Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Urban Decay Show Pony Shadow Box ($30.00) contains six 0.03 oz. eyeshadows, a miniature sized Primer Potion (0.13 fl.oz.), and miniature sized Zero 24/7 Eye Pencil (0.03 oz.).

The palette contains…

  • Snatch is a peachy-pink champagne kind of shade.  It reminded me a bit of MAC’s Say Yeah eyeshadow, which was limited edition from eons ago.  I felt like Snatch was very glittery, though, so fall out may be a concern for some.  It didn’t feel as gritty as Midnight Cowboy Rides Again from their Book of Shadows, Vol. II.
  • Mildew is a medium-dark forest green with golden green shimmer weaved through it.  It’s very pretty, and it’s perfect for the fall.
  • Flash is a bright, cool-toned violet purple with an icy purple sheen.
  • Painkiller is a bright, lightened blue-based teal with a silvery sheen.  It reminded me a bit of Flipside 24/7 Eye Pencil.
  • Smog is a neutral-warm bronzy brown.  It’s pretty, but you may already have something like it in your stash.  It’s a good kind of shade to own, as it makes for a wonderful smoked out neutral eye.
  • Toasted is a cool-toned taupe brown with softer brown shimmer.

This palette contains some nice shades, and only one of them (Snatch) had a texture that left something to be desired.  The other five were soft and went on very pigmented.  While I like the shades, I don’t think this is the most original combination of colors, and I’m not sure if you’d find it hard to create color combinations within just these six.  I can definitely spot a few, but you’ll need to use a separate highlighter–Snatch is a bit too pigmented and glittery to serve as really a choice highlighter.  In a pinch, you could work it in, though.

Between this and the Book of Shadows, I’d opt for the Book of Shadows.  It’s pricier ($18 more), but you’ll get more shadows, more color combinations, and more use out of it, per my opinion.  I do like that it does come with a miniature UDPP – great for travel.  I personally have so many miniature sized Zeros that I don’t know if I’ll ever run out of Zero, so maybe a fun colored liner would have been nice to include in it.

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you’re a fan of Urban Decay’s palettes, this is a cute little set, but make sure you have a separate highlighter on hand.

Availability: Urban Decay

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Chanel Noirs Obscurs Collection

Chanel Les Folie Noirs Eyeshadow Quad ($60.00) is from Chanel Noirs Obscurs Collection.  ( Be sure to check out reviews on the limited edition nail polishes and lipsticks, too!)  It’s a limited edition eyeshadow quad with each shade being embellished with the brand’s signature logo in black.

While I was impressed by the new Rouge Allure lipsticks and Le Vernis shades, the eyeshadow quad was a disappointment.  In fact, I had to let my disappointment simmer a bit in case I was too harsh/expected too much.  I do not recommend this eyeshadow quad unless you’re a Chanel collector–then you’re not really looking to use it so much as own it as a collector.

If you actually want to use it, the shades are poorly pigmented, go on unevenly, and just overall, look mediocre–even with a sponge applicator.  (Swatching with a brush always gives the least amount of pigmentation, whereas swatching with a sponge applicator usually yields the most.)   The swatches included in this post are with a sponge applicator, for your reference.

The dark brown shade (top left) goes on extremely sheerly and almost looks chalky on my skin.  The color itself is a cool-toned dark brown.  Next to it is a dark forest green with a slight bit of shimmer.  This one swatched better and had so-so pigmentation (just not quite as intense as I’d like).  On the bottom right, there’s a muted, dark navy blue with subtle navy shimmer.  This also swatched decently, though not quite as well as the green.  The last shade is a slightly warmed-up medium chocolate brown that isn’t as sheer as the other brown in the quad, but it’s still quite faded when swatched.

Ultimately, if you use a sponge applicator (or even use this product wet) and layer on the color–and I do mean layer–you may find this works well for a range of smoky eyes.  For me, at the price tag, I expect well-pigmented eyeshadows that feel soft, silky, and require minimal effort to work into my eyeshadow wardrobe.

Chanel, I love you, but this one is a miss for me!

  • Product: 16/30
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  Skip this — opt for a permanent Chanel eyeshadow quad if you’re in the market for eyeshadow or else sneak a peek at the limited edition Rouge Allure Lipsticks!

Availability:  October/November 2009

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Friday, September 25th, 2009

Urban Decay Book of Shadows, Vol. 2

Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol. II Review, Photos, Swatches

Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol. II ($48.00) is the second installation in the Book of Shadows eyeshadow palette series. It is also part of Urban Decay’s holiday offerings. You can view my review on last year’s Book of Shadows for comparison, as well.

