August 30, 2013

L'Oréal Collection Privée (Official TIFF Festival Collection) - Colour Riche Nail Polishes

The Toronto International Film Festival is almost upon us (runs September 5th to 15th, for my fellow film buffs), and with it comes this incredibly classic, and yet totally modern collection of stellar nudes for lips and nails.

The L'Oréal Collection Privée is the official TIFF collection, and features matched pairs of lipsticks and nail polishes that are meant to evoke the particular essence of the following ladies: Eva Longoria, Doutzen Kroes, Freida Pinto and Jennifer Lopez.

L'Oréal Collection Privée (Official TIFF Festival Collection) - Nail Polish Eva Doutzen Freida J.Lo
Left to right: Eva's Nude, Doutzen's Nude, Freida's Nude, J. Lo's Nude
L'Oréal Collection Privée (Official TIFF Festival Collection) - Nail Polish Eva Doutzen Freida J.Lo
Left to right: Eva's Nude, Doutzen's Nude, Freida's Nude, J. Lo's Nude
I'll have swatches and reviews for the lipsticks up shortly, but I wanted to start with the nail polishes. As you may have noticed, these come in the smaller-sized bottle, similar to the very limited topcoats that were available earlier this summer. If you go through nail polish like crazy, or if you fall in love with a particular shade, that might be an issue. On the other hand it's nice to have a polish size that you are actually likely to finish.

These also feature the same style of rounded but flat brush that is found in all the L'Oreal Colour Riche nail polishes. (Which I happen to love for my nail size and shape.)

Eva's Nude (Barely Golden): This is a rich, inky burgundy with an warm undertone of brown. It looks glossy even without a topcoat, and applies smoothly for such a vampy shade. It self-levels, and you could probably get away with one coat if you go a little thicker from the outset. I prefer two, however, for that saturated look. This was two coats.

L'Oreal TIFF Collection Privee Eva's Nude

Doutzen's Nude (Barely Pink): Surprisingly, this is my favourite out of the four! It's a pale, milky ballerina pink, with a fine shimmer throughout. Not quite as self-leveling as the other shades, and I had a small amount of streaking, but this was overall a lot easier to apply than many shades of this type. I think this looks best when worn opaque rather than sheer, two coats at least. This was three coats.

L'Oreal TIFF Collection Privee Doutzen's Nude

Freida's Nude (Barely Parma): One of those strange morphing shades that reads plum, mauve or brownish-taupe, depending on your light. It even has tones of slate in some lights. The lighting in this picture is a mix of daylight and artificial light, and it's closest to the way it usually looks. However, I am wearing it in this video, where it pulls much more taupe/grey. It's a stunner, self-leveling, and opaque at one coat. This is two, and the second was entirely unnecessary.

L'Oreal TIFF Collection Privee Freida's Nude

J. Lo's Nude (Barely Greige): One of those putty shades that is cool and effortlessly chic. And this one is truly effortless - it applies like a dream and really only needs one coat, though I did my usual two. This is the slim white t-shirt of nail polish shades - easy, flattering and best when not fussed with too much.

L'Oreal TIFF Collection Privee J. Lo's Nude

I think this is a well-edited collection, with a "nude" likely to appeal to you, no matter what your tastes. Again, I was surprised that the frothy, girly Doutzen shade is the one that stood out for me, despite Freida's being the sort that I'm usually drawn to.

Availability: Out now in Canada, and very limited. At most drugstores, including Jean Coutu and Pharmaprix/SDM. Price is 3.99$ CAD.

Pros: All but the pink shade were self-leveling and wearable with only one coat. Formula was creamy and easy to apply, and all the shades are distinct and flattering.

Cons: The bottle size might be too small if you discover a favourite. Doutzen is a bit streaky if you want to wear it sheer.

(These items were provided by the brand/PR to be considered for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

August 24, 2013

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon - Cherry, Monroe, Vamp

I've been meaning to try the Annabelle version of the ubiquitous lipstick pencil for a while now, so when these press samples popped up in my mailbox, I was delighted. The retro-feeling and autumn-ready shades were the proverbial cherry on top!

The Annabelle TwistUp Rretractable Lip Crayons already came in a broad range of shades, and the brand recently expanded with five new Vivid shades (Bazooka Pink, Fuchsianista, Plump It Up, Sorbet, Orange Pop), three Nudes (Naked, Romance, Havana), two reds (Monroe and Red Carpet) and two Bordeaux shades (Cherry and Vamp).

I was able to try Cherry, Monroe and Vamp.

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon - Cherry, Monroe, Vamp

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon - Cherry, Monroe, Vamp

These are billed as lipstick and lipliner in one, with a hydrating formula and creamy, comfortable texture. They contain rapeseed oil and shea butter for their nourishing and repairing properties.

