Monday, September 28th, 2009

MAC DSquared Collection
MAC Greasepaint Sticks: V, B, Black

MAC Cosmetics DSquared Collection: Greasepaint Stick & Feline Kohl Power

MAC DSquared Collection is small launch in-stores today, the 28th. The collection includes three shades of Greasepaint Sticks and repromotion of Feline kohl power.

Greasepaint Stick

  • B is a deep, dark navy blue with lighter blue shimmer and a metallic sheen.
  • V is a deep, dark purple-violet with lighter purple shimmer and a metallic sheen.
  • Black is a dark black-purple with a violet cast and shimmer that’s more noticeable when swatched than when used as a liner.

Kohl Power

  • Feline is an intense, richly pigmented black liner that goes on incredibly dark. One of my favorite black liners!

Per my review of the Greasepaint Stick from Style Black, I haven’t yet found these to be rockin’ my world yet. They migrate on my lower lash line quite a bit – kind of smudgy and creasing on the lower lash line. It’s great that I can smudge the product when I’m applying it, but after I smudge it, I expect it to stay put!

On the water line, it holds up better, but it seems to aggravate my eyes, so I think I’m too sensitive to wear it on my water line. I wish the Black Greasepaint Stick was actually a true black, particularly since V exists so soon after the original release. The Greasepaint Sticks can be a bit thick to work with, so you may find yourself using a separate brush to apply this product in thinner, more precise lines. They feel a bit like a shadestick to me, actually.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you like shadesticks, you may find these to be great bases for darker looks!

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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Sunday, September 27th, 2009


Roach, Gash, Lucky, Shattered, Acid Rain

Urban Decay Liquid Liner ($18.00) is available in a slew of shades in a cute inkwell-like pot. There are fourteen shades to choose from, from purple to black to red.

  • Roach is a reddish-toned dark brown with a metallic finish.
  • Gash is a deep red with just a touch of brown.
  • Lucky is a coppery medium-dark brown.
  • Shattered is a medium-dark grassy green with some antique gold thrown in.
  • Acid Rain is a bright pop of chartreuse green.

Urban Decay’s Liquid Liners are incredibly long-wearing, smudge-proof, budge-proof, and nearly waterproof. Once dry (takes a few seconds, but it doesn’t take long), the liner doesn’t budge at all. You can move it around before it dries, but once it sets, good luck with that! All of the ones I have give off a bit of a metallic sheen even when dry, which is something I personally like. The formula is really great for those who need their liner to stay in place without a lot of fuss. I love that these don’t fade even a little bit after twelve hours of wear. I also love the shade variety — you can’t always find red or bright green liquid liners!

The packaging is so-so; the inkwell design is cute, but it’s not space-saving. It also doesn’t make these as portable as they could be if they were in the more traditional liquid liner tube packaging (I heard that it used to be, actually!). The brush included could probably be a little finer, a little tighter, but it gets the job done with some practice. If you’re not planning to take these on-the-go, a separate eyeliner brush is a better bet. I like either 208 or 209 by MAC myself for these. I will say that the included brush does feel quite comfortable in my hand, even if the brush itself could be improved upon.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you’re looking for richly pigmented liquid liners, Urban Decay has you covered!

Availability: Sephora

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Friday, September 25th, 2009

Urban Decay Book of Shadows, Vol. 2

Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol. II Review, Photos, Swatches

Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol. II ($48.00) is the second installation in the Book of Shadows eyeshadow palette series. It is also part of Urban Decay’s holiday offerings. You can view my review on last year’s Book of Shadows for comparison, as well.

First, the palette includes sixteen eyeshadows. The new and exclusive shades are AC/DC, Nylon, Mushroom, Sphynx, Jinx, Homegrown, Misdemeanor, and Perversion. The existing shades are Sellout, Gunmetal, Ecstasy, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, Twice Baked, Half Baked, Flipside, and YDK. Each eyeshadow is 0.03 oz., compared to single eyeshadows that are 0.05 oz. and retail for $16.00 and the deluxe eyeshadows that are 0.09 oz. for $18.00. All of the existing shades are single eyeshadows (not deluxe), so it’s best to compare to that.  Just to put it in perspective, by the ounce, these are about half the price (by ounce!) as the full-sized versions.

Shade Breakdown

  • Perversion is a nearly matte charcoal black with just a tiny dust of silver sparkle. (I know Urban Decay says it’s matte, but it seemed like it had some sparkle to it every time I looked at it.) This shade was also included in last year’s palette.
  • Gunmetal is a frosty, silvery-gray with lighter silver sparkle.
  • Ecstasy is a shimmery cool-toned medium purple with lighter pinky-purple shimmer.
  • AC/DC is a burgundyish-plum with a dirty silver sheen.
  • Nylon is a medium bronzy-brown with softer bronze shimmer and has a frosty finish.
  • Sellout is a frosty, intensely pigmented champagne-nude. I really liked the color pigmentation of this shade in particular, and it felt very, very smooth.
  • Mushroom is a dark, cool-toned taupe-y brown with cool bronze shimmer. This is sort of similar to the cream eyeshadow of the same name.
  • Sphynx is a lightly brightened cotton candy pink with an icier pink sheen.
  • Half Baked is a coppery bronze with a golden bronze metallic sheen and shimmer.
  • Twice Baked is a dark, semi-matte chocolate brown with just a light dusting of bronze.
  • Midnight Cowboy Rides Again is a glittery confection of light taupe brown and champagne. This eyeshadow had the worst texture of the bunch — very gritty, very glittery.
  • YDK is a medium-toned cool-toned brown with a reddish tone and a frost finish.
  • Jinx is a bright, medium freshwater blue that goes on very pigmented and smooth.
  • Flipside is a green-teal, mermaid-esque shade with a frost finish.
  • Homegrown is a bright, grassy green with a golden-green sheen.
  • Misdemeanor is a dark, blue-green shade that is reminiscent of peacock feathers with a soft, green micro-shimmer.

At first glance, I thought the two palettes were too similar for my liking, but after comparing them side-by-side, that was definitely not the case. The only repeated shade is Perversion, but otherwise, the shades are different. Some of the shades themselves are similar, but there are no obvious repeats. I always like Urban Decay’s palettes, because they are always high on value and variety. I like being able to try out a bunch of shades without having to actually purchase all of those individual shades (particularly since it’s very hard for me to finish an eyeshadow, so I don’t actually need a whole pot of it!).

I also like that Urban Decay mixes about half in new shades and half in existing shades. With sixteen shades in total, there are many different eyeshadow combinations one could come up with within this palette. I will say I wish Urban Decay had a better highlighter shade included in this palette or found elsewhere in this, because the closest we come is Sellout, which has a very high metallic/frost finish so it can be garish on the brow bone at times. I could also go with seeing a few matte or semi-matte shades for more texture variety.

These are all minor complaints, mind you, because for the price, it’s a great deal whether you want to travel with it or just use it at home. (If you’re using it at home, the highlight and matte complaints are worthless — just mix it with products you already have.)

The shades are well-pigmented, smooth, and nearly all of them have a frost/shimmer finish. (If you don’t dig that, you won’t dig this.) The only shade I had any real issue with was Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, because it is extremely glittery, so it has fall out issues. Otherwise, the shades were impressive, and clearly there is a lot of color to play around with in this palette. This makes a great gift for yourself or a friend, too.

The packaging is just so-so; I found last year’s packaging prettier and more cohesive. I found both palettes to be a little bulky, and I wouldn’t mind something that just open and shut, rather than pulling out a drawer of eyeshadows. The inclusion of a miniature sized UDPP as well as Zero and Bourbon eyeliners is just icing on the cake–all three are handy in application and for travel.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you’ve always wanted to try Urban Decay eyeshadows, their palettes are always a choice way to do so. You get great value and good variety!

Availability: Urban Decay

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Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Guerlain

Guerlain: Tsarina Eyeshadow Palette

Guerlain Tsarina Eyeshadow Palette ($58.00) from their fall collection is one of two palettes released (the other is Brun Mordore). Guerlain also released an Eye & Lip Palette called Volga Princess (which I haven’t seen yet).

Tsarina includes four shades: a coppery peach, an amber-copper, a raspberry burgundy, and a cool-toned purple-wine. The first three shades have great color pay off, but the darkest purple shade is on the sheerer side (but I wouldn’t call it sheer–it does give me decent color, just not great like the other three). All four have Guerlain’s amazing texture: soft, silky, and so, so easy to blend. The shimmer is subtle and not too frosty–very wearable. I found the mix of shades very appropriate for the fall season, too.

Some might not like that there’s not a real highlighter shade within the palette; the lightest shade is much bolder than most would choose for a highlighter. It’s not a big deal to me, because I very rarely use palettes by themselves unless I’m trying to show what you can do with *just* the palette.

Value wise? The eyeshadows are, by the ounce, the same price as MAC eyeshadows are. In a Guerlain eyeshadow palette, you get about 6.7 oz. of actual eyeshadow product for your money. Like their mega-giant single shadows, they’re a good value by weight, but they do require a larger up front investment. The packaging is luxe and solid; it doesn’t feel cheap, and there’s some heft to it. I love the design on the velvet pouch and on the case itself, which is special to this collection.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: Guerlain fans will not be disappointed in the quality of this eyeshadow palette–if you enjoy these shades, I recommend it!

Availability: < Nordstrom

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Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Maybelline Colossal is Minimal

Maybelline Collosal Volum’ Express Mascara ($5.99) boasts that it creates 9x the volume in one coat without clumping. I tried it out in Glam Black, hoping for some volume-tastic lashes with a nice black color. Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t nearly as exciting as “9x the volume.” Not even with multiple coats!

What Colossal did for my lashes was add just a touch of length/thickness and blackness so they stood out jmore, but in terms of volume, there wasn’t much. When I look at my natural lashes compared to the lashes with the mascara on them, the biggest difference is that they’re blacker. On all other points (lengthening, volumizing, thickening, curling), I didn’t notice much, if anything. I was really disappointed in the results of this mascara, particularly since it was supposed to volumize and didn’t even see that. I could be more forgiving if it at least did what it said to do (I mean, 9x is a bit OTT for me, but noticeabe more volume is good enough for me).

The best thing I can say for this mascara is it doesn’t clump and the level of black pigmentation is decent–it definitely darkened my lashes and made them stand out more, but they just looked like natural lashes really. If you’re looking for a more natural mascara, perhaps this might be something to consider. I just wouldn’t have expected “natural” out of Colossal. I’ll also point out this mascara is very budget-friendly!

One of my all-time favorite mascaras is by Maybelline (Full ‘n Soft), so I was really looking forward to trying this one out and hoping for the best. What are your favorite Maybelline mascaras?

  • Product: 4/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: Pass on this one and opt for one of Maybelline’s more proven formulas like Full ‘n Soft!

Availability: Drugstore.com

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Monday, September 21st, 2009


Young Punk

MAC Style Black: Mineralize Eyeshadows Review, Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  Perhaps one item that has likely caught many readers’ attention are the four new mineralize eyeshadows:  Young Punk, Gilt by Association, Cinderfella, and Blue Flame.

Mineralize Eyeshadow

  • Young Punk is a deep purple with lighter icy pink-purple shimmer/glitter.  When applied dry, it has just so-so pay off, but the color is much more intense when applied wet.  When it dries, though, it will fade a little bit.
  • Gilt by Association is a glittering antique gold with a hint of warmer bronze shade.  It has decent color pay off when used dry, but as typical with mineralize eyeshadows, wet is still much better.
  • Cinderfella is a silver-black.  It has a deep black base with a shimmery, silver glitter laced through it.  Again, wet is more intense than dry.
  • Blue Flame is a dark navy blue with silver-blue glitter/shimmer that brightens it.  When used dry, it looks more like a sheer blue-black.  When used wet, that’s when you see the navy blue shade.  It looks very much like the eyeshadow named Blue Flame or the permanent shade Deep Truth.

If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of mineralize eyeshadows.  The color pay off tends to be below my expectations with too much fall out to bother.  These are definitely shades that are best used wet (which you can do with mineralize eyeshadows without fear of leaving behind a wet spot).  Using them wet also helps to minimize the fall out issue, which is something that glittery shadows are prone to have (mineralize or not).  I like the colors, and I do like the theme of this dark black-inspired base with brighter shimmer to give it color.  I’d likely be taken in by them, but I’m not sure these are the ones that’ll get me on the mineralize side of life.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you’re a mineralize eyeshadow fan, you’d probably like these.  If you’re not, these aren’t likely to win you over.

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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