Product Reviews

Review: YSL Creme de Blush in #8 Red Agate (Spring 2013 Collection)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was my other purchase from the YSL Spring 2013 collection (the Glossy Stain in #29 Rose Fourreau was reviewed yesterday). Although I still gripe about how vastly overpackaged they are, these cream blushes are IMHO some of the best of their kind, though I could see that the texture may not appeal to everyone.

If you are looking for a cream blush with a waxy base, turn away, for these little guys are almost entirely silicone. They feel velvety soft going on, and because they have so much silicone content, they also feel dry rather than moist. There really is no “cream” to them at all, in the way that you might see with a Stila convertible color or a Korres cheek butter or an Almay Smart-Shade blush. There is a short window of time for blending, and then the product is mostly set. Fingers and brushes both work with these, though I almost always go with a brush. Once set, these have a velvet-powder kind of finish, more of a glow than anything else. I love these, but if silicones are not your skin’s thang, or if you have trouble with silicone products melting off your skin, you might want to pass.

The selling point of these blushes is that because they are so full of silicone, they are able to deliver incredibly bright colors incredibly sheerly. I own this in a couple of other shades — in the pot, they are Fire Engine Red and Radioactive Orange, but on skin they are respectively sheer poppy and light peach.

There are three new colors out for the YSL Spring 2013 collection: #7 Rose Quartz, #8 Red Agate, and #9 Baby Doll. Rose Quartz and Baby Doll are both very, very cool pinks. #8 Red Agate is a lovely dark-but-sheer brick color. It looks unappetizing in the pot, but on the skin it’s quite nice.

I managed to snag the very last one in this shade at my Nordie’s counter, so if you have a hankering for this shade, I’d suggest checking it out sooner rather than later.

Swatch!

YSL Creme de Blush in #8 Red Agate

In the pot:

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On the hand (I used my right hand this time, the left having already been swatched with other things. Sorry about the dry skin and elephant wrinkles):

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YSL Créme de Blush in #8 Red Agate: $38

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent. I now own four of these and have barely made a dent in them. They are pricy, but they last a long time and have a beautiful finish.

Purchase again? Definitely.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

 

 

 

Review: YSL Glossy Stain in #29 Rose Fourreau (Spring 2013 Collection)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOr, “In Which I Cheerfully Horrify A YSL Sales Associate.”

So, er, the other day the very nice carpet cleaning people were here, doing their thing, and, er, the crap that came out of my carpet was so … extensive … that the machine actually broke in the middle of doing it. The very nice man from the very nice carpet cleaning company said to me, very nicely, that he was going to have to go back to Very Nice Carpet Cleaning HQ and get a new machine, and this should only take about 3 hours. I could not stand to be in a half-cleaned apartment with all the furniture shoved against the walls and with the cats whining to be let out of the utility room, so I took the opportunity to go shopping. Really, it was too embarrassing to hang around waiting to see if the replacement machine would also throw up its hands in despair and shut itself down.

What to do with three hours? Why, hie myself over to Nordstrom’s to drool over spring collections, natch. YSL is putting out four new shades of Glossy Stains (or “Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres,” as YSL calls them), which I adore, so I had high hopes of drowning my shame in lipstick. To my astonishment, Nordie’s actually had these products on display and available! (Trying to find new collection items on counter at my Nordie’s is a little like playing the lottery, except with demonstrably poorer results.)

There are four new colors for the spring: #27 Peche Cerra-Cola, #28 Grenat Acrylique, #29 Rose Fourreau, and #30 Mauve Fusain. The swatches on Nordstrom’s website bear little if any resemblance to the actual products: #27 Peche Cerra-Cola is actually a very pale peach, #28 Grenat Acrylique is an orange-leaning red, and #30 Mauve Fusain is a bright violet slightly more blue than heliotrope.

#29 Rose Fourreau is a warm orange-pink; on the website it looks like a browned rose but it absolutely is not. Like most YSL Glossy Stains, the color takes a minute or two on your lips to deepen into its eventual shade. This goes on quite light, but after a few minutes it’s become the color of blood oranges. I love, love, love it.

YSL Glossy Stains have a reasonably good wearlength — 3-4 hours for me on average, which is good considering I talk all day for a living. They fade evenly and do not bleed into lip lines. The applicator is a slanted paddle, with one pointy end for use in defining the bow of the lip and the corners of the mouth. It works very well. However, YSL Glossy Stains do have one feature that I’m not a huge fan of, and I can only assume that this is something that they absolutely could not overcome in the manufacturing process — and this is where I cheerfully horrified the YSL sales associate.

As she was rummaging below the counter to find one of these for me to buy (because the relationship between the product being on counter and the staff actually having products to sell you is tenuous at best), she started making conversation with me about them. Given that she was completely underneath the counter, it must have looked like I was having a conversation with empty air.

“Don’t you just love the Glossy Stains?” she said.

“I do,” I said. “There’s just one thing about them I don’t like.”

“What’s that?” she asked, as she continued to dig through piles of everything except what I wanted.

“They smell like beer,” I said.

At this point there was a THUNK sound and the SA’s head popped up from behind the counter, her eyes wide with alarm.

“They what?” she said.

“They smell like beer. Haven’t you ever noticed?”

She immediately grabbed one, opened it, and held the applicator under her nose — at which point an expression of such horror crossed her face that you could have used a photo of it for an internet meme.

“Oh my God,” she said.

I considered asking her whether she had ever actually used these products, because we are not talking about a ghostly soupçon of fragrance here. It smells like beer. Strongly. It has sillage. After it’s been on your lips for a minute or so, the smell goes away, but there is no missing it when you put it on. But I decided not to poke her further, because who am I to snark at a sales associate when I myself was running from the humiliation of having caused the death of at least one carpet cleaning machine?

There seems to be quite a lot of confusion about which items in YSL’s Spring 2013 collection are permanent and which are limited edition — I’ve seen one blog post definitively stating that X was permanent and Y limited edition, and then another saying the opposite. Some blog posts don’t even have all of the items in the right category. So if you want this shade, I’d suggest ordering sooner rather than later. As of this writing, Sephora has #29 Rose Fourreau and #27 Peche Cerra-Cola available online, with no mention of the other two shades; Nordstrom’s has all four, as does Saks.

Swatches!

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Naked lip:

new naked lip

Lip with YSL Glossy Stain in #29 Rose Fourreau:

YSL glossy stain 29 lip swatch

 

Random bit of trivia: YSL is in the process of removing the “Yves” from its name and rebranding itself as simply “Saint-Laurent.” Do I think this is a mistake? Yes. Did they ask me? No. Can’t imagine why.

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YSL Glossy Stain in #29 Rose Fourreau: $32

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. They’re lovely, but $32 is $32, after all.

Purchase again? Yes.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

 

Review AND GIVEAWAY!!!: Minerals Mate Makeup Mixing Tray

I think that with this post I am the rueful winner of the “(Barely) Better Late Than Never” award. My school lets out somewhat later than most others, and with finals and graduation and then suddenly being handed a project (what? for me? oh, no, you shouldn’t have, NO SERIOUSLY TAKE IT BACK), I am shamefully late with this post. And yes, this is all compounded by the annual “School just ended and it’s all I can do to get out of bed and make my way to the couch, where I stare listlessly into space and drool on my pajamas” business. I think that my contract should include a mandatory all-expenses-paid weeklong spa trip after every year’s graduation ceremony.

Anyway, I am genuinely sorry about that because I have had this terrific little product sitting around for a few weeks now and haven’t had the chance to sing its praises to you! This product is the Minerals Mate Makeup Mixing Marvel Tray.

About a month or two ago, I suddenly rediscovered an interest in loose mineral cosmetics. And when I say “interest,” I mean “obsession.” I walked into a Bare Minerals store (for I think the first time ever) and saw that they had giant rotating tiered lazy-susan kinds of things on which open pots of mineral eyeshadow were arranged in rows according to color and intensity, and I lost my head completely. You have to understand how I am about color. When I go to Macy’s, I inevitably spend five minutes staring longingly at the rainbow-organized spectrum of pashminas on display in the accessories section. I need another pashmina like I need a degree from the University of Phoenix, but oh! how I love to stare at the pretty colors. What is my favorite color, you ask? It is “every color.” Every color, all together. So the idea of having an every-color spectrum of eyeshadows (on display! on a rotating lazy susan!) made me so excited I could hardly contain myself.

