Thanks to Lea for today's question!

What was the last brand that disappointed you?

Kat Von D’s Serpentina palette; the way the release was handled was frustrating, and I don’t know why it was released in such small batches, which made it seem like it was selling out in minutes when now it seems like there is plenty of stock to go around. Then, to make matters worse, the product itself seems to have a lot of quality issues, but these quality issues extend into inconsistencies, too, as readers have reported different shades working differently!
-- Christine

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Sephora Stardust (01) Microsmooth Baked Luminizer

Sephora Stardust (01) Microsmooth Baked Luminizer

Sephora Stardust (01) Microsmooth Baked Luminizer ($14.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a very pale yellow with subtle, warm undertones and a pearly sheen. Makeup Revolution Golden Lights (P, $6.00) is more shimmery (95% similar). Anastasia Marshmallow (LE) is more shimmery, darker (95% similar). NYX Ritualistic (P, $9.00) is more shimmery, darker (90% similar). Becca Moonstone (P, $38.00) is more shimmery, darker (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

The formula is supposed to give a “natural, seamless luminescence” to the skin with “natural-looking color.” I think it can be really lovely on the skin and yield a beautiful sheen that doesn’t emphasize pores or the skin’s natural texture. It’s not what I’d consider to be subtle glow, but it’s not a brilliant, high-shine highlighter either. The texture was smooth, but it ran a little dry and kicked up excess powder in the pan with ease. Luckily, it did not look dry or powdery on the skin, which is where it counts the most. The highlighter wore well for seven and a half hours before fading noticeably.

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Sephora Microsmooth Baked Luminizer Stardust (01)
B+
Product
9
Pigmentation
9
Texture
8
Longevity
8
Application
5
Total
87%

Anastasia Sweets Glow Kit

Anastasia Sweets Glow Kit

Anastasia Sweets Glow Kit ($40.00 for 1.04 oz.) includes four sparkling, metallic highlighters in a cardboard palette. It’s new and limited edition, and it is also exclusive to the brand’s website. As you might expect with the Glow Kit, it’s not for someone who only likes a subtle highlighter; it is most suitable for someone who likes bright, bold, sparkling, and/or metallic highlighters. For some skin tones, three of the four shades may also work as luminous blushes. Sassy Grape and Butterscotch have larger sparkle/glittery flecks in them, while Marshmallow and Taffy are smoother and have a finer shimmer overall. All four shades were pretty pigmented, wore for eight to nine hours, and were blendable on the skin, but all four did emphasize the texture of my skin; Marshmallow I could apply without emphasis if I was careful, but the other three still added texture to the skin even when applied sheer.

As a note, two shades–Sassy Grape and Butterscotch–showed part of the powder lifting away from the edges. I dropped my palette a few times onto hardwood from 2-3 feet, and it didn’t seem to get any worse; then I pressed the powder together with my fingers and repeated dropping it, and they didn’t re-separate. However, I have seen almost a dozen photos of people receiving their Sweets kit with shades entirely broken (often Butterscotch, sometimes Sassy Grape or both). From what I have read, nobody has had an issue with Anastasia replacing and resending a palette.

Marshmallow is a bright, white gold with a cooler, whitish base and warmer, pale gold shimmer. It had good color payoff with a smooth, blendable texture that was soft without being too loose in the pan. It worked well with feathery brushes like a fan brush as well as more traditional blush or highlighter brushes. The color wore well for eight hours on me. Sleek MakeUP Subsolar (P) is less shimmery (95% similar). Sephora Stardust (01) (P, $14.00) is less shimmery, lighter (95% similar). Makeup Revolution Golden Lights (P, $6.00) is less shimmery (95% similar). LORAC Starlight (P, $22.00) is less shimmery (90% similar). Zoeva Glowing Still (P) is brighter (90% similar). Chanel Camelia de Plumes (LE, $76.00) is lighter (90% similar). Colour Pop Stole the Show (P, $8.00) is less shimmery, lighter (85% similar). Too Faced Rosy Glow (Left) (P) is darker (85% similar). Anastasia Summer (LE) is darker (80% similar). LORAC Daylight (P, $22.00) is less shimmery, darker (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Sassy Grape is a medium, pinky-plum with warm undertones and a sparkling, metallic finish. The pigmentation was mostly opaque, while the texture was metallic and highly reflective on the skin. It did emphasize my skin’s natural texture noticeably when worn all-over the cheeks, and when I tried it as a barely-there highlighter, I still had a little bit of emphasis, but it was not as noticeable. The powder itself was looser in the pan, though soft and blendable. It wore well for eight hours on me. NARS Adoration (Left) (P) is more shimmery, lighter (90% similar). MAC Blonde (LE, $32.00) is more shimmery (90% similar). Physicians Formula Rose (P, $11.99) is more shimmery, darker (90% similar). Makeup Revolution All I Think About is You (P, $5.00) is more shimmery, darker (85% similar). Bobbi Brown Sunset Glow (LE, $46.00) is warmer (85% similar). Makeup Revolution Loved Me the Best (P, $5.00) is less shimmery, darker (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

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Anastasia Glow Kit Sweets
A-
Product
9
Pigmentation
10
Texture
9
Longevity
9
Application
4.5
Total
92%
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NARS Velvet Eyeliners (Part 1)

NARS Kaliste Velvet Liner

NARS Kaliste Velvet Liner ($24.00 for 0.04 oz.) is a deep, bluish-teal with cool undertones and a semi-matte finish. It had nice pigmentation in one stroke, which was buildable to totally opaque coverage with another pass. The texture was lightly creamy without moving around on the skin, but it didn’t tug or feel uncomfortably sharp on the lash line either. This shade stayed on well for eight hours before migrating to the outer corners noticeably. bareMinerals 1PM (LE, $15.00) is warmer (95% similar). Estee Lauder Dramatic Teal (LE, $22.00) is warmer (95% similar). MAC Practice Makes Perfect (LE, $16.00) is darker (95% similar). Tom Ford Beauty Exotic Teal (LE, $35.00) is darker, warmer (90% similar). Urban Decay Mainline (P, $20.00) is less pigmented, cooler (90% similar). MAC Midnight Blues (DC, $16.00) is darker, warmer (90% similar). Estee Lauder Electric Teal (LE, $20.00) is lighter (85% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

NARS Last Frontier Velvet Liner ($24.00 for 0.04 oz.) is a deep brown with subtle, warm undertones and a soft sheen. The color payoff was opaque in one pass, while the pencil had a creamy, glide-on texture that was a little wet and needed to dry down for a few seconds. This shade only wore for seven hours, unfortunately, making it one of the shorter-wearing shades in the range. Bobbi Brown Mahogany (P, $24.00) is darker (95% similar). MAC Local Wares (DC, $16.00) is more shimmery (95% similar). Urban Decay Stag (LE, $20.00) is warmer (95% similar). Urban Decay Rail (P, $20.00) is less glossy (95% similar). MAC Rich Experience (P, $20.00) is lighter, warmer (95% similar). Marc Jacobs Beauty Express-Oh! (LE, $25.00) is lighter, warmer (90% similar). Urban Decay Smokeout (LE, $20.00) is lighter, cooler (90% similar). Buxom Here's My Number (P, $17.00) is lighter, warmer (90% similar). Urban Decay Crave (P, $20.00) is warmer (90% similar). MAC Darkness of Calm (LE, $17.50) is lighter, cooler (90% similar). Urban Decay Lush (P, $20.00) is lighter, less glossy (90% similar). Urban Decay Demolition (P, $20.00) is warmer (85% similar). Sephora Diving in Malaysia (18) (P, $10.00) is darker, warmer (85% similar). Bobbi Brown Chocolate (LE, $24.00) is warmer (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

NARS London Velvet Liner ($24.00 for 0.04 oz.) is a medium-dark gray with a natural sheen. It had good pigmentation in one pass, which is always nice. This shade had a lot of slip, which gave it a wet-like feel going on and took awhile for it to dry down, so it did migrate into the fine lines underneath my lower lash line in the process. I was able to soften and blend the edges with a pencil brush, and then the color stayed in place for around seven hours. Colour Pop Timber (P, $6.00) is darker (95% similar). MAC Midnight Snack (P, $16.00) is lighter (90% similar). Urban Decay Lure (P, $20.00) is lighter (90% similar). Urban Decay Mood (P, $20.00) is darker (90% similar). Colour Pop Timber (P, $5.00) is warmer (90% similar). Make Up For Ever M14 Matte Charcoal Grey (P, $21.00) is darker (90% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

NARS Mambo Velvet Liner ($24.00 for 0.04 oz.) is a medium-dark, reddish brown with warm undertones and a satin finish. It had fairly good pigmentation in one stroke, and it was buildable to full coverage with two layers. The texture was moderately creamy but didn’t take too long to dry down, so it was easy to apply and didn’t require attention after it was applied to fix any migration. This shade wore for seven and a half hours on me. Stila Spice (P, $22.00) is warmer (90% similar). NARS Via de Martelli (P, $24.00) is warmer (90% similar). Make Up For Ever M60 Matte Dark Brown (P, $21.00) is darker, warmer (85% similar). MAC Seasonally Spicy (LE, $16.00) is warmer (85% similar). Make Up For Ever Gypsy (LE, $19.00) is darker, less glossy (85% similar). Colour Pop Call Me (P, $5.00) is darker (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

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MAC Bright Response Blush

MAC Bright Response Blush

MAC Bright Response Blush ($16.00 for 0.05 oz.) is described as a “vibrant clean orange [with a Frost finish].” It’s a light-medium, tangerine orange with warm, yellow undertones paired with a frosted, golden shimmer. Too Faced Luminous Peach (LE) is less shimmery (95% similar). NARS Esoteric (LE, $30.00) is less shimmery (90% similar). MAC Perfectly Poised (Outer) (LE, $32.00) is darker, more muted (85% similar). MAC Solar Ray (LE, $27.00) is darker, more muted (85% similar). Surratt Beauty Flamme (P, $32.00) is darker (85% similar). NARS Taj Mahal (P, $30.00) is more shimmery, darker, brighter (85% similar). Becca Tigerlily (P, $34.00) is darker (85% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

This is one of five new blush shades being added to the permanent range, but worth noting is that they are being added as a Small Powder Blush (the same size as MAC’s eyeshadows). I’m not sure if it will be available in pan-form or not (my guess is yes, since it is permanent) at this time. The formula is the same as their regular Powder Blush range, though, other than the size (and price). The new five are supposed to be pigmented with an even, smooth texture. Bright Response had fantastic color payoff that could easily be worn at true-to-pan intensity, but it had a softer, lightly dense texture that was really easy to work with on the skin, as it blended out beautifully. The texture produced a gorgeous sheen that didn’t emphasize pores and became more and more glowing as I diffused and buffed the powder on my skin. This shade lasted for eight hours on me.

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MAC Powder Blush (Small) Bright Response
A
Product
9.5
Pigmentation
10
Texture
9.5
Longevity
8.5
Application
5
Total
94%