Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NARS Lipgloss in Bad Education

How can something so murky in the tube, a color that resembles a creamed tomato sauce, be so clear and gorgeous on the lips?

NARS Lip Gloss in Bad Education ($24) is described as a sheer crimson red. My bluish lips turn it into a blue-based berry red that rivals Ellis Faas Lip Glaze L303, which is a hint more pigmented and has a nicer texture. The NARS gloss is sheer enough to wear as a daytime red, it's moisturizing, it doesn't migrate or smear or tingle or sparkle. It's just sheer, shiny red goodness with a very smooth, gel-like texture.

The tube has a doefoot applicator and at first smells a little chemical, which dissipates fairly quickly. The color does not fade overly fast for a non-sticky gloss; I'd say it stays put for a solid hour, which is decent. Best of all, the product does not leak, and leakage (whether oily or pigmented) is a total dealbreaker for any lip gloss.

There is the barest whisper of gold shimmer, but that only comes out in direct sunlight.

The only thing that keeps me from giving this item a rave review is that if I wear it the way I would wear lipstick all day, the corners of my mouth become irritated. I am (and always will be) a lipstick girl, not a lip gloss girl. 

Bottom line: Very good sheer, daytime red--especially for the red phobic.

All photos mine, except for the last one, which is from

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rouge Bunny Rouge Kiss Elixir Lip Balm

Rouge Bunny Rouge Kiss Elixir (around $24 at the current exchange rate--mine was PR sample) is a full-bodied gel that glides on smoothly, imparting a glossy shine without shimmer.

Kiss Elixir, which contains Vitamin E, avocado, macadamia, and jojoba oils, provides immediate moisture and relief from tightness and dryness. Used consistently, it smooths away chapped, flaky skin, especially if I occasionally use a toothbrush head to exfoliate the surface of my lips. For those of you who are scent sensitive, there is a subtle, fleeting taste of honeyed mint. It's not as weightless as I like, and it is nigh impossible for anything to usurp my beloved Julie Hewett Camellia lip balm, but Kiss Elixr is quite nice.

Many lip treatments actually dry my lips over time, so I tested the Kiss Elixir exclusively the last several weeks. This balm provides a cushioned barrier, without water, and leaves my lips incredibly smooth and soft. The absence of water is particularly important this time of year because water, which is common in most lip balms, can be as dehydrating as a chronic lip-licking habit.

Even though this balm appears golden, it applies sheer and translucent. My coloring cannot handle any warmth in my makeup products, and if you are also cool toned, I would not worry about the color. I suspect it comes from the extracted nut oils.

Bottom line: Pricey for the amount (6ml/.2 fl oz) but an incredibly luxe balm that doubles as clear lip gloss.

All photos mine
This product was provided for my consideration

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L301 (the other Ellis Red)

I've talked about the Ellis Red lip colors in other posts, and this one, Glazed Lips L301 ($35), is the last in the trio.

Glazed Lips provides an ultra-wet, yet long-lasting burst of color that still allows the natural lip pigment to shine through. I love the Ellis Red concept, and although L101 and L201 are lovely blood red colors, L301 is unlike the others, being more a tomato red (and too warm for me).

As with the other brush dispensers (shown here), you just click to load the pen and apply straight to the lips using the attached brush--though you could certainly use your own lip brush. Color stays put for a few hours, and it fades evenly, leaving behind a light tomato-red stain. 

The Ellis Faas Glazed Lips formulation is unscented and contains hydrating plant seed oils, as well as the antioxidant vitamins C and E, and omega fatty acids (not sure what those are doing for my lips, but it feels nice). The texture of all Ellis Faas lip products is silky, never sticky or goopy. The Glazed Lip formulation feels less like a lip gloss than a liquid lipstick, and despite the moisturizing properties, the color does not seep into lip lines or smear.

Very warm on me

I was not impressed with the coverage. L301 looks patchy on my lips.

I blotted my lips on white tissue paper so you could see L301's true colors without my own mauve-rose pigment getting in the way. You should be able to see this is a warm red, but still very much in keeping with natural colors found within the body.

Here are all three Ellis Red colors together for comparison:

Bottom line: Not feeling the love.

All photos mine

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Becca Professional Brush Soap

Becca Professional Brush Soap ($15 40g/1.41 oz.) was designed to clean, condition and sanitize. That's pretty much what soap does, right? But apparently, if I use Becca's soap, instead of the stuff I already use, my brushes will live longer than I do and can be passed down through centuries of mini me's.

