Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Taking a Long, Windy Drive with Ocean Eyeshadow Duo

I really loved the coloring of Dolce & Gabbana’s Ocean Eyeshadow Duo ($36.00 for 0.17 oz.)  LOVED! ON SIGHT!  It’s a mix of lilac-periwinkle and dusty, navy blue.  And so I was greatly disappointed when my first attempt to use it proved as difficult as the Divine Eyeshadow Quad.   Instead, Ocean did this weird thing where it clumped up in spots and went really sheer in others.  I also packed on the color FIVE times before throwing up my makeup brushes in frustration.

AHH, AHH. I FOUND THE KEY. BURIED. LIKE TREASURE!

Oh, yes, I finally found the key to success with these more finicky eyeshadows, but I’m pretty frustrated at how I did find it–which was completely by accident.  I had the compact open by my bathroom sink, and I accidentally splashed water on it.  Since I was about ready to throw in the towel, and there was already a wet spot, I figured let’s try it–let’s dare to use it wet.  TA-DA! VOILA! LIGHTBULB FLASHFLASH!

I don’t typically use powder products wet unless I know it’s designed with that in mind, because some powder products will have a “wet spot” left behind, which just hardens and looks gross.  Mind you, I had previously called the Dolce & Gabbana counter at Saks NY and the artist on the phone said that these could not be used wet.

So I started to hunt around on the ol’ interweb to see if I could find more insight on using these eyeshadows wet, since it worked a treat.  Buried on the Dolce & Gabbana website–but only under the eyeshadow duos–within the “application” tab is a quote from Pat McGrath:  “Achieve multiple looks from a single colour: applied dry, the shadows appear softer and more transparent, but with a wet brush, they become opaque and intense.” This information doesn’t appear on Saks’ website nor under the eyeshadow quad area of Dolce & Gabbana’s website at all.

I’m sad to report that using the eyeshadows wet for the Divine eyeshadow quad I reviewed a few weeks ago didn’t do much for improving the color, but it did make the color apply more evenly and look smoother–so I did go back and amend the review briefly and raised the grade up two notches.

But I think what really killed me was that even though I called to ask, the artist (at least the one working that day) explicitly told me to NOT use these wet or else I would ruin the eyeshadow.  If I had paid for this, I don’t think I would have ever risked it.

The one problem I did encounter by using the duo wet was that it made it more difficult to blend out–you have to work really quickly, because once it dries, it sets and stays as vibrant as it went on initially, but it’s a pain to diffuse after that.

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

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t mind using your eyeshadows wet, then I think this could be a really good duo–they’re two shades I feel like I don’t see that often.

AVAILABILITY: Saks

Check out the look done dry… and wet!  Plus more photos and swatches! Continue reading →

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Chanel Tentation Cuivree Eyeshadow Quad
Chanel Tentation Cuivree Eyeshadow Quad

Chanel Holiday 2010: Tentation Cuivree

Chanel Tentation Cuivree Eyeshadow Quad ($56.00 for 0.24 oz.) is new for holiday, and just like everything else in the collection, it is also limited edition. It’s a rather neutral quad with a smoky brown edge. I actually mean neutral in overall color scheme while the undertone is slightly warm but not much so.

The quad consists of a medium-dark cocoa brown with flecks of silver and bronze shimmer-glitter; softened champagne with a frost finish; high-shine light-medium pink with subtle yellow undertones; and a dark cocoa brown with flashes of molten bronze shimmer. Chanel’s eyeshadow quads can be used wet or dry (with no effect on the eyeshadows themselves), and the two lighter shades look about the same regardless, while both browns deepen. Funny enough, when used wet, the darkest brown seems to loses some of the copper flecks.

Overseas, the circular eyeshadow pans are the norm, while U.S. quads come in square pans typically. I’m not sure whether the change is just for holiday or going forward. I think I prefer the square pans; perhaps that pyramid shape lends it a bit of sophistication that the circular pans lack. It almost looks like a knockoff to me, but I imagine that’s also due to the fact that I’m not used to seeing it that way more than anything.

I don’t love this eyeshadow quad, and I don’t think it’s exactly the same in texture as other quads. It’s not quite as buttery or as smooth. I had some trouble with the medium brown swatching dry, though it sure came together when used wet. This quad is shimmer-heavy, with both of the brown shades having more of a micro-glitter effect than shimmer/sheen, so there is a touch of fall out, which I don’t usually associate with Chanel.

It’s nice but not knock-your-socks-off stunning. I like but don’t love, you know? The quality just isn’t quite there for me, and the abundance of shimmer and frost (and even a bit of glitter) came as a surprise. It’s worth taking a peek at, though!

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I think warmer beauties will find it very easy to use and a good go-to for smoky brown looks. It will still be nice on cooler skin, but it may not feel quite as complimentary (if you find warmer browns go red on you, I’d skip this).

AVAILABILITY: Chanel

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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad
Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad

Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad ($59.00 for 0.16 oz.) looks like a beautiful, elegant mix of feminine colors that seem neutral–not too cool, not too warm.  I’ve always liked Dolce & Gabbana’s eyeshadows in the past (like Dazzling, Gold, Laguna), and I really haven’t had trouble with application of them.

In addition to having trouble with this palette, I also found similar issues with Ocean eyeshadow duo (also from fall, to be reviewed separately).  I thought perhaps it was due to my usage of NARS’ Smudgeproof as a base, so I tried Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, and I experienced the exact same issues:  sheer, faded colors that looked lovely at first but seemed to fade away as quickly as I applied them; slight muddying of color when blended.  It’s like there was nothing to bind the shadow to my lid, despite the eyeshadow base.

The best solution I was able to come up with was to use a shimmery, white gold cream shadow base (Shiseido Lemon Sugar).  Cream bases can sometimes be more adhesive, which can help softer or more difficult shadows stay on better, and shimmery bases always seem to emphasize colors in my experience.   It’s better–decent to just below good–but it’s not fabulous.

Divine consists of a barely-there beige with a subtle cool tone; medium mauve-tinged beige; frosted cotton candy pink; and darkened blue-toned purple with a semi-matte finish.  After using the quad in three look attempts, the lightest shade was my favorite, because it worked really well as a highlighter on my skin tone.  Though the pink shade swatches the best, it is the worst performer of the bunch, because despite its brightness in the swatch, it looks faded and flat on the lid.  The other three shades are more on the matte/satin side, so they already have a softer look and don’t fall flat when used.

I’m also mildly amused that the Eyeshadow Duos contain 0.17 oz. of product for $36, while the quads hold 0.16 oz. and go for $59.  This quad was a total miss for me, and I really wanted to love it.  It’s stunning when you first open the compact, but it’s such a let-down in practice.  Nothing will get a product onto my skip list faster than requiring me to give it three tries just to yield decent results.  As they say, three strikes and you’re out!

I mentioned it previously, but the nude shades worked just fine; they’re soft, smooth, and apply the same.  I don’t think they’re going to work well on anyone that’s medium-dark to dark in skin tone–they’re just going to be way too light and look chalky rather than subtle.  These shades would work well on light to medium skin tones for a contoured nude eye.  So in a sense, half the palette is… palatable (ha, ha).  I already spoke on the pink shade, and the purplish shade is so-so; it applies smoothly, but it seems to go sheer and fade pretty quickly.

Edited 10/01: Despite calling the Saks’ Dolce & Gabbana counter and being told not to use these eyeshadows wet or else I would ruin them, I did use them wet–it did solve a lot of smoothness/evenness of the eyeshadows on the lid, though the colors were still a bit faded and flat.  I changed the product grade from 20 to 23 as a result, which raised the overall grade from a C- to a C+.  A new issue, as a result of using them wet, was a bit of difficulty in blending out the darker shade.

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

  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d rather get two lipsticks for the price of one eyeshadow quad. (I have reviewed many of Dolce & Gabbana’s lipsticks with happy results!)

