May 24, 2012

A Study in Seafoam

The Girl Cave is almost completed! It seems like this project has taken months to complete - no wait, it HAS taken months to complete. With the end nearly in sight, and the makeup portion of the room pretty much set-up, I thought I might share a quick picture (though if you follow me on twitter you've seen it already).

I'm a sucker for teal/aqua/seafoam shades, both in makeup and otherwise. Inspired by the room color, I tried to find something similar in my nail polish stash, and the closest I could come was Orly's Ancient Jade. It leans a little too green compared to the wall color (which actually looks bluer than it is in these pictures), but it captured the mood and was perfectly appropriate for the awesome Summer weather we had this weekend.

I'd like to eventually do a storage video, but I can't decide whether to wait until the rest of the room is done as well. Any preferences?

May 22, 2012

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color - "Belle Nouveau" Turquoise

I was browsing the beauty counters at Holt Renfrew recently, and came across the little Laura Mercier counter, hidden off to the side. (Is it just me, or does the Montreal Holt's feel poky and cramped compared to Toronto's?)

The extremely lovely Celia - the Laura Mercier SA - saw my initial fascination with the Caviar Stick Eye Colors, and wasted no time in showing me their wondrous qualities. Needless to say, I walked out with one from the limited Summer collection, and only escaped getting (many) more things due to a waiting friend.

I don't recall seeing the "Belle Nouveau" Summer collection Caviar Sticks at my local Sephora, though the regular shades are available on (and quite possibly I had Brand Blindness when I did browse, since Laura Mercier is not a brand I generally gravitate to). If you do spot them, I highly recommend giving the Caviar Stick in Turquoise a quick swatch. Your mind will be blown.

If you're thinking this bears a striking resemblance to the MAC Shadesticks, you are quite correct. It is, however, a MILLION time better. (Slight exaggeration for dramatic effect.)

You know how the Shadesticks tug at your eye, have inconsistent payoff and generally feel harder than something that's supposed to be smooshed all over your delicate eyelid should feel?

Yeah, none of that with the Caviar Stick. It goes on like butter. Or silk. Silky butter? Meh. Smooth and easy and wonderful, is what I'm trying to get at here. The color just glides right on, and is immediately opaque. There is also no 'peel-back' when you go over the same spot a second or third time.

This does have a longer set-time, so it can be worked - blended, buffed, spackled - for a good five minutes or so. For that time period, it is smudgable, but once set, it takes a dual-phase eye makeup remover to get it off. (Bi-Facil is my weapon of choice.) This lasted an entire day with no problems.

Indirect natural light.

Artificial light.
Direct sunlight.
How gorgeous and summery is that color? An deep, teal/turquoise. It makes me want to go swimming.

Celia assured me that this can also be used in the waterline, though I have no tried that yet. She also demonstrated that the pigment can be picked up with a fine liner brush for a more precise and narrow application. This way it can be used as both an eyeliner and an eyeshadow (or eyeshadow base), despite the chubbiness of the stick.

Availability: Currently at Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom. The regular Caviar Sticks are available at Price is 30$ CAD.

Pros: Incredible color, especially for summer. Very creamy texture, easy to work with while it sets. Once set, crease-resistant and long-wearing.

Cons: Can be a bit of a pain to take off.

(I purchased this item at Holt Renfrew.)

May 21, 2012

Dior Diorskin Nude Tan Healthy Glow Enhancing Powder - Sunlight

With an epically long product name, the Diorskin Nude Tan Healthy Glow Enhancing Powder in Sunlight has a lot of promises to live up to. Nude? Yes. Tan? Yes. Healthy Glow? You betcha.

But first, the packaging.

As usual with Dior, you can count on some pretty swanky exterior features. The details for this are just gorgeous - the usual velvet pouch has an extra flap, and the Cannage pattern on the silver compact adds an elegant touch. The whole thing is deliciously weighty, and you can't wait to it take out of your purse for public touch-ups.

