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.

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  • 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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Friday, July 2nd, 2010


Dior Misty Mauve Eyeshadow Palette

More Plums for Fall — Dior-Style

Dior Misty Mauve Eyeshadow Palette ($58.00 for 0.21 oz.) is one of two new-for-fall eyeshadow quints (the other being Pink Design #808). It contains a soft, sparkling icy lilac; satin-matte gray purple; deep black-purple with silver shimmer; frosty white with just a hint of yellow; and muted pink-mauve with a shimmer sheen.

The pigmentation was decent overall, but the icy lilac was on the sheerer, powdery side while the gray purple definitely needs to be layered for a smooth, even look. The center shade–the blackened purple–is the most intense and will easily smoke out any look you desire. I see this quint working best on those with cooler skin tones, and I do see paler skin tones rocking this easier than darker ones, just because of the lighter, shimmery shades.

Are you plummed out or ready for more?  Does this quint make your heart pitter-patter?

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

RECOMMENDATION: For cooler, paler skin tones, I think this is a great way to wear darker, plummier shades. It’s not quite as pigmented as some of the other quints I’ve reviewed in the past few years, so I’m a little bummed by that.  I like, but I don’t love.

AVAILABILITY: August 2010

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Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Kat Von D Memento Mori Palette

Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Palette: Memento Mori

Kat Von D Memento Mori Eyeshadow Palette ($34.00 for 8 x 0.05 oz. eyeshadows) has been on my radar for awhile, but I’ve only now been able to really try it out! It contains eight eyeshadows, each pretty much the equivalent of a full-size eyeshadow (MAC eyeshadows are 0.05 oz., for reference), so it’s a great affordable palette. It’s also a rather colorful selection, so it’s very fun to play around with and apropos for summer.

  • True is a violet-blue cream shadow that goes on glossy but seems to dry down to a nearly matte finish. I found the surface of mine a bit dry, but once I got deeper, it was fine. I thought it was an eyeliner at first, actually!
  • Solitude is an iridescent lilac purple with a soft sheen. It’s the least shimmery shade of the bunch.
  • Meditation is a light bronze with a little copper in it. It has a frosty finish.
  • Agatha Pink is a pale peach with a shimmery/frosty finish.
  • Sugar Skull is a shimmery white-gold.
  • Peggy is a true teal base with flecks of white-gold sheen/shimmer. Almost strikes me as a duochrome. It’s so pretty, but I found that this shade seemed to fade a little when worn.
  • Hard Luck is a deep forest green mixed with gray.
  • Tijuana is a darkened black-brown base with flecks of gold and copper glitter-shimmer. This shade at ridiculous fall out, even when used sparingly. It’s a beautiful shade, but clean-up seems to be a must. Use less rather than more, too, and tap brush against your wrist to avoid excess fall out.

I thought the box the palette comes in was beautiful, and I was a bit let down by the cheap, white plastic palette inside. It just looked and felt like something I’d buy for $10 at the drugstore–not something that’s $34 and from Sephora. The included dual-ended brushes are actually bristled brushes, but they’re rather flimsy.  They just kind of flop and make it a pain to really pack on color–plus they’re so tiny, I don’t have the patience to use ‘em myself!

All of the shades have a very smooth texture, and they go on evenly and are richly pigmented. I do find that they’re a little on the powdery side, and may even work best with sponge applicators–at least with some of the shades (like Peggy and Tijuana). Tijuana was the troublemaker of the group, which frustrated me as it was also the prettiest (to me), so I really wanted it to be as beautiful on as it was swatched!

Overall, though, I think these are solid eyeshadows worth taking a look at if a particular palette color scheme grabs you. It took some getting used to using these before I was able to minimize the fall out with these. They also blend very easily, which is nice, but it means use softer strokes and feather rather than sweep for most of the work!  I have heard that the Beethoven palette is one of her best palettes, so I might check that out next.

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  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: I like the palette overall, and I’m impressed at the level of pigmentation of the shadows. I think it’s a great option for a palette of colorful eyeshadows, especially if you’re on a budget.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Bobbi Brown Denim & Rose Palette
Bobbi Brown Denim & Rose Palette

Bobbi Brown Has the Denim Jeans Blues

Bobbi Brown Denim & Rose Face Palette ($60.00) is new for fall, but it works just as well for the summer, too. It’s available at Nordstrom’s now (at least online), and I suspect we’ll see it roll out to other retailers in the next couple of weeks.  It contains four eyeshadows, one blush, two lipsticks, and two lip glosses all housed in a single palette.

  • Navajo eyeshadow is a light white-beige with a matte finish. This is part of the permanent collection, but the rest of the shades in the palette are new (and limited, of course).
  • Gray Denim eyeshadow is a softened, browned gray with a near matte finish (seems like it has just a little satin in it).
  • Pink Granite eyeshadow is a shimmering pinky champagne with soft flecks of peach glitter-shimmer.
  • Dark Rinse eyeshadow is a blackened navy blue base with brighter blue shimmer and silver flecks.
  • Pink Rose blush is a neutral, matte pink blusher. It’s medium in darkness, and it’s quite wearable for all skin tones, cool or warm. On darker skin tones, it will be a very light flush.
  • Cool Rose lipstick is a semi-sheer light neutral pink with white shimmer.
  • Indie Rose lipstick is an opaque, darkened red with a plummy feel. It has a creamy finish and slightly glossy look.
  • Iced Lilac glitter lip gloss is a sheer confection of white and soft lilac shimmer.
  • Hot Rose lip gloss is a semi-sheer, blue-based milky medium pink. It’s definitely a cooler pink, but it should be wearable by both warm and cool skin tones, since it’s on the sheerer side.

I love the packaging — zipped-up, denim-clad palette. It’s fun without being cheesy, functional and still original, and I really think it fits the collection’s theme. I don’t love when palettes combine both cream and powder products, just because powder products have a tendency to get dust outside their borders and into those creams. I did notice that the palette itself is taller than each pan of product, so the pans sit below an edge, which should combat some powder migration.

Dark Rinse is easily my favorite eyeshadow–it’s just so delectably pigmented, it’s hard to resist. It’s a rather smoldering shade of blue, too, and it would make for an excellent smoky eye shade. It could also work well on the lower lash line for a pop of color.

Overall, I think all of the colors in the palette work with each other, which is really important to me when reviewing a palette. Most palettes are designed to be more of a one-stop-shop, so if shades don’t jive well, it’s an issue. The one downside to this product was the lack of included brushes, even if they do tend to be mediocre, because this does have lip products in it, a miniaturized lip brush is helpful for on-the-go touchups. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something I noticed when going to swatch the products (I typically use included lip brushes to dig out the product to swatch).

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation:  I think it’s a solid palette with quality products, and better yet, the products work well together.  However, if you’re not a fan of lip products in palette form, this has four (which is nearly half of the products), so you’re better off skipping.

Availability: Nordstrom

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