Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Guerlain Mirage Khol

Guerlain Mirage (06) Terracotta Khol ($35.00 for 0.03 oz.) is a loose eyeliner or khol.  It’s from this year’s Terracotta Collection. Mirage is a smoldering, smoked out gray-toned brown. It’s a nice, smoky shade, but since it’s not black but brown, it can be worn in the day time without overdoing it.

Guerlain’s Loose Khols do take some practice, because they are a bit different from your average eyeliner. I find these work the best as a waterline product–it really holds on tight for the ride. I get about six to eight hours of waterline wear with these. The included applicator is like a stick, and again, practice makes perfect. At first, you’ll be like, “Huh?” but just keep at it.

These can also be used as an eyeshadow, but since you don’t get much product in it (plenty for an eyeliner, but not a lot to use as an eyeshadow). I do want to point out that this is an eyeliner first, and many pencil eyeliners give youa bout 0.04 oz. in product–so don’t let the size totally scare you. A little goes a long way, and I love how long-wearing the product is.

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: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Though it takes some trial and error to get the application down, I find the long-wearing power to be well worth a little experimentation! The matte dark brown is great for everyday or evening, which is nice!

Availability: Nordstrom

See swatches! Continue reading →

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

NARS Eye Pencils
NARS Eye Liner Pencils: Manon, Parrot Cay, Kitty, Kaliste, Black Moon

NARS Eye Liner Pencils for Lightweight Lining

NARS Eye Liner Pencil ($20.00) is a richly pigmented pencil eyeliner that is available in sixteen shades: Black Moon (dense black), Iceberg (crisp white), Kaliste (teal), Kitty (turquoise blue), Kyoto (olive green with shimmer), London (foggy gray), Mambo (chocolate brown), Manon (violet), Parrot Cay (mint green), Patmos (khaki green), Istanbul (sky blue), and Sandstorm (gold leaf).

I test-drove five shades over the past week, and NARS has some really stunning shades available. They’re just so rich and intense without being bright. Though the pencil tip is a little on the sharper side when you initially get them, after doing swatches on my arm, it whittled away enough that it was soft, smooth, and easy to use on my lower lash line.

It’s not ultra creamy but not dry either. I wouldn’t describe it as creamy so much as smooth. It easily glided on my lower lash line without any pulling or tugging, so that’s enough softness for me. I also didn’t have to layer in order to achieve true pigmentation, either.  Sometimes with pencils, the initial use can be a little rougher, but since I always swatch on my arm first, it helps to wear down the tip, in case it’s too sharp.

  • Manon is a blue-based violet purple. There’s no shimmer, just pure purple.
  • Parrot Cay is a minty green. I’m surprised it doesn’t look super chalky, being so pastel, but it’s an interesting way to open up eyes with color rather than a white or flesh-toned eyeliner.
  • Kitty is a rich sky blue. This one felt and looked the creamiest of the five I tried. It also felt like the most pigmented–very rich.
  • Kaliste is a darkened teal–I want to call it a forest teal, because it’s so dark–and it looks lovely with a neutral eye.
  • Black Moon is a blackened brown. I’m not sure why it’s described as a “dense black,” because it’s definitely not black–there are significant brown tones to it.

But there is one huge problem that renders these eyeliners amongst the worst I have ever used: they have no lasting power at all. I can’t even express to you how much I wanted these to work, because they are truly beautiful shades, and they do look amazing on–but I can’t even go twenty minutes without it starting to smudge and migrate all over the place. I don’t have an oily lash line, and I’ve never had major issues with an eyeliner going all over the place. But these took smudging and migration to a whole new level.

NARS Eye Pencils
After just one hour…

After an hour of wear, I had liner that was on my lower lash line… on my upper lash line (say WHAT?!), all faded and smudged every which way on my lower lash line, crept up to my waterline… it was not a pretty sight in the least bit, but I couldn’t resist capturing just how smudge-tastic these were on camera.

But anyway, the point is I loved the shade range and the feel of these pencils so much that I tried every single liner multiple times. They all performed the same. I was secretly wishing and hoping that maybe just Black Moon or Kaliste were poor performers, but even the lighter shades like Parrot Cay and Kitty played me for a fool. Not to mention, when I was checking for reviews of these online, I just did not find that many negative reviews.

So, I have these, and I do really love the shades. After I get over being totally laughed at by these pencils, I’ll probably use them, but set them with an eye sealer (like Benefit’s She-Laq or Make Up For Ever’s Eye Seal) and/or set with powder eyeshadow. But this is NARS we’re talking about, and even worse yet is it’s supposed to be a long-wearing pencil.

I give it points for being incredibly pigmented, smooth, and looking lovely on, but I took away the majority of points for its complete miss on long-wearing power and how extreme the fading, smudging, and migration is.  I would really love to hear from those who have used this product, because I’m totally sad over their performance after reading so many glowing reviews online!

