Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Holiday Makeup: Subtle Glam?

Sonia Kashuk Starry Eyes Eye Palette ($14.99) is a mix of six eyeshadows–three glittery, three matte–for the holiday season.

My favorite part about this palette is the outside casing — it’s this shimmery, sequin-y black case that sparkles in the light. It’s really stunning, and it’s probably one of the best holiday-themed packaging jobs I’ve seen in awhile. Unfortunately, the inside of the palette, which is more important, just fell a little flat for me.

While I liked Sonia Kashuk’s Showstopper Eyeshadow Quad, which had the same shimmery shadow texture, these colors just seem drab–muted. They’re so muted and subtle and yet have so much shimmer, it seems contradictory. The texture is smooth, and they look wet when applied and have surprisingly little fall out (though there is some). For me, the colors don’t jump out at me, so I’m just not excited over it.

Included in the palette are three glittery shades: a muted warm-toned medium-dark brown, a glitzy warmed up champagne gold, and a muted mauvey-brown, along with three matte shades: a cool-toned chocolate brown, a dusty white, and a plummy mauve.  The matte shades didn’t feel chalky or dusty, though they were a little sheerer than I’d like–overall, they felt smooth to the touch.

I did like how the shimmery shades were coordinated with the matte shades – almost like reflections of each other. I think I liked the actual shades of the matte colors more than the shimmery ones, though!

Bottom Line: This just isn’t the palette for me, but it’s still a quality palette. The shadows were smooth, had decent color pay off, and they’re shades that can definitely be worn by many. Though they’re muted and subtle (and inexplicably, it just didn’t work for me in this palette–because I know I can appreciate a subtle color palette!), they would make for some more nuanced, less in-your-face holiday looks for sure.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: If you enjoy more subtle, muted shades, you might like this!

Availability: Target

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Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Add a Little Holiday Opulence to Your Look

Estee Lauder Opulent Shimmer Powder ($32.00) is a limited edition, holiday highlighter from Este Lauder’s Ultimate Red Collection.

It has this kind of basketweave-esque pattern on the outer portion of it, which is slightly bronzer, while the inner hexagon is flat and more of a beige-y shade. Nevertheless, you swirl and mix both sections together to get a shimmery shade of beige-y gold. It was surprisingly subtle and not at all frosty or glittery — very smooth, soft, and appropriate In my swatch, you can see that it doesn’t show up too bright or look glittery, but it lays on skin quite well. I’d say my arm is somewhere around NC20 or so, for reference.

Certainly not as pretty (just as far as the pattern goes!) as Lancome’s Sparkling Cherub, but it’s more my style and something I’d reach for more often. I found Lancome’s Sparkling Cherub to run deeper and have more of a semi-matte finish–it just felt more like a bronzer than a highlighter to me. I do feel like they’re very different products, so it’s more a matter of what you’re looking for and what you want the product to do. If you’re just looking for a shimmery highlighter, Estee Lauder’s is your better bet; if you’re looking to add more warmth to your skin, Lancome’s is the way to go.

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:  If you’re in the market for a soft, smooth golden highlighter, you might like this limited edition holiday offering.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009


Philosophy’s The Gingerbread Man

Scrub-a-dub with Philosophy’s The Gingerbread Man

Philosophy The Gingerbread Man Body Scrub ($25.00 for 23 oz.) is a hot salt scrub with a citrus-y ginger scent.

I was actually disappointed that this didn’t smell more like gingerbread, because it was definitely more natural ginger scent with a kick of citrus–maybe orange–instead. Philosophy is usually totally on target with scent, so I’m not sure if maybe I just expected the wrong scent. It’s not a bad smell, but it wasn’t what I expected!

I was also a little confused over the best way to apply/use it, because it is advertised as a scrub for the “tub and shower,” but the instructions tell you to apply to dry skin, rub in a circular motion, and then rinse off. I don’t know about you, but once I’m in the shower, there really isn’t any dry skin anymore! I tried it on dry skin once, right before I jumped into the shower, and I don’t think it’s the way to go. It felt much too harsh, was tough to apply (there wasn’t enough slip), and it was messy (I had salt granules all over my floor for days, much to my boyfriend’s chagrin).

So, after that, I decided to try it another way — in the shower. So, so much better! It’s a gritty scrub as it uses big salt particles to exfoliate, which means it might not be appropriate if you prefer softer granules or have sensitive skin. In the shower, it’s just gritty enough to give you lots of exfoliation while you rub it onto damp skin. It does dissolve, but it doesn’t do so immediately upon contact with water — you can get a few minutes of “scrubbing” time in before it’s time to rinse and still have granules left.

Bottom Line: I didn’t notice much of a warming feel–maybe just slightly–but I did have much smoother, softer skin post-shower, and the scrub itself has enough hydration to keep my skin from getting scaly. I like that there’s no greasy residue or oily feel afterward as well! It’s a solid scrub, and you certainly get plenty for your money. After years of trying different scrubs, I’ve found I prefer slightly less coarse scrubs, so that’s why this one didn’t have me on my feet — but it’s still a worthwhile scrub if you do prefer coarse, salt-based scrubs.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you like coarser bodys scrubs, you may enough this one.

Availability: Nordstrom, Sephora

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009


Dolce & Gabbana Gold Lipstick

Holiday Dazzle:  Dolce & Gabbana Gold Lipstick

Dolce & Gabbana Gold Shine Lipstick ($30.00) is a shimmery, shiny dose of bronzy-copper with flecks of coppery gold. This is not really a shade that works best alone but as a layering tool. This is a great lipstick to layer to achieve a warmer, brighter, or more shimmery lip color. It works particularly well under semi-sheer to sheer red-based lipglosses! It is semi-opaque, actually, because it does significantly cover lips, but since it’s more shimmer than lip color, it can look patchy on its own if you’re not careful.  Even though it’s a shade I’d wear with other products, it can still be worn alone since it has decent coverage.  Dolce & Gabbana lipsticks are very creamy, smooth, and always last a good four to five hours on my lips.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Add some dazzle to your lips with this shimmery lipstick from Dolce & Gabbana!

Availability: Saks Fifth Avenue

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Monday, December 7th, 2009

Lancome Retro Rouge Lipstick
Lancome Retro Rouge Lipstick

The Scarlet Season: Lancome Retro Rouge Lipstick

Lancome Retro Rouge Color Design Lipstick ($22.00 for 0.15 oz.) is a creamy, opaque shade that gives you full coverage in just one swipe. It’s a bold, bright cheery red with just a touch of pink. It has a lovely glossy sheen with a smidgen of shimmer sprinkled throughout. It really gave my lips a juicy look–that’s the best description I could think of–and it felt incredibly weightless. I found it wore well and got about four to five hours of wear without much fuss, too.  I think what surprised me about this particular formula and lipstick was just how rich in color and high the pigmentation was–I just wasn’t expecting it to be so true-to-word.

What about you? Would you wear this red?

The Scarlet Season is a series of posts showcasing and featuring my favorite shades of red lips–from glosses to lipsticks that runs through December 2009. You can sure expect to see a lot of red this holiday season!

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Monday, December 7th, 2009


Illamasqua Avenge Lipstick

Brighten Up the Winter:  Illamasqua Avenge Lipstick

Illamasqua Avenge Lipstick (£14.00 for 0.14 oz.) is a new shade from their winter collection Dystopia. It’s a hot fuchsia pink with cool undertones and a matte finish. It has just a touch of sheen, but it really is quite matte. Illamasqua’s matte lipsticks are some of the least drying matte lipsticks around, but they may be more drying than some are used to (if you haven’t tried out mattes before — most of them can be a smidgen drying). Avenge is easy to apply, goes on creamy and doesn’t stick in places, so it gives lips even, opaque coverage without much fuss.

The only downside? It’s only available in the UK or through the website (which will ship outside of the UK!), but it is still a bit of a bummer.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Love yourself some hot pink? Might like Avenge…

Availability: Illamasqua

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