Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes
Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes:  Powder, Blush, Blending, Eyeshading, Lip

Are Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes Worth It?

Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Brushes debuted earlier this year, and despite having much luck with Dolce & Gabbana’s Makeup Line… I’m just not loving their makeup brushes. I actually find them, on the whole, a little scratchy. They are just nowhere near as soft as I expect from quality makeup brushes.

I know that a lot of readers thought the packaging looked very cheap with the gold plating and black handle, but the handles are a very sleek, matte black, which I think offsets the shiny gold plating in a way that’s not quite as “cheap” looking as anticipated. The ferrules also seem tightly in place, and I had very little bristle fall out, even on first use.  All of the brushes are made out of natural hair (goat and sable).

  • The Powder Brush ($55.00) is a large, dome-shaped brush with nice fullness, but it is a little scratchy. It’s pretty soft, but sometimes I find it less than pleasant on the skin.  It is luxuriously full and dense, though.
  • The Retractable Lip Brush ($29.00) is a small, thin brush that is thick and slightly tapered at the end. It is thicker than the average lip brush, and it’s not quite as wide. I like the firmness it has, and I like that it is retractable with a case, so it can be stored easily in a purse.
  • The Blush Brush ($48.00) is a medium-sized, tapered brush with a subtle dome shape. It works well for applying just the right amount of blush on cheeks as well as highlighting the cheek bones. I found it softer than the Powder Brush but not as soft as I would expect.
  • The Eyeshading Brush ($30.00) is a small, densely-packed dome-shaped eye brush. It is extremely similar to MAC’s 239, but this version seems an itsy bit smaller and firmer. I really liked the shape itself, but it, too, felt a little scratchy when used to blend.
  • The Blending Brush ($32.00) is a fluffy, slightly tapered brush designed for blending eyeshadows. I don’t think I have small eyes necessarily, but I found this brush too big to be all that useful. It may work better if you have larger eyes.

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  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I do not recommend purchasing these without having tested them in-person. They are not the worst brushes I have tried, and they really aren’t bad–they are decent–but there are better brands (at this price point or lower) out there. If you want to try Dolce & Gabbana, I recommend trying one of their blushes or lipsticks instead!

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Thursday, November 4th, 2010

MAC Tartan Tale: Viva Glam, Sir Teddy, & Brush Sets Video Review

I filmed my Tartan Tale Kit/Sets review yesterday, and my throat was scratchy afterward, which had to mean I talked way too long–sure enough, I did! We ended up splitting the video into two parts. It worked out, though, because I spend half of this video on why Viva Glam (and Sir Teddy) are great charitable campaigns, and then the other half on a rant review on MAC’s brush sets.

For my written review and photos of the brush set, you can view it here. (Link to vote is here — I’m Christine Mielke.)

Monday, October 25th, 2010

MAC Tartan Tale: A Lady and Her Tricks Brush Set
MAC Tartan Tale: A Lady and Her Tricks Brush Set

MAC Tartan Tale: A Lady & Her Tricks Brush Set

This year, MAC has three brush sets to choose from, and the one I am reviewing this year is A Lady & Her Tricks ($49.50). This set includes special edition sizes of the 168, 187, 209, 219, and 252. For reference, the other sets are Sweep Me Off My Feet (129SE, 190SE, 227SE, 212SE, 275SE) and She’s Got It All (194SE, 204SE, 224SE, 266SE, 275SE).

I do not recommend MAC’s brush sets, as cute/pretty as they can sometimes be. I just don’t think the quality is representative of MAC’s full-size brushes, and instead, they’re sub-par variations. $49.50 isn’t pocket change, and while it’s certainly a good deal when it comes to purchasing five MAC brushes, it’s not a good deal if the quality isn’t there. I find that these brushes are scratchy, and in the past, seem to get scratchier with time/wear.

The biggest problem I have with this particular kit this year (I did not bother last year or the year before) is these brushes really don’t seem to have been made very well. The 219SE is incredibly rounded, no pencil tip is distinguishable, while the 252SE is quite thick. The 187SE doesn’t seem to flare out enough and doesn’t have the same firmness as the full-size version.

I also think it’s a shame that they include the 252SE; it’s one of MAC’s biggest eyeshadow brushes, so it feels a little unwieldy for eyeshadow application. I’d rather see the 217 or 239 included, both are very popular brushes with more utility.

When it comes to buying MAC brushes, buy them slowly, over time, and build up your collection. I spent two or three years doing so before I completed my brush collection. If you need brushes in the meanwhile, consider more affordable brush sets available through brands like EcoTools and Sonia Kashuk. Affordable brushes have come a long way in the past few years!

The included bag is similar to the lip bags, except it’s a good deal larger–definitely more like a purse.  It also has a glossy black strap that attaches so you can wear it as a shoulder bag.  It doesn’t feel cheap, and it seems sturdy enough to be used for more than just toting brushes around.

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

  • Product: 18/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re sold on having to have MAC brushes, and you feel you’ll actually use all the included brushes in the set, it may be worth it. I don’t personally think the quality of these brushes is on par with full-sized brushes and would pass.

AVAILABILITY: MAC Counters/Stores on October 28th

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Monday, August 9th, 2010

Sephora Eyelash Curler
Sephora Eyelash Curler

Sephora Eyelash Curler ($16.00) is a metal eyelash curler that comes with two replacement curling pads.  It does a good job of curling lashes without pinching or pulling, but shu’s curler ($19) still pulls ahead for me–and at the price tag, I’m not sold on Sephora’s. The biggest advantage that this curler has is that it has two replacement pads, as opposed to the one that shu comes with.

The curling pad seems a little thick on Sephora’s curler, which actually makes it easier to get a soft curled lash and no crimping or dreaded L-shape lashes.  But it doesn’t get as defined and as big of a curl because of it as well.  The padding on the handles is also a bit thick, so those with larger fingers may find it a little awkward to grip, because their fingers don’t quite fit in them.

Again, it does a good job–it curls softly, easily, and it doesn’t pinch or pull.  You never have to worry about getting bent lashes, either, because the pad makes it a breeze to get that soft curled look.  It just doesn’t give me the same amount of curl as my beloved shu curler does.

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’ve found that other eyelash curlers have pulled or pinched, the thicker padding on Sephora’s curler might work better for you.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Urban Decay Eye Brushes
Lip, Shading, Liner, Blending, Crease, Multi-Tasker, Smudger, Shadow

Vegan, Eco, and Planet Friendly Brushes

For fall, Urban Decay released a whole slew of brand spankin’ new brushes (and as such, are now discounting their older brushes by 50%). There are seven eye brushes, one lip brush, and three face brushes. This post features the eye and lip brushes, and I’ll do a separate review for the face brushes (which I’m still testing). I’ve only had these for a little over a week, so I can’t speak on heavy duty usage and just how well they’ll serve you over a multi-year period.

All eleven new brushes are cruelty-free and vegan, as the bristles are made out of recycled PET plastic bottles. The handles are made out of recycled aluminum. Even the boxes these come in are from recycled egg crate material. However, each box is housed in a plastic sleeve–which I don’t know if it’s recycled or not, but even if it were so… it is unnecessary. The box is sturdy and large enough to contain that single brush and travel across country.

  • Shadow ($26.00) is a flat, domed shape brush designed for application of eyeshadow onto the lid. It’s dense and stiff enough to pat on color but flexible enough to use it to blend out color, too. I’d say it’s about 10mm across and 13mm in height.
  • Smudger ($26.00) is a stumpy dome-shaped brush used for smudging eyeshadow or liner on the lower lash line. It’s pretty soft (which is not always a feature of smudgers, because they are so short), and it’s stiff and densely-packed. It’s around 10mm across and 5mm in height.
  • Multi-Tasker ($24.00) is a tiny slightly dome-shaped brush (we’re talking around 6mm wide and 7mm tall). Because of its small size, I think those with smaller lids may have more use for this than others. Personally, I just know this is not a brush I’ll be using regularly–maybe as a lip brush. It’s quite small, so it’s not my favorite brush for concealer or primer.
  • Crease ($26.00) is a densely-packed rounded, dome-shaped brush. It’s rather thick–as crease brushes often are–but it holds its shape quite well. It’s not floppy or particularly fluffy, so it’s really good for depositing color into the crease as well as blending out crease colors. It’s about 18mm in height and 10mm at its widest point.
  • Blending ($26.00) is a very large, flat and dome-shaped brush. It’s very similar to the Shadow brush, except three times as large. It’s about 18mm in height and 15mm in width. I could see this being used for an all-over wash, but it’s like half the size of my eyelid, so it’s just too large for me to use for much else. It’s a bit too thick/dense to be a go-to for creamy products like eyeshadow bases (I think too much would get caught in the bristles).
  • Liner ($24.00) is a small angled brush. It’s my least favorite brush out of the bunch, because it’s considerably thick, particularly for an eyeliner brush. I’m used to using very thin angled brushes for eyeliner, and then just thin angled brushes for brows–this is thicker than my usual brow brush (MAC’s 266). It has a great angled edge, but it’s rather thick, so I found it difficult to achieve thin, precise liner. It’s about 7mm in height at its tallest point and 7mm wide and 2mm thick.
  • Shading ($26.00) is a medium-sized, circular brush with a slanted cut. It’s stiff without being sharp. It looks an awful like the Crease brush, except someone cut it half-way and at an angle. I don’t have any brushes like this one, and to be honest, I was pretty confused by it initially. I’ve used it primarily to apply my brow highlight. It can also be used to apply color to the crease or blend it out. It’s about 12mm in height at its tallest point and 8mm in diameter.
  • Lip ($20.00) is a skinny, long dome-shaped flat brush for applying your favorite lip color. I have no issues with the brush itself, but it’s a pain in the butt to use because of the packaging. It comes in a retractable container, so you push the brush up to get it out of its container, but as soon as you start applying your lip color, it starts moving back into its home. You have to make sure you keep a finger on the slider and apply pressure to keep it in position. It’s annoying but you can maneuver it so it’s functional.  I tried to put the cap on the end to keep it in place, but my cap didn’t stay on well.  It’s about 11mm tall and 5mm wide.

The brushes I liked most were the Crease and Shading brushes. I liked the Crease brush for its stiffness, though with my lid size, I could use something a little skinnier and more tapered, but it’s a nice brush even for me without those modifications. I also liked the Shading brush just because it’s an interesting brush that I don’t have yet so it’s giving me something new to work with.

I also really liked how each brush has its usage labeled on the end–it makes it easy to keep track of them, especially for those who are newer to brushes.  I’m always a sucker for gunmetal packaging, too, so I dig the look of the brushes as well.

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 trying to stay away from natural fiber brushes, Urban Decay has made a solid alternative that’s eco-friendly and animal-friendly.

AVAILABILITY: Urban Decay

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Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Benefit Tweezerman Tweezers

Benefit + Tweezerman = Cute AND Practical

Tweezerman for Benefit Slant Tweezer ($25.00) are cute white slant-tipped tweezers with a light pink and coral-pink design on the outside. I LOVE Tweezerman tweezers. I absolutely love their slant-tipped ones in particular. I think I have five of them scattered around my house–I never want to be without one.

They just feel so maneuverable in hands, and they grip incredibly well. They’re sharp without being painful, but you can get at stubborn hairs that need a pluckin’. I also like them for applying false lashes: use the tweezers to grip them and set them on the lash line, then flip it and use the end (the flat side–opposite of the opening) to press the false lashes into your lash line.

I will also say that they stay sharp and as good as when you first buy them for ages. I know that you can mail them to Tweezerman and get them sharpened, but I’ve never done it–because I’ve never felt like my tweezers needed it, and I’ve had some of them for years. (It reminds me that, someday, I should!) These tweezers are worth every penny. They’re the only tweezers I keep stashed away the entire six years I’ve been playing with makeup!

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

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you pluck stray hairs around the brow/upper lip, these do an excellent job grabbing even the shortest, thinnest hairs.

AVAILABILITY: Benefit, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s

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