Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Benefit High Brow
Benefit High Brow

Benefit High Brow ($20.00 for 0.10 oz.) is designed to “lift” and enhance brows by brightening with a “soft, matte linen-pink” shade. Benefit recommends applying it beneath your brow, just following the arch, and blend.

Inevitably, one wonders what is the difference between Benefit’s Eye Bright and High Brow, as they’re both pink pencils designed to help brighten eyes — well, Benefit wrote a blog post explaining the differences. To summarize, High Brow is a neutral pink while Eye Bright is a cool-toned pink; the cooler tones in Eye Bright as designed to combat dark circles. Benefit warns that using High Brow on undereye circles may look too light, while using Eye Bright to define brows may look too pink.

It’s absolutely true that Eye Bright is a cooler-toned, more blue-based pink, and it also has a bit of micro-shimmer–very subtle but still there. I think those who are naturally cool-toned, one could get away with using both. For those with warmer undertones, the difference is likely more noticeable.

I like High Brow for more minimal looks; not necessarily five-minute looks but when one wants to have that natural look. The creaminess of the product makes it easy to blend, and it dries down quickly and holds up fairly well alone (about six hours). I applied it in the photos below so you can see how it looks, and I deliberately went heavy-handed, because I wanted it to show up in photos–the effect can be subtler if one desires.

The Glossover

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Benefit High Brow Review, Photos, Swatches

A-
I like High Brow, and I think it may be a must-have for some but for others a totally unnecessary addition to their stash. It depends on what features are most important to you, because some love really defined brows and others will wear eye makeup nearly everyday so a powder highlight will generally be enough to define the brow area.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9.5/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Friday, March 18th, 2011

NYX HD Studio Foundation
NYX HD Studio Foundation

NYX HD Studio Foundation

NYX HD Studio Foundation ($15.00 for 1.26 oz.) is described by the brand as a foundation that reflects light to give skin a smoother appearance and reduce the appearance of pores. It also includes “tri-peptides infused to promote collagen generation, reduce wrinkles, and rejuvenate skin.” I’ve only used tihs foundation for a week, so I’m not going to even touch that last part.

The HD Studio Foundation delivers light-medium to almost medium coverage. The consistency is thin overall, but not runny or watery, so it spreads and blends out easily but applies more sheerly. It is a buildable product, so for those who want heavier coverage (up to medium), simply apply more or apply more to the areas where you need it. The foundation dries down quickly and has a velvet matte finish–not ultra matte but not too dewy. I did about twenty lip swatches with this foundation on, and it photographed quite nicely, which is ultimately one of the major marketing points for it.

I’m NC25/NC30 in MAC, 140 in Make Up For Ever, #02/03 in Guerlain, and I found #04 Sand Beige to be a fairly good match. It did have a strong yellow tone, though, so I would only recommend this shade match for those with medium skin tones with warm (yellow) under tones.

I used one pump for my entire face, and for me, my primary concern is evening out my skin–I have some blotchiness in my cheeks and my forehead is a little darker than the rest of my face (always fun to deal with!). At the time of review, I did not have much in the way of major active acne or post-acne marks.

It compares well with Make Up For Ever’s HD Foundation, but NYX’s coverage seems slightly less buildable and ends up being sheerer overlal. There’s a subtle but noticeable chemical-like scent when I used NYX’s but it seemed to dissipate after being applied. NYX’s shade range is inferior to Make Up For Ever’s (8 vs. 25), and it seems like the lightest and darker complexions will have trouble finding a match within the existing range.

I was surprised at how well it wore–it wears nicely for six to eight hours before sheering out (for me, that means on my forehead, which is where I get a little oily by the end of the day). I get a little longer with Make Up For Ever–eight to ten hours–but NYX’s HD Studio Foundation hangs out respectably even past its initial wear period and doesn’t disappear at lightning speed.

The Glossover

nyxHd

NYX HD Studio Foundation Review, Photos, Swatches

B+
It's one of the better budget-friendly foundations I've tried.  I can definitely see myself reaching for it when I'm taking a lot of photos, because it applies easily, has a photo-friendly finish, and works well.  Unlike other products in NYX's HD Studio line, this one fits the price range of the line.  It's cheaper than the HD Grinding Powder by $10!

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9.5/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

8.5/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Friday, March 18th, 2011

Philosophy Orange in Bloom Shower Gel
Philosophy Orange in Bloom Shower Gel

Spring Florals with Orange in Bloom

Philosophy Orange in Bloom 3-in-1 Shower Gel ($16.00 for 16 fl. oz.) is a companion to Cherry in Bloom, but it is noticeably more fruit-dominated than the latter.  Initially, it smells like a burst of orange creamsicles.  I don’t mean that in a bad way but that is exactly what it reminded me off: the sweetness of vanilla mixed with the citrus of orange.

Philosophy describes the scent as:

orange in bloom shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath showers you in the delicate, citrus essence of orange blossoms as you lather from head to toe.

It seems too heavy with orange to mimic the orange blossom scent–the florals don’t sing quite enough here.  After lathering for a few minutes, the sweetness seems to disappear and then I get hints of the underlying floral quality of the scent.

my thoughts on the formula: They lather up well and leave skin feeling clean without any tightness or dryness. If you prefer your body wash to leave behind a long-lasting scent, these won’t be for you, but if you like to enjoy the scent while you shower but don’t want it to linger heavily beyond, then these are perfect. (I belong to the latter category!) I don’t find them to lather quite as well in the hair, and they work in a pinch to clean hair, but I prefer many other shampoos over this one. It does, however, work well as a bubble bath, too–a little goes a long way.

final thoughts: If you like the scent of sweet oranges, perhaps orange creamsicles but something not quite as sweet, this might be for you. It’s less than full-blown orange food-based scent but not wholly reminiscent of orange blossoms.

where to buy: Philosophy

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Hourglass Scarlet Aura Lip Stain
Hourglass Scarlet Aura Lip Stain

Lasting Lip Stain with Hourglass

Hourglass Scarlet Aura Sheer Lip Stain ($26.00 for 0.10 oz.) is described as a “soft plum.” The new Aura Sheer Lip Stain is a water-based lip stain that’s designed to create a sheer wash of color with a semi-matte finish. Scarlet is the darkest of the three shades launched. Over my natural lip color, it’s a deep, plummy, berry. It’s semi-opaque and has just a touch of sheen but it is mostly matte.

If you haven’t tried one before, lip stains require prep work–because they adhere to your lips, much of your natural lip is “exposed.” There is no gloss or creamy lipstick to hide behind, so any imperfections from your natural lips may show through with a lip stain. Scarlet is dark enough where it is a more forgiving lip stain, but drier lips will find this accentuates dryness, cracking, and peeling. I always exfoliate and then pat clear balm on my lips approximately 30 minutes prior to applying a lip stain. I tend to do this after my morning shower, and then I apply the stain after breakfast.

It’s loaded with color but not much else, so it isn’t going to provide long-lasting moisturization, which is why I like to prep with balm beforehand. It does take well to layering balm on top, though, so clear balm can be used to proivde moisture without disturbing the color.

I love the concept of lip stains but find it difficult to wear them, because they often apply unevenly. Hourglass applies beautifully–the color deposits well without settling into lip lines and has enough glide that it is easy to evenly distribute. It also lasts for hours and hours and does make it through drinking and eating. I get around eight hours of continuous wear–by ten, there is a little fading.

The Glossover

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Hourglass Scarlet Aura Sheer Lip Stain Review, Photos, Swatches

A-
It's definitely one of the best lip stains I've tried since beauty blogging (about four and half years now) because it applies so evenly and easily.  It lasts for eight hours, doesn't settle into lip lines, and makes it through a meal.

Product

9.5/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Benefit Brows A-Go-Go
Benefit Brows A-Go-Go

For the Brow Enthusiast

Benefit Brows A-Go-Go ($38.00) is an all-i-one brow kit, which includes both Light and Dark Brow Zings Powders (0.04 oz. each), Brow Zings Wax (0.03 oz.), Smokin’ Liner (0.01 oz.), Eye Bright (0.03 oz.), Brow Highlighter Powder (0.04 oz.), mini tweezers, and dual-ended brush.

Benefit and brows take me back almost ten years (which makes me a little nauseous to think about, because sometimes I think I’m still 18 and when I’m clearly not). One of my first beauty experiences was begging my makeup-enthused best friend to tweeze my brows, and she always carried Benefit’s Brow Zings and their mini tweezers. I can’t tell you how I longed for a pair of my own mini tweezers–they just seemed so cool at the time. (With my hands, I can appreciate full-size tweezers for regular maintenance but minis are nice in a pinch.)

The lighter shade is a medium-dark taupe brown, while the darker brow shade is a dark brown with subtle red undertones. The wax is a cross between the two–not too dark, not too light. I found the eyeliner to be fairly black but a bit stubby so it may be difficult to hold for some. I actually liked the shimmering icy pink of the highlight powder; not quite as cool-toned as Eye Bright, which is a creamy, pale white-pink.

The dark shade works well for me, having nearly black natural brows.  I like mixing the two, though, for a softer look as well.  I would be careful using the highlighting products on deeper skin tones, because I think it may turn a little ashy, but they work well on light and medium skin tones.

The Glossover

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Benefit Brows A-Go-Go Review, Photos, Swatches

B+
If you're someone who likes to have immaculate brows and tends to focus more time on them, the kit is useful. If you don't find yourself doing much to them, it may be too superfluous to merit buying. For something more compact, there is the traditional Brow Zings, which is a smaller-sized palette featuring a coordinating brow powder and wax (available in light, medium, and dark) along with mini tweezers but retails for $30.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

8.5/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Illamasqua Atomic Lipstick
Illamasqua Atomic Lipstick

Illamasqua Toxic Nature:  Atomic Lipstick

Illamasqua Atomic Lipstick (£15.50 for 0.14 oz.) is new for spring/summer and part of the brand’s Toxic Nature collection, which should show up at Sephora in April. For now, though, it is available through Illamasqua directly.  Illamasqua describes Atomic as a “fuchsia violet.”  After swatching and applying, Atomic is a deep, reddened fuchsia with violet and fuchsia sheen.  It has that satin finish but such a strong pull of iridescent sheen that it almost looks like a frost.

my thoughts on the formula: Illamasqua’s Lipstick formula feels a little dry when applied, but let it warm up on your lips, because it really isn’t the drying kind. It does hug the lips, though, which makes it a much longer wearing lipstick (six hours or more).

The Glossover

P
product

Atomic

A-
This is a shade that will wear for hours and hours.  With the semi-matte finish, it really hugs lips and stays put--I noted very few traces of lipstick on my coffee cup.  It may stain a bit, too, which will contribute to an overall appearance of longer wear.  Illamasqua's does a really nice job with the sheen level in this shade, because though it has a menagerie of near-dupes, the way it catches light makes it different enough in a spectacular way.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

8.5/10

Longevity

9.5/10

Application

3.5/5

Results
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