Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

MAC Pro Longwear Lipcreme
Cute, yeah? Maybe I can start a trend! Overtime (pink), Extended Play (red)

MAC Pro Longwear Lipcreme Review, Photos, Swatches (Overall)

Pro Longwear Lipcreme seems to be a cross between satin and amplified finishes; it’s creamy without being thick, and they all have a slight glossiness when initially applied. The glossiness does seem to fade away within an hour or two, though. Every shade–with the exception of Sweet Ever After–was nearly opaque, with some being totally opaque on my lips and others being semi-opaque. It doesn’t take a lot of product to get opaque results either–I’d say about a layer and a half in total. They’re all vanilla-scented, just as MAC’s other lipsticks and lipglosses are.

The most important characteristic of this lipstick is the wear time, because it’s touted as:

Lightweight texture, creamy finish and comfortable longwear combine in this has-it-all pro-class lip colour. Slick in use, applies without need of a top coat- and still lasts up to 12 hours. Won’t feather or transfer, and the colour stays true. Helps lips stay soft and hydrated.

Because the timing demands a more immediate review, I applied Extended Play on half of my lips and Overtime on the other half. My reasoning behind this is darker shades (like reds, berries, wines) tend to outlast paler, lighter shades across the board, so testing one of the darker shades in the collection might be misleading–but what if the lighter shade did fade away quickly? Then I wouldn’t really know whether the darker shades could at least make it!

Product Photos & Swatches

The average lipstick lasts about three to four hours on me, while a gloss lasts two to three, and together, I get three to six, depending on what I’m eating/drinking during the time. I put on my half-and-half combo around noon, and by three, it had some noticeable fading, but overall, the color was still pretty strong. I sipped a drink through a straw (which is one way to avoid wearing off your lipstick!), but otherwise, I did not eat/drink. You’ll see in the photos how the lipstick just doesn’t look as “fresh” — some of the glossiness has faded away and the color isn’t quite as opaque. The good news is the pink side looks about as good as the red side does.

After about five hours of wear, it was dinnertime, which was perfect–I wanted to give the lipstick a chance to “set” so-to-speak before really challenging it with a meal! In the photo, you’ll see that there’s not a huge change between the slightly faded lip after three hours and post-dinner. The biggest thing I noticed was that the lip color was pulling into my lip lines the longer I wore it. My lips also looked a little parched, though I’m approaching the eighth hour of wear as I write this review, and they don’t feel particularly dry–no flaking or pilling at all.

Some color will definitely stick around for twelve hours, but keep in mind that it’s not going to look the same twelve hours later as it did when you first applied it. I think that’s a pretty unreasonable expectation, though — particularly if you’re eating/drinking, as most makeup is oil-based, so eating oily foods like anything friend can often breakdown a longwearing product. Similar to MAC’s Pro Longwears, a little gloss applied every few hours would “refresh” your lip look without mandating more lipstick or a total lip re-do.  It seems like you’d have to shellac your lips if you really wanted 100% perfect color all day long.

However, the fact that it does fade noticeably after three hours of wear, without eating/drinking (me just cropping photos and typing up reviews, so mostly… sitting, no talking!), is worth pointing out. I would probably recommend topping it with a little gloss or balm, to keep it glossier longer. I’d also like to note that I experienced absolutely no feathering or bleeding of color–not a single bit. MAC says it won’t transfer, and while it certainly doesn’t all rub off in a single kiss, it left a definite kiss-print on my boyfriend’s cheek.  I would say it transfers less than many lipsticks, but it can transfer.  Removal was surprisingly easy–I used my shu cleansing oil and all of it wiped off, no staining left behind.

The packaging is entirely cylindrical in shape–the base of the this against the original lipstick base is the same diameter, but the Lipcreme packaging looks thinner. The cap is long and thin, and it has a soft snap when you put on the cap to close. The outer packaging feels similar to their existing lipsticks, but it’s more of a matte black–the original lipsticks have a slight shininess to them. These retail for $16.00 a pop, as compared to $14.50 for the regular lipsticks, but these have 0.12 oz. as compared to 0.10 oz., so you are getting more despite the increased price. Though $16 starts to approach other high-end brands, and simultaneously shifts MAC more and more so out of that high-end with a mid-end price tag zone.

The range of colors is basic; none of these shades really have anything cool to them, you know?  It’s not like this blood red with golden sheen and teal flash–that’s not what this color range is.  This is a basic color range that is perfect for launching a brand new, permanent lipstick.  I do love that they didn’t stick with just wearable shades, though; they threw in an orange and purple, obviously non-standard hues!  I am confused as to why there was such an emphasis on deeper shades, though–there’s no real perfect nude contender here for the majority of skin tones.

I’m curious to see whether MAC will convert its lipsticks to the new packaging and/or discontinue more shades to make room for these new SKUs.  They’ve certainly done a few packaging changes in the past year or so — pigments, eyeshadow quads…

SUMMARY: I really do like these lipsticks, but they aren’t quite as long-wearing as they claim, which is why they just can’t be A+ products. If you throw the wear time out the window, they’re quite lovely.  They’re creamy, richly pigmented, and apply with ease.  I don’t feel they impart a ton of moisture, but they don’t pull it out just because of the formula–if I don’t use a lip balm during the day, my lips feel similar as they did after removing this lipstick.

Well, if you actually read this whole review, kudos to you!  (And thank you!)

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: These do seem longer wearing than the average lipstick and certainly the average MAC lipstick. It’s going to be tough to get great looking color for twelve full hours without doing something to refresh it. A little gloss will keep the color looking fresher longer without reapplying the lipstick itself, but without any gloss or touch of lip balm periodically during the day (just maybe once every three hours or so), the color may look rather faded.

AVAILABILITY: MAC Cosmetics

Get recommendations from me, by skin tone, what to skip… plus, see the results of the wear test yourself! Continue reading →

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010


Body Luxury with Kate Somerville

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Body Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($65.00 for 5 oz.) is an enzyme-based scrub that utilizes both papaya and pumpkin enzymes as well as beads to exfoliate away dead skin.  According to Kate Somerville, the enzymes “digest dead skin cells” while the beads “buff them away.”  The visual I get of enzymes digesting dead skin is partially gross… and yet hilarious.  Moving on!

I love me some ExfoliKate (for the face), and I like ExfoliKate Body, but I don’t think I’d repurchase it at full price.  I picked up mine through Gilt, when they had a sale, so I think I paid around $40.   What I like most about ExfoliKate Body is how it seemed to help moisturize my skin post-shower.  By no means is this a replacement for a moisturizer (unless you have pretty hydrated skin already, then perhaps it might)–on my dragon-scale legs, it just helps.  They also feel ridiculously soft and smooth and stay that way for a few hours, even without moisturizer.

Ingredients:  Water, Lactic Acid, Polyethylene, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Pectin, Carica Papaya Fruit, Lactobacillus/Cucurbita Pepo Fruit, Ferment Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Papain, Bromelain, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Mel, Acetic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Cinnamomum Cassia Leaf Oil, Salicylic Acid, Dehydroxanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cinnamal, Potassium Sorbate, Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Citral, Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, Citronellol, Cinnamal, Eugenol, Benzyl Benzoate, Beta-Carotene (CI 75130), Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex (CI 75810).

The product is easy to apply but the process of application is not my cup of tea.  Just like ExfoliKate for face, this is a product that is supposed to sit on skin for a couple of minutes.  I don’t know about you, but this means I have to step to the back of the shower and just stand there, out of the spray, and well, it’s not as convenient.  I also feel like I’m wasting a ton of water, since I’m not enjoying it and it’s going right down the drain.

It’s a good product, but I don’t know if it’s that much better than so many other body scrubs and exfoliators.  Seeing how my body doesn’t seem all that particular or reactive to scrubs in general, shelling out for this one is probably not the way to go.  I’m more apt to spend more for good facial care, which is an area of skin that seems more finicky.


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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: A lovely exfoliating scrub that relies more on enzymes and lactic acid to slough off dead skin, rather than scrubby particles, but it is an indulgence.  Certainly worth trying if you don’t mind the price tag, but it’s not so above the rest that it’s necessarily worth saving up for.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Urban Decay Black Palette
Urban Decay Black Palette

Getting Heavy with Urban Decay

Urban Decay The Black Palette ($36.00 for 0.24 oz.) contains six eyeshadows (0.04 oz. each), along with a miniature-sized Zero 24/7 Eye Pencil (0.03 oz.) and Eden Primer Potion (0.13 fl. oz.). As far as I know, this palette is limited edition and a Sephora exclusive (and Sephora lists it as “online only”).

