Monday, September 3rd, 2012


NARS Heat Soft Touch Shadow Pencil

Well, At Least They’re Consistent

NARS Soft Touch Shadow Pencils ($24.00 for 0.09 oz.) come in four shades for the holidays: Empire (black), Heat (teal), Silver Factory (aluminum), and Trash (vivid purple). Silver Factory is limited edition, but the other three are permanent.

If I had a makeup nemesis, I imagine it would look a lot like NARS’ Soft Touch Shadow Pencils, because it’s one of the worst products I have ever seen, and I get frustrated every time I use a new shade in the same disappointing formula. I wish I could tell you that the latest four showed improvement, but I can’t. They’re as awful as expected. I have reviewed these thoroughly. I have tried them in various ways; as a base, alone, over a base, over a primer, over eyeshadow, under eyeshadow, as eyeliner, as brow highlighters.

NARS describes these as having an “easy, portable, long-wearing application” to “shade the lid, line, or highlight the eye.” They’re supposed to make for “an ideal base for layering with powder shadow or increased color intensity. All four shades creased on me within five minutes if used on the lid; it did not matter whether I used it alone or over NARS’ eyeshadow primer. I tried them as an eyeliner, as well, even though I fully intended not to bother, and they were migrating onto my waterline (FYI, Heat and Trash burned terribly), into my eye, and below my lash line within minutes. Empire didn’t smudge, but it did disappear, as an eyeliner.

  • Empire is a medium black that has a slightly drier consistency compared to other shades as well as the ones in this launch. Realistically, black eyeliner (in general) looks just like this. As a base, you might opt for a gel eyeliner (MAC Blacktrack makes for an excellent all-black base).
  • Heat is a bluish-teal with so-so color payoff. It’s very, very creamy and retains a rather glossy finish. Maybelline Edgy Emerald is greener. Make Up For Ever #21 is more shimmery.
  • Silver Factory is a bright silver with a metallic finish and silver glitter. It doesn’t really get opaque–but it’s not too uneven when it applies, at least. MAC Virgin Silver is similar.
  • Trash is a medium-dark royal purple with strong pink-red undertones. This had good color payoff for a purple; when used in a single pass, it looks rather pink-purple, but layered, it looks more purple. Make Up For Ever #26 is similar, slightly pinker. Urban Decay Delinquent is less red/pink-based.

There are lots of jumbo eyeshadow pencils on the market; using them does not require applying in a myriad of ways in hopes to find the one way that will last longer than an hour. They don’t take days and days of usage just to figure how to use them for longer than five minutes. Imagine me fumbling down the hallway with my eyes closed so that I can get at least one photo where it doesn’t look like Crease City. Suffice to say, these were consistent with the past shades I’ve tried. If you’re so inclined, I recommend reading my past reviews for a full lecture on these.

The Glossover

product

NARS Andy Warhol Soft Touch Shadow Pencils Reviews, Photos, Swatches

If you're been looking for a product to deliver a creased, glossy look, perhaps for an editorial, maybe this is up your alley. I suspect you could find a cheaper cream product to do something similar or else pat Vaseline or gloss over your eyeshadow of choice.
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Friday, June 1st, 2012

MAC Shade & Smoke Shadow/Liner
MAC Shade & Smoke Shadow/Liners

MAC & Beth Ditto: Shade & Smoke Shadow/Liners

MAC Shade & Smoke Shadow/Liners ($22.00 for 0.03 oz.) is a brand new product type for the brand that launches specifically in this collection. There was originally five shades in the collection, but one was pulled out of production (no reason given). According to the very nondescript blurb online, it’s a dual-ended product with an eyeshadow on one end and a Greasepaint liner on the other end to create “the perfect smoky eye.” If you read through the color description that MAC gives, it’s easy to figure out which side is supposed to be the shadow and liner.

The four shades are: Beth Mask (reddish brown bronze liner / golden peach pink shadow), Beth or Glory (deep brown liner / bright blue shadow), Drag, Strip (smoky navy liner / pale blue shadow), and Little Miss Moffet (true black liner / true white shadow). Each dual-ended pencil has a side with a rounded tip, which is supposed to be the liner, and a slanted tip, which is supposed to be a shadow, based on the color descriptions.

This is not a positive review, and this was an incredibly frustrating product to test. What I experienced with this product made me go, “Either it is one of the worst products MAC has ever launched to-date OR I’m doing it wrong.” The concept of using a product in such a wrong way that it doesn’t work is something I find very, very suspect–most of us are not new to the makeup game, and a lot of products are similar to ones we’ve used in the past. This product is called “Shadow/Liner,” so naturally, one would expect to use it as an eyeshadow and an eyeliner. This means actually applying it to the eyelid and on the lash lines. The results were so terrible (more on that in a second) that I decided I would reach out to MAC to ask them more about this product: what was it supposed to do and if they had any tips on how to use them. I was informed these are long-wearing and water-resistant.

MAC Senior Artist, Keri Blair had these application tips:

The tapered end is the “liner” so it’s better for more detailing and defining (I don’t recommend it for the water line) however the slant tip makes it easy to apply to the eye lid or inner corner of the eye. Use it to pop the lid and with a flip of the wrist you can use the rounded side to smoke out the outer and inner corner of the eyes. The rounded side is great for smudging and “smoking” out the eye. You can blend with your finger or a brush but work quickly because this long wearing, water resistant formula dries fast! My best advice is to work one eye at a time to achieve a perfect Smokey smudgy look.

On occasion, I get to utilize a very interesting test: I ask long-time reader, guest writer, and makeup artist Dustin Hunter if he managed to find a way to make something work. If there is ANYONE who will find some use for a product, it’s him. Me, on the other hand, I’m less likely to bother finding really creative ways to make a truly awful product work–I don’t have the time, desire, or energy to do so. There are too many excellent products waiting to be discovered and reviewed! We had a rather long exchange on both Twitter and via e-mail on the difficulty in using and testing this new formula, because it just wasn’t working.

The formula, regardless of which end, is dry. It is extremely dry, which results in poor color payoff and painful application. When I first tried applying Beth Mask to my lid (using the peach side as a lid color), it was so incredibly painful–there was so much tugging, pulling, and drag. For all of that, there was hardly any product on my lid, and what little there was ended up uneven and sparsely applied. I used several different tools in attempt to get color to transfer onto my lids: fingers, brushes (231, 208, 212, 316), and straight from the tube. I had the “best” results straight from the tube.

Some shades were more difficult to work with, but they were all poor performers. I couldn’t use any of these as eyeshadows, and a few of them were better as eyeliners, but the wear wasn’t there. On the lid, I had creasing after five hours. As eyeliner, the ones I tried (Beth Mask, Beth or Glory, and Drag, Strip) were smudged after four hours. When I used them on the lid, blending was futile–because they start out so dry, it’s already immensely hard to blend them out, and they do dry further after being applied. Trying to apply them over a bare lid wasn’t working, so I tried applying over a primer (I used NARS’ Smudgeproof), and it was easier to apply, but it was only marginally better. The result really speaks for itself.

I didn’t expect them to be as bad as they were, because when I swatched them, I was able to build up the color on most of the shades, but I did have to go back and forth several times with firm pressure–and that firm pressure just doesn’t translate well to the eyelid. When MAC has outstanding formulas like Shadesticks, Greasepaint Sticks, etc., how this product can fall so short, I’ll forever be baffled by. I’m also rather disappointed to see there was a measly 0.03 oz. in the product (the average regular eyeliner is 0.04 oz.).

This may be one of the worst products I’ve seen from MAC or any brand. There are flops, and then there are products that make you wonder what kind of testing happened. You want to read those reports. I know Big Bounce was a flop, but at least there was a way to use them that wasn’t too far off from how one might use them anyway (as an eyeshadow base–you just couldn’t use them alone). I might as well write my to-do lists with these, because you won’t see me ever going through the pain of using one of these again.

The Glossover

palette

MAC & Beth Ditto Shade & Smoke Shadow/Liners Review, Photos, Swatches

If you enjoy a challenge and likely wasting your money, sure, try these! Make sure to let us know if you discover the key to unlocking the goodness in these! For anyone who wants their product to work easily, try almost anything else on the market.
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Thursday, May 17th, 2012


MAC Vestral White Nail Lacquer

MAC Vestral White Nail Lacquer

MAC Vestral White Nail Lacquer ($17.00 for 0.34 fl. oz.) is described as a “creamy white.” It’s a stark white cream. NARS Ecume is similar. China Glaze Snow is a bit cooler-toned. Nubar White Peony is warmer.  You might even consider White-Out (thanks Brooke!), because the way this applied reminded me of being in elementary school when girls would apply White-Out like it was nail polish during class–dry, chalky, and oh-so-streaky.  It’s mostly opaque after two coats, but it’s not even.

It’s not really a shocker, given that this was an awful polish when it came out two years ago (and talk about time flying by–two years ago, you could grab this for a measly $12!). It’s disappointing, though, that there were no improvements made to this formula, because it was particularly bad. It’s still runny, kind of watery (make sure to mix this one really, really well–it settles and gets extremely watery easily), and a streak-fest. The first coat was extremely streaky, and though I tried to do a thicker second coat to hide that initial coat, it couldn’t and pooled a bit around the sides and was slightly streaky even on the second coat.

It’s funny (not really), but MAC used to only increase prices by a dollar for special packaging when it was a collaboration, like when they worked with Disney on Venomous Villains, but they’ve been tacking a little extra on for anything in special packaging these days. MAC is certainly moving into a high-end price point, given that NARS’ polish retails for this much. (And many, many niche polish brands like Deborah Lippmann, Butter London, etc. are at this price point or less!)

The Glossover

LE
coming-soon

Vestral White

F
It's about as streaky as I remember White-Out being during elementary school! It's streaky, uneven pigmentation, runny, and watery, which all contributed to a really horrendous application and result. There are far superior versions of white creams available on the market.

Product

3/10

Pigmentation

7.5/10

Texture

4/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

2/5

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Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Chanel Sirocco Glossimer
Chanel Sirocco Glossimer

Chanel Sirocco Glossimer

Chanel Sirocco Glossimer ($29.50 for 0.19 oz.) might look like a soft peachy gold in the tube, but it’s virtually colorless on the lips. The base is mostly clear on my lips with a fine dusting of pale peach shimmer–it’s very subtle, barely-there shimmer. From afar, it looks like I’m wearing clear gloss or some shiny lip balm. The dupes are endless! Any gloss that has a tiny bit of shimmer but is otherwise clear will do.

Chanel’s signature gloss formula is supposed to deliver shimmer and “high-shine glow” with shades that range from “sheer and natural” to “sparkling and rich.” The formula is supposed to be both comfortable and long-wearing. Though it can be hard to make the distinction, there is a line between sheer and clear. If you want a comfortable, hydrating product that doesn’t have any color, I think you ought to opt for lip balm, which will do a better job at moisturizing your lips.  This is just too close to clear to be “sheer and natural” to me.  Maybe if there was more shimmer or even the slightest tint to the base color it would reach a level of sheer that makes sense.

I totally get the appeal of Glossimers; they can be really dazzling and sparkling, nearly breathtaking in the sunlight, but this lacks the shimmer that gives that effect.  I’m a fan of the formula, generally speaking, but some of the more recent releases have been disappointing.  Sirocco lasts about two and a half hours before the shine is gone, and since there really isn’t any color, the rest of it appears to be gone, too.  The texture is thin without being too thin, comfortable, non-sticky, and keeps lips feeling good while its on.

The Glossover

LE
product

Sirocco

F
The lightweight, non-sticky, and comfortable texture is the gloss's saving grace [from an F rating]. While it feels lovely on, it's virtually colorless and has so little shimmer that it ends up looking like clear gloss or balm once applied.

Product

7/10

Pigmentation

2/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

4/10

Application

4/5

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Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Dior Swimming Pool Eyeshadow Palette
Dior Swimming Pool Eyeshadow Palette

Dior Swimming Pool Eyeshadow Palette

Dior Swimming Pool Eyeshadow Palette ($60.00 for 0.24 oz.) is one of two limited edition summer eyeshadow palettes from the brand, and while Aurora soared, Swimming Pool sinks (couldn’t resist!).

The upper left shade is an iridescent pink-peach with sheer color. It had a powdery texture, though it wasn’t as bad as other shades in the palette. Tarina Tarantino DIamond Dusk is similar but has no peach. Bobbi Brown Black Ruby ends up looking similar because it’s also very sheer. Make Up For Ever #940 is very similar but has a much stronger duochrome.

The upper right shade is a pale silver with sheer color payoff and a powdery finish. Tarina Tarantino Lovely has a similar silver but has a more frosted finish. Guerlain Les Aquas is similar but has a more metallic finish.

The center shade is a light-medium sky blue with a mostly matte finish. It is very powdery, and it’s one of the most pigmented out of the five–but it’s still on the sheer side and impossible to build up on the lid. I wore this in the crease, and I kept going back (four times!) to get mediocre color payoff. The powdery texture makes this extremely easy to blend into oblivion–it just disappears as soon as you attempt to soften the edge. Buxom Husky is a smidgen lighter. NYX Cool Blue is darker. MAC Styledriven is very similar but has a frosted finish. Inglot #367 is lighter.

The lower left shade is a seafoam green to the eye, but when applied, it’s a sheer iridescent aqua that seems to bunch up on itself and disappear in sections. It doesn’t like to blend, and it doesn’t apply evenly. Giorgio Armani Airy Jade was the most similar, though it’s more metallic. Cle de Peau #112 doesn’t have the same finish. Lancome Fashion Forward is greener.

The lower right shade is a pale, frosted beige–the high metallic finish makes it appear almost white, though. This was the other more pigmented shade in the palette, though it’s still on the sheerer side. The texture was also the least powdery. Dolce & Gabbana Jewels seemed the closest.

This palette is characterized by two things: sheer and chalky. Let’s throw in powdery, too, because nearly every shade kicks up a ton of excess powder even when you barely touch your brush to the pan. When I applied these eyeshadows to the lid over a primer and over bare lids, I still couldn’t get much color payoff, and they didn’t want to blend. The aqua shade disappeared and looked so uneven. The blue shade insisted on looking like a pale, pasty blue. I’m about medium in color, but it’s horrific on me–the chalkiness is just emphasized and exacerbated with the genuine chalky base of the shades. I think the only people who could possibly wear this would be really pale skin tones.  What little manages to apply to the lid wears so-so; it seems a little faded after six hours or so both with and without a primer.

Swimming Pool may be one of the worst palettes I’ve come across from Dior. I can’t get over how powdery the finishes are, how sheer the colors were, and how they didn’t want to stick to the eye at all. I can only think of one compliment: it was a nice combination of colors in theory, but the execution was awful. I typically don’t return products I buy for review, since I get my “use” out of them, but this makes me want to reconsider that policy and get my $60 back.  I’ll have to settle for letting all of you know to check this out in person first!

The Glossover

palette

Swimming Pool

F
Chalky, powdery textures abound in this palette--accompanied by pitiful pigmentation! The eyeshadows are soft, but they are difficult to blend together, partially because they tend to disappear and blend to nothingness with little effort. I think the only hope this palette has is on really pale complexions and for someone who wants only sheer washes of color.

Product

3/10

Pigmentation

5/10

Texture

5/10

Longevity

6/10

Application

2/5

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Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Revlon Neptune Star Diamond Lust Eyeshadow
Revlon Neptune Star Diamond Lust Eyeshadow

Revlon Neptune Star Diamond Lust Eyeshadow

Revlon Neptune Star Diamond Lust Eyeshadow ($4.99 for 0.028 oz.) is a muted dark navy blue with multi-colored shimmer (preodminantly blue, green, and violet). The color payoff is sheer and looks almost muddied when it is applied dry, and when it’s applied wet, the navy blue starts to bubble forth. Dry, it has a similar color as Dior Smoking Blue, though it doesn’t have the same shimmer/glitter. Make Up For Ever #147 is closest in terms of overall color but lacks the glitter component.

This eyeshadow takes a LOT of work to get to work well (or decently, I suppose). It suffers from poor color payoff, poor blendability, and fall out (both during application and later on while it is worn). When I saw this, it looked so beautiful and shimmering in its compact, so I had to buy it. I thought it was going to be a finer shimmer application, but it’s fairly large, chunky glitter–the texture actually feels gritty to the touch. This is a product that I’d say is best used patted lightly on top of some other, better performing eyeshadow. It just doesn’t deliver enough pigmentation to be used easily on its own.

The fall out is pretty bad, but I had the most frustration dealing with how difficult this shade was to blend. It is dry and stiff to work with, and when you finally manage to blend it out, there’s a really muddied look to it. It does not play well with others for that reason.  Fall out during application is one problem, and there’s fall out because you’re heavier handed and then there’s fall out because the product is too powdery or doesn’t bind together well, but fall out that continues throughout the time you wear it is the kind I focus most on and am most concerned about.  You will absolutely need to bring out your arsenal of tricks to use with the glitter-bomb–a sticky, adhesive base (like MAC Mixing Medium, Too Faced Glitter Glue, etc.) is a must.

Revlon may describe this has having “rich, refined pigments” and a “velvety smooth texture” that “glides on smoothly, blends effortlessly,” but I didn’t find that any of those things were true.  What is true is that yes, this will provide a really gorgeous dimension to the lid with the high sparkle content, but it will take some patience and additional products to get it to behave (which solves the fall out issue the most, but not so much the pigmentation or the blendability).  It ends up being a novelty purchase for me; something to work with for a very specific type of look when you have enough time to prep and clean up after it. If you like a glittery effect and don’t mind the work to create the look, you may find this is worth checking out. I recommend it as a layering shade over a coordinating eyeshadow.

The Glossover

LE
product

Neptune Star

F
If you like a glittery effect and don't mind the work to create the look, you may find this is worth checking out. I recommend it as a layering shade over a coordinating eyeshadow.

Product

5/10

Pigmentation

6/10

Texture

7.5/10

Longevity

6/10

Application

2/5

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