Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Bobbi Brown Nectar Shimmerbrick

Bobbi Brown Cabana Corals:   Nectar Shimmerbrick

Bobbi Brown Nectar Shimmerbrick ($38.00 for 0.4 oz.) is new for spring–part of the Cabana Corals Collection–and is a coral lover’s dream. If you love Shimmerbricks and have an affinity for corals and bronzed golds, I think this just may be a new favorite for you.  (Also releasing with Cabana Corals is Pink Quartz Shimmerbrick!)

When worn on cheeks, it works as a blusher and highlighter in one, because it packs plenty of color along with a soft frosty shimmer sheen. Although some Shimmerbricks are just a tad too frosty to me at times (at least on cheeks!), Nectar is just right. It hits that sweet spot of color, shimmer, and sheen. It can be applied with a light hand for a softer application or layered for an intense cheek for night time. Since I am an absolute fiend for all things coral, Nectar is most definitely my favorite Shimmerbrick to-date!

Shimmerbricks are a pricey investment, but they’ll last you a long time (or forever, in my case) — you get a whopping 0.4 oz., which makes the cost per ounce just a smidgen more than MAC blushes. Each of the five strips of color swatch beautifully; rich color, intense pigmentation, and smooth to the touch Shimmerbricks can be used on the eyes or cheeks, and you could get a very pretty sunset-esque kind of look out of these shades in addition to its usage of a very coral-bronzed blusher. I like that it can be a multi-tasker, at least. I have to admit, I haven’t worn any Shimmerbricks on my eyes yet but may have to give it try with Nectar.

You can see me wearing it in this look! :)

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

Recommendation: If you’re a Shimmerbrick collector, I know you need to check this out. If it’s your first-time thinking about a Shimmerbrick, I think you need to swatch!

Availability: Bobbi Brown, Nordstrom

See photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner

Affordable Gel Eyeliner from Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner ($9.99) is a gel eyeliner that comes in a glass pot with a screw-on lid. Lasting Drama is currently available in four shades: Black, Brown, Grey, and Plum. I’ve only tried out the Black and Plum myself. Each glass pot of gel eyeliner also comes with a small, flat bristled brush with a dome shape for lining. I personally didn’t find the brush the right kind to line with (I prefer angled or very, very thin and pointed), but it’s a nice little bonus.

I’m pleased to report that after testing the wear of this liner that it is indeed lasting! (I wore it in this look.) Blackest Black didn’t smudge, budge, or fade on me throughout eight hours of wear–though Maybelline does advertise “24-hour wear” (I’ll leave that test to someone else…). I found it was plenty black for me–and I love me some rich black pigment–so I was quite surprised at how well it translated onto the lid. I used MAC’s 208 angled brush to apply Blackest Black to my upper lash line, and it was smooth, easy to apply, and gave me good color intensity off the bat. I didn’t have to go back over to darken at all, which was yet another concern alleviated.

Blackest Black is very much a true black. It doesn’t have much of a sheen, though it’s not completely flat, and it doesn’t have shimmer. Plum, on the other hand, has a higher sheen and plummy-mauve shimmer in a dark plum base. The consistency of both is thick without being goopy and very smooth when applied. They’re not creamy like Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliners, but they can be blended or smudged so they’re not too thick. They seem to dry without much of a fuss, but they don’t dry instantly, so you may have to wait a few seconds before you squeeze your eyes shut to avoid any transfer.

At $9.99 each, they’re on the pricier end for the budget beauty maven, but Maybelline frequently goes on sale, so at buy one, get one free or buy one, get one 50% off, I think they’re definitely worth picking up if you’re in the market for an affordable gel eyeliner. The packaging has a surprisingly “high-end” feel for Maybelline (whose packaging I’m generally not impressed by) — they look and feel much like MAC Fluidlines.

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’re looking for an affordable gel eyeliner, keep an eye out for Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner!

Availability: Ulta, your local drugstore

See more photos and swatches! Continue reading →

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Nude Blush

The First Blush of Spring:  Dolce & Gabbana Nude

Dolce & Gabbana Nude (#10) Blush ($44.00) is the softest peach-beige. This is a lovely way to accent cheeks for barely-there color!

This was actually a particularly difficult color to capture, because on my skin tone, the color melds and blends in quite well, so it’s harder for my camera to focus on the color swatch, but I managed to capture it–and you’ll be able to see just how soft it is.

I really like this for a way to give cheeks a bit of definition and color but without overdoing it; it works really well as a go-to cheek color when you do a more dramatic look (either on eyes or lips). I wore it with bright teal eyeshadow and coral lips, because it worked well to balance to look without taking away from it.

Dolce & Gabbana’s blushes have a nearly matte finish; they have just a subtle sheen but nothing glittery or shimmery here. If you liked such shades as MAC Notable or MAC The Perfect Cheek, Dolce & Gabbana’s Nude has a similar effect.

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

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

Recommendation: For soft cheek color that doesn’t compete, Nude makes a great choice.

Availability: Saks

See more photos and swatches! Continue reading →

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

SpaRitual Believe Collection
SpaRitual Nail Lacquers: I am the Light, Yes, I Can, Hope Springs Eternal

SpaRitual Believe Collection for Spring 2010

For spring, SpaRitual has created a collection of six shades: Yes, I Can (leafy green creme), I Believe in You (poppy orange creme), Hope Springs Eternal (hot pink shimmer), Spread Your Wings (pomegranate creme), Shoot for the Stars (purple creme), I am the Light (lavender creme).