  • Black Dog is an intense, deep dark black with a matte finish. It’s about as intense and deep as Sugarpill Bulletproof, but it’s not quite as smooth or as blendable. It is not at all unworkable, though. I just point this out because it seemed like Black Dog was one of the shadows readers were most looking forward to, and Bulletproof is an alternative to buying the entire palette.
  • Barracuda is a darkened gray with silver flecks; it is a very steely, cool-toned gray. I thought it was similar to Urban Decay’s Gunmetal, but it seems a little darker and less frosty.
  • Jet is a cool-toned plummy purple with very subtle red undertones. It has a semi-matte color base with flecks of blue glitter.
  • Sabbath is a darkened, smoky noir blue with flecks of blue glitter.
  • Cobra is a muddied blackened base with flecks of antique-gold and green-gold shimmer/glitter.
  • Libertine is a blackened green color base with flecks of gold and emerald green micro-glitter.

The Black Palette is housed in a sleek, slim rectangular palette with a mirror on the inside cover; it’s made out of cardboard/paper as Urban Decay palettes often are, but it’s very compact.  The miniature Zero eyeliner is stowed away inside along the eyeshadows, while the miniature Eden primer potion is loose (which does ensure that this palette is thin).  It’s definitely a more travel-friendly palette than the Book of Shadows.

Quality-wise, these eyeshadows feel like most of Urban Decay’s regular eyeshadow line (not to be confused with their deluxe eyeshadow line, which has a slightly differing texture); they’re pretty smooth and pigmented.  These do feel a touch more powdery and kick up some eyeshadow if you’re not careful, so I do recommend tapping your brush against your wrist to get any excess shadow out–that way it doesn’t just poof and land on your under eye instead!  I don’t think they’re the best of the brand’s eyeshadows, but they’re solid overall.

I find this palette too redundant to be a must-have for most makeup mavens.  When applied to eyes as part of look, they really don’t standout; they all look black with a touch of varying glitter (but it is so subtle, it’s hard to notice until you look for it specifically).  I did a quick look using Cobra, Libertine, and Black Dog, and if I saw that, I’d say I used two eyeshadows (a shimmery black, nude highlighter); the difference is nearly imperceptible.

You can really get the same effect by using a black eyeshadow/base and layering a shimmery color shade on top– in fact, a ton of people do this with MAC Blacktrack as a base and you can get some really cool effects (try using a duochrome shade on top!).   You might even find that the color pops even more.  These are just too black, too flat.  The inclusion of Eden with this palette is interesting, because it makes these eyeshadows look flatter and even more similar to each other than other bases.  I did some experimenting using Eden, a shimmery white gold base, and colored bases; these eyeshadows look best over colored bases–you can get that blackened look without losing the color entirely.

I feel like I do get the concept of blackened, smoldering colors that don’t scream color but at the same time, I want some differentiation between one shade from the next.  I don’t want to squint my eyes to detect slight differences in the flecks of glitter.  I also think the inclusion of Gunmetal or Dime 24/7 Liner (instead of Zero) would have helped these shades pop.  I recommend experimenting with cream eyeshadow in black and layering shimmery colors on top to see what look you prefer!

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I think it’s worth trying to recreate on your own at home — unless you wear a ton of black eyeshadow, you should be able to get something comparable–if not better–as you need it.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Bobbi Brown Black Velvet Lipstick
Bobbi Brown Lip Color: Black Maple, Black Raspberry

Color May Not Appear as in the Tube

Bobbi Brown Lip Color ($22.00 for 0.12 oz.) now includes two new shades for fall from the Black Velvet Collection: Black Maple (black red plum) and Black Raspberry (black burgundy).

  • Black Maple is a rich burgundy brown. On my lips, it looks nearly opaque with a slight sheen.
  • Black Raspberry is a semi-sheer browned red. It’s a different way to wear the red lip–it’s not an in-your-face kind of red, and it’s not incredibly dark either. It has a rather glaze-like finish, where there’s some sheerness up close, but it looks more cohesive and opaque from afar.

There’s a funny thing about these lipsticks/swatches; they don’t look like they line up. Black Maple looks burgundy in the tube, while Black Raspberry looks nearly black–and yet it’s actually much, much lighter. I actually had to swatch them both again as I started to write out the review to make sure I didn’t have it written wrong in my notes!  They both seem to be a little on the cooler side.

Bobbi Brown’s Lipsticks are scent- and taste-free, which is something that can difficult to find high-end lipsticks. With these deeper, darker shades, I find myself getting between four and five hours of wear.   They apply without difficulty, though I do find myself needing to check the application to ensure smooth, even color.  I don’t find them drying, but I think if you have really dry lips, you may not find they’re very moisturizing either.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I like these shades, though I’m not in love with them.  They could apply a smidgen more evenly!  Black Maple is surprisingly more wearable than the name would lead you to believe.

AVAILABILITY: Bobbi Brown

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Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Perfection Nail Lacquer

All About Nudes in Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian Lace Collection

Dolce & Gabbana Perfection (220) Intense Nail Lacquer ($20.00 for 0.37 fl. oz.) is a nearly neutral caramel nude with a cream finish.  It’s new for fall and part of the brand’s Sicilian Lace Collection, which certainly is all about barely there and nude shades.  This is a very subtle color, and it’s not a trend or shade for everyone.   I found two coats was plenty to get an opaque look, as the formula was very pigmented and on the thicker side.

I found the applicator a bit bothersome, as the brush itself is larger and thicker than average; it allows quite a bit of the lacquer to absorb into the brush, so it’s easy to overdo it if you’re not especially careful.  If you have very narrow nail beds, you may also find the brush too wide to use with ease.  The lacquer wore just fine with Zoya’s Color Lock System with tip wear but no chips after a week.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: At $20 a pop, this might not be the shade to splurge on if you’re not quite sure how you feel about the nude on nude trend.

AVAILABILITY: Saks

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Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub
Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub

Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub ($36.00 for 12 oz.) is touted as both a body scrub and skin polish, though the two terms mean different things to me. A body scrub is a coarser product designed to help slough off dead skin cells on the skin that covers your body (which essentially excludes your face, possibly your neck), while a skin polish is a grainier, finer product that buffs and just tends to be gentler overall. Do they mean the same thing to you? I’m more curious than anything. We all have our own expectations/ideas depending on products and how they’re marketed!

The body scrub has a fresh lemony scent that’s light and not synthetic, and it’s really not a scent that will last and last post-shower. It has rather fine, grainy particles that will get the job done, but if you’re looking for a coarser scrub like your typical salt/sugar scrub, I don’t think this will be vigorous enough for you. However, if you prefer something smoother, finer, and altogether gentler (particularly if you have sensitive skin), the consistency of this product is more up your alley. Bliss calls the exfoliating piece “circular scrubbing grains,” which is good, because their spherical nature will avoid tearing the skin.

Ingredients: Water, Myreth-3 Myristate, Octyl Stearate, Polyethylene, Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Distearate, Dimethicone, Propolis Extract, Dimethicone Copolyol, Beeswax, Gylcereth-7 Hydroxystearate/IPDI Copolymer, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Triethanolamine, Hops Extract, Horsetail Extract, Beeswax, Stearamidopropyl Phosphatidyl PG-Dimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea.

I like that my legs feel rejuvenated and more moisturized after using this product. Not all scrubs impart moisture, and I can always appreciate one that multi-tasks (though if you suffer from drier, scalier legs like me, you don’t get to skip the body butter). Depending on your budget and what you like to splurge on, Bliss’ body scrub isn’t for everyone–it can seem pricey. Personally, it takes me ten years (exaggeration!) to get through a jar of body scrub, so if it does the job I like, smells good, etc., I’m not overly concerned whether it’s $10 or $40, since I know I’m going to get plenty of use out of it. If, on the other hand, I was going through a jar a month, I’d be more wary.

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

RECOMMENDATION: If you prefer gentler exfoliating products for your body, consider Bliss’ Lemon + Sage Body Scrub, which uses very fine, grain-like particles to get rid of dry skin.

AVAILABILITY: bliss, Sephora

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