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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Sunday, September 12th, 2010

LORAC Private Affair Palette
LORAC Private Affair Palette

An Ill-Fated Private Affair with LORAC

LORAC Private Affair Palette ($38.00 for 0.30 oz.) is an enigma, let me tell you! I’ve experienced shades that swatch poorly but work beautifully in practice (NARS Daphne, I’m lookin’ at you!). I can’t think of many occasions where I’ve encountered a product that swatches so smoothly, so richly and leaves something to be desired when used. Private Affair is just that; far prettier swatched on my arm than when I went to use it in a look.

Now, it’s not like it turns into a muddy mess, disappears on sight (well, at least… not entirely), or looks bad, but it doesn’t look nearly as lovely on as it does swatched–and that’s why it’s a disappointment. This is how it happened:

  • 9:10am: Temptalia is heard excitedly shouting, “OMG OMG OMG BABE! THIS IS SOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!”
  • 9:15am: She starts to work with the products for a look to post on the blog.
  • 9:18am: Mellan rushes into the bathroom wondering why he hears, “GRRR!”
  • 9:25am: Eye makeup looks like it’s been 18 hours of wear with a nap in-between.
  • 9:30am: Sadface. :(

The palette includes six shades: gilded champagne with a metallic-frost finish, beige champagne with a whitish sheen, medium-dark brown with soft gold sheen, grayed taupe with an antique gold metallic sheen, rich berry burgundy with a satin finish, and blackened purple with burgundy glitter flecks. The texture of these just feels so buttery, incredibly soft, and intensely pigmented; you hardly need any product to achieve true, rich color.

The problem, however, lies in the texture, which is really just too soft. If you thought Stila’s eyeshadows were too soft, these LORAC shadows are softer. This means they kick up quite a bit of powder when used–I advise merely pressing your brush into the shade rather than moving it around, because it will get enough product without loosening the rest. The soft quality of the eyeshadow also means that a lot of it ends up on your face, rather than on your eyes. It rained burgundy and eggplant on my undereye area (which doesn’t need any help looking tired!). Additionally, the softer the eyeshadow, the easier it is to blend, but it can also mean that it is even easier to muddy the color or sheer it out with even a light touch.

At the end of the day, they’re just okay eyeshadows. They feel and look stunning when swatched, but they’re just not nearly as standout when used. There’s a little more fall out than I’d expect, and the color pay off looks fierce initially but fades quickly. I had trouble getting the burgundy shade to stay vibrant; it faded to this rather muted, blah eggplant within minutes. The blackened purple shade lacks the glitter when you apply it–it’s like the glitter doesn’t hold together with the shade and gets lost between the pan and your eye (probably eaten by your brush!).

There is also an eyeshadow primer included in the palette, which is housed in a pull-out drawer that sits beneath the eyeshadows themselves. Along with the primer is dual-ended brush that just feels too scratchy and the ferrules feel rather loose, so I ditched it.

Morbid or not, the packaging reminds me of a coffin. Maybe something a vampire would sleep in, with the dark blood red (faux) snake-skin covering. I also think that they could have ditched the primer and brush, since neither are stellar (the primer is so-so, it doesn’t seem to enhance the vibrancy of the eyeshadows). This could have allowed for a much slimmer palette, which would make it more travel friendly. But you know what really drove me batty about the packaging? It doesn’t stay open. That lid did not want to stay open at all, and I bent that sucker back so far and could see it pulling away from the rest of it, and it still kept closing on me.

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

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

RECOMMENDATION: I wanted to love this palette with all my heart, but it left me rather disappointed. I think for $38, I’d rather get a couple of eyeshadows that were excellent than six eyeshadows that require more work and effort than I want to put in!

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Napoleon Perdis Air Prismatic Eyeshadow Quad
Napoleon Perdis Air Prismatic Eyeshadow Quad

Napoleon Perdis Prismatic Eyeshadow Quads

Several months ago, I swatched four of Napoleon Perdis Prismatic Eyeshadow Quads ($35.00 for 0.47 oz.). I always meant to post a look using one of them, but I never got around to it. Usually, when I test out products, I put a whole smattering of various products on my face and do partial looks but nothing one would really want to be seen wearing… (One eye has one set of eyeshadows while the other might be testing mascara and liner… and don’t even get me started on mismatching cheeks, LOL!) So even though I may not have an actual full look to show you, I did put these through the rigors I normally put eyeshadows through.

I actually thought these were a lot more affordable than they were; I had classified them as drugstore–but to the contrary! The packaging feels a little cheap to me–it’s clear acrylic with visible, gold hinges. Each palette also includes two sponge-tipped applicators that look as cheap as they feel. For $35, the packaging really leaves a lot to be desired. The eyeshadows are textured with a “wave” shape (see the photos–it’s visible!).

  • AIR features a rather spring-y palette of muted sunshine gold, baby pink with silver sheen, frosted lilac with silver shimmer, and silvered brown. I found this one a little on the sheerer side, which is partially owed to the colors themselves as they’re on the lighter end of the spectrum. All four had very frosty finishes to me, though.
  • EARTH includes a dark navy blue with a satin-shimmer finish, subtly yellow-tinged green with muted gold shimmer, sheer seafoam green with soft gold sheen, and lightened peachy orange with peach sheen and shimmer. The blue shade swatched beautifully, but the other three shades were a little on the sheerer side, with the seafoam green shade being notably lacking in pigmentation.
  • FIRE has a darkened orange-copper with a shimmered sheen, medium-dark beige with champagne shimmer, medium-dark violet purple with a blacker base, and a high-sheen pinkish white. I found this quad to be the most pigmented; all four shades went on really smoothly and vibrantly.
  • WATER contains a sheer, shimmery white, cool-toned gray-cast brown with silver shimmer, glowing periwinkle blue with teal sheen, and light, frosted pink with subtle blue undertones. The periwinkle shade is so pretty, and I don’t have anything quite like it, but the white and pink shades were rather sheer.

Even though at first glance, these palettes seemed really pretty, I wasn’t fond of their textures nor color payoff.  They’re incredibly soft, but they veer on powdery, which makes them difficult to work with.  You really have to pack on the color, and inevitably, you’ll need to clean up the noticeable fall out that lands on your under eye area.   A few shades were nicely pigmented but many fell short–a little sheer, which may also be a result of the powdery formula.

For $35, I wouldn’t put it towards these palettes.  You just can’t make the justification of affordability for the reduction in quality here, because this is under the Napoleon Perdis label (rather than NP Set, which is sold at Target), which is “high-end.”  There is a decent amount of eyeshadow in each palette, so it’s a shame that the formula doesn’t have that wow factor.

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

  • Product: 20/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: I don’t recommend these unless you find them on sale.  Each palette has one or two interesting shades in it, but the quality is just so-so with rather soft, rather powdery textures and less pigmentation than I’d expect for a high-end brand.

AVAILABILITY: ULTA

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Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Video: Quick Look at Guerlain Fall

I’m trying to get into the habit of doing more “first impressions” kind of videos–literally me seeing the products for the first time, opening them up, swatching, etc.  They won’t always be focused on reviewing or talking about the specifics of products, particularly if I’ve never tried the product (e.g. it’s not just a new shade but a new product type).  This is a short video featuring Guerlain’s 10 Rue de Franc Bourgeois Eyeshadow Palette, Gwen Rouge G Lipstick, and Violine Kiss Kiss Gloss Serum.  The latter I hope to review soon, but I need to put it through the wear test still! :)