Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Beauty on a Budget:  Maybelline Irresistibly Ivy Eyeshadow Quad

Maybelline Eye Studio Irresistibly Ivy Eyeshadow Quad ($8.49) is a mix of four eyeshadows that can be used together or alone. They’re very soft, slightly powdery shades, so it’s better to use a tapping technique, rather than sweeping/brushing it on a lot. Think less windshield-wiper motions when applying these with a brush. I find that this is just something that holds true for all softer shadows (e.g. Stila and Urban Decay).

Irresistibly Ivy includes a softly shimmered champagne beige; rich, orange-copper with golden shimmer; matte teal with glitter sparkle; and reddened bronze-copper. I found that the orange-copper shade had the best texture and color pay off–very smooth and true-to-color. The teal had a little more of a dusty feel to it, since it’s more of a matte base with shimmer on top.

For drugstore beauty, the pay off is intense and over a good primer (e.g. UDPP), I had no problems with the color popping and staying true. I found minimal fading after eight hours, so they’re not quite as good as some of my favorite eyeshadows, but for the price, they’re an excellent alternative for those on a budget–or would like to try certain colors without shelling out $15+ for one.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

Recommendation: If you like soft shadows and want something affordable, Maybelline Eye Studio Quads might be up your alley!

Availability: Local drugstores

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Monday, February 15th, 2010

Milani Liquif'eye Liner

Long-lasting Eyeliner on a Budget:  Milani Liquif’Eye

Milani Liquif’Eye Metallic Eye Liner Pencils ($5.49 each) are new for spring and available in five shades: Black, Silver, Gold, Aqua, and Brown. As far as I’m concerned, there is always more room in the world for metallic/chrome eyeliner. These do remind me of L’Oreal HIP Chrome Eyeliners in many ways, though these are a little firmer and more metallic than chrome finish. They’re definitely similar, though.

Liquif’Eye is soft, smooth, and richly pigmented eyeliner. It glides on like my beloved Urban Decay 24/7 Eye Liners and looks just as smooth. I get good wear out of these–no smudging, budging, or migration eight hours later. They don’t look faded either! Surprisingly, they stay well on my waterline, too, for several hours (but I do have a more watery waterline at times), which isn’t something most liners can do for me.

At just $5.49 each, they’re hard to resist. Not only are they excellent in every way–quality, long-lasting liner that is rich in color and smooth in texture–but they’re priced just right. I tried out four of the five shades, and I found each one to be just as good. I hope to see Milani release more shades in the future–how about a green, copper, and violet?

  • Black (#01) is a rich, deep dark black. It’s an absolutely smoldering black that’s truly black–there’s no gray here.
  • Silver (#02) is a bright and shiny silver with a metallic finish.
  • Gold (#03) is a toned down, burnished gold. It’s not a true yellow gold, but it’a step down from that. Little more “antique” gold in it.
  • Aqua (#04) is a bright aqua-blue. It isn’t quite as metallic as either the gold or silver shades, but it still has that metallic sheen.

Even the packaging is anything but cheap.  It’s a matte black that looks and feels sleek.  If you blindfolded me, I couldn’t tell you that these didn’t feel like other high-end eyeliners, like Smashbox and Urban Decay.

Have you tried these yet?

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

Recommendation: Next time you’re near a Milani display, these are definitely worth a little look-see.

Availability: Local drugstores, MilaniCosmetics.com

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Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Laura Mercier Golden Brown Eyeshadow Duo

Laura Mercier Polished Collection: Eye Colour Duos in Golden Brown & Plum Spice

Laura Mercier Eye Colour Duos ($22.00 each, 0.09 oz. each) come in three different finishes: luster, matte, and sateen. From Laura Mercier’s Polished Collection, there are three new Colour Duos: Golden Brown (Luster), Cocoa Rose (Matte), and Plum Spice (Sateen). The new shades are–surprise, surprise–limited edition.

  • Golden Brown is a mix of a softened metallic gold and light bronze with copper-bronze sheen.
  • Plum Spice is a satiny smooth dirty peach and lightly shimmered dirty pinked plum.

