Skip to main content

making faces :: product review [armani, chanel, estee lauder, nars]

oh yes, everyone is coming out with new things these days. so here's a great, big omnibus review of a bunch of things i've accumulated over the last little while. some are here for a limited time, some will be around for the long haul, so pace yourselves accordingly.

armani "eyes to kill" eye shadow :: it's not often that i find something in the cosmetic world that makes me think "wow, that is really different", but these shimmery shadows are one of them. they come in pots, like cream shadows. they apply super-smoothly wet or dry, like cream shadows, but they aren't messy or prone to smudging. really, they're powders with multiple colours in one.

the colours are all quite breathtaking and, when applied, while they smooth into a single, nuanced shade, you can see elements of all the different colour "components" inside. who doesn't want an excuse to have people look at their eyes? the fact that they are quite shimmery makes them quite dramatic to look at, but there is a good range of colours from light to dark, with a few medium shades thrown in.


lust red
the real magic in these is in their "technical" aspects, though. i got "lust red", a black shade replete with purple and red shimmer, and i had some trepidation because i'd been let down by such colours before. with other shades that have this effect, i find that, unless you really pack on the colour, they tend to just look like slightly muddy shades of black. worse yet, a lot of them are prone to fallout, so you end up with a lot of sparkle on your face, but very little on your eyes. when i first applied "lust red", i noticed a bit of sparkle spreading and was worried, but i brushed it away and persevered. once applied, i was amazed at the fact that the shade showed its base and shimmer perfectly and i was even more amazed when it looked exactly the same hours later. these shadows don't fade, don't smudge and don't move. however, when you clean them away with water or a moist cleanser, they come right off. i was skeptical when armani's publicity claimed this but this is one of those few times where the product deserves the hype.

the photo of the pot is more accurate...
these are permanent, which is good, because the price tag is a little hard to swallow. they're $32usd, which is bad enough, but some genius has determine that this should equate to $42. huh??? our dollar has been above par with the american dollar for weeks. how is it even possible that we should be paying $10 more?? someone needs to look at this, pronto.

the lady at the armani counter [only at holt renfrew in canada, as far as i'm aware] warned me that it's important to keep these babies tightly sealed when they're not in use, including keeping the small plastic inner cover in place. this helps them retain the amount of moisture that lets them do what they do.

yes, they're pricy, particularly if you're canadian, but these are innovative gems and, i'm not kidding, worth the investment.

chanel "rouge coco shine" lipsticks :: it seems that everybody is coming out with lip products that are a hybrid between a lipstick and a gloss and the most recent entrant into the category is chanel. as with all new chanel products, these have been hotly anticipated, especially as they did a limited release of one shade for valentine's day.

i'm a big fan of chanel's rouge coco lipsticks, but these don't really bear any resemblance save the name. these shades are quite sheer, whereas the rouge coco's are extremely pigmented. the coco shines are super-soft on the lips and don't have the stickiness one normally associates with glosses. the formula is like a very moist lipstick- comparable to mac's lustre finish, but without the tendency to bleed around the lip contour.

i picked up "antigone" [partly because of the name, i'll admit], which is a strawberry reddish-pink. although it really just augments the colour of my own lips, it's one of the more pigmented shades, which leads me to believe that the lighter ones wouldn't show up at all on me. it's the kind of lipstick i can wear for anything and i imagine that it'll be a particularly nice option for summer, where i don't want to feel like i'm wearing anything heavy.

for $39cad [$32usd... growl], though, i don't know that i'd find it necessary to buy a variety of shades. generally, i find them too sheer for the differences in the colours to show up in a lot of cases. the colour doesn't fade overly quickly, but, being a gloss-like formula, any amount of friction [from eating, drinking, etc.] will wipe it away. i'd recommend finding one colour you like and choosing that one.

sea star bronzing blush
estée lauder "sea star bronzing blush" :: this is one of those things that you want to have simply because it looks so cool. it's a bronze-y powder with a pink starfish debossed in it. the starfish is not an overspray, but an intrinsic part of the product. while i've heard it suggested that you could use the colours separately, i think that the pattern would make that very difficult and would require more patience than i can muster.

mixed shade
mixed together, the two shades form a lovely warm rosy peach shade that definitely functions as a blush more than as a bronzer [there are proper bronzers available as part of lauder's summer collection for that purpose]. it can be built up to a fair intensity, although it's never going to be super-dark. i definitely think it's better suited to fair-skinned complexions, since the colour is fairly subtle. i had no problem seeing the colour it added to my cheeks, but i'm definitely on the pale side of the skin spectrum. i like anything that makes me look radiant without making me look brown or orange.

this is limited edition and, i think, will sell pretty fast. it's $40cad/ $34usd [better, but still more than it should be], which is higher than a regular blush, but it is a fairly large compact.

