shimmer

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: Stila “It Girl” Eyeshadow Palette

Stila’s summer deal prices are so low they’re virtually giving stuff away, so if you’ve been itching to try some of their products, you can probably pick up some good bargans. Case in point: the $10 Stila “It Girl” Eyeshadow Palette.

This palette contains three almost-full-size eyeshadows: Kitten (a sparkly white-gold color that is their most ubiquitous shade; it seems like you can hardly buy anything from Stila without tripping over Kitten*), plus two limited-edition shades that are exclusive to this palette: Lamé (gold) and Chloe (brown). The palette is larger than I expected, and I wonder if they could have gotten away with less packaging as it seems slightly bulky. I don’t mind that the shadows are slightly less than full-sized; I think that most of the time products are too large anyway, and besides, $10 is less than you would pay for a single full-size Stila shadow, which retails for $18 and doesn’t even come in any sort of container that closes. (They sell them in pans with the idea that you’re also going to buy an empty Stila palette and make your own.)

As I’ve mentioned before, in general I like the quality of Stila’s eyeshadows a lot, and if you’re a fan of shimmer and sparkle, this palette won’t disappoint. For me, Kitten is too shimmery (almost metallic) to be used over the full lid, but it works beautifully as an accent or (when applied very lightly) as a highlighter. Lamé is too yellow to work on my pink-toned skin except as part of a bronze-and-copper look, but Chloe is a warm golden brown that’s very attractive.

Close-ups and swatches!

Kitten

Lamé (top), Chloe (bottom)

L-R: Lamé, Chloe, Kitten

*No actual Kittens were harmed in the writing of this post.

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Stila “It Girl” Palette: $10

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent! Would love a version with cool neutrals as well (and no Kitten!).

Purchase again? Probably.

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

Review: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Stereo Rose

I would love to be able to look down my nose at the Stereo Rose hype and say that I regret buying this product and that it totally wasn’t worth the hubbub and geez! people are like sheep.

Um. Well.

The truth is that I really, really like Stereo Rose and I’m glad I snagged one. There. Sorry. Yes, I am a cosmetics ho.

MAC makes two kinds of Mineralize SkinFinish products: the regular old MSF, which depending on the shade has a texture somewhere between shimmery and frosty, and MSF Natural (“MSFN”), which have a more matte finish. Depending on the shade, either the MSFs or the MSFNs can be used as highlighters, blushes, contour blushes, bronzers, finishing powders, or, rarely, foundation powders (if you have fantastic skin and only want something to make it a little less oily without actual coverage). They are large compacts, and the powders are baked into a dome shape, so they last a long time. Most MSFs have a marbleized texture, although MAC does occasionally release one with a a different look (stripes, for example, or a more-or-less solid color).

Stereo Rose was originally released as part of the 2005 limited edition Goldplay collection. If you want to be a MAC scholar, you can go and look up swatches of Stereo Rose ’05 vs. Stereo Rose ’10 and you will discover that they are not quite the same shade, in the same way that identical twins are not really exactly identical. The rest of us, however, can just feel free to begin whooping it up over Stereo Rose ’10.

Stereo Rose, which sold out online in something less than two hours after it was released, is described on the MAC website as “Coral with golden/bronze shimmering nuances.” Describing colors exactly can be really difficult, but that’s not how I’d have worded it. To me, it’s the coppery rose of a brand-new penny. I was afraid it would be too warm for my cool-toned skin, but it is not. It’s a great blush that is in-between warm and cool shades. It does have a bit of frost in it, but that’s easily toned down with a setting powder applied over the areas in which the finish isn’t what you want. Because it is pigmented, you will want to use a skunk brush and stipple with a light touch. It is blendable and buildable, but it’s much easier to build up than take off. If you don’t have a skunk brush, a blush or kabuki will do, but you will want to just touch the brush to the surface of the product and then tap off the extra before applying to the face.

As I mentioned, Stereo Rose is sold out online on the MAC site, but you may still be able to get it at a MAC store or counter, and it will certainly be going up on eBay.

Closeup and swatch (the swatch was really difficult to take because I couldn’t get it to reflect color properly):

In real life it’s a bit pinker on my skin than it looks in this swatch; like I said, I had real trouble photographing it in a light application.

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MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Stereo Rose: $28 (sold out at MAC online; check stores and counters)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid-range: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. The thing is enormous (it’s 10 g/0.35 oz of product), so I’ll never finish it.

