Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes
Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes:  Powder, Blush, Blending, Eyeshading, Lip

Are Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes Worth It?

Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes debuted earlier this year, and despite having much luck with Dolce & Gabbana’s Makeup Line… I’m just not loving their makeup brushes. I actually find them, on the whole, a little scratchy. They are just nowhere near as soft as I expect from quality makeup brushes.

I know that a lot of readers thought the packaging looked very cheap with the gold plating and black handle, but the handles are a very sleek, matte black, which I think offsets the shiny gold plating in a way that’s not quite as “cheap” looking as anticipated. The ferrules also seem tightly in place, and I had very little bristle fall out, even on first use.  All of the brushes are made out of natural hair (goat and sable).

  • The Powder Brush ($55.00) is a large, dome-shaped brush with nice fullness, but it is a little scratchy. It’s pretty soft, but sometimes I find it less than pleasant on the skin.  It is luxuriously full and dense, though.
  • The Retractable Lip Brush ($29.00) is a small, thin brush that is thick and slightly tapered at the end. It is thicker than the average lip brush, and it’s not quite as wide. I like the firmness it has, and I like that it is retractable with a case, so it can be stored easily in a purse.
  • The Blush Brush ($48.00) is a medium-sized, tapered brush with a subtle dome shape. It works well for applying just the right amount of blush on cheeks as well as highlighting the cheek bones. I found it softer than the Powder Brush but not as soft as I would expect.
  • The Eyeshading Brush ($30.00) is a small, densely-packed dome-shaped eye brush. It is extremely similar to MAC’s 239, but this version seems an itsy bit smaller and firmer. I really liked the shape itself, but it, too, felt a little scratchy when used to blend.
  • The Blending Brush ($32.00) is a fluffy, slightly tapered brush designed for blending eyeshadows. I don’t think I have small eyes necessarily, but I found this brush too big to be all that useful. It may work better if you have larger eyes.

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  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I do not recommend purchasing these without having tested them in-person. They are not the worst brushes I have tried, and they really aren’t bad–they are decent–but there are better brands (at this price point or lower) out there. If you want to try Dolce & Gabbana, I recommend trying one of their blushes or lipsticks instead!

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Bare Escentuals Buxom Do You Believe in Love at First Sight? Eyeliner Set
Buxom Do You Believe in Love at First Sight? Eyeliner Set

Love at First Sight Doesn’t Last

Buxom Do You Believe in Love at First Sight? Six Mini Eyeliners Set ($28.00 for 6 x 0.01 oz.) includes these shades: No. 1 (bright turquoise), No. 2(violet purple), No. 3 (pearl white), No. 4 (black), No. 5 (espresso), and No. 6 (gold with silver micro glitter).

  • No. 1 is a medium blue with a little aqua lean.
  • No. 2 is a brightened violet with satin sheen.
  • No. 3 is a frosted warm-toned white.
  • No. 4 is a medium-dark black.
  • No. 5 is a medium-dark brown with warm undertones.
  • No. 6 is a yellow gold with silver glitter.

These eyeliners look lovely when swatched, but they do not perform half as well on the eyes. They are drier and have a tendency to tug on the lash line, rather than glide-on and apply smooth, solid color. They pull and tug, which results in a faded, patchy look–not at all sexy! I don’t own any of Buxom’s Insider Eyeliners (which are their twist-up liners), but I did test them out in-store and found these to be incredibly different in formula. If you were hoping that this set was comparable, it’s definitely not.

I wasn’t able to achieve the pigmented, vibrant color on the lash line that I was able to get on my arm. The wear seemed to last, but since it already looked a bit patchy, it was hard to tell what faded. I wouldn’t say that wear is where this product goes wrong–it’s really the lack of creaminess or softness that would help the product glide on the lash line smoothly.

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  • Product: 19/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: Skip these for a creamier, softer formula that glides onto the lash line rather than tugs at it.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Sunday, December 12th, 2010

NARS Sheer Glow
NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

Light Coverage, Soft Glow with NARS

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation ($42.00 for 1.0 fl. oz.) is touted as a “satin-finish foundation with sheer and buildable coverage.” It is also supposed to have “skincare benefits” when used regularly to “improve skin brightness, radiance and texture.” It is recommended for normal to dry skin types.

It is a light coverage foundation which can be built to light-medium coverage–definitely no more coverage than medium coverage at most. I wouldn’t describe it as sheer really; and if you have near perfect skin but are looking for a sheer all-over foundation option, I would keep looking. You could consider using it where and as needed, too, but for flawless or almost flawless skin, I recommend a tinted moisturizer over this, because I think this would be overkill.

I get about four to six hours of really great wear with this formula, but it does start to wane by the eighth hour. I think a little blot powder or pressed powder at lunch time helps to keep it working all day–I just wouldn’t describe it as a long-wearing foundation. Like most foundations, though, if you have drier skin, it may last longer than you. I’m normal-to-dry, and it’s at the eight hour point that I notice I look a lil’ oily and less even overall (a sign foundation is fading, disappearing, etc.). Oilier skin types are better off trying Sheer Matte, though, because the wear doesn’t last all day long, even on normal skin, and there is still an inherent dewiness from the finish that may accentuate oily skin in a not-so-flawless kind of way.

The consistency is thick without being goopy but not so thin that it applies too sheerly. I always apply it by using a concealer brush and dotting my face with the foundation, and then I take a foundation brush (MAC 109) spritzed with water to blend out the foundation to cover my entire face. The formula doesn’t dry down right away, so you have a lot of time to blend it in, and it seems a touch tacky after a few minutes, but it finishes its dry down after five minutes or so and completely settles by ten.

I was worried this was going to be too dewy for my liking. I prefer a matte or semi-matte finish in my foundations, and I was actually going to try Sheer Matte, but NARS sent over Sheer Glow–but the funny part is I didn’t even realize it was Sheer Glow until several uses later when I looked at the bottom of the jar for the shade name! It is a semi-satin, semi-matte kind of finish. There is a soft glow that emanates from the finish but it is subtle and natural. I didn’t feel like I looked shiny or oily at all after applying it, which can sometimes be the case with satin or natural finish foundations.

Overall, I really liked this foundation, and it’s something I reach for often enough. It photographs well (no SPF), and it evens out the skin quite beautifully. There is enough coverage for my skin concerns (some acne, slight unevenness in tone), and it blends really well. I’ve never had it look cakey or too much, and it does not feel heavy on the skin. I wish it wore longer, though, because that would make this a slam dunk foundation. I also would prefer if it came with a pump rather than as a $5 extra you can purchase. As a high-end, $42 foundation, I would expect an included pump.

If you need help finding your shade, I recommend The Foundation Matrix, which is actually how I found mine (Punjab)!

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

RECOMMENDATION: I would recommend this for very dry to normal skin types who need light to light-medium coverage. If you tend to need medium or heavy coverage, I don’t think you would get enough coverage out of this foundation. Similarly, I think it has too much coverage if you are really looking for something ultra sheer.

AVAILABILITY: NARS

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Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Estee Lauder Radiant Peach Blush
Estee Lauder Radiant Peach Blush

Quick Reviews: Estee Lauder Radiant Peach Blush

Estee Lauder Radiant Peach Blush ($26.00 for 0.25 oz.) is a golden shimmered coral with the same soft, silky texture Estee Lauder’s powder blushes are known for. It’s a beautiful blush and highlighter combo–the way the golden shimmer plays with the coral really makes it unnecessary to use a highlighter on top. For me, this is the kind of shade I can never get enough of; it doesn’t matter if there are dupes, I always have to have every iteration! Estee Lauder’s shimmer is a shimmer-sheen with nice pigmentation, too, which makes it a nice variation.

I have done a comparison of many peachy-corals here. This is Estee Lauder’s version of the cult-favorite NARS Orgasm. It is also similar to MAC Springsheen. You can also check out a whopping six pages worth of dupes for NARS Orgasm over at The Dupe List.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: Another good choice for your coral blush needs!

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Becca Tuberose Lip & Cheek Creme
Becca Tuberose Lip & Cheek Creme

Quick Reviews: Becca Tuberose Lip & Cheek Creme

Becca Tuberose Lip & Cheek Creme ($29.00 for 0.10 oz.) is an elegant shade of subdued coral with a flush of pink. It has a creamy, smooth consistency and blends effortlessly on cheeks. It’s not too sheer or too intense, but it will certainly deliver a lovely layer of color with little work. The formula is excellent because of the natural finish (no shimmer, no real sheen, just color) and the all-day wear (at least eight hours). This works well as an easy, everyday kind of blusher that wears well and flatters both warm and cooler skin tones.

As much as I liked it on cheeks, it didn’t do much for me on lips–too drying, a little sheer, and overall, not a product I’d use again on my lips. It works so much better as a cream blush that I don’t see any reason to waste it on lips when there are far better lip products in my stash. I also wish that there was more product for the price tag (or the reverse would work, too!).  Please take heed that this product as a blush is easily 29/30, but it’s supposed to be dual-purpose and I think it falls short of being a worthwhile lip product.

It reminded me of NARS Cactus Flower Cream Blush, but it is less intense and contains no gold shimmer. It is also pinker and more coral than the nude MAC Ladyblush Blushcreme.

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: It is a universally flattering cream blush that not only looks beautiful on the skin and blends easily but it wears impeccably throughout the day–not an easy task at all for a cream blush!

AVAILABILITY: Becca

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Saturday, December 11th, 2010


Giorgio Armani Spring 2011 Collection: Transluminence

Giorgio Armani introduces colours of nature, awakened by the morning light.

Light and nature are two major themes that have infused Giorgio Armani’s aesthetic and vision of makeup since its creation.

The Armani makeup collection for spring 2011 plays with transparency to ignite a woman’s face. Bright colours that allow infinite layering and blending create a new landscape of tones. There is a new smoky look for the eyes produced with radiant colours. From soft to dramatic, the look seen at the Armani spring/summer 2011 fashion show was a fresh interpretation of “La Femme Bleue”.

This season the must-have look utilises a perfect harmony of diaphanous forest green and purple iris on eyes, contrasted with frozen pink light on skin and lips. The inspiration: fresh morning dew on a wild bunch of flowers.

Makeup artist Linda Cantello, who worked on the Armani spring/summer 2011 fashion show, says: “Imagine the richest purple and the deepest green both enlivened by a frozen silver. A soft black completes the palette, to be worn alone as liner or to add depth to smoky eyes. Freshened by the softest baby lips, a beautiful frosty blush completes this new way of facing spring in the depths of winter.”

Transluminence Eye Palette ($58.00)

Blend and layer the four full, rich, colour-intense translucent tones. Apply rich purple iris with an eye brush to the eyelid and add dewy forest green. These will fuse together into a vibrant blue turquoise. Render the effect even more luminous with a layer of frozen silver. Open up the eye with a touch of silver on the inside corner. Outline the under eye or the eyelid with soft black eye colour, applied wet or dry.

Transluminence Face Palette ($49.00)

Sculpt the face with frost bitten Sheer Translucent Blush presented in the spring signature face palette.

Rouge d’Armani ($30.00)

  • Dawn Pink (518)
  • Early Morning Rose (508)
  • Petal Pink (503)

Availability: giorgioarmanibeauty.com and at Armani Fifth Avenue and select fine department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Barneys in Spring 2011