I found that these were indeed wonderfully hydrating, much more so than I expected from a lip crayon of this type. They felt creamier and richer going on that the more balmy-feeling Revlon Just Bitten pencils, with a more significant pigment punch. They are pretty close to opaque, with some degree of translucency - yet without any sheerness, if that makes any sense. Like incredibly rich stained glass, which completely masks the colour behind it, yet still allows the light to shine through. A neat effect.

I didn't have any bleeding with these, but because they are so creamy, I had to take a little care when using them as lipliner. The application was so smooth that it was almost too easy to go outside the lipline. That said, I really liked how precise I could be.

The wear on these was slightly longer than a regular creamy lipstick, but they are not long-wearing. They do leave a stain behind, though that might be particular to these red/deep shades.

These can be applied in various ways for different looks - straight on, dabbed on for a lighter effect, applied, blotted, reapplied for a deep stain.

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon - Cherry, Monroe, Vamp
Top to bottom: Cherry, Monroe, Vamp
The colours that were provided are just stunning.

Cherry is a medium-dark, blue-toned red, exactly the right shade for a Snow White effect with lighter skin. It had the strongest pigmentation of the three.

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon Cherry

Monroe is evocative of its namesake. A bright, light red with a strong coral undertone. It's almost the lipstick version of OPI's So Hot It Berns nail polish. Beautifully retro and totally wearable. This was slightly sheerer.

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon Monroe

Vamp is a deep muted burgundy, with a slight brown undertone. It's sexy, powerful, and ever so slightly 90s to me. This felt the most balmy, not quite as creamy, though the difference was minute.

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon Vamp

Availability: At most drugstores, as well as Price is 9.95$ CAD.

Pros: Rich pigmentation, hydrating, creamy feeling, very smooth application. Convenient lipstick and lip pencil hybrid format.

Cons: Because of the creamy texture, a little patience is advised when it comes to using these as lipliner, and they are not as effective in terms of creating a barrier effect as a more dry-textured, matte lip pencil would be.

(These items were provided by the brand/PR to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

August 21, 2013

Chanel Le Blush Crème de Chanel - #63 Révélation

Not to put too fine a point on it....but Le Blush Crème de Chanel may indeed be the near-perfect cream blush.

The copy for this product promises:

"An innovative powder-cream formula offers an enticing new way to blush with sheer yet vibrant pigments for instant luminosity. The silky texture offers a long-wear satin finish—soft and comfortable for every skin type—and is simple to apply with fingertips or brush."

And much like Torrence Shipman and the mighty, mighty Toros. CHANEL BRINGS IT.

Chanel Le Blush Crème de Chanel - Révélation

Chanel Le Blush Crème de Chanel - Révélation

Packaging-wise, there's nothing exceptional. You either love the elegant simplicity of Chanel exterior styling, or you think it's boring. I've always tended to fall on the side of "why am I paying so much for black casing??" but the more Chanel products I try, the more I appreciate the way it brings the actual product to the foreground.

And that product, in this case, is exceptional. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I bought this blush on a whim when I was vacationing in the US several weeks ago. I was very intrigued by the texture when I swatched it at the counter, however.

Despite billing itself as cream-powder, it's actually not quite either.  As you can see from the close-up below, it almost looks like a powder blush when pristine, with no indication that it's an emolliant product. It's quite firm to the touch, yet immediately melts under the heat of your fingers. It feels silky and smooth going on.

Chanel Le Blush Crème de Chanel - Révélation

As it is worked into the skin it does start transforming into a powder, but doesn't look powdery, if that makes any sense. It also doesn't become immovable and in fact remains blendable for several minutes, which makes it incredibly user-friendly. This isn't one where you apply and then have to madly buff away, hopping to get things even before it sets. It stays looking luminous on the skin, but not greasy - it truly has a seamless, undetectable finish.

The wear time is good - just shy of 8 hours on bare skin, about 10 hours over foundation with just a faint bit of fading. It doesn't end up looking either oily or cakey, but if you want something that is very longwearing, this is not it. Personally, I'll take the gorgeous finish and seamless look over 12 hours of perfect wear.

Révélation is a beautiful shade that should suit a lot of complexions from very fair to deeper medium. I'm not sure how well it would show up on deeper skintones. The intensity can be varied due to how blendable and fine-textured it is - you can sheer it out or build up layers without it looking like you've slapped a ton of product on. The colour itself is a warm-toned, tulip pink that tends to look more coral-tinged as it is sheered out. It should play nicely on both warmer and cooler tones.

