Christmas/Hanukkah Women’s Fragrance Gift Guide

My apologies for being away so long but with the holidays coming up and code freezes encroaching (which drives everyone involved with software development crazy) I’ve gotten behind in posting.  Nevertheless, I’m back with what I hope will be a very helpful and inspiring post involving the touch aspect of fragrance gifting for the holidays for that special woman in your life.  My fragrance recommendations for gifting the men in your life haven’t changed since my Father’s Day article.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! Bring on the fragrance!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! Bring on the fragrance!

I realize that fragrance is a very individual thing.  However, my experience has been there are some fragrances within groups that hold appeal to everyone, and are not as likely to offend everyone around you.  The fragrances I will recommend in this post are either owned by me, or spoken highly of by those with a nose for fragrance and passion for fashion.

Clean and Bright

Perfect for formal settings yet interesting enough to make you stand out, clean and bright fragrances inspire smiles and generate compliments.  Consider these fragrances for someone who likes a fragrance that is memorable but not heavy or ‘offensive’.

Body by Victoria 

Marchesa Parfum d’Extase

Versace Bright Crystal

Coach Legacy

Complex

For that ‘I can’t quite place it but I love that scent’ women, complex fragrances offer a wonderful lingering scent that people can’t seem to place.  Be unforgettable with these scents.

Hanae Mori

Gucci Guilty Intense

Acqua di Gioia

Vince Camuto

Sophisticated

For the woman who seems to have it all under control or at least gives the appearance as such, go for a fragrance as sophisticated as she is.

Guerlain Shalimar

Bulgari Jasmin Noir

Michael Kors MICHAEL

Vera Wang

Spicy

Sometimes a floral fragrance isn’t desired.  For those women who prefer their scents more spice than floral based, try one of these lovelies.

YSL Opium

Calvin Klein Obsession

Guerlain Samsara

Chanel Chance

Fresh

These are great fragrances for women who aren’t big into wearing perfume.  Fresh scents evoke memories of fresh fruits, therapeutic essential oils and exhilarating ‘greens’.

Dolce and Gabanna Light Blue

Tom Ford Lavender Palm

Philosophy’s Living Grace

Clean Original

Teen/Tween

For teens and tweens, scents that are close to that of baked goods or simple notes such as vanilla are perfect choices and not too grown-up but are definitely not kid’s stuff. Fresh scents work as well for this age group.

Prada Candy

Fresh Lemon Sugar

Aquolina Pink Sugar

Philosophy’s Pure Grace

Fragrances to AVOID!!!

I personally do not favor gifting anyone with Chanel No 5 because it is a very heavy and very rich fragrance that doesn’t smell good on everyone (including myself).  Dior’s Poison is another heavy fragrance that unless you know for sure the woman you are shopping for wants it, please do not consider buying it.

As a public service I must warn you that no matter how slick the advertising, how pretty the pictures or how big of a fan you/your mom/your daughter/your mother -in-law is, please, do NOT purchase any ‘celebrity’ fragrance.  These include such scents as the infamous Lady Gaga’s Fame, Niki Minaj’s  Pink Friday and any fragrance with Beyonce or Kim Kardashian’s name on it.

So dear readers, are there any other fragrances I haven’t metioned that you think are great gifts?  Any to add to the ‘avoid at all costs’ list?  Please do drop a line and let me know.

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bareMinerals READY SPF 20 Foundation: The Rundown

Picutre it. Hot Florida weather and the humidity making it feel like 110 in the shade. You, however, look flawless and just touch-up the powder on your face like the Southern Belle you are or aspire to be.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s true!  Presenting bareMinerals READY SPF 20 Foundation!

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Bare Minerals READY foundation in Medium Dark and new slanted face brush

The ‘rubberized’ case is very comfortable to hold in the hand and contains approx .25 amount of product and sports a mirror inside. The powder is very easy to loosen so don’t be too aggressive with your usual ‘swirl, tap, buff’ movement as I did and wound up with powder all over my compact. If you have the slanted flat brush Bare Escentuals put out for this collection (or the Sonia Kashuk flat-top multipurpose brush from Target), tap the brush *lightly* against the
powder before applying it to the face.

As I am MAC NW 43 (NARS New Guinea and Make Up For Ever #75) I chose foundation shade in Medium Dark. Medium Deep would be my summer/Florida shade. Both shades I have used previously in the loose Matte foundation.

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The new slanted foundation brush makes applying the new READY foundation a breeze

Ready foundation builds very quickly and even for oily faces like me it provides a fresh, matte look that didn’t make my face look like a ‘ghost’. The finely-milled powder blended in with my skintone, giving me a flawless look.  I prefer to use this over the NARS Tinted Moisturizer (normal to dry skin) or Smashbox’s Camera Ready BB cream in Dark (for oily skin), but even alone it’s fabulous. I will warn that if you have strong red undertones as I do, pick a share designated for ‘Neutral’ undertones (Medium Dark, Medium Deep, etc) so you look natural and not like an extra from The Walking Dead.  If you have oily skin you *will* need to reapply this within a few hours. It isn’t a big deal and you will not need much to restore the oily spots back to matte flawlessness.  Just make sure to blot the oil off *first* with blotting paper or a tissue then reapply powder.

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Bare Escentuals READY foundation in Medium Dark over NARS Tinted Moisturizer in Martinique. Chanel glossimer in Jalousie on lips.

Ready foundation wears extremely comfortable and I felt no tightness nor itching after application and during wear. The SPF20 sunscreen is a physical sunblock consisting of Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.  There are are plenty of great skin-loving ingredients in this foundation, my favorite being jojoba esters as joboba provides moisture without irritating my sensitive skin and there are such skin comforting ingredients as meadowfoam seed oil. I prefer this to MAC’s Studio Fix (which breaks me out) and Make Up For Ever’s Duo Matte powder (no SPF in it), both of which I have used in the past.

Ready pressed powder foundation from Bare Escentuals costs $29 USD and is available at such retailers as Ulta.com, Sephora.com and Nordstrom.

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Bare Minerals READY Foundation–excellent for hot climates and sensitive skin

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (11%), Zinc Oxide (18%)

Inactive Ingredients: Boron Nitride, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Magnesium Silicate, Silica, Nylon-12, Humic Acids, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Jojoba Esters, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Lecithin, Betaine, Algae Extract, Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride, Iron Oxides.

Preview: Chanel Fall 2012

Ah fall. The air gets cooler, the leaves give a final grand show of color before falling, and somehow before all that the cosmetic collections for the season begin to come out. Chanel presents Les Essentiels de Chanel for Fall/Winter 2012–a cool-toned collection to sweep you front the last gasps of summer into the first few snowflakes of winter.

Fall 2012 from Chanel has arrived!

Lumière d’Artifices Beiges – Limited Edition
One of the things I love about highlighters made by luxury brands is the ornate decoration stamped into the product. The highlighter offered by Chanel for Fall 2012 is no exception. Described as “two shades of beige, infused with fine golden sparkles to highlight and define a radiant complexion that looks natural in the sun or glowing in evening lighting” this highlighter is imprinted with pretty ‘sequin’ mini-circles and alternating stripes of beige and light peach. If you are darker than olive-tone I would highly suggest swatching this in person before making a buying decision. I did get to see this in person and while it did look pretty on my dark skin it didn’t make me want to buy it right then and there.

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Chanel Fall 2012 Display at Bloomingdales. Don’t know what was up with the missing peach eyeshadow.

Joues Contraste in Rose Initiale
As a blush addict I love these for the buildability of color and the Rouge Joues Contraste blushes from Chanel are no exception. Going by the press photo the offering for Fall looks to be a bit fair for dark skintones (you can always use a highlighter underneath to negate this) but as Chanel promotes this as a shade complimentary to all skin tones, and after checking it out in person it’s mostly true. On my red skintone it seemed a bit chalky at first swatch but sheered out nice. Again, it didn’t scream ‘buy me’ like Malice did but it is a pretty universal pink. Definitely check this one out in person to swatch if you can.

