Monday, May 14th, 2012

theBalm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette
theBalm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette

theBalm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette

theBalm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette ($34.00 for 0.33 oz.) contains nine matte eyeshadows named after theBalm’s favorite Matts. It includes a small, dual-ended bristle brush, which is usable and better than sponge-tipped brushes that are often included in these kinds of palettes, but it wouldn’t replace full-sized brushes for me. The palette is small, square-ish, and made out of heavy-duty cardboard. It flips open and has a mirror under the lid.

Overall, the texture of these shades are soft, smooth, and buttery–they’re not as dense or as buttery as theBalm’s more shimmery eyeshadows (think the Shady Lady series or their singles). These are finely-milled and soft enough that there is some excess powder kicked up when you go to use them. The majority of the shades applied with good to excellent color payoff, though Matt Chung was a little chalky and sheer, Matt Schilling wasn’t chalky but it was a bit sheer and a little dry, and Matt Patel was slightly sheer in places and didn’t apply as smoothly. Also worth noting, Matt Batali was a bit drier and not as soft or as dense as the other shades in the palette, but the pigmentation didn’t suffer as a consequence.

Each eyeshadow is 0.037 oz., whereas the average full-sized eyeshadow is typically 0.05 oz. I actually like the size of each shade, because they’re about 75% the size of regular full-sized ones (though theBalm’s individuals shades are 0.10 oz.), you still get plenty of product, but the entire compact fits in your hand and is very travel-friendly. I will point out the obvious that theBalm’s Shady Lady palettes contain a whopping 0.60 oz. (almost double the size of this palette) and retail for $39.50, which is only a little bit more. Nude ‘tude is slightly larger at 0.38 oz. and retails for $36. The Shady Lady palettes are still a super-sized value palette in comparison, but I think the pricing is about right here, and you’re getting a good amount of product for your buck.

The Glossover

palette

Meet Matt(e)

A-
It's definitely one of the better matte eyeshadow palettes I've come across (though two shades aren't entirely matte). Overall, there is good color payoff, smooth, soft textures, and they're blendable and wear well on the eye.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencil
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencil

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencils ($24.00 for 0.04 oz.) come in six shades: Black Navy (deep midnight), Black Plum (rich eggplant), Hunter (deep emerald green), Jet (blackest black), Mahogany (rich brown), and Smoke (charcoal grey). The formula is supposed to wear for twelve hours, glide on smoothly, be waterproof, and not smudge or smear. Each pencil comes with a sharpener.

  • Black Navy is a dark navy blue with a hint of purple. It seems darker than other navy blue eyeliners. The color payoff in a single pass was pretty good.
  • Black Plum is a medium-dark eggplant purple with subtle red-burgundy undertones and a bit of a metallic finish. It had decent color payoff in a single stroke. It’s kind of like Urban Decay 1999 and Rockstar merged together. Chanel Cassis is a matte version. Urban Decay Crash comes close as well.
  • Hunter is a dark swampy green. It’s not emerald green like Bobbi Brown describes–there’s a really murky quality to it, probably from the olive undertones. I couldn’t think of a dupe for this one. This shade had really good color payoff in one pass.
  • Jet is a deep black. It applies quite intensely in just one stroke. There are numerous black eyeliners like this shade on the market.
  • Mahogany is a deep chocolate brown with subtle warm, red undertones. The tip of the pencil broke off while I attempted (more on this later) to do a single pass of it in the swatch, but it does apply fairly well in a single go. CoverGirl Brown is just slightly lighter.
  • Smoke is a deep, dark gray with hints of purple. It has decent color payoff in a single stroke. CoverGirl Silver Spark is much lighter but the closest shade I could think of.

