Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Monarch Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Monarch Palette

Smashbox Reign Monarch Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a soft, pale white-gold; a frosty copper bronze; and a grayed brown.

Like the Majesty palette, the outer rings are more pigmented than the center counterparts. The centers are merely sheerer and have a matte finish. They do have a tendency to mix, so it can difficult to keep the shimmer from the mattes. Make sure you take care of your palette and clean it regularly so you can actually have two different shades rather than one big one!

This is definitely the more neutral one of the two, and you can easily wear these shades together to the office or out (just go heavier on the dark brown). This palette feels very warm-toned, whereas the the Majesty palette felt more neutral or just slightly cool-toned. The shadows do feel soft and smooth, particularly the outer rings of color, but the mattes are not chalky either. I found the Monarch palette to be much better in terms of overall quality, too — the shadows just seemed to go on smoother and more pigmented.

Again, the value is just as good on this palette as the Majesty palette (same amount, same price). These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: For an affordable palette of slightly amped-up neutrals, Monarch offers an answer!

Availability: Sephora

See swatches… Continue reading →

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Majesty Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Majesty Palette

Smashbox Reign Majesty Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a pale peach, a reddish copper, and a black.

I found that it was difficult to keep the matte and shimmers separated from each other, because inevitably one would mix with the other. This sort of rendered the matte center to be a little useless, just because it ended up looking much like the outer ring. I was testing a tester, so it was even worse than a palette with normal usage (e.g. the one you’d buy!), so do keep that in mind while browsing the swatches! I will caution you to dust off your palette regularly to avoid shimmer getting into your matte centers!

The first shade is a soft, shimmery peachy-gold. The middle eyeshadow is more of a burnt brown with reddish shimmer. I know Sephora describes it as a “plum burgundy,” and I didn’t see that whatsoever when I swatched it. The center of the middle eyeshadow was similar, just more of a matte finish, and it applied sheerly (as did all of the centers). The rightmost eyeshadow in the palette is a blue-shimmered black, which isn’t as smooth as I’d like — I did get a little drag when I swatched it. Again, the center is a sheerer, matte-r version of the outer ring.

I’m disappointed that the center of each eyeshadow shade didn’t swatch better, and I’m not thrilled that they go on sheerer than the outer rings either. The colors are wearable, but they don’t seem out-of-the-norm, and I’d say Smashbox single eyeshadows feel smoother, silkier, and I’d probably opt for one or two of those instead of the palette, if you already have these shades covered! These three shades work well together, and you can easily create a few smoky eyes with this one.

However, there is one big selling point to this eyeshadow palette that shouldn’t be overlooked — it’s very high in value! With 0.423 oz. of eyeshadow in the palette, it brings your cost down well below costs per ounce in any other high-end brand of eyeshadow. These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you like products high in value, this palette is well worth the investment, particularly if you want to add more neutrals to your collection.

Availability: Sephora

See swatchesContinue reading →

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Illamasqua: Hussy Blush

Illamasqua Hussy Powder Blush ($23.00 for 0.14 oz.) is a matte, bright coral-pink. It’s smooth, intensely pigmented, and blends easily. It can be applied more subtly by using a stippling brush like MAC’s 187, or you can always tone it down if you’ve over-applied with a light dusting of powder.

It wears well and won’t fade on you throughout the day, and the color is not so cool to be unwearable for warmer skin tones, but it is also more pink than coral, making it easy to wear for cool skin tones, too. Sephora describes the shade as “petal pink,” which isn’t inaccurate, but I just keep seeing a bit of coral in it, too. The best part about this blush is the intensity of the pigmentation, because you definitely don’t have to worry about it not showing up on your skin tone! I’d compare the pigmentation to that of NARS’ blushes.

I’m a bit disappointed in the value of these blushes, though. They’re more expensive than NARS blushes, and nearly double the cost (per ounce) of MAC blushes. They’re priced just under (again, per ounce) Stila and Smashbox blushes. I do think they could have given us a little more product for the $23 price tag!

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: Have trouble finding blushes that show up on you? Illamasqua’s are richly pigmented making them good choices for those who like to put the spotlight on cheeks!

Availability: Sephora

See swatchesContinue reading →

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection

Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection Complete Day Cream

Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection Complete Day Cream ($30.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) is one of the best hand creams I’ve ever slathered on my paws. My hands take a beating, because I constantly wash them, and I’m less-than-perfect about regularly applying near enough hand cream/lotion to keep them in tip top shape.

With the labrasnore running around, wiggling for attention all the time, and it, of course, being absolutely impossible to resist, I pet him, but then I wash my hands afterward. (Hey, since becoming acne-prone, hand-washing has become a regular ritual.) I easily wash my hands twenty times a day, and I may only lotion up once or twice a day–it just seems so silly to apply lotion and wash most of it off a half hour later.

Additionally, after landing in NYC last February, I found myself with these odd dry patches on my hands and fingers. I just figured that lotioning up more often would cure those dry patches, but to no avail. I saw my doctor after a few months, and she informed it was just eczema. OK, cool.

The only product (out of some ten or more that I tried to moisturize those dry patches) that worked was Hand Perfection. I can’t actually think of any better endorsement for it, because I was starting to feel rather hopeless about it all. My hands were soft, smooth, and they even looked a little less ragged after just a few uses (like two days). It’s a bit more than I’d think to spend on a hand cream, but a little goes a long way, and I’ll often use it as a spot treatment now, and then use something else throughout the day.

It does have titanium dioxide, which can be used for sun protection, but there’s no SPF noted on the product, so I don’t think it’s in a high enough quantity to do anything. For being touted as a day cream, I’d expect SPF in it (hands need SPF protection, too!). The size I have is just the “purse” size, which has lasted me a month now. The full-size is 3.4 fl. oz. and retails for $50.00 (ouch!).

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you’re still searching for a hand lotion to keep your hands smooth, soft, and moisturized, I definitely urge you to check this one out. The purse size makes for an easier first-time investment without committing to the full kit and kaboodle.

Availability: Ellen Sirot

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana: Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad ($59.00) is D&G’s take on the smoky eyes palette. It contains four shades of eyeshadow: a pale, silvery-white; a medium-dark matte black; a mauve-tinged silver; and a subdued, cool-toned dark brown.

Like Dazzling, the Champagne consists of smooth, well-pigmented eyeshadows that feel like buttery goodness to the touch. They apply easily and softly, and they never look garish. They blend seamlessly together, and they work well with all of your favorite eyeshadow bases. They also still blend well when used with other brand eyeshadows.

One of things I like about the Dolce & Gabbana quads I’ve tried so far is that the colors go on as they’re pictured. They’re apply and swatch true-to-color, so there is a whole lot less guesswork to be done. I can also appreciate the “honesty” of the palette in that sense, too. Champagne, in particular, works well together, because the shades are diverse enough to create gradients, but they can be worn in pairs of triplets.

For those who find the price a bit steep, D&G is priced competitively with other major high-end brands like Chanel ($56), Dior ($56), and Guerlain ($58). The packaging is hefty and looks like gold (though it does hold fingerprints). It’s sleek and elegant, so it does look lovely when you hold it. If it didn’t hold fingerprints, the packaging would definitely help sway me even more.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of high-end, luxury brands, Dolce & Gabbana has put out a quality line of makeup. Champagne is a great quad to travel with to be able to create several evening smoky eyes.

