Saturday, July 16, 2016

Choix Subscription Box #3 (with mini reviews of Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, Chanel Le Vernis in Vamp, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Ethereal Glow, Tom Ford Matte Lip Color in Pussy Cat, and Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat)

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
For more information about this subscription, take a look at the detailed review of my first two boxes. For now, I'm going to jump right in to the products I sampled in June (I'm already way behind, since I got my July box over a week ago already). This subscription is a fun way for me to test and review some higher end products that I normally wouldn't pick up.

My third box was full of surprises--things I liked more that I expected, and things that made for disappointing swatches but worked much better in actual use. Here are the samples I picked this time:

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, Chanel Le Vernis in Vamp

Chanel Le Vernis in Vamp and Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx01.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Ethereal Glow, Tom Ford Matte Lip Color in Pussy Cat, and Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Ethereal Glow, Tom Ford Matte Lip Color in Pussy Cat, and Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat. They actually managed to preserve the "bacon" marbling in the Hourglass blush when repressing it! Impressive.

I also got these applicators, which as usual I could pretty much do without. I actually have no idea what the third thing is. This is the second time they've sent one of those. Any ideas?

Many, many photos below!
The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (in Sx01), which is a multipurpose product, was a lot of fun to play with, even though I ultimately didn't get it to work very well. I tried it three different ways: as a full-coverage foundation, mixed with moisturizer to sheer it out, and as a concealer. (I used the tips from Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick as a very helpful guide.) It was best as a concealer, but only below my eyes. It wasn't pretty over blemishes. In general, it didn't get along well with my skin. Part of the problem is probably that the lightest shade is a little too light for me, as you can see in the swatches below. It's close to Nars RCC in Chantilly, but with a bit more yellow in it. Using the wrong shade can definitely exacerbate texture and coverage problems.

Swatches of Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx01, Nars Chantilly, Sephora Fondant, and TheBalm Lighter than Light

Left to right: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx01, Nars Chantilly, Sephora Fondant (reviewed here), and TheBalm Lighter than Light.

It tends to highlight flakiness, which I have a lot of around my nose, and there's not much I can do about that. But that's one of the areas where I need the most coverage. I also found that, though it's pigmented enough that you use much less product than you would with regular foundation, I still couldn't really layer it enough to get sufficient coverage without it looking cakey. Moreover, it doesn't play well with my oily summer skin--it slides around and fades in just a few hours. It seems to be quite waterproof, but like many other waterproof products, it's not oil proof.

Here it is used as a tinted moisturizer and as a concealer around my nose and under my eyes. It's pretty good under the eyes, but the coverage isn't great on the sides of my nose, and it's not doing anything for the texture of my skin in that area.

I will probably use the rest of the sample as an under-eye concealer, since it creases less than most concealers in that area. It's possible that I could get it to work as a foundation with the right primer or mixer, but I'm not excited enough about it to pick up extra products just to get this one to work.

ETA: Forgot to mention that the Sensual Skin Enhancer has a very strong powdery/floral fragrance that I don't like, and it doesn't fade much while you wear it. I could really do without that, and it's another reason I wouldn't pay for this in the full size.

Chanel Le Vernis in Vamp

Chanel Vamp is very pretty. It contains a bunch of iridescent shimmer and some silver micro-glitter, which I don't think is visible in the photo above. For some reason, it shows up better in this iPhone photo. I used two coats, and it dried unusually fast. It still chipped the day after I applied it like everything else does for me, so there isn't going to be any $28 nail polish in my future. The sample was about enough for 1.5 manicures at 2 coats (or one manicure at 3 coats, I guess). This is how much was left after I painted my nails once:

The Hourglass Blush in Ethereal Glow looked pretty blah when I swatched it on my arm, but it's actually quite nice on me. It's really subtle and natural. I think if you have similar coloring to mine and you want "no makeup" blush, this is a good option, though I don't know how it would work on other skin tones. Here it is on my face (I'm also wearing the Sensual Skin Enhancer, so you can see how it performed over my chin acne, and the Laura Mercier eyeshadow in this photo):

Very natural--my cheeks are now the same color as my naturally pink nose. Here are some comparison swatches, done with my finger to build up the pigmentation enough to make the color differences obvious. You can probably see why I wasn't excited about this when I first swatched it.

Swatches of Hourglass Ethereal Light, Tarte Fearless, Wet N Wild Pearlescent Pink, and Nars Orgasm

Left to right: Hourglass Ethereal Light, Tarte Fearless, Wet N Wild Pearlescent Pink, and Nars Orgasm.