It also comes with a mini kabuki, which is actually soft and very functional. It's not a replacement for a full-size brush, but works perfectly for lunch-hour touch-ups.

The Nude Tan comes in two shades - Sunset, which is darker and more golden-warm, and Sunlight, which is lighter and has a rosy-peach undertone. I looked at both, but judged the Sunset too warm for my liking, and liked the notion of a bronzer that could double as a blush.

Yeah. I have no words for how pretty this is. It actually makes me feel more cheerful to look at it, as if the promise of Summer has somehow been pressed into a little pan form.

It's not super obvious in the pictures above, but there is a really fine sparkle dusted throughout. It doesn't read at all on the skin however.

Indirect natural light.
Left to right: the two 'base' shades (darker, then lighter), the two 'raised letter' shades.

Direct sunlight.
The compact is broken up into two base shades, and two shades that form the raised lettering. The base shades would best be described as a light, slightly rosy tan and a light, golden-beige tan. The raised portions would be a light peachy-pink and a neutral tan.

The overall effect is warm-toned without being too gold or orange, and strikes me as the kind of shade that would be flattering on both cooler and warmer complexions.

Light blended swatch, indirect natural light.

Applied with the mini kabuki, indirect natural light.

If you're looking for a contour palette or a deep bronzer, this is definitely not the right product for you. However, if you want something that will make your skin look sun-kissed, radiant, faintly blushed, then this is EXACTLY the item you need.

The powder itself is incredibly soft and finely-milled, applying super-smoothly to the skin. I was able to build up layers to an impressive degree without ever seeing perceptible powder on my skin.

This is a truly beautiful item that feels like pure luxury to use. With the particular mix of rose and tan tones, and the superfine sheen, it gives the kind of subtle, polished look that really should take more time and product to achieve.

This wore well throughout the day for me on foundation-prepped skin, but because of the refined texture, it won't be a problem to reapply during the day if you find you need (or want) to.

Availability: This can still be found at certain Pharmaprix/SDM locations, as well as at and Certain Bay locations may still have it, but online only the Sunset is left. Price is 56$ CAD (which includes the mini kabuki).

Pros: Stunning packaging, luxurious feeling, incredible texture. The luminous finish and mix of tones makes for a subtle, 3-in-1 look.

Cons: None, though it is best suited for lighter complexions, unless used as a discreet highlighter on deeper skin tones.
(I purchased this item at Pharmaprix/SDM.)

May 20, 2012

May 12, 2012

Chanel Summer 2012 Haul

After getting the heads up from Eugenia over at Ommorphia Beauty Bar that the Chanel collection was selling out like crazy, I made some frantic calls and located some of the last remaining bronzers at the Murale store downtown. The SA very kindly reserved her last Sable Rose for me, and I hauled butt through the hell that is Montreal summer roadwork.

I'm not a Chanel addict (yet), but I've been acquiring a taste as of recently. I know that Latoya from Beauty Obsessed just posted about how she was able to resist their offerings. I wish I could claim her fortitude!

The swatches of both the Sable Rose and the Sable Beige looked gorgeous in the store, even under their awful lighting. I had run into a male friend just outside the store and he deigned to come in with me for a few minutes. I asked his opinion, and he was equally enraptured by the bronzers!

The Sable-Emouvant duo was surprisingly appealing as well, considering how ordinary the colors appear at first. There is something to the duo, however. Some shimmery, incandescent Chanel magic. I can't wait to try it out and review.

I wasn't wowed by anything else in the collection, but they did have the display up for the Rose Ultimes Glossimers from Spring, and I fell hard for Jalousie, an incredible hot pink. Opaque and shimmery, what else could I ask for?

ALSO. They had a small amount of Paradoxal polish left over!

My SA was also kind enough to include a little goodie bag. Took some of the sting out of the 3$/hour parking.

Best of all? I got it all using my Optimum points! SCORE.

Good haulage pleases me.

