Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

MAC Venomous Villains: Discussion

I know many of you are getting ready to head out to Venomous Villains’ unveiling parties across the U.S., and I thought it might be fun to create a place for everyone to discuss the collection.  Last minute decisions, hauls, wish lists… ask for recommendations or insight from other readers.  Even if you’re not going to an unveiling, feel free to join in with your thoughts, to-buy lists, or what have you.

Chatter away! :)

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Evocative Collection
Dolce & Gabbana Orchid (115) Shine Lipstick

A Deep Fuchsia Lip for Fall

Dolce & Gabbana Orchid (115) Shine Lipstick ($30.00 for 0.13 oz.) is an paque, deep fuchsia pink with a high glossy shine. It’s bright without being neon, but still a very rich, noticeable color when worn. It doesn’t seem to pull very blue, as many fuchsias do, but it still brightens teeth, giving the illusion of a whiter smile. The consistency is great: creamy without being heavy or overly slippery, while the color is intense in one or one and a half layers of product. I like the rose-scent of Dolce & Gabbana’s lipsticks, but if you’re more sensitive to scent, you might want to sniff before buying.

MAC’s Rebel Lipstick was the closest shade I could find to this particular color, but it pulls a lot redder and a couple of hues darker, while Orchid is distinctly pink (compare the full face photos–the difference is so dramatic!).

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: Rich color, moisturizing, and flattering on cool and warm skin tones — if you’re in the mood for a deep fuchsia, it’s a good choice!

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad
Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad

Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad ($59.00 for 0.16 oz.) looks like a beautiful, elegant mix of feminine colors that seem neutral–not too cool, not too warm.  I’ve always liked Dolce & Gabbana’s eyeshadows in the past (like Dazzling, Gold, Laguna), and I really haven’t had trouble with application of them.

In addition to having trouble with this palette, I also found similar issues with Ocean eyeshadow duo (also from fall, to be reviewed separately).  I thought perhaps it was due to my usage of NARS’ Smudgeproof as a base, so I tried Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, and I experienced the exact same issues:  sheer, faded colors that looked lovely at first but seemed to fade away as quickly as I applied them; slight muddying of color when blended.  It’s like there was nothing to bind the shadow to my lid, despite the eyeshadow base.

The best solution I was able to come up with was to use a shimmery, white gold cream shadow base (Shiseido Lemon Sugar).  Cream bases can sometimes be more adhesive, which can help softer or more difficult shadows stay on better, and shimmery bases always seem to emphasize colors in my experience.   It’s better–decent to just below good–but it’s not fabulous.

Divine consists of a barely-there beige with a subtle cool tone; medium mauve-tinged beige; frosted cotton candy pink; and darkened blue-toned purple with a semi-matte finish.  After using the quad in three look attempts, the lightest shade was my favorite, because it worked really well as a highlighter on my skin tone.  Though the pink shade swatches the best, it is the worst performer of the bunch, because despite its brightness in the swatch, it looks faded and flat on the lid.  The other three shades are more on the matte/satin side, so they already have a softer look and don’t fall flat when used.

I’m also mildly amused that the Eyeshadow Duos contain 0.17 oz. of product for $36, while the quads hold 0.16 oz. and go for $59.  This quad was a total miss for me, and I really wanted to love it.  It’s stunning when you first open the compact, but it’s such a let-down in practice.  Nothing will get a product onto my skip list faster than requiring me to give it three tries just to yield decent results.  As they say, three strikes and you’re out!

I mentioned it previously, but the nude shades worked just fine; they’re soft, smooth, and apply the same.  I don’t think they’re going to work well on anyone that’s medium-dark to dark in skin tone–they’re just going to be way too light and look chalky rather than subtle.  These shades would work well on light to medium skin tones for a contoured nude eye.  So in a sense, half the palette is… palatable (ha, ha).  I already spoke on the pink shade, and the purplish shade is so-so; it applies smoothly, but it seems to go sheer and fade pretty quickly.

Edited 10/01: Despite calling the Saks’ Dolce & Gabbana counter and being told not to use these eyeshadows wet or else I would ruin them, I did use them wet–it did solve a lot of smoothness/evenness of the eyeshadows on the lid, though the colors were still a bit faded and flat.  I changed the product grade from 20 to 23 as a result, which raised the overall grade from a C- to a C+.  A new issue, as a result of using them wet, was a bit of difficulty in blending out the darker shade.

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

  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d rather get two lipsticks for the price of one eyeshadow quad. (I have reviewed many of Dolce & Gabbana’s lipsticks with happy results!)

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Test-driving Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall Collection:  Attempt #1

Don’t let that preview image fool you, this look did not make it past my front door.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, why bother showing us?” Because inevitably, I’ll be reviewing the products I used in this look, and it’s proof positive of my experience.  Loved the lips, but the eyeshadows just weren’t working.  They didn’t seem sheer, and they felt soft and smooth, but I couldn’t get them to stick for the life of me.  I packed on three or four layers in a futile attempt to get the colors to look true-to-the-pan.  A tackier base (like a creamy eyeshadow) helps, but you’ll need to get creative to get these to work.

