December 31, 2010

The Best Makeup of 2010!

2010 was such a banner year for cosmetics. So many beautiful collections, and so many new releases. These are the best items, in my opinion, of 2010. Starting with the lips,

Best Lipstick: Edward Bess lipstick in Night Orchid. I love this color, it compliments my complexion so well, and the formula is so creamy and hydrating. I also love the high quality metal packaging, although it appears that will be going by the wayside. Oh well. 

The best Lipgloss: Chanel Extrait de Gloss. I basically want every color from this line. The formula is gel like, and moisturizing. There are little speckles of microglitter, but these are far less blingtastic than the glossimer line. Score. 

Best Lipliner: Paul & Joe Lip Pencil Duos. These pencils are creamy and long lasting. I own 01 Melon, 03 Sepia, and 05 Scarlet, and between the three of them, essentially all of my lip lining needs are met.

Best Blush: Le Metier de Beaute Creme Fresh Tints. These are basically the best blushes I've ever used. As I've mentioned previously, I'm a sucker for any sort of cream product, and these are truly the cadillacs of cream products. The Creme Fresh Tints just melt into the skin for a completely natural flush. 

Best Eyeshadow: definitely the Rouge Bunny Rouge! Solstice Halcyon and Abyssinian Catbird have been on the menu a lot this past fall and winter. These shadows are just beautiful and easy to use. True love.

Best Highlighter: Tom Pecheux for Estee Lauder Pure Color Luminous  Powder. I was one of the lucky few to purchase this from Bergdorf Goodman this past fall. It's been my favorite highlighter ever since. Unfortunately the formula is so luxuriously soft and buttery, that there's already a crack through the powder! So no more travel for this palette, I love it too much to put into harms way!

Best Mascara: Dolce & Gabbana The Mascara. As I mentioned in the review for this product, I received this as a gift for purchase, and it's been a big hit.

Best Nail Polish: Chanel Khaki Brun. Are you as shocked as I am that I just said that? I was expecting to pass on Khaki Brun, because honestly, it's so damn ugly just sitting there in the bottle. But of course I had bought the other two khaki shades, so I was compelled to round out my collection and add brun. And it turned out to be my surprise favorite of the year. It's so beautiful once applied to the nail, that even my (very conservative) sister thought it was bangin'. I've already worn this color three times, twice in a row! That's nearly unheard of. 

Last, but not least, Best Collection of 2010: usually I'm all about fall and winter, give me crandberry, ochre, bronze and mustard, but this year I have to say that Dior Summer '10 was the best collection. I bought both the palettes, and I've really enjoyed them both.

That's a wrap. Happy New Year everyone!

J Dilla- E=MC²

J Dilla has touched my soul, and the soul of many others. On this, the eve of 2011, I bring you another classic of his. Please, do yourself a favor, and run out and buy The Shining by J Dilla, if you haven't already. It will drastically improve the quality of your life, assuredly. 

December 25, 2010

December 23, 2010

Dior Five Golds Palette for Holiday 2010, Swatches and Review

Actin Filaments, Photo Credit: LaVerne L Poussaint

I know I'm late in my review for the Dior Five Golds Palette for Holiday 2010, but I had to get to know it a bit before waxing poetic. I'm typically a pretty big fan of Dior Quints, 2010 has been a banner year in fact, but I was slightly hesitant about Five Golds. Normally this is the exact sort of bronze neutral goodness that I'm all about, but for some reason this palette seemed to be less than exciting. Until I spent quality time with it. And I'm so glad I did. Five Golds is definitely in league with all the rest of the quints as far as quality and design. The shadows are smooth and vibrant, and the color combination is unique enough to my collection that it's a worthwhile addition. Additionally, it's also in line with my taste enough that it can be used with a large range of my other products. 

The black is a medium pigmented shade with sliver microglitter. I've used this the least, just as a soft liner. The two bronze shades definitely steal the show because they're so pigmented and beautiful. The sliver is also well pigmented and combines well with the other colors. It's nice to have a cool tone to offset the mostly warm palette. 

The lightest color, which is basically just glitter in a sheer base, has gotten mixed reviews. I ultimately decided I really liked it as an accent shade. It can be combined with other colors in the quint, or otherwise, to make them more sparkly or noticeable. Usually I don't use much glitter, but when I do, I might as well go all out. So I'll be using this to really push an eye look over the top. Since it's so sheer, it can really be layered over anything, even a blush or highlighter. 