Les 4 Ombres in Premier Regard
I’ve always admired how beautiful Chanel eye shadow quads are and this one is no exception. Seemingly wearable by all skintones, this quad is a mix of neutral tones of intense black (for smoke and lining), beige, tender pink and slightly scintillating taupe grey. You can definitely make a few gorgeous smokey eye looks with this palette. I have always found the quads to more of a value for your luxury beauty dollar than the singles, especially with the included mirror.

Ombre Essentielle (single eyeshadows)
There are five (5) eye shadow singles in the Fall 2012 collection. 1) Complice (natural soft peach) 2) Eclaire (sheer golden) 3) Furtif (pale romantic grey) 4) Infini (eye-opening silver) 5) Noir (intense, matte black). They look nice and are pigmented well but the only one that stood out to me when swatching in person was Furtif. Furtif is described as a pale romantic grey but there are some shimmers in it that I think would look amazing to enhance a black smokey romantic eye.

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Eyeshadow in ‘Furtif’ by Chanel (Fall 2012) over Make Up For Ever #2 Aqua Cream. You can get the same look wearing this shadow over Maybelline’s Color Tatoo cream shadow in ‘Audacious Asphalt’

Stylo Yeux Waterproof (Eye liner pencils)
Two color shades are offered. One called Silver Light (limited edition) and another called Noir Intense (rich, carbon black). I am partial to the Silver Light for adding a pop of shimmer to the tearduct area and under the browbone and I think it would look amazing layered on top of Noir Intense. Silver Light is a limited-edition color while Noir Intense is permanent.

Rouge Coco and Rouge Coco Shine in Caractère
The iconic Rouge Coco lipstick has several offerings for Fall/Winter 2012. Rouge Coco in Caractere is a brown with a dash of violet plum. Two Rouge Coco Shines in Chic (transparent beige with fine golden sparkles) and Parfait (tender pink with a touch of gold). Where Rouge Coco lipsticks are more opaque, Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks appear to give a hint of color on the lips that isn’t a gloss and isn’t quite a lipstick.

Le Crayon Lèvres in Amarante
Chanel’s lip pencils aren’t something I’ve tried before but the color description pulled me in as I’m such a sucker for plum lips in the fall. But when I saw this in person and it had a little brush attached at the end, I was sold! The pencil is soft, very pigmented and blends nicely with the attached slanted brush. This is a new offering from Chanel.

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Amarante lip liner by Chanel — Fall 2012

Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss and Levres Scintillantes
Chanel brings two limited edition colors of it’s Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss or Fall 2012. Caprice, a delicate pink with a hint of grey and Troublant, a bold violet-plum brown. It is an understatement to say how much I love these. Intensely pigmented with enough shine to stand out but not so much your lips don’t look shellacked, these glosses are elegantly packed in a slim black packages with a doe foot applicator. I made it a point to pick up Troublant due to its unique coloring which I feel will look amazing with a sage green smokey eye. Caprice is a pretty pink but if you are dark skinned, be sure to layer and/or outline your lips with a light brown pencil before applying this color so it isn’t washed out by your skintone.

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Chanel’s Rouge Allure lip gloss in Troublant over Amarante lip liner. Both items are for Fall 2012

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Eyeshadow in ‘Furtif’ by Chanel (Fall 2012) over Make Up For Ever #2 Aqua Cream. Lips in Chanel’s Troublant over Amarante lip pencil. Tom Ford’s Savage blush on cheeks

Also offered is a Levres Scintillantes (AKA Glossimer) in Sweet Beige. This is described as a discrete beige with a hint of sparkle. Glossimers usually have less pigment than the Rouge Allure lipglosses and this one would be great for giving a slight color lift to the lips. Definitely consider layering this over the new lip pencil Chanel is bringing out with this collection.

Le Vernis Nail Lacquer
Chanel seasonal nail polish launches are an event unto themselves. Last year’s drew from the natural beauty of gemstones such as peridot, while this year’s collection seems more suited to the chic shades of parisian fall. As with last year there are three shades:

Frenzy – lilac grey;
Suspicious – dazzling fuchsia;
Vertigo – an almost black lacquer that contains a heart of red pearly particles that reveal themselves according to the light.

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Chanel Nail Vernis in Furtif — Gorgeous nail shade for Fall 2012

Frenzy looks to be the most dupeable of the three. At first glance it appears to be very similiar to Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Jane and Essie’s Sand Tropez. Suspicious also looks dupeable as there are plenty of bright fuchsia polishes but it is still very alluring. Vertigo looks to be the star out of all three. The finish sounds quite different than what I’m used to seeing Chanel put out and it could wind up being this Fall’s ‘Peridot’ people were clamoring for.

Final Thoughts
Chanel is the classic beauty line. Not very risky in terms of color but always on trend and always classy. Where the Summer 2012 line was very warm and not to my liking, the cool tones of Fall 2012 have me excited about several products. For sure I am picking up the lip pencil in Armante, lip gloss in Troublant. If there is room left in the beauty budget, Vertigo is definitely next on the list.

Les Essentiels de Chanel was scheduled to be available at most upscale retailers begining in August of 2012 but I spotted it at Bloomingdales and online at Chanel.com, Nordstrom.com and NeimanMarcus.com. Of course always feel free to call your favorite Chanel counter to inquire if the collection is available for purchase.

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Love the lipgloss but the eye shadow…not so much. Goes on smooth but easily dupeable with MAC’s Silver Ring Veluxe Pearl eyeshadow or if you have it, Hocus Pocus from MAC’s Bloggers Obsessions collection.

Father’s Day Shopping Guide: Fragrance Gifting

Think fast! Have you purchased your Father’s Day gift(s) yet?

“Fifty Shades Of Grey is Every-damn-where!”

If you are anything like me, you put off purchasing any gift at the last possible minute.  Unfortunately it makes you run around like a headless chicken. But not to fret–I’ve got you covered.  Unlike a tie (which is a lame loser gift anyway) fragrance is something that not only enhances the attractiveness of the wearer, but makes the wearer nice to be around.  It’s a gift that gives way past the recipient and giving it suggests you took time to consider what they would like as opposed to just shoving something in a box that you wouldn’t gift to your worst enemy.

For your consideration and last-minute shopping, I have culled together an assortment of men’s fragrances that are fresh, classic, edgy and downright awesome for gift-giving.  I realize fragrance is a very personal thing but given the testing I’ve done over the past several weeks, talking with lonely but very helpful men’s fragrance counter sales associates, reading industry articles, talking to friends and getting the scoop from the 2012 Fragrance Industry (FiFi) awards, I feel this is a safe assortment of scents that won’t recall fragrance memories of Brut, Hai Karate or even worse, Axe body spray.

Gucci Guilty

Gucci Guilty for Men — The 2012 Fifi Mens’ Fragrance of the Year

I’m not even going to mince words.  Gucci Guilty, the brainchild of the ever-so-sexy Tom Ford, is a kick-ass sexy fragrance in a bottle so masculine yet elegant, James Bond would sport it without shame.

The industry says:

Made for the man who knows what he wants, this fragrance is a powerful mix of excitement, allure, and sensuality. It awakens the senses with a burst of zesty lemon, cool lavender, and spicy pink pepper. The subtle heart notes then reinforce the fragrance’s clean freshness, creating a bridge to the sensual and provocative woodiness in the base. As it dries down, the scent focuses the hallmark of all Gucci fragrances, patchouli, and mingles alluringly with cedar, sandalwood, and amber. The overall effect is young, stylish, and sexy—a bold and uncompromising fragrance that captures the essence of Gucci.

I say:

Blows back your nose hairs from the pure, raw sensuality of the fragrance then softens to a sexy, alluring mix of fresh woods and spices.  It won the 2012 FiFi Award for Best Men’s Fragrance.  In other words, the people for whom fragrance is their business have anointed this men’s fragrance as ‘The Business’.  Make this the FIRST mens fragrance you smell while shopping.

