lip gloss

Review: Bare Minerals Insider’s Kit (with Cheek Tint and Color-Shift Eyeshadow)

A few months ago, a friend and I sat down at ULTA and had little mini-makeovers, just for fun. This particular friend has a very busy telecommuting job and two small children, so she has had neither the time nor the external motivation to keep up her makeup routine, and I think she misses being girly. Anyhoo, she was fine with getting a little eye makeup done, and a little lip gloss, but when the brave ULTA sales associate advanced on her with a fan brush loaded with a startlingly pink neon blush (Smashbox, I think), she suddenly made a valiant effort to climb out of her skin in order to get away from the brush. Her eyes were as big as saucers! Undaunted, the SA flicked the fan brush over the apples of her cheeks and deposited a sheer flush of color that looked simply AH-MAZE-ING. (Even my friend agreed, after she had calmed down and had a martini to get over the shock.) Although at the time I didn’t end up buying that blush, I kept thinking about how good it looked — so when I saw this kit at Sephora with a super-bright pink cheek tint and a new “color-shift” eyeshadow, I grabbed onto it with my grimy little paws and would not let it go.

Sephora has a couple of Bare Minerals kits on offer right now, two of which contain this mysterious “color-shift eyeshadow.” By the way, the Bare Escentuals store that is about 50 yards away from the Sephora in one of my local malls had never heard of the stuff, which is slightly worrisome. As of right now there are two colors available, and each one is only available with purchase of a kit (in other words, you can’t buy just the eyeshadow, more’s the pity). Fortunately this particular kit had some other stuff I was drawn to, so it worked out.

In this particular Insider’s Kit, you get the following: Cheek Tint (Bare Minerals’ first cheek stain, as they call it) in shade Flirt, a color-shift shadow in Panache (a bright peach, which, upon buffing, acquires a lavender duotone), liner shadow in Twilight Violet (a sort of purple-gray with sparkles), Natural Lipgloss in Cherry Bomb, and a dual-ended brush.

The cheek tint is frighteningly bright in the container. And when I say “frightening,” I mean “sleep with the lights on”, “put a baseball bat under your bed”, “have your teddy bear on speed dial” frightening. Please DO NOT drop this on your carpet, as it will stain. Unless, that is, you already have a hot pink neon carpet, in which case I want to come to your house and see it. I admit that I have not tried applying the cheek tint with the provided brush. This is because I am terrified that I will go from zero to Krazy Klown Face in less time than it takes to say “Krazy Klown Face,” which isn’t really very much time at all. Instead, I’ve been using a fan brush, and this has worked so far. Like the blush the ULTA SA put on my friend, it delivers a sheer pop of bright color. Because it is sheer, it’s wearable for pretty much everyone. If I can pull it off, anyone who has darker skin than me (which is to say, almost everyone) can probably also do so.

The color-shift eyeshadow is the surprise winner here. In general I’m a skeptic about these kinds of things, but Oh My Goodness Gracious Me It Looks Fantastic. There are two things I really like about it: 1. the peach shade by itself is a lovely eye brightener, and 2. when you blend it out into purple, the transition is very nice (it passes through a pinky stage) and the two colors both look good together and are surprisingly easily incorporated into an overall look. Just for grins, I tried it wet to see what would happen, and the peach color turned into a neon sort of pink. In general I think dry application is better than wet here. The swatches below don’t do it justice; I found it hard to capture the purple tones on film. (Well, digital film, but whatev.) I’m surprised by how nice it is on my eyes. There is another shade available in another kit, which goes on a kind of dirty greenish-gold and buffs out to a fairly intense sky blue.

The lipgloss is … meh. It doesn’t do anything for me, but it won’t hurt you. I wouldn’t have bought it on its own. The color in the tube is fantastic, but on lips it doesn’t have much of an effect. Maybe this is just my lips.

The shadow liner is best worked with wet rather than dry. If you use it dry, there is a lot of fallout. Wet, it’s a nice shade of gray with hints of purple, and the glitter stays where it’s supposed to stay. And unlike the color-shift eyeshadow, when you wet this one it stays the same color it was originally. I’m not a huge fan of it, but I don’t hate it either, and I’m sure I’ll use it from time to time.

The brush is nice, but as I said earlier I haven’t tried to use it with the cheek tint. YMMV.

