Friday, May 30, 2014

Guerlain Summer 2014
Sun Celebration, Terra Tropica, and Terracotta Le Parfum


Summer collections can be a hit-or-miss, but I am always drawn to Guerlain's summer offerings, especially the limited edition bronzers. It seems as though Guerlain releases two mini Summer collections each year, all within a two-month span, so just when I thought I was done with the collection, another new and shiny packaging bronzer grabs my attention. This year was no exception. I safely passed on the Rouge G's, polishes, glosses, brush and eyeshadow duo that also launched with the first collection, since I didn't find them too unique (although some may beg to differ on the Rouge G in 864 Rose Grenat.)

Sun Celebration Terracotta Bronzing Powder ($76)

There were mixed reviews on this bronzer, so I initially held off on purchasing it, but now that I have it, I just cannot stop using it. This is definitely the more versatile of the two bronzing powders, since it is technically two blushers and two bronzers housed in a wooden magnetic compact. It is easy to concentrate on each of the four quadrants with a small blush brush though. This powder can be easily worn as a peachy bronze blusher with all four shades combined. The gold overspray -- while beautiful and provides some shimmer -- only lasts for a couple uses. There is also a strong tiare flower scent that is very apparent upon detaching the compact and when applied, so do make note of that if you are one sensitive to fragrances.

(Clockwise starting with the orange quadrant):
#1) Satin Soft Orange: This is my favorite quadrant, but then again I may be biased, as I have a weakness for orange blushers in general. This particular shade blends and wears beautifully throughout the day. It imparts a subtle yet healthy glow in of itself.
#2) Slightly Shimmery Golden Tan: This is the most subtle of the four colors and the one I had most trouble swatching. This is a neutral-toned bronzer that will suit fair-light skin tones. I can also see it working as a fairly nice contour shade, despite the hint of shimmer.
#3) Satin Medium Rosy Pink: I really need to use a light hand with this particular shade, since it translates much darker on my skin than it looks in the pan, thus giving me that sunburnt cheeks effect.
#4) Satin Terracotta Tan: This is more suited for medium to darker skin tones, and it has the reddish undertone that Guerlain bronzers are very well known for. This is noticeably warmer and smoother in application than the shimmery golden tan bronzer.
#5) Slightly Shimmery Peachy Bronze: As you can tell, mixing all four shades gives this pigmented, universally flattering blusher that is neither too matte nor too shimmery.

Terra Tropica Bronzing Powder ($72)

I had to dig for gold in order to achieve the swatches you see below for this bronzing powder, so I nearly wrote it off as a complete and utter failure from the collection. However, I later learned it was one of those products that performs much better with brushes, and with the right brush at that. With a synthetic brush, all I saw was shimmer on my cheeks. With a denser, natural hair brush (like the Hakuhodo G503), though, the mix of the bronzer and blusher shades just gives a fairly shimmery, understated light peachy-coral color that is beyond gorgeous. That said, this is tailored more towards the fair to light-medium skin tones. Any darker than NC/NW35, and this bronzer may serve more as highlighting purposes.

#1) Shimmery light golden tan with slight orange undertone: This is the noticeably larger, crescent-shaped portion of the compact. It is quite shimmery, so I do not recommend this for contouring.
#2) Shimmery light peachy-coral: There is golden shimmer running through this blusher, so additional highlighting is unnecessary. However, it is quite light, so it does require some packing on to achieve the color in the pan.
#3) Shimmery light terracotta: Quite frankly, I am drawn to blusher shades like this, especially come summertime. While shimmery, this never accentuates my pores and even when it slightly fades (by the 10th hour), it does so evenly.

Terracotta Le Parfum ($73)

According to Guerlain, the "fragrance's intricate harmony opens on captivatingly fresh notes of bergamot, before developing into a heart of tiare flower and ylang ylang. One of Guerlain's emblematic ingredients, ylang ylang infuses scents with its warmth. Its sweet, sensual signature finally reveals a delicious vanilla-tinged dry down."


