Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Smashbox Heather Soft Focus Powder Eye Liner
Smashbox Heather Soft Focus Powder Eye Liner

Smashbox Spring 2011: Heather

Smashbox Heather Soft Focus Powder Eye Liner ($22.00 for 0.025 oz.) is a soft brownish-gray. It’s new and limited edition for spring, but it is a powder eyeliner to create a “soft, smoldering look.” It delivers on the softer color, and it will draw in a nice line, but it leaves product everywhere.

The photo above was not intended to be artsy, but upon opening it for the first time, it dropped that much product onto my desk. Now, imagine that on your face–because that’s exactly what I ended up with when I tried applying this for the first time (my carpet is less than pleased). At a mere 0.025 oz. of product, I’m not exactly sure one wants to deal with any wasted product–even by wiping excess on a tissue.

Aside from the packaging woes, application worked out well, and I liked the softer lined look it yielded. I think those who find gel eyeliner too crisp and stark would enjoy a powder liner like this. Unfortunately, it only wore four hours before it started to flake.

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  • Product: 21/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

final thoughts: Between the messy packaging and below average wear, it just didn’t work out.

where to buy: Sephora

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Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Smashbox In Bloom Cheek Duo
Smashbox Blushing/Peony In Bloom Cheek Duo

Smashbox In Bloom Collection: Blushing/Peony

Smashbox Blushing/Peony In Bloom Cream Cheek Duo ($26.00 for 0.26 oz.) contains two shades of cream blush: a dark pink with subtle lighter pink shimmer and a part-pearl, part-frost sheen and lightened pinky-coral with a pearled, frost finish.  It’s new and limited edition and is part of Smashbox’s spring collection.

Both shades have a dewy, natural finish that’s not really shimmery, but they are definitely not matte.  With a cream blush, I do like a more natural finish, because they give that very fresh, almost stained look that’s never heavy.  These dry down quick enough so they don’t slide down your cheeks but not so quickly that they’re difficult to blend.  Each shade packs a good amount of pigmentation so getting the color you want should be no problem, but of course, use a light hand if you want a subtler look.  When I tested these, they wore for five or six hours well before beginning to fade.

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

FINAL THOUGHTS: I like it, but I wish these lasted just a touch longer on the cheeks.  The shades will work for a variety of skin tones, as well as light to dark skin tones, because these can be blended out for a sheerer look or built up for more intensity.

WHERE TO BUY: Sephora

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Friday, December 10th, 2010


Smashbox Spring 2011 Collection: In Bloom

A gorgeous collection of soft, wearable shades for easy, feminine spring style. Say goodbye to bold cold-weather looks and usher in spring with the fresh, natural In Bloom collection from Smashbox Cosmetics. The spring runways were rife with delicate girly looks, from radiant, lit-from-within skin to hazy, neutral eyes and glossy nude pouts. With light, luminous looks for eyes, cheeks, lips and skin, In Bloom is your ultimate spring beauty update.

In Bloom Eyeshadow Palette & Brush ($48.00)

Spring beauty is in full bloom with this ten shade palette of ultra-luxe shimmers and wearable mattes, arranged vertically in duos for effortless customization. Apply with the included eye shadow brush for a flawless finish. Includes: ballet pink, lavender grey, golden pink, warm taupe, bone, soft violet, marine blue, shimmering copper, moss, nude.

Blushing/Peony Cream Cheek Duo ($26.00)

This duo of creamy, rose shades offers a sheer natural flush to cheeks and lips anytime, anywhere. Wear alone or pair together for a rush of custom color. Apply with fingertips or Smashbox Foundation Brush #13 and blend.

Soft Focus Powder Eye Liner ($22.00)

Available in Heather Grey and Dark Brown. This innovative powder formula creates a soft smoldering look in seconds. Before using, shake well and tap off any excess powder before lining the lashline.

Limitless Long Wear Lip Gloss with SPF 15 ($21.00)

  • Timeless Soft pink
  • Endless Kiss Coral pink

Artificial Light Luminizing Powder ($20.00)

Inspired by top-selling Artificial Light Luminizing Lotion, this soft shimmering powder highlights and brightens for a radiant glow. Apply to inner corners of eyes, down the bridge of nose, above brows and to the tops of cheekbones with the targeted applicator. It can also be mixed with body lotion and applied to arms, legs and décolleté for a subtle shimmer.

Availability: Smashbox.com, Sephora, Sephora inside JCPenny, Ulta, Nordstrom, Beauty.com, and select Macy’s in Spring 2011

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Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Smashbox Eye Wish Eyeshadow Palette
Smashbox Eye Wish Eyeshadow Palette

Wish Big with Smashbox for the Holidays

Smashbox Eye Wish Eyeshadow Palette ($45.00) is a limited edition holiday palette that contains twelve eyeshadows, four cream eyeliners, and trial sizes of mascara and eyeshadow primer. It’s housed in a yellow gold flip-top rectangular box (think Urban Decay’s Book of Shadows). Inside the palette is a mirror along with a how-to booklet.