Purchase again? In general, I’d buy more MSFs, but there will be a limit as to how many I could actually use in my stash.

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

Review: Lancome Color Fever Lip Gloss

Lancome and I have a complicated relationship. Or rather, I have a complicated relationship with Lancome, and Lancome probably couldn’t care less about me.

After a fair amount of experimentation, I think the only products Lancome makes that I can really get behind are their lipsticks and glosses. I’m a big fan of the La Laque Fever lipstick I reviewed previously, and I do really like the Color Fever lip glosses. The rest of the makeup and all of their skincare are not for me. I have enough Lancome gift-with-purchase items that I think I can be pretty sure of the accuracy of that statement. Actually, I have enough Lancome GWP’s that I could probably make over everyone who lives in my building. For a pricy brand, they sure do give a lot of stuff away. Maybe they should keep some of it and lower the prices on the things you’re actually buying? Just a thought, there.

The Lancome Color Fever Lip Glosses are between a gloss and a lipstick in opacity, and they’re definitely glosses for grownups. Most of them are not transparent (with the exception of Rouge Magnificence, which is a surprisingly wearable clear red gloss; see: monster under the front seat of my car). Between the pigment and the shimmer, your lips will have almost as much coverage as regular lipstick, and if you use these on top of a lipstick, then you will be guaranteed full coverage.

Like Lancome’s La Laque Fever Lipshine lipcolor (love those L’s!), the Color Fever glosses come in a clear container with a splayed doe-foot applicator. The packaging is not among my favorites, mostly because I have this thing against squared-off lipgloss containers with sharp edges. OK, not “cut-yourself” sharp, but hunting for one of these in your purse can be uncomfortable. It’s also that whole “extra plastic that refracts light so you think you’re getting more product than you actually are” thing.

The lipglosses apply true to color, which is to say that what it looks like in the container is basically what it will look like on your lips. However — and this is a big however — I heartily advise that you shop in person, either at a counter or at Sephora, because the color swatches on the Lancome website are less accurate than your average entry in a “how-many-gumballs-are-in-this-jar” contest. Things that look pink on the site turn out to be coral, and things that look like a reddish brick end up being a deep berry. So, swatching in person is a good idea.

I also really, really wish that Lancome would not perfume their cosmetics. I don’t need my lipgloss to smell like perfume. In fact, I would much rather it did not. Foody scents don’t bother me as much, because at least a foody scent goes with a lip product; having my lipgloss smell like perfume makes me feel like I’m eating soap. Blech.

All that being said, and despite my many criticisms, the product is a good one. The wearlength is about average for a gloss (a few hours, at least on a working day when I’m talking all the time), and it wears evenly without feathering or leaving a stain around the outer edge of the lips. Now if they would only change their packaging, lose the scent, revamp their website for greater accuracy, and lower the price, we’d be all set.

The color shown both at the top of the post and below is “Combustible.”

Left: nekkid lips; Right: Combustible! As you can see, it really is true to the color in the tube, so at least it’s got that going for it.

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Lancome Color Fever Lip Gloss: $26

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. A bit higher than I’d like.

Purchase again? Maybe.

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

Review: Maybelline Eye Studio Color Plush Quad

If I could sneak a teeny-tiny rider of my own into a 600-page healthcare reform bill, it would be that health insurance should also cover all impulse purchases made in drugstores while waiting for one’s prescriptions to be filled. Case in point: this Maybelline Eye Studio Color Plush quad in Purple Icon.

These new quads have gotten some good press around the interwebz, so I really didn’t need much convincing to add it to my impulse basket. There are 12 different quads, many of which are really appealing, so I had a hard time limiting myself to just the one.

The shades look very sparkly in the palette (which is disappointingly flimsy and cheap-feeling, even for drugstore makeup), but when applied, the sparkle blends out to a general brightness and luminosity that are very attractive. Maybelline attributes this to the silk protein that’s present in the powder. The shadows are well-pigmented for a drugstore brand; if you put them up head-to-head against a couture brand they would probably lose in the end but would put up a respectable fight. By the end of the day the color has faded slightly, but is still clearly present and clearly purple (I hate when purple eyeshadow loses its tint and goes grayish-brown).

The quad is meant to be used in the usual way: the middle two colors are for sweeping over the whole lid and up towards the brow bone, the darkest color goes in (or just above) the crease, and the lightest color goes under the brow as a highlighter shade. There should be a smooth transition between the lightest shade and the next lightest one; where that happens on you will depend on your own bone structure. You can also use the darkest shade as a liner but I find a pencil or gel liner to be a better option with this particular quad.

Swatches are below; colors are shown from left to right as they appear in the quad.

As usual, the applicator that comes with the product is not worth bothering with; use your own brushes for better results. I really wish they would just stop putting cheap applicators in entirely and chop $1 off the price.

By the way, if you’re ever torn between two purple eyeshadows (ouch!), one warmer and one cooler, and can’t decide which to get, get the cooler one. Any cool purple shadow can be warmed up by the addition of a swipe of pink powder blush. It’s much easier to warm up a cool purple than vice versa.

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Maybelline Eye Studio Color Plush eyeshadow quad: list price $9.99, but I’m pretty sure I got it for $8-something at Target.

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (drugstore: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. This would get an “excellent” rating if the packaging weren’t so flimsy.

Purchase again? Probably, yes.

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

Holiday Shimmer: Be a Vixen, Not a Vamp (Part II: Lips/Eyes/Body)

Yesterday, we did the hard stuff — shimmer products for the face. These are difficult because since the face is such a large amount of skin real estate, it’s super-easy to go from foxalicious to frightening in a single swipe. In comparison, getting a nice shimmer for lips, eyes, or body is easy-peasy.

By the way, I’m not suggesting that you glitz up your face AND your lips AND your eyes AND your body. Usually one is sufficient. Coco Chanel’s famous advice on how to tastefully accessorize an outfit is to put on what you think looks right, then take one thing off again before leaving the house. Great for bracelets and necklaces; not so much for makeup. So go conservative from the beginning — you can always add a touch more, but it’s hard to remove shimmer if you’ve put on too much without washing your face and starting from scratch.

Lips:

This is perhaps the easiest way to add shimmer to your look, and it can be done on the cheap at any drugstore. There are so many shimmer lip glosses on the market now you can hardly turn around without tripping over one, so I won’t even bother making a recommendation. A shimmer gloss that’s close to your natural lip color will be gorgeous without being overstated on nude lips, and a clear gloss with shimmer can go on top of any color, so it’s exceptionally versatile for holiday wear. Smaller glitter particles always look more sophisticated than larger, and shimmer particles that are all the same color look more sophisticated than multicolored glitter. If the idea of a sparkly lip makes you nervous, you can go with a shiny colorless gloss over the lip color of your choice instead. Glosses don’t have a terribly long wear-life, especially if you plan to sip champagne and nibble on those yummy little quiche thingies at a holiday party, so tuck it in your bag for re-application.

Eyes:

Here you have to be careful. I mean, really careful. I would vote for the minimum amount of sparkle possible. Actually, I would vote for no sparkle on the eyes, and only a bit of shimmer. Glittery eye shadow has Hello Kitty written all over it, and really shimmery eye shadows are of a consistency that is not friendly to eyelids that are past their 30th birthday. Keep the majority of the eye color neutral and satin-finish, and use a light shimmer shade as a highlighter under the brow. (Or, you could go all-out and do a smoky eye, but that’s a different post.) Again, there are so many shimmer eyeshadows on the market that you can just choose your favorite line and chances are there will be several options. Test on the back of your hand before applying  to the eye; it can be hard to predict how much shimmer is in an eyeshadow just by looking at it in the pan and a test stripe on your hand will save you a lot of time and anxiety if it turns out to be way more shimmery than you were expecting.

There are also some fun shimmer eyeliners and mascaras out, both high-end and in drugstores, and these are easy to experiment with and hard to screw up, especially if you stick with eyeliner shades that are shimmery but basically dark (i.e., not electric blue or chartreuse). LA Splash makes some nice ones that are inexpensive and fun, and in a range of colors including some sophisticated dark shades; a few months ago I purchased some of their products and was impressed with the line (I’ll be doing a review of their liquid eyeliners soon).

If you really want to step it up, you could pick up a set of those false eyelashes with rhinestone tips that are popular this year. I certainly won’t stop you!

Body:

I’ve included nails in this section because there is a particularly fantastic lot of sparkle holiday nail polish out this year. You can get anything from the subtlest hint of shimmer to multicolored glitter. I’m especially fond of OPI’s Meet & Jingle (red) and Glove You So Much (purple) from their 2009 Holiday Collection (they can be seen here on this page from the terrifically fun nail polish blog Vampy Varnish). But there are also other options. Good glitter nail polish is harder to get at the drugstore, though, since less expensive brands’ glitter tends to be less finely milled.

