Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nars - Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

This came in a package of Nars eye products, along with mascara, eye makeup remover and a liquid eyeliner pen. At first, I didn't really get excited about it. I tried the other products, threw this in a drawer, and pretty much forgot about it. Then one day I was rooting around in my drawer looking for an eyeshadow, and my hand closed around this. I thought, "hey, why not?" So I tried it out.

Now, eyeshadows are a challenge for me. I have a lot of problems with creasing, and even some of the best shadow primers don't work for me all day long (don't hate me, but UDPP is one of them).

So you can imagine my surprise when this worked like a dream. It went on smoothly, it did a great job of holding my shadow in place - and, best of all, it lasted all day. I don't think it will replace my Too Faced Shadow Insurance (mainly because it's quite expensive and I'm not a fan of applicators that go back into the product - easier to contaminate with bacteria that way) but I'm definitely glad I gave it a try!

Packaging: 3/5 
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? It's good, but not better than cheaper alternatives. If you really like Nars, or if you find it as part of a package, give it a try. If you're on a budget, stick to one of the cheaper alternatives.
Would I purchase again? Possibly.

Cruelty-Free? Still looking into it.
Where to find it: Nars online.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nars - Eyeshadows (Duos and Singles)

Nars Shadow Duos

It's taken me awhile to warm up to Nars. The first shadows I bought were hard to work with and had crappy colour payoff. I persevered, however, and discovered that over time, they seemed to loosen up and I could collect more powder per brush stroke, and the payoff improved. I've been experimenting with different Nars shadows - both singles and duos since. Here are the results.

 L-R: Elsa, Brumes, Underworld
  • Elsa: I just got this one, and honestly I haven't used it much yet. The shades are light blue and lilac, with a frosty finish. I think they'd be great over other colours to add a subtle shimmer, or as a subtle wash. 
  • Brumes: This is one of my favourites. Both colours are matte, one is a greyed mid-tone brown, and the other is a bluish-grey slate colour. I like using them instead of pencil or cream liner along the lash line for a softer daytime look. 
  • Underworld: I love the name of this duo - and it's perfect for the shades. One is an ethereal pale silver, the other is a rich, deep blue shimmer. They're great together, but can also be worn alone or with other shadows. I love the sheen the silver carries, and it wears into the lid well.
Clockwise from top: Cheyenne, Kalahari, Bohemian Gold
  • Cheyenne: The burgundy in this duo is beautiful and it works well with purples or mauves. I find shades like this look stunning on hazel and green eyes, since the red undertones will draw out the green in the eyes. The orange tone doesn't appeal to me all that much - I don't tent to use oranges - but if you're into them, this is a nice one.
  • Kalahari: This is the first Nars duo I ever purchased. I didn't like this all that much at first as I found that it was hard to get good payoff. But over time using it seemed to loosen up the powder a bit and it's easier to work with now (this has been the case for a few Nars shadows). These really need a base to make the most of their colour, though. The shade on the left is a neutral bronze brown that I love alone or paired with slightly darker shades. The other shade is a lovely bruised plum that has a hint of purple and looks amazing on hazel eyes. Again, great as a neutral daytime shade!
  • Bohemian Gold: This is an interesting duo. The darker orange (though, as I said, I'm not big on oranges) has a slight pink duochrome and is quite a unique shade. The lighter peach shade, however, I absolutely love on the lid with a black line for a simple, elegant look. It's deceptive in the pan, though. It seems quite neutral, but when applied the orange pops out and it looks more peach than expected.
Clockwise from top: Wicked, Star Sailor, Caravaggio
  • Wicked: I'm assuming this is based on the book/musical, since it has a light green and shimmery white. Honestly it's more of a gimmick duo than anything else, and it doesn't really stand out from the collection.
  • Star Sailor: This duo reminds me of olive and moss. The lighter shade is a gold mustard, while the other is a deep green/brown shimmer. Wearable, and would complement hazel and brown eyes beautifully.
  • Caravaggio: Super bright! If you want dramatic shades and are someone who likes to make a bold statement with your shadow, this is for you. The purple can be toned down if layered or paired with mauve shades. Be careful with the pink if you have pale skin, because anything that's deep pink or red-based can make eyes look tired and irritated.

 Clockwise from top: Ondine, Night Fever, Night Porter, New York, Nepal

I only have a few Nars single shadows because I tend to think they're quite pricey, despite being a good amount of product. There are a few nice shades, however:
  • Ondine: Light lilac/mauve with gold shimmer. This one reminds me of MAC's Trax, only much cooler and without the slight berry tinge.
  • Night Fever: Black with red shimmer. This is nearly an exact dupe for MAC's Beauty Marked. Similarly, this must be pressed onto a tacky base (like a paint pot) to show up the red in it, and does better on a black base. 
  • Night Porter: Like Night Fever, only with green shimmer instead of red and more green tone to the base colour. Dark forest green that can be used for a green smoky eye - quite a unique shade.
  • New York: I absolutely love this shade. It's one of the only matte Nars shadows I have, and it's a truly gorgeous muted plum red earthtone. 
  • Nepal: This was the first Nars shadow I ever purchased. It's a pretty neutral colour - pink/beige shimmer. I like this all over the lid with a dark, strong line for a classic look. 
I'd recommend proceeding with caution when purchasing Nars shadows. They don't always give the best payoff, and some are strictly for the adventurous type! They're quite pricey - though you get a fair amount of product for your dollar - so they're not for those who prefer to keep their makeups to the basics and the best value for money. Given their price, I wouldn't recommend stretching your beauty dollars for these over other high-end brands. At the very least, I recommend playing with them a bit in the store and viewing swatches in daylight before committing.

Packaging: 5/5
Product quality: 4/5 (quality of shadows varies - some are great, some are hard to work with)
Worth the price? Some I'd say definitely, but not all of them, since they're very pricey. Purchase with caution if you're on a budget!
Would I purchase again? It's hard to say. They do come with a lot of product, so they'll last a long time. Which is good, considering the cost.

Cruelty-Free? Still looking into it.
Where to find it: Sephora in store and online. Nars online. The Bay department store (Nars Counter).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

MAC Posh Paradise

MAC's second new collection of awesomeness has hit the stores! Of course, I couldn't resist. Here's what I bought:

  • Nubile Paint Pot - Neutral peach shade. Reminds me of Painterly, but Painterly is a bit more pink than peach. I absolutely love this under a neutral shimmer with a heavy black line - and, like any paint pot, it lasts all day long.
  • Hyperviolet Paint Pot - This is quite a unique paint pot shade. It's matte purple, and very, very dark. If you pick this one up (and I highly recommend that you do), spend some time playing with it. Here's what I got when I did:
 L-R: Sketch, Star Violet, Twinks, 100 Strokes 
You can see how the colours really pop (particularly the purple tones in Star Violet). Very fun to play with!
  • Idyllic Paint Pot - This reminds me a little of Artifact Paint Pot, but with more of a rusty red tone than purpled burgundy.
  • Rare Exotic Mattene - True fuschia - this is not for the faint at heart! I love this colour, but you really get noticed in it!
  • Deliciously Forbidden Mattene - This is a muted dusty dark pink that can work for daytime or can be applied with a heavier hand in the evening. Note: Though Mattenes are supposed to be less drying than regular matte lipsticks, they are still quite drying. I found that my lips got pretty flaky and application became uneven after a few re-applications. If you have trouble with dry lips, you might want to stick with more of a creme finish.
There were so many beautiful things, and I had trouble keeping to just these things. Here's what the whole collection looks like:

Packaging: 5/5 
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? Yep.
Would I purchase again? I bought a backup of Nubile and I'm certain I'd eventually collect all of the Paint Pots were they permanent!

Cruelty-Free? Yes - appears on PETA's Cruelty-Free list.
Where to find it: MAC in store and online.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Make Up For Ever - Magnetized Palettes

Let me start with a question. WHY don't more people talk about these?? I hear so much about the MAC palettes, which are great, but there are problems - they're not magnetic, you have to pop out the trays (which is tedious and tricky) if you want to fit other sizes of pans in there. Z-Palettes were the next big thing - magnetized with no trays so you can fit many more shadows in there without any adjustments. But they're pretty expensive - around $14 for the small, square ones and $20 for the larger ones that are similar in size to the MAC shadow palettes.

