Happy Monday, my little Kumquats!
My apologies for the lack of posting this weekend - it was a doozy.
My friend, L, for whom i offer my Mary Poppins services on a regular basis, was having her baby...two months ahead of schedule.
So as you might imagine, it was utter chaos and worry and no-sleep all weekend, as i stayed with their little toddler so Papa could be at hospital with L. Thankfully, the wee new baby is doing well.
Not a whole lotta beautification going on this weekend, needless to say.
But, i made up for it (and then some) today when i decided this morning that i needed a bit of pampering. Like any good Chicagoan, i headed down to the Magnificent Mile and limped my weary bones (and skin...ugh) into Neimans, hoping to run into my favourite Tom Ford BA.
Sadly, she was not working today - but when i desperately uttered "Chantecaille?", to the attentive girls at TF, i was gently escorted over to my new best Esthetician friend, Ezzat of the Magic Hands.
How cool is her name, by the way?
I don't know about y'all (leave me be, i'm practicing for our impending move to Asheville, NC) - but when my skin is fatigued and miserable and patchy and dry/oily all at once and generally needs to look fresh and beautiful again despite severe sleep deprivation and burgeoning migraine, i think Chantecaille.
Now, if you're like, 25 years old - you don't really need Chantecaille; i was 33 before i ever even glanced their way. But now that i'm no longer even in my 30's, i am eternally grateful that i found them at a relatively young age. I didn't use them exclusively (i don't use anyone exclusively - even my own brand of skin cream. I'm psychologically incapable of such devotion), but i use their products much more consistently now than i did 10 years ago. They are pricey, but it helps to know someone working at NM - because Chantecaille has some pretty generous sample sized products which tend to last weeks. I know that if i'm going in to make a cosmetic purchase, i'll walk out with a plethora of samples of NEW things i'll want to buy the next time i visit. She's happy, i'm happy.
I'm smiling on the inside - in shock at how bloody amazing my skin looks!
And i've found some new loves today during my visit.
*listens wistfully to sound of gently weeping pocketbook*
I honestly just went in to purchase one of my favourite go-to foundations, the New Stick in Cream (my summer shade), and a bit of pampering by my Tom Ford beauty specialist. And i told Ezzat as much - but she shook her head and said, "I'll do a whole face for you, is that OK? You sit. Go on!"
Her soothing voice and genuine smile lulled me into the chair, eyes glazed and grateful.
I really did need this, after all!
She proceeded to mist my face with the ubiquitous Pure Rosewater - which contains Rose de Mai (something i use in my face-creams - it's fantastically good for all skin-types); and i can tell you that it felt AMAZING, especially after dragging myself indoors from the humid 90-degree Chicago summer heat (the precise temperature that brings out the lovely odour of urine on the downtown streets...i'll not miss that).
This stuff is a must-have in any weather extremes - in the Summer, it soothes and refreshes; in the Winter, it rehydrates and moisturizes. And you can spray it over makeup.
Ezzat was careful to shield my eyes, because "your eye-makeup is so beautiful! I don't want to ruin it!". When i told her i did it myself, she was duly impressed - and i admitted to being a Makeup Artist myself. Which is another lovely thing about Neiman's. I had several of the ladies who worked there compliment me on my eye-makeup, and we all happily chatted about The Business while i was being rejuvenated.
Neiman's, to me, is what Tiffany's is to Holly Golightly. You simply can't imagine anything bad happening to you there.
Then she cleaned my skin with the Flower Infused Cleansing Milk - which is my favourite cleanser by far. It doesn't irritate my skin, it cleans thoroughly without stripping my skin of moisture...and it smells beautiful.
Then, another spritz of the Pure Rosewater before some Bio Lifting Serum - which i hadn't tried before. It has some pretty hefty claims - here's the company line:
Bio Lifting Serum -
Bio Lifting Serum is the newest most potent collagen builder and collagen protector.
Lifts, Smooths Wrinkles, Builds Collagen
Repairs DNA with the newest combination of natural stem cells
Total Hydration – Immediate and Long Term
Brightness and Skin Clarity is Restored; Paraben-free
I'm skeptical about any product claiming to "build collagen", and there hasn't been enough research to prove the benefits of topical stem-cells, although it sounds promising.
Obviously i'd have to try it for a while - and i'll see about getting a sample from my friend the next time i stop in (they were out - but i was given a few samples of what was available). However, i can attest to the feeling of "immediate, total hydration", as well as "brightness and skin clarity is restored". My skin looked and felt plumped, bright and fresh after she put this stuff on.
