A Word: Clarins Double Serum Generation

I was reading WWD when I came across a article on the promotion of Clarins Double Serum Generation in the United States.  Per the article, Clarins is betting on Double Serum Generation to become their “hero product” that will jumpstart skincare sales for Clarins in the U.S.  Apparently, Clarins market in the U.S. market outside of their body and suncare lines is pretty anemic compared to other luxury skincare giants.  I do not find this hard to believe.   As a skincare nut, I have not really tried their products.  I think there are several reasons for this (solely my perspective on the matter).

The biggest reason has to do with their advertising.  I don’t really see their stuff advertised that often compared to other comparable european heritage skincare brands.  While brands like Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel (the BIG 3) have skincare and cosmetic lines that draw from the incredible promotion their fashion empire receives; Clarins doesn’t have the same marketing muscle. 

Another is the fact that I associate this brand with older women.  Many of the models this brand uses appear to be significantly older than the advertised images of the BIG 3.  So, I wonder is this a beauty brand primarily focused on the older woman?  But if the brand is age-universal, then this is a problem.  No teenager to recently out of college grad is going to get with the image of an older woman selling them skincare products.  There is no relating in that experience. 

This shouldn’t be a big deal, if you are age diverse with your images but building skincare loyalty shouldn’t rely with images of models who appear to have a very dated  – circa 1980’s – beauty aesthetic.   Compare the beauty models from any major designer beauty brand to that of Clarins.  One group is fresh and relevant.  The other harkens back to the 80’s patrician look.  I always think I am looking at a time capsule when I see a Clarins ad with a model.

Another reason, and this maybe the largest personal reason for me, is that the heritage behind this brand screams exclusion – as in my “only in the new world latina” self is not welcome.  Some may like the air of exclusion in a brand (blue-blood, european, old money) and I think it is fair to say that every brand has the right to choose the message, or branding, that works for them to cater to their ideal customer.  However, if your goal is to GROW market share in the U.S., then you may want to rethink the advertising, branding, marketing in toto because there aren’t that many old money blue bloods, or new money, nouve riche, to grow the Clarins market the way they want it to.  There are just so many “society” girls who can buy this stuff. 

If I have gone against these presumptions, which I have – to purchase a Clarins Instant Light Complexion Perfector and their UV Plus HP SPF 40 Day Screen, it is only because I AM A SKINCARE JUNKIE.  Frankly, my intent was not to go to the Clarins counter but to explore new beauty products.  I ONLY went to the Clarins counter after I got bored from going to the other counters of choice and I didn’t feel like leaving empty handed.  That’s right, I purchased those two products out of BOREDOM and not wanting to walk away empty handed.  Clarins had no expectations to dash because they were never on my radar.  So the bar was set incredibly low. 

What’s ironic is that had Clarins NOT used ANY model images, and had their beauty associates at the counter been a bit more diverse, I probably would have given this brand a fair and neutral shake.  I mean I love Decleor and I do not think it is any different from Clarins, when I think about it.  Except, I don’t associate anything negative with them.  However, let us get real here.  Other than Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, their somewhat star product – which is not necessary for oily skinned girls, there really isn’t a blockbuster product in their skincare line.

Which gets me back to Clarins Double Serum Generation.  This actually does sound interesting.  This serum includes recent advances in skincare technology that combats aging skin in all skintypes by providing skin cell nourishment via a double chamber to separate the water and oil based delivery mechanism.  Asian beauty blog reviews of this product mention that the dual serum that comes out should be mixed together in the hand and massaged into the skin.  Reviews for this product have been generally positive. 

I am curious about this product and will actually visit a Clarins counter to check it out when it launches.  Whether I walk away with a bottle is another story.  But if there are essential oil components within the “lipid-delivery system,” then I am game.  I’m a sucker for oils…

Update: Speak of the devil Clarins is having a 15%- 25% Friends and Family Sale until 11/13.  Just use the code CLARINSFF12.



