THE BEAUTY BLACKOUT



Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder Fall 2017 Collection: Part 3 - The Skin Products (and a PSA that the clock is ticking...)


PSA, everyone - the Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder Fall 2017 Collection isn’t going to be available for much longer. We know that Selfridges is planning to pull the entire collection from their shelves by the end of December, and at this point, we don’t expect other retailers to be restocking. In light of these revelations, we’ve decided to expedite our reviews of the rest of Victoria Beckham's Fall 2017 Collection with Estée Lauder.

In today’s post, we’re going to be focusing on all the skin-related products which we haven’t talked about already. For our thoughts on the Java Sun and Saffron Sun bronzers, as well as the exquisite Modern Mercury highlighter, you can find our review here).

Before we dive into this post, quick note: we’ll be posting overviews of the eye products and the lip products in the next few days, so keep an eye out for those. (To err on the safe side, we recommend subscribing to email notifications of new stories on The Beauty Blackout - a new and exciting feature that we've introduced.) With that out of the way, onto the products!


The Morning Aura Illuminating Creme

Emily: Priced at a cool US$95, the Morning Aura Illuminating Crème is the most expensive product in this already very expensive collection. So: is it worth coughing up the cash?

TL;DR version: ....Well, I bought a backup literally the day after I first tried the Morning Aura Creme back in February. And I'm planning to buy another backup of it in the next week. So - yes. It’s worth the $95. For my more detailed thoughts, read on:

The Morning Aura Illuminating Creme is billed as a two-in-one, hybrid product - “part brightening primer, part luminous moisturiser.” It comes in a fluted gold-toned jar that basically epitomises the word ‘luxe’, and looks stunning sitting on top of your vanity. (Hey, aesthetics matter! Especially when it comes to beauty products.)

The pump-style dispenser is much appreciated as it eliminates the need for finger-dipping and those useless plastic spatulas (seriously, what is the point of these? Unless you wash them before and after every use, they’re going to be just as bacteria-laden as your fingers.) Needless to say, the packaging of the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme gets our stamp of approval. Just look at that bottle...

Alright, moving on to the cream itself a.k.a. what's inside that very pretty packaging. Now, I'm generally skeptical of two-in-one/hybrid products - it usually serves as an indicator of mediocrity on several different levels. Furthermore, when it comes to ’brightening primers’, I sbsolutely swear by Chanel’s classic Le Blanc de Chanel Multi-Use Illuminating Base. (Alright, so I do switch things up ocassionally with Chanel’s Light Creator Base in Rosée and Lys, just for the sake of variety.) You can't beat Le Blanc when it comes to illuminating bases. Nope. Nuh uh. The Morning Aura Illuminating Creme was no exception.

Compared to Le Blanc de Chanel and the Light Creator Base, the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme falls short as a 'brightening primer'. Now, that's not to say it isn't doesn't deliver the glow - it absolutely does and damn, it's one hell of a glow (see the pictures below). But, as a primer, the Morning Aura Creme does pretty much zilch. It doeesn't blur your pores. It doesn't create a smooth canvas for your base of choice. It definitely won't extend the wear-time of your foundation. In other words, it doesn't do any of the things that a primer is supposed to do. But WAIT. Don't write it off just yet.

Now, remember that the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme is also described as part ‘luminous moisturiser’. I can definitely get on board with that claim. If you’re dry-skinned (and deep-pocketed), this is a fantastic daytime moisturiser. It’s velvety-rich in terms of texture, and somehow manages to be both occlusive and non=greasy, providing your skin with a barrier against the elements.

If your skin is on the oilier side, you may want to avoid slathering it with the Morning Aura Creme (unless you're attempting to achieve a sweaty, post-workout effect). In the very hot, very humid climate of Singapore, where I live, the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme is a bit too rich to use as an everyday moisturiser (and that's coming from someone whose skin falls on the more dehydrated end of the spectrum anyway.) But if you happen to live in a non-tropical climate and appreciate a radiant glow, this needs to be your next moisturiser.

My favourite way to use the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme is as a cream highlighter. Simply dab it on to the high points of your face: cheekbones, cupid's bow, brow bone - and, to really amp up the luxe factor, glide an extra half pump along your collarbone as well. The effect is magnificent, and this cream is perfection. Especially if you’re the highlighter shy type and just want a subtle hint of glow without any glitter. Yes, this is a pricey product but it makes up for the hole it burns in your pocket by looking expensive too. That's right - we hereby declare that highlighters can be divided into two broad categories of finish: 1) expensive, and 2) cheap. Most highlighters fall under the latter category. Btw, that's a fact, no citation needed. However, the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme is not most highlighters (obviously - as if Posh Spice would ever do cheap). Think soft mother of pearl radiance with a barely-there golden sheen, or just gaze at the picture below.

For $95, you get 48ml of product in your fluted golden jar. It's definitely on the pricier side for a moisturiser but that just gives you another reason to use it as I recommended i.e. as a cream highlighter. (I know, I think of everything,)

So, should you buy this? Unless you skipped the wall of text I just wrote (or have utterly abysmal reading comprehension skills) you should know the answer. YES. Go buy a backup too while you're at it.

The Aura Gloss in Honey

Emily: Described as a 'high-shine gloss, infused with gold pearl shimmer', the Aura Gloss is....pretty much true to its description. It has a texture that isn’t exactly what I'd call easily absorbent. (Translation: until this stuff wears off - give it a couple of hours or so - your cheekbones will feel pretty sticky). This was one of the few products in the collection that I admit I had doubts about purchasing, and initally I did refrain. (I’m not sure which subsequent order it came in as there were several.)

There's something about 'face gloss' - 'eye gloss' too, albeit to a slightly lesser extent - which makes my eyes practically roll out of their sockets. I mean, come ON - why not just smear some Vaseline on your face and call it a day? That’s pretty much what 'face gloss' amounts too, right? (If you're reading this and happen to be a fan of face/eye glosses- please enlighten me in the comments section.)

I'm sorry to say that Victoria Beckham's Aura Gloss did not made a convert of me. I concede that it did surpass my very low expectations. I would take the Aura Gloss over Vaseline any day, not least because it has much prettier packaging (the squishy golden jelly comes in a glass jar that has a fluted black cap embossed with 'VB'.) Vaseline comes in that plastic container which anyone who has ever stepped into a drugstore is surely familiar with. Also, I just prefer the expensive version of things, almost invariably. So sue me.

*I should clarify that the Aura Gloss isn't just coloured Vaseline in a pretty jar. I have compared the ingredients list and there is no petroleum/mineral oil in the Aura Gloss.

Do you need the Aura Gloss? I'm inclined to say, "probably not.” While the rather scant instructions mention that the Aura Gloss can be used “all over your face”, we both strongly advise against using this on your eyelids. Especially if you've just spent half an hour labouring over the perfect Saturday night smokey eye. All that hard work will go to naught because, with the Aura Gloss on top, you'll look like a strung out chimney sweep in 15 mins max.

Since I don’t like tacky stuff sitting on my face, that obviously limits the Aura Gloss’s appeal as a highlighter. Personally, I like this best as a lip balm, although I'd be lying if I said it was my favourite lip balm. One of the few categories of products which I prefer not buying high-end is, in fact, lip balm. I honestly don't know why. The cheap stuff just seems to work better. (Not a sentence you'll see often when reading The Beauty Blackout, btw).

Below is a picture of me wearing just the Aura Gloss on my lips. It’s nice. I guess. But is this a look that requires a $45 product to execute? Hell no.

As always, personal preference is highly variable so you may end up loving the Aura Gloss. Rachel does, for some reason. Don't ask me. Alright, little disclaimer: I don't actually regret buying the Aura Gloss. You see, I have the collector's bug, and I've accepted the fact that I just have this intrinsic need to indiscriminately buy everything Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder related. (Sorry, bank account.)

P.S: I do love using the Aura Gloss after filling in my lips with the Victoria lip pencil. I highly recommend this combination.

P.P.S: My money is on the Aura Gloss NOT returning next time around so you'd better act quick if you're interested.*

(*Disclaimer: That was a totally unsubstantiated guess; I just really enjoy speculating. Therefore I shall not be liable if the Aura Gloss re-emerges in a future collection, etc, etc.)

The Skin Perfecting Powder

Emily: Like the Aura Gloss, the Skin Perfecting Powder is a new addition to the VB x EL line-up that made its debut back in September. Priced at US$85 for 1.8g/0.29oz of product, the Skin Perfecting Powder is the second most expensive product in the entire collection (the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme takes first place). While this powder certainly doesn't come cheap, we think it's safe to say that you do get your money's worth in terms of packaging.

Net-A-Porter has the scoop on the story behind the packaging, which was apparently 'inspired by a vintage cigarette case the designer came across in London.' (We assume the mysterious designer is Victoria). As big fans of vintage smoking paraphernalia, that description pretty much sealed the deal for the two of us. We would, however, like to take this opportunity to note that we do not endorse actual smoking, which leads to lung cancer, emphysema, periodontitis, and premature aging, amongst many other awful ailments.

Anyway. So, in terms of packaging, the Skin Perfecting Powder checks all the boxes. The gold-toned, textured metal compact has a satisfying heft to it - one of the hallmarks of a true luxury product - and was definitely made for putting on display on your vanity table. (Or smugly pulling out of your handbag in the powder room.)

As for the powder itself, the official description rather confusingly promises that it both 'sets makeup' and creates an 'airbrushed finish'. Let us set the record straight: this is definitely NOT a setting powder (if it was up to me, only loose powders would qualify as 'setting powders'). And, as a finishing powder, we're afraid that Victoria's Skin Perfecting Powder can't compete with the benchmark standard by which we judge all finishing powders i.e. Guerlain's Météorites, balls or pressed. While the VB x EL Skin Perfecting Powder does have a slightly 'pore blurring' effect, it's far too sheer to 'minimise the look of imperfections' as the official ad copy claims.

Bottom line: we think there are better finishing powders out there, but this is a great blotting powder to keep in your purse for touch ups on-the-go. And never underestimate the power of nice packaging. The compact alone has the power to elevate even the most blah days. One thing to keep in mind is that, like most translucent powders, the Skin Perfecting Powder may look ashy on deeper complexions. If that's a concern, definitely try and check this out in person before buying.

The Cheek Creme in Blonde Mink

Rachel: Last spring, I decided I absolutely needed a cream blush. Not just any cream blush but one in a particular shade: a tawny, gently caramelised apricot with just enough brown in it to add a touch of warmth but without veering into bronzer territory. For weeks, I had an exact picture of this mystical shade in my mind but, alas, it began to seem like an impossible task. I finally settled for Kevyn Aucoin's Creamy Glow Blush in the shade Tansoleil. While I do love Tansoleil, it simply lacks any real traces of brown, and delivers a straight up peach flush rather than the tawny glow I had pictured in my mind.

Just at this critical moment, news of a second collaboration between Estée Lauder and Victoria Beckham began to trickle out. As soon as I saw the first promo pic, I knew I'd found it. The blush I'd been searching for all spring and all summer. It was called Blonde Mink (perfect name, if I do say so myself) and it felt like destiny. And it was designed by Victoria Beckham a.k.a. Posh Spice. The Spice Girl I've idolized since pretty much forever. You need proof? At the age of 14, I'd gone with my mom to the movie theater to see Spice World (yes, even though 14 is peak mom-hating age). At the age of 18, I'd bought Spice World on VHS, and brought it along with me to college and rewatched it an embarassing number of times.

Some of our readers will undoubtedly remember playing that classic '90s game - 'Which Spice Girl Are You?'. This was, of course, the precursor to the even more famous game that had its breakout moment five years later: 'Which Sex and the City Character Are you?' (Come on, we know that you've spent at least 10 minutes of your life pondering this question).

Alright, it wouldn't be fair of us to bring up these delightful games without sharing our inner Spice Girls/Sex and the City characters with you. As always at the Beauty Blackout, we're ready to go above and beyond the call of duty. So, for you - our readers - we went to the effort of taking whichever ianane quizzes came up first on Google. Scroll on to find out our Spice Girl/SATC alter-egos. (Buzzfeed said so, therefore you know that it's true.)

Our Inner Spice Girls:

Emily is Posh Spice

Emily: Yup. Knew it. Truth.

Rachel is Ginger Spice

Rachel: I would like to note that I refute this finding. (Please see above, re: the fact that I went to watch Spice World with my mother. Also, my lifelong love of Victoria Beckham.)

Our Sex and the City Character Alter-Ego


(Yes, we both got the same result. We both groaned when we saw it too.)

Ugh. Her hair though - seriously?? They couldn't have chosen a better picture to soften the blow?

There is no 'good' result to get for the Sex and the City game, btw. Just saying.

Back to Blonde Mink

Excessive rambling about the perfect color aside, the formula is great. Like, really great. Cream blushes, by their very nature, are not very long lasting on the skin. It’s a trade off: you get a more natural, skin-like finish than a powder blushes could provide, but way less wear-time.

Well, that may be the case for most cream bluses but it turns out there are exceptions. Blonde Mink lasts a solid eight hours on both of us before gently fading. It’s creamy but not slippery or overly emollient. The best way to apply it is with fingers. Simply pat it along the higher parts of your cheeks, where the sun would hit. Swipe a little across the bridge of your nose and very lightly along your hairline for a warm, sun-kissed look.

Are you planning to pick up any products from the VB x EL collection? What have you already picked up? Is there any product that you're either planning to buy or have already bought a back-up of? Let us know in the comments. And remember: the clock is now ticking...

-- Emily & Rachel