I will also admit fully to giving up at a certain point and not even bothering to fully blend it out–everything just kept blending away into a faded, slightly muddied mess.  But you know what’s funny?  In reality, few people would really notice anything was amiss, especially since your eyes remain open for longer intervals than closed.

This my process when I review products, even product types I may have tried before, even from brands I enjoy.  I may not always share the process (I often wear a mash up of all sorts of products in disarray, so it’s not exactly pretty, LOL!), but I had originally aimed to create and share a look around the collection in addition to testing wear and application.  It didn’t work out as a look, but perhaps sharing the process will also help (and help you understand my review, which will follow shortly).

What I used…

  • Eyes: NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base (neutral eyeshadow base), Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad (soft nude, medium beige, medium pink, dark purple), Dolce & Gabbana #11 Eyeliner (silvery gray), Bare Escentuals Buxom Mascara
  • Face: MAC Pro Longwear Foundation (NC30), Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder (translucent)
  • Cheeks: Korres #15 Natural Blush (pink-nude)
  • Lips: Dolce & Gabbana Orchid Lipstick (fuchsia-purple), Dolce & Gabbana Vibrant Lipgloss (fuchsia)
  • Brushes: 249 (flat, firm brush), 239 (fluffy shadow brush), 226 (fluffy crease brush), 219 (pointed crease brush), 116 (dense blush brush)

For eyes, start by applying Smudgeproof as your eyeshadow base all over the eye area with the 249. Using the 239, apply the pink on the inner half of the lid and pull upwards along the inner crease. Lightly blend the medium beige eyeshadow on the outer half of the lid with the 239. Next, apply the dark purple eyeshadow into the crease with the 226, lightly blending onto the outer lid. Blend the nude eyeshadow with the crease shade and highlight the brow bone. Bring everything together by applying #11 eyeliner on the lower lash line. Finish by sweeping lashes with Buxom mascara.

For cheeks, apply #15 Natural blush on the apples of the cheeks and sweep upwards towards the temple with the 116.

For lips, apply Orchid lipstick first, and then layer Vibrant lipgloss for a complementing lip.

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Monday, September 20th, 2010

MAC Venomous Villains Cheat Sheet

With so many products, some shades with very obvious dupes, and price increases (just for this launch as far as I know), I thought a compilation might help.  All of the descriptions of each shade are mine–they are taken directly from the reviews I did.  You can check off items you’re interested in, write your own notes in the provided section, and be reminded of potential dupes, repromotes, or permanent shades in the launch.  I kept it simple in black and white to make it printer-friendly!

You can grab my Venomous Villains “cheat sheet” HERE AT THIS LINK! :)

MAC Venomous Villains Reviews & Swatches

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Guerlain 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette
Guerlain 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette

Is this palette worth $84?

I know that it probably sounds funny, but after reviewing and being disappointed by Guerlain’s Rue de Francs Bourgeois Eyeshadow Palette, I felt the need to determine whether the palettes were a miss in general or perhaps just that particular combination was underwhelming. I decided to go with Guerlain’s 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette ($84.00 for 0.25 oz.), which is one variation that seemed to stand out more than the others (to me).

The palette includes six eyeshadows in varying shapes and sizes.  It’s housed in a beautiful compact with a filigree pattern on the cover that’s actually see-through.  There’s a black plastic piece that lifts open to reveal the eyeshadows themselves (and on the inside, there is a mirror).  A dual-ended miniaturized brush is also included, and while not something I’d use under regular circumstances, is nicer than many other palette applicators I’ve come across.

This is a rather cool-toned palette, which would make it most suitable for those who lean cool, but it’s still wearable on warmer skin tones, since they’re closer to neutral than very cool.  There is a pale white-beige with a satin finish, muted gray-brown with a satin finish, medium-dark ocean blue with soft sheen, antique gold with a hint of taupe base and frosted shimmer, cool-toned charcoal brown with a semi-matte finish, and darkened purple-black with flecks of violet shimmer over a semi-matte color base.

I think the pigmentation on the eyeshadows is nice overall, but it’s not rich and intense and luxe to me.  I really don’t get the luxury feel from the texture, but these shades are more impressive in their subtle nuances than in Rue de Francs Bourgeois.  I’m not keen on the level of pigmentation in the lighter brown shade, which is a little sheer; though the charcoal-brown shade appears sheer when swatched, it applies just fine with a brush on the eyes (say in the crease).

I’m still not as wow-ed as I’d like to be with these palettes, and while the palette’s case is most assuredly gorgeous, the eyeshadows don’t quite match it.  The texture could be finer, richer — I think this is what makes me go, “Hmm, I want to like you, but it’s not quite there,” because they don’t feel as buttery as Guerlain’s singles, duos, and quads’ eyeshadows do.  I do like that these have nearly no fall out, and they do apply very smoothly and evenly.

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

RECOMMENDATION:

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →