Thursday, April 29th, 2010

MAC Opulash Mascara

MAC Opulash Mascara ($14.00) is the latest mascara from MAC, and it’s exclusively at Nordstrom until May 27th (when it will launch at all MAC locations).  It’s designed to give you “the most extreme volumization ever seen” along with curl without “clumping or Spider-Woman Syndrome” and “superlative separation.”  It’s only available in one shade–Bad, Bad Black.

The wand is incredibly large–probably the largest MAC wand to-date–and reminded me quite a bit of DiorShow, actually.  It’s large, kind of fluffy (but not actually fluffy), and it has a very tapered edge.  I do like the tapered edge, because it does make it easier to reach the lashes on the inner corner of the lid as well as coat the bottom lashes.  Even though the brush is on the larger side, I didn’t find it unwieldy–there wasn’t much of a learning curve.  If you prefer smaller mascara wands, though, this will definitely be a mascara to check out in person first.

The formula itself is very lengthening while doing an excellent job at separating lashes and not clumping–except if you wait too long between coats.  This is a drier mascara; there is no wet, glossy look, and it does dry down quickly, so you need to work fast in order to get the maximum effect with this mascara.  I found it gave me some volume, but it wasn’t over-the-top.  I didn’t encounter any smudging or flaking while test-driving this mascara for the past week either.

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.

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

Recommendation:  If you love length and volume, Opulash might work well for your lashes.  If you have naturally lengthy lashes (lucky you!), you may want to pass on this one, because it may be super length… like obnoxious length (who knew there was such a thing!).

Availability: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Shiseido Hydro-Powder Eyeshadow
Shiseido Hydro-Powder Eyeshadow: H5 Aqua Shimmer, H10 Languid Lagoon, H12 Lemon Sugar

Shiseido Hydro-Powder Eye Shadow ($25.00 for 0.21 oz.) is a cream-to-powder eyeshadow that can be used as a cream eyeshadow or as an eyeshadow base.

It is available in several shades: H1 Goldlights (gold), H2 Whitelights (white), H3 Tiger Eye (peach-orange), H4 Spring Plum (plum), H5 Aqua Shimmer (aqua), H6 Violet Visions (purple), H7 Green Exotique (green), H8 Bare Pink (soft pink), H9 Glistening Sand (nude), H10 Languid Lagoon (teal), H11 Rose Tulle (rose), H12 Lemon Sugar (soft yellow), and H13 Clover Dew (soft green).

With summer coming up, we have to break out our most long-wearing, budge-proof makeup. It would so not be cute to have mascara smeared under our eyes, eyeliner running around, and eyeshadow creasing and swimming on the lid. I tried three shades of Hydro-Powder Eyeshadow

  • H5 Aqua Shimmer is a steely blue with a silver sheen/shimmer. It doesn’t actually read very aqua to me, but it’s like a darkened water blue.
  • H10 Languid Lagoon is a aqua-teal with flecks of green and gold shimmer.
  • Lemon Sugar is a softened golden yellow.  This would definitely make a nice, universal colored base.

The formula of the Hydro-Powder Eyeshadows is phenomenal. They have a very creamy, almost water-based feel (that’s not to say they’re running or thin, but they’re creamy and have a wet texture) that glides onto the eye easily. The three shades I tried were all pigmented and applied smoothly and evenly to the eye whether you used your finger or a brush.

But the real reason these are amazing is that they’re crease-proof, budge-proof, and smudge-proof once they’ve dried. The drying time is long enough to give you time to blend them together, if you choose to use them as eyeshadows, but not so long that you have to wait around for it to set.

My favorite way to use these are as eyeshadow bases, because they work well to emphasize or intensify your eyeshadows as well as keeping them locked in place all day long. Even though I don’t personally use them as individual eyeshadows, they’re some of the easiest cream eyeshadows to blend together.

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 have problems with your eyeshadows creasing, Shiseido’s Hydro-Powder Eyeshadows may rescue you from your makeup woes either alone or worn under eyeshadow!

Availability: Nordstrom, Sephora

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Monday, April 26th, 2010

Milani Brown Liquif’Eye Metallic Eye Liner Pencil ($5.49) is a matte, medium-dark brown. I consider it a rather neutral brown, and it’s a great shade to use to define eyes for an everyday look. It’s less dramatic and obvious than black eyeliner. I love the Liquif’Eyes for their creamy feel and texture, easy-to-glide-on nature, and their long-wearing power. They’re really an all-around fantastic eyeliner, period.

This is a short review, as I just wanted to complete the set of Milani’s Liquif’Eye Eye Liners. You can see swatches of the four other shades and my full review here.

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

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

Recommendation: For an easy-to-wear, soft and creamy brown eyeliner that won’t break the budget, Milani has you covered.

Availability: Milani

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Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Guerlain Mirage Khol

Guerlain Mirage (06) Terracotta Khol ($35.00 for 0.03 oz.) is a loose eyeliner or khol.  It’s from this year’s Terracotta Collection. Mirage is a smoldering, smoked out gray-toned brown. It’s a nice, smoky shade, but since it’s not black but brown, it can be worn in the day time without overdoing it.

Guerlain’s Loose Khols do take some practice, because they are a bit different from your average eyeliner. I find these work the best as a waterline product–it really holds on tight for the ride. I get about six to eight hours of waterline wear with these. The included applicator is like a stick, and again, practice makes perfect. At first, you’ll be like, “Huh?” but just keep at it.

These can also be used as an eyeshadow, but since you don’t get much product in it (plenty for an eyeliner, but not a lot to use as an eyeshadow). I do want to point out that this is an eyeliner first, and many pencil eyeliners give youa bout 0.04 oz. in product–so don’t let the size totally scare you. A little goes a long way, and I love how long-wearing the product is.

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: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Though it takes some trial and error to get the application down, I find the long-wearing power to be well worth a little experimentation! The matte dark brown is great for everyday or evening, which is nice!

Availability: Nordstrom

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Saturday, April 24th, 2010

NARS Eye Pencils
NARS Eye Liner Pencils: Manon, Parrot Cay, Kitty, Kaliste, Black Moon

NARS Eye Liner Pencils for Lightweight Lining

NARS Eye Liner Pencil ($20.00) is a richly pigmented pencil eyeliner that is available in sixteen shades: Black Moon (dense black), Iceberg (crisp white), Kaliste (teal), Kitty (turquoise blue), Kyoto (olive green with shimmer), London (foggy gray), Mambo (chocolate brown), Manon (violet), Parrot Cay (mint green), Patmos (khaki green), Istanbul (sky blue), and Sandstorm (gold leaf).

I test-drove five shades over the past week, and NARS has some really stunning shades available. They’re just so rich and intense without being bright. Though the pencil tip is a little on the sharper side when you initially get them, after doing swatches on my arm, it whittled away enough that it was soft, smooth, and easy to use on my lower lash line.

It’s not ultra creamy but not dry either. I wouldn’t describe it as creamy so much as smooth. It easily glided on my lower lash line without any pulling or tugging, so that’s enough softness for me. I also didn’t have to layer in order to achieve true pigmentation, either.  Sometimes with pencils, the initial use can be a little rougher, but since I always swatch on my arm first, it helps to wear down the tip, in case it’s too sharp.

  • Manon is a blue-based violet purple. There’s no shimmer, just pure purple.
  • Parrot Cay is a minty green. I’m surprised it doesn’t look super chalky, being so pastel, but it’s an interesting way to open up eyes with color rather than a white or flesh-toned eyeliner.
  • Kitty is a rich sky blue. This one felt and looked the creamiest of the five I tried. It also felt like the most pigmented–very rich.
  • Kaliste is a darkened teal–I want to call it a forest teal, because it’s so dark–and it looks lovely with a neutral eye.
  • Black Moon is a blackened brown. I’m not sure why it’s described as a “dense black,” because it’s definitely not black–there are significant brown tones to it.

But there is one huge problem that renders these eyeliners amongst the worst I have ever used: they have no lasting power at all. I can’t even express to you how much I wanted these to work, because they are truly beautiful shades, and they do look amazing on–but I can’t even go twenty minutes without it starting to smudge and migrate all over the place. I don’t have an oily lash line, and I’ve never had major issues with an eyeliner going all over the place. But these took smudging and migration to a whole new level.

