that claim to be "Ayurvedic" or based on the principles of Ayurveda, the 5.000 years old East Indian science of health and medicine.
One example would be Taaj, which I have recently seen popping up and there in beauty videos and blogs.
The reason I never gave these product a closer look is that I always felt they were more complicated than usual skincare ranges, and that I didn't know whom to turn to for information and explanations. Believe it or not, the SA's in my local pharmacies aren't too well informed about Ayurveda either.

So when I was approached by the PR of Canadian Ayurvedic brand Pure+Simple, and they offered to send me the book explaining their phylosophy, I had an "aha" moment: finally I was going to get some explanation!

The author, Kristen Ma, is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of holistic spas with its own line of natural skincare and mineral make-up. She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Esthetician who actually went through quite a lot of skin issues herself (acne and all that jazz) and who tried lots of things before turning to Ayurveda and realising that her problems had been treated the wrong way all along by our occidental medicine. So she definitely has experience in what results an Ayurvedic approach can get with skin issues.

I'll try to explain the basics in short. Our body is animated by 3 types of energies called Doshas. These are: Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water and earth). The three Doshas should be balanced but we are all dominated by one main Dosha (sometimes two).
This will determine our hair and skin profile - as well as, on a deeper level, our health in general.
Vata profiles have thinner hair and dry skin, Kapha have oilier skin and beautiful thicker hair. 
Pitta profiles, which I am, often have fair sensitive skin and thin but smooth hair that can become grey at an early age.
Obviously, the three profiles will have different skin issues to address, and will benefit from different kind of skincare products. The aim is to re-balance the Doshas to solve the problems.

There is, of course, a test at the beginning of the book so you can determine which Dosha you are. Then, there is extensive explanation of what this profile means in terms of skincare and haircare, but also the kind of health issues your Dosha is more prone to encountering.

After that, the author addresses a lot of different skin issues such as acne, eczema, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, ageing signs... and how to treat them.

I really enjoyed reading the book and learning about the basics of Ayurvedic principles - without getting too much in depth and getting medical either.
I recently came across some books about beauty and detox, and as I was reading them, I was really thinking that it was just a bunch of crap and I couldn't buy into it.
With this book, I felt I could relate to what was explained, and for me, things felt logical and totally made sense.
I also enjoy that the book can be read even if you don't use the Pure+Simple skincare range: this is definitely NOT pushing the range or selling it as the only solution to your skin problems. The book is REALLY about Ayurvedic skincare in general, and I enjoyed that very much.

Bottom line: if you're interested in an alternate vision of beauty and skincare, or are curious about the Ayurvedic ranges that are appearing on the market, this book is what you need. It's available on Amazon.

After I read the book I was offered a few products by Pure+Simple. These are made of natural ingredients and free of chemical crap, to put it in a nutshell :) I am currently trying them and will report on my experience when I've used them for a while.

June 10, 2012

Gold Explosion FOTD

Earlier this week, Viola at KillerColours posted this Solstice look and it filled me with awe. I don't have much in common with her in terms of features (or, hum, age) and I don't own all the products she used (Sleek matte palette) but I HAD to give it a try.
So here goes.

My Illamasqua Liquid Metal in Solstice is getting a bit old and harder to work with, so I ended up putting more than I wanted on one eye - which is impossible to remove or blend out - so I had to match the other. Even though it works, I wish the purple had been showing more. I rarely wear purples, but I think that they work great when combined with gold and black!

Breakdown, if you're interested:

Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Finland
Estee Lauder Double Wear Concealer in #2
Becca Loose powder in Sesame
Illamasque Tremble blush

Mac Shale, Trax, Nocturnelle and Beauty Marked eyeshadows
Estee Lauder khol in black (from this year's spring collection)
Illamasqua liquid metal in Solstice
YSL Faux Cils

Nothing on the lips, there was enough action on the eyes for my liking. And yes, I did go shopping and wore that out :)

June 6, 2012

A little play with my new Jemma Kids cheeks products.

Once again I gave in, followed the hype, and got two products that are widely talked about on the internet. Let me introduce you:

Jemma Kidd All Over Radiance Cream in Ice Gold :

And Jemma Kidd cream blusher in PawPaw :

And boy, am I happy I got these!
I ordered them from BeautyBay, which now has free international shipping (and it's not even that slow, at least not for Europe).
The higlighther is 10g and £ 16.63 / € 20.50, the blush is 3.4g and £ 17.73 / € 15.60. I find both products reasonably priced given the quantity you get, but also given their quality : I must say that I absolutely love the formula of both of these.
The hilighter is perfect for all skintones, including fair ones. It's pretty without being glittery or frosty, and it's very easy to apply and blend with your fingers or with a brush.
The cream blush is in fact a cream-to-powder formula. It's not sticky at all, blends easily on the skin (I have used my fingers also) without going patchy at all. Both last very well on me.

The packaging is a plastic case that doesn't feel too cheap or fragile, it has a transparent lid that allows you to see the product. It's very easy to store and very practical to travel with or put in your purse for touch ups.

