Monday, October 31, 2011

Dolce & Gabbana Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss

When I ordered my Dolce & Gabbana Passion Duo Gloss Fusion Lipsticks, I decided to try a couple of lip glosses at the same time. I may have needed to spend a little more to get free shipping, and any gloss called "ultra-shine" would have drawn my attention. When I clicked on the link for the Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss ($29), I was faced with a spectacular array of shades - 24 in all. I settled in to read, and I was enchanted.

Sensual and tempting, Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss imparts a dewy glass look for the lips. The professional brush ensures perfect application. When paired with lipstick or liner, intensity abounds.

Dewy glass look? Sold! I decided to order Magic (#145) and Dahlia (#150), based on the little rectangular online swatches. I could have ordered any of the shades. They all looked beautiful. Charm, Baby, Innocence, and Tender were also calling my name. I expanded the swatch for Magic, and the photo at right is what I saw.

Here's where online shopping gets tricky. Although I really like both of the shades that arrived, neither is what I had expected. Maybe Dolce & Gabbana should add shade descriptions to the information online. In my photo at left, Magic is shown on the left, and Dahlia is shown on the right.

In my photo immediately below, Magic is shown at the top, with Dahlia below. Online, Magic appeared to me to be rose, and Dahlia appeared to be a brown-grape-rose hybrid.

The colors in the tube were close approximations to my descriptions above, and they look that way on my lips too. Imagine my surprise when I applied them to my arm for swatch photos. The colors on my blank-canvas arm are very different. Rosy lips make quite a difference! There's no way Magic is the color represented in the swatch photo above.

I'm not sure how Magic can appear to be a warm rose on my lips, but look so coral on my arm. Dahlia is also a color surprise. It appears to be very grape on my arm, but loses some of the purple and is a grape-toned rose on my lips. Does any of that make sense?

I like them both very much. I am not criticizing them, just pointing out the shade anomalies. I'm very happy that they are extremely pigmented, meaning I don't have to wear lipstick underneath. I can swipe and go.

Another surprise was the finish. I don't find them ultra-shiny. I'd call them subtly shiny. They shine, but not like a beacon. I took my swatch photos in full sun, and they had a chance to reflect the sun's rays. I hope you can see that they did, but not in the way YSL's Golden Gloss does.

The texture feels just a little heavy, but that's what gives them some staying power. That's always a trade-off. They don't feel sticky - just "there."

Will I purchase more of them? I'm not sure. I like them - I really do - but I would prefer to see them in person before I select additional shades. There's also my Passion Duo Gloss Fusion love affair. I want so many more of those, I'm not sure where to start. Maybe I'll purchase additional gloss shades once my passion for the duos subsides from a full boil to a simmer.

You can purchase Dolce & Gabbana color, brushes, and fragrance at Saks Fifth Avenue (online and select stores) or at Dolce & Gabbana's Web site. For a store locator, click here.

Photos at top courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

YSL Beauté Golden Gloss Collection Éclat d'Or Blanc Collection for Holiday 2011 - Sparkling Fuchsia

The YSL Beauté Holiday 2011 Collection has arrived at department stores, and there are some spectacular pieces. Since I'm a Golden Gloss gal, I was thrilled with the latest collection of three shimmering Golden Gloss ($30) shades. The collection, called Éclat d'Or Blanc (White Shimmering Gold) Collection for Holiday 2011, offers three shade choices.

In my first installment, I showed you my first two purchases: Sparkling Silver and Sparkling Wine. I purchased them without testing - and I love them. Once the testers came in, I decided I had to have Sparking Fuchsia too.

I've been wearing YSL's Golden Gloss for years. "Worth its weight in gold," this gorgeous gloss dresses my lips in a sophisticated, high-shine shimmer that’s spectacular. Sparkling 24K gold flecks (0.2%) create a mirror-like effect for guaranteed glamour, while a complex of nourishing oils protects and moisturizes for optimal comfort and hydration. It feels fabulous. Golden gloss is scented with a subtle hint of mango that doesn't bother me at all. I think it tastes good. That's saying a lot since I normally dislike lip colors with an overt fragrance or taste.

Can you see the iridescence of Sparkling Fuchsia? My photos were taken in full sun, and the sun made the many colors shine. While the overall color or effect is a purple pink, the sparkling magnificence makes it a versatile topper for many lip colors. You may think it looks scary on my arm, but wait until you try it on your lips. It's gorgeous.

Wear Sparkling Fuchsia, and your lips will shine - really shine - with multi-toned sparkles. I'm not sure how YSL makes such a smooth, even, hydrating gloss with such magnificent sparkle. I should do some research into how their amazing Golden Gloss shades are actually produced. How does one make gold flecks that are so powerful to the eye, but have no feel on the lips? Everything about Golden Gloss is brilliant!

When I first wrote about the holiday glosses, they had just arrived at Neiman Marcus, where I purchased mine. By now, they should be available at all YSL counters. Surprisingly, I still don't see them on YSL's U.S. Web site.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Happy Halloween!

Can you believe this is a carved pumpkin? Yesterday's Washington Post Magazine featured Noel Dickover, who elaborately carves more than 40 pumpkins each year for his Centreville, Virginia front yard. That's dedication!

In my search for a photograph of Dickover's work, I also found this elaborate, award-winning pumpkin, carved by Karyn T. in Forth Worth, Texas. Who knew Halloween could inspire such creativity and passion?

I hope you enjoy Halloween! Remember, don't let anyone give black cats and bats a bad rap!

The last time I went to a costume party for Halloween was in...Charleston...where else? I dressed as a fashion victim.

Photos in order courtesy of Washington Post,,, and last photo copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lip Color

The much-anticipated Rouge Allure Velvet ($32) has finally arrived at department stores and on Chanel's Australian Web site. I couldn't find it on Chanel's U.S. site today. You may remember that I gave you a sneak peek in August. Even then, the excitement was building.

Rouge Allure Velvet creates another way to wear lipstick. An alternative to shine.

"Bringing a new level of luxury and sophistication to the world of lip color," Chanel has unveiled a "next-generation matte lipstick." Smooth and very comfortable on the lips, this modern matte is not at all drying. Rouge Allure Velvet provides long-lasting, luminous matte color. Eight alluring and intense shades are available in Chanel's iconic black lacquer click-open case.

Ultra-thin mother of pearl pigments deliver rich color with a soft matte finish. Jojoba oil and shea butter combine to provide creamy, moist comfort. Rouge Allure Velvet will hit the spot for anyone who's looking for a matte lip color with life.

Janine and Kathy at Neiman Marcus graciously gave me a sampler card with four shades to allow me to test the new Rouge Allure formula. Here are the shades on the card. Few cards arrived, and I hear the supply was exhausted quickly. I feel extremely privileged to have one of them.
  • LA RAVISSANTE (#32), categorized by Chanel in the beige family
  • LA RAFFINÉE (#34), categorized as pink
  • L'EXUBÉRANTE (#37), also categorized as pink
  • LA FASCINANTE (#38), categorized as red
I'm wearing LA RAFFINÉE, applied lightly, today. It feels great and looks very natural.

I swatched the shades in the same order listed above, with LA RAVISSANTE at the top of my arm. I applied them with the little disposable brush that comes on the sampler card and took my photos in full, afternoon sun.

LA RAVISSANTE looks orange to me, not beige. It's bold! LA RAFFINÉE, the shade I'm wearing, looks like my own lip color. I did apply it lightly and could get more punch from it, but I'm happy using it as a stain-type color. L'EXUBÉRANTE is a brighter pink - a beautiful shade for those who love bold rose lips. The red LA FASCINANTE is a very pretty neutral red that will suit many skin tones.

Can you see the "life" in my photos? These matte lip colors don't shine, even in full sun, but they have a gleam to attract attention. The colors are definitely intense - no shrinking violets here. These are full-on glam lip colors.

If you need help selecting a shade because you don't have a Chanel counter near you, I have a couple of suggestions. Call Janine Greenberg (my favorite Chanel rep at Neiman Marcus) or Kathy Shoreman at Neiman Marcus at (703) 761-1600, ext. 3268. Or you can call Loyd Casser at Saks Fifth Avenue at (240) 497-5363. They all contributed to this feature - Janine and Kathy with the lovely samples and Loyd with the promotional information from Chanel.

What do you think? Will you be looking for Rouge Velvet Allure to brighten your winter?

Update 11/1: Chanel's U.S. Web site now has Rouge Allure Velvet online.

Photo at top courtesy of Chanel; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Ultraflesh Perfect Pinks 6-Piece Set Giveaway Contest

Congratulations to Mimi!
I liked my own Ultraflesh Perfect Pinks 6-Piece Sampler Set from Sephora so much, I decided to buy one for a giveaway contest. Everyone should have a chance to enjoy Ultraflesh, one of my favorite new brands.

The six-piece set of mini-sized lipsticks - three sheer and three matte - will suit your every desire for pink. They are delightful little lipsticks, perfect for popping into your handbag.

The six colors span the pink spectrum. Click here see these shades swatched. Click here to see them at Sephora.
  • Ethereal (matte golden pink)
  • Tender (matte baby pink)
  • Fragile (matte hot pink)
  • Ethereal (sheer golden pink)
  • Tender (sheer baby pink)
  • Fragile (sheer hot pink)
How can you enter to win this contest (legally a sweepstakes - see below)? All you really have to do is leave a comment on this feature. After you comment here, feel free to send me an e-mail at and identify your comment. You can never be too careful about sharing an e-mail address you care about on a blog, so feel free to follow this step (an alternative is to code your e-mail, e.g., myname at gmail dot com, in your comment).

You can earn extra entries. Follow this blog (through an e-mail subscription, GFC, or though one of the many Google readers - see sidebar at right) to earn a second entry. If you are a follower, it would help me tally entries if you tell me in your comment how you follow. You don't have to follow to enter. I want everyone to have a chance, but I also want to reward my followers. I must be able to track this entry.

You can earn a third entry by tweeting this contest. You must include "@BTiBeauty" (without the quotes) and the contest title in your tweet. I will tweet the contest this evening, and you can simply retweet it to earn that second entry.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, November 5, at midnight. The next day, I will use a random number generator ( to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner on Sunday. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my message and provide a shipping address. After 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your e-mail - and look in your spam folder - when the contest ends.

This contest is open to anyone anywhere. Here are the terms. I will carefully pack and ship the prize (as I always do). I cannot insure the prize for overseas shipment - it's amazingly expensive to do so because of the way I have to send insured mail. If it's lost or stolen in transit, I may not be able to replace it with another prize just like it. I'll do my best on this end; let's see if your mail service does right by you on the other end if we have an overseas winner. Lately, my shipping luck has improved significantly.

Good luck!

Legal notice: Apparently, there are "legalities" related to sweepstakes, contests in which the winner is drawn at random. The law requires many official rules, and the legalese on blog giveaways must include them. For those who love too much information, here are more rules for this "contest" - those that aren't stated above. In the future, I will probably publish a page just for sweepstakes rules. Until I find time to do that...
  • No purchase is necessary - you can't buy things here anyhow!
  • Entrants must be 18 years of age or older.
  • The number of eligible entries received will determine the odds of winning.
  • Should one occur, a dispute or mistake will be handled to ensure the winner is reasonably happy.
  • I will publish the name the winner used in the comment required to enter. Full names not disclosed in the comment will not be publicized.
  • The winner releases Best Things in Beauty for all liability by providing a mailing address. That means you can't blame me if you don't like it or you break your leg getting it out of your mailbox.
  • You can always find Charlestongirl by e-mail at
  • This contest is regulated in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
  • Can you even believe my need to publish all these rules?
Photo courtesy of Sephora

NARS Miss Liberty Highlighting Blush for Holiday 2011

Ever receive something new - something you purchased sight unseen online - and done a double-take? That's what I did when I opened the box from NARS that contained Miss Liberty Highlighting Blush ($27). Every photo I had seen online, including the NARS photo above and beauty blog photos, had made Miss Liberty appear peach. I guess it is, kinda, sorta, maybe. My first impression, "Hello, Miss Liberty, you sure look golden to me," hasn't changed.

When I am taking photos for any purpose, not just the blog, I snap many more than I need - usually trying different angles - to ensure I adequately capture the color of my subject. Cameras can lie, and sometimes it's hard to get true color. My own camera attributed more peach to Miss Liberty than the golden nude shade my eye sees. That said, my photo at right is much more true to color than the NARS photo above. Miss Liberty is not covered in peach fuzz.

NARS' illuminating highlighting powders do give the skin light-reflecting, luminous, sparkling, light color. You can wear them alone or pair them with other cheek products to create "beautiful dimension" on the face, with a light, transparent radiance.

If Miss Liberty had not been billed as an illuminating blush, I'd be disappointed. She's not dark enough to be considered a regular blush - one that you'd wear to add color to your cheeks. With the word "illuminating," she works.

Let my swatch photos guide you in forming an opinion. These photos are spot-on in portraying the color of Miss Liberty on my skin. I applied her heavily with a sponge-tipped applicator. A light application would not have yielded decent photos.

My skin is so light, it's a pretty good blank canvas. Nevertheless, I took many photos, with different backgrounds and at different angles to the full mid-day sun to get a few to show you.

What do you see? I see a light, fleshy, golden highlighter with a suggestion of peach color. The color in these photos is true. The highlighter is warm and peach-leaning, with golden sparkles - definitely not a cool tone. I could add more photos to the feature, but I think these three adequately portray Miss Liberty's color.

If there is anything missing from my photos, it's the sparkle, definitely clear to the eye. It's a micro-sparkle, one you can buff down, making it work. I might not wear Miss Liberty to work, but I'd take her out to dinner with me.

If you need a product like Miss Liberty - more sparkling powder highlighter than blush - she's your gal. If you already own plenty of items to help you dazzle for holiday festivities, you might want to invest instead in the stellar new Multiple with the tacky name.

Miss Liberty is available at the NARS Web site and NARS counters that have received the holiday collection (apparently, not all have). I purchased mine online at Sephora.

Photo at top courtesy of NARS; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekend Stroll around the Internet

This is what it's doing just west of here. Seriously, it's snowing in October in Virginia! Worse than that, our driving rain may end later today as wet snow. I am not ready for this. I want to hole up with Charlie and stay warm and dry. What better time than to catch up with some of my favorite beauty bloggers?

The Non-Blonde gave us a peek at the NARS Hanamichi Kabuki Palette for holiday. It's gorgeous! I want it simply for its looks. We'll have to beg Gaia to show us swatches - soon.

Beauty Look Book reviewed the Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Finish Creamy Foundation. I wondered about it when I placed my D&G order, but I can't buy a new foundation online. I wish Saks would bring a counter to the DC area. Anyhow, Sabrina made me want it.

Do you like rose fragrances as much as I do? You must read all about Floris Snow Rose at Daly Beauty.

DiviDebbi is a star! We've known that for a long time, of course, but now our beauty bud has been featured on the cover of the Greenwich Time. Debbi is an inspiration!

You want to see something amazing? Go look at the way Fab over Forty transformed a 50+ woman with some makeup.

I see there's another Watt's Up fan out there. There's a great feature at Product Girl, another reason why you should buy Benefit's latest illuminator.

My Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies girlfriend took on the taboo subject of sex - in an acceptable way, of course - in the context of fragrance.

Blondy Candy and I share a passion of Guerlain's KissKiss Maxi Shine Lipsticks. You have to go see the pretty Baby Shine, even if it is discontinued. Guerlain, please bring back all our favorite KissKiss formulas!

This year, one of the fragrances that captured my attention was Ormonde Jayne's Woman. Lovethescents asked me (for months, I think!) why I hadn't tried it. She was right. I love it. Find out all about it at Eyeliner on a Cat, since I haven't had time to write a feature that does it justice (but I will).

London MakeUp Girl featured Chantecaille this week. Just go there. You'll see why. For another Chantecaille feature from this week, check out Product Doctor. Have I told you in the last few days how much I love Chantecaille?

Messy Wands is brave. She showed us how Dior's divine Rouge Dior Or Étoilé looks when worn alone. Then she used it to add some pop to an already-pretty red. Nice!

I was buried in work this week and missed all the commotion over at Olfactoria's Travels - until this morning. Settle in with your favorite drink and read all the comments.

I really wanted to see swatches of the new M·A·C Glitter & Ice Mineralize Shadows. The very two shades that lured me were featured at Beauty Black Book! I think they may be too glittery for me. What do you think?

I've been curious about KORRES' Quercetin & Oak "Antiageing & Antiwrinkle Eye Cream. Fruity Lashes satisfied my curiosity!

One more, then I really must go run some errands in the miserable, cold rain. The cuddle with Charlie must wait.

I still haven't purchased the latest Paul & Joe makeup colors, and Rouge Deluxe is already featuring spring! Now I'll skip fall and spring forward. The collection looks stunning and features those P&J darling kitties.

I hope you have a wonderful, snow-free weekend!

Photo courtesy of

Friday, October 28, 2011

NARS Danmari All About Cheeks Palette for Holiday 2011

NARS' Danmari All About Cheeks Palette ($65) is a great value. Based on the exquisite tradition of Kabuki theatre, a classical Japanese dance drama, this palette features six high-pigment cheek powders that let you play up your features like a true performance artist - or a gal who loves variety and just wants to look good.

The ultimate authority in blush, this limited-edition, mirrored holiday NARS compact features essential blush and bronzer shades, ranging from warm bronze and luminous highlighting hues to shockingly bright pink. This fashion-forward mix was created exclusively for Sephora.

The six shades were selected well. I've listed them in clockwise order, starting at top left.
  • Hungry Heart (golden ivory)
  • Orgasm (peachy pink with golden shimmer)
  • Desire (cotton candy pink)
  • Sin (berry with gold shimmer)
  • Super Orgasm (peachy pink with gold glitter)
  • Casino (dark brown with golden shimmer)
The presentation of the palette is extremely nice. You'll appreciate it if you buy one to give as a gift. The black and red box is classy, and the compact itself, nestled carefully in a spongy insert that looks like velvet, is substantial. The palette has heft in the hand. The NARS logo is prominently displayed on the cover of the large mirrored palette.

I swatched the shades for you with a sponge-tipped applicator, meaning these blush shades are presented much more heavily than you'll wear them on your face. Maybe I overdid the color, but I wanted you to be able to see each shade in my photos, which were taken in full sun. Most of these shades offer some shimmer. The exception is the racy pink Desire. Super Orgasm, as most NARS fans know, is more shimmery than Orgasm.

Hungry Heart is hard to see at the top of my arm because it's a very light, yellow-based ivory. It's a great highlighter. The two Orgasm shades, regular and super, are well-known beauties - peachy pinks that look good on everyone. I prefer the original Orgasm to the newer, more glittery Super Orgasm. I have always loved the shade of Sin. It's a grape-brown hybrid that looks beautifully natural. It's one of my favorites from NARS. The Casino bronzer adds the perfect touch to the palette, offering us a way to contour before we blush.

You can mix and match these shades, which could be a lot of fun. NARS has made creativity convenient by including so many shades in one palette.

I purchased my Danmari All About Cheeks Palette at Sephora during the Friends & Family sale, which is still underway. At the normal price of $65, the palette is a great value. With a 20% discount, it was a steal. Sephora appears to be the only source. There are other gift sets available at the NARS Web site, but for now, Danmari really is exclusive to Sephora.

Photo at top courtesy of NARS; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

The Friday Forum - October 28

The early leaves are turning shades of red, yellow, and orange. Some are falling. We still have plenty of green left here in Northern Virginia, but as the days pass, I expect that will change in a hurry. While I love fall fashion and beauty, I don't love the season itself. There are too many reminders that the snows of winter come next.

This was the week when my Sephora Friends & Family box arrived. I'm hoping for sunshine, after two days of rain, so that I can get photos of things you might want to order. The sale ends on November 2. I also need some nice mid-day sun to get photos of my other new Dolce & Gabbana beauties. I can't wait to show them to you!

This week, I started physical therapy for the pinched nerve in my neck - the one that is making my upper back hurt and my right arm tingle. If you've ever been to PT for anything before, you know that it's not exactly play time with a supervisor. I'm seeing John, the fabulous therapist who helped me heal after my knee surgery early this year. He's gentle while I'm there, but the pain sets in later in the day. We are working to reawaken and strengthen muscles that have apparently been dormant for many months. Those muscles are currently in rebellion, signaling to me that they are not pleased to end the nap. I'm adding insult to injury as I do my home exercises twice/day. I'm hoping PT works because some of the other alternatives are not enticing.

I have some new-to-me fragrances I must feature this weekend. I love them! This was quite a week for fragrance news. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are introducing Soul2Soul, Tory Burch has inked a deal with Estée Lauder Companies to create her own fragrance, America's Next Top Model fragrance will launch at Target in January, and Louis Vuitton is following Bottega Veneta's lead, announcing it is creating a new fragrance. WWD provided the news that a third-generation perfumer who hails from the floral mecca of Grasse in the south of France, Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud, will start work at the leather goods powerhouse in January. Clearly, fragrances remain hot in a lukewarm market for consumer products.

There's a new Tory Burch store at Tysons Galleria. I stopped in last weekend. It's a lovely store, but it left me cold. In the five minutes I browsed, no one greeted or acknowledged me. In fact, there appeared to be only one sales person working, and she was busy helping a customer with shoes. There was another employee in the store, actively discussing with a man where speakers should be placed. I was actually looking for some boots I had seen in a magazine ad, but no one seemed interested in finding out why I was there. So I wandered out the same way I entered. While I hate being attacked in stores (how many times must I say, "I'm fine, thank you, and you?), I do appreciate some acknowledgement of my presence. Perhaps the woman worried about speaker placement could have said, "If you need help, please let us know." Anything would have been more welcoming than what I experienced. What first impressions in retail stores stand out for you?

It's time for The Friday Forum, our open chat. What new products did you discover this week? Did you find any deals you couldn't resist? Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Do you have a question others might be able to answer? Want to talk about skin care? What's new in your life? Just use the comments. Don't be shy. Just make sure to ask any question you might have over the weekend. By early the next week, most (not all) readers have moved on.

Last week's giveaway, Chantecaille Love, went to Kindy in India! Who will win this week's? You still have a chance. Just click on this giveaway link to enter to win Sephora's Glitz & Glam sampler set. Just make sure to enter before midnight tomorrow, October 29.

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trish McEvoy Mulberry SPF 15 Lip Color

There it was on the latest Trish McEvoy display at Neiman Marcus, tempting me with its sheer color. I wanted Mulberry SPF 15 Lip Color ($23) the moment I saw it. Easier said than done, I found. Mulberry had sold out instantly. It's even back ordered on Trish McEvoy's Web site.

Then I learned that I could acquire Mulberry in the Trish's Timeless Beauty Ready-to-Wear Makeup Planner Collection, a Neiman Marcus exclusive. The collection is really nice, so I bought Timeless Beauty. That's how I came to own the hard-to-get Mulberry.

From Trish McEvoy's Chic and Sheer Collection, Mulberry is the perfect fall color to protect, condition and color to your lips. As you can see in my swatches below, it's a very sheer shade, so don't let the dark color in the tube mislead you.

I took my swatch photos in full sun, and you can see the sun's reflection on my arm swatch of Mulberry. I could live in this shade. It adds a moist pink-grape tint to my lips. It's definitely there, but they look like my own lips enhanced with a colorful gleam. Mulberry is extremely flattering. I think everyone could wear it.

Mulberry reminds me of Clinique's Black Honey, but it's much more pink in color than Black Honey. I thought of Black Honey because Mulberry offers the same sheer, enormously flattering type of natural color that I love. Yikes - that's two "flattering" words in one feature. Now I want a second one. Where am I going to get it?

Definitely check out your favorite Trish McEvoy counter for Mulberry. Or consider the Neiman Marcus exclusive planner. It's gorgeous. I'll show you the rest of the planner when the sun returns.

Photo at top courtesy of Trish McEvoy; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Dior Holiday Eye Palette - Celebration Collection for Holiday 2011

Dior has introduced a lovely Holiday Eye Palette, the Celebration Collection for Holiday 2011 ($46). The palette's exterior case was inspired by the classic gray tweeds and iconic bow and charm detailing in Dior's couture collections from the past and present.

This palette features a smoky brown and beige harmony of eye shadows, cream eyeliner, and highlighter in a lovely, tailored, mirrored compact. The presentation is original and eye-catching.

The shades in the palette range from sublime to so-so. Isn't that often the case with palettes? There will be a shade that doesn't excite us all. More about that below.
  • Base Eye Shadow (khaki tan shimmer)
  • Colour Eye Shadow (bronze shimmer)
  • Shine Eye Shadow (sparkling ivory)
  • Eyeliner (chocolate brown)
  • Mini double-ended brush - and the mirror in the lid
I ordered my Holiday Eye Palette during Sephora's Friends & Family (it's not too late, and the link I published on Twitter still works. With a 20% discount, this palette was a great buy. The taupe shadow shades and the brown cream eyeliner are extremely pretty (and "everyday useful"). The Shine Eye Shadow is the only shade that disappointed me.

Look at my swatch photos, and you're likely to see why. I swatched left to right in the palette, using a sponge-tipped applicator, and I took my photos in full sun. The shimmering taupe and brown shades are exquisite. The taupe at the top speaks to my heart. I wouldn't call it khaki, but someone saw green in it. Figure that out!

The brown eyeliner is a perfect color for coordinating with the other shades, and it applies smoothly and evenly. Love it!

The sparkling ivory Shine Eye Shadow is the one that left me wondering, "Where's the pigment?" My arm is pale, but I suspect you can still see the swatch of the aptly named Shine. That's about all it adds to my skin. The shade is mostly sparkle, without much color. Granted, it's supposed to be ivory, but I had to work hard to transfer enough color to my arm make Shine show up in my photos. I expect more from Dior.

Remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge them. If you do, you won't see much more ivory than is apparent in the embedded photos.

I've become a little alarmed as high-end companies introduce palettes with shimmering eye shadows that look lovely in the pan, but yield little more than tinted glitter. Shine is not a disappointment limited to Dior. There seems to be a trend.

When I have a chance to test a palette in the store before buying, I must decide whether total cost of the shades I do love makes the purchase price reasonable. In this case, even though I didn't test in advance of my purchase, the answer would have been yes. That's not always the case. I consider Dior's Holiday Eye Palette a great buy, particularly at a discount. The three stunning eye shades more than make up for the dud.

You can purchase this palette at Sephora. Oddly, I haven't seen it yet at Dior counters. Since it doesn't appear to be a Sephora exclusive, it should be available in the department stores.

Photo at top courtesy of Sephora; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dolce & Gabbana Passion Duo Gloss Fusion Lipstick

I really didn't want to fall in love with a new lipstick - much less one from a line that I can't buy in the DC area or one that's just a little pricey. I did fall in love, though, the moment my Saks Fifth Avenue order arrived with four of Dolce & Gabbana's new Passion Duo Gloss Fusion Lipsticks ($34).

The description online read like marketing hype on steroids. Thrilling? Explosions? Mercy!

A collision of rich cream color and satin gloss in a thrilling encounter of impeccable contrast, in a way that no one else has done before. Resplendent with contrasting texture, it offers a layer of rich, creamy lip color elevated by a playful burst of gloss. Luxuriant cream bullet and smooth gloss prove the ultimate partners in crime; a collision of two powerful forces in an explosion of vibrancy and excellence.

