Filed In: Illamasqua

Illamasqua Gleam in ‘Aurora’ – Generation Q Collection


Highlighters have come a long way from their über-sparkly past, and I am having a total love affair with them in the present. Available in many formats – powder, liquid, crème, or a hybrid version – they also come in varying intensities along with a decent selection of shades to suit all tastes and skin tones. I have found that as I’ve gotten older, nothing can add an instant kiss of illumination to my face than a well-placed dab of highlighter, and Illamasqua’s Gleam in ‘Aurora’ (launched with the Generation Q collection) is just that: radiance in the palm of your hand.


Illamasqua Gleam in ‘Aurora’ – (CAD $32.00 6.5 g/0.23 oz) is an ultra creamy, champagne toned highlighter with ultra fine iridescent and pearlescent pigments that can provide an immediate skin-brightening effect – for face and/or body. The product had a nice slip between my fingers, and spread quite easily along the skin – almost gliding upon the surface really, leaving a subtle glow in its wake. Without feeling greasy but never drying down completely either, it appears to impart a lovely sheen to the skin, especially when applied with a light hand. The sheer-ish and neutral base colour is quite natural looking as well, able to suit a wide range of skin tones, from the palest to quite dark.

The thing you need to look out for with any highlighting product, is its ability to emphasize pores, although the effect of ‘Aurora’ is so subtle, that I can honestly say that I didn’t notice anything undesirable – in fact, it gave my skin a nice “lit-from-within” kind of boost. Staying power was easily 6 hours over foundation-primed skin, less so when I tested it on bare skin. You also have a choice of how to apply ‘Aurora’; I found that a flat paddle-style foundation brush was excellent in the initial lay-down, then I used my fingers to completely blend it in.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
– Parabens
– Sulfates
– Synthetic Fragrances
– Synthetic Dyes
– Petrochemicals
– Phthalates
– GMOs
– Triclosan

Note: the packaging directs state that it can also be worn under foundation (which I did not try), although that’s something worth looking into; I suspect that when ‘Aurora’ is layered under a more sheer-leaning foundation, the effect will not only appear more natural, but provide incredible luminosity as well. On my to-do list for sure …

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’ (ingredients listing)

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’ – natural light

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’ – with flash

Ilamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’ – sunlight swatch

Illamasqua Gleam ‘Aurora’ – natural light swatch


Final thoughts: Not just for evening makeup anymore, highlighters can make the difference between a dull face and one you can’t help but stare at In a good way) – provided the product in question is judiciously applied, of course. As I have combination skin, I usually prefer my highlighters to come in powder form, but for that “natural” gleam, nothing beats a crème based product such as ‘Aurora’. With a barely detectable scent and totally grit-free shimmer, this is the best way to easy yourself into highlighter territory, ensuring it will compliment the rest of your look – not compete against it. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you of how addictive it will become …

Illamasqua products are available through their website as well as Sephora.




*Disclaimer: Product sample provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration

Illamasqua Noble & Cameo Nail Varnish (limited edition)


It’s not always possible to reinvent the “colour” wheel, but cult favourite brand Illamasqua, somehow makes it look easy. Looking deceptively simple in their tall rectangular bottles, the two limited edition hues of ‘Noble’ and ‘Cameo’, still manage to stand out nonetheless – by virtue of their unique twists on light blue. This is taking a primary colour to a whole other new level…

Illamasqua Noble & Cameo

Illamasqua Noble & Cameo


Noble – an intense cyan blue shade, in a formula that literally defines perfection: self-levelling and a perfectly flowing density – neither too thick, nor too thin, making application effortless. Thoroughly pigmented as well, it can easily be a 1-coater if applied thickly enough and the brilliant glossy finish at the end needs to be seen to be believed. Bonus: No staining left behind upon removal. Coats applied: 2

Illamasqua Noble – in sunlight

Illamasqua Noble – indirect light


Cameo – a vivid periwinkle blue with subtle lavender leanings, this shade was a touch more sheer than ‘Noble’, but with a similarly amazing application. This paradoxically vivid yet filtered-looking hue, falls in a completely self-levelling manner, also leaving behind an über-glassy shine to go with its totally unique colour … of which my husband felt compelled to comment on (“wow – what colour is THIS?)! Bonus: no staining left behind upon removal. Coats applied: 2