So now I have a miniature version of their lazy susan display in my makeup area at home. No, seriously, I do. That is what I mean when I say “obsession.”

However.

There’s no getting around the fact that loose mineral makeup, for all its beauty, is a giant mess. The stuff gets everywhere. And it’s really hard to get the right amount on your brush, especially if you have decided to go to open storage like I have. You may not have a lid handy to tap the excess powder into — and then what are you supposed to do with the extra product? Try to put it back into the container? Yeah, you go ahead with that, and I’ll sit here with a glass of lemonade and snicker at you. No, take your time. I’ve got allllll day.

And this is why I’m so glad that someone thought of the idea of a mixing tray with multiple compartments (with lids!) for the purpose of mixing and managing mineral cosmetics. The Minerals Mate is a little godsend of a product. It has several wells of various sizes in which you can swirl, tap, and buff to your heart’s content. Want to mix two colors together? Plenty of room! Want to foil your loose shadows by mixing with water? Plenty of room for that too! Want to mix your foundations or blushes or things that require a larger mixing pan? You are covered! Want to clean your brush and need a textured surface to loosen pigment? Yep, you’re covered for that one as well.

Each tray has four smaller wells and three larger ones, and they all come with snap-on caps to prevent spillage or leakage. (I removed the lid from one large and one small well just for photographs.) Although the product packaging implies that its primary purpose is for use with mineral products, there’s no reason at all why you couldn’t use it for liquid foundations as well; the snap-on caps help keep any leftover product from drying out. If you have ever tried to mix product to get a custom shade (foundation, eyeshadow, concealer, blush), you know how difficult it can be, not least because of the logistics. With Minerals Mate, I could custom-blend foundation in about five seconds. It is easy to clean and best of all YOU CAN PUT IT IN THE DISHWASHER! (And, not for nothing, but I can see a whole range of uses for this little gizmo beyond makeup application. Next time I sit down to bead some jewelry I am so temporarily repurposing this as a bead holder.) They come in two colors: charcoal-and-black and the red-and-white one you see here.

The maker of Minerals Mate was kind enough to send me one product for review and another to GIVE AWAY TO YOU GUYS! If you’d like to win the Minerals Mate pictured above (unused and opened only to photograph), leave a comment on this post and I’ll pick a winner randomly. Deadline for comments: Thursday, June 7, at 11:59 pm Eastern time. 

And a special note to my academic readers: the maker of Minerals Mate is also a member of our tribe! In addition to her non-academic day job, she teaches part-time at a large university in the south. So support our peeps! Every Minerals Mate tray you buy is one less student paper she has to grade. (I totally made that last part up. But wouldn’t it be nice?) Seriously, you’ll be getting a super-useful little product and also supporting a fellow academic, who is also a lovely person you’d enjoy chatting with. She’s definitely one of the tribe.

The regular price for Minerals Mate trays is $19.95. If you’d like to pick one up, use the code 2468MineralsMate to get 25% off at mineralsmate.com! That code runs through … uh, today. (I am so sorry. I am so late. I blame work.)

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Provenance: Sent for consideration.

Price/Value Ratio (accessories: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent.

Purchase again? Absolutely. I can see it being useful in all sorts of ways beyond makeup.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: MAC “Tres Cheek” Powder Blush in Immortal Flower

Buy it. Buy it right now. Skip the rest of this review and buy it right now.

What? Are you still here? BUY IT RIGHT NOW.

There’s not a whole lot of MAC that I squee about. Pearlglide eyeliner pencils, Fluidline eyeliner gels, and Paint Pots are pretty much the only things that I follow. If a MAC collection (any one of the approximately seven billion they put out every year) doesn’t have any new shades of those, then I’m likely to skip it. I think I own three MAC lipsticks, two longwear lipsticks, and one eyeshadow palette. Oh, wait, two. And Stereo Rose MSF, which I will never ever hit pan on in my lifetime.

