Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Rescue Beauty Lounge:  Scrangie, Under the Stars, Black Russian
Rescue Beauty Lounge: Scrangie, Under the Stars, Black Russian

The $18 Splurge for Nail Fanatics

Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Lacquer ($18.00 for 0.4 fl. oz.) is a formula that always hits the right notes. It’s never thick, clumpy, or streaky–application is incredibly easy with a flawless, smooth finish in two coats (on average). Lasts a full week for me (that’s about as long as I wear a single shade) without chipping.

  • Scrangie is a pinky-purple base with stronger pink-red undertones that goes almost blue-violet from the flashes of blue and green shimmer. It almost has a duochrome effect! I’m such a sucker for anything remotely duochrome. This shade is named after Scrangie, a nail blogger, and it is inspired by the a beetle’s wings. Two coats.
  • Under the Stars is a blackened navy blue base with lighter blue micro-glitter pieces and blue shimmer strewn through its base. It’s unusual in the way it has this mixture of a cosmicly lit-up background and then more obvious specks of glitter, too. The name is quite fitting. Two coats.
  • Black Russian is a blackened brown-red base with flecks of glowing red glitter. The effect is similar to Under the Stars, but the “background” shimmer is much, much finer–it’s almost like a muted burgundy so it doesn’t come across as much as it does in Under the Stars. Two coats.

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

RECOMMENDATION: There are certainly worth the splurge, because the formula is tops–but they are a splurge.

AVAILABILITY: Rescue Beauty Lounge

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Tuesday, September 14th, 2010


Stila Smudge Stick Eyeliner: Stingray, Peacock, Koi

When Quality Beats Quantity: Stila Smudge Sticks

Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner Lionfish ($20.00 for 0.01 oz.) is a twist-up waterproof eyeliner available in eight shades: Blue Ribbon (slate blue sheen), Lionfish (deep bronze sheen), Moray (golden olive sheen), Purple Tang (dark purple sheen), Silver Dollar (metallic silver), Stingray (jet black), Peacock (vibrant teal sheen), and Koi (metallic gold).

Ever since learning that twist-up eyeliners give you such a TINY amount of product (the average is about 0.01 oz., can you believe it?), it’s been painful to find myself gravitating towards any of them. Stila’s Smudge Sticks are incredibly creamy, rich in color, and apply like butter on the water line or lash line. Their vibrancy is what really makes them worth checking out, because it doesn’t take much product to get an opaque line.  It’s also soft enough to apply gently to the lash line without tugging, but it’s not so soft that it just melts onto the lash line.

  • Stingray is a deep, dark black with a little sheen.
  • Peacock is a aqua-blue with a slight metallic sheen; it’s not really the teal I imagined of the shade–much bluer.
  • Koi is a metallic medium gold–very high sheen.

My experience wearing these has been fairly positive; they really stay put on  my lash line, even after twelve hours.  They’re budgeproof, smudgeproof, and waterproof, but I find if I apply it to my water line, I do get some irritation (which may just be my sensitivity) and it does seem to slide off after two or three hours.  I don’t really feel the irritation, but when I look in the mirror, my eyes are redder than usual.  So I’ll probably stick to wearing it just on the lower lash line rather than the water line (even though it lasts so well in comparison to most eyeliners), because red-tinged eyes are way un-sexy.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you’ve had trouble with eyeliner staying put and feel as if you’ve exhausted all of your options, Stila’s Smudge Sticks just might do the trick.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora, Stila

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Monday, September 13th, 2010

Urban Decay Black Palette
Urban Decay Black Palette

Getting Heavy with Urban Decay

Urban Decay The Black Palette ($36.00 for 0.24 oz.) contains six eyeshadows (0.04 oz. each), along with a miniature-sized Zero 24/7 Eye Pencil (0.03 oz.) and Eden Primer Potion (0.13 fl. oz.). As far as I know, this palette is limited edition and a Sephora exclusive (and Sephora lists it as “online only”).

  • Black Dog is an intense, deep dark black with a matte finish. It’s about as intense and deep as Sugarpill Bulletproof, but it’s not quite as smooth or as blendable. It is not at all unworkable, though. I just point this out because it seemed like Black Dog was one of the shadows readers were most looking forward to, and Bulletproof is an alternative to buying the entire palette.
  • Barracuda is a darkened gray with silver flecks; it is a very steely, cool-toned gray. I thought it was similar to Urban Decay’s Gunmetal, but it seems a little darker and less frosty.
  • Jet is a cool-toned plummy purple with very subtle red undertones. It has a semi-matte color base with flecks of blue glitter.
  • Sabbath is a darkened, smoky noir blue with flecks of blue glitter.
  • Cobra is a muddied blackened base with flecks of antique-gold and green-gold shimmer/glitter.
  • Libertine is a blackened green color base with flecks of gold and emerald green micro-glitter.

The Black Palette is housed in a sleek, slim rectangular palette with a mirror on the inside cover; it’s made out of cardboard/paper as Urban Decay palettes often are, but it’s very compact.  The miniature Zero eyeliner is stowed away inside along the eyeshadows, while the miniature Eden primer potion is loose (which does ensure that this palette is thin).  It’s definitely a more travel-friendly palette than the Book of Shadows.

