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

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Monday, March 29th, 2010

Guerlain Ombre Perlees

For our Natural Beauties: Guerlain’s Take on Summer

This summer, Guerlain goes supremely natural with their Meteorites Perles Collection. It is definitely different from last summer’s Summer Splash Collection.

I think those who find summer colors too bright, shimmered, or the like will find the Ombre Perlees Eyeshadow Palette ($59.00) a refreshing experience. It contains four shades: a dusty pinked white with a near matte finish, muted pinky-brown with a near matte finish, softened gray lilac with a satin finish, and grayed taupe with subtle satin shimmer.

I’ve always found Guerlain eyeshadow to have a supreme texture–soft, silken, smooth, nearly buttery–and this quad is no exception. All four shades applied smoothly and had good pigmentation. These are not bright shades in the least bit, but they swatch exactly as you’d expect given the way they look in the palette. Like most limited edition eyeshadow palettes from Guerlain, the flower design is only an overlay and will disappear after a couple of uses.

The packaging is luxe and traditional to Guerlain’s line, except it’s metallic silver, not quite the typical “metal” feel. I personally like that while Guerlain keeps the same shape and style of its palettes, the color will change based on the collection itself. Included with the palette are two sponge-tip applicators, but like all sponge applicators, they’re nothing to write home about and could easily be left out as far as I’m concerned! Brushes, please!

Being a more high-end, luxury brand, Guerlain doesn’t come cheap, but at least they’ll give you a good amount of eyeshadow (0.24 oz. — for reference, a MAC eyeshadow is 0.05 oz.) and make it look pretty while they’re at it!  There are no real low points to this product–it’s a solid natural-toned eyeshadow palette.  Price is really the only negative that I can think of!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: If you’re cool-toned and looking for more natural shades to play up your eyes with, I think this should definitely be on your list of products to keep an eye out for. Warmer skin tones can still wear this quad, because all of the shades run closer to neutral than strongly cool, but it really strikes me as exceptionally beautiful on cooler skin tones–even more so on fairer skin tones.

Availability: April/May 2010

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Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Dior Crush Glow Palette

Summer Preview: Dior Crush Glow (659) Eyeshadow Palette

Dior’s Addicted to Dior Collection is a short and sweet collection of a mere eight pieces (that’s only $365 to own it all–the fact that I say “that’s only” indicates how deeply addicted I am to beauty!).  It includes two “luggage” tags that slide open and reveal lipgloss inside, available in Coral and Pink for $60, two Eyeshadow Quints in Ready-to-Glow (649) and Crush Glow (659) for $58, Golden Spotlight Extreme Eyeshadow for $28, Rose Trendsetter (574) High Shine Lipgloss for $28, Crystal Gloss (001) for $26.50, and Nude Glow, a Bergdorf Goodman’s exclusive, for $46.

While Ready-to-Glow looks like a slightly cooler variation of Crush Glow, Crush Glow is fabulously warm. This is excellent news for those warm-toned beauties, but cooler skin tones may want to swatch in person before deciding. I personally think that cooler skin tones can still wear this palette, and I’d recommend pairing the eyeshadows with a cooler cheek and/or lip to bring everything together.

There are five shades in the Crush Glow palette: a peachy-gold with a frosty finish; lightly iced pink with champagne shimmer; muted mostly pink coral with a low frost finish; plummy-mauve with brown with a light frost finish; and ambered bronze with more of a pearly sheen than frost finish. All five shades were well-pigmented, smooth to the touch, and easy to use.

I don’t always have good luck with Dior’s Quints, but Crush Glow is definitely a palette that appeals to me, on a personal level (I am a fiend for golds and coppers!). It’s a fitting color palette for summer, because it’s warm and shimmering.  I love that all five shades coordinate really well with each other.  Sometimes you find palettes that look lovely and swatch beautifully, but you’re not always sure how you’ll make them work together. It’s a very travel-friendly palette, because you can create easy daytime looks or smoke it up with the plummy or bronzy shades in the palette for a more sultry evening look.

I think this is one of Dior’s better palettes in the past few years that I’ve followed the brand.  The eyeshadows are high-quality with good color pay off, a smooth, buttery texture, and they work exceptionally well together.  This is a palette you can take with you on your summer travels or enjoy at home.

Though the official details indicated April 2010 as a release date, I already saw the “luggage tags” available on Nordstrom.com — so I think it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing Dior’s summer collection launch in full quite soon!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 5/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: All five shades do have a shimmery appearance, so those who prefer a mix of shimmers and mattes may find themselves wanting with this palette. If you say “No thanks!” to shimmer typically, I don’t see this palette changing your mind. On the other hand, if you say “Yes, please!” to shimmer and are looking to add some warmer toned eyeshadows to your collection, this is a nice palette to own.

