Monday, November 21st, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Must-Have Beauty Products for Eyes

I’m going to do my best to crank out the last few gift guides in the next day, because I know a lot of sales are coming up for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and I don’t want you to miss out! These are all products I personally recommend that are part of the permanent range. Products are listed in order of ascending price!

Eyeliners

  • Milani Liquif’Eye Eyeliners ($5.49) is a standout formula with a wallet-friendly price tag–if they had a bigger range, they’d be even better. I love their Black and Aqua shades.
  • MAC Fluidlines ($15) is a long-time favorite, because it’s creamy enough for smooth, crisp application but sets and wears well. My favorite is Blacktrack.
  • Tarina Tarantino Dream Hyperliners ($15) are a newly-discovered favorite with a fantastic color range, rich color, and long-wear. My favorite shades have been Sparkling Ammunition and Puppeteer.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Liners ($18) also has an amazing range of shades as well as finishes, and this is an eyeliner that stays on well throughout the day. I regularly reach for shades like #4L, 5L, 12L, and 20L.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencils ($18) are a total go-to for me! They have a full color range available, and they’re soft and glide on easily. Some of my favorites are Bourbon Covet, Graffiti, Mildew, Rockstar, Stash, and Underground.
  • Stila Smudgestick Waterproof Eyeliners ($20) are super soft and pigmented, but they do run out of quick–but their color range is so rich, it’s hard to say no. I love Moray, Peacock, and Stingray.
  • Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliners ($21) is a rich, long-wearing gel eyeliner that’s smooth and creamy but still wears all day. Check out shades like Black Mauve Shimmer Ink and Cobalt Ink!
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Liners ($23) is my absolute favorite for liquid liner, because the color range is wide and the formula itself stays on all day. I recommend shades like #3, 4, 9, 10, and 14. If you like lots and lots of sparkle, consider Stila Sparkle Liquid Eyeliners ($22) which have a very similar formula but their shades have more shimmer.

Eyeshadows

  • Wet ‘n’ Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow ($1.99 to $4.99) are a real steal with a lot of variations and options available, and a lot of the shades are of excellent quality.
  • Inglot Eyeshadows ($5) won’t break the bank but will deliver intense color payoff–they’re most well-known for their mattes and Double Sparkles.
  • Sugarpill Chromalusts ($12) are finely milled with lots of dimension. My favorites are Stella, Absinthe, and Goldilux! I’d also recommend checking out their eyeshadows if you’re shopping for someone who loves bright colors (they’re also $12 and top notch).
  • theBalm Eyeshadows ($16) are richly pigmented, silky smooth, and wear really well. Their individual singles are great, but they also have several palettes that work well, too. My favorite singles are All About Alex, Jealous Jordana, and Risque Renee.
  • Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner ($19) are some of my favorite cream eyeshadows for quick all-over washes or as an eyeshadow base; the range is generally more neutral/subdued so it would be great for busy folks who don’t have a lot of time to spend on their makeup every morning. I love shades like Birthday Suit and Skinny Jeans.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencils ($20) is a chubby pencil that can be used as an eyeliner or more like a cream eyeshadow (or even an eyeshadow base). They wear really well and deliver pretty good color. I like shades Clinic, Lit, and Midnight Cowboy.
  • Bare Escentuals Ready Eyeshadows ($20 for duo, $30 for quad) caught me off guard, because I really didn’t think they’d be out of this world, but they’re really, really good. Some of my favorite duos are The Scenic Route and The Escape, and some of my favorite quads are The Elements and The Truth.
  • MAC Pigments ($20) are still one of my favorite products for really revving up a look. Some of the permanent shades I love are Pink Opal, Melon, and Teal.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams ($22) come in neutrals as well as bright pops of color, and they’re a cream product that really locks down once it sets. I love the Aqua Creams best for eyes. I totally dig shades like #2, #5, #13, #15.
  • Illamasqua Pure Pigment ($24) may be pricey and they don’t come with a whole lot of product, for most consumers, it’ll take years to get through. The reason I like these is I feel like the range has a lot of complex, unique shades.
  • Le Metier de Beaute True Color Eyeshadow ($30) is a pricey but absolutely luxurious eyeshadow formula that’s built for layering. I love shades like Chameleon and Jade.
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense ($32) are so intense and have this interesting formula that wears well all day long and comes in some fun shades. I love #1, 2, 3, and 6 a lot!
  • Tarina Tarantino Jewel Eyeshadow Palettes ($32) are good bang for your buck with top notch quality–love Dreamy the most.
  • Hourglass Visionaire Eyeshadow ($38) is my favorite eyeshadow formula, and I really wish they’d come out with more shades, but my favorites are Gypsy, Prism, and Lagoon.
  • Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette ($48) is still one of my favorite palettes that Urban Decay has launched, and it is something I reach for when I travel.

Mascaras

  • Maybelline Full ‘n Soft Mascara ($6.59) is my go-to for soft, natural-looking lashes with lots of volume.
  • MAC Plushlash Mascara ($15) is a great all-over mascara; it thickens, lengthens, and volumizes.
  • Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara ($19) is fantastic for lengthening.
  • Hourglass Film Noir Mascara ($28) is inky black while lengthening and thickening well.

What are your must-have eye products that are permanent?

Monday, November 21st, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: The Best of Holiday Color

As promised, here is the next installment of our most comprehensive gift guide to-date! This post features my top picks from various holiday color collections that have launched this year.  There are a few more holiday shades I haven’t reviewed or swatched, so there might be a few more of my favorites to come.

Eyes

Cheeks/Face

  • NARS Miss Liberty ($27) gives cheeks a really glistening glow, very apropos for the holidays.
  • Guerlain Parure de Nuit ($67) is the one product I’d recommend above all others for the holidays, and I say that because it’s a product I keep reaching for (to the point that I had to forcibly remove it from my reach).

Lips

  • MAC What Joy! ($15.50) is a berry-red with subtle micro-shimmer and healthy shine with good color coverage.
  • Illamasqua Belladonna ($20) is a fierce magenta pink with opaque color and lots of shine.
  • Bobbi Brown Party Alice ($24) — super pretty pink-coral, perhaps not seasonally appropriate but divine anyway.
  • NARS Joyous Red ($24) is a muted orange-red that’s workable on cool and warm-toned skin.
  • Chanel Triomphal ($32) is a pinky-red with great vibrancy and glossy shine; and Chanel Empire is perfect for those who love a brighter pink with yellow undertones.
  • Dior’s holiday lip colors ($32 each) were my surprise hit for lips this season–they’re so pretty on and wear well.

Nails

  • China Glaze Let It Snow ($3-4 each) is a perfectly festive set of twelve polishes, and all of them are available individually, so you can pick your particular poison.
  • Zoya Gems & Jewels ($8 each) is short and sweet with beautiful shimmers and extra-fun glitters (because they’re horizontal!).
  • Dior Merveille is a festive orange-red with golden shimmer that will work well on warmer skin tones.
Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Illamasqua Android Pure Pigment
Illamasqua Android Pure Pigment

Illamasqua Android Pure Pigment

Illamasqua Android Pure Pigment ($24.00 for 0.04 oz.) is described as a “charcoal with multi-colored shimmer.” It’s a cool color, because it changes depending on the angle and lighting situation. Mostly, it’s a dark, blue-toned charcoal gray base with a bluish-teal flash and multi-colored sparkle. The only shade similar to the general look and feel (and what you see in the swatch) but did not have the multi-colored shimmer of Android was Urban Decay Hijack, which is lighter and less intense.

Pure Pigments are a multi-purpose product that can be used on eyes, cheeks, face, or body (or even hair/nails). Illamasqua says that they can be applied dry or wet (“for bolder color payoff”), but I wouldn’t recommend using them dry. Android applies better dry than some shades, though, but it is very, very sheer and lacks the multi-dimensional shimmer effect. It appears almost brownish-gray with a subtle sheen. I had good luck with this particular shade staying put simply used wet and applied onto the lid, though it started to crease after five hours. I would typically use this with MAC’s Mixing Medium (or an adhesive base of your choice), which would help it bind and adhere and still have the intense look of the damp swatch.

The Glossover

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product

Android

B+
Illamasqua does some really interesting and complex hues in their Pure Pigment line, and as long as you're willing to use an adhesive base alongside it, they can be great additions to your collection.

Product

8.5/10

Pigmentation

8.5/10

Texture

9.5/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Tuesday, November 8th, 2011


Illamasqua Queen of the Night Pure Pigment

Illamasqua Queen of the Night Pure Pigment

Illamasqua Queen of the Night Pure Pigment (£15.50 for 0.04 oz.) is a limited edition shade launched to celebrate the brand’s first fragrance, Freak. It’s described as a “blackened plum shimmer,” which is an apt description! It’s a dark plum with a hint of brown underlying all the plummy purple goodness wrapped in a frosted finish. It’s sheerer when applied dry–the brown is more prevalent–and much more intense (and better!) when applied damp. The product binds together better with a little liquid, which yields a much more opaque, smoother color result. Bare Escentuals Romp is lighter, less blackened, and frostier–that was the only shade I felt came close, but it’s not a dupe.