You might think those sound great. And they are. But these are better. Not only are they nearly twice the size of the MAC palettes, but they are magnetized so you don't have to fiddle around attaching magnets to depotted shadows. The best part? They only cost $11 CAD!! Yeah, that's right. The only thing the Z-Palettes have over these is the see-through cover. But for half the price, I can suck it up and add labels.

Above you'll see the open palette with several depotted MAC shadows in it so that you can get an idea for how large the palette is and how many MAC shadows it will be able to fit. There is also a plastic liner to protect the shadows (not pictured). 

The verdict? Stock up!!

Packaging: 5/5 
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? Such a great deal!
Would I purchase again? For sure.

Cruelty-Free? Still looking into it.
Where to find it: Make Up For Ever online.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MAC - MAC Me Over

Shadestick: Street Cool
Shadows (bottom to top): Outré, Moleskin, Mythical, Carbonized 

Were you as excited as I was to check out this collection? Thought so. Being a major eyeshadow-aholic, I was most excited to check out their new LE shades. In the end I caved and got all but one of them (Creamy Bisque - it is a light highlighter shade and just too similar to the hundreds I already have), as well as a quad with some gorgeous colours in it. I decided to try out the 211 brush as well. Let's start there.

211 Eyeliner Brush

It's an eyeliner brush, but has a unique flat but pointed shape that allows it to be used on the edge for a fine, precise line, or flat for a thicker application. I'm all over that idea - I love brushes and tools that are multi-functional! It's a great quality brush (as MAC brushes are) and so far I've been really impressed with how easy it is to use. I'd particularly recommend this for those new to gel liner application, as it's easier to use than a traditional thin applicator brush.

Now, on to the shadows! The quad I bought is called Lady Grey. There is a second one in the collection called Evil Eye, that includes dark green, deep purple, cement grey and berry shades - but I decided that since these aren't shades I can see myself using often, and I have similar shades in my collection already, it wasn't worth getting.

Lady Grey, on the other hand, ended up being too gorgeous to pass up:

Clockwise from Top Left: All Races, Tendersmoke, Lady Grey, Hazy Day

The shades included are:
  • All Races (M): This is a pale, pale mauve colour that's quite a cool neutral. I've had this in other quads in the past and am not really that fond of it. I'll give it another go, but last time I found it a chalky and not particularly useful.
  • Tendersmoke (F): Mid-tone lilac. Muted enough that it can be worn to work in an understated look. Great for hazel or green eyes, and would be fantastic as the lid colour in a purple smoky eye.
  • Lady Grey (S): This shade is like a greyed-out moss green. Quite muted and not too green, but still not quite grey either. Because it's right in between the two shades, it can be paired with either greens or greys to bring out either shade and add a hint of something a little different. I like it, but it's not my favourite.
  • Hazy Day (VP): This colour is nearly impossible to describe. It's in the taupe-grey range, but has a hint of cool bronze to it as well. Totally unique and totally beautiful. This shadow was the whole reason why I couldn't resist this quad.
Single Shadows:
  • Outré (M) - This is a unique shade that I've heard is similar to Ochre, a shadow that MAC used to make, but has since been discontinued. It really is an ochre/mustard brown colour, and according to the MUA it is universally flattering. She suggested using it in the crease and running it along the lower lashline to really make brown and green eyes pop. 
  • Moleskin (M) - Neutral cool-toned beige - a bit like Wedge but cooler and easier to load on. I found that I actually ended up with too much product on the brush to really use as a crease blending colour, so I'm sticking to my trusty Wedge for that and using this on the lid for a daytime neutral eye. 
  • Mythical (VP) - Coppery rose shade - light enough to wear in the daytime, but bright enough to be dramatized for a beautiful evening out!
  • Carbonized (VP) - This is a dark, woody brown colour with warm shimmer. Upon getting it home, I realized that it's nearly identical to Centre Stage, one of the Mega Metal Shadows from MAC's Peacocky collection earlier this year. Oh well, still gorgeous.
  • Satin Taupe (F) - You'll notice that in the pictures this is a pro pan. That's because this is part of the permanent collection - thank goodness! It's a universally flattering, universally loved shade that can be used with everything from mauves to purples to browns to create understated or intense looks, and is a staple of pretty much every self-respecting MAC lover's collection!
One fantastic thing about the single shadows in this collection is that they're designed to go with one another. This means you can pair any single shadow with any other single shadow to create some version of a well-matched, gorgeous look. So feel free to experiment!

 T-B: Outré, Moleskin, Mythical, Carbonized, Satin Taupe (better swatches coming soon, sorry I was losing daylight!)

    L-R: Outré, Moleskin
    Clockwise from top left: Mythical, Carbonized, Satin Taupe
    Finally I got just one lonely Shadestick in Street Cool (you can see this in the very first photo behind the row of eyeshadows). It's a nice mauvey taupe colour that is great for the daytime and as a base for similar colours (like Satin Taupe). Photos and Swatches of this one coming soon.

    As you can tell, I was very pleased with this collection. Lots of wearable colours, a great brush and some re-promotes of great items like Satin Taupe eyeshadow (the very first MAC eyeshadow I ever purchased!) and Rebel lipstick (my all time favourite lipstick). Because these are in the permanent line I'd recommend scooping up any of the limited edition ones you want quickly - and definitely check out the 211 brush, I highly recommend it!

    Packaging: 4/5 (as always - point off for not being easily de- and re-pottable!)
    Product quality: 5/5
    Worth the price? Definitely!
    Would I purchase again? Most certainly - I really wish they'd make all of these permanent - especially the 211!

    Cruelty-Free? Yes - appears on PETA's Cruelty-Free list.
    Where to find it: MAC in store and online.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Sleek - Pout Paint

    L-R: Cloud 9, Peachy Keen, Milkshake, Lava, Pin Up,
    Rosette, Pinkini, Port, Mauve Over, Peek-A-Bloo

    You might have heard of Sleek's new lip products that were released just recently - most notably these Pout Paints. They're touted as being a (cheaper) dupe for OCC (Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics) Lip Tars, which are packed with intense colour that adheres to the  lips and lasts all damn day. They also remind me of MAC's Lipmix - which aren't as thick as Lip Tar, but also stain the lips and can be (as the name implies) mixed to create custom colours.

    Sleek's version are just as intense in colour as either one. They're a bit closer to Lip Tar in consistency, but are meant to be mixed like the MAC Lipmix. This is important to bear in mind so that you're not completely taken aback when you see that white and blue are both colours included in the line! No, they're not trying to send us off to work looking like we've been sitting in the freezer overnight. They're meant for creating your own shades.

     Top Row L-R: Rosette, Pinkini, Port, Mauve Over, Peek-A-Bloo
    Bottom Row L-R: Clout 9, Milkshake, Peachy Keen, Lava, Pin Up

    For everyone who's new to the concept of mixing (as I am), Wise She did a great blog post about the Pout Paints which includes some mixing of her own so that you can see what she did, and what the results were. It's pretty interesting. So far I've only experimented with very minimal mixing - mainly I've used these as a base with a gloss on top. 

    What I can say is that they live up to a lot of the hype. They are incredibly intensely pigmented, they will stain anything they touch (including your fingers if you use them to apply - so be careful!) and the colour will last for EVER. If you're looking for a way to experiment with bright colours and are concerned with the ongoing work of re-applying your lip colour throughout the day, these might be a great way for you to branch out. I found them to be pretty similar to the OCC Lip Tars - but much cheaper.

    The final word? If you like incredibly pigmented, long-lasting colours, these will really impress you. If you're curious about the OCC Lip Tars, these are probably a cheap way to experiment with a very similar product. If, on the other hand, you're someone who likes to fly under the radar with your pucker, these definitely won't be subtle enough for you!

    Packaging: 5/5
    Product quality: 5/5
    Worth the price? Definitely!
    Would I purchase again? Quality-wise, yes, but a little goes a really long way and they're too intense for everyday use, so I won't run out anytime soon!
    Cruelty-Free? Not sure.
    Where to find it: If you're in the UK, you can get it at drugstores. Anywhere else, check out Sleek online.
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