I have been reaching for these 2 non-stop since I got them and as you can see, they are pretty versatile!

Look 1 : me, fake-tanned to the max (I must be about NC25 on this pic, I think), wearing both products on the cheeks in combination with some powder bronzer.

Look 2 : on a normal rainy cold June day, me being back to my usual NC15. The products aren't looking over the top at all on fair skin, as you can see.

Bottom line: two great products at a great price - nothing to dislike about them!

June 2, 2012

Le Metier de Beauté Couches de Couleur technique: yay or nay?

So as I told you a while ago, Zuneta started carrying Le Metier de Beauté, and this brand has been so hyped amongst bloggers during the past years that I really wanted to try it. I already had a little play with the shadows here but I used them the traditional way, while LMDB have their own method that they call "couches de couleur" - litterally layers of colors.

If you want to see it demonstrated, here is a little video for you.

The gorgeous evening makeup featured in the videos actually triggered my eyeshadow order, as I thought it was really beautiful.

To give you more explanations that what is said there, the LMDB colors are classified in 4 groups that serve 4 different purposes :
  • Brighten: Resembles skin color, but has a little radiance to it
  • Warm up: Resembles your natural blush color. Everyone has a different color, some people have more red, some more pink. To determine what tone you are, you should clench your knuckles and look at the color by the protruding bones.
  • Focus: What the overall look is going to become
  • Give depth: Usually placed at lash line, gives a veil to the entire look.
If you want additional information on this technique, I recommend checking fellow blogger and Lipstick Bandit Xiao at Messy Wands - she's the resident LMDB expert, in my opinion, and she has tons of FOTD and swatches available.

Now, I did try and use that technique with some eyeshadows I already owned but didn't find it worked too well and thought that there had to be something to the LMDB's eyeshadows that would allow them to work better this way.

And so of course, as soon as I received my shadows, I gave the technique a try. Which lead to this:

Liner is a Nars Larger than Life pencil, not an eyeshadow.

My opinion on the technique.
Let us be honest, there is a very tight line before depth-giving technique and muddy mess, and I'm not sure I didn't cross it here. I found it not that easy to layer the colors equally on both eyes and to get an even result. As a matter of fact, it is not even: the dark blue has darkened an eye more than the other.
I am also not totally convinced that this is flattering on my eyes, as I do need shading to make up for my hooded lids. In a look where the same colors are layered overall, there is no creation of depth in the crease.
Probably not the best technique for me, then.
I might be overthinking here but lots of looks I've seen on blogs were done the traditional way (lid, crease, outer v, liner...). Would that be an indication that this technique does not work as it should for lots of us?

My opinion on the eyeshadows.
I did not really find there was anything special to their texture that made layering easier.
I found the colors I got pretty but were they worth 31€ each? I am not sure at all
Could I still use them the traditional way? Sure, but again, I'm not sure they then have enough added value to justify the price. They're not buttery soft nor über pigmented like Rouge Bunny Rouge for example.
I am going to give them some more play because I do want to give them a chance to work, considering all the hype they get all over the blogosphere. Maybe it's just me but so far, I don't get the appeal

In short... From my experience, I would not recommend splurging and spending over 90€ for a kaleidoscope or over 30€ for a single shadow unless the color is really unique and something you have been really looking for, or unless the couches de couleur technique works particularly well for you.

June 1, 2012

May Favorites

May is feeling so different from the previous months! First, there was the Pixiwoo course which triggered interest for new products and techniques. Then there were some novelties I enjoyed using a lot. And of course, the weather finally getting warmer means that a whole new palette of colors and products can finally be put back in use.

So here were my favorites for the month of May!

REN Invisible Pores Detox Max : has become a part of my weekly routine, it makes my skin smooth, my pores smaller and helps with the blackheads.  Great if you want to get along with only a tinted moisturizer for Summer! (reviewed here)

Xen Tan Dark Lotion self-tanner : You have heard me rave about this for years, and I still find it to be one of the best fake tans on the market. I have only slightly changed my face routine - more on that to come in a review- but for the body, the good old Dark Lotion can't be beaten!

Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid: review here - although my story with this foundation started mainly because of my forced break-up with Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, we're getting along pretty well now. I like the amount of coverage I get but also and mostly the facts that it lasts so well on work days.

My Inglot palette of cool matte neutrals. Really loving the texture and pigmentation of these shadows, I cannot wait to get more and so far I have given a lot of love to this palette, it's been my go-to for May!

Essie Tour de Finance nailpolish : OK what with the stupid name, Essie? Other than that I am absolutely obsessed with this color, which is kind of a nailpolish version of Illamasqua Atomic lipstick. I'm not even into pink much, especially not on the nails, but this one is just so pretty with its bluey toned reflects.
Tool of the month - Mac 266 angled brush : great for lining the lid with eyeshadow, which I have been doing a lot this month, and for darkening the outer V before blending it. I just can't live without this brush anymore.

What were your May favorites?