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Foundation

NARS

NARS Haul: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer and Velvet Eye + Lip

June 13, 2017

I’ve hauled some pieces here and there from a few NARS collections. The haul has been pieces I’ve accumulated from the Charlotte Gainsbourg Collection, a couple Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzers, a Velvet Eye Shadow Stick in Siros and one of the new Velvet Matte Lip Pencils in Intriguing. I took this photo about a month ago and it’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to swatch and test everything.

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Collection features sheer tints for the face and lips with bold high pigment options for the eyes. I bought all of these from Nordstrom but some colors have since sold out so I’ll link where you can still find them. Everything is limited-edition. Shown below from left to right:

  • Multiple Tint in Jo (all shades available at Neiman Marcus) – the cheek tints come in three colors and they are super sheer with a dewy transparent sheen. I loved the color of Jo which is a light very light watermelon pink but ended being too dewy on my skin. It does give the face a fresh glow of natural color. To me this entire lineup seems more like something for fall – if you are living in a more mild cooler weather compared to South Florida I think this will still be ok to wear, for me it was too dewy.
  • Hydrating Glow Tint in Medium (all shades still available at Saks) is something I hated when I first tried it. The product oozed out all over the place as soon as I opened it and the colors looked so limited I thought for sure I would not find a match. I didn’t like the tip because it seemed like product would pool in the tip. I gave it a test run and love the formula. It’s a super sheer formula so colors are a bit forgiving. Still I do wish they made this in more colors. I prefer the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer formula by far, but the hydrating glow tint gives sheer even coverage and makes the skin look fresh and glowing without being too dewy or shiny.
  • Lip Tint in Ephelide (all shades available at Neiman Marcus) is a sheer berry mauve. It has an almost jelly like finish. It’s sheer but still very pigmented to give the lips a soft tint. I bought the most neutral color option and love it for everyday or for something a bit more dressy than nude. Lasting power is so-so because it’s a gloss like formula but with no sticky or tacky feel, but it does staying power is decent.
  • Old Church Street Eyeshadow Duo is something I knew in my gut that I might not like 100% yet I broke my rule for eyeshadow purchasing and bought it anyways. I personally can’t wear teal without looking super tired. This one is no exception. I adore the left side which is a shimmering soft champagne, the other is a smooth matte teal. Both are excellent in pigment and apply smoothly so formula and color wise it’s an A+. I just don’t do teal well so I can really only wear half of it. I suspect I’m going to gift it away to a friend.

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Collection Picks | The Beauty Look Book

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Collection Picks Swatched | The Beauty Look Book

A closer look at the Hydrating Glow Tint:

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint Review | The Beauty Look Book

I was able to get samples at my counter of all the shades:

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint Review | The Beauty Look Book

My best match is Medium:

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint Review | The Beauty Look Book

Swatch comparisons to the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in St. Moritz and Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard, Macadamia and Ginger:

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint Review | The Beauty Look Book

Swatched next to a few MAC Next to Nothing foundation shades (all of them reviewed here), I don’t have the lighter ones any more since I gifted them away to a friend as I’m more in the medium range:

NARS Charlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint Review | The Beauty Look Book

Next I picked up a couple things from the regular line including the Velvet Lip Pencil in Intriguing and Velvet Eye Shadow Stick in Siros. Intriguing is a warm rose with a velvet finish. Pigment is medium to full and covers the lip entirely. There’s no detectable scent and it lasts a long time. I’m still a glossy girl at heart but these still wear nicely for me. Siros isn’t a new shade (I believe it was launched in the spring) but I picked it up. It’s a gorgeous light bronzey shimmer which I’m obsessed with. Swatch comparisons below.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil Intriguing and Velvet Eye Shadow Stick Siros

Lips compared to the following. The NARS Intriguing pulls the warmest on me (lip swatch a bit lower). For a pencil kind of product I prefer the Hourglass out of the three I swatched for the formula/color. The last three are traditional lipstick formulas, all a lot more pink and cooler-toned than the NARS, but still in the same color family.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil Intriguing Comparison Swatches

Shadow swatches below in other shimmery shades. Siros is the most coppery and the lightest.

NARS Velvet Shadow Stick Siros Comparison Swatches

Lip swatches:

NARS Velvet Lip Pencil Intriguing Lip Tint Ephelide

Last but not least are two of the Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzers in Seaside and Laguna. I tested these immediately as soon as I bought them and fell in love with the soft matte finish they both had. It’s since gotten more humid and wet for weather and suddenly these now look a bit muddy on my skin unless I apply with a super light hand. I suspect I’m just too light for these even though I have a pretty good tan right now. Seaside is the lightest option and also the warmest. Laguna is not the same as the original. If you don’t have the original and are deciding between the Sun Wash version and the other, I’d go with the original. It has a prettiest glow to it without looking overdone.

NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer Seaside and Laguna

NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer | The Beauty Look Book

That wraps up my NARS hauling. Overall thoughts on the Charlotte Gainsbourg collection are that it’s a very pretty collection of products and formulas but seems better suited for fall. If this were THE summer collection for NARS I’d be pretty disappointed as I usually love the fresh warm bronze and peaches they launch. That being said I’ve been plenty busy with the Banc de Sable Palette (now available on NARS) and the Liquid Blush (review here) for my summer beauty fix. I saw a preview of some summer newness on Instagram from @bubblymichelle and hope we get this in the US!

For the two permanent items, I think the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are great for a matte product. They’re not heavy or cakey like traditional mattes. They glide on the lips nicely and stay put longer than a sheer glossy lip or balm. Siros is pure love for me. I love those kinds of shades and finding a nice copper/gold/bronze that isn’t too warm can be a challenge for me.

