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Giorgio Armani Blush (500) Lip Maestro

Giorgio Armani Blush (500) Lip Maestro
Giorgio Armani Blush (500) Lip Maestro

A Perfect Pink for Everyday Wear

Giorgio Armani Blush (500) Lip Maestro ($32.00 for 0.22 fl. oz.) is a medium rosy pink with subtle warm undertones and a hint of mauve. In the tube, it looks more mauve than when swatched and applied–it definitely has a rosier hue on. MAC Shanghai Spice is warmer, less pink. MAC Flamingo is sheerer, pinker. NARS Montego Bay is a bit warmer. Cle de Peau #124 is shimmery and sheerer. Lancome Voile de Rose is similar.

Lip Maestro is a fantastic formula that’s long-wearing (Blush wore for six and a half hours), incredibly comfortable to wear (thanks to the slip and velvety feel from the silicone), and richly pigmented.  It’s completely opaque when applied, and you don’t need much product for full opacity.  It has a slightly slanted doe-foot applicator, and the lipstick is unscented. The consistency is lightweight but not particularly thin (but not at all thick), so it glides over lips without skipping.

Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro Blush (500)
Blush (500)
Blush (500)
10
Product
10
Pigmentation
10
Texture
10
Longevity
5
Application
100%
Total

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China Glaze Glitz-Bitz ‘n’ Pieces Collection

China Glaze Bling It On Nail Lacquer
China Glaze Bling It On Nail Lacquer

Scattered Bitz ‘n Pieces in Six Flavors

China Glaze Glitz-Bitz ‘n Pieces ($8.00 MSRP for 0.50 fl. oz.) includes six shades that each have 3D glitter with black “bitz ‘n pieces.” All six shades include black horizontal bar glitter, small black glitter, and larger black hexagon-shaped glitter; and then each shade has additional colored hexagons and glitter.

  • Bling It On contains bluish-purple glitter in small and medium sizes, along with medium hexagon-shaped particles, plus the black counterparts and black bar glitter. (One coat over L’Oreal’s Members Only, two coats alone on thumb.)
  • Glitz ‘n Pieces contains silver glitter in small and medium sizes, along with medium hexagon-shaped particles, plus the black counterparts and black bar glitter. (One coat over China Glaze Creative Fantasy, two coats alone on thumb.)
  • Graffiti Glitter contains green glitter in small and medium sizes, along with medium hexagon-shaped particles, plus the black counterparts and black bar glitter. (One coat over Zoya Piaf, two coats alone on thumb.)
  • Mosaic Madness contains blue glitter in small and medium sizes, along with medium hexagon-shaped particles, plus the black counterparts and black bar glitter. (One coat over Zoya Blu, two coats alone on thumb.)
  • Razzle Me, Dazzle Me contains champagne glitter in small and medium sizes, along with medium hexagon-shaped particles, plus the black counterparts and black bar glitter. (One coat over China Glaze Bend Over Backwards, two coats alone on thumb.)
  • Scattered & Tattered contains muted red glitter in small and medium sizes, along with medium hexagon-shaped particles, plus the black counterparts and black bar glitter. (One coat over Butter London Trout Pout, two coats alone on thumb.)

I don’t know of any exact dupes for these shades, because changing even one component of a glitter polish can change up the effect of seeing it layered quite a bit. Lynnderella Connect the Dots, which was a mix of black and white glitter in small, medium, hexagon, square, and bar shapes, was my first thought. It is, also, similar to China Glaze’s own Whirled Away from their Cirque du Soleil collection–where Whirled Away was black and white, all of the glitter pieces were much, much larger. The Bitz ‘n Pieces collection is much more interesting, as it adds smaller, finer particles to add interest to the background. Where Connect the Dots was more flat in color, this set of six are more metallic and reflective and seemed more densely-packed per coat.

All six were really consistent; the clear base thin in consistency, but the actual polish (in its sum) was almost thick because it was so densely-packed with glitter.  One coat yields a generous heaping of glitter, and all of the varying sizes and shapes come out in one go, too. There’s no need to push, pull, or dab the polish on, as it all will spread into place as if you were applying any normal polish. Because of the bar glitter, you may find you need to check the edges of the nail so the glitter is flush with the edge.  I wore Glitz ‘n Pieces for wear, and it wore for a full seven days without peeling, flaking, or chipping.

China Glaze Glitz-Bitz ‘n’ Pieces Collection

A
9
Product
10
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
9
Longevity
5
Application
94%
Total

MAC Strength Collection Lipsticks

MAC Absolute Power Lipstick
MAC Absolute Power Lipstick

MAC Strength: Lipsticks

Update: MAC has restocked Pink Pigeon and Party Parrot lipsticks and blushes from Strength! All are available as of 1/8 at 6:26 PM PST.

MAC Strength Lipsticks ($15.00 for 0.10 oz. each) includes five shades: Absolute Power (rich red), Firm Form (gilded black with gold pearl), Party Parrot (bright red pink), Pink Pigeon (bright cleanest pink), and Strong Woman (bright violet). Party Parrot and Pink Pigeon are repromotes.

Absolute Power is a pinky-red with a matte finish and blue undertones. It’s fully opaque on lips, and it has a creamy consistency, so it was easier to apply and get even coverage–no pulling or dragging. Guerlain Calligraphy is slightly lighter. NYX Chic Red is very similar. MAC Ruby Woo is more matte but very similar in color. NARS Dragon Girl is bluer.

Firm Form is a blackish-brown with a dusting of gold micro-shimmer. It looks a little purple-ish applied, as the lipstick mixes over my natural lip color. It is pretty opaque, and though it does not apply perfectly evenly, it does apply considerably better than a lot of other lipsticks in this shade family. MAC Grey Friday is grayer, lighter. Chanel Hysteria is cooler-toned, blacker. MAC Smoked Purple is much purpler and lighter.

Party Parrot is a bright pink-coral with a mostly matte finish. It goes on with full color coverage and has a creamy consistency that doesn’t pull or tug at the lips during application. This shade wears around six hours. Guerlain Gracy is a bit pinker, less bright. MAC Fusion Pink has pink iridescence, less bright. Make Up For Ever #37 is less pink, more coral. MAC Impassioned is pinker.

Pink Pigeon is a bright, blue-based medium pink with a mostly matte finish, though there’s a natural sheen initially. It has opaque color coverage, and it applied evenly and easily. It lasted for six hours when I tested it last week (used my original version). MAC Candy Yum Yum is brighter, a little cooler-toned. OCC Yaoi is metallic. OCC Nylon is much brighter, cooler-toned. MAC Dear Diary is cooler-toned, more magenta. MAC Quick Sizzle is darker. NARS Schiap is darker, less bright. Milani Rose Hip is a touch lighter and less cool-toned.

Strong Woman is a dark purple with subtle pink-red undertones. It has opaque coverage with a matte finish, but it is a creamier matte, so it doesn’t drag on the lips. I suspect MAC Up the Amp is the closest dupe for this shade–I believe it is less red-toned, a little grayer in a way. MAC Seasoned Plum is lighter, less red-toned. MAC Violetta is brighter and iridescent. MAC Heroine is pinker, more magenta.

With the exception of Firm Form, these lipsticks are great shades by MAC with a solid matte formula that doesn’t pull or tug at the lips, delivers even, full color coverage, and are comfortable to wear.  As these are richer, bolder hues, they have a tendency to stain and wear longer than the average lipstick.  Firm Form doesn’t apply as evenly as the other four shades, but it is worth noting that it is good for the kind of color it is, and kudos for being as opaque as it is, too.  MAC lipsticks are vanilla-scented and come in a black tube with a pop-off cap.

To be perfectly honest, I’m really bummed about quickly these sold out. I purchased them as soon as they came online and overnighted them, but they sold out within hours (some within an hour). It’s a mixture of disappointment for not being able to review them for you before they launched and general frustration over it–kind of leaves me feeling like, “Should I even review this collection?” When it comes to these shades, I wish you luck if you make an attempt to track them down. MAC changed distribution at the last minute, so only freestanding stores (which also means the only online option is maccosmetics.com) received it, and with today (the 26th) being a major shopping day, I’m feeling more cynical than usual regarding stock.

My recommendations for alternatives would be:  MAC Ruby Woo, MAC Impassioned, MAC Candy Yum Yum, and MAC Up the Amp.  (Unfortunately, I don’t have a good alternative to recommend for Firm Form.)

