Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 Eyeshadow Palette
theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 Eyeshadow Palette

theBalm Spring 2011: Shady Lady Vol. 3

TheBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 ($39.50 for 0.51 oz.) is an eyeshadow palette that includes nine shades:  Lusty Lee (silver shimmer), Envious Erin (shimmery pearl), Racy Kacy (copper shimmer), Safe Bet Annette (pale-pink shimmer), Runaround Rebecca (sage), Come-Hither Heather (soft taupe), Open To Offers Olwen (teal), All The Way Annie (shimmering amethyst), and Guilty Gwen (sparkly black shimmer).

  • Lusty Lee is a bright silver-gray with a frosted finish.
  • Envious Erin is a pale, creamy white with soft golden warmth.
  • Racy Kacy is a coppered brown with a frost-metallic sheen.
  • Safe Bet Annette is a pastel pink with a white frosted finish.
  • Runaround Rebecca is an olive green with a khaki brown base and frost-metallic sheen.
  • Come-Hither Heather is a mauve-y taupe witha frost finish.
  • Open to Offers Olwen is a rich, vibrant blue with a touch of teal and frost finish.
  • All the Way Annie is a red-based purple with soft silver flecks of micro-glitter
  • Guilty Gwen is a softened charcoal black with silver flecks of glitter. This was the only shade I had issues with–I had to scrape out the product to get it to show. It was so poor, I thought it was actually defective. (It is really packed on in the swatch to get it to show.)

my thoughts on the formula: With the exception of Guilty Gwen, these eyeshadows are soft, silky smooth, and packed with pigment. They apply evenly, blend out beautifully, and aren’t powdery at all (sometimes a side effect of really soft eyeshadows). The formula is the same as the individual eyeshadows–no skimping or cutting corners.

This palette has a good mix of colors, and I can see some combinations coming from the palette, though I see these more easily mixed with other products you already own. They are all rather shimmery/frosty finishes, which makes them easy to blend. The quality is really phenomenal, excluding Guilty Gwen, and well worth the price tag.

value: theBalm’s single eyeshadows retail for $16.00 and contain 0.12 oz. worth of product, while this palette retails for $39.50 and comes with 0.51 oz. worth of product. Single eyeshadows work out to be $133/oz. and the palette works out to be $77/oz. The palette is also an excellent deal, because each shade is approximately 0.057 oz. each (the average full-sized eyeshadow is 0.05 oz.), so you get more variety.

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

final thoughts: I had to take off two points because of Guilty Gwen, but I would have loved to give this palette full marks–it really is a beautiful palette with so many well-pigmented, easy-to-use shades.

where to buy: Sephora

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

MAC Valiant Eyeshadow Quad
MAC Valiant Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Wonder Woman: Valiant Eyeshadow Quad

MAC VALIANT EYESHADOW QUAD ($40.00 for 0.20 oz.) includes four shades of eyeshadow: Manila Paper (pale frost white gold), Valiant (light lime with yellow pearl), Diana Undercover (dark forest green), and Spinning Transformation (deep olive bronze with yellow pearl).

  • Manila Paper is a warm, white gold with excellent color payoff. This is a veluxe pearl finish. It is a repromote from Spring Colour Forecast. It is similar to Nylon but warmer.
  • Valiant is a yellowed, pale chartreuse green–extremely yellowed. It has so-so color pay off; it is a little sheer. This is a frost finish. It’s a yellower version of Juxt.
  • Diana Undercover is a darkened green with a brownish base. This is a satin finish. It had decent pigmentation but took a layer or two for it to show. It did work better in a look than swatched on the skin. The green is similar to the base color of NARS Blade Runner (but lacks the shmmer).
  • Spinning Transformation is a olive-tinged khaki brown with a soft bronze sheen. This is a frost finish. Pigmentation was decent but the texture was so thin–just not soft or silky smooth at all. It’s a less pigmented, less gold-shimmered NARS Star Sailor. It is a browner, less green-tinged Sumptuous Olive.

I feel like Valiant is just a little better than Lady Justice–decent but not as high quality as I’d like to see. Manila Paper is the standout shade in terms of color pay off and texture; creamy, smooth, and rich. Diana Undercover is a shade that MAC hasn’t done often, so I like it for its originality, but I wish it had a buttery texture. For a frost finish, Spinning Transformation wasn’t as soft and smooth as I’d expect.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Though these shades lean warm, they do not lean so warm that they won’t also complement cooler skin tones. I think the pigmentation is decent across the board in this palette, but it’s not above and beyond excellent.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

MAC Lady Justice Eyeshadow Quad
MAC Lady Justice Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Wonder Woman: Lady Justice Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Lady Justice EYESHADOW QUAD ($40.00 for 0.20 oz.) includes four shades of eyeshadow: Lady Justice (bright silver with white pearl), Insurmountable (dirty blue grey), Deep Truth (true dark blue), and Bold Babe (deep metal blue with white pearl).

  • Lady Justice is a silvery-white shimmered shade. It doesn’t really have a base color, just lots of the silver-white shimmer. A little messy–doesn’t quite hold together. This is a frost finish. It’s similar to Forgery or Filament.
  • Insurmountable is a beautiful grayish, pale blue with more of a matte finish. This is a veluxe finish. The best textured shadow of the three quads. It is a more matte version of Bobbi Brown Iced Blue, grayer than NARS Nymphea and NARS Cleo.
  • Deep Truth is a deep navy blue with a lighter blue sheen. This is a frost finish. This is a permanent shade.
  • Bold Babe is a steely blue with a silvery-blue sheen. This is a frost finish. It has decent pigmentation though not excellent, but it could have a softer, smoother texture. It is bluer than NARS Underworld. Hourglass Prism does it about a million times better.

This quad was better than Defiance, but I’m not entirely sold. Lady Justice is rather disappointing in its sheerness–it’s more like an overlay of shimmer than an eyeshadow. Bold Babe is a gorgeous hue but could be softer, smoother, and generally more pigmented. I wish Bold Babe had knocked it out of the park, because Insurmountable is absolutely divine but obviously not worth $40 for it alone.

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

final thoughts: Like Defiance, this too will suit cooler skin tones naturally, because of all the cool-toned blues.  However, the richness of blue still works well on warmer skin tones.  The quality is better in this quad than Defiance, but it’s not excellent.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

MAC Defiance Eyeshadow Quad
MAC Defiance Eyeshadow Quad

MAC Wonder Woman: Defiance Eyeshadow Quad

MAC DEFIANCE EYESHADOW QUAD ($40.00 for 0.20 oz.) includes four shades of eyeshadow: Defiance (iridescent white pink), Paradise Island (soft warm pink), Star Studded (mid-tone violet pink), and Real Drama (dark burgundy with pink pearl).

  • Defiance is a pale pink-tinged white with a iridescent pink flash. This is a veluxe pearl finish. It reminded me of Vanilla pigment.
  • Paradise Island is a pale pink with subtle cool undertones. This is a satin finish. It’s like a satin finish Pink Freeze. It was a touch sheer.
  • Star Studded is a berried plum with soft gold micro-shimmer. This is a satin finish. This shade was noticeably sheer.  Fig. 1 would be the closest permanent dupe.
  • Real Drama is a burgundy-brown with soft shimmer. This is a satin finish. It was a little sheer, though not as sheer as Star Studded. It is a little browner than Sketch.

I wasn’t impressed with this quad–three of the four shades were less-than-pigmented, with Star Studded being rather sheer. The texture wasn’t as soft or as silky as I’d like to see in an eyeshadow. I only liked Defiance, wihch had a beautiful, smooth application and even color pay off.

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  • Product: 22/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: This will complement cooler, paler skin tones. I don’t think it’s worth grabbing, because the pay off of the majority of the shades is really underwhelming.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

MAC Wonder Woman Penultimate Eyeliner
MAC Wonder Woman Penultimate Eyeliner

MAC Wonder Woman: Penultimate Eyeliner

MAC RAPIDBLACK PENULTIMATE EYELINER ($18.50 for 0.08 oz.) is super-sized for Wonder Woman–the original (and permanently available) Rapidblack is $16.50/0.03 oz.–making this over twice as much for $2 more. This feels and looks a lot like a marker; even holding it feels like I’m getting to write a note rather than line my eyes. Personally, I think it may be too large to be of great use for most people, and if you have smaller eyes–forget it!

my thoughts on the formula: I really like the original Penultimate eyeliner for something quick and easy that doesn’t dry out and gives you a medium black eyeliner (though it photographs brown with flash–it is definitely black). The tip is thin enough and flexible enough to glide across the eye without skipping. It wears all day for me, and I like that you can do thin or thick eyeliner with it. You can see photos of the permanent Rapidblack here.

Also worth noting, but the outside packaging felt and seemed like a sticker to me. I couldn’t exactly get it to peel or slip off, but it was something that caught my eye.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 1/5

final thoughts: Way too large. This is probably the least useful jumbo-sized product of the launch; it’s not just an increase in overall product quantity, but it really changes the effectiveness of the product itself. I’d recommend their Superslick eyeliners over Penultimate in general (better overall), and certainly over this shade. The formula itself is nice, but the packaging gets a major thumbs down for me–fine, be jumbo, but at least work as well as the original.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

MAC Wonder Woman Opulash Mascara
MAC Army of Amazons Opulash Mascara

MAC Wonder Woman: Opulash Mascara

MAC OPULASH MASCARA ($15.00 for 0.38 oz.) is a thickening mascara that also lengths and helps with holding a curl, and it is a “long-wearing formula” designed to work for up to fifteen hours. Wonder Woman sees the release of these shades; Army of Amazons (green), Bad Bad Black (black), Themyscira (blue), and Victorious (purple). The Bad Bad Black shade is available permanently but in permanent packaging.

  • Army of Amazons is a muted emerald green.
  • Bad Bad Black is a deep black.
  • Themyscira is a violet-tinged blue.
  • Victorious is a medium purple.

my thoughts on the formula: I liked the soft, feathery look Opulash gave my lashes along with some very nice length! I’m actually surprised I didn’t see length pushed in the marketing write-up for Opulash, because I look at the before/after photos, and I see longer, slightly blacker lashes, but not necessarily a ton of volume. I found two or three quick coats was all you needed to get the feathery lash effect going. More than that resulted in a bit of clumping, but if you don’t load up your lashes with the product, it’s a nice, full and feathery lash that’s clump-free. You can see my full review of Opulash here.

I have only trialed Army of Amazons on my lashes (well, and the black shade, many months ago, when Opulash first released), but I was impressed with the amount of noticeable color it delivered. I did not use any primer, but my lashes definitely have that green tint. Colored mascaras usually look rather dull and muted (if they show at all) on my lashes, wihch are naturally a soft black. As I work through the other shades, if I find that any of the others perform less, I will revise this review at that time.

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

final thoughts: I like the Opulash mascara formula, and it’s a good mascara for those who have decent lashes to begin with.  It lengthens more than it volumizes or thickens for me, though.  So far, it seems like the color actually shows up surprisingly well even over black lashes.

where to buy: MAC Cosmetics

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