I do like how the soap is neatly packaged in a vintage-style tin, like the kind my dad used for shaving, though a part of me is reminded of those little tins of saddle soap that I used to clean my winter boots and other rugged leather. This tin is wide enough that I can swirl my fluffiest blush brush inside, and the soap works equally well on both natural and synthetic fibers.

Apparently, shampoo can leave brush fibers limp and brittle (though I have had great results using Aveda Shampure, Jane Iredale's brush shampoo, and Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap). Becca's soap contains plant oils that are gentle on brush fibers while cleansing away product build-up, but in all honesty, I do not find that this soap outperforms those shampoos or the soap I use on my body (Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap), and now I have one more item added to my bathroom clutter. I do find, however, that whatever brush cleanser I use needs to be conditioning or the bristles can seem a bit ratty, not soft and smooth, and the Becca soap is definitely conditioning.

To use, I simply dip the brush tips in lukewarm water, swirl around the soap cake to pick up some lather, and then stroke the brush against my palm. Rinse, and repeat if necessary, until the water runs clean. I also make sure that I tip the tin at the end to empty out any standing water.

I realize this is supposed to be a review on the soap itself, but there isn't much I can say about it that I haven't already said. It's convenient, and it cleans. The end. So permit me to digress into brush-washing philosophy for a moment--especially after reading some of the marketing hype for this and other brush-cleaning products that would have me believe I need to wash my brushes after every use.

We makeup lovers are continually confronted by the edict that we must wash our brushes frequently (e.g., at least weekly) or we'll have faces that resemble the insides of a pomegranate. Some of these scare tactics practically posit that unwashed brushes are a veritable petri dish of disease. I say your mileage may vary. If you have chronic acne or very oily skin, or if you regularly make dramatic changes in your eyeshadow or blush colors, you'll want to wash your brushes more often and know that you will have to replace them more often. I wash most of my brushes every 1-3 months, and I read somewhere that even Bobbi Brown washes her personal brushes no more often than once a month. So I was extremely gratified that my recent Hahuhodo brush order came with instructions that suggested washing only when the brush head became overloaded with product and to, instead, wipe it with a tissue after each use. I don't use tissue, which can transfer lint. I use a small microfiber towel or a cosmetic wedge, both of which absorb extra powder and prevent it from flying around the room. I should also say that I am wary of the no-rinse sprays and liquids. As convenient as they are, they contain alcohol (in order that the bristles dry quickly), which seems like it could do more damage to the brush head than overwashing.

I enjoy the meditative process of washing my brushes, and I love how they look after, but I actually prefer them to be a bit dirty--much the same way my hair is nicest the day or so after I wash it. The hairs perform better when they are not overly loose and fluffy and squeaky clean. I do wash brushes that I  use to apply cream or gel products after each use, but overall, it comes down to practicality. The more often I wash my brushes, the more quickly they will wear out. As for a breeding ground of bacteria, I have been using the Jane Iredale Handi brush nearly every day since 2000 (a total of 30-40 washes, not the 520+ times the pundits advise). It looks as good as it did the day I purchased it, and it has not caused a single skin eruption, though if I were to hold it under an electron microscope I'd probably see something resembling Whoville.

Bottom line: Becca Professional Brush Soap cleans perfectly well but is not a staple for me.

Ingredients: Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Aqua (Water), Sucrose Cocoate, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Parfum (Fragrance).

All photos mine

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rouge Bunny Rouge Metamorphoses Mattifying Primer

I tested Rouge Bunny Rouge Metamorphoses Mattifying Primer ($68.57) for a few weeks before I wrote this review. Given the ingredients, I considered this product to border on skincare, so I wanted to give my skin a chance to react, if it was going to do so. Happily, it did not.

This primer (29 ml/about an ounce) comes out of a pump dispense. At first I worried that it would be heavy and greasy, but it practically melted under my touch and blended away quickly to transparent nothing.

Despite what it might look like in my photos, this primer has a featherweight texture, and unlike some other primers, it does not ball up. I used Metamorphoses Mattifying Primer as intended--a moisturizer/primer hybrid (over Baltic Collagen Face and Neck Gel), and a couple times I wore it on its own to see if it would improve the appearance of my skin tone. The primer served well as a skin moisturizer in that is smoothed over my pores and let my makeup glide on easily, but it did not actually add any moisture, despite containing oils. It also did NOT make my partly oily skin look oily. In fact, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, provide a satiny matte canvas without dulling the complexion.

