Makeup

Review: Chanel Blush Horizons Blush Éclat Douceur

I am so glad to see the return of blush for spring. Not that it ever totally disappeared, but the seasonal focus is so often on lips or eyes that poor blush gets the bum’s rush.

It is Land of Blush in the Voxpartment. There are blushes everywhere. Because you never know when you might be, say, watching TV, and suddenly need to put on some blush. Also, they are pretty and I like to have them around. Anyway, I have a couple of gems from the spring collections. (Did you hear that? SPRING COLLECTIONS! YAYAYAYAY!!!!)

 

 

Watch out for that last one. It’s a doozy. I suggest wearing earplugs.

In the grab-it-while-you-still-can department, Chanel’s Blush Horizon compact for Spring 2012 is flying off shelves. Not by itself, obvs. This is the compact for those of us who were too stupid to rush out and buy Guerlain Blush G Serie Noir blush last year. [whacks self on head]

Like the Guerlain product, Chanel’s compact features several different shades of blush arranged in horizontal stripes. While technically I suppose you could try to get a brush in them singly, let’s be realistic. You’re going to mash your brush up in there and mix all the colors together. Right? Because who has time for being soooo finicky with blush?

Besides me, I mean. What? No other hands up? Barbarians.

One of the very first luxe products I ever owned was a Chanel blush, which I now think was probably the wrong shade for me, but which filled me with frissons of indulgent delight whenever I used it. I want to be more in love with the aesthetics of the Blush Horizon compact than I am, but sadly, I’m not. It’s slightly too “Ladies Who Lunch” for me. However — the product inside is one of the best powder blushes I’ve used in a long time. I love cream and liquid blushes so much that a powder blush has basically got to feed Africa, calculate the square root of 2139, and name all fifty state capitals in alphabetical order before it can tempt me. I went several rounds with this blush in the store, visiting it over the course of a couple weeks and testing it. With a lot of effort, I managed to convince myself it wasn’t worth buying. “Too sparkly,” I said, and “remember you don’t like powder blushes anymore,” I said, and “stupid Guerlain Blush G, being so awesome.” Well, only that last one is really true.

It’s not too sparkly, which is nice. It’s a lovely shade of pink, more pigmented than I thought it would be from the swatch, but lighter in pigmentation than most Chanel blushes, which is a good thing. Still, the first time I used it, I almost ended up with Crazy Clown Cheeks. There is a bit of shimmer, but it’s very subtle — and I am paranoid about shimmer on cheeks, so if even I think it’s OK, you are probably good to go. It wore remarkably well all day, much better than some of my other powder blushes.

Color-wise, it is definitely cool (I’m speaking of the color you get when you mix all the stripes together), but not untenable for warm-toned beauties. There is a bit of melon in the bottom stripes, so if you want a slightly peachier tint you can finagle the brush in there accordingly.

If you want it, get it now. Seriously, FLYING off shelves.

Close-up and swatch!

I had to pile it on fairly thickly for the swatch so that it would really show up.

 

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Chanel Blush Horizon de Chanel Blush Éclat Douceur: $58

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor. Come on, I love Chanel, but $58 for a blush is outrageous.

Purchase again? Hopefully I will never hit pan.

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

 

Review: Benefit Watt’s Up! Highlighter

OMG, you guys, I have picked up so many unexpectedly fabulous products lately that I can’t stop squeeing as I put on my makeup in the morning. If you hear a sound like a stuck pig coming from somewhere in the Midwest, that’s me.

I also feel a little bit guilty about it because I’ve bought a couple of things from brands I’ve previously decried — and what’s worse, I like them. Oh, bad Voxy. Hopefully you will be able to forgive me. And by the way, that doesn’t mean these brands are back in my good graces. It’s the “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” phenomenon. One of these is Benefit. I KNOW! I hate Benefit. Hate ’em. Except for a couple of products — and not their famous ones, either. Here is one of those stopped-clock products: their Watt’s Up! highlighter.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: no matter how you slice it, this product name is improperly punctuated. It’s either a question (“What’s up?” -> “Watt’s up?”), in which case it should have a question mark, or it’s an exclamation (implying that “watts” may be used in the same way “volume” is used: turn up the volume -> turn up the watts -> watts up!), in which case it shouldn’t have an apostrophe. Of course, you don’t say “turn up the decibels,” which are units of loudness, so I don’t know why you would say “turn up the watts” either. I have a feeling that they were going for the first option, a play on “what’s up?”, but that their marketing people told them that exclamation! points! are! more! exciting! than! question! marks!!!!!! — and they probably figured no one would notice. Or care. Which is pretty much true, except for those of us here in this corner of the interwebz. Stay strong, ladies. Don’t let the haters bring you down.

Watt’s Up (I refuse to put in the exclamation point) is a cream highlighter, a type of product which up until now I have had zero use for. I couldn’t figure out why, if we spend money and energy on products that are supposed to make our faces less shiny, we would then want to turn around and buy another product to make them shiny again. And I don’t really understand the whole “it’s not shine, it’s GLOW” euphemism. There are plenty of celebrities whose skin in photos is described by the media as “glowy” and by me as “a giant sweaty oil slick.”

So why I ever picked this up in the store and tested it on my hand is kind of a mystery. But I did — and it was a lovely shade somewhere between peach and champagne, and not terribly shiny glowy. I am fair-skinned and highlighters have, in the past, given me something of a Tin Man look, which is frankly unappealing except as a Halloween getup. This looked like it actually might work on my skin. Maybe now I would be able to enter the Elysian Fields of highlighter love, in which lissome models scamper about with glowy skin, frolicking with butterflies. (I think this is also where they film perfume commercials.)

Alas, no Elysian Fields guest pass included. BUT this has turned out to be a really nice product, especially once I figured out how to apply it. Often, People Who Know About Makeup will say that highlighter should be applied last, but this inevitably leads to Shiny Tin Man Face for me. What has worked nicely for me with this product is to put it on over my foundation (cream/liquid/stick) but before my setting powder. This way I can blend it into the foundation, and then the setting powder takes the edge off the shine. One end of the applicator is a little round sponge, which you can use for blending. The other end of the applicator is the highlighter itself, which is a creamy stick of product the same diameter as the small/deluxe-sample Tarte cheek stains.

The other big problem with highlighter is where to apply. Conventional wisdom says some combination of the following: above the cheekbones, above the brows, below the brows, on the temple, on the forehead, on your nose, on your Cupid’s bow, and under the lip. I usually use it in only three of these places: above the cheekbone, below the brows, and either on my Cupid’s bow or below my lips. One or the other, not both. If my face were more angular, and my forehead and nose smaller, I might try it other places, but as it is, highlighting those areas doesn’t do much for me. But above the cheekbone at the end of the orbital socket, it’s very nice.

If you’ve been curious about highlighters, but don’t really know where or how to use them, this is a good product for experimenting with. I was really surprised by how much I liked it.

Swatch!

See? Subtle. Nice!

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Benefit Watt’s Up! (!) highlighter: $30

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. $30 is $30, and a highlighter is really an optional product. I wish it were cheaper.

Purchase again? Probably won’t need to.

(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.

Swatches!

French Kiss:

Hot Kiss:

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

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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: Kat von D Foiled Lipstick in Adora

Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder, once opined that women buy lipstick during shaky economic times as a quick and inexpensive way to make themselves feel better. (I think he meant “inexpensive” as compared to, say, a fur coat, not an ice cream cone.)

Although things now are economically better than they were a few years ago, retail makeup therapy still works an awful lot of the time, especially in or after stressful situations. I recently had one of these, and we don’t need to go into details except that it involved me and three other cars and everyone is OK. Also, buy Toyota.

So after a harrowing experience, I think it’s totally natural to have indulged in a little lip splurge, even though yes, yes, Sephora is just about to have a VIB 20% off sale and wouldn’t it have been smarter to wait until next weekend. To which I say, “Pthhhhbbbttt,” and “Pffffffft,” and “shut up, I was just in a car accident and I will buy whatever I like.”

This lippie wasn’t originally on my to-buy list, though I did swatch it in the store when I did those red lippie swatches a few weeks ago, but it was awfully cheerful, and the person I was with swore it wasn’t too bright for me. (You may make your own decision below. Most of the time I’ll end up buffering it with a gloss of some sort, because really it is very bright.)

Kat von D “foiled” lipsticks are so named because they have a metallic finish. It’s a pity Kat wasn’t making these in the 80s, because I think Pat Benatar would have happily worn this onto the battlefield, or at least in the music video. I think she and Joan Jett might have gotten in a catfight over them.

Adora is what I would call a light red. That is not the same as pink, although in both the hand and lip swatch photos I took, it pulls distinctly pink. When I look at myself in the same lighting, it’s clearly red. Yes, it’s a blue-based red, but it’s definitely red. The metallic finish not so much a frost or a chromelike gleam but rather a sheen, like stainless steel. Because of the finish, I can’t call it either matte or glossy. It’s neither drying nor particularly moisturizing on the lips.

I haven’t given it an all-day go yet, but these foiled lippies stain like nobody’s business, so I would be very surprised not to get several hours’ wearlength out of this. The swatch I put on my hand for the picture below was on my hand for maybe five minutes in total and left a pink stain that hours later I haven’t been able to get rid of even with diligent scrubbing. On the lip, after I removed what I’d put on for a lip swatch, I got beautiful results by putting balm over the remaining stain. Although it looks terrifyingly bright when applied full-force, it turns out to be surprisingly versatile when coupled with other products. It would also make a gorgeous, gorgeous blush if you needed a quick touch-up. (You will, obviously, want to apply very lightly!)

Swatches!

Hand swatch:

(This definitely pulls pink in the swatch. In real life it is redder.)

Naked lip:

Lip with Kat von D Foiled Lipstick in Adora:

(Sorry, I was a little crooked there. Oops.)

 

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Kat von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora: $18 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Less expensive than many other similarly-positioned brands.

Purchase again? Sure, if I found another color that worked for me.

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


 

Some Red Lipstick Swatches

For those of you from Over There who have been asking about red lipstick, I thought I would swatch some when I was at Sephora the other day. After seeing all of these on my hand, the friend who was with me said something to the effect of, “you know, they all look pretty much the same, don’t they?” and I had to say “yes, yes they do.”

There are a couple of pictures in different lighting, none of which are studio or light-box quality. For reference, my skin tone is NW20 in MAC, which is medium fair and pink-toned.

 

 

The third picture (the unlabeled one) is probably the one that shows the texture/opacity of the various shades the best. The two on the far right on the bottom “row” (I use the term loosely) are the two foiled lipsticks from Kat von D. Adora is a bright but light red; Beranice is pinker. Of all of these, those two left the most stain, even a full day and several hand-washings later.

I know these swatches are messy and untidy, but I thought they might be useful. And I do intend to buy one of these that I swatched, but you’ll have to guess which. ;)

Review: bareMinerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Courage

Gee, do you think bareMinerals took (let’s say “borrowed”) a page from Bobbi Brown in terms of product titling? Bobbi Brown Spring 2011: “Pretty Powerful” campaign; bareMinerals Summer 2011: “Pretty Amazing” lipcolor. Huh. Pretty Suspicious, if you ask me.

People tend to be either lovers or haters when it comes to bareMinerals. As usual, I am the outlier. I really like some products and really dislike others. (Love: bareMinerals Multi-Tasking Face powder concealer in Bisque and SPF 15 Matte Foundation — even though I have to buy two different shades and mix them together to get a match for my skin tone. Hate: Original “dewy” SPF 15 Foundation, All-Over Face Color [no “face color” should be “all-over”], pretentious capitalization.)

I’m mostly on the bM bandwagon for the “Pretty Amazing” lipcolor. I have maybe one foot trailing on the ground in terms of caveats, but I’m mostly on the wagon. At the mo’ there are eight shades of this liquid lipcolor available, in colors ranging from bold to bright to unwearable. (Srsly, who looks good in ghostly pink? No one. Sorry, MAC Viva Glam Gaga — NO ONE looks good in this color.) Do NOT buy this product unswatched. And don’t buy based solely on some swatches you saw on the internet (including here). Go to the store — Sephora, ULTA, a bareMinerals store, wherever — and swatch it on yourself. These lipcolors are almost opaque, and when you see how that color that sounds so lovely really looks on your skin, you may be surprised. “Courage” was not the shade I intended to buy, but it was one of only two shades that were wearable for me. The one I’d originally had in mind would have looked fuglicious.

It’s a comfortable product to wear — not drying like some longwear lipcolors can be, and the wearlength is really very good (at least four hours in my timed trial, after which point I forgot to keep checking). Touchups or a midmorning dollop of gloss are not strictly necessary but do help the color wear evenly. Blotchiness as the product wears off is a built-in problem for opaque lipcolor, but these manage it reasonably well. Because they are so opaque, you’ll have to finesse it with lip pencil if you don’t want a hard lip line, and you’ll have to find a color that really matches. (For “Courage,” I’ll recommend UD 24/7 lip liner pencil in Paranoid, and not just because I like the juxtaposition of those two words.)

And speaking of the juxtaposition of words, I have to share with you the bM blurb about the product.

“The innovative hydrating glaze of our Pretty Amazing Lipcolor cocoons your lips in opaque high-impact lipcolor. The cushiony texture, insatiable shine and seriously polished appearance will propel you into an elevated state of gorgeousness. And our precision applicator handles like a racecar, cornering, sculpting and accentuating every curve of your luscious lips for enduring color with real staying power. Pretty Amazing.”

1. What is “high-impact” lipcolor? Is it like high-impact aerobics? Do I need to buy it sneakers and a Jane Fonda leotard?
2. “Insatiable shine.” What? What is that? You know that “insatiable” already has a meaning, right? And that in this context, that meaning makes no sense? Right. Just checking.
3. This is my favorite bit. The applicator handles like a racecar. Let me guess: it zooms around your mouth at speeds of up to 200 mph, you can only move the applicator to the left, and if you get bumped by the person next to you at the ladies’ room mirror while you’re applying, you will flip over and die in a ball of fire. (P.S.: “Cornering” also has a meaning — several, in fact, and none of them is appropriate to putting on lipcolor.)

Swatches!

Naked lip:

Lip with bareMinerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Courage:

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bareMinerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Courage: $16 for 0.13 oz

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid-range: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good.

Purchase again? Probably, but they’ll have to come out with some more shades that are wearable.

UPDATE! Bare Escentuals is having a Friends & Family sale from Thursday 6/16 through Sunday 6/19. Get 20% off with code LOVE at checkout.

(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.

Swatches!

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:

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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: Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner in #3 (Emerald Green)

I never learn.

In spite of my avowed disaffection for liquid eyeliners, I have managed, somehow, to buy five of them in the last six weeks. Because, you know, this one will be different. This one won’t dry into a shrunken vinyl mess that clings to my lashline with more determination than Romeo to the corpse of Juliet.

(Unnecessarily macabre?)

And, I suppose, technically inaccurate to boot, since she’s actually still alive when he finds her in her tomb… but, as usual, I digress. The point, if there is one, is that like those of our star-crossed lovers, my hopes for joyful union with Make Up For Ever’s new Aqua Liners must perforce end in tragedy.

OK, I am being a little melodramatic. There’s really not much wrong with these liners, but unfortunately that’s as much rah-rah as I can muster.

Like many of the newer liquid liners, MUFE’s version has a tapered application tip that’s not actually a brush as much as … well, a sort of felt marker tip. It is relatively inflexible, so if you want a product with an actual applicator brush, one that you can really work with control-wise, this is not the product for you. Unfortunately, those kinds of brushes are becoming more and more endangered by the second. I should start a sanctuary.

The formulation is more-or-less the same as that of other liquid liners, although it does have a kind of nifty quick-fix feature that will allow you to correct a mistake in the few seconds before it dries. If you end up getting product where you don’t want it, it can be removed while still wet with a Q-tip — or, if necessary, a finger. And the removal (at this stage, at least) is easy and clean: it’ll actually brush away in a sort of powder residue, like eraser shavings or dry-erase marker fuzz. Once dry, it does shrink up against the lashline as many long-wearing waterproof formulas do.

It will, indeed, last all day. I didn’t try swimming with it on or putting my face in a puddle to test its waterproof-ness, but from the above-mentioned death grip it has on your lashline, I don’t think mere water could do it in. But now we come to the main problem — removal. It will come off with cleanser and water, or with makeup remover, but you have to be very persistent, which can cause a lot of eye irritation — and you will probably give up before you get all of it off. It comes off in rubbery (vinyl-y?) little strings, and you can easily take out an eyelash along with the liner while you’re at it, so I advise caution.

MUFE’s Aqua Liners come in 16 shades, of which only 15 are available in the US (#2 is missing). The colors range from standard (including three shades of black) to outrageous (red, hot pink, diamond white). Several colors are disappointingly muddy when applied to skin: the dark blue and the dark purple look so much like black that I didn’t bother with them. I picked #3, Emerald Green, because green is a color I don’t have in liquid liner form.

If you’re dead set on picking up a liquid liner for long-wear in hot summer days, I’d advise that you skip these unless there is a color in the lineup that you feel you absolutely have to have. I’ll have a review coming up later in the week of one of the other brands of liquid liners I’ve tried that I’d recommend over these, so stay tuned to find out which those are!

Swatch!

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MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Liner in #3 (Emerald Green): $23 at Sephora (exclusive retailer)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid/high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. If you don’t really love the colors, skip ’em.

Purchase again? Nope.

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

Review: Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++

Since May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (right, I knew that, of course I knew that, how dare you suggest that my previous posts on sunscreen were just happy coincidences), I thought I might as well keep on with another review of a tinted sunscreen. Or a tinted primer with sunscreen. Or a sunscreen primer that’s tinted. Whatever.

If you cruise around the billions and billions of makeup blogs on the interwebz, you are sure to come across a mention or two of a mysterious product called a BB (beauty balm) cream, which hails from the Asian markets. BB creams are touted to moisturize, act as a primer, provide sunscreen, lighten the skin, heal blemishes and minor skin injuries, act as a tinted moisturizer, record all of your favorite shows on TV, do your dishes, change the oil in your car, bake oatmeal cookies, walk the dog, and predict the winner of America’s Next Top Model (DidYouWatchThatLastCycleOhMyGodSheTotallyDidn’tDeserveToWin). I am only slightly exaggerating. They’re like Jesus in a tube.

Since these are so popular in the Asian market, you would figure it would only be a matter of time before they are released into the wild — which is to say, into the slavering barbaric lands of the West. And indeed, within the last several weeks, the eagle has landed for a couple of these products. Unfortunately, saith the blogosphere, these Westernized BB creams lack most of the awesome power of the originals. Having never tried the originals (but hoping to pick one up someday), I can’t vouch for that. However — just because they aren’t the same as Asian BB creams doesn’t mean they aren’t worth exploring in their own right. I am here today to defend one of these products: Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++.

First of all, I don’t know why Dr. Jart+ has a + after his name. It makes me want to add something there too. You know, like Ke$ha. I could be Vøxy. Or, Vöxy. Or Voxyº, which symbolizes that I am hot hot hot. Or Voxy± to signify my ambivalence about something. Ideas?

Right. On to the actual review. Forget anything that you might have heard about what other BB creams are like and just see if you like this product for what it is. I have to say, I really love it. (Løve it.)

I would describe this as a tinted primer with SPF. It is heavy on the silicone, so those who are not ‘cone-a-holics may want to avoid this one. It is also, I am delighted to say, definitely, defiantly pink in tone. Hä! We çool-tonéd girlß will tâke contró£ oƒ the wö®l∂ 1 of thésè dª¥z. You wait and see.

While in Hell recently, I used it as a primer in the morning over a liquid sunscreen by Cosmedix, and used the previously-reviewed e.l.f. mineral powder sunscreen as a finishing powder and for touchups during the day. The combination worked great; I didn’t come home with any tanning of facial skin. Now that I am no longer in Hell, and neither the heat nor the UV exposure are quite as extreme, I can eliminate the Cosmedix and just go with the Dr. Jart and the e.l.f.

As a primer, I find it not *quite* sufficient for the areas of my face that really need help in terms of camouflaging larger pores — that is to say, my nose and surrounding territories. This is easily remedied by applying my favorite primer (Too Faced Primed & Poreless) either on top or beneath the Dr. Jart. That is seriously my only complaint about the product. The color is a great match for me; it has enough coverage to even out skin tone but not so much that it looks fake-ly opaque; it wears well through the day; it’s easy to blend — in short, it’s a big tube of WIN. (No Jesus, though. Sorry.)

For those who are wondering about the “+++” business, this is one part of the Asian-market sunscreen effectiveness designation. Not for them our measly UVA/UVB  or “SPF 15” designations (though the Dr. Jart people do tell us that this is SPF 45). US sunscreen designations tell us the strength of the UVB protection, but not that of the UVA protection; we are merely warned to choose a sunscreen that says it has “broad spectrum” protection. The PA system (which comes in +, ++, or +++) is like its European compatriot PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) in that it measures the strength of protection against UVA rays, the part of American sunscreen designations that’s woefully missing. PA+ products offer “some” UVA protection, and correspond to a European PPD grade of 2-4. (Note that’s not at all the same as an SPF of 2-4!) PA++ products are generally what’s touted as your everyday sunscreen, and correspond to European PPD 4-8. PA+++ is the top mark and corresponds to European PPD of 8 or above; obviously this is the kind you want to pick up if you can get it. The product under review today both has an SPF of 45 (UVB) and is designated PA+++ … so, definitely worth picking up from a protection point of view.

