Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

SpaRitual Believe Collection
SpaRitual Nail Lacquers: I am the Light, Yes, I Can, Hope Springs Eternal

SpaRitual Believe Collection for Spring 2010

For spring, SpaRitual has created a collection of six shades: Yes, I Can (leafy green creme), I Believe in You (poppy orange creme), Hope Springs Eternal (hot pink shimmer), Spread Your Wings (pomegranate creme), Shoot for the Stars (purple creme), I am the Light (lavender creme).

Each shade comes with a unique charm that dangles from the bottle with “an inspiring mantra,” like Yes, I Can comes with the charm “I Can.” This collection of nail lacquers will be available February 2010 at fine salons and spas nationwide, as well as skinstore.com. Each bottle retails for $10.00.

  • I am the Light is a cool-toned lilac. It’s very spring-y! It has a cream finish and goes opaque in just two medium-thick coats. The formula gave me no issues when I applied it, which was surprising (I’m not always so good at applying cream polishes!).
  • Yes, I Can is a rich, grassy green cream. Like I am the Light, it goes opaque in two solid coats. I don’t think I own any greens like this in my own stash, so it’s a nice addition.
  • Hope Springs Eternal is a bright, shimmery pink-coral that flashes fuchsia-pink in some light. It has an almost chrome finish to it, though it’s definitely not a full-on chrome. I had some brushstrokes, but I think with a more patient hand, you could get it to look pretty smooth. This formula was easy to apply and went opaque in two coats.

Are you digging any of these shades?

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 some fun shades for spring, SpaRitual gives you six you just might not be expecting.

Availability: skinstore.com

See more photos and swatches! Continue reading →

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Tinted Moisturizing Balm with SPF 25 Review, Photos

Bobbi Brown EXTRA SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm ($50.00 for 1 oz.) is a thick tinted moisturizer that comes in a glass pot with a black screw-on lid. It’s available in eight shades: Alabaster (lightest), Extra Light Tint, Light Tint, Light to Medium Tint, Medium Tint, Medium to Dark Tint, Dark Tint, and Deep Tint.

It is described as, “A lightweight foundation alternative for dry, dehydrated skin, this formula is ultra-rich, and blends easily, giving skin a dewy look with light coverage. SPF 25 helps protect skin against damaging UVA/B rays. Dermatologist tested.”

Bobbi Brown also has a SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer (not so thick) that retails for $40.00 for 1.7 oz. (but I haven’t tried it myself beyond squeezing a drop or two out in-store, so I can’t give you direct comparisons). According to the Bobbi Brown website, though, the SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer is ideal for Normal to Dry skin types, whereas the SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizing Balm is recommended for drier skin types.

EXTRA feels like a cream and looks like one, too, in the jar, but you have to remember that it’s a tinted moisturizer and not use it as a cream–seriously, if you use it as a cream, you’ll end up with far more product than you need! Whether you use fingers or a brush (or a clean spatula, whatever!), you really don’t need more than a pea-sized application to cover the entire face with a sheer, lightweight layer of tinted moisturizer. It also has a lovely lemon-y citrus scent that’s dreamy (very tarte, not sweet).

This tinted moisturizer does have a distinct dewy finish; it was too dewy for my taste by itself, so I had to set with powder to minimize some of the dewiness–then it was just fine for everyday wear. It’s also definitely a sheer coverage product; I’ve tried some tinted moisturizers where coverage is a bit more than sheer (more like a light coverage foundation), but EXTRA is sheer. It’s like “your skin but better,” because it’s not going to hide too many skin imperfections, but it will help even out your skin tone. This is, though, the very nature of tinted moisturizers, to be sure!

When I’m on a good skin kick, EXTRA is just enough for me to wear on a daily basis, even with full makeup elsewhere (eyeshadow, lipstick, blush, etc.). With the dryness of the winter season, my skin is definitely more normal-to-dry, so EXTRA is just moisturizing enough to help keep my skin hydrated throughout the day. I do, though, tend to use a moisturizer in the morning, because I often shower in the morning but not apply makeup until a few hours later. I don’t find it too heavy, though, doing that double-duty moisturizing.

I do think this may be a little too rich for those with normal or normal-to-oily skin types, just because it such a thick, rich cream-type tinted moisturizer. I would recommend trying a sample to see if it works with your skin type. Most tinted moisturizers feel more like a lotion or a thickened liquid foundation, but this feels just like a face cream, so it does feel quite nice when applied to skin. I would also recommend waiting five to ten minutes for it to dry a bit before layering any makeup on top (like blush or bronzer).