In short, I would describe this as 'beach in a bottle.' Then again, there's a good reason why I don't  attempt to describe scents, let alone review them.

The last time I ordered a perfume "sight unseen" (so to speak) was never. I blame Guerlain releasing extremely limited quantities of this scent, prompting a national Terracotta Le Parfum crisis, for my hastier-than-normal checkout process. To be honest, I don't usually gravitate towards these coconut, borderline suntan lotion smelling fragrances, but the apparent orange blossom and jasmine notes made it a more sophisticated and more pleasant tropical scent. Longevity-wise, the perfume -- despite being an EDT -- easily lasts eight hours on me without needing to reapply. In fact, I find it wears better as the day progresses. The fragrance itself is similar to the scent found in both of the bronzing powders, so if you fancy that particular scent, you will enjoy wearing this perfume as well. Personally, this is reserved for the summer months when I am anywhere but at the beach, but it is still a wonderful addition to my perfume collection nevertheless.

All three pieces are still available online on Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale's (and possibly at local Guerlain counters at said department stores), but I recommend picking the products up sooner than later if any of them sparks your interest! If I were to recommend one item to get, it would have to be the Sun Celebration Bronzing Powder. Not only is it a collector's piece, but it is one that I can imagine many folks actually reaching for and using all year round.
Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chanel Les 4 Ombres: Tisse Venitien and Tisse Gabrielle

I will be the first to admit that I was never the biggest fan of the regular Chanel eyeshadow quads. Either the pigmentation is lacking or the shadows just apply patchily. The former baked quads were worse. Forget picking up any color when applied dry. All that changed when I saw swatches of the newly reformulated baked quads, called the Les 4 Ombres, circulating first on British beauty blogs and later on Instagram.

These will be coming to the states in July, retailing $61 a pop. There will be eight permanent quads, each with its own color scheme. Whether or not these will completely replace the current quads is yet to be determined. However, I am not one to object if they do, as the new Les 4 Ombres formula really blows the former out of the water. Keep in mind that these are only meant to be worn dry, despite them being a baked formula!

To get a feel for the new quads, I started out with two: Tisse Venitien and Tisse Gabrielle.

232: Tisse Venitien

Many of you are probably shocked by my choice but Lord knows the last thing I needed is another neutrals quad. Green eyeshadows are a bit tricky, as some undertones can make me look sallow, and others just turn into unflattering blue-gray shades on my lids.  However, a friend of mine posted a wearable, work-appropriate eye look with Tisse Venitien that completely sold me on this particular quad -- which is slightly reminiscent of the current Lilium quad actually.

In clockwise order starting with the top left shade:
-Shimmery forest green: most versatile color of the four as it can work as an all-over lid shade, a liner, etc.
-Satin pale pink: my least favorite of the bunch as it disappears on my skin, however, it does make for a great blending color or browbone highlight
-Shimmery blackened green: another versatile shade that is great in the crease, on the lid, or even outer V
-Metallic green taupe: my favorite color in this quad as it is very multi-dimensional and complex depending on the lighting

Personally, my favorite way to wear this is forest green on the lids and lower lash line, metallic green taupe dabbed on the center of the lids, with the blackened green in the crease blended out with the pale pink.

208: Tisse Gabrielle

Now this is more in my realm of shades. I later discovered that the reason why I was so drawn to this palette is because it resembled the only Chanel quad I ever kept for myself: Prelude. To be honest, I don't wear darker, cool-toned, taupey-gray colors as much as I should, but whenever I do, I wonder why I don't wear them more often as they really make my brown eyes pop.

Clockwise order starting with the top left shade:
-Shimmery, slightly metallic, blackened gray: great lid color for a gray smoky eye or to darkened the outer V
-Metallic ivory white: perfect for inner corner highlight or to layer over the other colors in the quad to lighten the shades!
-Shimmery grayish brown: my least favorite color in this quad as this doesn't blend too well when popped in the crease, however, it makes a great liner or lid color
-Shimmery, borderline metallic, purplish taupe: my favorite color due to its smoothness and multi-dimensional nature to use all over the lid

With the metallic ivory white shade, the number of looks one can come up with is endless with Tisse Gabrielle. I particularly enjoy wearing the purplish taupe on the lid, grayish brown in the crease, blackened gray in the outer V, and ivory white in the inner corner to highlight.

While I would say that the quality of these new quads has greatly improved compared to the older quads, there are still some pros and cons I would like to point out.

-The shadows are very pigmented and blendable for the most part.
-Great lasting power -- easily 10+ hours on primed lids -- with no signs of creasing nor fading.
-No fall out whatsoever, even with the darker shades!
-More product (2g) compared to the former baked quads (1.2g)

-No mattes in both quads means needing to incorporate additional eyeshadows/palettes for a more cohesive look.
-Tendency to crease upon contact with water or sweat, but that is expected with baked formulas in general.

As you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons with the new Les 4 Ombres! To say that I am impressed with how these perform would be quite an understatement. I can see myself picking up additional quads when these make their way stateside, especially the all-neutrals Tisse Rivoli (like we didn't see that one coming!) and Tisse Vendome, as I have a soft spot for coral eyeshadows.

If, however, you are not one to wait until July to get your hands on these palettes, Izzy's Beauty Shoppe now has all eight quads available!
Friday, May 16, 2014

Les Merveilleuses Laduree Face and Eye Color
(Summer 2014)

Like its macaron counterpart, Les Merveilleuses Laduree makeup focuses more so on the quality and presentation, rather than the quantity. Admittedly, I don't own a lot of Laduree products, because the practicality is quite questionable for some of the items. Don't get me wrong -- I would love to own every single one of their rose petals blushers... if I had an unlimited paycheck. However, I knew I had to get my hands on the Face and Eye Color, limited edition for Summer 2014, as soon as I saw the preview. Without a doubt, this is the star of the smaller-than-usual collection that just launched.

What exactly is this so-called Face and Eye color? In short, this is the Guerlain Meteorites in seashell, conch fish, and starfish shapes instead. It has the same color correcting, finishing powder properties as the Meteorites. In the container, one can expect purple starfish, pink conch fish, pearl white seashell, yellow starfish, and green conch fish. For those of you who are familiar with the old and new formulas of Meteorites, I would say that Laduree's version falls somewhere in between. It has apparent color-correcting and illuminating properties without being over-the top-shimmery. My favorite brush to use with this is actually the same brush I use for my Meteorites: the Shu Uemura 18r. It picks up just the right amount of product while applying it evenly.

Where Laduree got the notion that these can work as eyeshadows is beyond me. As you can tell from my swatches, they barely impart any noticeable color (as it should be for an illuminating finishing powder.) To start, the pieces are all very delicate. There is a slight give when applying light pressure either with a face brush or with a finger, but I cannot imagine how going in with a shader brush will not just ruin the overall composition. Even if one were to pick up the color with a dense shadow brush, the most color payoff is a hint of lavender or a tinge of mint green.

The Face and Eye Color has the very distinct, sophisticated, "mature woman" scent that is common across all Laduree products. It is a fragrance that is difficult to describe, but if I had to put it into words, I would say it is a strong powdery floral scent. Do keep in mind that it does linger, so if you are not keen on heavily scented makeup, Laduree's line may not be for you.

I half-jokingly mentioned I wanted a redo once I saw that the container was only a quarter full: 2 purple starfish, 2 pink conch fish, 4 pearl white seashells, 2 green conch fish, and 2 yellow starfish, to be exact! Might I also add that each one is, literally, paper thin. Ounce for ounce, the new Guerlain Meteorites, hands down, contains more product per container at 0.88 oz, when compared to the 0.03 oz of the Laduree Face and Eye. So you can just imagine my initial shock when I first lifted the cardboard top off the container! Will I be putting this finishing powder to good use? You best bet I will!

