Sunday, July 28, 2013

NARS Realm of the Senses and Soulshine Cheek Palettes

NARS brings us two new limited-edition cheek palettes ($41, 0.42 oz), Realm of the Senses and Soulshine. The image of the model on the packaging calls to mind the style of a young Jerry Hall in the the late '70s disco-era days of heavy, dramatic and glamorous makeup--a trend that continued well into the '80s with the birth of MTV and the music video.

Realm of the Senses and Soulshine are both beautiful to look at in the pan and if you're anything like me it will be difficult to decide between the two! When I swatched them side by side at Sephora yesterday it seemed that the general effect of each was not different enough to justify having both, but after a closer look, their differences become much more apparent, which you'll see in the images below.

These palettes are larger than a typical NARS blush, and are the same size as the Pierre Hardy blushes that were released just a few months ago. I read that this is a new formula NARS is using and although I haven't noticed a huge difference I did note that the texture is perhaps a bit softer and more buttery. The gold logo etched into the top of the powder is covered with a layer of over-spray that will completely wear off during the first few uses.

Left to right: Realm of the Senses and Soulshine 

Realm of the Senses Cheek Palette

On the left are the three shades applied individually, at full intensity, with fingertips. Shade #1 is a warm peachy-coral with golden shimmer, Shade #2 is a soft plum/berry with a subtle sheen, and Shade #3 is a shimmery pale peach-gold highlighting shade. On the right is the color that is produced when all three shades are swirled together and blended on the skin with a soft-bristled brush.

Soulshine Cheek Palette

On the left are the three individual shades applied heavily. These shades are very pigmented and a little will go a long way with this palette. Shade #1 is a flamingo pink with subtle golden shimmer. The overall effect is similar to the main shade in the Realm of Senses palette except this is slightly brighter, with more pink tones, as opposed to peach. Shade #2 is a warm apricot with a subtle sheen, and Shade #3 is a raspberry pink with fine golden shimmer. On the right is the color that results when all three shades are blended together.

Below are comparisons with a few other popular NARS blushes to give you a better idea of the true colors and palette size.

Left to right: Realm of the Senses, Soulshine, Orgasm, Super Orgasm, Outlaw 

Left to right: Realm of the SensesSoulshineOrgasmSuper OrgasmOutlaw
As you can see, the blended color produced by these is significantly darker than both Orgasm or Super-Orgasm. The blended color of Soulshine is fairly similar to the NARS blush Outlaw.

Soulshine is a bit darker and more vibrant than Realm of Senses. If forced to choose between the two, I would probably go with Realm of the Senses because of its versatility. It contains a wider range of tones from light to dark and could conceivably be used as blush, contour, and highlight all in one, whereas Soulshine's lightest shade is too dark to be used as a highlighter.

On the other hand, the lightest shade in Realm of the Senses is simply too pale to be used as anything aside from a highlighter, but with Soulshine you will be getting three shades that are able to stand on their own as blushes. Those with darker skin tones may prefer Soulshine because of its intense pigmentation, and those with fairer skins may find Realm of Senses' slightly softer look easier to pull off. What is great about these palettes is that their larger-than-average size makes it possible to zero in on individual shades and fine-tune the color to your liking.

In the end, I may not be of much help when it comes to deciding between these two, because I like them both! You can find closeup swatches and see how both Soulshine and Realm of Senses look applied on Temptalia. If you're on a budget, I recommend trying them on in person if you have the opportunity because they are pricey and you may find that the differences between them do not justify the expense of having both. They are currently available exclusively at Sephora

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Le Blush Crème de Chanel: Présage, Révélation, Inspiration, and Affinité

Today I'll be sharing a quick look at four out of six of the new cream blushes ($38) Chanel released earlier this season (all six shades can be seen at Cafe Makeup and four shades, including Destiny, which is not shown here, can be seen at The Beauty Look Book).

First up is Présage, a bright, intense peachy-coral with strong orange tones. This is a great choice for the summer months and coordinates wonderfully with the new Rouge Coco #57 Mystique


Next is Révélation, a lovely mid-tone rose shade that I imagine will work well across a wide range of skin tones and is probably one of the safer choices if you're purchasing sight unseen. Although it seems to appear slightly cool-toned in these photos (especially when seen next to Présage), it actually leans warmer on the skin.  


Inspiration is, quite unexpectedly, my current favorite of the bunch. It also happens to be the lightest and therefore is more of a goof-proof shade that is perfect for everyday wear. Initially I thought it might be too cool for my skin tone, but it is actually more neutral than it appears in the pan. It gives a pretty, dusty blush-pink to the cheeks that is soft and flattering. Because it is fairly subtle, this shade might be better suited for those with lighter skin tones. Those with very tan or dark skin tones may find it to be a bit too light. You can see this shade applied on the lovely Martha, of Planet Martha, in her face of the day


Affinité is a shade that eluded me for a couple of weeks and is the only shade still missing from my local counters, but it is currently available on Chanel's website. As you can see, in the pan it is a gorgeous, bright azalea pink. I thought this would easily be my favorite of the bunch, but I find it to be so pigmented that it requires a bit more time spent on blending. This shade was used recently by the talented Lisa Eldridge in a special occasion/wedding/prom makeup tutorial, which can be seen here. I love the romantic, soft and beautiful look she created! 


Left to right: 62 Présage, 63 Révélation, 64 Inspiration, and 65 Affinité

Blended (sunlight)

Blended (indoor low lighting)

I am a big fan of cream blushes as they tend to have stronger pigmentation and better longevity than many powders. I have only tried these in the store so haven't put them to a full test yet, but did find that when I tried one on at the counter at 10:00 in the morning I could still see most of the color on my cheeks through late in the evening. I have dry skin, though, so I'm not sure if others will have the same good results.

Compared to other cream blushes I've tried, these have more of a matte finish on the skin and don't provide a dewy glow as some of the "stickier" cream blushes do, such as Stila's Convertible Color, for example. They also do not have as much slip, or blend quite as easily as cream blushes from Chantecaille, NARS, and Aerin Lauder. But overall I'm very pleased with their performance and with the shades offered in this initial release. I hope they become a permanent addition to the brand and would like to see additional shades offered in the future. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Photo Color Palette: In the Garden

I discovered color palette generators a few months ago and since then have wanted to tie them into a blog post somehow. They can be helpful and provide inspiration when planning anything where you need to decide on a color scheme, whether it be a graphic design, a special event such as a wedding, decorating a room, putting together outfits, or even as inspiration for a makeup look! It's fun to take a favorite photograph and see its elements broken down into individual colors. Simply upload your photo and voilà--the program analyzes it and presents you with an array of color swatches to choose from. 

Some of you may recognize the image I've used here of a coral rock wall and plants, as it was shown a few weeks ago in my feature on Pinecrest Gardens. I decided to do a sampling of just a few of the colors the palette generator came up with from this photograph and match them with similar shades in my polish collection.

Before I actually began picking the shades I thought it would be a breeze finding matches, but soon realized it was no simple task! I would first study the swatches on my screen, dash off to search my stash in another room and then return and hold the bottles up to the screen to see if I had a suitable match. But despite my efforts, you could say my first attempt at color matching was not entirely successful!

I ended up forgoing one green shade (Zoya's Gemma) that I now think would have been a good choice to represent kokoda, and instead used another that turned out to be too blue-toned. And then, the shade I thought could be a stand-in for the slightly purple-tinged gray shade almond frost turned out to be not very similar at all!

This was a good lesson for me on how different lighting conditions affect the way a color appears to the eye, and also a reminder that a color seen in person can look quite different once it is photographed and up on a computer screen (something I've often struggled with when trying to present accurate product swatches).

It was interesting going through my collection and revisiting colors that haven't seen daylight in a while.   Next I'd like to take a stab at creating an entire look, eyes, lips and face, inspired by the colors of this photograph. I tend to reach for the same few colors on a daily basis, so this will force me to get creative and step out of my makeup rut for a bit!

  1. OPI Thanks a Windmillion
  2. OPI Lincoln Park at Midnight
  3. Dolce and Gabbana Passione
  4. Jessica Au Natural
  5. Essie She's Picture Perfect
  6. Essie Neo Whimsical
  7. Sephora by OPI Metro Chic 

Left to right: OPI Thanks a Windmillion, OPI Lincoln Park at Midnight, Dolce and Gabbana Passione, Jessica Au Natural, Essie She's Picture Perfect, Essie Neo Whimsical, Sephora by OPI Metro Chic

I chose OPI's sage green Thanks a Windmillion, to represent the khaki-green kokada. OPI's Lincoln Park at Midnight, a shimmery eggplant, represents the blackened purple wood bark. Dolce and Gabbana's Passione was a fairly good match for the shade #d83dba, which was derived from the fuchsia Bougainvillea petals you can see in the background of the photograph. Jessica's Au Natural, a nude-caramel, was my closest match for the shade whiskey, which can be seen in the warm blush tones of the lighter bromeliad leaves. Essie's muted lavender, She's Picture Perfect, is my aforementioned failed attempt to match the purple-tinged gray almond frost. Essie's Neo-Whimsical was an easy choice for beauty bush, a pale dusty pink. And finally, Sephora by OPI's smoky purple-gray-taupe, Metro Chicwas chosen to represent spice. 

Alternates, left to right: Lancome's Beige Dentelle and Gris Angora, and Zoya's Gemma shown next to OPI's more blue-toned green, Thanks a Windmillion. I think the khaki green Gemma is a much better match for kokoda!

If you'd like to try out color palette generators there are several on the web to choose from. Some are more accurate or detailed than others so I recommend doing a Google search and try a few until you find one you like. The one I used today was created at Big Huge Labs. A few others I've come across are ColRD: Image DNADeGraeve, PhotocopaPictaculous, and Adobe's Kuler app. I'd also love to hear your recommendations if you have any favorite color or design apps you'd like to share!