Sunday, July 1, 2012

Review: Chanel Illusion d'Ombre cream shadows

 L-R: Emerville, Illusoire, Epatant, Mirifique

I've tried all of the permanent Illusion d'Ombre (or "IdO") shades available, yet I've never done a formal review. No clue why, but I'm wearing Epatant today, so there's no time like everything-is-open time, right? :)

Chanel's IdO cream shadows cost me about $42 including tax...sort of. Clearly I bought a full pot of Emerville, but if the last 3 shades in the top image seem strange to you, it's because I split a bunch of shades with some ladies from Makeup Alley; essentially, we each paid for one shade, plus shipping and glass jars, and we split them 4 ways. My fourth shade from that split was Ebloui, a reddish brown shade, but I strongly disliked it, so I gave it away. Regardless, it's a great way to try out multiple shades of a cream product, so if you have even one friend who'd split with you, I'd recommend trying it.

Here are the shades I currently own, in images that are slightly blurry because I've found that that's the best way to capture duochrome/shimmer stuff:

Emerville, a golden-champagne color that will probably appeal to the most people,

Illusoire, a silvery purple with multi-colored purple, pink, blue, and silver shimmers,

Epatant, a khaki green and silver hybrid that is my personal favorite of the lot, and

Mirifique, a black with blue and silver shimmer that is surprisingly popular.

I've also swatched Fantasme, which is essentially a clear base full of fine, rainbow shimmer, and it looks especially cute when applied to your ear lobes (as a Chanel SA demonstrated on my drag daughter). It's beautiful, but just not my kind of shade, so I have no major desire to own it.


All of these have a neat sort of "bouncy mousse" texture; it actually kinda reminds me of the Maybelline Bouncy blushes, but a bit more "wet." They're all shimmery and most are very multidimensional. You can apply a thin layer as a base or a subtle wash, or apply a thicker layer and get a more dramatic color that looks like 3 or 4 eyeshadows layered. This is best illustrated by Illusoire and Epatant: they can be a very subtle wash, or a base for your eyeshadow, or you can get a good amount on your finger/brush and apply it as an opaque layer of super gorgeous color. They wear quite well on my lids, even when packed on; I prefer to use an eye primer at all times, but I've worn Epatant and Emerville without one and only experienced minor creasing after about 5 or 6 hours.


 Now for the main drawbacks: the packaging is pretty, but a little oversized and clunky. Don't get me wrong, it looks nice and it stands up to being dropped and smacked around surprisingly well, but beyond that, it doesn't seem to do the product any favors. I think my biggest irritation is that glass jars are supposedly better than plastic jars when it comes to preventing cream products from drying up, but I haven't exactly found that to be the case with the IdOs (more on that later). Still, it appeals to my love of "simple, sleek, and black" packaging.

The biggest problem with this product is that ALL of the shades are shimmery and WILL give you glitter fallout. I mean, the shimmer is generally what makes them look so neat, and I love them even though I'm normally a shimmer-phobe, but I always have to do my foundation second or hold a tissue under my eye while I apply, and at $42-ish each after taxes, that's a little ridiculous. The worst offender is Mirifique, which I just don't get the love for; I barely use it because it's basically just a black cream shadow with a crap ton of shimmer that barely sticks to the base (as my swatch photos prove). In my experience, people who downright love Mirifique use it like a gel liner, and while these can be used as liners, I personally found that their soft, bouncy texture made them a tad difficult to apply with a liner brush. I generally prefer to use my fingers with these so I can "press" the product in and really spread it on thick, though many people prefer to apply them with a brush and I have, on occasion, softened the edges with a blending brush.


I've also heard that these dry out quickly. That's kind of true. As a huge fan and semi-connoisseur of cream products, I expect all of them--especially cream shadows, which tend to be less emollient than cream blushes and foundations--to dry out within 2 years. If you look at the products here on my fingers, you'll see visible clumps in Illusoire and Epatant, which I've owned for a little under a year. They've dried up a bit, so I have to watch for these clumps and flakes when I apply them, but they're still perfectly usable. Emerville, which I've owned for about 3 months, is still as smooth as ever. So while I don't agree that they dry up super-fast, I would say that unless you only buy one or two shades, or use these almost exclusively, buying full pots of each shade may end up being a waste.


It sounds like I'm talking smack on these, but I'm really, really not. I'm just a hyper-critical realist who can spot the bad points in the product. If you take a look at these swatches, I think you'll see why I love my IdOs, regardless of their drawbacks:

These are freakishly gorgeous. You can use one of these all on its lonesome and look like you spent an hour layering shadows because they're so multidimensional and beautiful.

My overall recommendation is this: don't buy these if you have a similar shade (Emerville and Mirifique are very dupeable), own tons of other eyeshadows you're more likely to use at the expense of neglecting your IdOs, or dislike having to watch out for glitter fallout. If that's not an issue for you and these appeal, I would highly recommend giving them a shot. They're probably my favorite cream shadows. Epatant is especially flawless--I can spot it on a Chanel SA from a mile away--and I will repurchase Illusoire and Epatant when I run out. That being said, they're quite expensive, so try and ask your Chanel SA for a sample before you dive in and buy a full jar: a tiny amount goes a very, very long way. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5.

PS: I swatched Illusoire up against the Essence gel liner in London Baby, since a few people have claimed they're dupes. They're clearly not: Illusoire is much lighter and more shimmery, whereas London Baby is an opaque blackened purple with faint shimmer; however, London Baby is the perfect gel liner to pair with Illusoire. :)

PPS: My nail polish, for those who are curious, is Essie's Coat Azure.

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