Monday, October 12th, 2009


Dynamic Duo

Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Duos ($7.99) are a great, budget-friendly way to satisfy your eyeshadow fix. Today, I thought we’d take a look at two duos:

Dynamic Duo is a mix of pale, seafoam green and a dirty brown with silver-gray frost.  Dynamic Duo works really well with the cooler weather these days, as it’s just dark enough to work with autumn tones, but it’s not so vampy that it’s too dark, either. Dynamic Duo is a very wearable duo, and I didn’t find either shade to be chalky or hard to use. Both shades were pigmented and had a frost finish.

Double Whammy is a vibrant, medium blue with a soft sheen and a bright pop of springy green with yellow undertones.  Double Whammy is one of my favorite Sonia Kashuk duos, because it is extremely pigmented, but it is also vibrant. Sometimes it can be difficult to find this kind of brightness in the drugstore, but Sonia Kashuk gives us a good answer for bright blues and greens. The blue reminds me of MAC’s Freshwater, while the green is kind of a mix of MAC’s Swimming and Juxt.

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

Availability: Target

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Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Tarte Femme Naturale Eye Palette ($44.00) is an eyeshadow palette that contains ten different shades of Tarte eyeshadow from their fall collection. (Tarte also released the Femme Fatale Eyeshadow Palette with this one.)

  • A pale champagne with slight sheen. This one is a paler version of the color next to it and has more of a frost finish.
  • A champagne with the lightest champagne shimmer. It’s a soft shade, and it makes for a perfect highlighter within this palette.
  • A subdued, semi-matte rose-mauve. I like this shade for two reasons: it’s a subtle way to incorporate a pinker color into your palette without worrying so much it may make you look like you’re crying; but also because I don’t see this particular shade very often. I also dig the finish.
  • A sparkling mix of peachy-gold and soft rose. This reminded me of MAC’s Say Yeah eyeshadow, but a little dark, which is just fine in my book. Say Yeah was always one of my go-to shades. This one has the most frosty/glittery appearance, but I didn’t find it had a lot of fall out issues as glittery shades often do.
  • A deep forest green with a little bit of a grayish tinge. This one had amazing pigmentation and texture–very soft, smooth, and gives you plenty of intensity without having to pack it on.
  • A semi-matte reddish brown. There’s not a whole to say about the shade itself, but it doesn’t read too warm to me (maybe even cool, actually). It has really good pigmentation, and it is surprisingly not chalky for a shadow with such a matte finish.
  • A light, peachy-brown with a frosty finish. This one is similar to the other neutrals in the palette, as it has that frosty look. It’s pigmented and feels soft to the touch.
  • A chalky, cool-toned lilac-pink. Personally, this shade is one I’d find difficult to pull off on my skin tone, but I think those with cooler skin tones will appreciate it. It’s chalky, but I’d say half of it comes from how cool the shade is along with the matte finish.
  • A plummy rose with gold glitter. This color is so stunning! It’s this gorgeous shade that I envision being perfect for fall or holiday. I love the way the gold flecks sparkle in the plummy base. This one wasn’t as pigmented as the others, but it still was pretty good.
  • A rich bronze with gold flecks and a frost finish. This one has a very nice feel to it–very soft–and goes on like butter and has intense pay off.
  • A dark, smoky blue-black with a gray cast. This one was the least pigmented out of the ten shadows, and it kind of dragged a bit when I swatched.

This is a solid palette that gives you a ton of product for under $50. Tarte shadows themselves are high in quality and still affordable.  They’re soft, smooth, and they’re usually easy to blend. The only thing I really wasn’t jazzed over was the product’s packaging.  It just feels tacky to me, and I hate that fingerprints get stuck all over the casing.  The “rose” attached also presents some storage woes.

Each eyeshadow is 0.06 oz., and the palette itself is refillable. Tarte refillable eyeshadows retail for $10 a pop. The palette itself yields you a cost of $73.33/oz. whereas one refillabe Tarte eyeshadow will run you $166.67/oz. Buying these together means you get twice as much for half the cost! :)

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

Recommendation:  If you’d like some neutrals–but not just neutrals–Tarte’s Femme Naturale palette offers a good combination to get you started.

Availability: Sephora

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Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Chanel Holiday 2009 Collection
Chanel Bird of Paradise Eyeshadow Quad

Chanel Bird of Paradise Eyeshadow Quad ($56.00) is a new, limited edition, colorful palette that’s part of Chanel’s Holiday Collection. It includes four pops of color, which is a surprising twist on what we typically expect from holiday launches. Genius, perhaps? We’ll see…

The shades included in the palette are:

A paled down blue-teal with green-teal shimmer. I love the mix of a blue-teal colored base with green-teal shimmer. The color is muted without being boring; it still packs a punch of color, but it’s not over the top. It’s kind of what I’d expect from a teal by Chanel. It’s pigmented, silky soft, and blends easily.

A warm pop of goldenrod yellow-gold. This is an interesting color, because I think on cooler tones, the yellow is going to come out to play more, whilst on warmer tones, you’re going to get more of a warmer, golden shade. Also, I noticed that it seemed to warm up and cool done depending on the lighting situation (less light = more yellow; brighter light = more golden). This one wasn’t quite as pigmented or smooth as the other three shades, but it was still soft and the shimmer wasn’t too gritty. I really love the shade itself, though, because it’s not a true gold, yet it’s not orange or yellow.

A muted coppery-orange with golden shimmer and sheen. Orange can be a tough color to pull off, particularly for those who naturally have cooler complexions (because many oranges run very warm), so I know some just skip this color altogether. This is a great shade of orange that runs neutral-warm, which means it has some warmth, but it’s not overly so. It’s also not a straight copper. I love how the golden sheen catches light.

A soft olive green with golden olive shimmer. A lovely shade that actually reminds me more of fall than it does winter, but nevertheless, still nice. Pigmentation is true and the shade itself feels smooth to the touch and goes on like butter.

I’m really digging Chanel’s take on holiday this year. The colors are fun and playful, but they’re not hard to wear or even pair together (I was a little weary at first – so much color, could they work together? but alas, they can!). The only shade it’s really missing is a highlight shade, so you will have to tap into your stash to get that, but at least you get four rockin’ colors in it. Each has a metallic shimmer sheen, and I think that’s exactly what the holiday season is about–lots of glitz and glam!

This eyeshadow quad is eons better than Chanel’s Les Folie Noirs Eyeshadow Quad — so I am quite pleased. I was a bit hesitant that this one might not do it for me, but it worked out, thankfully!

As far as value goes, I do believe Chanel quads are around 0.24 oz. (I have some that say 0.24 oz., others that don’t say, and the recent Noirs Obscurs quad was 0.21 oz.), so they’re not a bad deal by the ounce (less than MAC eyeshadows). With colors like these, you may find yourself slower to get through each shade as well, so I think you’ll get plenty of usage out of the palette.

Bottom line: This is a nice palette with quality eyeshadows that give you color to play around with, but it’s not intimidating. It’s inviting, and I think it’s a good mix of colors that can also work together, not just by themselves. It’s also not overly warm or cool on the whole, so it’s more universal. I really like it, overall, but I’m not head-over-heels for it like I am over their Rouge Allure Laques.

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

Recommendation: For a downplayed approach to color, Chanel’s Bird of Paradise eyeshadow quad is stop that might be worth your while.

Availability: Chanel in October/November 2009

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Monday, October 5th, 2009

Guerlain Imperiale Holiday Collection

Guerlain Bal de Nuit Eyeshadow Quad ($58.00) is the latest limited edition palette to be launched with the Imperiale Holiday Collection this October.

This is a stunning, incredibly elegant combination of classic shades that are perfect for year-round, but the shimmer and sparkle make it particularly fitting for the holiday season. This is not necessarily the most original eyeshadow quad of all time–it’s, at the very least, four shades of neutral-toned eyeshadows.

It includes four shades: a soft, sparkling gold-tinged white; a peachy-pink champagne with a frosty finish; a neutral-cool dark taupe brown with brighter bronze shimmer; and a warm-toned chocolate bronze with gold shimmer. All four shades have good color pigmentation, and as is standard with Guerlain eyeshadows, they feel silky smooth and apply like butter. They’re very blendable, and all four shadows work extremely well together. (Sometimes you’ll get a beautiful quad, but it’s not so easy to work with on its own.)

For me, this is just an easy, no-brainer eyeshadow quad that looks good, works well, and great for travel. I can just use the lightest two shades for a quick swipe of lid color, or I can use the two darker colors to add depth to the crease or go for more of a smoky eye. The quality is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Guerlain, so overall, I’m pleased.

It’s pricey, but as far as value goes? These eyeshadows are the same price, by the ounce, as MAC eyeshadows are. This eyeshadow quad contains roughly 6.7 oz. of eyeshadow, which is pretty good for a palette. With Guerlain, you do get the velvety soft case and the luxe, slighty hefty gold-esque packaging. It just all requires more of an initial investment than smaller-sized MAC eyeshadows.

Bottom line: This is a great, easy-to-use eyeshadow quad that has soft, silky colors that are natural and suitable to many. It’s practical and looks elegant while the shimmer is sophisticated.

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

Recommendation: If you’re in the market for a travel-worthy eyeshadow quad or a great set of neutrals, Guerlain’s latest just might work.

Availability: October 2009

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Monday, October 5th, 2009


Animated

L’Oreal HIP Matte Eyeshadow Duos ($9.99) are a more budget-friendly way of obtaining brighter, more pigmented eyeshadows. Each contains two shades of matte eyeshadows with a total weight of 0.08 oz. L’Oreal currently has five different matte eyeshadow duos available: Animated, Dashing, Perky, Poppy, and Striking.

  • Animated contains a chalky grayish-white and a periwinkle blue.
  • Perky contains a medium bright grassy green and a grayish-black.

I don’t love the matte eyeshadow duos. They’re okay–about average–but they’re not stellar. Since they’re matte, I do expect some chalkiness when I swatch, which is always minimized when you’re actually applying them with a brush. Nonetheless, the whitish side of Animated definitely looked and felt chalky and almost garish. I did love the shade of periwinkle blue in Animated, though–not a shade you see often, period. Perky has a lovely shade of green that doesn’t feel chalky or powdery, but the darker grayish-black shade has a lot of drag and just doesn’t have a great texture. So in the end, each duo only has one good shade–the other half is just so-so.

For comparison, a MAC eyeshadow contains 0.05 oz. of product and retails for $14.50 each. You get 0.03 oz. more and pay $9.99 a pop. A lot of mass retailer brands, like L’Oreal HIP, do go on sale on a frequent basis, so when they’re on sale, I’d be more willing to purchase these. At full price, I feel like it’s more than I want to pay for L’Oreal. I do consider the HIP line to be one of the better pigmented eyeshadow lines available at mass. I just wish you could swatch before you bought!

Bottom line: I wouldn’t pay full price ($9.99) for either of these duos, and I’d only really recommend Animated for the periwinkle blue, just because I don’t see that color in a lot of other lines. I love that L’Oreal is bringing matte color to the forefront, and I think the price point is affordable for many, particularly if they’re on sale.

  • Product: 21/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

Recommendation: If you can catch L’Oreal’s H.I.P. line on sale, they’re worth trying. Paying full price on the other hand…

Availability: Drugstores/Mass Retailers

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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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