Each shade comes with a unique charm that dangles from the bottle with “an inspiring mantra,” like Yes, I Can comes with the charm “I Can.” This collection of nail lacquers will be available February 2010 at fine salons and spas nationwide, as well as skinstore.com. Each bottle retails for $10.00.

  • I am the Light is a cool-toned lilac. It’s very spring-y! It has a cream finish and goes opaque in just two medium-thick coats. The formula gave me no issues when I applied it, which was surprising (I’m not always so good at applying cream polishes!).
  • Yes, I Can is a rich, grassy green cream. Like I am the Light, it goes opaque in two solid coats. I don’t think I own any greens like this in my own stash, so it’s a nice addition.
  • Hope Springs Eternal is a bright, shimmery pink-coral that flashes fuchsia-pink in some light. It has an almost chrome finish to it, though it’s definitely not a full-on chrome. I had some brushstrokes, but I think with a more patient hand, you could get it to look pretty smooth. This formula was easy to apply and went opaque in two coats.

Are you digging any of these shades?

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 some fun shades for spring, SpaRitual gives you six you just might not be expecting.

Availability: skinstore.com

See more photos and swatches! Continue reading →

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Tinted Moisturizing Balm with SPF 25 Review, Photos

Bobbi Brown EXTRA SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm ($50.00 for 1 oz.) is a thick tinted moisturizer that comes in a glass pot with a black screw-on lid. It’s available in eight shades: Alabaster (lightest), Extra Light Tint, Light Tint, Light to Medium Tint, Medium Tint, Medium to Dark Tint, Dark Tint, and Deep Tint.

It is described as, “A lightweight foundation alternative for dry, dehydrated skin, this formula is ultra-rich, and blends easily, giving skin a dewy look with light coverage. SPF 25 helps protect skin against damaging UVA/B rays. Dermatologist tested.”

Bobbi Brown also has a SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer (not so thick) that retails for $40.00 for 1.7 oz. (but I haven’t tried it myself beyond squeezing a drop or two out in-store, so I can’t give you direct comparisons). According to the Bobbi Brown website, though, the SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer is ideal for Normal to Dry skin types, whereas the SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizing Balm is recommended for drier skin types.

EXTRA feels like a cream and looks like one, too, in the jar, but you have to remember that it’s a tinted moisturizer and not use it as a cream–seriously, if you use it as a cream, you’ll end up with far more product than you need! Whether you use fingers or a brush (or a clean spatula, whatever!), you really don’t need more than a pea-sized application to cover the entire face with a sheer, lightweight layer of tinted moisturizer. It also has a lovely lemon-y citrus scent that’s dreamy (very tarte, not sweet).

This tinted moisturizer does have a distinct dewy finish; it was too dewy for my taste by itself, so I had to set with powder to minimize some of the dewiness–then it was just fine for everyday wear. It’s also definitely a sheer coverage product; I’ve tried some tinted moisturizers where coverage is a bit more than sheer (more like a light coverage foundation), but EXTRA is sheer. It’s like “your skin but better,” because it’s not going to hide too many skin imperfections, but it will help even out your skin tone. This is, though, the very nature of tinted moisturizers, to be sure!

When I’m on a good skin kick, EXTRA is just enough for me to wear on a daily basis, even with full makeup elsewhere (eyeshadow, lipstick, blush, etc.). With the dryness of the winter season, my skin is definitely more normal-to-dry, so EXTRA is just moisturizing enough to help keep my skin hydrated throughout the day. I do, though, tend to use a moisturizer in the morning, because I often shower in the morning but not apply makeup until a few hours later. I don’t find it too heavy, though, doing that double-duty moisturizing.

I do think this may be a little too rich for those with normal or normal-to-oily skin types, just because it such a thick, rich cream-type tinted moisturizer. I would recommend trying a sample to see if it works with your skin type. Most tinted moisturizers feel more like a lotion or a thickened liquid foundation, but this feels just like a face cream, so it does feel quite nice when applied to skin. I would also recommend waiting five to ten minutes for it to dry a bit before layering any makeup on top (like blush or bronzer).

Bottom Line: I like it a lot, but I’m more of a matte-finish kind of gal, so the dewy finish is just not my style. I did receive several compliments from readers when I wore it in some looks this past month–some saying it looked better than my usual tinted moisturizer (Kiehl’s, lately). It’s a good tinted moisturizer for those with drier skin who are only looking for sheer coverage to help even out skin tone. It is also significantly pricier than Bobbi Brown’s regular Tinted Moisturizer–EXTRA costs $10 more and you get about 35-40% less. To be fair, a pot of EXTRA is going to last you at least a few months since you need so little per application, though.

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

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

Recommendation: If you’ve been looking for a more hydrating tinted moisturizer, Bobbi Brown’s EXTRA may be the one to quench your skin’s thirst!

Availability: Bobbi Brown

See more photos of me wearing this tinted moisturizer! Continue reading →

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

MAC Hue Lipstick
MAC Hue Lipstick

The Spring Season: MAC Hue Lipstick

MAC Hue Lipstick ($14.00) is a soft, played down pinky-nude with a creamy finish and subtle sheen. It’s semi-opaque; it gives my lips a decent amount of coverage, but it will definitely look a little pinker on more pigmented lips. Hue is really one of those classic MAC shades; you either love it or hate it, but it’s just one of those shades you gotta swatch at least once in your lifetime. I never thought Hue would work on me, but surprisingly, it can. I love it with really dramatic, smoked out looks layered with a sheer gloss like Nymphette.

Is this the perfect pinky nude for you? Would you wear it?

The Spring Season is a series of posts featuring my favorite soft beige, coral, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for the first blossom of spring — that runs through March 2010.

See photos and swatches… Continue reading →