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Monday, September 20th, 2010

Guerlain 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette
Guerlain 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette

Is this palette worth $84?

I know that it probably sounds funny, but after reviewing and being disappointed by Guerlain’s Rue de Francs Bourgeois Eyeshadow Palette, I felt the need to determine whether the palettes were a miss in general or perhaps just that particular combination was underwhelming. I decided to go with Guerlain’s 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette ($84.00 for 0.25 oz.), which is one variation that seemed to stand out more than the others (to me).

The palette includes six eyeshadows in varying shapes and sizes.  It’s housed in a beautiful compact with a filigree pattern on the cover that’s actually see-through.  There’s a black plastic piece that lifts open to reveal the eyeshadows themselves (and on the inside, there is a mirror).  A dual-ended miniaturized brush is also included, and while not something I’d use under regular circumstances, is nicer than many other palette applicators I’ve come across.

This is a rather cool-toned palette, which would make it most suitable for those who lean cool, but it’s still wearable on warmer skin tones, since they’re closer to neutral than very cool.  There is a pale white-beige with a satin finish, muted gray-brown with a satin finish, medium-dark ocean blue with soft sheen, antique gold with a hint of taupe base and frosted shimmer, cool-toned charcoal brown with a semi-matte finish, and darkened purple-black with flecks of violet shimmer over a semi-matte color base.

I think the pigmentation on the eyeshadows is nice overall, but it’s not rich and intense and luxe to me.  I really don’t get the luxury feel from the texture, but these shades are more impressive in their subtle nuances than in Rue de Francs Bourgeois.  I’m not keen on the level of pigmentation in the lighter brown shade, which is a little sheer; though the charcoal-brown shade appears sheer when swatched, it applies just fine with a brush on the eyes (say in the crease).

I’m still not as wow-ed as I’d like to be with these palettes, and while the palette’s case is most assuredly gorgeous, the eyeshadows don’t quite match it.  The texture could be finer, richer — I think this is what makes me go, “Hmm, I want to like you, but it’s not quite there,” because they don’t feel as buttery as Guerlain’s singles, duos, and quads’ eyeshadows do.  I do like that these have nearly no fall out, and they do apply very smoothly and evenly.

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

RECOMMENDATION:

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Chanel Stupendous Eyeshadow Quad
Chanel Stupendous Eyeshadow Quad

Chanel SoHo Story: Stupendous

Chanel Stupendous Eyeshadow Quad ($56.00 for 0.24 oz.) is new and limited edition for Chanel’s SoHo Story Collection, which celebrated the grand reopening of SoHo Boutique. It contains for shimmering shades: a pink champagne, plum-tinged gray-brown, burgundy brown, and icy blue with silver sheen. This is one of the more pigmented Chanel quads I’ve crome across where every shade looked as rich and pigmented wet as it did dry. (Typically, products always look more intense when used wet.)

All four shades seemed rather cool-toned to me, and after using everything together, the entire collection is definitely on the cooler side of the spectrum. Though if you’re warmed, it’s still a very wearable set of products. It leans cool but it’s not so cool where I’d be leery, but just because a product leans the opposite of your skin tone doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t wear it. It’s all a matter of what you pair it with! For instance, try doing one cool area (either lips, cheeks, or eyes) and pairing with two warmer areas (whichever two you didn’t use a cool product on!).

I posted this look earlier in the week. Though I wasn’t sure the blue was going to work paired with the other quad colors, it worked out in the end. I do think it veers on being overly frosty/shimmering, though. As a way to highlight the inner tearduct, I like it, but those wary of ultra frosty products, this might be one of those danger! kind of shades.

Stupendous is consistent with Chanel’s quads–soft, buttery consistency that feels like silk and blends easily. The formula is such that the powder binds well to the lid, even without a primer (though, don’t expect it to last 18 hours if you have oilier lids!), though I’d never wear eyeshadow without a good base! (That’s beauty blasphemy!!) Some readers compared this quad to Mystic Eyes, but going by the only swatches I have posted (I don’t own it), they’re not too similar.

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: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I think cool-toned beauties will find this just works beautifully. For warmer skin tones, it’s not a must-have, but paired with a peach blush, I think it’d be lovely.

AVAILABILITY: Chanel

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Monday, September 13th, 2010

Urban Decay Black Palette
Urban Decay Black Palette

Getting Heavy with Urban Decay

Urban Decay The Black Palette ($36.00 for 0.24 oz.) contains six eyeshadows (0.04 oz. each), along with a miniature-sized Zero 24/7 Eye Pencil (0.03 oz.) and Eden Primer Potion (0.13 fl. oz.). As far as I know, this palette is limited edition and a Sephora exclusive (and Sephora lists it as “online only”).

  • Black Dog is an intense, deep dark black with a matte finish. It’s about as intense and deep as Sugarpill Bulletproof, but it’s not quite as smooth or as blendable. It is not at all unworkable, though. I just point this out because it seemed like Black Dog was one of the shadows readers were most looking forward to, and Bulletproof is an alternative to buying the entire palette.
  • Barracuda is a darkened gray with silver flecks; it is a very steely, cool-toned gray. I thought it was similar to Urban Decay’s Gunmetal, but it seems a little darker and less frosty.
  • Jet is a cool-toned plummy purple with very subtle red undertones. It has a semi-matte color base with flecks of blue glitter.
  • Sabbath is a darkened, smoky noir blue with flecks of blue glitter.
  • Cobra is a muddied blackened base with flecks of antique-gold and green-gold shimmer/glitter.
  • Libertine is a blackened green color base with flecks of gold and emerald green micro-glitter.

The Black Palette is housed in a sleek, slim rectangular palette with a mirror on the inside cover; it’s made out of cardboard/paper as Urban Decay palettes often are, but it’s very compact.  The miniature Zero eyeliner is stowed away inside along the eyeshadows, while the miniature Eden primer potion is loose (which does ensure that this palette is thin).  It’s definitely a more travel-friendly palette than the Book of Shadows.

Quality-wise, these eyeshadows feel like most of Urban Decay’s regular eyeshadow line (not to be confused with their deluxe eyeshadow line, which has a slightly differing texture); they’re pretty smooth and pigmented.  These do feel a touch more powdery and kick up some eyeshadow if you’re not careful, so I do recommend tapping your brush against your wrist to get any excess shadow out–that way it doesn’t just poof and land on your under eye instead!  I don’t think they’re the best of the brand’s eyeshadows, but they’re solid overall.

I find this palette too redundant to be a must-have for most makeup mavens.  When applied to eyes as part of look, they really don’t standout; they all look black with a touch of varying glitter (but it is so subtle, it’s hard to notice until you look for it specifically).  I did a quick look using Cobra, Libertine, and Black Dog, and if I saw that, I’d say I used two eyeshadows (a shimmery black, nude highlighter); the difference is nearly imperceptible.

You can really get the same effect by using a black eyeshadow/base and layering a shimmery color shade on top– in fact, a ton of people do this with MAC Blacktrack as a base and you can get some really cool effects (try using a duochrome shade on top!).   You might even find that the color pops even more.  These are just too black, too flat.  The inclusion of Eden with this palette is interesting, because it makes these eyeshadows look flatter and even more similar to each other than other bases.  I did some experimenting using Eden, a shimmery white gold base, and colored bases; these eyeshadows look best over colored bases–you can get that blackened look without losing the color entirely.

I feel like I do get the concept of blackened, smoldering colors that don’t scream color but at the same time, I want some differentiation between one shade from the next.  I don’t want to squint my eyes to detect slight differences in the flecks of glitter.  I also think the inclusion of Gunmetal or Dime 24/7 Liner (instead of Zero) would have helped these shades pop.  I recommend experimenting with cream eyeshadow in black and layering shimmery colors on top to see what look you prefer!

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I think it’s worth trying to recreate on your own at home — unless you wear a ton of black eyeshadow, you should be able to get something comparable–if not better–as you need it.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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