  • 1 is a softened dark orange with gold sheen. It’s a touch sheer.
  • 2 is a plum-tinged silver gray. This one was sheer.
  • 3 is a yellowed beige with a matte finish. It wasn’t really chalky, but it was a little sheer.
    4 is a pale warm pink. Nice pigmentation and very smooth.
  • 5 is a molten bronze with warm amber undertones. It reminded me of MAC’s Amber Lights + Bronze mixed together. This was one of the nicest shades in the palette for its rich pigmentation and smooth texture.
  • 6 is a pink-mauve with a frosted sheen. The pigmentation was nice with this shade.
  • 7 is a medium blue with aqua-blue sheen and shimmer. It looked cooler in the pan, but it’s still pretty swatched–the sheen just seemed more noticeable in the pan.
  • 8 is a soft medium-dark gray with a soft silver sheen. It had nice color pay off.
  • 9 is a chocolate bronze with a soft frost finish. It went on easily and smoothly.
  • 10 is a muted cool-toned purple plum. This was a little chalky.
  • 11 is a deep peacock blue with a satin sheen. It could have been a little more pigmented, but it worked better during application than swatched.
  • 12 medium-dark gray with a satin sheen.
  • 13 is a chocolate brown with red undertones and flecks of pale gold shimmer.
  • 14is a deep plum purple with light purple and pink shimmer.
  • 15 is a deep teal-blue.
  • 16 is a charcoal black with a silver sheen.

I want to specifically call attention to the fact that the liners are noted as generic “cream eyeliners.” Smashbox has a line of cream eyeliners called Jet Set, which have a good reputation, but these liners aren’t labeled as such, so I am going to assume (and hope) that they are not Jet Set liners. These liners take forever to dry, and they smudge easily–which is nice initially–but they don’t seem to stay in place at all for me. They just migrate, migrate, migrate, and this leads to… a migraine. Ha, ha. I couldn’t even get them to work well as a base, because they sheer out quite a bit and don’t set fast enough before settling into the crease.

I did like how Smashbox coordinated the columns of eyeshadows, though–and there are certainly a lot of looks one could do with this palette. There is a good mix of colors and neutrals, but I will say this palette leans on the cooler side, with the exception of the browns which are warmer. Overall, the eyeshadow quality is good across the board, with some shades being more average (like #1, 2, 3, and 4) and a couple (like #5, 6, and 9) being really nice with full pigmentation and smooth application. The lightest shades (#1, 2, 3, and 4) were the sheerest and more problematic. The texture of these didn’t seem quite as soft of Smashbox’s eyeshadows, but they were still soft, and overall, they seemed less powdery than typical Smashbox eyeshadows.

The palette includes 0.63 oz. worth of eyeshadow (works out to be 0.0525 oz. each) and 0.105 oz. (works out to be 0.0263 oz. each) worth of cream eyeliner, along with a miniature-sized Lash DNA Mascara (0.20 oz.) and Lid Primer (0.02 oz.). Compared to the cost of full-sized equivalent products, the palette has $170 worth of eyeshadow, $23 worth of eyeliner, $12 worth of mascara, and $5 worth of lid primer–the whole palette coming to a total of $210 worth of Smashbox products for a price of $45. To sum all that up, yes, this is a value palette–the eyeshadows alone make it worthwhile (in terms of quantity/price).

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

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

RECOMMENDATION: I wouldn’t rely on this palette for the eyeliners, but if you like the colors included for eyeshadow, then it’s definitely a good value.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom and Sephora

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Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Smashbox Wish For the Perfect Pencils
Onyx, 14K, Orchid, Graphite

Holiday Wishes with Smashbox

Smashbox Wish For The Perfect Pencils (2010) ($16.00 for 4 x 0.03 oz.) are one of my favorite holiday sets, after discovering their great deal last year. This year’s set is actually a better deal, even though they are smaller in size. In this set, you receive four shades, each 0.03 oz., for a total of 0.12 oz. — but for the less than the cost of a single eyeliner (by most other high-end brands). (Last year’s set retailed for $32 for 0.20 oz. of product.) I love this set as a stocking stuffer or affordable gift to give to pals for the holidays.

  • Onyx is a matte, dark black. It’s your standard black eyeliner; there is nothing bad to say about it, but there is nothing different that makes it stand out.
  • 14K is a pale yellow gold with a metallic finish. Make Up For Ever’s #23L is similar–a touch peachier.
  • Orchid is a muted, deep purple. The closest dupe I could think of was Make Up For Ever’s #11L Aqua Eyes, but it’s a little more violet and has shimmer in its finish.
  • Graphite is a silvered charcoal with a metallic finish. This shade is a lot like Urban Decay’s Gunmetal.

These eyeliners are smooth and easy to apply, because they don’t drag or pull. They last all day on me, though they do not wear all day on the water line. They are soft without being fragile–their hardness lies between Urban Decay’s 24/7 Liners and Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Eyes.

