My Life, My Reviews

CHANEL: Demo Experience + Vitalumière Aqua Review

If you follow me on Facebook or Snapchat, you may already know that I had the amazing opportunity to hang out with some of the ladies at CHANEL x Macy’s last week to demo some of their products. I was there for over two hours and got to try everything from makeup remover to fancy skincare and a lot of makeup, of course. It would take forever to write (and read) a step by step of everything that went on my face, but I thought I’d at least share all the products I got to try and what I know about some of them (I apologize in advance, this is going to be so long). I’ll also share my hits, misses, and the stuff that is probably fine but just not my style. If you don’t care about any of this and just want my review of the VA foundation, it’s after the divider about 2/3 of the way down.

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All products used are listed below in the order they were applied (to the best of my ability). Items marked with an asterisk (*) indicate products I own, either prior to or as a result of this experience.

Skincare:
*DÉMAQUILLANT YEUX INTENSE Gentle Biphase Eye Makeup Remover ($34.00 | 3.4oz)
LAIT CONFORT Creamy Cleansing Milk Comfort + Anti-pollution Face and Eyes ($45.00 | 5.0oz)
LOTION CONFORT Silky Soothing Toner Comfort + Anti-pollution ($45.00 | 6.8oz)
HYDRA BEAUTY FLASH Instantly Hydrating Perfecting Balm ($55.00 | 1.0oz)
LE BLANC Brightening Concentrate Double Action ($195.00 | 1.7oz)
LE BLANC Bright Moisture Cream TXC ($130.00 | 1.7oz)
LE LIFT Firming Anti-Wrinkle Eye Concentrate ($115.00 | 0.5oz)

Makeup:
LE BLANC Light Creator Brightening Makeup Base SPF40 “10 ROSÉE” ($55.00 | 1.0oz)
*VITALUMIÈRE AQUA Ultra-light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup SPF15 “12 BEIGE ROSÉ” ($48.00 | 1.0oz)
LES BEIGES Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF15 “No. 10” ($58.00 | 0.42oz)
LES BEIGES Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF15 “No. 30” ($58.00 | 0.42oz)
SUNKISS RIBBON Blush ($70.00 | 0.38oz)
ILLUSION D’OMBRE Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow “82 EMERVEILLE” ($36.00 | 0.14oz)
LES 4 OMBRES Quadra Eye Shadow “202 Tisse Camelia” ($61.00 | 0.07oz)
ÉCRITURE DE CHANEL Automatic Liquid Eyeliner “10 Noir” ($35.00 | 0.04oz)
CRAYON SOURCILS Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil “40 Brun Cendré” ($29.00 | 0.03oz)
LE VOLUME DE CHANEL Waterproof Mascara “10 Noir” ($32.00 | 0.21oz)
CORRECTEUR PERFECTION Long Lasting Concealer “31 BEIGE ROSÉ” ($42.00 | 0.26oz)
LE CRAYON LÈVRES Precision Lip Definer ($31.00 | 0.03oz)
ROUGE COCO SHINE Hydrating Sheer Lipshine “Energy” ($37.00 | 0.1oz)
AQUA CRAYON Lip Colour Stick ($31.00 | 0.01oz)
ROUGE COCO SHINE Hydrating Sheer Lipshine “80 Suspense” ($37.00 | 0.1oz)
*ROUGE COCO SHINE Hydrating Sheer Lipshine “54 Boy” ($37.00 | 0.1oz)

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These guys have a new home, with me! Cosmetic bag was free with purchase.

Before I continue with the details, I want to cut in and say that this was a fun, unique experience and an amazing opportunity to try an overwhelming number of Chanel products that I would otherwise know nothing about. The counter manager and makeup artist I got to work with were nothing short of lovely, and I basically got a mini spa treatment along with a full face of makeup. However, despite the ultra luxe playdate, I am going to be really honest with you guys: some of the products I really loved, some were just fine, and some I really did not like. I also want to be clear though that any issues (personal or scientific) that I may have with the products I tried have absolutely nothing to do with the artist I got to work with and everything to do with ingredients and the way products claim to work.

Photo Mar 18, 1 33 30 PM
“before” – makeup details here
Photo Mar 18, 4 20 28 PM
“after”

I am grateful for the experience, and even though I left with makeup that was not really my style… I left with makeup that wasn’t really my style, which means I probably would not have tried it on my own. Makeup is such a personal thing, when someone else does it for you: approach it like a learning experience instead of the gut reaction of disappointment that it doesn’t look like the exact same thing you would have put on yourself. I learned so many tips and tricks from these awesome women, several of which I have started incorporating into my daily routine. Maybe winged liner isn’t for me after all, but I’m way more confident in applying bronzer now than I was on Friday morning.

Okay, got a little carried away there, onto the demo. I was wearing makeup when I came in so we used the bi-phase eye makeup remover and the milky cleanser to wash my face. Both worked great, but washing my face without a sink is a rather strange experience. I then got a hydrating face mask with a face massage, followed by a warm towel to gently wipe it off. Moisturizer and an eye cream followed and then we were ready for makeup!

So let’s start with The Good Stuff: foundation, lipstick, blush, powder/bronzer. The Vitalumière Aqua foundation is the one Chanel product I owned prior to my “makeover” and I’m enjoying it so far – this is also the only product getting its own full-blown review which you can read further down below. The foundation as well as the Rouge Coco Shine lipstick were the top two things on my list to try out… mostly because my Favorite Internet Human, FleurdeForce, is a huge fan of both (YouTube made me do it, amiright?). I loved the balmy feel of the lipstick, not too shiny, and it was a nice wash of color for all three shades I got to try (Energy, Suspense, and Boy). Boy is the shade I ended up buying and it is an absolutely perfect “handbag lipstick” – light, neutral, maybe even MLBB (My Lips But Better), and super low maintenance. It’s not the type of color I usually go for – if you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know “natural” is not really my thing – but I think it’s definitely one of those shades any adult really should own and will be absolutely perfect for anything from 9-5 or special occasions.

CHANEL Rouge Coco Shine "54 Boy"
CHANEL Rouge Coco Shine “54 Boy”

Beyond the products I already knew I wanted to play with, the ribbon blush is definitely the first product that caught my attention at the counter and I thought it was beautiful both in the pan and on the skin. With five shades arranged in a geometric pattern, the Sunkiss Ribbon can be used as five separate shades or swirled together (entirely or selectively). The texture was nice and just pigmented enough so I got the color payoff I wanted without it being difficult to work with. I have a similar opinion about the Les Beiges powder foundations which were used both as a setting powder and then, two shades darker, as a bronzer. I have mostly shied away from bronzer because I could never find the right shade to make me look actually sunkissed instead of dirty, so I really liked this approach and it looked really natural.

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The Aftermath

The one skincare product I did enjoy and ultimately purchased was the biphase makeup remover. A solid choice for my skin type, I have been enjoying using it at home to remove eye makeup before using my regular cleanser. Since I use a cleansing oil, double cleansing is not as crucial, but the Chanel makeup remover is incredibly efficient, even for waterproof and impossible-to-remove mascaras like Benefit’s They’re RealAll that said, I don’t believe this is significantly better than other makeup removers of a similar style, just significantly more expensive. I am enjoying my purchase and will continue to use it, but ultimately bought it because I needed makeup remover in general. There are plenty of options out there for products with comparable performance and significantly lower price points (I really like this one from Canadian brand Marcelle).

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There were a few products on the makeup end of things that weren’t really for me, but are ultimately fine products. Namely, the mascara, eyeliner, brow pencil, and concealer. They all work as they should, my personal preference just leads to other products. The mascara left my lashes looking a bit clumpy and spidery – an effect many love, but I am not a fan of [for my own lashes]. The brow pencil and the second lip liner I tried were both just a bit too hard for my taste, both applied well and looked good, just not the consistency I go for. The liquid eyeliner also worked fine, but I think I’ve finally realized that it’s just not my thing. It has a thicker tip than I was anticipating and I just felt so self conscious with this thick wing, even behind my glasses, even though they were even and executed well. Finally, the concealer – I imagine this is great if you have normal to oily skin, but on my dehydrated skin it looked like cake batter. It creased, cracked, creped, whatever you want to call it. It reminded me a lot of the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, which I also hated. I couldn’t wait to get it off.

So, now that the good and decent stuff is over, I do have some bones to pick with Chanel, mostly in terms of skincare. Again, this is through no fault of the counter manager or makeup artist, I imagine they had very little say in the formulations and ingredients used.

The one [makeup] item that really honestly fell short (in my opinion) was the eyeshadow quad. It looked absolutely beautiful, but four shimmer shades in a quad is asking for trouble. Temptalia gave a glowing review, but as a stand-alone palette, I have to disagree. There’s a reason you rarely see someone using shimmer in the crease and while the shadows looked gorgeous in the pan, all that texture turned into a muddy, indecipherable mess on my lids that even a cream eyeshadow base couldn’t prevent. This is less about product quality and more feeling like high-end brands should be better than the rest in designing a complete quad. If this was being used in conjunction with matte shades, I’m sure it would be absolutely beautiful, but I am not the kind of person to take out several palettes at once just to do my makeup so if it can’t hold its own, I’m not that interested. Not to mention, at $61 for four tiny baked eyeshadows, I’d prefer to build my own palette with a variety of textures/finishes from Anastasia Beverly Hills (current promo: four for $40/eight for $70).

