Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 Eyeshadow Palette
theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 Eyeshadow Palette

theBalm Spring 2011: Shady Lady Vol. 3

TheBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 ($39.50 for 0.51 oz.) is an eyeshadow palette that includes nine shades:  Lusty Lee (silver shimmer), Envious Erin (shimmery pearl), Racy Kacy (copper shimmer), Safe Bet Annette (pale-pink shimmer), Runaround Rebecca (sage), Come-Hither Heather (soft taupe), Open To Offers Olwen (teal), All The Way Annie (shimmering amethyst), and Guilty Gwen (sparkly black shimmer).

  • Lusty Lee is a bright silver-gray with a frosted finish.
  • Envious Erin is a pale, creamy white with soft golden warmth.
  • Racy Kacy is a coppered brown with a frost-metallic sheen.
  • Safe Bet Annette is a pastel pink with a white frosted finish.
  • Runaround Rebecca is an olive green with a khaki brown base and frost-metallic sheen.
  • Come-Hither Heather is a mauve-y taupe witha frost finish.
  • Open to Offers Olwen is a rich, vibrant blue with a touch of teal and frost finish.
  • All the Way Annie is a red-based purple with soft silver flecks of micro-glitter
  • Guilty Gwen is a softened charcoal black with silver flecks of glitter. This was the only shade I had issues with–I had to scrape out the product to get it to show. It was so poor, I thought it was actually defective. (It is really packed on in the swatch to get it to show.)

my thoughts on the formula: With the exception of Guilty Gwen, these eyeshadows are soft, silky smooth, and packed with pigment. They apply evenly, blend out beautifully, and aren’t powdery at all (sometimes a side effect of really soft eyeshadows). The formula is the same as the individual eyeshadows–no skimping or cutting corners.

This palette has a good mix of colors, and I can see some combinations coming from the palette, though I see these more easily mixed with other products you already own. They are all rather shimmery/frosty finishes, which makes them easy to blend. The quality is really phenomenal, excluding Guilty Gwen, and well worth the price tag.

value: theBalm’s single eyeshadows retail for $16.00 and contain 0.12 oz. worth of product, while this palette retails for $39.50 and comes with 0.51 oz. worth of product. Single eyeshadows work out to be $133/oz. and the palette works out to be $77/oz. The palette is also an excellent deal, because each shade is approximately 0.057 oz. each (the average full-sized eyeshadow is 0.05 oz.), so you get more variety.

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

final thoughts: I had to take off two points because of Guilty Gwen, but I would have loved to give this palette full marks–it really is a beautiful palette with so many well-pigmented, easy-to-use shades.

where to buy: Sephora

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

MAC Valiant Eyeshadow Quad
MAC Valiant Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Wonder Woman: Valiant Eyeshadow Quad

MAC VALIANT EYESHADOW QUAD ($40.00 for 0.20 oz.) includes four shades of eyeshadow: Manila Paper (pale frost white gold), Valiant (light lime with yellow pearl), Diana Undercover (dark forest green), and Spinning Transformation (deep olive bronze with yellow pearl).

  • Manila Paper is a warm, white gold with excellent color payoff. This is a veluxe pearl finish. It is a repromote from Spring Colour Forecast. It is similar to Nylon but warmer.
  • Valiant is a yellowed, pale chartreuse green–extremely yellowed. It has so-so color pay off; it is a little sheer. This is a frost finish. It’s a yellower version of Juxt.
  • Diana Undercover is a darkened green with a brownish base. This is a satin finish. It had decent pigmentation but took a layer or two for it to show. It did work better in a look than swatched on the skin. The green is similar to the base color of NARS Blade Runner (but lacks the shmmer).
  • Spinning Transformation is a olive-tinged khaki brown with a soft bronze sheen. This is a frost finish. Pigmentation was decent but the texture was so thin–just not soft or silky smooth at all. It’s a less pigmented, less gold-shimmered NARS Star Sailor. It is a browner, less green-tinged Sumptuous Olive.

I feel like Valiant is just a little better than Lady Justice–decent but not as high quality as I’d like to see. Manila Paper is the standout shade in terms of color pay off and texture; creamy, smooth, and rich. Diana Undercover is a shade that MAC hasn’t done often, so I like it for its originality, but I wish it had a buttery texture. For a frost finish, Spinning Transformation wasn’t as soft and smooth as I’d expect.

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

final thoughts: Though these shades lean warm, they do not lean so warm that they won’t also complement cooler skin tones. I think the pigmentation is decent across the board in this palette, but it’s not above and beyond excellent.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

MAC Lady Justice Eyeshadow Quad
MAC Lady Justice Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Wonder Woman: Lady Justice Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Lady Justice EYESHADOW QUAD ($40.00 for 0.20 oz.) includes four shades of eyeshadow: Lady Justice (bright silver with white pearl), Insurmountable (dirty blue grey), Deep Truth (true dark blue), and Bold Babe (deep metal blue with white pearl).

  • Lady Justice is a silvery-white shimmered shade. It doesn’t really have a base color, just lots of the silver-white shimmer. A little messy–doesn’t quite hold together. This is a frost finish. It’s similar to Forgery or Filament.
  • Insurmountable is a beautiful grayish, pale blue with more of a matte finish. This is a veluxe finish. The best textured shadow of the three quads. It is a more matte version of Bobbi Brown Iced Blue, grayer than NARS Nymphea and NARS Cleo.
  • Deep Truth is a deep navy blue with a lighter blue sheen. This is a frost finish. This is a permanent shade.
  • Bold Babe is a steely blue with a silvery-blue sheen. This is a frost finish. It has decent pigmentation though not excellent, but it could have a softer, smoother texture. It is bluer than NARS Underworld. Hourglass Prism does it about a million times better.

This quad was better than Defiance, but I’m not entirely sold. Lady Justice is rather disappointing in its sheerness–it’s more like an overlay of shimmer than an eyeshadow. Bold Babe is a gorgeous hue but could be softer, smoother, and generally more pigmented. I wish Bold Babe had knocked it out of the park, because Insurmountable is absolutely divine but obviously not worth $40 for it alone.

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  • Product: 20/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Like Defiance, this too will suit cooler skin tones naturally, because of all the cool-toned blues.  However, the richness of blue still works well on warmer skin tones.  The quality is better in this quad than Defiance, but it’s not excellent.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

MAC Defiance Eyeshadow Quad
MAC Defiance Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Wonder Woman: Defiance Eyeshadow Quad

MAC DEFIANCE EYESHADOW QUAD ($40.00 for 0.20 oz.) includes four shades of eyeshadow: Defiance (iridescent white pink), Paradise Island (soft warm pink), Star Studded (mid-tone violet pink), and Real Drama (dark burgundy with pink pearl).

  • Defiance is a pale pink-tinged white with a iridescent pink flash. This is a veluxe pearl finish. It reminded me of Vanilla pigment.
  • Paradise Island is a pale pink with subtle cool undertones. This is a satin finish. It’s like a satin finish Pink Freeze. It was a touch sheer.
  • Star Studded is a berried plum with soft gold micro-shimmer. This is a satin finish. This shade was noticeably sheer.  Fig. 1 would be the closest permanent dupe.
  • Real Drama is a burgundy-brown with soft shimmer. This is a satin finish. It was a little sheer, though not as sheer as Star Studded. It is a little browner than Sketch.

I wasn’t impressed with this quad–three of the four shades were less-than-pigmented, with Star Studded being rather sheer. The texture wasn’t as soft or as silky as I’d like to see in an eyeshadow. I only liked Defiance, wihch had a beautiful, smooth application and even color pay off.

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  • Product: 22/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: This will complement cooler, paler skin tones. I don’t think it’s worth grabbing, because the pay off of the majority of the shades is really underwhelming.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

MAC Wonder Woman Pigments/Reflects Glitters
Bright Fuchsia and Marine Ultra Pigments; Bronze and Pearl Reflects Glitters

MAC Wonder Woman: Pigments & Reflects Glitters

MAC PIGMENTS ($21.00 for 0.15 oz.) and MAC REFLECTS GLITTER ($21.00 for 0.15 oz.) are also included in the collection. The shades are: Bright Fuchsia (bright magenta), Marine Ultra (vivid marine blue), Reflects Bronze (sparkling rich gold), and Reflects Pearl (white glitter with pearl sheen).

All four shades are permanent shades available at MAC PRO stores. Supposedly, for licensing costs, these are priced ta $21.00 compared to the normal price of $19.50. Unless the packaging wins you over or you don’t have a PRO store nearby (and don’t want to order over the phone), I wouldn’t get these.

  • Bright Fuchsia is a brightened medium-dark fuchsia with fuchsia-pink shimmer. It has rich pigmentation and goes on smoothly. This shade is not eye safe.
  • Marine Ultra is a medium-dark ocean blue with a matte finish. It comes together very nicely and smoothly when applied. This shade is not lip safe.
  • Reflects Bronze is a coppery bronze glitter. This shade is not eye safe.
  • Reflects Pearl is a silvery-white glitter. This shade is not eye safe.

my thoughts on the formula: Both pigments and glitters are multi-use products, though their boxes come with safety warnings if they aren’t safe for a particular area of the face (usually eyes or lips). I noted the safety for each shade above. Both products are best used wet or over a tacky base (especially glitters). Glitters can be used in hair products (for glittered hair), nail polish, and lip gloss–just to name a few non-eye usages.

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

final thoughts: Normally, I find pigments in the B+/A- range, but the bump in price and product quantity staying the same pushes it down to a B. I’m personally a little disappointed to see four shades from the permanent line being pushed in this collection. I’m also not sure why MAC always includes Reflects Glitters in collections clearly for regular consumers (not professional artists) if they’re not eye safe.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, January 24th, 2011

NARS Celebrate Soft Touch Shadow Pencil
NARS Celebrate Soft Touch Shadow Pencil

NARS Spring 2011: Celebrate

NARS Celebrate Soft Touch Shadow Pencil ($24.00 for 0.14 oz.) is described as a “parrot green” by NARS. The Soft Touch Shadow Pencils are supposed to be “smooth, creamy, and long-wearing.” They are touted as the “ideal base for layering with powder eyeshadow to increase color intensity.” It’s a multi-tasking pencil that can be used to “Shade the lid, line, or highlight the eye.”

Celebrate is a bright, chartreuse green with a strong yellow base. It applied semi-opaque but glided on easily. The problem with this shade was its complete inability to not crease. I tried it alone, and it creased within minutes. I layered eyeshadow on top (Giorgio Armani Transluminence palette–the teal–I just used whatever I had nearest to me), and it still creased in less than an hour. It’s not even a little creasing–it’s painful to see. Not to be daunted, I also tried it over NARS’ Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base with the same eyeshadow layered on top, and I still had the same results (a veritable creasing bonanza).

my thoughts on the formula: More often than not, the Soft Touch Shadow Pencils are a bust for me–they crease alone but also when layered with powder–and Celebrate continues to show that NARS’ Soft Touch Shadow Pencils really can be hit or miss.

The Glossover

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product

Celebrate

I'm not even sure what you can really use this with or for, if it's going to crease with two additional helpers (a base and shadow to set). It migrates on the lower lash line, too, so it's not something one could line with, either. Five points for the glide and color pay off!
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