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making faces :: i want the one[s] i can't have

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back when i lived in toronto, there was a very nice beauty store near me where i used to shop
occasionally. they had a lot of brands there, including one that a friend persuaded me to try called chantecaille. i was a mac devotee at the time, but i did really like the lipstick that i bought from chantecaille and i still have a  beautiful lip brush from them. since the place near me wasn't very large and the other brands they carried were available fairly easily, i assumed that chatecaille was fairly widely available, it was just that with my mac blinders on, i'd never noticed them.

years later, of course, i know better. the brand is fiendishly difficult to get in canada, despite being widely available at department stores [neiman marcus, saks, barneys] in the united states. in fact, it's only officially available at two stores in the whole country- the holt renfrew counters at the toronto flagship store and in vancouver downtown. and what makes things worse is that it isn't even very accessible on line. although you can easily order other products from neiman marcus to ship to canada, they won't ship any chantecaille products. i'd spoken to zuneta last year and mentioned that they should approach them, only to be told that they had and that chantecaille weren't interested. since holt's has no plans to expand the brand's distribution to their other stores [or make it available for on line purchase], that makes them a sort of grail-like fetish for a lot of canadian consumers. [a couple of on line shops like beauty bay and strawberrynet carry parts of the line, but not nearly the whole assortment.]

so when i went to vancouver earlier this year on business, i did reserve a few minutes to dart into the holt renfrew store and see what i was missing. and, of course, i left with my wallet noticeably lighter. [due in part to the fact that it was also the only opportunity i'd had to visit a burberry counter, who have similarly terrible distribution in this country.]

the brand has evolved a lot since my first experience with them. they have a greater variety of products, including their cult favourite "lip chic" lipsticks, which are renown for their soft, hydrating formula and crowd-pleasing semi-sheer colour. i'm not normally a fan of sheerer colour, but while i was in vancouver, i was really sick [with what turned out to be a rather severe bronchial infection, probably pneumonia], which left my lips absolutely parched, even in the delightfully humid seaside weather. i wanted relief, so i purchased it in the form of a lip chic called "damask", one of the darker colours in the line and hence one of the more pigmented ones.

i still don't find it's incredibly pigmented on my lips-it's certainly not opaque- but it adds a really nice colour. it's a deep, cool berry-rose, the kind of shade i have no business buying, because i already have a lot, but which is the sort of shade that does tend to go exceptionally well on my colouring. because it's not too dark, it's a great day time option, or a great spring/ summer option for this kind of colour, which even i have to admit can look a little heavy when it's opaque in the warmer months. [someday i'll add it to an updated list of spring lips for vampy ladies.]

damask
although i do definitely have some similar colours, i didn't have an exact match, which was a relief. dior "fashion" is lighter and pinker [and even more sheer/ natural]. nars "fast ride" is darker and browner. mac "desire" is more opaque and therefore looks a lot darker. armani sheer "602" is much cooler and purpler. so even though the shade might not look incredibly distinctive, it's not as easy to find a match as you might think.

l to r :: damask, nars fast ride
as far as the formula is concerned, it really did feel nice against my diseased lips for the few days i was in vancouver. it wouldn't last long, but once i got back and tried it out when i was feeling normal [physically], i was pleasantly surprised to find that the formula was longer-lasting than a lot of semi-sheer lipsticks. it outlasts the dior addict formula, equals or outperforms mac's lustres and nars' semi-sheer shades and continues to feel very hydrating throughout.

that last part is really the key; it's one of very few formulas that actually makes my lips feel better. there are a few that can be drying, a lot that are neutral, but it's rare that you get that feeling of a balm in a lipstick. i did feel that here.



at more than $35 a pop, these are an investment, so maybe it's for the best that they aren't too readily available, but it probably is worth tracking down a couple that you really like, for those days when you need to look human, but really don't feel it. or just for days when you want something easy to wear that's easy on the lips. highly recommended.

at the same time, i bought two eye shadows, both of which are part of the "iridescent" range- the chantecaille equivalent of frost. although both do look very frosty, they don't age the eye the way that some frosts do. in fact, they really do look quite iridescent, so i suppose the range is well-named.

i picked up "sel", which is one of those medium taupes that every company seems to have, but where every one is different. this is one runs a little to the warm edge of taupe, with a bit of shimmery gold threaded into it and comparatively little grey. it's the sort of shade that would suit anyone who has any warmth in their complexion, i think. it can be worn sheer, but applies with a fair bit of pigment. it feels and looks similar to the frosted rouge bunny rouge shades [the reigning kings of brands that are difficult to find in stores], which is a very good thing in my book.

sel
chances are that you have similar shades, but it is more unique than you might think. nars "ashes to ashes" is darker and more purple. le metier de beaute "corinthian" is also darker and even more pink/ purple. sel actually leans a lot warmer than most "famous" taupes.

l to r :: nars ashes to ashes, sel, lmdb corinthian
the second colour i purchased was "basalt". i'm unsure of its status at the moment, since i thought it was discontinued, but it does seem to keep popping up. if you can get it, do. it's a pale oyster grey shade, a little too dark and frosty to work as a highlighter on me, but an incredible shade for the lid. it brightens my eye, adds sparkle and gives all the benefits of a silver shade, but with a bit of warmth to it. it's incredibly stunning and versatile and has become one of my go-to shades for everything. [it was one of the shades that i wore for the big "conversion" screening earlier this year.] i love that it's a bit dirty, tinged with grey and brown, which makes it less stark than purely icy whites.

basalt
for comparisons, edward bess "storm" is purpler, cooler. mac "cloudy afternoon" is darker and warmer. [those are also two favourite shades for me, so i'm always looking for shades in that family.] [and no, i wasn't getting emo and pretending to slash my wrists. that scratch comes courtesy of one of the furbabies. there aren't many downsides to crazy cat ladyhood, but injured swatching arms is one of them.]

l to r :: basalt, mac cloudy afternoon [l.e.]
chantecaille have recently transitioned their line so that they will only be selling shadows in pans, which you can put either in individual cases [available from chantecaille] or assemble into palettes. i like having the option, although with the prices that chantecaille commands, it does seem a little chintzy that you don't get any kind of case with the shadow anymore. i actually grabbed two of the last shadows from the vancouver counter that came in cases, so i'm lucky.

i am incredibly impressed with the quality of chantecaille products and it's probably lucky that i can't get my hands on more, since i do not need another high end beauty addiction. swatches on line do seem to be quite reliable, but of course, when you're dealing with products that are sheer like the lip chics, your own colouring is going to have a pretty significant effect on the end result.

for those of you reading this from the united states... lucky you! head to your department stores and revel in the embarrassment of cosmetic wealth that awaits you there.

and holt renfrew, if you're reading this [they're not -ed.], get off your corporate can and put some distribution in place already! two counters in the entire country should not entitle you to exclusivity and yet that's exactly what the brand seems to have given you. time to start milking that cash cow, especially since you're losing exclusivity on a couple of brands [armani and shu uemura] in the very near future.

Comments

Bellyhead said…
Chantecaille also seems to have a reputation for being very expensive, but Lip Chics are $35USD versus a Tom Ford Sheer lipstick at I think $48USD. They are lovely formulas. Damask looks like a really beautiful cool plummy tone on you. I can see what you would want of few lipsticks that color.
Kate MacDonald said…
Well I suppose if you put it that way, Chantecaille is downright affordable... (You see the terrible influence you have on me?) I think part of the problem is that I have to mail order them and it always seems silly just to order one lipstick. Or even one lipstick and one eye shadow...

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