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

Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Duos in Diamond Life, Take Cover, and Nudenick ($6.99 for 0.12 oz.) are affordable, well-pigmented neutral-colored eyeshadow duos. I like Sonia Kashuk eyeshadows because they’re fairly reliable — most of the duos have good color pigmentation levels and easy to blend. I found all three of these eyeshadow duos to hold true to that expectation. I’d say the only one I had trouble with was Nudenick, but it’s more of an issue that one color is the same color as my natural skin tone… so yeah. On someone paler or over a base, you’d see it more. (But it would be good for a very natural, barely there eye.)

  • Diamond Life is is a duo of a matte, cool-toned brown with gray and a frosty, shimmery champagne shade.
  • Take Cover is a duo of a lightly shimmery peach with pale gold shimmer and a richer, golden-toned bronze.
  • Nudenick is a duo of a glittery, cool-toned champagne and a matte, warm-toned light peachy brown.

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

Recommendation: If you’re on a budget, Sonia Kashuk eyeshadows are always worth checking out!

Availability:  Target

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Thursday, September 17th, 2009

MAC Trend F/W Collection:  Tone: Grey Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Trend F/W ’09 Collection Review: Tone: Grey Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Trend F/W Collection launches in-store today across North America locations, and the collection includes four lipsticks, three lipglasses, an eyeshadow quad, and a fragrance. The Tone: Grey Eyeshadow Quad consists of four eyeshadows, all cool-toned with a mixture of finishes.

Tone: Grey Eyeshadow Quad ($36.00 U.S. / $43.00 CDN)

  • A Warmer White is a cool-toned satiny white that casts a bit green. The pigmentation is decent and doesn’t come off looking too stark or chalky.
  • Tone: Grey is a soft, medium grey with a satin finish that has a cool blue-gray sheen. The pigmentation level is decent, though not intense; the shade itself is a bit muted.
  • The Right Smoke is a bright medium-dark blue with a soft blue sheen and has a frost finish. This is like a bluer Deep Truth (or if you mixed Freshwater and Deep Truth together). I’m so tired of seeing this blue, I can’t even tell you how much! This shade is the most pigmented of the four.
  • Waft is a dirty taupe grey–kind of pewter, but not quite–with a taupe sheen and a frost finish. Like the other shadows in this quad, it has decent color pay off, but it’s not intensely pigmented.

The eyeshadow quad actually reminds me of the Gentle Fume eyeshadow quad from Smoke Signals. It isn’t the same, but at first glance, it definitely was reminiscent of it (it doesn’t help that Waft was also in the Gentle Fume quad!). The quad is a nice pairing of shadows for smoky looks with a cool-toned theme. I don’t think this quad is particularly unique or a must-have, because you could easily create the same kind of quad with existing MAC shades that would just as easily suit you.

For those looking for dupes, A Warmer White is similar to Gesso (but without the barely-there-green tint); Tone: Grey is similar to Scene; The Right Smoke is similar to Deep Truth; and Waft is similar to Print (but without the frost or taupe — add a touch of Satin Taupe to fix that).

To get an idea on what kind of look you could create with this quad, check out this silver, gray, and blue look I did using the Gentle Fume eyeshadow quad.

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

Recommendation: If you don’t have similar shades and are looking for a cool-toned, slightly blue-leaning smoky palette, you’d like this!

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Barbie Loves Stila All Doll'd Up Eyeshadow Palette

Barbie Loves Stila All Doll’d Up Eyeshadow Palette

Barbie Loves Stila All Doll’d Up Palette ($28.00 for 0.36 oz.) is a refillable compact featuring four eyeshadow trios. Each eyeshadow has three stripes of color. It is part of Barbie Loves Stila for Fall.

MAKE A MAD DASH TO GET THIS PALETTE. LIKE… YESTERDAY!

I’m a seasoned beauty addict–I’ve seen and tested and loved a plethora of products. It takes a lot to *truly* knock my socks off these days. There are a lot of great products–even amazing products–but there are fewer absolutely, positively excellent products. Stila’s All Doll’d Up Palette is one of those rare gems beauty addicts live to uncover. Not only is it a stunning combination of shades and colors chocked full of quality shadows, but it holds tremendous value. You get ten fold what you pay for.

Shade rundown…

  • Trio #1: Soft champagne with shimmer; coppery brown with a softer sheen/shimmer; a cool-toned pink with an iciness to it
  • Trio #2: A bold lightly shimmered teal; deep grayish-brown with shimmer; iridescent violet with fuchsia undertones
  • Trio #3: Periwinkle blue with soft shimmer sheen; a dark black-brown with silver sparkle; dirty champagne taupe with gray
  • Trio #4: Pop of peach with gold shimmer; brown with a greenish cast; springy green with pale green-gold shimmer

Every shade is silky smooth with excellent color pay off. There is not a single fussy shade; no shade that does not earn its keep and position in this packed palette. The colors are diverse and the different looks one could create are immense. I love that each trio is almost a look in itself, but you can also mix and match the shades as you please. It is just so rare to find a palette that is consistent from shade to shade and there’s no shade that feels like it was just thrown in.

I absolutely recommend this palette to everyone, even the color-shy. It’s available at an incredible price, so even if you only want to experiment with color, this is a chance to get twelve high-quality shades without paying an arm and a leg. Truthfully, I would have purchased this quad for $40, easily. I wouldn’t have batted an eye! For those who aren’t sure just how great of a deal this really is, compare…

  • Stila All Doll’d Up Eyeshadow Palette: $77.78/oz.
  • MAC Eyeshadow Quad: $144.00/oz.
  • Benefit Velvet Eyeshadow (Single): $163.64/oz.
  • Almay Eyeshadow Trio: $57.31/oz.

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

Recommendation: Buy one for yourself and a friend! I’m seriously considering giving one of these to my friends/family for the holidays! Amazing pigmentation, great price, and cute packaging to boot!

Availability: Stila Cosmetics

Update:  I e-mailed Stila about international distribution, and they informed me that it is U.S. only.  I did relay your interest as international customers to them as well!

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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Givenchy Poetique Blues Eyeshadow Palette

Givenchy Poetique Blues Prismissime Eyes

Givenchy Poetique Blues Prismissime Eyes ($53.00 for 0.12 oz.) is one of two eyeshadow palettes released with Givenchy’s Les Poetiques Collection for fall. It features nine different marbled/splattered eyeshadows.

Here’s a quick rundown of the colors, row by row, left to right:

  • Top row: a pale, icy pink; a bluish-gray with a purple cast; an icy silvery white
  • Middle row: a pale bright silver-white; a light champagne-beige; an icy, light purple
  • Bottom row: a warm-toned pale peach-champagne; a dirty champagne taupe; a dark purple

This is one of the more pigmented Givenchy palettes I’ve played with, so I’m happy to see they increased the pigmentation level in the latest limited edition palettes. There’s also a good assortment of shades, though two of them are close to another two within the palette, so that’s a bit of a downer. If you’re not a fan of shimmers and frost finishes, you’re not going to like this palette (or most other Givenchy palettes for that matter).

Givenchy always excels at making packaging functional and sleek, and this fall is no exception. The eyeshadows themselves look funky (in a good way!) and the outside casing is pretty. They do include three different sized sponge-tipped brushes underneath the eyeshadows, though I’d never use them unless in a pinch (use real brushes if you can!).

Even though Givenchy is a high-end, closer-to-luxury brand of cosmetics, its eyeshadow palettes are extraordinarily priced. Normally, palettes are less expensive (by the ounce) than single eyeshadows, but with Givenchy, you’d be getting more for your money by buying single eyeshadows! (For reference, the palette is $441.67/oz. vs. single eyeshadow at $383.33/oz.)

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: One of the nicest Givenchy palettes this year with better color pay off and a good assortment of shades perfect for fall (and winter, too!)… it’s just on the pricey side and doesn’t come cheap.

AvailabilitySephora

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