Pure Pigments are loose colors that can be applied on the eyes, cheeks, face, or body. It can be used dry or applied wet for a “bolder colour pay-off.” Illamasqua recommends using it over a cream texture to intensify the color and hold the color in place. Queen of the Night will hold in place dry, but it lacks a lot of the intensity, so I’d recommend using it wet to achieve true-to-pan color.

The Glossover

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product

Queen of the Night

B+
It's just different enough to stand out in a sea of eggplant and plummy purples. I like the softer, frosted finish, which gives it shimmer and sheen without being metallic.

Product

8.5/10

Pigmentation

8.5/10

Texture

9.5/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Monday, November 7th, 2011

Illamasqua Facade Intense Lipgloss
Illamasqua Facade Intense Lipgloss

Illamasqua Theatre of the Nameless: Facade Intense Lipgloss

Illamasqua Facade Intense Lipgloss ($20.00 for 0.20 fl. oz.) is described as a “taupe beige.” It’s a medium-dark taupe–it’s a mix of beige, gray, and brown–with a cream finish. The glossiness of traditional gloss is very apparent, but it’s opaque in color like you’d expect from a full coverage lipstick. Like many Illamasqua colors, it’s not your typical “nude,” but it can work as such.  When I was trying to think of a dupe for it, nothing was coming to mind–not a gloss or a lipstick; MAC Our Pick was the closest, but it’s warmer.

In my experience, Illamasqua’s Intense Lipgloss is opaque, long-wearing, non-sticky, and scent- and taste-free. Facade doesn’t last as long as a lot of the other shades I’ve tried within the range, but it does last four hours (and it’s not marketed as a long-wearing gloss).

The Glossover

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product

Façade

A
It's a different color, but I think it's workable--especially on cooler skin tones. Against my warmer skin tone, it's not too flattering, but with a really heavy, smoky eye, I think it might work. I love the color coverage!

Product

10/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Thursday, November 3rd, 2011


Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Vice, Taint, Kink, Faux Pas

Illamasqua Theatre of the Nameless: Nail Varnishes

Illamasqua’s fall/winter collection, Theatre of the Nameless, included four new shades of their Nail Varnish ($14.00 for 0.5 fl. oz.), and they’re described as: Vice (deep cerise), Taint (stone brown), Kink (bottle green), and Faux Pas (blue violet). They have a “rubber finish.”

  • Vice is a reddened berry with a rubber finish. I used two coats for opaque color. It reminded me of Rescue Beauty Lounge Bruised, which has a shiny finish.
  • Taint is a yellow-tinted brown with a rubber finish. I used two coats for opaque color. Barielle Cowl of the Wild is similar but cooler-toned. China Glaze Street Chic is a bit lighter and grayer, plus it has a shiny finish.
  • Kink is a deep forest green with a rubber finish. I used two coats for opaque color. It’s much bluer and cooler-toned than Rescue Beauty Lounge ORbis Non Sufficit, which also has a shiny finish. It’s greener and less blackened (and has that semi-matte finish) compared to MAC Jade Dragon.
  • Faux Pas is a blue-based violet with a rubber finish. I used two coats for opaque color. It is similar to Orly Purple Pleather but appears a bit more vibrant.

If you remember Orly’s Plastix Collection, then the finish to these may seem familiar. It’s a bit like vinyl; it’s not matte because there is a muted shine to the natural finish, but it’s not your traditional cream. This type of finish is tempermental; ensure that each coat is dry before applying the next one, and it’s best to wait as long as possible for the final coat to dry before doing anything else. These will pick up and show texture so, so much if you rush! They dry quicker than your standard polish but not as quickly as a matte finished shade.

The wear on this is less than the average Illamasqua Varnish, because in order to maintain the rubbery finish, you can’t use a top coat on top. I managed seven days with noticeable tip wear but no chips–I would have probably removed it after four or five days because of the tip wear, but I wanted to put it to the full week test.

The Glossover

product

Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Vice, Taint, Kink, Faux Pas Review, Photos, Swatches

A-
Because of the reduced wear time (and Illamasqua's Nail Varnishes wear like iron on me with a base/top coat), these seem more like a novelty--like matte polishes, which work well for a certain look but are less durable than traditional nail lacquers.

Product

8.5/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

8/10

Application

4/5

Results
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