4.21.2012

Summer Eye/Smoky Eye: Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow in 26E and 20E Review and Swatches

I've never used Make Up For Ever before, so I bought four items to try in my last Sephora order. I grabbed two Rouge Artiste lipsticks and two of Make Up For Ever's new Aqua Shadow eyeshadow pencils ($20).  

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows in 26E and 20E
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows in 26E and 20E

The Aqua Shadow pencils are intended to be ultra long-lasting and waterproof. They are available in matte or pearl finishes. I chose shade 26E, pearly peach, and 20E, pearly taupe. 

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 26E 20E
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 26E and 20E

I am very happy with my shade selection.  Both 26E and 20E are GORGEOUS!  The Aqua Shadows are extremely pigmented and feel creamy to the touch. 

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow in 26E is a vibrant peach with gold pearl.  

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow in 20E is a very complex, pearlized taupe. It can look like a cool, shimmery brown or grey with hints of purple or pink. It all depends on the lighting, the other shadows you pair it with, and what you are wearing.

I decided to use 26E as a pop of color in a summery eye look and 20E as an allover base for a more sultry evening look.

Summer Eye
I applied Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow (MUFE) in 26E onto my lid and blended into the crease. I used Buck and Virgin from the Urban Decay Naked Palette to contour and highlight.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 26E
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 26E
I loved wearing Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow in 26E because it is such a beautiful, ripe peach color.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 26E
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 26E

Smoky Eye
For my smoky evening eye, I applied MUFE Aqua Shadow in 20E all over my lid. I then used Hustle from the Urban Decay Naked Palette to line my eyes and contour in the crease and outer third of my lid.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 20E
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 20E

I never wear taupe, but I think Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow in 20E is pretty stunning. I like that it is a pearlized, mid-tone color - it shines brightly, but it has too much color to be just a highlight shade. I had no idea taupe could be so versatile and interesting!

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 20E
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 20E

Although the Aqua Shadows feel creamy, I found them difficult to blend. They seem to dry quickly without leaving very much time for you to play around.  Moreover, if you apply too much, the Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows can start to look cakey. 

On the plus side, once they set, they are not going to budge.  I haven't tested the waterproof claim yet, but the Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows are certainly long-lasting and seemingly creaseproof. 

Bottom Line:  Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows are ultra-pigmented, pretty, and long lasting. They falter a little in the blending department, but the pencils are easy to use if you opt for a simpler eye look. I recommend that you give these babies a try!


4.20.2012

MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother Primer Review

MAC's recently-released Prep + Prime Skin Smoother primer ($30) is okay, but I'm not crazy about it. It has no major performance flaws or problematic ingredients, but it's expensive and the texture just does not feel quite right.

MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother Primer
MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother Primer

MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother is housed in a compact instead of a tube, which is unusual for a primer. The compact looks big, but the net weight is only 0.35 oz. Too Faced Primed and Poreless costs $30 as well, but you get one full ounce of product. One ounce of MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother would cost $85.71!

That's quite pricey, but I am often willing to throw down substantial amounts of money for products that I love. Once I used MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother, I realized that this one is just not worth it.

My Experience
As the directions recommend, I used my fingers to spread the solidified primer onto my skin. MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother is silicone-based so it was slippery and easy to apply. The primer is successful in improving your skin's appearance - my face looked more even and smooth. However, the primer also feels somewhat greasy. Once it sets, MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother has more of a satin finish than the soft powder finish I get from Too Faced Primed and Poreless.  People with dry skin might prefer MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother, but my skin is naturally oily and looks better with a powder finish.

MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother wears well under foundation. My pores were minimized and my foundation looked smooth, even, and pretty. The primer did manage to absorb oil for a little while, but I desperately needed to blot after about 3 hours.

MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother Primer
MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother

Ingredient Breakdown
Ingredients-wise, MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother is fine but not particularly impressive. In addition to silicones, the primer contains silica and nylon-12 to absorb oil. Unfortunately for oily-skinned folks, these ingredients are far outnumbered by the multiple skin conditioning ingredients, emollients, and thickeners that contribute to the moist texture.

MAC has been touting the antioxidants in this primer as a major selling point, and the Prep + Prime Skin Smoother does contain a few potent ones like coffee extract and phellodendron amurense bark extract, which contains the anti-inflammatory quercetin. Barley extract, sandalwood extract, and hydrolyzed yeast protein are also included, but research has not conclusively shown that these have beneficial antioxidant properties when applied topically.

MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother also include two peptides at the end of the ingredients list. Peptides are good for anti-aging, but the amount in MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother is likely too low to be very helpful.

Bottom Line
MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother is very expensive for what amounts to nothing more than a basic silicone primer. If you have dry skin and have trouble with powder-finish primers, than you might want to give MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother a shot. Otherwise, I'd say give this one a pass.


Too Faced Summer Royalty 2012 Collection Hits Stores This Week


As regular readers know, I'm a pretty big Too Faced fan. I love their Tinted Beauty Balm, Primed and Poreless Primer, and eyeshadow palettes.

So naturally, I have been devouring all the coverage of their recently-released Summer Royalty collection for 2012. Too Faced has introduced five new items:
  • Summer Eye Collection - a tropical-inspired collection of Too Faced's buttery smooth eyeshadows
  • Candlelight Glow Duo - a highlighter duo featuring a sheer golden powder to warm skin tone and a rose shade to brighten 
  • Primed and Poreless Pure - a revamped version of the traditional formula designed specifically for sensitive skin
  • Royal Oil - a bronzing body oil with coconut and mangosteen oils
  • Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer - a light matte bronzer for pale-skinned ladies

These new products should be hitting your local Sephora or ULTA this week, and are currently available online. 

I'm hoping to get to Sephora this weekend - what do you think I should get?

4.19.2012

Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain and Color Seal Balm in Guava Review and Swatches

As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for lip stains. I want to try them all and run around with cute lips all day!  But despite my persistent hopes, these products often fail to live up to my expectations.

Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava ($23) is one more to add to my list of lip stain disappointments.

Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm is doubled-ended, with the stain at one end and a sealing balm at the other. The stain is delivered in a marker-style tip that you use to draw the color on your lips. I like using marker stains, but they also have a tendency to dry out over time.

Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava
Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava

I did not like the sealing end of Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain. The sealing balm does not twist up! It is stuck to the end at its full height, and I broke it off when I tried to put the cap back on the first time.

Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava
Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava -
The broken balm is now stuck in the cap

I was not happy with the color of Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava either.  It is described as a "bright coral orange" and packaged with red-orange accents, but don't let them fool you. It came out as a cherry red on me. I get pretty annoyed when product labeling is so flagrantly inaccurate:

Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava
Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Guava -
Stain + Sealing Balm


4.18.2012

Review: Deborah Lippmann 'The Stripper to Go' Nail Lacquer Remover Finger Mitt

If you wear multiple coats of nail polish or use long wear nail formulas, do yourself a favor and pass on Deborah Lippmann's 'The Stripper to Go' Nail Lacquer Remover Finger Mitts ($12 for 6 packets).


Deborah Lippmann 'The Stripper to Go' Nail Lacquer Remover Mitt
Deborah Lippmann 'The Stripper to Go' Nail Lacquer Remover Mitt


Each of Deborah Lippmann's 'The Stripper to Go' packets contains a single, lavender-scented nail polish remover mitt. The package says that one mitt will clean all ten nails. I was skeptical, but I had heard good things about 'The Stripper to Go' so I was hopeful that the product would be effective.


Deborah Lippmann Stripper to Go Nail Lacquer Remover Mitt
Deborah Lippmann 'The Stripper to Go' Nail Lacquer Remover Mitt -
Some of my polish came off when I removed the mitt from the package!


I placed the mitt on my thumb and saw some of my nail color bleed off immediately.*  My nail was completely clean in under a minute! My confidence in 'The Stripper to Go' skyrocketed and I placed the mitt on the next nail.


This time, however, the mitt was far less effective. I left it on for about two minutes, and my nail polish was only about halfway removed. It seemed like the mitt had dried out already. I flipped it over to get to the fresh side and rubbed the mitt against my nail to get the remainder off.


The mitt barely removed anything on my third nail. Instead, it disintegrated somewhat and left cotton fibers in my now sticky, gunky nail polish. I was fed up and finished removing my polish with regular remover. 


'The Stripper to Go' would work great if I had one mitt for each nail!  But at $12 for 6 mitts, I have no desire to spend the money to do so.


*It is important for me to note that I was wearing Revlon ColorStay Nail Enamel when I tried 'The Stripper to Go.' This polish can be difficult to remove if you are wearing multiple coats of color. However, I was wearing only a single coat, which is much easier to take off with regular polish remover. Considering that 'The Stripper to Go' cleaned one nail almost immediately, I don't think that my nail polish was the problem. Instead, I believe that 'The Stripper to Go' dries out too quickly to effectively clean all ten nails, particularly if you use a base and/or top coat. 




MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy Review and Swatches

MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy
MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy -
Artificial Light

MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy
MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy -
Natural Light


Korean Candy is a bright orange red that pulls a little pink on me. The shade is somewhat muted and easier to wear than some other bright lipsticks. The top photo is the best representation of MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy's true color.

Like Lancome's Rouge in Love line, MAC's Sheen Supreme Lipsticks are lipstick-gloss hybrids. Korean Candy is very pigmented, opaque and long-lasting, but it also has quite a bit of shine. And like Miss Coquelicot, MAC's Korean Candy leaves behind a great stain.

With so many orange lipsticks out at the moment, I decided to do a comparison swatch with MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy, Sephora + Pantone Color of the Year Creme Lipstick in Tangerine Tango, and Wet n Wild Mega Last Lip Color in Purty Persimmon.

MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy, Sephora + Pantone Tangerine Tango, Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon
MAC Korean Candy, Sephora + Pantone Tangerine Tango, Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon


MAC's Korean Candy is the most muted and glossy of the bunch. Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon is the brightest, reddest, and most matte. Sephora + Pantone Tangerine Tango falls in the middle both in terms of glossiness and brightness.

Bottom Line:  I, for one, am loving MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick in Korean Candy. It's a bright, fun color that is still very pretty and wearable. Plus, it has so much shine that you don't even need to think about adding gloss.  Pretty AND simple?  Sold.


4.17.2012

Caudalie Paris Premier Cru Cream Review

Caudalie Paris' Premier Cru Cream comes with a hefty price tag.  But is it worth $150 for 50 ml of moisturizer?

Caudalie Paris Premier Cru Cream
Caudalie Paris Premier Cru Cream -
Sample Size

Short answer:  No. I did not see $150 worth of difference in my skin, and nothing on the ingredients list indicates that I should.

Caudalie Paris touts the anti-aging powers of grapes as the basis for its skin care line. Premier Cru Cream contains grape ingredients that ostensibly create an "exclusive combination of the rarest, most precious and most effective natural active ingredients for an extraordinary global anti-aging action. Throughout the day, your skin is regenerated and redensified, wrinkles are filled, the look of your skin is renewed and your complexion is even-toned. Smoother, firmer and more luminous, your skin looks visibly younger."

I know plenty of people who would pay $150 for those changes, but they won't get them from Premier Cru.

Research shows that grapes do have beneficial properties for skin. They contain antioxidants that can renew skin, prevent wrinkles from developing, and reduce sun damage. Antioxidants won't fill wrinkles though, and Premier Cru Cream does not include much else in the way of anti-aging ingredients to make good on its promises to do so.

Instead, the formula is primarily comprised of emollient ingredients such as cetearyl alcohol and caprylic triglyceride.The moisturizer also includes a lot of fragrance, which is unnecessary and can cause skin irritation. Caudalie's Premier Cru does include some effective anti-aging ingredients in the form of peptides, but they are at the bottom of the ingredients list. Peptides in such small amounts are not going to get rid of any wrinkles!

Bottom Line:  The antioxidants in Caudalie's Premier Cru Cream will make your skin look brighter and more even, but you can achieve that with far cheaper skin care products. Peptides, which do combat aging, are not included in sufficient amounts to be effective. 


[UPDATE]  I had previously believed that Caudalie was a cruelty-free company. This page from their website says as much, but the company is no longer listed in the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics' Leaping Bunny directory.  The Leaping Bunny directory is the most comprehensive and standardized list of cruelty-free companies. I contacted Caudalie to inquire about their removal from Leaping Bunny.You can read about the results of my inquiry here.


[UPDATE 2] I have confirmation that Caudalie is no longer cruelty-free.

NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red Review and Photos



NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red
NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red

Want to vamp it up, Marilyn-style?  Check out NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red ($24) for all of your femme fatale needs.

NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red is a bright, blue-based red that looks great on cool skin tones. Gals with warm undertones should give it a try too, because I am convinced that it is neutral enough for us to rock as well.

NARS Jungle Red is a semi-matte lipstick. This really gives you the best of both worlds - the long wear time of a matte formula coupled with the comfort of something more creamy.  

NARS Lipstick Jungle Red
NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red

What's your favorite red lipstick?


4.15.2012

Revlon ColorStay Long Wear Nail Enamel in Fall Mood Review and Swatches

Revlon ColorStay Long Wear Nail Enamel in Fall Mood
Revlon ColorStay Long Wear Nail Enamel in Fall Mood


For this week's manicure, I used Revlon ColorStay Long Wear Nail Enamel in Fall Mood.  Fall Mood is light bronze with silver glitter. Despite the name, it looks like more of a summer shade to me - don't you think it would look great with a tan?


Revlon ColorStay Long Wear Nail Enamel in Fall Mood
Revlon ColorStay Long Wear Nail Enamel in Fall Mood

I used the Revlon ColorStay Base Coat, one coat of Fall Mood, and the Revlon ColorStay Top Coat. I used only one coat of color to avoid the long dry time associated with Revlon ColorStay.

I'm not usually a glitter polish person, but I am loving Fall Mood!  It's so bright and sparkly. I feel like I dipped my fingers in glittery molten bronze, and that is a surprisingly wonderful feeling.

I've posted about Revlon's new line of polishes before. You can read my initial review of Revlon ColorStay Long Wear Nail Enamel here, see the shade Marmalade on my nails here, and see Rich Raspberry here.

What do y'all think of Fall Mood?  What would you wear it with?