Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Chanel Noirs Obscurs Collection

Chanel Les Folie Noirs Eyeshadow Quad ($60.00) is from Chanel Noirs Obscurs Collection.  ( Be sure to check out reviews on the limited edition nail polishes and lipsticks, too!)  It’s a limited edition eyeshadow quad with each shade being embellished with the brand’s signature logo in black.

While I was impressed by the new Rouge Allure lipsticks and Le Vernis shades, the eyeshadow quad was a disappointment.  In fact, I had to let my disappointment simmer a bit in case I was too harsh/expected too much.  I do not recommend this eyeshadow quad unless you’re a Chanel collector–then you’re not really looking to use it so much as own it as a collector.

If you actually want to use it, the shades are poorly pigmented, go on unevenly, and just overall, look mediocre–even with a sponge applicator.  (Swatching with a brush always gives the least amount of pigmentation, whereas swatching with a sponge applicator usually yields the most.)   The swatches included in this post are with a sponge applicator, for your reference.

The dark brown shade (top left) goes on extremely sheerly and almost looks chalky on my skin.  The color itself is a cool-toned dark brown.  Next to it is a dark forest green with a slight bit of shimmer.  This one swatched better and had so-so pigmentation (just not quite as intense as I’d like).  On the bottom right, there’s a muted, dark navy blue with subtle navy shimmer.  This also swatched decently, though not quite as well as the green.  The last shade is a slightly warmed-up medium chocolate brown that isn’t as sheer as the other brown in the quad, but it’s still quite faded when swatched.

Ultimately, if you use a sponge applicator (or even use this product wet) and layer on the color–and I do mean layer–you may find this works well for a range of smoky eyes.  For me, at the price tag, I expect well-pigmented eyeshadows that feel soft, silky, and require minimal effort to work into my eyeshadow wardrobe.

Chanel, I love you, but this one is a miss for me!

  • Product: 16/30
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  Skip this — opt for a permanent Chanel eyeshadow quad if you’re in the market for eyeshadow or else sneak a peek at the limited edition Rouge Allure Lipsticks!

Availability:  October/November 2009

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Friday, September 25th, 2009

Urban Decay Book of Shadows, Vol. 2

Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol. II Review, Photos, Swatches

Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol. II ($48.00) is the second installation in the Book of Shadows eyeshadow palette series. It is also part of Urban Decay’s holiday offerings. You can view my review on last year’s Book of Shadows for comparison, as well.

First, the palette includes sixteen eyeshadows. The new and exclusive shades are AC/DC, Nylon, Mushroom, Sphynx, Jinx, Homegrown, Misdemeanor, and Perversion. The existing shades are Sellout, Gunmetal, Ecstasy, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, Twice Baked, Half Baked, Flipside, and YDK. Each eyeshadow is 0.03 oz., compared to single eyeshadows that are 0.05 oz. and retail for $16.00 and the deluxe eyeshadows that are 0.09 oz. for $18.00. All of the existing shades are single eyeshadows (not deluxe), so it’s best to compare to that.  Just to put it in perspective, by the ounce, these are about half the price (by ounce!) as the full-sized versions.

Shade Breakdown

  • Perversion is a nearly matte charcoal black with just a tiny dust of silver sparkle. (I know Urban Decay says it’s matte, but it seemed like it had some sparkle to it every time I looked at it.) This shade was also included in last year’s palette.
  • Gunmetal is a frosty, silvery-gray with lighter silver sparkle.
  • Ecstasy is a shimmery cool-toned medium purple with lighter pinky-purple shimmer.
  • AC/DC is a burgundyish-plum with a dirty silver sheen.
  • Nylon is a medium bronzy-brown with softer bronze shimmer and has a frosty finish.
  • Sellout is a frosty, intensely pigmented champagne-nude. I really liked the color pigmentation of this shade in particular, and it felt very, very smooth.
  • Mushroom is a dark, cool-toned taupe-y brown with cool bronze shimmer. This is sort of similar to the cream eyeshadow of the same name.
  • Sphynx is a lightly brightened cotton candy pink with an icier pink sheen.
  • Half Baked is a coppery bronze with a golden bronze metallic sheen and shimmer.
  • Twice Baked is a dark, semi-matte chocolate brown with just a light dusting of bronze.
  • Midnight Cowboy Rides Again is a glittery confection of light taupe brown and champagne. This eyeshadow had the worst texture of the bunch — very gritty, very glittery.
  • YDK is a medium-toned cool-toned brown with a reddish tone and a frost finish.
  • Jinx is a bright, medium freshwater blue that goes on very pigmented and smooth.
  • Flipside is a green-teal, mermaid-esque shade with a frost finish.
  • Homegrown is a bright, grassy green with a golden-green sheen.
  • Misdemeanor is a dark, blue-green shade that is reminiscent of peacock feathers with a soft, green micro-shimmer.

At first glance, I thought the two palettes were too similar for my liking, but after comparing them side-by-side, that was definitely not the case. The only repeated shade is Perversion, but otherwise, the shades are different. Some of the shades themselves are similar, but there are no obvious repeats. I always like Urban Decay’s palettes, because they are always high on value and variety. I like being able to try out a bunch of shades without having to actually purchase all of those individual shades (particularly since it’s very hard for me to finish an eyeshadow, so I don’t actually need a whole pot of it!).

I also like that Urban Decay mixes about half in new shades and half in existing shades. With sixteen shades in total, there are many different eyeshadow combinations one could come up with within this palette. I will say I wish Urban Decay had a better highlighter shade included in this palette or found elsewhere in this, because the closest we come is Sellout, which has a very high metallic/frost finish so it can be garish on the brow bone at times. I could also go with seeing a few matte or semi-matte shades for more texture variety.

These are all minor complaints, mind you, because for the price, it’s a great deal whether you want to travel with it or just use it at home. (If you’re using it at home, the highlight and matte complaints are worthless — just mix it with products you already have.)

The shades are well-pigmented, smooth, and nearly all of them have a frost/shimmer finish. (If you don’t dig that, you won’t dig this.) The only shade I had any real issue with was Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, because it is extremely glittery, so it has fall out issues. Otherwise, the shades were impressive, and clearly there is a lot of color to play around with in this palette. This makes a great gift for yourself or a friend, too.

The packaging is just so-so; I found last year’s packaging prettier and more cohesive. I found both palettes to be a little bulky, and I wouldn’t mind something that just open and shut, rather than pulling out a drawer of eyeshadows. The inclusion of a miniature sized UDPP as well as Zero and Bourbon eyeliners is just icing on the cake–all three are handy in application and for travel.

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

Recommendation: If you’ve always wanted to try Urban Decay eyeshadows, their palettes are always a choice way to do so. You get great value and good variety!

Availability: Urban Decay

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