Monday, November 23rd, 2009


NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil: Pop Life & Toudra

NARS Pop Life & Toudra Velvet Matte Lip Pencils ($24.00 for 0.086 oz.) are two new shades from NARS’ Holiday Collection.  These are jumbo-sized lip pencils that are designed to be used more like a lipstick than a lip pencil.  The product is “enriched with Vitamin E” and is designed to last for “hours.”  NARS describes Toudra as a “richly pigmented Barolo wine shade is creamy, long-lasting and matte for strong, seamless color and a perfectly defined pout,” while Pop life is a “bold, bright and modernly matte holly–red hue that slips on with a velvety texture – a new holiday staple.”

Toudra is a bronzy, not quite coppery, brown-based wine.  It’s not really what I’d think of when someone tells me it’s a wine shade, though.  It’s in there, and yet it’s distinctly different.  It has a bit of a frosty/shimmery look, and I didn’t find it applied as easily as some other Velvet Matte Lip Pencils have in the past.  It even felt a little gritty, and dare I say… drying?  (Which these are specifically stated to not be!)  It is reasonably pigmented, though since it doesn’t apply smoothly, you end up using a fair amount of product get an even, full coverage look.

Pop Life looks very holiday-red when you check out the product, but on my lips, it was definitely not the case.  It was more of a brightened up orange-based coral shade.  It was smoother and gave a better look overall compared to Toudra, but even this still felt a little drying to me.  I didn’t get “hydrating” when testing either of these shades out myself.   If you’re looking for a red, you might consider Dragon Girl or Cruella instead–both of which are a lot redder than Pop Life.

These aren’t really your best bang for your buck lip product, considering you only get 0.086 oz. for $24–a NARS lipstick contains 0.12 oz. but also costs $24.00.  NARS has plenty of pigmented lipsticks in their collection (along with sheer shades, of course), so I’d probably start there in a lip color hunt.  I like these, in terms of the actual product (and discounting the price differential), more than NYX’s Jumbo Lip Pencils, because they feel a little more high quality and they do last much longer on me (about four to five hours).

Bottom Line: I don’t love the new shades from holiday.  I don’t own any of the permanent shades, but I’ve tested them in-store and have been more drawn to them there than I was when I swatched these two (and liked them even less when I actually used them!).  Neither color really pops for me, and I’m not sure why these aren’t as hydrating as NARS touts the product line to be.

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

  • Product: 21/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: I’d recommend trying these in-store before purchasing, to see if the texture meets your expectations!

Availability: Beauty.com, NARS Cosmetics, Sephora

See swatchesContinue reading →

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

China Glaze Cleopatra Nail Lacquer
China Glaze Cleopatra Nail Lacquer

Glitter Polish: China Glaze Cleopatra Nail Lacquer

China Glaze Cleopatra Nail Lacquer ($3.50 to $6.00) is a warmed-up yellow gold with small-sized gold particle glitter with a little mix of multi-colored shimmer. On my nails, it read more yellow gold and I didn’t notice much of the holographic glitter.

It’s kind of the opposite of Medallion, which is more of a cool-toned antique gold in comparison. Between the two of them, I do prefer Cleopatra with my skin tone — it really just warms me up.

This is also glitter suspended in a clear base, so it can work nicely as a glitter top coat over your favorite nail polish or worn alone for a sheerer look. It took me three coats to achieve the results in the swatches, but I could have waited a little longer in-between coats to get a more opaque look. (I was trying to get it done before my boyfriend came back to the office!)

It’s not as smooth as the average China Glaze lacquer, and it has the same consistency and feel of Medallion–a little gritty, not the easiest to apply, but it’s workable and not bad for a glitter polish.  It removes like the average glitter polish.  If I could improve it, I’d definitely wish for a smoother application–just one that spread the glitter evenly and quickly, and perhaps, a faster drying time.

From the various shades I’ve tried from China Glaze’s fifty new glitter lacquers, Cleopatra is my favorite! It’s just the right shade of gold that I’m automatically drawn to–plus, it complements my skin tone quite well.

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Looking for a warm gold, totally blinged out lacquer? Cleopatra might be it.

Availability: 8ty8beauty.com, Head2ToeBeauty.com, TransDesign.com

See close-upsContinue reading →

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Smashbox Starlet Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss
Smashbox Starlet Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss

The Scarlet Season: Smashbox Starlet Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss

Smashbox Lip Enhancing Gloss Siren ($18.00 for 0.20 oz.) is a semi-opaque shade of pinky-red with subtle golden shimmer and a high gloss sheen. Like previously mentioned Siren, the formula is all about high-shine without being sticky. It’s a moisturizing gloss that looks good and fades well, though it lasts about four hours on my lips. The scent is a lightly sweetened vanilla that’s pleasing without being cloying or synthetic. I do like Starlit over Siren, just because this has better coverage and doesn’t sink into lip lines much at all.

What about you? Would you wear this red?

The Scarlet Season is a series of posts showcasing and featuring my favorite shades of red lips–from glosses to lipsticks that runs through December 2009. You can sure expect to see a lot of red this holiday season!

See more swatches and comparison photosContinue reading →

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

China Glaze Medallion Nail Lacquer
China Glaze Medallion Nail Lacquer

Glitter Polish: China Glaze Medallion Nail Lacquer

China Glaze Medallion Nail Lacquer ($3.50 to $6.00) is a cool-toned gold with multi-sized, multi-colored shimmer suspended in a clear base. It has hexagonal multi-reflective bits of glitter amongst more square-shamed, smaller-sized dark gold glitter. It’s pretty much one of the most glittery polishes I’ve ever come across–and I say that in a good way… if you like glitter! Now, if you’re not a fan of glitter polish, I think I can safely say this isn’t for you.

I found application to require some effort, and you’ll get best results if you do let the layers dry substantially in-between. This lets you get better overall coverage of glitter so it doesn’t get bunched up or pushed around into certain spots. One issue I had if you moved too quickly was the glitter would bunch up a bit at the very edge of the nail (around the tip), which wasn’t so cute. I think this would work really well as a glitter top coat over your favorite lacquer as well, particularly since it has a clear base. It took me three solid coats to get the above (and below) results, and as you can see, it’s not opaque, though it’s still a fun shade to wear by itself.

Removal is about on par with what I’d expect from a glitter polish; it’s not the quickest removal process, but it doesn’t drive me batty.  I really just like how sparkle-tastic this shade is, and I think that alone wins me over, since I was looking for it China Glaze’s new glitter shades.  I will say it could have applied a little more smoothly, even for a glitter, but the finished result is still quite fun.

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Looking for a cool gold, totally blinged out lacquer? Medallion might be it.

Availability: 8ty8beauty.com, Head2ToeBeauty.com, TransDesign.com

See close-upsContinue reading →

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Le Metier de Beaute Framboise Creme Lip Creme Lip Gloss
Le Metier de Beaute Framboise Creme Lip Creme Lip Gloss

The Scarlet Season: Le Metier de Beaute Framboise Creme Lip Creme Lip Gloss

Le Metier de Beaute Framboise Creme Lip Creme Lip Gloss ($36.00 for 0.22 oz.) is a stunning shade of subdued ruby red with ruby and gold shimmer and the most amazing pigmentation. I remember when I first purchased this shade, which was also the first time I ever heard of or saw Le Metier de Beaute, back in February 2009 when I was in New York for fashion week. I completely fell head-over-heels in love with the shade; it was love at first swatch, as they’d say! The formula is out of this world; it’s moisturizing, glossy, ridiculously well-pigmented (it still feels more like a gloss than a lipstick or liquid lipstick), and it lasts for a good four to six hours on me. I’m still as pleased with it today as I was when I first purchased it.

I’m also pleased to note that Le Metier de Beaute has greatly improved their accessibility, available at many Neiman Marcus around the United States. (When I purchased this, they were only available at two stores or online at NeimanMarcus.com!)

What about you? Would you wear this red?

The Scarlet Season is a series of posts showcasing and featuring my favorite shades of red lips–from glosses to lipsticks that runs through December 2009. You can sure expect to see a lot of red this holiday season!

See more swatches and comparison photosContinue reading →

Friday, November 20th, 2009

China Glaze 5 Golden Rings Nail Lacquer
China Glaze 5 Golden Rings Nail Lacquer

For the Holidays:  China Glaze Love You Snow Much Nail Lacquer Set

China Glaze Love You Snow Much Nail Lacquer Set ($12.00 to $18.00) is a holiday-themed set, and it includes 5 Golden Rings (pale gold), Emerald Sparkle (emerald green), Tinsel (light silver), and Ruby Pumps (ruby red).

  • 5 Golden Rings is a paled yellow-gold with bright and muted yellow gold shimmer mixed in a sheer, tinted pale yellow base. Even with three coats, I couldn’t get this shade to look opaque on my nails. I like the color, but it’s a bit on the sheer side and I tend to gravitate towards more opaque choices myself. However, since it is so sheer in its base color, it gives you bling without being too much.
  • Emerald Sparkle is a shimmery rich emerald green. It is a deep, dark forest green base mixed with brighter, more emerald green shimmer. It’s also a dream to apply; smooth and pigmented, it only needs two coats to obtain a rich, lush green that is entirely opaque.
  • Tinsel is a bright silver shimmer suspended in a clear base. Since the base is clear, it is sheer and doesn’t apply completely opaque even with three coats. I think thicker coats and three or four of them might yield a slightly more opaque look, but some experimentation is necessary.
  • Ruby Pumps is a shimmery bright ruby red. It has a medium bright red base with darker ruby red shimmer sprinkled throughout. It applies evenly and without a fuss, plus it goes opaque in just two medium-thick coats.

Which of the four is your favorite?

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: 4/5

Recommendation: If you don’t own Emerald Sparkle/Ruby Pumps, this is a good set to pick ‘em up in! 5 Golden Rings and Tinsel may not be your cup of tea if you prefer opaque color–but if you do like sheer shades, you may love this set entirely.

Availability: 8ty8beauty.com, Head2ToeBeauty.com, TransDesign.com

See close-upsContinue reading →