Tuesday, September 14th, 2010


Stila Smudge Stick Eyeliner: Stingray, Peacock, Koi

When Quality Beats Quantity: Stila Smudge Sticks

Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner Lionfish ($20.00 for 0.01 oz.) is a twist-up waterproof eyeliner available in eight shades: Blue Ribbon (slate blue sheen), Lionfish (deep bronze sheen), Moray (golden olive sheen), Purple Tang (dark purple sheen), Silver Dollar (metallic silver), Stingray (jet black), Peacock (vibrant teal sheen), and Koi (metallic gold).

Ever since learning that twist-up eyeliners give you such a TINY amount of product (the average is about 0.01 oz., can you believe it?), it’s been painful to find myself gravitating towards any of them. Stila’s Smudge Sticks are incredibly creamy, rich in color, and apply like butter on the water line or lash line. Their vibrancy is what really makes them worth checking out, because it doesn’t take much product to get an opaque line.  It’s also soft enough to apply gently to the lash line without tugging, but it’s not so soft that it just melts onto the lash line.

  • Stingray is a deep, dark black with a little sheen.
  • Peacock is a aqua-blue with a slight metallic sheen; it’s not really the teal I imagined of the shade–much bluer.
  • Koi is a metallic medium gold–very high sheen.

My experience wearing these has been fairly positive; they really stay put on  my lash line, even after twelve hours.  They’re budgeproof, smudgeproof, and waterproof, but I find if I apply it to my water line, I do get some irritation (which may just be my sensitivity) and it does seem to slide off after two or three hours.  I don’t really feel the irritation, but when I look in the mirror, my eyes are redder than usual.  So I’ll probably stick to wearing it just on the lower lash line rather than the water line (even though it lasts so well in comparison to most eyeliners), because red-tinged eyes are way un-sexy.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’ve had trouble with eyeliner staying put and feel as if you’ve exhausted all of your options, Stila’s Smudge Sticks just might do the trick.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora, Stila

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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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Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Royalty Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Royalty

Milani Royalty Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is a medium fuchsia purple with a lilac sheen.  It’s like a purple version of MAC Stars ‘n Rockets (without the duochrome).  It’s semi-sheer when used dry, and it’s still a little sheer when used wet.  I like the color, and I think the subtle periwinkle flecks seem to come through a bit, which makes it more nuanced than some of the other shades from Milani’s Runway line.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

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

  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: Color eyeshadow fiends should probably pass, just because it’s nowhere near as pigmented as many top brands for color–but if you just want to play around and experiment with color, this is an affordable way to do so.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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Friday, September 10th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Leaf Green Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Leaf Green

Milani Leaf Green Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) looks like a medium grassy (or leafy, I suppose) green, but in actuality, it swatches as a chartreuse green with stronger yellow undertones.  It’s semi-sheer when applied dry, but it really looks beautiful when applied wet (and it still retains much of the same intensity and coloring when it dries down–I’d say 90%).   It has such a smooth, more metallic than shimmer look when applied wet–could be a nice substitute for MAC True Chartreuse pigment.  I do wish it would apply better when used dry, though, since it’s supposed to be used either way.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

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: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: Color eyeshadow fiends should probably pass, just because it’s nowhere near as pigmented as many top brands for color–but if you just want to play around and experiment with color, this is an affordable way to do so.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Caribbean Sea Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Caribbean Sea

Milani Caribbean Sea Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is such a pretty shade of aqua blue… if you use it wet.  When used dry, it’s rather lackluster and almost takes on a greenish cast; it’s also on the sheer side.  However, add just a touch of fixing spray or water to your brush before picking up the shadow yields a much more intense, pigmented shade of lightened aqua blue.  You’ll need to pack on the color, rather than sweep on, to get the best results.  It’s not a great eyeshadow, but it’s workable when wet.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

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

  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: Color eyeshadow fiends should probably pass, just because it’s nowhere near as pigmented as many top brands for color–but if you just want to play around and experiment with color, this is an affordable way to do so.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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