Also, both their collections and their products tend to have annoying names. Not objectionable, like some of the UD names, but annoying. I’m pretty sure that most of the MAC fangirl base will not understand the pun of “tres cheek,” nor will they understand that it’s only a pun if you deliberately mispronounce the French. I estimate it’ll be about eight seconds before we see one of the American Idol judges saying that a contestant’s outfit was “cheek.” Of course, this doesn’t happen just in makeup; at a restaurant recently, I ordered salmon roulades, and the waiter had to put his hand on the table to steady himself as he looked at me with his eyes brimming with tears and told me I was his first customer to pronounce “roulades” correctly all year. It is currently April. This is sad. I said, “How do people normally pronounce it?” He said, “Rool-aids. Like Kool-Aid, but with an R.”

I left him a big tip. He must suffer greatly.

MAC “Tres Cheek” powder blush in Immortal Flower ranks up there with NARS Sex Appeal as one of the best peach/pinky-peach blushes for fair skin that I’ve ever used. It’s gorgeously light. Immortal Flower is pinker and more pigmented than Sex Appeal, but they’re both excellent options for fair skin. This has no shimmer as far as I can see, but it’s gently luminous. For a light spring cheek, it’s perfect. I also sometimes use it to set a cream blush or to blend the border between cream blush and foundation. Powder blushes in general don’t wear as long on me as cream or gel ones, but this one lasts a good six hours before there’s noticeable fading. Most of the time, this works out OK for me.

There are six blushes in the “Tres Cheek” collection, which have various degrees of pigmentation and sheen. If your local MAC counter is sold out, they’ve been restocked on maccosmetics.com, and Nordstrom’s also still has ‘em.

Swatch!

 

 

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MAC “Tres Cheek” collection powder blush in Immortal Flower: $20

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid-range: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair to good. I wish it had a longer wearlength.

Purchase again? Probably.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Classified Cosmetics ERA FACE Spray On Foundation

… the best thing to come out of a can since Easy-Cheese.

I admit that I was slightly terrified by the spray foundation concept. It just seemed like there was so much that could go wrong. Like Homer Simpson’s makeup gun invention:

Homer: Now, this next one’s for the ladies. How many times have you gals been late for a high-powered business meeting, only to realize you’re not wearing make-up?

Marge: That’s every woman’s nightmare.

Homer: That’s why I invented this revolutionary make-up gun. It’s for the woman who only has four-fifths of a second to get ready. Close your eyes, Marge.

[Homer fires the make-up gun, which appears to be a shotgun with some containers of liquid attached, into Marge's face. After the cloud of dust vanishes, she ends up with way too much on]

Homer: Now you’re ready for a night on the town. [holds up a mirror]

Marge: [gasps] Homer! You’ve got it set on “whore!”

Homer: [adjusts a setting] Okay, this time try to keep your nostrils closed.

[Homer points the gun at her, but she pushes it away from her face. A vaguely face-shaped blotch of make-up stains the wall]

Homer: Oh, look what you did. Now I have to go get my cold-cream gun.

Lisa: Dad, women won’t like being shot in the face.

Homer: Women will like what I tell them to like!

(script excerpt via wrongtown; image via goulcher)

 

Well, fortunately, this product performs somewhat better than that. Actually, a great deal better than that.

When push comes to shove, I’m not entirely sure there’s all that much difference between spray and liquid foundation. The directions for ERA say to shake well (*really* well), then to hold the can about 8 inches from your face and apply in an S pattern: across the forehead, diagonally down across the nose and the center of your face, and then round your chin up to the other side. Then they tell you you are supposed to buff it into the skin in order to set it and make it water-resistant. (I’ve tried buffing with a BeautyBlender and with my fingers, and I think that my fingers give slightly better coverage since they don’t absorb any of the foundation. I’ll try a brush also and see what happens.) So in other words, it’s not the spray equivalent of “set it and forget it.” If you have ever been inside a spray tan booth, well, this is NOT like that. In a spray tan booth, because there are multiple jets shooting a very fine mist, you get even coverage in a pretty foolproof way. Spray foundation is not yet so foolproof. The more you do it, the easier it will be, but the first time I did it I was decidedly blotchy. There is definitely a learning curve! If you don’t want to spray it directly onto your face, you can spray it into your palm or some other container and then apply with a brush, so it becomes exactly like a liquid foundation.

The product is oil-free and easily wipes off of eyebrows and hair (though they do advise that you cover your hair with something before use; I’ve never done this and haven’t had any trouble yet). They also advise that you can leave the foundation that landed on your closed eyelids as an eyelid primer (you will want to buff out any irregular patches that came from squinching your eyelids shut) and any that ended up on your lips as a lip primer. If you don’t wipe it off your lips right away, it will act as a nude lip primer whether you want it to or not, just so you know. I’m wearing it today, and it made my orange lip gloss almost colorless on my lips. It’s since worn off, after eating and drinking, but I was surprised by exactly how opaque it was on my lips.

In terms of weartime, it starts to look a little faded after about 5 or 6 hours. I haven’t yet worn it on a day when I had to be on display from dawn to dusk, so I don’t know about its extended wear. Coverage is medium. One day I would like to see if I can build it up to full coverage by putting it on, letting the first layer set, and then applying a second layer.

One of the things I’m most impressed with, though, is its shade matching. Most foundations are too yellow on me (second verse, same as the first), but this one is great. There are 10 shades, and there is a helpful “automatch” feature on the site that will allow you to tell it what color you are in another brand’s foundation and it will find you the corresponding ERA shade. Mine is R2 (“pale, light, rose-undertoned skin”) and I’m an NW20 in MAC. It blends perfectly. Seamlessly. Flawlessly. Wait till you see the hand swatches!

ERA will set you back $55, which is not cheap; however, you do get 2.25 oz of product for the money, and since most foundations come in 1 or 1.7-oz. containers, it’s a better bargain than it may first appear. So long as you like it, of course. I got mine at half off through a Good Morning America promotion, which made it considerably less painful for my removable wallet.

Photos and swatches!

Impressive height, eh? Unfortunately, half of it’s just lid. Why? I don’t know. Here’s how it really looks:

 

Hand swatch — when first applied, very wet:

During the blending/drying process:

After product has been fully blended and is dry:

 

You can’t even tell I have it on. Pretty darn awesome.

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ERA FACE Spray On Foundation: $55 for 2.25 oz.

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair.

Purchase again? At full price? Mmmmmaybe. I’m not sorry to have tried it, though, and I’ll definitely use it up.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)


 

 

Review: Clarins Instant Light Blush in 02 Coral Tonic

When I bought the first of the aforementioned squee-worthy Clarins Crystal Lip Balms, I wanted to add something else to the order to qualify for a free-gift-with-minimum-$40-purchase offer. (Side note: Clarins has really excellent free sampling on the website — they have trial sizes of almost all their skincare products, and they are all available to you all the time. None of this “choose from the following 9 products” business that Sephora does.)

These Instant Light Blushes have been all the rage this spring. I vacillated when I saw them at the counter a few weeks ago, but since I was placing an order anyway, I decided to give them a go. They come in three shades: the pink one (Vitamin Pink) was sold out, the brown one (Brown Fizz) was too dark, so I went with shade 02 Coral Tonic.

You know what a sucker I am for a cream or gel blush; this is actually sort of a mousse-like consistency. I dislike the packaging. It comes packaged like a lip gloss: the product is in a well at the bottom of the tube, and the cap has an applicator attached that you are supposed to use to apply the stuff. You can’t get a brush into the well of product, so you’re kind of stuck with the applicator. It’s not bad, but I don’t like being forced to use it. It’s also going to be hard to get every last bit out of the container.

The applicator is similar to a doe-foot lipgloss applicator, but wider and shaped like a paddle. I don’t actually use the paddle on my cheeks directly; I either dab the product on my fingers and apply that way, or I smear some on the back of my hand and pick it up with a brush.

Here is the great thing about this blush, especially for those of you who like a light touch or who are afraid of developing Krazy Klown Face — it is virtually impossible to overapply this product. It is very sheer. You can build the color to a nice respectable glowy level, but it would be really difficult to go too far.

It lasted very well through a long workday; some minor fading by the end of the day, but overall it performed quite well indeed. An excellent blush for anyone, and a particularly good starter blush for people who want to try out a cream or mousse blush.

More pics and swatches!

The paddle applicator:

Heavily applied:

 

Blended out:

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Clarins Instant Light Blush in shade 02 Coral Tonic: $28

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): fair

Purchase again? Maybe! The pink looks nice; it was, of course, the first one to sell out.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)


Squee! Mini-Review: Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm in 04 Crystal Red

Call me Voxy. Some months ago – never mind how long precisely – having a bit of mad money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me at Sephora, I thought I would cruise about a little and see other parts of the world of cosmetics. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to buy a lipstick as soon as I can.

(Melville is giving me the stinkeye from his grave. I can feel it.)

So, last summer, feeling a little spleenish, I was looking around for summer collection items beyond what Sephora carries. And I found, on several beauty blogs, these delectable, lipsmacking photos of Clarins Crystal Lip Balms in red, orange, and pink. They were completely translucent and looked like they were made of some kind of ice or gel. Popsicle-like. Totally drool-worthy. I searched for them for months, but to no avail — because I didn’t know they weren’t released in the US. (Duh. I am such a dork sometimes.)

But this year they are being released in the US. At last! For years weeks days I stalked the Clarins website, pacing the deck, harpoon (in the form of a credit card) in hand. At last, the white whale — which is to say, the Crystal Lip Balm collection — was sighted! And, in an utterly undramatic fashion, I bought the one in Crystal Red.

I know. Anticlimactic.

But wait there’s more! It arrived today, and it is AMAZEBALLS. From the swatches I’ve seen on UK blogs, the versions put out in previous years were pretty much completely translucent. They looked gorge in the tube but on lips translated to only the slightest hint of color. This year’s version seems to be more pigmented — there’s a solid core of pigment surrounded by a very lightly tinted translucent balm. It’s so lightly tinted it’s effectively colorless. When I swatched it on my hand I was surprised.

Then I went ahead and put it on my lips. It is fabulous. It is a totally wearable not-too-intense shade of red. I can’t really call it a balm, though — the pigment makes it feel like a lipstick when it’s on your lips. It’s not drying but I didn’t think it was particularly moisturizing either. I didn’t do a wearlength test (hence why this is really only a mini-review), but it lasted a couple of hours for sure.

I immediately went back on the website and purchased two of the other three shades: Crystal Pink and Crystal Coral. I was wondering about the fourth shade, Crystal Violet, but based on how much pigment is in the Crystal Red, I suspect it would be way too purple for me. But we’ll see.

These should be on counters shortly but they are available now from clarins.com (limited edition) for $24.50. Through 4/24 you can get free shipping with code MOM.

UPDATE! The other two colors I ordered arrived today. The pink is much less pigmented than the red and does feel more like a balm (though still not entirely); the coral is almost as pigmented as the red and it is fairly bright. It is OK for my skin tone but going much brighter than that would be a bad idea.  I wore the red to school the other day, through one of my longest teaching days, and got about 3 hours’ wear out of it before I had to reapply. It stained a little bit, but less than I’d have anticipated. Still a win all around, though.

Close-up and hand swatch!

POPSICLE!

You can barely see that on either side of the red pigment there is a tiny bit of shiny balm, almost totally colorless.

Review: Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzing Powder

Dear Voxy,

We here at Too Faced know that you love our primers, but that for some reason you aren’t as keen on some of the rest of our products. What could we do about that? Love, Too Faced

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Dear Too Faced,

Hmm, I dunno. How about making them out of chocolate? Love, Voxy

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Dear Voxy,

Done! Love, Too Faced

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OK, that’s not really what happened. But nevertheless, Too Faced has indeed created a bronzer out of chocolate. Well, cocoa, anyway. They’ve actually had this product out before in a darker shade, but now there is a “milk chocolate” version of the Chocolate Soleil bronzer available for those of us who are too pasty fair for the regular version.

There has previously been only one bronzer I’ve found that works for me: Tarte Park Avenue Princess. In general I haven’t seen much use for bronzers, since most of them just make me look dirty — and since I’m pale enough naturally that no one will actually think I’ve been out getting any sun unless I bronze my whole darned body. Maybe people who have yellow undertones to their skin rather than pink ones have an easier time with bronzer. Anyway, the category has been largely a fail for me — but this may change that!

The Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil bronzing powder is actually very subtle and not orange-tinted at all. I really had to pile it on for the swatch, so it looks a little unnatural (and the skin on my hands is really dry — sorry about that, not the nicest looking swatch ever), but actually dusted onto the face it’s virtually invisible. It can be built up to a moderate degree of color; it would be a good option for contouring if that’s your thing. But the best thing about it is the delicious, mouthwatering aroma — yes, that is real cocoa powder in there. OK, it’s probably supplemented a bit by added fragrance (since fragrance comes right before cocoa powder in the ingredients list), but as it engulfs your face in a cloud of sweet, sweet deliciousness, you will not care. The scent does linger on the skin for awhile, so if you are one of those crazy people who doesn’t want to smell like chocolate for some reason, you have been warned. After a bit either the scent dissipates or your nose grows accustomed to it. I did notice that when I washed my face after wearing it during the day, the water came away with a decidedly brown tint. To an extent that happens with any makeup — the first few rinses have a peachy or tan hue as your foundation and powders are rinsed away — but I was surprised to see how much brown there was in the water. A cotton ball swabbed over the skin afterwards showed that I did get it all off using my standard cleansing regimen (pHisoderm cleanser with my Clarisonic), so it shouldn’t be problematic to remove. The first ingredient is talc, though, so for those of you who are sensitive to talc, you may want to look elsewhere.

Given the state of America today, I’m kind of surprised that it doesn’t bear the label “Do Not Eat,” because you will want to eat it. Heck, I tried to lick my own face. But if you want sweet powdery things that actually are edible, go with the Urban Decay lickable body powders.

One warning when ordering: Too Faced has not done such a good job distinguishing this from the regular (darker) Chocolate Soleil powder, so be sure you look carefully at the box before you pick it up. The front of the box only says “Chocolate Soleil,” but there is a little brown sticker on the top of the box that says “Milk Chocolate.” These are clearly the same boxes as the regular Chocolate Soleil, and they’ve added the sticker to show you it’s a different shade. Anyway, just keep your eyes out.

Swatch!

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Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzing Powder in Milk Chocolate: $29

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. I had a coupon, which helped.

Purchase again? N/A, since I hardly imagine I will ever run out.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: CARGO Color Sticks in St. Tropez and Maui

< — Says it all.

Honestly, CARGO, this is a great product. Really a great product. In really, really crappy packaging.

Cream blush is my favorite. (Well, and liquid blush. That’s my favorite too. And gel blush. Also my favorite.) OK, let’s just say I like cream blush a lot. So when I saw these from CARGO, I had to give them a go.

CARGO Color Sticks come in five shades: Champagne (very light beige-gold; more like a highlighter), Key West (a very light pink), Maui (mid-tone pink), Santorini (bright berry), and St. Tropez (bronzy orange gold). If you buy one, and want to remember what color it is, you should probably take a Sharpie and write the name on the side of the case. The little sticker on the bottom of the tube that tells you what color it is will jump off and fly away as soon as you exhale anywhere in its vicinity, and there’s no other marker on the case itself that tells you what shade is in there (the lid is also opaque so you can’t see the color through it). Because the bottom of the tube is not a continuous flat surface, it’s also really hard to put your own label on instead. I did succeed with one of mine, but I had to wrestle it down and secure it with electrical tape. Not exactly the kind of chic, jetsetting look that CARGO promotes.

Which is a shame, because these are really very nice products! At least, they are very nice cream blushes. I bought the two I thought I’d use most, and the color is vivid but not overpowering. In-store, I found Santorini a little too intense for me, but remember that I am relatively fair-skinned, so if you are a darker-toned beauty, it would probably look awesome on you. The color blends easily — you can apply with a brush or fingers or straight from the tube — and it lasts all day on me.

CARGO says you can use these on eyes, cheeks, and lips. I wasn’t super-impressed with using these as a lip color; I found them drying and they weren’t really attractive on the lips. I haven’t tried them as eye colors. I wouldn’t try Maui as an eye color anyway; I do like pink eyeshadows but this is not a very usable shade. I might try the St. Tropez, just as a lark, but we’ll see. I’m happy that they’re good cream blushes. These all-in-one products never actually function as all-in-one products.

Photo with no snarking, and swatches!

 

Left: St. Tropez. Right: Maui.

 

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CARGO Color Sticks: $28 each

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor. I’d have given them a “fair,” since $28 is still a lot for a cream blush, but the crappy packaging brings it down to a “poor.”

Purchase again? Maybe. I own the two colors that I think work best for me; if they were to come out with other ones that would also suit me, I’d have to think twice (at least) about the packaging before deciding whether or not to commit.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post! Review: Urban Decay Naked 2


Guest post and photos by Chaos!

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Since picking up my Naked palette (the original version) after searching for it in at least four Sephoras across two separate continents, I have not left the house without it. While this shows how much I love the thing, and also helps me justify my purchase of a new $50 friend for it, I am bringing it up because one of the things that really bothers me about the original Naked palette is that it is not really designed for carrying around. For a start, the packaging is velvety and so it picks up all the crap that lurks at the bottom of my bag, and the gold lettering across the front started to wear off pretty quickly. Also, it does not stay closed, meaning that the brush I store in it often comes out, and if the palette ends up too close to papers, they end up with a little more color on them than papers really should have. All this has changed with Naked2 – it is packaged in a metal case which clicks shut meaning it, my brush, and my papers will be safe from the horror that is the inside of my work bag.  This is good.

Speaking of brushes, the Naked2 palette comes with a really nice double-ended shadow and crease brush which, unlike many brushes that come with palettes, is actually usable. I did my whole eye with just the one brush when I was playing with this yesterday, so it should eliminate my need to carry three separate brushes with me. (I think I have re-applied my makeup while out about twice, however I feel… naked… without it in my bag just in case I need it, so I do carry it around slightly unnecessarily at all times.)

The colors (which can be seen in the swatches) are as follows:

Foxy: A beige/slightly yellow matte which is almost exactly the color of my skin

Half-Baked: Metallic gold (this one is also in the original Naked)

Bootycall: Shimmery beige, a little lighter than Foxy

Chopper: Glittery metallic bronze

Tease: Matte light brown

Snakebite: Shimmery dark brown (although this goes on more matte than it looks like it will)

Suspect: Shimmery light brown

Pistol: Shimmery dark brown, a little cooler than Snakebite

Verve: Shimmery greyish brown (this one is my favorite)

YDK (I do not know what this stands for, and that bothers me): Shimmery light copper

Busted: Matte dark brown

Blackout: Very black

Only Half-Baked is a repeat from Naked, and I am actually OK with UD putting that one in again – it goes very nicely with most of the other Naked2 shadows, so it makes sense to have it there ready to use without having to pick up another palette. (Yes, yes, I am lazy.) None of the other colors are so similar to the original Naked that you wouldn’t need want to own both. The shades in Naked2 are a lot cooler than Naked, which works better with my skin tone, and there are also more lighter shades in Naked2 which makes it a nicer palette for looks that are work appropriate.

There are not many bad things to say about this palette, but I would like to point out that I personally think they should have included a deeper brown shade instead of Blackout. Busted, the darkest brown in the palette, does not go on *quite* as nicely as the other shades, and Blackout is really too black to be used as anything other than a liner. While I occasionally do use black eyeshadow as a liner, UD itself makes such awesome liners that I am unlikely to do that on a regular basis, so I probably won’t get much use out of Blackout, and I am more likely to use Darkhorse from the original Naked if I want a dark brown instead of Busted. But 10 great shades out of 12 ain’t bad.

Naked2 also comes with a pink lip gloss which is a ‘meh’ shade on me, but tastes awesome, so if you feel like putting something on your lips just to lick it right off again, that gloss is for you.

Overall, Naked2 is really good value for the price, and you’re getting a great selection of shades. I recommend it especially for those of you who found the original Naked shades too warm – you’ll definitely find these shades easier to work with.

More photos and swatches!

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Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow palette: $50

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent. It costs $50, which I believe is $6 more than the original Naked. Without taking into account that it comes with a brush, that’s just over $4 per shadow. You won’t find $4 shadows this nice elsewhere.

Purchase again? Yes. Not for a while, because they last a long time, but I would definitely buy it again if it ran out.