For the bronzers at this point I’d say they’re a pass. I’ll be gifting these to a friend as well. I really loved them when the weather wasn’t so humid but it’s just the start here in Florida and it will be months before it cools down. I’m more smitten with the Becca Sunlit Bronzers because they have a nice soft glow to them which don’t oxidize or look muddy on my skin.

You can find NARS online at NARS, Nordstrom, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus.

Have you tried any of these things yet? What did you think?

Base Makeup Beauty Tools MAC

MAC Next to Nothing Face Colour and Pressed Powder

April 30, 2017

MAC Next to Nothing Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

MAC recently launched a new line of base products for a natural look with new formulas of foundation, powder and two brushes in their Next to Nothing collection. The items are designed for a natural skin-like effect to give a radiant look to the face. I’ve found that over the years MAC base and powder formulas have been hit or miss for me. I have super sensitive skin and tried their Studio Fix Powder Foundation when I was in high school and it caused severe allergic reactions on my skin. To this day I approach their powders and foundations with caution only doing a patch test first. I can safely use their primers, skincare and some foundations without any issues and was thrilled to find that the Next to Nothing line works well for my super sensitive skin.

In the collection we have:

Next to Nothing Face Colour comes in 9 shades from Light to Dark Deep, my shade is either Medium or Medium Plus. This is a super sheer tinted cream foundation that allows the skin to breathe. It’s sheer but has enough pigment to even out the skin slightly. This is what I wanted the Make Up For Ever Waterblend Foundation to be (which broke me out and felt too sticky for my skin, I suspect I had an allergic reaction to the fragrance). The effect of the MAC Next to Nothing is similar to that of the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (which I’ve re-discovered and love) but the MAC is less dewy and not as moisturizing. If you need coverage this will probably not be the foundation for you, although you can definitely use this as a good base and then take a higher coverage foundation and layer on top for a more lightweight feel. There’s no detectable scent, it comes in a glass bottle with a pump, it’s easy to blend, it’s lightweight and lasts all day. Shades do run on the pinkish side but since the formula is sheer I was lucky that they worked on my yellow olive skin.

MAC Next to Nothing Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book MAC Next to Nothing Face Colour Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

The #141 Synthetic Face Fan Brush is an odd shaped brush designed for the foundation. It performs well and gives the face a streak-free foundation application. It’s soft without being pokey but I’m still very much a sponge person when it comes to foundation application. That being said it’s a very good brush, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you try it.

Next to Nothing Powder/Pressed comes in 9 color options. I received 3 as press samples but none of them were a match so I ordered two more sight unseen in Medium Plus and Medium Dark since I’ve been getting darker since moving to Florida. My Mineralize Skinfinish Natural shade is Medium Plus and in the Next to Nothing Powder I can wear either Medium Plus or Medium Dark. Right now I’m in between shades. This is a finely milled powder that has a lightweight finish. It is very soft to the touch with an almost creamy feel. On the skin it has a more natural looking finish compared to the Mineralize Skinfinish Powder. Next to Nothing also feels just like the name implies next to nothing. There is a very tiny bit of fine pearl in the powder so it blurs the skin. For me I feel like the shades swatch a little bit on the lighter side, they look lighter in my swatches compared to what I see in the pan, but they will adjust slightly on the skin as it warms up. They do not oxidize in color on me though. I really love this powder.

MAC Next to Nothing Powder Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book MAC Next to Nothing Powder Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

Compared to some of my other favorites Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Powder #2, Armani Powder Foundation #4, and MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus. If you asked me to pick one favorite, I would not be able to. I would say the sheerest is MAC Next to Nothing, Armani Luminous Silk Powder Foundation is what I use to set with a brush, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural feels a bit thicker compared to other powders due to the mineral finish. The Charlotte Tilbury has the fullest coverage for me.

Pressed Powder Charlotte Tilbury, Armani, MAC | The Beauty Look Book

#140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush is THE best thing in this collection and probably the best powder brush I’ve ever tried. I’m a huge fan of flatter powder brushes because I find they are easier to dust my entire face compared to a round brush. Flat brushes can be tricky for me though – some are too dense or too floppy. This one has the perfect density, shape, size and feel. I’m going to need to order a couple more – I like to have multiples for powders on hand for blending and application.

Overall as a sensitive skin person I’m thrilled to find that both the powder and foundation worked for me and did not cause any allergic reactions. I’m typically a medium to full coverage kind of girl for base products but my skin has improved over the years so I can get away with less coverage these days. Also with the heat in Florida I feel the need to find lighter weight products that will allow my skin to breathe. It’s only the start of spring and I know it will get warmer in the upcoming months. This will be one I use frequently even if I will still need to layer.

Have you tried these yet? If you’re a natural or sheer base kind of beauty lover, what other brands/formulas do you love? You can find the MAC Next to Nothing Collection available now. Online at MAC, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and soon at Ulta Beauty.

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MAC products provided as press samples for review. Two MAC powders purchased by me.