Chanel Le Blush Crème de Chanel Révélation swatches

Availability: This should be out in Canada momentarily, at The Bay and other Chanel counters. It's currently available from Nordstrom for our US friends. Price is 38$ USD.

Pros: Lightweight, silky cream-to-powder formula, is seamless on the skin. Incredibly comfortable. Luminous, natural finish that doesn't look greasy or dry. Blendable texture that lends itself to a longer "working" time, can be sheered out or layered easily. Beautiful, flattering colour. 

Cons: If you prefer very long wear, this might fade a little too early for you. 

(I purchased this item from Macy's.)

August 18, 2013

Marcelle Waterproofing Mascara Topcoat

Don't you love it when something is so brilliant, yet so simple, it's a wonder it wasn't done before? Such is the case with the Marcelle Waterproofing Mascara Topcoat, which I recently received as a sample.

Yes, you read that name right. A topcoat to apply over your very favourite mascara, to render it waterproof. You don't have to settle for a waterproof mascara you don't love, just because you want to weep at sad movies or dash about in the rain! You apply your beloved version as per usual, and then brush this overtop, and you can tear up and splash about as you wish!

Exciting! But...does it work?

Generally speaking, yes, absolutely. I tried this out over a mascara that I adore, but that tends to smudge (Pupa Vamp!, if you're curious). I wore the combo during a long evening out (with plenty of those laughed-so-hard-I-cried moments) and then splashed by face with a ton of water when I get home.

No smudging, the flaking, no mascara breakdown at all. The formula lived up to the claim - and then some, as I had to bust out the oil cleanser to get it all off.

I didn't find that it changed the overall look that my chosen mascara created - my lashes were full and defined, like I prefer - though it did make them harder to the touch, and maybe a bit glossier. Differences I can totally live with.

I do have a caveat, however, and that is the applicator/packaging. It's a regular mascara wand in a regular mascara tube, and there were two minor issues with that.

One, the liquid inside is, well, liquid. If you should happen to lie the tube on its side like I did, it will puddle right out. Not a big deal, as I'll know to stand it up or hold it from now on, but it's unexpected and could lead to some wasted product initially.

Two, the mascara-like applicator is not an ideal delivery system. Because the product is so liquid, it tends to stay at the base of the brush rather than on the bristles, which means you either have to wiggle it into the lashes, or go in with a lot of product on the brush in order to coat them properly. The former is not so easy when you've already got your full mascara coating on your lashes, and the latter can get goopy and deposit more product than you need.

To get the cleanest, most effective application, I drip out a tiny bit onto a metal palette and use a mascara fan brush to paint the topcoat on. No mess, no waste, no fuss. Ideally, I would love packaging that would facilitate this - say, an inkwell-type bottle and brush duo.

Availability: At most drugstores like Jean Coutu and Pharmaprix/SDM, as well as Price is 16.95$ CAD.

Pros: Lives up to waterproofing claim, doesn't alter the look created by your mascara, can be combined with any mascara.

Cons: Packaging and applicator is not ideal for the product consistency.

(This item was provided by the brand/PR to be considered for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

August 17, 2013

Clarins HydraQuench Cream-Mask and HydraQuench Cream

As part of my current quest to bump up my skincare regime, I'm testing creams and serums and masks (oh my), both from the drugstore and the higher-end counters. My awesome contact at Clarins contributed greatly to this endeavour by sending me two items from their newly revamped HydraQuench line - which has apparently been going like gangbusters since 2008. (While I have been complacently rubbing the same ole thing on my face.)

I have to admit I was a little wary of trying something that seemed to be geared towards dry skin. I have dry patches and my skin can look parched, but I have a much longer history of dealing with oil and acne. It honestly makes me a little fearful of trying new creams, due to the risk of breaking out and looking like a greaseball. However, I've had really good luck with the things I've been trying out, the HydraQuench products included.

I first tried the Clarins HydraQuench Cream-Mask. Like all the items in this line, it hydrates the skin while helping  to rebuild and protect the natural moisture barrier of the skin.

Clarins HydraQuench Cream-Mask

This is not the type of mask that dries to a cracked-mud finish. It's a luxurious-feeling cream that can be applied anywhere you need a boost of hydration, and left on for 5 to 10 minutes. After that, it's supposed to be taken off with a toning lotion and cotton pads, but I preferred to rinse off the excess (what wasn't absorbed) with water.

I was really surprised to see that there was no residue left on my skin  - no oil, no stickiness. My skin looked refreshed and smooth, and the flakiness on my cheeks was attenuated. I have to wonder if very dry skin would actually find this moisturizing enough, because it felt so appropriate for my combination skin. Then again, maybe rinsing with water removed too much of the product that was supposed to be left behind?

