Monday, August 9th, 2010

Benefit Lala Land Lipstick

The Sultry Season: Benefit La La Land Lipstick

Benefit La La Land Lipstick ($18.00 for oz.) is a pinky-brown nude with full-color coverage and a light, glossy sheen and no perceptible shimmer.  I love this with a lighter smoky eye or paired with greens. It’s dark enough to be worn on its own for a pop of color on lips, but it’s light enough to complement heavier eye looks, too.  Benefit’s lipsticks are very moisturizing and creamy, so they’re comfortable to wear, and they last about three to four hours on my lips.

Is this the right deep nude for you? Would you wear it?

The Sultry Season is a series of posts featuring deep, rich shades of brown, berry, plum, and wine lipsticks and lipglosses — just right for autumn — that runs through October 2010.

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Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Benefit Sunday Funday Palette

Sunday Funday… on Thursday!

Benefit Sunday Funday Palette ($38.00) features Hoola (0.1 oz., mining bronzing powder), Benetint (0.09 oz. rose-tinted lip & cheek stain), Shimmering Rose (0.18 oz., lip shine), Toasty (0.01 oz., eyeliner), four eyeshadows (0.10 oz. each), and two double-sided miniature-sized brushes. This is a companion palette to Scene Queen. Sunday Funday was created by Maggie Ford Danielson–the daughter of Jean Ford, one of Benefit’s co-founders–who is also one of Benefit’s makeup trend artists.

“Sunday Fun Day is all about pulling together a fresh, fabulous look after a late night. Whether you were up watching movies or dancing ’til dawn, this kit has the prettiest eyeshadows and complexion essentials to make you look beautifully revived…just in time for brunch. Waiter, coffee and mimosas, please!” —Maggie Ford Danielson, Benefit Makeup Trend Artist

  • Hoola is a neutral-toned medium-dark bronzer with a nearly matte finish.
  • Benetint is a very natural stain and one of Benefit’s iconic products. It leaves just the tiniest flush behind.
  • Shimmering Rose is a semi-sheer pinky gloss with gold shimmer. It looks rather melon-y in the tube, but it brought out a lot of the pink in my lips.
  • Shimmering Bronze is a softened bronze with a low warmth to it; for a bronze, it’s really not overly warm. Slight sheen, not too frosty, and nicely pigmented.
  • Pink Satin is a light pink with subtle peach tones–not a true pink, but not really peach, either. I could see this as a nice all-over lid color.
  • Light Champagne is a light yellow gold with a frosty sheen.
  • Pretty in Plum is a red-toned, medium plum purple with a satin sheen.
  • Toasty is a medium-dark brown with just a hint of warmth.

These palettes are an excellent way to try out Benefit products without blowing your budget. Sunday Funday gives you plenty of product, and it’s definitely a nice, all-in-one palette. I love that the lipgloss is packaged in a tube–you can tote it around with you later on, but you also don’t have to worry about it getting dust or eyeshadow in it, either. The eyeshadows were very smooth, buttery, and pigmented–they felt just like Benefit’s single eyeshadows. I think this particular mix of colors also works really well together; nothing feels out of place here.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re a palette kind of beauty buff, Sunday Funday is a new favorite for me.  It makes sense, so you can travel with it and not worry about combining it with other products for a complete look.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Benefit Tweezerman Tweezers

Benefit + Tweezerman = Cute AND Practical

Tweezerman for Benefit Slant Tweezer ($25.00) are cute white slant-tipped tweezers with a light pink and coral-pink design on the outside. I LOVE Tweezerman tweezers. I absolutely love their slant-tipped ones in particular. I think I have five of them scattered around my house–I never want to be without one.

They just feel so maneuverable in hands, and they grip incredibly well. They’re sharp without being painful, but you can get at stubborn hairs that need a pluckin’. I also like them for applying false lashes: use the tweezers to grip them and set them on the lash line, then flip it and use the end (the flat side–opposite of the opening) to press the false lashes into your lash line.

I will also say that they stay sharp and as good as when you first buy them for ages. I know that you can mail them to Tweezerman and get them sharpened, but I’ve never done it–because I’ve never felt like my tweezers needed it, and I’ve had some of them for years. (It reminds me that, someday, I should!) These tweezers are worth every penny. They’re the only tweezers I keep stashed away the entire six years I’ve been playing with makeup!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 30/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 5/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you pluck stray hairs around the brow/upper lip, these do an excellent job grabbing even the shortest, thinnest hairs.

AVAILABILITY: Benefit, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s

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Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Benefit Scene Queen Makeup Palette

Get Ready to Make a Scene

Benefit Scene Queen Makeup Palette ($38.00) contains something for each part of your face — 0.1 oz. CORALista, 0.09 oz. High Beam, 0.18 oz. Juicy Coral Lip Shine, 4 0.1 oz. eyeshadows, Smokin’ Liner, and 2 double-sided makeup brushes.

  • CORALista is a pink-cral with subtle sheen but not a lot of shimmer. It’s very pigmented, so a little goes a long way. I actually didn’t even realize it was in the palette until I went to write the review! It’s a pretty small pan, so it may take some maneuvering to get your brush in it. The included brush is a bit stubby, so I find it cumbersome to use.
  • High Beam is a light, shimmering pink-toned highlighter. It’s a whitish-pink, and it works best on light to medium skin tones (Moon Beam better for deeper skin tones).
  • Juicy Coral Lip Shine is a semi-opaque coral-orange with golden shimmer. It’s a very pretty shade of coral, and it’s not too orange either.
  • Smokin’ Liner is a dark black-brown eyeliner that goes opaque without trouble. Very smooth and richly pigmented.
    Charcoal is a darkened gray-black with subtle silver shimmer.
  • Shimmering Beige is a pink-toned medim beige with a frost finish.
  • Misty Blue is a slightlyg rayed medium-dark blue with a silver sheen.
  • Navyis a rich navy blue with a purple edge and flecks of midnight sky blue shimmer.
  • Dual-Ended Brushes have an angled brush on one end and a fluffier brush on the other–and then two of them. They’re usable in a pinch, but they’re not the best brushes of all time. Better than the usual inclusions, though.

I like all of the products individually, and I feel Benefit gives you a good amount of each of them (in fact, the eyeshadows are surprisingly weighty–0.1 oz. compared to the average of 0.05 oz.–but I don’t feel that such a rich shade of coral on both cheeks and lips is actually all that suitable to pair with the eyeshadows. I think medium skin tones will be able to pull off that look, but paler skin tones may have to be a little cautious. I fear it may be too much all at once. I was expecting a pinker blush (maybe Sugarbomb) rather than CORALista here.

That’s my only gripe about the palette, though! There are only powder products exposed, while the lip and cream products are housed in their own containers, so there’s no worry about cross-pollination of shadow dust. The palette is cute and still functional, and it even includes a step-by-step guide on how to wear the palette.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you like yourself a blue smoky eye, this may make a great g-to palette.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Monday, June 14th, 2010

Benefit Stay Don't Stray

Packaging Woes with Benefit Stay Don’t Stray

Benefit Stay Don’t Stray ($24.00 for 0.33 fl. oz.) is a creamy, smooth neutral eyeshadow base. It’s a light beige, which will be a little tinted on the fairest of skin tones, but it will be very flesh-toned for light to medium skin tones. It reminded me a good deal of MAC’s Beige-ing Shadestick, which was always a popular eyeshadow base. Stay Don’t Stray has a near-matte finish, but there is an ever-so-subtle satin-sheen to it that’s really difficult to see when applied on the eyes.

Stay Don’t Stray is a fantastic product – it gives your eyeshadow something to adhere to without muting those eyeshadows and never creased, smudged, budged, or faded when I used this as an eyeshadow base. For those with imperfections or require some color-correction, this is the kind of base that excels in that department. It’s opaque–this is not a sheer, invisible base in the vein of TFSI and UDPP. This is much more like MAC’s Paint Pots, but it has the consistency of a liquid, rather than a thick cream.

For primer underneath a concealer, it worked well, but I think medium to dark skin tones may find it doesn’t work right.  It seemed to accent my concealer to the point where it didn’t match me at all.  It also was best applied before foundation, but then the foundation covers it up quite a bit.  It works in terms of keeping concealer put, but the color of it makes the concealer stand out a little on my skin tone (like the concealer appears darker – like the base is accenting the color, rather than blending it in with my skin tone).  It works best with cream concealers rather than more liquid-y ones, as well.

Where Stay Don’t Stray fails is in the packaging. I’m completely astonished that the packaging made it through R&D and testing, because one pump and you have more than enough to cover your entire face. The label around the packaging is cute, and I like that it stands up, and while the idea of a pump might be great (less contamination), it distributes far too much. Ridiculously too much! It’s such a shame, because inside is a product that really holds its own amongst eyeshadow bases, but the subpar packaging is so frustrating.

If you wanted to use this, you’d have to pump into a separate jar so you wouldn’t end up wasting a lot of the product–you don’t even need very much at all to get full coverage of both lids, let alone as much as a pump (or a half-pump, or a quarter-pump!). I tried on multiple occasions to ease the product out of the pump, but it’s just not easy to get as little as you need.  More often than not, I ended up with far too much product and nowhere to apply it to!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 1/5

RECOMMENDATION: Make sure you read where this product really failed on, because it might not bother you. The product itself is excellent, but you’re just not getting as much as I’d expect for the price tag, plus the packaging is poorly executed.

AVAILABILITY: Benefit, Sephora

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010

MAC Marine Life Dupes

MAC Marine Life Dupes — Sorry, Keep Looking

When I think of dupes, I think of something that is pretty close to it — I’m talking 90% or closer — not just similar. There are plenty of similar shades to Marine Life; after all, it’s really just a vibrant coral-red with minimal shimmer in it. NARS Deep Throat and MAC Foolish Me come the closest, though the texture of Deep Throat is obviously different and Foolish Me is a little more orange. It’s not quite as red/orange and intense as Marine Life, but it’s the closest I found of the many shades I do own that were in the running.

  • MAC Ripe Peach (Limited Edition) is lighter, more peach-coral than vibrant red-based coral. Verdict: not really a dupe, maybe a cousin.
  • Benefit CORALista is a pinker, less distinctly coral version with a significant amount of shimmer in comparison. Verdict: not a dupe, but a good friend.
  • MAC Instant Chic (Limited Edition) is much softer pink-coral with a bit of peachiness to it. It has a more powdery look and feel, but it’s so, so subtle. Marine Life is like Instant Chic if it took steroids for a year. Verdict: similar color but so, so much lighter–like a fruit picked too early.
  • MAC Hipness is much pinker in comparison to Marine Life. It’s not quite as intense, and it doesn’t have the strength of the redness that Marine Life as. Hipness is a less shimmery, pinker version of CORALista, though. Verdict: not a dupe, too pink.
  • Illamasqua Hussy is similar in its intensity, but it’s definitely pinker. It’s a more pigmented, matte version of Hipness/CORALista. Verdict: not a dupe, too pink.
  • NARS Super Orgasm is a peachy-pink concoction that pulls a noticeable gold sheen. It has a lot more shimmer (and even Orgasm, which I don’t own, would still be pretty shimmery in comparison). Verdict: not a dupe, too peach, not pink/red enough.
  • MAC Springsheen is very similar to Super Orgasm–it’s that same mix of peach and pink with a gold shimmer-sheen. Verdict: not a dupe, too peach and shimmery.
  • NARS Deep Throat is a pinker version of Super Orgasm/Orgasm, and it’s probably the closest to Marine Life, but it’s still not quite as red or as intense–plus it has the sheen/shimmer that Marine Life definitely doesn’t have. Verdict: almost a dupe, like sisters.
  • MAC Dainty is a sheer peach-coral with a smidgen of pink in it. It’s way too sheer and light to be a great dupe for Marine Life. Verdict: not a dupe, too light and peach.
  • MAC Foolish Me is everything that Marine Life is, except a little more orange.  The two are very similar, both in finish and color, but Foolish Me does run a little on the orange side.  Plus, it’s discontinued, so that sucks. (I thought about this one originally, but it looks so orange in the pan… just swatched it at the last second, and yep, they are indeed surprisingly close.)  Verdict:  similar, like fraternal twins.

I don’t own Fleur Power or Style, but I did swatches here last year, and by referencing those, I can tell you Style is most definitely not a dupe — too orange/peach. Fleur Power comes a little closer, but it seems a bit pinker in comparison to Marine Life.

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