Availability: April 2010

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Urban Decay Chronic Eyeshadow

Going Green with Urban Decay, Part 1

Urban Decay Chronic Eyeshadow ($17.00 for 0.05 oz.) is a near-matte grass green shade.  What’s interesting about the matte formula is that you can see little specks of shimmer/glitter, but when you use it (whether just to swatch or on the lid), none of the shimmer/glitter shows up.   It’s almost like a very, very near-matte eyeshadow with perhaps the slightest pearl sheen.   I used it a couple of weeks ago in my St. Patrick’s Day look, and I really found it surprisingly easy to work with.  It blended nicely, and it didn’t look chalky at all (which is often an issue with matte textures) nor was it dusty.  I also got a good level of color intensity without having to pack on the eyeshadow, and with a color like that, I’m definitely looking for that richness of color.

I actually think the packaging is well-done, too.  I feel like the case goes above and beyond the typical eyeshadow compact, because Urban Decay makes it uniquely theirs.  It’s functional without being flimsy or cheap, but it still looks fun and totally fits with the brand’s image.  Of course, I’d love Urban Decay to sell empty palettes and allow you to customize your own, but they do put out eyeshadow palettes throughout the year, so there is always that, I suppose!

I do want to say that I haven’t tried any of the other shades in this formulation, so my review is truly for this shade only! The Matte Eyeshadow formula is also available in: ABC Gum (pale peach), Cult (eggplant), Electric (electric blue), Foxy (light neutral), Heist (dusty purple), Illegal (smoky rose), Naked (buff nude), Narcotic (bright turquoise), Perversion (jet black), Purple Haze (bright purple), Revolver (stone gray), Secret Service (medium brown), Shakedown (taupe), and Yeyo (powder white).

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation:  If you love colorful, matte textures for your eyeshadows, Urban Decay’s Chronic was a pleasant surprise!

Availability: Urban Decay

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Laura Mercier Zen Palette

Going Zen with Laura Mercier for Spring

Laura Mercier Zen Face Palette ($60.00) is a new-for-spring (into summer!) palette that includes one blush, four eyeshadows, and four lip glazes housed in a metal-rimmed palette with a cushy, dusty blue cover.

I was surprised at how much I liked the palette packaging, but I thought it was cute without being cheesy. It’s definitely apropos for spring! The palette also feels sturdy, weighty, but it doesn’t feel bulky, so I like the slimness and overall shape of it. I also LOVED! that they included a little plastic sheet with the names printed on top so you knew what product was what. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out in a palette!

Eyeshadows

  • Willow is a soft, pastel green with yellow undertones and a silvery shimmer. It has a bit of a frostier finish. It almost seemed un-Laura Mercier-like to me, just because it was such a nice pop of color, though it is a light pop of color!
  • Haze is a powder blue with silver shimmer. It’s more of a satin finish, less frost, in comparison to Willow.
  • Wisteria is a browned plum with a frosty sheen. It’s quite pigmented and smooth.
  • Midnight Jade is a darkened, grayed teal with a pearly sheen and just a light dusting of shimmer. I found this shade to be the least pigmented out of the four, but it still had decent pigmentation.

Blush

  • Plum is a very rosy plum shade. It’s less purple plum as it is red-plum. It has a low-level pearly sheen that’s very, very subtle. There’s no obvious shimmer here!

Lip Glazes

  • Black Currant is a brownish red that goes on very sheerly and has a glossy sheen.
  • Lotus Bloom is a sheer tinge of pinky-red with flecks of red shimmer.
  • Stone Beige is a creamier, semi-sheer nude beige with subtle gold shimmer.
  • Peach Blossom is an orange-y peach cream with a high gloss finish.

The good: It’s a fun palette with a good range of eye colors to give you a few new looks for spring. The pigmentation is pretty good (Midnight Jade needs to be layered for better pigmentation, though), and the texture is smooth, soft, and applies evenly. I like that there’s a good variety of colors in the lip glazes as well, because it gives you a lot of ways you can mix and match. I also think the packaging is fun, travel-friendly, and classy.

The bad: Palettes that mix powders and creams (or glazes, in this particular case) are not my favorite, because sometimes the powder finds its way into the creams, which is kind of gross. For most, it’s probably not a deal-breaker, but it’s something I thought I should mention. I don’t think the Plum blush is the most suitable for the palette–it almost seems too dark for this palette. I think it could work, but I’m not totally sold on it being the best match here.

There’s one thing I noticed right at end: there are no brushes!  It’s almost curious and yet I’m not displeased that they didn’t include them.  I know some think for the price that they should have, but I never find myself using those brushes that are included in palettes.  I always find them so inferior to my normal brushes and much prefer to take my brushes with me when I travel (even if it’s just a few), so it’s more of a neutral to me.  It just depends on your preference!

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

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

Recommendation: If you like Laura Mercier’s eyeshadows and have always wanted a little more color, you might enjoy the way she’s played with color in this spring palette. I think cooler skin tones will find this especially flattering, as most of the shades tend to be on the cooler end of the spectrum.

Availability: Nordstrom

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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

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