Regardless, it boosted the overall texture of my skin, but not in a way that felt like I had a applied a heavy cream. It also didn't, and has yet to, break me out. I feel like this is the kind of mask I could do on my cheeks once or twice a week, maybe more often during the winter months, to keep those areas in better balance with the rest of my face.

This does contain katafray bark extract, glycerin and my beloved sodium hyaluronate, which will do the immediate job of attracting and retaining water molecules, and would probably be maximized by the subsequent application of a moisturizer.

It also contains sorbier bud extract, which is supposed to aid in micro-circulation and presumably is partly what gives that "refreshed" look to the skin. The mask does tingle ever so slightly.

Clarins HydraQuench HydraQuench Cream

I also got to try the Clarins HydraQuench Cream.

This is a glossy cream that also has an almost gel-like feel when rubbed in. I was very pleased (and surprised!) by how lightweight this felt on the skin, while still being quite hydrating. With heavier creams I usually mix them with a little floral water on the back of my hand before applying, in order to render them more texturally-appropriate for my skin. No need for that here - applied straight, the cream absorbed into my skin without leaving a trace behind. It also contains katafray and sorbier extracts, and hyaluronic acid, as well as pomegranate extract.

I really, really liked the feel and performance of this. I was sure it would be too much for my skin, but it absorbed so well and kept my skin feeling smooth, plump and flake-free all day.

Both of these are scented, which is part of the redesign on the line. Like the scent of most Clarins skincare, it's more complex than the usual masking fragrance. The top note is a green apple accord, with a middle note of rose and a woodsy base. It's really subtle and pretty and I love it, but if you have sensitive skin you may want to do a patch test first.

These are some swatches to give you an idea of the textures.

Clarins HydraQuench Cream-Mask and HydraQuench Cream
HydraQuench Cream and HydraQuench Mask

Availability: Available at The Bay, various Pharmarix/SDM and Murale locations, as well as Nordstrom. The mask is 36$ CAD/35$ USD, and the cream is 49.50$ CAD/USD.

(These items were sent to me by the brand/PR, to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

August 15, 2013

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 - Ombre Soufflé Supreme in Tartan Magique

The Lise Watier Tartantastique collection for Fall features some really dreamy, fairytale-appropriate items - none more so than the Tartan Magique Ombre Soufflé. (I may have made a sound resembling a squeak when I opened the jar. Ok, yes, I definitely did.)

It's ALL kinds of gorgeous.

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 Ombre Soufflé Supreme in Tartan Magique

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 Ombre Soufflé Supreme in Tartan Magique

Tartan Magique is a deep teal, layered with fine golden iridescence, creating a wonderfully sparkly, dimensional look when applied to the eye. It's aethereal and beautiful, and the sort of thing I imagine an elven queen would be fond of.

The texture of the Ombre Soufflé range is interesting - basically a soft, squishy, whipped mousse that gives way easily and feels quite silicone-y to the touch. It actually reminds me a bit of the texture of the Flower Beauty Color Play Creme Shadows, though without the same degree of slip that made the latter so difficult to control, blend and build. I found this to apply easily, and sheer out and build up - to a point - without difficulty.

I found I needed a primer to make this last, however. Without one, it had all but disappeared from my crease area within 4 hours. With my Nars primer, it was still good after about 7 hours, but starting to look a little faded overall. Over a stickier cream base, like a paint pot, the intensity remained stronger throughout, with no fading or creasing past the 9 hour mark. This isn't a no-fuss product, but the effect is so pretty that it's worth the effort for me.

It may work also well as a base by itself for those with drier or otherwise less finicky lids. On mine I still had a bit of creasing when I used just the Ombre and a powder eyeshadow overtop, but none at all with a primer underneath the combo.

As a side benefit, the Ombre Soufflé also contain anti-oxidents and anti-aging ingredients, including Labrador Tea extract, so they do a bit of double-duty.

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 Ombre Soufflé Supreme in Tartan Magique swatches
Regular swatch, and sheered out.
Slightly out of focus to capture the golden sparkle.
Availability: At The Bay and most Pharmaprix/SDM and Jean Coutu locations, as well as Price is 24$ CAD.

Pros: Beautiful shade with mesmerizing shimmer. Builds up and sheers out well, can be used as is or as a base. Has skin-care benefits.

Cons: Fades and creases within a few hours, at least on oily eyes like mine. Needs a primer for longevity, and a creamy textured base is best to maintain the intensity.