Base Makeup

Giorgio Armani Power Fabric Foundation

February 2, 2017

Armani Power Fabric Foundation Review | The Beauty Look Book

Giorgio Armani Beauty launched a new full coverage foundation this month called Power Fabric ($64 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz). It comes in 20 shades, contains SPF25 and is designed to offer full matte coverage with a velvety texture. Some of you may remember my experience with Maestro Glow so with the new Power Fabric I was a bit nervous to put this on my face. I have extremely sensitive skin that is prone to irritation with certain ingredients, in particular scented face products. I have had good experiences with other Armani formulas over the years including Lasting Silk, Maestro, Crema Nuda and a few other formulas. Luminous Silk always looked amazing on my skin but I often found it too rich for my normal/combo skin type but it didn’t irritate me. Given the fact that most of the Armani formulas I’ve tried worked well with my skin, I decided to try the new Power Fabric with an open mind and am glad to report that after a full week of testing I have no break outs, no irritation and no signs of tiny little bumps occured. For any foundation that I am allergic to, bump and redness surface pretty quickly, usually within 1 day.

Armani Power Fabric Foundation | The Beauty Look Book

I received samples of the Power Fabric which was a nice unexpected surprise, but all four colors were too light. Shade 4 was 90% close but just a tad too light. I went to my local counter to investigate and left with Shade 5 and 6. They had no testers so I took a guess based on what the bottles looked like even though the packaging has frosted glass. My perfect color is a mix of Shade 4 and 6, Shade 5 isn’t really in between as you might expect but rather a more pink version of Shade 4.

Application is really easy. I can apply smoothly with fingers, a sponge or a brush. I’ve been using the Hourglass Vanish Foundation Brush to buff it into the skin and it blends to a streak-free finish with hardly any effort. Coverage is full and matte without looking flat or powdery. Something many of you may not know is that I have quite a lot of freckles. I’ve found it amusing to see faux freckle tutorials and videos surface these days because I’ve always tried to cover up my freckles. I did a lot of swimming and outdoor sports in my high school days and even though it was many many years ago, I was exposed to a lot of sun. Even with sunscreen I got a lot of freckles and sun spots. The foundation covers up any uneven areas and does a pretty good job at covering darker spots. I don’t need concealer with this foundation although if you have dark under eye circles you will probably still need a dab underneath the eyes.

I love the packaging style – I think all foundations that aren’t in squeeze tubes should come with pumps. Swatches of the shades I have. 2, 3, 3.5 and 4 were sent for review. 5 and 6 purchased by me.

Armani Power Fabric Foundation Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

Before and after application. For reference all photos are taken in natural light indoors. I do use a flash on the camera sometimes. Below on the left is my bare skin. Foundation colors shown worn include the Armani Power Fabric Shades 4 and 6 mixed together – I pump out 1 pump of each color on the back of my hand, mix with a brush and apply to the face. A little goes a long way – but you can build coverage easily without it looking cakey. Foundation brush shown is the Hourglass Vanish Foundation Brush. Last photo on the right is just with foundation applied – no concealer or powder was used to set or finish.

Armani Power Fabric Foundation 4 and 6 mixed | The Beauty Look Book

Comparison swatches:

  • Becca Aqua Luminous Foundation in Light and Beige – I used to be Beige but am lighter now so use the Light shade (Beige reviewed in this post here), this formula is a lot sheerer with a natural dewy finish
  • MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundations in NC25, NC30, NC35 and NC37 – so many of you asked me what my MAC shade was I tried to find a match, since I tan easily my skin tone can be all over the place, NC25 is just the slightest bit too light but is the closest color for me right now, NC30 is really olive on my skin, NC35 is too dark right now and NC37 is best for me when I’m just the slightest bit darker, coverage with this formula is more opaque and thicker in feel/finish compared to the Armani

Armani Power Fabric Foundation Comparisons | The Beauty Look Book

Comparison swatches set 2:

Armani Power Fabric Foundation Comparisons | The Beauty Look Book

Based on comments from some readers – many of you suspected that I had an allergic reaction to the Maestro Glow because of the high alcohol content. I took a look at the ingredients of the Power Fabric which also contains alcohol but it’s a bit lower on the list so perhaps the lower dose is why I can wear this one without any irritation.

Ingredients of the Armani Power Fabric Foundation:

Armani Power Fabric Foundation Ingredients | The Beauty Look Book

Armani Power Fabric Foundation | The Beauty Look Book

I’m in between shades and would have preferred to find an exact match with 1 color, but I really like the way it performed. A note on the shades – when you apply it does look a bit lighter than what you see because of the SPF. Let it sit for a minute and it will adjust but not so much that it oxidizes. Finding a shade can be tricky though. It’s been years since I’ve used Armani foundations so I don’t know what shade I am in others like Luminous Silk etc. I’m in between colors but right now I’m unfortunately in between colors for most brands of foundations. I’ve been out of the sun for a while now and have completely lost my tan – no tan lines anywhere now so I’m probably at the lightest I will get. The relatively cold weather (cold for Southern California) and rain has forced me to spend more time indoors compared to what I am used to. I suspect that will change once the weather warms up though.

If you have sensitive skin like me and are more savvy at understanding ingredients – I hope the box helps. If you have tried this would love to hear your thoughts. I really like it and love how much coverage it gives the skin without looking cakey. It truly lasts all day with minimal touch ups needed – I usually need a little dab of powder on the nose mid-day. Formula-wise I give it a solid thumbs up.

You can find the Armani Power Fabric Foundation at counters now. Available online at Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Sephora and all other Armani retailers.

Power Fabric shades 2, 3, 3.5 and 4 provided as press samples. Shades 5 and 6 purchased by me.

