Flawless Finish: Ardency Inn Custom Coverage Concentrate

This really ought to be a pro product. Ardency Inn Custom Coverage Concentrate allows you to make tinted moisturizer, foundation, and even concealer to perfectly match your skin tone. It’s pure water-based pigment, and it works like a charm.

All you need is a drop to get the job done. The key is to match your skin tone perfectly.

This stuff LOVES my oily skin. And I’ve mixed a little moisturizer in it to use on drier skin types. Really good stuff. I am so going to need one of these in every color.

You can find out more about Ardency Inn Custom Coverage HERE.

Flawless Finish: Kevyn Aucoin Tinted Balm

I think that Kevyn Aucoin may have always corrected for oily skins… period. Every base that I’ve ever used from him does wonders on my oily skin, even the notoriously tacky (in feeling, not opinion) Sensual Skin Enhancer. The Sensual Skin Tinted Balm is no exception:

This formula imitates skin in the most wondrous way… and it doesn’t look ‘filmy’ on the skin like some tinted moisturizers can tend to do. The sheer coverage can be built to medium, much like NARS Radiant Tinted Moisturzer. In terms of comparison… I can’t really. The finishes are completely different. NARS acts and behaves like a really creamy foundation, while the KA Tinted Balm behaves more like a traditional tinted moisturizer. The KA version is best suited to Normal/Oily types while the NARS version works best on Combination/Dry skin types.

I test-drove it in a recent FOTD:

I will say that NARS edges out KA on the color selection… you’d be hard pressed to find the one (two?) shade that goes darker than this one (SB05). KA might want to think about giving these formulas some ‘names’ too, instead of numbers. Makes it much easier to track your individual color. Even Armani got the memo on that one and started naming the lipsticks. Much easier that way.

You can find out more about Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Tinted Balm HERE.

*pr sample

Flawless Finish: Givenchy Teint Couture Foundation

Foundation Type: Liquid

Coverage: Medium to Full

Skin Type: Combination/Dry

Color Range: Limited

Givenchy is plodding along with a new foundation, that might give YSL Teint Touche Eclat a run for its money. Givenchy still has some work to do though. The formulation is superb, but the color range leaves much to be desired. With only 8 shades, that go from very light to medium, it’s fair to say that Givenchy is not interested in covering all the bases.

First, the good news. This foundation features the same ‘gel’ like texture as the Marc Jacobs formula. It goes on smooth and blends seamlessly. It layers well without noticeable buildup, and sets to a skin-like luminous finish. It’s also very comfortable on the skin. I intentionally wore it without setting powder, and it lasted about 4 hours without blotting. That’s not bad, especially on this oily skin. I think this will do very well for drier skin types, and combination types as well.

The bad news is, I’m the darkest color (Elegant Amber). This lack of inclusion seems to be par for the course for Givenchy. I found a similar problem with the MAT foundation. I’m wondering when the company will get the memo, that beauty comes in every shade. It’s this narrow focus that makes companies like YSL, Dior, Lancome, Bobbi Brown, NARS… I could keep going… stand out so significantly. Even Chanel woke up with Perfection Lumiere and gave the proverbial ‘We Are The World’ philosophy a go. What’s up with Givenchy’s 1950’s attitude toward beauty? No more living in the past… time to wake up, My Love.

This formula is on the thinner side, so a little goes a longer way. Since the bottle isn’t quite a full ounce, I’ll count this as a plus. The inclusion of sunscreen (SPF 20) does not seem to effect the finish, or the photography. I’ve gotten absolutely no flashback with this product. I photographed it with and without setting powder, and it still imitated luminous skin.

If you can swing it, it’s worth a go. This not-quite-one-ounce bottle retails for $49. Cheaper than Chanel, more expensive than NARS. Put it in that perspective and you’re likely better able to justify the price. 🙂

You can find out more about Givenchy Teint Couture Foundation HERE.

*By the way, those swatches on the Sephora site are rubbish. Elegant Amber looks way dark on the site. It’s not… so keep that in mind if you’re relying solely on online information.

Flawless Finish: T. LeClerc Pressed Powder (Banana Doree)

Talk about a throwback! I came across this little gem tucked in the forgotten archives of my local Beauty Supply store… and thought that it absolutely must go home with me. This was the last one, and it was looking pretty rough around the edges, so the SA was lovely enough to give me a significant discount on it… which made my purchase that much sweeter.

