Estée Lauder Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée: Topaz Chameleon and Shimmering Sands

February 27, 2012

It feels as though I blinked and an entire week flew by without me realizing it. It’s almost the same with spring and summer collections these days. I could have sworn I just looked at the Spring Topaz collection from Estée Lauder and I was completely surprised to see the Summer Bronze Goddess collection at Macy’s during my lunch break on Friday. (Summer in February?!) Continuing the trend with the Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée, Estée Lauder has released another gorgeous embossed face highlighter this season called Shimmering Sands ($42 for .15 oz/4.5 g) which is a metallic bronzey pink. Topaz Chameleon ($40 for .17 oz/5 g) was from their Spring Topaz collection and I was lucky to find one in store this late after the collection launched. (It took me a while to decide to buy this one if you’re interested, I suggest you act fast).
Both highlighters are highly metallic but easily layerable for a more subtle glow. Illuminating Powder Gelées have a very unique gel-powder-cream formula. It’s not quite a cream like NARS Multiples but not quite a powder. Still, I wouldn’t describe it as a cream to powder since the finish is slightly dewy (only very slightly). Shimmering Sands and Chameleon Topaz both come with a beautiful embossed texture. I found both extremely pigmented with multidimensional shimmers. The formula seems to adhere to the skin quite well but blends in without looking like it sits on top like some metallic highlighters do. Although these are called “highlighters” there is so much color I can’t imagine wearing these over any other product (aside from powder and foundation). The tiny applicators pick up quite a bit of pigment but I prefer to use a full sized powder brush for a sheerer application over the cheeks. I love that the shimmers are not oversprays. Here are a few more photos side by side at different angles.

In direct sunlight with flash, here you can see the metallic flashes:

Topaz Chameleon is a warm golden copper. At first swipe I was intimidated by how warm and pigmented the color was and walked away. It wasn’t until after seeing it on Karla Sugar, Temptalia and Makeup and Beauty Blog that I decided to revisit and try on the face. I thought it would look too orange/copper/yellow but it surprised me. It warms up the face to give a summery bronzed copper glow. I do recommend using with caution. One extra swipe could easily overdo it. Make sure your face is well prepped with a good base and foundation. Without it this can emphasize pores (at least in my experience, I like to use Koh Gen Do’s Royal Massage Milk and NARS Tinted Moisturizer these days). This one is very limited in stores but can still be found online at a few places.

Shimmering Sands looks like a soft champagne bronze in the compact but goes on quite a bit darker than I expected – like a bronzed pink. On my skin the pink/brownish tones pull more strongly and gives me an almost brown-burnt look if applied too heavily. Finding the right balance might take a bit of work but this one is still lovely. The shimmer effect is more subdued compared to Modern Mercury (from fall 2011) and Topaz Chameleon. I find this to be more of a true bronzer rather than a highlight. Does this one pull brown/reddish on your skin or is it just me? Perhaps tan skinned or darker skin girls will find this less of a bronze and more of a highlight.

Here are all three Illuminating Powder Gelées from Estée Lauder: Modern Mercury (Fall 2011), Chameleon Topaz (Spring 2012), Shimmering Sands (Summer 2012).

Swatches, heavily on the skin. I recommend you check out the other blogs I linked above to see the sheer vs. heavy swatches. There is no way I would ever wear these this heavy on the face but sheered out it was hard to get photos of the arm-swatches. I think Temptalia’s photos demonstrate how well these blend on the face. Also re-visit the reviews from Cafe Makeup on Modern Mercury to see the effect on Liz (see how it blends out on the cheeks versus swatched on the arm).

Modern Mercury is still my favorite. I wish it was a permanent product as I do think it is something I would like to repurchase when I hit pan (not that it will happen soon, but still). Topaz Chameleon is close second. I feel the latest Shimmering Sands is too dark for me right now, but when real summer arrives and I get my tan back I think this will work better for me. I’m all about dramatic bronzers but even this one is a bit too much for me.

You Might Also Like

  • I NEED the new one in my life!

  • I bought the first two, but will give the latest a miss – it's too dark and too pink. Thanks for the swatches.

  • The Topaz Chameleon is so pretty! x

  • Modern Mercury is so wonderful!
    I love it!
    Topaz Chameleon & Shimmering Sands are too dark for me 🙁

  • I gave away Topaz Chameleon in the last giveaway, I think I will need to get one for myself. It is my favorite out of the three. Thanks for the beautiful swatches.

  • I have Mercury as well and it's my fave… I have no need for others at this time 🙂

  • Mercury is so pretty.

  • I agree! I think in the summer I will like Shimmering Sands better. I was surprised by how red/brown it pulled on me too! Topaz Chameleon is great though, I really enjoy the glow it gives.

  • I feel the same. I missed out on Modern Mercury (I hear that Laura Mercier's Rose Rendezvous is very similar and I was able to get my hands on that one). I prefer Topaz Chameleon right now, but like you I think in the summer I will like Shimmering Sands better.

  • Oh my goodness, I am coveting this SO MUCH. Thank you for the gorgeous pictures!

  • These look amazing! The packaging is so beautiful and that snake pattern! Great review!

  • These powders look so luxe! Not to mention they are gorgeous…

  • I missed out on Modern Mercury but I picked up Shimmering Sands and I have to say, I love it. It works beautifully as a blush. I have medium skin tone that leans yellow and on me, it looks like a natural, rose-gold but w/out the sheen-y blush. It looks natural, fresh, and glowy.

  • I tried Shimmering Sands today and was so surprised to see it go orange-brown on my skin. I was wondering where the rosy bronze color went! I'm pretty light wearing Lingerie de Peau in #2. I like Modern Mercury far far better.

  • I want all three 🙂

  • Out of those three, I would choose Modern Mercury. Just because it seems easier to use and more versitile than the other two, but it doesnt mean they're any less GORGEOUS!! Love, loveee Estee Lauder cosmetics!

  • I love the texture of these – beautiful products!

  • Anonymous

    Love Topaz chameleon !!!