Saturday, April 24th, 2010

NARS Eye Pencils
NARS Eye Liner Pencils: Manon, Parrot Cay, Kitty, Kaliste, Black Moon

NARS Eye Liner Pencils for Lightweight Lining

NARS Eye Liner Pencil ($20.00) is a richly pigmented pencil eyeliner that is available in sixteen shades: Black Moon (dense black), Iceberg (crisp white), Kaliste (teal), Kitty (turquoise blue), Kyoto (olive green with shimmer), London (foggy gray), Mambo (chocolate brown), Manon (violet), Parrot Cay (mint green), Patmos (khaki green), Istanbul (sky blue), and Sandstorm (gold leaf).

I test-drove five shades over the past week, and NARS has some really stunning shades available. They’re just so rich and intense without being bright. Though the pencil tip is a little on the sharper side when you initially get them, after doing swatches on my arm, it whittled away enough that it was soft, smooth, and easy to use on my lower lash line.

It’s not ultra creamy but not dry either. I wouldn’t describe it as creamy so much as smooth. It easily glided on my lower lash line without any pulling or tugging, so that’s enough softness for me. I also didn’t have to layer in order to achieve true pigmentation, either.  Sometimes with pencils, the initial use can be a little rougher, but since I always swatch on my arm first, it helps to wear down the tip, in case it’s too sharp.

  • Manon is a blue-based violet purple. There’s no shimmer, just pure purple.
  • Parrot Cay is a minty green. I’m surprised it doesn’t look super chalky, being so pastel, but it’s an interesting way to open up eyes with color rather than a white or flesh-toned eyeliner.
  • Kitty is a rich sky blue. This one felt and looked the creamiest of the five I tried. It also felt like the most pigmented–very rich.
  • Kaliste is a darkened teal–I want to call it a forest teal, because it’s so dark–and it looks lovely with a neutral eye.
  • Black Moon is a blackened brown. I’m not sure why it’s described as a “dense black,” because it’s definitely not black–there are significant brown tones to it.

But there is one huge problem that renders these eyeliners amongst the worst I have ever used: they have no lasting power at all. I can’t even express to you how much I wanted these to work, because they are truly beautiful shades, and they do look amazing on–but I can’t even go twenty minutes without it starting to smudge and migrate all over the place. I don’t have an oily lash line, and I’ve never had major issues with an eyeliner going all over the place. But these took smudging and migration to a whole new level.

NARS Eye Pencils
After just one hour…

After an hour of wear, I had liner that was on my lower lash line… on my upper lash line (say WHAT?!), all faded and smudged every which way on my lower lash line, crept up to my waterline… it was not a pretty sight in the least bit, but I couldn’t resist capturing just how smudge-tastic these were on camera.

But anyway, the point is I loved the shade range and the feel of these pencils so much that I tried every single liner multiple times. They all performed the same. I was secretly wishing and hoping that maybe just Black Moon or Kaliste were poor performers, but even the lighter shades like Parrot Cay and Kitty played me for a fool. Not to mention, when I was checking for reviews of these online, I just did not find that many negative reviews.

So, I have these, and I do really love the shades. After I get over being totally laughed at by these pencils, I’ll probably use them, but set them with an eye sealer (like Benefit’s She-Laq or Make Up For Ever’s Eye Seal) and/or set with powder eyeshadow. But this is NARS we’re talking about, and even worse yet is it’s supposed to be a long-wearing pencil.

I give it points for being incredibly pigmented, smooth, and looking lovely on, but I took away the majority of points for its complete miss on long-wearing power and how extreme the fading, smudging, and migration is.  I would really love to hear from those who have used this product, because I’m totally sad over their performance after reading so many glowing reviews online!

Have you tried NARS Eyeliner? I hope your results were better than mine!

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

  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Unless you’re able to try these first in-store, I really can’t recommend them. I had such a terrible experience with them fading, smudging, and migrating that there’s no way I could feel good about saying, “Try ‘em for yourself!” There seems to be plenty of positive reviews on these, so maybe I’m the rare exception. But how I wish I wasn’t!

Availability: NARS

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Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Lancome Pink Party Pretty Palette

Lancome Pink. Party. Pretty. Color Design Palette ($45.00 for 0.253 oz.) is a slim, summer eyeshadow palette that features six shades varying from a soft pink to a deeper black with copper shimmer.   It’s part of Lancome’s Bronze Riviera Collection for summer.