I was intrigued with the design because I like Estée Lauder's Pure Color Sensuous Rouge LipColors very much. When I had seen in WWD that Dolce & Gabbana would be launching a lipstick with a similar concept, I felt the lure. Take two elements I value - color combined with magnificent, hydrating shine - and combine them into one lip color. It's genius. There was no question. I had to try Passion Duo Gloss Fusion Lipstick.

I agonized over the colors I would order. Never having seen these lipsticks in person, and with little familiarity with Dolce & Gabbana's makeup, I found myself facing 20 shade options online. I love having options, but those little rectangles aren't the most helpful for determining the actual "live and in-person" shades. So, I relied on my instincts and selected two, then three, and finally cut myself off at four. I fully expected that one might be a "throw away," given my method of selection. I was OK with that. The throw-away makeup I've purchased always makes someone else very happy.

When they arrived, I unwrapped them eagerly and popped one shade out of the box at random and applied it. Wow! My heart started racing. I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was. I couldn't help myself, I just had to try it. That's why you might see a little nick in one shade below. Before I could take a photograph, I had already messed up one of my new lipsticks a tiny bit.

In the photo directly above, the shades are, left to right, Rose (04), Darling (10), Sensation (20), and Devotion (220). I think all four shades I ordered are drop-dead stunning, and now I'm close to buying more. I may be fickle, but I've got a new love.

I swatched in numeric order, with Rose at the top of my arm, followed by Darling, Sensation, and Devotion. My photos were taken in full sun. I applied each shade relatively heavily (3-4 swipes). I tried to get two angles against the sun.

Rose is just that - rose at its prettiest. Darling is peach, with a very slight hint of pink. Sensation is a warm pink - one of those instant-attraction shades. Devotion offers more intensity than the other three and is a rose-brown-plum hybrid. I think these colors will look great on everyone. I'd describe the finish as semi-sheer (or semi-opaque), with a gorgeous gleam. Passion Duo Gloss Fusion Lipsticks are not easy to categorize.

I love the slender, fashionable, gold cases. The Passion Duo Gloss Fusion Lipsticks feel hydrating on my lips and offer an impressive length of wear. They do have a very slight fragrance - almost too slight to mention - and no taste. I'll admit there are at least four more in my future. Once I fall in love, I fall hard.

You can purchase Dolce & Gabbana color, brushes, and fragrance at Saks Fifth Avenue (online and select stores) or at Dolce & Gabbana's Web site. For a store locator, click here.

Photo at top courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

New: Laura Mercier Face Illuminator

The moment I saw Laura Mercier's new, limited-edition Face Illuminator ($42), I knew it would be mine. The roses, the appearance of the compact, the color - everything about it attracted my eye.

Then I read its simple description: A beautiful face illuminator with a soft rose gold shimmer perfect for highlighting. Did someone say rose gold? I ordered mine from Sephora, where a Friends & Family sale is still underway. Not only did I find a beauty, I saved money!

Here's a photo of the illuminator taken in full sun. It does appear a little more rose in person than it appears in the photo at Sephora (shown above) - maybe more rosy than it looks to my eye indoors. I would love either color; it was a fabulous purchase.

Love at first sight turned into love at first application. For the swatch photos, I applied it heavily, first at the top of my arm with a sponge-tipped applicator and then with a dense blush brush. I took my photos in full, late-afternoon sun.

Look at the gorgeous rose-bronze shade! Could this face illuminator be any prettier?

This unique formula has high pearl levels and provides buildable long-wearing color with an exceptionally smooth application. The powder is so creamy, it feels like cream. Even a harsh swipe across a rose with a sponge-tipped applicator didn't destroy the pattern or turn my compact into a powdery fluff ball.

I know a few of you were looking for ideas for your Friends & Family spending. Buy this! It will suit every complexion, adding the perfect glow wherever you want to shine. It adds sheen, not a glitter fest. The sheen could not be more perfect. How's that for an endorsement?

I have not seen the Face Illuminator at Neiman Marcus. I did find it at Laura Mercier's Web site, and, as I mentioned above, at Sephora online.

Photo at top courtesy of Sephora; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coming Attraction: Noir G de Guerlain Mascara

WWD broke the news last week that Guerlain will launch a new and very snazzy mascara in January. Noir G de Guerlain takes its design cue from Rouge G de Guerlain lipsticks and its formula from a proprietary new technology.

Like Rouge G de Guerlain, the new mascara is packaged in a compact with a pop-up mirror. Noir G’s packaging was designed by Lorenz Bäumer in an elegant black. Bäumer explained they designed the mascara’s packaging, made of Zamac with black lacquer, to reflect the color of the product. It does add drama to the overall look.

It was reported that Noir G and Rouge G are both are refillable. Does that mean Rogue G refills will be available next year? I sure hope so. I love the lipstick, but don't need the weight of the compact. With the mascara, the liquid formula and brush are changeable together. Bäumer called the steps to change out the two “excessively simple.”

