Wednesday, November 4th, 2009


Smashbox Wish for the Perfect Pencils Set: Celebrate, Wish, Hope, Love, Dream

Holiday Glitz & Glamour with Smashbox’s Perfect Pencils

Smashbox Wish For The Perfect Pencils ($32.00 for 5 0.04 oz. eyeliners) includes five stunning, limited edition shades of pencil eyeliners.

  • Celebrate is a bright, metallic silver.
  • Wish is a deep forest green black.
  • Hope is a bright pop of violet purple.
  • Love is a rich bronze with a cool tone to it.
  • Dream is a deep black.

First, I demand to know why Smashbox doesn’t have a whole line of permanent eye pencils available.

I really, really would love to know why they keep such a fabulous product limited to seasonal offerings. (I believe the last set of liners they offered was with the Muse collection, but my memory often fails me, so perhaps they did it in summer/fall, too.) BUT WHY, SMASHBOX, WHY? I’m totally serious!

These eyeliners are incredibly smooth, easy to use, line beautifully (no dragging), and they stay all day. In fact, in a blind-lining-challenge, I wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference between these and Urban Decay’s 24/7 Liners (which I love, love, love!). They even have a similar look to them. I’d say these are, perhaps, not quite as soft, but it’s really debatable and almost undetectable in difference. They’re even the same size (0.04 oz.)! But since they’re packaged together as a set, you’re actually getting a very nice deal at $32 for five full-sized liners. That brings each of these down to $6.40 a pop–cheaper than a lot of drugstore brands–and they’re some hardy liners.

I found they didn’t wear all day on the waterline (not much does), but I got about three or four hours of bold wear on the lower waterline and then the rest was just slightly faded–so it wasn’t super noticeable unless you were inspecting me and all in my face. On the lower lash line, they performed like true champs. They stayed true to their bold color, lasted all day, didn’t migrate, fade, or smudge. It’s truly a fantastic formula, and I want to be the first one to start the petition for Smashbox to make a permanent, full range of these pencils!

Plus, I love any time a brand gives part or all of their proceeds to charity: Smashbox is granting wishes this holiday season! With each purchase from the WISH collection, you are helping make miracles happen. Smashbox will donate $1 of every purchase up to $25,000 to Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization that grants the wish of life by providing medical care, life-saving research, and on-going education to help millions of kids overcome diseases and injuries of every kind.

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: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Seriously, less than $7 a pop, fantastic colors, long-wearing formula? I don’t know how you can resist, but I give you props if you do.

Availability: Sephora

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Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Holiday Glitz & Glamour with Dolce & Gabbana Gold Smooth Eye Colour Duo

Dolce & Gabbana Gold Smooth Eye Colour Duo ($36.00 for 0.17 oz.) contains two eyeshadows housed in a “gold” compact and two sponge-tipped brushes.

The two shades included are a shimmery, true yellow gold with a metallic sheen and a coppery bronze shade with a metallic/frost finish. I already know what you’re thinking — because I thought the same, too — these are exact dupes of MAC’s Goldmine and Amber Lights eyeshadows. And you know what? They are and they aren’t. The gold shade in this duo is truer gold, a little yellower (less orange), and it’s not as frosty. The coppery shade is smoother, not as coppery (slightly more golden), and also not as frosty.

At the end of the day, they are reasonably similar, though, so it’s a matter of what poison you prefer. These are ultra smooth, silky shades that blend effortlessly and both shades pack plenty of color pay off. I recommend you check out a swatch of Goldmine and see how it differs, as well as do the same for Amber Lights.

Surprisingly, Dolce & Gabbana provides you with a good amount of product in this eyeshadow duo. You get 0.17 oz. for $36 or $18.00 per 0.085 oz. eyeshadow (or $211.76/oz.). This makes Dolce & Gabbana (by the ounce) less expensive than MAC ($290.00/oz.) and NARS ($314.29/oz.). I love comparing by the ounce, because it gives you a way to compare across any and all brands and just see how much you’re getting for your money. For some of us, the amount isn’t really that important, because we know we’re unlikely to finish an eyeshadow! (You know, maybe it’s not “us” but it’s me, and I feel better if I believe I’m not alone.)

Bottom Line: Dolce & Gabbana surprised me with how high quality their eyeshadows were. When I first started trying out their products, I had a fear that they’d be gimmicky and very reliant on their name rather than their product, but I was completely wrong. I’ve been pleased with the majority of their products, and the Gold Eye Colour Duo is no exception. The eyeshadows have a smooth texture, lovely metallic finish, and color pigmentation is very true.

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: I love that you’re getting your money’s worth in eyeshadow, even if I may not use it all up myself, and I happen to adore these kinds of shades (hello, I’m a total gold-eyeshadow girl!). I think if these shades appeal to you, it’s worth checking out. If they don’t, maybe check out one of their other duos!

Availability: Saks

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Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Today, CoverGirl is doing a pre-sale for their two new additions to the Blast line-up with Smoky ShadowBlast ($8.49) and ShineBlast Lip Gloss ($8.49). For those who purchase by visiting Drugstore.com, they’ll save $5 and earn free shipping while supplies last. For those who purchase by visiting CVS, they will receive free shipping. I found the pre-sale site forced me to “build a look,” when I just wanted to see where to buy, so you can just go to drugstore.com directly and search for it by name and it’ll show up.  Drugstore.com is also showing all of the shades shipping in “one to two weeks.”  Curious!

Smoky ShadowBlast is available for pre-sale in four shades: Silver Sky, Onyx Smoke, Bronze Fire, and Purple Plume. ShineBlast Lip Gloss is available for pre-sale in four shades: Dazzle, Flare, Ablaze, and Firecracker.

When these officially hit stores in January 2010, we’ll see an addition of Citrus Flair and Tempest Blue ShadowBlasts, and we’ll see a whole slew of additional glosses come the new year. The additional gloss shades are: Aglow, Beam, Ember, Fire, Gleam, Glimmer, Glow, Heat, Ignite, Radiate, Smolder, and Sparkler.

I just played around with two shades of ShadowBlast this weekend, because I wanted to be able to share a little more insight than just marketing blitz as the pre-sale got underway…

First, an obvious point of contention with this product is the lack of labeling on the product itself.  The original packaging does tell you the shade names, but once you take ‘em out of the packaging and toss it away, there’s nothing to tell you what you have.

First, I tried Citrus Flaire ShadowBlast, which was a duo of shimmery chartreuse green and a rich, shimmery copper. The chartreuse side is “step one,” designed to be use as a lid color, while the copper side is “step two,” meant to be used as a liner or crease shade. The second one I tried was Silver Sky ShadowBlast, which was a duo of a shimmery, light silver (“step one”) and a smoky purple with lighter shimmer (“step two”). Both ShadowBlasts were pigmented, smooth, and creamy without being overly so–just enough slip to glide along the lid without tugging or pulling.

After playing around with these this weekend, I’d say that they’re best layered over a base like Urban Decay Primer Potion or Too Faced Shadow Insurance or else set well with powder eyeshadow for best results. I found when worn alone, it was hard to get just the right amount so it didn’t crease or look faded. If you just want to use them as a liner, I didn’t have migration issues, but the tip of the product is a little bulky, so it’s not super easy to use as a liner.

These reminded me a lot of MAC’s shadesticks, actually – just a little softer and smoother and with less staying power (on their own). When I used it alone the first time around, it creased within fifteen minutes–I threw a layer of the chartreuse shade all over my lid for a quick and dirty crease-test, and by the time I finished photographing and swatching the other ShadowBlast, it had definitely creased.

Bottom Line: It’s really great to see CoverGirl step up their game with these pigmented cream eyeshadows. I think if you’re looking for a way to boost up eyeshadow colors, these make a great way to add an extra level of dimension underneath your regular eyeshadows.

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: 5/5

Recommendation: For a more budget-friendly alternative to pigmented cream shadows and ways to enhance your eyeshadow, these are worth checking out.

Availability: CoverGirl

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Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Bobbi Brown Chrome Palette ($75.00) is the stunning eye and lip palette include with Bobbi Brown’s Chrome Collection, and it is also limited edition (of course!). The palette includes ten shades of eyeshadow and four shades of lip glosses.

For Eyes

  • White Eyeshadow is just that, a matte snowy white. It’s slightly cool, but it isn’t frosty or cold.
  • Polar Ice Eyeshadow is a soft, light gray with a blue tinge and silver shimmer. It goes on a bit sheer, but it can be layered for a slightly more solid look.
  • Storm Cloud Eyeshadow is a sparkly medium dark brown. It doesn’t really have anything special about it to make it unique, but it still looks pretty (you just may already have something similar in your stash).
  • Iron Eyeshadow is a matte slate gray. It didn’t go on as smoothly as the White eyeshadow, and it felt a little more dusty.
  • Thunder Eyeshadow is a glittery dark gray with a touch of black and silver shimmer. This reminded me of MAC’s Knight Divine, though not quite as glittery or gritty.
  • Moonlight Eyeshadow is a glittery soft pink with a little champagne tone. Bobbi Brown describes it as a cool purple sparkle, which is clearly not. The back of my palette shows that this is where Moonlight is supposed to be, but I really feel like this and Foil were misplaced/mislabeled.
  • Cyber Grey Eyeshadow is a slightly purple tinged smoky silver shimmer shade.
  • Foil Eyeshadow is a glittery soft purple-gray — very similar to Cyber Grey, but it has more of a glittery texture. As I mentioned earlier, I think this is really Moonlight and Foil is the other one… as Bobbi Brown describes Foil as “a pale bronze.” Again, I’m just going off the back of my palette (and Bobbi Brown’s website).
  • Chrome Eyeshadow is a silver with a little brown thrown in – kind of reminds me of Pewter Chrome Eyeshadow, but not nearly as pretty. (Sorry, I *love* that eyeshadow, so not much can compare.)
  • Charcoal Haze Eyeshadow is a matte medium gray-black. This one had the same texture as Iron, but it did seem a little smoother.