nars "copacabana illuminator" :: finally, this is a product i tried from a fairly generous sample. it's part of a line of skin illuminators that nars has launched. these products are designed to give skin an all-over glow with just a hint of colour and can be applied either on their own or mixed with foundation. there are four shades- orgasm, which is a natural peach, super orgasm, which is a similar shade with a slightly golden tone, laguna, which is more bronze and copacabana, which is a white-gold highlighter.

the texture is like a fairly light lotion and i found it easy to blend it in quickly with foundation. the effect is extremely subtle. my skin looked a bit brighter, but i don't know that i would pay the asking price [$29usd/ not sure on the canadian price, but undoubtedly higher] for the effect it gives. i found that if i added more than a little of the illuminator, it had the effect of making my face a little too white in comparison with the rest of me.

used on its own, over bare skin, it was more visible and definitely added a pale sheen to the skin. it reminded me a lot of benefit's high beam or moon beam highlighters, in that the effect was pretty enough, but i found that it had a tendency to make my pores more obvious. i think that whether or not you like the effect is very much a subjective thing. i liked it mixed with foundation, but i don't know that i'd pay upwards of $30 for it. the illuminators are a permanent part of the nars line up and there will likely be more shades to come.

and, to give you an idea of what these things are like in the field, here are a few things i've tried with them in the last couple of weeks.

"eyes to kill"
i decided i wanted to try something dramatic to test drive the armani shadow and i only wish that i'd remembered to snap photos when i got home, so that you could see that my makeup basically looked exactly the same as when i went out. of course, i'm not sure the face underneath fared so well, but i'll have to wait a while for armani to come up with a fix for that. the since it was night time, i had to use a flash for the photos, which i don't normally like to do.

face ::

nars sheer glow foundation mont blanc
mac prolongwear concealer nw20
mac prep & prime finishing powder

eyes ::
armani eyes to kill shadow lust red
mac pigment new fixation
mac pigment pink opal
mac fluidline eye liner blacktrack
ysl faux ciles mascara

cheeks ::
estée lauder sea star bronzing blush

lips ::
chanel glossimer myriade

"not quite cute"
last week, i reviewed mac's "quite cute" collection and, having done so, it occurred to me that i had a lot of products already that could easily give me the same look as the new ones i opted to skip [for varying reasons] from the new collection. so this is something i threw together to remind myself that sometimes what's new bares a striking resemblance to what's gone before. i'm wearing the nars illuminator in this one, but i don't know how different it would look if i weren't.

face ::
nars sheerglow foundation mont blanc
mac prolongwear concealer nw20
nars copacabana illuminator
mac prep & prime finishing powder

eyes ::
mac crystal avalanche e/s
mac aquavert e/s
mac smudged violet e/s
mac mating call e/s
mac blacktrack fluidline eye liner
ysl faux cils mascara

cheeks ::
mac azalea blossom blush ombre
mac hang loose mineralize blush

lips ::
inglot l/s 151

as you can probably tell, i've gone on a bit of a kick with red eye shadow lately. inglot has a program whereby you can build your own shadow, blush or combination palette for well less than you can get a palette anywhere else, so i made myself a custom job with a matte, neutral highlighter, a matte coral and an amazing tomato red shade with a stunning gold shimmer. sadly, the shimmer doesn't really show up when the shadow was applied, although the colour is quite intense [and it's damn difficult to find a good red shadow]. all inglot shadows tend to be a bit powdery, which makes them difficult to work with- you can see from the shots that i couldn't get the colour perfectly even. my advice would be to work patiently [which is a problem for me], mind the excess and pat rather than swipe. the colour payoff is intense, which is a relief at least.

face ::
nars sheer glow foundation mont blanc
mac prolongwear concealer nw20

eyes ::
inglot 351 e/s [matte buttercream]
inglot 495 e/s [warm red with pink/ gold shimmer]
inglot 368 e/s [matte peach-coral]

cheeks ::
mac marine life highlight powder

lips ::
chanel rouge coco shine antigone


as long as you're here, why not read more?


no, i am not dead, nor have i been lying incapacitated in a ditch somewhere. i've mostly been preparing for our imminent, epic move, which is actually not so terribly epic, because we found a place quite close to where we are now. in addition, i've been the beneficiary of an inordinately large amount of paying work, which does, sadly, take precedence over blogging, even though you know i'd always rather be with you.

indeed, with moving expenses and medical expenses looming on the horizon, more than can be accounted for even with the deepest cuts in the lipstick budget, dom and i recently did something that we've not done before: we asked for help. last week, we launched a fundraising campaign on go fund me. it can be difficult to admit that you need a helping hand, but what's been overwhelming for both of us is how quick to respond so many people we know have been once we asked. it's also shocking to see how quickly things added up.

most of all, though, the ex…


just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …