Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Guerlain Coque d'Or Perfumed Shimmer Powder
Guerlain Coque d’Or Perfumed Shimmer Powder

Guerlain Coque d’Or Perfumed Shimmer Powder ($95.00 for 0.61 oz.) is described as a “silky halo of a golden shimmer.” It’s a fine misting of gold shimmer, just as described. Guerlain says it can be used to “illuminat[e] hair, face, shoulders, and the top of the decollete.” It is a scented powder, which the brand says is a “chypre composition based on bergamot, rose, jasmine, and patchouli.” It’s very subtle when I tried wearing it all-over arms–it’s no substitute for perfume–and I only get a hint of a scent when I have my nose to my skin. It’s warm, sweet, and slightly woody with a little earthiness.

Guerlain’s holiday Shimmer Powders are no doubt a luxury item, and it is most likely going to appeal to collectors. It adds a gorgeous sparkle–that’s finer than glitter but more noticeable than shimmer–to the skin that dances in the light as one moves. I can only imagine that one bottle has many, many uses out of it, as one “spritz” has a fair amount of sparkle (enough for both arms). It’s best applied about six to twelve inches away, and you may want to turn the nozzle, because of the wide, bow-like bottle, the way it arrives means that a lot of the sparkle settles on top of the bottle (instead of on you!). I would also recommend applying a body lotion or moisturizer first, and then spritzing the powder on just before it finishes drying.

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Coque d'Or Perfumed Shimmer Powder

Guerlain's holiday Shimmer Powders are no doubt a luxury item, and it is most likely going to appeal to collectors. It adds a gorgeous sparkle--that's finer than glitter but more noticeable than shimmer--to the skin that dances in the light as one moves.
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Friday, October 10th, 2014

NARS Kabuki Brush Set
NARS Kabuki Brush Set

NARS Kabuki Brush Set ($149.00) includes three, kabuki-style brushes: Mie Kabuki, Mizubake Kabuki, and Kabuki Eye Brush. The Mie and Mizubake brushes are both $55 each, so that is $110 value there, and then $39 for the eye brush (which seems about right–the Kudoko, an eye Kabuki brush NARS released earlier this year is priced at $40). The brushes come housed in a thick, plastic rectangular box (it feels like acrylic storage containers to me). There’s a thin, removable plastic insert that holds the brushes upright in the box.

Mie Kabuki is supposed to be used for “all-over face application of loose and pressed powders.” It’s a medium-large powder brush that flares from the bottom, rounds out in the middle, then gradually tapers to a soft point at the top. It felt exactly like the full-sized version I’ve tested previously (see my original review here, and consistency is good, but the brush is unimpressive due to the rougher, scratchier bristles.

Mizubake Kabuki is supposed to be used for “contour and sculpt[ing].” It is a short-handled, flat-topped brush that flares out from the base. It had moderate density with light spring, so it worked well for buffing product into the skin, stippling, blending, and sweeping. This felt the same as the original, full-sized brush I reviewed previously (see review here). When NARS rolled out their Kabuki series brushes earlier this year, the Mizubake was the only one I liked, as it wasn’t scratchy/rough. The cutting is slightly uneven, so that could be improved.

Kabuki Eye is supposed to be used for a “soft-focus, seamless effect” for eyeshadows. It is a limited edition brush. It is a large, tapered brush that looks like a jumbo-sized crease brush. The brush head was 0.75 inches / 2 centimeters in length and 0.5 inches / 1.2 centimeters in width/thickness. The brush had a total length of 7 inches / almost 18 centimeters. It has good spring so that it flexes and diffuses powder eyeshadow easily, while it is dense enough that it still deposits color. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel scratchy (but I wouldn’t describe it as really soft or silky), but occasionally, there’s a bristle or two that seems to be scratchy/thicker. If you can, you may want to see this brush in person, as it is quite large, and that may or may not work for you depending on your routine. If it was softer, I would have liked it for diffusing and blending out concealer, but I prefer something with a silkier feeling against the under eye area.

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Mie Kabuki Brush

A medium-large all-over face powder brush with rougher/scratchier bristles, which makes it more unpleasant to use as an all-over face brush. The lack of softness is more noticeable when tapping or patting the brush against the skin and slightly less apparent when doing a sweeping motion.
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Mizubake Kabuki Brush

Moderately dense, light springiness that made it work well for buffing and blending out powder products on the skin for a really diffused look. The bristles were fairly soft, and the brush is similar to how one might use a buffing brush but with a flatter edge and a longer handle (but it is a short handle compared to face brushes in general).
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Kabuki Eye Brush

If you can, you may want to see this brush in person, as it is quite large, and that may or may not work for you depending on your routine. If it was softer, I would have liked it for diffusing and blending out concealer, but I prefer something with a silkier feeling against the under eye area.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

MAC Keepsakes/In Extra Dimension Brush Kit
MAC Keepsakes/In Extra Dimension Brush Kit

I thought the quality of the brushes in these sets seemed better than many of the other brush sets released over the last few years. Unlike past years’ brush sets, I didn’t instantly think, “Why bother?”  This is the first year in quite awhile where I’d say they’re worth considering if you really want MAC brushes but the cost of full-sized brushes is too high. I would, of course, also say that there are plenty of quality options to consider if your budget is $50 that may be better or more versatile, especially if you prefer or are indifferent to synthetic bristles.  I highly recommend looking at the brushes in each set and determining if those are the shapes you’ve been looking at or not.  Another aspect to consider is whether you like short handles or prefer longer ones, as these are all short.  Each comes with a glittery brush bag with “pearl” trim.  The bags use a finer glitter, so it doesn’t feel as rough, and though it does shed some glitter, I didn’t notice it much.  The Studio Brush Kit was the least comparable to their full-sized counterparts, and I don’t recommend it at all.

MAC Keepsakes/In Extra Dimension Brush Kit ($52.50) includes travel-sized versions of the 127SE, 128SE, 234SE, and 235SE brushes.  The brushes in this kit have semi-matte black handles with silver printing.  These are split brushes, so one side has black bristles and the other side has white bristles.  These felt quite comparable to the full-sized versions, but worth noting, I haven’t been overly impressed by the quality of more recently released MAC brushes, such as the In Extra Dimension Brushes.  The black side feels slightly rougher but not by much.

MAC Keepsakes/Mineralize Brush Kit ($52.50) includes travel-sized versions of the 187SE, 130SE, 286SE, and 287SE brushes.  These are all synthetic and natural fibre blends.  The 286SE was the only one that I felt had any scratchiness to it.  I think the most marked difference is that these just aren’t quite as dense as their full-sized counterparts, and they’re just not as well-made (the bristles aren’t cut as well, there are more scraggly ones hanging off the edge, and so on).  The shapes are often a little less precise as well (like the 187SE seems longer and less dense in particular).

MAC Keepsakes/Studio Brush Kit ($52.50) includes travel-sized versions of the 129SE, 190SE, 224SE, 213SE, and 209SE brushes.  These have cream-colored handles and the set comes with a cream-colored glittery bag to put them in.  Of the three sets, this one felt the most different compared to the full-sized versions.  The hair used here (presumably goat) is thicker, not as soft, and sweeping, rather than patting or stippling, motions will be best.  I don’t find that the bristles are cut well, which seems to only make them feel even scratchier.  The 129SE is the worst of the five, not that the full-sized 129 isn’t known for softness (it’s one of MAC’s scratchier face brushes).  I don’t think this one is worth the money, and I think you’re really better off getting full-sized versions or looking at another brand.

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Sunday, September 28th, 2014

MAC x Rocky Horror Picture Show Pigment & Glitters
MAC x Rocky Horror Picture Show Pigment & Glitters

MAC It’s Not Easy Having a Good Time Pigment ($23.00 for 0.15 oz.) is described as a “sparkling burgundy.” It’s a medium-dark, slightly muted red with warm, copper undertones and a frosted finish. Applied dry, it had a softer, semi-opaque result, and applied with a dampened brush, it was fully opaque and richer/deeper in color. It wore well for eight and a half hours before creasing slightly. The texture isn’t ultra-fine like some of MAC’s Pigments, but it’s not chunky like Kitschmas. Dior Trafalgar #3 (P) is pinker. Marc Jacobs Beauty The Siren #2 (LE) is similar. Makeup Geek Bitten (P, $5.99) is darker, less warm-toned, less shimmery. Kat Von D WTF (LE) is lighter. Sleek MakeUP Sunset #8 (P, $9.99) is slightly lighter. Sleek MakeUP Sunset #2 (P, $9.99) is redder. Urban Decay Gash (DC, $18.00) is similar. MAC Quartz Fusion (LE, $21.00) is more sparkly. MAC Saffron (LE, $15.00) is more orange. MAC Crimson Tryst (LE, $15.00) is cooler-toned. Le Metier de Beaute Fire Lily (P, $30.00) is similar. Sugarpill Asylum (P, $12.00) is warmer. See comparison swatches / view dupes.

Both of the following Glitters are part of the permanent range, and each comes with the following warning: “Keep entirely clear of eye area. If product enters eye, rinse with water. If irritation occurs, consult your ophthalmologist.” I don’t currently give grades to products like Glitters, because they’re more like a tool, since they need to be mixed with or have something added to them in order to function (e.g. adhesive base or medium, mixed with nail polish, etc.).

MAC 3D Black Glitter ($23.00 for 0.15 oz.) is described as a “black with silver holographic effect.” It’s a loose black glitter with holographic glitter. The holographic effect is quite strong, and you can even see it when staring straight-on, not just at angles. Urban Decay Gunmetal (LE, $19.00) is a liquid eyeliner formula with no holographic effect. Lit Cosmetics Superfly (P, $12.95) is bluer. MAC Black (LE, $21.00) is larger, chunkier glitter with no holographic effect. See comparison swatches / view dupes.

MAC Gold Glitter ($23.00 for 0.15 oz.) is described as a “sparkling chunky gold.” It’s a gold and orange-gold loose glitter with larger and smaller pieces. Lit Cosmetics Rich & Famous (P, $12.95)See comparison swatches / view dupes.

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It's Not Easy Having a Good Time

A-

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

8.5/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

5/5

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3D Black

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Gold

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Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Chikuhodo GSN-03 Cheek Brush
Chikuhodo GSN-03 Cheek Brush

Chikuhodo GSN-03 Cheek Brush ($96.00) is a large, dome-shaped face brush made out of gray squirrel and goat bristles. The brush head is 48mm in length, 38mm in width, and 22mm in thickness. It had a total length of 190mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. It’s such a large brush for cheek products; I couldn’t see this being useful for blush or highlighter for most, and only if you apply bronzer all-over would this be practical. It’s soft, well-cut, and hasn’t given me any problems with shedding or dye bleeding through over a dozen washes.

The brush head is dense but feathery against the skin, with the base being denser and firmer, and then as it tapers and flares outwards, it has more give. I’ve been using it primarily for applying loose setting powder and pressed finishing powders.  The brush is well-weighted with good weight distribution, and it feels comfortable in the hand. The way the ferrule and handle are shaped, the brush isn’t prone to rolling off a counter/desk.

Chikuhodo’s sizing for some of the GSN brushes seems off–several brushes are a lot larger than the average is. Brush size and shape is always going to be a combination of personal preference, application technique, and face/feature size, but just know that this is the size of your average powder brush.

Chikuhodo GSN-01 Powder Brush ($127.00) is a long-ish, extra large, dome-shaped powder brush with gray squirrel and goat bristles. The brush head is 56mm in length, 43mm in width, and 28mm in thickness. It had a total length of 193mm with a round, metal ferrule. It is similar in overall shape as the GSN-03, just a good deal larger. It is longer, so it had a little more flex, and it wasn’t as dense as the GSN-03, which makes sense for powder application. I’ve used this for applying powder foundation, loose and pressed finishing/setting powders, and for general blending of face products as a last step.

The brush feels soft against the skin and moves more as one, so it feels like silk, when you sweep it across the face. I haven’t had any issues with the overall quality of the brush after washing it over a dozen times. It does take awhile to dry, because it is a larger brush (though not as dense as the GSN-03, it’s still moderately dense).  Like the GSN-03, this brush has good weight distributed and feels balanced in the hand, so it is comfortable to hold and use.  It reminded me somewhat of Hakuhodo’s J104, which isn’t quite as soft, but is a fuller, rounder, less dense brush.

Neither are brushes that I’ve fallen in love with personally, as the GSN-03 is too large for blush but too dense for how I like to apply my loose setting/finishing powders. The GSN-01 is larger than I’d like, and I really love my Make Up For Ever #128 for a large brush and use it for loose setting powder application.

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GSN-03 Cheek Brush

The brush head is dense but feathery against the skin, with the base being denser and firmer, and then as it tapers and flares outwards, it has more give. I've been using it primarily for applying loose setting powder and pressed finishing powders.

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GSN-01 Powder Brush

I've used this for applying powder foundation, loose and pressed finishing/setting powders, and for general blending of face products as a last step. The brush feels soft against the skin and moves more as one, so it feels like silk, when you sweep it across the face.

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Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Louise Young Crease Brushes
Louise Young Crease Brushes

Louise Young LY13 Mini Socket Brush ($18.00) is a very small, tapered, slightly dome-shaped brush made out of natural hair. It’s very stubby and squat. The brush head is 6mm in length, 3mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. It had a total length of 178mm with a round, metal ferrule. I like this brush for smudging out eyeliner or applying eyeshadow on the inner corner or along the lash lines. I wish it was slightly more domed and less tapered, because the tapered point can sometimes be felt against the skin when you’re using it, but it isn’t too dense or too sparse, and it has a moderate amount of give, which makes it nice for smudging. It is smaller overall compared to MAC 219.

Louise Young LY38 Tapered Shadow Brush ($28.00) is a medium-sized, tapered crease brush made out of natural hair. The brush head is14.6mm in length, 5.5mm in width, and 5.5mm in thickness. It had a total length of 193 mm with a round, metal ferrule. It is more tapered than domed, so it is particularly nice for those with deeper creases or for someone who wants a more precise color application. I find the more domed, rounded crease brushes to be a bit easier to blend and diffuse color with, but more tapered styles to be great for initial application. It’s soft against the eye lid and area, and it retains its shape well. It is a much softer version of MAC 226 (although, the shape of the 226 varies a lot between batches).

Louise Young LY38B Tapered Shadow Brush ($24.00) is a slimmer version of the LY38 Tapered Shadow Brush, so it’s a slimmer tapered crease brush with a noticeably tapered edge (not rounded). There is also a 38A version, which I don’t have, but you can view here, which is in-between the width of the LY38 and LY38B. The brush head is 14mm in length, 4mm in width, and 4mm in thickness. It had a total length of 189mm with a round, metal ferrule. It is less dense and has more spring/give than the LY38, in addition to it being a narrower brush. It still has soft bristles that fit into the contour of the eye socket for more precise crease color application. It also works well for diffusing color from the outer corner towards the middle lid. My personal preference is for the LY38, as it fits my eye shape/application style better, but both are nice brushes and I really like that the same style is available in multiple sizes.  The one downside I noticed about the LY38B is that it seems to have more splayed bristles than the LY38–it doesn’t seem as well cut.

Louise Young has a fantastic brush overview on her website–it is a good way to see size of brush heads from one brush to another. In the states, Nordstrom carries some of her brushes, but the line is much larger per her site. I’ve had mine for almost nine months now, and I haven’t had any issues with them; all of them have retained their shape, are easy to clean, haven’t shed or bled dye, and haven’t gotten rougher over time.

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LY13 Mini Socket Brush

I like this brush for smudging out eyeliner or applying eyeshadow on the inner corner or along the lash lines. I wish it was slightly more domed and less tapered, because the tapered point can sometimes be felt against the skin when you're using it.

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LY38 Tapered Shadow Brush

It is more tapered than domed, so it is particularly nice for those with deeper creases or for someone who wants a more precise color application.

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LY38B Tapered Shadow Brush

It is less dense and has more spring/give than the LY38, in addition to it being a narrower brush. It works well for diffusing color from the outer corner towards the middle lid as well as for applying color into the crease more precisely.

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