(This item was provided by the brand/PR, to be considered for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

August 13, 2013

Annabelle Quad (Quatuor) Eyeshadow - Chai Chai Chai

If I were to go back (waaaaayyyyy back) in time to the beginnings of my makeup obsession passion,  Annabelle would be front and center. This Montreal native brand was the go-to for a lot of girls like me who started out wearing a little shimmer shadow surreptitiously swept on the eyelid. The budget-friendly price point held a lot of appeal as well. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Annabelle is still completely awesome, and the Gleam eyeshadow remains one of my favourite highlighter shades.

They recently came out with a range of Eyeshadow Quads, and I was especially taken by the tester of Chai Chai Chai at the display. It swatched SO beautifully. It was also on sale for about 8$ - for 4 nice-sized eyeshadows. was basically begging to come home with me.

Does the packaging remind you of the Sephora Colorful Palettes? Minus one eyeshadow and about 20$, of course. And with significantly nicer textures and payoff than I've generally found in the Sephora versions. The plastic casing is simple and basic, and my palette did have a tendency of sticking, needing a bit of force to pop it open. I don't know if that's unusual though.

The shades all work well together and should look amazing with blue eyes. The light bronze is a nice crease shade, but also makes for a good base colour if you want to do a simple day look. The peachy orange is lovely for punching up a warm-toned look.

From bottom left corner, counter-clockwise through the palette.
Yep. Smooth, almost creamy, with excellent pigmentation - everything I would want from an eyeshadow, and for a decent price. All three shades have a similar shimmer finish. I had no issues applying these - no fallout, same pan-to-lid intensity and good wear overall. There was a bit of fading around the 8-9 hour mark, visible mostly around the base of the lashes, but no creasing.

I know that bronze shades, especially shimmery ones, tend to have the best payoff and textures across the board, so I'm not surprised this palette was selected to be the tester in the display. Seeing the great quality here, I'm very tempted to get at least a couple of the others in the series.

Availability: At most drugstores, as well as Suggested price is 10.95$ but can vary by store and sale pricing.

Pros: Great texture, fantastic payoff, easy blending and application. Colours work perfectly together. Very nice value for the amount and quality of the product.

Cons: Packaging is is a little hard to open for whatever reason.

(I purchased this item at Pharmaprix.)

August 11, 2013

Stila Back to School Sale

Wow, Stila is offering a week of pretty amazing Back to School promotions starting this Monday. They start with 35% off, and reduce the discount value every day until Friday, with 20%.

If you're planning on getting anything, start making your list now so that you can take advantage of the steepest discount come Monday! I have a feeling stuff will sell out fast.

No code is needed, apparently, and it doesn't apply to gift sets and sale items. It doesn't indicate anything about the free shipping for orders over 50$, so presumably that still applies?

Unfortunately they don't ship to Canada, but if you have a US buddy to co-order with, or you use a mail-forwarding service, this is a prime time to stock up on staples or splurge on those limited items you've been eyeing.

stila discount sale

August 08, 2013

Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette Summer 2013

You know, I really need to give Smashbox more of my attention. It seems like every product I've tried from them as of late has been a winner, and yet it's one of my most consistently overlooked brands when I swing by Sephora.

Exhibit A (A for AWESOME): the Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette from this summer's collection.

Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette Summer 2013

Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette Summer 2013

Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette Summer 2013

Summery external plastic packaging and a practical, simple aesthetic for the palette casing itself. A trifle unassuming, right?

And inside? One row of warm, sunny shades in a mix of satin/matte and shimmer finishes, and a row of cooler toned neutrals, mostly shimmers. (And also a dual-ended brush, which is better than the usual palette add-in, but nothing special.)

This palette is so very good. I can't overstate it. The shimmers all have that soft, creamy texture that smooths on like butter. You just kind of want to keep patting the eyeshadow. Like a kitten. Because they are so soft, they kick up some debris, so go in with a gentle hand. Pigmentation is excellent for most, with the grey and the blue in the bottom row having slightly sheerer payoff, though building them up is not difficult.

The two matte/satin shades are equally soft, not chalky at all, with a similar creaminess. They have a very faint sheen, so they don't look flat on the skin.  They feel a lot like the Inglot mattes. They applied beautifully and without any powderiness, and no problems adhering to the lid, though there was a bit of fallout during application. They wore well - no creasing and next to no fading - for 8-9 hours without a primer. For me, that's noteworthy.

Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette Summer 2013

The shades are really beautiful. 

The top row has a light peach in a satin finish, a metallic bronze, a very pigmented light brown that makes for an excellent transition colour, a gilded pink-peach (similar to MAC's Expensive Pink, but warmer) and an antique gold that is so creamy it's kinda ridiculous. 

