Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Smashbox Eye Wish Eyeshadow Palette
Smashbox Eye Wish Eyeshadow Palette

Wish Big with Smashbox for the Holidays

Smashbox Eye Wish Eyeshadow Palette ($45.00) is a limited edition holiday palette that contains twelve eyeshadows, four cream eyeliners, and trial sizes of mascara and eyeshadow primer. It’s housed in a yellow gold flip-top rectangular box (think Urban Decay’s Book of Shadows). Inside the palette is a mirror along with a how-to booklet.

  • 1 is a softened dark orange with gold sheen. It’s a touch sheer.
  • 2 is a plum-tinged silver gray. This one was sheer.
  • 3 is a yellowed beige with a matte finish. It wasn’t really chalky, but it was a little sheer.
    4 is a pale warm pink. Nice pigmentation and very smooth.
  • 5 is a molten bronze with warm amber undertones. It reminded me of MAC’s Amber Lights + Bronze mixed together. This was one of the nicest shades in the palette for its rich pigmentation and smooth texture.
  • 6 is a pink-mauve with a frosted sheen. The pigmentation was nice with this shade.
  • 7 is a medium blue with aqua-blue sheen and shimmer. It looked cooler in the pan, but it’s still pretty swatched–the sheen just seemed more noticeable in the pan.
  • 8 is a soft medium-dark gray with a soft silver sheen. It had nice color pay off.
  • 9 is a chocolate bronze with a soft frost finish. It went on easily and smoothly.
  • 10 is a muted cool-toned purple plum. This was a little chalky.
  • 11 is a deep peacock blue with a satin sheen. It could have been a little more pigmented, but it worked better during application than swatched.
  • 12 medium-dark gray with a satin sheen.
  • 13 is a chocolate brown with red undertones and flecks of pale gold shimmer.
  • 14is a deep plum purple with light purple and pink shimmer.
  • 15 is a deep teal-blue.
  • 16 is a charcoal black with a silver sheen.

I want to specifically call attention to the fact that the liners are noted as generic “cream eyeliners.” Smashbox has a line of cream eyeliners called Jet Set, which have a good reputation, but these liners aren’t labeled as such, so I am going to assume (and hope) that they are not Jet Set liners. These liners take forever to dry, and they smudge easily–which is nice initially–but they don’t seem to stay in place at all for me. They just migrate, migrate, migrate, and this leads to… a migraine. Ha, ha. I couldn’t even get them to work well as a base, because they sheer out quite a bit and don’t set fast enough before settling into the crease.

I did like how Smashbox coordinated the columns of eyeshadows, though–and there are certainly a lot of looks one could do with this palette. There is a good mix of colors and neutrals, but I will say this palette leans on the cooler side, with the exception of the browns which are warmer. Overall, the eyeshadow quality is good across the board, with some shades being more average (like #1, 2, 3, and 4) and a couple (like #5, 6, and 9) being really nice with full pigmentation and smooth application. The lightest shades (#1, 2, 3, and 4) were the sheerest and more problematic. The texture of these didn’t seem quite as soft of Smashbox’s eyeshadows, but they were still soft, and overall, they seemed less powdery than typical Smashbox eyeshadows.

The palette includes 0.63 oz. worth of eyeshadow (works out to be 0.0525 oz. each) and 0.105 oz. (works out to be 0.0263 oz. each) worth of cream eyeliner, along with a miniature-sized Lash DNA Mascara (0.20 oz.) and Lid Primer (0.02 oz.). Compared to the cost of full-sized equivalent products, the palette has $170 worth of eyeshadow, $23 worth of eyeliner, $12 worth of mascara, and $5 worth of lid primer–the whole palette coming to a total of $210 worth of Smashbox products for a price of $45. To sum all that up, yes, this is a value palette–the eyeshadows alone make it worthwhile (in terms of quantity/price).

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I wouldn’t rely on this palette for the eyeliners, but if you like the colors included for eyeshadow, then it’s definitely a good value.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom and Sephora

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Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Kat von D Adora Lipstick

Go Metallic Red with Kat Von D

Kat Von D Adora Painted Love Lipstick ($18.00 for 0.11 oz.) is new-for-fall, and it looks like it’s already sold out online. I just received this from Sephora as part of their holiday offerings, so I was quite surprised to find it missing in action online! It looks like this may be a shade you’ll have to pick up from your local Sephora–if they still have it. It is a stunning shade of bright metallic red. It is an absolutely stunning shade of holiday red; it’s got a metallic-chrome shine that makes the color glow under light.

The shade itself is rich and opaque, needing just one layer for full color coverage. On me, it seems barely blue-based, but generally, I think this would be a very flattering shade on both cooler and warmer skin tones. When I wore it, I got five hours of wear, and it didn’t dry out my lips. Since it has some matte in its finish, it can accentuate dryness if you have cracked or peeling lips.

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re a fan of fun holiday reds like me, this is one worth calling your local Sephora about!

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Estee Lauder Extravagant Night Nail Lacquer
Estee Lauder Extravagant Night Nail Lacquer

Best of Fall: Extravagant Night

Estee Lauder Extravagant Night Nail Lacquer ($18.00 0.3 fl oz.) is a stunning deep dark purple wine base decked out with multi-colored flecks that range from deep fuchsia to violet to gold. Ahh! This was absolutely gorgeous from the first coat on (two coats shown). I don’t even know how to describe the way it looks, because it practically dances under bright lights (like flash), but it still retains its character and depth in natural light. It applies evenly, just like a normal shimmer polish tends to do, but the effect is so much more like a glitter–without the grittiness.

It’s sold out in a lot of places, but Macy’s still has it online! I wish it weren’t so expensive or else they put more in the bottle (0.3 fl. oz. is below average for the price point).

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If it’s something in your budget, YES!

AVAILABILITY: Macy’s

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Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara
Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara

Sneak Peek: Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara

New for December, Estee Lauder’s Sumptuous Extreme Mascara ($23.50) promises to deliver a volumizing mascara that never clumps and “[makes] eyes look outrageously big and amazingly bold.” The brush even has its own name–Extreme BrushComber–which has a new shape that is said to hold more mascara, be easy to use and get to all your lashes in spite of its size. The formula has “Tri-blend Multiplying Fibers,” which include “Hollow Tube Fibers” for curl and length, “Solid Rod Fibers” for volume and length, and “Micro-Locking Fiber” for thickeness and length. Finally, it contains Lash-Advancing Vitamin Complex, which has Vitamin B5, designed to condition lashes and keep lashes flexible. It will be available in four shades: Extreme Black, Extreme Brown, Extreme Indigo, and Extreme Violet.

The brush itself is quite large–a full 1 3/4″ in length when I measured–but the way it narrows and tapers does make it easier to maneuver around the inner corners of eyes. I do find it more difficult to use it on lower lashes, just because it is so large, but I think users of Dior’s DiorShow won’t find it much larger. After using this mascara for a couple of weeks and alternating with other mascaras, I did feel like the brush itself was more helpful in defining lashes–just separating them as I was applying the mascara–than the average mascara wand.

My fringe definitely looked longer and fuller–it had a slightly feathery quality to it–but the richness of the black made the overall effect more dramatic. I was able to do several passes through my lashes without getting any clumping, and this is a mascara that you can easily do a second or third coat of, too, if desired. It doesn’t dry immediately (15-20 seconds), but it’s not so wet that you’ll have mascara residue underneath your eye if you blink. My lashes felt incredibly lightweight and soft–flexible and bendable. I was able to push and rub (gently!) against my lashes and didn’t experience any flaking either.

I was most impressed by the richness of the Extreme Black shade–deep dark black, very inky and solid. It’s definitely one of the blackest mascaras I’ve tried in recent memory. It volumizes nicely, and it gives enough thickness to my lashes to make them more noticeable, but it still feels like I’m wearing one of the lighterweight, more natural mascaras (think Maybelline Full ‘n Soft) but I get the effect of dramatic mascara. I experienced no flaking, smudging, budging, or other ill effects after twelve-hour wear.

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you have shorter, sparser lashes, Estee Lauder does double-duty with lengthening and volumizing. Oh, and if you have black lashes but still want them blacker? This will make them even darker!

AVAILABILITY: Estee Lauder, December 2010

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Monday, November 29th, 2010

MAC False Lashes Mascara
MAC False Lashes Mascara

New MAC Mascara:  False Lashes

MAC False Lashes Mascara ($18.00 for 0.28 oz.) is the newest mascara to MAC’s line-up, which will be added to the permanent range in regular black packaging on December 26th. It was, however, released in limited edition Marcel Wanders packaging with the MAC & Marcel Wanders Collection launched on the 24th. The price is the same either way (that was a surprise!), and it is available in just one shade: False Black (black).

From MAC: “False Lashes Mascara adds dramatic volume, the rich, creamy, volumizing formula magnifies and multiplies the look of each lash, creating dramatically thick, long, curled, exaggerated lashes. The lush brush applies a deluxe dose of heavy pigment to the lashes and works in combination with the product to create incredible volume, length and density. The pigments in the formula are treated to allow for maximum colour payoff that remains true, deep, uniform and wears all day long. It’s flake- and smudge-resistant, ophthamologist-tested and safe for contact-wearers.”

Mascara is always an interesting product to review, because every description reads like a miracle product, so it can be difficult to determine what exactly what one should (reasonably) expect it to do. False Lashes is a volumizing mascara first, but it should also boast a dramatic result, from thicker, longer, more curled lashes. “Heavy pigment” leads me to expect a very rich black, dense and heavy in its darkness.

False Lashes excels in delivering longer lashes that are sky-high with a natural lift (all images are without aid of an eyelash curler). It’s a solid black mascara, though I didn’t think it was the deepest, darkest black I’ve experienced (Plushlash and Zoomlash seem darker to me). I did not notice a significant increase in volume; the results I achieved were really dominated by the length and curling power of the formula. There is certainly a volume increase from the standpoint of just thicker, longer, generally improved lashes overall, but my lashes do not appear much fuller.

The formula did not clump easily; you really had to wait for it to dry (20-30 seconds drying time) and be on the third or fourth full coat to find yourself is spidery territory. I was easily able to apply two full coats back-to-back without clumping issues. It dries pretty quickly but not too fast–you do have time to work it from base to tip and go back for more if necessary. When it dried, my lashes didn’t feel dried out or crunchy–they were still pretty soft and felt lightweight. After wearing this mascara for a few days in twelve-hour bursts, I did not have any fall out, smudging, or budging. It came off easily with makeup remover, but it lasted all day and never gave me raccoon eyes.

The brush was fairly large, so if you have smaller eyes, it may be a concern, and it may be unwieldy to use on lower lashes in particular.  It looks much like a normal mascara wand, and it has a slightly more tapered tip.

Overall, it’s a nice mascara, but I’m not sure it’ll make it into my regular rotation of mascaras. It does length amazingly, so it may work wonders on those with shorter lashes, and it does give nice lift on its own (and it holds up well throughout the day), too. If you have naturally long lashes, though, I think this may be too much lengthening power to work well for you.  It is a bit pricey for a MAC mascara, though–unlike Haute & Naughty (which was also $18), which had the crazy packaging, I’m not sure why this merits the $18 price tag.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: It lengthens lashes quite dramatically with some lift, so for shorter, straighter lashes, it might be a worthwhile mascara.

AVAILABILITY: MAC Cosmetics

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Monday, November 29th, 2010

Guerlain Grenade Rouge G Lipstick
Guerlain Grenade Rouge G Lipstick

Guerlain Rouge G Lipstick: Grenade

Guerlain Grenade (65) Rouge G Lipstick ($46.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a brightened raspberry pink with soft pink micro-shimmer and a glossy sheen. True to the Rouge G formula, the color itself is opaque without being heavy. With such a rosy hue, it works well with cooler skin tones, but since it doesn’t have strong blue undertones, it flatters warmer skin tones, too. It applies evenly and smoothly, with rich color delivered in a single pass.

The first dupe I could think of was Dior Raspberry Serum de Rouge, which is more muted and less pink, but I think it may be close enough for those wanting a more palatable price tag.  Chanel Rouge Orage Rouge Coco is also similar but pulls almost coral in comparison.

Rouge Gs are pricey, mostly due to the fancy packaging, which includes a heavy metal case, with a top that slides off and flips open to reveal a mirror. Though I’ve heard about refills “coming soon,” I’ve yet to see them come through (it would be nice!). The lipstick formula is one of my favorites–so soft and smooth, rich in color, moisturizing on its own, and lasts four to six hours (lighter shades closer to four, darker shades closer to six). They do have a fruit-floral scent (but no taste), which is a bit heavy-handed, so for those who are more sensitive to scents, you may want to see if it is one you like first.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: Grenade gives lips a pop of color without being in-your-face. It’s bright and opaque, but it’s still very easy to wear.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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