Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Bare Escentuals Buxom Do You Believe in Love at First Sight? Eyeliner Set
Buxom Do You Believe in Love at First Sight? Eyeliner Set

Love at First Sight Doesn’t Last

Buxom Do You Believe in Love at First Sight? Six Mini Eyeliners Set ($28.00 for 6 x 0.01 oz.) includes these shades: No. 1 (bright turquoise), No. 2(violet purple), No. 3 (pearl white), No. 4 (black), No. 5 (espresso), and No. 6 (gold with silver micro glitter).

  • No. 1 is a medium blue with a little aqua lean.
  • No. 2 is a brightened violet with satin sheen.
  • No. 3 is a frosted warm-toned white.
  • No. 4 is a medium-dark black.
  • No. 5 is a medium-dark brown with warm undertones.
  • No. 6 is a yellow gold with silver glitter.

These eyeliners look lovely when swatched, but they do not perform half as well on the eyes. They are drier and have a tendency to tug on the lash line, rather than glide-on and apply smooth, solid color. They pull and tug, which results in a faded, patchy look–not at all sexy! I don’t own any of Buxom’s Insider Eyeliners (which are their twist-up liners), but I did test them out in-store and found these to be incredibly different in formula. If you were hoping that this set was comparable, it’s definitely not.

I wasn’t able to achieve the pigmented, vibrant color on the lash line that I was able to get on my arm. The wear seemed to last, but since it already looked a bit patchy, it was hard to tell what faded. I wouldn’t say that wear is where this product goes wrong–it’s really the lack of creaminess or softness that would help the product glide on the lash line smoothly.

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  • Product: 19/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: Skip these for a creamier, softer formula that glides onto the lash line rather than tugs at it.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Monday, November 15th, 2010

Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eyeshadow Quad

When Things Get Too Glamorous

Bobbi Brown Sparkle Glamour Quad ($40.00 for 0.40 oz.) looks prettier in promos than it does in real life, and it’s prettier in the pan than it is on the eyes. This palette requires some practice in addition to patience, because the glitter will get everywhere–you may even find some in your hair… or in your nose!

These work best with a tackier base, like a sticky cream eyeshadow that takes longer to dry down. You could also use this with something like MAC’s Water-Based Mixing Medium, which has a little tackiness to it. No matter what method you use, some tackiness in the method will allow the glitter to stay on better and minimize fall out. I’d also recommend applying your eye makeup first and then using a makeup remover wipe or tape (lightly!) to remove any excess glitter that’s fallen from your lids. Press, rather than sweep, the product against the lid to further reduce fall out.

All of these shades are sheer; if you want any sort of color pay off, your best bet is to use them wet (water, Fix+, mixing medium, etc.). The “purple” shade looks more like a semi-sheer taupe; the lightest beige is a white-beige with large chunks of glitter; the darker beige is a champagne; and the “black” shade is a soft charcoal that almost looks brown if it is used dry. There is a gold trim that surrounds each “pan” of eyeshadow, and it is hard to use alone, but it just looks like a sheer white gold sparkle.

I wasn’t sure how deep each color went through, since there is the surrounding gold trim, but after digging through the black pan of color, it seems to go quite deep. The palette contains: Pink Glitter Sparkle Eye Shadow, Smoky Sparkle Eye Shadow, Moonlight Sparkle Eye Shadow and Sandy Sparkle Eye Shadow–but honestly, I have no idea which shades are what. I imagine “Smoky” is the black shade. I’m not sure about the rest, and the palette doesn’t indicate any shade names on the back.

When I have to write a full paragraph on how to minimize fall out and make the product worth using, there is definitely something wrong! I was really impressed with fall’s Sparkle Eyeshadows, but I found these too sheer and dry–the ones from fall almost felt wet upon use and held together better when applied.

Sparkle Eyeshadows retail for $24/0.13 oz., while this palette of four Sparkle Eyeshadows retails for $40/0.40 oz. This translates to $184.62/oz. and $100.00/oz. respectively–which does mean you’re getting quite the steal in terms of quantity! Keep in mind that the rating system takes value into account, and the value aspect is particularly strong here, which bolsters the overall grade significantly.

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  • Product: 18/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t have patience or keen on glittery bits, I’d skip this palette.

AVAILABILITY: Bobbi Brown

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Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Benefit Take a Picture It'll Last Longer Body Balm
Benefit Take a Picture It Lasts Longer Body Balm

When Barely There Isn’t Even There…

Benefit Bathina Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer Body Balm ($25.00 for 1.5 oz.) is a lightly floral-scented shimmering body balm. It purports to give a “shimmering, glimmering… seductive golden-pink sheen.” This is a very, very subtle product; I can’t even emphasize just how subtle and sheer and light the sheen is. I took photos of the “swatch,” but it looked like nothing was there. With a little light, I can see that there is a subtle sheen, but I don’t know of “shimmering, glimmering” is an appropriate description. It’s more glowy than shimmery, more sheen than glimmer.

Described as a “balm,” it doesn’t do much to hydrate or keep skin from losing moisture. It does as much for my skin as any highlighter would do (like a pressed one). It’s not thick or greasy, which is nice, but it’s a little time consuming to apply regardless of whether you forego the velvet pillow or not. I think ultimately this is a product that takes the concept of subtle to a whole new level, and I don’t think it’s supposed to be as sheer as it is. I wasn’t expecting big hunks of shimmer at all, but if I have to squint and flail my arms in the sunlight to see if it’s there, I think there’s a problem!

I did really like the scent–it’s kind of like this very subtle, rosy floral that almost reminds me of baby shampoo (but rosier, obviously). I like it, and I don’t find it strong, though it does linger, which is a plus–assuming you like the scent, of course! The packaging is cute and totally Benefit, and the metal tin makes it pretty durable.  The little velvet pillow applicator is a cute touch, which I imagine is supposed to make it a more luxurious experience.  Nice if you’re just applying to decolletage, but if you’re doing legs, a bit more tedious.

Honestly, when it comes to giving the body a soft, shimmering glow, Benefit’s Kitten does an infinitely better job.

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

  • Product: 18/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d recommend checking out Benefit’s Kitten if you want to try a body highlighter by the brand rather than this particular product.

AVAILABILITY: Benefit, Sephora

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Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Caribbean Sea Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Caribbean Sea

Milani Caribbean Sea Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is such a pretty shade of aqua blue… if you use it wet.  When used dry, it’s rather lackluster and almost takes on a greenish cast; it’s also on the sheer side.  However, add just a touch of fixing spray or water to your brush before picking up the shadow yields a much more intense, pigmented shade of lightened aqua blue.  You’ll need to pack on the color, rather than sweep on, to get the best results.  It’s not a great eyeshadow, but it’s workable when wet.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

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  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: Color eyeshadow fiends should probably pass, just because it’s nowhere near as pigmented as many top brands for color–but if you just want to play around and experiment with color, this is an affordable way to do so.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Beach Sand Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Beach Sand

Milani Beach Sand Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is a sheer, barely-there patina gold with a metallic shimmer-sheen.  It really is rather sheer when applied dry, but it does intensify when used wet.  However, this is a shade that can easily be used for that quick, two-minute eye look that adds a little dazzle to the lids without having to spend much time on it.  Just a quick swipe and you’re out the door–it’s one of those kinds of shades.  By itself, it doesn’t stay on for more than a couple of hours, but over a base, it worked just fine.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

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

  • Product: 22/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re just looking for an affordable option for a one-and-done kind of eyeshadow, Beach Sand might work for you.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Napoleon Perdis Air Prismatic Eyeshadow Quad
Napoleon Perdis Air Prismatic Eyeshadow Quad

Napoleon Perdis Prismatic Eyeshadow Quads

Several months ago, I swatched four of Napoleon Perdis Prismatic Eyeshadow Quads ($35.00 for 0.47 oz.). I always meant to post a look using one of them, but I never got around to it. Usually, when I test out products, I put a whole smattering of various products on my face and do partial looks but nothing one would really want to be seen wearing… (One eye has one set of eyeshadows while the other might be testing mascara and liner… and don’t even get me started on mismatching cheeks, LOL!) So even though I may not have an actual full look to show you, I did put these through the rigors I normally put eyeshadows through.

I actually thought these were a lot more affordable than they were; I had classified them as drugstore–but to the contrary! The packaging feels a little cheap to me–it’s clear acrylic with visible, gold hinges. Each palette also includes two sponge-tipped applicators that look as cheap as they feel. For $35, the packaging really leaves a lot to be desired. The eyeshadows are textured with a “wave” shape (see the photos–it’s visible!).

  • AIR features a rather spring-y palette of muted sunshine gold, baby pink with silver sheen, frosted lilac with silver shimmer, and silvered brown. I found this one a little on the sheerer side, which is partially owed to the colors themselves as they’re on the lighter end of the spectrum. All four had very frosty finishes to me, though.
  • EARTH includes a dark navy blue with a satin-shimmer finish, subtly yellow-tinged green with muted gold shimmer, sheer seafoam green with soft gold sheen, and lightened peachy orange with peach sheen and shimmer. The blue shade swatched beautifully, but the other three shades were a little on the sheerer side, with the seafoam green shade being notably lacking in pigmentation.
  • FIRE has a darkened orange-copper with a shimmered sheen, medium-dark beige with champagne shimmer, medium-dark violet purple with a blacker base, and a high-sheen pinkish white. I found this quad to be the most pigmented; all four shades went on really smoothly and vibrantly.
  • WATER contains a sheer, shimmery white, cool-toned gray-cast brown with silver shimmer, glowing periwinkle blue with teal sheen, and light, frosted pink with subtle blue undertones. The periwinkle shade is so pretty, and I don’t have anything quite like it, but the white and pink shades were rather sheer.

Even though at first glance, these palettes seemed really pretty, I wasn’t fond of their textures nor color payoff.  They’re incredibly soft, but they veer on powdery, which makes them difficult to work with.  You really have to pack on the color, and inevitably, you’ll need to clean up the noticeable fall out that lands on your under eye area.   A few shades were nicely pigmented but many fell short–a little sheer, which may also be a result of the powdery formula.

For $35, I wouldn’t put it towards these palettes.  You just can’t make the justification of affordability for the reduction in quality here, because this is under the Napoleon Perdis label (rather than NP Set, which is sold at Target), which is “high-end.”  There is a decent amount of eyeshadow in each palette, so it’s a shame that the formula doesn’t have that wow factor.

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  • Product: 20/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: I don’t recommend these unless you find them on sale.  Each palette has one or two interesting shades in it, but the quality is just so-so with rather soft, rather powdery textures and less pigmentation than I’d expect for a high-end brand.

AVAILABILITY: ULTA

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