Availability: Saks

See swatchesContinue reading →

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Bobbi Brown Metallic Long Wear Cream Eyeshadows
Bobbi Brown Chrome Patina, Goldstone, Starry Night Metallic Long Wear Cream Eyeshadows

Bobbi Brown Metallic Long Wear Cream Eyeshadows: Chrome Patina, Goldstone, Starry Night

Bobbi Brown Metallic Long-Wearing Cream Eyeshadow ($22.00 for .12 oz.) is a new product launched this September from Bobbi Brown. They’re inspired by and yet a bit of a departure from her classic Long-Wear Cream Eyeshadows. They seem to be the same on the surface, but when I played with three of them, I found them to be a bit different.

“With these shadows there’s no need to choose function over style. They’re longwearing and come in the most glamorous, eye-catching shades ever.” – Bobbi Brown

The Metallic Long-Wear Cream Eyeshadow is available in eight shades:

  • Antique Gold A deep gold sparkle
  • Black Pearl A medium purple
  • Brown Metal A warm brown sparkle
  • Chrome Patina A golden pewter
  • Goldstone A gold sparkle
  • Mercury A silver sparkle
  • Starry Night A navy blue sparkle
  • Starry Purple A deep purple sparkle

I tried three: Chrome Patina, Goldstone, and Starry Purple. Chrome Patina is a sheer, glittery wash of pewter with gold sparkle. Goldstone is a semi-opaque toned-down gold with a brown cast and brighter gold sparkle. Starry Night is a sheer, glittery navy blue concotion with almost multicolored sparkle.

I’m actually surprised by Bobbi Brown’s introduction of these glittery shadows to her line-up, just because they’re a bit over the top with how glittery they are. I do, however, think they’re fun and will definitely wear them myself, but I can see some avoiding these because the glitter finish feels inappropriate or accentuates signs of aging on the eyes (as frosts and glitters often do).

Sheer or opaque?

It seems like your mileage will vary from shade to shade, because Goldstone had the best finish and pigmentation, going on nearly opaque, while both Chrome Patina and Starry Night were sheerer and therefore the look glitter was emphasized (instead of a more metalized look). I do wish they were more pigmented so they had a much smoother look and were more the metallic finish they’re touted to be than glitter. (I would personally call these Glitter Long-Wearing Eyeshadows from my experience so far.)

How well do they wear?

They wear very well, just like the original Cream Eyeshadows. They are long-wearing and hold up throughout day without smudging, fading, or creasing. I actually wasn’t sure if they would work out, because they feel very wet when you initially apply them, but they do dry down completely and aren’t subject to creasing (even when worn alone). I found it a bit difficult to blend cream shadows on top of this color or with it once it was dry, so you do have to work quickly if you are trying to use cream shadows together. If you just want to layer on powder shadows over the glittery base, there’s no need to be concerned over timing.

Wait — you can wear these as liner, too!

If you aren’t so much a fan of glitter eyeshadow, there is one alternative usage that I actually may find myself using these more for than as shadows — eyeliner!  I think these are excellent to layer over (or for some, worn alone — again, depends on how sheer the shade is) say a fiercely intense black liner for an extra kick.  Ohh!  I’m getting excited just thinking about experimenting now…

Are they worth the price tag?

As far as value goes, Bobbi Brown provides enough product in each pot to make it about as much and priced as I’d expect for the Bobbi Brown product range. Benefit cream eyeshadows are slightly cheaper ($19.00 for .16 oz.), while these are more affordable than NARS cream eyeshadows ($21.00 for 0.1 oz.) and less of an investment as shu uemura’s ($30.00 for .17 oz.). Despite the pot feeling and looking small (reminded me of gel liner sizes), it does hold more product than it seems. The packaging is classic Bobbi Brown: clear, glass with a black screw-on lid. It’s hefty, but I don’t mind — I like seeing non-plastic packaging.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you love shimmering glitter, you might love these to layer underneath your eyeshadows or as a quick wash of color (at least, some of the more neutral shades). I definitely recommend checking them out in person and seeing how the shade you’re most interested in swatches, because it may or may not be pigmented enough for your liking.

Availability: Nordstrom, Bobbi Brown

See swatches and photosContinue reading →