Monday, July 12th, 2010

Urban Decay Vegan Palette

Can You Resist Cute Packaging?

Urban Decay Vegan Palette ($34.00) is a new and limited edition eyeshadow palette for fall, and it features six eyeshadows, one eyeliner, and a miniature-sized eyeshadow primer.  It features only products that are vegan-friendly.

The packaging is my favorite part about this product, which is creative, pretty, and functional. Otherwise, the eyeshadows are every bit of quality you’d expect from Urban Decay, but with the Naked Palette released simultaneously and featuring three of these shades (Smog, Gunmetal, Half Baked), it makes getting both of them rather redundant.

These are pitfalls of Urban Decay’s limited edition palettes, because long-time collectors often end up with multiples of several shades, since the brand reuses certain shades with great frequency. (I am personally tired of seeing Twice Baked and Baked in their palettes!) On the other hand, for newer Urban Decay fans, the palette is a cute palette with six great shades from the brand’s range. Each eyeshadow is 0.03 oz. in weight, along with a 0.03 oz. Zero 24/7 Eye Pencil and 0.13 oz. Sin Primer Potion. It’s a decent amount for the price tag, but…

The Naked Palette gives you so much for–double the eyeshadow shades (12 in total)–but every single shade in it is full sized at 0.05 oz. For $10 more, you’re getting 0.6 oz. of eyeshadow, instead of 0.18 oz. Pretty awesome, right? All six of the Vegan palette shades can be purchased individually, in case you’re dead-set on one of them. I guess what I’m really saying is if you were waffling between the Vegan and the Naked palette, I would recommend the Naked palette and not even think twice about it.

  • Minx is shimmering aqua green with tiny flecks of teal glitter.
  • Urb is a softly shimmered olive green with a golden sheen. It was the least pigmented shade of the six, though I wouldn’t call it sheer or lacking in pigmentation overall.
  • Gunmetal is a blue-toned gray-black with silver sheen. Very pigmented!
  • Twice Baked is a satin-y medium-dark chocolate brown.
  • Smog is a shimmering bronze with a copper-gold sheen.
  • Half Baked is a lightened copper with a near metallic finish.

The palette also includes a miniature-sized Zero 24/7 Liner (true black) and Sin Eyeshadow Primer Potion (a shimmery burnt champagne base). I need another Zero like I need another eyeliner, period, but it’s a solid black eyeliner which will work well with any of the six shadows and any combinations thereof. I find Sin very, very shimmery–so frosty that it’s hard to use as a base, particularly with frost finished shades like these. I think Eden would have been a better choice here to make it more versatile.

Minx and Urb are the only shades that are on the glittery side, though neither is a glitter bomb. The other four shades are smoother and don’t feel glittery–just shimmery. All six shades are very true-to-color with nice pigmentation and a soft, smooth texture. I really do like and enjoy the palette, and there is nothing wrong with it. It just depends on what Urban Decay palettes you already own and how much overlap you have between them all.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t plan on getting the Naked eyeshadow palette (how could you not?!) and you don’t have too much overlap with previously released palettes, it’s an adorably packaged palette with quality in mind.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora, Urban Decay

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Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Kat Von D Memento Mori Palette

Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Palette: Memento Mori

Kat Von D Memento Mori Eyeshadow Palette ($34.00 for 8 x 0.05 oz. eyeshadows) has been on my radar for awhile, but I’ve only now been able to really try it out! It contains eight eyeshadows, each pretty much the equivalent of a full-size eyeshadow (MAC eyeshadows are 0.05 oz., for reference), so it’s a great affordable palette. It’s also a rather colorful selection, so it’s very fun to play around with and apropos for summer.

  • True is a violet-blue cream shadow that goes on glossy but seems to dry down to a nearly matte finish. I found the surface of mine a bit dry, but once I got deeper, it was fine. I thought it was an eyeliner at first, actually!
  • Solitude is an iridescent lilac purple with a soft sheen. It’s the least shimmery shade of the bunch.
  • Meditation is a light bronze with a little copper in it. It has a frosty finish.
  • Agatha Pink is a pale peach with a shimmery/frosty finish.
  • Sugar Skull is a shimmery white-gold.
  • Peggy is a true teal base with flecks of white-gold sheen/shimmer. Almost strikes me as a duochrome. It’s so pretty, but I found that this shade seemed to fade a little when worn.
  • Hard Luck is a deep forest green mixed with gray.
  • Tijuana is a darkened black-brown base with flecks of gold and copper glitter-shimmer. This shade at ridiculous fall out, even when used sparingly. It’s a beautiful shade, but clean-up seems to be a must. Use less rather than more, too, and tap brush against your wrist to avoid excess fall out.

I thought the box the palette comes in was beautiful, and I was a bit let down by the cheap, white plastic palette inside. It just looked and felt like something I’d buy for $10 at the drugstore–not something that’s $34 and from Sephora. The included dual-ended brushes are actually bristled brushes, but they’re rather flimsy.  They just kind of flop and make it a pain to really pack on color–plus they’re so tiny, I don’t have the patience to use ‘em myself!

All of the shades have a very smooth texture, and they go on evenly and are richly pigmented. I do find that they’re a little on the powdery side, and may even work best with sponge applicators–at least with some of the shades (like Peggy and Tijuana). Tijuana was the troublemaker of the group, which frustrated me as it was also the prettiest (to me), so I really wanted it to be as beautiful on as it was swatched!

Overall, though, I think these are solid eyeshadows worth taking a look at if a particular palette color scheme grabs you. It took some getting used to using these before I was able to minimize the fall out with these. They also blend very easily, which is nice, but it means use softer strokes and feather rather than sweep for most of the work!  I have heard that the Beethoven palette is one of her best palettes, so I might check that out next.

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

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: I like the palette overall, and I’m impressed at the level of pigmentation of the shadows. I think it’s a great option for a palette of colorful eyeshadows, especially if you’re on a budget.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

YSL Spring 2010 Palette

Weekend Quickies: YSL Parisian Sky Eyeshadow Palette

YSL’s Spring Look may have offered some pretty lipsticks and glosses, but they really failed on the eyeshadow palette as far as I’m concerned. The whole thing is a sheer, chalky mess. I haven’t been this disappointed in a product since Chanel’s Les Folie Noirs Quad from last fall–which is a good thing, because these really bring me down. So uninspiring!

Parisian Sky ($56.00) consists of a pale sky blue with silver glitter, satin-y navy blue, iridescent lilac, satin-y pale pink, and muted plum-brown with silver glitter. None of the five shades was what I would call pigmented. The more satin/matte shades were chalky, and the light pink was a bit powdery, too. The shimmery shades were dusty and felt a bit loose, like the glitter would easily travel elsewhere on your face if you used it on your eyes.

If you showed me these swatches, I would never have guessed it was a YSL palette. Not in a bajillion years! I think this may be the first true F of a product — I’m at a loss of positive things to say about it. There are sheerer, softer shades, but these just look like they were meant to be more – they required such heavy swatching just to show up. At least with Chanel, half of the shades showed up decently, and it could also be used wet to intensify the shades.

A part me wonders if I somehow got a bad palette, because I can’t believe what swatched. I’ve tried several YSL eyeshadows in the past, and none of them have been even near as poor as these were for me. In fact, I just finished up testing their new single eyeshadows, and those had excellent pigmentation and texture!

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  • Product: 10/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  I would most definitely not recommend this to anyone.  If you like sheer shades, I would recommend testing this in person first to see if you get better results than I did.

Availability: Nordstrom

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Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Clarins Eyeshadow Palette

Clarins Summer 2010:  Instant Sun Light Eyeshadow Palette

Clarins Instant Sun Light Eye Palette ($36.00) is a really wearable, easy-to-use summer palette that’s particularly suitable for those with warmer skin tones.  The palette includes four shades of eyeshadow:  a pale, shimmering champagne-peach; shimmering copper; satin medium-dark brown; and shimmering peachy-melon.  It also includes a gel eyeliner in a light chocolate brown with gold shimmer.

Each eyeshadow is smooth, pigmented, and blendable.  What I really love about this palette is how workable it is–all the shades belong and work together with ease.  This is a great everyday palette, but it’s also perfect for traveling.  Whether you want a lighter, softer neutral eye or a smokier eye, you can do both with this one palette.  Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t necessarily the most innovative shades, but they are high-quality eyeshadows that will do you well, if you’re in the market for some neutrals or want them all in a convenient palette.

The eyeliner also suits the palette, because it’s dark enough to be smoldering, but it’s not so dark that it can’t be worn during the day, too.  I like the subtle shimmer in it, and I didn’t experience any smudging or fading when I wore it.  The included brushes are just mediocre but will get the job done if you’re in a pinch.

Clarins packaged this well–just a nice metal compact with a velvety brown bag–and I’m really surprised at the price.  Typically, Clarins eyeshadow quartets retail for $40, while this limited edition summer palette is just $36.  This made me curious to see if perhaps they just went with minimal quantity, but you get 0.15 oz. of product here.  Quartets contain 0.21 oz.–so I can see why there is a price differential.

Nonetheless, while it’s always great to get a ton of product for your money, we don’t always need the amount we buy, so sometimes just the initial investment cost is more important at the end of the day.  I think the amount you get is plenty to last you, even if this becomes an everyday palette (think of it as about 0.03 oz. per shade, as compared to the average eyeshadow at 0.05 oz.).

I really love this palette because of how well each shade coordinates with the others.  I see so many possibilities, and it’s definitely something I’d take with me on a weekend getaway.

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you love warmer neutrals, Clarins Instant Sun Light Eyeshadow Palette is a good match for you.  Each shade is well-pigmented, smooth and soft to the touch, and blendable.

AvailabilityClarins

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Urban Decay Summer of Love Eyeshadow Palette

Travel with Urban Decay This Summer

Urban Decay Summer of Love Shadow Palette ($29.00) is a new-for-summer eyeshadow palette that features four eyeshadows (0.04 oz. each), a miniature Sin Primer Potion (0.09 fl. oz.), and miniature Bourbon 24/7 Eye Pencil (0.03 oz.). The eyeshadows included in the palette are Flash (bright iridescent purple), Maui Wowie (medium gold with silver glitter), Chopper (coppery fawn with silver microglitter), and Smog (deep coppery bronze).

Everything in the palette is available individually, should you only fall in love with one of the shades! As such, everything included is also permanent. However, for those who do not already have the majority of these eyeshadows either individually or in various past-released palettes, you get a good amount of product in the palette itself.

Normal eyeshadows are 0.05 oz. (and retail for $17) while the palette versions are 0.03 oz. — still plenty to use. The eyeliner is typically 0.04 oz. (and retails for $17) but 0.03 oz. in the palette. Plus, you do get the mini-sized Sin Primer Potion (my least favorite of the primers, though–so metallic!). All in all, the palette is a good deal with lots of value–if you don’t already own the shades in it.

  • Flash is a cool-toned violet purple with a slight iridescence. It’s very smooth, pigmented, and vibrant.
  • Maui Wowie is an antique gold with silver glitter. It has great color pay off, and I swear this version felt so much smoother than the one included in the Alice in Wonderland palette, which felt much grittier. You may encounter some fall out with this shade from the glitter.
  • Chopper is a muted copper with a gilded-bronze sheen/shimmer. It has nice pigmentation and applies smoothly.
  • Smog is a deepened chocolate brown with a warm bronze sheen. It, too, is a vibrant shade that has rich pigmentation.

Urban Decay seems to really love releasing summer palettes with a series of browns and then a pop of color. (Remember Get Baked from last year?) I do like this color variation a lot better than last year’s, because I feel like there is a good amount of differentiation between each shade.

The packaging fits with their theme–definitely groovy and all that–but I’m not digging the vintage photographs on the back. I would have personally loved to have seen the floral pattern continue around the mirror, like it did in Get Baked. It’s cool that the graphic designer’s parents are now immortalized in a makeup palette, but for me, it’s just, “Who are these random people?” Like the majority of Urban Decay products, it is made out of sturdy cardboard. I like these flip-open palettes, because they’re slim, streamlined, and easy to travel with and store.

It’s a nice option for a summer palette, but as always, I wish Urban Decay would release new shades of eyeshadows rather than using their permanent shadows. It makes it hard to purchase as a fan, just because you probably own all of them with the palettes you already have! Maybe Urban Decay should make palette forms available of all their eyehadows so we can just mix and match throughout the year! :)

P.S. – I think I have enough mini-sized Bourbon liners to get me through year 3000.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you don’t own a lot of Urban Decay eyeshadows, this palette makes a fun option for some summery shades. It’s a great value if you don’t have any of the shades, and the quality of the products within the palette are tops.  It’s easily skipped if you own half or more of the shades/products in it.

Availability: Urban Decay

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Monday, March 29th, 2010

Guerlain Ombre Perlees

For our Natural Beauties: Guerlain’s Take on Summer

This summer, Guerlain goes supremely natural with their Meteorites Perles Collection. It is definitely different from last summer’s Summer Splash Collection.

I think those who find summer colors too bright, shimmered, or the like will find the Ombre Perlees Eyeshadow Palette ($59.00) a refreshing experience. It contains four shades: a dusty pinked white with a near matte finish, muted pinky-brown with a near matte finish, softened gray lilac with a satin finish, and grayed taupe with subtle satin shimmer.

I’ve always found Guerlain eyeshadow to have a supreme texture–soft, silken, smooth, nearly buttery–and this quad is no exception. All four shades applied smoothly and had good pigmentation. These are not bright shades in the least bit, but they swatch exactly as you’d expect given the way they look in the palette. Like most limited edition eyeshadow palettes from Guerlain, the flower design is only an overlay and will disappear after a couple of uses.

The packaging is luxe and traditional to Guerlain’s line, except it’s metallic silver, not quite the typical “metal” feel. I personally like that while Guerlain keeps the same shape and style of its palettes, the color will change based on the collection itself. Included with the palette are two sponge-tip applicators, but like all sponge applicators, they’re nothing to write home about and could easily be left out as far as I’m concerned! Brushes, please!

Being a more high-end, luxury brand, Guerlain doesn’t come cheap, but at least they’ll give you a good amount of eyeshadow (0.24 oz. — for reference, a MAC eyeshadow is 0.05 oz.) and make it look pretty while they’re at it!  There are no real low points to this product–it’s a solid natural-toned eyeshadow palette.  Price is really the only negative that I can think of!

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation: If you’re cool-toned and looking for more natural shades to play up your eyes with, I think this should definitely be on your list of products to keep an eye out for. Warmer skin tones can still wear this quad, because all of the shades run closer to neutral than strongly cool, but it really strikes me as exceptionally beautiful on cooler skin tones–even more so on fairer skin tones.

Availability: April/May 2010

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