Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Urban Decay Perversion Super-Saturated Ultra Intense Waterproof Cream Eyeliner
Urban Decay Perversion Super-Saturated Ultra Intense Waterproof Cream Eyeliner

Urban Decay Perversion Super-Saturated Ultra Intense Waterproof Cream Eyeliner ($22.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a deep, dark, blacker-than-black eyeliner with a satin-to-matte finish. It’s extremely intense in color payoff, and the texture is quite creamy, so it smooths over the skin easily and doesn’t drag or really skip. Because it’s so creamy, it can also be used as a black eyeshadow base if desired. The only downside is that it takes a couple of minutes for it to fully set and dry down, which makes it great for a smudgy look, but if you’re pressed for time, it might not be the first go-to for a two-minute look. I didn’t feel like it really moved while setting, but if you go to curl your lashes, you might disturb it. The texture is definitely lighter and creamier, wetter too, than a gel formula–sometimes gel and cream can feel the same, but this definitely feels and behaves like a true cream eyeliner. On me, it wore well and lasted ten hours without smudging or fading.

There are a ton of intense black eyeliners on the market in a variety of formulas, so there’s no shortage these days.  I’ve included swatch comparisons below of how this shade stacks up to the rest of the Perversion range, but if you’re looking to compare against other rich black eyeliners, here’s the official Dupe List / Swatch Comparisons for Perversion (cream).

Urban Decay Perversion Angled Brush ($16.00) is a medium-thick, angled brush made out of synthetic fibers. It worked well for applying the cream eyeliner just launched, and it is best for medium-thin to medium-thick lines, but if you really want something very thin and precise, I would go for a thinner or more pointed brush.

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Perversion

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Product

9.5/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

9.5/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

5/5

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Thursday, March 20th, 2014

NARS Artistry Brushes
NARS Artistry Brushes

Launching April 1st, NARS Artistry Brushes will feature 16 different shapes. (You can see the full list of what’s to come with pricing and information here.) The brushes range from $28 to $52. Each has a long, matte black handle with a matte black metal ferrule. The bottom of the handle is round and flat with a shiny red tip. It’ll take me at least a couple of weeks to work through these and use them enough to give you some thoughts–I really like to use and test brushes for several weeks (sometimes months) to see what I reach for, what works for this application or that one, and to see how they hold up to multiple washings. Stay tuned!

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Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Urban Decay Summer 2014 Collection
Urban Decay Bondage Weightless Makeup Adhesive

Urban Decay Bondage Weightless Makeup Adhesive ($14.00 for 0.20 fl. oz.) is described as a “clear, water-based adhesive [that] sets and holds glitter.” It’s supposed to help the brand’s new Heavy Metal Loose Glitter apply “for a full-on jewel-encrusted effect that lasts all day (with very little fallout).” It’s a good thing they added that little bit “with very little fallout,” because I tried two different shades of the new glitters on top of the adhesive, and there was still some fall out. It seemed like one or two glitter particles fell per hour, but in general, the glitter adhered well and was comfortable to wear over the adhesive. The consistency is very much weightless, and it doesn’t feel tacky or thick, so it’s easy to spread across the lid, but I found you needed a fair amount of it on the skin if you wanted a solid glitter effect. If I spread out the adhesive, the glitter tended to apply in a sheer, sparse layer. The adhesive definitely breaks down easily with water, though getting all the bits of glitter off is a different story (more on that below).

Urban Decay Heavy Metal Loose Glitter ($12.00 for 0.10 oz.) is described as an “easy-to-use loose glitter.” Each shade had the same instructions included on a separate pamphlet in the box, which said to lay down a layer of their adhesive first, then with fingertips or brushes, apply the glitter. I didn’t like using fingertips, because the majority of the glitter stuck to my finger and only a smattering adhered to the lid.

The jar has a plastic sifter that is level with the top of the jar, so you have to tap out the glitter into the lid, which makes closing it a glittery mess. I wish the sifter was dropped, so that there was a couple millimeters of space for the glitter to sit on top of the sifter but still inside the jar. When I used a brush, a lot of the glitter didn’t stick to my brush–there is a very small window of how you make the journey from jar to eyelid and keeping your brush just so, and then patting it on the lid and hoping that most of it sticks to the lid. I had three or four times the amount of glitter underneath my lid as on it unless I really slathered on the adhesive, and I had to put adhesive straight onto the brush, too.

The included instructions said to brush away any excess during application, and while those glitters might not stay on the lid on their own, they weren’t easy to remove them from the skin. I tried several different methods, but I ended up resorting to tape. Urban Decay’s loose glitters aren’t really any more difficult or easier to use than most loose glitters available–they’re simply not an improvement on the status quo. With the particle size of these, I prefer using something like Lit Cosmetics’ adhesive base, because I can easily apply it to the lid and my brush to really minimize the fall out during application and get a much more glitter to adhere at once.

ACDC is described as a “bright purple glitter.” It’s a medium, cool-toned purple glitter.

Catfight is described as a “pink glitter.” It’s a medium-dark, pinky-red glitter. MAC Pink (P, $21.00) is finer. See comparison swatches.

Goldmine is described as a “yellow-gold glitter.” It’s a medium-dark yellow-toned gold glitter.

Loaded is described as a “bright, deep green glitter.” It’s an emerald green with cool undertones glitter. Lit Cosmetics Yoda (P, $12.95) is lighter, finer. See comparison swatches.

Pyrotechnics is described as an “iridescent glitter.” It’s a multi-colored mix of iridescent pink, lilac, and gold glitter.

Reverb is described as a “bright, deep blue glitter.” It’s a medium-dark blue glitter. Lit Cosmetics Bar Star (P, $12.95) is finer, more multi-dimensional. See comparison swatches.

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Bondage Weightless Makeup Adhesive

It seemed like one or two glitter particles fell per hour, but in general, the glitter adhered well and was comfortable to wear over the adhesive. The consistency is very much weightless, and it doesn't feel tacky or thick, so it's easy to spread across the lid, but I found you needed a fair amount of it on the skin if you wanted a solid glitter effect. If I spread out the adhesive, the glitter tended to apply in a sheer, sparse layer.
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Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Sephora + Pantone Universe Color Gaze Brush Set
Sephora + Pantone Universe Color Gaze Brush Set

Sephora + Pantone Universe Color Gaze Brush Set ($68.00) is a limited edition, six-piece brush set with a “Radiant Orchid”-hued carrying case. It comes with two face brushes, three eye brushes, and one lip brush. The set has some limitations and, as tends to be the case with brush sets, you’ll want to see it in person to judge the sizes to see if they’re right for your features.  The handles of all six brushes were well-balanced and weighted; they didn’t feel too light or too heavy, and they fit well in my hands.  This is only a brief review (almost more of an overview), as I haven’t tested them for long and don’t intend to use them long-term to test wear and tear and the like.

The Stippling Brush was noticeably scratchy when I used it in a stippling motion; sweeping it lightly across the planes of the face to apply foundation, it didn’t seem as scratchy, but using the flat edge or stippling motions was unpleasant. The longest bristles were soft, but the shorter ones looked dry and felt that way. The other six brushes were very soft, and I didn’t have any issues with them from a softness/feel standpoint.

The Angled Blush Brush seemed a little larger than the average brush of this shape, but it worked well for blending and placing color, though it doesn’t pick up powder products perfectly (makes everything seem a little under-pigmented). The All-Over Shadow Brush was massive–it looks almost like a small face brush–and even seemed too large for under-eye concealing, blending, or setting (which is something I often use larger eye brushes for). The Shadow Brush was slightly larger than the average eyeshadow brush for patting and packing on eyeshadow, and it worked fairly well but did not deposit as much color in one go as some other brushes I have. I really liked the Crease Brush, as it was incredibly soft, not too dense or too sparse, and wasn’t floppy. If you have smaller eyes, I think that all three of the eye brushes are on the larger side.

Oddly enough, what I liked most about the set was the case. It’s slim, but fairly large (about ten inches tall and five inches wide) and easily accommodates the seven brushes from the kit and then some. It reminded me of a more freeform version of a brush roll or bag. It was actually designed to open and stand up on its own, which is does, and it was a nice feature–handy when traveling. The bag seemed sturdy with a pebbled “Radiant Orchid” exterior, silver zipper, and lined inside with a darker purple.

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Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Chikuhodo Z-Series Brushes -- Z-10, Z-5, Z-4, Z-1, Z-9
Chikuhodo Z-Series Brushes — Z-10, Z-5, Z-4, Z-1, Z-9

Chikuhodo Z-Series Brushes are a luxurious brush indulgence. There are ten brushes in the range, and for the past few weeks, I’ve been testing five of them: the Z-10, Z-5, Z-4, Z-1, and Z-9. (Other brushes include the Z-2, Z-3, Z-6, Z-7, and Z-8.) Chikuhodo is a Japanese brush manufacturer under their own brand as well as working with such brands as Shiseido, SUQQU, and Kanebo through original equipment manucaturing (OEM) (you can see their client list here). If softness is one of the key metrics you use to determine how much you love a brush, Chikuhodo’s Z-Series are the softest brushes I’ve experienced using. They don’t even feel like individual bristles, as they move and feel as one. The Z-Series is made out of gray or blue squirrel hair, and they’re designed to be used with powder products.

All five brushes I tried have held up well to multiple washings; they’ve retained their overall shape (but the face brushes are a little fluffier than they look initially), haven’t shed, and the larger face brushes didn’t take as long to dry as I expected (but overnight is still best). The ferrules on the Z-Series brushes seems very, very well-connected (almost like one-piece), which is different from a lot of the other brushes I have (Hourglass #2 was the only one at a glance that seemed similar). The major difference I found between gray squirrel and goat hair applications were that gray squirrel brushes tended to naturally diffuse and soften edges while applying the initial color/product, whereas goat gave a more precise, harsher edge, but both can blend and diffuse the product (so the end results were the same regardless of the hair type). I always do a blind test with several brushes (in this case, five different brands) with each brush with my husband–he closes his eyes, and we spend far more time than he’d like having him tell me what seems the softest to him, and yes, these brushes tended to come out on top, but the degree of softness is still very comparable to high-end brushes like Hakuhodo and Tom Ford.

Z-10 Eyeshadow Brush ($45.00) is a small, tapered brush that comes to a very fine, pointed tip. Its shape is much like a pencil brush, but it’s a little larger and feels a bit more like a tapered crease brush. The brush head is made using gray squirrel, and it is 10mm in length, 5mm in thickness, and 5mm in width. It had a total length of 5 inches or 12.5 centimeters with an open, round ferrule. The handle is well-balanced but lightweight, and the handle is shorter than the average brush. The one characteristic about that stood out to me about this is is it never felt sharp, whether held vertically or horizontally, at an angle or straight-on. It’s dense but not too firm, so it has some give, which means that despite its very fine tip, it is not as precise as a firmer, denser pencil brush. I really loved it for applying crease color, blending out crease colors, and applying color to the inner tear duct/inner lid with more precision than my typical dome-shaped go-tos.

NARS #12 ($27.00) is a little skinnier, and it is more of a small, tapered crease brush in overall shape, but I felt like it applied and felt similar in terms of density, though it isn’t as soft as the Z-10. MAC’s 226 ($26.00) is larger with a more severe tapered edge and a greater variety in lengths, and it is, unsurprisingly, has a rougher texture (and there is a lot of variance in the shape, density, and texture between versions of the 226).

Z-5 Eyeshadow Brush ($56.00) is a large, dome-shaped brush. The brush is made out of gray squirrel hairs, and the brush head is 16mm in length, 19mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. It had a total length of just over 5 inches or 13 centimeters with a lightly pinched ferrule. I think the larger size will make it great for some, but then a shape others would rarely reach for; I fall into the latter camp. If you were applying a single color all-over the lid, it absolutely works well for that. It picks up color well and applies a lot of color from the get-go, and it’s particularly nice for those sub-par eyeshadows in one’s stash, as you don’t have to pack on the eyeshadow for quite as long. It also seems to diffuse the color along the edges where it’s been placed, as if you blended it, but all you did was pat it on. The bristles aren’t all the same length, as they shorten as you move to the sides of the brush, it also works well to blend out edges and fade colors upwards towards the brow bone. I also liked it for patting on setting powder underneath the eyes (to set concealer).

Inglot #27P ($21.00) is the most similar in shape, size, and density, but it is wider and has more rounded edges. shu uemura #11 ($140.00) is slightly narrower and significantly longer, but it has a somewhat similar density (not quite as dense throughout), and because it is longer, it has more give. OCC #007 Large Shader Brush ($22.00) is smaller, more tapered along the edge, and half as thick. MAC 252 ($32.00) is similar in shape along the edge and at a glance, but it is significantly less thick and dense. Tom Ford #11 ($55.00) is a little more flared at the edge with a more rounded dome shape, and it is also less thick and less dense.

Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush ($92.00) medium-sized, blush brush with a domed edge and tapered bristles (so the lengths get shorter as you move outward from the center). It’s not a rounded brush, more flattened, but it is not really thin or flat. The brush is made out of gray squirrel, and the brush head is 35mm in length, 28mm in width, and 15mm in thickness. The brush had a total length of just under 6 inches or 15 centimeters with an open ferrule. It’s excellent for applying soft, even color along the cheeks with minimal blending required. Sometimes, after swatching five or six blushes on my cheeks back-to-back, I pay for it the next day with irritated, reddened skin that can result in drier patches, and this brush is very forgiving on the skin without further irritating it–and it manages to make color apply more evenly than many other brushes I own despite the rougher surface. It feels like silk, and it feels like a single swish across the face; you never feel the individual bristles. It’s dense without being too heavily packed with bristles but doesn’t feel wispy against the skin; just right for versatility, so it can be used with heavily pigmented blushes, sheerer ones, and it can work well with highlighters and bronzers, too.

Hakuhodo G5545 ($48.00) is very comparable in terms of softness and general application, but it is flatter and wider with a more feathery, lighter feel against the skin as it is not as dense. shu uemura #20 ($50.00) is a little more square-ish in shape and flatter, not quite as soft. Sephora #73 Pro Precision Brush ($32.00) is more tapered at the edge, a little squatter, and it is not as soft, though I wouldn’t describe it as rough either. MAC 116 ($35.00) is thicker and more rounded at the edge, and it is a lot less soft.

Z-1 Powder Brush ($226.00) is a large, rounded, slightly tapered brush. It is one of the larger brushes I’ve come across and have in my brush treasure trove. The brush is made out of gray squirrel hair, and the brush head is 45mm in length, 35mm in width, and 35mm in thickness. It had a total length of just over 6 inches or 16 centimeters with an open ferrule. The lightly rounded, large edge makes blending powder products a breeze. I used this a lot like a kabuki brush but with a longer handle; it does a fantastic job of just finishing and setting everything into place. To that end, it also works well with finishing and setting powders, and even powder foundation (which I only tried a few times just to see how it performed). I really liked applying all-over highlighting powders with this (think Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders or Guerlain Meteorites, the latter was particularly lovely with this, as the brush fits well into the container). It’s incredibly soft and feels nice against the skin, but it is very effective.

MAC 138 ($53.00) is slightly skinnier and much more tapered. This was the only comparable brush I could think of, aside from the Z-9 below (which is not really the same shape but more similar than not).

Z-9 Powder Brush ($226.00) is large, rounded, slightly flat brush with medium-full density. The brush is made out of gray squirrel hair, and the brush head is 55mm in length, 40mm in width, and 26mm in thickness. It had a total length of 6.5 inches or 16 centimeters with an open ferrule. When it came to apply setting powder, I preferred this slightly more than the Z-1, because of the flatter shape, which enabled me to press the setting powder against the skin, rather than with more sweeping motion. For setting powders, I prefer pressing and patting, and for finishing powders, I like the more feathery, sweeping motions. The end result is very similar, though, regardless of the brush used. The Z-9 can be used in sweeping, patting, or pressing applications, and it feels like silk against the skin.

Compared to the Z-1, the Z-9 is larger, more dome-shaped, longer, flatter, and has more spring and give (so it is less dense and firm). Otherwise, I didn’t feel like any brushes I have were all that comparable in shape–most were significantly flatter. I feel like I should mention Tom Ford’s Bronzer Brush ($115.00), but the shape is significantly wider and the brush much denser and firmer, so I don’t think they’re comparable.

Chikuhodo brushes can be purchase at Now-e Project.  Brushes ship from Japan, so shipping isn’t cheap ($35), but there is free shipping on $300+ purchase with code VALENTINE2014.  Or you can save 10% with code TEMPTALIA (so orders under $300 would benefit best from this code).  All valid coupons cannot be used with other coupons (one per order), discounts, or special value offers.

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Z-10 Eyeshadow Brush

The one characteristic about that stood out to me about this is is it never felt sharp, whether held verticlaly or horizontally, at an angle or straight-on. It's dense but not too firm, so it has some give, which means that despite its very fine tip, it is not as precise as a firmer, denser pencil brush. I really loved it for applying crease color, blending out crease colors, and applying color to the inner tear duct/inner lid with more precision than my typical dome-shaped go-tos.
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Z-5 Eyeshadow Brush

I think the larger size will make it great for some, but then a shape others would rarely reach for; I fall into the latter camp. If you were applying a single color all-over the lid, it absolutely works well for that. It picks up color well and applies a lot of color from the get-go, and it's particularly nice for those subpar eyeshadows in one's stash, as you don't have to pack on the eyeshadow for quite as long.
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Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush

It's excellent for applying soft, even color along the cheeks with minimal blending required. Sometimes, after swatching five or six blushes on my cheeks back-to-back, I pay for it the next day with irritated, reddened skin that can result in drier patches, and this brush is very forgiving on the skin without further irritating it--and it manages to make color apply more evenly than many other brushes I own despite the rougher surface.
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Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Too Faced Teddy Bear Brush Set
Too Faced Teddy Bear Brush Set

Too Faced Teddy Bear Brush Set ($65.00) is a new, five-piece brush set that features synthetic brushes. I think, generally, if you have larger-sized eyes or tend to do looks with one or two colors, these may work. I also think it may have been more practical to include an additional face brush (perhaps a blush brush) rather than just one (and then four eye brushes) or made them all eye brushes (perhaps an angled eyeliner brush). The set had me feeling a bit like Goldilocks; the eye brushes were, generally, too large for my eye shape/size. As a result, it was challenging for me to use them with my eye shape, so this is just an overview, rather than an in-depth review. The brushes are soft, and I haven’t had any issues after washing them a dozen or so times.

Powder Brush is a large, moderately dense, dome-shaped brush designed to apply powder. The brush head is 43mm in length, 50mm wide, and 35mm in thickness with a pinched ferrule. It had a total length of 6.5 inches or 16.5 centimeters. I’ve tried it with finishing and setting powders. With setting powders, I usually use a patting and stippling motion, and then I do more feathery, sweeping strokes towards the end to blend, buff, and even everything out. When I do more of a stippling motion, I find the brush somewhat uncomfortable to use; there’s a slight scratchiness to it, which is usually not something I’ve encountered with synthetics before. If you stick with more sweeping, gliding strokes, it feels nice, blends and applies powder well (not too densely, not too sheerly).

Contour Brush is a rounded, angled brush–an interesting, uncommon-shaped brush to be sure. It’s designed to be used to contour the eye area. It worked better for blending out the crease than laying down precise color into the crease for me. I liked it best for applying color to the inner lid, as the angle seemed to work well in that area. It is 11mm in length, 9mm in width, and 9mm in thickness with a round ferrule. It had a total length of just over 5.5 inches or 14 centimeters.

All-Over Shadow Brush is a medium-large-sized, dome-shaped flat brush. It is 14mm in length, 11mm in width, and 5mm in thickness with a pinched ferrule. It had a total length of just over 5.5 inches or 14 centimeters. This is a larger eyeshadow brush, so it works well to lay down all-over color–like a wash of powder eyeshadow or a cream eyeshadow base. For powder, it tends to have a sheerer application, so if you want more opaque color, you may need to go back and pack it on.

Liner Brush is a medium-sized pencil brush that comes to a finer, thinner pointed edge. It is 11mm in length, 5mm in width, and 5mm in thickness with a round ferrule. It was soft, and I thought it was best for applying thicker eyeliner or lightly smudging product. For me, I find the pointed edge less desirable for smudging or applying eyeshadow to the lower lash line (which is just what I personally use this type of brush for most often). Also, to note, my liner brush came a little wonky, and it took four washes to get the shape to go back to normal.

Blender Brush is a medium-large crease brush that flares outward slightly and comes to a just barely rounded edge. It is 18mm in length, 9mm in width, and 9mm in thickness with a round ferrule. It was rather dense, so it was not as useful for blending color as it was for depositing color. However, the size is on the larger end of the spectrum, so depending on your eye shape, it may apply color significant above/below the crease area. I wish the brush was fluffier and more tapered, so it would fit into the crease just a bit better.

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Teddy Bear Brush Set

I think, generally, if you have larger-sized eyes or tend to do looks with one or two colors, these may work. If you have smaller eyes or tend to look for precision brushes, these may feel too large.
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