This was a dream to apply and blended well with my skin (but remember, I am both light and pink). It lasted all day but was not stubborn when it came time to remove it. The packaging is neat and clean, with a pump top under the black cap. I do wonder a little bit how well the pump will dispense product when the tube starts to approach empty, but that’s a problem for a future date. I will definitely repurchase this, since it can fulfill most of the functions of my foundation and gives a higher level of sun protection to boot. Note that I’m thinking of it as a foundation replacement, not a primer replacement — I’ll still use my Primed and Poreless in conjunction with it to make sure that areas that need extra primer coverage are, well, covered.

The blurriness in the photo at the top is not that I was drunk while I was taking the picture (come on, you were thinking it, you know you were) but is instead due to the odd way the printing is applied to the tube. It’s cool-looking but doesn’t photograph well.

Swatch!

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Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++: $39 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased

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

Purchase again? Yes (though I’ll also be checking out other BB creams as they hit the U.S. market)

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

Review: YSL Creme de Blush in Velvety Peach

In a recent conversation, Mama Voxy said the following:

“I think I’m going to use up all the blushes I have before I buy more.”

Said I, “That’s a good intention. I never stick to it myself. How many do you have?”

Mama Voxy: “Two.”

No, I am not telling you how many are in my stash, but it is substantially more than two. Because, of course, one needs to have EVERY SINGLE AVAILABLE SHADE of pink, peach, red, orange, terracotta, raspberry, bronze, fuschia, rose, poppy, bubblegum, crimson, apricot, watermelon, cerise, and … well, you get the idea. Not only does one (by which, of course, I mean “me”) need to own all of these colors, one (me) should also preferably have each shade in each available formulation: powder, cream, liquid, cream-to-powder, gel, and stain.

(This is why I have a cosmetics blog.)

There are lots of blushes that I really like. As we saw a few days ago, with the “Fox in a Box” debacle, there are some I think fail completely. There are a lot more that kinda-sorta work well or that fit very specific color needs in my blush wardrobe (MAC Stereo Rose, for instance, which is a shade of poppy that only works with certain color combinations, but when it does, boy is it purty).

This spring I have been fortunate enough to happen upon several fabulous blushes that I adore, and one of which I think I can safely elevate to Holy Grail status. That one is Yves St. Laurent Creme de Blush in Velvet Peach.

Lots of blushes are advertised as “cream-to-powder,” but it seems that few of them actually are. Most of them stay creamy. Which is fine; I love cream blushes. This is one of the best cream-to-powder blushes I’ve used: it is easy to apply with a brush but actually does become a soft blendable powder. Also, the color is fantastic. As a pink-skinned lass, I find peachy blushes can sometimes be difficult (they can look as if I’d slapped a piece of salmon on my skin), but this is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.

You could probably apply this with your fingers, because it is so easily blended it would be pretty hard to screw up. I have to admit that I apply all of my non-powder blushes with a brush — a paintbrush. More precisely, a 3/4″ Loew-Cornell 270 Maxine’s Mop brush that I bought at Michael’s for some outrageously cheap price. Michael’s’ website (? I don’t know how to properly possessify that — the website belonging to Michael’s) is not very user-friendly in terms of providing information on individual brushes, so here is a link and a picture from Amazon:

So yes, this is what I use almost exclusively for cream, liquid, and cream-to-powder application. On the YSL it works a treat, just like it does on most of my other stuff.

So, are there any flies in this ambrosial peach ointment? Tragically, yes. First: DEAR COSMETICS MANUFACTURERS, PLEASE STOP PUTTING TINY POTS OF PRODUCT INTO BIG ENORMOUS WASTEFUL SQUARE CLEAR PLASTIC CONTAINERS THANK YOU. Seriously, I hate this. Are you trying to camouflage how small the pot of product is? Some of your customers may be dumb enough to fall for that, but not this one. Second, and not unrelated: $38, YSL? Really? For a tiny pot? Well, I can see why you would want to make people think the container’s bigger than it is. This is particularly irksome as this is actually a blush I could see myself finishing. Have you ever heard me say that? I don’t think so. I did, in fact, finish a blush once. I think it was back in my high school days, when I, like Mama Voxy, owned a grand total of two blushes.

None of that takes away from the fabulous quality of the product, though. It looks terrifyingly orange in the pot (and the other five shades look pretty frightening as well), but it goes on a lovely soft peach that is pretty near impossible to screw up. I will probably pick up at least one other shade before all is said and done.

Swatch!

So pretty!

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YSL Creme de Blush in Velvety Peach: $38

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. Come on, $38 is a lot, even though the product is amazing.

Purchase again? Yes, dangit, in spite of the price.

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