Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Benefit Sunday Funday Palette

Sunday Funday… on Thursday!

Benefit Sunday Funday Palette ($38.00) features Hoola (0.1 oz., mining bronzing powder), Benetint (0.09 oz. rose-tinted lip & cheek stain), Shimmering Rose (0.18 oz., lip shine), Toasty (0.01 oz., eyeliner), four eyeshadows (0.10 oz. each), and two double-sided miniature-sized brushes. This is a companion palette to Scene Queen. Sunday Funday was created by Maggie Ford Danielson–the daughter of Jean Ford, one of Benefit’s co-founders–who is also one of Benefit’s makeup trend artists.

“Sunday Fun Day is all about pulling together a fresh, fabulous look after a late night. Whether you were up watching movies or dancing ’til dawn, this kit has the prettiest eyeshadows and complexion essentials to make you look beautifully revived…just in time for brunch. Waiter, coffee and mimosas, please!” —Maggie Ford Danielson, Benefit Makeup Trend Artist

  • Hoola is a neutral-toned medium-dark bronzer with a nearly matte finish.
  • Benetint is a very natural stain and one of Benefit’s iconic products. It leaves just the tiniest flush behind.
  • Shimmering Rose is a semi-sheer pinky gloss with gold shimmer. It looks rather melon-y in the tube, but it brought out a lot of the pink in my lips.
  • Shimmering Bronze is a softened bronze with a low warmth to it; for a bronze, it’s really not overly warm. Slight sheen, not too frosty, and nicely pigmented.
  • Pink Satin is a light pink with subtle peach tones–not a true pink, but not really peach, either. I could see this as a nice all-over lid color.
  • Light Champagne is a light yellow gold with a frosty sheen.
  • Pretty in Plum is a red-toned, medium plum purple with a satin sheen.
  • Toasty is a medium-dark brown with just a hint of warmth.

These palettes are an excellent way to try out Benefit products without blowing your budget. Sunday Funday gives you plenty of product, and it’s definitely a nice, all-in-one palette. I love that the lipgloss is packaged in a tube–you can tote it around with you later on, but you also don’t have to worry about it getting dust or eyeshadow in it, either. The eyeshadows were very smooth, buttery, and pigmented–they felt just like Benefit’s single eyeshadows. I think this particular mix of colors also works really well together; nothing feels out of place here.

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

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re a palette kind of beauty buff, Sunday Funday is a new favorite for me.  It makes sense, so you can travel with it and not worry about combining it with other products for a complete look.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Saturday, July 31st, 2010


CoverGirl Blazing Blues

Still Hunting for Drugstore Brights

CoverGirl Blazing Blues Eyeshadow Trio ($5.19 for 0.14 oz.) looked like a promising trio of bright, vibrant eyeshadows.  Several years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find any bright eyeshadows, let alone a whole trio of them!  It’s definitely great to see that drugstore brands have stepped things up and started putting out more fun, bold, and bright shades.  However, it’s too bad that the pigmentation is still sorely lacking.

After building up four or five layers of color, I was able to get decent color pay off, but it took more work than it should have.  The trio contains a medium-dark blue with a low level sheen, banana yellow with a soft frost finish, and an aqua-blue with silver sheen.  Personally, I was hoping that the yellow might be a MAC Going Bananas dupe, but it’s so faint, it’s difficult to compare the two.  The worst shade in the trio was the aqua-blue, because even after attempting to build up the intensity of the shade, it still looked sheer and washed out.

In terms of texture, these eyeshadows were a little chalky and powdery–not delectably smooth and buttery at all.

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

  • Product: 19/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you like your brights on the sheerer side, then CoverGirl’s Blazing Blues Trio might be more up your alley. But if you want your eyeshadows to be true-to-color, soft, and smooth, look elsewhere.

AVAILABILITY: Drugstore.com

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

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.

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

  • 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

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

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.

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

  • 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

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

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.

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: 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

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

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.

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

  • 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

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →