Monday, May 24th, 2010

MAC 131 Brush

MAC 131 Brush: A Duo-Fibre Multi-Tasker

The MAC 131 Brush ($40.00, limited edition and available with To the Beach) was originally released with Colour Craft (July ’09), and I’ve owned it since and used it once. I spent the past couple of weeks testing it out for the first time and seeing what it works best for. MAC describes it as, “Flat, tapered brush that contains a combination of short and long fibres … [i]deally suited for Mineralize Skinfinish Powders.”

How does it work for…

FOUNDATION: When it comes to liquid foundation, it does the job. I liked the application and finish better than the 187, because it seemed a lot less streaky (which is why I moved past the 187 to the 182 and now use the 109). The application with the 131 is quite a bit different, given that it’s a flatter, slightly tapered and angled brush–you don’t blend in a circular motion here. It’s more about soft sweeps and pulls to get the product blended on your face.

CREAM BLUSH: I prefer the 130 (also available with To the Beach but appears to be permanent) or the 188 (permanent) over the 131. The 131 is nice for blending out the color initially, but I find that being able to buff small circles is one thing I really find preferable in technique that the 131 doesn’t make so easy. You can see me demonstrate how to apply cream blush using a stippling brush like the 131 in this video (along with the 130). It is better with more emollient/thinner cream blushes than thicker consistencies.

MINERALIZE BLUSH/SKINFINISH: Like the 187, using the 131 to apply mineralize color products like the blushes, blush duos, and skinfinishes helps to soften the color and diffuse some of the glittery particles. It gives a very soft, subtle color and deposits a light layer of the sparkler/shimmer. I think it’s nice on some of the more pigmented, dirtier, or glitter-heavy shades, particularly for those with more visible pores. I think if you have the 187 or 188, you may not find the 131′s application far superior. I like the 131 a bit more, but it’s a close race. It’s also smaller than the 187, so it may be more manageable on cheeks in comparison.

MOISTURIZER: I actually found myself liking the 131 more to apply moisturizer than anything else. I spritz the brush with a little water, and then I apply my moisturizer–very clean, sanitary, and soothing. Of course, whether it’s vital to have a single brush for this purpose is debatable!

My personal feeling about the brush is that it’s a nice, high-quality brush that certainly is useful and can be used with different products, but if you are an avid brush collector, it may not be a must-have brush. I just didn’t and still don’t find myself reaching for it very often. I just want to repeat that there is nothing wrong with this brush–it has the same excellent standard of quality from the softness to the construction to the ability to multi-task as MAC brushes. It hasn’t reinvented the wheel for me, since I already own the 187 and 188.

I did an entire series of reviews on all of MAC’s Face Brushes, so definitely check that out if you’re looking for a particular brush.

What do you use the 131 for? Is it a must-have for you?

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: If you already own the 187 and 188, you may not find this brush revolutionary. You may not even find it’s worth it, if you’re on a budget, and you own those two. It’s better suited for blush and mineralize products from the testing I did.

Availability: May 25th online at maccosmetics.com, May 27th in-stores

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Monday, May 24th, 2010

MAC Chromagraphic Pencils
Pure White, Basic Red, Process Magenta, Genuine Orange, Primary Yellow,
Landscape Green, Marine Ultra, Hi-Def Cyan, Rich Purple, Black Black, NC42/NW35

MAC Chromagraphic Pencils: Review, Photos, Swatches

Last week, MAC PRO launched a full collection of Chromagraphic Pencils. Each retails for $14.50, and all the shades are permanent at PRO stores. This collection is only available at PRO stores, but anyone can shop at a PRO store. You can even call up your nearest PRO store, and you can place a phone order for a flat-rate shipping cost. Keep in mind that these are PRO products, which means they were designed with the makeup artist in mind, not necessarily consumers.

These may seem familiar because MAC released two of the flesh-toned shades with Pret-a-Papier (NC15/NW20 and NW25/NC30). The other eleven shades are new. Chromagraphic Pencils are creamy pencils that glide on easily and smoothly. According to PRO, they are meant for lining and defining, which makes sense as they have other products (like Chroma Cakes and Paint Sticks) more suitable for larger areas.