This is now available wherever Laduree products are sold. I personally recommend either Imomoko or Ichibankao, as I have ordered from both sites in the past and, thus, can vouch for them. I have seen them going anywhere from $68 to $75USD, and that is the typical price range one can expect most Laduree products to fall under.
Saturday, May 10, 2014

Elegance Paris Nouvelle Eyes in 02

Nothing catches my eye faster than pretty packaging, and Japanese cosmetics, undoubtedly, knows it best! Without further ado, my latest and most welcome addition to my collection... Elegance Paris cosmetics! I thought Jill Stuart knocked it out of the park with its girly and princess-y packaging, but Elegance proved me wrong with its more grown-up and elegant presentation. A mature version of Jill Stuart, if you will. The only missing from all that fanciness? Real bling.

Despite the plastic packaging, it is still a rather hefty compact. The compact itself inevitably attracts fingerprints, but a quick wipe will make everything look pristine once again. The eyeshadow quad comes with a dual-ended sponge tip applicator, which is perfect for on-the-go, as well as a dual-ended brush -- excellent for detailed crease work and smudging. While both applicators are great to have, they are unnecessary for the Elegance shadows, as these apply with nice pigmentation with brushes. Again, not full-on pigmentation like Urban Decay eyeshadows but soft and buildable colors like we would expect from Asian cosmetics.

The eyeshadows themselves are a joy to work with, easily my favorite eyeshadow formula from all of the Japanese brands I have tried! (Trust me, as an eyeshadow snob, that says a lot!) I would even go as far to say that I prefer the formula of Elegance eyeshadows over Suqqu's, in terms of its buttery texture, blendability, and lasting power over primed lids. Suqqu eyeshadows just seems drier and not as finely milled, in comparison. What makes the shadows in the Elegance quad stands out is the fact that I hardly experienced any fall out from all four shades -- not even with the darkest chocolate brown shade! Also, the glitter particles do not translate onto the eyelids either.

Eyeshadows: (clockwise order starting from the top left)
#1) Shimmery, borderline metallic, light champagne. This is great as an inner highlight or as a browbone highlight (when used with a light hand!)
#2) Shimmery, light peachy-beige. This works well as an all-over lid color or even to blend out the other darker colors from the palette.
#3) Shimmery, glitter-containing dark chocolate brown. As mentioned previously, the glitter particles are not noticeable when applied. This is marketed as a liner, but I do find it is just as good of a crease (or even outer V) color.
#4) Shimmery, light neutral brown. On me, this shade -- thankfully -- pulls more neutral than warm. This is a wonderful all over lid shade, as well as a good crease color.

I personally chose the quad in 02, because it looked like an everyday, work-appropriate palette for me, and I could not be any happier. If anything, this palette had my name stamped all over it. I like to be able to incorporate all of the colors in a quad for an eye look, and 02 easily allowed for such application. From simple, yet polished eye looks to the most gorgeous brown smoky eye, this palette is actually quite versatile. Given the shimmery nature of all four shades, I can still apply any of the three darker shades in my crease and not look garish (like a lot of other shimmery shades can when popped in the crease.) Truth be told, the shades are not unique, but for the price point of the quad, I knew I had to get one that I will get a lot of mileage out of. Wear time-wise, this held up through 10-hour work days and through sweating without any signs of fading. That alone, makes this palette worth every penny!