When I first applied the Tom Ford Matte Lip Color in Pussy Cat, I thought, "Oh great, another Maybelline Touch of Spice dupe." You can see from the swatches below that, in fact, it's pinker. The formula, judging from my sample, is nearly identical to the Maybelline Creamy Matte formula, which is great as far as I'm concerned. I love those lipsticks. Easy to apply, doesn't slip around, wears for a long time, and isn't drying. The main difference is that the Tom Ford lipstick doesn't have the floral fragrance in it. But even though they aren't dupes, both Touch of Spice and Bite Glacé already fill that niche nicely for me, so I really don't need Pussy Cat too.  Especially for $53,

Swatches of Tom Ford Matte Lip Color in Pussy Cat, Maybelline Touch of Spice, and Bite Beauty Matte Lip Crayon in Glacé

Left to right: Tom Ford Matte Lip Color in Pussy Cat, Maybelline Touch of Spice (reviewed here), and Bite Beauty Matte Lip Crayon in Glacé.

Finally, Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat looked lovely in the pan, but when I first swatched it with the sponge applicator, it was like sheer black dust and a bunch of gold glitter. Fortunately, applied to my actual eyelid over primer, it was more interesting. Warmer with an almost duochrome shift. But still really messy. You can see the fallout below my eye (click to enlarge) of both the dark base color and the gold glitter, which got worse as the day went on, and it faded a lot. Maybe it would fare better over a glitter primer. Or used wet?

Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat

Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat

Black Karat looks very similar to L'Oreal Infallible Gilded Envy (reviewed here) in the pan.

L'Oreal Infallible eyeshadow in Gilded Envy and Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat

Gilded Envy is cooler/greener, more opaque, and less messy, though. The first swatch is Black Karat without primer, then with primer, and then Gilded Envy (with primer, I think). The specks everywhere are from walking from my bedroom to my balcony with the unprimed Black Karat on my arm.

Swatches of Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Black Karat and L'Oreal Infallible eyeshadow in Gilded Envy

I ended up liking everything in my box more than I thought I would when I first opened it up last month, but I'm not going to buy any of these things in full size. I'm still not convinced that there's really any high-end product that can't be matched or bettered by something less expensive. I'm trying to find one. The search continues!

Reminder: The price of a Choix subscription (or is it "So Choix"?) has dropped to $15 a month. You can also buy individual samples for $5 and get a $5 credit toward a purchase. And you can get 10% off if you use someone's referral link ETA: You now get $5 off your first box by using someone's referral link (here's mine).

They've also added some new brands, including Tarte, which is exciting. I said last time that I hoped they would add some brands that belong in a similar category to Benefit. There are some new skincare products from Philosophy, Glamglow, etc., as well. Any recommendations for next time?


  1. This batch of samples is actually making me see the point of Choix. My main objection to most subscription boxes is that I wouldn't go out of my way to try the contents, so why should I pay to receive them passively in a box? But I actually *would* go out of my way to try, say, an Hourglass powder.

    Do you find that it lessens your experience to have the products in a different format from usual (e.g. the Tom Ford lipstick melted into a pan)? The actual formula is the most important thing, of course, but I also make purchasing decisions based on how the product works as a whole unit.

    1. Yes, that's something that's missing. Trying to use my regular powder brush in a 1" pan/pot of Guerlain or Hourglass powder, or having to use a brush to apply lipstick (which I hate), for example. If I actually used the dinky applicators they supply, it would be even less helpful. But I generally don't care too much about packaging unless it's terrible, and I figure I can get most of that from other photos/reviews--for most things. I still think being able to apply the stuff at home is better than swatching it in a store, even if I can't play with the package.

      But actually, one of the samples in my July box has the exact problem you mention, because I got one of those Lancome Juicy Shakers, which you are, as the name implies, supposed to shake before applying. The sample is packaged in an air-tight clicky pen, which means you can't actually mix the darker pigment with the translucent gloss. So it's not applying at all like it's meant to. Sometimes I get only gloss squeezing out and sometimes I get half gloss/half pigment, etc.

  2. I own four Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadows, including Black Karat, and all but one are glitter dust storms. They are brilliantly beautiful over a glitter adhesive, though. I've actually never used Black Karat without one! But for a "wet/dry" formula they're just dreadful, most shades are nigh unusable dry.

    I hated how brown Touch of Spice is and I actually really like the appearance of Pussycat, except that Tom Ford price tag.

    1. That's good to know! I have a little foil of the Too Faced glitter glue, so I will be sure to use that the next time. Black Karat is really lovely while it lasts.

      There must be a non-$53 Pussy Cat dupe out there somewhere. It's sort of between Touch of Spice and Lust for Blush. Maybe I will try mixing those two and see what happens.

    2. I've heard that NARS Anna is a dupe for Pussycat, though the Audacious lipsticks aren't exactly cheap (cheaper than $53, though). Milani Matte Blissful looks similar, too, though it might be a bit lighter. I love Milani's Moisture Matte formula!

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  4. The mystery tool looks like a lip gloss wand I have. Maybe that's what it's for?

    1. I wonder if it is meant to be used with the lipstick then? Last time I got lipstick, I got both one of these and a fuzzy doe foot. Hmmmmm.

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