Tuesday, November 15th, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy and Under $30

First, I want to cover holiday gift sets, kits, palettes, and value sets specifically and exclusively. There are several more posts to come, including items from holiday color collections as well as permanent products and more. I tried to take into account the incredible input I received from readers, so the whole guide is broken down by price with special attention to different categories of products (e.g. lipgloss vs. eyeshadow), as well as I tried to provide commentary on who the gift might work for.

A Few Money-Saving Tips

  • If you’re on a tight budget this year but feel you absolutely must buy something to gift, consider doling out more on a single value kit/set but then breaking it up. For instance, a kit with ten lipglosses can be split and gifted to two or three or even ten people. You can buy festive holiday ribbon at a local crafts store to tie around the gloss, or you could include a few holiday candies or homemade baked goods.
  • Splitting up sets is also a great idea if you’re looking for stocking stuffers or you want to do more mixing-and-matching of gifts for your favorite pals (say a gloss, eyeliner, and lipstick).
  • When it comes to getting the most for your money, pay attention to the amount of product you’re getting and compare to the full-sized version (and its price).
  • Consider nail polish sets and kits; some come around for the holidays (but availability online may be difficult), there are lots of fantastic brands for $2-5 a pop, so you can get a good variety without breaking the bank.

Eyes: Snag two travel-sized eyeliners (which are usually around 0.03 oz., compared to 0.04 oz. for full size) in Oil Slick and Rockstar in Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil Duo ($14.00); there is also one in Bourbon and Ransom. Bare Escentuals Strike It Rich Prime Time Collection ($28.00) contains five miniature-sized versions of the brand’s colored primer, which I’m a fan of; the only way the kit could have been better is if they included Urban Nature!

Cheeks/Face: Trial kits like Benefit One Prime Day ($10.00) are great for personal use but also to give, because you’re giving someone the chance to try new products they might not otherwise buy, but if you’re not totally sure they’ll love them, neither of you will feel bad. I’d give this to a friend who complained about their oily skin! Something else to consider is Benefit’s Powda WOWza, which consists of three top-selling face powders (and two that I love): CORALista, Bella Bamba, and Hoola.

Lips: This is an easily one of the best places to get a lot of bank for your buck when it comes to holiday sets–there are numerous lipgloss/lipstick kits available. I love the sheer, tinted hydrating lip shines, and the Philosophy Much Mistletoeing Lip Shine Set ($20.00 for 4×0.50 oz.) is a good value (these are full-sized!) and already comes in festive packaging. Korres has a great lipgloss formula in their Cherry Oil Lipglosses, and for the holidays, they have a Cherry-Picked Cherry Oil Lipgloss Quad ($28.00 for 4×0.20o oz.) set–and don’t let the word “quad” fool you, because they’re four individually packaged glosses that are full-sized. For lip balm, you know I’m loving and have to recommend Jack Black Balm Squad Lip Quad ($25.00 for 4×0.25 oz.) includes four full-sized lip balms of my very favorite formula in four flavors (there is also a lip balm/hand cream duo for $12, and both formulas TOPS!).

Skin/Body: Badger Three Bold Balms Set ($15.99) is a fabulous balm for healing dry, cracked skin, and this set gives you one to help with sore muscles, another for everywhere, and one scented to help you sleep–a totally classic multi-purpose balm but in a cuter set for the holidays. Bliss Winter Wonder Hands ($11.00) is a duo of hand creams that are purse-sized and fit easily into stockings. It’s not my very favorite hand cream, but it’s a good one! Burt’s Bees Healthy Hands Repair Kit ($12.99) is perfect for someone who works with their hands or loves to do their nails (and is therefore meticulous about their hands!).

When it comes to body care, my favorite go-tos for gifts are Philosophy and Bath and Body Works. Philosophy has numerous gift sets available (from all categories they offer), but a few of the ones I like best are Sugar Plum Frost Set ($18.00), Candy Cane Trio ($22.00), and Fun in the Frosty Air Trio ($25.00). Similarly, Bath and Body Works has tons of various baskets and sets. Giving body products are excellent gift ideas for people who enjoy relaxing (think baths and long showers) or for those you don’t know well enough to be able to pick a specific color for. If you’re unsure about someone’s scent preferences, food-based scents tend to be most generally applicable, so long as they’re not cloyingly sweet.

Fragrance:  They may be teeny-tiny, but you’ll be surprised at how many uses you’ll still get out of Tocca’s Love Yourself Collection ($18.00 for 7×0.05 oz.). Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Take Me There Set ($18.00) contains travel-sized versions of the scent’s rollerball perfume, body butter, and body wash, which would be a great layering kit, especially for someone who enjoys fruitier, tropical scents.

Do you have any suggestions for readers on the prowl for affordable holiday gifts this year that came out just in time for holiday gift-giving?

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Video Review: Urban Decay Holiday 2011 (Part2)

In this video, I walk through and swatch Urban Decay’s holiday 24/7 Liner Kits, 24/7 Shadow Stash, and Nail Kit! :)   I’d love it if you’d subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Video Review: Urban Decay Holiday 2011 (Part 1)

In this video, I walk through and swatch Urban Decay’s Midnight Emergency & Mariposa palette! :)   I’d love it if you’d subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Sunday, September 4th, 2011


Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil Stash

Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil Stash

Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil Stash ($34.00 for 5 x 0.088 oz.) includes five travel-sized jumbo pencils in these shades: Sin (champagne shimmer), Clash (electric blue with silver sparkle), Juju (medium taupe/brown shimmer), Rehab (dark brown shimmer), and Delinquent (dark purple with purple sparkle).

They’re very nearly full-sized, actually, as a full-sized pencil is 0.10 oz. (FYI, both the back of the Stash box and Sephora report it’s 5 x 0.88 oz., which can’t be right, since the full-sized are 0.10 oz. — it looks like there was an error in the decimal point.) This set is the equivalent value of $88.00, so it is definitely a nice value set for the holidays. It’s an interesting mix of colors, and I’m a little bummed–I really loved how they split up the 24/7 Eye Pencils into colorful and neutral sets. None of this impacted the score, however, just an observation. Perhaps they could have done two sets of four.  What do you think of the color combination here?

  • Sin is a light-medium pink-beige champagne with a frosted sheen. It swatched very comparably to Sin Primer Potion–it seemed less frosty.
  • Clash is a brilliant bright blue with silver sparkle. It is extremely similar to Electric 24/7 Liner–if I look closely, it seems like Clash is slightly brighter.
  • Juju is a pale, gilded taupe brown. It’s just on the edge of taupe–not enough gray in it to place it firmly in the taupe region. How lucky for me that the closest shade is Rehab and it is included in the set! It’s obvious that Juju is several shades lighter than Rehab, so you’re not getting dupes.
  • Rehab is a dark red-toned chocolate brown with a smidgen of taupe. It is similar to Underground 24/7 Liner–a hair darker, cooler, perhaps, but it could be a potential skip in lieu of other shades that are less similar.
  • Delinquent is deep purple violet with lilac sparkle. It’s such a stunning jewel-tone shade. It is completely different from Lust 24/7 Liner, and it doesn’t compare to Ransom 24/7 Liner either.

For a full review of the formula, please read my original review here. In summary, these worked really well in my testing of them. They applied with enough slip and creaminess not to pull and tug at the lids roughly (like MAC Shadesticks do) but not so creamy that it would slide around and end up creasing after a few hours (like NARS Shadow Pencils). These have a quick dry down time, so if you plan to use multiple shades together or need to blend out the edges, I would work one eye at a time. I have no issues with fading, creasing, or smudging over twelve hours.

The Glossover

palette

Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil Stash Review, Photos, Swatches

A
If you've wanted to try out the new Shadow Pencils, this is a great way to do so without breaking the bank--for less than the cost of two full-sized shades, you get five nearly full-sized shades.

Product

9.5/10

Pigmentation

9.5/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

4.5/5

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Sunday, September 4th, 2011


Urban Decay Midnight Emergency Kit

Urban Decay Midnight Emergency Kit

Urban Decay Midnight Emergency Kit ($39.00) is a limited edition set that features four eyeshadows, one lipgloss, and one travel-sized brush. It will be available at ULTA and select Macy’s in-store and online at ulta.com and urbandecay.com. The four eyeshadows included are: Midnight Cowboy (champagne with silver glitter), Midnight Rodeo (brown pearl with silver glitter), Midnight 15 (pearly oyster with silver glitter), and AC/DC (smoky grey/purple with shimmer).

It is all housed in a champagne-colored pleather case with a zipper enclosure wrapped around it. It’s fairly heavy (feels heavier than it looks) and definitely sturdy–it’s not easily crushed by any means–but the heft of it is not something I’d want to stash in my bag.  The overall size is nice, and I’m sure some will have no problem stashing it in their bag.

  • Midnight Cowboy is a pale champagne pink with a frosted finish and chunky silver sparkle. The underlying base color has good color payoff, but the sparkles cause major fall out. I wish I knew of a dupe for the color, but the only thing I could think of was Safe Bet Annette which is still a bit pinker.
  • Midnight Rodeo is a sparkly taupe brown. It does have glitter, but it’s subtle and doesn’t seem as large as Urban Decay’s other glitter-finished eyeshadows but may still have some fall out. The color payoff is good, and the texture is fairly smooth. I thought Urban Decay Toasted might be similar, but it’s not–much browner, less of a taupe. theBalm Insane Jane is grayer (more cool-toned), while Inglot #402 is nearly indistinguishable from Midnight Rodeo. This shade is a repromote from the 15th Anniversary Palette and BoS 4.
  • Midnight 15 is a soft champagne with a hint of gray and frosted finish. There is a subtle amount of glitter which has a touch of fall out. Initially, I thought it might be similar to Urban Decay Virgin, but it’s grayer–looks taupe in comparison. It’s a little darker compared to the beige in Chanel Prelude and less yellow compared to Urban Decay Ruthless (this is the closest).
  • AC/DC is a smoky purple with a very subtle red undertone; it’s more of a neutral purple. It was in the BoS 2. Am I the only one who expected to see another Midnight-themed shadow here? Don’t get me wrong–I’m so glad at least one shade isn’t fall out city. Urban Decay Gravity is a little purpler but similar. theBalm Kissy, Kissy is a touch darker. Bare Escentuals Encore has a stronger red undertone.
  • Midnight Cowboy Lip Junkie is a sheer champagne-tinted gloss with lots of champagne shimmer. It’s mint-scented and virtually colorless on the lips but imparts shine and shimmer. You can check out my full review of the formula in my original review.

Each eyeshadow is 0.04 oz., which is just shy of full-size (0.05 oz.), while the gloss is full-sized (0.34 fl. oz.)–plus the travel-sized Shadow brush ($26 for the full-sized version).  The value is at least $73.40 (the value of the eyeshadows and gloss) but likely closer to $85 or so because of the brush.

Urban Decay’s eyeshadows with “sparkle” are problem children.  Sometimes they’re sweet and you can get them behave, but most often, they’re unruly, frustrating, and wreak havoc upon your eye/face because of the glittery fall out.  Of the three sparkly shades here, Midnight Cowboy is the worst offender.  The other two are lesser offenders but still have some issues with fall out.

My advice for working with eyeshadows prone to fall out is to use a stiffer brush and pat on, rather than sweep.  You might also want to lightly tap the brush against your forearm after you’ve picked up the eyeshadow to loosen any excess product (and glitter).  It’s best to apply eye makeup first in this instance, so you can easily remove any residual fall out without removing foundation and the like.  A stickier base (mixing mediums, sealers, etc.) can also help the glitter to adhere rather than to fall away or generally disappear.  I just don’t think you should have to work that hard.  I’m also surprised that–given how much Urban Decay enjoys themselves glitter eyeshadow–they haven’t come out with their own adhesive base/sealer.

The Glossover

coming-soon

Midnight Emergency Kit

C+
There is a lot of fall out, and three of the five color products in this kit require some trial and error to find a method that works. Unless you're using an adhesive base, there is glitter fall out both during application as well as throughout the day. The packaging seems heavy for how little is inside it, so it's not as purse-friendly as it seems.

Product

8/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

8/10

Longevity

7.5/10

Application

3/5

Results
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Sunday, September 4th, 2011


Urban Decay Naked 24/7 Eye Pencil Set

Urban Decay Naked 24/7 Eye Pencil Set

Urban Decay Naked 24/7 Eye Pencil Set ($32.00 for 5 x 0.03 oz.) includes five travel-sized eyeliners. It is a limited edition set, and it contains these shades: Zero (black), Demolition (matte darkest chocolate brown), Bourbon (brown with gold shimmer), Underground (shimmery taupe/brown), and Stray Dog (shimmery grey/brown).  Each shade is 0.03 oz. and a full-sized version is 0.04 oz. and costs $18 a pop–so this kit has $67.50 worth of eyeliner for $32.

I’m a long-time fan of the 24/7 Eye Pencils, because they have just enough creaminess for easy gliding across the lash line but not so much that it results in smudging or running. It has a large color range, and they last quite awhile. When I’m doing a look, I often reach for this formula, because it wears all day for me.

  • Zero is dark black eyeliner–it’s not as intense as Perversion, but it’s not a gray-black either. It’s a soft black overall. This is a permanent shade.
  • Demolition is a dark brown with subtle amber warmth around the edges. This is a new and exclusive shade. Try CoverGirl Brown as a possible dupe.
  • Bourbon is a warm, medium-dark brown with subtle bronze shimmer. This is a permanent shade.
  • Underground is a taupe brown with a satin sheen. This is a permanent shade.
  • Stray Dog is a gray taupe with a satin sheen. This was available in the 15th Anniversary Set previously.

My Underground was a little wonky; there was this weird blackish streak that would keep appearing when I tried to swatch with it — I even had to “write” on paper to try and get rid of it. Not sure what was going on there; perhaps something didn’t get fully mixed. I love my full-sized Underground and use it all the time, but I couldn’t not mention that oddity.

The Glossover

product

Urban Decay Naked 24/7 Eye Pencil Set Review, Photos, Swatches

A
Urban Decay's holiday eyeliner kits are always a good buy if you've been wanting to try the formula or you like the formula and want additional shades. I usually pick up a few to give as gifts/stocking stuffers myself.

Product

9.5/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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