Month: October 2016

Santa Maria Novella Hand Cream


image from Le Bon Marché

Santa Maria Novella has for a long time now, installed a big corner at the Bon Marche in Paris. If you would like to read about its history you can find it here. It used to be pretty hard to find unless you head to Italy but it seems they’ve really expanded during the last few years.

I’ve always wanted to try their products, especially their perfumes but given my collection at home I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. I picked this up as a gift for a very kind lady and thought I’d splurge on the same thing for myself since hand creams are something I use everyday.


Back to the cream. This smells like lemon cookies. Not the Bath and Body Works type of lemon but a true zesty and juicy lemon. Absorbs super quickly into the hands and doesn’t leave a greasy film at all. If my hands were bone-dry the cream sinks in immediately; when used after washing I get to rub them in slightly longer. But it’s definitely one of the fastest absorbing hand creams I’ve used. My hands feel like they’re protected from the elements after application.


I also tried the ‘Pasta di Mandorle’ which is an almond cream for hands and nails. It has a much thicker, heavier and greasier consistency targeted for really dry skin. It comes in a smaller jar but costs more per ml than the hand cream although you probably won’t be using much each time. It would be a nice cream to use at night just before bed in winter.



The only thing hindering a repurchase is of course the price.
Made in Italy, 100ml.

Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes

I only got my first taste of these this summer (August to be precise), so yes I’m really late to the party! I was tempted to get the Spring 2015 but didn’t. I never saw the previous LE releases of Platinum and Spice and others at the counters here in Paris, they probably just flew out of the shelves. Fully made peace with never owning one of these (rationale being I’ll never finish them anyway) but when TF released them as permanents I wavered. Now I have three:


L-R: Platinum, Burnished Copper, Spice

Spice is the third cream color I picked up within two months. I got this with Modern Mercury because Selfridges shipping 😛 I first tested the waters with Platinum – found one on a blog sale and followed that with a purchase of Burnished Copper. You can see the older releases are bigger and contain more product than the now permanent ones. The smaller pots hold 5ml/0.17oz are like the size of a gel liner. I’ve actually used Burnished Copper a couple of times already but the pot looks untouched because this shade (and Spice too) is super pigmented and you really only need the tiniest amount!

Here are swatches of the three:


L-R, lightly blended and normal: Burnished Copper, Platinum, Spice

For the light swatches, I intentionally used a minuscule amount and blended it out as a light wash (although I seemed to have used too much for Spice); With the ‘normal’ swatches, I stopped adding product once I achieved the kind of intensity I’m comfortable with on my lids. You can push them further and they’ll be thicker and more opaque. Also you get a fair amount of play-time with these before they dry and settle.

Burnished Copper is an olive/khaki, these kind of shades are a weakness of mine. This and Spice has noticeable fine gold shimmers. I’ve only worn this a couple of times so far, further comments to come.

Platinum is something you can use daily. You can certainly use it alone but I find the shade/look I’m after benefits with a deeper brown/taupe to give it more definition. Lately I’ve been using Platimum with a light wash of MAC’s Sea Worship (an extra dimension formula, it blends seamlessly with the finish of these cream colours) in the outer-V at the end. I’ve also used a random Bourjois shade (from this trio, if you want to know. Scroll down towards the bottom) and the brown from Suqqu’s Yosaizora (summer 2015 LE). For evenings I’m thinking NARS Mekong or something like that. I guess what I want to say is you probably have a million browns at home you can use to complement this 🙂 It’s not the most exciting colour of the range but it’s a workhorse type of shade. I’ve experienced some fallout with this but none after it’s dried and settled. I think it’s from the blending-to-death rubbing and patting that I do.

Spice is a very warm brown. I dismissed this at first to be honest. But I based all my purchases on the potential frequency of use and well, you can’t beat a brown. Same with Burnished Copper, I’ll comment later if there are issues with this.

For those wanting an alternative to brown I would suggest looking at Opale – this is a really beautiful shade and can double as a cream highlighter on the cheekbones/brow bone/inner corner of the eyes. This is definitely multi-purpose, so perhaps more value for money.

When I was looking at swatches online for research I thought I would get Midnight Violet but when I swatched it in person, the more I looked at it the more I understood that what draws me is how dark it is, and it reminded me of the LE Spring 2015. I have Chanel Mirifique as well (sadly ignored), so I passed. Also my eyelid area is too small to really show this shade off.

Anyway I think these cream colours deserve all the raves and praises you read about. I tried the Charlotte Tilbury ones at the Selfridges counter last year but the one I applied creased on my lids within a couple of hours so I haven’t been very keen on those since. In hindsight perhaps I should have explored all other options/offerings from other luxurious brands but TBH I was fixated on these and I know I’ll end up getting one even if I do find a better alternative.

ETA – 21 October 2016
I’ve been using more of Spice and Burnished Copper and surprisingly I’m liking Spice more and more, it might just be my favourite out of the three. They both have a very teensy bit of fallout if you over blend, but it’s noticeably less than Platinum. In terms of the wear I get, they wear well and I’m happy enough but they do not wear like iron on my lids. However they just fade somewhat but do not migrate or budge, so you won’t find it under the eyes. I really appreciate this cos that’s the biggest problem I encounter with cream shadows and those in a stick forms, they all tend to migrate south and I get panda eyes.

August + September Empties



Shiseido Integrate gel liner in BK999 (0.28g) – Made in Germany
I bought this cos it seemed to be a favourite among Japanese beauty magazine readers. But the size of the nib is too big for my liking and unlike a pencil it can’t be sharpened. Also the performance is inconsistent – sometimes it smudges, sometimes no. Despite no change in the steps leading to or out prior.
Repurchase? Nope.

Kate slim gel pencil in BK-1 (0.12g) – Made in Japan
Now this is a liner I know I can count on. I took this with me on my holidays and with daily use it lasted around one month. This has less than half the product of the Integrate liner though.
Repurchase? Staple.

Here’s a comparison photo with nibs from different liners. The UD acts as your average, typical pencil liner. You can see the Integrate is just slightly slimmer than that. Visée is the thinnest (mentioned a few entries below). KATE and dejavu are the same in diameter. I’ll write about the Dejavu one eventually but lets just say for now that I don’t reach for it often despite it having the best staying power.


Top-Bottom: Visée, dejavu fiberwig, KATE, Shiseido Integrate, UD24/7


Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder – Modern Mercury

Highlighter in 01 Modern Mercury (7.5g) – Made in Italy

Count me in as yet another one of those who succumbed to this beauty in the VB x EL collection. The highlighter is the only thing that really got my interest. I was around when EL first released Modern Mercury but dissed it cos it looked too shimmery/bright/OTT/ in the pan. I wasn’t into highlighters then, and knew it wasn’t going to be used. Well 5 years later I paid a premium for this re-release and its special luxe packaging:


It’s not leather but it sure looks like leather. Many have pointed out the similarities between the this and Tom Ford’s packaging. I don’t know who to credit for the design but he/she/they did  a great job because it’s sophisticated and is truly a timeless design. This compact is hefty, the whole thing weighs around 140g. I thought the Guerlain Terracotta compact (4 seasons) was heavy but that one’s only 100g. This compact definitely deserves to be shown off though. It’d be a shame to leave it in your makeup drawer, it practically begs to be taken out with you on that special dinner you’re going to.

I was surprised to see that the box that housed this has a polka dot interior:




top swatch done very lightly, the bottom regular

I didn’t do a heavy swatch (ie. rub with pressure back and forth and then swatch) to show off how pigmented this is. Most of the swatches I’ve seen show that, and you get an opaque almost foil like finish. Those two lines were done lightly, the top one (barely noticeable) is even more delicate than the bottom, to show that you can get a very subtle highlight. The bottom is a regular swatch. In general I tend to be light-handed compared to others when it comes to swatching it seems. I swatch the same way I would when using it (with a fan brush when highlighting) so nothing dramatic.

Anyway it’s a rose gold/champagne in its roots. It really is a multi-purpose product – the gelee formula allows you to use this wet or dry. So yes, you can use this as an eye shadow and in that case you can apply it much more heavily than you would when you use it as a highlighter. This will theoretically work as a blush as well for those with light/light-medium complexion and who like this kind of finish.

There is a lot of excitement over this collection with the highlighter being the star product everybody wants. None of this is cheap and you are paying a lot of extra for the packaging. If you go on Instagram and search for #modern mercury someone did one on dupes she found and IIRC the two closest ones were from MAC and Tom Ford. I don’t know if those are LE though. I guess what I’m trying to say is there are alternatives if it’s just this kind of rose gold shade and finish that you’re after.

Lastly to give you an idea in terms of the quantity you get, a MAC blush is 6g. This contains slightly more than theBalm’s Sexy Mama powder (7g), their Frat Boy blush is 8g.