Thursday, March 25th, 2010

EcoTools Bronzer Brush

Cruelty-Free Brushes:  EcoTools Bronzer Brush

EcoTools Bronzer Brush ($9.99) is a large, dome-shaped bronzer brush that’s really more of a multi-tasking face brush than specifically a bronzer brush.

It’s great for pressed or loose powder, buffing, bronzer, and even liquid foundation if you don’t mind washing it often! The brush is so dense that it feels more like a kabuki brush, actually. I personally liked to use it for buffing and application of loose powder to set my makeup. It’s easy to clean and wash (and no funky smell or bleeding dye!), though expect a longer drying time with such a densely-packed brush (much like any kabuki!). Your best bet is to wash it after you use it, so it’s ready for the next day.

I appreciate the earth-friendly packaging, but I do feel like the handle is a little too thick. I could go for a slightly thinned out handle so it doesn’t feel chunky in my hand. Otherwise, I can’t think of any complaints about the brush itself! The softness and density of the brush itself make it nearly fool-proof to use to apply your favorite powder products.

EcoTools makes their brushes with sustainably grown bamboo for the handles, recycled aluminum for the ferrules, and Taklon bristles, which makes them 100% cruelty-free.

Celebrity makeup artist Meredith Baraf uses the bronzer brush in this video…

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

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

Recommendation: If you’ve been wanting a kabuki/buffer brush but haven’t wanted to shell out $40+ for one, EcoTools makes an excellent, affordable alternative.

Availability: Drugstore.com

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Urban Decay Chronic Eyeshadow

Going Green with Urban Decay, Part 1

Urban Decay Chronic Eyeshadow ($17.00 for 0.05 oz.) is a near-matte grass green shade.  What’s interesting about the matte formula is that you can see little specks of shimmer/glitter, but when you use it (whether just to swatch or on the lid), none of the shimmer/glitter shows up.   It’s almost like a very, very near-matte eyeshadow with perhaps the slightest pearl sheen.   I used it a couple of weeks ago in my St. Patrick’s Day look, and I really found it surprisingly easy to work with.  It blended nicely, and it didn’t look chalky at all (which is often an issue with matte textures) nor was it dusty.  I also got a good level of color intensity without having to pack on the eyeshadow, and with a color like that, I’m definitely looking for that richness of color.

I actually think the packaging is well-done, too.  I feel like the case goes above and beyond the typical eyeshadow compact, because Urban Decay makes it uniquely theirs.  It’s functional without being flimsy or cheap, but it still looks fun and totally fits with the brand’s image.  Of course, I’d love Urban Decay to sell empty palettes and allow you to customize your own, but they do put out eyeshadow palettes throughout the year, so there is always that, I suppose!

I do want to say that I haven’t tried any of the other shades in this formulation, so my review is truly for this shade only! The Matte Eyeshadow formula is also available in: ABC Gum (pale peach), Cult (eggplant), Electric (electric blue), Foxy (light neutral), Heist (dusty purple), Illegal (smoky rose), Naked (buff nude), Narcotic (bright turquoise), Perversion (jet black), Purple Haze (bright purple), Revolver (stone gray), Secret Service (medium brown), Shakedown (taupe), and Yeyo (powder white).

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: 5/5

Recommendation:  If you love colorful, matte textures for your eyeshadows, Urban Decay’s Chronic was a pleasant surprise!

Availability: Urban Decay

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

MAC Myth Lipstick
MAC Myth Lipstick

The Spring Season: MAC Myth Lipstick

MAC Myth Lipstick ($14.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a pale, flesh-toned slightly peach-pink tinged nude. Myth has a satin finish, which means it has a very creamy, opaque look with a low-level sheen and on shimmer. It gives my lips incredibly full coverage color, and the creaminess gives it a nice, defined look without the aid of a lip liner, too–always a nice bonus! It’s similar to Fleshpot, but it’s not quite as fleshy or as light.  It’s lighter and not as peachy as Peachstock, as well.  They’re in the same family, though!

Is this the right nude lipstick 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.

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Laura Mercier Zen Palette

Going Zen with Laura Mercier for Spring

Laura Mercier Zen Face Palette ($60.00) is a new-for-spring (into summer!) palette that includes one blush, four eyeshadows, and four lip glazes housed in a metal-rimmed palette with a cushy, dusty blue cover.

I was surprised at how much I liked the palette packaging, but I thought it was cute without being cheesy. It’s definitely apropos for spring! The palette also feels sturdy, weighty, but it doesn’t feel bulky, so I like the slimness and overall shape of it. I also LOVED! that they included a little plastic sheet with the names printed on top so you knew what product was what. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out in a palette!

Eyeshadows

  • Willow is a soft, pastel green with yellow undertones and a silvery shimmer. It has a bit of a frostier finish. It almost seemed un-Laura Mercier-like to me, just because it was such a nice pop of color, though it is a light pop of color!
  • Haze is a powder blue with silver shimmer. It’s more of a satin finish, less frost, in comparison to Willow.
  • Wisteria is a browned plum with a frosty sheen. It’s quite pigmented and smooth.
  • Midnight Jade is a darkened, grayed teal with a pearly sheen and just a light dusting of shimmer. I found this shade to be the least pigmented out of the four, but it still had decent pigmentation.

