Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

MAC Golden Lariat Mineralize Skinfinish
MAC Golden Lariat Mineralize Skinfinish

MAC Wonder Woman: Golden Lariat Mineralize Skinfinish

MAC GOLDEN LARIAT MINERALIZE SKINFINISH ($35.00 for 0.70 oz.) is a super-mega-jumbo-sized tri-colored mineralize skinfinish. MAC describes the colors as true coral with fine gold shimmer, soft suntanned bronze, and soft gold with fine shimmer.

The oversize mineralize skinfinish does allow for easy use of each color individually, and I could see mixing and matching, though they’re wearable on an individual level. The way I looked at these mineralize skinfinishes was they included a “highlighter” shade, “bronzing” shdae, and “blushing” shade.

There is a yellowed gold with pale white-gold shimmer that seems best used as a highlighter (virtually colorless when applied with a blush on my medium skin tone), while the middle shade is a reddened brown with a pearly sheen and seems more appropriate for bronzing (should work nicely on darker skin tones in particular). The final shade is a lightened rusted orange with pale gold shimmer and sheen; it’s less shimmery than the “highlighter” but more pigmented and does best as a blush–too much color to highlight, too orange to bronze.

my thoughts on the formula: Mineralize Skinfinishes can be used for a variety of things–from blush to bronzer to highlighter. The way you use it depends on your skin tone, how pigmented the particular shade of mineralize skinfinish is, the texture, and what you want to use it for. These are baked products, so they can be used wet or dry without fear of ruining the product. The texture is soft, but the fineness of the shimmer depends on the individual shade. Stippling brushes like the 187 and 188 are ideal for applying mineralize skinfinishes.

Normally, mineralize skinfinishes retail for $28 (0.35 oz.), so this is double the size for $7 more. To put it simply, you’re paying $50/oz. rather than $80/oz. Whether you’ll ever use all whopping 0.70 oz. of it depends on you! It does feel huge, though, and the size makes it less convenient to tote around in your bag or makeup bag. I also think that for its gigantic-size, I would have loved to see a mirror included.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

final thoughts: I like this best for warmer, more golden complexions. It reminded me somewhat of Cheeky Bronze Mineralize Skinfinish, because of the orange-y pull of the shades.  I think this product is good but not great–keep in mind that ultimately the value metric boosts up the overall rating of this product.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, January 24th, 2011

Lancome Glowy Ballerine Butterflies Fever Blush
Lancome Glowy Ballerine Butterflies Fever Blush

Lancome Spring 2011: Glowy Ballerine

Lancome Glowy Ballerine Butterflies Fever Blush ($40.00 for 0.39 oz.) is an icy, pale pink blush that goes on barely-there. It has a silver glitter overlay, but the glitter disappears after the first use. On me (warm, medium skin tone), I get visibly pinker cheeks, but the effect is definitely subtle. The texture is soft, and it’s effortless to apply and blend out, partially owing to the softness in the color itself. It has an ultra soft sheen that looks more like a glow when applied, so there is no need to fear shimmery or glittery finishes here (and again, the glitter is only on the top layer).

Lancome says: “The new must have blush is an original twist of two incontrovertible items of the 70′s style: the bowtie and the butterfly designed by Alexis Mabille. In fashion, wearing a bowtie is the ultimate chic attitude, besides a way to express free-spirit and absolute lack of concern for what other people think. The butterfly is a multicultural symbol of free soul, feminity and beauty of nature.”

Lancome recommends using the pink shade as a blush, beige shade as a sculptor, and lavender shade to unify the complexion. This is all well and good, and I appreciate the directions overall, but you’re going to need a pretty small (and precise) brush to use any of the three shades alone–especially the lavender one.

The design is femine and pretty, though of course, it looks less elegant once you’ve used it a few times, but some of the features still linger (and as far as I know, and based on Lancome’s recommendation to use certain shades individually), there are three distinct shades that go all the way through. Also worth noting is that this is practically a brick of blush at 0.39 oz. (average blush is around 0.15 to 0.20 oz.). The included applicator worksin a pinch, but the bristles are rougher than I’d like, and they will kick up a lot of powder if you attempt to use it.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: This will be gorgeous on light to medium skin tones both cool and warm, but I think much of the effect will be lost on darker skin tones.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Friday, January 21st, 2011

Bobbi Brown Pretty Palette
Bobbi Brown Pretty Palette

Pretty in Pink with Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown Pretty Palette ($60.00 for 0.36 oz.) is an all-inclusive face palette with four eyeshadows, one blush, two lip glosses, and one lip color. It includes: Ivory (creamy white), Pink Flannel (nude pink), Pink Chiffon (bright pink with shimmer), Chocolate Caviar (deep chocolate brown), Pretty Pink (warm baby pink), Soiree Pink (baby pink with silver flecks), Bubble Bath (bright neutral pink), and Sandwash (beige pink). It shares one overlapping shade (Chocolate Caviar) with the Powerful palette.

  • Ivory is neutral-cool white. This is a matte eyeshadow, and it is part of the permanent range.
  • Pink Flannel is a muted gray-rose with great color pay off and no chalkiness. It is nicely pigmented and very creamy, not at all chalky. This is a matte eyeshadow.
  • Pink Chiffon is a white-shimmered petal pink with an inherent sheerness because of its finish. This is a shimmer wash eyeshadow.
  • Chocolate Caviar is a deep, dark cool-toned chocolate brown This is a matte eyeshadow.
  • Pretty Pink is a blue-based medium pink with a near matte finish. This is a blush.
  • Soiree Pink is a sheer confection of gold and pink shimmer; it has a milky pink base, but it really didn’t seem to show up on lips. This is a glitter lip gloss.
  • Bubble Bath is a cool-toned medium pink with a glossy shine. This is a lip gloss.
  • Sandwash is a nearly opaque, plummy pink with a cream finish. This is a lipstick.

The palette contains 0.09 oz. of Eyeshadow ($22.50 value), 0.04 oz. Shimmer Wash Eyeshadow ($7.50 value), 0.14 oz. of blush ($23.69 value), 0.028 oz. of Shimmer Lip Gloss ($4.00 value), 0.028 of Glitter Lip Gloss ($4.00 value), and 0.035 oz. of Lip Color ($6.42 value). It total value of the products inside the palette sums to $68.11, while the palette itself costs $60. It’s not a value-packed palette, but you’re getting your money’s worth.

Just like the Powerful, all of the shades were pigmented, and the matte shades were nice and creamy, with the exception of Chocolate Caviar which was slightly drier. Again, both glosses are rather sheer with the lip color being more opaque. The Pretty palette coordinates better within itself, though, which is really nice to see.

I love the sleek packaging, and I think the typography on the outside cover of the palette is beautiful. Bobbi Brown’s campaign of Pretty. Powerful. is really a fantastic slogan, so I’m all for it being emblazoned across the palette itself. Though I’m not personally that fond of palettes that mix powders with gloss or creams, I do like that Bobbi Brown’s palettes always seem to have deeper wells and a very tightly clasping palette to minimize powder migration.

P.S. — In case you missed it, I reviewed the Powerful palette earlier.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: For those who like palettes that make their mornings easier, Bobbi Brown’s Pretty palette may just be one of those. With eyeshadows, blush, and lip color all in one go all housed in a slim palette, it is easy to travel with. This one certainly works better as a standalone palette, and the cooler tones of the palette make it more flattering on cooler skin tones.

where to buy: Bobbi Brown

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Friday, January 21st, 2011


Giorgio Armani Transluminence Face Palette

A Shy Blush for Pale Beauties

Giorgio Armani Transluminence Face Palette ($49.00 for 0.21 oz.) is a muted rose with peachiness. It has a satin-matte finish, and it applies very sheerly on the face. It is a called a sheer blush, however, so it was rather expected. It does provide some color on my medium skin tone, but it is certainly a subtle effect. I could see lighter skin tones really working well with this shade for a pop of color good for everyday looks. The sheen is soft and barely-there but delivers a glowiness when applied to cheeks.  Though the texture was silky smooth, it did feel a little powdery, but because the formula is sheer, it is very easy to blend.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: The blush has a very smooth, soft texture though it’s almost chalky on my medium skin-tone, which is why I think this could easily be a much loved item in paler beauties’ stashes while not so favored if you have a darker skin tone.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Smashbox In Bloom Cheek Duo
Smashbox Blushing/Peony In Bloom Cheek Duo

Smashbox In Bloom Collection: Blushing/Peony

Smashbox Blushing/Peony In Bloom Cream Cheek Duo ($26.00 for 0.26 oz.) contains two shades of cream blush: a dark pink with subtle lighter pink shimmer and a part-pearl, part-frost sheen and lightened pinky-coral with a pearled, frost finish.  It’s new and limited edition and is part of Smashbox’s spring collection.

Both shades have a dewy, natural finish that’s not really shimmery, but they are definitely not matte.  With a cream blush, I do like a more natural finish, because they give that very fresh, almost stained look that’s never heavy.  These dry down quick enough so they don’t slide down your cheeks but not so quickly that they’re difficult to blend.  Each shade packs a good amount of pigmentation so getting the color you want should be no problem, but of course, use a light hand if you want a subtler look.  When I tested these, they wore for five or six hours well before beginning to fade.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

FINAL THOUGHTS: I like it, but I wish these lasted just a touch longer on the cheeks.  The shades will work for a variety of skin tones, as well as light to dark skin tones, because these can be blended out for a sheerer look or built up for more intensity.

WHERE TO BUY: Sephora

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Monday, January 10th, 2011

Clarins Barocco Gold Shimmering Powder
Clarins Barocco Gold Shimmering Powder

Clarins Barocco Gold Shimmering Powder

Clarins Barocco Gold Shimmering Powder ($35.00 for 1.2 oz.) looks so beautiful on the inside, it’s hard to believe that the insides did not make such a splash. Inside, there are gold “nuggets,” which are incredibly soft and delicate. Every time I opened this, there was a cloud of sparkly dust that hovered and spilled over the edges and on my desk.

I had presumed these would be more like Guerlain’s Meteorites, which are shimmering spheres that impart a soft, subtle shimmer-sheen glow–these produce a bronzy, glittery bonanza. It does impart an orange-toned bronze brown with chunky bronze and gold glitter. Even when buffed, the chunky glitter is hard to disguise. This looked absolutely disastrous on face, and I did not find it worked well for decolletage either. The only place that seemed to work so-so was on legs, but it still had to be really blended and buffed so it looked natural and used considerably more product per use than I’d like.

Given that it is supposed to be face and decolletage, going as far as using it on legs was more to see if it worked anywhere than something I’d use this as a go-to for. I can do shimmer, sheen, and even glitter; I’m not at all scared of glitter, and while I don’t need to wear it every day, I have no problem wearing even heavier glitter on face or cheeks or lips. But this powder goes beyond what I see even glitter fanatics wanting in a face/decolletage glitter.  I would also not recommend using the provided pouf unless you want to be a bronze sculpture — one pat packs far too much product!

The concept is nice but there needs to be serious improvement on execution in order to make it work.  I would have loved to see this impart a much subtler, softer micro-glitter or shimmer.

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  • Product: 10/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is a product that was beautiful in concept and dressed to impress in the beautiful filigreed canister, but the product itself just doesn’t work well in real life. It’s a mess to open but doesn’t work anywhere but legs–everywhere else is just too much. From Clarins, I would have expected something subtler and sophisticated.

WHERE TO BUY: Bloomingdale’s

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