May 11, 2012

Clarins Enchanted Summer Palette

What's worse than a product that sucks? A gorgeous-looking product that's halfway decent. With the sucky product, you can hate on it, regret the money you wasted, and toss it. With something that looks so pretty yet performs only moderately well, you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince yourself you love it. Like dating a stunner who is clearly wrong for you (and possibly kind of dim). It's hard to give up the dream.

The Enchanted Summer palette from Clarins is a bit like that. It's not a bad palette - just not the one I was hoping for from outward appearances.

Which are, admittedly, quite fine.

Pretty packaging.
(Also one of the glosses from the Summer collection, review coming soon.)

Even prettier inside.

The design on this is one of the nicer ones I've seen, a more exotic version of the simple and elegant aesthetic Clarins does so well.

The colors look like they will go wonderfully together, well-balanced neutrals with a punch of vivid color. Unfortunately, the results are inconsistent.

The golden peach shade at the top left is nice - feels buttery soft and smooth, applies with ok pigmentation and wears well over a primer. The soft brown shade below it has a very similar texture, with the same shimmer finish. They are the best performing shades, though obviously the most dupable.

The violet shade at the top right is what I was most excited about. While not the sheerest of the bunch, it's still not what I expected from the promotional picture. (I know, I'm dumb that way.) It's actually a really pretty violet, with just a hint of blue, and looks stronger over a base or eyeliner. By itself though, it takes layering to achieve anywhere near the depth I wanted.

The ivory highlighter in the bottom right is sheer, next to invisible in some lighting, and it packs some serious sparkles. Applied on top of the other shadows it adds a dusting of fairy shine to the eye. Which is a nice effect, but unfortunately it does fall out. It does better when layered over something a little tacky, like a cream base - or the cream liner on the right.

Which brings me to my least favorite of the five shades in this palette. I really wanted to love this one. It's a fabulous cool, deep brown with a subtle golden shimmer. As a liner it would be amazing, and as an all-over cream shadow even more so. However - it smudges like CRAZY. By itself, this will not set at all. It creased and migrated on the lid, and even swatched on my arm it smeared all over. You can set it with one of the powder eyeshadows for improved wear, but then that neutralizes a lot of what is special about the shade. (Though the glittery ivory layered overtop does give a neat look.)

Overall this is not a terrible palette - two nice, though conventional shades, two with lovely colors/effects but application/pigmentation issues, and one that is beautiful but unwearable as is. Aside from the cream liner, all the shades held up for about a normal workday span of time, over a primer.

So...pretty, but could be better. I think what frustrated me the most about the palette is that Clarins has a knock-out formula when it comes to their single eyeshadows. Like, one of the best out there. I don't know why they would be hit-and-miss with their palettes.

Indirect natural light.

Direct sunlight.

Artificial light.
Availability: At various Pharmaprix/SDM and Murale locations, The Bay. It appears to be a Nordstrom exclusive in the US. Price is 42$ CAD.

Pros: Elegant and Summer-appropriate packaging. Great color scheme. Two very nice, neutral shades.

Cons: The violet is too sheer and the highlighter is sheer and has fallout. The cream liner absolutely has to be set with a powder to work in any way.

(I purchased this item at Pharmaprix/SDM.)

May 06, 2012

Lancome GWP at Pharmaprix

Please excuse the lighting in the following picture, I'm testing a new  photography set-up, and it's not quite right. I just wanted to post this quickly, as it is time-limited (expires May 13th I believe).

Lancome is offering a GWP at Pharmaprix/SDM stores - this set comes with any purchase of 35$ or more, and now is a good time to take advantage as there is also a 20x the Optimum points event that ends this Friday, AND the majority of locations that sell Lancome should have received a) the Summer collection, b) Teint Idole Ultra and c) the new Color Design eyeshadow palettes.

Plus, how often to those little GWP palettes come in a shade range like that? Definitely not nice, safe neutrals.

May 02, 2012

My babies.