Bottom Line: I like it a lot, but I’m more of a matte-finish kind of gal, so the dewy finish is just not my style. I did receive several compliments from readers when I wore it in some looks this past month–some saying it looked better than my usual tinted moisturizer (Kiehl’s, lately). It’s a good tinted moisturizer for those with drier skin who are only looking for sheer coverage to help even out skin tone. It is also significantly pricier than Bobbi Brown’s regular Tinted Moisturizer–EXTRA costs $10 more and you get about 35-40% less. To be fair, a pot of EXTRA is going to last you at least a few months since you need so little per application, though.

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’ve been looking for a more hydrating tinted moisturizer, Bobbi Brown’s EXTRA may be the one to quench your skin’s thirst!

Availability: Bobbi Brown

See more photos of me wearing this tinted moisturizer! Continue reading →

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

MAC Hue Lipstick
MAC Hue Lipstick

The Spring Season: MAC Hue Lipstick

MAC Hue Lipstick ($14.00) is a soft, played down pinky-nude with a creamy finish and subtle sheen. It’s semi-opaque; it gives my lips a decent amount of coverage, but it will definitely look a little pinker on more pigmented lips. Hue is really one of those classic MAC shades; you either love it or hate it, but it’s just one of those shades you gotta swatch at least once in your lifetime. I never thought Hue would work on me, but surprisingly, it can. I love it with really dramatic, smoked out looks layered with a sheer gloss like Nymphette.

Is this the perfect pinky nude for you? Would you wear it?

The Spring Season is a series of posts featuring my favorite soft beige, coral, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for the first blossom of spring — that runs through March 2010.

See photos and swatches… Continue reading →

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Benefit Spring 2010 Eyeshadows

Benefit Velvet Eyeshadows for Spring 2010

Benefit Spring 2010 Eyeshadows ($18.00 each) come in six, limited edition varieties:  Bo Peep, Buns, Nice Melons, Shamrocker, Mermaid, and Fancy Pansy.  They’re new and only available for a limited time, unfortunately, but they are perfect spring-friendly shades.

I am a big, big fan of Benefit’s Velvet Eyeshadows. I have been for awhile (you can see my original review, if you’re curious), so when I found out that there were six new shades for spring, I got a little excited. When I saw that they had pops of color, I couldn’t wait to try them.  You know me, I love me some color–even though I can totally appreciate a good neutral–and Benefit finally brought me some color.

  • Bo Peep is an icy pink with a silver sheen.  This is probably the one with the most frost-like appearance.
  • Buns is a caramel brown with a soft golden bronze sheen.
  • Nice Melons is a peachy-pink with gold sheen.  It would appear that nobody is going to escape spring without some sort of melon-esque shade in their makeup wardrobe.  Yes, it totally reminds me of MAC Melon pigment, but it’s in glorious pressed form.  (For the record, I do not like MAC pigments pressed… they’re not the same!)
  • Shamrocker is a fresh, minty green with silver sheen.  I don’t even know if I have any minty greens in my stash–it’s just not a color you see too often.  I like!
  • Mermaid is a dark green with a teal edge and gold sheen.  I would have loved to see a little more boldness and vibrancy from this shade, even though it is very much in line with the look and feel of Benefit as a line.
  • Fancy Pansy is a iridescent fuchsia-purple pearled shade with an icy sheen.  It’s like a much more purple version of MAC Stars ‘n Rockets (which runs a little fuchsia in comparison).

All six shades have the same softness, smoothness, and pigmentation as I’ve come to expect of Velvet Eyeshadows.  One of my favorite qualities about these is the consistency across the line — there are no duds.  There are no misses in texture, color pay off, or feel.  Everything is as it should be, even if one color may not be to your taste.  I can really appreciate the consistency, because it means you don’t have to worry, “Is this one going to be a flop?”

I would, of course, love to see Benefit add even more vibrant hues (a girl can dream, right?) or even a line of matte or semi-matte eyeshadows to complement the Velvet Eyeshadow line (which is all on the shimmery side of life).  But nevertheless, I hope they’ll continue to release new and/or limited edition shades throughout 2010!

Can’t wait to do a look with these!

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: If you love soft, smooth, well-pigmented eyeshadow, Benefit’s Velvet Eyeshadow is all that and more.

Availability: Benefit

See photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Tarte Flower Child Eyeshadow Palette for Spring 2010

Tarte for Spring 2010:  Flower Child Palette

Tarte Flower Child Natural Eyeshadow Palette ($44.00) is a new spring-styled palette from Tarte. It seems like every season, Tarte has a new eyeshadow palette up their sleeves. The Flower Child palette is in the same vein; it includes ten eyeshadows housed in a purple-covered case (kind of like a patent material) with flowers sprouting out on top (sorry, no photo).

Inspired by the rich earthen hues from which their pure color pigments are harvested and this Spring’s runway and red carpet trends, Tina’s interpretation of tarte’s best-selling eyeshadow palette combines saturated pigments with subtle pops of color. Versatile and artistic, this palette seamlessly transitions between day and night thanks to a wide variety of tones ranging from delicate to robust. This harmonious balance of shades ingeniously captures the expressiveness of the eyes no matter the look.

Eyeshadows

  • Soft Daffodil is a lightly shimmered peach. It’s hard to see on my skin tone, but it’s a very pretty shade to use with a neutral or softer look.
  • Ecru Hibiscus is a pink champagne. It may not seem ultra pigmented to the eye, but it’s designed to be softer shade — this is something you could use as a highlighter or as a wash. I think it’s just pigmented enough to do what it should.
  • Pink Peony is a brightened up blue-based pink. It was a little powdery when I played with it and looked sheerer when swatched than I’d have liked it to be. Even though it’s supposed to have shimmer, it seemed very minute to me.
  • Gray Periwinkle is a silvered gray with a light shimmer sheen (but it’s truly quite faint). I didn’t see any periwinkle in this, though. This shade was decently pigmented relative to the rest of the shades in the palette.
  • Peach Tulip is a coppery bronze that goes on very smooth and looks rich. This one is very pigmented, but it looks absolutely nothing like a peach or tulip. This seems like a better fit for the name “Firewheel” (while Firewheel seems a better fit for Peach Tulip).
  • Firewheel is a peachy melon with a soft gold sheen. This is a played down, more pinked melon than MAC’s Melon pigment. I always gravitate towards these kinds of shades! This applied very smooth and pigmented.
  • Buttercup is a slightly warmed-up soft brown with a matte finish. It’s soft, but it’s a little on the sheerer side and can look a bit faded.
  • African Violet is a darkened purple with red undertones with a light shimmer sheen. It’s decently pigmented, though not intense.
  • Delphinium Blue is a powdery navy blue. This was the sheerest and most powdery shade of the ten eyeshadows–it just wasn’t very pigmented or smooth.
  • Vibrant Forest Grass is a darkened cool-toned green with a soft shimmer finish. I think the name is a little off — it’s not vibrant (just pigmented, but not intensely so), but it is like a forest green, I suppose.

Also included in the palette is a double-sided eyeliner that has a dark brown on one side and a lightly shimmered darkened teal on the other; a double-sided brush (yes, a brush–no sponge tip applicators here!), and a miniature-sized Natural Eye Primer. The Eye Primer doesn’t actually fit inside the palette, though, so it’s not as functional as it could be. (It comes in a plastic holder that hangs off of the side.)

All of the eyeshadows are full-sized and magnetized so you can remove them if you want, refill with other Tarte eyeshadows as needed, and so on. I really do like that, because it means you are getting a great deal for your money, but it means you can always slot in another shade if you happen to finish one of these!

Bottom Line: It’s a solid palette, but it’s definitely on the sheerer/softer side of the eyeshadow spectrum. The colors do fit well with the season, as it gives me a spring feeling. The palette itself holds excellent value as you get ten full-sized eyeshadows for $44 (as opposed to $10 a pop, not that you can purchase these shades individually, though). I think some of the shades could have used some more pigmentation, particularly the deeper shades, but it’s a decent palette overall.

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

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: For a real value-loaded palette, Tarte’s Flower Child offers several soft shades for the spring season.

Availability: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Monday, January 25th, 2010

MAC Nymphette Lipglass

The Spring Season: MAC Nymphette Lipglass

MAC Nymphette Lipglass ($14.00) is a pretty semi-sheer concoction of golden shimmered champagne pink with just a touch of green-gold shimmer. It’s the most affordable dupe of Cle de Peau #2 Lip Gloss that I’ve found, but it is also a lot sheerer (more of a soft pink base, whereas Cle de Peau shows up more a champagne nude with lots of gold). But Nymphette is a beautiful shade in its own right, so I really wouldn’t think about it as “just a dupe for,” but a shade that’s worth buying independent of that. It works well layered on lipsticks but can also be worn alone for a pretty pout. MAC Lipglass is vanilla-scented and one of the tackier glosses on the market, but those are both things I like (hey, tackier lipglosses have a tendency to stay on better!), particularly since MAC Lipglass lasts about three to four hours on me when worn alone.

Is this the perfect glossy shade for you? Would you wear it?

The Spring Season is a series of posts featuring my favorite soft beige, coral, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for the first blossom of spring — that runs through March 2010.

See photos and swatches… Continue reading →