My only complaint about the artist who did most of my makeover was her insistence on me trying the toner despite having absolutely zero interest in doing so. I guess my instincts were on point – the third ingredient in the toner? Mineral oil: one of those “not inherently evil” ingredients, but one that is very cheap to use, can cause breakouts for some, and does not look great to put into high-end product lines. Perhaps I’m overreacting here as I am not a fan of toners in general, but for $45, I expect better. The bigger issue with this toner, as well as several of the other products, is its use of ingredients like “tulip leaf water” and claims that it helps protect the skin from pollution. There is no proof of this anywhere and few things get me running faster than unsupported claims or studies that haven’t been peer-reviewed (we’re getting there).

As for everything else I tried, it all felt great, but unfortunately most of Chanel’s skincare line is comprised of very expensive products that are ultimately glorified moisturizers. The products are almost all heavily scented, packed with alcohol, or boast “effective” ingredients and corresponding results neither of which are actually supported by real science. Speaking of ingredients, it was incredibly difficult to even find what goes into Chanel’s products and I still wasn’t able to track down information for all the skincare I tried (no dice on the eye cream). Thankfully I was able to track down some product info from Paula’s Choice, where the average expert review for the products I could find hovered around two stars.

The milky cleanser was arguably the best of the bunch, it felt nice and did its job, but again claims magic powers from tulip water will save your skin from pollution. It also boasts hydration from lily extract (PC says this is not a thing), and even if there was evidence to support these claims, the amount present in the formula is not sufficient enough to have any real effect. If you want to get fancy with a cleansing oil, I much prefer this pretty thing from Japanese brand Tatcha. Otherwise, Lush’s Ultrabland works just fine.

ChanelTXCconcentrate

The biggest offenders are the two Le Blanc brightening products I got to try. Again, they felt perfectly nice, but with price tags nearing $200 for less than 2oz of product, I want to see some science. Chanel claims that this line features “the exceptional combination of TXC™ and 2-Year Pearl Extract to reveal a more even-toned, smooth and luminous complexion, as perfect as a fine pearl.” The problem with this is that TXC was developed by Chanel laboratories and the only studies done about it were also from Chanel laboratories. According to Paula’s Choice, there are no peer-reviewed studies to prove that TXC has any effect on brightening the skin, especially in comparison to ingredients we already know actually work.  As for the hydra beauty mask that I was unable to find any ingredients for? This mask was chosen because of really noticeable flakiness around my nose. It felt so nice on my skin and the face massage was obviously amazing, but neither made any difference in the texture or appearance of my skin.

To reiterate, most of the skincare I was given the opportunity to try felt really great. If you just want to go hard on the high-end and you are not expecting any miracles, by all means have at it. However, if you are concerned with brightening, tightening, anti-aging, or other skincare issues, I encourage you to do your own research, lots of it, and find brands that use ingredients proven to work with reputable studies to back up their claims. It was a really wonderful experience to hang out and put Chanel all over my face for an afternoon, but doing the research to write this has been a bit disheartening. For a brand that’s been producing iconic makeup for nearly a century, they seem to be using the same tactics as other big name brands in ditching the quality and riding high on the name.

Now that I’ve gotten myself thoroughly bummed out with all this research, I’d like to end on a high note, so here are some of the things I learned from the makeup artist I worked with that I have begun incorporating into my routine, or things I already did that she further emphasized the importance of:

  • When applying mascara, look down into the mirror. Wiggle the mascara wand back and forth and blink your lashes into the wand. This gives you a better view and helps coat more of your lashes.
  • When applying eye primer, use a brush! Even with clean hands, the natural oils on your fingers can interfere with the primer and make your shadows crease faster.
  • If you are having trouble finding a good bronzer you like, try a powder foundation you like just a few shades darker than your natural color. Natasha used the LES BEIGES powder in no.10 as a setting powder, and then used the same product two shades darker (no.30) as bronzer.
  • Apply bronzer on your face in the shape of the number “3” – sweep across the sides of your forehead, onto your cheekbones, and at your jawline.
  • When applying foundation, do one section of your face at a time. This makes it easier to blend and will help your foundation set better than dotting foundation all over your face first and then trying to blend it out.
  • Wash your brushes every week!

So what should you buy? If you have your heart set on getting some goodies from Chanel, here are my top picks:

VITALUMIÈRE AQUA Ultra-light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup SPF15 ($48.00 | 1.0oz)
LES BEIGES Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF15 ($58.00 | 0.42oz)
SUNKISS RIBBON Blush ($70.00 | 0.38oz)
ROUGE COCO SHINE Hydrating Sheer Lipshine “54 Boy” ($37.00 | 0.1oz)

Don’t forget to use eBates for cash back at stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus. Sephora and Ulta too (neither of these sell Chanel makeup, FYI)!


Now, on to the fun stuff. Product Reviews! Well, just one: CHANEL VITALUMIÈRE AQUA Ultra-light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF15 in “12 BEIGE ROSÉ”.

I am pretty new to the liquid foundation game, I’ve been using it for less than a year, but it has quickly become one of my favorite makeup products. I used the MAC Studio Fix powder foundation for over 10 years before finally realizing it never actually looked that great because of my skin type – not because I was using it wrong (teenagers are so stubborn). While my t-zone can get a little oily, my skin is mostly dry and dehydrated, which means powder products are rarely worth my time. As technology in the makeup industry continues to progress, more and more brands have been putting out ultra lightweight and serum-style foundations that are perfect for dry skin like mine. While it’s not exactly a new launch, the Chanel Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup with SPF15 is exactly this type of product: water-based foundation that applies like a second skin with some sun protection too.

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First launched in 2011, I think this was a pretty unique product for its time so I was curious to see how it stood up to younger competitors (namely the MAC Studio Waterweight SPF30 foundation which I’ve been using since September). The Chanel foundation is surprisingly fluid and needs to be shaken well before applying, but that fluid consistency feels wonderful on the skin. It provides very sheer coverage that is slightly buildable, but if full coverage is your thing – this is definitely not for you. The finish is luminous, but very natural looking – I’d call it satin more than dewy, but definitely gives my skin some “glow” without looking like I’m wearing much of anything at all (also shown in the “before” and “after” pictures above).

 

With the water-like consistency, I’m sure some would prefer to apply this with their fingers, but I have really been enjoying the results from a smaller stippling brush. I like to start at the center of my face and work outwards, since the nose and cheek area are where I need the most coverage. The foundation blends out beautifully, but can easily sheer out a bit too much – particularly if you like to use a damp sponge to even things out. Thankfully, the plastic bottle and squeeze tip make it easy to dispense the exact amount you want so it’s a non-issue if you need a tiny bit more. Perhaps at the expense of “keeping up appearances,” but I really love this packaging and the practical approach makes it so easy to travel with. That’s an extra bonus, as this definitely has the makings of a quality special occasion foundation for me.

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I say that this is a great special occasion foundation, and it is, but unfortunately it does have a few drawbacks that ultimately would prevent me from wearing it on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, the texture and outcome are absolutely gorgeous, but there is more at play here. For starters, this type of fluid foundation is generally marketed towards those with dry skin (hi, yea, that’s me) which is the entire basis of its appeal. This dramatically clashes with the ingredient list, where alcohol stands tall among the first five components. While the finish of this foundation may look skin perfecting, its effects on the skin definitely are not. This is rather unfortunate as alcohol is very drying and irritating for skin and after wearing it all day (8+ hours), my skin definitely begins to show it. On the plus side, this may mean that those with oily skin have a viable option among this style of foundation. Unfortunately, it is also packed with fragrance, which to be quite honest I do enjoy the scent of, but it is a major irritant for many people so those sensitive to fragrance cannot use it.

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As for the available shades, they are are equal parts wonderful and strange – there are 10 shades separated by tone (warm or cool) which is fantastic and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, this means there are ultimately two products for each shade (a warm and cool option) so the 10 shades offered is quickly whittled down to just five… ranging from fair to maybe-medium. With such a specific shade range, coupled with high levels of alcohol and fragrance, Chanel has inadvertently alienated countless potential fans.

Pros:

  • long-lasting
  • natural, luminous finish
  • SPF15 is a nice bonus
  • warm and cool shades

Cons:

  • very noticeable fragrance
  • alcohol is high on the ingredients list
  • SPF is not enough to be useful
  • only 10 shades in the range

At the end of the day, Chanel Vitalumière Aqua is a luminous, natural-looking, but mildly overpriced fluid foundation that looks amazing for a few hours on my dehydrated skin before the dryness begins to show through. It comes in both warm and cool shades, and has a touch of SPF (just to top up the sunscreen I know you are all wearing)! Packing large quantities alcohol and added fragrance, the shade range is rather limited and the sunscreen is not in levels high enough to stand alone. This may be my new go-to when I need to look like a flawless version of myself for a short amount of time, but it’s not the daily workhorse my dry, dehydrated skin was hoping for. If your skin is similar to mine and you are looking for a serum-style foundation for daily wear, the reigning champ for me is still the MAC Studio Waterweight SPF30 – it’s alcohol- and fragrance-free, and nearly $15 cheaper (plus it comes in 23 different shades). (For reference, I wear the shade NW13.)

 

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with CHANEL or Macy’s. I was not paid to write this review nor asked to write it, and I personally purchased the three items I own. The demo was a complementary service provided by the CHANEL x Macy’s team. All thoughts are my own. The eBates link provided is a referral link, there is more detailed information about this in my Affiliates post. Ultimately, should you choose to shop through eBates, I would receive financial incentive for your signing up with my referral link at no extra cost to you (it’s free).

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