Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Urban Decay Feminine Palette
Feminine Palette: Stray Dog, SWF, Midnight Cowboy, Aquarius, Darkhorse, Ecstacy

Urban Decay Spring 2011: Feminine Palette

Urban Decay Feminine Eyeshadow Palette ($34.00 for 0.34 oz.) includes six eyeshadows: Stray Dog (cool medium brown), SWF (light cotton candy pink with silver micro-glitter), Midnight Cowboy (pink champagne with lots of silver glitter), Aquarius (aqua green with shimmer), Darkhorse (bronze patina), and Ecstacy (bright purple with slight pink tint). Also included is Zero 24/7 Liner (black) and Eden primer potion (nude).

  • Stray Dog is a cool-toned, taupe-tinged dark brown with a frost finish. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually; it has also been in the Foreshadow palette.
  • SWF is a pale cotton candy pink with a bright metallic-frost sheen. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually.
  • Midnight Cowboy is a gilded champagne bronze with flecks of champagne glitter. It has less fall out than Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, but it still has plenty of it to make one frustrated. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually; it was also in the Cowboy Junkie set.
  • Aquarius is a pale aqua green teal with a silver metallic sheen. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually.
  • Darkhorse is a darkened deep chocolate brown with flecks of bronze. This shade was in the Naked palette and is not available individually.
  • Ecstacy is a brightened, medium cool-toned violet purple with a soft frost finish. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually; it was also in the Book of Shadows, Vol. 2. By the by, marginally annoyed that ecstasy is misspelled–imagine it was deliberate but find it annoying nonetheless! It is spelled correctly in the actual BoS Vol. 2, though…

my thoughts on the formula: Urban Decay’s eyeshadows are rich in pigment, apply evenly, and feel like butter. Generally speaking, their formula is excellent. I will warn and caution you against their shades with “glitter” or “sparkle” in the finish–some of these can be prone to fall out (for example, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again).

In terms of value, the palette includes 0.18 oz. of eyeshadow ($61.20 value), 0.03 oz. of eyeliner ($12.75 value), and 0.13 fl. oz. of primer potion ($6.88 value). The total value of the palette is $80.83, while the retail price is $34.

I think sometimes we lose sight of what the beauty industry and market are like as a whole — not every person purchases every palette or even much at all.  Not everyone enters at the same time, so even though you may find yourself owning many of the shades, it doesn’t make it a terrible product – Urban Decay does some really excellent shades that you can get year round, but these sure make those shades more accessible and affordable to people who don’t have a lot of Urban Decay or have always wanted to try it.  It would be great to see new shades, of course, but I recognize what value they may hold to others.

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

final thoughts: In this palette, only Midnight Cowboy is the finicky shade, while five of the six are lovely.  Only Darkhorse is not available individually, but at least a couple shades here haven’t been in half a dozen palettes previously.  As long as you love at least two shades (and like one or two others), then it works out to be a deal, since two eyeshadows will run you $34 if purchased individually.

where to buy: Urban Decay

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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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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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Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

NARS Nouveau Monde Eyeshadow Duo
NARS Nouveau Monde Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Spring 2011: Nouveau Monde

NARS Nouveau Monde Eyeshadow Duo ($32.00 for 0.14 oz.) is described as a “metallic silver lilac” and “rich olive gold.” The duo includes a cool-toned lilac with silver-gray shimmer and flecks of larger shimmer (seems smaller than micro-glitter but not as fine as shimmer), which goes on smoothly but a touch sheer; alongside the lilac shade is a khaki olive brown with a smooth, satin finish. The khaki shade has excellent pigmentation and texture–very rich and smooth.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: It’s an interesting pair of colors–would not have thought to put a lilac and olive brown together at all.  Though I was slightly concerned about fall out issues with the lilac shade, due to the more apparent flecks of shimmer-glitter, it seemed minimal at worst.

where to buy: NARS

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