Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Two-Minute Reviews: CoverGirl Eyeshadow Palette, Physicians Formula Healthy Glow, Smashbox Heartbreaker

The concept behind two-minute reviews is mostly products that I photographed, swatched, but I never ended up reviewing.  Rather than just bury the photos into the “Unlikely to Review” folder and never let them see the light of day, I decided that perhaps a quickie review was better than no review at all… Let me know if you’d rather a quickie review than no review :)

CoverGirl Vibrant Browns (#700) Eyeshadow Palette ($7.49) is a palette that features four shades of eyeshadow: a softened, matte black with glitter overlay, subdued blue-toned sheer gray with silver sheen, muted copper with orange-gold shimmer and frost finish, and an incredibly sheer white with sheen. The colors are all on the sheerer side, and the shadows themselves just don’t grab me. I think one or two more muted shades might work, but these altogether just don’t. I find the gold too warm to work with the coolness of the black and gray. Quick Rating: C-

Physicians Formula Healthy Glow Shimmer Strips ($11.95) reminded me of Bobbi Brown’s Shimmerbricks. Healthy Glow is a gradation of light, icy pink to a muted raspberry pink. The colors are better used together rather than alone, as individually, they’re not very pigmented. Together, they create a lightened raspberry with a frosty white sheen. This is great for those with closer-to-flawless skin, because it’s pretty and shimmery–but if you have larger pores, the high frost finish will accentuate them. For a drugstore blush, though, the price is a little steeper than I’d like to see. Quick Rating: B

Smashbox Heartbreaker Collection looked super cute in the promos, but I wasn’t loving it when I saw some of the pieces in person. In fact, I loved the actual box packaging infinitely more than the product packaging! The boxes are cute with doodles and polaroids on it–just sweet and fitting for the theme. The shiny white plastic makes it look and feel on the cheap side, and Smashbox really isn’t a cheap brand. I tend to think of Smashbox as more of a mid-to-high end brand. I tried three products: Starlight Fusion Soft Lights ($30), Rollerball Lip Gloss ($21), and Liquid Liner Pen ($24). I reviewed the eyeliner previously, but I never got around to the other two products. Despite looking rather vibrant in the pan, Starlight is a very soft, lightened raspberry sorbet with a soft champagne sheen. It didn’t show up very well on my medium skin tone, so I wasn’t never driven to wear it in a look (hence this quickie review!). Quick Rating: C+

The Rollerball Lip Gloss was very much the same — it’s clear gloss with icy white shimmer. It’s very slightly pink tinged, but on lips, it looks clear. I also felt like the Rollerball packaging made me feel like I was using Bonne Bell (which is fine… if I’m paying Bonne Bell prices!). Quick Rating: C-

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Urban Decay Summer of Love Eyeshadow Palette

Travel with Urban Decay This Summer

Urban Decay Summer of Love Shadow Palette ($29.00) is a new-for-summer eyeshadow palette that features four eyeshadows (0.04 oz. each), a miniature Sin Primer Potion (0.09 fl. oz.), and miniature Bourbon 24/7 Eye Pencil (0.03 oz.). The eyeshadows included in the palette are Flash (bright iridescent purple), Maui Wowie (medium gold with silver glitter), Chopper (coppery fawn with silver microglitter), and Smog (deep coppery bronze).

Everything in the palette is available individually, should you only fall in love with one of the shades! As such, everything included is also permanent. However, for those who do not already have the majority of these eyeshadows either individually or in various past-released palettes, you get a good amount of product in the palette itself.

Normal eyeshadows are 0.05 oz. (and retail for $17) while the palette versions are 0.03 oz. — still plenty to use. The eyeliner is typically 0.04 oz. (and retails for $17) but 0.03 oz. in the palette. Plus, you do get the mini-sized Sin Primer Potion (my least favorite of the primers, though–so metallic!). All in all, the palette is a good deal with lots of value–if you don’t already own the shades in it.

  • Flash is a cool-toned violet purple with a slight iridescence. It’s very smooth, pigmented, and vibrant.
  • Maui Wowie is an antique gold with silver glitter. It has great color pay off, and I swear this version felt so much smoother than the one included in the Alice in Wonderland palette, which felt much grittier. You may encounter some fall out with this shade from the glitter.
  • Chopper is a muted copper with a gilded-bronze sheen/shimmer. It has nice pigmentation and applies smoothly.
  • Smog is a deepened chocolate brown with a warm bronze sheen. It, too, is a vibrant shade that has rich pigmentation.

Urban Decay seems to really love releasing summer palettes with a series of browns and then a pop of color. (Remember Get Baked from last year?) I do like this color variation a lot better than last year’s, because I feel like there is a good amount of differentiation between each shade.

The packaging fits with their theme–definitely groovy and all that–but I’m not digging the vintage photographs on the back. I would have personally loved to have seen the floral pattern continue around the mirror, like it did in Get Baked. It’s cool that the graphic designer’s parents are now immortalized in a makeup palette, but for me, it’s just, “Who are these random people?” Like the majority of Urban Decay products, it is made out of sturdy cardboard. I like these flip-open palettes, because they’re slim, streamlined, and easy to travel with and store.

It’s a nice option for a summer palette, but as always, I wish Urban Decay would release new shades of eyeshadows rather than using their permanent shadows. It makes it hard to purchase as a fan, just because you probably own all of them with the palettes you already have! Maybe Urban Decay should make palette forms available of all their eyehadows so we can just mix and match throughout the year! :)

P.S. – I think I have enough mini-sized Bourbon liners to get me through year 3000.

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

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

Recommendation: If you don’t own a lot of Urban Decay eyeshadows, this palette makes a fun option for some summery shades. It’s a great value if you don’t have any of the shades, and the quality of the products within the palette are tops.  It’s easily skipped if you own half or more of the shades/products in it.

Availability: Urban Decay

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Monday, March 29th, 2010

Guerlain Ombre Perlees

For our Natural Beauties: Guerlain’s Take on Summer

This summer, Guerlain goes supremely natural with their Meteorites Perles Collection. It is definitely different from last summer’s Summer Splash Collection.

I think those who find summer colors too bright, shimmered, or the like will find the Ombre Perlees Eyeshadow Palette ($59.00) a refreshing experience. It contains four shades: a dusty pinked white with a near matte finish, muted pinky-brown with a near matte finish, softened gray lilac with a satin finish, and grayed taupe with subtle satin shimmer.

I’ve always found Guerlain eyeshadow to have a supreme texture–soft, silken, smooth, nearly buttery–and this quad is no exception. All four shades applied smoothly and had good pigmentation. These are not bright shades in the least bit, but they swatch exactly as you’d expect given the way they look in the palette. Like most limited edition eyeshadow palettes from Guerlain, the flower design is only an overlay and will disappear after a couple of uses.

The packaging is luxe and traditional to Guerlain’s line, except it’s metallic silver, not quite the typical “metal” feel. I personally like that while Guerlain keeps the same shape and style of its palettes, the color will change based on the collection itself. Included with the palette are two sponge-tip applicators, but like all sponge applicators, they’re nothing to write home about and could easily be left out as far as I’m concerned! Brushes, please!

Being a more high-end, luxury brand, Guerlain doesn’t come cheap, but at least they’ll give you a good amount of eyeshadow (0.24 oz. — for reference, a MAC eyeshadow is 0.05 oz.) and make it look pretty while they’re at it!  There are no real low points to this product–it’s a solid natural-toned eyeshadow palette.  Price is really the only negative that I can think of!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: If you’re cool-toned and looking for more natural shades to play up your eyes with, I think this should definitely be on your list of products to keep an eye out for. Warmer skin tones can still wear this quad, because all of the shades run closer to neutral than strongly cool, but it really strikes me as exceptionally beautiful on cooler skin tones–even more so on fairer skin tones.

Availability: April/May 2010

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Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Dior Crush Glow Palette

Summer Preview: Dior Crush Glow (659) Eyeshadow Palette

Dior’s Addicted to Dior Collection is a short and sweet collection of a mere eight pieces (that’s only $365 to own it all–the fact that I say “that’s only” indicates how deeply addicted I am to beauty!).  It includes two “luggage” tags that slide open and reveal lipgloss inside, available in Coral and Pink for $60, two Eyeshadow Quints in Ready-to-Glow (649) and Crush Glow (659) for $58, Golden Spotlight Extreme Eyeshadow for $28, Rose Trendsetter (574) High Shine Lipgloss for $28, Crystal Gloss (001) for $26.50, and Nude Glow, a Bergdorf Goodman’s exclusive, for $46.

While Ready-to-Glow looks like a slightly cooler variation of Crush Glow, Crush Glow is fabulously warm. This is excellent news for those warm-toned beauties, but cooler skin tones may want to swatch in person before deciding. I personally think that cooler skin tones can still wear this palette, and I’d recommend pairing the eyeshadows with a cooler cheek and/or lip to bring everything together.

There are five shades in the Crush Glow palette: a peachy-gold with a frosty finish; lightly iced pink with champagne shimmer; muted mostly pink coral with a low frost finish; plummy-mauve with brown with a light frost finish; and ambered bronze with more of a pearly sheen than frost finish. All five shades were well-pigmented, smooth to the touch, and easy to use.

I don’t always have good luck with Dior’s Quints, but Crush Glow is definitely a palette that appeals to me, on a personal level (I am a fiend for golds and coppers!). It’s a fitting color palette for summer, because it’s warm and shimmering.  I love that all five shades coordinate really well with each other.  Sometimes you find palettes that look lovely and swatch beautifully, but you’re not always sure how you’ll make them work together. It’s a very travel-friendly palette, because you can create easy daytime looks or smoke it up with the plummy or bronzy shades in the palette for a more sultry evening look.

I think this is one of Dior’s better palettes in the past few years that I’ve followed the brand.  The eyeshadows are high-quality with good color pay off, a smooth, buttery texture, and they work exceptionally well together.  This is a palette you can take with you on your summer travels or enjoy at home.

Though the official details indicated April 2010 as a release date, I already saw the “luggage tags” available on Nordstrom.com — so I think it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing Dior’s summer collection launch in full quite soon!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 5/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: All five shades do have a shimmery appearance, so those who prefer a mix of shimmers and mattes may find themselves wanting with this palette. If you say “No thanks!” to shimmer typically, I don’t see this palette changing your mind. On the other hand, if you say “Yes, please!” to shimmer and are looking to add some warmer toned eyeshadows to your collection, this is a nice palette to own.

Availability: April 2010

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Laura Mercier Zen Palette

Going Zen with Laura Mercier for Spring

Laura Mercier Zen Face Palette ($60.00) is a new-for-spring (into summer!) palette that includes one blush, four eyeshadows, and four lip glazes housed in a metal-rimmed palette with a cushy, dusty blue cover.

I was surprised at how much I liked the palette packaging, but I thought it was cute without being cheesy. It’s definitely apropos for spring! The palette also feels sturdy, weighty, but it doesn’t feel bulky, so I like the slimness and overall shape of it. I also LOVED! that they included a little plastic sheet with the names printed on top so you knew what product was what. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out in a palette!

Eyeshadows

  • Willow is a soft, pastel green with yellow undertones and a silvery shimmer. It has a bit of a frostier finish. It almost seemed un-Laura Mercier-like to me, just because it was such a nice pop of color, though it is a light pop of color!
  • Haze is a powder blue with silver shimmer. It’s more of a satin finish, less frost, in comparison to Willow.
  • Wisteria is a browned plum with a frosty sheen. It’s quite pigmented and smooth.
  • Midnight Jade is a darkened, grayed teal with a pearly sheen and just a light dusting of shimmer. I found this shade to be the least pigmented out of the four, but it still had decent pigmentation.

Blush

  • Plum is a very rosy plum shade. It’s less purple plum as it is red-plum. It has a low-level pearly sheen that’s very, very subtle. There’s no obvious shimmer here!

Lip Glazes

  • Black Currant is a brownish red that goes on very sheerly and has a glossy sheen.
  • Lotus Bloom is a sheer tinge of pinky-red with flecks of red shimmer.
  • Stone Beige is a creamier, semi-sheer nude beige with subtle gold shimmer.
  • Peach Blossom is an orange-y peach cream with a high gloss finish.

The good: It’s a fun palette with a good range of eye colors to give you a few new looks for spring. The pigmentation is pretty good (Midnight Jade needs to be layered for better pigmentation, though), and the texture is smooth, soft, and applies evenly. I like that there’s a good variety of colors in the lip glazes as well, because it gives you a lot of ways you can mix and match. I also think the packaging is fun, travel-friendly, and classy.

The bad: Palettes that mix powders and creams (or glazes, in this particular case) are not my favorite, because sometimes the powder finds its way into the creams, which is kind of gross. For most, it’s probably not a deal-breaker, but it’s something I thought I should mention. I don’t think the Plum blush is the most suitable for the palette–it almost seems too dark for this palette. I think it could work, but I’m not totally sold on it being the best match here.

There’s one thing I noticed right at end: there are no brushes!  It’s almost curious and yet I’m not displeased that they didn’t include them.  I know some think for the price that they should have, but I never find myself using those brushes that are included in palettes.  I always find them so inferior to my normal brushes and much prefer to take my brushes with me when I travel (even if it’s just a few), so it’s more of a neutral to me.  It just depends on your preference!

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you like Laura Mercier’s eyeshadows and have always wanted a little more color, you might enjoy the way she’s played with color in this spring palette. I think cooler skin tones will find this especially flattering, as most of the shades tend to be on the cooler end of the spectrum.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Midnight Bloom Collection

Dolce & Gabbana — Summer Preview — Laguna Eyeshadow Duo

Laguna Eyeshadow Duo ($36.00 for 0.17 oz.) is new for Dolce & Gabbana’s summer collection (due out in May), and I’m excited to show you a sneak preview of this perfect-for-summer duo! It includes a softly teal-shimmered muted sky blue and a rich, blackened forest green with gold and green shimmer.

At first, I thought that the bluish side was like Benefit’s Mermaid Eyeshadow, but it’s not. It’s more like a blue version, if anything, but after looking at both, they’re definitely not similar. The forest green shade originally reminded me of NARS Night Porter, but the finish is softer and smoother and it’s a shimmer/sheen rather than a glitter finish.

The texture of Dolce & Gabbana eyeshadows is amazing. It’s soft, smooth, and buttery. I love that Dolce & Gabbana puts out colors amongst more muted shades, too, because I think it gives them more variety. But even better is that their colors actually show-up true-to-pan!

Surprisingly, Dolce & Gabbana is cheaper by the ounce than NARS Eyeshadow Duos–$211/oz. vs. $228/oz. (and not so surprisingly, cheaper than NARS, Make Up For Ever, and MAC singles), but you do get the luxe, “gold” metal casing for your buck, too (but it does hold fingerprints as is typical with metal packaging). I’m actually surprised that these are priced so similarly to NARS Eyeshadow Duos, because the Dolce & Gabbana line-up is more comparable to Chanel and Dior in terms of pricing, typically.

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you love really smooth eyeshadows that go on like butter, Dolce & Gabbana Eyeshadow Duos hit the mark. If you’ve been hunting for a blue that’s not too bright or overwhelming, you may find this duo works well. I think this duo in particularly is suitable for both cool and warm skin tones, too!

Availability: May 2010 at Saks Fith Avenue

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