NARS Eye Pencils
After just one hour…

After an hour of wear, I had liner that was on my lower lash line… on my upper lash line (say WHAT?!), all faded and smudged every which way on my lower lash line, crept up to my waterline… it was not a pretty sight in the least bit, but I couldn’t resist capturing just how smudge-tastic these were on camera.

But anyway, the point is I loved the shade range and the feel of these pencils so much that I tried every single liner multiple times. They all performed the same. I was secretly wishing and hoping that maybe just Black Moon or Kaliste were poor performers, but even the lighter shades like Parrot Cay and Kitty played me for a fool. Not to mention, when I was checking for reviews of these online, I just did not find that many negative reviews.

So, I have these, and I do really love the shades. After I get over being totally laughed at by these pencils, I’ll probably use them, but set them with an eye sealer (like Benefit’s She-Laq or Make Up For Ever’s Eye Seal) and/or set with powder eyeshadow. But this is NARS we’re talking about, and even worse yet is it’s supposed to be a long-wearing pencil.

I give it points for being incredibly pigmented, smooth, and looking lovely on, but I took away the majority of points for its complete miss on long-wearing power and how extreme the fading, smudging, and migration is.  I would really love to hear from those who have used this product, because I’m totally sad over their performance after reading so many glowing reviews online!

Have you tried NARS Eyeliner? I hope your results were better than mine!

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

  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Unless you’re able to try these first in-store, I really can’t recommend them. I had such a terrible experience with them fading, smudging, and migrating that there’s no way I could feel good about saying, “Try ‘em for yourself!” There seems to be plenty of positive reviews on these, so maybe I’m the rare exception. But how I wish I wasn’t!

Availability: NARS

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Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Lancome Pink Party Pretty Palette

Lancome Pink. Party. Pretty. Color Design Palette ($45.00 for 0.253 oz.) is a slim, summer eyeshadow palette that features six shades varying from a soft pink to a deeper black with copper shimmer.   It’s part of Lancome’s Bronze Riviera Collection for summer.

  • Flower is a soft, pearly rose-beige with white shimmer.
  • Fresh Rose is a coral-rose with a soft pink sheen.
  • Kitten Heel is a pinky-peach with golden sheen. This one was like NARS Orgasm in eyeshadow form, aka awesome.
  • Tropiques Glow is an orange-copper with a soft sheen.
  • Lounging is a warmed-up red-toned medium brown with a very satiny finish.
  • Lava is a charcoal black with gold and copper flecks of shimmer. It applies a bit sheerly, unfortunately, because it does look awfully pretty in the pan. Nonetheless, over a darker base, it’d be gorgeous (since the darker base will fill in the sheerness).

All of the shades–except Lava–had great texture and pigmentation. They were smooth, soft, and easy to blend. Lava was on the sheerer side, almost a bit chalky in the base color. Kitten Heel appealed to me the post, being this lovely shade of pink-peach–very summery and flattering, particularly on warmer skin tones.

I do think this palette is naturally more flattering on warmer skin tones, but I can still see it working on cooler skin tones. Flower, Fresh Rose, and Lava are all neutral to neutral-cool, so they can be worn with warmer shades to keep it more wearable on cooler skin tones.

Some combination ideas…

  • LID: Flower, LID: Fresh Rose, CREASE: Lava
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Fresh Rose, CREASE: Lava
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Tropiques Glow, CREASE: Lounging
  • LID: Fresh Rose, LID: Lounging, CREASE: Lounging
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Tropiques Glow, CREASE: Lava

The packaging is gorgeous and compact. It’s a cardboard-encased plastic palette where the outside is wrapped in a metallic bronze that flashes copper-bronze when light hits it, but looks just bronze at other times (see the photos!). There’s a floral design that wraps around the outside as well–I loved that it actually wrapped around to the back of the palette.

Lancome also put quite a few eyeshadows in this palette, and the price is just right–by the ounce, the eyeshadows cost less than the majority of other high-end brands (including MAC and NARS!).

P.S. — Lancome’s Bamboo Bronzer is now available at Nordstrom! :)

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: Depending on what you already have in your stash, this palette could make a great addition. It has a balance of neutral eyeshadows paired with warmer shades you’d expect to see in the summer. There are so many color combinations waiting to be done with these, too, which is always a sign of a cohesive eyeshadow palette.

Availability: Nordstrom

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