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Base Makeup Dior

The Perfect Base with Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation

November 30, 2016

Diorskin Air Flash

I’ve been a long-time fan of the Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation and am excited to team up with Dior Beauty to re-visit it this month. With the holiday season in full swing finding base makeup that covers the face entirely, photographs well with a flash, lasts a long time and still looks natural can be a challenge. I have normal to combination skin and even when I set my base with a good powder I usually find I need a quick touch up at least 2 times a day. I like a base that has visible coverage but sometimes fuller coverage foundations can feel thick or look flat. Formulas have improved across brands over the years with better lasting power, lighter textures and unique glowy finishes, but the Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation is hands down among the best of bases that hits all the marks on what I want: long lasting, photographs well with flash, covers the face entirely but looks natural.

Diorskin Air Flash

The Airflash comes in an aerosol spray can and dispenses an ultra fine even layer of foundation in a mist. It gives the skin an airbrushed finish. Simply shake it for a few seconds, hold about 6 inches from the face and spray from the top down in a zig-zag motion. There can be a bit of a learning curve to figure out exactly how far to hold it from your face when you spray it – I sometimes wear a band around my hairline to keep the hair back and out of the way. After spraying I’ve blend a bit with a sponge or a brush. You can also add more on areas by spraying the product directly on the brush and patting on the face. Any tool will work but I just discovered the Backstage Buffing Brush #18 and it has the perfect density and angled shape to blend out foundation to a flawless streak-free smooth finish. For color matching, in the past I’ve been a match to the shade 300 Medium Beige, but right now I’m a better match to 201 Linen.

Diorskin Air FlashDiorskin Air Flash

Below is a closer look at the spray foundation with the Backstage Buffing Brush #18. It’s the perfect size for smoothing across the face. So many foundation buffing brushes are on the smaller side, this one has a larger head which makes it easier to swipe in larger motions.

Diorskin Airflash and Buffing Brush 18

Swatches below with the Airflash Spray Foundation in 201 (color I’m wearing in photos) and 300. Over the past few months I’ve also been using the Capture Totale Dreamskin Cushion and mix 020 and 030 – I initially thought it was a foundation but was told by a few reps that it’s actually part of their skincare line and can be used as a primer or just a regular tint. It’s swatched heavily below but the cushion is significantly lighter in coverage and very sheer. Let me know if you want a dedicated review on the cushions.

Diorskin Airflash vs Dreamskin Cushion Swatches

Below on the left is me wearing just the Airflash Foundation in 201 and a bit of the Dior Lip Glow in Lilac to prep the lips, photographed without flash. For me the Airflash has enough coverage to cover dark under eye circles most of the time. There are some days where I do need extra coverage so I’ll layer on something under the eyes or around the nose. Below you can see that with just the foundation everything looks like it’s covered. Everything as in my acne scars on the chin and freckles and sunspots on my cheeks aren’t visible.

On the right side is the base with some color added. This photograph is taken with a flash to show that the foundation doesn’t give a white glare or cast that you see with some other foundations. This makes it a great one to wear for holiday gatherings, dinners or parties. You won’t have to worry about getting holiday photos with your face looking garishly white in contrast to your neck or body.

Diorskin Airflash 201 Linen

Makeup worn is with a light hand and everything blended, products shown below as well. What I’m wearing:

Dior Beauty Holiday Glow Natural Beauty Look

Right now Dior.com has a special online promo where you can get a mini kabuki brush with any Airflash foundation purchase. The packaging is always exquisite – if you’re looking for a place that will wrap and package everything perfectly, Dior has it all covered.

Dior Holiday Packaging and Airflash GWP

Diorskin Air Flash

Bottom line I think the Diorskin Airflash is a classic. In the past few weeks I tried it without any setting powder – we’ve been having dry weather and air here (even with the rain) so my skin hasn’t been as oily as normal. I almost always set with a powder but the Airflash lasted an impressive amount of time without it. It’s one I’ll be wearing all holiday long because it performs well and truly holds up all day long. It gets extra points from me for covering my skin entirely while still looking natural.

Have you tried the Diorskin Airflash? What color do you use? If not what’s your go-to base for holiday photographs or gatherings? You can find the Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation for $62 at Dior.com.

This post was sponsored by Dior. As always all opinions my own.

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Base Makeup Highlighters Tom Ford Beauty

Tom Ford Beauty Face Collection: Waterproof Foundation/Concealer, Shimmer Shots and Fiber Brow Gel

October 20, 2016
The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Face Collection Foundation and Shimmer Shots

Tom Ford has added more items to their face product lineup and as usual everything is on point. Items have been introduced “to perfect, highlight and define the faceโ€™s natural features for a balanced and flawless finish.” There have been quite a few new foundation launches this season and the one from Tom Ford is one that I was most anxious to try out. The collection includes the following new launches:

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Face Collection Foundation and Shimmer Shots

Up first are the Fiber Brow Gels. I received two to try out in Espresso and Chestnut. It has tiny fibers to help fill in the brows and as a low-maintenance brow girl I find it perfect. It fills in brows, grooms and tints them all in one product. Espresso is my best match although I usually go lighter. At the counter the reps said Espresso is my shade. I did try Chestnut since the Tom Ford Beauty team was kind enough to send one, it can work for me since my hair color has a natural reddish undertone. My brows however do not have any red so sometimes reddish powders or pencils colors can look off. Since this coats the hairs I find it gives it a natural tint and looks good.

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Fiber Brow Gel

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Fiber Brow Gel Chestnut Espresso

I haven’t tried too many other tinted brow gels, but by comparison the Tom Ford Fiber Brow Gel is larger in packaging and brush size which makes it easier to use compared to the Glossier Boy Brow. I know many of you love the Boy Brow. I think it’s good especially for the price, but the size makes it hard for me to hold sometimes even though I have very small hands and fingers. The Tom Ford brush is slightly larger and has a more angled shape which makes application a lot easier. Compared to By Terry’s Brow Mascara I find the fibers in the Tom Ford to have more substance. I would say it has a chunkier texture/consistency which sounds odd and almost unappealing, but it fills in brows more while the By Terry grooms and tints but doesn’t fill in the brows like the Tom Ford one does.

I give the Fiber Brow Gel a thumbs up. I have bought and used the Tom Ford Brow Sculptor which is an excellent product. I prefer skinny fine-tipped brow pencils so this one hasn’t been used as much as my Diorshow Brow Styler Pencil.

Next are the Shimmer Shots which I think are genius. Sometimes names are everything and whoever named the product and colors for this launch deserves a bonus because they are both just perfect. I’ve loved every highlighter I’ve tried from Tom Ford and the Shimmer Shots are gorgeous additions to their line. Spin Spin Sugar is a champagne color with a slight gold sheen and Lust for Life is coppery bronze. Both blend in beautifully for a natural glow where you apply. I’ve tried it under foundation, on top of powder/foundation to highlight, and on the eyes.

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Shimmer Shots

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Shimmer Shots swatched

By comparison to a few other Tom Ford highlighters, the Skin Illuminating Powder Duo in Moodlight (reviewed here) is more frosty in finish. Skin Illuminator in Fire Lust (reviewed here) is more peachy and also sheerer in finish with a more dewy finish.

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Moodlight, Shimmer Shots and Fire Lust

More comparisons because so many of you have asked. I think the Tom Ford Shimmer Shots are must-haves, even though I have a lot of liquid highlighters. They have the perfect amount of shimmer and the finish is visible but natural. 

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Shimmer Shot comparisons

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop (review here)
NARS Illuminator in 413 BLKR (review here)
Estee Edit Beam Team Bronze (review here)
Soleil Tan de Chanel in Sunkissed
Estee Edit Flash Illuminator in Sun Light and Night Light (review here)
Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Candlelight (review here)

Last but not least is the Waterproof Foundation/Concealer. When I heard
this was launching my first concern that it might be too thick. I’ve had
good experiences with Tom Ford foundations in the past. I am usually either Bisque or Natural but at the counter I found the next shade up Sable to be a good match for me (although the girls at the counter disagreed and said it would be too olive for my skin). Note the numbers for the names have changed and I was told this happened across all formulas. The shades with the corresponding names are still the same, so if you usually wear Natural, you’re still Natural – just the number underneath has changed. I bought Sable at the counter because I found it more olive. Samples of Bisque and Natural arrived as those are my usual colors.

Formula wise this is one of the best full coverage cream foundations I’ve tried. As one who is olive/golden/yellow I appreciate that Tom Ford consistently launches colors that are not pink in undertone. Formula is highly concentrated and opaque but doesn’t look fake or flat like many full coverage foundations can. It has a slight matte finish but manages to look fresh and radiant at the same time. When I use this I find that I do not need concealer under the eyes. Lasting power is excellent and stays put all day. No irritation from this, no oxidizing, no budging. I do think that you need to prep the skin properly though – if you have dry skin with any dry patches or flakes any full coverage foundation can emphasize dry areas. I make sure I have a well moisturized base, but a tiny spot on my forehead, one on each cheek and one dab on my chin, then use a damp beauty blender to work the foundation into the skin.

There’s no detectable scent and it photographs well with a flash.

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation Concealer Review

The colors I have now are Bisque 5.5 (which used to be 4), Natural 6.0 (which used to be 5) and Sable 6.5 (which used to be 6). Swatches below straight from the tube and then blended.

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation Concealer Bisque Natural Sable
The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation Concealer Bisque Natural Sable

Both Bisque and Sable work for me. Natural is warmer and too dark for my skin right now. They do adjust slightly and warm up to the skin once on but they don’t oxidize too much. I asked my husband what he thought about Bisque and Sable. I had one on each side and he couldn’t tell the difference from the front. I turned my head to each side and he said that Bisque was a better match.

Below are swatch comparisons to the Traceless Foundation Stick in Bisque and Natural along with the Traceless Perfecting Foundation formulas I have. For those who aren’t familiar with Tom Ford Foundations wondering about the colors, Natural in the stick is lighter than Bisque stick (as mentioned in this post too).

By comparison, the Traceless Perfecting Foundation is lighter in texture but can feel heavier on the face. Some have commented it looks flat on the skin – I often mix in a bit of shimmer luminizer in it. Coverage is full but not as full as the Waterproof formula.

The Stick Foundation is full coverage and one I cannot wear all over the face because of how opaque and thick it is so I often use it to layer on top of other foundations if I need more coverage. The Waterproof formula offers more natural looking coverage.

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Foundation Swatches

Swatch comparisons to the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tints in Groenland and St. Moritz (I mix the shades) and also the MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundations in NC25, NC30, NC35 and NC37 (my best matches are NC25 or NC37). I’m forever in between shades.

