Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

MAC Water-Based Mixing Medium

Mixing Medium — Don’t Use Pigments Without It!

MAC Water-Based Mixing Medium ($18.00 for 50ml) is an absolute must-have if you work with MAC Pigments or Glitters. It actually took me many years before I purchased the real deal Mixing Medium–previously, I had always done the DIY version. (For reference, the DIY version is one part glycerin and three parts water, mix, and enjoy!) To be honest, I think either version works just as well, but I know the official Mixing Medium is designed to have a much longer shelf life than the DIY version (since it lacks any preservatives).

This Mixing Medium is water-based, and as such, the texture feels just like water. I like that, because it doesn’t feel thick, goopy, or sticky. The way I use my Mixing Medium is primarily with pigments and occasionally with glitters. I usually put one drop (it dispenses by droplets) on a flat brush like the 239 or 249, pick up some pigment, and then apply on the lid (or wherever). Together, it creates an excellent eyeshadow base, but it also intensifies pigments and keeps them together–there’s no fallout here! Though I haven’t used it for such things, you can also use this with other MAC liquid or powder products. I will also say that one bottle will last me a lifetime (though I will obviously replace it before then!).

There is also an alcohol-based Mixing Medium (used from the neck down), an eyeliner Mixing Medium (comes in a tube), lash Mixing Medium (allows you to create customized shades of Pro Long Lash Mascara), and gel-based Mixing Medium (not to be used around the eye area).

It is a PRO product, which means it was originally designed to be used by makeup artists and not necessarily consumers, but everyone is able to purchase PRO products, regardless of your resume. If you live near a PRO store locally, you just have to show up and shop like you would any other MAC location. If you don’t, I know in the U.S., you can place a phone order with any PRO store and they’ll ship you your items for a flat rate of $7 (this is usually how I get any PRO products). Since shipping is a flat rate, I usually make up a good list of PRO-only items I want so I can make it worth it, too :)

By the by… some PRO stores will have collections in a week early, and so if SF, LA, or SCP PRO have it out, sometimes I place a phone order and that’s how I’ll get the products a couple of days earlier than the national launch date. Secrets from a MAC addict… LOL!

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

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

Recommendation: If you’ve ever had trouble with your pigments or loose color eyeshadows, you may want to check out MAC’s Mixing Medium to keep your loose color on your lid better!

Availability: MAC PRO

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

MAC Art Supplies Collection:  Greasepaint Sticks
Greasepaint Sticks: Zinc Zone, Uniformly Blue, Slick Black, Greengrease,
Dirty, Charred Mauve, Brown Now, Below Ground

MAC Art Supplies Collection: Greasepaint Sticks Review, Photos, Swatches

MAC Art Supplies Collection launches in-stores on April 1st (late April for international locations) and online March 30th. The collection includes eight new and limited edition shades of Greasepaint Sticks ($17.50), six new and limited edition shades of Pearlglide Intense Eye Liners ($14.50), and nine new and limited edition shades of Pro Longwear Lipstain Marker ($16.00).

Today, I’m going to review the new Greasepaint Sticks and (in a separate post) three of the six Pearlglide Intense Eye Liners. I’m going to mull over the Lipstain Markers until tomorrow, but I’ll give you my review of the three (of nine) shades I tried so far–so stay tuned! :)

Greasepaint Sticks ($17.50)

  • Below Ground is a soft bronzed chocolate brown with lighter bronze flecks. It reminded me of a lighter, less frosty version of Bronze eyeshadow.  I liked this one a lot, because I felt like it was light enough to be used in lighter looks as well as darker looks.
  • Brown, Now is a burgundy-brown. I don’t know why it’s called Brown, Now, to be honest, because it’s pretty burgundy to me.
  • Charred Mauve is a cool-toned blue-based purple with soft blue-violet flecks/sheen. It is similar to V, but it’s not the same–it’s a darker, grayer version–but the two are close enough that you don’t need both.
  • Dirty is a taupe brown with multi-colored shimmer. Kind of cool how it has all different colors of shimmer in it.
  • Greengrease is a forest green over a blackened base. It has flecks of gold, blue, and green shimmer. I found this one to be the least pigmented of the eight, though you can layer to get a more opaque look.
  • Slick Black is a matte, all-black shade. It’s rich and dark. It’s not like the original Greasepaint Stick from Style Black, because the original Greasepaint Stick is a black base with flecks of blue and violet shimmer. It reminded me a lot of Blacktrack fluidline, though.
  • Uniformly Blue is a medium-dark navy blue over a blackened blue-gray base with flecks of blue shimmer/sheen. Compared to B, it is a darker version; Uniformly Blue has a blackened base that the blue shade sits over. It’s close enough, though, that unless you’re a huge fan of Greasepaint Sticks, you only need one of the two.
  • Zinc Zone is a gunmetal silver over a lightly blackened base with silver and black shimmer/sheen. This is a fun shade, and I think it would make a nice base for a very dramatic, near-black smoky eye.