Blush

  • Plum is a very rosy plum shade. It’s less purple plum as it is red-plum. It has a low-level pearly sheen that’s very, very subtle. There’s no obvious shimmer here!

Lip Glazes

  • Black Currant is a brownish red that goes on very sheerly and has a glossy sheen.
  • Lotus Bloom is a sheer tinge of pinky-red with flecks of red shimmer.
  • Stone Beige is a creamier, semi-sheer nude beige with subtle gold shimmer.
  • Peach Blossom is an orange-y peach cream with a high gloss finish.

The good: It’s a fun palette with a good range of eye colors to give you a few new looks for spring. The pigmentation is pretty good (Midnight Jade needs to be layered for better pigmentation, though), and the texture is smooth, soft, and applies evenly. I like that there’s a good variety of colors in the lip glazes as well, because it gives you a lot of ways you can mix and match. I also think the packaging is fun, travel-friendly, and classy.

The bad: Palettes that mix powders and creams (or glazes, in this particular case) are not my favorite, because sometimes the powder finds its way into the creams, which is kind of gross. For most, it’s probably not a deal-breaker, but it’s something I thought I should mention. I don’t think the Plum blush is the most suitable for the palette–it almost seems too dark for this palette. I think it could work, but I’m not totally sold on it being the best match here.

There’s one thing I noticed right at end: there are no brushes!  It’s almost curious and yet I’m not displeased that they didn’t include them.  I know some think for the price that they should have, but I never find myself using those brushes that are included in palettes.  I always find them so inferior to my normal brushes and much prefer to take my brushes with me when I travel (even if it’s just a few), so it’s more of a neutral to me.  It just depends on your preference!

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 like Laura Mercier’s eyeshadows and have always wanted a little more color, you might enjoy the way she’s played with color in this spring palette. I think cooler skin tones will find this especially flattering, as most of the shades tend to be on the cooler end of the spectrum.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Make Up For Ever #9L Aqua Eyes Liner

Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Liner:  #9L

Make Up For Ever #9L Aqua Eyes Liner ($17.00) is a pale gold with a high sheen. While it does have shimmer, it doesn’t look like it–much more like a sheen. It’s a nice shade to use in conjunction with blues, browns, greens, and teals. I don’t have a liner quite this color from other brands, because it’s not quite a true gold–it’s more like a golden yellow, where it looks more yellow than gold. It’s much paler, lighter, and yellower in comparison to Urban Decay’s Honey Liner.

I love the Aqua Eyes formula because it really does what it’s supposed to! It’s a long-wearing eyeliner that’s waterproof that won’t migrate to anywhere you didn’t apply it. You can smudge it if you want, but it’ll set after a few minutes and stay put. I also like that they have such a wide shade range available (25 colors available on Sephora!), because who doesn’t want to collect them all? (And I know some of you have the Aqua Eyes Collector Set… I’m totally jealous!)

The only thing I could think of to improve the formula is to make it just the tiniest bit creamier.  They’re not stiff or hard on the eyes at all, but I’ve found that I definitely prefer more of the ultra glide-on creaminess of liners like Urban Decay.  I keep my Urban Decay and Make Up For Ever eyeliners separate from all my other eyeliners–and I’m constantly reaching for one of the two!

What’s your favorite shade of Aqua Eyes?

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: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you need a long-wearing eyeliner, Aqua Eyes has an incredible formula that really holds up well for all-day-long wear.  They’re easy to use, come in a variety of shades, and look fantastic on.  Maybe #9L isn’t your cup of tea–but surely one of the other 25 is!

Availability: Sephora

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Exotic Bronzing Blush

Get Your Blush AND Bronze on?  Hmm…

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Exotic Bronzing Blush ($35.00) is a pressed powder bronzer and blush with a coral reef inspired design. Estee Lauder calls it a “Bronzing Blush,” and you can tell in the photo that it really is exactly that! It’s unrealistic to use the two shades separately, but once swirled together, they create a rosy-peach bronzed shade.

It’s peachy without really being too pink and not quite brown but more like a gilded champagne. The shimmer is fine enough that it doesn’t accent pores but is still noticeable. I found this worked mostly as a blush, as it did have enough peach and rose tones to it that it’s more a blush than a bronzer. It does give my cheeks that sunkissed glow, though.

I like that the packaging has a very modern look and feel to it–that coppery bronze that shimmers in the sunlight.  The pricing is a little high, though, for a product that’s mostly a blush.  I’d have preferred to see this at maybe a $28 or $30 price point–more in line with their normal blush prices.

You can check out other items from Bronze Goddess, too!

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  It’s a cute compact, and it works well on warmer skin tones for sure. On cooler skin tones, it may not be as lovely, since it does have a warmer undertone. I also think on deeper skin tones, it may work mostly as a highlighter rather than a blush. Light to medium skin tones should have no problems using this as a blush or blush-highlighter! It’s not the most unique blush shade, but it’s done well.

Availability: Nordstrom

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