Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Monarch Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Monarch Palette

Smashbox Reign Monarch Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a soft, pale white-gold; a frosty copper bronze; and a grayed brown.

Like the Majesty palette, the outer rings are more pigmented than the center counterparts. The centers are merely sheerer and have a matte finish. They do have a tendency to mix, so it can difficult to keep the shimmer from the mattes. Make sure you take care of your palette and clean it regularly so you can actually have two different shades rather than one big one!

This is definitely the more neutral one of the two, and you can easily wear these shades together to the office or out (just go heavier on the dark brown). This palette feels very warm-toned, whereas the the Majesty palette felt more neutral or just slightly cool-toned. The shadows do feel soft and smooth, particularly the outer rings of color, but the mattes are not chalky either. I found the Monarch palette to be much better in terms of overall quality, too — the shadows just seemed to go on smoother and more pigmented.

Again, the value is just as good on this palette as the Majesty palette (same amount, same price). These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: For an affordable palette of slightly amped-up neutrals, Monarch offers an answer!

Availability: Sephora

See swatches… Continue reading →

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Smashbox Reign Collection Majesty Eyeshadow Palette

Smashbox Reign Collection: Majesty Palette

Smashbox Reign Majesty Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00) is a trio of eyeshadows housed in a leather flip top palette. Each eyeshadow has a shimmery outer ring with a matte center. Majesty features a pale peach, a reddish copper, and a black.

I found that it was difficult to keep the matte and shimmers separated from each other, because inevitably one would mix with the other. This sort of rendered the matte center to be a little useless, just because it ended up looking much like the outer ring. I was testing a tester, so it was even worse than a palette with normal usage (e.g. the one you’d buy!), so do keep that in mind while browsing the swatches! I will caution you to dust off your palette regularly to avoid shimmer getting into your matte centers!

The first shade is a soft, shimmery peachy-gold. The middle eyeshadow is more of a burnt brown with reddish shimmer. I know Sephora describes it as a “plum burgundy,” and I didn’t see that whatsoever when I swatched it. The center of the middle eyeshadow was similar, just more of a matte finish, and it applied sheerly (as did all of the centers). The rightmost eyeshadow in the palette is a blue-shimmered black, which isn’t as smooth as I’d like — I did get a little drag when I swatched it. Again, the center is a sheerer, matte-r version of the outer ring.

I’m disappointed that the center of each eyeshadow shade didn’t swatch better, and I’m not thrilled that they go on sheerer than the outer rings either. The colors are wearable, but they don’t seem out-of-the-norm, and I’d say Smashbox single eyeshadows feel smoother, silkier, and I’d probably opt for one or two of those instead of the palette, if you already have these shades covered! These three shades work well together, and you can easily create a few smoky eyes with this one.

However, there is one big selling point to this eyeshadow palette that shouldn’t be overlooked — it’s very high in value! With 0.423 oz. of eyeshadow in the palette, it brings your cost down well below costs per ounce in any other high-end brand of eyeshadow. These eyeshadows are about $100/oz. compared to MAC at $290/oz., Urban Decay at $320/oz., and Make Up For Ever at $240/oz. You’ll either love the packaging or it won’t make or break the purchase for you; for me, it was more the latter.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you like products high in value, this palette is well worth the investment, particularly if you want to add more neutrals to your collection.

Availability: Sephora

See swatchesContinue reading →

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009


Tarte Femme Fatale Palette

Tarte: Get Killer Eyes on a Budget

Tarte Femme Fatale Eye Palette ($44.00) is one of two palettes from Tarte’s Fall 2009 Collection.  It’s a refillable eyeshadow palette that contains ten different eyeshadows.  The top row contains:  shimmering blush, iridescent smoke, shimmering violet, shimmering indigo, shimmering onyx; the bottom row contains:  shimmering light gold, shimmering copper-rose, shimmering deep bronze, shimmering jade, shimmering garnet.  It also includes a double-ended eyeliner and double-ended brush.

Now, I’m going to give you my take on the top row’s shades:  a soft, buttery semi-matte pale dusty pink; a frosty, icy silver with pink pearl; a deep red-tone purple with magenta; a dark navy blue with gray; and a gray-black with light sheen.  The second row’s shades:  a soft, semi-sheer peach with a buttery feel; a peach-toned copper with a frost finish; a warm-toned golden caramel brown; a muted teal with gray-blue; and a rich, deeply pigmented burgundy-black with purple flecks.

I found all ten shades to have a soft, smooth texture and all of them had decent to great pigmentation.  The only two that has slightly less pigmentation were the first shades in each of the rows–which I’d attribute more to them being softer shades overall, and thus just not appearing as pigmented as the other eight shades.  It’s an interesting mix of colors, and I can definitely see several combinations just jump out at me, which is something in its favor.

It’s actually a very value-heavy palette, because each shadow is 1.75g/0.06 oz.–which is more than a single, standalone MAC eyeshadow (which is 1.5g/0.06 oz.)!  If it’s cheaper than MAC, it’s pretty much going to be a better deal than most other high-end brands, too.  It’s actually great to see a palette that gives you plenty of product while pricing it right.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation:  Palette lovers, rejoice!  Value, pigmentation, and usability combine to make this a very worthwhile palette.  I personally didn’t love the packaging, but it’s such a minor point when what’s inside is so good!

Availability: Sephora

See product photos and swatchesContinue reading →

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Everyday Makeup:  Neutral, Natural Eyes with Too Faced

Too Faced Natural Eye Neutral Eye Shadow Collection ($34.00) is a new eyeshadow palette from Too Faced’s Naturally Naughty Collection for the fall season.

The palette contains nine different shades of eyeshadow crafted by Too Faced’s Creative Director, Jerrod Blandino, for easy, effortless looks that work for everyone. It contains: Heaven, a matte cream; Velvet Revolver, a matte, cool-toned taupe; Sexspresso, a matte dark brown; Silk Teddy, a shimmery pink-beige; Push-Up, a shimmery neutral medium brown; Erotica, a lightly shimmered dark charcoal taupe; Nude Beach, a glittery pink champagne; Honey Pot, a shimmery softly muted gold; and Cocoa Puff, a warm-toned chocolate brown with gold shimmer. Each of the three larger eyeshadows are 0.07 oz., while the six smaller shadows are 0.03 oz.

Included with the palette are three how-to cards, detailing the three looks — Day, Classic, and Fashion. For those more eyeshadow savvy, there are definitely many more than three possible looks to create from this palette of nine. I like that the palette contains a mix of mattes, shimmers, and high shimmer/glitters, because it allows you to maximize your looks by adding different dimensions and layers of textures. Also included is a small, pull-out drawer with a double-sided brush (sponge-tip applicator on one side, angled brush on the other side)–not a highlight or a brush I’d personally use unless it was an emergency.

All of the eyeshadows swatched smoothly and went on with a good amount of pigmentation, including the matte shades, which were also smooth and buttery–not chalky at all. I didn’t see any of these colors “drag.” My favorite shades were Honey Pot and Cocoa Puff. Cocoa Puff is especially stunning with the mix of gold shimmer layered into the chocolate brown. While Nude Beach is pretty, it is extremely frosty/glittery, so it has to be worn with a bit more care, particularly for those with deeper skin tones.

The packaging was cute, but I could have done without the pull-out drawer that only contained the brush (which I didn’t like or find particularly useful). By omitting the drawer, the palette would be slimmer and more streamlined. If you’re bothered by cardboard/paper packaging, this palette might not be for you, as well. I like the earth-friendly-ness of paper packaging (at least, compared to plastic), so it wasn’t an issue for me. I thought the packaging was cute, functional, and worked well overall.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a go-to neutral eye palette, consider Too Faced’s Natural Eye. Nine great shades of neutral tone eyeshadows that all work well and go on smoothly (hey, it’s hard to find a palette with *all* winning shades!). If you prefer even softer neutrals or only like matte or semi-matte shades, this isn’t a good match for you. For $34, this product is well-worth a peek.

Availability: Sephora

What do you think of Too Faced’s new Natural Eye palette?

See photos and swatchesContinue reading →