Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

NARS Calanque Eyeshadow Trio
NARS Calanque Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Spring 2011: Calanque

NARS Calanque Eyeshadow Trio ($45.00 for 0.17 oz.) is described as a mix of gold infused platinum with silver flecks, light matte caramel, and rich antique bronze infused with gold. NARS does an admirable job describing their shades, because the official descriptions are quite apt.

The largest shade is a part-shimmer, part-glitter sheer overlay of a pale white-gold color. In all honesty, I do not like it at all–it applies unevenly, makes a mess, and the “silver flecks” aka silver glitter get everywhere. To make this shade manageable, try using it over a sticky base and wet, because dry, it proves to have far more fall out than it is worth. It’s more of a layering shade, too, because there isn’t much of a base color so much as a dusting of shimmer and glitter.

In the middle, there is a soft beige-tan with a subtle sheen; it’s not exactly matte–seems more like a satin to me, because of the sateen finish. This shade had a beautiful finish, very smooth and silky, with nice color pay off, too. The thinnest shade is a dark bronze brown with soft bronze shimmer. It has a softened frost sheen; it’s not a true frost finish, but it is a little more than a satin.

my thoughts on the formula: NARS states that you can use their eyeshadows wet or dry, though. The texture is soft, smooth, and very blendable, with the colors being nicely pigmented more often than not.   Here, two of the three shades are true to the NARS formula, but the largest and lightest shade is more difficult to work with than one would expect.  A NARS Eyeshadow Duo contains 0.14 oz. of product and retails for $32, which makes the trio more per ounce (but a better value than the single eyeshadows).

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  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Given that the largest shade is also the most difficult one to work with, I’m hard-pressed to recommend this trio, because I only think two shades are worth having.  The amount of glitter fall out from the lightest shade is quite bothersome.

where to buy: NARS

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Sunday, February 6th, 2011

theBalm Just This Once Jamie Eyeshadow
theBalm Just This Once Jamie Eyeshadow

theBalm Shady Lady Eyeshadow: Just This Once Jamie

theBalm Just This Once Jamie Eyeshadow ($16.00 for 0.12 oz.) is an unusual shade–it is a pinked plum-brown with a little grayish taupe tinge.  Do you see how many different shades I fit into the description?  Pink, plum, brown, gray, taupe!  It is certainly a color that will look subtly different on varying complexions–for instance, those with pinker undertones will see the pink become more pronounced, while warmer complexions will see more of the brown peeking through.

The packaging is simple cardboard, which makes these easy to stack and store, plus a little more eco-friendly than plastic, though it may not stand up to wear and tear as prettily as plastic.  I think the cardboard is plenty durable, but you may get a couple dents and scratches over the months/years.

my thoughts on the formula: theBalm’s eyeshadows are soft, silky smooth, and packed with pigment, but I did find that Just This Once Jamie seemed to sheer out a touch when blended.  It was not quite as pigmented as other theBalm shades I’ve tried, and it is a shade that is better wet than dry, because the dampness gives it something to cling to.  It applies evenly and blends out beautifully–but when dry, it nearly disappears when blended.  Worth noting, too, is individual eyeshadows come with 0.12 oz., which is just over double the average eyeshadow–and at a rather affordable price tag.

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  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Definitely worth the price, and you’ll find it will take you quite awhile to hit pan on one of theBalm’s eyeshadows–but even better is that you don’t really end up paying for that privilege.   I wish the texture was more adhesive, such that the color wouldn’t sheer out so easily when applied–I felt like I had to be really careful blending it before it seemed faded.  When used wet, it does work better–but I found using it dry to be of little use and it had to be used wet.

where to buy: Sephora

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Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Guerlain d'Un Soupir (187) Eyeshadow
Guerlain d’Un Soupir (187) Eyeshadow

Guerlain Spring 2011: d’Un Soupir

Guerlain d’Un Soupir (187) Eyeshadow ($36.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a deep, dark brown with warm amber peeking through the base with silvery-white micro-shimmer. It has a very rich, satiny finish–not too frosty but certainly not lacking in dimension and some sparkle. Whether it is used wet or dry, it applies beautifully and intensely.

my thoughts on the formula: Guerlain’s eyeshadow texture is phenomenal in their singles–smooth, silky, very buttery. The color is true-to-pan and delivers rich results with little product needed. These eyeshadows are massive–over double the average single eyeshadow–and so by the ounce, Guerlain is as expensive (or as affordable) ($300/oz.) as MAC eyeshadows ($290/oz.).

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

final thoughts: This will make for a beautiful smoky brown for warmer complexions.  It has noticeable red-brown leanings, but there is this shadow of taupe that seems to keep it from veering too red or orange.  I think it will still work well for cooler skin tones as a result.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

theBalm Jealous Jordana Eyeshadow
theBalm Jealous Jordana Eyeshadow

theBalm Shady Lady Eyeshadow: Jealous Jordana

theBalm Jealous Jordana Eyeshadow ($16.00 for 0.12 oz.) is described as a “rich shimmering green.” I would say it is deep, dark blackened forest green with teal and emerald green micro-shimmer in a soft frost finish. It’s not quite as deep as Urban Decay Loaded, but the colors are similar–Loaded just has a blacker base, while NARS Rajasthan is bluer.

The packaging is simple cardboard, which makes these easy to stack and store, plus a little more eco-friendly than plastic, though it may not stand up to wear and tear as prettily as plastic.  I think the cardboard is plenty durable, but you may get a couple dents and scratches over the months/years.

my thoughts on the formula: theBalm’s 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). I find they are so easy to use, because they apply without fall out and blend with other shadows effortlessly. Worth noting, too, is individual eyeshadows come with 0.12 oz., which is just over double the average eyeshdaow–and at a rather affordable price tag.

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

final thoughts: Definitely worth the price, and you’ll find it will take you quite awhile to hit pan on one of theBalm’s eyeshadows–but even better is that you don’t really end up paying for that privilege. The beautiful, deep dark green-teal will work well on all skin tones.

where to buy: Sephora

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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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