Friday, September 30, 2011

Etsy Find: Brazen Cosmetics Tree Hugger Trio - Review

I will fully admit to loving a good deal. I mean, who doesn't? So, when Brazen Cosmetics was a deal on Heartsy, I snapped up a voucher and ran to Brazen's shop. I love green and neutral eyeshadows (and pretty much every eyeshadow I've laid my eyes on), and really liked the look of this collection, so I picked it up. 

This set is comprised of 3 shadows, Terra Nova (a shimmery gold highlight), World Peace (a shimmery olive/tree-green) and Tree Hugger (a "Dusty coffee brown shimmers with hims [sic] of olive green and gold," but in real life, it's a shimmery deep brown with maybe a hint of green. Maybe.).

I've used Brazen's shadows before, and my experience with this trio sums up all of my other experiences: when they're good, they're sooooo good. When they're "meh," they're.. well... meh. Terra Nova and World Peace are beautiful. I love them, and can see myself wearing them daily. They're creamy, blend beautifully, and are a pleasure to work with. Tree Hugger was the meh part of the trio. Most mineral brands I've used can't seem to nail the deep tones very well. It applies a little patchy, chalky, and almost sheerly in my crease. Interestingly, Tree Hugger swatches well. Maybe I should use my finger to apply it?

Brazen shadows are packaged in 5 gram jars, and come with sifters (which I obviously removed). The bottom of each jar has the company name, color name, and ingredients (I love it when brands do this!). The jars are packed full, and are usually range in price from $4.99 -$5.49 single, or collections can be bought for a small discount.

Currently, only Tree Hugger is still available. This is a limited edition set, but I thought sharing swatches. While I like Brazen Cosmetics, I always spend way more than I should. My order totals are usually close to $30. I also think that Sandi, the owner, takes a page from MAC's controversial book of limited editions - small quantities, with lots of hype. Brazen makes solid shadows (and the perfumes are pretty damn good, too), but you have to be on it to get them, sometimes. If you have any interest at all in their limited edition shades, you essentially have to stalk their Facebook page (for whatever reason, I'm not a big Facebook person), and hope you have the money the moment a listing goes live. This annoys me a bit.

Would I recommend Brazen? Yes, absolutely. Do I like recommend Brazen? Eh, yes and no. Maybe I'm bitter about missing out on other limited edition items, so take that into consideration. At the end of the day, though, the shadows are overall awesome, with hits (and misses), like any other line. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Essence Gel Eyeliner London Baby - Review

I have to own up to the fact that I let Makeupalley's message boards carry me away sometimes. Whenever people post raves about a product, I start feeling that my life will not be complete without it. Rarely, however, have I found whatever that item is to be the be-all-end-all product I thought it would be. Usually, it's a mediocre product for me, or just doesn't suit my skin type or coloring. Sometimes, however, the product is really all they promised. This is one of those products. Kind of.

I picked up this liner at the same time I got the Stay with Me gloss I reviewed here. MUA had been just raving about how life-changing this liner is that when I saw it, I swear, it was a shiny bauble and I was a crazed crow, snatching it up and running to the cash register.

Ulta's website says:
It's ultra-smooth gel formula allows an accurate application similar to liquid eyeliner. The range offers various effects, such as matte or shimmering. Simply dip the special Essence Gel Eyeliner Brush into the pot and effortlessly paint a perfect quick drying line. You're left with an ultra long-lasting, smudge and waterproof look! Available in three colors.
The bolded sentence above is what bothers me. Only 3 colors. Black, purple, and this grey-taupe color. That's it. Give me brown, gold, green, something more than 3. These are new, so I can hope they come out with more, which I hope they do. I also would like someone at Essence to grab a clue and seal their products, because out of the 3 jars my Fred Meyer had out, 2 had been molested. Since I'm fairly certain Essence has to eat that loss, it'd behoove them to invest in a shrink wrap system.
London Baby is a shimmery, deep charcoal with the slightest hint of brown, making it a taupe shade. On my lash line, it might as well be grey. It's very pretty. It looks pigmented, but I've found that it doesn't really apply in a pigmented fashion. I usually have to go over the liner at least once to achieve opacity. Not a huge deal, but it's worth mentioning. The shimmer appears to be multi-colored, and is very fine. It's enough to soften the liner, but it's not going to really pop.

The texture of this is interesting. It's very... airy, I suppose. It's really easy for me to get too much product on my brush, and thus need to remove some before I go to apply it. Again, not a huge deal. I wonder if the texture affects the way the liner applies, though.

One thing I can attest to is how long these wear: All. Day. Seriously. My "all day" at this moment in time runs from about 4:00 AM - 6:00 PM or so, maybe a smidge more, if I'm feeling particularly lazy. These retail for $3.49, and wear as well as my Fluidlines and Long Wear Gel liners. They remove easily, as well, which is very nice. 

I am impressed by the product, but I like the idea of being able to buy someone and not have to wonder if someone's stuck their finger in it. I'm almost positive that the MAC SA's at Nordstrom don't stick their fingers in the Fluidlines when they're bored. Almost. But, what about those tween-age girls who seem to be confused about whether it's okay to sample a product before buying it at the drugstore? Please carefully check your liner before you buy it! I know I have!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Haul! Woooo!

Okay, so this isn't the smallest haul, and it isn't the largest. It's medium sized, I suppose, in terms of monetary investment on my part. Almost all of this haul was collecting through swapping, which is awesome for my bank account!

My Fred Meyer still had the Wet'n'Wild summer trios! I couldn't believe it, so I grabbed two (I think a giveaway may be in order!), along with two of the Fantasy Makers nail polishes, Black Magic and Purple Potion. I also picked up a few things from Essence, one of the "holographic" (their word, not mine) nail polishes in Blue Ray, and a gel liner in Berlin Rocks. I finally managed to swap for Deborah Lippman's Across the Universe and MAC's Studio Tech creme foundation in NC15 (I think it's too dark, but I'll try it anyway). While perusing Etsy, I found a relatively new shop called Muse Minerals, and I picked up a few samples as well as 3 larger sized eyeshadows.

Missha had an amazing offer available through Facebook to buy their Cho Bo Yang BB Cream for $9.99, where the "normal" price is $45.99 or so. Because I registered with the site, and this was my first purchase, they also sent a full size of their Perfect Cover BB Cream in shade No. 23, which is a bit too dark for me, but again, I can at least try it around the house to see what I think. I also chose the Tea Tree Sheet Mask, mostly to try it out (and it's $1.99!). Finally, they included a nice selection of samples.

I've been dying to try Inglot, and was very lucky to set up a swap for a complete 10-pan Freedom palette (I'll add the color names in my full review later on). And, I was able to work MAC's Pro Longlash mascara in the deal! In a separate swap, I was also able to get a new in box They're Real! mascara from Benefit! So excited to try these... which mascara to try first, though?
Finally, the swap I'm probably the most excited about! My swap partner has not yet received her end, but I can't help but be super excited about this.... Sleek! The entire nude collection include Bare Minimum pout polish, Suede blush and Au Naturel palette. She also picked Life's a Peach blush, Pink Cadillac pout polish and the Oh So Special palette... and Cadbury chocolates! I hope my package arrives soon!

So... all in all... yeah. I have a lot new stuff to try. Out of pocket, this wasn't too bad at all, because a lot of it was swaps. What've you recently added to your stash? What would you most like to see reviews of?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NOTD - Chanel Particuliere

I love this polish. It's my new favorite neutral polish. It's a clean, on-trend, taupe-mushroom color. I've found that it wears well on me - this is 3 days after it was applied. It's pigmented, too. With a super careful application, I can get away with one coat, but I prefer two, because the color becomes a bit deeper after that second coat. I know some people complain about Chanel's polishes and their application, but this one's a winner! In case anyone is wondering, I used 1 coat of Orly Bonder, then two coats of Particuliere, and topped everything off with Sally Hansen's Instra-Dri Anti-Chip top coat (the base and top coats seem to work like magic for me!).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

MAC Blue Storm Pigment - Review

I went through a blue eyeshadow phase at the same time I had come down with a case of "must have all MAC pigments!" disease. I had a chance to snag Blue Storm Pigment a while ago, so I thought I'd discuss my feelings as it's being re-released as part of the MAC Fall Colour collection

The jar I have is from the Zoom Lash collection of 2005. MAC described it as "marine blue with red/violet pigment," (now it's a "rich metallic blue".) I think it's more of a deep royal blue color, because there's a definite purple tone to it. Applied wet, I think the metallic nature shines through, but that's really true of almost any pigment. I can easily see this being used in a smokey eye look, because it's a rich jewel tone. Some of you may recall an eyeshadow called Blue Storm, from the Blue Storm Collection of 2007, which was described as "royal blue with blue and silver pearl." For the sake of comparison:

The texture of this pigment is... interesting. As you will see in the pictures below, it kind of "balls up" (blue.. balls... oh jeez, my mind has found it's way in to the gutter), and feels a bit creamy. Like most pigments, I get the best wear using MAC's Mixing Medium. Honestly, Mixing Medium is awesome, way better than Fix+ could ever hope to be. Anyway, two drops and enough pigment to make a paste is enough for both eye lids.

MAC pigments are still something I collect, so for me, this was a no-brainer. And think purple fans will find a use for this pigment. Those of you who prefer neutrals, however, may not find a ton of uses, although this makes a fantastic liner. I'm hoping to score a sample of the new version, to see how it compares to the older version. Blue Storm will be available for purchase on 09/29/2011 at counters and instores. Online, look for it 09/27/2011.
No Flash

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Essence Stay With Me Longlasting Lipgloss - Review

One day, I went a little crazy at my local Fred Meyer and bought a bunch of Essence stuff, because it's cheap. Being able to pick up 4 things for less than $20 feels pretty good when you're pining away for one things that's over $40, you know? I fell in love with the color of this gloss, and for $2.29, I figured "Why not?" (I should know by now there's plenty of reasons why not to buy yet another gloss, but that's between me, myself, and I). I selected Candy Bar, a bright coral with a pink bent. This is a non-shimmery, non-glittery gloss.

According to Essence:

the name of this lipgloss could not be more appropriate: if you try it once, you'll never want to give it up again! the color-intensive texture is so wonderfully creamy and durable – without leaving a sticky feeling behind, that it's simply irresistible. the special shape of the precision applicator allows an effortless application.

These glosses come in a somewhat short, fat tube. The doe-foot/sponge applicator is interesting, because it's curvy. Really. It has an hourglass shape to it, and I'm not sure if that's a purely style-driven choice, or if there's a benefit to this style of applicator. It applies nicely, perhaps a little too thick in some areas, due to the pigmentation. In some ways, the packaging is sort of childlike, but with a price point of less than $5 for almost anything in the line, I'm probably not their target demographic. Which leads me to my next point - these don't come sealed. Very little, actually, is sold sealed. So, I had to check each tube to find one that I was positive hadn't been tested. It took 3 tubes before I found one. That's a big problem to me.

Honestly, I just liked the color of this gloss. I wasn't expecting much for my money, so I was pleasantly surprised. It does last longer than I thought it would, and it's not really sticky. For example, I applied this gloss this morning at about 4:00 (yes, 4:00 AM... ugh). I almost immediately ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, and went to work.. I could still "feel" the gloss at 10:00 AM. It felt thin, but I could tell I had applied it, and that it was still on my lips, after all of the other things I had done. It leaves a slight stain on the lips, as well - on me it's a gorgeous pink-peach. The stain lasts all day, too. It was still on my lips at 4:30 PM.... 12 and half hours after a single application!

The texture, as mentioned previously, is pretty nice - it's not very sticky. It's also not gritty (which makes sense, of course, since it's not shimmery in any way). I really like thick, cushy feeling glosses, and this is not one of those - it's sort of thin, but thick enough to feel rather nice, if that makes sense.

The range of colors this gloss is available in is rather small. A total of seven shades are available, ranging from a berry to a nude, however, if I recall correctly, the nude looked sort of dark in the tube. The only color that really appealed to me was Candy Bar. I wonder if Essence plans to release more shades? Then again, I'd rather they invest the money in sealing their products. Both of those gripes in mind, I don't know if I'll repurchase. It's hard to want to buy something that could easily be tampered with.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara - Review

I think I love testing mascaras because it's pretty hard to have a bad reaction to them. A mascara is not likely to cause a break out (not like I break out often, though), I don't have to worry about the color not really "going with" whatever else I'm wearing, so I can wear it every day for weeks, and I don't have to worry about the color not working with my skin tone. I've tried samples of Smashbox mascaras before, and they tend to be middle-of-the-road in terms of performance. With my last order from, I selected a deluxe sample of their newest mascara, Full Exposure.

According to Smashbox:

Inspired by the on-set technique of layering a lengthening fiber mascara over a volumizing formula, our new studio-tested mascara exposes your longest, fullest lashes. No clumps, no flakes. Just maximum-impact, scene-stealing lashes. • 104% increase in lash volume • 32% increase in lash length • 34-degree increase in lash curl Go on set at Smashbox the day Full Exposure came to life.
For $19, you get a shiny black tube that has the name of the product in white, with a red "x" on it, as an accent. The packaging is fairly standard, nothing terribly excited or depressing about it. Since I only have a sample tube, however, mine is small. The brush is a fiber-type, which I greatly prefer, and seems huge in my sample tube. I'm certain the brush head is full size. Because it's so big, it's hard to maneuver - I usually need to remove the excess mascara that manages to make its way onto my eye lid or under eye area. Not a huge deal, but it's an annoyance, and requires an extra step.