The Beauty Look Book - Tom Ford Foundation Swatches vs NARS and MAC

Some thoughts on other foundation formulas by comparison that I have tried:

  • Laura Mercier Silk Creme Oil-Free Photo Foundation (reviewed here) is one I used to have but no longer own. Formula wise the Laura Mercier was more opaque and slightly thicker in finish. I find in her line I am often in between shades and the dry down of this one darkened a bit and had a tendency to look flat if I used too much.
  • Cle de Peau Radiant Cream Foundation was one I tested at the counter. I went to the store fully intending to purchase this but sometimes a bad store experience can ruin the fun. Rant aside, I tried both O30 (too pink) and O40 (too dark) on my face and as I could not find a good match I decided to pass. Formula-wise it’s excellent but at the $100+ price tag I need an exact match in order to buy.
  • Cle de Peau Silk Cream Foundation is one I used to use in O30 and was told it’s been discontinued. This was one of the best formulas I’ve ever tried but the texture was more moisturizing and is slightly heavier than the Tom Ford. The formula while not hydrating, gave me a more dewy finish.
  • La Mer Soft Fluid Foundation is also a new formula that I had high hopes for. I acquired a small sample at the counter and found my best shade to be Beige. This one is more fluid and lighter in coverage. It also has the Miracle Broth skincare element included. I absolutely love this formula but Beige pulls slightly pink on my skin so since I cannot find a yellow/golden enough match this will be a pass for me unless I get a lot lighter this winter and can find another color.
  • Armani Crema Nuda is one I don’t think I can really compare because the finish and concept is completely different in the sense that it’s sheerer and more like a BB/CC cream rather than a foundation/concealer like the Tom Ford one is.
  • If you try the Tom Ford and find it too thick or heavy I would suggest you maybe try the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD instead which offers sheerer coverage by comparison but still medium to full coverage.
Bottom line lots to love with these new launches. I highly recommend the foundation if you’re in the market for a good full-coverage but natural looking foundation. Many can look flat if you use all over the face but this one does not. If you own a lot of highlighters you may find the Shimmer Shots similar to what you already own. I think both are winners and the shimmer is very pretty but not overly frosty.

By now you can find the Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation/Concealer, Shimmer Shots and Fiber Brow Gel at all Tom Ford Beauty counters. Online at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Tom Ford.

Have you tried these yet? What did you think?

Press samples of The Face Collection Waterproof Foundation in Bisque + Natural, Shimmer Shots and Fiber Brow Gel provided courtesy of Tom Ford.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Base Makeup Eye Makeup Sephora

Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario and Stick Foundation

October 13, 2016
Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario and Stick Foundation

My love for Anastasia Beverly Hills continues with two new launches in the Master Palette by Mario ($45 for .7g/0.2 oz x 12 shadows) and Stick Foundation in Warm Natural and Golden ($25 for 9 g/0.32 oz). I bought all three from Sephora – the palette is something I ordered sight unseen. For the foundation I spent some time in store swatching colors but they did not have all the testers or colors for sale. Luckily they had the colors that matched my skintone range so I was able to find something that matched. For a line that I feel is very much on the trendy side I’ve been fortunate to find some really great products that are still suitable for my conservative makeup taste. Pigment and formulas are versatile, rich in pigmented and shimmer, but still easy to blend out for a less sharp look. As much as I love new makeup trends I will not bake my face, strobe heavily, use the heavy contour method or have my highlighter “on fleek” as the young ones say these days. So for my fellow conservative makeup lovers – I think you might be able to find some really good products that are easy to wear even if you feel like you’re not the trendy type.

Up first is the Master Palette by Mario. This is the first eyeshadow palette I’ve bought from Anastasia Beverly Hills. After a few years of accumulating several palettes in my early days of makeup exploration I found many sat unused in my makeup drawers if I did not love all the colors. So I made myself a self-imposed rule that if there were 2-3 shades I did not like I told myself “don’t buy it.” I did try to stick with it and for quite a few years I was able to resist a lot of palettes. In recent years palettes have been more tempting and my resolve weakened. In this case there were 2 shades I didn’t really like which included the olive and navy teal – but seeing swatches online made me decide to cave and I’m glad I did.

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario review

This is one of the more trendy palettes I own. The shimmer is noticeable and on the scale of shimmer intensity I would say it’s pretty high but I can still wear all the colors. The pigment is medium but buildable to full coverage. There are a few matte shades which also have excellent coverage. The shades are easy to blend and layer. Texture is soft so there is some fallout when applying on the eyes but I have yet to find a powder shadow that doesn’t have some level of fall out. Once on the eyes the colors stay put – no smudging, fading or creeping. I like that they apply well with or without a base (at least for me).

Colors include:

  • Hollywood is a pale shimmery gold
  • NYC is a warm coppery bronze shimmer
    Kim is a warm tan shimmer with orange tones
  • Muse is a reddish pink shimmer
  • Marina is a shimmering champagne mauve
  • Claudia is a deep greyed navy shimmer
  • Lula is a matte cool brown
  • Isabel is a matte burnt orange
  • Violeta is a warm deep brown
  • 5th Ave is a shimmering pale frosted gold
  • Bronx is a shimmering olive
  • Paris is a shimmering bronze
In terms of how to wear this palette I often get overwhelmed with this many options – but I really like this one. I’ve tried every single color in combinations of 3-4 shades and every time the look is just really pretty. Unfortunately I don’t have any eye looks for you as I’m still trying to figure out how to photograph warm shades on the eyes.

The brush is easy to use and the shape is good for blending and lid application – quality isn’t the best as I feel it’s not as soft as I’m used to, but it’s functional and works.

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario review

A few more close ups:

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario review

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario Swatches

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario Swatches
Next up are the Stick Foundations. These offer medium-full to full coverage. Picking a color was a bit tricky in store as there is a wide range and they aren’t displayed in sequential order. There are handy face photos with models to help narrow down your shade. My exact match is Warm Natural but with full coverage foundations often times an exact match can make the face look a bit flat. I picked up Golden as well which matches my tanned body so I use two shades and blend.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation in Warm Natural and Golden - The Beauty Look Book

I would say the finish pulls more on the matte side and for me – I don’t like matte finish foundations because I find they emphasize fine lines and crevices. Especially around the mouth where lines form when you smile – full coverage mattes tend to creep into those lines and age my face. The one from Anastasia Beverly Hills does not emphasize lines but if you have dry skin or skin that tends to pull dry you will probably find it too drying for all over the face. I think it still can be used for extra coverage if you like to layer foundations. To date my favorite foundation stick is still the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation (review soon but you can see it in action on my face in this post here).

Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation in Warm Natural and Golden swatched

Foundation Stick Swatches Lancome, Make Up For Ever, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Hourglass, Tom Ford
Shown above:
To find your match if you’re looking online or want to know where to start I recommend visiting their Stick Foundation Pinterest Page where they have lots of swatches, face charts and more. Here are a few that helped me. Based on these my best guess was Natural, Warm Natural and Golden and I think it was pretty accurate:

One last look:

The Beauty Look Book - Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario and Stick Foundation
Bottom line winners in my book and even though some of you have pointed out the line is overpriced as items are made in China, I still find quality and performance to be quite good. I’ve found them priced reasonably although many of you may be correct in your assessment that they are priced higher than they should be considering where the product is made. I still find what I’ve tried to be solid performers. Update: I took a closer look at the eyeshadow palette, shadows are made in USA and brush is made in PRC. Foundation sticks say made in PRC.

For other reviews you can always click the tag/label at the bottom of each post to find other features. I’ll link the ones I’ve done below for reference.

I bought the Master Palette by Mario and Stick Foundation at Sephora. You can also find the line at Ulta Beauty, Macy’s and Anastasia Beverly Hills.

Have you tried these yet? What did you think?
Armani Base Makeup Skincare

Armani Beauty Prima Skincare, Crema Nuda and Him/Her Lip Care

October 6, 2016
Armani Beauty - The Beauty Look Book

I’ve been testing out some items from Armani Beauty in skincare and just purchased a newly packaged foundation from the line. After a few misses over the spring I’ve been very nervous to test anything even though I’ve used many items from their line for over a decade. I used their Crema Nera cream in the original version for quite some time and absolutely loved it (I believe it’s since been reformulated or repackaged). I have three items from the Armani Prima Skincare line that I’ve been testing for a few months now, the new travel-size Crema Nuda Supreme Glow Reviving Tinted Cream and additional thoughts on the Him/Her Lip Care.

Up first are three items from the Armani Prima Skincare line. This line was designed to keep the glow in your morning makeup look fresh and stay put all day long and the three items that first launched really do work. They smooth the skin, give it a very natural glow without the greasy feel and work well with my makeup (all brands including NARS, MAC, Make Up For Ever, Hourglass).

Armani Prima Skincare Review

I’m one who finds that my face makeup does indeed disappear or absorb into the skin and requires a little touch up mid-day. Foundation and powder usually stay put pretty well but I hate layers of product on my face so while I’ve tried and liked a lot of primers, I don’t think I’ve ever found one I absolutely love. Something is always wrong with primers I test, either it just doesn’t do anything for the foundation I wear, isn’t compatible with my skincare, causes an allergic reaction or it works but has that silicone feel that I really don’t like.

The Armani team sent three items over the summer and after a few bad skin reactions to their Maestro Glow Foundation and UV Primer I was terrified of trying these. I waited several weeks before being brave enough to test them and reminded myself that I had used a number of serums and creams from the line before and had great success with them. (I stopped repurchasing because of the high price points.) I’m glad I did. Thoughts on each.

Armani Prima Skincare Review

Glow-On Moisturizing Balm is a moisturizer that is designed to give skin a natural glow, plump and smooth the skin. It does all the things it claims and has a very unique texture. It’s hydrating but has a very lightweight texture, almost airy and dries to a semi-matte finish. There is a very slight scent to it but it’s pleasant and disappears within a few minutes. For me it has enough hydration to use in place of moisturizer. I have normal combination skin and find it is odd that it gives skin a glow yet has a matte looking effect. Kinda like how Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks are luminous mattes. For me this is what I had hoped the Natasha Denona Face Glow Primer Hydrating Underbase to be (which turned out to be a bit too rich for my skintype).

If you’re more on the oily side or normal for that matter and find foundation disappears within hours the Armani Prima Day-Long Skin Perfector is the best makeup primer I have ever tried. It smooths out the skin and really does make foundation look fresh longer. I have not tested it in hot humid weather but I wish I had this a year ago during our summer trip to Europe to try. Last year there were days in Paris and Rome where I just gave up on wearing any makeup because the heat and humidity caused everything to slide off within minutes. In warm California weather the Day-Long Skin Perfector really does smooth the skin and prime it well for your base makeup. It has a lightweight texture that glides onto the skin. I use it over my moisturizers (La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream, La Mer Moisturizing Soft Lotion, Kate Somerville Nourish Moisturizer etc.) and it’s compatible with all of them. I have small but noticeable-to-me sized pores and this works well to smooth them out. It’s supposed to help absorb excess oil and it does help to keep the shine at bay for me.

The Lip and Eye Contour was featured earlier this week and works to smooth out lips and give them a slightly plumped effect. I have not tried it on the eyes yet. It does indeed smooth out the lip and help prime them for lip color. It does come at a very steep price tag. It’s a nice one that I like but given the price I do not know if it’s something I will repurchase once used up. It does smooth out lip lines and I suspect it will do the same for eyes. With the eye area and skincare I’ve tried a number of items (still testing quite a few). I feel like eye creams are hard to test because they take so much time to see results. If you’ve tried this on the eye area let me know what you thought.

