Friday, March 29, 2013

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre Eyeshadow in Abstraction - Review, Photos, Swatches

Today I have Fracas's soulmate and partner in Chanel's Spring collection, the Illusion D'Ombre Eyeshadow in 88 Abstraction. 

Abstraction is a coral-pink shimmer, soft and sophisticated. For those unfamiliar with Chanel's Illusion D'Ombre eyeshadow, the formula is a bouncy, light cream. They are long-lasting and super blendable, and great either as a base for a more intense look or on their own as a single wash of color. This is perhaps my current favorite formula for eyeshadow - truly excellent and top-notch, won't smudge or budge once it settles. Another winner (surprise, surprise) from Chanel ;)

88 Abstraction

Beautiful color, one of my favorite types of hues for this time of year. As mentioned previously, there's no criticism I can give to this lovely little gem. So what're you waiting for?! If it's within your budget I suggest you run to your nearest Chanel counter and snap up Abstraction for breezy, fresh spring and summer looks - you won't regret it!

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre Eyeshadow in Abstraction is available through the Chanel site as well at through Chanel counters. It retails for $36.

Let's talk about tattoos, baby

I love tattoos, in theory. I love the way the quality ones look, I love the seemingly endless license for artistic creativity they allow, and I love the the deep meaning they can express. (In theory.) In practice, however, I am 100% tattoo-less. The reason for this is two-fold, I suppose - first, I don't have a clear idea of what design I would want; I have no special person or event to commemorate, and some of the traditional tattoo designs (owls, butterflies, hearts, etc.) don't really hold enough of a significance for me to be etched permanently onto my body. Secondly, I can't help but to wonder how my feelings for ink might change in 20+ years - will I regret my decision? Will the tattoo not age well? Will I have to spend a load of money later to have it removed?

So, will I ever pull the proverbial trigger and get one? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. Possibly? Who knows!

What I do know, however, is that if I were to get some ink, I would love to get it done by the amazingly talented and brilliant Amanda Wachob. Here's some of her work, taken from her website

Positively stunning, no? Such a distinctive, delicate, brush-like style - reminds me watercolor paintings. I love to see that innovative minds like Amanda's are sharing their art with the us; as Dostoevsky said, 'beauty will save the world'. :) Check out more of Amanda's work here.

Do you have any tattoos? Please feel free to share links to your favorite tattoo artists - I love looking at creative portfolios!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Butter London Nail Lacquer in Fiver, Kerfuffle - Review, Photos, Swatches

First, let me say THANK YOU to all who read, comment, and follow this blog - I truly appreciate it! :) With the impending demise of Google Reader, I have added new following options on my sidebar (including Google+). Feel free to take advantage! :3

I'm a big fan of Butter London, with their lovely shades and quirky lacquer sobriquets and, of course, stellar quality. I recently spotted these, which I don't recall seeing before, so I snapped them up! I think they're new? New-ish? (Or, I'm simply out of the loop!)

Anyway, here are Fiver (left), and Kerfuffle. Incidentally, 'kerfuffle' is one of my favorite words ever so I would have gotten this polish regardless of the color :)

Here's Fiver, a pale mint creme with a touch of blue (three coats):

This is Kerfuffle, a light coral/salmon creme (the color reminds me of an orange creamsicle!). This was three coats, but two would have been satisfactory:

Both Fiver and Kerfuffle are lovely and romantic, perfect for spring! I wouldn't exactly characterize Kerfuffle as a pastel, either, so if that's something you don't normally wear but still want the fresh look, you might do well to have a go with this lacquer. The formula is smooth and easy to work with; I used three thin coats in my swatches for both shades, but I suspect you can get away with two medium ones. Both Fiver and Kerfuffle dry to what I would call a semi-matte finish (Fiver more so than Kerfuffle), and I think you can tell from the photos that they are not entirely glossy. Of course, a top coat remedies this. Overall, a great spring showing from Butter London! I see myself rocking Kerfuffle for many a summer pedicure ;)

Butter London colors retail for $14-15 each and may be purchased at Ulta, Zappos, and the Butter London site (among other retailers).

What do you think? Have you transitioned over to the softer spring/summer shades yet?

Wishing a wonderful Passover, the everyone that celebrates! Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cakestyle Fashion Subscription Box - Review & Photos

For something a little different but still in keeping with my subscription box craze, I have for you a review of my recent experiences with Cakestyle! For those who haven't heard of this company yet, Cakestyle pairs clients with an online stylist. Clients fill out a style questionnaire (questions ask, among other things, about your typical daily outfit, clothing styles you stay away from, and your current favorite brands) as well as a detailed survey of sizes and measurements. Following this, your stylist pulls items of clothing and jewelry she thinks you would enjoy and ships them to your address. You have 10 days from delivery to try on the clothes and send back what you don't want. I'm not sure what the penalty is for not sending the box back within the 10 days, but the shipping manifest states that the client will be charged for the full box if it is not received within 30 days (eek!). What you keep is tracked so that your stylist may be better discern your style. Shipping is free and a return label is included. 