MAC Strength Collection Lipsticks

A
9.5
Product
9.5
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
10
Longevity
4.5
Application
96%
Total

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Illamasqua Hemlock Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Hemlock Nail Varnish
Illamasqua Hemlock Nail Varnish

Hemlock You’ll Want to Wear

Illamasqua Hemlock Nail Varnish (£13.50 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is described as a “pale opal green iridescent.” It’s a pale pink-red at one angle, then it turns into a pale, yellowed green shimmer at another angle, while the base color is a pale beige with a hint of pink overall. It’s definitely duochrome, and it is a strong one at that. There are a few green duochromes on the market, but I don’t have one that shifts pink-green (or such a yellowy green at all).

After two coats of Hemlock, there’s still some visible nail line.  With three coats, you should get fully opaque color, if that’s your aim.  It’s sheer enough in one coat to work as a layering polish as well.  I appreciate the versatility of the color in that respect, but since this is definitely less pigmented compared to nearly every other Illamasqua shade I’ve come across, I wish they’d mention that it was sheer (or semi-sheer) in the description.  There are nearly no visible brush strokes, despite the threads of metallic shimmer running through the base color.  It also has a strong, obvious duochrome in a shift I don’t think I’ve come across before.  Illamasqua’s polishes typically wear seven to ten days on me without chipping–just very minor tip wear.

Illamasqua Hemlock Nail Varnish

A
9.5
Product
8.5
Pigmentation
10
Texture
10
Longevity
5
Application
96%
Total

Urban Decay Flushed Lip Junkie

Urban Decay Flushed Lip Junkie
Urban Decay Flushed Lip Junkie

Are You Flushed With Milky Pinks?

Urban Decay Flushed Lip Junkie ($19.00 for 0.34 fl. oz.) is described as a “creamy mauve pink.” It’s a very rosy pink when swatched, but it turns a little more strawberry pink with a hint of mauve/plum on the lips. MAC Curvaceous is less pink, plummier. Illamasqua Move is cooler-toned, brighter. Neither of those shades is all that similar, so I don’t think I have a dupe for this shade.

It’s semi-opaque; it covers my lip freckle somewhat, but there’s a slight translucency that enables the natural lip color to peek through. If you have naturally redder lips, I would expect this to turn redder, too. This shade applied evenly, and it just barely settled into lip lines but the settling wasn’t noticeable from a normal viewing distance. It was comfortable to wear, lightly hydrating, and lasted for four hours. The texture was non-sticky, not too thick or too thin, and had a good glide on the lips. Urban Decay’s Lip Junkies are mint-scented and -flavored.

Urban Decay Lip Junkie Flushed
Flushed
Flushed
9
Product
10
Pigmentation
9
Texture
8.5
Longevity
4.5
Application
91%
Total

Lynnderella Connect the Dots Nail Lacquer

Lynnderella Connect the Dots Nail Lacquer
Lynnderella Connect the Dots Nail Lacquer

It’s Part of History: Lynnderella Connect the Dots

Lynnderella Connect the Dots Nail Lacquer ($22.50 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is–to me–one of the big deal lacquers in indie polish history. It contains a mix of black and white glitter an assortment of sizes that range from small, medium, large, and shapes that range from bar, circular, hexagonal, and square. This was the shade that made me sit up and take notice of niche polish, and it was as impressive in person as it was in photos after I received it. But I remember how in demand it was; how hard it was to get it; and it’s amazing to think how far indie nail polish has come since then.

I applied one coat of it over Essie Navigate Her, and then two coats of it alone on my thumb nail to show opacity of the glitter. One coat has good coverage as a layering shade, and I was able to get all of the different shapes, colors, and sizes out of the bottle without having to play go fish or dab or push the pieces into place. This is one of my favorite Lynnderellas, though at this time, there are more than few dupes and alternatives (including Sticks ‘n Stones by Ninja Polish, Sephora Chaotic, and China Glaze Whirled Away–some are closer than others).  The consistency is thin, quick to dry, and doesn’t feel too bumpy, though a thick top coat is highly recommended to lock the glitter into place.

Lynnderella Connect the Dots Nail Lacquer

A
9
Product
10
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
9
Longevity
5
Application
94%
Total

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