Quality-wise, these eyeshadows feel like most of Urban Decay’s regular eyeshadow line (not to be confused with their deluxe eyeshadow line, which has a slightly differing texture); they’re pretty smooth and pigmented.  These do feel a touch more powdery and kick up some eyeshadow if you’re not careful, so I do recommend tapping your brush against your wrist to get any excess shadow out–that way it doesn’t just poof and land on your under eye instead!  I don’t think they’re the best of the brand’s eyeshadows, but they’re solid overall.

I find this palette too redundant to be a must-have for most makeup mavens.  When applied to eyes as part of look, they really don’t standout; they all look black with a touch of varying glitter (but it is so subtle, it’s hard to notice until you look for it specifically).  I did a quick look using Cobra, Libertine, and Black Dog, and if I saw that, I’d say I used two eyeshadows (a shimmery black, nude highlighter); the difference is nearly imperceptible.

You can really get the same effect by using a black eyeshadow/base and layering a shimmery color shade on top– in fact, a ton of people do this with MAC Blacktrack as a base and you can get some really cool effects (try using a duochrome shade on top!).   You might even find that the color pops even more.  These are just too black, too flat.  The inclusion of Eden with this palette is interesting, because it makes these eyeshadows look flatter and even more similar to each other than other bases.  I did some experimenting using Eden, a shimmery white gold base, and colored bases; these eyeshadows look best over colored bases–you can get that blackened look without losing the color entirely.

I feel like I do get the concept of blackened, smoldering colors that don’t scream color but at the same time, I want some differentiation between one shade from the next.  I don’t want to squint my eyes to detect slight differences in the flecks of glitter.  I also think the inclusion of Gunmetal or Dime 24/7 Liner (instead of Zero) would have helped these shades pop.  I recommend experimenting with cream eyeshadow in black and layering shimmery colors on top to see what look you prefer!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I think it’s worth trying to recreate on your own at home — unless you wear a ton of black eyeshadow, you should be able to get something comparable–if not better–as you need it.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Monday, September 13th, 2010

Guerlain Violine Kiss Kiss Essence de Gloss
Guerlain Violine Kiss Kiss Essence de Gloss

For Fall: Pigmented Gloss

Guerlain Violine (462) Kiss Kiss Essence de Glossicon ($31.00 for 0.20 fl. oz.) is a juicy raspberry pink with subtle fuchsia and light pink micro-shimmer. The color itself is nearly opaque (my lip freckle is almost covered but it still peeked through). I love that this is a pink that’s not too cool for warmer skin tones to wear with ease–it has just a touch of blue such that it is a cooler shade if I were to classify it.

The formula itself is comfortable to wear; it’s lightweight, non-sticky, and keeps lips moisturized. It does seem to de-emphasize lip lines and the color, despite the pigmentation, did not settle into my lip lines much at all. It does have a high-shine finish, so there is no mistaking it for a lipstick, as it is most definitely a gloss! I get between three and four hours of wear with it, and it doesn’t completely disappear after having a cup of coffee either–which is nice!

Essence de Gloss is housed in a “gold” rectangular case with a thin cut out where the color of the gloss shows through (it really is the gloss that shows through–it is absolutely clear until you pull the wand out once!). The packaging looks pretty, though it lacks the heft typically associated with Guerlain’s products, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your needs.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I love that there is pigmentation to the gloss without being entirely opaque or thick. It’s not sticky at all, too!

AVAILABILITY: Nordstromicon

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Monday, September 13th, 2010

Chanel Rose Confidential Le Vernis
Chanel Rose Confidential Le Vernis

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Chanel Rose Confidentiel (491) Le Vernis (Nail Lacquer) ($23.00 for 0.4 fl. oz.) is a soft, medium rose pink cream with a slightly glossy finish. It almost looks like a cross between a jelly and cream on me, because it has that squishy look to it–just subtly so. It’s pretty pigmented, and I found two coats to be the right amount to yield a rich, opaque look. The formula wasn’t too thick as some Chanel polishes can be, and it was applied smoothly and evenly.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I think this is a nice way to go “darker” for fall without actually going dark.

AVAILABILITY: Chanel

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Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Philosophy Cookies 'n Creme Shower Gel
Philosophy Cookies ‘n Creme Shower Gel

Mmm, Cookies ‘n Creme

Philosophy Cookies n’ Creme Shower Gel ($16.00 for 16 fl. oz.) is a new-for-fall scent that is as sweet as you’d expect it to be. It starts with a very basic sweet vanilla aroma, but then the deliciousness of chocolate cookie comes through; it’s exactly what I remember Cookies ‘n Creme ice cream smelling like.

This is a rather foodie scent, and as such, quite sweet, but I don’t find it synthetic or overwhelming, but this is not a scent that lingers. One of my favorite things about Philosophy’s shower gels is that they smell amazing when you’re using them but don’t leave you smelling like food all day. It lathers up incredibly well, and a little dab will do you–probably a quarter’s worth (maybe a touch more) should get you sudsy in no time.

Before the boy started stealing my bath products (OMG, he uses TWO PUMPS of my Kate Somerville cleanser–I use half a pump, AHH!), a bottle like this would last me months. With his “generous” usage, a bottle lasts about a month and a half.  And can I just say I can’t wait until full-sizes of Pumpkin Spice are back?

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: Personally, I like it, but it’s not my all-time favorite scent, but I do love the formula and all that.  If you like sweeter, foodie scents, you might like this one!

AVAILABILITY: Sephora