Thursday, July 29th, 2010

NYX Nude on Nude Palette
NYX Nude on Nude Palette

Cheap, Tawdry Nudes

For a mere $11, you can grab NYX’s Nude on Nude Palette, which contains nine neutral eyeshadows, plus two complementing lip colors. It contains these eyeshadows: pale nude beige (semi-matte finish), semi-sheer mushroom taupe with warm undertones (light shimmer), cool-toned dark brown (satin finish), peachy copper (frosty/metallic sheen), muted copper (frosty), semi-sheer dark gray brown (light shimmer), brightened copper (frosty), browned gold (frosty), and warmed medium-dark chocolate brown (light shimmer). It also contains a reddish rose with lots of shimmer and sheer, medium bubblegum pink for lip colors.

Overall, the eyeshadow quality is pretty good; some shades kick-up a noticeable amount of powder, so you may experience some fall out when using the shades. Nearly all of the shades were nicely pigmented and had a soft, smooth texture.  I also like the packaging (except the pull out drawer–feels cheap) — on the outside, it looks sleek and classy.

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

RECOMMENDATION: On a budget and want some neutrals? NYX makes it easy to do so without feeling guilty.

AVAILABILITY: NYX

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Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Stila Road to Radiance Palette
Stila Road to Radiance Palette

$10 Palette: Is It a Steal?

Stila Road to Radiance Palette ($10.00) sounds like a good deal, but in all honesty, I (personally!) would rather put $10 towards one stellar full-size product than a medicore palette. Stila misses in this palette by delivering four inferior eyeshadows–not only in pigmentation but the entire formula is nothing like Stila’s individual (nor their Barbie palette) shadows.

They are sheer and don’t build up particularly well. Stila shadows are incredibly soft–so soft, they can kick up some powder–and almost creamy, despite being pressed powder. These are nothing like that. Because Stila is a much higher quality brand than this palette portrays, I think it’s a poor palette overall–even if the price tag is enticing.

The only product I liked in the palette was Hibiscus Convertible Color. It was creamy, blended out nicely, and wore well. In terms of value, the four eyeshadows come to 0.15 oz. while the Convertible Color is 0.09 oz. (full-size is 0.15 oz.). Since I only liked Hibiscus, I’d much rather buy a full-size Convertible Color in its own packaging, particularly since it’ll stay clean of any loose powder unlike in the palette. The only problem? Hibiscus is limited edition and not available in full-size.

  • Hibiscus is a creamy neutral pink blush. It’s very pretty — this is the only item out of the palette that I really like and think lives up to the quality I expect from Stila as a brand. It’s wearable and suitable for both cool and warm skin tones.
  • Southern Belle is a sheer medium pink with silvery-white sheen. This was such a pain to get to swatch appropriately.
  • Snow Bunny is shimmery silver shade with just a tinge of icy pink. This was one of the more pigmented shades, but I still felt it needed some layering.
  • City Chick is a browned burgundy with subtle shimmer. Another shade that applied sheerly and required layering.
  • Valley Girl is a sheer grayish-mauve with silver sparkle. Super, super sheer–I couldn’t really get it to build up.

The packaging is cute, and the palette certainly holds plenty of value from a quantity/price issue, particularly when compared to competing brands (which is how I judge value). It’s a shame the products don’t perform anywhere near Stila’s typical products.

If a brand is going to put out a product, it should represent their brand well. It should not be an inferior product, just so they can price it ridiculously low. Stila has already announced the release of four additional palettes in the series (one each month through November), so I greatly hope the others are better than this one.

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  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d suggest trying it out in person, if possible, to see if it’s really worth even $10.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Dior Ready-to-Wear Palette

Nordstrom Beauty Exclusives: Dior Ready-to-Wear Palette

Dior Ready-to-Wear Palette ($54.00) is just one of Nordstrom’s many Beauty Exclusives for their Anniversary Sale (which officially kicks off on the 16th–so close yet so far!). It looks like it’s sold out online, but you may be able to check your local Nordstrom to see if they still have any available for pre-order/sale. This palette contains a blush, bronzer, four eyeshadows, and two lip glosses along with three miniature brushes.

I could really get down with the palette’s theme if they just didn’t put those lip glosses in there–you’re going to experience some cross-contamination of the powder products into your lip glosses. It’s a little annoying and a bit gross. I’m also not entirely sure just how value-packed this palette is, but it seems to be–at the very least–what I’d expect to pay for a Dior palette such as this one. (Mine doesn’t have a label nor a box, so I don’t have specifics on sizes for each interior product.)

The blush is a dirty pink-red that’s rather on the sheer side, and the bronzer is a soft, sheer medium bronze-tan with subtle sheen. The eyeshadows include a frosted warm white, peachy-pink (think NARS Orgasm), shimmering spun gold, and cool-toned subtle bronze. These aren’t Dior’s best eyeshadows–they’re a little on the sheer side and the texture isn’t nearly as creamy as their quints typically are. The two lipglosses are a dirty caramel with multicolored shimmer and a sheer beige champagne.

You can definitely build some looks with this palette, though everything is a smidgen on the warm side (I guess that compensates for their rather cool-toned plummy palette for fall, eh?).  I think everything pairs well together, and it’s a nice color palette that’ll work for the summer, too.   However, I feel the quality isn’t as good as Dior products usually are–just feels a little below.

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  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: For warmer skin tones, this may make a great travel palette–if you don’t mind shades on the sheerer side. Overall, though, it doesn’t meet the expectations I have based on my past experience with Dior.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Monday, July 12th, 2010

Urban Decay Vegan Palette

Can You Resist Cute Packaging?

Urban Decay Vegan Palette ($34.00) is a new and limited edition eyeshadow palette for fall, and it features six eyeshadows, one eyeliner, and a miniature-sized eyeshadow primer.  It features only products that are vegan-friendly.

The packaging is my favorite part about this product, which is creative, pretty, and functional. Otherwise, the eyeshadows are every bit of quality you’d expect from Urban Decay, but with the Naked Palette released simultaneously and featuring three of these shades (Smog, Gunmetal, Half Baked), it makes getting both of them rather redundant.

These are pitfalls of Urban Decay’s limited edition palettes, because long-time collectors often end up with multiples of several shades, since the brand reuses certain shades with great frequency. (I am personally tired of seeing Twice Baked and Baked in their palettes!) On the other hand, for newer Urban Decay fans, the palette is a cute palette with six great shades from the brand’s range. Each eyeshadow is 0.03 oz. in weight, along with a 0.03 oz. Zero 24/7 Eye Pencil and 0.13 oz. Sin Primer Potion. It’s a decent amount for the price tag, but…

The Naked Palette gives you so much for–double the eyeshadow shades (12 in total)–but every single shade in it is full sized at 0.05 oz. For $10 more, you’re getting 0.6 oz. of eyeshadow, instead of 0.18 oz. Pretty awesome, right? All six of the Vegan palette shades can be purchased individually, in case you’re dead-set on one of them. I guess what I’m really saying is if you were waffling between the Vegan and the Naked palette, I would recommend the Naked palette and not even think twice about it.

  • Minx is shimmering aqua green with tiny flecks of teal glitter.
  • Urb is a softly shimmered olive green with a golden sheen. It was the least pigmented shade of the six, though I wouldn’t call it sheer or lacking in pigmentation overall.
  • Gunmetal is a blue-toned gray-black with silver sheen. Very pigmented!
  • Twice Baked is a satin-y medium-dark chocolate brown.
  • Smog is a shimmering bronze with a copper-gold sheen.
  • Half Baked is a lightened copper with a near metallic finish.

The palette also includes a miniature-sized Zero 24/7 Liner (true black) and Sin Eyeshadow Primer Potion (a shimmery burnt champagne base). I need another Zero like I need another eyeliner, period, but it’s a solid black eyeliner which will work well with any of the six shadows and any combinations thereof. I find Sin very, very shimmery–so frosty that it’s hard to use as a base, particularly with frost finished shades like these. I think Eden would have been a better choice here to make it more versatile.

Minx and Urb are the only shades that are on the glittery side, though neither is a glitter bomb. The other four shades are smoother and don’t feel glittery–just shimmery. All six shades are very true-to-color with nice pigmentation and a soft, smooth texture. I really do like and enjoy the palette, and there is nothing wrong with it. It just depends on what Urban Decay palettes you already own and how much overlap you have between them all.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t plan on getting the Naked eyeshadow palette (how could you not?!) and you don’t have too much overlap with previously released palettes, it’s an adorably packaged palette with quality in mind.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora, Urban Decay

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Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Benefit Scene Queen Makeup Palette

Get Ready to Make a Scene

Benefit Scene Queen Makeup Palette ($38.00) contains something for each part of your face — 0.1 oz. CORALista, 0.09 oz. High Beam, 0.18 oz. Juicy Coral Lip Shine, 4 0.1 oz. eyeshadows, Smokin’ Liner, and 2 double-sided makeup brushes.

  • CORALista is a pink-cral with subtle sheen but not a lot of shimmer. It’s very pigmented, so a little goes a long way. I actually didn’t even realize it was in the palette until I went to write the review! It’s a pretty small pan, so it may take some maneuvering to get your brush in it. The included brush is a bit stubby, so I find it cumbersome to use.
  • High Beam is a light, shimmering pink-toned highlighter. It’s a whitish-pink, and it works best on light to medium skin tones (Moon Beam better for deeper skin tones).
  • Juicy Coral Lip Shine is a semi-opaque coral-orange with golden shimmer. It’s a very pretty shade of coral, and it’s not too orange either.
  • Smokin’ Liner is a dark black-brown eyeliner that goes opaque without trouble. Very smooth and richly pigmented.
    Charcoal is a darkened gray-black with subtle silver shimmer.
  • Shimmering Beige is a pink-toned medim beige with a frost finish.
  • Misty Blue is a slightlyg rayed medium-dark blue with a silver sheen.
  • Navyis a rich navy blue with a purple edge and flecks of midnight sky blue shimmer.
  • Dual-Ended Brushes have an angled brush on one end and a fluffier brush on the other–and then two of them. They’re usable in a pinch, but they’re not the best brushes of all time. Better than the usual inclusions, though.

I like all of the products individually, and I feel Benefit gives you a good amount of each of them (in fact, the eyeshadows are surprisingly weighty–0.1 oz. compared to the average of 0.05 oz.–but I don’t feel that such a rich shade of coral on both cheeks and lips is actually all that suitable to pair with the eyeshadows. I think medium skin tones will be able to pull off that look, but paler skin tones may have to be a little cautious. I fear it may be too much all at once. I was expecting a pinker blush (maybe Sugarbomb) rather than CORALista here.

That’s my only gripe about the palette, though! There are only powder products exposed, while the lip and cream products are housed in their own containers, so there’s no worry about cross-pollination of shadow dust. The palette is cute and still functional, and it even includes a step-by-step guide on how to wear the palette.

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

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you like yourself a blue smoky eye, this may make a great g-to palette.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Monday, July 5th, 2010

NYX I Dream of St. Lucia Eyeshadow Palette

Budget Friendly Beauty:  NYX I Dream of St. Lucia Palette

NYX I Dream of St. Lucia Eyeshadow Palette ($8.75 for 0.28 oz.) is a tropical-themed palette with all of the fun, bright shades of the beach. It has a medium grassy green with a semi-matte finish, medium sky blue with a satiny feel, sunny, paled yellow with a frost finish, pop of bubblegum pink with blue undertones and a satin finish, and bright orange with a satin finish.

I love NYX as a brand that provides higher quality products at a very budget-friendly cost. I find NYX eyeshadows to be good but not great–they tend to be a little powdery and fade a bit on the lid. The powderiness can lead to a modest bit of fall out, though a small price to pay to keep within your budget! What’s great about this palette in particular is that I don’t have shades quite like these in some of my higher end brands, so it’s a nice way to complement and supplement my high-end collection, too.

All five shades were pigmented, though the green and blue shades easily faded if you overblended. The yellow and the orange had the best pigmentation, both vibrant with little product, and the yellow shade didn’t fade or sheer out at all (owes to the frost finish, I’d say).

Overall, it’s an excellent palette with good eyeshadows at an even better price. One thing I’d like to see is a reference guide as to what shades the palette actually contains – I couldn’t track down a list of what each was called. I only know that the palette contains some of the original, best selling NYX eyeshadows, but I’d like to know exactly which ones — NYX has so many, and it’s difficult to tell online!

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re on a strict budget or you don’t want to shell  out $15-20 per eyeshadow to get your bright eyeshadow fix, NYX has you covered with their I Dream of St. Lucia palette.  Five brights for under $10–quite the steal.

AVAILABILITY: NYX

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