Aqua di Gio

Aqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani — 2012 Fifi Awards ‘Hall Of Fame’ Winner

Back in the day (and I know I’m dating myself) the clasically timeless fragrances were the likes of Polo by Ralph Lauren and Drakkar by Guy Laroche.  Fast forward to today and Aqua Di Gio has earned its way into this prestigious club.  Don’t think so? I dare you to walk into anywhere mens fragrance is sold and not see this prominently displayed.  Even Target has it on hand.

The industry says:

A resolutely masculine fragrance born from the sea, the sun, the earth, and the breeze of a Mediterranean island. Transparent, aromatic, and woody in nature Aqua Di Gio Pour Homme is a contemporary expression of masculinity, in an aura of marine notes, fruits, herbs, and wood.

I say:

Classically sexy.  If you’re shopping for a man who takes risks within reason and loves to be the best dressed in the room with his own edge, this is an excellent choice.  This year it won the 2012 FiFi Hall Of Fame award so those who have a paid ‘nose’ have known for years how hot this fragrance is and how many man consistently flock to it and women are drawn to the smell of it.

Hanae Mori HM for Men

Hanae Mori HM For Men

My affinity for this fragrance is completely Neiman Marcus’ fault.  At first sniff you are captivated by the strength and complexity of this fragrance.  It takes a certain masculine strength to wear this fragrance or else it will wear you.  Frankly, this is my first choice for gifting to anyone in the military for Father’s Day.

The Industry says:

A subtle blend of 50 exquisite essences harmonize with the warmth of the skin to produce a woodsy Asian scent unlike any other. Lemon, lavender and black currants float over a mossy vanilla and sandalwood base. The cap’s design is inspired by the Tsuka, the piece found at the extremity of antique samurai swords. HM by Hanae Mori —an enduring classic.

I say:

This fragrance contains oakmoss which adds to the strength of this woodsy fragrance and makes it stand out in contrast with other woodsy fragrances like Ralph Lauren’s Polo.  If the man you are shopping for is into finely-crafted goods whether they be watches, swords or my favorite, firearms, this is an excellent choice.  Hanae Mori fragrances are mainly found in upscale retailers so while it is possible it may be in the prestige fragrance section at Target, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Guerlain Homme

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Guerlain Homme by Guerlain

Fresh from my favorite luxury brand comes a new men’s fragrance that is so fresh, so clean I consider it a must-have for men who live in the tropics and sub-tropics.  I had the great fortune of smelling this fragrance at the Guerlain boutique in the France pavillion at EPCOT.  Not sure if it was the amazing sexy smell or the Cuban Disney Cast Member trying to sell me on it but it definitely made an impression on me.

The Industry says:

Introducing Guerlain Homme, a magnetic new fragrance for him, inspired by the famous “mojito” cocktail. A splash of citrus and fresh floral notes atop aromatic, woodsy accords blend into an addictive, subtly faceted mélange that is both astonishing and familiar. This scent is the ultimate stimulation for the senses—the essence of luxury for the sophisticated man.

I say:

The use of lime, sugarcane, rum, vetiver and rum in this fragrance makes it an excellent choice for men who love their cigars.  Even if your man isn’t a cigar afficionado (and why isn’t he?), this scent has a lighter, sweeter smell with musky grassy notes from Vetiver and Pelargonium.  Fresh, surprising and unmistakeably masculine.

Bleu de Chanel

Bleu de Chanel–fresh, crisp and masculine

If you remember Davidoff’s Cool Water, Bleu de Chanel is more sophisticated but still retains that ‘ocean’ freshness.  This is a fragrance I believe is more suited to younger men (remember, NO Axe!) but if your man is young at heart it is still an excellent choice.

The Industry Says:

A woody aromatic fragrance for the man who defies convention, and resists the ordinary every day, finding satisfaction in the unexpected. His fragrance, a provocative blend of citrus and woods, liberates the senses — fresh, clean, profoundly sensual — a signature statement of determination and desire. Be unexpected.

