Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator Review

MAC Style Black included two pieces of limited edition skincare — the ever-raved about Volcanic Ash Exfoliator and previously-mentioned-but-finally-released Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask.

I’ve been a big supporter of MAC’s Volcanic Ash Exfoliator since it released.  I loved it.  I sparingly used it so it would last as long as I could manage.  I managed to make two tubs last me a year or so (it was launched in 2008).  I couldn’t even begin to tell you how excited I was for it to be re-released with Style Black!

The re-released Volcanic Ash Exfoliator is slightly different than the original in a few key ways, though the product still feels, smells, and does the same (for me!) as the original version did.  This release of Volcanic Ash Exfoliator uses both sugar (sucrose, specifically) and silica for exfoliating, whereas the original release only used sugar.  Before, when you scrubbed your face with the exfoliator, the sugar particles would eventually dissolve, but with the addition of silica, you’ll notice a slightly gritty texture the whole time.

From what I can tell, MAC was attempting to address some of the problems/concerns the product created when it was originally launched.  The tub packaging was both unsanitary and was not shower-friendly (which is the most convenient place to use this, because it can be messy).  The tub seemed to get a lot of water in it when I had it in my shower, which kind of resulted in the sugar dissolving faster than I’d like–and the heat of the shower also caused some of the sugar to dissolve, I’d imagine.   Since silica doesn’t dissolve, it also makes it a more shower-friendly ingredient when it comes to exfoliation!  The new tube packaging now makes it more hygienic and shower-friendly, as well.

Considering I ended up having half a tub of exfoliator without any exofliating properties because all the sugar dissolved, I’m happy it’s in a tube!  I also think that while it feels thicker, it’s also hard to judge, because before you were scooping it out of a jar so the two processes are different enough.  I also don’t have any of the old stuff left to compare.  It does, though, feel a little thicker.

In the end, it applies and feels like the original.  I’d say it’s a little grittier than it previously was, with the addition of silica, but it still doesn’t feel like a harsh, aggressive exfoliator.  It’s fairly gentle, and it should be used once or twice during the week, depending on how your skin takes to exfoliants.

Product value on this could be better, because they took out about an ounce of product and tacked on an additional fifty cents.  I can handle the slight price increase, but I’m less than impressed with the decrease in the product itself (particularly since it’s 3.4 oz.), since it represents about 20-25% decrease in how much you get for your money.

Bottom line: It’s a mild exfoliator that has an earthy, ashy smell that’s not unpleasant (at least not to me), nor is it like ohhh, yummy! , it’s just kind of the scent I’d expect from it.  It leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, and may even give you a lil’ bit of that glow.  I still love it, but I’m not quite as in-love as I was originally (I think that’s more because of all the other exfoliators that I also love).  I definitely still recommend trying it out–ask for a sample if you’re unsure–because it is a fantastic exfoliator!

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you liked the original, I think you’ll still like this slightly reformulated version!  It’s a good, mild exfoliator!

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

Monday, September 21st, 2009


Young Punk

MAC Style Black: Mineralize Eyeshadows Review, Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  Perhaps one item that has likely caught many readers’ attention are the four new mineralize eyeshadows:  Young Punk, Gilt by Association, Cinderfella, and Blue Flame.

Mineralize Eyeshadow

  • Young Punk is a deep purple with lighter icy pink-purple shimmer/glitter.  When applied dry, it has just so-so pay off, but the color is much more intense when applied wet.  When it dries, though, it will fade a little bit.
  • Gilt by Association is a glittering antique gold with a hint of warmer bronze shade.  It has decent color pay off when used dry, but as typical with mineralize eyeshadows, wet is still much better.
  • Cinderfella is a silver-black.  It has a deep black base with a shimmery, silver glitter laced through it.  Again, wet is more intense than dry.
  • Blue Flame is a dark navy blue with silver-blue glitter/shimmer that brightens it.  When used dry, it looks more like a sheer blue-black.  When used wet, that’s when you see the navy blue shade.  It looks very much like the eyeshadow named Blue Flame or the permanent shade Deep Truth.

If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of mineralize eyeshadows.  The color pay off tends to be below my expectations with too much fall out to bother.  These are definitely shades that are best used wet (which you can do with mineralize eyeshadows without fear of leaving behind a wet spot).  Using them wet also helps to minimize the fall out issue, which is something that glittery shadows are prone to have (mineralize or not).  I like the colors, and I do like the theme of this dark black-inspired base with brighter shimmer to give it color.  I’d likely be taken in by them, but I’m not sure these are the ones that’ll get me on the mineralize side of life.

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

Recommendation: If you’re a mineralize eyeshadow fan, you’d probably like these.  If you’re not, these aren’t likely to win you over.

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, September 21st, 2009


MAC Blackware Glimmerglass, Bling Black Glimmerglass, Blackfire Glimmerglass

MAC Style Black: Glimmerglass Review, Swatches, Lip Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  MAC introduces a new lipgloss formula, Glimmerglass, and launches three shades:  Blackware, Bling Black, and Blackfire.

Glimmerglass

  • Blackware is a sheer gray-black tinged gloss.  It is a creamy finish with no real shimmer.
  • Bling Black is a sheer black that casts a little green from the gold-green-olive shimmer.
  • Blackfire is a sheer black that casts slightly burgundy, which probably comes from the burgundy-red shimmer.

All three shades are incredibly sheer and not even close to being opaque.  The only way to get something more than sheer is to layer with a base lip color or to really slather on the gloss (which doesn’t work well either).  It’s a thick, jelly-textured lipgloss with a non-sticky feel.  These feel thicker than cremesheen glass and nowhere near as gritty as dazzleglass.  I liked Bling Black the most, because I felt like the green-gold cast was different and fun to see.

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

Recommendation:  Gloss fiends will likely enjoy this non-sticky new gloss from MAC.  They’re not the best in value relative to other MAC glosses, but they’re not out of line with other competing brands.

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, September 21st, 2009


MAC Midnight Media Mattene

MAC Style Black: Lipstick/Mattene Review, Swatches, Lip Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  Included in the launch that’ll hit stores on the 24th are two mattenes, Midnight Media and Night Violet, as well as one lipstick in Black Knight.

Mattenes

  • Midnight Media is a near-black, creamy semi-matte lip color that goes on semi-opaque.  It’s a red-toned or burgundy-toned black.  It appears mostly black on lips, but there’s a bit of a burgundy punch that keeps it from going monotone.  I don’t recommend applying this without a lip brush — it is not forgiving!  (My lip swatch is evidence of thus.)
  • Night Violet is a burgundy-wine shade with a creamy, semi-matte finish and goes on mostly opaque.  It doesn’t bleed nearly as much as Midnight Media and is much more forgiving when you apply it directly from the tube.

Lipstick

  • Black Knight is a slightly creamy, monotone black with a glossy sheen.  It’s a cremesheen finish, which can be drying at times, but this one didn’t feel that way to me.  I had a terrible time getting this to apply even remotely evenly.  Up close (as in the lip swatch), every flaw is enhanced.  I assure you it looked relatively even in the mirror.   I’d probably pass on this and just use Bat CCB on my lips (but I gotta double-check the safety on that).

Out of the three, Night Violet is the most wearable, and then Midnight Media is more wearable than Black Knight, because it has that reddish tone to it.  I don’t personally love any of the three, but I do like Night Violet enough to own.  If you don’t have any black lipstick, Midnight Media isn’t a bad way to go.

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

Recommendation: If you love yourself dark and vampy lip color… this is for you!

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, September 21st, 2009


MAC Black CCB

MAC Style Black: Cream Colour Base & Greasepaint Stick Review, Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  With it, two cream colour bases (kind of like a cream eyeshadow, but it’s really a multi-tasking product), Black and Bat Black; as well as a new product — the greasepaint stick in Black.

Cream Colour Base

  • Black is a solid, creamy black with a slight sheen but no shimmer.
  • Bat Black is a creamy burgundy-black with more burgundy than black and a glossy sheen.

Cream Colour Bases can be difficult to work with.  If you find that a lot of cream-based products crease extremely easily on you, these may require more work than you’d like to do to get these to work on you.  Be sure to read any safety precautions that may come with these, too, for areas that you shouldn’t use these products on.  I like lighter colored CCBs, because I like to use them on cheeks and lips more than I do on eyes.

Greasepaint Stick

  • Black is actually a purple-black with just a little bit of shimmer when you look at it up-close, but the shimmer wasn’t noticeable when I applied it on my eyes.   I found that the greasepaint held up better on my waterline than my lower lash line, as it actually migrated and smudged a bit on the lower lash line but is still on my lash line about two and a half hours later.

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

Recommendation: If you like CCBs and need a dark base, try these two.  If you like intense black liners, you may consider the greasepaint stick, but it’s not entirely smudge proof.

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, September 21st, 2009


MAC Nocturnelle Nail Lacquer

MAC Style Black: Nail Lacquers Review, Photos, Swatches

MAC Style Black is a deep, dark collection with the rich tones of black as inspiration.  In the launch, there are three nail lacquers:  Nocturnelle, Seriously Hip, and Baby Goth Girl.

Nail Lacquer

  • Nocturnelle is a creamy, glossy opaque black. There aren’t any subtle nuances really, it’s really just black. This is a repromote, so check your stash before you buy.
  • Seriously Hip is a green-toned black with gold-green-olive shimmer. This is insanely pretty, and it coordinates with Bling Black glimmerglass. It goes on opaque in two medium-thick coats.
  • Baby Goth Girl is a red-toned black with reddish-purple shimmer. It’s dark and fall, but the red-purple shimmer is gorgeous over the black base. Like Seriously Hip, it goes on opaque with just two medium-thick coats.

All three lacquers are intensely pigmented and go on opaquely with minimal effort–no special tricks or techniques required. They have a glossy finish, and Seriously Hip and Baby Goth Girl have shimmer whereas Nocturnelle is a cream. These are really quite stunning, and I love these much more than the shades from Nail Trend F/W, actually. Nocturnelle is your standard glossy, creamy black–not a must-have–but the other two are on my list of must-haves.

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

Recommendation: If you don’t have issues with MAC’s formula and you don’t mind a splurge, Seriously Hip and Baby Goth Girl are both great picks!

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

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