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.

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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