So in the kit, the winners are the cheek tint, the color-shift eyeshadow, and the brush. The gloss and liner shadow are OK but I wouldn’t have bought them separately.


Closeup of the color-shift eyeshadow in Panache.


This is how Panache goes on…


… and this is what happens when you buff it. It was incredibly hard to capture the lavender tone on my camera; this is kind of a fail.


Cheek Tint in Flirt.


Swatch of cheek tint in Flirt, with a sprinkle of powder on the left and a blended-out bit on the right.


Liner shadow closeup


Swatch of liner shadow (left) and lipgloss (right).


Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Insider Introducing Cheek Tint: $36 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Would have preferred to purchase products separately.

Purchase again? N/A, but I’d buy other kits if they had what I wanted.

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

Review: LORAC Co-Stars Long-Wearing Lip Color in French Kiss, Hot Kiss, Steamy Kiss

Geez, I need a cigarette just after typing the title of the review. And I don’t even smoke.

I’ve had two of these clunking around in my lipstick drawer for awhile: French Kiss and Hot Kiss — which is why the brushes on those two are clearly not entirely white in the top photo. Sorry; I normally don’t photograph used products, but I had forgotten just how good they were until I came across them the other day. And since ULTA is having a sale through 1/21/12 and these LORAC Co-Stars are reduced in price to $9.99 from their normal price of $20, at 50% off you should definitely consider picking up a few.

Like most iterations of the “long-wearing” variety of lip color, this is a double-ended wand with a stain on one end and a gloss on the other. You apply the stain first, then gloss. Ideally, the only maintenance they should need throughout the day is a gloss touch-up, but  if you need it to perform perfectly from 8 am to midnight, you’ll probably want to touch up the stain as well as the gloss at some point. These formulas tend to be pretty effective at delivering long-lasting color, but the danger is that they tend to be drying on lips. These avoid that pitfall pretty well. There’s no way you could  call them “moisturizing,” at least not with a straight face, but they’re reasonably comfortable to wear; I find these more comfortable than MAC’s Pro Longwear Lipcolor by a long shot. And besides, it gives you such a good reason to expand your lip balm collection. (See? I’m helping. I’m a helper.)

French Kiss is a dusty rose, Hot Kiss is a terracotta color, and Steamy Kiss is a pinkish red — vivid but not blinding. French Kiss and Hot Kiss photograph more similarly than they appear in life, so I’ve put a few comparison photos in at the end.

Application is reasonably easy; the stain end has a doe-foot wand and the gloss end has a brush. Because the color is a stain, you will want to be careful applying around the edges of your lips; lip pencil helps a lot here. The stain on all three of the ones I own is very long-lasting indeed. It wears pretty evenly for the most part; the French Kiss is closest to my natural lip color so when that one starts to wear it’s not very noticeable. Hot Kiss starts to look a bit patchy after about 5 or 6 hours, which is still pretty darn good. I’ve just bought Steamy Kiss, so I haven’t tested its all-day wear yet, but school is starting again, so that’ll happen soon. In any event, you will definitely get a full evening’s wear out of it (or an MLA interview, just sayin’) with no touch-ups and no smearing.

Since the colors are almost opaque, they apply pretty true to the color that’s in the tube, which is a nice surprise. You don’t have to use LORAC’s gloss, of course; you can use any one you like. I haven’t noticed any difference in performance between LORAC’s gloss and any of my regular go-to products.


French Kiss:

Hot Kiss:

Hand swatch. L-R: French Kiss, Hot Kiss, Steamy Kiss:


LORAC Co-Stars Long-Wearing Lip Color: $20 (on sale through 1/21/12 for $9.99 at ULTA)

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair if full price; excellent if on sale!

Purchase again? Yes. More colors plz.

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

Review: Hourglass Extreme Sheen High Shine Lip Gloss in Siren, Truth, Primal

I’m not quite sure what to make of Hourglass, and I’m not sure Hourglass is quite sure what to make of Hourglass either. Which is probably part of the problem.

For the record, the problem doesn’t seem to be with the quality of the products themselves, but with the packaging and marketing strategies. You know the saying “a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee”? Yeah, well, most of Hourglass’ products seem to be packed in camels. Fortunately they don’t spit at you when you open them.

Packaging, which includes not just the swankiness of the box the thing comes in but also the design of the product container and the delivery mechanism, the choice of typefaces and graphic elements, and the overall look and presentation of the product, should be an visual translation of the brand message. Well, not “should be,” I guess — it is a visual translation of the brand message. Based on the unholy mess of design elements going on, the brand message that Hourglass seems to be sending at the moment is “We’re confused.” And given the price point on most of Hourglass’ products, “confused” is something they really cannot afford to be.

They have a certain typeface for the brand name. It’s sort of Art Nouveau. Great. But this appears to be just a logotype or wordmark — it is used consistently for the brand name when the brand name is imprinted on products, but nothing else in the packaging uses that font. But OK, I’m now prepared to see Hourglass as Art Nouveau: curvaceous, slightly decadent, sensual, Maxfield Parrish, you get the idea.

Then we see the words “extreme sheen” that are written in Gothic blackletter. Uh, wait. Didn’t we just say Art Nouveau? Curvaceous? Decadent? That doesn’t go with blackletter at all. Plus, Kat von D sort of already cornered the market with blackletter product names. See?

So you’re Art Nouveau and also … goth? Or, wait, you want to be Kat von D. Or, you didn’t do your research. Either way, you already have two animals in your design cage that don’t play well together (one of which immediately makes me think of another company, which is probably not a good marketing ploy).

Then there’s a third typeface on the front of the package (you now have at least one too many by most design standards), and it’s a plain sans-serif — in all caps for some reason, which just adds to the confusion, especially since the “extreme sheen” portion is all lowercase. What’s that doing there? And which way do you mean for me to hold the darn box? If I hold it horizontally, I can read the brand name and your sans-serif text. If I hold it vertically, I can read the “extreme sheen” portion of the product name and the fact that it is 7 g/0.24 oz.

I don’t think I should really have to choose, do you?

On to the product container itself: OK, going with the darkened copper chrome for the cap, very sophisticated. But did it occur to you that that color looks pretty gosh-darn awful when it’s butted up against any shade of pink or red, which are largely the colors of the glosses we’re going to see in that tube? Also, did you copy your product design from Urban Decay? It’s got the length of a Lip Junkie gloss but the flatness of a Pocket Rocket. (To your credit, at least yours don’t have pictures of men in their underwear on them, so yay you.)

On the other hand, I do see that you’re trying to create a package that has a different feel to it than any other. The UD glosses are squeezy tubes while yours is rigid and comes with a flattened doe-foot applicator. OK, I give you points for effort. But you know how I can tell which gloss is the Hourglass one when I reach into my bag — which routinely contains, on average, 18 lip products? It’s the one that keeps slipping out of my hands because it’s an unwieldy shape. It’s therefore the last one I pull out, so if I’m at all impatient, I’ve already decided something else in my bag will do and I stop hunting. I see, by the way, that this wasn’t the original package design for the extreme sheen HIGH SHINE LIP GLOSS (hey, just want to be sure I get your capitalization correct). I therefore conclude that you went to this one because you thought it was an improvement.

I also think that you went to this packaging to mimic the look of your other gloss, the Prodigy hydrating lip gloss. This one, for readers who have not seen it, is roughly the height and width of a credit card, and less than 1/2″ thick at its thickest point (like the extreme sheen HIGH SHINE LIP GLOSS, it tapers at both ends). Apparently, Hourglass touts the shape as being “perfectly contoured to fit into the palm of the hand” — because that’s where I hold a lipgloss when I’m applying it, in my palm — and also mentions it could be discreetly slipped into a pocket. Because:

a) I buy pants that have pockets on the ass
b) I would want to keep something in those pockets on my ass
c) What I would really like to keep in the pocket on my ass is LIPGLOSS.

And no, it’s not any better if you are talking about pockets in the front. Other bloggers may have been drawn in by the packaging hype, but I’m not one of those other bloggers, and the audience for this blog isn’t like the audience for other blogs. Someone needs to give the marketing folks a serious talking to. (The website, by the way, is another design disaster, for some of the same reasons. A high-end line needs to aim higher than that.)

Now that the marketing folks are done cringing, let me get on to the portion of the review that will make the product developers and formulators happy — it’s a great lip gloss. Really. I like it very much. It’s non-sticky and it smells like cake batter. So that just wins me over right there.

I purchased it in Siren first and then went back for two more shades, Truth and Primal. Siren, pictured at the top of the page, is fire-engine red. When worn on its own, it’s easy to get opaque coverage (actually, when worn on its own, it’s hard not to get opaque coverage). It wears well and doesn’t stain, which is surprising given how bright the color is. I can easily see adding it to my red-lippie rotation during the holiday season; right now I primarily wear it by dotting it on top of another lippie or gloss, which kicks up the color of what’s underneath and lets me get a more sheer version of Siren. In this role it is very versatile and I’ve been wearing it a lot.

Truth is a MLBB shade; it’s very close to my natural lip color and also wears very well. Because it’s so close to my natural lip color, I should probably wear a lip pencil under it to be sure that there’s no visual bleed effect at the lip line. (I didn’t do that in the photo below.)

Primal is a very lovely raspberry color. It will be excellent in the late summer and fall to get you through that weird period where summer things no longer feel quite right but you’re not ready for wine-colored lipsticks or blackberry glosses.

Wearlength on all three of these colors is pretty good. So, overall, the packaging has some identity issues, but what’s inside it is worth buying.


Siren (and by the way you have no idea how difficult it was to get this picture, since the tube has a beveled edge that makes it near impossible to balance it on the edge by itself, let alone with a box on top of it — if the whole blogging thing doesn’t work out, maybe I could make a living stacking Zen rocks):

Hand swatch of Siren:

Hand swatch of Truth (L), Primal (R). I swear the above and below photos are of the same hand in the same light tent. Still workin’ on those skillz.

Naked lip:

Lip with Siren:

Lip with Truth:

Lip with Primal:


Hourglass Extreme Sheen high Shine Lip Gloss in Siren, Truth, Primal: $28

Provenance: Purchased

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

Purchase again? Yes, but I really hope they put some serious thought into branding and design.

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

Review: NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Baroque

Sticking with the crayon theme, here is a lovely item from NARS’ Spring 2011 collection. And ha! NARS, at least, was smart enough to know that people are going to call them crayons — the title of their webpage for the product is “Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil Crayons.” Take note, other crayon-deniers.

I’m simultaneously intrigued and a little dubious about this product coming in crayon pencil form. Unlike the UD 24/7 shadow pencils, in which the delicious filling inside the Oreo cookie product inside the channel of the pencil was hard, the NARS pencil is much softer. Which is good for lips, really, but which (as Chaos pointed out to me when we were shopping) might make sharpening it difficult, tedious, and frustrating. Post-sharpening, I don’t want the bathroom to look like Igor conducted one of his experiments in there and didn’t quite collect all of the results.

So far, though, the texture has been fine and not milk chocolate melting in your hands messy. The extremely soft and melty texture of the pencil in-store was probably due to it sitting under the lights in Sephora for hours at a time. This is something you should be aware of if you shop there, by the way — results in-store, when creamy products have been basking in the glow of the display unit lights for a long time, can be different from results at home. Case in point: MUFE Aqua Creams. Even though I hated the first two I got, I picked up another one in a different color because I tried it in-store and it went on creamy and smooth as frosting. At home? Not so much. I suppose I could always get one of the cats to lie on the container and warm it up for me. Since they apparently think any new thing in the environment must be slept on, I could at least get some benefit from that. I also may have to update this post when July rolls around and everything melts in my purse.

These are products you will definitely want to swatch in-store before buying. The colors all look like they’re the same intensity in the tube (can I use that term to describe a crayon pencil?) but they vary a lot in color and sheerness when you actually use them. This was not the shade I had anticipated picking up when I walked into the store, but it turns out that the shade I wanted looked terrible on my pink-toned skin. Most of you will probably have better results.

In terms of wearlength, they’re pretty standard: a few hours, max. I bet that I actually apply less of this product than I do of a gloss in a tube with a doe-foot applicator, though, because it’s hard to tell exactly how much you’ve got on. It doesn’t build up into a thick sticky layer of product, which will definitely appeal to those of you who hate your hair flying around and getting stuck in your lip gloss. (You know who you are.) The crayons have no taste, but they do have a bit of a waxy smell. You only really notice this if you stick the thing up your nose, which according to four-year-olds seems to be the proper thing to do with crayons. (I do not advocate this. Please do not sue me.)


Naked lip:

Lip with NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Baroque:

Five other colors are available; see website for details. I seem to be hungry, as evidenced by the number of food metaphors I had to strike out of this post, so I’m going to go get lunch.


NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Baroque: $24

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor to fair. I had to really think about it a lot before buying.

Purchase again? Maybe. I like its convenience — easy to sweep on in seconds without a mirror for a nice raspberry lip. The jury is still out on how the formula will hold out over time, especially as the seasons change.

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

Review: Paul & Joe Lip Lacquer in Orient

Among the 19 (!) lip products I discovered in my purse yesterday was Paul & Joe’s Lip Lacquer in Orient, a fiery neutral-to-warm red. I bought this awhile ago but never ended up posting a review because I’d forgotten to take a picture with the complete packaging, including the world’s tiniest lip gloss instruction manual. Seriously, how cute is that? (In case you are wondering, the instructions, printed in both English and French, are as follows: “Directions for Use: Take an appropriate amount of product with your fingertips or using a lip brush and apply onto your lips. Usage Precautions: After use, wipe the opening of the container thoroughly, with a tissue for example, and close the cap tightly.”)

I suppose I fail at reading directions, because I just recklessly applied it willy-nilly straight from the tube! What was I thinking? Someone could have been hurt! or killed!

I like the color of this quite a lot. It’s possibly the warmest red I own that works on me. I can see that you would probably get more precise coverage if you were to follow the directions and use a lip brush, but really for casual use it’s just fine to slob it on right out of the squeezy tube. I think if brands don’t want you to apply their lip products without some sort of implement, they oughtn’t to put them in squeezy tubes. And lip brushes are a pain. I know some of you have great patience for them, but I do not.

You would probably also be advised to use a lip liner if you want a fuller-coverage look. You can slop on a lot of this stuff and get a pretty intense red, but if you do that without a liner ’round the outside of the lip, it’s likely to migrate. So if you want to avoid the vampire-in-search-of-a-napkin look, use a liner. Almost any will do. It does not have to match the intense red of the gloss — often with reds I think it’s just as good to use a shade that’s somewhere between the lipstick shade and the natural shade of your lips, so that as it wears you are sure not to be left with ring-around-the-lips. What you really want the liner for is to provide a waxy barrier at the lip’s edge to prevent the gloss from traveling into little lines and feathering out.

Like most glosses, this has a wearlength that is somewhat shorter than Charlie Sheen’s remaining acting career. Such is life. It also ain’t cheap, but it’s a nice red (which is hard to find) and if you’re ordering some other things from Paul & Joe, then it’s worth throwing into the cart.


Naked lip:

Lip with Paul & Joe Lip Lacquer in Orient:


Paul & Joe Beauté Lip Lacquer in Orient: $20 (via — in the US at least, you cannot order directly from the Paul & Joe website. There does exist a page for the brand on, which makes me hope that they’ll be offering P&J products at some point in the not-too-distant future.)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. Come on, $20 for a squeezy tube?

Purchase again? Probably, though I’ll try another shade.

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

Review: Arbonne Lip Polish

Arbonne is one of those lines that I don’t really follow, largely because they still rely mostly on “Independent Consultants” like Mary Kay and Avon used to have — and you know how I feel about sales pressure. Oh, and they’re outrageously expensive. However, a holiday product caught my eye and I could not resist ordering it: a trio of Arbonne’s Lip Polishes. Had there not been a gorgeous burgundy in the set, I wouldn’t have looked twice, but … well, there it is.

Arbonne bills itself as a company that was cool and hip and botanical before botanical itself was cool and hip, if any of us can remember back that far. (I think I was four.) So, green, right? Natural, environmentally responsible, earth-friendly … OK, I can’t even sell myself on this.

Let’s look at the size of the products.

Now let’s look at the size of the products compared to the standard-size Beauté gloss I recently reviewed. The Beauté is on the left.

Oh. I see. They’re small. OK. Value-for-price aside for the moment, if they’re that small then surely they should come in a tiny box, n’est-ce-pas?

Oh. Er. Seriously, you could have fit about 40 of those tiny kits in this box. I am so tired of seeing companies that market themselves as “environmentally responsible” and “earth-conscious” and all that jazz use way, WAY too much packaging. Arbonne even has a “Green Commitment” statement, which reads as follows:

Arbonne is committed to environmental responsibility. As our business grows, we strive to minimize our impact on the earth through the implementation of innovative and responsible environmental practices, and we encourage our manufacturing and sourcing partners to do the same.

At Arbonne we:

•    Support responsible harvesting of our botanical ingredients (harvest and replenish)
•    Never utilize endangered plant species in our formulations
•    Practice “source reduction,” optimizing packaging and product design to use less materials
•    Use renewable sources for all of our paper packaging
•    Strive to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for all paper packaging
•    Incorporate Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) content in all shipping cartons and plastic packaging, wherever possible
•    Print with soy-based inks wherever possible
•    Ensure our distribution facilities have recycling programs for all incidental packaging and shipping supplies

“Optimizing packaging.” Er, what was the option you rejected for this lip polish trio? A 6×6 crate made of pernambuco, perhaps?

Anyway. Enough of that. How are the products?

Well, uh … average. I mean, they’re fine. They’re maybe a B-, which is to say that they’re even slightly above average but that they don’t exceed expectations in any recognizable way. I do love the burgundy color. The others are … meh. Not only that, but I have a hard time imagining what kind of skin tone could wear all three of these colors: burgundy, camel, and something that’s reminiscent of latté foam.

Here are the swatches:

I do love the burgundy, and would like to find a way to work with the medium golden brown shade. The “nude” shade, the lightest, is going to be hard for me to work with — and I’m already fairly pale.

Wearlength is about average; stickiness slightly less than average. Packaging: D-.


Arbonne Lip Polish Trio: $58 (individual permanent shades available at Arbonne’s website)

Provenance: Purchased. (And, by the way, the order got screwed up the first time, which doesn’t make me love them any more.)

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor. Is there a category worse than “poor”? No? I should make one.

Purchase again? Ha! No.

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

Review: Beauté Luminous Volume Lip Gloss in Cobra

Four score and many years ago, when I was but a wee lass and dinosaurs roamed the planet, I went to a small spa in Connecticut that had their own line of cosmetics. The massage I had was only OK, but the lip gloss I bought there was possibly one of the best I ever used. It was a gorgeous gingery color, like iced pumpkin bread or frosted pennies. (Why anyone would put frosting on pennies is beyond me, but if they did, that would be the color. I’m just sayin’.) I’m pink-toned, so warm shades that suit me are sometimes hard to find, but this was magnifique.

Since then, I have wandered the earth looked at a lot of cosmetics lines hoping to find the white whale a similar product — which brings me, in a roundabout fashion, to the topic of today’s review: Beauté Lip Gloss in Cobra.

Beauté is a newish cosmetics line out of Canada. Their products are not cheap, and neither is shipping to the States. (I didn’t check out the shipping rates for within Canada, so those of you north of the 49th parallel might get a better deal.) Right now their product array is limited to lip products (including lip/cheek stains) and brushes. Among the advertised features of the Luminous Volume Lip Glosses are the following: “moisturizes and hydrates” (um, aren’t those the same thing?), “plumps and shapes,” “smoothes fine lines and wrinkles,” “protects” (from what, it does not say), and “defines surface area.” I don’t even know what that last one really means.

Cobra is supposed to be “sun-kissed metallic bronze,” which seemed like it might be close to iced pumpkin bread or frosted pennies, so I ordered it. When I got the package, there was a little card tucked inside which reads:

Beauté Luminous Volume Gloss contains powerful actives to plump and moisturize lips. Because of these actives your applicator may appear splayed upon opening, to shape back to normal please follow these steps:

1. Wipe the applicator clean with a tissue.
2. Place applicator under clean running hot water for 30 seconds.
3. Using another tissue dry the applicator while shaping to desired shape.
4. Allow to air dry for 5 minutes before reinserting into gloss.

(I did not correct their punctuation.)

Hmm. “Splayed.” OK, let’s see what a “splayed” applicator looks like.

I’m sorry. That is not “splayed.” That is “smashed.”

The reshaping process worked, mostly, but really, am I going to have to do this every month or so? Canadians must have a higher tolerance for lip gloss applicator maintenance than I do.

