Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Monarch Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Monarch Palette

Smashbox Reign Monarch Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a soft, pale white-gold; a frosty copper bronze; and a grayed brown.

Like the Majesty palette, the outer rings are more pigmented than the center counterparts. The centers are merely sheerer and have a matte finish. They do have a tendency to mix, so it can difficult to keep the shimmer from the mattes. Make sure you take care of your palette and clean it regularly so you can actually have two different shades rather than one big one!

This is definitely the more neutral one of the two, and you can easily wear these shades together to the office or out (just go heavier on the dark brown). This palette feels very warm-toned, whereas the the Majesty palette felt more neutral or just slightly cool-toned. The shadows do feel soft and smooth, particularly the outer rings of color, but the mattes are not chalky either. I found the Monarch palette to be much better in terms of overall quality, too — the shadows just seemed to go on smoother and more pigmented.

Again, the value is just as good on this palette as the Majesty palette (same amount, same price). These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: For an affordable palette of slightly amped-up neutrals, Monarch offers an answer!

Availability: Sephora

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Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Majesty Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Majesty Palette

Smashbox Reign Majesty Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a pale peach, a reddish copper, and a black.

I found that it was difficult to keep the matte and shimmers separated from each other, because inevitably one would mix with the other. This sort of rendered the matte center to be a little useless, just because it ended up looking much like the outer ring. I was testing a tester, so it was even worse than a palette with normal usage (e.g. the one you’d buy!), so do keep that in mind while browsing the swatches! I will caution you to dust off your palette regularly to avoid shimmer getting into your matte centers!

The first shade is a soft, shimmery peachy-gold. The middle eyeshadow is more of a burnt brown with reddish shimmer. I know Sephora describes it as a “plum burgundy,” and I didn’t see that whatsoever when I swatched it. The center of the middle eyeshadow was similar, just more of a matte finish, and it applied sheerly (as did all of the centers). The rightmost eyeshadow in the palette is a blue-shimmered black, which isn’t as smooth as I’d like — I did get a little drag when I swatched it. Again, the center is a sheerer, matte-r version of the outer ring.

I’m disappointed that the center of each eyeshadow shade didn’t swatch better, and I’m not thrilled that they go on sheerer than the outer rings either. The colors are wearable, but they don’t seem out-of-the-norm, and I’d say Smashbox single eyeshadows feel smoother, silkier, and I’d probably opt for one or two of those instead of the palette, if you already have these shades covered! These three shades work well together, and you can easily create a few smoky eyes with this one.

However, there is one big selling point to this eyeshadow palette that shouldn’t be overlooked — it’s very high in value! With 0.423 oz. of eyeshadow in the palette, it brings your cost down well below costs per ounce in any other high-end brand of eyeshadow. These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you like products high in value, this palette is well worth the investment, particularly if you want to add more neutrals to your collection.

Availability: Sephora

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Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Illamasqua: Hussy Blush

Illamasqua Hussy Powder Blush ($23.00 for 0.14 oz.) is a matte, bright coral-pink. It’s smooth, intensely pigmented, and blends easily. It can be applied more subtly by using a stippling brush like MAC’s 187, or you can always tone it down if you’ve over-applied with a light dusting of powder.

It wears well and won’t fade on you throughout the day, and the color is not so cool to be unwearable for warmer skin tones, but it is also more pink than coral, making it easy to wear for cool skin tones, too. Sephora describes the shade as “petal pink,” which isn’t inaccurate, but I just keep seeing a bit of coral in it, too. The best part about this blush is the intensity of the pigmentation, because you definitely don’t have to worry about it not showing up on your skin tone! I’d compare the pigmentation to that of NARS’ blushes.

I’m a bit disappointed in the value of these blushes, though. They’re more expensive than NARS blushes, and nearly double the cost (per ounce) of MAC blushes. They’re priced just under (again, per ounce) Stila and Smashbox blushes. I do think they could have given us a little more product for the $23 price tag!

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: Have trouble finding blushes that show up on you? Illamasqua’s are richly pigmented making them good choices for those who like to put the spotlight on cheeks!