For Lips

  • Pink Mist Lip Gloss is a medium yellow-pink with multi-colored sparkle. It’s pretty sheer, but I found I could actually see some color when I swatched it on my skin (which I barely could with the Earth Metal palette).
  • Winter Bronze Lip Gloss is a copper sparkled bronze shade. On lips, it looks a bit burnished, but it’s not ultra pigmented so it’s more wearable than it looks.
  • Berry Lip Gloss is a muted plum-berry with soft sparkle. I liked this shade the most, as it seemed opaque enough to add color to lips, but still soft as I’d expect from Bobbi Brown.
  • Chrome Pink Lip Gloss is beige-rose with gold sparkle. It’s pretty, and it’s a shade I could see people loving for everyday.

You know me — I don’t like lip palettes. I don’t like them alone, and I don’t like them when attached to eyeshadow palettes, either. They’re just a no-go for me. I will say that the gloss in these are more pigmented than in Bobbi Brown’s Earth Metal Eye & Lip Palette, which is a plus.  I’m not going to drop points on this product because of that personal bias, so I’m judging on the product included itself, which is better than a lot of lip palettes I’ve tried.

In the palette, you get 10 eyeshadows, each weighing 0.02 oz. (total weight of 0.20 oz.), and you also get four lipglosses, each weighing 0.03 oz. (total weight of 0.12 oz.). A single Bobbi Brown eyeshadow retails for $22 for 0.10 oz. and a single lip gloss retails for $20 for 0.14 oz. The reason for all these conversions is to see exactly how much you’re paying for what and whether it’s worth buying a palette if you like a few shades or if you should look towards Bobbi Brown’s permanent line-up instead. The eyeshadows (by weight) would yield about $44 in value, while the lip glosses yield about $17 — which gives you a total “value” of $61. The palette is priced at $75, so I do think it’s a bit steep, even when you consider the fact that you’re getting a variety of shades all housed in a pretty chrome palette.

I also don’t think there’s quite enough variety between the ten shades of eyeshadows — a few are quite similar (like Cyber Grey and Foil). This is definitely a cool smoky eye palette with a little purple kick. I like that they included three different matte shades in the palette, because I think mattes are often missed in palettes. I do wish they had included a highlighter shade, as I think the White eyeshadow will be too garish on bolder skin tones to work well as a highlighter. In a palette of this size, I’d expect a really obvious highlighter shade.

For me, this palette is just okay. It’s not the best value, and I think Bobbi Brown has better shades (or the equivalent) available in her permanent range. In fact, I definitely recommend her Chrome Eyeshadows (and duh, my #1 recommendation would be for Pewter!) if you’re not liking the majority of the shades in this palette. The eyeshadows are soft, have a smooth texture, and they’re all pigmented. There is nothing wrong with them, but I’m just not loving the color combination overall. Nice but not amazing, you know?

Bottom Line: for those who DO love the majority of the shades in the palette and don’t mind lipgloss in pan form, I think you may like this. It’s housed in chromed-out package (which does hold fingerprints, FYI!), offers plenty of smoky eyeshadow combinations, and is appropriate for the upcoming holiday season.  I also think Bobbi Brown fans may enjoy this more than I did, and I think it’s worth at least a peek next time you’re near a Bobbi Brown counter to see for yourself.

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

  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:

Availability: Bobbi Brown, Nordstrom

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Rimmel Sexy Curves Mascara
Rimmel Sexy Curves Mascara

Rimmel Sexy Curves Mascara (Waterproof) ($7.50) is designed to give you full, curled lashes.  It purports to give you “70% curlier” lashes, and lashes look “lusciously curled, plumped and defined.”  Rimmel also advertises that you’ll see 7 times your natural volume and the curl will hold for a full twelve hours.  I gotta say, Rimmel is making a lot of very big claims about this mascara!

Unfortunately, my experience didn’t really live up to Rimmel’s claims of fuller, well-curled lashes–at least not to the degree that they advertised.  I’d say that my lashes are, perhaps, have a slight lift to them, but it’s not much–it’s just more pronounced by the lengthening of the mascara and slight volume it adds.  It just neither gives me fuller nor more curled lashes really.  I’d still feel like I needed to use an eyelash curler to really get the curl I’m looking for, and the mascara performs pretty average in all other aspects.

Out of personal taste, I tend to like incredibly rich black shades–the darker the better–so Rimmel’s level of blackness in pigmentation just doesn’t do it for me.  My lashes do look better when I use it, they just don’t stand out like they do with other mascaras that I have loved.  To be honest, I can be a harsh critic when it comes to mascara, because I always judge a mascara on how well it performs relative to the claims the brand makes about what it should do.  It’s great if it still turns out to be awesome in some other way, but usually if they fall flat on their claims, then it’s just so-so and nothing stellar.  This is definitely the case with Rimmel’s Sexy Curves mascara.

I will say that one thing I did really like about this mascara is the brush separated lashes really well and kept them from clumping despite layering on three coats of mascara.  The brush is relatively easy to use, and the packaging is definitely eye-catching in that bright, metallic teal tube.  (It does, however, hold finger prints, so big boo from me.)

Bottom Line: I’d say to skip this mascara.  It performs fairly average at the end of the day, because it really doesn’t do much but add a smidgen of length (and maybe a little volume).  It just looks like I’m wearing mascara, but it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a very good one!

Anyone like this mascara? I could have sworn some readers said this was their favorite!

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

  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  I’d pass on this mascara–it just doesn’t live up to the lofty claims Rimmel makes about it at all.  I normally expect mascara claims to be rather outlandish, but I feel like this one doesn’t even get close.

Availability: Walgreens

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Monday, October 26th, 2009


L’Oreal HIP Chrome Eyeliner: Black Shock, Silver Lightning, Gold Charge, Violet Volt

L’Oreal HIP Chrome Eyeliner ($10.00) pencil eyeliners with a chrome detail to them. The formula currently has four shades available:

  • Black Shock is a deep black satin — this one didn’t really read metallic or chrome to me, but it’s such an ultra dark black, I love it and don’t care at all that it isn’t more chrome-d out!
  • Silver Lightning is a shiny bright silver with a definite chrome effect.
  • Gold Charge is a deep gold with a decent amount of brightness to it.
  • Violet Volt is a dark violet purple, almost a jewel-tone purple, with a slight metallic sheen (not quite as strong as Silver Lightning or Gold Charge).

I’m not often impressed by a lot of color products available at mass retailers, but when I am, I get very excited to share with others about my find! These are one of those instances where I was utterly blown away (and am a little annoyed with myself for sitting on these–not testing them, that is–for over two months) by the pigmentation, feel, and quality of the product.

These Chrome Eyeliners are ultra soft when you touch them, and the feel reminds me of an even softer version of Urban Decay’s 24/7 Liners, which I absolutely adore. These are so soft that I’d actually say it’s one of the minor issues with working with these – if you apply these with too much pressure (as is easy to do when swatching, ha!), the product may break a bit. I’m not sure if L’Oreal has a good sharpener for these, but they worked well with my Urban Decay one (which, coincidentally, works best on my 24/7 Liners, too).

The color pigmentation is amazing — very true to color and bright and bold. There’s no sheer color here. They apply easily because they’re so soft and smooth, and they just glide onto the lash line with no fuss. I will say the first time I applied these on my lower lash line and lower waterline, my eyes teared up and watered a fair amount. The liner stayed pretty well in place on the lower lash line and faded after an hour so of watery eyes on the waterline (to be expected).

I layered both Black Shock and Silver Lightning together a few days later, and I didn’t find my eyes teared up at all. I doubt very much that these are waterline tested or labeled safe, so just want to caution those looking for something to use on the waterline. Nonetheless, I found the liners wore well throughout the day and didn’t smudge or migrate on my lower lash line.

Bottom Line: Whether you find these at full price or are able to get a good deal (buy one, get one!), these are worth every penny. (I will say that $10 for an eyeliner at mass is a bit steep for me.) Soft, bold color that lasts for hours and stays put. I was just about to give up on L’Oreal, but these are totally amazing. Now, I’m a bit more eager to see what else L’Oreal releases in the future!

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

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

Recommendation: For metallic, chrome-a-licious eyeliner, L’Oreal HIP makes a fantastic product to check out next time you’re at the drugstore!

Availability: Drugstore.com

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