The finish on this powder is amazing. In addition to softening the overall effect of the skin, I detected the smallest amount of shimmer. The distinct yellow color is amazing on my warm toned skin, and the subtle gold hue makes it even better.

This is a pretty heavy swatch. Diffused properly… it just leaves an airbrushed look to the skin. It makes me smile to use the word ‘airbrushed’ to describe the performance of such an ancient brand. I think that’s a true testament to the quality of this product. No special ‘pigments’ or light diffusers that were discovered by the light of the Harvest Moon at midnight on some obscure island… just good old fashioned quality.

T. LeClerc has been around since … well … EVER. My grandmother used to use it… I remember smelling her powders and potions on in her powder room when I was a little girl. I bought this powder because it made me feel… whimsical. And, in many respects, makeup is very much about how we ‘feel’ at any given time. This makes me feel… pretty… in a fairy princess kind of way. LOL

T. LeClerc is on the pricey side. This little gem retails for $49. You can find out more about T. LeClerc HERE

Flawless Finish: Nars Radiant Cream Compact Foundation

Foundation Type: Cream
Skin Type: Normal/Combination
Coverage: Sheer to Medium
Finish: Skin-like NARS released a ‘cream compact’ foundation that initially had me looking at them like… no. What for? My oily skin has never met a cream foundation that it loved. Typically, I’ve found that they work on drier skin types. But I decided to take a closer look at them anyway.

One of the things that immediately made me happy was the color range. With the exception of maybe one (two?) colors, the range mimics that of the Sheer Glow Foundation range. There literally is a color for just about every skin tone, and undertone. Like Sheer Glow, I’m the color Tahoe.
The compact foundation comes separate from the holder (which you have to purchase for an additional $10). The idea is that you can change the foundation compacts out at your leisure. So technically, you’ll only pay for the holder once and just buy your replacement compacts as you need them.
The replacement compacts come with a sponge… which I will likely never use.
Now, it turns out this is a helluva formula. Oily skin is no challenge for this foundation, which goes on smooth, like a cream. It sets in about 15 seconds. It really holds up. Oily skin, humidity, sweat… this stuff holds up to all of it. I was really surprised. It’s such a ‘light’ formula… not like typical cream formulas at all. It’s weightless. This is a sheer to medium coverage. I found that one layer is pretty sheer… but you can build it to medium.
Really awesome foundation. Color me impressed. I didn’t expect to love this foundation, but I do. It’s simple to use (I prefer fingers, even to a foundation brush), sets beautifully, and wears weightlessly. I find the finish of this foundation very ‘natural.’ Even with medium coverage (it has to be layered to get that level of coverage), the finish looks like ‘skin’ — not overly  made up.It is imperative that you match your undertones with this foundation (if you’re familiar with NARS Sheer Glow, use that as a guide), to get the absolutely perfect finish. I was so impressed that Tahoe literally matches my skin, and gives me the ‘radiance’ of freshly cleaned and moisturized skin. It looks gorgeous on.

I just wish they’d done away with that horrid sponge. Just a petri dish of grossness waiting to happen. Never using that thing.

You can find out more about NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation HERE.

Flawless Finish: Les Beiges de Chanel

I think that Chanel may have finally gotten me past my distaste for powder  bases. An oily-skinned girl like me… of a certain age… is simply not interested in that ‘powdery’ look that some bases can give you, not to mention the inevitable settling of that powder into lines and wrinkles. By the end of the day, it’s just not cute. So I was very skeptical when I saw the new Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Powders.

Foundation Type: Powder
Skin Type: All
Coverage: Sheer 
Finish: Luminous

The ‘Healthy Glow’ powders come in 7 shades… to accomodate a wide range of skin tones. Now, what I found is that these shades run on the darker side. Because they’re meant to be a bit of a glowing bronzing powder, there just aren’t skin to skin matches for very fair skinned beauties. But, having said that, the formulation is so forgiving, that I dare say that anyone can wear just about any of these colors… used in the right places the face.  And the powders are so finely milled that it’s quite impossible to overdo it.