My foray into the world of Elegance is a dangerous one! To be honest, I never knew the line even existed until one day, I decided to spend some quality time on Now, it has left me wanting to own more products from the brand -- specifically more Nouvelle Eyes, a Poudre Haute Nuance, and an Aurora Storm Face Color. An eyeshadow quad runs about $75 USD, when you factor in additional shipping charges, so it is -- for me, at least -- reserved for those moments of splurge.
Saturday, May 3, 2014

Three Cosmetics: 4D Eye Palette in 09 Star Guitar and Color Veil for Cheeks in 17 Wind Swept Soul

Continuing on with my Japanese cosmetics addiction, I bring you Three Cosmetics! Like all other brands, I prefer starting off with eyeshadows (palettes, preferably) and cheek products, just to get an idea of how the line fares. One can only imagine my excitement when I saw the quads Three offered and the wide range of blushers available!

Wanting to pick up a palette that was slightly out of my comfort zone of neutrals, I opted for 09 Star Guitar (admittedly, partly due to the name.) The light gray compact itself is sleek, but attracts fingerprints and dirt in the same manner as NARS packaging. I personally don't care for it, nor do I have anything against it. In the end, what matters is what's inside, right? The included applicators are different from the traditional Japanese eyeshadow palettes. It comes with a rather large, yet soft, flat eyeshadow brush and a dual-ended applicator consisting of a pointed, sponge-tipped applicator on one end and a flat, synthetic smudger on the other.

A closer look at the colors...
1. Shimmery light dusty pink, this is a lovely inner corner and browbone highlight. This is the most sheer shadow of the four.
2. Satin, neutral-toned dark brown. Highly pigmented and buttery smooth, this is a great crease color or as a liner shade.
3. Multi-colored glitter shade with light beige base color. Hands down, the most finely-milled glitter shadow I've ever come across, this serves as a fantastic glitter topcoat over other shadows.
4. Plum cream shadow. The texture of this cream shadow is velvety and nothing like I've ever felt -- cream shadow-wise. This acts as a nice cream color base or as a liner.

I have to say that these are some of the easiest shadows I have ever worked with. True to the nature of Japanese eyeshadows, they are soft yet buildable in pigmentation. What makes these shadows so great is the fact that these hardly take any effort to blend and to intensify. They also layer beautifully, and the number of looks one can create with this palette alone is endless! Longevity-speaking, they last all day on my oily (yet primed) lids. I did notice slight fading after a long workout session but no creasing, not even with the plum cream shade! One concern I had with this palette, however, is the possibility of the aforementioned cream shadow drying out. The OCD in me simply prefers cream eyeshadows in pot or pencil form, rather than in compact form and, thus, having it exposed to air every time I reach for the palette for the other shades.

Overall, a great mix of warm and cool-toned shades. I've always shied away from warm purples, as they tend to give my eyes the bruised look effect, but I'm happy to say that these colors do work well with my NC25 skin tone.

Moving on to the only blush I picked up: #17 Wind Swept Soul. I initially went for this light pinky-nude shade, in particular, because I thought it would pair nicely with the purple-themed eyeshadow palette. Not only does it pair well with the quad, but I find that it complements a smokey eye look in general! This blusher just adds the perfect hint of color to the cheeks without detracting from the overall look. I prefer applying this closer to my ears and temples than to the apples of my cheeks though.

Texture-wise, it wipes the floor with NARS blushes (and I wish I wasn't exaggerating.) It is somehow soft without being powdery, light in color yet still pigmented. That said, I think this blush is more suited for folks with skin tones up to NC/NW30. It is similar in color and in nature to Tarte's blush in Exposed; it has slightly more pink undertones, but like Exposed, it is one of those blushers that can give definition to your cheeks without additional contour.

To say that I am impressed by the performances of both the palette and the blusher would be an understatement. In fact, I already have a growing list of other items I want to check out from Three Cosmetics, including yet another neutrals palette, as well as their pencil liners. Thankfully, most of the products are part of the permanent line. I have only seen Three Cosmetics available online and from Asian cosmetics retailers like Mihokoshop and Ichibankao at the moment here in the states. An eyeshadow palette will run anywhere from $75-$85 USD and the blusher $35-$45USD . If you are wanting to explore a different and more exclusive line of makeup, I cannot recommend Three Cosmetics enough!