I was actually testing and wearing this quint when I was visiting Washington state over the Thanksgiving holiday, and that huge blizzard hit. The snow made for an interesting morning for my mom and me. We actually ended up abandoning the car, and walking home the last few miles. It's a good thing I had snow pants on and my eye makeup looked inappropriately glamorous. When you combine the colors together on the lid, it gives this awesome impression of the semi-precious stone tiger's eye. It goes well with green eyes, and winter catastrophes. 

Cannonball Adderley- Autumn Leaves

Check out this blue note classic. Alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley played on some of the greatest recordings of the hard bop era, including Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. This is my favorite track on his solo album Somethin' Else.

December 20, 2010

Chanel Spring 2011 Black Pearl and Pearl Drop, Swatches and Review

For some reason I can't stop buying Chanel nail polish. They're like crack. I actually don't find anything that remarkable about them as a whole. The formula very rarely impresses me particularly, and I find that Chanel is far from being the trend setter, despite the accepted dogma. And yet, I lay down 23 green each and every time, Spring 2011 being no exception. 

All that being said, Black Pearl is so completely worth the money it crosses over to the ridiculous. This is one of the most singularly beautiful nail polish colors I've ever used. Difficult to put into words, Black Pearl is truly unique. I've been disappointed by Chanel nail polishes in the past, especially those with this particular shimmer formula, but Black Pearl delivers both in beauty and in quality. (although it still started chipping within 24 hours. but I'm unusually hard on my hands.)

So, I got this very suggestive email from Chanel. I was already  expecting to succumb to Black Pearl, but I realized I must have Pearl Drop as well!!! And make this a reality!! Black Pearl manicure, and Pearl Drop pedicure!!

Close up to show the sparkle. I used two coats to reach opacity with Black Pearl.

Pearl Drop is the sort of color that I rarely go for. I definitely didn't need this color, and there's nothing particularly unique about it, but at least the formula is also the same high quality as Black Pearl. I think a white frost manicure is typically considered a faux pas, so I wasn't sure how I should use this pearly gold white until I got that email. And I'm really loving it on my toes. Since the usual mani/pedi combination is a light/dark, not a dark/light, I think this combination is more visually interesting.

It took three coats to reach opacity with Pearl Drop

One of my recent disappointments with Chanel was the release of Riva, which looks so exquisite in the bottle, but translates terribly to the nail (thankfully I was able to resist that nail polish purchase). But as you can see below, the bottle color of both Black Pearl and Pearl Drop translates very well to the nail. 

All in all, I'm very happy with these nail polishes. Black Pearl is definitely a must have, whereas Pearl Drop completely isn't. I would advise anyone to run right out and buy Black Pearl as soon as possible, before it sells out forever. 

December 18, 2010

Chanel Spring 2011 Ombres Perlées de Chanel Swatches

Can we please talk about how much I hate Chanel for doing this to me? Please, release Spring '11 in January after Christmas, for crying out loud. But of course since this is the most elegant and cohesive collection I've ever seen from Chanel, I ran right out and gouged a huge hole in my wallet, which I might add has already taken an epic beating in preparation for the holidays. Because god forbid I miss out on anything. Jeez. 

Anyway, the products are really what you're here for, so I'll stop complaining. Today I bring you the star product, the Ombres Perlées de Chanel. Obviously I haven't had much time to really play with this palette, but it just about knocked my socks off when I first spotted it in person, and I wanted to quick share some pictures and swatches. I love love love cream products, and the moment I heard Chanel was slated to release a pearl themed cream eyeshadow palette for Spring, I was all kinds of excited. And Ombres Perlées de Chanel does not disappoint. 

The moment I got this home, I put on the golden cream and light pink shades on my lids. I must say the formula far surpasses similar cream products in quality. After having these on my lid, I may never look twice at my MUFE cream shadows ever again. I didn't even hesitate to apply primer in my mad dash, and so far the formula is lasting well also. It's not the most rigorous of tests to wear eyeshadow around the house for a couple of hours, but it's nonetheless encouraging that there isn't even a hint of creasing yet. 

The two lightest shades are the least exciting, but will probably get the most wear because they create a sophisticated sheen on the lid that looks very natural and flattering. They can also double as highlighters. 

The rest of the colors are a series of complex shades that really do reflect the luminosity and variation of fresh water pearls. Unfortunately they didn't photograph that well, because the sparkle is too complex for my dinky camera to capture. The middle shade is a beautiful near duo-chrome plum, the fourth shade is a murky gasoline-on-water green, and the last shade is a pearly dark grey with a distinct green note. All of the colors look beautiful together, and also compliment the rest of the collection very well. 

My favorite color is the last one, the black pearl. It's definitely a very unique shade. It doesn't compare to anything in my current collection, and I can't think of any similar colors available on the market. The impact of dramatic or dark shades is softened when they come as a cream, so I think it'll be very wearable, especially for the holidays. I'm looking forward to combining this palette with the Ellis Faas eye lights I got back in September for a festive look. 

With Flash

In Natural Light

Overall I think this palette is very much worth the $65 price. I might not have been able to pull the trigger if I hadn't looked at it in person, but seeing the high quality texture and uniqueness of the colors was very convincing.

I bought a few more items from the collection so more reviews are coming soon. I'm doing a manicure and pedicure using two of the new nail polish colors tonight!

December 14, 2010

7L & Esoteric- Think Back

For the longest time I couldn't remember the names of these guys. I heard them, immediately started to dig their sound, but then couldn't find them again. Thankfully youtube recommended one of their music videos to me. 

Anyway, these guys are from Boston. From what I've heard, the whole album Soul Purpose is worth checking out in depth.

December 13, 2010

Shu Uemura Essence Absolut

So basically winter sucks moisture out of my life like an inorganic anhydrous salt does out of organic solvent. In other words, I'm parched. I can't hardly even wear my contacts because my eyes refuse to retain any moisture whatsoever. The skin on my legs has gone the way of the lizard, and my hair feels so brittle. In steps Shu Uemura Essence Absolut. I may not be able to fully remedy any of my winter woes, but at least technology is on my side. Essense Absolut is an oil hair treatment and is described as a "multi-use elixir." Fancy. It contains all sorts of elaborate sounding things, but one of the main ingredients is camellia oil, which is a traditional Japanese skin and hair conditioner. I've been using this for almost a year now, and it's helped my hair health tremendously.

To apply Essense Absolut, I just pump a few times into my hand and smooth it into the ends of my hair. Initially my hair does look a bit greasy, but after five to ten minutes, the product is completely absorbed, and the hair looks lustrous and feels extremely soft. You would never guess that I'd just slapped a bunch of oil onto my hair. What's more, the oil also absorbs quickly and fully into my hands, and makes them feel moisturized all day. I think it even makes my (horrible) cuticles look healthier.

Essence Absolut retails for $65 for 150 ml. Blessedly, when Shu Uemura decided to pull their cosmetics and leave the US, the Art of Hair line stayed. So Shu Uemura hair care can still be found in many high end salons. I bought Essense Absolut at a fancy pants place on Bond Street. If you want to locate a salon near you, there's a nice search feature on the Art of Hair website

As an alternative, pure Camellia oil is sold by Chidoriya at $31 for 50 ml. You get less for the money, but also pay less overall. In my experience, Essence Absolut absorbs more fully, but the pureness of the Chidoriya is also very appealing. Chidoriya is sold through beautyhabit.

December 11, 2010

RMS Un-Coverup Concealer in 11, Swatches and Review

RMS Un-Coverup Concealer is a gem of a product. Brought to us by Rose Marie Swift, this a mulit-tasking product that can be used to conceal, but also to generally even out skin tone. I've been using it most under my eye and around my nose. As most of her products, this has a coconut oil base, so there was some concern over break out. I have somewhat acne prone skin (whatever that really means) and so far so good. My skin has been a complete mess since the seasons changed, but I don't think Un-Coverup Concealer has been anything but a help in that department. 

I was definitely concerned about matching a color to my skin. Un-Coverup Concealer comes in three flavors, 11 22 and 33: light, sorta light, darkish. All have a fairly yellow base. Having had so many failed matches with concealers in the past, it was a relief to have Rose Marie match me herself. Naturally she chose 11 for me, but she also demonstrated that 22 would work as well, depending on the effect I wanted. Personally I prefer pale, and was elated to see that 11 was a pretty perfect match. 

Un-Coverup Concealer is a transformative product, it looks so yellow in the pot, but spreads sheerly and naturally onto the skin. The coverage is medium to full and yet looks completely natural. I have neutral undertones which lean toward the cool end. I can get pretty rosey, but this yellow product actually meshes very well with the rest of my face. And it doesn't give my blue under eye circles a green cast (like stupid Dior did). I honestly think 11 would work for a huge spectrum of skin undertones, especially considering this is a product that the self-professed olive toned Grace London swears by.

