Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Perfection Nail Lacquer

All About Nudes in Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian Lace Collection

Dolce & Gabbana Perfection (220) Intense Nail Lacquer ($20.00 for 0.37 fl. oz.) is a nearly neutral caramel nude with a cream finish.  It’s new for fall and part of the brand’s Sicilian Lace Collection, which certainly is all about barely there and nude shades.  This is a very subtle color, and it’s not a trend or shade for everyone.   I found two coats was plenty to get an opaque look, as the formula was very pigmented and on the thicker side.

I found the applicator a bit bothersome, as the brush itself is larger and thicker than average; it allows quite a bit of the lacquer to absorb into the brush, so it’s easy to overdo it if you’re not especially careful.  If you have very narrow nail beds, you may also find the brush too wide to use with ease.  The lacquer wore just fine with Zoya’s Color Lock System with tip wear but no chips after a week.

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

RECOMMENDATION: At $20 a pop, this might not be the shade to splurge on if you’re not quite sure how you feel about the nude on nude trend.

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Chanel Contraste Duos

Those Double Cs Do It Again!

Chanel Ombres Contraste Duos (Eyeshadow Duos) ($42.00 for 0.09 oz.) each include a shimmering, light creamy powder shade that is designed to be worn alone or as a base, and then a darker shade with a matte finish to pack on the color. Each compact includes a mirror, sponge-tipped applicator, and a brush-tipped applicator.

Even though Chanel says one side is creamier than the other, I really didn’t find the texture to vary much between the two shades. They both felt smooth as silky, buttery, and incredibly finely-milled as Chanel eyeshadows are known to be. When I saw the duos, they reminded me of oversized quad eyeshadows–they have the same dome and shape, but they’re a bit larger than the quad eyeshadows.

I didn’t experience any fall out or fading with these shadows when used over a regular eyeshadow base (NARS, if you’re curious). These are classic colors–it’s clear by the shades chosen that this isn’t meant to be a daring, avant garde kind of collection or look; they’re suitable across the gamut of skin tones, easy to wear, and fit into most people’s lives. If you want something subtler, use more of the light shade; if you want a smokier look, go heavier with the darker shade. Each duo complements itself and can easily be worn on its own without having to look for other eyeshadows to pair it with (though that works, too!).

  • Berry-Rose (50) contains a shimmering, light cotton candy pink and a darker, eggplanty burgundy with a matte finish. Both shades were really smooth and buttery.
  • Gris-Subtil (10) has a shimmering silvered gray and matte charcoal gray. Gris is definitely a shade that looks better applied than just swatched–almost looks dusty when swatched.
  • Khaki-Clair (60) has a shimmering white with very subtle yellow undertones and a matte grayish olive green–I don’t know if I’d really call it olive green, because it’s very subtle. The darker shade was the most pigmented color out of the four duos I tried.
  • Misty Soft (40) contains a smoked out plum with subtle red undertones but an overall rather cool, and it’s complemented by silver-shimmered mauve. The lighter mauve shade reminded me of MAC’s Mauvement pigment a bit without the subtle gold sparkle.

I had a bit of sticker-shock with these, because a full-sized quad is $59, and it’s been a long time since I’ve really taken a look at their Silky Eyeshadow Duos as well (which retail for $40/0.07 oz.). Whether for good or bad, the pricing isn’t much of a stretch after looking at the price/quantity of other high-end brands like Dior and YSL. It seems a little less than stellar, but ridiculously overpriced/undersized.

Overall, I like these. I don’t love, love, LOVE these, but I like them, and I think they’ll fit well for doing more sophisticated looks that are elegant and classy. If you’re more into bolder, brighter shades, the current color range is definitely not that.

There are two more duos available that aren’t reviewed in this post: Taupe-Delicat (20) and Bleur-Tendre (30).

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: With such a classic selection of shades, you may have similar colors in your stash already. If you’re just started to delve into the world of beauty and you’re a fan of Chanel, I think you’d like these.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Stila Backstage Palette

Shimmer on Backstage with Stila

Stila Backstage Eyeshadow Palette ($28.00 for 0.39 oz.) is an eyeshadow palette with six shimmering shades that range from pale peach to rich teal.  The palette was inspired by the trends seen at Fall Fashion Week, and all six shades are new and can be used either wet or dry.

I’m so pleased to be able to say that THIS is a palette worth purchasing.  The formula of the eyeshadows is exactly like Stila’s normal line.  After my experience with their last palette, I was a little wary of this one.  The texture is incredibly soft (which may take some getting used to if you’ve never used Stila eyeshadows before), pigmented, and almost creamy despite being a pressed, powder eyeshadow.

  • Chiffon is a shimmering medium peach with light yellow undertones.   This is the only shade that seemed a little more on the glittery side; chunkier shimmer rather than very fine.
  • Flamingo is a red-based fuchsia purple with a light iridescent fuchsia sheen.  It’s like a pinker version of MAC’s Stars ‘n Rockets.
  • Pacific is a medium-dark blue with a lighter blue shimmer-sheen.
  • Luster is a mauvey-plum with a slight gray cast and golden sheen–this is a shade I can get down with, because it’s very different.
  • Poetic is a light mauve with a silvery sheen.  It reminds me of MAC Shale.
  • Coal is a rich, darkened teal with a soft teal sheen.

The palette itself has a brocade texture/patterning on the outside but is made out of paper.  There is no mirror inside (which doesn’t bother me, but as many palettes have them, I thought it was worth noting), just a quote. Each eyeshadow is approximately 0.065 oz., which is a little more than your average single eyeshadow, but the palette is priced at just $28 (or ($4.67/each), so it’s a great deal and represents Stila as a brand–quality and all.

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you love jewel-toned eyeshadows with soft, buttery textures, Stila’s fall palette is a winner.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010


Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick: Excessive (67), Emotive (68)

Gotta Love the Richness of Fall

If you thought Chanel was skimping on the darker, vampier shades for fall… not so!  Part of the launch of the new Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss, there are a few new shades of Rouge Allure Lipsticks being launched alongside as well.  Rouge Allure Lipsticks ($30.00 for 0.12 oz.) are some of my favorites, because they pack a lot of color in a standout formula:  moisturizing, lightweight, and long-wearing.  I typically get four to five hours of wear, sometimes five to six, with some of the bolder shades (like these).

  • Excessive is this vibrant cherry red with slight blue undertones with a glossy, opaque finish.
  • Emotive is a raspberry pink with a slight fuchsia sheen.  It’s not quite opaque, but it does deliver a fair amount of color coverage.  I found Emotive a little less glossy than Excessive, so it didn’t quite apply as smoothly.

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you love bolder, more opaque shades, you may want to consider these two shades.

AVAILABILITY:  Chanel

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Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

NARS Angelique Lip Treatment
NARS Angelique Lip Treatment

When Quantity Matters

NARS Angelique Lip Treament ($25.00 for 0.06 oz.) is an ultra sheer neutral rose that almost leans coral–it just brightens up my natural lip color a bit. It has a glossier finish than your average lipstick, but it feels very lightweight and is moisturizing if you have healthier lips. It’s not overly creamy, bit it glides on lips easily and doesn’t feel like you’re wearing enough, but this also means that it’s just as easy to over-apply the product. (And trust me, with the amount you get, you don’t want to do that.) It doesn’t keep my lips moisturized all day though, and I do find myself needing to reapply every three to four hours.  It also carries a rating of SPF 15 (titanium dioxide).

So, this is a situation where I’m really bothered by the product’s price/quantity ratio. I’m willing to give all products a fair shake, and I recognize that there are brands at different price points with some brands trying to be more accessible and others remaining at arm’s length and obviously in the luxury category. I expect pricing to be in line with the brand’s image, similar products, etc., and I expect quantity to be around the average for that brand and/or direct competitors.

I don’t understand why NARS’ Lip Treatments are $25 (which is $1 more than their lipsticks and glosses) and HALF the size.  This is not a product that packs a ton of pigment in a single swipe so you can put it up to using less, or it’s full of innovative, never-before-seen ingredients/technology.  This is a product I’d easily use 3-4 times a day:  two weeks of usage and it’s already over half gone.

And so many thought Fresh was a splurge at $22.50 (but for 0.15 oz.)… Dior (which tends to be pricier than NARS) has their Lip Glow ($28.00 for 0.12 oz.), Fusion Beauty has LipFusion Balm Lip Conditioning Stick ($22.00 for 0.17 oz.), and so on. If you want to go NARS, I’d suggest one of their lipsticks instead, which are quite moisturizing as far as lipsticks go (on average) with some colors on the sheer side, others more semi-opaque, but at least you’ll get twice as much product.

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  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 5/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I would pass, because they’re just way too pricey for what you get. There are plenty of other more moisturizing tinted lip balms (that come in stick-form) with twice as much product for about the same price. If NARS was just a little below the average, it wouldn’t be so bad, but they’re half as much and the size is half as much as their own lipsticks (which are fairly moisturizing!).  If you have dry or peeling lips, this won’t be enough.

AVAILABILITY: NARS, Sephora

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Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub
Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub

Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub ($36.00 for 12 oz.) is touted as both a body scrub and skin polish, though the two terms mean different things to me. A body scrub is a coarser product designed to help slough off dead skin cells on the skin that covers your body (which essentially excludes your face, possibly your neck), while a skin polish is a grainier, finer product that buffs and just tends to be gentler overall. Do they mean the same thing to you? I’m more curious than anything. We all have our own expectations/ideas depending on products and how they’re marketed!

The body scrub has a fresh lemony scent that’s light and not synthetic, and it’s really not a scent that will last and last post-shower. It has rather fine, grainy particles that will get the job done, but if you’re looking for a coarser scrub like your typical salt/sugar scrub, I don’t think this will be vigorous enough for you. However, if you prefer something smoother, finer, and altogether gentler (particularly if you have sensitive skin), the consistency of this product is more up your alley. Bliss calls the exfoliating piece “circular scrubbing grains,” which is good, because their spherical nature will avoid tearing the skin.

Ingredients: Water, Myreth-3 Myristate, Octyl Stearate, Polyethylene, Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Distearate, Dimethicone, Propolis Extract, Dimethicone Copolyol, Beeswax, Gylcereth-7 Hydroxystearate/IPDI Copolymer, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Triethanolamine, Hops Extract, Horsetail Extract, Beeswax, Stearamidopropyl Phosphatidyl PG-Dimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea.

I like that my legs feel rejuvenated and more moisturized after using this product. Not all scrubs impart moisture, and I can always appreciate one that multi-tasks (though if you suffer from drier, scalier legs like me, you don’t get to skip the body butter). Depending on your budget and what you like to splurge on, Bliss’ body scrub isn’t for everyone–it can seem pricey. Personally, it takes me ten years (exaggeration!) to get through a jar of body scrub, so if it does the job I like, smells good, etc., I’m not overly concerned whether it’s $10 or $40, since I know I’m going to get plenty of use out of it. If, on the other hand, I was going through a jar a month, I’d be more wary.

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you prefer gentler exfoliating products for your body, consider Bliss’ Lemon + Sage Body Scrub, which uses very fine, grain-like particles to get rid of dry skin.

AVAILABILITY: bliss, Sephora

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