Illamasqua Cameo – in sunlight

Illamasqua Cameo – indirect light


Final thoughts: I shouldn’t have been surprised that Illamasqua would find a way to create something unseen before in a nail varnish; they seem to excel at that, and these two shades are living proof. Looking at them in the bottles, they not only appeared unassuming, but rather similar as well, leading me to believe that their differences would be negligible – happy to say how wrong I was. Looking through my collection of light blue shades, I found nothing even remotely close enough to compare, and so ‘Noble’ and ‘Cameo’ stand alone – and proud of it!

Available exclusively through Sephora, please note that these are limited edition shades.




*Disclaimer: Product samples provided by the company for my unbiased consideration

Illamasqua: ‘Prosperity’ Nail Varnish – Limited Edition Rubber Brights Collection (swatches & review)


It’s not often that the word “rubber” is associated with nail lacquer … unless it happens to come from Illamasqua. This peculiar finish was first introduced in the fall of 2011 with the brand’s ‘Theatre of the Nameless’ collection (previously reviewed here), where its unique look became an instant hit. Recently released as a Sephora exclusive, ‘Prosperity’ is one of 10 new varnishes now available in this “dominatrix-chic” finish – whips not included.

the 10 Rubber Brights shades (source)

Prosperity – boxed


‘Prosperity’ is a paradox in more ways than one; this vivid purple colour which bears some magenta tones in its base but can also look slightly blue-tinged in other lighting, falls somewhere between cool and warm, making it easily worn by all skin hues across the spectrum. The formula was STELLAR: a perfect flow with great opacity even by the first coat, levelling off utterly smooth. Verging into neon territory when initially applied, its unique finish soon tamps down the colour to a lesser intensity, although no less vibrant. The rubberized finish takes about 1 1/2 minutes to develop, leaving nails looking softly diffused, as though seen through a filter. Ridiculously COOL! Coats applied: 2

Another benefit to a varnish with this finish, is that you can easily change things up by adding a layer of top coat for a glossier look, or take things back down a notch by applying a mattifying varnish, as evidenced by the 3 looks I’m showing for each of the following swatches (all done with base coat).

  • the original rubberized finish looks almost 3D and slightly “out-of-focus”, almost fuzzy
  • the glossy look really emphasizes its “purpleness”, turning up the intensity
  • the mattified version muddies up its appearance by making it look slightly flat – an even easier way to wear a colour this extreme

in sunlight

in sunlight, top coat added

in sunlight, mattified

shaded light

shaded light, top coat added

shaded light, mattified

with flash

with flash, top coat added

with flash, mattified


Final thoughts: I absolutely love the chameleon-like properties of this finish; the super-vivid colour ensures your nails will get noticed, then the rubberized finish will guarantee a double-take. Bearing an amazing formula that almost applies itself, doesn’t hurt either – that’s for sure. Something about this entire look is almost subliminally seductive, yet still manages to stay modern & sophisticated … not sure how Illamasqua managed to capture all those qualities in a bottle of nail varnish, but there it is.

Illamasqua’s ‘Prosperity’ (CDN $18.00/15 ml), is one of the 10 limited edition ‘Rubber Finish Nail Varnishes’ and available only through Sephora as an online exclusive – get ’em while they’re hot!




*Disclaimer: Product sample provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration

Illamasqua – Generation Q Collection AW/12 ‘Charisma’ and ‘Creator’ Nail Varnish (swatches, comparisons, & review)


Leave it to the razor-sharp creative minds at Illamasqua, to create a collection that almost takes a 360° from what they’ve been showing us lately. A far cry from the exotic, the eccentric, and the alluringly bizarre past Illamasqua incarnations, the ‘Generation Q’ collection of products for Autumn/Winter 2012 is actually rather, well … universally wearable. Could it be that “normal” is the new “weird”?!


From Illamasqua’s press release:


Where beauty has no age limits

I. Absolutely. LOVE. That. Frequently, I’ll see an ad for a beauty collection, and then realize how totally unwearable that look may be for me — highly frustrating, especially when the models in the ad just look so darn good …

What Illamasqua wishes to achieve with this collection, is to dispel the myth that beauty is highly exclusive – all by creating products that are highly inclusive, regardless of one’s gender, skin colour, or age. To that end, not only has the brand reached their goals on every level, but exceeded them as well. Take for instance these 2 limited edition varnishes; a ruby so richly saturated with colour, that it can’t help but empower its wearer, and a shimmering black that takes you to the very edge of modernism, and back again, both in Illamasqua’s ridiculously stellar formula. All swatches are with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat.


‘Charisma’ is like applying liquified rubies along your nails. Seriously. A superbly flowing formula & application: this rich garnet base is completely self-levelling, with no visible brush strokes and filled with ultra finely ground magenta and burgundy shimmer. Applying with an intense pigmentation of colour even by the 1st coat, a second layer provides a more jewel-like tone and intensifies its plummy undertones. A medium-thick viscosity that allows no running or pooling into the cuticle area, the shine at the finish was an extra high gloss. BONUS: No staining upon removal. Coats applied: 2

in sunlight


in shaded light

with flash


Finding a ‘Charisma’ clone in my collection wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be; it came as something of a surprise when I stumbled across Essie’s ‘Swing Velvet’ (I believe this is a 2009 release and may not be available anymore) and then did a further double-take when I swatched the two together. How it compared:

index & pinkie fingers: Essie’s ‘Swing Velvet’ (2 coats) – a significantly thinner formula, but nonetheless still quite colour-saturated by the 1st coat as well. Applying smoothly and quite glossy at the finish, this is literally a degree or 2 deeper in tone when seen with the naked eye against ‘Charisma’, but other than its shimmer being a touch coarser-looking, the two are almost identical. Coats applied: 2

in sunlight

in sunlight/alternate lighting

in shaded light

with flash


‘Creator’ (I LOVE this name!) bears a slightly sheer black base, redolent with ultra fine square and rectangularly shaped silver glitter. An excellently flowing formula that applies very smoothly despite the glitter, this became 100% opaque by the second coat, although the finish was definitely not as glossy – imparting a gentle sheen instead. One layer of top coat is all that’s needed to really enhance this beauty and to keep it smooth to the touch. While removal does require a bit of elbow grease, it wasn’t too difficult – just bear in mind that the glitter will travel somewhat. Completely non-staining upon removal, another plus. Coats applied: 2

in sunlight


in shaded light

with flash


Looking for a comparison shade, the first lacquer that came to mind was NARS’ ‘Night Breed’ (previously reviewed here) from their ‘Night Series’ release. Yes, they are quite close. No, they’re not identical. If you missed out on the NARS, as it had been a limited edition item, here’s your chance at redemption — not that Illamasqua comes second to any other brand, mind you. How it compared:

index & pinkie fingers: NARS ‘Night Breed’ – a similar flow and application, but the black base is slightly more opaque, with its glitter bearing some tiny round shapes and being less densely packed than ‘Creator’. There appears to be a blueish tinge to this hue overall, although it winds up with the same dulled finish and has a similar level of grit to its glitter as the Illamasqua. Coats applied: 2

in sunlight

in sunlight/alternate lighting

in shaded light

with flash


Final thoughts: One thing I really admire about Illamasqua’s varnishes, is their consistency: the all maintain the same excellent level of quality in their flow, spread, pigmentation and wear – even the brush holds the right amount of rigidity/flexibility for a superior application. Neither ‘Charisma’ or ‘Creator’ are outrageous shades in and of themselves; what makes them stand out is their almost jewel-like intensity, as well as how well these shades translate from day to night – eminently suitable for all skin types across the spectrum, much like Illamasqua intended them to be.

The ‘Generation Q’ collection is set to launch on September the 6th, but you can see the entire range on Illamasqua’s website live now.




*Disclaimer: Product samples provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration

Illamasqua – ‘Human Fundamentalism’ Collection Spring/Summer 2012 (swatches & review)


Turning the beauty world on its head, is what avant-garde cosmetics guru Illamasqua does best, and the ‘Human Fundamentalism’ collection for Spring/Summer 2012 does exactly that, but in a very sly way; yes, there are the uncommon colours (white eyeliner, blue lipstick) but it’s how this brand takes the more accepted colours and presents them to us in such a creative new light that is the true genius. According to the company:

“Human Fundamentalism is an explosion of your alter ego. It’s becoming who you are and not who you’re told to be. Beauty isn’t conformity, but the fundamental human desire to express your inner self on the outside”

– I absolutely love this sentiment, and wish more people would take the time to really “hear” it –

“Human Fundamentalism is the unique spirit and fundamental human drive for individuality. It’s a belief, a movement and an emotion. A connection with the spirit of the age and its global motifs. You are your own human hybrid, a unique nomad of street cultures and global trends”

Alex Box, Illamasqua Creative Director



I had only just begun hearing about this new collection from Illamasqua (they keep their cards glued to their chest!), when this package arrived in the mail; holding my breath, I opened it up carefully and this is what awaited me inside:

the “golden” note!

a literal explosion of colour

how did Illamasqua know that I love tie-tye?

et, voilà! Have you ever seen anything as delicious?

‘Nomad’ is described by Illamasqua as a bright jade, and it’s all that – and more. An exceptional formula, it is made even more impressive by how easily it spreads across the nails, levelling off perfectly smooth and leaving behind nothing but an ultra-glossy shine. Two coats were all that were needed for perfect opacity, and once it was dry, I couldn’t stop staring at its vivid surf green hue – a paradoxically modern/retro feel, which I totally love! All swatches are with base and top coat.

in sunlight

in sunlight/alternate view



in shaded light

with flash

‘Vernau’, described as a “yellow ochre”, is actually more of a buttery deep butterscotch shade. Intensely pigmented, I was surprised to find how delicately it applied and how easily blendable it was, able to be built up or faded out, while the finely milled powder of this shadow had absolutely no powdery kickback or residue. This shade is so versatile and will compliment basically any colour you pair it with, as well as perfect for a light wash all on its own.

‘Burst’ – a brooding teal hue, is so colour saturated, and yet the finely milled powder means a light hand in application can give the barest whisper of colour, but once more, easily buildable to a higher intensity. While not as versatile as ‘Vernau’, I have a total weakness for blue-green shades and love how even a hint of this gem can add such a lift to a look.

Precision Ink in ‘Scribe’, is a white liquid liner in a felt-tip pen format bearing a long and chiseled end, which makes for effortless application in creating the finest of lines. I like how the formula does not dry instantaneously, giving you a few precious seconds with which to work, but once it sets, it’s literally budge & flake proof for hours. I admit to being rather hesitant in using a colour as stark as this, and yet, it has such a “swinging 60’s” vibe to it, that I can totally see this working as a “Twiggy” tribute look … yeah, baby!


swatches from left to right: Burst, Vernau & Scribe (in natural light)

with flash (all on unprimed skin)


I was curious about trying out the new precision ink in ‘Scribe’ from the minute I saw it, but as I’m not that adept with these things, I hesitated … anyway, the following attempt, while not perfect, was fun just the same! *please be kind*!!!

Colours used: ‘Burst’ and ‘Vernau’ on lids and lashline, with a dusting of ‘Burst’ along the brows


Using the same shadows in a much looser application style, I wanted to show how these colours can also be used to create a “softer”, less defined look (minus ‘Scribe’, of course!).


Final thoughts: Playing with Illamasqua products, I feel like I’m in art class all over again, and just as excited to simply “create”. The quality of this brand is something one needs to experience first hand, and I love how they don’t cater to any one look, style, pattern, expectation, or even gender.  Anything goes and all you’re really expected to do is … enjoy! The ‘Human Fundamentalism’ collection which officially launches today through the Illamasqua and Sephora websites, and consists of several brand new products, is well worth looking over to draw forth your own “human” inspiration!





*Disclaimer: Product samples provided by the company for my unbiased consideration