Revlon Colorstay Makeup For Oily/Combination Skin

1. Revlon Colorstay Makeup for Oily/Combination Skin in Sand Beige and Golden Beige, 1.0 oz for $12.99

When I was hit with the mother of all breakouts one summer, I relied on Revlon’s Colorstay Makeup for Oily/Combination Skin in Golden Beige.  It seems I have a pattern of having my WORST breakouts over the summer.  This leads me to believe that it is the excess humidity that is exacberating my acne-prone skin.  Other than the new Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup, I have never had such a great, full coverage, long lasting, unbudgeable foundation. 

I remember picking up Revlon’s Golden Beige and hoping it would be a shade match – it was – and then hoping that it would not slide off my face, or disintegrate over the summer.  My skin was horrendous and I was completely embarrassed by it (I was in my mid twenties), now I am like FU, I’ve got skin issues and I try the best I can. I was so impressed when after several hours of being outside in the hot, humid summer heat, my foundation remained intact on my face.  It hadn’t moved or disintegrated.  It completely covered the red, and even though you could see the bumps, they were uniformly colored and covered.  I will say that unlike Urban Decay’s Naked Foundation, you DO feel Revlon’s Colorstay on your skin.  I did not forget I had it on because my pores kept on producing oil, so I felt the foundation like a second layer on my skin, the same way I felt Cetaphil’s DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30.  That feeling does make me afraid to my skin, but then I have no business touching my skin – so GOOD!

The foundation shades do oxidize a bit darker but not substantially darker. Golden Beige is my best shade match, but I can also wear Sand Beige, preferably in the dead of winter with a hint of bronzer.  Both leave a great finish and base to add on other cosmetics.   I actually checked out Warm Golden, as well, but it turns a very dark shade of orange on me. 

Here are the swatches.

For those who don’t feel comfortable spending a lot on foundations, then I suggest Revlon’s Colorstay Makeup that comes in both dry and oily skin versions.  Revlon’s Colorstay Makeup Foundation is one of the best drugstore foundations, and it compares remarkably well to department store foundations, as well.  Just think that Revlon had Colorstay Makeup for ages before L’Oreal and Maybelline came out with their hit foundation formulations.

Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (7.3%), Aqua/Water (Water), Cyclomethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Butylene Glycol, Boron Nitride, Dimethicone, SD Alcohol 40B, PEG/PPG 18/18 Dimethicone, Nylon 12, Tribehenin, Isododecane, Polyisobutene, Sodium Chloride, Cetyl PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Bisabolol, Serica (Silk Powder), Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Malva Sylvestris Flower Extract (Mallow), Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract (Lily), Lactobacillus/Eridictyon Californicum Ferment Extract, Cymbidium Grandiflorum Flower Extract, Alumina, Polydimethylsiloxane/Polymethysilesquioxane Copolymer, Ethylene Brassylate, Methicone, Trisiloxane, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, May Contain (+/-): Mica (CI 77019), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499)

MAC Eyeshadow Palette: Autumn Floral

My first self created MAC shadow palette was a bust.  I had went to a MAC store and wasn’t sure what I wanted and I was new to eyeshadow.  I ended up getting Carbon, Humid, Contrast, and Steamy.  I realized my mistake when I tried to use the colors, they were not right for me at all.  I ended up trading them away for MAC’s Mineralize in So Ceylan.  (BEST TRADE EVER since So Ceylan is now discontinued and it is my favorite bronzer/blush.)

I gave creating my own palette another go, two years later, and this was far more successful.  I had an idea of the kinds of shades I could wear on my skintone, what I felt comfortable wearing, and the colors I liked.  But I also wanted complementary shades.  This time I had a helpful associate who understood colorplay (Oh so important). 

1. MAC Eyeshadow Palette: All That Glitters, Coppering, Goldmine, Stars N’ Rockets, 0.05 oz for $12.00

I actually went in the spring to create this palette, but the shades work even better in the fall!  All That Glitters is a great shimmery neutral in the Veluxe Pearl formula.  It reads light peachy beige and can pretty much be worn day or night.  It can be paired with any of the shades in my palette, but I like to pair ir with Stars N’ Rockets.

Coppering is a lovely orangey-rust color in the same Veluxe Pearl formula.  I have seen this on folks and the undertones shift depending on your skintone.  It pay look more pinky-orange or red-orange depending on the tones in your skin.  I like pairing it with Goldmine.

It was the MAC beauty associate who convinced me Goldmine would go great with Coppering and not make me look like a transvestite (nothing wrong with ’em – but I want to look like a woman, not a woman who looks like a man who wants to look like a woman).    He applied the Coppering with the 217 MAC brush and by blending it all over my lid, diffusing the color.  He then proceeded to apply Goldmine even more sheerly from the mid-lid to the crease.  He blended for what felt like ages so that when I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror, I was awed at the vision of a evening sunset prettily displayed on my very small eyelid.

Stars N’ Rockets came about because of my love of purpley based eyeshadows for adding a pretty pop of floral color.  I can’t really wear blues on my skin, so purple it is.  This shade was chosen because it would blend well with the the other shades.  It is also a Veluxe Pearl that has distinct pink pearl shimmer.   You can see it on an angle in the pan.  Stars N’ Rockets works with a TON of shades.  But I am a eyeshadow baby who does not get too ornate wth color combinations.  I will only ever use two shades max, although usually just one, using the other as a liner.  Small eyes, small eyelid, small brow bone space.  Oily skin.  Enough said.

Here are the swatches.

I wish my skintone worked with more color, but I have noticed most of my eyeshadows fall into the same color families.  This makes me sad.  On the otherhand, it makes buying different variations of the same shade easier. 

While I will not use ALL FOUR colors at the same time – INSANE – I can work it in through my other makeup, accessories and clothes.  YAY!!!  This color palette is very pretty and autumnal fresh as shown in the background fashion editorial shot of Lara Stone.  What I love about my palette is that it works great on my yellow-olive skin and dark black brown hair with auburn highlights.

“The World’s Greatest Lie” – The Alchemist

Originally published in Portuguese, this story is a fable about a boy who travels the desert for a treasure.  I had heard many people talk about The Alchemist, so I knew I needed to pick it up and read to see what it is all about.  The story element is low, however, it is very interesting to read because it does lead to much self reflection.  This is the kind of book that actually takes a long time to read because you end up contemplating a lot throughout the reading.

Below is an excerpt.

Blush Acrylic Storage Containers

While hunting for my Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Chocolate Cherry (which I still cannot find), I ended up pulling out all of my blushes in their acrylic box containers.  Figured I would post the stash – minus one.  I like how my stash looks small because it makes me feel as if I haven’t gone overboard.  Sometimes, I feel like I have too much stuff.  Then I see someone else’s stash and I sigh a bit of relief because I am not that bad.   I saw one blogger’s beauty collection, and she was NOT a makeup artist and she had a retailer’s worth of cosmetics in boxes.  That’s when I realized having that much stuff of anything is a problem.  I actually felt a little sick looking at it because of how it reflected on me.  I may not have had that much stuff but I still have more than what I NEED.  But then someone comes up with a new shade, or undertone variation and I am all gung ho.  EEK!

This is not how my blushes are stored but I piled ALL of my blushes in the two containers.  I keep the blushes I am not currently using in two acrylic containers with lids that stack and are stowed away in my teal vanity’s desk drawers.  It is not the most ideal set up because if I can’t see my stash, I forget about it.  What would be helpful is if I could see all of my cosmetics in an organized fashion.  While the acrylic containers I have are awesome, I don’t have the surface space on my table to put these in an orderly fashion.  Thinking about completely redoing my vanity table top set up…maybe in buying some apothecary chest to put on top to help, but then I see things like those transparent CLEAR CUBE organizers, or MUJII boxes and I think why not.  But even then it wouldn’t be enough because my skincare collection is ridiculous.

I have looked into storage options and they are all ridiculously expensive and I just don’t have the space for it if I could afford it.  Sigh.  But I can dream can’t I?

These are from Restoration Hardware, which is furniture and fixture porn.  I believe all the pieces I am showing are $1000 or more.

I have a particular fantasy for an old school large metal and glass apothecary chest.  The kind you would find in a old world pharmacy filled with my skincare.  I can dream can’t I?

Givenchy Le Prisme Visage Mat Soft Compact Face Powder in Amber Organza

Ah, my first powder foundation post.  I always really found it interesting that beauty magazines not to long ago used to suggest powder foundations for oily skinned girls.  It was always “stay away from liquid foundations” for oily skin.  Except, for many, many years I could not use powder foundations on my skin.  My skin was TOO oily to use it.  The oil in my skin would cake up the powder, cause a color shift, and generally look just bad.  Nevermind that powder shades were even MORE limiting than liquid foundation versions.  It is not easy to find a powder shade that is appropriate for light-medium olive skin – usually going beige-pink, beige-peach, or beige-orange.  So, I stayed away while still checking out various products to see if shades and formulations had improved.  And, yes they have!

1. Givenchy Le Prisme Visage Mat Soft Compact Face Powder in Amber Organza, 0.38 oz for $46.00

Givenchy’s Le Prisme Visage Mat Soft Compact Powder in Amber Organza is by far one of the best textured, blendable, natural appearing powder foundations my skin has ever tried.  First, what appealed to me most is the fact that it has four blendable shades that offer custom coverage.  The four shades are offered in different tones with one shade, being the lightest, useable as a highlighter shade or just another shade to custom blend the perfectly matching shade to your skin.

When I saw these compacts at Sephora, I was immediately drawn to the Amber shade.  All the others appeared too brown or too beige-pink light. While I may be able to swing Beige Mousseline in the dead of winter, it is not worth trying out for me because I still have olive undertones, so it may look ashy on me.  The Amber shade has distinct yellow-gold shades that can be easily layered to emphasize the gold but it can also be toned down with the lighter shades.  The sheerness of the powder allows me to use this shade any time of the year, EXCEPT the summer, but not because of a shade mismatch, but because my skin really is TOO OILY in the summer.

This powder is very finely milled and incredibly blendable.  Swirling a brush over all four shades and buffing it into my skin creates seamless color and no excess powdery residue or caking.  I have used this over too white mineral sunscreens and I have received incredible finely textured coverage.  I prefer to use this powder in the fall and winter when it is colder outside and my oily skin will not be as oily.  The finish is softy matte and can stay so for a while.  But this is not meant for oil control and I would not suggest using it for this purpose unless your skin is only slightly oily. 

Here are the swatches of each of the shades.

Here is a swatch of all of the shades blended together.  As you can see it is very difficult to tell where the shade ends on my skintone. 

The Sephora website says that this powder contains “atomized particles offering homogenous and evanscent coverage for a silky and natural finish.”  “Atomized mother-of-pearl delivers extra radiance without a shiny effect.”  “Translucent nylon particles creates a radiant complexion, while Lysine-coated pigments provide long lasting and stay-true colors.”  Whatever it is, I agree that Givenchy’s Le Prisme Visage Mat Soft Compact Face Powder formula offers an incredible finish on skin that does not look powdery or cakey.

Ingredients: Talc, Nylon-12, Zinc Stearate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Diisostearyl Malate, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Disodium Edta, Parfum (Fragrance), Lauroyl Lysine, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Benzyl Salicylate, Bht.

Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Crush (Crush, Crush, Crush)

When are colors deeper and richer than in the fall?  Fall is by far my most favorite season because of the weather shift: bright, crisp, and windy.  The autumnal shift is beautiful especially if you are around trees to see the turning of the leaves.  I went to high school in New England where the school was surrounded by some of the most beautiful lush trees.  Visually, it was incredibly beautiful.  A real autumn experience.   The city pales in comparison.  In the city, there just aren’t that many trees unless you go to the parks, but, fortunately, I do live in a front of a tree whose branches reach my window level.  Just a little taste of the visual beauty of autumn.  Forest greens, pumpkin oranges, jewel toned sapphire blues, rich burgandy.  Enter Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Crush.

1. Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Crush, 0.14 oz for $26.00

In the fall and winter, my preference for blushes always trend towards deeper flushes.  When else can you rock clownier cheeks than in the fall and winter when it is far more believable to imagine that the flush of red is the result of wind chapped cheeks!  Having been born with a naturally sallow-green complexion that seems to be getting sallower and greener as I get older, it means that my blush addiction was necessitated by need more than fancy.  I NEED rosy lively color on my face to combat my sallow color which does nothing to impart freshness.  I do not understand latinas who have similar tones, who DO NOT wear blush.  I feel like I need to put out a PSA or something.  Put down the lipliner and that horrid shade of pinky-brown! Put it AWAY! Grab some blush NOW!

Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Crush is the PERFECT shade for a deep and vibrant cold weather induced blush on the cheeks that looks flattering on ALL SKINTONES.  From the fairest to the deepest, whether cool-toned, neutral-toned, warm-toned, or the olive – this will look go anyone.  Sephora describes this shade as a deep raspberry red with a dewy finish, which I agree with.  The color is deep and rich, but it can be sheered out amazingly well for a very sheer flush of color that is not patchy, but very even throughout.

What I like about Illamasqua’s Cream Blushers is that despite being so pigmented, texturally they are quite thin and do not require a lot of product to deposit color.  Also, despite the cream formulation, it reminds me of a gel-powder in the way that it sets to the skin.  Even blending it out, you can feel a little bit of a powder gel formulation to it, without looking like a powder on the skin.  Once it is on the skin it does last a long time and does not migrate.  Having oily cheeks though, it does mean that my skin can eat color very well.  But this Cream Blusher does last a very long time on my skin.

Check out the swatch below. 

Surprisingly, I don’t have a single blush shade that is as deep as this one, exceptperhaps Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge in Chocolate Cherry.  I have simply taken an old swatch shot for comparison.

Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Octyldodecanol, Cetyl Palmitate, Petrolatum, Cera Carnauba (Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax), Candelilla Cera (Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax), C18-38 Alkyl Hydroxystearoyl Stearate, Kaolin, Tocopherol, Parfum (Fragrance) And May Contain: [+/- Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Red 7 CI 15850, Yellow 5 Lake CI 19140, Red 36 CI 12085, Red 21 Lake CI 45380, Carmine CI 75470, Blue 1 Lake CI 42090, Manganese Violet CI 77742, Mica]. May contain Carmine as a colour additive.

If surprised by the fact that I did not have a blusher this shade, I am still pleased because it means I am cutting down on buying the same colors over and over again.  This is a great shade and it is wearable on ALL skintones.  Why not listen to Paramore’s Crush, Crush, Crush song while blending this sucker on your cheeks for extra fun.  Sadly, I can’t remove that song from my head now. 



No, No, You Don’t Own Me

Modern day mainstream pop culture entertainment has generally been dominated by young male tastes, which is why movies that focused on a majority female cast are so rare.  Even rarer, when the female cast are in their forties or older.  Women in their forties and older are usually cast as background characters in mother, grandmother, and teacher roles, fulfilling a very basic two dimensional character, usually bereft of any real joy or fun.  The fun and silly have been stripped from their personalities the moment they gave birth or chose not to (as bitter, dry women).

So, it was always a real treat when a movie or t.v. show focused on the lives of older women, not as tragic, boring, life has passed them by stereotypes, but as fun, vibrant women still very much enjoying their lives.  Apparently, they didn’t just shrivel up and die once they were no longer the object of a younger man’s desire.

Movies like The First Wives Club are still treats that I love to watch countless times.  Television shows like The Golden Girls were must watch t.v. for me even as a junior high student.  I still enjoy the re-runs.  I didn’t see “old” women.  I saw funny characters still enjoying life and providing me much laughter.  But did you notice the problem with my earlier statement.  I said “movies” or  “shows”  – as in plural.  These movies or shows are exceptions.  Sure, there are a few others out there produced in the last twenty years or so, but you get the idea. 

I wish there was more entertainment that provided a look into the lives of older women, not as appendages but as separate, independent individuals, even within the highly exaggerated faux world of scripted entertainment.   Older women may not have had a place in the public sphere as little as 100 years ago, but the reality is far different now.  I would like to know that I am not some sort of anomaly when I get older and still have a silly, humourous side that isn’t dependent on conversing with babies, no matter how cute those little munchkins are.

With that I leave you with the crowd pleasing lyrics to You Don’t Own Me, as sung by the female cast of The First Wives Club.  Feel free to sing along at the top of your lungs in the privacy of your home.  🙂  One of the most annoying lies about becoming an “adult” is that some how the fun is leeched from your personality, gradually hitting zero once the gray starts peppering your hair color.  Prove ’em wrong.

You don’t own me
I’m not juss one of your many toys
You don’t own me
Don’t say I can’t go with other boys

You don’t own me
Don’t try to change me in any way
You don’t own me
Don’t drag me down ,
’cause ill never stay

I don’t tell you what to say
I don’t tell you what to do
That’s all I ask from you

I’m young
And I love to be young
I’m free
And I love to free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please

You don’t own me
You don’t own me
You don’t own me


YOU don’t OWN ME


YOU don’t OWN ME!

Balenciaga Paris L’Essence

While I grew up to be rather obsessed with skincare, which eventually grew to cosmetics – but still mostly skincare – my mother spent most of her life washing her face with bar soap.  She doesn’t use creams, serums, sunscreens.  She is amost a skincare virgin.  In her younger days, that is to say when I was a kid, she used to have a jar of Pond’s Cold Cream.  But it has been ages since I have ever seen her with a Cold Cream.  My mother’s beauty vice is not skincare, or makeup, but perfumes and accompanying scented body lotions.  She LOVES her some perfume.  Sugary, floral, elemental, woodsy, oriental, citrusy – SHE DOES NOT CARE.  She loves them all!  She used to have a significant stash of perfumes on her dresser.  Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium and ParisGuerlain Shalimar, Annick Goutal, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Oscar De La Renta, Givenchy Organza and Amarige, Jessica Mclintock, Calvin Klein Obsession, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Lancome Tresor, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds and Passion, Anais Anais.  You get the idea.

Oddly, perfume has never been my thing.  I only got into perfumes in my mid twenties.  Anais Anais, Guerlain’s L’Instant, Aqua Allegoria in Ylang & Vanille and in Figue Iris,  are past scents I have used ’til the last evaporated drop.  But this is a ridiculously short lifetime list compared to my CURRENT list of face washes (probably near a dozen).  I have only ever had a maximum of two perfumes at a time and I usually use one until completion before I move on to the next.  A bottle can last me a very LONG TIME because I generally only use perfume mid-fall, winter, and early spring – and not every day. 

A few things to know about my philosophy on perfume.  To me, perfume, is like a footnote, an anecdotal marker highlighting an aspect of your personality. It is not an every day ocurrence, but when I do wear a scent, I am going to exclusively wear that scent to the last drop.  However, wearing the same scent for the rest of my life? Pass.   Perfume, to me, should be as individual and nuanced as you are – for that period of time.  I am multifaceted, and therefore, would like to highlight different aspects of myself, but not ALL at the same time.  Constantly changing perfumes during a set period of time gives me a headache, and is very confusing.  It’s like I can’t decide who I am.  Plus, the olfactory confusion of using multiple signature scents at a time is dizzying and nausea inducing.   An even bigger reason why I have never been a strong user of perfumes is the fact that MANY perfumes make me feel nauseous.  First, I have strong aversion to the scent or taste of alcohol.  This smell dissipates quickly in the better perfumes, and in the bad ones, remains with the “perfume” notes acting like a cheap, tinny sugary syrup trying to cover cheap alcohol.  So, my preferred families of scents are limited.

When it comes to scents, I always go: woodsy, soft floral, or elemental.  Orientals, power florals, citrus, vanilla, and power fruity/sugary dominant notes make me gag.  Strong scents of ANY kind make me gag.  However, I have a tendency to like lingering, muted masculine scents.  Now that I have gone through this incredibly long introduction for my first perfume post, I can get to Balenciaga Paris L’Essence.

1. Balenciaga Paris L’Essence, 1.0 oz for $75.00

For me, Balenciaga Paris L’Essence is a sheer, warm scent with a hint of muted powdery and leathery spicyness to it.  It actually reminds me of a masculine scent that has been toned down dramatically making it very wearable on a woman…which is the point, I guess? There is a hint of violet in here, and I am a sucker for violet notes, even if it’s not very “sophisticated” of me.   I can honestly say the Balenciaga Paris perfume was my first choice with stronger violet notes.  But then I decided to live a little and try something a little off within the same family.  Balenciaga Paris L’Essence is pretty much that.  What makes this perfume even more awesome is how intimate it is on skin.  Someone would literally have to be on top of you (teehee) to actually smell it on you.  It is a tad ephemeral and does fade rather quickly.  You will go through a bottle rather quickly to maintain the scent, and if you use it every day. 

Like all perfumes, Balenciaga Paris L’Essence changes/shifts with your body chemistry AND any underlying chemical product on your skin.  When I first sniffed this at Sephora I was immediately repelled because I sprayed the back of my hand which had just been cleaned with an alcohol based makeup remover.  The back of my hand smelled RANCID!  Fortunately, I realized that I needed to spray it on CLEAN skin so I spritz on my other hand – PHEW! So much better.

I am not even going to pretend I have the nose to identify nuanced, subtler notes.  Here is the description from Sephora:

“A feminine and modern fragrance, it gets close to the skin as leather and vibrant woody notes express an assertive sophistication. The fresh yet coarse scent of violet leaves exudes an exquisitely stimulating sense of purity and youth. And its note of vetiver, at once wild, unruly and incisive, takes the upper hand.”

These are the individual notes identified by Balenciaga on their website:

“A chypre violet burnt by spices which becomes more sensual with delicate notes of cedar, vetiver, and labdanum.”

I had to do a bit of research to get a better understanding of these specific notes.

Before we get to what a chypre is let’s talk about accordsAccords in the perfume world means a few blended scents that lose their individual scent identities and become one distinct note.  A chypre is basically an accord composed of a animalistic/mossy note, floral and citrus note.  In this particular case, Balenciaga identifies a violet based chypre.  Now, labdanum is a scent that is identified as a warm woodsy or leathery scent, that can also resemble amber and animalic notes.  Vetiver provides a warm and dry scent of leather and wood.  Cedar is self-explanatory.  It is a wood note.  No question this perfume has a warm, almost musky (which I interpreted as slightly powdery without sweetness) woodsy scent with a hint of floral.  I really enjoy this scent and it may actually be a repeat purchase down the road, but not for a long time!  There are so many other scents out there to express myself with.  But right now it is Balenciaga Paris L’Essence.

Here is the interesting thing about perfumes.  Most perfumes rely on creating synthetic formulas that provide the SCENTS of these natural substances.  So, I don’t know if any of the notes in Balenciaga Paris L’Essence are provided by synthetic formulas, natural extracts, or a combination of both.

Here is a list of blogs that specialize in perfumes that reviewed this scent:




If you are afraid of being loud and smelly, like muted warm-musky leathery, woodsy, scents with a hint of floral in it, then this is for you.

Make Up Forever Blush Powder in Matte Cinnamon (161)

1. Make Up Forever Blush Powder in Matte Cinnamon (161), 0.08 oz for $20.00

Make Up Forever was never really high on my radar as a go to brand until I stumbled upon their eyeshadow/blushes.  While I had sampled and swatched various products in Sephora quite often, I never really found anything that was a must buy  – that is until I tried their eyeshadow/blushes.  Now, like POKEMON cards – I MUST COLLECT THEM ALL!

So, how did I end up trying one of their blushes/eyeshadow?  I had decided that I really wanted to find neutral, or work appropriate eyeshadows that worked with my skintone.   There are so many “neutral” eyeshadows that really only work on certain skintones.  To be frank, many of the advertised “neutral” shades work best with cool, or pale yellow/beige skintones with light eyes and natural light, cool-toned hair.  Having repeatedly purchased “neutral” eyeshadows that didn’t do anything for me I was going to go through the painstaking process of going through the color rainbow to find everyday eyeshadows that work with my currently tan enhanced, light-medium yellow-olive skintone, medium brown eyes and black- reddish brown hair that didn’t look like blah dirt on me.

I started thinking of the color-wheel and all the types of colors and undertones.  I thought I should start out with the reddish-browns to act as a counter to my yellow-green skintone.  Why-not!? Also, I know what you are thinking! What the hell! Isn’t that the color of (pueblo) dirt?!  Yup. 

So, let’s discuss. 

Shade 161, which is described as Matte Cinnamon on Sephora’s website, is a truly matte, blendable, deeply pigmented shade, and it is reddish-brown.  For those who own Burberry’s “Light Glow” Natural Blush in Russet, Matte Cinnamon (161) is a richer, deeper reddish-brown tone compared to RussetRusset is the heavily bleached by the sun version of Matte Cinnamon (161), with sparse, tiny sparkle throughout.  You can compare on Beauty Look Book and Temptalia.   (For the record, I tried Burberry Blushes in Russet and Earthy and I can safely say I will not be buying any Burberry Blushes.  I do not like glitter anymore in my blushes and I didn’t care for the shades)  

Back to Matte Cinnamon (161). 

There  is absolutely no sparkle, glitter, iridescence, sheen to this formula – AND I LOVE IT!  I don’t know why it never occurred to me that maybe matte eyeshadows were the best finish for someone like me who has super oily skin.  I was very happy with the way the shade enhanced my rather smallish eyes, providing an enhanced, natural contrast – that did NOT look like dirt.  However, because it is very deeply pigmented, the heavier the coverage, the more “fashiony” the color appears on my eyes.  This is definitely in the red-rust shade range, but I have deep set eyes so it’s not really an issue.  I like to sheer it out immensely and add a touch more brown to tone down the color.   Also, brown eyeliner and light mascara is a must for a more natural, accentuated look.  However, using this shade as an eyeshadow means I have to be VERY careful with the blush tones I use.  Basically, NO REDDISH BROWN blush tones, whatsoever.  Otherwise, I look like a pueblo ghoul or feverish sick ghoul. * 

Speaking of not wearing reddish-brown blush with a reddish-brown eyeshadow because it will make me look feverish, this shade actually works EVEN BETTER as a BLUSH shade.  Granted, it is sold as a blush, but Make Up Forever blushes and eyeshadows can be used either way.

As a blush, Matte Cinnamon (161) looks like a lovely russet on my cheeks.  Totally believeable and natural when sheered out, or as a lovely rich sunburn with a heavier hand.  (What?) –  HEY! Sunburns can be hot given the right occasion and placement!  This rivals my Becca Mineral Blush in Sweet Pea, which has a creamier blendability.  You can check out that swatch here.

So, basically, I love Make Up Forever eyeshadows and blushes now.  It comes in a tiny, slim square with a magnetic lid, which I actually don’t mind.  It is not a lot of product for $20.00 but I am ok with it because it is SOOOO deeply pigmented and I like the fact that it doesn’t take that much space.  If you start trying Make Up Forever eyeshadows and blushes…you may not be able to stop.  You may need to buy a palette.  I am considering it.  Sadly, if I don’t SEE a product, I forget about it and it lays dormant in acrylic cases and drawers. 

*I actually DO LOOK better with mild FEVER eyes.  Since my eyes are so small and I don’t have much space for eyeshadow, whenever I get mild fevers, my eyes become more noticeable because of the color contrast around my eyes and the shadow it creates that subtley enhances them.  I just have to be careful with other shades on my face.

Ingredient: Talc, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, BHA.  May Contain: Kaolin, Nylon-6, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Polyglyceryl-3 Disostearate, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Polybutene, Butyl Stearate, Red 27 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Red 7 Lake, Ultramarines, Iron Oxides, Carmine, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 30, Manganese Violet, Red 21 Lake, Yellow 10 Lake, Chromium Oxide Greens.