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.

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Smashbox Holiday 2010

Smashbox for Holiday 2010

Eye Wish Palette ($45.00)

A limited-edition mega eye palette that includes 12 shadows, four cream eyeliners, and mini versions of Photo Finish Lid Primer and Mini Lash DNA Mascara, all in an elegant, gold, mirrored keepsake box.

Wish for the Perfect Pout ($29.00)

A limited-edition set of six, sheer gorgeous glosses including exclusive holiday shades.

The Gold List ($49.00)

This set features everything you need to add instant glamour to your everyday look. The fetching, gold-weave cosmetic bag includes a travel-size Photo Finish Luminizing Foundation Primer, Photo Op Under Eye Brightener, Fusion Soft Lights eye and cheek luminizer in Baked Starburst, and O-Gloss Gold, an ideal combination for looking red-carpet ready in an instant.

Burlesque Beauty Collection ($35.00)

Designed to re-create theatrical looks featured in the feature film “Burlesque,” premiering in November 2010 about a small town gal who makes it big in Hollywood, this provocative collection of sexy shades will bring out your inner drama queen. Includes Jet Black Limitless Liquid Liner Pen, Peep & Show Double-Ended Lip Gloss, Risque Shadow and Liner Quad, and Burlesque Loose Shimmer powder.

Wish for the Perfect Pencils ($16.00)

These creamy, long-wearing, waterproof Smashbox eyeliners provide bold color that doesn’t smudge or budge for up to eight hours. Includes Onyx, Orchid, Graphite, and 14K.

Wish for the Perfect Primers 9$39.00)

Includes 1 oz. Photo Finish Foundation Primer, 0.0 oz. Photo Finish Lid Primer, and 0.375 Travel-sized Photo Finish Targeted Pore & Line Primer.

Availability: Now @ Sephora

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Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Smashbox Golden Nude Photo Finish Lid Primer
Smashbox Golden Nude Photo Finish Lid Primer

Smashbox Photo Finish — Maybe for Face, Not for Eyes

Smashbox Golden Nude Photo Finish Lid Primer ($20.00 for 0.08 oz.) is a shimmering peach-gold colored eyeshadow primer. Smashbox says you can use this alone as a wash, lid corrector, or as a base underneath your eyeshadows.

This is a product that looks pretty when swatched, but it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do at all.  Despite being on the drying side, it creases within a few hours.  Whether worn alone or as an eyeshadow base, this primer left my makeup in ruins by the third hour.  The darker color of this particular shade makes it better as an all-over wash than an eyeshadow base, because it tends to eat color and be fussy when it comes to blending shadows on top of it.

I tried it three times, and I just gave up on it–I couldn’t get it to stay put whatsoever!  I liked how opaque it was, and I could see that it would be useful in camouflaging imperfections on the lid, but it’s such a shame that you’ll have raisin-like lids before the end of the day.  The best use from this, after all that, is as a brow highlighter–incredibly sheered out, but even that is a stretch if you don’t have a medium skin tone with warmer undertones.

I’m also disappointed in the amount you get.  Most primers are around 0.30 oz., but Smashbox is two-thirds less and just as expensive.  I feel like Smashbox really phoned it in with this one!  But keep in mind that like any review, it’s based on my experience–which involves my skin, my face, etc., so if this is a product that worked for you, I’m more than happy it did.  I’d always rather a product work amazing for you than anything else.

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

  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 5/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: For a brand that has such a popular face primer, it’s disappointing that their lid primer completely misses the mark.

AVAILABILITY: Beauty.com

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Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Smashbox Masquerade Collection for Fall 2010

Smashbox Masquerade Collection for Fall 2010

A fantasy of illusion. Intrigue. Mystery. Desire. Who’s behind the mask? To reveal or disguise is up to you. Smashbox Cosmetics invites you to intoxicate and seduce the senses with the Masquerade Collection, a labyrinth of provocative hues with entrancing allure for eyes, cheeks, and lips. Just remember—things aren’t always as they seem. . .

Masquerade Eyeshadow Palette ($35.00)

From subtle to ultra dramatic, the shades in this enticing palette disguise your eyes with a veil of magnetic color. Organized in complementary trios, the shades create coordinated looks for maximum intrigue.

  • Includes matte soft peach, shimmering black plum, matte taupe, metallic khaki, shimmering gold, bronze, metallic cabernet, shimmering navy, matte bone)

Illusion Baked Fusion Soft Lights Palette ($32.00)

Create the illusion of a lit-from-within glow with this palette of shimmering shades, designed to illuminate cheeks, nose, forehead and décolleté.

  • Includes champagne, soft gold, rosegold

Intrigue Creamy Cheek Color & Brush ($29.00)

Formulated with antioxidant Vitamin E, this luxurious creamy cheek color will give cheeks a “just blushed” look—the perfect innocent disguise. Glide the creamy formula over the apples of cheeks, then blend with the brush for a flawless pop of color.

  • Shade: Warm pink

Liquid Liner & Lash Overlay ($19.00)

Cloak eyes in an air of mystery with this innovative two-in-one formula for lash line and lashes. Just line the eyes and then sweep the specially designed rod over a coat of mascara to “tip” the ends of lashes for a subtle yet intriguing look.  Available in Teal and Bronze.

Lip Enhancing Gloss ($19.00)

  • Reveal Golden nude
  • Disguise Golden pink

Noir O-Gloss ($22.00) (Sephora Exclusive)

This disguise transforms before your very eyes—the sultry lip formula glides on black, then evolves into a custom bold berry hue tailored to your specific skin tone. Formulated with Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract and Goji Berry Extract to boost microcirculation as well as moisturizing Avocado Oil antioxidant Vitamin C and Pomegranate Seed Oil, O-Gloss Noir interacts with your personal skin chemistry to create a shade that’s unique to you.

Availability: August 2010 at Sephora, Sephora inside JCPenny, Ulta, Nordstrom, sephora.com or smashbox.com beginning August 2010

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Monday, June 14th, 2010

Smashbox Naked Beauty Lip Gloss Collection

Truly Barely There Lip Gloss with Smashbox

Smashbox Naked Beauty Lip Gloss Collection ($25.00 for 8 x 0.04 oz.) includes eight shades of sheer, barely-there lip gloss. The lip gloss itself is smooth, not too thin (but not thick), and non-sticky. They last about one to one and half hours on lips for me.

This set is part of Smashbox’s summer collection, and I did lip swatches but forgot to write down the order I did them in. Normally, I can figure out which shade is which, but these were all so sheer, most of them were indiscernible from the next. I planned to re-do the lip swatches, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet, and I’d like to at least review it in part before it’s no longer available for sale! (I guess you could say that since these ran so sheer, I was less than enthused at re-doing them.)

  • Buff is a sheer pinky-nude with white shimmer.
  • Sunkissed is a sheer reddish brown with gold shimmer.
  • Exposed is an ultra sheer, milky pink.
  • Bare is an ultra sheer pale, pastel milky pink with iridescent pink shimmer. This looked like clear gloss with very subtle shimmer on my lips.
  • Nude is a sheer, darkened peach-nude with gold shimmer. I found this one brightened up my natural lip color just a smidgen, but it was pretty colorless.
  • Naked is a pale gold with white gold shimmer. Like the other shades, it’s very sheer and looks like a colorless gloss with shimmer on lips.
  • Pure is a sheer watermelon pink. It looks a lot more pigmented in the swatch than it does on lips. What’s nice about this one is the pink does play-up the natural pink tones of your lip color and gives them a juicier look.
  • Natural is a sheer red-coral. Like Pure, it has that juicy look when worn, but the color is very, very hard to distinguish.

I think the set is a good value, and if you’re not necessarily a gloss person or you enjoy ultra sheer glosses, it’s worth a look-see. If you like gloss that’s pigmented, or you hate when items are limited edition, it’s not for you. Each lip gloss is pretty small (I’d guesstimate at 4-6 uses per container), but I didn’t see any of these show up in Smashbox’s permanent lip gloss ranges. Once you’re out, you’re out! They’re very travel-friendly, though, since their compact size makes them easy to toss anywhere without taking up much room at all. (Knowing me, I would easily lose these and find them in the couch!)

They definitely represent the theme of “Naked Beauty” quite well–they range from the ultra sheer to the sheer. Some have jelly-like appearances where there is no real shimmer, while other shades look frostier on lips. They all have a great glossy shine, though. I want to reiterate that Smashbox fully intended for these to be very sheer–they’re described as “barely there shades”–and they did exactly that. It’s not my cup of tea, but the product delivers exactly what it sets out to do.  I do wish that they’d varied up the shimmer more in the gloss — at least so the effect would be different, even if they didn’t add much color.

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’re a barely-there gloss girl, you may enjoy these ultra sheer to sheer non-sticky glosses by Smashbox. If you’re looking for some color or enjoy more opaque glosses, don’t even think twice about passing on this set.

Availability: Sephora

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Monday, May 17th, 2010

Smashbox to be Acquired by Estee Lauder Companies

Today, Estee Lauder Companies announced that they will be acquiring Smashbox Cosmetics.  The acquisition is expected to finish in July 2010.  Snippets from the press release below…

The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL) announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Inc., a privately held, photo studio-inspired prestige cosmetics company based in Los Angeles, California. The acquisition is expected to close in July 2010, subject to certain conditions, including regulatory approval. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, the Company said that the transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings in fiscal year 2011, before transaction and integration costs.

“The Estée Lauder Companies is the ideal home for Smashbox,” said Dean Factor, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Inc. “The Company possesses the scale and vision to help transition Smashbox into its next phase of growth, and its track record of nurturing and growing prestige brands is second to none. Moreover, we share a similar cultural heritage and dedication to consumer-inspired innovation and creativity. We expect to benefit greatly from The Estée Lauder Companies’ extensive knowledge in product development, operational execution, and international marketing and distribution, and we look forward to the next great period of growth for the brand.”

The Estée Lauder Companies will collaborate with the Smashbox organization to develop a comprehensive integration plan to transition Smashbox into The Estee Lauder Companies’ family after closing. Dean Factor, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Davis Factor, co-founder, Chief Creative Office and celebrity photographer, and Budd Taylor, President, will each play key roles with respect to these activities and the continued success of Smashbox. Smashbox will continue operating out of its Los Angeles, California office.