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Top 5 Shimmering Bronze Eyeshadows

Reader Maha requested my top five picks for bronze eyeshadows, and here we go! 🙂 This was a tough one–there are SO many fantastic bronze eyeshadows on the market. You can see a few more shades that didn’t quite make the cut here.

  1. Maybelline Downtown Brown — golden bronze
  2. MAC Bronze — red-toned bronze brown
  3. Giorgio Armani #6 — deep, golden bronze
  4. Inglot #409 — medium-dark bronze
  5. bareminerals Cognac — metallic bronze

What’s your favorite bronze eyeshadow?

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Real Techniques Expert Face, Buffing, Contour, Pointed Foundation, Detailer Brush

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush ($8.99) is designed for applying and blending cream or liquid foundation. The brush head is 25mm in length, 30mm in width, and 20mm in thickness. The brush had a total length of 6 inches/15.5 centimeters. The brush is soft, dense, firm (with some give but not fluffy or springy). The edge is slightly rounded, but the most noticeable characteristic about the brush is just how dense it is. It is even denser than the Buffing Brush. I bought this brush after a few readers asked how it compared to Tom Ford’s Cream Foundation Brush, and I don’t think they’re similar in terms of shape, density, and so forth, but the end results achieved with both brushes are more comparable. I do get better and more effortless results with Tom Ford’s, as it doesn’t streak at all for me, but this brush does so occasionally. The rounded, slightly tapered edge makes it easy to buff and blend out any streaks, though, and the synthetic bristles of this brush means it works better with cream and liquid products and is easier to clean. In a blind softness test, I ran both brushes across my husband’s forearm (and I had him do the same for me) three times for each (and at random), Tom Ford always came out on top as softer, but Real Techniques is still very, very soft. I would not complain; I would not even notice, if I didn’t have Tom Ford to compare it to–the way I used this often reminded me of how I used to use MAC’s 109, and this is softer than that brush.

Real Techniques Core Collection ($17.99 for set of four brushes) includes a Buffing Brush, Contour Brush, Pointed Foundation Brush, and Detailer Brush, plus a case to carry them in. For the price, you’re getting a nice amount of brushes, but as with kits, they’re not all as equally useful and ultimately whether you love and use all four regularly will depend entirely on your personal routine and brush preferences. The Buffing and Contour Brushes are both shapes that I think many would use and appreciate, while the Pointed Foundation and Detailer Brushes will be less applicable for all. I really wish you could purchase these brushes individually as well, because I could easily see getting a second Buffing Brush, or if you loved the Detailer Brush, having two or three might be nice for anyone who needs the precision.

Buffing Brush is a medium-sized, wide circular brush that widens at the end and has an ever-so-slightly domed edge. The brush head is 30mm in length, 35mm in width (at its widest point), and 30mm in thickness. In total, the brush has a length of 6 inches/15.5 centimeters. It’s a really nice, multi-tasking brush that can be used to apply foundation (though it says powder, I’ve used it with both powder, cream, and liquid, and it worked fine across all three), blend out blushes and bronzers, or to apply setting powder. It’s densely-packed with soft bristles that feel nice against the skin.

Contour Brush is a small, domed-shaped brush that’s soft, lightly fluffy, and not too dense. The brush head is 30mm in length, 18mm in width, and 18mm in thickness. The brush has a total length of 6.25 inches/15.7 centimeters. It has a good amount of spring so it blends, but it isn’t floppy, so it still retains its shape. It fits nicely into the hollow of the cheeks, so it definitely works exceptionally well for contouring (especially with cream products), but I also quite liked it for applying highlighters on the cheek bones and down the nose as well as for applying cream blushes for a more feathery application. Of the brushes in the set, this was my favorite.

Pointed Foundation Brush was surprisingly small for a flat foundation brush. The brush head is 27mm in length, 15mm in width, and 5mm in thickness. The total length of the brush is 6 inches/15.5 centimeters. It would work better for applying a liquid or cream product to the face, but then using another brush to actually blend and work it into the skin. I often use a concealer brush to dab my liquid foundation in spots on my face before blending the foundation all-over with something larger and denser, so that seemed to be a better use for this than applying foundation all-over. It was very prone to creating lines when I used it for all-over foundation application, so I still needed to go back with something else to buff out all the visible lines. I also tried using it to dab cream highlighters on the cheeks and it was decent, but it doesn’t blend or diffuse the product well enough, so again, a second brush becomes necessary–and I could have just used the second brush for both initial application and subsequent blending.

Detailer Brush is a teeny, tiny firm, flat brush with a tapered edge. The brush head is 9mm in length, 6mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. The whole brush is just under 5.5 inches/14 centimeters. If you have small eyes or deeper crevices around your nose, it might be more useful than your traditional concealer or lip brush as it is much shorter and thinner. This brush was scratchy/rough; when I would pat it underneath the eye for concealer, I could feel a few bristles “stabbing” the skin.

Every brush seemed well-balanced; they weren’t top-heavy or bottom-heavy, so I had good control and they felt good in my hands and as I used them during application. I’ve been using these brushes for several weeks (with the exception of the Expert Face Brush, which I’ve only been using for almost two weeks).  I had few splayed bristles on the Buffing Brush when it arrived and haven’t quite been able to get them to re-shape perfectly, so I might trim those stray ones out.  I’ve only had a few bristles shed during the first few uses with the Buffing and Expert Face Brushes (which is normal!).  I haven’t had any issues cleaning or re-shaping them, and they haven’t bled dye during washes or smelled funny after drying.

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NARS Interstellar, Mozambique, Black Valley Eye Paints

NARS Mozambique Eye Paint
NARS Interstellar Eye Paint

NARS Interstellar Eye Paint ($25.00 for 0.08 oz.) is described as a “silver.” It’s a bright, metallic silver. It had fairly good color payoff, but it was more prone to sheering out than some of the other shades. This is one of the less unique shades in the range, and you can find many silver eyeliners/cream eyeshadows on the market. Maybelline Cool Crush is slightly cooler-toned. Bobbi Brown Chrome is similar. Urban Decay Cuff is darker. Maybelline Silver Strike is similar. MAC Tundra is darker. Buxom Chihuahua is similar. See comparison swatches.

Mozambique is described as “olive.” It’s a mossy, yellow-toned, medium-dark green with a mostly matte finish. It was very, very creamy and pigmented. I felt like this one was prone to sheering out, though, on the lid because of how much slip it had.  I couldn’t think of any eyeliner or cream eyeshadow dupes for this shade–everything was either much darker or much less yellow.

Black Valley is described as “black.” It’s a rich, deep dark black with a matte finish. It is, obviously, a shade that you can find in many brands’ gel eyeliner ranges, so it’s not unique. It just comes down to whether the formula is better for you than others, so while it’s not particularly exciting, it makes sense for every brand to do their version of it since it is a basic. Here are many black eyeliners/black cream eyeshadows from other brands.

Please refer to my original review here for a more in-depth look at the formula as a whole. To recap, Eye Paints are designed to be a long-wearing, highly-pigmented gel formula that can be used as an eyeshadow or as an eyeliner. I applied each shade using NARS’ #38 brush to mimic applying it as an eyeliner (narrow swatch) and then applied the same color with the horizontal edge of the #38 to mimic applying it as an all-over lid color (wide swatch). The formua’s strength is its creaminess and intense color payoff, but it dries and sets very quickly so it can be difficult to blend the shades together or soften the edges if you do not work quickly.

I’m waiting on Tatar in the mail, so I’ll have a review of that shade later next week, but these are the least three shades I tested and found they were in line with the rest of the range. I layered powder eyeshadow over Iskandar and Mozambique (an Inglot gold eyeshadow and MAC Velvet Moss, which I believe is discontinued–I was just aiming to get as close to the base color). Layering powder over the Eye Paints seemed to be the best way to use them all over the eye, as it maximized the wear time–ten to twelve hours with very minimal fading and no creasing–while creating a perfectly even surface once the powder eyeshadows were layered on top. Alone, I had noticeable fading with Mozambique after six and a half hours (Iskandar holds up better–the shimmery shades have been slightly more fade-resistant for longer compared to the more matte shades) but no creasing. It was significantly faded after ten hours. Black Valley and Interstellar wear best as eyeliners, getting to eight hours of wear with no fading or migrating. On the lid, Black Valley manages well for seven hours but starts to fade from there, and it did crease just slightly after eight hours, while Interstellar lasts with just slight fading at eight hours but no creasing.

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Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush Review & Photos

Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush
Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush

Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush ($20.00) is described as a “pre-cut, fan brush with 8 sections used to create multi-line effects.” It’s part of the 400 series, which is the artistry/professional range. It is, quite possibly, the most unique brush I’ve come across. This is definitely not a brush that most people will be rushing out to grab, because it is specific and more of an artistry tool than anything else. Make Up For Ever says it can be used to create artistic patterns on the face and smaller areas of the bodies, and it is appropriate to use with creams and liquids. It’s 23mm wide, 15mm tall, and less than a 1mm thick. The ferrule clasps the bristles in the middle of the base, and then the brush fans out with eight distinct tips. The brush head is heavier than the handle, which is very long and skinny (total brush length is 6.5 inches/17 centimeters, and comes to a slanted point at the end. The bristles were soft when dragged across the skin and had a good amount of give and spring.

Dubbed “the rake” by my husband, you can dip it into a cream or liquid product and than drag it across the skin’s surface. I think it would work better with a liquid or very thin cream/gel, because it needs to be fairly saturated and have a product with a lot of slip, so it can create even, opaque lines. I tried with NARS new Eye Paint in Solomon Islands, and though I felt like I loaded up the brush, the color ran out quickly. I’m thinking body paint would be a far better product to be used with this (which I do not have). I hope the brand will put out a few videos of artists in action, particularly one where they’re using this brush! The brush was easy to clean, and I didn’t experience any dye washing out, shedding, or unusual smells post-wash.

I have a few other brushes from the new Make Up For Ever brush range that I’ll be putting through the paces, but I thought I’d share this early look at an unusual brush (as I will not be testing this one extensively).

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NARS Transvaal, Solomon Islands, Ubangi Eye Paints

NARS Transvaal Eye Paint
NARS Transvaal Eye Paint

NARS Transvaal Eye Paint ($25.00 for 0.08 oz.) is described as a “grey.” It’s a medium-dark, neutral-cool gray with a mostly matte finish. It was intensely pigmented and very creamy. NARS Madison Ave. is bluer, darker. Maybelline Audacious Asphalt is shimmery, warmer. See comparison swatches.

Solomon Islands is described as “turquoise blue.” It’s a medium-dark blue with a hint of teal/green to give it a more turquoise coloring. It has a matte finish and rich color payoff. MAC Mountain Air is darker and pearly, but it was the only turquoise-ish cream eyeshadow/eyeliner I could think of to compare. See comparison swatches.

Ubangi is described as a “black with blue shimmer.” It’s a cool-toned black with medium blue and navy blue micro-shimmer. This particular shade had a very slippery consistency–it was wetter than the others–and the color payoff was less intense as it had a tendency to sheer out. Urban Decay Sabbath is bluer. MAC Night Trail is similar. MAC Petrol Blue is lighter, bluer. MAC Waveline is lighter, less shimmery. bareMinerals Noon is more muted. See comparison swatches.

Please refer to my original review here for a more in-depth look at the formula as a whole. To recap, Eye Paints are designed to be a long-wearing, highly-pigmented gel formula that can be used as an eyeshadow or as an eyeliner. I applied each shade using NARS’ #38 brush to mimic applying it as an eyeliner (narrow swatch) and then applied the same color with the horizontal edge of the #38 to mimic applying it as an all-over lid color (wide swatch). The formua’s strength is its creaminess and intense color payoff, but it dries and sets very quickly so it can be difficult to blend the shades together or soften the edges if you do not work quickly.

As a cream eyeshadow, the wear is just okay; there is some fading apparent after six to seven hours, and Ubangi seemed more prone to fading than the other two shades. I did not experience creasing with any of these shades. When worn as an eyeliner, Solomon Islands did not fade or migrate, and it seemed to last quite well over a nine-hour period. These definitely perform best as eyeliners, less so as cream eyeshadows. If you want to use them as a base, they wear well with powder eyeshadow on top–no creasing or fading after ten hours of wear.

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Illamasqua The Sacred Hour Collection for Fall 2013


The Sacred Hour is the time to release your inner warrior. Embrace new beginnings at daybreak and re-stoke the fire in your heart as the sun sets. Breathe in the elements, enhance your features, and express yourself. Find your courage, wisdom and power within.

“A moment to reflect your inner fire and strength; a spark that is ignited with the dawn, and rolls towards a raging fire with the dusk. Inside we have the power to fan those flames, connect with our spirits and open our hearts to greatness.” — Alex Box, Illamasqua Creative Di rector

“The Sacred Hour is a time portal for self-reflection, appreciation and empowerment. Let your inner spirit ascend, take flight and descend to rest.” — David Horne, Illamasqua Director of Product Development

New Reflection Palette ($46.50 / £34.00)

Nature’s core elements expressed in one beautiful palette. The water-resistant formula, silky textures and shimmer finishes can be worn in a natural or enchanting way. Long wearing hold, effortless application and blendable. Versatile shades each with a mystical story of their own.

  • Precipice Soft lemon
  • Acute Ash taupe
  • Graphica Graphite grey
  • Dart Toasted bronze

Velvet Blusher ($26.00 / £18.00

Experience unexpected textures with two radiant cream to powder blushers. Illamasqua Velvet Blusher delivers a fresh, long-lasting and wearable matte finish exuding natural radiance. Easily blendable, and containing Mineral Mica, it is available in two complementing shades.

  • Sleek Dusky coral
  • Peaked Dusky rose

Lipstick ($24.00 / £16.50)

A versatile shade to be worn as a symbol of your strength, this lipstick embodies inner empowerment and confidence. Long wearing with a creamy matte finish.

  • Shard Red violet

Nail Varnish ($17.00 / £14.50)

Two complementing shades that capture the essence of dawn and dusk. Inspired by opalescent crystals and flint, these varnishes create a mystical finish whilst being long wearing and chip resistant.

  • Facet Grey crystal
  • Hemlock Pale opal green

Lush Lash ($17.00 / £14.50)

Enchanting, feather-like False Eye Lashes to complete, complement and add drama to any look.

Skin Base Lift ($24.00 / £16.00

Lift, illuminate and create flawless coverage with this brightening concealer. Infused with warm peach tones to flatter every skin tone, Skin Base Lift blends easily,
correcting uneven pigmentation and visibly lifting the eye area. For added brightening effect, custom mix each shade with Skin Base Lift in White Light.

  • White Light, Light 1, Light 2, Medium 1, Medium 2, Deep 1 & Deep 2

Availability: August 30th @ Sephora

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