The bottom row boasts a silvered pink champagne that is reminiscent of Stila's kitten, a dove grey and a slate blue shimmer, a lilac shimmer with an undertone of taupe, and a greyed brown that looks more matte in the pan, but actually has a low-level shimmer.

Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette Summer 2013 swatches
Top row.

Smashbox Heat Wave Eyeshadow Palette Summer 2013 swatches
Bottom row.
I love that this palette combines both warmer and cooler tones, but that they don't exist in isolation to each other. Combined in a variety of ways, you can have anything from the most simple, neutral eye to something sultry and smokey or colourful and vibrant. If you're looking for a cover-all-the-bases palette, the only shades missing are a pale highlight shade and a black or near black. For summer, though, I like these kind of tones when playing up burnished skin and taking advantage of that hazy evening light.

Availability: Available at Sephora, and certain Pharmaprix/SDM and Murale locations may still have it. Price is 54$ CAD, and 48$ USD.

Pros: Sleek packaging, and great arrangement of shade range. Very good pigmentation across the board, with soft, dense, creamy textures, including the matte-satin shades.

Cons: Soft texture translates into fall-out when picking up with a brush and some during application.

(Purchased this from Pharmaprix with my Optimum points.)

August 07, 2013

Guerlain Parure de Lumiere Light Diffusing Foundation (Cream) - #02 Beige Clair

Sometimes you really, desperately, want a beauty product to work. Not only because it was expensive, and not only because it looked so fabulous on the SA who sold it to you, but because you think the product is good - just not good for you.

That's my feeling about the Guerlain Parure de Lumiere Light Diffusing Foundation. It's taken me a few months to write this review because I've gone back to it several times, trying different application techniques and powder/primer combinations.

Guerlain Parure de Lumiere Light Diffusing Foundation (Cream) Beige Clair
Guerlain Parure de Lumiere in Beige Clair
The packaging, as with all things Guerlain, is pure elegant swank. The jar is heavy enough to cause a concussion, should you ever feel compelled to throw it at anyone, and looks like it should be gracing some 40s era starlet's boudoir. You can rarely fault Guerlain's presentation, and their products at the very least look like they're worth the price tag.

Guerlain Parure de Lumiere Light Diffusing Foundation (Cream) Beige Clair
Guerlain Parure de Lumiere in Beige Clair
Let me go back to my opening paragraph a bit by affirming that in many ways this is a good foundation. It has medium coverage, a beautiful semi-matte finish that still manages to be a wee bit luminous - what I would call a velvet finish - and a decadently rich cream texture that doesn't sit heavily on the skin.

It looks amazing skin-like when freshly applied, and photographs very well. Like many cream foundations, actually.

Guerlain Parure de Lumiere Light Diffusing Foundation (Cream) Beige Clair
Blended in on the left, swatched on the right.
(I posted a picture of me wearing it in my Dior Birds of Paradise Palette review.)

Unfortunately it doesn't hold up on my skin. As the packaging indicates, this is a foundation that offers "moisture and comfort" despite the velvet finish. I found that this was evident over my oilier areas as the day wore on. The foundation started sinking into my pores or else beading up over them, and the skin over my cheeks started looking textured as it picked up sheen throughout the day.

I had better results if I prepped my skin with a pore-smoothing primer and spot moisturized only those areas that really needed it, and if I sealed it off with a silica-based powder - like the MUFE HD, Mac Prep + Prime or the new Nars Light Reflecting Setting Powder - using a very light and focused hand. Even at that, it was really easy to over-powder and turn it dry-looking.

I found it was finicky to apply as well, with a tendency to turn cake-y and flaky if I used my usual brushes. Even the duo-fiber brush I love to use with my Graftobian Creme foundation didn't quite cut it, though it did better than the others. I had the best results using a combination of damp beauty-blender and my hands to press and pat it into my skin.

If you have oilier skin or skin with oily areas, this will be a really high-maintenance foundation. If you have normal to somewhat dry skin with less obvious pores and if you prefer a semi-matte finish, this guy might be absolutely perfect for you.

Availability:  At The Bay and select Pharmaprix/SDM stores, as well as Murale. Price is 67$ CAD. I'm not sure if it's available in the US, as I have yet to find it on any of the major department store sites.

Pros: Beautifully skin-like, yet offers medium coverage and a semi-matte finish that is still luminous and hydrating. Great option for drier skin types who want this kind of finish without sacrificing comfortable wear.

Cons: A little work needed to apply and blend out. Breaks down and emphasizes pores on oilier skin. But then again, it's not really made for that skin type.

(I purchased this item from Pharmaprix.)

