Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Two-Minute Reviews: CoverGirl Eyeshadow Palette, Physicians Formula Healthy Glow, Smashbox Heartbreaker

The concept behind two-minute reviews is mostly products that I photographed, swatched, but I never ended up reviewing.  Rather than just bury the photos into the “Unlikely to Review” folder and never let them see the light of day, I decided that perhaps a quickie review was better than no review at all… Let me know if you’d rather a quickie review than no review :)

CoverGirl Vibrant Browns (#700) Eyeshadow Palette ($7.49) is a palette that features four shades of eyeshadow: a softened, matte black with glitter overlay, subdued blue-toned sheer gray with silver sheen, muted copper with orange-gold shimmer and frost finish, and an incredibly sheer white with sheen. The colors are all on the sheerer side, and the shadows themselves just don’t grab me. I think one or two more muted shades might work, but these altogether just don’t. I find the gold too warm to work with the coolness of the black and gray. Quick Rating: C-

Physicians Formula Healthy Glow Shimmer Strips ($11.95) reminded me of Bobbi Brown’s Shimmerbricks. Healthy Glow is a gradation of light, icy pink to a muted raspberry pink. The colors are better used together rather than alone, as individually, they’re not very pigmented. Together, they create a lightened raspberry with a frosty white sheen. This is great for those with closer-to-flawless skin, because it’s pretty and shimmery–but if you have larger pores, the high frost finish will accentuate them. For a drugstore blush, though, the price is a little steeper than I’d like to see. Quick Rating: B

Smashbox Heartbreaker Collection looked super cute in the promos, but I wasn’t loving it when I saw some of the pieces in person. In fact, I loved the actual box packaging infinitely more than the product packaging! The boxes are cute with doodles and polaroids on it–just sweet and fitting for the theme. The shiny white plastic makes it look and feel on the cheap side, and Smashbox really isn’t a cheap brand. I tend to think of Smashbox as more of a mid-to-high end brand. I tried three products: Starlight Fusion Soft Lights ($30), Rollerball Lip Gloss ($21), and Liquid Liner Pen ($24). I reviewed the eyeliner previously, but I never got around to the other two products. Despite looking rather vibrant in the pan, Starlight is a very soft, lightened raspberry sorbet with a soft champagne sheen. It didn’t show up very well on my medium skin tone, so I wasn’t never driven to wear it in a look (hence this quickie review!). Quick Rating: C+

The Rollerball Lip Gloss was very much the same — it’s clear gloss with icy white shimmer. It’s very slightly pink tinged, but on lips, it looks clear. I also felt like the Rollerball packaging made me feel like I was using Bonne Bell (which is fine… if I’m paying Bonne Bell prices!). Quick Rating: C-

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Monday, March 29th, 2010

Make Up For Ever HD Blush
Make Up For Ever #5 Nip Slip HD Blush

More on Make Up For Ever HD Blush

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Make Up For Ever’s HD Blush in three shades (#3 Truth or Dare, #4 Walk of Shame, and #6 Quickie). Today, I’m sharing with you three more shades and a run-down of them, but this is less a review as it is simply showing you what three other shades look like in real life.

I did, however, receive a full-size sample of #5 Nip Slip (can you believe they got away with that name?!), so I can confirm what I thought previously: the pump delivery system does pump out way too much if you simply do one pump. You really have to be careful and squeeze out just the tiniest bit. It’s better to go under than over, because you’ll end up wasting a good bit otherwise. I actually think I may prefer using them out of the 5-gram sample jars, just because I don’t have to worry about getting too much at once!

  • Nip Slip (#5) is a neutral, slightly yellow-toned pink that would look beautiful and fresh on both cool and warm skin tones. I think this is a good shade for light to medium to dark skin tones, too — it’s very buildable, so you can achieve that brighter pop of pink if you so desire.
  • Star Struck (#14) is a soft apricot peach that goes on more orange-apricot when blended and smoothed onto skin. Despite having a stronger orange tone, it’s not overly warm. It almost reads neutral to me, but I’d err on the side of warm.
  • First Kiss (#12) is a brightened orange with a soft shimmer/satin-y sheen built-in. It’s not neon orange, but it’s not quite the “bright apricot” that Sephora describes it as (even when it’s been blended out). This is definitely one of the more pigmented shades, so go easy if you want softer, sheerer color. It’s easier to intensify than it is to mute!

Other shades include: Innuendo #1 (vibrant plum), Caught in the Act #2 (bright raspberry), One Too Many #7 (peachy beige), PDA #8 (pinky nude), In the Spotlight #9 (nude), Skinny Dipping #10 (light orange brown), Mistaken Identity #11 (redwood brown), Smooth Talker #13 (vibrant pale pink). I previously reviewed Truth or Dare #3 (hot pink), Walk of Shame #4 (bubblegum pink), and Quickie #6 (salmon pink) here.

Make Up For Ever’s HD Blush wears well throughout the day. It’s easy to use, because it blends and softens without a lot of work, making it harder to make mistakes as long as you use less. You do not need to use a lot–I can’t stress it enough–we’re not even talking a pea-size of product. We’re talking about a pin-drop-size! One bottle will last you quite awhile, I’d imagine.

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: 3/5

Recommendation:  Those who are always looking for longer wearing products should check out the new HD Blush line-up, because these cream blushes stand up to day-long wear without fading!

Availability: Sephora

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Laura Mercier Zen Palette

Going Zen with Laura Mercier for Spring

Laura Mercier Zen Face Palette ($60.00) is a new-for-spring (into summer!) palette that includes one blush, four eyeshadows, and four lip glazes housed in a metal-rimmed palette with a cushy, dusty blue cover.

I was surprised at how much I liked the palette packaging, but I thought it was cute without being cheesy. It’s definitely apropos for spring! The palette also feels sturdy, weighty, but it doesn’t feel bulky, so I like the slimness and overall shape of it. I also LOVED! that they included a little plastic sheet with the names printed on top so you knew what product was what. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out in a palette!

Eyeshadows

  • Willow is a soft, pastel green with yellow undertones and a silvery shimmer. It has a bit of a frostier finish. It almost seemed un-Laura Mercier-like to me, just because it was such a nice pop of color, though it is a light pop of color!
  • Haze is a powder blue with silver shimmer. It’s more of a satin finish, less frost, in comparison to Willow.
  • Wisteria is a browned plum with a frosty sheen. It’s quite pigmented and smooth.
  • Midnight Jade is a darkened, grayed teal with a pearly sheen and just a light dusting of shimmer. I found this shade to be the least pigmented out of the four, but it still had decent pigmentation.

Blush

  • Plum is a very rosy plum shade. It’s less purple plum as it is red-plum. It has a low-level pearly sheen that’s very, very subtle. There’s no obvious shimmer here!

Lip Glazes

  • Black Currant is a brownish red that goes on very sheerly and has a glossy sheen.
  • Lotus Bloom is a sheer tinge of pinky-red with flecks of red shimmer.
  • Stone Beige is a creamier, semi-sheer nude beige with subtle gold shimmer.
  • Peach Blossom is an orange-y peach cream with a high gloss finish.

The good: It’s a fun palette with a good range of eye colors to give you a few new looks for spring. The pigmentation is pretty good (Midnight Jade needs to be layered for better pigmentation, though), and the texture is smooth, soft, and applies evenly. I like that there’s a good variety of colors in the lip glazes as well, because it gives you a lot of ways you can mix and match. I also think the packaging is fun, travel-friendly, and classy.

The bad: Palettes that mix powders and creams (or glazes, in this particular case) are not my favorite, because sometimes the powder finds its way into the creams, which is kind of gross. For most, it’s probably not a deal-breaker, but it’s something I thought I should mention. I don’t think the Plum blush is the most suitable for the palette–it almost seems too dark for this palette. I think it could work, but I’m not totally sold on it being the best match here.

There’s one thing I noticed right at end: there are no brushes!  It’s almost curious and yet I’m not displeased that they didn’t include them.  I know some think for the price that they should have, but I never find myself using those brushes that are included in palettes.  I always find them so inferior to my normal brushes and much prefer to take my brushes with me when I travel (even if it’s just a few), so it’s more of a neutral to me.  It just depends on your preference!

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you like Laura Mercier’s eyeshadows and have always wanted a little more color, you might enjoy the way she’s played with color in this spring palette. I think cooler skin tones will find this especially flattering, as most of the shades tend to be on the cooler end of the spectrum.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Exotic Bronzing Blush

Get Your Blush AND Bronze on?  Hmm…

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Exotic Bronzing Blush ($35.00) is a pressed powder bronzer and blush with a coral reef inspired design. Estee Lauder calls it a “Bronzing Blush,” and you can tell in the photo that it really is exactly that! It’s unrealistic to use the two shades separately, but once swirled together, they create a rosy-peach bronzed shade.

It’s peachy without really being too pink and not quite brown but more like a gilded champagne. The shimmer is fine enough that it doesn’t accent pores but is still noticeable. I found this worked mostly as a blush, as it did have enough peach and rose tones to it that it’s more a blush than a bronzer. It does give my cheeks that sunkissed glow, though.

I like that the packaging has a very modern look and feel to it–that coppery bronze that shimmers in the sunlight.  The pricing is a little high, though, for a product that’s mostly a blush.  I’d have preferred to see this at maybe a $28 or $30 price point–more in line with their normal blush prices.

You can check out other items from Bronze Goddess, too!

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  It’s a cute compact, and it works well on warmer skin tones for sure. On cooler skin tones, it may not be as lovely, since it does have a warmer undertone. I also think on deeper skin tones, it may work mostly as a highlighter rather than a blush. Light to medium skin tones should have no problems using this as a blush or blush-highlighter! It’s not the most unique blush shade, but it’s done well.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Make Up For Ever HD Blush

Make Up For Ever HD Blush:  Truth or Dare, Walk of Shame, Quickie

Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Blush ($25.00 for 0.33 oz.) is an incredibly lightweight, cream blush. The HD Blush really surprised me, because I wasn’t quite sure whether this was going to be as amazing as the buzz over it already was. (Buzz makes me skeptical, I can’t help it!)

Much anticipated, it is now available through Sephora. The blushes are reasonably priced, and I imagine one jar will last you quite awhile as you hardly need any for enough color on your cheeks. These are pigmented if you want them to be, so go easy on the amount you use if you want subtle color. They also dry down quickly, so work fast to blend the color out so it looks natural and luminous. I used my 188 brush to apply it to my cheeks, and I found it worked just right to apply and blend out the color. (I used #6 Quickie very lightly in this look!)

When I wore these to test (I worn #6 Quickie on one cheek, #4 Walk of Shame on the other!), they lasted a solid eight hours without fading or budging. I think these are going to be perfect for summer, particularly for those in more sticky and humid climates.  What is particularly nice is there is a huge shade range of fourteen different shades.

  • #3 Truth or Dare is a vibrant fuchsia pink. Even when used lightly, it still packs plenty of color. It has a satin-y finish–slight sheen but not shimmer.
  • #4 Walk of Shame is a pretty bubblegum pink that can be applied very sheerly or built up for a more intense pink. On me, I find this color a little too light/pale — it’s not a go-to shade for my medium, warm-toned skin, but it can work.
  • #6 Quickie is a coral-orange with a satiny feel. It can be sheered out nicely if you want just a light coral flush or used more generously (and still, by “more generously” I mean, use just the tiniest bit more) for a deeper flush.

I can’t speak to the packaging, as the samples I received were in sample jars, but the packaging looks similar to other pump-jar packaging (but I imagine it might be smaller/shorter). The only thing I would be a little wary about is whether the pump pushes out too much, because you really need a tiny bit. Not even a pea-size amount!

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: 3/5

Recommendation:  If you are a cream blush fiend, I think you’ll like the newest ones from Make Up For Ever!

Availability: Sephora

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Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Bobbi Brown Bonfire Palette

Bobbi Brown Color Strips:  Bonfire Palette

Bobbi Brown Bonfire Palette ($60.00) is an eye, cheek, and lip palette from Bobbi Brown’s Color Strips Collection, which [again] includes three palette variations. Bonfire is more my style than the other two variations.  By the by, Aquamarine is the third variation, which I won’t be reviewing at this time!  It does, however, have the same Pot Rouges as Orchid Sparkle, which I reviewed earlier, so it’s like… half reviewed :)

Pot Rouge

  • Tawny is a brownish-red–it’s not a brick red, and it certainly doesn’t scream “RED!” but it’s in there. Creamy, opaque, and smooth.
  • Fresh Melon is a brightened coral-peach with a creamy and opaque look. This can be worn as a very subtle blush or lip.
  • Calypso Coral is a bold, tropical orange-coral with the same creaminess of the other shades of Pot Rouge. This is definitely a more fearless coral, though, because it is fairly bright. You can pat less on to get a less intense look, though, which is nice.

Eyeshadow

  • Bone is a softened white-beige with a matte finish. Kind of a classic shade–easier for me to wear with my warmer skin tone than whites.
  • Cafe Cream (Sparkle) is a shimmered medium coffee brown with an almost taupe-gray tone to it. It looks almost wet when used, and the fall out isn’t too bad.
  • Bonfire is a rich copper with a metallic finish. Think MAC Amber Lights with a smoother finish. This is the “bright” shade in the palette, while the other shades are designed to coordinate with this one.
  • Cognac is an intense shade of coppered chocolate brown with an almost burgundy sheen. This shade is truly lovely–I fell completely in love at first swatch. It’s one of those shades that I could see myself buying the palette for.
  • Caviar is a dark black-brown with a matte finish. I like this more with the Bonfire palette than the Orchid palette, but I also wish they varied it, so there wouldn’t be any repeats between the three palettes!

It has the same sleek packaging as Orchid, so my thoughts remain the same on that: well-done, practical, and keeps everything as clean as can be in a palette.

I think these eyeshadows work better together than the ones chosen for the Orchid palette as well. I can definitely see many different combinations with these five shades. I also like the shades swatched smoother and more pigmented–there was only one iffy shade (Cafe Cream), but it was still decent and not so troublesome (unlike Orchid Sparkle).

I know that I’m personally more drawn to Bonfire (hey, I like me some warm shades!), so I’m definitely going to try to do a look with this palette later this week or next!

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: If you’ve wanted to try Pot Rouges, this is one way to try three at once… and get some eyeshadows as a bonus!

Availability: BobbiBrown.com, Nordstrom

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