Did i mention i walked in there looking a little...grey?
Most likely it's the combined effort of the Rosewater spray, and the cleanser as well as the serum - but it was pretty impressive.
I was impressed.
All i can say is that it felt amazing going on - and hours later my skin is still looking fresh, plumped up and generally very happy (you really should have seen me when i walked in - i was kind of haggard). My makeup is still firmly in place and looking fresh, four and a half hours later; after being out in the 92 degree weather for an hour, waiting in the hot subway, riding the disgusting L-train, and now sitting in my little room with no air-conditioning and only a fan to keep my from perishing utterly.
I had one small bump appear under my eye, high up on my cheekbone about an hour after i left, but i pretty much chalk that up to going back out into the even hotter air after the nice, cool Neiman's beauty department. Heat makes my skin do all manner of unpleasant things.
But moving on - after the serum she smoothed some of my new Favourite-Thing-In-The-World under my eyes. She gently suggested my eyes looked a bit fatigued, which i already knew; then she patted on some Stress Repair Concentrate, which felt like cool, light but intensely moisturizing heaven on my skin. At the price, it had better feel pretty damn amazing, and possibly even make me a smoothy while it's at it...
But man...it feels good. It still feels good. My under-eye area is still moist, but holding onto the concealer admirably. I will say that after being in the heat for about half an hour, a quick mirror-check revealed a bit of concealer in the fine lines under my eyes - but dude, it is MELTY outside, not to mention that there was not only concealer but the New Stick foundation piled on under there - which wasn't necessary, she was just showing me the concealer, which has emolients in it as well. For my skin and this heat, it was probably overkill. A quick swipe of the finger under my eyes fixed it, and i haven't had to retouch since.
But i'm getting ahead of myself. In fact, i'm leaving out the most important bit!
Which is...neck massage.
Next, she applied the Bio Lifting Neck Cream, along with an amazing neck-massage that i didn't want to end. Ever. My headache receded, my brain shut off. It was heavenly.
Then she massaged some Flower Harmonizing Cream into my face - which she mentioned (and i have used it before for this very reason) was especially good for sensitive, combination skin like mine. I'm also happy she didn't try to up-sell one of their more expensive moisturizers - she said that my skin looked "so young!", surprised when i revealed my age. Apparently, the Flower Harmonizing Cream is still the best choice for me. Go, me!
Next, she applied the wonderfully high SPF sunscreen/primer duo - the Ultra Sun Protection Sunscreen. The tube is HUGE, but i'm not thrilled about the price-tag. I suppose if i were to justify it by reminding myself it saves buying two separate products, it takes the sting out a bit - but we already know that Chantecaille isn't cheap...
So at this point, i'm ready to be matched for my summer-shade of the New Stick foundation.
A word about the New Stick - i fell in love with this foundation years ago, and would sneak a swipe or two of it from the neighboring Chantecaille counter during especially long, hot days in Honolulu.
The company i worked for was brilliant with their colour-line, and their foundations have vastly improved since then - but at the time, nothing quite matched my weird, pinky-yellow, not quite cool, not quite warm but a weird combo of both skin tone except the Chantecaille foundations.
The New Stick is fairly balanced and self-adjusting and i find i can get away with either Vanilla (cool) or Cream (warm). Ultimately, we chose the Cream this time around because it blends perfectly into my chin/jawline, and helps to balance out the excessively pink (in the heat it becomes quite pronounced) areas on my nose, cheeks and middle-forehead.
I love this stick foundation because it has a fairly solid Medium coverage which can be swiped only on problem areas/under-eyes and blended out with fingers or brush (i prefer a brush) - or it can be built up to a more full coverage without looking heavy or cakey - OR exacerbating my oily T-Zone area. A quick sweep of Chantecaille Cheek Shade in Mood, followed by a light dusting of loose powder over top with a finishing brush, and i was good to go!
Below is a picture of me right as i got home - no touchups - after being on the disgusting train and walking several blocks in the intense, incredibly humid Chicago heat:
As you can see, there's a bit of redness/fading around my nose, and you can see clearly the indentation of my sunglasses - which are, to be fair, exceedingly huge, heavy and 1960's Breakfast At Tiffany's.
Note the bit of pink showing through - but as i said, i had quite literally just gotten in, trudged up the stairs out of the blazing, unforgiving SUN and unconscionably wet, sticky HEAT and snapped a pic.
This next picture is after i touched up just the bridge of the nose (rather sloppily, i might add. I was tired!) with just a teensy touch of product:
Ermagerd. That hair...
Already the pinkness from my exertions has faded - looking pretty smooth indeed. I noted that my naso-labial lines, which i've quite seriously had since i was 25 - look softened and plumped - SCORE! As do the fine lines around my eyes. DOUBLE SCORE! What's more, when comparing - just off the cuff - Chantecaille's eye-cream with my Natura Bisse Eye Contour Cream (which i've had for about half a year), frankly the Chantecaille Stress Repair Concentrate works harder at first application at softening my admittedly very fine, just burgeoning lines, and doesn't - like the Natura Bisse, irritate my eyes or feel overly-heavy OR greasy. Also, the Natura Bisse separates into a gooey, oily mess after about 4 months. I have yet to see if the Chantecaille does the same.
Both contain the same amount of product and will last you probably just about 9 months.
The Chantecaille is definitely pricier. I love it, truly love it - but i'm still on the lookout for something a little less exorbitant.
Moving along - this last photo is after i touched up around the nose and re-powdered just in the T-Zone:
Pretty sweet for a stick foundation, no?
I will say it now - if i were to buy every product Ezzat used on my face today, we'd be looking at at least half a Grand. Which isn't going to happen - we both knew that! But she didn't try to push a sale, she just explained the benefits of each product, chatted with me, massaged and creamed and polished me, then sent me on my merry way with the foundation i came in for, some samples and a MUCH happier face than when i arrived.
Am i going to buy some of the skincare she used on me today?
Well, i booked an appointment for a full-facial with her in two weeks - at which time i'll have a bit of spending money squirreled away and some time to use up the samples i was given. I know that i'll be walking out of there with SOMEthing. Maybe even two somethings.
Because ultimately, i am familiar enough with Chantecaille's skincare to know that - for ME, at least - their products work on my picky, sensitive, aging skin. And, a little goes a long way; something like the serum would last me probably about 11 months. Add up what i'd spend on a lesser-product that doesn't address the issues i need addressing, and doesn't have the non-irritating botanicals i happen to really love in the Chantecaille line that never break me out, etc etc...
Some things are worth spending money on. Skincare, foundation and brushes are my Big Three. But, if i were to buy the Chantecaille, then i wouldn't be able to play around with anything else (barring samples) for a long while. I just couldn't justify the expenditure.
It takes a bit of commitment.
Now, the New Stick foundation happens to be the cheapest foundation in the Chantecaille line - and it doubles as a concealer, so it's more than worth the price. Again, you get a good amount of product, and you don't need much to do a full-face application. Which i rarely end up doing, anyway. I like keeping the good bits of skin relatively bare except for powder, brushing foundation on the areas that need a little help and blending it out. It's perfect for tossing in your bag and touching up as needed on the go, which is exactly why i love it so much. It looks natural, and feels nice on the skin. Most importantly, it doesn't turn into an oil-slick on my face in an hour like most other non-matte foundations - even in the most hot, humid weather. I'm not a fan of matte foundations, so i don't own any. Powder is my friend.
Just a quick bit about the eyes:
Hours and HOURS after applying and still going strong!
I didn't do anything complicated - in this heat, i just don't find it worth the time or effort. But the ladies at Neiman's all wanted to know what i used so here's a quick rundown:
Chanel brow pencil in Blond Clair
Inglot Eyeshadow #30 (blended in just above the crease-colour and into the highlight)
Chanel Quad in Prelude (using the medium taupe and the light taupe shades, with the lightest shade as highlight under the brow)
Chanel Waterproof Stylo le Yeaux in Ebene
Victoria's Secret Voluptuous Volume Mascara in black
All over a base, of course, the inimitable Urban Decay Primer Potion.
On my lips is my Precious, Tom Ford lipstick in Blush Nude.
Well, there you have it! I had a simply wonderful experience at the Chantecaille counter at Neiman Marcus on the Magnificent Mile here in Chicago. If you ever happen to traipse in there on a day when you could use a little TLC, it is the place to go. Everybody is extremely kind, helpful, and will go out of their way to make sure you get exactly what you need.
I can't wait 'til i can return for my full facial with Ezzat, and i did find myself drawn to their lovely Summer colour line - the eyeshadows in particular...definitely want to play a bit with those.
If you happen to be in the neighborhood, do stop in to see my favourite people at the Tom Ford counter, and make time for a little mini-facial spa experience with the wonderful esthetician, Ezzat from Chantecaille.