Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Urban Decay Feminine Palette
Feminine Palette: Stray Dog, SWF, Midnight Cowboy, Aquarius, Darkhorse, Ecstacy

Urban Decay Spring 2011: Feminine Palette

Urban Decay Feminine Eyeshadow Palette ($34.00 for 0.34 oz.) includes six eyeshadows: Stray Dog (cool medium brown), SWF (light cotton candy pink with silver micro-glitter), Midnight Cowboy (pink champagne with lots of silver glitter), Aquarius (aqua green with shimmer), Darkhorse (bronze patina), and Ecstacy (bright purple with slight pink tint). Also included is Zero 24/7 Liner (black) and Eden primer potion (nude).

  • Stray Dog is a cool-toned, taupe-tinged dark brown with a frost finish. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually; it has also been in the Foreshadow palette.
  • SWF is a pale cotton candy pink with a bright metallic-frost sheen. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually.
  • Midnight Cowboy is a gilded champagne bronze with flecks of champagne glitter. It has less fall out than Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, but it still has plenty of it to make one frustrated. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually; it was also in the Cowboy Junkie set.
  • Aquarius is a pale aqua green teal with a silver metallic sheen. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually.
  • Darkhorse is a darkened deep chocolate brown with flecks of bronze. This shade was in the Naked palette and is not available individually.
  • Ecstacy is a brightened, medium cool-toned violet purple with a soft frost finish. This shade is part of the permanent range and available individually; it was also in the Book of Shadows, Vol. 2. By the by, marginally annoyed that ecstasy is misspelled–imagine it was deliberate but find it annoying nonetheless! It is spelled correctly in the actual BoS Vol. 2, though…

my thoughts on the formula: Urban Decay’s eyeshadows are rich in pigment, apply evenly, and feel like butter. Generally speaking, their formula is excellent. I will warn and caution you against their shades with “glitter” or “sparkle” in the finish–some of these can be prone to fall out (for example, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again).

In terms of value, the palette includes 0.18 oz. of eyeshadow ($61.20 value), 0.03 oz. of eyeliner ($12.75 value), and 0.13 fl. oz. of primer potion ($6.88 value). The total value of the palette is $80.83, while the retail price is $34.

I think sometimes we lose sight of what the beauty industry and market are like as a whole — not every person purchases every palette or even much at all.  Not everyone enters at the same time, so even though you may find yourself owning many of the shades, it doesn’t make it a terrible product – Urban Decay does some really excellent shades that you can get year round, but these sure make those shades more accessible and affordable to people who don’t have a lot of Urban Decay or have always wanted to try it.  It would be great to see new shades, of course, but I recognize what value they may hold to others.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: In this palette, only Midnight Cowboy is the finicky shade, while five of the six are lovely.  Only Darkhorse is not available individually, but at least a couple shades here haven’t been in half a dozen palettes previously.  As long as you love at least two shades (and like one or two others), then it works out to be a deal, since two eyeshadows will run you $34 if purchased individually.

where to buy: Urban Decay

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Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Guerlain Orange Euphorique Rouge G Lipstick
Guerlain Orange Euphorique Rouge G Lipstick

Guerlain Spring 2011: Orange Euphorique

Guerlain Orange Euphorique (45) Rouge G Lipstick ($46.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a muted tangerine orange with a little pinkiness in it, which is probably what keeps it from venturing into neon territory. It has soft, pale gold micro-shimmer and a glossy finish. Not quite opaque but nearly there (you can see a hint of my lip freckle peeking through).

my thoughts on the formula: Long-time readers will know that Guerlain’s Rouge G formula is one of my absolute favorite lipsticks, so I always look forward to new and seasonal shade releases. Rouge G colors have certain nuances to them just seem to make them more flattering when worn. The formula is moisturizing, long-wearing (four to six hours), and comfortable to wear–never heavy but generally opaque in color.

The one thing I noticed about these is though the weight feels the same (we actually whipped out the scale, it was a 0.06 oz. lighter), the magnet enclosure seemed slightly weaker. If you throw ‘em around, the black lacquered case’s lid will fall off easier than the metal one (which also slips off if you put it through the tests we did, haha). I carried one in my purse all day, though, and it was fine.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: I know that cooler skin tones find orange lipstick more difficult to wear, as it is such a naturally warm color, but for once, here is an orange that just may suit cooler skin tones even better than warmer ones.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Hourglass Nectar Extreme Sheen Lipgloss
Hourglass Nectar Extreme Sheen Lipgloss

Hourglass Nectar Extreme Sheen Lipgloss

Hourglass Nectar Extreme Sheen Lipgloss ($28.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a brightened coral with subtle pink undertones. It applies nearly opaque, but it doesn’t apply as evenly as I’d like–close but there are still a few uneven areas. It has a high gloss finish with lots of shine and gives lips a rather juicy look from the creamy finish.

my thoughts on the formula: It is such a rich, luxurious gloss that applies beautifully and evenly while delivering opaque color with very little product. The formula is thick without being goopy, non-sticky, and very moisturizing. I get three to four hours of wear. There is a light, sweet scent–reminiscent of perhaps creme brulee–that doesn’t feel overwhelming nor smell synthetic.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Unfortunately for Nectar, Siren was the first Extreme Sheen I tried and such a dazzling shade at that, I find it hard to be as enthusiastic about Nectar as I was over Siren. Personal preferences and all that, you know!  If this applied more evenly, it would have been rated higher.

where to buy: Hourglass

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Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Essie Winter 2010 Collection
Essie Nail Lacquer: Going Incognito, Hot Coco, Luxedo

Essie Winter 2010 Collection

Though on the way out, here are long overdue swatches for Essie’s winter collection, which includes: Going Incognito (deep emerald green), Hot Coco (tawny sepia), Luxedo (deepest plum), Masquerade Belle (black ruby), Silken Cord (risque red), and Smokin’ Hot (stone-cold fox gray). Each bottle retails at $8 a pop, and I spotted them online still at Apothica.

  • Going Incognito is a deep emerald green cream–almost a blue-tinged green (not quite into teal territory). It’s opaque in two coats. ORLY Enchanted Forest is the closest dupe I can think of, though it is greener (less blue).
  • Hot Coco is a pink-tinged mid-tone taupe cream. I can totally see the sepia in this. If you wanted to get into nude nails but found nudes too pale and washed you out, this is a nice take on it. Two coats. It seems a little similar to China Glaze Heirloom Organza.
  • Luxedo is a blackened plum cream. It’s very inky and barely stays purple in low light conditions as it turns nearly black. It’s nearly opaque in one coat, though I did two here. Itl ooks a lot like Essie’s Velvet Voyeur (from fall).
  • Masquerade Belle is a deep, velvety red-brown cream. Two coats. It’s darker and redder then MAC Dance All Night.
  • Silken Cord is a bright coral-red cream. It’s a surprisingly bright shade for winter–feels like something for a summer launch. I used two coats. It’s a lighter version of Zoya’s Maura.
  • Smokin’ Hot is a purpled gray cream. I used two coats, though I noticed a touch of drag with this one. The base color is reminiscent of Chanel’s Paradoxal. It is a darker version of Essie’s Merino Cool (from fall).

my thoughts on the formula: The formula was really nice on these; not too thin, not too thick, and the majority were pigmented enough to use just two coats of polish. The only shade I had any issues with was Smokin’ Hot, wihch seemed a little thin in places.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: This collection actually looks similar to Essie’s fall collection, but the shades are different, some more so than others.  The formula was easy to work with, and Essie really does do creams well, so they are in their element with these six.

where to buy: Apothica

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Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Dior Pinky Mauve (460) Serum de Rouge
Dior Pinky Mauve (460) Serum de Rouge

Dior Spring 2011: Pinky Mauve

Dior Pinky Mauve (460) Serum de Rouge ($32.00 for 0.07 oz.) is a semi-opaque petal pink with soft white shimmer and slight yellow undertones. It’s a very wearable, ultra flattering shade that’s perfect for everyday or paired with a smoky eye.  I have absolutely no idea why this is called “pinky mauve” though.

my thoughts on the formula: Everything about the Serum de Rouge formula is incredibly nice–except the wear. These creamy, glossy lipsticks slide off my lips in under two hours (usually just over an hour). Given the small amount of product you get (about half the size of your average lipstick), frequent reapplication can run you through one of these a lot faster than you’d think!

The Serum de Rouge formula is soft, creamy, and very lightweight. It feels like a lipstick, but it has the glossiness of a gloss without feeling like one. Not totally opaque, but pretty rich and typically not very sheer. The formula is comparable to Cle de Peau’s Extra Silky Lipstick, but not as stellar–but very close (and $20 less!).

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: I do like Dior’s Serum de Rouge formula quite a bit, but I really get frustrated with how quickly it wears off (between one and two hours, while I average four hours on most lipsticks).  I’m not keen on needing to reapply every hour or so, especially when the product is 40% less than most lipsticks.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

NARS Calanque Eyeshadow Trio
NARS Calanque Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Spring 2011: Calanque

NARS Calanque Eyeshadow Trio ($45.00 for 0.17 oz.) is described as a mix of gold infused platinum with silver flecks, light matte caramel, and rich antique bronze infused with gold. NARS does an admirable job describing their shades, because the official descriptions are quite apt.

The largest shade is a part-shimmer, part-glitter sheer overlay of a pale white-gold color. In all honesty, I do not like it at all–it applies unevenly, makes a mess, and the “silver flecks” aka silver glitter get everywhere. To make this shade manageable, try using it over a sticky base and wet, because dry, it proves to have far more fall out than it is worth. It’s more of a layering shade, too, because there isn’t much of a base color so much as a dusting of shimmer and glitter.

In the middle, there is a soft beige-tan with a subtle sheen; it’s not exactly matte–seems more like a satin to me, because of the sateen finish. This shade had a beautiful finish, very smooth and silky, with nice color pay off, too. The thinnest shade is a dark bronze brown with soft bronze shimmer. It has a softened frost sheen; it’s not a true frost finish, but it is a little more than a satin.

my thoughts on the formula: NARS states that you can use their eyeshadows wet or dry, though. The texture is soft, smooth, and very blendable, with the colors being nicely pigmented more often than not.   Here, two of the three shades are true to the NARS formula, but the largest and lightest shade is more difficult to work with than one would expect.  A NARS Eyeshadow Duo contains 0.14 oz. of product and retails for $32, which makes the trio more per ounce (but a better value than the single eyeshadows).

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  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Given that the largest shade is also the most difficult one to work with, I’m hard-pressed to recommend this trio, because I only think two shades are worth having.  The amount of glitter fall out from the lightest shade is quite bothersome.

where to buy: NARS

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