Two ways to get shimmer for the rest of the body are via shimmer body powder (like the Urban Decay flavored body powder I mentioned in one of the gift guide posts) or shimmer lotion. Shimmer lotions tend to last longer than powders, and you can either buy one that’s already shimmery (although it will probably also be fragranced, which may or may not be up your alley) or DIY with plain body lotion and a shimmer powder like one of the ones I mentioned yesterday. If you don’t have any of that stuff, you can buy an inexpensive shimmer/glitter loose mineral eyeshadow from the drugstore in a shade you like and mix away.


The Whole Package:

Finally, if you’re looking for the whole kit and caboodle, you can’t do better than the Sephora Glitz & Glam Shimmer and Shine Deluxe Sampler ($38), which (amazingly) is still in stock at Sephora.com. The Guerlain shimmer meteorites in the kit are a particularly hot item this year, but there are a variety of other test-worthy products in the kit, including products for body, cheek, and lip. The value on these Sephora sampler kits is extraordinary, especially because they usually come with a coupon for savings off a full-size version of one of the products in the kit. Plus, it will let you try shimmer products in a variety of formats — powder, stick, gloss, spray — so you can see what works for you.

Top photo (which I adore): http://www.flickr.com/photos/green-beauty/ / CC BY-ND 2.0

Provenance of items mentioned: prior purchases.

Holiday Shimmer: Be a Vixen, not a Vamp (Part I: Face)

sparklers by jenny downing (r&r).If ever there were a time to pull out your shimmer, your glimmer, and your sparkle, the next two weeks are it, baby. New Year’s Eve in particular is a great time to add some shine to your regular ‘do — but since I assume you don’t want to look like an 8-year-old who dumped glitter all over her face, it would probably be a good idea to take a look at some shimmer options that are holiday-festive but also sophisticated, subtle, and sexy. (If you do want to look like an 8-year-old who dumped glitter all over her face, I would like to gently suggest to you that you may be reading the wrong blog.)

The advantage is that pretty much every cosmetics line on the market makes something shiny or glittery. Some of these products are lovely and sophisticated on their own, and others can be worked with to adapt them to your desired level of shimmery gorgeousness. Before you do any work with shimmer products you should make sure that your skincare and foundation products have left you with a matte or satin finish; shimmer does not go on well over oiliness.

Smashbox Soft Lights ($28) are very, very nice finishing powders that give you anywhere from the subtlest sheen to a healthy glow, depending on how much you apply. I use these as a finishing powder year-round, but they’re particularly nice in the summer. Use a very, very light touch to start and add more just a bit at a time. If you have good brush skillz, you can use a blush or powder brush (a real one, not one of those ones that comes in a drugstore powder blush compact), but using a fan brush helps make this pretty idiot-proof because it only allows you to pick up a tiny bit of product at a time. These come in three regular shades, all of which I own: Shimmer, which is a very light champagne-neutral shade (and the most shimmery of the bunch; requires an ultra-light touch); Prism, which is the shade shown in my photo — it looks very bright in the container but goes on sheer and delicate and girly pink (this is my favorite one); and Tint, which is a warm golden coral shimmer. In the summer, I use Tint almost like a bronzer, since traditional bronzers don’t really work on my very pale skin. There are also a variety of “fusion” Soft Lights compacts, which feature a pie chart of different shades all in the same container; I don’t like these as much because it’s so hard to predict what color you’re going to actually end up with on your face, and it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to be able to just get at one of the colors in the container. However, if you do find a composite color you like, the quality is as good as the other Soft Lights powders.

If you like, you could use Prism or Tint as an all-over face color (again, use a VERY light touch), or you could use any of the three as a finishing highlighter. Where exactly you choose to apply a shimmer or highlighting product will depend on your bone structure, but in general the areas to look at are the top outside areas of the cheekbones, just below the brow, on the temple, and on the bridge of the nose. Start with the top of the cheekbones and then see if you need to add more. If you like it other places, by all means feel free to add it there too; I sometimes do a bit on my forehead right up against the hairline or a very light swish on my chin.

Although it’s not on my favorite-product list, NARS The Multiple ($37) is a cult-favorite stick highlighter that can be used on cheeks, lips, and eyes. It comes in many shades; all of them are too shimmery to work on me, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. (NARS Orgasm blush is another cult-favorite product, and likewise, I find it too shimmery for me.)

Unfortunately, many of the sparkly cosmetics products out on the market are pretty much straight-up glitter, which is neat-o for Halloween or special effects but which makes them virtually unusable on their own for those who want a more subtle effect (and for anyone over the age of eight). The good news is that lots of these can be successfully combined with other products to create something that’s more usable.

For example, a few years ago I ended up with a full-size container of Bare Escentuals’ All-Over Face Color in True ($18). I think it was a gift with unrelated purchase; honestly, at this point I don’t even remember. According to the Bare Escentuals website, “True All-Over Face Color is a complexion chameleon, adapting its sheer, coral pink glimmer to any shade of skin — no matter how tan or fair.” This is true (no pun intended), if by “chameleon” you mean “Gila monster” and by “sheer, coral pink glimmer” you mean “raspberry glitter that you could see from Mars.” The product on its own did not work for me at all; it was impossible for me to apply it lightly enough that it did not become blotchy and unblendable. However! Since it’s sometimes hard for me to find a good mineral powder foundation shade — most of them are too yellow for me — I often buy several shades and make myself a custom blend, which then lasts me quite a long time. I did like the pink color of the Bare Escentuals product, but it was way too strong to use on its own. So I put a few shakes of it into my custom blend, which is now just a tiny bit pinker than it was before and also has a subtle glimmer that I really like.

Along the same lines, I recently received this miniature Tarte Glistening Powder in Sugar Daddy as a free sample with another Tarte purchase. (I can’t link you to the product directly, since it seems to only exist as part of a holiday kit, but here’s that link.) On its own, this is much too shimmery for me; while there is some base color, it seems to disappear from my skin quickly, leaving me with what looks like bare skin on which I’ve spilled some glitter. But when mixed with a little liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer, it adds a really pretty glow, and you can adjust the amount of shimmer you want every time you use it. Never be afraid to get creative with your products! Many things that initially seem unworkable might be able to be beaten into submission cajoled into loveliness when combined with another product.

Tomorrow: Holiday Shimmer, Part II: Eyes, Lips, Body


Provenance: Smashbox Soft Lights: purchased; Tarte and Bare Escentuals: gifts with purchase. I do not own NARS The Multiple.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenny-pics/ / CC BY 2.0

Review: Urban Decay Sparkle Pens (discontinued but available)

urban_decay_red_sparklerDiscontinued, schmiscontinued. (Yeah, that doesn’t work so well, huh?)

Although Urban Decay has discontinued this lip product, there are still a reasonable amount of them running around out there, so I’m providing this review in case you happen to see some of them and wonder if you should plunk down your hard-earned Benjamins on them, although since they are probably going to be dirt-cheap (and if they aren’t, don’t buy them), a minimum of Benjamins will be required. Actually, only a small fraction of a Benjamin, maybe just the B part. At any rate, with the holiday season coming up, you might be looking for a way to inexpensively add some sparkle to your makeup palette, and these are a good and surprisingly subtle choice that you could really wear year-round.

Like Stila’s Lip Glaze, the pens have brush applicators; you twist the bottom of the pen (it makes a clicking sound) and it advances the plunger towards the brush, forcing the product up through a little tube in the center of the brush and out to the brush tips. “How-it-works” geeks like me will get full value just from watching the mechanism. You will have to turn the bottom quite a bit to get the product to the brush tips; in the photo, the level of the pigment is around the E of “Urban Decay,” and I had to turn it enough so that the plunger had pushed the pigment up to between the star and the D before the product reached the tips.

This gloss has a lovely smooth lip-feel and is not sticky; it has a slightly fruity fragrance that’s barely noticeable. I do wish the color were more saturated; I was hoping for a nice bright, rich holiday red and what came out is sort of a light cherry/strawberry pink. It’s actually pretty, but it’s definitely not what I expected given how red the product appears in the tube. The “sparkle” is not so much sparkle as gentle shimmer, very subtle and easily wearable at work. It would also layer well over more matte products. Wearlength is standard gloss wearlength, which is to say that you will want to bring it with you for touch-ups during the day and after eating.

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Provenance: Purchased (Marshall’s clearance!)

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): For the price I paid ($3): excellent! For full-price ($10): fair.

Purchase again? Yes, but only at the Marshall’s clearance price.