The good: I loved the variety of the shades offered in the collection. There are eight to choose from, so you aren’t stuck with just one or two like in the past. On me, I find they wear quite well–no real budging, smudging, or transferring throughout the day. They’re very smooth, soft, and easy to apply without tugging on the eyelid too much.

They’ve also improved the scent/smell of the Greasepaint Sticks this time–which is huge. My previous Greasepaint Sticks have a funky scent that’s unpleasant, but I didn’t notice any scent on these (whereas the scent on the original shades is still overwhelming!). These might have the faintest scent if you’re particularly gifted in the smelling department, but I didn’t detect anything with my sniffer.

The bad: Even though a nice dark base can be useful, I don’t necessarily need eight different variations on the theme. I’ve always found that most darker bases eat color rather than enhance it, so you’re always left with some sort of darkened smoky eye. Personally, I find that they’re a bit too thick to use as eyeliner without having to do some clean-up after application with a cotton swab.

My picks: Below Ground, Brown Now, Greengrease, Zinc Zone

Skip if you have…: Charred Mauve if you have V, Uniformly Blue if you have B, Slick Black if you have Blacktrack (Fluidline)

How to Use Greasepaint Sticks

  • As an all-over eyeshadow base — think of them as darker versions of shadesticks
  • As a smudged out eyeliner — make sure to sharpen them (sharpener is found on the opposite end) so you don’t get too thick of a line
  • As a defined crease — draw it into the crease and then smudge with a brush and/or eyeshadow

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Collection
Bronze Goddess Liquid Eyeshadow: Aqua Flash, Ultra Violet, Molten Bronze, Sand Shimmer

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Collection: Bronze Goddess Liquid Eyeshadow

Bronze Goddess was definitely one of the first summer-esque collections to release (with Guerlain’s Terracotta right on its heels!). Each year, Estee Lauder launches Bronze Goddess and while there are certainly near-staple products released (bronzers and the like), they also create a makeup collection around the theme.

This year includes Exotic Bronzing Blush ($35, reviewing later!), Wild Orchid Pure Color Nail Lacquer ($18), Wild Coral / Wild Orchid Exotic Lip Gloss ($18), Luminous Liquid Bronzer ($28.50), and Liquid Eyeshadow ($17.50). Of course, all of those products listed above are, the ever-dreaded, limited edition. I am/was most excited for the Liquid Eyeshadows, because I was very curious to see Estee Lauder do some COLOR!

Liquid Eyeshadow ($17.50)

  • Aqua Flash is a shimmering aqua-blue. It’s like tropical island ocean blue–not quite blue, but not a true aqua, either. Yes, take me away to paradise, Estee Lauder… who knew!
  • Ultra Violet is a shimmering, near metallic violet purple with red shimmer and undertones.
  • Molten Bronze is a metallic coppered bronze with ultra fine gold shimmer.
  • Sand Shimmer is a muted, gilded gold shimmered champagne-gold metallic shade.

The good: Estee Lauder described the new Liquid Eyeshadow as a “[f]eatherweight liquid shadow [that] delivers maximum metallic impact in one stroke.” Count me among the skeptical when it comes to Estee Lauder and vibrant pops of color–but I am always happy to be wrong on this kind of thing! These are surprisingly true-to-color and quite pigmented.

They can be layered for complete opaque intensity or sheered out by blending with either your finger or a brush (try something fluffy with synthetic bristles) for more of a wash (Sand Shimmer works particularly well for a quick one-color-and-you’re-done kind of look). One stroke is pigmented, but to blend it out and cover the lid, you may find that layering works better to obtain truly opaque color–I personally like that you can sheer it out as it makes it a more versatile product, particularly when using it as an eyeshadow base.

No budging, fading, or creasing when I wore Aqua Flash on one eye and Sand Shimmer on the other. (It was a totally happening look, no joke!) They wear well and look stunning. I find I can apply and blend shadows on top and use these as bases, too–because I am incapable of wearing just one product on my eyes…  You can also take an angled eyeliner brush and swipe it across the doe-foot applicator to use the color as an eyeliner!

The packaging is simple: clear tube with a “gold” metal cap with “Bronze Goddess” emblazoned across the tube in gold. The pricing is right on target, if almost on the lower end of what I’d expect.

The bad: I really can’t think of anything bad to say about these. More colors? Make them permanent? They meet every expectation I have in a good liquid eyeshadow: blendable, creamy, crease-resistant, long-wearing, and pigmented. I suppose if we’re being nit-picky, perhaps the shimmer/metallic finish of these is not universally appealing, but they’re supposed to be that way, so… not a true negative but a preference!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Those who love their metallics and shimmers in vibrant colors may need to take a little detour at their local Estee Lauder counter. Rich colors done well that wear as well as they look make it easy to recommend these if you’re on the hunt for something fun for summer. My favorite shade would be Aqua Flash, but I think the most wearable shade is Sand Shimmer.

Availability: Estee Lauder, Nordstrom

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Urban Decay Eden Primer Potion

Go Matte or Go Home! with Urban Decay’s Eden Primer Potion

Urban Decay Eden Eyeshadow Primer Potion ($18.00) is the newest version of Primer Potion to debut this spring season. Like the original Urban Decay Primer Potion and follow-up Sin, Eden helps to prevent creasing, helps your eyeshadow stay on all day long, and increase color vibrancy of eyeshadows.

Eden is a yellow-toned opaque primer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some skin tones (probably those with yellow undertones and medium complexions) use this as a concealer in a jam. On me, I felt like when blended out on the lid, it looked slight yellower than my MAC Soft Ochre paint pot, but this has a much thinner consistency, though it still runs significantly more opaque than the original UDPP and still thicker and richer than Sin.

Unlike the original UDPP, which carries a slight sheen/shimmer, and Sin, which carries an incredibly metallic shimmer sheen (and it’s very pink-champagne), Eden is completely and utterly matte. It’s a good base for those wanting to keep their matte or satin eyeshadows just that, soft and with minimal shimmer. Also, it’s a nice way to kind of mattify some of the more shimmered eyeshadows you have, too.

I like it, and it didn’t really crease on me, which surprised me as UDPP creases on me, personally. It worked well with my skin tone, but I think those with more pink undertones may find this a little too yellow on them (just like Sin is kind of awful on me). It comes in the same genie-bottle packaging as the other versions of Primer Potion, so if you aren’t loving that curvy lil’ bottle, this isn’t any different.

I’ll probably stick with my MAC Soft Ochre paint pot for a matte, neutral eyeshadow base (like the thicker texture, less yellow, and no packaging woes), but I’m so glad Urban Decay has put out a truly matte Primer Potion! It’s about time and makes an excellent addition to their Primer Potion range!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

Recommendation:  If you’re in need of a matte-finish eyeshadow base… consider Eden!

Availability: Sephora

See more photos & swatches… Continue reading →

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Weekend Quickies:  Carnival Lights, Lancome Cream Shadows, Philosophy Holiday Shower Gels

Here are some products I’ve tried in the past few months with reviews done all quick-style ;)

  • China Glaze Carnival Lights Nail Lacquer ($3.50) has a medium pink jelly base with silver micro-glitter and larger silver hexagonal glitter. It doesn’t go opaque on my nail, as you can still see the tip of it a bit. Above is two coats.
  • Lancome ‘Color Design’ Cream Eyeshadow ($22.00) came in three shades: Garter Belt (deep burgundy with red shimmer), Haute Smoke (soft taupe brown with multicolored shimmer), and Pink Lace (a milky pale pink). These lasted on my lids well (until I took it off, so about eight hours or so), though they are advertised to last for sixteen hours (I don’t think I usually wear my makeup for much more than eight hours!).
  • Philosophy Candy Cane Shower Gel ($16.00) smells exactly as advertised — like the peppermint-y candy canes of the holiday season. Lathers up quite well, as the rest of their shower gels do.
  • Philosophy Have a Cherry Christmas Shower Gel ($16.00) lathers up nicely and smells like slightly sweetened cherries that still have that tartness to them. The Muse has a more in-depth review if you’re curious. I love me some Philosophy Shower Gels, but how many times can I tell you that? Ha! ;)

See product photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

MAC Warm & Cozy Collection
MAC Shadesticks:
Relaxed, Warm & Cozy, Nurture, Cuddle

MAC Warm & Cozy Collection: Shadesticks

MAC is definitely bringing back shadesticks with a vengeance, don’t you think? With five limited edition shades from Sugarsweet and four new (but still limited edition) shades from Warm & Cozy, it makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing more of these in 2010.

  • Relaxed is a deep, chocolate bronze with a soft frost finish. It has the least frosty finish out of the four, but it’s still noticeably shimmery and has that frost edge associated with frost textures. I thought this was the most pigmented and smoothest of the bunch as well.
  • Warm & Cozy is a burnt copper shade with sparkly glitter particles. I actually felt like this had a very chunky, gritty texture–it wasn’t a winner for me. Shadesticks should be smooth, and I didn’t find that this one was nearly as smooth as I’d expect. It felt like a lustre eyeshadow almost, with the way the glitter flecks were so obvious.
  • Nurture is a pink champagne with a neutral feel. It’s not a bright, nor pastel, pink and it looks very fleshy-pink-beige in a way. It has the same frost finish appearance as the other shadesticks in the launch.
  • Cuddle is a frosty white-gold with yellow daffodil feel. It definitely has a frost finish, and since it is so light, yet covers well, it would make an excellent base as well.

See more photos and swatches! Continue reading →