Clarins Spring 2015 - Garden Escape Palette 6-Color Eye Palette

Press sample.

As tired as I am of winter, I'm almost more tired of complaining about it. So let's focus on spring, yes?

And nothing says "HELLO THERE SPRING" quite like the verdant, pastel confection that is the Clarins Garden Escape Palette. (Well, maybe not in shouty caps, since that wouldn't be the classy Clarins way.)

Clarins Spring 2015 - Garden Escape Palette 6-Color Eye Palette

Clarins Spring 2015 - Garden Escape Palette 6-Color Eye Palette

Clarins Spring 2015 - Garden Escape Palette 6-Color Eye Palette

How freaking gorgeous is that??

I'm not a jaded makeup consumer. I still gasp with delight over the new, pretty, and shiny - but it takes a lot to truly stop me in my tracks. This palette. THIS PALETTE. I was mesmerized upon opening it, and very nearly petted it lovingly before realizing I needed to take un-besmirched pictures.

(Side note - this is also the palette that inspired me to change up my picture backgrounds from the plain white. Let me know if you like that.)

The outside is simple and classic, but the inside is pure magic. The colors themselves are stunning, and so perfectly spring-like that all the other collections can basically pack up and go home. The imprinted sun and botanical design just notches everything up to 11. I really don't know if I could have asked for a more perfect springtime palette.

Clarins Spring 2015 - Garden Escape Palette 6-Color Eye Palette

Clarins Spring 2015 - Garden Escape Palette 6-Color Eye Palette
In this light, the shimmer is more obvious.

Clarins Spring 2015 - Garden Escape Palette 6-Color Eye Palette
In more direct light, the result is more flat and satin, which closer to how they appear on the eye.
Which is why I was a little disappointed in the formula.

To the touch, it feels absolutely amazing. Ultra-smooth, creamy, soft. I was excited, because it reminded me of the texture of the older, discontinued Clarins mono eyeshadows, which I love, and which are nothing like the new wet-dry formulation.

And indeed, it swatches beautifully. Applied to the eye, however, that intensity is lost. The softness of the powder translates into a hazy, watercolour application. The colors are more muted, as if viewed through a soft-focused filter - delicate and pretty, but not what I was expecting from the look of the palette, hence my disappointment. Used dry, it's also very difficult to build up any intensity simply by packing on more powder.

Applied wet, however, the effect is much stronger, closer to to the depth of the swatches here, and with more visible shimmer. I achieved an even better result applying them over a concealer rather than bare lids or a regular eye primer.

Overall, the shade with the best payoff (wet and dry) and the smoothest application is the taupe. Dry, it's the perfect crease color. Wet, it's a stunner on the lid, picking up the light in the way only taupe shadows can. The two pinks are nearly interchangeable once applied, even if they look more distinct in the swatch. The greens are probably the most different when applied wet or dry - hazy shadows and dappled green light when applied dry, more lush and verdant when used wet.

I know several bloggers have loved this palette, and generally I'm not one to pick on an eyeshadow  for going on softer (I deeply dislike the OMG PIGMENTATION IS EVERYTHING standard, as not everyone is looking for eyelids that precede them into a room). This is particularly true of a formula like this, that is specifically designed and marketed to be used dry for a lighter look, and wet for more drama. I appreciate that the claims are pretty clear about that, and that as a consumer you have the options.

I think it comes down to which you'd rather do - sheer and blend out a more intense formula, or work up a softer one. I don't think there's an objectively better way, as it depends on what you tend to wear on a daily basis. Personally, I think the former method is usually easier/simpler, which is partly why I was left a little bereft.

The Garden Escape Palette is priced at 44$ CAD, and is currently available at Clarins counters.

(Product was provided by the brand to be considered for review. This post is not sponsored or otherwise compensated.)

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

Press sample. Contains affiliate link.

Sometimes a product doesn't quite work as intended, but still manages to be all kinds of awesome. Such is the case with the Urban Decay Naked On The Run travel palette.

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

This boxy, beautiful palette contains a wonderfully functional array of products for creating a natural-to-night-out look: a medium toned bronzer, a vivid pink blush that leans a bit blue, five neutral shadows in a mix of finishes, a shimmer powder that can work as both a face highlight and another eyeshadow, a deep brown eyeliner, a muted rose lipgloss and a mascara. Add in your favourite face products, and maybe a lipstick or liner, and all your bases are covered.

The packaging is, as most things UD, gorgeous to look at, and cumbersome to store and carry - and that goes double when the marketing calls this a travel palette. Though smaller than the egregiously overstuffed Book of Shadows of yore, it's still far from streamlined. I don't know how anyone would look at this and think: "why yes, this is exactly what I need to tuck into my carry-on bag". (Then again, I'm a super-light packer, so if your travel motto is There's Always Another Suitcase, then this might not be an issue.) Personally, if I really wanted to tote these items along on a trip, I would take the loose items out into my makeup bag, and depot the actual pans. Which sort of defeats the purpose of the pretty packaging. The only part that is travel-friendly for me is the nice-sized mirror, and the fact that it stays open by itself.

That being said, I do think this is a GREAT option to get yourself or to give someone as a sampler of Urban Decay products. The quality of the products is very representative, and they're almost all full-sized or generously proportioned items - only the eyeliner and mascara are mini versions. For 64$ CAD, you get a lot of good, varied product for the money, and everything works well together.

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

The eyeshadows skew on the cooler side in the pan, though they are warmer on the skin, and offer a  solid neutral range for light to medium skin.

Dive - a metallic rose gold with micro shimmer, this looks like it could be chunky in the pan, but actually applies smoothly, with minimal fallout. I can be packed on for a dense, shimmery look, but I prefer it applied lightly as a wash, with a damp brush, for a sunlight-shimmer-on-water effect.

Fix - a medium taupe matte, this has a silky-smooth texture and the perfect tone for a softly applied lid color or transition shade. Depending on your colouring, it can also work as a contour or even brow shade, making it the most flexible shade out of the palette. I almost wish it was a larger pan, as I know it's the one that will be most used.

Resist - a metallic taupe with the kind of creamy, rich texture that is definitively "UD". It looks more grey in the pan than it does on the lid, and I find myself using it a lot for defining the lower lash line. Something about the shimmer and tone works wonders.

Dare - a neutral medium brown matte. Swatched, it seems a little choppy, but I had no issues using it on the eye. Like most truly neutral shades, it's a bit of a yawner in the pan, but perfectly useful in reality. The silky-smooth - but not buttery - texture makes it perfect for contour work (eye or face, depending on your skin tone) and as a brow powder. It builds up nicely as well.

Stun - a metallic bronze with gold micro-shimmer. Another one that looks like it might be chunky glitter bomb in the pan, and feels drier and more powdery than I'm used to from UD. There's a bit of fall-out during application, but it blended out smoothly on the eye. Also the warmest of the eyeshdows here.

All five of these eyeshadows are 0.04 oz, which is just a bit under the 0.05 oz size of the single eyeshadows. (Which works out to 4 x 19.20$, so a 76.80$ value.)

The second powder row features a bronzer, a blush and an eyeshadow that also works as a face highlighter.

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

Bronzer - a medium, slightly red-leaning bronze. I thought it would be too deep for me at first, but it's actually exactly right. It doesn't turn orange and it doesn't make me look sallow. If you have light, somewhat olive-toned skin, this is perfect. The texture is smooth and silky, and is easy to both apply lightly or build up, as there is no powdery-ness.

Blush - a bright pink with slight shimmer. Intense in the pan, but the perfect in-from-the-cold shade on the cheeks. Beautiful on lighter skin tones, but vivid enough for medium to deep skin as well. It has the same texture as the bronzer, with marginally more shimmer. More glow on the skin than anything else.

5050 - a slightly shimmery champagne beige. As an eyeshadow, it's on the sheerer side, but it provides a nice balance to the medium/deeper shades in the rest of the palette. It can be applied overtop to add some dimension, or in the corner of the eye for a straight-on highlight. With the sheerer texture and relatively subdued shimmer, it also works well as a face highlight. It has a creamier texture than the blush and bronzer, more like the UD eyeshadows, though not as dense.

The blush and bronzer are each 0.3 oz, and while there isn't a direct individual product equivalent in the UD line-up, the Naked Flushed palettes contain blush, bronzer and highlighter, and have 0.59 oz of product for 35$ CAD. Adding in the 5050 highlighter at 0.07 oz, the total value of that row comes out to 39.75$.

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

This is my first experience with the Naked Ultra Nourishing Lipgloss. First, the tube is GORGEOUS. I mean, really, really well done, UD. It fits perfectly alongside the Revolution Lipsticks, kinda funky and modern but with a nice amount of heft and elegance. (As an aside, I really like the grown-up version of Urban Decay. As someone who was introduced to brand in my teens, when both it and I were heavily inspired by the grunge aesthetic, its evolution feels perfectly in tune with mine.)

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

Performance-wise, this is a lovely gloss. Nothing outrageously inventive, but it feels light, comfortable and hydrating on the lips (I've used it instead of balm once or twice, and it worked better than expected), and not sticky at all. There is a slight scent, which I can't place, and it's not noticeable after application. The shade here is in Sesso, which is a nude rose with a slight shimmer, and is also exclusive to this palette. It's right in line with the Naked theme, a MLBB color. These are sheerer glosses, by the way, so not for you if you like something with a lot of pigmentation, but optimal if you're the type of person who applies lipgloss on the fly.

This is a full-sized product, coming in 0.13 oz. (Individually, the glosses retail for 24$ CAD.)

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

The 24/7 eyeliner included in the kit is in the shade Stag, which I don't believe exists independently. It's a cool-toned, grungy dark brown, verging on grey, with a bit of shimmer. The shimmer doesn't really read on the eye, just gives it a bit of depth. I really like this shade - it's softer, smokier and easier to wear than black, without appearing noticeable brown either. Kind of that perfect daytime shade, but also intensifies for a nighttime look. It's actually been my go-to liner for the last few weeks.

Stag is 0.03 oz compared to the full-sized 0.04 oz, so a comparative 18$ value.

Urban Decay Naked On The Run Palette

The mascara is a deluxe sample version of the new(ish) Perversion. I love the look of my lashes with this mascara - sooty-black, fuller and longer, with good separation without any spikiness - but unfortunately it smudges and flakes on me within a few hours. 

The size is 0.13 oz, compared to 0.4 oz of the full-size. The sample size is sold on Sephora for 15$ CAD (compared to 26$ CAD). In terms of actual value, this is 8.45$.

One coat only on the top lashes, on the left.
It's a natural bristle brush, and the casing has a really pretty gunmetal finish. If you're going to replace it in the slot provided by the palette casing, you'll need to do so with another sample mascara - which is one of the other aspects to the packaging that can be less than practical. (Though if you are using it for travel purposes, it can certainly make sense to take a mini mascara.)

Final thoughts? I think this palette is a terrific value (167$ for the 64$ price tag), and works as a fabulous introduction to the brand. It definitely has all your bases covered, even if I do find the packaging too bulky and specific to work well as a travel palette. 

(This item was sent to me by the brand to be considered for review. This post is not sponsored, or otherwise compensated. Contains an affiliate link.)

Make Up For Ever Artist Palette and Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks

Purchased items.

I'll be doing a series of quick and dirty swatch-and-mini review posts for the holiday palettes, as there isn't a lot of time left to purchase or put things on wish lists for the holiday gift-giving season. (And I'll be back to both regularly scheduled programming and some new things come January.)

For today, I have two really, REALLY awesome palettes: The Make Up For Ever Artist Palette and the Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks. (And hey, I just realized the name similarity here. They both wanted to be sure you knew they were MUA-friendly brands, I guess?)

First up, the Make Up For Ever Artist palette. Price is 48$ CAD, available at Sephora.

Make Up For Ever Artist Palette

Make Up For Ever Artist Palette

The new MUFE eyeshadow formula is both unique and a vast improvement over their original formula. It's one of those weird gel-powder hybrids, but without that surface dryness that kind of formula can have. These are creamy and a little dense, with a neat texture when you press your finger into the pan, almost like it has a bit of squishy-ness. The gel part of it, I assume? And unlike a lot powders that claim some kind of special privilege of being usable wet, these powders not only can be applied damp, they transform into an almost cream eyeshadow texture when applied wet. They can be painted on, blended, buffed out without losing potency or getting funky.

All the shades I've tried so far have wonderful pigmentation (especially the Metallic and Iridescent finishes), and more notably, are an absolute dream to build up, sheer out and generally blend. They're so incredibly malleable for a powder eyeshadow. I think the ones that might be the weakest in pigmentation are the Diamond shades, but it's a truly minor difference.

I've heard that these eyeshadows can develop a hard pan surface, which hasn't happened to mine, yet. (I think because of that gel-powder, squishy texture they compact down easily, maybe?)

Shades are, left to right:

M536 (Milk Tea - matte), 1524 (Pinky Beige - iridescent), I550 (Olive Grey - iridescent),
D652 (Celestial Earth - diamond), ME728 (Copper Red - metallic), ME230 (Peacock Blue - metallic, D926 (Blueberry - diamond), ME930 (Black Purple - metallic).

I think the Copper Red and Blueberry are perhaps the only ones where the name doesn't quite match the color, but otherwise they're pretty accurate descriptions.

Make Up For Ever Artist Palette

Make Up For Ever Artist Palette

Next up, the Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks. Price was originally 70$ CAD, now 59$ in the sale section at Sephora. Score!

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks

I have to say that the exterior of the palette is decidedly lacklustre. It's a functional flip top with a magnetic (sort of) closure, and a zebra-like cloth wrap. It's just totally "meh".

Inside, WAY better.

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks

I had a rough patch with the Laura Mercier palette. My first one had a misprint that turned Deep Night into something close enough to a racial slur that I debated with myself for a week before exchanging it. That bump aside, it's a lovely palette! The eyeshadows are up to par with what I expect from LM (compared to, say, the unreliable quality of Bobbi Brown palettes), with silky-smooth mattes, creamy-textured shimmers, and great payoff. I find the rosy tones on the left side especially useful for everyday wear, but the navy also makes a terrific eyeliner shade, and the stone taupe is a go-to contouring shade for both eyelid and cheeks.

The one thing that stands out a bit oddly is the blush/highlighter, as it is distinctly warmer-toned than the rest of the palette. It can be a bit odd pairing them in a cohesive look, but I actually like dusting it a bit over the centre of the lid to add a burnished tone and then applying it as a second, highlighter-y blush over a rosy or taupe blush to tie everything in. It's probably a little less value for the buck if you don't like the blush, since it contains half the amount of eyeshadows compared the palettes from previous years. If you do like it, though, then it's great quality for the price, especially now that it's discounted. (If you want to press your luck, you can also try waiting until the sale section discount thing Sephora usually does later in December/early January.)

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes and Cheeks

Back soon with a few more!

(I purchased everything.)

Beauty Thoughts #1 - Truthiness in Blogging

I've been at this blogging/vlogging thing for a few years now. I actually started under a different name, several years back, when I was more into green beauty, and I've been an avid consumer of beauty writing and vlogging for even longer before that. And over the past year, I've grown more and more disenchanted with it.

Monika, from Rocaille-Writes, has written an eloquent post about her own unease with the current state of affairs, specifically in relation to the YouTube Celebrity version of the online beauty community. I highly recommend giving that a look, if you haven't already. And for a mini-rant along those lines, check out this video post from Kirsten, of ItsKeerstin. The part I'm referring to is at the beginning, but if you do want legit beauty reviews, I say watch the rest of the video. And then all her other videos. ;)

As a consumer of both beauty products and the online beauty community, everything they've said highlights my own unease. I don't begrudge anyone their success, and I think it's awesome that there are so many avenues of potential career growth that just didn't exist 5-10 years ago. I think the major problem is that something that started out being an organic extension of Makeupalley and chat forums - where people talked about what they liked and didn't like, and offered great personal recommendations - and an avenue for aspiring beauty journalists, has essentially become another form of advertising. And I'm not talking about having ads on the page or before the video. Blogging about beauty takes time and money - I know for a fact - so some funds coming in from passive advertising is appreciated, and I don't think it takes away from anyone's experience. For professional bloggers, I also do understand that the costs become even more of an issue, and I get the need for some sponsored content. As long as it's well-written and explicitly disclosed, all the power to you.

On a personal level, though, the more sponsored content I see, the less I trust the individual's authenticity. The post or video could be fantastic, and I can certainly enjoy it on an aesthetic level for all the production value and thought that went into making it (see all of Hey Claire's sponsored videos) - but I view it the same way I do any other commercial, with the assumption that someone is trying to sell me something. I don't care if the claim is that "I only do sponsored posts/videos for things I genuinely love". At some point, you end up sacrificing your trustworthiness. We all present a certain version of ourselves when we interact publicly - no one is 100% themselves in those kind of situations, not even on reality shows - but if you are presenting yourself as someone who is giving honest, personal opinions about products, then your whole persona has to be as close to the core as possible. If you're bound by a contract to say certain things a certain way, then you're not being authentic. You're advertising.

And again, if your content is advertorial in nature and you're explicit and honest about that, then I'm cool with it - I just won't take it for gospel. And if you're anything less than 100% transparent about it? Well then, good-bye, and thanks for all the fish.

As someone who also blogs and vlogs, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I go about things myself. I already don't do sponsored content, but I'm pondering things like PR-provided product and events. Lipstick does not pay the mortgage, so free product certainly isn't in the same category as paid sponsorship. That said, it can become hazy territory as well. Some people manage to maintain their credibility perfectly even while getting PR-provided samples constantly. (Temptalia, for example, and Tracey, from Beauty Reflections.) They either have a very strict, mathematical approach to reviewing, or such an upfront personality and complete transparency that you never doubt their opinion is genuine.

I can say from experience that it's actually a lot harder to do that than you'd think. When you start out, the temptation is of course to be softer on reviews because you want to be on good terms with PRs. And sometimes that is a legitimate factor. I've never had a PR say or suggest that I shouldn't post a review with negative content, but I have heard of it happening. (And I know people have lost PR relationships because of a more negative post.) So even if you're committed to total honesty, I have no doubt that does affect the content in some subliminal way.

And then there's something even more basic - most of us are women, and most of us were trained from a young age to be nice. Double that if you were raised to be a polite Canadian girl. If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all, right? (Some bloggers have that as an explicit policy, actually, in that they will only post about things they like.) That is a really hard thing to overcome, and especially so when you get to know and become friendly with the PRs. (I know it's something I've struggled with, trying to find the right word that is both honest and "nice".)

This is why I'm actually debating my policies, and whether I want to continue accepting gratis product. I don't enjoy the mental struggle of finding the "right" way to say something, and I REALLY don't like the idea of having my trustworthiness put in question. And knowing that I already give some blogs and youtubers the side-eye because of this, it feels important to be clear.

(As a side-note, there's another aspect to all this, which is the ever increasing emphasis on consumption. I know I'm the last person that should be speaking about this, considering how much makeup I have...and yet. Companies want to sell things and make money. PR groups want to help companies sell things and make money. Bloggers and vloggers who are PR-friendly - for lack of a better term - also want to make money, so it's in their interest to promote consumption. And I'm not sure I want to be part of that specific cycle. I like makeup, and I like collecting, but doing the Declutter series has put some of this in a different perspective.)

Eeesh. That's long-winded, and I apologize for that, but I had to get it off my chest.