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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Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Illamasqua Sangers Lipstick
Illamasqua Sangers Lipstick

Illamasqua Throb Collection: Sangers

Illamasqua Sangers Lipstick (£15.50 for 0.14 oz.) is described as a “blood red,” but it is very much a true red. It doesn’t pull blue or orange, though if you have yellower undertones, it may seem a touch orange-based when you wear it (and similarly, blue-based if you have pinker undertones). It is incredibly rich in color, needing very little product to yield opaque color coverage, and applies smoother than the average Illamasqua lipstick. Sangers is such a saturated product it wears for six to eight hours.

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). They are also scent- and taste-free.

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

final thoughts: It’s such a beautiful shade of red–it is not always easy to find true reds, and this is gorgeous rendition.  Illamasqua’s formula is excellent for how long it wears, but I could do with a touch more creaminess overall.

where to buy: Illamasqua

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Tuesday, February 8th, 2011


Guava, Old Hollywood, Sweet Nectar, Soft Coral, Bikini Pink

Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color SPF 12 Sneak Peek

For spring, Bobbi Brown is putting out a new lip color formula called Rich Lip Color ($22.00 for 0.13 oz.) with twelve shades in the range. The formula is designed to feel lightweight, yield lots and lots of color, with a creamy and emollient texture to moisturize and condition lips–plus it has SPF 12. I will be testing these out over the next week or so and working through lip swatches, but I thought I’d give you this swatch post for now. There are a few shades missing (Cosmic Raspberry and Crimson), but the majority of the shade range is here. :)

I have not tested these at all yet, so please hold questions until I have had a chance to do so–thank you!  I will be sure to do my usual detail review as soon as I’ve finished testing these.

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Monday, February 7th, 2011

Estee Lauder Untamed Violet Eyeliner
Estee Lauder Untamed Violet Eyeliner

Estee Lauder Wild Violet: Untamed Violet

Estee Lauder Untamed Violet Double Wear Eye Pencil ($19.00 for 0.04 oz.) is a deep dark violet with iridescent purple shimmer strewn through the colored base. It applies smoothly and goes on opaque without having to layer, and it lasts all day on my lower lash line (since it has shimmer, I didn’t wear it on my water line). I wouldn’t describe it as particularly creamy, even though it had a good glide. The formula is comparable to Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eye Pencils, though.  It is a darker purple with less iridescence than Urban Decay Ransom, but it is comparable to Urban Decay Lust, which is slightly bluer and doesn’t have as much sheen.

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

final thoughts: The cooler undertones of this shade help to brighten eyes, so it is a nice shade to wear alone for a less-is-more kind of look, because it will brighten the whites of your eyes.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Monday, February 7th, 2011

Shiseido RD 734 Rouge Perfect Lipstick
Shiseido Roseate RD 734 Rouge Perfect Lipstick

Shiesido Perfect Rouge Lipstick: Roseate

Shiseido Roseate (RD734) Perfect Rouge Lipstick ($25.00 for 0.14 oz.) is a rosy brown with a creamy finish and opaque color coverage. It has a naturally glossy finish that doesn’t yield a lot of shine but creates dimension on the lips. This is a shade that just works–it’s not a nude but an everyday shade that adds color to the complexion but never competes with your features.

my thoughts on the formula: It’s moisturizing and applies evenly, while it wears for about four hours before beginning to fade. It is also scent- and taste-free. Perfect Rouge has a really beautiful color range and ranges from semi-opaque to opaque in color.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: It’s not necessarily a shade that would stop you in your tracks but one that you would find works with so many looks and appropriate for many occasions.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Monday, February 7th, 2011

Tom Ford Amber Absolute Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford Amber Absolute Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Amber Absolute Eau de Parfum ($190.00 for 1.7 oz.) is described as a ” honey-colored scent infused with the purest form of amber, joined by a tenacious refrain of African incense, labdanum, rich woods and a touch of vanilla bean.”

Initially, it is a burst of smoky incense and amber with an underlying sweetness punctuated by vanilla. A little spicy, but more like a dark, smoky room with incense burning in the background, and it’s very strong and nearly overwhelming in the beginning. Amber is noticeable at every point in the evolution of this scent as the day wears on, but it is most apparent after an hour or so, when the fragrance gets drier.

The vanilla isn’t cloying nor the star at any point while wearing this scent, but it is always there, balancing some of the headier notes of labdanum. The heart of the fragrance is amber, with a resinous incense rounding it out for the first hours, then getting it woodier and a little sweeter. The woods really don’t come into play until several hours have passed, but then they are there, subtle but distinct, along with a touch of sweetness from the vainlla bean.

Like Oud Wood, this is a potent, long-wearing scent–I can still detect it into the next day. Though a pricey affair, I find a spray on my wrist, then gently dabbed onto the other wrist and beneath my ears, is more than enough.

final thoughts: Scents are certainly personal, and at this price tag, trying-before-buying is something you should seek out if possible. It’s a heady, amber scent with lots of smoky incense and a hint of vanilla sweetness.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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