Both duos had a very smooth, soft texture and the shadows swatched easily. Golden Brown had more color pigmentation and an even smoother feel than Plum Spice, which had more of a semi-sheer appearance and required some layering to get a higher intensity.

I think Laura Mercier fans will enjoy these limited edition shades, because both duos include colors that are easy to use, perfect for spring, and can be mixed with many products you may already own. If you’re more of a bright color eyeshadow kind of person, these probably weren’t designed with you in mind!

Everything I’ve tried from Laura Mercier has been all about creating soft, flattering looks with sheer or buildable color for everyday wear–these fit that philosophy to a T. I think this best describes the line (taken from the “about” section on her website): “She personally created the colors to satisfy the needs of her clients, based on a classic and always-current palette, rather than seasonal trends only.”

The duos actually contain a decent amount of product–it’s like you get enough to use in your lifetime, without having to invest a ton into it. By the ounce, Laura Mercier’s Eye Colour Duos are more affordable than MAC and just a little above Make Up For Ever eyeshadows. I’ve always liked her packaging–it’s kind of like a chocolate brown with bronzy shimmer/sparkles in the mix. Pretty, functional, and a little fun.

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you like soft, smooth color that applies evenly and without fallout, Laura Mercier is worth checking out!

Availability: BlueMercury

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Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

NARS Kuala Lumpur Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Spring 2010:  Kuala Lumpur Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Kuala Lumpur Eyeshadow Duo ($32.00) is a newly-released eyeshadow duo from NARS Spring 2010 Collection.

On one side, it’s a melon-y peach kind of shade with a shimmery, slightly frosted finish–it would appear that this is just one of those shades for the spring season (like Benefit Nice Melons, MAC Flip, Urban Decay Muchness; or even MAC Melon Pigment).  The other side is a reddened burgundy with a softer frost finish and sheen.

I don’t love this eyeshadow duo, and I really thought I’d be all over it, given the way it looks.  However, this is an eyeshadow duo one really needs to use wet, because the color pay off is not up to my expectations for a brand like NARS when they’re used dry.  When used dry, particularly on the lid, they tend to look incredibly sheer and have a good deal of fall out (primarily of the shimmer).  I didn’t expect to have any fall out troubles with this, considering they’re pressed powder shadows with shimmer, rather than glittery bits!

The texture of Kuala Lumpur is very soft–the shadows are smooth and soft to the touch but powdery, and when swatched, they look nicer than it was when I attempted to use the colors dry in a look.  In order to make the look come together better, I ended up using the colors wet, which definitely helped quite a bit.  I didn’t love it even wet, though, because once it dries, it does fade back a bit.  It’s like, when you use the eyeshadow wet, it doesn’t remain looking like it does when wet, but it doesn’t completely become how it looks when dry.  Instead, it settles somewhere in between.  (You can see me wearing this duo in this look.)  I also found that when used dry, it just didn’t seem to apply evenly and I really had to pack on the color to get an even (though sheer) application.

For $32, I want an eyeshadow I can truly use wet or dry, not just wet.  I also don’t want to have to work too hard to make it work for me, either.  I can get down with having to experiment a bit for just the right application method when we’re talking about a $2 eyeshadow, but if you’re going to buy high-end, it should work right outta the compact, you know?

The good news, for those concerned with the $32 price tag, is you get plenty for your money.  The math works out to NARS eyeshadow duos being cheaper by the ounce than both MAC and Make Up For Ever.  But maybe you’re better off picking up a different duo…

Oh, p.s. if you dig these colors, you may find that layering them over a more metallic base will help enhance their colors.  Like say MAC Rubenesque Paint Pot.  I always find poor performing shadows seem to work better when layered over colored and shimmery/metallic bases.

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  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you like your colors soft, I think you’ll still enjoy this new shade for spring.