  • Flower is a soft, pearly rose-beige with white shimmer.
  • Fresh Rose is a coral-rose with a soft pink sheen.
  • Kitten Heel is a pinky-peach with golden sheen. This one was like NARS Orgasm in eyeshadow form, aka awesome.
  • Tropiques Glow is an orange-copper with a soft sheen.
  • Lounging is a warmed-up red-toned medium brown with a very satiny finish.
  • Lava is a charcoal black with gold and copper flecks of shimmer. It applies a bit sheerly, unfortunately, because it does look awfully pretty in the pan. Nonetheless, over a darker base, it’d be gorgeous (since the darker base will fill in the sheerness).

All of the shades–except Lava–had great texture and pigmentation. They were smooth, soft, and easy to blend. Lava was on the sheerer side, almost a bit chalky in the base color. Kitten Heel appealed to me the post, being this lovely shade of pink-peach–very summery and flattering, particularly on warmer skin tones.

I do think this palette is naturally more flattering on warmer skin tones, but I can still see it working on cooler skin tones. Flower, Fresh Rose, and Lava are all neutral to neutral-cool, so they can be worn with warmer shades to keep it more wearable on cooler skin tones.

Some combination ideas…

  • LID: Flower, LID: Fresh Rose, CREASE: Lava
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Fresh Rose, CREASE: Lava
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Tropiques Glow, CREASE: Lounging
  • LID: Fresh Rose, LID: Lounging, CREASE: Lounging
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Tropiques Glow, CREASE: Lava

The packaging is gorgeous and compact. It’s a cardboard-encased plastic palette where the outside is wrapped in a metallic bronze that flashes copper-bronze when light hits it, but looks just bronze at other times (see the photos!). There’s a floral design that wraps around the outside as well–I loved that it actually wrapped around to the back of the palette.

Lancome also put quite a few eyeshadows in this palette, and the price is just right–by the ounce, the eyeshadows cost less than the majority of other high-end brands (including MAC and NARS!).

P.S. — Lancome’s Bamboo Bronzer is now available at Nordstrom! :)

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: Depending on what you already have in your stash, this palette could make a great addition. It has a balance of neutral eyeshadows paired with warmer shades you’d expect to see in the summer. There are so many color combinations waiting to be done with these, too, which is always a sign of a cohesive eyeshadow palette.

Availability: Nordstrom

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Skincare Tips from Renée Rouleau:  Do skincare products expire?

Savvy, smart, and always knowledgeable, Renée Rouleau is my go-to for all that is skincare. She’s a celebrity esthetician with her own line (I love her AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel!), and she also regularly updates her blog with skin care tips and tricks.

It’s so important to be aware that skin care products don’t last forever. We buy products and don’t end up using some of them as often as we had intended, and they end up collecting dust.  But are they still safe to use?  Dallas-based celebrity esthetician, Renée Rouleau has answers!

Generally, most skin care products guarantee safety and freshness for one year. Some will last up to two years and some will last less. Products that are sold both in Europe and in the United States will have a symbol of an open jar with a number followed by the letter “M” to indicate how many months the products will last after it’s been opened, but this is not required if the product is only sold in the United States or Canada.

Tips to getting the longest life out of your skin care products:

  • Write the purchase date with a marker on the bottom of the jar or bottle. Whether the product has the month symbol on it or not, the difficulty will always be that you won’t recall when you purchased the product so writing it on the jar is a fool-proof way to remember.
  • Keep your products away from light and heat. This definitely helps to preserve the product for longer since active ingredients can be compromised when exposed to heat and light. Store them in a drawer or cabinet.
  • Have clean hands before dipping your fingers into a jar. Most skin care products should be formulated with a strong preservative system so there shouldn’t any worries about using your fingers to get a cream or mask out of a jar. But it’s still good to make sure you hands are clean. Usually when a cream or mask is applied, it’s after cleansing your face so generally your hands are clean anyway.
  • Optional: Refrigerate your skin care products. If you aren’t using a product on a regular basis and want it to last, you can always store it in the refrigerator. This generally will help to maintain its freshness for longer.
  • Keep the caps closed tight. It’s a fact that air will break down active ingredients more rapidly, so make sure the caps are closed tightly.

Tips for when to toss:

  • If your product changes consistency, color or scent, it’s time to toss. First, check for expiration dates. If that isn’t obvious, there are a few things to look for: Is the product thinner? Are the ingredients separating? Does it smell different than when you purchased it? Has the color changed from white to yellow or light brown? These are signs that the product is changing and should be tossed.

Help those in need:

  • Clean out and donate (only fresh products.) Many domestic violence shelters gladly accept unused/gently used beauty products for their women who are in need. If you’ve recently purchased a skin care product that isn’t a good fit for your skin or have a product that you’re just not going to ever use, donate it. The Renée Rouleau Cosmetic Donation Program donates to The Family Place in Dallas.
Friday, April 23rd, 2010

CHECK OUT SWATCHES, PHOTOS, & IN-DEPTH REVIEWS HERE!! :)

MAC To the Beach Collection for Summer 2010

U.S. Launch Date: May 27th, 2010

International Launch Date: May 2010 (Asia: June 2010)

There is fun in the sun, to be sure, but to the beach is more of a sensual state of mind – a pleasure we all feel near the sea. The girl and boy from Ipanema, from Cap D’Antibes to West Palm Beach…All around the world, the seaside has a romance, and a kind of golden, sexy alchemy we’re all drawn to. This collection encapsulates it, with a new, lapping-wave Lip-Pencil and High-Light Powder in coral shades, Nail Lacquer – A Scorcher! – Eye Shadow, Kohl, and Powder Blush to get away from it all effortlessly. Sandbags, seashells, the magic of marine life decorating packaging in the most soothing sultry shades of summertime. Close your eyes, and go To The Beach!

The face must be protected at all times! But we have ways to bronze and beautify…fake it, but get colour that looks sun-kissed! A safe way to evoke the golden glow of a glorious walk on the beach, the magical moodiness of sunsets all over the world, colours shifting from glowing gold to glorious bronze to sundown brown. The Chic Glamour of faraway places, a ticket to paradise inspired by the dream of a life lived sur la mer. Bronzing Powder, Cream Bronzer, Lustre Drops, Bronze Body Oil, and our stylish City-To-Seaside to the beach bags…wherever you are, see you at the beach!

Update: Added more product photos. (4/22/10)

See collection details & imagery! Continue reading →

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Burberry Makeup Coming Soon!

“[Burberry Beauty] is completely integrated with everything else we do with the brand and with the company,” said Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer. “It started because I felt that, at shows and the shoots, the whole [Burberry] attitude is epitomized through the shoes, the bags, the clothes, the accessories, but then the face was the one thing I really struggled with. When we were doing makeup, I felt like we weren’t able to get the right attitude. It was either caked-on makeup or then just the wrong colors, the wrong tones, the wrong spirit for makeup. I wanted it to be this kind of effortless elegance.”

According to WWD, Burberry will be launching Burberry Beauty in July. It features a 96-unit makeup line, with everything inspired by “th brand’s iconic trenchcoat.”

The trench swayed the designer’s choice of makeup shades, too. “I liked the idea of taking the trenchcoat and the weather as the two things that influence and define the colors,” said Bailey. “You’ve got the naturals from the trenchcoats and from the weather you’ve got these beautiful stormy grays and stormy blues. Then, when the sun comes out, you’ve got this glow and you’ve got lighter tones, as well.”

Initial distribution will include 30 doors worldwide at select Harrods (UK), Nordstrom (US), and Lane Crawford (HK). They expect to expand reach by an additional 30 to 40 doors next year. Pricing looks like we’ll see the line retail around other high-end designer brands like Chanel, Dior, and Dolce & Gabbana.

Yay or nay?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

NARS Versailles Nail Polish

The Classy, Sophisticated Way to Wear Gold

NARS Versailles Nail Polish ($16.00 for 0.5 fl. oz.) is a softened yellow gold with champagne shimmer woven through. It has a slightly metallic look to it. It’s very spring-into-summer–the softness of the gold makes it like a gilded yellow, perfect for spring, but it has the shimmer and sheen that makes it great for summer, too. The formula runs a little thick, but it applies easily and goes opaque in two coats. I like that this is a gold that can be worn by cooler and warmer skin tones–it’s not a true yellow gold, so it should still complement those with pinker undertones!

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: For softened champagne-gold with pretty shimmer and a subtle, metallic look, Versailles may be the right shade for you.

Availability: NARS

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →