Last year, Giorgio Armani Maestro Bronzer ($64.00 for 1.0 fl. oz.) launched in Sun Kiss (100), which I really loved as a formula. It was limited edition, but this summer, it’s back along with two more shades (one lighter and one darker) and seems to be permanent. I remember last year that I wished for a rosier and deeper shade for darker skin tones, and now we have one lighter and darker! The formula is thin, almost watery, with a velvety feel that has a more satin finish to it–if you’ve tried the Maestro line at all, the texture is very in line with the rest of the range. It sits extremely well on the skin, whether bare or over/under foundation, and it blends out easily and lasts for nine to ten hours. The only thing I’m not keen on is the packaging, which uses a dropper to dispense the product. One bottle contains a mega-ton of bronzer, so it’ll take a long time to get through a bottle, and I’d rather a half-size option for $40 or so instead (same with the brand’s Fluid Sheers).
MAC Film Noir Blush ($17.00 for 0.21 oz.) is described as a “rich warm chocolate [with a Matte finish].” It’s a very deep, dark burgundy brown with warm, reddish tones and a matte finish. I couldn’t think of any dupes based on products I’d reviewed in the past; it’s much, much darker than anything I was considering (Chanel Plum Attraction, MAC Pressed Amber, NYX Taupe).
NYX Highlight & Contour Palette ($25.00 for 0.72 oz.) is a set of four highlight powders and four contour powders. All of the shades included in the palette can be purchased individually, and the palette is refillable, so shades can be removed or rearranged. The only downside is that they don’t sell the palette empty, and there are two additional highlight powder shades (Bone, Soft Peach) and two additional contour powder shades (Sienna, Saddle) available as singles (each single is $5.00). I liked that two of the four highlighters had some shimmer to them, so for those who like a little sheen to their highlight, you’ll have those options, and you can always tamp down the satiny sheen by dusting one of the more matte highlight powders on top to stretch out the others if you like less shimmer. The contours all had a semi-matte to satin finish, so none were totally matte, and they looked natural on the skin without looking too shimmery or too flat. I had some trouble blending out the contour shades at times, and I had the best luck by applying with a more feathery brush to lay down the general outline of the contour, and then going back to darken as needed. The highlight shades are soft and smooth but powdery.
L’Oreal Lumi Liquid Glow Illuminator ($12.99 for 0.67 oz.) is a liquid highlighter that can be used as a specific highlighter (like on cheek bones) or all-over (likely mixed in with a base product, like foundation or moisturizer). The biggest con to these is that they have a very, very short working window as they dry down almost immediately, and they dry down and don’t want to move much and instead the shimmer/sheen flakes off than diffuses or blends out. The texture is liquid but thicker than your typical liquid-based highlighter (which are often a little watery or thin) and is viscous enough to hold its shape in a dollop when you squeeze it out. The squeeze-tube offers a good amount of control over how much you get per use, which is nice. The liquid highlighters seemed to have less visible sparkle/glitter than the powders did, though there are a few bits. It gave the skin a metallic sheen that’s by no means subtle, but it didn’t seem to emphasize pores or the skin’s natural texture. They can be mixed with a base product, but you’ll want to use something with a thinner consistency to help this spread out. The shimmer is larger and may be too intense when mixed in for all-over use, but it will depend on your preferences.