August 06, 2013

L'Oréal "Les Pinks" Collection New Colour Riche Lipsticks - #135 Ballerina Shoes and #254 Everbloom

Pink is in. Not that it was ever out, really, but the folks over at L'Oréal were especially in tune with the softly structured femininity evident on the Valentino runway when they created the "Les Pinks" collection for Fall.

These are 8 new shades of the Colour Riche Lipstick and 3 new shades of Le Gloss, ranging from the palest pink to the hottest fuchsia. I had the chance to try two of these: Ballerina Shoes and Everbloom.

L'Oréal "Les Pinks Collection" New Colour Riche Lipsticks - #135 Ballerina Shoes and #254 Everbloom
Top: Ballerina Shoes
Bottom: Everbloom
The Colour Riche Lipsticks are a drugstore classic, and for good reason. The brushed gold packaging, the great range of shades, the creamy texture and good pigmentation are like the lipstick equivalent of That Dress. The one that always looks good on you, no matter how many times you've worn it, that always looks well-put-together and elegant, even though it only cost a fraction of the price tag it conveys.

The only thing I can ever find to complain about is the scent - it's a little old-school, and could stand a revamp.

In terms of colour....

L'Oréal "Les Pinks Collection" New Colour Riche Lipsticks - #135 Ballerina Shoes and #254 Everbloom
Top: Everbloom
Bottom: Ballerina Shoes
Everbloom is a rich, warm pink that sits somewhere between watermelon and coral. It's a bit of an odd colour to plunk down in a Fall collection, but it's so pretty I can't complain.

In the tube, Ballerina Shoes looks like it might be something from a 60s beach party. It's not a universal shade, but it is far more wearable and flattering than a first swatch might indicate. It is a baby pink frost, but unlike many such shades, it doesn't leave the lips looking dried out and flaky. A finish like this can sometimes look like it's just sitting on top of the lip if it's applied straight from the tube, so I pat it on with my finger and find the result looks sweet and super chic. It can also be dabbed overtop a deeper pink to add some dimension.

L'Oréal "Les Pinks Collection" New Colour Riche Lipsticks #254 Everbloom

L'Oréal "Les Pinks Collection" New Colour Riche Lipsticks  #135 Ballerina Shoes
Ballerina Shoes
Availability: These are a permanent addition to the line, currently out in most drugstores. Price is 10.99$ CAD, and 7.99$ USD.

Pros: Elegant packaging, creamy texture, good pigmentation. Everbloom feels hydrating. Everbloom is a great late summer colour and an unexpected one for fall. Ballerina Shoes is a nice modern interpretation of a paler pink lip. Both are very on-trend.

Cons: The scent is quite strong and particular - I don't like it, though YMMV on this one. It does dissipate after a while.

(These items were sent to me by the brand/pr to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

August 05, 2013

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 - Chic Tartan Light Cap Nail Lacquer

My husband is rarely impressed by anything makeup related, but I did manage to wow him with the Lise Watier Light Cap Nail Polish. Being the gadget-savvy guy that he is, he was appropriately delighted by the clever light source, activated by a click of the button at the top of the cap.

Myself, I was more enamoured of the actual nail polish, which was kindly sent to me to test out.

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 - Chic Tartan Light Cap Nail Lacquer
Chic Tartan Light Cap Nail Polish
The entire collection is a lovely play on the colours of heather fields and misty, verdant landscapes - all soft plums and mauves, and dusky greens. It evokes Scotland and Fall without being precious about either. 

This nail polish, Chic Tartan from the Fall Tartantastique Collection, is especially beautiful due to its liminal quality. It hovers, undecided, between pewter, dusty teal and smoky green. It just depends on how the light hits it. It is by far one of the most unique colours in my collection. The more I look at it, the more I love it.

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 - Chic Tartan Light Cap Nail Lacquer

Chic Tartan has a glossy cream finish and a fairly thick texture. I had the best luck doing a thin, somewhat streaky first coat and then a thicker second coat. The formula is very self-leveling, so after that weird first layer it spreads out beautifully. 

The brush is thinner and squared off at the tip, so it takes a little more effort to get a clean line if you have fairly rounded nail beds like mine. 

Lise Watier Tartantastique Fall 2013 - Chic Tartan Light Cap Nail Lacquer

Availability: At most Pharmaprix/SDM and Jean Coutu locations, The Bay, and Price is 13$ CAD.

Pros: Fabulous colour that is fall-appropriate and veers between grey, green and teal. Naturally glossy cream finish and self-leveling texture. Neat light feature that probably isn't all that practical but seem cool regardless.

Cons: Thicker texture can make application a little tricky, as can the relatively thin, square-tipped brush.

(This item was sent to me by the brand/pr to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

August 04, 2013

The week in samples - UD foundation, Guerlain and Dermalogica skin stuff, Biotherm BB cream, Bare Minerals (pressed!) foundation

I've wanted to do one of these posts for a while now, but while I hoard samples like a manic squirrel, I can never seem to use them up. This last week was a perfect opportunity, however, as I had to fly out to Toronto for work. Since I prefer not to check my luggage, I stuffed that little plastic baggie from airline security full of little tubes and packets.

My skin tends to act up when I travel, so I grabbed these two acne-fighting packets from Dermalogica.

Dermalogica Clear Start Wash Off - This has nice mix of pimple-busting ingredients, including Tea Tree oil and salicylic acid, plus a variety of extracts. For a foaming wash aimed at acne-prone skin I found it surprisingly non-drying. It was refreshing, left my skin feeling smooth and soft, not tight. It has an herbal scent, which is pleasant. I'm not sure if it did anything extraordinary though, since the various extracts and other beneficial ingredients didn't stay on my skin for very long. At the very least it did nothing catastrophic. Won't be purchasing a full size.

Dermalogica Clear Start Hit The Spot - This one is chock-full of stuff. Extracts galore, plus zinc sulfate, sulfur and that Tea Tree again. The smell is FAR more pungent - the sulfur adds a certain egg-y odor that does NOT dissipate as the day wears on. It's unfortunate because this is actually an incredibly effective spot treatment. It reduces redness and swelling, somehow getting the spots to simmer down to less volcanic levels immediately, and renders them irrelevant within a couple of days.

Really awesome, and I will definitely be purchasing a full size - to use at night, when only my beloved can be tortured by my egg-salad-smelling face.

I also wanted to bring a cleanser option from Fresh that I knew would be gentle, in case the one above turned out to be too harsh. Since I wouldn't be packing by regular Hydraluron tube and Cerave lotion, I figured a serum/lotion from Guerlain would be fine.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser - This was ok. I can't say anything more dramatic than that. It cleaned my skin, it was gentle, it smelled vaguely like cucumbers. It's good, not mind-blowing, and the full size is pricy. I'm sure I could find something comparable from the drugstore.

Guerlain Super Aqua-Serum Intense Hydration Wrinkle Plumper - Even though this is a serum, it has a milky-lotion texture and provides more hydration that a serum typically does. It also has hyaluronic acid, which is my jam these days. It did a fine job of moisturizing and keeping the fine lines around my eyes under control. Plump, even. :P

It also smells AMAZING. I know - fragrance in skincare isn't a selling point, but I'm not generally reactive to scent and this has that classic rose/violet/awesome smell that most Guerlain products do. But....I'm not ready to spend upwards of 100$ on one skincare item. Not yet anyway. I will treasure you always, Sample Guerlain Tube, but we are not meant to be.

I didn't want to pack a foundation bottle, so I tried to make do with a BB cream from Biotherm and the new pressed foundation from Bare Minerals.

Biotherm Aquasource BB Cream - This is really nice, though definitely heavier on the moisturizer than the coverage. I rubbed it in all over, and sort of tapped more on areas that were more red (thankfully my cheek area, which is the driest portion of my face). The coverage is about what I would expect for a tinted moisturizer, and the overall effect is natural, healthy and luminous. With a touch of concealer and powder, it would work beautifully for low-maintenance days. And it smells awesome too! Super fresh and yummy. I want a body cream that smells like that.

Bare Minerals Ready SPF 20 Foundation - Urgh. I wanted to like this. I love pretty much everything I've tried from their Ready line, but this was just powdery and weird, and sat on top of the skin in a cake-y mess. I don't know if maybe I just got a bum sample, but I'm definitely not enticed into trying a full-sized version.

Motivated by this successful sampling program, I tested another foundation when I got home.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup - (Why with the endlessly long product names??) I mixed two shades because the 3.5 is a touch too pink and the 2.0 is a bit too light. The result still skewed a little too rosy on me, but wearable. I remember trying this foundation when it first came out, and being unimpressed. The coverage seemed poor and it got all caught up in the dry parts of my face. I was using a brush to apply it then, and I think that was part of the problem.

This time I used my hands, but not in a rubbing motion. For lack of a better term, I pretty much "slapped" this foundation on. Smeared a bit between my fingers and slapped it around my face, dabbing more precisely around my nose and over areas that needed extra coverage. I got medium coverage out of it that way, and it looked incredibly natural, neutralized the appearance of pores, and felt incredibly lightweight. The finish is satin, veering towards dewy on the nose about middway through the day, so I need some powder to set it and/or maybe a primer - but the finish is so nice, I'm considering a bottle purchase.

So I think that was a successful sample spree, no? Now I'm itching to make my way through more of my stash!