I say:

Men who love luxury but are not into showing it off all the time, or young men making their first real foray into the land of men’s fragrance should find this scent appealing.  This is a pretty safe choice for gifting.

Chrome by Azzaro

Chrome by Azzaro

Azzaro’s Chrome is a fresh light smell very similar to Bleu de Chanel but a touch fresher.  Chrome has lingering orange-citrus notes while Bleu de Chanel leans slightly more woodsy.

The Industry says:

Inspired by the dreams of a new generation and the reflections of those who came before, Chrome is a contemporary, yet traditional masculine fragrance that speaks to men of all ages. Created in 1997 by world-renowned couturier Loris Azzaro, Chrome’s fresh citrus notes are an authentic expression of man and his infinite tenderness.

I say:

The industry description may sound ‘flowery’ but this fragrance is anything but.  It is a ‘fresh from the shower’ type of smell.  Still masculine, this is a softer and more contemporary scent.

Finalizing Your Decision

So have you decided yet?  What I’ve presented is a mere fraction of what is available in the world of Men’s fragrance but what I consider to be the ‘cream of the crop’.

Still not sure what to get?  Not sure which scent your man would like for Father’s Day? Just like with my Art of Shaving article, Sephora has you covered.  Behold, the Deluxe Fragrance Sampler for Him by Sephora:

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The Deluxe Fragrance Sampler for Him by Sephora. Get all of these for a great price to sample for Father Day and redeem the enclosed certificate for a full size of his favorite!

Granted Sephora does have other sets but the Deluxe set includes three (3) of my absolute favorite scents for men: Gucci Guilty, Hanae Mori HM and Aqua di Gio.  The other scents are quite nice and the small sizes make them perfect to put into a carry-on without having TSA confiscate it.  The best part is, while only priced at $50 (it’s almost a $100 total value), your man can decide which fragrance he likes out of of the group and using the certificate inside can redeem it for a full-sized bottle that he (or you) like the most.

So let me know–what men’s fragrances are your favorites?  Remember, we get to do this all over again for Christmas/Hanukkah!

Preview: Chanel Summer 2012 Haul

I know I said I wasn’t going to pick anything up from this collection but when I saw the pieces in person, I just had to have the lipgloss and nail polish.

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Chanel Summer 2012: Calypso Glossimer and Les Vernis in Delight

Glossimer in Calypso

In general I’m not a big fan of Chanel’s glossimers because while it is big on shine, most of them are bland in color.
Calypso (and also Jalousie if you can find it) is VERY pigmented which make it a must-have for me. Caylpso is a tangerine orange with shimmer and will give your lips a nice tropical kiss of peachy orange with or without lipiner.

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Swatch of Chanel’s Calypso Glossimer–a beautiful Tangerine shimmer lipgloss (w/ flash)

Les Vernis in Delight

It reminds me of SpaRitual’s Laughing In Pink. A beautiful warm beachy color that reminds me of the sun reflecting off of the hot sand on Miami Beach. Gorgeous next to tanned, deep and especially dark skintones. While it is paque in one coat, I can’t speak to the longevity of the wear until I’ve worn it for more than 1 day. The finish is slightly gritty but I like how it reminds me of beach sand.

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Chanel Summer 2012 Nail Vernis in Delight–shimmering sand for your nail

Retailing for $29.50 and $26 respectively, the Calypso Glossimer and the Les Vernis in Delight are limited edition products.

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Makeup Intelligence: Chanel Summer 2012 [Updated!]

UPDATE! This collection is NOW AVAILABLE on Chanel.com‘s website.

Thanks to CafeMakeup.com, there are some preliminary images of Chanel’s Summer 2012 collection.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Chanel 2012 Summer Collection -- Pretty heavy on the warm colors. (source: CafeMakeup.com)

I really can’t say I’m enthused about this collection.  The colors skew too warm for me and the palette is rather bland.  This is definitely a collection for those who aren’t big risk takers in the color department this Summer.  What are your thoughts?

Chanel Summer 2012 Collection -- Release date TBC

Chanel Summer 2012 Collection -- Release date TBC