Monday, April 30, 2012

Chen Man for MAC Play It Proper Beauty Powder

I don't buy much MAC these days, but when I saw that Chen Man had designed a box for the newest Beauty Powder as part of the Love & Water collection, and that the color, Play it Proper ($23), was something I might be able to wear, I took notice.


Softly hued and lightly sparkling, this beauty powder reflects the artist's infatuation with the color pink. The stylized Chinese character for love, depicted on the outer sleeve, was created by Chen Man.

She likes pink; I like pink. Sounds good. Here's another one of the promo pictures:


Pretty, isn't it? Unfortunately, I waited too long, and the MAC web site sold out.

Then one day I was moseying along in blogland and came upon a glorious review at lola's secret beauty blog, and I suddenly HAD to have it. I was in luck because Play it Proper was still available online at Nordstrom (and still is, as of this review).

Needless to say I ordered it.

When I first opened the lid, I felt disappointed. The color looked warm and and peach.

Indirect sun

But then as I moved the product around the room in different lighting conditions, the color changed and became more pink.

Moved slightly out of the sun

Out of curiosity, I compared it to another MAC Beauty Powder, Light Sunshine, which the MAC website had described as "pastel neutral pink with soft gold and pink sparkles" (discontinued). Side by side, I could see that Play it Proper was more pink, cooler, and slightly darker.

Swatched on NW15 skin below. I applied the powder fairly heavily because the color pigment is quite light. Also, because my skin is so cool toned, it really broadcasts the little bit of warmth in this powder. So on some of you, it will be a cool pale pink, but on me, it does have a bit of peach undertone.

Indoors, natural light, no flash

The underlying warmth in Play it Proper really shows up in the sun.


Sold as blush, I wear Play it Proper as highlighter because it doesn't add that much color to my rosy cheeks. I also swipe a fingertip into the pan and apply it at the vermilion border on my upper lip (Cupid's bow area) and use a smudge brush to drag a bit down the bridge of my nose.

A more creamy, glorious powder highlighter I have not yet found; I prefer it to Becca. The texture is silky, even creamy, and it is an excellent highlighter for fair people.

Note that if you have medium to large pores, this powder could highlight those wee craters. I use a primer and them apply Play it Proper over blush. It looks very pretty on top of NARS Gaiety (reviewed here).

Bottom line: ♥♥♥. I thought about buying a backup and then I remembered I am trying to be unencumbered. I also remembered I am fickle. But for now, it's love, and I have been wearing it every day.

All photos mine except where indicated by caption with link to source

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bronzer: I Don't Get It

Personal opinion, but I think this model looks much nicer (and, yes, younger) when she's pale

I don't know about all of you, but it's that time of year when I start to think about BRONZER once again.

And yet again, I don't know why I bother. No matter how I try to get a realistic bronzed glow, which looks so good on everyone else, I don't care for the way the makeup looks on my skin. Sometimes—briefly—I'll convince myself it looks good, but then I'll catch my reflection in a mirror or window and think Who is that dirty hobo? I should think I'd learn from past mistakes, but that doesn't stop me from being enticed by the new entrants and trying again.

Here are my failures, my Wall of Shame if you will, which dates back circa 2000:

Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in Sun Blondes 04

I chose the darker of the "for blondes" shades only because the palette contained more pink than the others. It still turned yucky yellow on me.

Physicians Formula Multi Colored Pressed Powder

Isn't the Physician's Formula bronzer pretty in the pan? I don't remember what my problem was with it, but I must not have liked it or I'd still have it. In fact, I have almost no memory of wearing it, so it must have been one of those try-once-and-cringe things.

Chanel Poudre Soleil Lumiéres Bronze Rosé

I remember when this beautiful Chanel palette came out last year, and I started seeing it appear in blog reviews. It looked so subtle, perfect, and cool toned on everyone's swatches. I thought surely it might be The One, but it was an utter disappointment. It translated very warm and dark on my skin and looked sludgy. I have now banned striped products from my dressing table.

Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Bronzer in Daydream

I really liked the Edward Bess bronzer at first, which I reviewed it here. In the end, I didn't even use it enough to obliterate the EDWARD BESS imprint; it was just too golden for me.

Diorskin Nude Tan Healthy Glow Enhancing Powder in Sunlight

Even though I really liked the packaging, formula, and finish of Dior's Healthy Glow powder, it was yet another too-warm failure.

Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzing Powder in Antigua

Described as a light bronze pink, I saw only a dusty rose blusher—and a bad blush choice for me. I certainly didn't want to spread a whole bunch more of pink on my face. Next.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Bronzing Glow Liquid As if it Were Summer Still

Rouge Bunny Rouge's bronzer (reviewed here) wasn't too bad, but it was still too golden. Also, during the summer I prefer powder finishes, when my skin is more naturally oily. Putting cream-based anything on top is just begging for unwanted shine by 10AM.

Ellis Faas S303

Ellis Faas S303 (reviewed here) is marketed as blush, but its pigment is quite bronzed. It would be a lovely blush on deep, autumnal redheads, but it was too warm and dark on my pink skin.

NARS Bronzing Powder in Irresistiblement

I really like NARS products, but Irresistiblement (how could I pass on a "desert glow") was far too dark and too yellow. Laguna, which is lighter and highly celebrated by makeup lovers everywhere, was also a disappointment. Diffused brown is a good bet, but the golden shimmer made it a no go.

Also, I dislike shimmer in bronzer. If I were to tan naturally, the melanin in my skin would certainly not shimmer.

Benefit Dallas

Benefit Dallas  ... terracotta muck.

Jane Iredale So Bronze Bronzing Powder

Despite my love for many Jane Iredale products (reviewed here), her So Bronze Bronzing Powder was too warm and dark.

Clarins Gelée Auto-Bronzante Express

Here's a surprise: I used Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel in the 90s, and I actually liked how it settled into my skin, which was a nice rosy brown instead of the dreaded ...

You knew this was coming, didn't you?

My only issue with the Clarins self tanner was that I did not want to have a tanned face every day, but once I rubbed it in and the dye took hold, tanned I remained until it faded.

Armani Beauty Sheer Bronzer

Despite how dark Armani Bronzer in the color #1 looks in the pan, it is actually a sheer brown with rosy-mauve undertones. It should have worked, but there was also the unwanted shimmer, and that shimmer was a warm bronze.

All of these failures lead me to wonder if some of us, especially those of us with fair and purely cool-toned skins, aren't meant to bronze. If I spend time in the sun, I first burn. Any tanning that takes place is very slow and gradual, but always preceded by a burn. Though I wouldn't do it again, I liked the way my skin looked when my family lived on the beach, so my issue is not that a tan looks fake on me—it is in trying to mimic that sun-kissed glow from a pan. It almost never translates because I don't tan golden brown; I tan a light rosy brown.

I do realize, of course, that the sun is yellow. And that for many brands, "sun kissed" means lots of yellow in their bronzing product. But some of us just can't handle the warmth, and I remind myself that my entire makeup-wearing life I've managed to live without bronzing makeup, so I should probably avoid temptation this year—as pretty as all the new bronzers will look in their packaging ... but I have to admit I have been tempted by this too-cute Bronzing Powder by Too Faced:

Too Faced Pink Leopard Bronzing Powder

How do you feel about bronzer? Friend or foe?

Photos all from their respective company web sites, and/or Barneys and/or Sephora.

Monday, April 23, 2012

NARS Sheer Lipstick Damage, Review, Swatches, Comparison

This is more or less a pictorial "review." I won't blather on with all the gooey adjectives about NARS Sheer Lipstick ($24) formula, but you can read them here (Manhunt) and here (Flamenco) and here (Dolce Vita), if you like.

After reading a comment by LPC (Privilege blog), who called NARS Damage her "MLBB shade," I was curious enough to pick it up because we seem to have similar coloring.

The NARS web site describes Damage as "sheer muted grape."

When I think of grape, I immediately conjure up the dark-purple Concord grape, but then I remember those delicious red harvest/holiday grapes that pop up in November and then disappear right after Christmas.


When compared to red grapes, Damage has a similar dusky, blue-red hue.

Maybe more like this, only not as dark.


Damage has a silky translucent formula. Application below is in two swipes, so you can see how sheer it is, but it's not difficult to build up grapey goodness on lips.

Indirect sunlight

The difference in color between indoors and out is very subtle. Indoors, Damage appears moderately deeper, but it is still sheer and juicy looking.

Indoors, natural light, no flash

Indirect sunlight

Indoors, natural light, no flash

Damage is similar in color to Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Bonheur (reviewed here).

Compared to the red-based plum of Bonheur, Damage contains more blue. I prefer the weightlessness of the Rouge Coco Shine formula, but I don't love shimmer, and Bonheur contains a little bit of shimmer. Damage sits very nicely on the lips, but I do feel it ever so slightly.

Bottom line: Damage is another NARS winner, and it's an excellent choice for those of us who love color but not so much heavily-pigmented lipsticks. Great for spring/summer.

All photos taken by me except for the grapes
Disclosure: I purchased Damage at Sephora

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beauty Spotlight: What's in LondonMakeup Girl's ......

It's London MakeUp Girl's turn to do What's In My ... and she's taking us to her special skincare corner. What are the skincare products that find a place in the corner of her bathroom, rather than sitting in a cupboard? These are the items she reaches for daily or weekly. Come find out what's behind that snazzy picture!

Friday, April 20, 2012

NARS Pink Blushes: Gaiety vs. Desire

Blush is not that exciting a product to me, as I find it almost entirely utilitarian. For that reason, I am rarely enticed to experiment beyond my very limited comfort zone of color. It does not help that my blush journey has been clouded by "expert" recommendations for a warm, muted, dusty rose, which always makes me look ruddy. 

It's the fuchsia blushes (especially with lavender undertones) that sing to me. ♫  While that might seem an odd preference for a fair-skinned woman, my first blush purchase over two decades ago was a Chanel blush in a clear, vibrant, blue-based fuchsia color. I used up every particle of that beauty, but over the years I stopped wearing blush entirely. When I decided to start wearing it again, I settled on Bobbi Brown's Pale Pink matte blush, which though a great shade on me, could make me look feverish if I applied with too much exuberance.

When reviews started hitting the blogosphere about the new NARS Blush in Gaiety ($28), I took notice, but as I began my research, I felt torn. I could not make up my mind between Gaiety and Desire, which seemed to be in the same color family—a cool, clear, vibrant pink.

Some reviews opined that Desire and Gaiety were nearly identical and that you didn't need both. I certainly did not want both—I wanted the most flattering. After a bit of hemming and hawing, I chose Desire over Gaiety, partly because some reviews were calling Gaiety "too lavender." I loved Desire's clear fuchsia color, but like the Pale Pink blush, I found it far too easy to overdo.

Yet I  remained curious about Gaiety, so When NARS recently had a 20% promotion, I bought it and immediately compared it to Desire.

As you can see, they are similar but not at all the same. Desire has more of a red undertone, so it is slightly warmer, and Gaiety is a straight-up blue-based pink, with almost-imperceptible lavender undertones. NARS calls Gaiety a "bright candy pink," but I find that more descriptive of Desire, which NARS calls a "delicate bright pink." I'd swap those two descriptions and call it a day.

Heaven in a pan.

I can't believe how much I ♥♥♥ these blushes. What I was unable to capture in any of the pictures is the fact that Desire is completely matte, while Gaiety has a satin finish, which leaves my cheekbones luminous—and for that reason (combined with its gorgeous color) Gaiety is the clear winner.

In the below photo, although Gaiety does, indeed, look almost almost lilac on my skin, it transforms into a glowing clear pink on my cheeks.

Here are both Desire and Gaiety swatched on plain white paper so you can see the difference without skin undertones getting in the way. Desire has more warmth.

Bottom line: Gaiety is, without question, the prettiest blush I have ever owned.

UPDATE: Reader Barbara asked if Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita (reviewed/swatched here) was similar to Desire, so I am uploading a picture. In a word, no. Florita is a visibly warmer red, more of a strawberry warmed by the sun, whereas Desire is a hot pink with only a touch of red.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine 55 Romance: Swatches, Comparisons

Favoring clear, sheer lipsticks these days, which I find make my lips look less puckered, I have developed a love for the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine ($32) formula. I recently picked up Romance,  which has become my favorite and fits in nicely with my current pink obsession.

Romance is a clear, cool, coral-pink, and it contains no shimmer, which is rare for this formula. Even though the shimmer in a Rouge Coco Shine lipstick is always subtle and never frosty, I prefer my lipsticks to be creamy or shiny, without any sparkles whatsoever.

Look how clear it is. LOVE.  For the scent averse, however, know that it does smell like rosewater upon application, but I did not notice any taste.

NB: Any sparkle you see in the above photo is vestiges of whatever I took off my mouth before applying Romance.

Here is Romance compared to two other coral-leaning pinks, Guerlain Rouge Automatique Chamade (reviewed here) and Chantecaille Rose de Mai. Same color family, but Romance is more sheer and glossy.

Bottom line: Romance is a cool coral-pink winner.

Do you have a favorite color among the Rouge Coco Shine lineup? What other shades might you recommend a fair, cool-toned person?

All photos mine, except where named by source in caption; purchased from Nordstrom