I've been unusually absent from the online world recently. The reason for that is that our family has grown recently - we adopted two new dogs! Both of them are boxers (a brindle named Dee Dee, 3 months old, and a fawn named Boomer, 15 months old), from a small and wonderful organization called Boxer Rescue Quebec. (If you are considering a pet, I urge you to look to rescue groups like this first. There are so many fabulous dogs and cats looking for a forever family, and I have nothing but positive things to say about our experience working with BRQ to find the match for our family.)

Anyway, after a couple of weeks of getting to know each other, we've finally settled into a routine, which has allowed me to get back to blogging. I look forward to posting about all the things I've been trying out, and in the meantime, Dee Dee and Boomer would like to introduce themselves. =)

Miss Dee and me.

Androo, getting some love.
Nap time.

And more nap time.

May 01, 2012

Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation

I'm pretty faithless when it comes to foundation. My current foundation may be perfectly adequate, but I'm always looking for something better, brighter and more exciting around the next corner. After trying out two of the more recent foundations from Lancôme I have to say that any newcomers will have a lot to live up to.

The first one I want to review is the reformulated version of Teint Idole, which claims an "all-day flawless complexion" and "ensures a shine-free and retouch-free complexion".

Like most of Lancôme's products, this foundation has beautiful, elegant packaging, with a nicely weighted frosted glass bottle, a tight-fitting cap and a controlled pump dispenser.

They also have a substantial range of shades, though still nothing for very deep skin tones. (My match is the 210 Buff N.)

Having never tried the original version, I can't compare the two, but I suspect that aside from the claims of increased durability, the reformulation likely has an improved texture. Certainly I found it to be nice and creamy, yet very easy to apply and sheer out. Like most modern matte-finish foundations, this has a relatively short working period, as it dries down quickly and lastingly.

One squirt applied to bare skin, rubbed in with my fingers.
Indirect natural daylight.
The coverage is a solid medium, and can be sheered out or built up. This is the kind of foundation that can make you look airbrushed and perfect, with very little effort.

The finish is absolutely matte, meaning that it will not easily forgive fine lines or texture, but it will control shine. Tenaciously so. I did not test the 24 hour claim, but it lasted from 5am until 10pm relatively unscathed. I found it started to look a little flaky on my cheeks toward 7-8pm, but otherwise it remained fresh. I did not set it with powder, so where I had applied heavier moisturizer it allowed a slight glow to come through, and remained matte otherwise. My skin is not terribly oily these days, however, so I can't vouch for how well it will hold up on very oily skin. On combo skin it's perfect.

The best application was with a damp sponge, as a buffing brush pickup up on the dry flakies, and a flat foundation brush gave me a bit more coverage than I needed (which obviously would not be a problem if you prefer that level of coverage). The damp sponge afforded to most natural look (and allowed some of the moisturizer glow to peek through), but I did not find it cakey otherwise. I did experience some mild pore-settling around my nose, which is something that can be resolved by buffing the foundation in. If that is a concern for you, be aware that this is something that I did experience.

Teint Idole and Clarins Ever Matte are the kind of foundations that make me love matte again - easy to apply, long-lasting, light-feeling. The fact that I don't need to powder them is a huge plus, especially since I would likely use this kind of finish in the summer and generally prefer having the least amount of product on my face during that season. Teint Idole edges out Ever Matte for me, though, and that's mostly because I prefer medium coverage foundations. A foundation I can sheer out is more versatile than one that needs to be built up.

Availability: At The Bay,, Murale and Pharmaprix locations that stock Lancôme. The price is 50$ CAD.

Pros: Perfect coverage - blots out imperfections without deadening the skin - and great durability. Excellent shade selection for light-to-medium skin. Feels light for something with that much coverage and very comfortable despite the matte finish. Looks polished and professional with minimum fuss.

Cons: Can settle into pores, will emphasize texture, so not my first pick for dry or mature skin, unless you're prepared to sacrifice the youthful, light-bouncing properties of dewier foundations for an impeccable finish.

(I purchased this item at Bon Ton in the US.)