Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Napoleon Perdis NP Set Lip Gloss Compact in Bronze

The clearance racks at Target have been mostly cleared of anything decent except for some new mascaras (L'Oreal) but as I don't need or want any, I decided to pick up the NP Set Lip Gloss Compact.

NP Set Lip Gloss Compact ($10)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow

Browsing the Target aisles the yesterday, I came across the Sonia Kashuk Enhance Eye Shadow in Tea Rose. It was marked down to $1.45 so I grabbed it. It comes in a rectangular white case with a magnetic closure.

It's a matte shade and is equal parts brown and pink. Mostly it comes across as a pinkish brown. My problem is, I've been disappointed more than once in colors like this. I remember one experience that involved Laura Mercier's Cashmere and Fresco shades. Matte is sometimes an issue. This product? Very matte. If you can make matte any "matte"r, this is it. No shimmer, no shine. While the texture is not powdery, it's not as smooth as the eyeshadows I'm used to.

The color payoff is rather poor and without any sort of shine, it's just downright dull. It took maybe 5-7 swipes to get the swatch to photograph visibly. On lids, it takes about as many coats for it to show, and even then, it just looks a little muddy. So, I paired it with a rather sheer brownish pink shade that also had poor color payoff but had a little sheen. The pigment of this, mixed with the sheen of the other made for a more polished but natural looking lid. It's a little more awake than if I'd used this alone. It balanced the brown pigments on this with a little more pink so it made a good base for the other shadow. It's a lot of effort to look as if I didn't have any makeup on though. Not something you'd want to pay regular price for.

I actually found some Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Duos in previous clearance piles at Target but those had such awful reviews that I didn't even want to pick them up. One of them was teal and the other was brown. I've heard complaints about the lack of pigment and my experience with the single is the same. I have a quad I picked up awhile back and never got to use. I guess I'll need to try that out sometime and see if all her shadows have that issue. That one has really dark colors though, so maybe it will be a little better.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Cream Blush

As it's still summer, I try to use my more summery blush shades whenever possible. Recently, Sephora was giving away deluxe samples of the Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Cream Blush. I got mine by trading off 100 points from my Beauty Bank. I was a little disappointed though that the free sample was a shade I already owned because I was hoping to try another color. The shade is #6. Sephora.com calls this shade Quickie and describes it as Salmon Pink.

This blush retails for $25 in full size. For that price, it's probably a steal because this will last you awhile if you know how to use it. You have to pump out the product really carefully or you'll get a lot out. All you really need is a tiny dot so this pump method is a real failure in my book. Also, they recommend a stippling brush to apply the product so that means, you pump the product on to another surface (finger or the back of the hand) or directly on your cheek if you can control it, then you can stipple from there. If you can blend it properly before it dries, it looks really natural and pretty. If you can't do it right, it looks bright and splotchy.

Here is the heavy swatch, which shows the color:

I rubbed it off with tissue after I took the first shot and this lighter swatch was what remained:

The product certainly has staying power. Once it dries, you would need makeup remover to get it off. The color really wakes up the face so I don't have problems with how bright and peachy it is. You can try to tone it down with translucent powder if it looks too bright. But once it's dry, you can no longer blend it. I would try to apply as little as possible and blend really quickly and just add another layer if the color isn't enough.

I have to say though that this is so not my favorite blush. I've kept it but haven't found myself reaching for it often because it really is a pain to apply. If I need a real dose of color to brighten my face and I have the time for meticulous application, this is a good call. But personally, I prefer powder blush formulas. They are just so much easier to use.

Friday, August 27, 2010

MAC Studio Stick Foundation SPF 15

I've been looking for a nice concealer to have in my purse for touch-ups. While I love my Laura Mercier Undercover Pot, I've given up on the idea that it is good for travel. In theory, having your supersoft undereye concealer, your more opaque spot corrector and loose powder in one handy little pot sounds great. But then I have to carry the little concealer brush (I'm not dipping my hand in the pot, no!) and a retractable powder brush or mini-puff too?! And then using the loose powder while out is oh so messy! There had to be a better way.

I tried Bobbi Brown a few months back. I have the customizable palette and again, in theory, it's great to have your eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush, bronzer, lipcolor and foundation/concealer in a 6-pan palette to carry everywhere with you. But without going into too much detail about how this plan totally bombed, the foundation/concealer selection did not yield as good a match as I wanted. The formula of the foundation/concealer while very creamy, also felt heavy on my face. It settled into fine lines and just didn't work.
So my search continued at the nearest outlet. At the Cosmetics Company Outlet I came across the MAC Studio Stick Foundation SPF15. I had just thrown out an old Laura Mercier Foundation stick that was a major disappointment so I had to limit my expectations when I tried MAC's. But I was surprised that the color-match was very good (NC-25, to match the NC-25 Studio Fix Foundation I wore mixed with Laura Mercier's Bisque Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer). It also did not leave me feeling like I had a mask on like the old foundation stick I just threw out. At $22 with tax, it felt like a bargain.

Sticks are easy to use. You twist and you see how much product is out. You dab and then you just spread it around with your finger or a brush. It doesn't spread easily because it's not a liquid. You just kind of press it into the skin and even it out. The coverage is rather opaque but you do need to set it with powder.

While I bought this with the intention of using it as a concealer, in colder months, it actually makes a nice foundation. Well, it IS a foundation stick. The coverage is good and it's really moisturizing although the color is a little different from the Studio Fix liquid foundation. This looks a little lighter and less yellow then the NC25 in the liquid. I do like it though. The only problem is, I believe this product has been discontinued. If you find your shade available at your favorite Cosmetics Company Outlet, stock up! I might pick up another one the next time I'm there.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maybelline Dream Mousse Bronzer in Sun Glow

On one of my Target trips, I picked up Maybelline's Dream Mousse Bronzer in shade 20-Sun Glow.

Maybelline Dream Mousse Bronzer in Sun Glow

I love the super soft texture and the light as air feel of it but I'm a little uncertain about how much use I'm going to get out of this bronzer. If you grab a gob of it and blend it out like I did in the swatch, it looks dark but it blends out really well. So well, in fact, that if I just pat on a few spots on my cheekbone and blend, most of the color disappears. It's good as a highlighter but that's pretty much it. I've tried to use it like I would every other bronzer, on the perimeter of the face, for contouring, and on the nose but there's a serious lack of bronzing effect here. It's sheer and shimmery.

For the price I paid (about $2), I'm willing to experiment with it and see if I can make it work. I've heard of people using it as a cream shadow or body shimmer. It seems to work better on cheeks for me, if I used a stain underneath so I get some color and this provides a golden shimmer. I tried it on my arm just to show you the effect. I used a bright pink stain and then applied the bronzer on top. You get pink and a smattering of glittery gold.

Maybelline Dream Mouse Bronzer in Sun Glow over Pink Cheek Stain

If you're looking for a good quality cream bronzer, skip the Maybelline and head for a department store. Try a few brands. I imagine the result would be much better than what this bronzer could ever do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stila Road to Radiance: Across the USA

I purchased this $10 Stila palette from Sephora because I like Stila, love a good deal and I've been into palettes these last few years. I realize that with the cost of singles, you really do get a better deal with palettes. Plus, I like the variety. I would even say I probably value variety over (product) quantity when I think of palettes. So here is a shot of the Stila Collectible Travel Palette No. 1 - Road to Radiance: Across the USA:

The back of the palette shows that there are 4 eyeshadows and 1 convertible color, meant to be used on lips and cheeks. It also shows the quantities of each item:

The inside of the palette, showing the small mirror, convertible color and eyeshadows:

The packaging is made of carton and although probably not the most durable or luxe-looking, makes the entire palette light and easy to tote around. It has a magnetic closure so I would be wary of actually leaving this in my purse. If I did though, I think I would put it back in the plastic bag so it does not accidentally get opened.

Here are the swatches of the eyeshadows. From left, Southern Belle (pink), City Chick (brown with plum tones), Valley Girl (lavender with plum tones), Snow Bunny (metallic lavender):

Then, a heavy swatch of Hibiscus convertible color:

I am not a big fan of Stila's convertible color or most cream-formula blushes. Multi-use products like Bobbi Brown's Pot Rouge or NARS The Multiple don't hold any temptation for me either. As for Stila's convertible color, the texture is too dry on lips for me. On cheeks, I find it a little challenging to spread it evenly. Given that, I have used this on my cheeks and the color is very pretty. It's a sweet bright pink with a touch of rose. I applied using a small stippling brush. I find that the color distributes more evenly that way. The lasting power is not bad but I toned it down a little with translucent powder because I didn't want such a bright cheek. If you like the formula of Stila's convertible color, this will be definitely be a hit.

I would say the eyeshadows are pretty sheer and City Chick is probably the most pigmented. They blend together easily but in the end, they kind of just become a rather dull lavender with brownish tones. I own over a dozen Stila single eyeshadows and these don't feel like they're cut from the same cloth. The quality is definitely different, more powdery, less pigmented. Snow Bunny is the least pigmented of the bunch and it is kind of frosty.

I did a really simple look using all the colors and even with primer it came out so light you can barely see the colors in the picture.

I used City Chick on the lid up to the crease and darkened the outer corner and crease with it, topped Southern Belle on the inner half and Valley Girl on the outer half and over the browbone, then Snow Bunny to highlight under the brow. Then I used a Plum liner on the top and bottom of lashes and a really dark mascara.

Overall, for $10, it's worth keeping. I don't know how much I'll reach for this palette throughout the year because the quality is a little lacking. I'm a little wary now when products are made in China. I had a suspicion that was going to be the case with this, given the price. But I think the colors go well with each other, cheek color included. I'm big on smoky violet or lavender eyes so they definitely hit the mark on the colors. If you're going for the sheer look, this will work rather well. If you want deep purple and tons of smokiness, you'll need the help of a good base to hold the color, maybe a cream shadow to intensify the dark shades, and a lovely plum eyeliner (like Chanel's Cassis Stylo Yeux Waterproof or Tarte's Waterproof clay shadow/liner in Plum) to complement.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow

I couldn't help myself. Even if there was no way to see the product without ordering it, I had to know. Trying to play it safe, I got two shades, No. 02 - Trench and No. 09 - Rosewood.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I love my Chanel Aqualumière Gloss

I recently heard that Chanel's Aqualumière Glosses are going to be discontinued (gasp!). I realized rather late in the game that I actually prefer these glosses to the more popular Glossimers. While I'm not a fan of the sheerness/lack of pigmentation, I completely love the texture and the way the Aqualumières feel on my lips. They are so moist.

