Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Laura Mercier Courtisane Lipstick

Part Lipstick, Part Gloss — Laura Mercier Stick Gloss

Laura Mercier Courtisane Stick Gloss ($20.00 for 0.12 oz.) is one of four shades of Stick Gloss, which is described as “part lip balm, part lip color, and part lip glace.” Courtisane is a deepened rose color base with gold and copper shimmer. On me, it’s semi-sheer but delivers enough shimmer that it almost looks like it’s opaque from afar. It actually reminded me of a sheerer, bronzier version of La Prairie’s Rose Bronze Lipstick (oh, and you know, half the price!).

Stick Gloss is an incredibly moisturizing lipstick that feels lightweight, balm-like, and doesn’t emphasize lip lines. It’s very comfortable to wear, and despite its moisturizing properties, it lasts a solid three to four hours on me. It has a pleasant berry-ish scent that’s not too sweet nor synthetic, and it’s not a scent that lingers after you’ve applied. I really enjoyed this shade, and Sephora carries three others–I would love to see more shades added in the future.

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you find most lipsticks too drying, I’d encourage you to test out Laura Mercier’s Stick Gloss!

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara
Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara (One coat!)

Multi-Tasking Mascara… That Actually Works!

Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara ($30.00) is designed to be a more intense version of the multi-tasking Inimitable (which I have not tried), which lengthens, thickens, curls, and separates without clumping, spiking, or flaking.

This is one of those mascaras where you can really see the difference between the before and after photos; not all mascaras represent themselves well, but this is one that definitely does. My bare lashes look like a big ol’ tangled mess of short, sparse lashes. With a single coat of Inimitable Intense, my lashes look fuller, much, much longer, and a little thicker. This mascara does lengthening best, but it does thicken and add an illusion of more voluminous lashes, too. Often, I find multi-tasking mascaras rarely deliver on all the claims they make, but Chanel does a particularly noteworthy job of meeting their claims.

The mascara is not overly wet, though the black is so intense it can look wet when on, but it’s not dry either, so it doesn’t flake when you apply it nor does it take too long to dry. I’ve been wearing it on and off for the past two weeks or so, and I haven’t had any issues with smudging, flaking, or the like even with all day wear (twelve or more hours). I found it held a curl quite nicely, though I think my lashes are on the “lighter” side so they take to curling better than the average set of lashes (because holding a curl has never been a major issue for me with mascara).

It does a nice job of keeping lashes separated and clump-free with the first two coats, but if you start getting greedy and going for a third or fourth coat, you may get some clumping. I’ve also noticed that on occasion there is too much product on the wand, and then I will have a touch of clumping from the get-go. Inimitable Intense actually adds quite a bit with just one coat that I don’t find myself going for a full second coat.

What does “one coat” of mascara mean to you?

I actually sent out a tweet asking about it on Monday, because I’m curious if we’re on the same page.  So much of the terminology used in makeup can be ambiguous!  Based on the responses I received on Twitter, the majority (like 90%) consider one coat to be using whatever is on the wand on your lashes; if you go back and re-insert the wand into the tube to get more mascara, that’s the second coat.

I would also say that the second coat occurs when you give the first layer/coat of mascara time to dry.  My general mascara routine is to pull the wand out, apply to my right lashes using short strokes from inside to out (I can’t get all my lashes at once!), and then I apply to my left lashes–and I haven’t gone back for more–and I’d say one out of three times I’ll re-insert the wand for another helping of mascara to finish up both sets of lashes (more for touch-ups than a full coat!).

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

RECOMMENDATION: If your lashes are like mine–aka need all the help they can get–a multi-tasking mascara that actually delivers is definitely worth a try.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Beach Sand Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Beach Sand

Milani Beach Sand Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is a sheer, barely-there patina gold with a metallic shimmer-sheen.  It really is rather sheer when applied dry, but it does intensify when used wet.  However, this is a shade that can easily be used for that quick, two-minute eye look that adds a little dazzle to the lids without having to spend much time on it.  Just a quick swipe and you’re out the door–it’s one of those kinds of shades.  By itself, it doesn’t stay on for more than a couple of hours, but over a base, it worked just fine.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

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  • Product: 22/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re just looking for an affordable option for a one-and-done kind of eyeshadow, Beach Sand might work for you.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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Monday, September 6th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Bronze Doll Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Bronze Doll

Milani Bronze Doll Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is one of twelve shades available in Milani’s Runway Eyeshadow range. I was originally going to review all six shades I tested out at once, but the quality of each is just all over the place that it doesn’t make sense. This is a definite downfall to the product range, because it’s incredibly inconsistent.  I’ll be reviewing a shade a day for the next six days.

We’ll kick off the Runway Eyeshadow reviews with Bronze Doll, which is one of the better shades I tried. It’s a coppery brown with noticeable orange undertones. It has decent pigmentation when used dry, but it is more intense and smoother when applied wet. The texture is similar to those of other brands’ baked eyeshadows; very smooth, a little powdery, and there is a tendency for the product to fade a bit if you use it wet (as it dries down). It’s also better to pack the product on and do very careful blending, because it is easy to sheer these out if you spend too much time blending.

The packaging is a bummer; it just feels cheap and flimsy, and the curved dual-ended brush is terrible. I don’t know how the curve of this tiny brush is supposed to make it easier to apply eyeshadow with it. That brush really kills the overall look for me, though–it’s just so bleh, even the sponge tip feels a bit on the scratchy side.

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  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: For warmer skin tones, I think this works decently for a copper-bronze kind of shade without breaking the bank. I think it may look too orange on cooler skin tones.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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Monday, September 6th, 2010

Rock & Republic Call Me Blush
Rock & Republic Call Me Blush

Where are my coral blush fiends?

Rock & Republic Call Me Blush ($40.00 for 0.32 oz.) is a gorgeous shade of shimmering pinky-coral with peach shimmer-sheen.  It’s really a ringer for Lancome’s Mandarin Sky (which I also loved), but more-sheen-than-shimmer (and not quite as pink) NARS Orgasm.  I’m obsessed. OBSESSED. with coral blushes, whether they’re pink-coral, peach-coral, or orange-coral, I’m all over them. 

Call Me is beautiful on both cooler and warmer skin tones–it doesn’t have strong orange undertones, so it can work just as nicely on those with pink undertones as those with yellow or olive undertones.   It is, obviously, most complimentary on warmer complexions, though.  The shimmer is incredibly fine and appears as a soft glowy sheen on cheeks.

It’s a very pigmented, smooth textured powder blush; surprisingly impressive for a brand that’s been pulled from all the counters I know of.  Even more impressive given that this brand regularly shows up on discount sites at 50% off.  It’s well worth the $40 price tag, since it is a high-end/luxury line, but the compact itself is quite large–and not just the physical compact, but the product inside weighs in at an impressive 0.32 oz. (most blushes are between 0.15 and 0.21 oz.).  Obviously, an incredible deal at $20 (which is how I got mine).

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

RECOMMENDATION: For my coral blush lovers, this one is not to be missed.

AVAILABILITY: Rock & Republic

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Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Napoleon Perdis Air Prismatic Eyeshadow Quad
Napoleon Perdis Air Prismatic Eyeshadow Quad

Napoleon Perdis Prismatic Eyeshadow Quads

Several months ago, I swatched four of Napoleon Perdis Prismatic Eyeshadow Quads ($35.00 for 0.47 oz.). I always meant to post a look using one of them, but I never got around to it. Usually, when I test out products, I put a whole smattering of various products on my face and do partial looks but nothing one would really want to be seen wearing… (One eye has one set of eyeshadows while the other might be testing mascara and liner… and don’t even get me started on mismatching cheeks, LOL!) So even though I may not have an actual full look to show you, I did put these through the rigors I normally put eyeshadows through.

I actually thought these were a lot more affordable than they were; I had classified them as drugstore–but to the contrary! The packaging feels a little cheap to me–it’s clear acrylic with visible, gold hinges. Each palette also includes two sponge-tipped applicators that look as cheap as they feel. For $35, the packaging really leaves a lot to be desired. The eyeshadows are textured with a “wave” shape (see the photos–it’s visible!).

  • AIR features a rather spring-y palette of muted sunshine gold, baby pink with silver sheen, frosted lilac with silver shimmer, and silvered brown. I found this one a little on the sheerer side, which is partially owed to the colors themselves as they’re on the lighter end of the spectrum. All four had very frosty finishes to me, though.
  • EARTH includes a dark navy blue with a satin-shimmer finish, subtly yellow-tinged green with muted gold shimmer, sheer seafoam green with soft gold sheen, and lightened peachy orange with peach sheen and shimmer. The blue shade swatched beautifully, but the other three shades were a little on the sheerer side, with the seafoam green shade being notably lacking in pigmentation.
  • FIRE has a darkened orange-copper with a shimmered sheen, medium-dark beige with champagne shimmer, medium-dark violet purple with a blacker base, and a high-sheen pinkish white. I found this quad to be the most pigmented; all four shades went on really smoothly and vibrantly.
  • WATER contains a sheer, shimmery white, cool-toned gray-cast brown with silver shimmer, glowing periwinkle blue with teal sheen, and light, frosted pink with subtle blue undertones. The periwinkle shade is so pretty, and I don’t have anything quite like it, but the white and pink shades were rather sheer.

Even though at first glance, these palettes seemed really pretty, I wasn’t fond of their textures nor color payoff.  They’re incredibly soft, but they veer on powdery, which makes them difficult to work with.  You really have to pack on the color, and inevitably, you’ll need to clean up the noticeable fall out that lands on your under eye area.   A few shades were nicely pigmented but many fell short–a little sheer, which may also be a result of the powdery formula.

For $35, I wouldn’t put it towards these palettes.  You just can’t make the justification of affordability for the reduction in quality here, because this is under the Napoleon Perdis label (rather than NP Set, which is sold at Target), which is “high-end.”  There is a decent amount of eyeshadow in each palette, so it’s a shame that the formula doesn’t have that wow factor.

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  • Product: 20/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: I don’t recommend these unless you find them on sale.  Each palette has one or two interesting shades in it, but the quality is just so-so with rather soft, rather powdery textures and less pigmentation than I’d expect for a high-end brand.

AVAILABILITY: ULTA

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