Have you tried NARS Eyeliner? I hope your results were better than mine!

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

  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Unless you’re able to try these first in-store, I really can’t recommend them. I had such a terrible experience with them fading, smudging, and migrating that there’s no way I could feel good about saying, “Try ‘em for yourself!” There seems to be plenty of positive reviews on these, so maybe I’m the rare exception. But how I wish I wasn’t!

Availability: NARS

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Lancome Pink Party Pretty Palette

Lancome Pink. Party. Pretty. Color Design Palette ($45.00 for 0.253 oz.) is a slim, summer eyeshadow palette that features six shades varying from a soft pink to a deeper black with copper shimmer.   It’s part of Lancome’s Bronze Riviera Collection for summer.

  • Flower is a soft, pearly rose-beige with white shimmer.
  • Fresh Rose is a coral-rose with a soft pink sheen.
  • Kitten Heel is a pinky-peach with golden sheen. This one was like NARS Orgasm in eyeshadow form, aka awesome.
  • Tropiques Glow is an orange-copper with a soft sheen.
  • Lounging is a warmed-up red-toned medium brown with a very satiny finish.
  • Lava is a charcoal black with gold and copper flecks of shimmer. It applies a bit sheerly, unfortunately, because it does look awfully pretty in the pan. Nonetheless, over a darker base, it’d be gorgeous (since the darker base will fill in the sheerness).

All of the shades–except Lava–had great texture and pigmentation. They were smooth, soft, and easy to blend. Lava was on the sheerer side, almost a bit chalky in the base color. Kitten Heel appealed to me the post, being this lovely shade of pink-peach–very summery and flattering, particularly on warmer skin tones.

I do think this palette is naturally more flattering on warmer skin tones, but I can still see it working on cooler skin tones. Flower, Fresh Rose, and Lava are all neutral to neutral-cool, so they can be worn with warmer shades to keep it more wearable on cooler skin tones.

Some combination ideas…

  • LID: Flower, LID: Fresh Rose, CREASE: Lava
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Fresh Rose, CREASE: Lava
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Tropiques Glow, CREASE: Lounging
  • LID: Fresh Rose, LID: Lounging, CREASE: Lounging
  • LID: Kitten Heel, LID: Tropiques Glow, CREASE: Lava

The packaging is gorgeous and compact. It’s a cardboard-encased plastic palette where the outside is wrapped in a metallic bronze that flashes copper-bronze when light hits it, but looks just bronze at other times (see the photos!). There’s a floral design that wraps around the outside as well–I loved that it actually wrapped around to the back of the palette.

Lancome also put quite a few eyeshadows in this palette, and the price is just right–by the ounce, the eyeshadows cost less than the majority of other high-end brands (including MAC and NARS!).

P.S. — Lancome’s Bamboo Bronzer is now available at Nordstrom! :)

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: Depending on what you already have in your stash, this palette could make a great addition. It has a balance of neutral eyeshadows paired with warmer shades you’d expect to see in the summer. There are so many color combinations waiting to be done with these, too, which is always a sign of a cohesive eyeshadow palette.

Availability: Nordstrom

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

NARS Versailles Nail Polish

The Classy, Sophisticated Way to Wear Gold

NARS Versailles Nail Polish ($16.00 for 0.5 fl. oz.) is a softened yellow gold with champagne shimmer woven through. It has a slightly metallic look to it. It’s very spring-into-summer–the softness of the gold makes it like a gilded yellow, perfect for spring, but it has the shimmer and sheen that makes it great for summer, too. The formula runs a little thick, but it applies easily and goes opaque in two coats. I like that this is a gold that can be worn by cooler and warmer skin tones–it’s not a true yellow gold, so it should still complement those with pinker undertones!

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

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

Recommendation: For softened champagne-gold with pretty shimmer and a subtle, metallic look, Versailles may be the right shade for you.

Availability: NARS

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Lancome Temptingly Bronze Bamboo Bronzer

Lancome Summer Riviera:  Temptingly Bronze Bamboo Bronzer

Lancome Temptingly Bronze Bamboo Bronzer ($45.00 for 1.41 oz.) wins the award for the prettiest product of the summer. (I would say year, but I suppose that’s just a wee bit premature. But let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised…) This is a collector’s item for sure, even though the bronzer itself is certainly lovely, there’s just no way for what’s underneath the design to compete with the intricate, woven pattern you see first.

Often during the summer, Lancome releases a specially designed, limited edition bronzing compact (more like compact disc…). This is not your ordinary bronzer, because this is about five times the size of the average bronzer (which is around 0.30 oz., while Lancome’s weighs in at 1.41 oz.). The compact is about the size of a music CD and half an inch thick and in a soft-glossed bronze plastic. Inside is a large-sized mirror (goes with the territory!), and then the holy grail of overlays.

But sadly, yes, as anticipated, all of the prettiness you see is an overlay. The subtle metallic gradient is an overspray that disappears once you start working your way through the bronzer. This is why I say it truly is a collector’s item, because there is no way to salvage or preserve the gorgeous-ness that is the design if you actually intend to use it. There is still a subtle shimmer-sheen to the bronzing powder, so it’s not entirely matte underneath.

The bronzer itself is a soft, silky-smooth sheered down bronze with slight orange undertones. It’s sheer enough that it’s great for those who are new or otherwise afraid of bronzer and going overboard. You won’t end up looking like an Oompa Loompa with this one! I do like that you’ll most likely never run out of bronzer with this compact.

I’m sure some of you are going to wonder why does this product still earn high marks even though the design is an overspray–that’s because it’s a known quantity with the bronzer, it’s not supposed to. It’s like pretty packaging on the inside instead of a funky compact, whether that makes you sad or not!

Can I just say that I would have died if Lancome had made the design go all the way through? I received this one as a press sample, but I’m probably going to buy another one, just to stare at and drool over–and this is something I never do. I’ve long since gotten over “ruining” designs and the like on products, but this one, I hesitated. I snapped a zillion photos, showed the boyfriend, and then said, “In the name of all that is beauty blogging…” and went to town.  But I pouted the whole time!

Ahh!  Just dreaming about a wickedly metallic, glowy deepened bronze that faded across to a brightened gold bronzer AND went all the way through makes me sigh inside.  Who’s with me?  Tell me I’m not alone! :)

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: If you love bronzer and use it frequently–but want a subtle bronzer–Lancome’s ginormous bronzers aren’t a bad way to go. If you are a collector, the design on this is difficult to pass on!

Availability: Lancome

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Dior Ultra Gloss
Dior Addict Ultra Gloss: Outrageous Fuchsia (686), Apricot Cloche (436), Sari Pink (576)

Dior Addict Ultra Gloss ($26.50 for 0.21 fl. oz.) is a new lip gloss released by Dior this spring/summer. It’s supposed to be a lightweight, ultra shimmering, moisturizing formula with a brush applicator. They are supposed to deliver a “sheer wash of catwalk color”–so keep in mind, these are supposed to be sheer.  I had a few readers ask me my thoughts on these, so I figured I’d pick up three shades during Sephora’s V.I.B. sale!

Available shades include: Twin Set Pink (157) (light peachy pink shimmer), Beige Tweed (227) (pinky beige shimmer), Satin Peach (236) (sheer golden peach), Negligee Pink (256) (sheer neutral pink), Pink Trench (257) (pale pink shimmer), Apricot Cloche (436) (light golden apricot shimmer), Sari Pink (576) (vibrant rosy pink), Outrageous Fuchsia (686) (soft fuchsia with micro glitter), Evening Rose (756), Little Red Dress (856) (true red with m icro glitter), Mauve Accent (886) (tvibrant lilac with micro glitter), and Black-Tie Plum (982) (deep burgundy plum).

I tried three shades…

  • Outrageous Fuchsia (686) is a muted darkened fuchsia pink with brighter fuchsia and purple sparkle.
  • Apricot Cloche (436) is sheer peach base with brighter peach-gold shimmer. It adds a little darkness to my lips, turning them an almost coral-pink. This was the most pigmented shade of the three I tried, but I found this one looked a little splotchy up-close.
  • Sari Pink (576) is a sheer slightly blue-based pink base with fuchsia and pink shimmer. Still a sheer shade, but it does punch up my natural lip color to a faded watermelon pink.

The strength of Ultra Gloss lies in its formula–I really think it’s the feel and look of the product that makes this gloss worth checking out. It is a moisturizing lipgloss with a very smooth, slick feel–it’s very comfortable to wear–with a shimmering sparkle that’s noticeable without being overwhelming. It’s completely non-sticky and has no scent or taste. All these characteristics leads me to think that a lot of lipgloss fans will enjoy them.

I did find that these only lasted just under two hours on me, and then all that remained was the shimmer/micro glitter, and I’d say this was the only downside I could find about this gloss. The packaging is true-to-form for Dior; a square lipgloss that’s sturdy and lightweight. I also really like how much you get in each tube–a whopping 0.21 fl. oz.–$126/oz. vs. $109/oz. for a MAC Lipglass.

They’re not my personal favorite lipgloss, as I do tend to prefer products with a little more pigmentation, but these really do feel amazing on! They’re supposed to be sheer, though! I will say that I do wish these lasted a little longer on the lips as most of it has disappeared by the time I’ve gotten to hour two.

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

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

Recommendation: If love sheer, non-sticky lipgloss, Dior Ultra Gloss is exactly that. And if you don’t mind reapplying every two hours or so, I think you’d really like these.

Availability: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →