Monday, November 9th, 2009

Holiday Glitz: Sonia Kashuk Showstoppers Eyeshadow Quad

Sonia Kashuk Showstoppers Eyeshadow Quad ($10.99) is the glitz-in-a-pan that’s so perfect and fitting for the holiday season I couldn’t resist saving this review until now. There are certain items that impress you at first swatch, and this was definitely one of those items for me.

It includes a glittery warmed-up frosty white, muted reddish-brown with golden bronze glitter, glitzy soft pale antique gold, and smoky charcoal gray-black with silver glitter. These applied and looked almost wet–I will say they looked much better in person than in photos. There’s just something about the shimmer that I couldn’t capture, despite taking dozens of photos! I will say that the only real drawback to these is they have a tendency to get all over your cheeks if you use a regular eyeshadow brush with them. I do recommend using a sponge-tip applicator or else use these applied wet to minimize the fall out.

The texture of the eyeshadows was surprisingly soft and almost creamy, despite the obvious glittery bits, and the pigmentation was decent overall. I found the gold shade was the least opaque, followed by the white shade, while the brown and gray shades were both opaque. The price is just right, and you can often catch Sonia Kashuk on sale at your local Target–though I’ve heard this isn’t as easy to find locally as it is online.

Bottom Line: This is just one of those really fun, totally glitzy and glittery pieces that you may not pull out and wear everyday, but it sure is glamorous to have all that bling sparkling on your eyes.  It’s really, really stunning when you swatch–not quite as lovely on the lids (but still nice!), but ultimately not the most practical item I’ll own.

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: 4/5

Recommendation: For lots and lots of shimmering glitter on your eyes, Sonia Kashuk is an affordable way to get glitzy this holiday season.

Availability: Target

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Saturday, November 7th, 2009

NARS Mousson Cream Eyeshadow
NARS Mousson Cream Eyeshadow from Holiday 2009

NARS Mousson Cream Eyeshadow ($21.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a new shade of cream-to-powder eyeshadow from NARS’ Holiday Collection. NARS describes this shade as “[a] shimmering, spicy pine named for the monsoon – natural and unpredictable … [i]t has richness and depth, yet allows for a surprising range of intensity.” They later describe the color as “silver sage.”

Mousson is is an antique gold with a green tarnish and silver sparkle. It’s creamy, dries to a mostly powder finish fairly quickly (but not so fast you don’t have time to work with it), and I’ve found it fairly crease-resistant. I would say it’s much better and doesn’t crease easily when set with a powder base or layered over an eyeshadow base like Urban Decay Primer Potion or Too Faced Shadow Insurance. The shade itself is exactly something I’d wear and a color I’d feel compelled to own–you know me and (antique) golds!

NARS’ Cream Eyeshadows aren’t my absolute favorite cream formula to work with (Benefit’s are my current favorite), but I do like it. I just find it does have a slight tendency to crease if you apply too much or you don’t set it with an eyeshadow. For me, I rarely wear cream shadows alone anyway, so it’s not a big deal to use it in conjunction with powder eyeshadow.

Bottom Line: For a fun, sparkly shade of antique gold with a green cast, Mousson might be something you’d like. If you’re not normally a cream eyeshadow fan, while it’s still worth taking a peek at your local NARS’ counter, I’m not sure these will persuade you otherwise at the end of the day.

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: If you love NARS’ Cream Eyeshadows, I do think you’ll like Mousson!

Availability: NARS

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Thursday, November 5th, 2009


Stila Smudge Pot Collection

Stila Smudge Pot Collection ($32.00 for 4 0.07 oz. smudge pots) is a limited edition set of four shades of smudge pots (two exclusive to the holiday set, two existing) half the size of the full-size individual versions (which contain 0.14 oz. and retail for $20.00 each).

  • Kitten is a soft, shimmering beige with a slight golden touch–but it’s not warm. Stila describes it as a “nude champagne,” and I’d agree on that. It works well as an all-around eyeshadow base, as well.
  • Violet is a bright pop of blue-violet with slight glitter/shimmer particles. I found this one was the least opaque of the four, and I noticed some drag when swatching. It was easier to use with an angled eyeliner brush on the eyes than it was to swatch on the skin, though!
  • Starry Night is a deep dark navy blue without much shimmer (though there’s a touch). It goes on very dark and pigmented.
  • Black is a dark black with no shimmer whatsoever.

With the four miniature smudge pots, this set is like getting two full-size smudge pots for the price of $32.00, which is about $8 in savings, so I’m liking it as far as value goes. The pots are also on the small size, so they’re easy to travel with or keep one in your purse without adding much weight.

I like Smudge Pots in general, because they’re easy to use, have great pigmentation, and they stay on well throughout the day with no creasing or smudging. I personally prefer to use my Smudge Pots for lining rather than as eyeshadow bases, but they’re up to meet either challenge head-on. I love me a multi-tasker!

Bottom Line: The only reason I’m not ultra excited over this set is because the shades themselves just don’t grab me as much as I thought they would. I think I’d have preferred a more distinctly purple shade, rather than a very blue-based violet and a navy blue together — it’s a bit too much blue, you know? Also, if you already own Kitten and/or Black, this set isn’t so high in value any more, either. It’s a blessing for those who haven’t yet tried them, and a curse for those who want to collect ‘em all!

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’ve wanted to try Smudge Pots, here’s your chance to get four different shades for the price of two.

Availability: Sephora

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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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