“There are two products for which you absolutely need a mirror: lipstick and mascara,” said Olivier Echaudemaison, Global Creative Director for Guerlain. “We have now solved both.”

The formula, noted Echaudemaison, is unique. A blend of waxes coat the lashes to extend and add volume, and they are set in position by film-forming polymers. The blend of waxes allows the formula to be supple during application and then firm up to set the lashes. A proprietary polymer is added in the water portion of the formula, and when the mascara dries and the water evaporates, the particles of this polymer create a protective and setting film.

Proprietary, new-generation "Ultra Black" pigments were designed to amplify the intensity and depth of the black. The formula will lengthen and curl lashes, but it also promises lash regeneration, using artemia salina, a cell revitalizer that stimulates the production of keratin.

The brush, noted Linda Maiocco, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Guerlain in the U.S., was inspired by hairstyling tools. It's round, easily maneuverable, and made of flexible fibers to catch and style the lashes, she told WWD.

The mascara is scented with notes of peach, rose, jasmine, and white musk. That's where it gets really interesting to me! A mascara with notes that sound divine? I can't wait to see and smell it.

The mascara will be available initially only in black. “Mascaras in colors like purple and blue are an accessory,” said Echaudemaison. He pointed out that black is universally wearable.

The mascara and compact together will retail for $49. Refills will be $26. In the U.S., Noir G de Guerlain will debut December 26 at Saks Fifth Avenue and roll out in early January to about 150 department and specialty stores, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, and Bergdorf Goodman.

Photo and information courtesy of WWD

Chanel Shade Parade

Chanel's new Shade Parade television advertisement makes its debut tonight. You'll be able to see it if you watch Dancing with the Stars, October 24, 25, or November 1 at 8:00 pm. It will also air on CW and Hulu digital players October 27 through November 10; Taxi TV in New York City, October 19 through November 20; and on Facebook October 27 through November 20.

The short firm directed by Peter Philips, Creative Director of Chanel Makeup, stars Les Vernis Nail Colour. I've never watched Dancing with the Stars, but I may be tuned in tonight.

Photo courtesy of Chanel

YSL Beauté Rouge Pur Couture Colour Pure Éclat Satiné SPF 15 for Holiday 2011

There are four new YSL Beauté Rouge Pur Couture Colour Pure Éclat Satiné SPF 15 lipsticks ($30) for Holiday 2011. Since I'm a thorough YSL lip color fan, I had to have one of them. My choice was extremely unconventional. I bought #39, Pourpre Divin.

The lipstick, called Pure Color Satiny Radiance Lipstick SPF 15 in English, came in two light shades and two dark ones. At that point, they had no testers, so I was flying blind. The light shades looked too light, and the dark ones appeared to be very dark. I assumed they might be somewhat sheer and took a chance on the bright purple Pourpre Divin.

In retrospect, I should have selected one of the light shades. Although I can wear purple-toned lip colors (and adore the new Sparkling Wine lip gloss), the bright purple lipstick is out of my comfort zone. It's beautiful - just not the best color for me. Because this formula is opaque, the rose in my lips doesn't influence the appearance. It's bright purple on my lips. It's also fairly dark - not the best intensity for my fair complexion during the daytime.

I took my swatch photos in full sun. As you can see, Pourpre Divin is really purple. It has some shine, magnified by direct light, but I think I would like more if it offered more shimmer. The name, with "satin" in it, should have tipped me off to the finish. Sometimes, I overlook those little details when I'm doing drive-by shopping (i.e., shopping in a hurry).

Fortunately the Rouge Pur Couture formula feels great on my lips, and I can modify the shade with lip gloss. I've tried several shades, such as rose, pink, and brown, and they all toned down the purple, making the resulting color a gorgeous plum. I'm wearing it now topped by Rouge d'Armani Pink #507, and the look is exquisite - enormously flattering. It's long-lasting too.

Here's my conclusion about Pourpre Divin. If you want a purple lipstick that you can wear without blending or adding a lip gloss, this shade is gorgeous. I'm not sure how many women can wear a full-on bold purple, though. If you are willing to experiment, using the various lip glosses in your collection (or try some new ones), you will find this shade easily adaptable to the right hue for your fall and holiday look. It's a stunner, particularly for evening.

You can find the new YSL lip colors for Holiday 2011 at YSL counters. I haven't seen the latest YSL colors on the YSL Beauté Web site yet, but since they are arriving at the stores, they should be widely available soon. I bought mine at Neiman Marcus.

What do you think? Is there purple in your future?

Photo at top courtesy of YSL Beauté; other photos by Best Things in Beauty