Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Long-wearing is the Name of the Game

MAC Pro Longwear SPF 10 Foundation ($29.50 for 1 fl. oz.) is the newest addition to MAC’s impressive range (at least in number!) of foundations, and it comes to the market with some pretty lofty claims. It’s designed to give up to fifteen hours of wear in any environmental condition while still being lightweight and delivering sheer to medium coverage. The finish is considered “natural,” which isn’t matte but neither dewy — it’s not Studio Fix Fluid (matte!) nor Mineralize Satinfinish (satin… dewy).

On color matching: I picked up NC30, which was my MAC match for a very long time, and I wasn’t sure if these leaned dark/light, so I figured that just might work. I haven’t been to the MAC store in a bit, so I don’t have full knowledge of the range’s shades, but NC30 was a little dark and a touch orange on me; luckily, it’s almost impossible to tell in the comparison photos. (Phew!) I think I’ll grab NC25 next time I’m at MAC, though. I did, however, compare the shade against some of the other MAC foundations I own. It seems in line with Face & Body (a little deeper, but it should be yellower), a definite shade deeper than NC25 in Studio Fix Fluid. However, when compared to Make Up For Ever HD in 140 (which, according to The Foundation Matrix, is equivalent to NC30-NC35), it’s a little darker but looks almost orange in comparison. All in all, like any foundation, try to grab a sample or get matched in-store to avoid embarrassing foundation face!

Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide 4.7%

Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Butylene Glycol, Trimethyl Pentaphenyl Trisiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Tribehenin, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Bis-Peg/Ppg-14/14 Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Phenyl Methicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Methicone, Tetramethyl Hexaphenyl Tetrasiloxane, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Laureth-7, Hexyl Laurate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Propylene Carbonate, Alumina, Polymethylsilsequioxane, Dimethicone Silylate, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin [ /- Mica, Iron Oxides (C) 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (C) 77891, Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288)

On finish: This foundation is definitely one of the best MAC foundations I’ve tried to date, and I do love Studio Fix Fluid, though I don’t currently wear it–but I did wear it for nearly three years. (So many foundations, only one face!) The finish is absolutely beautiful; it’s not flat or matte, but it’s not oily, greasy, or “dewy.” It really is natural; there’s a little of that lit-from-within glow going on here. It won’t accentuate your oiliness. However, if you have very dry skin, I think it may be too close to a matte finish and would advise trying before buying. Coverage is light-medium to me; I don’t think it’s sheer, but it can be built up to a more medium coverage. I find it is similar in coverage to Studio Fix Fluid.

On consistency, feel, transfer: It’s has lightweight feel–lighter than Studio Fix Fluid, heavier than Face & Body–with a thinner consistency than Studio Fix Fluid but not as watery as Face & Body. It dries down quickly (so work in sections or be quick about your business!) and doesn’t feel tacky or sticky to the touch. As far as I could tell, it’s pretty transfer-resistant, even ten hours later. I took a tissue to my face, and just pressing didn’t transfer anything, I had to rub it across my forehead to get any foundation to show up on the tissue.

On wear: But I suppose the best part about this foundation is that is really is long-wearing without being heavy, cakey, or thick. I wore it for twelve hours, and my makeup looked nearly as good then as it did when I first applied it in the morning. Normally, I get a little oily around my t-zone if I’ve worn foundation for eight hours or more. I’d say there might have been a touch more shine after twelve hours than when I started wearing it, but very slight, and it didn’t transfer.

All in all, a pretty stellar foundation!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d give it a shot if you’re able to sample the shade range and find the best match for you.  It should be suitable for dry to oily skin, but if you have very dry or flaky/dry patches on your face, you may want to try it first, because of the natural finish (which isn’t quite matte but near enough to it) may accentuate dryness.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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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.

Check out more photos! Continue reading →

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