Since this is an oil based product, it actually never dries fully. The skin remains very slightly tacky throughout the day, which would probably be a deal breaker for some. However, I think it's actually one of the most unique and awesome qualities about the product. As any concealer, Un-Coverup settles into the fine lines under my eye, but as long as I pat it out a little more sheerly, the problem is solved without sacrificing coverage. Since the product never completely dries, it remains manipulatable all day, so this problem can be corrected casually. With the usual concealer, if you try to blend it out again after in inevitably settles into those lines, you get cakey disaster. 

Additionally, Rose Marie showed me how this product can be massaged into the pores in my T-zone to literally make them vanish. I've never had a product be so effective for concealing pores. Although washing with an oil cleanser at the end of the day is very important if you use Un-Coverup to this end, because I could definitely see how pores could get clogged with this usage. 

Unlike basically every concealer/ foundation on the market, the formula of Un-Coverup doesn't contain any water, so the tiniest amount of product goes a very long way, and it will last and last without worry of expiration. So the value is actually a remarkably good one at $36 for 7 grams. 

This is definitely a new holy grail item for me. Nothing will every replace the Ellis Faas Concealer in my heart, but there's plenty of room for Un-Coverup. Every time I put this on my face, it seems like skin care. It keeps my skin hydrated and beautiful. And it has nothing but beneficial all organic ingredients. True love.

December 9, 2010

Nars Lipstick in Funny Face, Swatches and Review

According to the internet, Nars lipstick in Funny Face was used in a recent J Crew shoot. So of course I had to investigate further. When I heard that Nars may discontinue this color, my mind was made up. I went right out and bought the color during the Sephora VIB sale. This particular Nars lipstick formulation is definitely dry, but the color is so deliciously bright and matte, I forgive it for making my lips feel like parchment. It's also remarkably long lasting. I wore this out to a show at Sullivan Hall, and it stayed on through several hours of standing around, eating pizza, and drinking two G&Ts. The lipstick is also very easy to control when applying. No need for lipliner.

If the dryness of the formula turns you off, I've had success with applying a lip balm first. The color stays true, and my lips aren't nearly as dry, but the matte quality is a little lost. Such is the case with matte. 

Speaking of Nars, apparently there is ongoing construction on a new boutique due to open this coming year. It'll be located in Greenwich Village, and is supposedly going to have all sorts of crazy awesome variety and exclusives. Nars is definitely one of my favorite brans, and I seriously cannot wait.

December 6, 2010

The Black Keys- Tighten Up

A Black Key is something a little off, or not quite right. I've been a big fan of the Black keys since the early 2000s. Their album Thickfreakness was an integral part of my college soundtrack, and I always know it's them when a song I'm unfamiliar with comes on the radio. This single is off their newest album Brothers, and is the most successful to date. Normally I don't watch music videos, because I'd so rather have my own associations with music, but this one is too cute. Enjoy!

Edit: check out this funny interview with Patrick Carney. It won't disappoint.

December 4, 2010

December 3, 2010

Kevin Murphy Powder Puff Review

As expected, Kevin Murphy Powder Puff is totally fab. After playing with it for the past month, I recently got a real life demonstration on how to use it (thanks Lisa!), and it might actually be what we fine haired girls have been wishing for all our lives. The best way to apply Powder Puff is to take a section of hair starting near the part, and tapping the product right onto the roots. Once you've done a number of sections, concentrating at the back of the head, massage your scalp with your fingers. The more you massage, the bigger and more voluminous your hair gets. If you want body elsewhere, flip your head over and tap some onto the length of your hair, concentrating at the ends. This is literally the perfect product for someone who constantly runs their fingers through, and plays with their hair, like I do!

Powder Puff behaves somewhat like a dry shampoo in that it latches onto the oils from your hair and scalp. I find that the volume doesn't particularly hold up the next day after sleeping with it in my hair, no matter how much I massage, but I guess I could always add more. According to the Kevin Murphy, this product can be applied to damp or dry hair, although I've basically only ever applied it to dry, so I can't attest to the performance on damp. This product is also referred to as a " Metamorphosis Product" which I would agree with. All of those products that claim to give you perfect bed head but just weigh down your hair can eat their heart out, because Powder Puff really delivers. 

Isn't it the cutest?

Unlike most Kevin Murphy products, Powder Puff doesn't confer any specific healthful benefit, but it doesn't do any harm either. And like all of his products, it's paraben and sulfate free. The ingredients are:
Water, Silica Silylate, Sodium Benzoate, 
Butylene Glycol,Nylon-12, VP/VA Copolymer, 
Alaria Esculenta Extract,Citric Acid, Phenoxyehanol

For more information, and even a how to video (that I'm apparently too lazy to watch, shame on me) visit the Kevin Murphy website

Menahan Street Band- Make the Road by Walking

I bought this 45 hot off the press in 2007. Duhnam was founded with much anticipation on my part. I knew this first single would be good, but I was blown away by actually how good. The first time I listened to this song on my turntable, I actually melted. No joke. One day I was browsing in the Salvation Army in chelsea. And I started to hear this very familiar and creamy riff. Then it came to me! Make the Road by Walking! But it was right smack in the middle of a hip hop song. I came to find out it was Jay-Z that sampled white boys from Brooklyn. 

As an aside, my good friends in Ikebe Shakedown are recording at Duhnam studios as we speak. 

December 2, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana The Mascara Review

It's been quite a while since I actually purchased mascara. I've been so lucky and getting gifts with purchase galore. D&G The Mascara was one such GWP, and I like it so well that I can say with confidence that I would actually shell out the green for it in the future. This mascara doesn't create the most dramatic of fringes, but it gives the lashes enough volume to make them noticeable without looking obviously coated or clumpy. The overall effect is very natural and flattering. 

I've been wearing the coconut-oil-based RMS un-coverup concealer a lot recently, which thoroughly encourages raccoon eye. It's an amazing product that's completely worth it to use, but all that oil is going to interfere with mascara wear time. I've had some trouble, particularly with Buxom Lash and Armani Eyes to Kill, but D&G The Mascara hasn't been running under my eye at all. Score. And what's more, it's still plenty easy to remove with just water. 

As you can see, the applicator isn't anything special, but if you've read my review on the Ellis Faas mascara, you know I don't put much stock in fancy mascara wands. It's all just fluff and marketing as far as I'm concerned. Fancy or not, The Mascara certainly gets the job done well. If you're in the market for a high end mascara in flashy gold packaging that gives a flattering natural lash, then run out and buy this, right now!

As the whole world knows by now, D&G is only available from Saks. The Mascara retails for $30, but the full size is a relatively common GWP, so just keep checking upcoming beauty events at Saks. This is my second full size GWP tube, in fact. I really can't think of a better incentive or reward. Thanks, D&G, for treating your costumers so well! 

December 1, 2010

Illamasqua Precision Ink Liquid Liner, Swatches and Review

Illamasqua released the Precision Ink Liquid Liner for their Fall 2010 Art of Darkness collection. I've been in the market for a good liquid liner for ages, so I was really excited to try it out, even though the price was a little steep at $27. I actually impulsively bought both the black, Abyss, and the gold, Alchemy, before giving either a good try because I'm a sucker for anything gold. I'm only reviewing Abyss today, because I haven't had much of an opportunity to use Alchemy yet. Both colors feature a felt tip applicator and true vivid pigment. I'm not so great at applying liquid liner, so I'm happy to have an easy to use applicator like this one. The precision of the applicator is definitely just that, there's a lot of control.

So I'm not a liquid liner connoisseur, but I definitely expect quality from just about any beauty product that I use, and I must say I'm very disappointed with the Precision Ink Liquid Liner. I really wanted to like it, I really wanted to have a HG liquid liner that would stand by me to the end. But this is certainly not it. My biggest complaint about liquid liners in general is that if you aren't super careful of your eye area, it flakes right off. I always inadvertently rub the corner of my eye (which is actually out of habit, because I want to rub away any mascara gunk that might have accumulated), and end up with lopsided liner. This liner is billed as being long-wearing, but it's just as guilty as the rest for flaking. It's possible that a primer of some sort would fix the problem, but I'm not really down for that. I feel that I shouldn't have to apply something else to the whole lid in order for a liquid liner to last all day. Although, maybe I'm also expecting too much.

Another aspect of this liner that would disqualify it from HG status is the fact that it dries glossy. Only a matte liquid liner would enter that particular hall of fame. I'll definitely get a lot of use of the Precision Ink Liquid Liner because I intend on using it up, but unfortunately I won't be repurchasing. I think that Alchemy, the gold color, is a better buy. It's not for everyday wear, but the color is so beautiful and true to life that it's very much worth having. Tis the season to be festive after all. 

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