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.

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Urban Decay Mary Jane Eyeshadow
Urban Decay Mary Jane Eyeshadow

Cool Down with Mary Jane!

Urban Decay Mary Jane Eyeshadow ($17.00 for 0.05 oz.) is a steely blue with a frost finish. It’s a pale, icy blue with a silver sheen–perfect for the cooler season and for brightening up eyes. Mary Jane has a very soft, smooth texture with rich pigmentation. Easily one of my favorite Urban Decay eyeshadows!  This is a stunning example of why Urban Decay’s eyeshadows are often listed as readers’ favorites–especially if you love yourself some color.

Edited: Fixed images!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: For my cooler beauties, most definitely. For my warmer lovelies, still yes! It works well with silver and gray smoky eyes, but it can be worn with your favorite navy blues, too.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Urban Decay Potion
Greed, Sin, Eden, Original

Urban Decay Little Sins Eyeshadow Primer Potion Set ($29.00) is new for the holidays and contains miniature sizes of the three existing Primer Potion varieties: Original (invisible), Eden (matte nude), Sin (shimmering champagne). It also contains a miniature size of a new and (currently) exclusive shade: Greed (pearly gold).

  • Greed is a shimmering slightly paled gold with definite yellow undertones. It’s not really an opaque base, and it’s not as pigmented of a base as Sin. It also has more of a shimmer than a frost base, unlike Sin. I think warm-toned beauties will find this works really well as a base as well as an all-over color for quick looks.
  • Sin is a beige-nude with a high frost sheen and champagne micro-shimmer.
  • Eden is a yellow-toned light nude with a matte finish.
  • Original is virtually invisible, though I’ve always found it has a slight shimmer to it.

I think one of the more frustrating marketing strategies that pops up during the holiday season is when a brand brings out one new, exclusive/limited edition shade amongst a set of several other permanent shades.  (And don’t get me wrong, many brands employ this strategy.)  I don’t want to have to buy the three other Primer Potions just so I can get Greed. This is how I end up with doubles or triples of certain eyeliners, pigments, etc. — none of which I’ve ever used up the original! I really do like Greed, though, so I’m crossing my fingers that Urban Decay releases it on its own.

I find that the Original Primer Potion has a tendency to crease on me after about seven hours, though Eden and Sin both seem to hold up better.  Greed didn’t give me any creasing problems after wearing it on three different occasions for over eight hours on each.

Each contains 0.13 oz., which means you’re getting 0.52 oz. of product in sum.  This translates to $55.77/oz. while a full-sized version ($18 for 0.34 oz.) goes for $52.94/oz.  It’s a nice opportunity for those who haven’t tried our the brand’s line of eyeshadow bases yet.  It may also be worth it for those who are devotees, because you’ll likely run through your tubes eventually and need replacements… ta-da.  Plus, the travel-sized versions may be more convenient for those treks to Mom and Dad’s house for holiday dinner.

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: It really depends on two things:  whether you have any of the full-sized versions and how badly do you want Greed?  (I suppose I should have said how greedy are you to have Greed…)

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Urban Decay Urb Eyeshadow
Urban Decay Urb Eyeshadow

The Hue of Sage Green

Urban Decay Urb Eyeshadow ($17.00 for 0.05 oz.) is a sage green with antique gold glitter flecks. It’s a very smooth shade that’s pigmented but the color itself is softer, so it’s not a bright or intense shade of green. I love the slight golden sheen that’s in the finish.

Urban Decay described it as a “metallic celedon green with glitter,” which should immediately alert you to the fact that this is a glittery shade. It will have some fall out. My experience with Urb is that the fall out is significantly less than some of the most egregious: Midnight Cowboy Rides Again.

If you want a more satin finish shade, you could try Make Up For Ever’s #34 Eyeshadow instead.

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

  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If it weren’t for the inevitable fall out that Urban Decay’s glitter shades are prone to, I’d really love this shade. The color itself is beautiful, and the soft flecks of glitter are lovely–when they stay on the lid.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Video Review:  Urban Decay Deluxe Eyeshadow, Eyeshadow, & Lipstick

This is a video review of a few of Urban Decay’s permanent products — their regular, circular eyeshadows, deluxe eyeshadows, and a few lipsticks.  I’ve reviewed these products before on the blog (though not these shades!), and I will be doing full write-ups of these products individually over the next couple of months, but if you can’t wait, this video should help you!  I hope you enjoy!