Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Long-wearing is the Name of the Game

MAC Pro Longwear SPF 10 Foundation ($29.50 for 1 fl. oz.) is the newest addition to MAC’s impressive range (at least in number!) of foundations, and it comes to the market with some pretty lofty claims. It’s designed to give up to fifteen hours of wear in any environmental condition while still being lightweight and delivering sheer to medium coverage. The finish is considered “natural,” which isn’t matte but neither dewy — it’s not Studio Fix Fluid (matte!) nor Mineralize Satinfinish (satin… dewy).

On color matching: I picked up NC30, which was my MAC match for a very long time, and I wasn’t sure if these leaned dark/light, so I figured that just might work. I haven’t been to the MAC store in a bit, so I don’t have full knowledge of the range’s shades, but NC30 was a little dark and a touch orange on me; luckily, it’s almost impossible to tell in the comparison photos. (Phew!) I think I’ll grab NC25 next time I’m at MAC, though. I did, however, compare the shade against some of the other MAC foundations I own. It seems in line with Face & Body (a little deeper, but it should be yellower), a definite shade deeper than NC25 in Studio Fix Fluid. However, when compared to Make Up For Ever HD in 140 (which, according to The Foundation Matrix, is equivalent to NC30-NC35), it’s a little darker but looks almost orange in comparison. All in all, like any foundation, try to grab a sample or get matched in-store to avoid embarrassing foundation face!

Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide 4.7%

Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Butylene Glycol, Trimethyl Pentaphenyl Trisiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Tribehenin, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Bis-Peg/Ppg-14/14 Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Phenyl Methicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Methicone, Tetramethyl Hexaphenyl Tetrasiloxane, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Laureth-7, Hexyl Laurate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Propylene Carbonate, Alumina, Polymethylsilsequioxane, Dimethicone Silylate, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin [ /- Mica, Iron Oxides (C) 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (C) 77891, Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288)

On finish: This foundation is definitely one of the best MAC foundations I’ve tried to date, and I do love Studio Fix Fluid, though I don’t currently wear it–but I did wear it for nearly three years. (So many foundations, only one face!) The finish is absolutely beautiful; it’s not flat or matte, but it’s not oily, greasy, or “dewy.” It really is natural; there’s a little of that lit-from-within glow going on here. It won’t accentuate your oiliness. However, if you have very dry skin, I think it may be too close to a matte finish and would advise trying before buying. Coverage is light-medium to me; I don’t think it’s sheer, but it can be built up to a more medium coverage. I find it is similar in coverage to Studio Fix Fluid.

On consistency, feel, transfer: It’s has lightweight feel–lighter than Studio Fix Fluid, heavier than Face & Body–with a thinner consistency than Studio Fix Fluid but not as watery as Face & Body. It dries down quickly (so work in sections or be quick about your business!) and doesn’t feel tacky or sticky to the touch. As far as I could tell, it’s pretty transfer-resistant, even ten hours later. I took a tissue to my face, and just pressing didn’t transfer anything, I had to rub it across my forehead to get any foundation to show up on the tissue.

On wear: But I suppose the best part about this foundation is that is really is long-wearing without being heavy, cakey, or thick. I wore it for twelve hours, and my makeup looked nearly as good then as it did when I first applied it in the morning. Normally, I get a little oily around my t-zone if I’ve worn foundation for eight hours or more. I’d say there might have been a touch more shine after twelve hours than when I started wearing it, but very slight, and it didn’t transfer.

All in all, a pretty stellar foundation!

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

RECOMMENDATION: I’d give it a shot if you’re able to sample the shade range and find the best match for you.  It should be suitable for dry to oily skin, but if you have very dry or flaky/dry patches on your face, you may want to try it first, because of the natural finish (which isn’t quite matte but near enough to it) may accentuate dryness.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Evocative Collection
Dolce & Gabbana Orchid (115) Shine Lipstick

A Deep Fuchsia Lip for Fall

Dolce & Gabbana Orchid (115) Shine Lipstick ($30.00 for 0.13 oz.) is an paque, deep fuchsia pink with a high glossy shine. It’s bright without being neon, but still a very rich, noticeable color when worn. It doesn’t seem to pull very blue, as many fuchsias do, but it still brightens teeth, giving the illusion of a whiter smile. The consistency is great: creamy without being heavy or overly slippery, while the color is intense in one or one and a half layers of product. I like the rose-scent of Dolce & Gabbana’s lipsticks, but if you’re more sensitive to scent, you might want to sniff before buying.

MAC’s Rebel Lipstick was the closest shade I could find to this particular color, but it pulls a lot redder and a couple of hues darker, while Orchid is distinctly pink (compare the full face photos–the difference is so dramatic!).

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

RECOMMENDATION: Rich color, moisturizing, and flattering on cool and warm skin tones — if you’re in the mood for a deep fuchsia, it’s a good choice!

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad
Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad

Dolce & Gabbana Divine Eyeshadow Quad ($59.00 for 0.16 oz.) looks like a beautiful, elegant mix of feminine colors that seem neutral–not too cool, not too warm.  I’ve always liked Dolce & Gabbana’s eyeshadows in the past (like Dazzling, Gold, Laguna), and I really haven’t had trouble with application of them.

In addition to having trouble with this palette, I also found similar issues with Ocean eyeshadow duo (also from fall, to be reviewed separately).  I thought perhaps it was due to my usage of NARS’ Smudgeproof as a base, so I tried Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, and I experienced the exact same issues:  sheer, faded colors that looked lovely at first but seemed to fade away as quickly as I applied them; slight muddying of color when blended.  It’s like there was nothing to bind the shadow to my lid, despite the eyeshadow base.

The best solution I was able to come up with was to use a shimmery, white gold cream shadow base (Shiseido Lemon Sugar).  Cream bases can sometimes be more adhesive, which can help softer or more difficult shadows stay on better, and shimmery bases always seem to emphasize colors in my experience.   It’s better–decent to just below good–but it’s not fabulous.

Divine consists of a barely-there beige with a subtle cool tone; medium mauve-tinged beige; frosted cotton candy pink; and darkened blue-toned purple with a semi-matte finish.  After using the quad in three look attempts, the lightest shade was my favorite, because it worked really well as a highlighter on my skin tone.  Though the pink shade swatches the best, it is the worst performer of the bunch, because despite its brightness in the swatch, it looks faded and flat on the lid.  The other three shades are more on the matte/satin side, so they already have a softer look and don’t fall flat when used.

I’m also mildly amused that the Eyeshadow Duos contain 0.17 oz. of product for $36, while the quads hold 0.16 oz. and go for $59.  This quad was a total miss for me, and I really wanted to love it.  It’s stunning when you first open the compact, but it’s such a let-down in practice.  Nothing will get a product onto my skip list faster than requiring me to give it three tries just to yield decent results.  As they say, three strikes and you’re out!

I mentioned it previously, but the nude shades worked just fine; they’re soft, smooth, and apply the same.  I don’t think they’re going to work well on anyone that’s medium-dark to dark in skin tone–they’re just going to be way too light and look chalky rather than subtle.  These shades would work well on light to medium skin tones for a contoured nude eye.  So in a sense, half the palette is… palatable (ha, ha).  I already spoke on the pink shade, and the purplish shade is so-so; it applies smoothly, but it seems to go sheer and fade pretty quickly.

Edited 10/01: Despite calling the Saks’ Dolce & Gabbana counter and being told not to use these eyeshadows wet or else I would ruin them, I did use them wet–it did solve a lot of smoothness/evenness of the eyeshadows on the lid, though the colors were still a bit faded and flat.  I changed the product grade from 20 to 23 as a result, which raised the overall grade from a C- to a C+.  A new issue, as a result of using them wet, was a bit of difficulty in blending out the darker shade.

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  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d rather get two lipsticks for the price of one eyeshadow quad. (I have reviewed many of Dolce & Gabbana’s lipsticks with happy results!)

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Monday, September 20th, 2010

Guerlain 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette
Guerlain 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette

Is this palette worth $84?

I know that it probably sounds funny, but after reviewing and being disappointed by Guerlain’s Rue de Francs Bourgeois Eyeshadow Palette, I felt the need to determine whether the palettes were a miss in general or perhaps just that particular combination was underwhelming. I decided to go with Guerlain’s 2 Place Vendome Eyeshadow Palette ($84.00 for 0.25 oz.), which is one variation that seemed to stand out more than the others (to me).

The palette includes six eyeshadows in varying shapes and sizes.  It’s housed in a beautiful compact with a filigree pattern on the cover that’s actually see-through.  There’s a black plastic piece that lifts open to reveal the eyeshadows themselves (and on the inside, there is a mirror).  A dual-ended miniaturized brush is also included, and while not something I’d use under regular circumstances, is nicer than many other palette applicators I’ve come across.

This is a rather cool-toned palette, which would make it most suitable for those who lean cool, but it’s still wearable on warmer skin tones, since they’re closer to neutral than very cool.  There is a pale white-beige with a satin finish, muted gray-brown with a satin finish, medium-dark ocean blue with soft sheen, antique gold with a hint of taupe base and frosted shimmer, cool-toned charcoal brown with a semi-matte finish, and darkened purple-black with flecks of violet shimmer over a semi-matte color base.

I think the pigmentation on the eyeshadows is nice overall, but it’s not rich and intense and luxe to me.  I really don’t get the luxury feel from the texture, but these shades are more impressive in their subtle nuances than in Rue de Francs Bourgeois.  I’m not keen on the level of pigmentation in the lighter brown shade, which is a little sheer; though the charcoal-brown shade appears sheer when swatched, it applies just fine with a brush on the eyes (say in the crease).

I’m still not as wow-ed as I’d like to be with these palettes, and while the palette’s case is most assuredly gorgeous, the eyeshadows don’t quite match it.  The texture could be finer, richer — I think this is what makes me go, “Hmm, I want to like you, but it’s not quite there,” because they don’t feel as buttery as Guerlain’s singles, duos, and quads’ eyeshadows do.  I do like that these have nearly no fall out, and they do apply very smoothly and evenly.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

RECOMMENDATION:

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Benefit Take a Picture It'll Last Longer Body Balm
Benefit Take a Picture It Lasts Longer Body Balm

When Barely There Isn’t Even There…

Benefit Bathina Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer Body Balm ($25.00 for 1.5 oz.) is a lightly floral-scented shimmering body balm. It purports to give a “shimmering, glimmering… seductive golden-pink sheen.” This is a very, very subtle product; I can’t even emphasize just how subtle and sheer and light the sheen is. I took photos of the “swatch,” but it looked like nothing was there. With a little light, I can see that there is a subtle sheen, but I don’t know of “shimmering, glimmering” is an appropriate description. It’s more glowy than shimmery, more sheen than glimmer.

Described as a “balm,” it doesn’t do much to hydrate or keep skin from losing moisture. It does as much for my skin as any highlighter would do (like a pressed one). It’s not thick or greasy, which is nice, but it’s a little time consuming to apply regardless of whether you forego the velvet pillow or not. I think ultimately this is a product that takes the concept of subtle to a whole new level, and I don’t think it’s supposed to be as sheer as it is. I wasn’t expecting big hunks of shimmer at all, but if I have to squint and flail my arms in the sunlight to see if it’s there, I think there’s a problem!

I did really like the scent–it’s kind of like this very subtle, rosy floral that almost reminds me of baby shampoo (but rosier, obviously). I like it, and I don’t find it strong, though it does linger, which is a plus–assuming you like the scent, of course! The packaging is cute and totally Benefit, and the metal tin makes it pretty durable.  The little velvet pillow applicator is a cute touch, which I imagine is supposed to make it a more luxurious experience.  Nice if you’re just applying to decolletage, but if you’re doing legs, a bit more tedious.

Honestly, when it comes to giving the body a soft, shimmering glow, Benefit’s Kitten does an infinitely better job.

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  • Product: 18/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d recommend checking out Benefit’s Kitten if you want to try a body highlighter by the brand rather than this particular product.

AVAILABILITY: Benefit, Sephora

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Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Make Up For Ever #1C Lip Liner
Make Up For Ever #1C Aqua Lip Liner

Long-wearing, Waterproof Lip Liner

Make Up For Ever #1C Aqua Lip Liner ($17.00 for 0.04 oz.) is a long-wearing lip liner that really does not budge until you take your best makeup remover to it. This is the area it most excels in–the wear is phenomenal, and the liner itself stayed on through drinking water and coffee with no problems at all. It can be layered underneath lipstick/gloss or used to define the lips. It’s soft enough that it’s easy to apply the liner on the lips, but it’s not so creamy that it becomes more like a lipstick pencil than a liner. It doesn’t impart much moisture, but it doesn’t leave lips feeling dry nor dry them out as it wears.

#1C is an interesting shade, because it’s described as a “light neutral beige,” but it almost looks a bit orange when you first swatch it, and then on lips, the natural rosiness of lips (even if you have lesser pigmented lips) seems to bring it down a notch. I like this shade underneath sheerer lipglosses and nude lipsticks best. I think for those with more pigmented lips, it can also help to mute the natural pigmentation of your lips in a more savory way than using concealer/foundation.

The only downside–for some, not all–is that it is a pencil liner, so it may need to be sharpened more frequently in order to get a precise edge. I didn’t have issues using the edge, and I don’t, personally, sharpen every use, to get a precise outline on my lips, but I use the slant more so than the tip itself. I don’t see it as a downside myself, but I could see those who prefer the thinner point of automatic lip liners finding fault here.

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

RECOMMENDATION: Maybe not this color, but Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Lip Liners are certainly worth a peek if you’re in the market for a long-wearing lip liner.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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