I do really like the flesh-toned shades for use on the lower waterline to open up the eye. I find that the NC15/NW20 achieves that the best (the others being a bit too dark on me) myself, and I’m about NC25. Black Black is really intense, and it is safe for usage everywhere but the lips, and that’s the one I chose to test-drive first. It stays pretty well on the waterline and lash line – it looks intense and dark from a normal viewing distance, but up close, I can see that it looks a little faded–but it hadn’t faded any more after the initial inspection and stayed on for about six hours for me (on the waterline, over eight on the lash line).

The following shades are not to be used in the lip area: Black Black, Marine Ultra, NC15/NW20, NW25/NC30, NC42/NW35
The following shades are not to be used in the eye area: Basic Red, Genuine Orange, Process Magenta
The following shades are not to be used in the inner rim of eye: Basic Red, Process Magenta, Genuine Orange, Primary Yellow, Landscape Green, Marine Ultra, Hi-Def Cyan, Rich Purple

The darker, more pigmented shades will stain the skin a little if worn for prolonged periods of time. I did not wear the swatches of these for very long, but it took quite a bit of elbow grease to remove them entirely.  I think these are certainly a quick and easy way to put detail on body/face painting efforts.  I’m not necessarily sure how much use most of us would get out of these, though (which is just fine–these weren’t made for us!).

  • Pure White is a crystal clear creamy white.
  • Basic Red is a primary red, subtle orange undertones.
  • Process Magenta is a brightened pink, not quite fuchsia, definitely magenta.
  • Genuine Orange is a rich, almost neon tangerine orange.
  • Primary Yellow is exactly that–bright yellow.
  • Landscape Green is a medium grass green.
  • Marine Ultra is a darkened medium sea blue.
  • Hi-Def Cyan is a creamy sky blue.
  • Rich Purple is a darkened, red-toned purple.
  • Black Black is an intense, almost wet-looking black.
  • NC15/NW20 is a light beige/fleshy shade.
  • NW25/NC30 is a darker version of NW15/NC20. Almost looks like a darkened peach.
  • NC42/NW35 is darker version of NW25/NC30. It looks a bit peachy/orange on me.

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Lancome Groupie Lipstick

The Summer Season: Lancome Groupie Lipstick

Lancome Groupie Color Design Lipstick ($22.00) is a deep copper-bronzed pinky-red. It’s not quite a full-on red, and the copper-bronze shimmer made it feel like summer to me, even though the color was just borderline “summer.” It’s a rich, opaque color with a frost/metallic finish. It could even double as a holiday-esque lipstick with a lil’ red gloss slicked on top. It didn’t have any taste/smell either, which was surprisingly, as I know some other Lancome lipsticks do! The wear time was about average here–three hours before it started to noticeably fade.

Is this the right bronze lipstick for you? Would you wear it?

The Summer Season is a series of posts featuring bright, vibrant shades of coral, orange, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for a summer of fun — that runs through July 2010.

See photos and swatches… Continue reading →

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

YSL Eyeshadow

YSL Single Eyeshadows:  Fawn, Mogador Blue, Slate Green

YSL Ombre Solo Lasting Radiance Eyeshadows ($30.00 for 0.06 oz.) are a new, recent release from YSL. Accordingt o YSL, they are to deliver “vibrant” and “pure” color for “hours.” Each palette contains both a sponge-tipped and brush applicator.

These single eyeshadows are available in twelve shades: #01 Midnight Black (black), #02 Cashmere Brown (brown), #03 Perian Blue (gray blue), #04 Midnight Purple (dark purple), #05 Slate Green (forest green), #06 Pink Nude (soft pink), #07 Smokey Grey (gray), #08 Fawn (soft brown), #09 Mogador Blue (blue), #10 Lunar Purple (purple), #11 Garden of Eden (light green), and #12 Parisienne Pink (pink).