There was a consistent product failing that occured–all but two pencil tips broke off when I swatched them against my skin. Just snapped right off, and let me tell you, after the first one broke, I applied very, very gentle pressure with the next one, but it still happened. One of the two that hadn’t broke when I applied it to the lash line. It also seems like the outer edge has a slightly waxy film around it, which keeps the color from applying as intensely as it does once you’ve worn away the exterior (and it’s just a very thin layer on the exterior of the pencil). Once I sharpened the ones that had broke, they applied more intensely than before. It’s not a complete deal-breaker, but it’s very annoying and shouldn’t happen at this price point, and it’s not as if there’s tons of product to waste with pencil eyeliners!

The formula is good–it could stand to be a little creamier–it has a very dense, not quite hard but not silky soft, feeling against the lash line. It doesn’t pull or tug, and it leaves behind rich color without having to go back and forth over and over again. Bobbi Brown says it has “special polymers that melt at skin temperature,” which appears to be true, though I don’t know if this is really and truly special. It feels like many other pencils that naturally get creamier and glide-on better when they’re warmed up.  Since most of these broke soon after I attempted to use them, I did have plenty of chances to use the included sharpener, which worked well and had minimal waste.

If you want to smudge these, you can definitely can, but they do set after ten to fifteen seconds and stay put after that. I clocked in wear around ten hours that was lovely, and after twelve hours, it was still pretty good with some light fading but no smudging or migration. Though I didn’t see anything that said these were safe for the waterline, I wore the shimmer-free shades on the waterline as well and had surprisingly good results of eight hours. I tested Black Navy, Black Plum, Hunter, Jet, and Mahogany (the only shade I didn’t test specifically was Smoke), and they all wore similarly (give or take a few minutes!).

The Glossover

product

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencils Review, Photos, Swatches

A-
Having five of the six pencils have their tips break off on the first or second use was really frustrating! The formula wears really well and long, which is the most important factor when it comes to a long-wearing eyeliner! It could have a slightly creamier consistency, though.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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Friday, May 11th, 2012

NYX Be Jeweled Nail Lacquer
NYX Be Jeweled Nail Lacquer

NYX Be Jeweled Nail Lacquer

NYX Be Jeweled Nail Lacquer ($4.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is a blue-teal with teal and gold sparkle that shifts from green to gold. Wet ‘n’ Wild Teal or No Teal is similar in the base color but doesn’t have the same sparkle. ORLY Haley’s Comet is darker, more densely packed with glitter. NYX Paradise has a similar duochrome, but the color is more metallic. Zoya Charla is also similar but is a bit darker and doesn’t seem to shift quite as much.

I fell in love with this color the very first time I used it (which was actually, for once, not for swatches but as a manicure color as I was heading on a trip). I love that it’s very nearly opaque after two coats (there is the slightest hint of visible nail line at certain angles).  It really sparkles in a lovely way that’s hard to capture in a still photo, so if you have the opportunity to see it in person, it’s not to be missed!  The consistency was on the thicker side but not too thick and didn’t impede application.  The glitter distributes evenly overall, but you may need to do a couple of pushes with the brush around the edges. When I wore this on my trip, it lasted a full week with no chips and minor tip wear.  NYX’s bottle design is very similar to Deborah Lippmann’s, except the handle is shiny plastic.

The Glossover

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NYX Be Jeweled Nail Lacquer Review, Photos, Swatches

A-
It really sparkles in a lovely way that's hard to capture in a still photo, so if you have the opportunity to see it in person, it's not to be missed! For a glitter, it has great color coverage, though it isn't fully opaque after two coats.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9.5/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

NARS Falbala Lipstick
NARS Falbala Lipstick

NARS Falbala Lipstick

NARS Falbala Lipstick ($24.00 for 0.12 oz.) is described as a “shimmering rose.” It’s a a berry-rose with gold shimmer. MAC Offshoot is more plum. Chanel Bel Ami is redder. MAC Oh Oh Oh is a little more plum. MAC Fun Bathing is a little darker with a more golden sheen. Clarins Blackberry is more plum. Chanel Impertinente is browner. Bobbi Brown Plumberry is redder. Chanel Etole is a little darker. Guerlain Gracia is a bit lighter.

It’s part of the Sheer lipstick family, so it’s designed to be “sheer, long-lasting” with a “sophisticated shine” and contains hydrating ingredients. It’s more semi-opaque than sheer, but there is a distinguishable translucency where you can see the natural lip color coming through. There’s also a glossy sheen in the finish. Falbala actually reminds me of a sheerer, more muted version of NARS Christina.

I really like NARS’ line of Sheer Lipsticks, though they tend to be more semi-sheer to semi-opaque than sheer.  They have this really great lightweight feel that’s comfortable to wear, and they look almost like a stain–they sit very naturally against the lips.  It’s scent- and taste-free–good news for those more sensitive to scents and tastes!  Falbala wears just over five hours, while the glossy sheen does fade away after three to four hours.  The only downside is that it’s not moisturizing (and it’s supposed to be), though it is not drying.

The Glossover

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product

Falbala

A-
I really like NARS' line of Sheer Lipsticks, though they tend to be more semi-sheer to semi-opaque than sheer.  They have this really great lightweight feel that's comfortable to wear, and they look almost like a stain--they sit very naturally against the lips.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow
Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow

Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow

Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow ($4.49 for 0.11 oz.) is an intense dark black with a matte finish–though there appears to be a very, very faint sheen, it doesn’t translate on the lid or from afar. It also seems to have very subtle blue undertones (rather than brown), but it’s hard to tell–it’s that close to neutral. Urban Decay Blackout is just slightly richer. Tarina Tarantino Lovely is a little softer. Guerlain Les Ombres de Nuit is similar. Inglot #391 is not quite as dark.

The formula is supposed to be “super pigmented, easily blendable, creaseproof, [and] silk-like.”  This is the second shade I’ve tried from the line-up, and I’m not disappointed.  I think the texture is a little drier than Shocking Pink, but it’s very intense and pigmented.  It’s soft, finely-milled, and doesn’t look chalky when applied.  It blends out fairly easily, though it could be just a little softer and denser.  The good news is that it’s not powdery, so you don’t end up with lots of excess product underneath your lid during application as you might with a more powdery formula.  This particular shade is closer in texture to MAC’s mattes, but it’s not quite as dry.  When I trialed Pitch Black on the bare lid, it wore for eight hours with some slight fading around the edges but no creasing.

It will be available exclusively at select CVS stores this May. I’ve linked to Milani’s website for the time being, as it’s a good starting point for tracking down where Milani is sold near you.  These are packaged in a clear-cover plastic compact and contain over double the amount of product as the average eyeshadow (0.11 oz. vs. 0.05 oz.).

The Glossover

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product

Pitch Black

A-
It's definitely one of the better budget-friendly blacks--I love that it doesn't have a super dry, chalky texture, and it actually goes on as intense as it looks in the pan.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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Monday, May 7th, 2012

Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss
Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss

Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss Review, Photos, Swatches

One question I regularly receive about products (and not just luxury priced products) is, “Is it worth it?” This is also iterated in other ways, like: 1) “Do I need this?” 2) “Should I save up for this?” and 3) “Should I buy the original or the cheaper dupe?” Sometimes someone will want to be convinced to buy something, other times someone will want to be reminded that it’s totally dupeable or below-the-bar in quality. The problem with these questions is it’s really, really hard for me to tell you if a product is worth it to you or not. It’s undeniably subjective and completely based upon your budget and personal preferences!

I thought maybe it would be a good reference post going forward whenever I review a more expensive product, because “worth” and “value” are measured differently by each of us. Some of us prefer to look at how much you’re getting for the price, others look purely at the price tag because they never expect to go through a product, and others look at price per use (because you expect to use it up). I’m more in the camp of the last one–if you are only going to wear a product once or twice before moving onto something else, there’s absolutely no reason to save up for it. If you’re going to use it everyday for months, then maybe it’s worth saving up for.

From time to time, I re-review one of my all-time favorite products (and thankfully, it’s permanent!) that I continue to love each and every time I wear as much as I did the first time (and I’m often motivated to do a more thorough job reviewing the product each time and with better photos!). There are a few reasons why I love it, but they’re all personal reasons and justifications. I just re-purchased it from Saks a week or so ago.

Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss ($48.00 for 0.21 fl. oz.) is a peach and gold shimmered peach-pink with a nearly metallic finish. It’s semi-opaque in coverage–there is a lot of shimmer in it, while the base color itself is fairly close to my natural lip color (warmer and pinker). Le Metier de Beaute Papaya Creme is the closest dupe to this shade, and it has a slightly darker color base (less pink, a little more coral), but it has a very similar shimmer component that gives off the same metallic-like finish. MAC Nymphette is sheerer, more golden (less peach), and doesn’t have nearly as much shimmer–but it is a gorgeous shade and similarly flattering. Benefit I’m With the Band is pinker, less peach, almost gold-copper in shimmer. Chanel Pin-Up is similar but has less shimmer. NARS Orgasm is also similar but lacks the heavy shimmer finish. NP Set Mauritius is milkier and a little less peach.

First and foremost, I’m absolutely in love with the color. It’s warm, peach, and gold; all shades that flatter my particular skin tone and overall coloring. It’s not sheer, but it’s not totally opaque, so it can be layered with other lipsticks but also wore on its own (I usually wear it on its own). There are, however, as you can see from above, numerous shades that are similar to this one–and for most, I suspect, similar enough to opt for a version that’s half or even a third of the price of this one. The only thing that really makes it slightly different is how much shimmer is in the gloss, and the resulting more metallic-like finish (which Papaya Creme also has but the base color is a wee different, though not by much–and still $12 cheaper).

The texture is lightweight and comfortable to wear without being too thin or too thick; it doesn’t slip around once applied, but it doesn’t cling. It’s non-sticky, and there was no discernible scent or taste. I love that it wears five to six hours on me, and it fades evenly and none of the shimmer (and there’s a lot of it!) travels while it’s worn. The formula is moisturizing and never leaves my lips feeling dehydrated, even after wearing it all day.  It’s not my favorite gloss formula of all time, but it’s a really good one (though I haven’t tried many other shades beyond #2–I can’t even remember trying another shade on).  If it was a poorly made gloss with a stellar color, I would probably end up moving to a dupe with a better formula and only keep my original tube as nostalgia.

I imagine part of the love for this particular gloss is attached to memories; my first luxury cosmetic purchase, which was part souvenir (at my first Barney’s, which was in Vegas) and part reward, and one of those products that has endured over time. It doesn’t matter if others think it’s a waste of money or hate the color or don’t think it’s worth that much–my enjoyment is not dependent on others loving it.  Every time I apply this gloss, I smile. My spirits rise.  I get a little giddy.  I remember the very moment I swatched this and saw the crazy peach-gold duochrome and fell in love and indulged.

One thing that you’ll notice is I’m careful about saying what is and isn’t my favorite. There are lots of products I like and even love, but there are less products I consider true favorites–ones I go back to, ones I would repurchase, ones that I would use over and over again if I was a normal consumer.  So when I say something is my favorite, I say it with feeling.

There are a handful of lip products that I always reach for when I travel, this being one of them (others include Chanel Dragon–my power red–and a Guerlain Rouge G, which usually fluctuates between Garconne, Gems, and Ginny at the moment). This also has a permanent home in my purse (along with Jack Black Lip Balm), and if I don’t have a product I’m testing along with me and the product I was originally testing has worn off, I reach for this.

Is there a beauty product that holds a special place in your heart?

The Glossover

coming-soon

The Million Dollar "Is it worth it?" Question

A-
It's my favorite gloss for a few reasons, and it's a good gloss overall--it's not the best gloss formula of all time. What sold me originally was the color, and what keeps me sold is the total package plus the back story and the "meaning" of the gloss to me. There are several dupes worth considering at a more wallet-friendly price, though!

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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