Availability: Sephora

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Friday, September 4th, 2009

Kiehl's Acai Organic Skincare

Kiehl’s to Launch Acai Organic Skin Care Line in September

In mid-september, Kiehl’s will unveil it’s first organic skin care line. The line has received approval from Ecocert and Cradle to Cradle.

“Since our inception, we have always been known for our service and for creating efficacious products,” said Salgardo, noting that everyone asks for “green” products, but still demand high performance. “We heard that our customers wanted organics, that they wanted paraben-free, that they wanted natural — and they wanted to focus on the first signs of aging. We went to the lab to do all that. The result: our new Açaí line.”

The Line Includes…

  • Açaí Damage-Minimizing Cleanser, $25 for 5 oz.
  • Damage-Protecting Toning Mist, $27 for 6 oz.
  • Damage-Correcting Moisturizer, $44 for 2.5 oz.
  • Damage-Repairing Serum, $46 for 1.7 oz.

Source

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana: Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad ($59.00) is D&G’s take on the smoky eyes palette. It contains four shades of eyeshadow: a pale, silvery-white; a medium-dark matte black; a mauve-tinged silver; and a subdued, cool-toned dark brown.

Like Dazzling, the Champagne consists of smooth, well-pigmented eyeshadows that feel like buttery goodness to the touch. They apply easily and softly, and they never look garish. They blend seamlessly together, and they work well with all of your favorite eyeshadow bases. They also still blend well when used with other brand eyeshadows.

One of things I like about the Dolce & Gabbana quads I’ve tried so far is that the colors go on as they’re pictured. They’re apply and swatch true-to-color, so there is a whole lot less guesswork to be done. I can also appreciate the “honesty” of the palette in that sense, too. Champagne, in particular, works well together, because the shades are diverse enough to create gradients, but they can be worn in pairs of triplets.

For those who find the price a bit steep, D&G is priced competitively with other major high-end brands like Chanel ($56), Dior ($56), and Guerlain ($58). The packaging is hefty and looks like gold (though it does hold fingerprints). It’s sleek and elegant, so it does look lovely when you hold it. If it didn’t hold fingerprints, the packaging would definitely help sway me even more.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of high-end, luxury brands, Dolce & Gabbana has put out a quality line of makeup. Champagne is a great quad to travel with to be able to create several evening smoky eyes.

Availability: Saks

See swatchesContinue reading →

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

The Best Dior Products

The Best of the Best:  Dior

Dior excels at creating (even when you thought you had it covered) staples that you’ll use time and time again. Many of my favorite products to use on a daily basis are dior. Dior can be colorful and bright, but they’re more often subtle and natural–not boring, mind you.

  • Dior Diorskin Shimmer Stars ($43.00) are quite possibly my favorite product by Dior, period. These are subtle highlighters that work well on all skin tones and give that “glowy” appearance without overloading the skin with shimmer. They’re natural and bring out the skin’s own glow. Really, really phenomenal. You can just see how many looks I’ve done with Amber Diamond and Rose Diamond alone.
  • Dior Addict 1.7 oz Eau de Parfum Spray ($72.00) was one of my first fragrances, and it is still one of my more coveted scents. It is a heady scent that works extremely well for evening and formal occasions.
  • Dior Diorskin Nude ($45.00) is a water-based, lightweight light-to-medium coverage foundation that gives skin a flawless and healthy look. You can read my full review for even more reasons why it rocks my world.
  • Dior ‘One Color Extreme’ Eyeshadow ($27.50) are highly pigmented single doses of eyeshadow. Dior is actually coming out with several new shades this fall/winter, so look for them! For now, you can check out the two that came out with the fall collection.
  • Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss Reflect ($25.50) are non-sticky, hydrating lipglosses with a beautiful glossy finish. They come in a variety of shades, and they’re one of Dior’s signature products.
  • Dior 2-Colour Eyeshadow ($35.00) are richly pigmented eyeshadow duos. They’re not quite at the level of the Extreme eyeshadows, but they’re coordinated shades that are worth the investment if it’s in your budget.
  • Dior Bronze Harmony Blush ($42.00) is on the level of Skin Shimmers. Soft, subtle color that looks natural and truly enhances the skin in a way that’s beautiful. Check out my review for Rose Brazilia and Coral Riviera.

What are your favorite Dior products?