Fashion & Beauty

Counter Intelligence

August 4, 2015


THERE’S SOMETHING about a new foundation, blush, lipstick, skin serum or shampoo — the packaging, the promise– that triggers an irresistible urge to whip out a credit card. The triumph of hope over experience? The result is that our medicine cabinet and bathroom shelves are stocked with an array of products we’re too guilty to toss. Still, among  the many losers, we do recommend a few keepers.



Nancy: I fell hard for the $175 Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complexe SPF 18 last year (I call it foundation, the people at the Metier counter at Neiman Marcus insist it’s a “treatment”). My skin looked good!

I hadn’t used foundation for probably a decade, after seeing how scary an older co-worker in full war paint looked. Older skin, little lines–places for foundation to pool and look nasty. Tinted moisturizer was all I was willing to risk.

Why did the Metier stuff, whatever they want to call it, look so darn good? A clue was on the side of my hand. Just as the woman at the counter had instructed, I was squeezing a little bit onto my hand, and then applying it with smooth strokes with a makeup brush. Maybe, I thought at first, the secret was brushing the foundation (there, I said it again) on?

But what was that shimmer left behind on my hand? Even after washing it, a bit of sparkle remained, dancing in the light. That’s when I remembered hearing about light-refracting cosmetics. My understanding is minimal, but it seems as if I’m not really seeing my skin, just the happier reflection of it afforded by the foundation.

And that’s good enough for me. But not in summer, when makeup just slips right off. On sunny mornings I swipe my face with a fluffier brush and stroke on tint from Metier’s stacked Cheeky Chic Kaleidoscope, which contains blush colors from pure vanilla to tan to pink for the cheekbones. A touch of gray or brown shadow on my eyelids and a goodly dose of sheer lipstick and I’m off. Maybe not gorgeous but ready to have my face face the world.

Janet: It’s a given in the world of makeup that the one or two products you really like, the manufacturer randomly decides to discontinue. Which is exactly what happened two years ago when La Mer’s first version of its tinted moisturizer I so loved was nowhere to be found. I switched to YSL’s Touche Eclat’s Illuminating Foundation, although the coverage was a little cake-y. But just a month ago while cruising cosmetic counters, a saleswoman recommended I try La Mer’s new Reparative Skintint SPF 30. Bingo. Here was the same lightweight feel, fluidity and translucent color I remembered with the additional bonus of SPF protection.  I opted for the light medium shade (the spectrum goes from very fair to tan),  which I apply with my fingers and then smooth out with a brush. It gives my face more radiance than the denser Touche Eclat. And, despite the hefty price tag ($95), I’m considering buying a couple more  to keep in reserve in case La Mer decides to axe it again.

The jury is still out on Rodial’s Hyaluronic Cheek Sculpt. I’m skeptical about the claim that the hyaluronic acid in it can plump the skin topically. Isn’t that the stuff that needs to be injected to work? What I like, especially in this white-hot summer, is the creamy consistency and the coral shade which gives just a subtle flush to the cheeks.

NewMakeup1webJanet: True confession: I’m not a fan of lipstick.  People say they look dead without it. My mother looked fabulous in her signature red color. On me, most bright colors look clownish. So, when that same saleswoman (see above) encouraged me to try YSL’s Rouge Volupté Shine ($36) in what looked like a reddish orange, I shuddered.  I reluctantly agreed to try one shade lighter. To my surprise, it added just the right amount of color and a hint of shine without the sensation of something foreign on my lips. I liked the color so much I’ve been putting some on my fingertips and rubbing it onto my cheeks, a la Coco Chanel. 

The makeup departments at Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys in New York City are like a big candy store, although the products cost considerably more. Back in the day, it’s where I found Laura Mercier. I’ve always liked lip gloss, and in the past year or so, have discovered (through my makeup aficianado pal) Edward Bess’ s Nude Satin lipgloss. I’m in love with the color and consistency. It’s stickyish in a good way because it stays on. Plus the nude color looks good summer or winter.

Next week: We talk shampoo, neck cream and concealers.
–Janet Kelly 

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