First, the palette includes sixteen eyeshadows. The new and exclusive shades are AC/DC, Nylon, Mushroom, Sphynx, Jinx, Homegrown, Misdemeanor, and Perversion. The existing shades are Sellout, Gunmetal, Ecstasy, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, Twice Baked, Half Baked, Flipside, and YDK. Each eyeshadow is 0.03 oz., compared to single eyeshadows that are 0.05 oz. and retail for $16.00 and the deluxe eyeshadows that are 0.09 oz. for $18.00. All of the existing shades are single eyeshadows (not deluxe), so it’s best to compare to that.  Just to put it in perspective, by the ounce, these are about half the price (by ounce!) as the full-sized versions.

Shade Breakdown

  • Perversion is a nearly matte charcoal black with just a tiny dust of silver sparkle. (I know Urban Decay says it’s matte, but it seemed like it had some sparkle to it every time I looked at it.) This shade was also included in last year’s palette.
  • Gunmetal is a frosty, silvery-gray with lighter silver sparkle.
  • Ecstasy is a shimmery cool-toned medium purple with lighter pinky-purple shimmer.
  • AC/DC is a burgundyish-plum with a dirty silver sheen.
  • Nylon is a medium bronzy-brown with softer bronze shimmer and has a frosty finish.
  • Sellout is a frosty, intensely pigmented champagne-nude. I really liked the color pigmentation of this shade in particular, and it felt very, very smooth.
  • Mushroom is a dark, cool-toned taupe-y brown with cool bronze shimmer. This is sort of similar to the cream eyeshadow of the same name.
  • Sphynx is a lightly brightened cotton candy pink with an icier pink sheen.
  • Half Baked is a coppery bronze with a golden bronze metallic sheen and shimmer.
  • Twice Baked is a dark, semi-matte chocolate brown with just a light dusting of bronze.
  • Midnight Cowboy Rides Again is a glittery confection of light taupe brown and champagne. This eyeshadow had the worst texture of the bunch — very gritty, very glittery.
  • YDK is a medium-toned cool-toned brown with a reddish tone and a frost finish.
  • Jinx is a bright, medium freshwater blue that goes on very pigmented and smooth.
  • Flipside is a green-teal, mermaid-esque shade with a frost finish.
  • Homegrown is a bright, grassy green with a golden-green sheen.
  • Misdemeanor is a dark, blue-green shade that is reminiscent of peacock feathers with a soft, green micro-shimmer.

At first glance, I thought the two palettes were too similar for my liking, but after comparing them side-by-side, that was definitely not the case. The only repeated shade is Perversion, but otherwise, the shades are different. Some of the shades themselves are similar, but there are no obvious repeats. I always like Urban Decay’s palettes, because they are always high on value and variety. I like being able to try out a bunch of shades without having to actually purchase all of those individual shades (particularly since it’s very hard for me to finish an eyeshadow, so I don’t actually need a whole pot of it!).

I also like that Urban Decay mixes about half in new shades and half in existing shades. With sixteen shades in total, there are many different eyeshadow combinations one could come up with within this palette. I will say I wish Urban Decay had a better highlighter shade included in this palette or found elsewhere in this, because the closest we come is Sellout, which has a very high metallic/frost finish so it can be garish on the brow bone at times. I could also go with seeing a few matte or semi-matte shades for more texture variety.

These are all minor complaints, mind you, because for the price, it’s a great deal whether you want to travel with it or just use it at home. (If you’re using it at home, the highlight and matte complaints are worthless — just mix it with products you already have.)

The shades are well-pigmented, smooth, and nearly all of them have a frost/shimmer finish. (If you don’t dig that, you won’t dig this.) The only shade I had any real issue with was Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, because it is extremely glittery, so it has fall out issues. Otherwise, the shades were impressive, and clearly there is a lot of color to play around with in this palette. This makes a great gift for yourself or a friend, too.

The packaging is just so-so; I found last year’s packaging prettier and more cohesive. I found both palettes to be a little bulky, and I wouldn’t mind something that just open and shut, rather than pulling out a drawer of eyeshadows. The inclusion of a miniature sized UDPP as well as Zero and Bourbon eyeliners is just icing on the cake–all three are handy in application and for travel.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you’ve always wanted to try Urban Decay eyeshadows, their palettes are always a choice way to do so. You get great value and good variety!

Availability: Urban Decay

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Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Guerlain

Guerlain: Tsarina Eyeshadow Palette

Guerlain Tsarina Eyeshadow Palette ($58.00) from their fall collection is one of two palettes released (the other is Brun Mordore). Guerlain also released an Eye & Lip Palette called Volga Princess (which I haven’t seen yet).

Tsarina includes four shades: a coppery peach, an amber-copper, a raspberry burgundy, and a cool-toned purple-wine. The first three shades have great color pay off, but the darkest purple shade is on the sheerer side (but I wouldn’t call it sheer–it does give me decent color, just not great like the other three). All four have Guerlain’s amazing texture: soft, silky, and so, so easy to blend. The shimmer is subtle and not too frosty–very wearable. I found the mix of shades very appropriate for the fall season, too.

Some might not like that there’s not a real highlighter shade within the palette; the lightest shade is much bolder than most would choose for a highlighter. It’s not a big deal to me, because I very rarely use palettes by themselves unless I’m trying to show what you can do with *just* the palette.

Value wise? The eyeshadows are, by the ounce, the same price as MAC eyeshadows are. In a Guerlain eyeshadow palette, you get about 6.7 oz. of actual eyeshadow product for your money. Like their mega-giant single shadows, they’re a good value by weight, but they do require a larger up front investment. The packaging is luxe and solid; it doesn’t feel cheap, and there’s some heft to it. I love the design on the velvet pouch and on the case itself, which is special to this collection.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: Guerlain fans will not be disappointed in the quality of this eyeshadow palette–if you enjoy these shades, I recommend it!

Availability: < Nordstrom

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Monday, September 21st, 2009


Young Punk

MAC Style Black: Mineralize Eyeshadows Review, Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  Perhaps one item that has likely caught many readers’ attention are the four new mineralize eyeshadows:  Young Punk, Gilt by Association, Cinderfella, and Blue Flame.

Mineralize Eyeshadow

  • Young Punk is a deep purple with lighter icy pink-purple shimmer/glitter.  When applied dry, it has just so-so pay off, but the color is much more intense when applied wet.  When it dries, though, it will fade a little bit.
  • Gilt by Association is a glittering antique gold with a hint of warmer bronze shade.  It has decent color pay off when used dry, but as typical with mineralize eyeshadows, wet is still much better.
  • Cinderfella is a silver-black.  It has a deep black base with a shimmery, silver glitter laced through it.  Again, wet is more intense than dry.
  • Blue Flame is a dark navy blue with silver-blue glitter/shimmer that brightens it.  When used dry, it looks more like a sheer blue-black.  When used wet, that’s when you see the navy blue shade.  It looks very much like the eyeshadow named Blue Flame or the permanent shade Deep Truth.

If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of mineralize eyeshadows.  The color pay off tends to be below my expectations with too much fall out to bother.  These are definitely shades that are best used wet (which you can do with mineralize eyeshadows without fear of leaving behind a wet spot).  Using them wet also helps to minimize the fall out issue, which is something that glittery shadows are prone to have (mineralize or not).  I like the colors, and I do like the theme of this dark black-inspired base with brighter shimmer to give it color.  I’d likely be taken in by them, but I’m not sure these are the ones that’ll get me on the mineralize side of life.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you’re a mineralize eyeshadow fan, you’d probably like these.  If you’re not, these aren’t likely to win you over.

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, September 21st, 2009


MAC Black CCB

MAC Style Black: Cream Colour Base & Greasepaint Stick Review, Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  With it, two cream colour bases (kind of like a cream eyeshadow, but it’s really a multi-tasking product), Black and Bat Black; as well as a new product — the greasepaint stick in Black.

Cream Colour Base

  • Black is a solid, creamy black with a slight sheen but no shimmer.
  • Bat Black is a creamy burgundy-black with more burgundy than black and a glossy sheen.

Cream Colour Bases can be difficult to work with.  If you find that a lot of cream-based products crease extremely easily on you, these may require more work than you’d like to do to get these to work on you.  Be sure to read any safety precautions that may come with these, too, for areas that you shouldn’t use these products on.  I like lighter colored CCBs, because I like to use them on cheeks and lips more than I do on eyes.

Greasepaint Stick

  • Black is actually a purple-black with just a little bit of shimmer when you look at it up-close, but the shimmer wasn’t noticeable when I applied it on my eyes.   I found that the greasepaint held up better on my waterline than my lower lash line, as it actually migrated and smudged a bit on the lower lash line but is still on my lash line about two and a half hours later.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you like CCBs and need a dark base, try these two.  If you like intense black liners, you may consider the greasepaint stick, but it’s not entirely smudge proof.

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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