Friday, February 4th, 2011

MAC Obey Me Nail Lacquer
MAC Obey Me Nail Lacquer

MAC Wonder Woman: Obey Me

MAC Obey Me Nail Lacquer ($15.00 for 0.34 fl. oz.) is a creamy, blue-based red. One of the easiest ways to determine the undertones of a red is to use it sheerly; blue-based reds often look a little pink. MAC describes this shade as a “true red,” and I think it is certainly close, because it doesn’t read cool (and certainly not warm, since it has no orange in its base), but it does have an inkling of blue in it at the very least. This shade has excellent pigmentation, almost a one-coat masterpiece, though I did two. The formula also was insanely fluid and creamy–one of MAC’s bests–it wasn’t too thick or thin, and it applied smoothly and evenly.  It does dry down to an interesting finish–it’s not that glossy on its own; instead, it almost looks like pleather.

my thoughts on the formula: Historically, MAC doesn’t have a great reputation for their nail lacquers; in fact, some of the feedback I’ve seen on MAC’s nail lacquers mirror Chanel’s! Often interesting and different colors, but many complain of chipping or poor wear. I haven’t experienced this with MAC’s nail lacquers (or Chanel’s). MAC polishes always wear a full week for me, with no chipping, and minor tip wear. Sometimes the formula itself doesn’t lend itself to the most beautiful application, but their creams are most consistent. Obey Me, however, is an exemplary shade from MAC’s polish range.

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

final thoughts: Excellent pigmentation, lovely formula, and the color is certainly something many could wear. It is, however, a red cream, and as such, if you are a nail polish collector, I don’t doubt you have something similar.

where to buy: MAC

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

theBalm Jealous Jordana Eyeshadow
theBalm Jealous Jordana Eyeshadow

theBalm Shady Lady Eyeshadow: Jealous Jordana

theBalm Jealous Jordana Eyeshadow ($16.00 for 0.12 oz.) is described as a “rich shimmering green.” I would say it is deep, dark blackened forest green with teal and emerald green micro-shimmer in a soft frost finish. It’s not quite as deep as Urban Decay Loaded, but the colors are similar–Loaded just has a blacker base, while NARS Rajasthan is bluer.

The packaging is simple cardboard, which makes these easy to stack and store, plus a little more eco-friendly than plastic, though it may not stand up to wear and tear as prettily as plastic.  I think the cardboard is plenty durable, but you may get a couple dents and scratches over the months/years.

my thoughts on the formula: theBalm’s eyeshadows are soft, silky smooth, and packed with pigment. They apply evenly, blend out beautifully, and aren’t powdery at all (sometimes a side effect of really soft eyeshadows). I find they are so easy to use, because they apply without fall out and blend with other shadows effortlessly. Worth noting, too, is individual eyeshadows come with 0.12 oz., which is just over double the average eyeshdaow–and at a rather affordable price tag.

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

final thoughts: Definitely worth the price, and you’ll find it will take you quite awhile to hit pan on one of theBalm’s eyeshadows–but even better is that you don’t really end up paying for that privilege. The beautiful, deep dark green-teal will work well on all skin tones.

where to buy: Sephora

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Dolce & Gabbana Platinum Nail Lacquer
Dolce & Gabbana Platinum Nail Lacquer

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2011: Platinum

Dolce & Gabbana Platinum Nail Lacquer ($20.00 for 0.37 fl. oz.) is a pale, metallic pewter-gold that’s almost neutral with silver shimmer strewn through the metallic base.  I only needed two coats to get opaque color coverage, but as is common in metallic finished polishes, Platinum does show some.  It was easier to even out the brush strokes, though, so it has more of a brushed metal finish.  It is warmer than MAC Very Important Platinum, but it has just as many brush strokes.  Dolce & Gabbana’s formula isn’t as thick nor as troublesome, though, which is a definite plus.  Similarly, Dior Timeless Gold is even warmer and has a less metallic finish (it is more like a part glitter, part metallic finish).

my thoughts on the formula: 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: 25/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: As long as you don’t mind brush strokes, I think it’s a gorgeous shade.  If you have really small nail beds, you may find the brush more difficult to work with.  The formula went on smoothly, evenly, and only required two coats for opaque color coverage.

where to buy: Saks, February 2011

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Estee Lauder Wild Fire Pure Color Lipstick
Estee Lauder Wild Fire Pure Color Lipstick

Estee Lauder Spring 2011: Wild Fire

Estee Lauder Wild Fire Pure Color Lipstick ($24.00 for 0.13 oz.) is a deep orange with a hint of coral; it’s not your typical orange–it has more depth and interest to it.  It’s not a neon orange, but this shade is certainly vibrant.  It’s opaque in color coverage with a slight glossy finish.  It really has impeccable coverage, though; very rich and requires no layering–one swipe and voila!

my thoughts on the formula: The coverage is excellent, and it feels lightweight despite its pigmentation. It’s also more moisturizing than your average lipstick, which makes it comfortable to wear. I get about five hours of wear with this shade in particular, because it is more pigmented. Estee Lauder’s lipsticks are scented with a lightly sweetened fig but are taste-free to me.

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

final thoughts: This will be flattering on medium-to-dark complexions with warm undertones, because it does lean warm and the vibrancy makes it most suitable to deeper skin tones.  I do think that lighter skin tones can pull it off, but the importance of balance in the look will increase.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

MAC Capricious Lipstick
MAC Capricious Lipstick

The Sultry Season: MAC Capricious Lipstick

MAC Capricious Lipstick ($14.50 for 0.10 oz.) is a rosy plum with subtle gold shimmer. MAC describes it as a “fanciful rose plum,” and it has a lustre finish. Lustre finishes are “demi-sheer with wet-look lustre finish … Very slick … Makes lips look soft, smooth, ultra-moist.”

If you can’t tell by the photo, Capricious has been a long-time favorite, and I’ve always found it an infinitely flattering shade. It’s got that pop of natural color that enhances lips but never overwhelms a look. It has a cool-tone edge to it but the play of gold shimmer works well to make it very wearable for both cool and warm undertones.

my thoughts on the formula: MAC Lipsticks are vanilla-scented but taste-free. I typically get four hours of wear, but some of the lighter lustre and glaze finishes tend to disappear by hour three. Amplified cremes and amplified finishes, however, tend to go beyond four. I find the formula comfortable to wear and not drying (but not moisturizing–a couple of the matte and lustre shades can be drying).

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

final thoughts: Capricious is such a great way to wear plum without being too dark or bold.  It is as pretty in springtime as it is in fall.  It was one of my first MAC lipsticks and still a favorite.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 Eyeshadow Palette
theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 Eyeshadow Palette

theBalm Spring 2011: Shady Lady Vol. 3

TheBalm Shady Lady Vol. 3 ($39.50 for 0.51 oz.) is an eyeshadow palette that includes nine shades:  Lusty Lee (silver shimmer), Envious Erin (shimmery pearl), Racy Kacy (copper shimmer), Safe Bet Annette (pale-pink shimmer), Runaround Rebecca (sage), Come-Hither Heather (soft taupe), Open To Offers Olwen (teal), All The Way Annie (shimmering amethyst), and Guilty Gwen (sparkly black shimmer).

  • Lusty Lee is a bright silver-gray with a frosted finish.
  • Envious Erin is a pale, creamy white with soft golden warmth.
  • Racy Kacy is a coppered brown with a frost-metallic sheen.
  • Safe Bet Annette is a pastel pink with a white frosted finish.
  • Runaround Rebecca is an olive green with a khaki brown base and frost-metallic sheen.
  • Come-Hither Heather is a mauve-y taupe witha frost finish.
  • Open to Offers Olwen is a rich, vibrant blue with a touch of teal and frost finish.
  • All the Way Annie is a red-based purple with soft silver flecks of micro-glitter
  • Guilty Gwen is a softened charcoal black with silver flecks of glitter. This was the only shade I had issues with–I had to scrape out the product to get it to show. It was so poor, I thought it was actually defective. (It is really packed on in the swatch to get it to show.)

my thoughts on the formula: With the exception of Guilty Gwen, these eyeshadows are soft, silky smooth, and packed with pigment. They apply evenly, blend out beautifully, and aren’t powdery at all (sometimes a side effect of really soft eyeshadows). The formula is the same as the individual eyeshadows–no skimping or cutting corners.

This palette has a good mix of colors, and I can see some combinations coming from the palette, though I see these more easily mixed with other products you already own. They are all rather shimmery/frosty finishes, which makes them easy to blend. The quality is really phenomenal, excluding Guilty Gwen, and well worth the price tag.

value: theBalm’s single eyeshadows retail for $16.00 and contain 0.12 oz. worth of product, while this palette retails for $39.50 and comes with 0.51 oz. worth of product. Single eyeshadows work out to be $133/oz. and the palette works out to be $77/oz. The palette is also an excellent deal, because each shade is approximately 0.057 oz. each (the average full-sized eyeshadow is 0.05 oz.), so you get more variety.

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

final thoughts: I had to take off two points because of Guilty Gwen, but I would have loved to give this palette full marks–it really is a beautiful palette with so many well-pigmented, easy-to-use shades.

where to buy: Sephora

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