Unfortunately, it is not quite the iced pumpkin/frosted penny shade I was hoping for, but it’s not bad — and it will, I suspect, look much nicer over a lipstick (like NARS Petit Monstre). It’s quite thick and frosty, with a texture that is mildly sticky but not untenably so. Does it smooth fine lines and wrinkles, protect, and define surface area? Your guess is as good as mine.


Naked lip:

Lip with Beauté Luminous Volume Lip Gloss in Cobra:

In this photo I’m wearing only the gloss and it’s kind of thick and gloopy. You can see the pink of my lips through it, which I think is a little weird. I’ve since found that using a brownish-nude lip liner and coloring in the edges of my lips greatly diminishes this problem. (Applying less than a standard serving also helps.)


Beauté Cosmetics Luminous Volume Lip Gloss in Cobra: $26 (CDN)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor. But I knew that when I was getting into it.

Purchase again? I’m on the fence. They’d have to run a really good sale to offset the price of shipping.

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

Review: Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Hollywood Red

What ho, vixens?

The great Clearing Of The Product Backlog begins. This review makes it Backlog: 298357239875, Voxy: 1.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to try to remember to review limited edition and holiday products first, so that if Santa (or the benevolent folk character of your choice) has left you a little mad money, you’ll still be able to pick them up.

Bobbi Brown’s holiday 2010 collection includes some stunning red lip products. I’ll be reviewing two of them: Metallic Lip Color in Jewel Red (permanent) and Lip Gloss in Hollywood Red (limited edition).

Because the “Choose Your Glam” holiday collection from which these products are taken isn’t available at Sephora, I had to go to the Bobbi Brown counter at my local Nordie’s to get them — and we all know how much I love going to counters. I have this fantasy that one day, when a querulous, badly made-up Counter Harpy totters up to me and tells me how good I would look in that fluorescent lavender lipgloss, I will access my inner Catwoman and ten seconds later she will be tied up in her own pearls while I crouch on top of the counter and purr over the merchandise.


So we can skip the part where the Counter Harpy tried to convince me that every single red in the collection would look uh-MA-zing on me (which they definitely didn’t), and also the part where she went full-steam into Bobbi Brown 101: Introduction to Neutrals. Fortunately, I have learned from my students how to make a pretty good “OMG, this is, like, so boring” face, and she petered out after about the third time I said, “Thanks, but I really just want this lip gloss and this lipstick. No, seriously. Just these two.”

For $20, you don’t get a whole lot of gloss here. This is a tiny tube (which does, however, mean it’s easy to tote ’round for midday or pre-party touchups). It has a crappy brush, and I mean crappy. You can use it about three times before the bristles start bending backwards when you return the applicator to the tube. However, I don’t care about any of that because man! is this a gorgeous color.

Not only is it a lovely lip gloss used over bare lips, it also brightens up any lip color you slick it on top of. And — bonus — it also works as an excellent blush. Often when I use a bright lip to go from day to evening, I find I have to adjust the rest of my makeup to compensate. (That business about a red lip being the only makeup you need to wear is hogwash, IMHO.) So a dot of this blended on the cheek helps to balance the look.

Like most glosses, it isn’t the longest-lasting thing in the world, but you’ll get more mileage out of it with a primer and/or lip liner. It’s just slightly sticky, but not uncomfortably so.


With some other red products. L-R: Urban Decay 24/7 Lip Pencil in Gash, Bobbi Brown Metallic Lip Color in Jewel Red, Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Hollywood Red.

Naked lip:

Lip with Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Hollywood Red:

As has been my wont lately, I wasn’t ultra careful with neatness of application, so this is *not* with a liner or pencil, which I definitely use when putting it on “for realz.”


Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Hollywood Red: $20

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. It’s a tiny tube and the brush is annoying.

Purchase again? Yes.

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

Review: Guerlain Kiss Kiss Gloss Serum in Violine

I am perhaps the only person on the planet who doesn’t like Guerlain’s lip product packaging. I’m sorry. I am, evidently, a Philistine. The much-vaunted Rouge G lipstick packaging is, to me, about five pounds of sheer annoyance, and the packaging for the Kiss Kiss line of lippies makes them look like something that Betty Rubble might pull out of her Coach mammoth-skin purse. Very Flintstones.

The new Kiss Kiss Gloss Serum comes in packaging similar to that of the Kiss Kiss lippies, but it’s moderately less prehistoric-looking. Guerlain advertises these as combining “the art of lip care with the magic of colors. This extreme-shine formula, combined with anti-aging active ingredients, helps lips look and stay more beautiful by smoothing wrinkles and fine lines. Instantly and day after day, lips are beautified, smoothed, plumped and rejuvenated.”

OK, but is it really all that?

It’s a lovely gloss, and I really like how the shade I purchased (Violine, a deep raspberry) can be used with other lippies to make them a little darker and richer, which is so in for fall and which is the reason I bought it in the first place. It also performs reasonably well on its own and it does feel moisturizing. When applied alone it works more as a MLBB shade; it looks pigmented on my skin but over lips it doesn’t actually add that much pigment. I admit that I prefer it over lipstick or lip liner. Is it “extreme shine”? Gotta say no. I’ve used much shinier glosses — however, since “extreme” shine in a lipgloss isn’t a must-have for me, I’m OK with that. As for the plumping/anti-aging properties, I can’t say I’ve noticed them. Then again, I haven’t worn the gloss all-day every-day for an extended period (sue me, I’m fickle), so the jury is out on that one. The gloss is fairly non-sticky; if you are super-sensitive to stickiness you may notice it, but I get used to it after a minute or two.

Gimmick: The clear thin band that separates the cap from the gloss container fills up with the product when it’s first opened, so you can see the color. While this is a cool effect, does it also mean that some of the 0.20 oz you are paying for gets siphoned away to show the color? Why, yes, it does.

Colors out for this fall include:
• Vermillon (420) — this is a gorgeous red. Sheer enough for red-lip-o-phobics.
• Grenat (421) — brownish rose
• Myrrhe (440) — pale nude
• Tonka (441) — sheer light caramel
• Cuir (442) — sheer brown
• Ambre (460) — light pinky nude
• Baie de Rose (461) — light rose
• Violine (462) — raspberry; the darkest of the shades



Guerlain Kiss Kiss Gloss Serum in Violine (462): $31 at high-end department stores

Provenance: Purchased.

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

Purchase again? Probably, though I’m not planning on being exclusive (see above, in re: fickle).

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

Review: 3 Custom Color Lip Gloss in Mango

This was, I think, the biggest surprise product of the season for me.

As per my previous post on 3 Custom Color lip gloss in Candy Apple, these are nicely pigmented, smooth, non-sticky lipglosses with decent wearlength. I really liked Candy Apple, so I thought I would pick up Mango as well. Based on the online swatch (and here is where you should start to get suspicious), it looked like a warm caramel orange that I thought would be great for fall. 3CC describes Mango as “the perfect peach.” [Insert rant here about how if you’re going to name a color after a fruit, it should look like that fruit, not like some other fruit. You can’t make a purple color and call it “strawberry.” Or maybe you can, what do I know. And peaches are yellow-orange, for what it’s worth.]

So you can imagine my dismay when I opened the package and pulled out the Day-Glo neon tube pictured at the top of the post. It is a very, very bright orange with a tinge of neon pink. It looks like neither a mango nor a peach, as it happens. I thought, “Oh, this was a mistake.”

And then my second surprise was when I put it on and it turned out to be absolutely fabulous. I have trouble finding good coral shades of lipcolor that don’t overwhelm my lips or my skin. Because (like Candy Apple) this is pigmented but sheer, it applies as a transparent coating of bright color, and blends with my natural lip color to miraculously create a terrific coral. I couldn’t be happier with it.

I’m bringing it up now rather than later because although it turned out to be a fabulous color, it’s really better suited for summer than fall, so I plan to get my money’s worth out of it over the next month or so. If you’re still looking for a great summer shade, this one is worth hopping on.

I bought mine at DermStore (taking advantage of the recently-deceased Bing cashback program), but it’s also available at 3 Custom Color’s own website. The DermStore swatch and the 3CC swatch are quite different, which I probably should have checked before buying, but I didn’t. If it helps, neither one of them looks like the actual product, so I suppose no harm was really done there.


It’s hard to tell from the swatches and only a partial face, but it really is a lovely peach-tinted glaze.


3 Custom Color Lip Gloss in Mango: $21.50

Provenance: Purchased.

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

Purchase again? You bet your sweet mangoes.

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