I don't curl my lashes, and I don't particularly notice this mascara making my lashes appear more curled. I can say this mascara seems to add length, and a bit of volume. I find the percentages given by Smashbox to be a bit laughable, though. I don't see 104% increased volume in my lashes. And 32% length? How's that measured, exactly? My lashes certainly appeared longer, but I don't know if they really are a third longer with the mascara than without.

This mascara doesn't wear particularly well on me. I have oily lids, and have found this mascara can begin to melt off a bit, and irritate my eyes. This only occurs during super warm days, where I've been wearing makeup for 12 or more hours though.

This mascara removes very easily, which I really like. Sounds silly, but I'd rather not have to use a ton of eye makeup remover, or have to really scrub my eyes to remove mascara. My eye makeup remover removes this very easily.

Overall, this is a mediocre mascara. It's not amazing, but it's not trash, either. It's merely a decent, average, mascara. If it didn't migrate or flake into my eyes, I'd like it more. As it is, though, it's not bad.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rock & Republic Skintight Eyeshadow - Review

I was sort of shocked when I finished MAC's Shroom eyeshadow. As in, I looked at the shiny silver pan, devoid of any shadow, and wondered "What happened? Where'd it all go?" After a few moments of silence, I had to ask the ever-sensitive question "Do I need to go buy another one?" I had to answer that with a "Not right now, I think." Having a massive collection of eyeshadows, I don't really need to buy any more, ever, period. But, Shroom was my favorite highlight shade ever. It was glowy without being glittery, barely-there light. Perfection in a pot. I dug through my eyeshadow drawer and found this, Rock & Republic's Skintight eyeshadow, a failed purchase (it was not what I wanted it to be at the time - I wanted a my-lid-but-better matte nude color), and decided to give it shot at being my Shroom replacement.

Rock & Republic is very, very good at many things. Their cosmetics line is amazing, but launched at precisely the wrong time, I think. Packaged in a luxe, rather large compact, Skintight is packaged like every other Rock & Republic product (minus the glosses) - impressively. Shiny silver with black accents, these look and feel weighty, which I always like when I'm paying through the nose (okay, $28) for a single eyeshadow. Granted, these are about twice the size of the standard MAC eyeshadow, and cost a bit less than double MAC's $15 price tag. Inside the lid is a mirror, which is relatively useless to me, but it's roughly the size of the pot, so it may be useful to someone, just not me

The shadow is both creamy and powdery. My brush can kick up a bit of excess powder, which is a little annoying, but I'll live. To the fingertip, however, it feels great.

Skintight is a pale, soft golden color. Like Shroom, it gives that lighted look without frostiness. It's the perfect brow-bone and inner corner highlight, I think. It could easily be used as a lid color, because it's pigmented, but using a fluffy brush, it's really easy to blend to that candle-lit glow I love.

I can't rave enough about this shadow. I still like Shroom, but I don't need to worry about replacing it. I have Skintight, and I love it. Current Rock & Republic seems to be in a stasis - their website is a splash page. The company did file bankruptcy earlier this year, and their cosmetics (and everything else, not that I can wear anything they make, sadly) have been Haute Look and Gilt Groupe fodder. Great for people on a budget, but bad news for anyone who loves their products (what'll I do when I finish this?!). Regardless, if you find this, and need a beautiful shadow, pick it up!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Smashbox Photofinish Light Primer - Review

Are there any products that you feel are so hyped that they must be garbage? That everyone associates with a brand, and they promote the crap out of it, and the brand pays of it wins magazine awards? Well, Smashbox's Photofinish primer is like that to me. I don't want to like it, because I can't believe it's any good. Good products stand on their own, right? A brand doesn't need to convince us to buy it, if it really works - we'll find it, buy it, and recommend it to friends on our own.

Rant aside, I am drowning in Smashbox samples (seriously, if you haven't ordered from their website, you are missing out - 1 free deluxe sized sample with each order, 1 more if you're a Pretty Points Member, and there's Let's Do Lunch for Pretty Points Member... freebie overload!). I decided, after finishing my Korres silicone free primer, I should give these a shot, so I picked the one I felt would best suit my needs - a light-weight, nongreasy primer that will improve the wear-time of my foundation, and help prevent my oily skin from defeating my makeup by the end of the day. Here's what Smashbox says about Photofinish Light:

Our latest primer innovation! Our new oil-free, 60% water based primer is ideal for oily, acne-prone or sensitive skin. This silky blend of vitamins and antioxidants helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores for visibly softer skin and can be worn alone or under foundation to increase its longevity. The revolutionary formula has oil absorbers for a smooth matte finish all day, light diffusers to minimize the appearance of imperfections, and vitamin C and peptides to help even skin tone and promote collagen production for a flawless future.
I long to have a nice, luminous-yet-matte, finish. My skin, however, has other aspirations. My pores, like most people who share my oily skin type, are large, especially on my nose, and chin. I'd like to have a primer that helps minimize them. I can't really say that Photofinish Light does this. I believe it does help control oil a little, but I'm not completely matte at the end of the day. I'm pleased to see my foundation is still present on my face, and it hasn't migrated.

Photofinish Light is a white gel-textured primer that blends to clear. It does not offer any SPF value.

This primer doesn't cause my foundation to "stick" to my skin, though. It will still transfer onto my phone, hand, etc, which is sort of annoying. Photofinish Light leaves that silicone-y feel on my skin, and doesn't seem to cling to any dry areas.

A full sized tube is $36 for 1 ounce. Occasionally, QVC or Sephora will offer a larger size at a value price ($49 for 2 ounces at I like this well enough to consider purchasing it, once I've run out of options (which will probably take forever). I don't know if I'd run out now to buy it, though.


Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Polysilicone-11, Butylene Glycol, Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Triethanolamine, Decyl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Hexylene Glycol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Oligopeptide-10.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner - Review

I love the concept of a gel liner, I just don't reach for them terribly often, because my technique is pretty terrible. I'm usually saved by using a pencil brush when I'm in hurry, because they smudge things so nicely. Anyway, I've been curious to try Maybelline's new-ish gel liners, which were recently on sale at my local Fred Meyer as a buy-one-get-one half price. I decided to try two of the limited edition colors, Forrest and Sapphire.
These liners seem to be priced around $10, which isn't all that much less than MAC Fluidlines, which come in at $15. They're packaged in glass pots, with black lids and the brand name, and product, printed in silver. They have a sticker on the bottom with the color name, batch information, and the normal company information. The glass jars and the lids do not have the same outer radius, which in some ways is annoying, but what're you going to do? Maybelline has included a brush with these, and has favorable reviews. I sort of wish the product was less expensive, and that the brush was sold separately - now I have two of the darn things, and I don't really need two (not that I needed one to begin with... brushes are about the last thing I need). 

Anyway, the two colors I have are from the Fashion Week Fall 2011 collection. Forrest is a blackened/blued green (not quite teal, but headed towards teal-country). Sapphire is a blackened blue. Both are reasonably pigmented, and shimmery. I do find that I need go over each of them at least once to get enough opacity for my taste, more if I wish to smudge them a bit. I was really hoping that Forrest would be an evergreen type color, but it's not. There's enough blue in it to make it not very wearable for me. Sapphire is gorgeous, and makes me think of MAC's Siahi from Mickey Contractor. 

The wear time on these is excellent, in fact, it's almost too good. I have trouble removing them, honestly. Either Lancome's Bi-Facil isn't strong enough, or these things are made of steel. I'm not sure which it is. They don't seem to migrate at all, or smudge on their own.

Overall, I'm very impressed. I would be willing to buy future colors, should they be unique in my collection. Other colors available include black, brown, eggplant (a purple shade), and charcoal (a gray). 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm a Failure

Gah. I was doing so well, and yet, here it is, almost a week since my last post. In my defense, I've been working overtime the last 2 weeks... so I have a huge paycheck coming my way. That, and I haven't really found something relevant to review. So, I'm hoping you guys can help me. Tell me what you want to see reviews of (within reason - I don't think I can go buy a $75 something for review purposes). Or, maybe you would like to see stash pics? Although, that'd take me an age to take pictures of...

Anyway, I'm sorry. I really am. So, to make up for it... a haul post! Woo!

Brazen Cosmetics was featured on Heartsy, and I had to jump on that deal! For $12.72, here's what I got:

  • Defiant coffee brown with gold sparkles and green shift
  • Mystery Grab Bag Give yourself a treat! Best Deal in the Shop!
  • Tree Huger Trio soft gold-based neutrals for any Nature Girl!

Defiant is in the upper left corner, towards the right is the trio, and the 4 jars are in the lower left make up the mystery set. I've purchased 3 of Sandi's grab bags, and they're probably my favorite thing ever! This time it included a sold perfume in La La Lychee (lower left), Glitterati Glitter Gloss in Decoy (okay, I have no idea what to do with this! but it's eyesafe... but I don't wear glitter... maybe it'll be a nice little prize for someone...upper left), Prowl eyeshadow (very pretty soft orange/yellow, upper right), and Passion Pot lip gloss in Pixie (lower right, also giveaway fodder - I have way too many glosses!).

I'll do better this week I promise. I have two new reviews ready to be written, and then posted (in that order, too!).