8.11.2012

Lancome Fall 2012 Midnight Roses: L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre Review and Swatches

Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre
Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre

From Lancome's newly-released Fall 2012 Midnight Roses Collection, Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre ($29.50) is a luxe lip color fit for a black tie affair. With a glamorous deep magenta shade, a luxurious creamy matte finish, and intense staying power, this plumping lip color is an excellent choice for a romantic Autumn rendezvous.

Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre Swatch
Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre

Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre has a light, almost mousse-like cream texture that feels wonderful on lips. Despite being called "Creme de Mat," this product has more of a non-drying satin finish. Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre subtly plumps lips and fills in lines for a smooth, pillowy look.

Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre is a beautiful magenta shade. The pigmentation is intense and opaque, so you only need one coat for full coverage. You can build up layers of this versatile lip color if you want a deep, sultry purple look, or blot down for a berry pink.

Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre Swatch
Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre

Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre isn't marketed as a long wear lip color, but it should be. I was so excited when Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre survived a meal! The gentle formula lasts for hours and fades evenly. 

Unfortunately, I find that Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre smears outside of my lip lines when I eat and drink. I need to be careful and check the mirror afterwards to clean up any smudges. I don't usually experience smearing when I wear lipstick, so this is a frustrating new development.

Overall, I am really enjoying Lancome L'Absolu Creme de Mat in 300 Magic Pourpre. The shade is bold and glamorous, making it a wonderful choice for an evening look. The comfortable, plumping formula makes lips look extra luscious, and the wear time is impressive. If only it didn't smudge!

Have you checked out Lancome's Fall 2012 Midnight Roses Collection? What do you think of all of the rich purple, magenta and fuchsia shades?


8.10.2012

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette Review and Swatches

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette
Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette

Another season, another fabulous collection from the eyeshadow pros at Urban Decay. 

I have to admit, I wasn't too excited about the idea of trying another smokey eye collection. I just can't wear dark, sultry shades very well at all! But my doubts vanished once I unzipped the black vinyl case of the Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette($49). Instead of a simple collection of silvery greys and inky blacks, Urban Decay builds upon the classics by adding rich jewel tones, a deep bronze, and even some pale matte shades to the mix. With these out-of-the-box choices, Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette successfully expands the common conception of smokey eyeshadow.

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette
Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette

The Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette includes ten smooth, densely pigmented eyeshadows crafted with Urban Decay's new eyeshadow formula. The palette also comes with a full-size Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion (a blacker-than-black eyeliner that typically costs $19), an Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion mini, and a how-to booket containing instructions for a whopping 23 eyeshadow looks designed by brand co-founder Wende Zomnir.

Let's take a look at the shades. The colors in the left half of the mirrored case include a surprising number of warm-tones. There are matte shades as well as shimmers. These are not traditional smokey eye colors! The shadows in the left side of the palette are extremely versatile and can work well for day or night.

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette
Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette
Top:  Kinky, Freestyle, Mushroom
Bottom:  Barlust, Rockstar, Evidence

The right half of the case includes more classically smokey shades. Most of the colors are cool-toned, and there's a basic black-and-silver combo. However, the eye-popping green shade Loaded is anything but basic. This section of shadows seems better suited to the evening than the day.

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette
Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette
Top:  Mushroom, Backdoor, Blackout
Bottom:  Evidence, Loaded, Asphalt

I swatched the entire top row of the Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette below. Because of some weird arm twisting I had to do to get adequate lighting, the order of the top row in this photo is flipped from its positions in the palette. It's like looking at the palette from right to left rather than left to right. Confusing, I know!

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette Swatches Blackout, Backdoor, Mushroom, Freestyle, Kinky
Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette Swatches
L-to-R:  Blackout, Backdoor, Mushroom, Freestyle, Kinky

Blackout is a matte inky black, Backdoor is a deep matte espresso, Mushroom is a warm pewter shimmer with hints of purple, Freestyle is a light matte peach, and Kinky is a matte vanilla cream that's barely perceptible against my pale arm.

Now for the bottom row of the palette. Again, these shades are swatched in order from right to left:

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette Swatches Asphalt, Loaded, Evidence, Rockstar, Barlust
Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette Swatches
L-to-R:  Asphalt, Loaded, Evidence, Rockstar, Barlust

Asphalt is a deep charcoal shimmer, Loaded is an emerald green shimmer, Evidence is a deep cobalt shimmer, Rockstar is a deep eggplant shimmer, and Barlust is a deep golden bronze.

Kinky, Freestyle, Backdoor, Barlust, and Asphalt are all exclusive to the Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette. Mushroom, Rockstar, Evidence, Loaded can be purchased as Eyeshadow Singles ($18), and Blackout is available both as an Eyeshadow Single or in the Urban Decay Naked2 Palette ($50).

Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette Look
Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette Look
Mushroom, Loaded, and Kinky

For an eyeshadow look I like to call "Mermaid in an Oil Spill," I applied Mushroom on my lid and Loaded in the crease. I used Kinky to highlight my browbone and the inner corner of my eye, then blended a bit more of Mushroom between my crease and browbone. I lined my upper and lower lashline with Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion.

Smokey eyes are usually hard for me to pull off, but the Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette makes it easy. This collection includes a wide variety of creative shades along with the basics so you can create an eyeshadow look for every occasion. Plus, the detailed how-to guide is fantastic if you need a little extra help. I definitely recommend the Urban Decay Smoked Eyeshadow Palette for a unique selection of high-quality eyeshadow.


8.09.2012

Giveaway Time!


Nicole Reviews Beauty Giveaway Goodie Bag
Beauty to the Brim

Let's celebrate my new blog redesign with a giveaway!

One lucky reader will win this brand new Nordstrom makeup bag full of makeup and skin care goodies including:

    1. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (One of my personal favorites. It's the 1.7 oz size)
    2. Sephora Crystal Lip Gloss in Passionate Dance
    3. Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Primer (0.25 oz)
    4. Clarins Extra-Firming Day Wrinkle Lifting Cream (0.5 oz)
    5. Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting Creme (0.24 oz)
    6. Philosophy Amazing Grace Shampoo, Bath and Shower Gel (1 oz)

Plus, the makeup bag will be stuffed full of extras like perfume samples and other fun skin care and bath products.

You can enter the giveaway until 12:01 am EST on Tuesday, August 14th. I will contact the winner the following day. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Does SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Actually Work?


Finding the perfect shade of foundation often feels like an impossible task. The brand-new SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Tool sounds like a miracle solution, but does it actually work? Well, I tried it for myself, and I can now say that SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ delivers. This new technology is going to revolutionize the way we select foundation.

Sephora and Pantone have partnered to develop a new device that scans the surface of your skin and assigns your complexion an official Pantone Skintone Number. That number is then compared against SEPHORA’s Universal Skintone Guide of over 1,000 shades of foundation to determine which products are a precise match for your skintone. 

SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ is currently only available at the San Francisco Powell Street and NYC Times Square Sephora locations, with plans to launch in more stores in the Fall. I live in the Bay Area so I ran over to San Francisco yesterday to give Color IQ a test drive. I didn't bring my digital camera so I don't have high-res photos, but I snuck some cell phone pics so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Station
SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Station

The SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Tool has its own glossy, high-tech station with the handheld Color IQ tool and an iPad to view your results. I sat down with Elizabeth, a super helpful Sephora employee who walked me through the whole process:

Step 1:  Remove your makeup. The SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Station is stocked with makeup removing wipes so the technician can get your skin nice and clean. Don't be afraid though, because they won't let you leave the store wearing less makeup than you came in with!

Step 2:  Use the SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Tool to take three photos of your skin, which are then averaged to find your ideal shade. The technician presses the Color IQ tool directly against your skin in three different places, taking care to avoid areas with hyperpigmentation or dense amounts of freckles. Elizabeth took photos of my chest, neck, and cheek. The tool assigns each area a Pantone Skintone Number and finds the average of the three results.

SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Tool
SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching Tool

Step 3:  Read the result on the screen of the Color IQ handheld device to find out your official Pantone Skintone Number. The Pantone Skintone Numbers fall on a spectrum from cool to warm and light to dark. The tool assigned my skin a number of 2Y04. The "2Y" stands for "2 Yellow," which means that I am two notches over to the warm side. The "04" indicates that my skin is the fourth lightest shade. 

SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Foundation Matching iPad
SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ iPad

Step 4:
  Type your Pantone Skintone Number into the iPad at the Color IQ station. 

Step 5:  View your foundation matches! Because my skin was only two steps over to the warm side, I am close to neutral and received a lot of foundation matches. The matches include all types of foundation formulas for all different skin types: liquid, cream, powder, tinted moisturizer, etc. 

Step 6:  Filter your results to find your perfect foundation. For example, you can choose to only view liquid foundations or products that are formulated for sensitive skin. If you plan to get a tan, you can also view shades that are one notch darker than your current color. I filtered my results so that I could view 2Y04 shades that work well for oily skin.

Clinique Superbalanced Makeup in Nude Beige
Clinique Superbalanced Makeup in Nude Beige
Image from Sephora.com

Step 7:  Play with makeup! Elizabeth applied a different foundation to each side of my face so that I could choose my favorite. Clinique Superbalanced Makeup in Nude Beige ($23) ended up looking absolutely gorgeous, so she removed everything else and applied that all over my skin. 

Step 8:  Email your matches to yourself. The Color IQ iPad has an email option so that you can view your results at home. The email includes a link to each product on Sephora's website for easy shopping.

Clinique Superbalanced Makeup in Nude Beige is a medium coverage foundation for combination skin. It's designed to add moisture and control oil where needed. I've only worn it once, but I can say that it looks and feels amazing

I always struggle to find a good foundation shade so I'm thrilled with this result. I've finally found a perfect foundation color match, and it's all thanks to SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ. I can't wait to purchase Clinique Superbalanced Makeup in Nude Beige. I also plan to consult my list of matches in the future to take the guesswork out of shade selection if I'm looking for a powder or tinted moisturizer.

I am so impressed with SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ. This revolutionary foundation color matching system is fun, easy to use, and incredibly accurate. So many of us struggle to find a good foundation shade, and Color IQ finally eliminates that frustration. I'm excited for SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ to launch in other Sephora stores so that everyone can give it a try!


8.08.2012

Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff Review and Swatches

Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff
Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff

Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff ($23) is like a pair of beautiful high heels that you can actually walk in. Every woman should have this classic shade in her arsenal to take her look to the next level with ease. While the sexy, flattering hue is muted and soft, this versatile lip lacquer contains a strong enough dash of pigment so that it looks equally lovely layered over lipstick or worn all by itself.

Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff Swatch
Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff

This vanilla-scented, shimmer-free shade glides on smoothly and evenly. Thanks to the gloss' thick texture, Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff fills in lip lines rather than accentuates them. However, the formula feels tacky if you apply more than a thin coat.

Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff looks like dusty rose pink in the tube. When swatched under direct lighting, it pulls more towards a peach pink with beige. The result is subtle yet beautiful: Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff is a natural, mid-tone shade that's reliably flattering rather than risky and bright.

Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff Swatch
Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff Swatch

For me, Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff is the perfect nude pink lip gloss. This versatile, well-formulated product works well with a variety of skin tones and makeup looks. The price is a little high, but Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff is a classic that you will use again and again. Like a good pair of heels, this gloss is a worthy investment for your collection.


8.06.2012

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal Review and Swatches

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal
MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal

I used to wear powder blush exclusively, but as my makeup obsession has grown I've discovered the wonders of cream blush as well. The best cream blushes give skin a natural, lit-from-within glow that's unmatched by most powder formulas. MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal ($20) perfectly illustrates that a high-quality cream blush can give your complexion a healthy dose of radiance right where you want it.

At first glace, MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal doesn't look like much. The deep terracotta shade looks drab in the pan but sheers out to a reddish brown that blends beautifully with your complexion, whether your skin tone is fair or deep.

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal Swatch
MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal Swatch

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal is more pigmented than many other cream blushes. This means that you must be sure to use a light hand so that you don't apply too much. 

Although MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal is very creamy to the touch, it sets to a satin, non-greasy finish. I was worried that this blush would quickly melt away, but it held up almost perfectly for five hours. After ten hours, it had faded but was still present on my cheeks. Although the staying power is good, I think I would prefer if it set to a matte finish because I have oily skin. I had the same problem with MAC Casual Color Lip and Cheek Color in Relaxation and Out for Fun. I want MAC to come out with a less dewy cream blush!

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal
MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal reminds me of Youngblood Luminous Creme Blush in Plum Satin, but the two blushes are not exact dupes. MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal is more brown, while Youngblood Luminous Creme Blush in Plum Satin is brighter and more rosy.

Overall, I'm happy with  MAC Cremeblend Blush in Tea Petal. The unique color blends well with skin to create a luminous flush that looks healthy and natural. This blush would probably work best for people with dry skin that want that dewy finish!


336602_Travel Sized Skin Care Sets that Produce Results from Kate Somerville

8.05.2012

TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow and Liner in Sexy Stacey Review and Swatches

TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow/Liner in Sexy Stacey
TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey

Wow, wow, wow! I've heard good things about TheBalm's eyeshadow, but it turns out I needed to try this product myself to fully understand how amazing it is. 

I have TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey($18), which is a deep navy-pewter shade with blue, green and pink shimmer. The texture is unbelievably soft and smooth, so it applies well and blends superbly. The pigmentation is extremely intense as well -- a little bit of this shadow goes a long way!

TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey produces some, but not tons, of fallout. Because the shadow is so soft, you must be careful not to smear errant specks when you are trying to remove them from underneath your eyes.

TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow/Liner in Sexy Stacey Swatch
TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey Swatch

TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey is a great shade for a deep, smoldering eye look. Today, I decided to create a smokey eye with a twist by adding a dash of yellow-gold shadow for a contrasting pop of color.

TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow and Liner in Sexy Stacey Swatch
TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow and Liner in Sexy Stacey

For this look, I applied TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey to my lid and along my lower lashes. I patted Sephora Prisma Chrome Eyeshadow in Gold Reflections into the crease. I picked up a tiny bit more of TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey to blend up from my lid into the crease. I finished by using Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Virgin to highlight my browbone and the inner corner of my eye.

TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow/Liner in Sexy Stacey Swatch
TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey

After finally trying this incredible eyeshadow, I can say that TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey ranks with the best of the best. It's softer and more pigmented than Urban Decay and MAC. I find that the formula of TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey is most similar to Too Faced eyeshadow, which is extremely high quality. The jury is still out, but I think TheBalm ShadyLady Eyeshadow in Sexy Stacey might even be softer and more pigmented than Too Faced!

Have you tried TheBalm Eyeshadow? If so, do you love it as much as I do?