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!

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: 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

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Illamasqua Powdered Liquid Metal

Bronzed from Head to Toe

Illamasqua Thalia Powdered Metal (£22.00 for 0.52 oz.) is a golden bronze shimmered with gold with a soft, almost metallic sheen. It’s a loose powder that can be used alone or mixed with other products–it’s very much like any other multi-purpose loose color (e.g. Illamasqua’s Pure Pigments, MAC Pigments, etc.).

Thalia is a beautiful bronzer on medium to medium-dark skin, and it also works well as a light illuminator mixed with moisturizer or liquid foundation for those with medium to medium-dark skin. You can also throw it in your hair (try mixing it with shine spray), swirl it in a clear nail polish or creme-finish nail polish to frankenstein something new. It can also look pretty patted lightly on the center of lips over plums and reds finished by a quick slick of gloss.

A little goes a long way, and this is an incredibly finely milled powder, so it’s easy to use more than you need!   The packaging has a nice sifter on it, so it’s easier to control how much product comes out.  I like that you get plenty of the product without paying an arm and a leg, too. This is also a great body product for the summer, because you can dust it lightly on shoulders and legs (try it right after moisturizing, so it sticks better) for a subtle bronzy sheen.

Illamasqua also carries Bebhionn (soft pink shimmer) and Erzule (deep bronze shimmer).

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’d like a bit of faux glow tan without a lot of work, Powdered Metal definitely gets you there in a hurry!

AVAILABILITY: Illamasqua

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Monday, July 5th, 2010

MAC Haute & Naughty Mascara
MAC Haute & Naughty Mascara

The Tale of Two Mascaras

MAC Haute & Naughty Lash Mascara ($18.00) is the latest in mascara innovation from MAC, and though the formula itself isn’t the key innovation here, it’s actually a nice formula.

I’m personally a big fan of MAC mascaras — Plushlash is my favorite MAC mascara (and second favorite mascara–Chanel Exceptionnel being the first), with Zoomlash and Opulash coming in second and third, respectively. Haute & Naughty Lash is as two-in-one as they lead you to believe, but I don’t love the fuller, more dramatic part nearly as much as the softer, more defined half.

The daytime end (the smaller opening) really cleans off the brush so that there really isn’t much mascara on it, but it keeps all that actual mascara in the tube–so you’re not wasting it, like you would if you blotted off excess with a tissue or the like. The smaller opening has a fairly large mascara wand with a tapered end, and the effect it gives is longer, fuller lashes with definition and great separation. It doesn’t clump at all, and it gives a nice full-lash look with nice length and blackness. All it doesn’t do it thicken lashes. It also seems to lift lashes a bit, too, and it held a curl well for me.

The evening end (the larger opening) allows for more mascara on the brush, even though the brush itself is essentially the same. It thickens quite a bit, but it also has more of a tendency to clump if you get too much on the brush (much like most mascaras). It lengthens, but I think because it tends to clump, it looks like there is less volume and length.

The way this mascara works is when you open using the smaller end (the first opening – the pink ring), the entire brush pulls through the opening of the larger mascara. There are actually two handles, not so much wands (the brush itself is the same) — when you open with the small tube, the skinnnier handle pulls through the larger, hollow handle of the dramatic opening. It’s kind of hard to describe, but I took a photo for you.

I don’t recommend playing around too much with it to see how the technology works (once should be sufficient!), because it does show how much mascara is removed from the brush itself as you pull it through the smaller opening–but you get it all over the larger wand when it’s outside of the tube, so you end up having to wipe it off with a paper towel rather than keeping it in the tube for later use–aka wasteful!

I dig the separation technology they’re using here, because it’s not so much in the formula as it is in the packaging itself, which is nice, since they did up the price by $6 just for it. You’ll need to comb through your lashes, and you may even need to blot the brush, if you’re going to use the more dramatic end of it, because it has a tendency to clump a bit on lashes.

Both mascaras held up well during all-day wear–no smudging, budging, or flaking. My lashes also felt soft, never crunchy, which was really nice. I also felt like I could put on a quick layer of additional mascara in the evening without much fuss, just in case you want to refresh your mascara without removing all of your eye makeup.

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

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you like longer and defined lashes, Haute & Naughty Lash does this amazingly well. It also gives you the option for thicker lashes, too, which is kind of convenient to have in one mascara.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

MAC Alice + Olivia Collection
Pigments: Partylicious, If it Sparkles…, Later.

MAC Alice + Olivia Collection: Pigments

Pigment fiends–I don’t know if I’d pass on these new shades from Alice + Olivia. They have excellent textures, and both Partylicious and Later are beautiful.  If It Sparkles would be the only one I’d think about skipping, since it’s less unique.

Pigment ($19.50 U.S. / $23.50 CDN)

  • Later. needs moisture to look amazing.  Do not just swatch it dry and forget about it, because you’re really not giving it a chance then.  When applied wet, it’s a blackened-gray base with flashes of violet and deep blue-purple shimmer and sheen.  About a million times prettier wet than dry.
  • If It Sparkles… is an iridescent icy pink with a frosty finish.  It reminded me of a smoother–but frostier–version of Pink Opal, actually.
  • Partylicious is an aqua-teal with flashes of pearly green and green-teal.  This is ridiculously lovely.  If you’re even remotely a fan of aqua/teal, this is a total must-have.  Like don’t let this one pass you by!  It almost feels like a duochrome.  At first, I thought it was similar to Parrot–except it’s greener, lighter, and tealer.  It’s not nearly as blue as Parrot.  It is GORGEOUS!

See photos & swatches! Continue reading →

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?

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

  • 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

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

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.

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

  • 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

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →