Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

L'Oreal Extra Volume Collagen Waterproof Mascara

L’Oreal Extra Volume Collagen Waterproof Mascara

L’Oreal Extra Volume Collagen Waterproof Mascara ($7.95) hit shelves this summer and it had a lot to live up to, because L’Oreal Voluminous is an often recommended go-to mascara for beauty fans. Unfortunately, Collagen just doesn’t bring it home like Voluminous does.

L’Oreal’s latest mascara does add volume, thicken lashes, and it’s fairly black in pigment–but it just doesn’t do it with excellence. It’s okay; not bad, not fabulous. I liked the length it gave, but I found it clumped quickly, because it also dried very fast (by mascara standards). Thickness was so-so as was volume. Lashes definitely looked longer and fuller, but Voluminous does this job better and more effectively.

Not that I appreciate a particularly wet mascara, but this one dries a little faster than you can work, which results in clumping and unevenness in thickening. I found clumping wasn’t too bad if you got the excess off the brush first (my inner corner lashes were done where the brush had far too much product on it, and thus, Clump City). The brush itself has very stubby bristles, which is why it can easily lead to clumps if you don’t work quickly or wipe off the excess off your brush first. This mascara wand just isn’t designed to separate lashes, so you definitely need a lash comb/clean mascara wand to do that post-application.

Even though it was pretty average in a lot of areas, one area that it faired better in was holding up to its waterproof claim and not drying my lashes out. Often waterproof formulations lead to dry, crispy lashes, but my lashes still felt fairly soft and not at all stiff/hard. Like most waterproof mascaras, make sure you have a good oil-based makeup remover on hand to make for an easy removal process.

I’m a big believer in the truth’s in the photos–so see for yourself and let me know what you think!

  • Product: 6/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 6/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If your natural lashes are always fabulous, you can easily use this mascara with just one quick coat and have great looking lashes. For those of us who need a few more coats (and a little more help!), this one can be tricky to work with.

Availability: Drugstore.com

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Monday, September 7th, 2009

Sonia Kashuk Secret Admirer

Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Duo: Secret Admirer

Sonia Kashuk Secret Admirer Eyeshadow Duo ($6.99) is a stunning duo of shimmery violet-lilac and a softer, matte pale lilac. Both shades run cool, but with the right pairing of warmer or more neutral shades, can easily be worn by most. I’ve always found Sonia Kashuk to be a brand that is reliable and affordable, and this eyeshadow duo lives up to that expectation. Both shades are well pigmented and don’t require lots of layering to get color pay off. Big thumbs up for eyeshadow on a budget!

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

Recommendation: If you’re on a budget but are jonesing for some eyeshadow, Sonia Kashuk has you covered!

Availability: Target

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Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection: Jet Set Eyeliner Palette

Smashbox Jet Set Eyeliner Palette ($48.00) contains four shades of cream eye liner. They’re described as budge-proof and water proof. The palette comes with a miniature-sized angled brush as well. It is part of Smashbox’s Reign Collection for the fall.

The shades you get are dark black, dark brown (neutral-cool), metallic gold, and metallic dark brown (with warm tones). I like Smashbox’s Jet Set formula overall — it’s definitely long-wearing, holds up to humidity and heat, and is pretty waterproof. However, I have found these liners to be prone to drying out if one is not careful about sealing the container after each use. With the Jet Set palette, this is a definite concern, because it’s not really air tight – the palette flap just opens and closes but never feels sealed. I do worry about how long before you start noticing these drying out.

The shades are so-so — the photos I took of the palette are of a counter’s testers (which accounts for some of the “ew” factor!), and the shades are certainly wearable, but maybe not enough variation to merit $48. I could buy two full sized shades for $22 each ($44 total). I don’t really need a dark brown and a shimmery dark brown in the same palette, you know? I don’t feel that this palette represents Jet Set liners overall, and I’d recommend checking out the real, full-size versions instead of this palette.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 6/10
  • Packaging: 6/10

Recommendation: The packaging may sway some, but be careful — it may lead to drying out of those cream liners faster than you can use them up.

Availability: Nordstrom ($48.00) contains four shades of cream eye liner. They’re described as budge-proof and water proof. The palette comes with a miniature-sized angled brush as well. It is part of Smashbox’s Reign Collection for the fall.

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Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Monarch Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Monarch Palette

Smashbox Reign Monarch Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a soft, pale white-gold; a frosty copper bronze; and a grayed brown.

Like the Majesty palette, the outer rings are more pigmented than the center counterparts. The centers are merely sheerer and have a matte finish. They do have a tendency to mix, so it can difficult to keep the shimmer from the mattes. Make sure you take care of your palette and clean it regularly so you can actually have two different shades rather than one big one!

This is definitely the more neutral one of the two, and you can easily wear these shades together to the office or out (just go heavier on the dark brown). This palette feels very warm-toned, whereas the the Majesty palette felt more neutral or just slightly cool-toned. The shadows do feel soft and smooth, particularly the outer rings of color, but the mattes are not chalky either. I found the Monarch palette to be much better in terms of overall quality, too — the shadows just seemed to go on smoother and more pigmented.

Again, the value is just as good on this palette as the Majesty palette (same amount, same price). These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

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

Recommendation: For an affordable palette of slightly amped-up neutrals, Monarch offers an answer!

Availability: Sephora

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Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Majesty Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Majesty Palette

Smashbox Reign Majesty Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a pale peach, a reddish copper, and a black.

I found that it was difficult to keep the matte and shimmers separated from each other, because inevitably one would mix with the other. This sort of rendered the matte center to be a little useless, just because it ended up looking much like the outer ring. I was testing a tester, so it was even worse than a palette with normal usage (e.g. the one you’d buy!), so do keep that in mind while browsing the swatches! I will caution you to dust off your palette regularly to avoid shimmer getting into your matte centers!

The first shade is a soft, shimmery peachy-gold. The middle eyeshadow is more of a burnt brown with reddish shimmer. I know Sephora describes it as a “plum burgundy,” and I didn’t see that whatsoever when I swatched it. The center of the middle eyeshadow was similar, just more of a matte finish, and it applied sheerly (as did all of the centers). The rightmost eyeshadow in the palette is a blue-shimmered black, which isn’t as smooth as I’d like — I did get a little drag when I swatched it. Again, the center is a sheerer, matte-r version of the outer ring.

I’m disappointed that the center of each eyeshadow shade didn’t swatch better, and I’m not thrilled that they go on sheerer than the outer rings either. The colors are wearable, but they don’t seem out-of-the-norm, and I’d say Smashbox single eyeshadows feel smoother, silkier, and I’d probably opt for one or two of those instead of the palette, if you already have these shades covered! These three shades work well together, and you can easily create a few smoky eyes with this one.

However, there is one big selling point to this eyeshadow palette that shouldn’t be overlooked — it’s very high in value! With 0.423 oz. of eyeshadow in the palette, it brings your cost down well below costs per ounce in any other high-end brand of eyeshadow. These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

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

Recommendation: If you like products high in value, this palette is well worth the investment, particularly if you want to add more neutrals to your collection.

Availability: Sephora

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Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana: Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad ($59.00) is D&G’s take on the smoky eyes palette. It contains four shades of eyeshadow: a pale, silvery-white; a medium-dark matte black; a mauve-tinged silver; and a subdued, cool-toned dark brown.

Like Dazzling, the Champagne consists of smooth, well-pigmented eyeshadows that feel like buttery goodness to the touch. They apply easily and softly, and they never look garish. They blend seamlessly together, and they work well with all of your favorite eyeshadow bases. They also still blend well when used with other brand eyeshadows.

One of things I like about the Dolce & Gabbana quads I’ve tried so far is that the colors go on as they’re pictured. They’re apply and swatch true-to-color, so there is a whole lot less guesswork to be done. I can also appreciate the “honesty” of the palette in that sense, too. Champagne, in particular, works well together, because the shades are diverse enough to create gradients, but they can be worn in pairs of triplets.

For those who find the price a bit steep, D&G is priced competitively with other major high-end brands like Chanel ($56), Dior ($56), and Guerlain ($58). The packaging is hefty and looks like gold (though it does hold fingerprints). It’s sleek and elegant, so it does look lovely when you hold it. If it didn’t hold fingerprints, the packaging would definitely help sway me even more.

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

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of high-end, luxury brands, Dolce & Gabbana has put out a quality line of makeup. Champagne is a great quad to travel with to be able to create several evening smoky eyes.

Availability: Saks

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