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by Yong-Mi Kim

July 23, 2000

Recently I got into a discussion with a male acquaintance regarding beauty products, more specifically what Productopia terms shimmer makeup. As he is an experienced graphic designer familiar with the vagaries of rendering various kinds of surfaces with Photoshop, I assumed he would be open to the subtleties of cosmetics terminology regarding shimmer, sparkle, glow, and shine. Not. He declared this was all ... shine. Understandably, I was aghast.

If one consults a thesaurus, it is clear that shine and shimmer are two entirely different notions. This, of course, is quite obvious to women, who form the majority of cosmetics consumers. We want our hair to shine, our eyelids to shimmer, and our faces to glow, but heaven forbid it be our faces that shine! Shine is for oily teenage skin. Shine is not for mature, adult women, behind our Maginot lines of MAC Blot Powder, Shiseido Oil-Blotting Paper and Smashbox Anti-Shine.

We don't like shiny faces.

But we do want complexions that glow, shimmer and sparkle. Sometimes all at the same time. Hence ... Chanel Lumière Platine, or Platinum Face Powder. And no, you can't buy it on the Web, at least not until's site is up and working. Me, I ventured out of the house on a recent Saturday morning thinking I would pick up some brake dust cleaner and chamois cloths at Trak Auto. Inexplicably I ended up at the Chanel counter at Nordstrom, trying out their Glossimers. (These are heavily pigmented lip glosses, which together with Christian Dior Plastic Shine and Givenchy Laque Miroir will be discussed in some future column, the next time I go through an airport duty free store - but I digress.) Thus, I was defenseless and vulnerable to the Chanel saleswoman, excuse me, sales associate, who executed a guerilla attack on my face with a tester of Platinum Face Powder. I surrendered.

Like all Chanel compacts, it closes with a satisfying click. The logo is done in silver, instead of the usual white. And inside is a half-dome of shimmery silver powder along with a small silver brush. Lumière Platine is intended to be used as finishing powder, or highlighter, adding shimmer to one's face. The effect is remarkably subtle. Once applied, I could not discern any visible glitter, which is a shortcoming of cheaper shimmer or sparkle formulations. Just like the packaging said, it created a "soft halo of light effect" on my face. A light application is appropriate for daytime, and a heavier or more focused application is suggested for a night out.

Of course I had to compare with the classic reflective finishing powder, Guerlain Météorites. I have the powder pearls version, which has a baby powder smell I found unsettling at first, the scent not being one I normally associate with high-end cosmetics. This product consists of multi-colored beads, with each color performing a different function, such as toning down redness or adding brightness to one's complexion. I use it when I don't want my face to appear too flat and matte from the oil control foundation and loose powder I use to avoid shine. The effect is very subtle, even more so than with the Chanel product. A subtle glow that is almost shimmery, but neither shiny nor sparkly.

I like both products, although I prefer the scent of the Chanel one. I do find that I turn to Météorites for everyday wear and Lumière Platine when I want a little more oomph.

On a closing note, my wish list includes the BeneFit products Dr. Feelgood and High Beam. The former is a mattifier and the latter a face highlighter that adds gleam to one's face. Wait a minute - isn't gleam getting awfully close to shine? How is shine different from gleam and where does the mattifier come into this? No wonder my friend is confused.

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