Up next are the Him/Her Lip Care tinted shades in 2, 3 and 5. These were also featured in this week’s lip basics roundup so I won’t recap the full review. A few of you asked for lip swatches even though I felt they all looked pretty much the same and sheer on my lips. I have pigmented lips but they do seem to be darker on some days compared to others. I managed to get lip swatches on a day where my lips were on the lighter side. I swatched them heavily so you could see the color but I normally would not wear them this thick on the lips. They have a nice moisturizing balmy feel. They aren’t lightweight and you can feel them once on the lip area. If you need something weightless these will be too heavy for you. I also swatched all the colors at the counter for reference.

Armani Him/Her Lip Care - The Beauty Look Book

Shades I bought, 2 is peachy, 3 is a lilac, 5 is a plum:

On the skin is MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation shade NC37:

Armani Him/Her Lip Care - The Beauty Look Book

Armani Him/Her Lip Care - The Beauty Look Book

Armani Him/Her Lip Care - The Beauty Look Book

All the options, swatched at the counter:

Armani Him/Her Lip Care - The Beauty Look Book

Last but not least is the Crema Nuda Supreme Glow Reviving Tinted Cream which now comes in a travel sized version with a pump. When the original version came out in the large tub with a $200 price tag my jaw literally dropped and I told myself “I can’t check it out, I just can’t do it.” The most I’ve spent on a foundation before was for Cle de Peau and I did love it but never repurchased. When I saw a travel size of the Crema Nuda for $120 pop up online I was also debating the new Cle de Peau Beaute Radiant Cream Foundation which is $125. It turned out to be too pink for me (I tried O30 too pink and O40 was too dark) and at the price tag I needed an exact or pretty exact match so I passed.

Armani Beauty Crema Nuda Review - The Beauty Look Book

Before trying the Crema Nuda I did reach out to a few beauty friends asking if they tried it. One confirmed it was good but the original price was too much. I went to investigate and a quick hand swatch had me worried because I thought I’d be in between shades. #3 looked very pink and peach when blended on my hand and #4 was clearly too dark. A kind associate gave me samples to try and said to give it whirl on my skin because they blended out differently on the face because of the unique texture.

Armani Crema Nuda packaging

I had a serious OMG moment when I tried #3. It did indeed look a bit peachy-pink at first swipe but a beauty blender smoothed it out and after a minute it adjusted to a perfect match. I’ve never tried anything that made my skin look so blurred and smooth as the Crema Nuda. I do wish that it came in the same shades as the Luminous Silk because the colors in that line are perfect for my skin undertone but formula is too rich. At any rate, the Crema Nuda works for my normal combination skin even though I thought it would be too moisturizing and heavy. It looks very natural with medium coverage. I do still need to layer on a bit of concealer on spots and under eyes but it’s pretty near perfect.

I thought I had mini samples of all the shades but turns out I’m missing the darkest one #6. But for reference here are the colors I did get samples of at the counter. There is a new one #4.5 which once it sets looks darker than #4 even though they look pretty close with a fresh swatch.

Armani Crema Nuda foundation swatches

Here is how Armani Crema Nuda #3 looks on my face with a bit of Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Powder #2 to set (no concealer or other foundations added to the mix). On the lips is Charlotte Tilbury Bitch Perfect K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick.

Armani Crema Nuda #3

A few comparison swatches for reference. As I’ve mentioned in a few recent posts I went to investigate what my MAC shade was because so many of you have asked. In the past years I’ve been anywhere from NC30, NC35, NC40, C3 and C4 depending on how tan I was. I stopped using the MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation because I found I was severely allergic – this was in my college days that I stopped which was over 10 years ago. I was also allergic to their Face and Body and a number of other formulas. Since then many years have gone by and I don’t know if the foundations have been reformulated but I did give the Studio Fluid Fix Foundation a try.

The girls at the store said I was an NC35 but I felt NC37 was a better match (in this formula it’s a bit lighter and less olive). I bought both so I could test and swatch them for you. As my skin gets lighter though I suspect I might be able to pull off NC30 – but I’ll have to investigate further. I still promise to have my base foundation and concealer roundup as soon as possible.

For now here are some swatch comparisons for reference, Set #1:

Set #2:

At the $120 price tag it’s still very expensive but easier for me to justify compared to $200. Plus I really like that it comes in a pump and wears well on my skin. Color options in the Crema Nuda line are limited but since it’s not a full covearage foundation I do think the shades are more forgiving. If you try it I do suggest letting the color sit on the skin as it won’t oxidize but it will adjust.

Bottom line, lots to love from the line. I’m slowly rediscovering bits – I used to be a die hard fan until they started reformulating everything and I’m still upset they discontinued some of the most amazing blush colors and the original formula. I know some will say the new one is better but I stocked up on some of the originals because in my mind those were the best on the market for a long long time.

For the skincare items, I like the Day-Long Skin Perfector the best. Even though it’s the best primer I’ve used I still don’t use it everyday simply because it’s an extra step I just am too lazy for on most days. When I do use it though it does not let me down. I highly recommend it.

Have you tried any of the Armani Prima skincare line? Or the Crema Nuda? I just saw they added more to the Prima skincare line but have yet to investigate. If you have any skincare favorites from the line let me know – it’s been years since I used their serums and creams. I suspect what I used to use no longer exists as new products have most likely taken their place.

Prima items provided courtesy of Armani for review. Other items purchased by me from Nordstrom.