I ended up with the powders in #20 and #30. Here’s why: I don’t want a ‘bronzing’ powder. I want a finishing powder, or a foundation powder. I was convinced of this after watching Lisa Eldridge use the powder as a base, for an everyday effortless makeup. She used #20:

I was so impressed with this video that I’ve decided that this is how I’m going to use these powders from now on. They’re rather expensive to be used just as a ‘finishing’ powder, although I understand that they do amazing over just about any foundation as well.

You can see there are very subtle differences between #20 and #30. #20 has a distinct yellow tone, for fair skinned beauties with that particular undertone (#10 has a pink tone). #30 is more of a caramel color, also with a yellow tone (#40 goes a bit more red, and that redness seems to increase as the colors get darker).  Now, before you worry that the powders might go to ‘yellow’ or too ‘red’ on any given skin tone, you should note that these powders are so subtle that you can really mix and match them beautifully. I almost feel like the variations in tone are to just give you a visual idea of what might work best for you, because those tones don’t really show up on the face. They kind of just neutralize you in every way.

This is my first attempt at using the powders. I have #30 on the edges of my face, and #20 just through the center. Following Lisa’s example, I used a kabuki brush (Hakuhodo G527M) to buff the powder in. I did screw up and put a bit of an oily sheen on my powder (which I will now have to scrape off) because  I  used it on freshly moisturized skin. In the future, I’ll blot down the moisturizer so that I don’t seal or ruin the powder.

The coverage is sheer, but it diffuses light so well that unless you have major imperfections, you can really get away with a teeny bit of color corrector or concealer on the hot spots. The powder blends seamlessly and sets beautifully. I am thoroughly impressed.

On the rest of my face:
MAC Blush in Immortal Flower
Chanel Eyeshadow in Gri Gri
Elizabeth Arden Smoky Eye Pencil in Black
Volume de Chanel Mascara
Lipstick Queen Big Bang Lip Gloss in Time

*A note must be made about the way these powders smell. The smell is DIVINE. OMG. Like roses and heaven or something. It’s light, but so elegant. I love it. It’s amazing.*

You can find out more about the powders on the Chanel website. They will be available in Nordstrom within the next two weeks (that’s what I’ve been told anyway). They are available at select Macy’s right now.

Product Review: Ying Yu Jade Face Roller

I’m ever on the hunt for things that are … interesting … regarding beauty and skin care. I’m not up for the newest ‘discovery’ of some plant in the deepest caves of wherever containing an elixir that only activates at midnight under a full moon (you know what I mean). But I do love to try things that have some sense of history to them.

That’s what led me to Ying Yu Jade. I first learned about this lovely little ‘face roller’ through Cult Beauty. Research (mine) reveals that it helps with ‘puffiness’ in the face and aids in lymphatic drainage. I found a great video for a ‘jade facial’ that’s got me very excited about using this.

My Jade Face Roller came today:

I got the Double Face Roller, which has one larger side for the face, and a smaller side for the eye area. As I understand it, this lovely roller works best when cooled (some folks recommend putting it in the fridge for a spell before use), and should always be rolled ‘upward’ — never down.

I got the ‘practitioners’ version of the roller, which is reportedly adjustable. I’m still trying to figure out ‘how’ to adjust it, but I’m not too worried about that. The ‘holder’ on this particular roller looks to be a bit more sturdy than the pedestrian version… I would imagine for multiple  uses on multiple clients. The large roller is a bit bigger, as is the smaller roller. The handle is also longer. Now that I have it and can see it in person, I can see that the pedestrian version would be just as sturdy (ass the smaller roller is constructed the same on the practitioner’s version).

First Impressions: The weight is beautiful. It fits snugly in the hand and rolls perfectly along the planes of the face with no pressure. The weight of the actual tool is sufficient to encourage drainage. I’m still getting used to the smaller ‘eye’ portion of the roller… I imagine that with practice I’ll get it perfect.

I also got an ‘acu-roller’:

This roller is even heavier, and more sturdy than the face roller. I believe this roller is for other parts of the body (not necessarily the face). I tend to get tight down the back of my arms and across the shoulder blades… and I’m hoping that this will help the muscles relax a bit.

I got both of my rollers directly from the Ying Yu Jade website, which is located here in the United States. The shipping is super fast, and the customer service is exceptional. Internationally, you can find the rollers (both single and double) on the Cult Beauty website.