Just to be clear, since it seemed like there was some confusion, this set IS different than last year’s – these are Smashbox’s Limitless Liner formula (last year’s wasn’t part of their permanent liner formula).  I don’t think I said they were the same, but just to clear up any questions! :)

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

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

RECOMMENDATION: I do — if the colors are up your alley!

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Saturday, October 9th, 2010


Lipstick Comparisons: $13 to $25 (Part 2)

In this price range, lipsticks tend to be more pigmented, have less synthetic scents, and wear an average of four hours. I’m not typically disappointed beyond belief with a lipstick formula in this price range. Brands from MAC to NARS to Smashbox fall into this price tier, while designer brands like Chanel, Dior, and YSL are in the next tier. There are really SO many brands and formulas to choose from in this category that I had to split this post into two parts!

MAC Lipstick ($14.50)

  • PROS: Ridiculously large shade range, variety of finishes, wears from 3 to 6 hours (depends on finish/shade)
  • NEUTRAL: 0.10 oz., Depending on finish, shades range from sheer to opaque; similarly, more matte shades are drier while lustre shades are more moisturizing, vanilla-scented
  • CONS: If you’re not familiar with the MAC range and finishes, it can be overwhelming and difficult to choose the right shade; not all shades are great or consistent against other shades within a finish family
  • MY REC: I like MAC lipsticks quite a bit. I think they have some incredibly flattering shades as well as fun colors in their permanent line, but without having some MAC product knowledge, I can imagine it being daunting trying to figure out which shade is opaque, which is sheer, what finish might be best, and so on. There is a lot of variance between shades and even within finishes. Lustres and glazes tend to be sheerer, while amplified cremes and satins are creamier and more opaque. Mattes are on the drier side with some being exceptionally so (Ruby Woo, I’m talking to you).

Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick ($19.00)

  • PROS: Long-wearing (5 to 6 hours on average), pigmented, wide range of shades
  • NEUTRAL: 0.12 oz., range includes wearable shades as well as out of the box shades, scent0free
  • CONS: Shades are a bit one-note, texture is a little dry (but it’s not drying)
  • MY REC: If you have pigmented lips and struggle to find true-to-tube color translate onto your lips, Rouge Artist Intense is a good line to try out, because the colors really are opaque.

NARS Lipstick ($24.00)

  • PROS: Long-wearing (4 to 6 hours on average), moisturizing, creamy, good shade range
  • NEUTRAL: 0.12 oz., scent-free, some really sheer shades while others are opaque
  • CONS: Can smell waxy, lighter/sheerer shades fade in 1 to 3 hours
  • MY REC: Though NARS’ lipsticks are unscented, sometimes the waxiness of the lipstick itself comes through, and it’s not so pleasant. It’s a more moisturizing lipstick than your average lipstick, though if you have ultra dry lips, you may still want to prep lips with some balm. I’ve also found that their sheerer or lighter shades don’t last nearly as long as their medium to dark shades.

Shiseido Perfect Rouge Lipstick ($25.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, moisturizing, glossy, semi-sheer to opaque, wears 2 to 4 hours, good shade range
  • NEUTRAL: 0.14 oz., scent-free
  • CONS: Numbering system can make it difficult to determine colors
  • MY REC: I feel like I rarely see mentions for Shiseido’s Perfect Rouge lipstick line, and it’s really a top notch line. They’re creamy, smooth, and richly pigmented.

Smashbox Photo Finish Lipstick ($22.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, glossy, moisturizing, semi-opaque to opaque colors, wears 3 to 4 hours
  • NEUTRAL: 0.12 oz., vanilla-scented
  • CONS: Limited shade range
  • MY REC: It’s a shame that Smashbox doesn’t expand their lipstick range, because I’ve liked several of the ones I’ve tried from it–but there just aren’t many colors available. These are moisturizing with a glossy finish and creamy texture. Similar to Laura Mercier Stick Gloss and Korres Mango Butters.

Urban Decay Lipstick ($22.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, moisturizing, wears 3 to 5 hours
  • NEUTRAL: 0.13 oz., burnt sugar scent (“caramel” or “creme brulee”)
  • CONS: Sheer to opaque variances make it difficult to buy online or sight unseen, sometimes has an off-taste
  • MY REC: I know that one of the biggest drawbacks to Urban Decay is inconsistency in the scent and taste of their lipsticks. The more shimmery shades seem to have a stronger averse taste than creamier shades. I don’t notice the scent when I wear them, so it’s not a deal breaker for me.

The Lipstick Comparisons series is designed to provide a quick reference summary sheet for some of the many available lipstick formulas. It seems like most brands have at least a couple of formulas, if not half a dozen, and it can be difficult to find the formulas that will work best for your budget, coloring, style, or taste.

This is not necessarily a best of list, and it’s not exhaustive–it is based on actual lipsticks that I’ve tried; they are all, however, decent to excellent lipsticks. (And perhaps, some day, it will be an exhaustive list.) I have summarized my experience based on pros and cons, but also some “neutral” factors that may be pros or cons, depending on your preferences. I will update this series as I try new lipstick formulas.