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Beautiful Beginnings with Illamasqua

Beautiful Beginnings with Illamasqua

What was the first Illamasqua product you ever tried?  Did it pave way for a real romance or did it put you off the brand entirely?  What was the first Illamasqua product you purchased?  Did you love it? Hate it? Still own it?

my answer:  One of the coolest things about Illamasqua is that it’s one of the newer brands, so I get to say I was an early adopter!  The first products I tried were their nail varnishes, followed by their matte lipsticks and matte blushes.  I love the theme and aesthetic of Illamasqua, and they’ve always been a pleasure to work with.

Share your first time experiences with Illamasqua in the comments! 🙂

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NARS Ratin Jot Nail Lacquer

NARS Ratin Jot Nail Lacquer
NARS Ratin Jot Nail Lacquer

NARS Ratin Jot Nail Lacquer

NARS Ratin Jot Nail Lacquer ($18.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is described as an “orchid purple.” It’s a muted magenta pink with a cream finish. Illamasqua Obsess is more vibrant, less pink. Deborah Lippmann Makin’ Whoopee is more fuchsia. Zoya Areej is dustier, pinker, less vibrant. SpaRitual Color Trip is pinker.

The formula on Ratin Jot was lovely–richly pigmented (opaque in two coats, but almost in one), not too thick or too thin, and flowed beautifully across the nail without streaking, bubbling, or pooling. This color is very saturated and almost neon, but it’s shy of it.  There’s a slightly muted quality that keeps the pink hues from turning fuchsia, but there’s still enough richness that it pulls very magenta. I typically get a week of wear with minor tip wear but no chipping with NARS’ lacquer formula.

Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow

Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow
Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow

Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow

Milani Pitch Black Powder Eyeshadow ($4.49 for 0.11 oz.) is an intense dark black with a matte finish–though there appears to be a very, very faint sheen, it doesn’t translate on the lid or from afar. It also seems to have very subtle blue undertones (rather than brown), but it’s hard to tell–it’s that close to neutral. Urban Decay Blackout is just slightly richer. Tarina Tarantino Lovely is a little softer. Guerlain Les Ombres de Nuit is similar. Inglot #391 is not quite as dark.

The formula is supposed to be “super pigmented, easily blendable, creaseproof, [and] silk-like.”  This is the second shade I’ve tried from the line-up, and I’m not disappointed.  I think the texture is a little drier than Shocking Pink, but it’s very intense and pigmented.  It’s soft, finely-milled, and doesn’t look chalky when applied.  It blends out fairly easily, though it could be just a little softer and denser.  The good news is that it’s not powdery, so you don’t end up with lots of excess product underneath your lid during application as you might with a more powdery formula.  This particular shade is closer in texture to MAC’s mattes, but it’s not quite as dry.  When I trialed Pitch Black on the bare lid, it wore for eight hours with some slight fading around the edges but no creasing.

It will be available exclusively at select CVS stores this May. I’ve linked to Milani’s website for the time being, as it’s a good starting point for tracking down where Milani is sold near you.  These are packaged in a clear-cover plastic compact and contain over double the amount of product as the average eyeshadow (0.11 oz. vs. 0.05 oz.).

9
Product
10
Pigmentation
9
Texture
9
Longevity
4.5
Application
92%
Total

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Chanel Empreinte Rouge Coco Shine

Chanel Empreinte Rouge Coco Shine
Chanel Empreinte Rouge Coco Shine

Chanel Empreinte Rouge Coco Shine

Chanel Empreinte Rouge Coco Shine ($32.50 for 0.10 oz.) is a pale beige-rose with a subtle gray cast. There’s also a very subtle gold shimmer. Cle de Peau #129 is similar, though it applies pinker and warmer. MAC Win-Win has a totally different texture but appears a bit similar. MAC Lazy Day has a similar gray cast but is more opaque. Benefit Jing-a-ling is also pink with a gray cast but is also more opaque.  I caution you on comparison colors, though, because there’s enough translucency that and subtlety to this shade that I expect it to look a bit different person to person.

It has semi-sheer color coverage; at first glance, it will appear sheer or almost colorless, and that’s because it is nearly the exact color of my lips, and I don’t mean that in a my-lips-but-better kind of way–because I don’t like my natural lip color much (very corpse-like), so the result is just a more evened out corpse-like color. So it’s not my take on MLBB myself, but it could work for someone with more naturally pigmented lips looking for a way to mute them here and there. If you’re scratching your head thinking, “No way this is semi-sheer,” I encourage you to look very specifically at the freckle on my lip–you can see how prominent it is on my bare lips, but you’ll see how much of it is covered/appears faded with this product on.

There are a lot of readers who love this formula, and while I like it, I’m not in love for two reasons: it’s not really moisturizing in my experience, and it wears off too quickly. It’s not drying, but it doesn’t hydrate my lips during the short time it lasts on my lips. I’m lucky if these last two hours (and I typically get four hours of wear out of lipsticks).  Empreinte lasted a whopping hour and a half.  What I like most about the formula is the consistency; it’s very soft, smooth, and has a lot of slip, so it glides on lips easily and feels really comfortable to wear. A small downside to slippery formulas is that it’s easy to over-apply and they do have a tendency to disappear faster than less slippery formulas.

Empreinte
Empreinte
8
Product
9
Pigmentation
10
Texture
6
Longevity
5
Application
84%
Total

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The Million Dollar “Is it worth it?” Question

Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss
Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss

Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss Review, Photos, Swatches

One question I regularly receive about products (and not just luxury priced products) is, “Is it worth it?” This is also iterated in other ways, like: 1) “Do I need this?” 2) “Should I save up for this?” and 3) “Should I buy the original or the cheaper dupe?” Sometimes someone will want to be convinced to buy something, other times someone will want to be reminded that it’s totally dupeable or below-the-bar in quality. The problem with these questions is it’s really, really hard for me to tell you if a product is worth it to you or not. It’s undeniably subjective and completely based upon your budget and personal preferences!

I thought maybe it would be a good reference post going forward whenever I review a more expensive product, because “worth” and “value” are measured differently by each of us. Some of us prefer to look at how much you’re getting for the price, others look purely at the price tag because they never expect to go through a product, and others look at price per use (because you expect to use it up). I’m more in the camp of the last one–if you are only going to wear a product once or twice before moving onto something else, there’s absolutely no reason to save up for it. If you’re going to use it everyday for months, then maybe it’s worth saving up for.

From time to time, I re-review one of my all-time favorite products (and thankfully, it’s permanent!) that I continue to love each and every time I wear as much as I did the first time (and I’m often motivated to do a more thorough job reviewing the product each time and with better photos!). There are a few reasons why I love it, but they’re all personal reasons and justifications. I just re-purchased it from Saks a week or so ago.

Cle de Peau #2 Lipgloss ($48.00 for 0.21 fl. oz.) is a peach and gold shimmered peach-pink with a nearly metallic finish. It’s semi-opaque in coverage–there is a lot of shimmer in it, while the base color itself is fairly close to my natural lip color (warmer and pinker). Le Metier de Beaute Papaya Creme is the closest dupe to this shade, and it has a slightly darker color base (less pink, a little more coral), but it has a very similar shimmer component that gives off the same metallic-like finish. MAC Nymphette is sheerer, more golden (less peach), and doesn’t have nearly as much shimmer–but it is a gorgeous shade and similarly flattering. Benefit I’m With the Band is pinker, less peach, almost gold-copper in shimmer. Chanel Pin-Up is similar but has less shimmer. NARS Orgasm is also similar but lacks the heavy shimmer finish. NP Set Mauritius is milkier and a little less peach.

First and foremost, I’m absolutely in love with the color. It’s warm, peach, and gold; all shades that flatter my particular skin tone and overall coloring. It’s not sheer, but it’s not totally opaque, so it can be layered with other lipsticks but also wore on its own (I usually wear it on its own). There are, however, as you can see from above, numerous shades that are similar to this one–and for most, I suspect, similar enough to opt for a version that’s half or even a third of the price of this one. The only thing that really makes it slightly different is how much shimmer is in the gloss, and the resulting more metallic-like finish (which Papaya Creme also has but the base color is a wee different, though not by much–and still $12 cheaper).

The texture is lightweight and comfortable to wear without being too thin or too thick; it doesn’t slip around once applied, but it doesn’t cling. It’s non-sticky, and there was no discernible scent or taste. I love that it wears five to six hours on me, and it fades evenly and none of the shimmer (and there’s a lot of it!) travels while it’s worn. The formula is moisturizing and never leaves my lips feeling dehydrated, even after wearing it all day.  It’s not my favorite gloss formula of all time, but it’s a really good one (though I haven’t tried many other shades beyond #2–I can’t even remember trying another shade on).  If it was a poorly made gloss with a stellar color, I would probably end up moving to a dupe with a better formula and only keep my original tube as nostalgia.

I imagine part of the love for this particular gloss is attached to memories; my first luxury cosmetic purchase, which was part souvenir (at my first Barney’s, which was in Vegas) and part reward, and one of those products that has endured over time. It doesn’t matter if others think it’s a waste of money or hate the color or don’t think it’s worth that much–my enjoyment is not dependent on others loving it.  Every time I apply this gloss, I smile. My spirits rise.  I get a little giddy.  I remember the very moment I swatched this and saw the crazy peach-gold duochrome and fell in love and indulged.

One thing that you’ll notice is I’m careful about saying what is and isn’t my favorite. There are lots of products I like and even love, but there are less products I consider true favorites–ones I go back to, ones I would repurchase, ones that I would use over and over again if I was a normal consumer.  So when I say something is my favorite, I say it with feeling.

There are a handful of lip products that I always reach for when I travel, this being one of them (others include Chanel Dragon–my power red–and a Guerlain Rouge G, which usually fluctuates between Garconne, Gems, and Ginny at the moment). This also has a permanent home in my purse (along with Jack Black Lip Balm), and if I don’t have a product I’m testing along with me and the product I was originally testing has worn off, I reach for this.

Is there a beauty product that holds a special place in your heart?

The Million Dollar “Is it worth it?” Question

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