My stylist is Kait Hunter. I got an email from her right after I submitted my box request, and it seemed she was open to answering questions, addressing concerns, or just chatting about fashion (I feel I was quite detailed in my initial questionnaire, so I never contacted her further). About 2.5 weeks later I received a message from Kait that she was about to start pulling items for my box (this is within the timeframe mentioned at the time of my box request) and she wanted to double-check my measurements, which I appreciated. Because I'm fairly close to their brick-and-mortar, I got the box the next day! (Note: a signature is required upon delivery). Besides the style pieces, I got instructions for return, a return label, a thank-you note, and a detailed invoice of all items included. I also got a card with a personalized link to a video with styling suggestions for the specific items in my box, but for whatever reason this link was, and still is, broken. Hrm.

Anyway, this is the box I received -

Everything is well-packed and more or less segregated by outfit -

And now, the exciting part - the contents of my box!!
 Alexis Skirt by Elie Tahari ($248). Very cute! I love the heavy, rich fabric and the colors in the weave. I really like this piece, but ultimately have to consider budget and the fact that I fairly rarely wear skirts. I'm definitely tempted to keep this, though!

Sloane Crew by Equipment ($268). This sweater is super soft and warm, and goes spectacularly well with the Catherine Malandrino pants below. It's a little big and a tad baggy, though, and with all the lovely items I received that's enough to relegate it to the 'send back' pile.

Catherine Malandrino Favorite Skinny pant ($195), and my dog casting a curious eye on the proceedings ;) I LOVE these! The length and shape is perfect on me! These are keepers.

Trina Turk Zantop Pant ($284), Patterson J. Kincaid Rickey Leather Vest ($304), and Tees by Tina Solid Smooth Thin Strap Cami ($30). The fit on the pants is pretty perfect! The qualm I have is with the fabric, however; not a big fan of the polyester/acetate blend. 

The vest is very nice and I love the loose, drape-y fit. I don't know that I'd wear this piece enough to justify purchasing it, though. 

The black cami is classic and fits quite well. My instinct was to keep this, especially because of the price, but do I need another black cami? I think I'd rather put the $30 towards a more unique piece.

 Patterson J. Kincaid Jardin Tank ($172). I don't wear patterns really, but this is interesting and abstract enough that I actually do like it. I tried this top on with jeans and the leather vest from above, and I preferred that look to the black cami (which was lost with the black vest). So will I keep this? Hm, probably not - it's just a smidgen too delicate and feminine for me ;)

 J Brand Mid Rise Slim Boot jeans ($202). Wah, the fit at the waist and bum is so, so PERFECT!!! I love how I look in these jeans! There's only one problem - they're about 7-8" too long for my 5'2" frame 8D I'd hem them, but I just don't know if I want to take that risk on such an expensive pair in case the shape is lost. I'm torn :/

 Nordstrom Signature Blouse (on sale for $174.40). This was the only dud in terms of style. To me this reads as something for an older woman, which is fine, but isn't something I'd ever wear. Return!

 Trina Turk Crew Jumper Dress ($294). This is something I would probably never pick if I saw it in a store, but once I tried it on I was in love. It provides shape in all the right places and is overall a very fun design, perfect for spring and summer. I have some tough choices to make!

 Chaiken Mesh Mix Sweater ($285). This is so me and the exact sort of thing I wear. Love love love. I may ask for a smaller size, though, as it's a little more baggy than I like.

 Boundary & Co Darby dress ($232). Ugh, so. Much. Love. Love this so, so much! I love the mix of black and white, I love the mix of silk and leather, and I love how this dress looks utilitarian but still beautiful. These are exactly the type of clothes I like to wear! I was dubious about the waist, but it actually looks nice on me. Overall, gorgeous and almost a definite keeper. BUT WAIT. Here's the money shot -
Beautiful leather weave at the back hsiehq98544uishflkdjahl. LOVELOVELOVE <3

Onto the jewelry! Each piece comes in a separate velvet pouch - 

 Two pyramid bracelets by Cara ($32 and $28). I really like both of these together! I'd buy either both or none, and I don't know that I want them enough to spend the $60...

 Cara Stud earrings ($34). Again, this is exactly my style! Very elegant and expensive-looking. However, I have really sensitive ears and usually have to stick with silver and gold backings. I think I want to take a chance with these, and if they bother my ear, it looks fairly easy to replace the posts.

 Cara Courtney Necklace ($78). Love the mix of gold and neon lime. Don't know that I'd wear this all that often, especially since the length and dangly-ness proves a health hazard at my work.

Fox Traders Janice Stone Earrings ($36). Pretty, but not really my thing.

Aside from a couple of pieces I think my fashion consultant, Kait, got my style bang on! It was a lot of fun to get a mystery box of clothing and accessories, and I'm happy to have been introduced to a couple of brands I was previously unaware of but are now firmly on my radar (Chaiken, Boundary & Co, Cara). I would not have picked some of these pieces myself, so I was pleasantly surprised that some actually suited me.

The total value of my box was $2896.40. Cakestyle offer a 10% discount if you purchase your entire box.

Do I recommend Cakestyle? Sure! It's free unless you keep something so there's nothing to lose, really! You can find more info at the Cakestyle site.

I ended up keeping the Catherine Malandrino pant, Boundary & Co dress, and Cara ball stud earrings. :)

What do you think? Have you tried Cakestyle?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bite Beauty High Pigment Matte Lip Pencils in Tart, Velvet - Review, Photos, Swatches

I positively j'adore lip pencils and can hardly restrain myself when I stumble over new ones! Though I'm only reviewing now I purchased the following Bite Beauty High Pigment Matte lip pencils over a year ago and, based on my happy experiences, I am excited to try the new releases now available at Sephora. Woo! 

Anyway, here are my lovely little Bite starlets, Tart and Velvet -

Tart is a tomato-paste red, with a hint of orange and a dusty quality to it -

Velvet is a bright light rose -

These lip pencils are pretty spectacular - they go on quite easily, smoothly, and feel like butter! I love the soft, rich texture, and the pigmentation is superb. The finish is shiny more than matte as the name indicates, but it's still quite pretty. Additionally, the formula is moisturizing and long-lasting. These are winners and have converted me to Bite Beauty! I'm curious to try some of their other products as, based on the pencils, I doubt they'll disappoint.

Bite High Pigment Matte pencils are available at Sephora for $24 a piece. 

Thanks so much for reading, I appreciate it! Have you tried Bite? What do you think?

Bite claims that this lipstick contains resveratrol, which "fights free radicals with potent long-term antiaging benefits". Hmm. Being the anal scientist that I am I can't help checking the research to confirm this claim. So, armed with my skepticism and my institution's journal subscriptions, I searched the literature.

I should mention that red wine is a particularly strong source of resveratrol. Bite points out that one lip pencil has the resveratrol content of five glasses of wine - which is great, if you want to spend $24 on a lip pencil just to eat it (personally, I'll take the wine), if it even does benefit your health in any significant way.

So does it?  Well, the evidence is spotty at best, and many positive outcomes have been the result of animal model experiments (for example, in one study resveratrol was found to have increased the life-span of obese mice fed high-fat diets). Animal models are useful in many ways, but mice are not humans (obviously 8D); it's incorrect to extrapolate to humans without additional studies, and when human trials have been performed, the effects of resveratrol have been inconclusive or much less significant. So Bite's claim of "potent" anti-aging benefits are exaggerated at best. And, again, the proposed benefit comes from consumption of resveratrol, and not topical application.

In conclusion, take Bite's claim with a grain of salt and cast it aside with the many other unfounded beauty claims out there ("xyz mascara increases your lash volume by 923678687%!!!1"). I like my evidence like I like my men: strong, replicable, and peer-reviewed (that doesn't really work, does it 8D), and the evidence here is inconclusive (in addition, the long-term effects of resveratrol have not yet been studied). So please, err, don't eat the lipstick. 

[I've not included my sources because this is a beauty blog, darnit, and not a fancy scientific paper (also... laziness D:), but if anyone is interested, I am happy to provide links!] 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chanel Nail Colour in Fracas - Photos, Review, Swatches

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails, sugar and spice and everything nice; an enchanted wonderland where the residents include tiny dragons who float away in iridescent bubbles, majestic unicorns prancing down rainbows, peculiarly fit cacti holding foot races, and jolly walruses playing the harp.

I'm sure this isn't what they were going for, but it's what I think of when I consider the most recent Chanel offerings! 8D To be clear, Chanel historically was and still is a shining monolith of elegance and sophistication; but I'm loving the soft, dreamy turn they've taken with the spring collection - very fun, happy, and timelessly classic.

Today I have Chanel Nail Colour in 571 Fracas, a gorgeous rose pink with very fine shimmer. I am finicky when it comes to pink lacquers, but this one was too stunning to cast aside -

Too many photos, I know. I couldn't help myself! Worth mentioning is that at the time of the photos, my manicure was six days old; Chanel lacquers wear really well on me, with Gelous as a base and Seche as a top coat. I removed the polish after seven days and at that time there was still no significant wear and tear. Overall, superb formula and lovely, lovely shade.

Fracas is available on the Chanel website for $27.

As always, thanks for reading/commenting/following! :)