I tested the primer under Missha BB Cream, but I most often wore it under my favorite foundation, Jane Iredale PurePressed Base. The primer definitely improved the appearance of my foundation's finish, making it look like a second skin. It gave my skin a velvety-matte glow (which seems like a juxtaposition) that kept shine at bay all day. My skin tone looked more even and luminous without looking shiny. I did not use a blotting tissue the entire time I tested this product.

After one month of use, I am happy to say that this primer has caused neither breakouts nor milia.

Metamorphoses Mattifying Primer contains soothing active ingredients, such as allantoin and meadowfoam seed oil. It also contains Vitamin E to fight free radicals and other antioxidant and anti-aging properties. I do not get that dreaded, tight egg-white finish that some primers leave. In fact I don't feel anything on my skin at all. The primer is weightless.

The ingredients list is relatively short, but for those of you sensitive to parabens, this product does contain them.

Bottom line: Love!

All photos mine
This product is a PR sample

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Night Fun

100 years of style.

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eye Shadow 58 Lavande

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow 58 Lavande ($28.50) is discontinued, but you can probably still find it on eBay and the like.

Like all Ombre Essentielle eyeshadows, Lavande is buttery soft and applies very smoothly with no fallout or shimmer migration. The name obviously implies a lavender color, but unlike the blossoms from the herb, Lavande is not muted. It is a clear, blue-lavender shade with no grey to soften it.

The clarity in this eyeshadow disappointed me at first, but I have grown to love it over time. I had originally wanted a light purple shade with blue or grey undertones, because I had nothing like it in my small purple shadow collection (forgetting about NARS Violetta and D. Gorgeous), and I was hoping Lavande would be less bright. This eyeshadow makes my blue-grey-green eyes sparkle, but it would look even more glorious on brown-eyed girls, especially those with yellow undertone to soften its vibrancy.

Since I am not warm toned, the logical conclusion would be to pair Lavande with a warm eyeshadow, but I don't wear warm eyeshadow. At all. As in, don't even get it near me. Despite what beauty pundits say about complementing blue eyes, warm, orange-based browns, khakis, and golds make me look ill. I looked for a suitable complement, but I found nothing from my own cool taupes, greys, and greiges that improved the appearance of Lavande. Everything I tried made Lavande look more blue.

So as pretty as Lavande is in the pan, I almost put it into the Mistake Drawer. I have a personal policy about eyeshadow. OK maybe it's not a policy, but it's a goal. Any eyeshadow I purchase must be able to stand on its own. If it requires layering with other shadows to look good, I won't keep it, no matter how pretty the result of the blending. It's one reason why I am not drawn to the Le Metier de Beaute Kaleidoscopes. I can't be bothered with all that layering and blending.

Here are some swatches on my NW15 skin, which does little to enhance this beautiful eyeshadow because my skin turns Lavande icy.

Lavande in sunlight
Lavande in natural light, no flash
As it turns out, I was unable to shop my own stash for a more flattering version of shimmering purple. In fact, Lavande drew my attention to the fact that most of the other shimmery purple shades were not as flattering as I first thought. My eyeshadow mistakes occur when I am irresistibly drawn in by a pretty color but don't give enough thought to how that color will translate on me.

Here are some pictures of Lavande compared to Chantecaille Freesia, Laura Mercier Dusk (reviewed here), and Delicate Hummingbird (reviewed here, which contains a MAC Shale comparison).

These colors are soft, so I hope you can see the differences. Lavande, far left, is the most clear of the four colors shown. Freesia is lightest in pigment and falls somewhere between Lavande and Dusk, being neither too blue nor too pink. Dusk has pronounced red undertones, but it is not a lavender shade--it's a shimmery lilac, so the red makes sense. Delicate Hummingbird is a very complex color that has so much going on, the overall effect is a muted plum, deeper and slightly warmer than the other three.

For fun, Lisa Eldridge uses one of my comparison eyeshadows, Chantecaille Freesia, in a very bright/pastel EoTD.

Bottom line: Lavande is beautiful, and I am happy I picked it up, but wearing color took some getting used to.

Do you have a favorite shimmering purple eyeshadow?

All photos taken by me