Some would argue that if you pile on the Aqualumière Glosses, they would later run around the side of your lips and you'd have to wipe it down. I've heard complaints about the packaging being not as sturdy and caps breaking apart. I've had none of these experiences. I also used to dislike brush applicators but I understand now that of products whose brush applicators I disliked, it was really the product that I didn't like (ex. Stila Lip Glaze). With the Aqualumière Lip Gloss, the brush applicator is perfect.

I won't go on to compare Aqualumière Glosses to the Glossimers. I have a fair number of both. But as a salute to one that may soon be gone, I present some Aqualumières that I have:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Burberry "Light Glow" Natural Blush in Cameo

There are probably a good number of reviews already out for the new Burberry makeup but I've found that the photographs always look somewhat different. Truthfully, nothing beats seeing the actual product if you're looking to buy. There was no nearby Nordstrom that had a Burberry Beauty counter so I resorted to calling up the San Francisco store and having one of the SA's compare blush shades with products I already know. The SA was thinking that I might want to try Blossom but I wanted something pink, not peach or coral. I worried that Peony would be extremely light and I wanted a little more warmth so we settled on No. 2 - Cameo for me.

Burberry Blush in Cameo
Beautiful packaging. A little hefty but nice and sleek. Also comes with the black pouch (reminiscent of Chanel). I also took a version without the flash and moved it to the usual white background that I use:

They look like two different products depending on the lighting. To me, the no flash version is probably more accurate. I would describe Cameo as a warm medium pink with no shimmer. Looking at it from certain angles, I almost feel like there is a touch of brown to it but it is definitely pink.

Despite being called Light Glow blushes, I've found that the one I have is deeply pigmented. So much so that one swipe is all I need for a good dose of color on my cheeks. While I appreciate the pigmentation, I actually prefer blushes that go on the sheer side because I have naturally pink cheeks. I also don't mind reapplying periodically during the day. This, however, needs no reapplication. That one swipe lasts all day.

Burberry's products appear to be highly scented. The second you open it, you get a whiff of what has been described (not just by myself) as old lady powder smell. A little like perfumy talcum powder. This dissipates though. After application, I no longer smelled it.

I like the product enough to keep it and after swatching it against all the blushes I own, I have found no exact match. The brush in the package is also soft and useable, which is rare nowadays. If not for the magnetic closure, this would have been purse perfect. The mirror is nice too. Overall, I'm quite pleased with my purchase and I'm sure I will be reaching for this shade every so often.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

JK Jemma Kidd Show Glow Bronzing Powder

On a recent run of extreme Target shopping, I decided to pick up the JK Jemma Kidd Show Glow Bronzing Powder. Now at $5, originally $20, I couldn't help myself. I'd lingered over the JK display for ages and have never picked up a single thing.

I don't know exactly how many shades this came in (looks like only 2) but I got 01-expose, which I assume is the lightest bronzer. I do know that there is another bronzer variety in this brand, a waterproof one with a completely different packaging, round pan, I think. Here is what mine looks like:

The sun wasn't very bright in the room on the day that I took these pictures so I really had no choice but to use the flash version in at least one shot, so you can see the color. Then for the swatch below, I used a disposable sponge and swiped it neatly across the center of the pan so that on the left side you see the lighter shade and on the right side, you see the darker shade. If you swirl your brush across the whole thing, you probably get a shade that's somewhere in between.

Expose Swatch

I picked up this bronzer with the Sonia Kashuk Wooden Handle Kabuki Brush which was a disappointment. I couldn't even bear to take a picture and write the review before I rushed back to Target to return the product. Quick take: super scratchy. I loved everything about it except how scratchy the hairs were and that outweighed all the positive qualities of the brush. So when I used it to apply this product, the result was not as pretty as I'd hoped and I almost returned it too. It applied unevenly and left muddy-looking patches. But I tried again another day with my trusty Ecotools brush and again another day with a Sephora bronzer brush and I've decided that JK was worthy of a place on my desk.

The color is buildable. It really doesn't look muddy at all. I'm reasonably fair (NC-25) and I tried this over my Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer in Bisque and it looked alright. I thought it looked better when I used it with my Laura Mercier Mineral Powder spf15 in Natural Beige. I think it mostly has to do with the way it blends in when I have a powder-based foundation product on. Lots of buffing helps. The texture is good, not too powdery like cheap products can be and not dry like some baked products I've tried in the past. You get a reasonable amount on your brush but it doesn't get all messy. The back of the product says the contents are made in Italy but it is assembled in China. I don't sense an odor and I am happy with it. I would not call it an exceptional product but worth keeping at $5, which is what I got it for. If you chance upon that orange sticker, this is worth picking up.