Availability: BlueMercury

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Monday, February 8th, 2010

Physician's Formula Bronze Brown Eyes Shimmerstrips

9 Eyeshadows for the Price of $11: Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips

Physicians Formula Bronze Brown Eyes Shimmer Strips ($10.95 for 0.26 oz.) is a strip of nine different shades designed to complement brown eyes specifically. Bronze Brown Eyes includes: a neutral lilac, soft bronze brown, coppery bronze, golden champagne, soft copper, bronze, light copper, plummy brown, and burgundy brown. All nine shades apply smoothly, give good color pay off, and have a frosty finish. (If you’re into matte textures, Shimmer Strips are not the way to go.) Physicians Formula describes the shades as “three blendable trios perfectly paired to color, contour, and line your eyes.” Sort of handy if you’re not quite sure how to pair your shades yet.

Physicians Formula’s Shimmer Strips line-up always reminds me of Bobbi Brown’s Shimmerbricks. They’re not-so-elegantly packaged in comparison, as they come in a clear, slightly glossy plastic packaging. Shimmer Strips come in a slim compact that skinny and long that snaps open and includes an angled sponge-tip applicator (which is as good as sponge applicators are, which is not very). Otherwise, they do have a very similar feel and look–soft, not ultra intense in pigmentation but not sheer, and frosty.

I found these worked just fine using regular makeup brushes, though less is more–piling too much on the brush can lead to excess fall out. Overall, I found fall out to be minimal and the color to stay on fairly well with just some fading after the eighth hour of wear. Physicians Formula also designed Shimmer Strips for Hazel, Blue, and Green eyes, if you’ve been looking for a how-to on how to make your [insert color here] eyes.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’ve been looking for easy-to-use eyeshadows on a budget, Physicians Formula’s Shimmer Strips give you nine all in one!

Availability: Physicians Formula

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Friday, February 5th, 2010

Smashbox Liquid Pen Liner

Easy Liquid Lining with Liner Pens:  Version Smashbox

Smashbox Heartbreaker Jet Black Liquid Liner Pen ($24.00) is a felt-tipped pen that’s designed to look and feel like liquid liner, but with the control and precision that a pen can deliver. The pen is new and limited edition from Smashbox’s Heartbreaker Collection for the spring.

It’s actually kind of funny, because it seems like pen liners are the new thing to do, as several brands have put one out for the spring. I remember the first one I ever used was MAC’s Penultimate, which I still use on occasion. I like pen liners because they are easier to use than traditional liquid liners. I think I do personally prefer gel eyeliners for the upper lash line over liquid liners, but I do prefer pen liners over traditional liquid liners. You have a lot more control, and it is nice that the tip is always rich in color–you don’t have to worry about running out or product drying on you mid-lining.

Smashbox’s Liquid Liner Pen comes in just one shade, Jet Black, which is a rich black. It’s pretty intense and does go on as a slightly shiny black. I’ve noticed that a lot of black liquid liners seem to reflect more brown-black when swatched, but they really do appear quite black in real life–the same thing happened here. I urge you to check it out where I wore it in this look (on the right eye–your right, not mine–the left eye was done with Stila’s Pen Liner!)

If you like extremely tight/thin lines, I don’t think this is your best bet. It can give you a relatively thin line, but I had trouble getting and keeping it ultra thin. The tip is long enough to give you a nice, broad stroke, but it’s not so long that you lose control over the shape and direction of your line (nor does it kind of bend too much). This does have a very “liquid” feel when you use it, so don’t go over the line too much — once or twice should be plenty. This liquid liner does last a solid eight hours or longer on me (I avoid wearing my makeup for longer than eight hours a day!) and doesn’t fade, smudge, or migrate whatsoever while I’ve worn it.

It’s housed in a simple pen-shaped tube with a removeable cap that clicks back on. It’s very minimalist, but it’s slim and functional. The price tag seems a little higher than I’d have expected (Jet Set and Cream Eye Liner by Smashbox are both $22), but it’s not too out of the price range for Smashbox liners. The other downside is that this is a product that could become a staple in your routine, but it’s limited edition!

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

Recommendation: If you’ve always wanted to try black liquid liner but don’t have the steadiest hand, a pen liner might be a good option!

Availability: Beauty.com, Nordstrom, Sephora

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