I’ve tried three shades, and I think now would be the best time to review them, given that I was so disappointed with the spring palette–because I don’t think it’s representative of the entire YSL line. (Their eyeshadow palettes have never wowed me, but they have never entirely disappointed me, either.) The new single eyeshadows are much, much better.

  • #08 Fawn is a softened, peach-toned brown with soft peach-gold sheen. It’s not too warm, so I think it would work on both cooler and warmer skin tones. It would make a good all-over lid color on medium skin tones, too.
  • #09 Mogador Blue is a silver-shimmered sky blue. This shade had the frostiest finish out of the three I tried, but it’s not an over-the-top frost. It was surprisingly pigmented (I feared for the worst on this pastel-ish shade!), and it went on very smoothly.
  • #05 Slate Green is a darkened forest green. This shade of dark forest green is one of my favorite shades, and I didn’t have any eyeshadow in this shade until now, so I’m really enthused over this one on a personal level.

I’m so, so pleased to say that these are soft, smooth, and pigmented. They actually feel a bit different than YSL’s palettes and duos–a little thicker in a sense, not at all powdery, and seem more pigmented. The packaging is traditional YSL with the “gold” case. The two applicators included in the eyeshadow are so-so — nothing ground-breaking, and I’d only use them in an emergency situation, but I like that they had a bristle-based one, too.

I’m not particularly keen on the price/quantity situation here — it’s closer to luxury brands like Cle de Peau than high-end, designer brands like Chanel and Dior. The quality is fantastic, but I could see these better priced at aroun $26 or $27.

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Based on the three shades I tried, the new single eyeshadows are silky smooth and richly pigmented. They apply evenly and easily. The price tag is a bit steep, so it may not be for everyone.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Cle de Peau #101 Extra Silky Lipstick
Cle de Peau #101 Extra Silky Lipstick

The Summer Season: Cle de Peau #101 Extra Silky Lipstick

Cle de Peau #101 Extra Silky Lipstick ($52.00 for 0.07 oz.) is a beautiful shade of coral-orange with soft peach shimmer. It’s a pricey indulgence, but the color is lovely on and the formula is creamy, smooth, and moisturizing. Despite its creaminess, I get about three to four hours of wear, sometimes more, on a shade. It’s a splurge, but it won’t disappoint!

Is this the right coral lipstick for you? Would you wear it?

The Summer Season is a series of posts featuring bright, vibrant shades of coral, orange, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for a summer of fun — that runs through July 2010.

See photos and swatches… Continue reading →

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

YSL Spring 2010 Palette

Weekend Quickies: YSL Parisian Sky Eyeshadow Palette

YSL’s Spring Look may have offered some pretty lipsticks and glosses, but they really failed on the eyeshadow palette as far as I’m concerned. The whole thing is a sheer, chalky mess. I haven’t been this disappointed in a product since Chanel’s Les Folie Noirs Quad from last fall–which is a good thing, because these really bring me down. So uninspiring!

Parisian Sky ($56.00) consists of a pale sky blue with silver glitter, satin-y navy blue, iridescent lilac, satin-y pale pink, and muted plum-brown with silver glitter. None of the five shades was what I would call pigmented. The more satin/matte shades were chalky, and the light pink was a bit powdery, too. The shimmery shades were dusty and felt a bit loose, like the glitter would easily travel elsewhere on your face if you used it on your eyes.

If you showed me these swatches, I would never have guessed it was a YSL palette. Not in a bajillion years! I think this may be the first true F of a product — I’m at a loss of positive things to say about it. There are sheerer, softer shades, but these just look like they were meant to be more – they required such heavy swatching just to show up. At least with Chanel, half of the shades showed up decently, and it could also be used wet to intensify the shades.

A part me wonders if I somehow got a bad palette, because I can’t believe what swatched. I’ve tried several YSL eyeshadows in the past, and none of them have been even near as poor as these were for me. In fact, I just finished up testing their new single eyeshadows, and those had excellent pigmentation and texture!

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

  • Product: 10/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  I would most definitely not recommend this to anyone.  If you like sheer shades, I would recommend testing this in person first to see if you get better results than I did.

Availability: Nordstrom

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →