Monday, November 21st, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Must-Have Beauty Products for Eyes

I’m going to do my best to crank out the last few gift guides in the next day, because I know a lot of sales are coming up for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and I don’t want you to miss out! These are all products I personally recommend that are part of the permanent range. Products are listed in order of ascending price!

Eyeliners

  • Milani Liquif’Eye Eyeliners ($5.49) is a standout formula with a wallet-friendly price tag–if they had a bigger range, they’d be even better. I love their Black and Aqua shades.
  • MAC Fluidlines ($15) is a long-time favorite, because it’s creamy enough for smooth, crisp application but sets and wears well. My favorite is Blacktrack.
  • Tarina Tarantino Dream Hyperliners ($15) are a newly-discovered favorite with a fantastic color range, rich color, and long-wear. My favorite shades have been Sparkling Ammunition and Puppeteer.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Liners ($18) also has an amazing range of shades as well as finishes, and this is an eyeliner that stays on well throughout the day. I regularly reach for shades like #4L, 5L, 12L, and 20L.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencils ($18) are a total go-to for me! They have a full color range available, and they’re soft and glide on easily. Some of my favorites are Bourbon Covet, Graffiti, Mildew, Rockstar, Stash, and Underground.
  • Stila Smudgestick Waterproof Eyeliners ($20) are super soft and pigmented, but they do run out of quick–but their color range is so rich, it’s hard to say no. I love Moray, Peacock, and Stingray.
  • Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliners ($21) is a rich, long-wearing gel eyeliner that’s smooth and creamy but still wears all day. Check out shades like Black Mauve Shimmer Ink and Cobalt Ink!
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Liners ($23) is my absolute favorite for liquid liner, because the color range is wide and the formula itself stays on all day. I recommend shades like #3, 4, 9, 10, and 14. If you like lots and lots of sparkle, consider Stila Sparkle Liquid Eyeliners ($22) which have a very similar formula but their shades have more shimmer.

Eyeshadows

  • Wet ‘n’ Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow ($1.99 to $4.99) are a real steal with a lot of variations and options available, and a lot of the shades are of excellent quality.
  • Inglot Eyeshadows ($5) won’t break the bank but will deliver intense color payoff–they’re most well-known for their mattes and Double Sparkles.
  • Sugarpill Chromalusts ($12) are finely milled with lots of dimension. My favorites are Stella, Absinthe, and Goldilux! I’d also recommend checking out their eyeshadows if you’re shopping for someone who loves bright colors (they’re also $12 and top notch).
  • theBalm Eyeshadows ($16) are richly pigmented, silky smooth, and wear really well. Their individual singles are great, but they also have several palettes that work well, too. My favorite singles are All About Alex, Jealous Jordana, and Risque Renee.
  • Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner ($19) are some of my favorite cream eyeshadows for quick all-over washes or as an eyeshadow base; the range is generally more neutral/subdued so it would be great for busy folks who don’t have a lot of time to spend on their makeup every morning. I love shades like Birthday Suit and Skinny Jeans.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencils ($20) is a chubby pencil that can be used as an eyeliner or more like a cream eyeshadow (or even an eyeshadow base). They wear really well and deliver pretty good color. I like shades Clinic, Lit, and Midnight Cowboy.
  • Bare Escentuals Ready Eyeshadows ($20 for duo, $30 for quad) caught me off guard, because I really didn’t think they’d be out of this world, but they’re really, really good. Some of my favorite duos are The Scenic Route and The Escape, and some of my favorite quads are The Elements and The Truth.
  • MAC Pigments ($20) are still one of my favorite products for really revving up a look. Some of the permanent shades I love are Pink Opal, Melon, and Teal.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams ($22) come in neutrals as well as bright pops of color, and they’re a cream product that really locks down once it sets. I love the Aqua Creams best for eyes. I totally dig shades like #2, #5, #13, #15.
  • Illamasqua Pure Pigment ($24) may be pricey and they don’t come with a whole lot of product, for most consumers, it’ll take years to get through. The reason I like these is I feel like the range has a lot of complex, unique shades.
  • Le Metier de Beaute True Color Eyeshadow ($30) is a pricey but absolutely luxurious eyeshadow formula that’s built for layering. I love shades like Chameleon and Jade.
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense ($32) are so intense and have this interesting formula that wears well all day long and comes in some fun shades. I love #1, 2, 3, and 6 a lot!
  • Tarina Tarantino Jewel Eyeshadow Palettes ($32) are good bang for your buck with top notch quality–love Dreamy the most.
  • Hourglass Visionaire Eyeshadow ($38) is my favorite eyeshadow formula, and I really wish they’d come out with more shades, but my favorites are Gypsy, Prism, and Lagoon.
  • Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette ($48) is still one of my favorite palettes that Urban Decay has launched, and it is something I reach for when I travel.

Mascaras

  • Maybelline Full ‘n Soft Mascara ($6.59) is my go-to for soft, natural-looking lashes with lots of volume.
  • MAC Plushlash Mascara ($15) is a great all-over mascara; it thickens, lengthens, and volumizes.
  • Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara ($19) is fantastic for lengthening.
  • Hourglass Film Noir Mascara ($28) is inky black while lengthening and thickening well.

What are your must-have eye products that are permanent?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Video Review: theBalm Nude ‘tude Eyeshadow Palette First Impressions & Swatches

A short (at least, for me!) video with preliminary commentary and swatches of theBalm’s Nude ‘tude Eyeshadow Palette (link will take you to full written review).

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

theBalm Nude 'tude Eyeshadow Palette
theBalm Nude ‘tude Eyeshadow Palette

theBalm Nude ‘tude Eyeshadow Palette

theBalm Nude ‘tude Eyeshadow Palette ($36.00 for 0.382 oz.) contains twelve eyeshadows inside a slim palette with a dual-ended eyeshadow/liner brush. There are two variations, though both have the same eyeshadows inside–one is “Feeling Naughty” (which is the one pictured in this post) which features nude women with eyeshadows covering various parts, while the other is “Feeling Nice” that has no nude women at all. Each eyeshadow is about 0.032 oz.

  • Sassy is a frosted white with good color payoff and a buttery, smooth texture. It reminded me of MAC Forgery but with a much, much better texture. theBalm Lab Coat is also similar but has a more metallic finish.
  • Stubborn is a light-medium peach with a soft frost finish. It looks lighter swatched than in the pan because of the frosted finish. It’s a frosted version of MAC Nubile. Urban Decay Scratch is pinker.
  • Snobby is a gold shimmered medium-dark yellow. This shade was a bit sheer and dry, yet powdery; it didn’t bind as well as I’ve come to expect from theBalm. It’s a lighter version of Chanel Blazing Gold. It is similar to Urban Decay Eldorado.
  • Stand-offish is a light-medium bronze-shimmered brown with warm, red undertones and a frost-metallic finish. It was smooth and had good color payoff. Urban Decay Spotlight is similar in lightness but is much cooler-toned–way less golden.
  • Selfish is a frosted taupe–it’s brown and gray; very mushroom-like. It was very smooth and easy to work with, plus it had good pigmentation. It’s much warmer and browner compared to Urban Decay Mushroom. It’s more like a frostier version of Bare Escentuals Wanderlust. NARS Grand Palais is a bit warmer. MAC Satin Taupe is redder and darker.
  • Sophisticated is a dark brown with subtle warm undertones and a bronze shimmer. It had nice pigmentation and applied smoothly. It is a bit cooler-toned compared to Urban Decay Darkhorse with less of a gold shimmer/sheen, but they are similar.
  • Sultry is a warmed-up, medium brown with a satiny finish. It has a very soft texture, which makes it easy to blend, but it is just on the edge of being too soft so it can sheer out if you are heavy-handed. It is a little lighter than Urban Decay Buck. Bare Escentuals Namaste is darker and redder. MAC Moleskin is more red-toned. MAC Wedge is a touch darker.
  • Schitzo is a warm, golden bronze-brown with a soft, pearly finish. It’s less than a frost, more than a satin. The texture is very, very smooth with good color payoff. MAC Amber Lights is a shade that gives me a similar vibe in terms of color, but the finish makes them so distinct (plus, Amber Lights has much more copper). MAC Tempting has a darker overall color but similar golden bronze sheen. The brown shade from Wet ‘n’ Wild Comfort Zone is similar, actually.
  • Sexy is rich burgundy with hints of red and brown and a matte finish. It has good color payoff (especially for a matte); the texture is a good balance between soft and matte–not too dry that it’s stiff, but not so soft that it’s powdery. MAC Festive Delight is much redder and lighter. Make Up For Ever #131 is less brown.
  • Serious is a medium-dark black with a matte finish. It had surprisingly good pigmentation for a matte black, though it could be more intense–it looks much blacker in the pan than it does swatched out. MAC Carbon is less pigmented/intense. Make Up For Ever #4 is much darker.
  • Silly is a red-tinted brown with flecks of copper sparkle. This shade was the most disappointing in the palette–the payoff was very soft and sheer; it seemed more like a layering shade than something that could stand on its own. This was the only shade I had concerns with fall out. Bobbi Brown Black Ruby Sparkle Eye Palette has a slightly similar shade, though it’s glittery and more ruby-shimmered.
  • Sleek is a dark black-brown with a matte finish. It is more intense than Serious, actually! It had good color payoff and was soft enough to blend but not powdery. I couldn’t think of a dupe for this–I had a lot of darker browns but nothing as dark as this.

It’s packaged in theBalm’s usual cardboard outfit, which makes it lightweight and droppable (I dropped it from four feet over tile and everything was pristine). It has an outer sleeve of thick cardstock that has the exact same design as the actual palette, which can be kept or recycled; it’s kind of like a protector–think the jacket of a hardcover book. Inside, there’s a full-length mirror that spans the inside of the lid, and then below are the twelve eyeshadows and dual-ended brush. The palette has a strong enough magnet that the palette seemed to have no problem staying closed.

Overall, the quality is high and consistent with theBalm’s eyeshadow formula (which is one of my favorites). I only had major issues with Silly, which was much sheerer and drier than any of the other eleven shades, and then very minor issues with the softness (which led to slight sheerness) of Sultry. When applied, the concerns I had about Sultry disappeared, though, while Silly just never quite worked out. The other ten eyeshadows, though, were excellent–soft, smooth, buttery, and pigmented.

This palette is similar in size to Urban Decay’s Naked Eyeshadow Palette, and the theme of nudes/neutrals is similar, but there isn’t much overlap in the shades themselves. This palette is $12 less but each shadow is also less (0.032 oz. vs. 0.05 oz. in the Naked palette), and while you do get a brush in this palette like Naked, you don’t get a miniature-sized primer. Let’s just assume that you really care most about the eyeshadow portion and anything else is a bonus; Naked is $80/oz. while Nude ‘tude is $94/oz. They’re both great deals either way, but Naked is still more bang for your buck; note, of course, if you’re more concerned about total cost (for those who are unlikely to finish an eyeshadow pan), then Nude ‘tude is 25% less at $36.

I think a comparison between the two is valid, but the colors are not the same, so they are still two different palettes more than they are the same. Those who wished there was more color variation, less warm-toned shades, or more matte finishes in the Naked palette might find this one more to their liking.

The Glossover

coming-soon

Nude' Tude

A
This is a great palette that's neutral, not necessarily nude--it has really wearable colors but enough shade variation to yield many looks and not just ones that are all brown. The darker shades can also double as eyeliner in a hurry.

Product

10/10

Pigmentation

9.5/10

Texture

9.5/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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Wednesday, August 24th, 2011


theBalm and the Beautiful Face Palette

theBalm and the Beautiful Face Palette

If you’re bummed about the limited edition nature of the theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette, if you’re more interested in the products than the Muppets’ theme, then never fear–the exact same shades are coming back for the holidays. The palette is exactly the same in size, weight, layout, and actual products–the packaging is just a different motif. Instead, it has a daytime-TV/soap opera theme. The shades are the same but have been renamed to fit the palette’s theme. It includes sixteen eyeshadows, two lip/cheek stains, and one lipgloss.

  • Tres Moi = The Oil Tycoon
  • Wocka, Wocka = The Estranged Mom
  • Meep Meep = The Supermodel
  • Mahna-Mahna = The Bad Boy
  • Sensational = The Southern Bell
  • Inspirational = The Mother-In-Law
  • Celebrational = The Guy Who Died But Didn’t Really Die
  • Muppetational = The Mistress
  • Woman, Woman = The Step Brother
  • Curtain Call = The Coma Patient
  • Great Gonzo = The Police Man
  • Kissy, Kissy = The Brain Surgeon
  • Wild Child = The Neighbor
  • Lab Coat = The Stock Broker
  • Hiii-Yaaa! = The Basketcase
  • Swedish Pancakes = The Older Woman
  • Rainbow Connection = The Drama Queen
  • Le Diva = The Perfect Man
  • Electric Mayhem = The Evil Twin

I don’t have detailed information about distribution, availability, etc. quite yet (it is still a bit early for holiday), but for those more excited about the innards of the palette, this will be a more readily available option I expect!

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Thursday, August 18th, 2011


theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette

theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette Review, Photos, Swatches (Part 2)

This is part two of our review for theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette ($44.50), which includes 16 eyeshadows (1.0 oz. total), two lip/cheek stains (0.14 oz. total), and one lip gloss (0.07 oz.. It is a limited edition palette to-be-related (late September/early October) and only 1,000 will be available (each one is numbered). Check out part one for the overall review as well as a review on packaging and the first eight eyeshadows.

  • Woman, Woman is a softened forest green with golden shimmer. The finish is a soft frost. Urban Decay Bender is several shades darker, while MAC Humid is a touch greener. It’s a bit greener than theBalm Makeout Mary.
  • Curtain Call is a pink lilac with a white, frosted shimmer. This is one of two shades I had issues with–it’s a little sheer in places, and the texture isn’t as smooth as the other shades. It just feels looser overall, like it doesn’t stay bound together. It’s a bit pinker than Milani Royalty and MAC Lotusland.
  • Great Gonzo is a brightened sky blue with a white shimmer-sheen. It is bluer than NARS South Pacific and Inglot #415, but it is lighter than Make Up For Ever #83. It is closest to Make Up For Ever #118 but lighter.
  • Kissy, Kissy is a medium-dark purple with very subtle red undertones. It doesn’t lean too red or blue, which is nice. It is less red-toned compared to Bare Escentuals Encore but purpler than Lancome Zip Me Up. Urban Decay Gravity is purpler as well. It is rather similar to theBalm All the Way Annie.
  • Wild Child is a pale yellow gold with a soft, frosted finish. It’s a frosted version of Make Up For Ever #102. It is also quite close to Givenchy Lune Mordoree.
  • Lab Coat is a creamy white with a high frosted sheen. It has a smoother finish but is similar in color to theBalm Envious Erin. Inglot #447 is a slightly cooler white, while Givenchy Lune Mysterieuse is warmer.
  • Hiii-Yaaa! is a softly warmed-up beige with a metallic-frost finish. The color is similar to Cle de Peau #207 though less metallic. Urban Decay Sin is darker and pink-tinged. It is similar to NARS Delphes but has more payoff.
  • Swedish Pancakes is darker peach-beige with a frosted finish. This was the other shade I had some issues with–it has a slight grittiness from the large flecks of glitter, but the color payoff was decent to good. It’s similar to Inglot #397. MAC Jest is a touch browner. MAC Naked Lunch is also a bit browner but closer than Jest. Urban Decay Sin is a tad darker.

Now, if you know me, the eyeshadows in this palette were far and away what would have driven me to purchase one. The lip/cheek stains are surprisingly effective, and I couldn’t believe how pigmented the gloss was. The stains are creamy and blendable without being oily, and they dry down quick enough to keep your makeup routine slimmed down but not so quick you can’t blend out the color. The wear was good, too — about eight hours of flushed cheeks. The gloss was mostly opaque with a nice shine to the finish and wore for three hours.

  • Rainbow Connection is a brightened coral-red. It can be built up for more intensity, but when blended, it takes on a watermelon-like stain on cheeks or lips. It seems a bit redder than NARS Cactus Flower.
  • Le Diva is a softened fuchsia-pink with a subtle blue base and silver sparkle. This one will emphasize pores a bit more, because it has a shimmery finish, but it will complement cooler skin tones well. It seems like it might be similar to Illamasqua Laid.
  • Electric Mayhem is an opaque pink-nude with a glossy shine. It feels and looks more like a liquid lipstick than a lipgloss, though. It’s similar to MAC Super and MAC Lust.

The Glossover

coming-soon

Cast Your Shadow

A+
theBalm knocked this one out of the park--the shade includes neutrals as well as pops of color, while the finishes are mostly soft frosts and shimmers, there are a couple that are more semi-matte.

Product

10/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

5/5

Results
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Thursday, August 18th, 2011


theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette

theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette Review, Photos, Swatches (Part 1)

theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette ($44.50) includes 16 eyeshadows (1.0 oz. total), two lip/cheek stains (0.14 oz. total), and one lip gloss (0.07 oz.) and is a palette designed with The Muppets in mind. It is a limited edition palette to-be-related (late September/early October) and only 1,000 will be available (each one is numbered). The approximate value of this palette is $160.00 worth of eyeshadows, $17.00 worth of lip/cheek stains (I didn’t see a really comparable product, so I went with the value of lipsticks, since these can be used as lip stains!), and $7.00 worth of lipgloss–at the very least, this palette is worth $170+ with some uncertainty as to total value because of the lip/cheek stains (totally different formula compared to Stainiac).

I am splitting this review into two parts because of how photo-heavy it is. I will speak on the cheek/lip stains and gloss in the second part, along with the other eight eyeshadows.

Overall, the quality of the eyeshadows is fantastic. They are rich and buttery in texture, so they apply beautifully and smoothly across the skin, and the pigmentation is intense and true-to-pan. I only had issues with two of the sixteen shades: Curtain Call (slightly sheer in places, not as smooth) and Swedish Pancakes (slightly sheer, a bit rough)–but admittedly, I’m being nitpicky. Both shades are still good–just not excellent like the other fourteen. If you’ve had experience with theBalm’s Shady Lady palettes, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll find the same quality and textures in this palette as well. I really do appreciate consistency–I can write one paragraph rather than having to describe each individual shade and how it varies!

  • Tres Moi is just-barely warmed over bronzed brown with subtle red undertones. It is similar to MAC Twinks but the finish gives Tres Moi a more frosted appearance.
  • Wocka, Wocka is an olive green with a soft, golden sheen. The sheen is almost metallic. It is very similar to Bare Escentuals Spectacular. MAC Sumptuous Olive is browner and less green, while Inglot #419 is darker. theBalm Makeout Mary is a brighter green with yellowy gold sheen.
  • Meep Meep is a slightly played-down copper–it is not quite as intense as most coppery shades are–with a frosted finish. It’s similar to Urban Decay Baked, MAC Amber Lights, and Inglot #405, but it’s not quite as intense.
  • Mahna-Mahna is a deep, dark brown with subtle burgundy undertones and a satiny finish. It’s not quite as burgundy as MAC Sketch, but it is similar in color to Inglot #423 though the finishes are different enough to make the two less comparable, so Inglot #326 may be a better match.
  • Sensational is a muted, medium blue with a silvery sheen. It is similar to Urban Decay Mary Jane but slightly less cool-toned. It is darker and grayer compared to MAC Moon’s Reflection.
  • Inspirational is a dark gray with a frosted finish. It is similar to Urban Decay Gunmetal, though slightly warmer. It’s not quite as dark (and has a frostier finish) compared to theBalm Sexy Stacey. Inglot #451 is much darker.
  • Celebrational is a softened gray-tinged brown–it’s not quite what I’d call a taupe, but it’s somewhere near it. It has a satiny sheen for a finish. It’s cooler-toned than Bare Escentuals Magnetism and MAC Era. MAC Caviar Dreams is closer but Celebrational is less brown. theBalm Insane Jane is a touch warmer.
  • Muppetational is a soft gray shot through with silver. It’s right there on the border of gray and silver–there is enough metallic sheen to make it lean more silver, but it’s not the full-on metal finish you’d expect from a true silver. Inglot #339 is a bit darker and bluer-based, but MAC Swell Baby is very similar.

The palette is packaged in firm cardboard with an outer cover that slips off the revaeal the actual palette, though both have the exact same design (and both the sleeve and the palette are numbered). To open the palette, it actually splits towards the bottom fourth of the front. Most of the palette opens and reveals all of the eyeshadows along with a mirror, but the smaller bottom flap stays closed. When you flip open the smaller bottom flap, it reveals the two lip/cheek stains and lipgloss. I thought it was a rather clever way to prevent cross-contamination of the powder eyeshadows into the creamier lip/cheek products. Both flaps stay closed with magnets.  There is also a dual-ended bristle-based brush that is usable (not my first choice, but it is soft and not at all scratchy).

The quality of this palette is absolutely fantastic.  Even the two shades I had minor issues with couldn’t bring down the average scores for pigmentation/texture of the palette itself.  I had good luck working with the lip/cheek stains and gloss as well (more in the next post).  theBalm knocked this one out of the park–the shade includes neutrals as well as pops of color, while the finishes are mostly soft frosts and shimmers, there are a couple that are more semi-matte.

Depending on the size of your stash, the palette may be more dupable than original–I do see there are several shades that are similar to previous theBalm shadows from palettes as well as the permanent range.

The Glossover

palette

theBalm Cast Your Shadow Face Palette Review, Photos, Swatches (Part 1)

A+
theBalm knocked this one out of the park--the shade includes neutrals as well as pops of color, while the finishes are mostly soft frosts and shimmers, there are a couple that are more semi-matte.

Product

10/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

5/5

Results
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