January 29, 2012

a-england "The Legend" teaser

Isn't this ridiculously awesome? A lilac/silver/teal duochrome holo. HOT.

Princess Tears

January 28, 2012

Annabelle Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencil - Down 2 Earth

Can I tell you how much I love Annabelle cosmetics? THISMUCH. An affordable, Canadian-made (and Montreal-based!), fashion-forward makeup brand is impossible to resist.

Where my American friends probably remember their first makeup purchases being Wet'n'Wild (also one of those drugstore brands that is kicking ass and taking names these days), mine was Annabelle. I still remember my Gleam eyeshadow!

I recently picked up one of their Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencils from a limited edition display, intrigued both by their similarity to the Urban Decay 24/7 pencils and their decidedly more attractive price tag.

This is the Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencil in shade Down 2 earth:

Isn't it the prettiest olive green shimmer ever

In indirect light.
In direct artificial lighting.

The color is gorgeous. I am a HUGE fan of this color. It's just the most perfect olive green with golden shimmer. 

It's also a really versatile little pencil. The texture is extremely soft, so it can be applied directly to the whole lid without fear of tugging or discomfort, and the creamy consistency allows for easy smudging and sheering out. It can be worn by itself, or as a base for powder eyeshadow. It's not water-proof, but you will need an oil-based remover to get this off cleanly. 

Worn over a primer (which is how I normally wear any eye product, due to my oily lids), this held up well for a regular workday, with no noticeable shift in texture. Without a primer, it smudged  and had some creasing after about 4 hours. For a somewhat different experience, check out how Rae from The Notice felt about it. 

It's similar to the Tarte SmolderEYES in feel, and is the same size - 1.6 grams. 

To give you an idea of how it compares to some other olive green/bronze eyeshadow pencils and eyeliners.

From left to right:
Annabelle Smoothie in Down 2 Earth, Tarte SmolderEYES in Moss and Olive, Prestige Total Intensity Eyeliner in Intense Olive, Stila Smudge Stick in Moray, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Stash, Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Bronze.

After trying out Down 2 Earth, I am going to have to add more shades to my stash!

Availability: Any drugstore that carries Annabelle, listed here. It was a limited edition, so may be difficult to find, but I still spotted some this week on display. Price is 8.95$ CAD, but that can vary slightly with individual store and promotions.

Pros: Inexpensive, gorgeous color, easy to use, multiple functions, creamy-feeling and gentle in application.

Cons: With the super-soft formula, this can crease or migrate on some people due to either eyelid shape or oiliness. I would recommend a primer as a base, and setting with eyeshadow for optimum longevity.

(I purchased this from Jean Coutu.)

January 27, 2012

Estée Lauder Pure Color Topaz Mosaic

Estée Lauder really has been hitting it out of the ballpark with these last few collections. I'm especially impressed with the quality of their current eyeshadow range, especially the recently released Cyber eyeshadows. Their Pure Color range of singles, duos and quints is nothing to sneeze at either, and I've been slowly building up my collection of these. (At this point, for every disappointing MAC collection, I get something from EL instead. Never thought that day would come.)

I recently added the limited edition Topaz Mosaic to my stash, and it's a bright, beautiful, golden addition indeed. It's a bit of an odd duck for a spring release, running warmer and deeper than I would expect. Aside from the glorious punch of yellow, which is decidedly cheerful and summery, I would have pegged this palette for a fall release. Since I tend to lean toward those kind of colors, I'm not complaining, just noting. However, paired with the teal nail polish and eyeliner also featured in the Topaz Pure Color Spring 2012 collection, the colors work together to evoke a feeling that is most welcome in the January dreariness.

They look pretty enough in the palette, but they really come alive when applied.

In indirect light.
Swatched clockwise from bottom left.

In direct sunlight.

The finishes on these are all termed 'satin' by EL, aside from the shade on the bottom left, which is called 'metallic'. I don't know that I would consider it a metallic, but it does have visible shimmer, almost a micro-glitter. (I didn't get any fall-out from this though.) As you can see from the sunlit picture, the others have a lovely sheen, but no shimmer. This is probably my favorite kind of finish, as it has enough glow to have depth and life in the lids, but remains flattering on more mature skin.

They are all quite soft and dense, and with a medium level of pigmentation. I wouldn't call these buttery, as the texture is just a shade too dry for that, but they are very, very easy to work with. They blend well with each other without becoming muddy. 

I think the yellow has the sheerest pigmentation, but it's buildable and works perfectly if you're using it to highlight the inner corner, for example. (Tom Pecheux has used it in far more dramatic ways on the runway, I'm sure.) And it's just such a great color, like baby chicks!

I really love the color choices in this palette - a shimmery beige with warm undertones, a soft apricot, a light neutral taupe-beige, a medium reddish brown that I would call 'sherry', and a soft canary yellow. The neutrals work perfectly together for a work-appropriate look, and then that punch of sunset colors to brighten things up. This palette is warm-toned, but I think it can work with all but the coolest of colorings, and would looks especially stunning on blue-eyed blonds or redheads.

Availability: Estée Lauder counters at most major department stores. They are moving fast, though not as fast as the Topaz Chameleon powder (which I reviewed here). Last I checked, the counter at Fairview in Pointe-Claire still had a few. Price is 48.50$ CAD.

Pros: Great texture, easy to blend and build from subtle to not. Colors well-balanced, well-edited warm/neutral palette. Elegant packaging.

Cons: Pigmentation might lack the oomph some prefer, and color may run too warm for the particularly cool-toned. Aside from the yellow, most of these shades are dupable if you already have a substantial collection.

(I purchased this from the Estée Lauder counter at The Bay.)

January 23, 2012

Getting ready for my staff party...

I was going to do some swatching, but the weather is not cooperating. So instead, here are a couple of pics I snapped quickly with my phone yesterday, as I was getting ready for a staff party. (I spared you the Charlie's Angel's style posing.)

(Apologies, bathroom light blows out the makeup)
Pro Lumiere foundation
MAC Plumful lipstick
Vincent Longo liquid shadows: Cream Flesh and Supple Rose
Lancome Hypnose Doll Lashes mascara
Trying to see if I can rock the Posh Spice bob.
Decided I would miss my hair too much.
The homemade streaks are courtesy of Freida
Go Blonder Spray and judicious aim. 

January 19, 2012

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

This is one of those things that I ended up trying because I worked in beauty retail. Because 26$ for lip balm? Um, no, was not gonna happen. Chapstick was just fine, thank you.

And somewhere between that mental statement and now, I tried the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, and I was a convert. This is absolutely, no qualms, the BEST lip balm I have ever used. My lips don't usually get dry, but every now and them I develop severely chapped lips. (Curse you, Montreal weather. *fistshake*) This is the only lip treatment that soothes, hydrates and heals them, and does so in record time. I can have the worst cracking and peeling, and within two days of treatment my lips will be back to normal. The SPF is a nice bonus.

I always keep a tube of the original with me, but it also comes in a few different varieties, each with a light tint of color.

The mini versions, often available in little kits like this stocking stuffer set, are usually a fairly good deal and a less wallet-crunching way of trying out different shades. This trio, for example, was 32$ CAD, compared to one tube at 26$ CAD.

The regular size is .15 ounces, while the minis are each .08 onces. That works out to less than half the price for slightly more than half the amount.

Honey shade.
The pigmentation is not lipstick level, but it gives a beautifully sheer color that can be built up slightly. It's a very easy way of wearing lip color while treating and protecting your lips. These also work as nice blenders for sheering out more potent lipsticks. The deeper shades, like Plum and Passion leave behind a faint and very natural, juicy stain. Very casual and chic.

Availability: The regular-sized ones are available from Sephora and the Fresh website. This particular trio is sold out, but similar sets are often available, like this duo. Price is 26$ CAD.

Pros: Incredibly moisturizing and protective. Instantly relieves chapped lips, doesn't feel sticky. Nicely scented, with a selection of shades. Swanky packaging for a lip balm.

Cons: Also a hefty price tag for a lip balm. Worth it in my opinion, but YMWV. The scents might be off-putting to some.

(I purchased these from Sephora.)

January 17, 2012

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals

This is part 2 of the Inglot swatching project, begun here. This palette contains the more neutral-toned browns and lighter shades. As always, these are done on clean, bare skin, no primer.

These eyeshadows can be purchased from Beautylish.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals
In indirect light.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals
With flash.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals
In indirect light.
pearl 395, shine 8, pearl 422, pearl 402, matte 360

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals
In direct sunlight.
A couple of lovely highlight shades, and some medium tones for adding depth. I really love the taupe-ish shade as an all-over, easy wash.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals
In indirect light.
matte 327, amc 52, shine 31, matte 337, matte 350

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals
In indirect light, different angle.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Neutrals
In direct sunlight.

The matte shades apply very, very opaquely. You actually have to be conservative with how much you pick up on your brush, or you are liable to get too much on. I know a couple of Inglot MUAs have said that it took some getting used to after having worked with other brands, as they tended to crush their brush right in there. They had to train themselves to use a lighter hand.

I have two more palettes of what I would consider "neutral" shades; one with richer, bronze tones, and the other with taupes and grays. Between those three, I feel like the neutral range is pretty well covered. (Not that this stops me from trying or buying every conceivable shade of taupe and bronze out there!)

What do you think?

January 14, 2012

Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick

I haven't used Rimmel makeup for years, aside from some nail polish. Probably since college? I remember being fond of the lipsticks (Heather Shimmer, woo!), so I recently took a chance and got a few of the Moisture Renew lipsticksas well as a few other lip products that will be reviewed shortly.

The look of the line has gotten a significant upgrade since I last looked, and I have to say the packaging is cuuuuuute. Love the squared-off purple cases, and the little design in the top of the lid. These are probably the best-looking lipsticks at the drugstore, next to the Revlon Colorburst quilted tubes.

The only thing I don't love, packaging-wise, is that the tops are actually a little hard to take off. It feels like you're almost going to pull the tube in half. To alleviate that, I grab the tube by the silver middle, and then pull off the cap. I dunno, maybe it's just me being paranoid.

I was (and am) in a hot pink phase, so the ones I picked up skewed in that color range. I'm also not feeling the shimmers right now, so these are all in a cream finish. Bear that in mind, because apparently the shimmer finishes have a gritty feel, which I would not dispute based on the swatches I tried in the drugstore. (And possibly a subconscious part of why I went with creams.)

Vintage Pink, Lily Extase, Funtime Fuchsia, Fleurtatious
In indirect daylight.
In direct sunlight.

The colors are all lovely, and apply like a cross between the cremesheen and lustre finish from MAC. Lily Extase and Funtime Fuchsia look very similar, but FF is ever so slightly deeper and more blue toned. My favorite is actually Vintage Pink, which is a great rosy nude, very wearable.

This is supposed to be a moisturizing formula. It goes on soft and creamy, slippy without feeling overly slick. My lips aren't generally prone to dryness, and I find that these wear comfortably over time, but I would not consider them particularly moisturizing. They're just nice and non-drying.

These do have a particular scent, sort of sweet and like cheap lotion. Not as sickly-gross as l'Oréal lipsticks, but not the most pleasant scent I've come across. It does fade after a while, though if you're sensitive to scent...yeah, might be an issue.

Availability: Pretty much any drugstore, some grocery stores, Wal-Mart. Price ranges between 5-8$.

Pros: Creamy, comfortable feel, nice range of colors, really adorable packaging, inexpensive.

Cons: Shimmers may feel gritty, possibly not moisturizing enough despite the name, scent can be off-putting.

(I purchased these from Pharmaprix and Jean Coutu.) 

January 13, 2012

Origins VitaZing SPF 15 Energy Boosting Moisturizer

Like several thousand people out there, I bought this after seeing it featured several times in Tiffany D's youtube videos. It sounded pretty feakin' awesome, and I sure didn't want to miss out on its promised splendour.

While it didn't quite live up to the hype, Origins VitaZing SPF 15 Energy Boosting Moisturizer is nonetheless a pretty neat product.

The claims for this are that it will hydrate and protect, give skin "a refreshing zing" via anti-oxident rich mangosteen, and provide a healthy radiance, akin to the glow one has after a vacation.

Does it indeed to all that? Short answer is: depends on your skin type, yes, maybe, yes.

I actually didn't find this to be supremely hydrating. During the summer, it did the job well enough, but my combo skin is now on the drier side and this wasn't enough. A minute after application, I saw some dry patches crop back up and had to apply another moisturizer on top of that. If you have dry skin, you will need to layer this over a heavier moisturizer.

This does indeed have an spf of 15, which may be too low for some people, but is fine for me. I honestly rarely wear sun protection. (I know! So naughty!) What I do like about this is that it doesn't have that greasy feeling I associate with a lot of sunscreens, so I am actually more likely to wear it. 

I can't really vouch for anti-oxident or "zing"-like qualities, but I do like the way this gave me just a touch of coverage. I can't even really call it coverage, since I feel like it's less than what I get out of most tinted moisturizers.

It comes out of the tube as a white cream, but it seems to have these teeny little spheres inside that contain pigment. 

These burst (I assume) when you rub the product in, which is what gives it some tint.

This color is barely visible once your rub it fully into the skin. It just gives a hint of something. You do actually look like you may have spent a few minutes outside - somewhat more golden and healthy, with minor imperfections blurred. The finish is demi-matte, with no greasiness or shine, just a faint glow.

If you want to cover blemishes, dark circles, significant redness, this is not the product to use. However, it's fabulous for those no-makeup days. (Or if you're blessed with good skin and just want something minimal to give you some polish and sun protection.)

I like slapping this on when I plan on pure laziness, knowing I can top it off with some quick concealer and a dab of powder if I'm suddenly overtaken by the urge to leave the house.

Availability: On the Origins site and in their stores, at Sephora.com, and at some The Bay locations, I believe. Price is 35$ USD.

Pros: Provides hydration, sun protection and mild coverage all in one tube, making it a convenient and portable product. Grants the skin the appearance of well-rested health.

Cons: While it does three things at once, the level of each of the things may not be up enough, which undermines the convenience factor if you need to layer in more product. The shade range is obviously limited, but with how lightly pigmented this is, it's still fairly wide.

(I purchased this from the Origins store in NYC.)

January 12, 2012

Estée Lauder Topaz Chameleon Illuminating Powder Gelée

I missed the Modern Mercury Illuminating Powder Gelée when it was available at Estee Lauder counters last season - and have kicked myself ever since.

When Charlston Girl tweeted that she had just picked up the new Topaz Chameleon Gelée, it took me less than a minute to phone my trusted SA and ask her to hold one for me, and I beelined right after work. I was expecting something amazing, and I wasn't remotely disappointed.

First of all, how freakin' gorgeous is that?? I love the reptilian pattern and the blingy-ness. It's such a show-off, standout piece.

This is probably one of the more beautiful makeup items that I own. I could barely force myself to swatch it, because I didn't want to disturb the surface texture.

If you have't tried the Gelée formula, either as an illuminating powder or as an eyeshadow, it really is something unique. It's described as a tribrid - a mix of liquid, cream and powder that can be applied wet or dry. To the touch, it's an incredibly creamy-feeling powder, almost a textural blend between a dense mousse and a really buttery powder eyeshadow. 

On bare skin, in indirect light.
The finish is metallic, and the pigmentation is wild. You barely have to press it to pick up intense color. This could easily be worn as an eyeshadow, and applied wet it's even more saturated and metallic. I had to play around with this one a little before I worked out how one would wear it as anything other than an eyeshadow, actually.

It has a fairly coppery tone to it, so I wouldn't pair it with my relatively light skin as a bronzer or blush - though I think that this would look beautiful applied to deeper skin tones in such a manner, especially as a wash over a punchy blush.

I found the best way of applying it on my skin was as a highlighter with a soft, synthetic brush (like Cozette's Highlight Stylist Brush). One light sweep for a faint sheen, or a couple for something more sun-warmed and goddess-like.

On bare skin, in more direct sunlight.
Slightly heavier application.
The effect is a super-subtle golden shimmer, even in fairly strong daylight. It's beautiful and ethereal, not something I would have guessed from a first glance at the pan. It's a testament to the product's unique texture that it can so easily go from hyper-pigmented eyeshadow level to something as sheer and fairy-like as this.

I am really, really impressed, and if Estée Lauder does a version of this with every seasonal collection, I am doomed thrilled to acquire them all.

Availability: Should be at most EL counters, including The Bay, though I wouldn't debate getting it for long. Price is 45$.

Pros: Great pigmentation, very versatile, gorgeous aesthetic value.

Cons: Only that I may have to get a back-up.

(I purchased this from The Bay.)

January 09, 2012

Guerlain Parure de Nuit Pressed Powder and Blush

Yeah, ok, Christine from Temptalia is to blame for this one. I have a huge soft spot for Guerlain and their incredibly luxurious, highly collectable products, but even I was balking a bit at the price tag for Parure de Nuit.

And then I became convinced after reading her initial review that I really had to at least try it before refusing outright.

And that was all she wrote. I came home with this beauty:

Guerlain, like Dior, swanks it up from start to finish. There's something epically satisfying about opening up a box with pretty detail on the inside, and feeling the heft of a significant item.

The design is just stunning as well.

This is called a pressed powder and blush, but I think it's really more of a highlighter, or a luminizing finishing powder. You can be selective in how you pick up the powder from different areas in the pan and get more of a pinkish tone - but it's not really going to read as a blush unless you are very pale or very heavy-handed.

On the left, I've swatched the light portion and the pink portion of the pan separately. The lighter portion shows up as a very soft sheen on my skin tone. It will show up visibly lighter on medium and deeper skin tones.

On the right, I've swirled a brush in the whole of the pan, which is the way I would wear this normally. The sheen takes on a faint rosiness, which is incredibly flattering, sophisticated and natural when worn as a highlight. It instantly brightens the face and enhances the skin without being over-the-top shiny. This is probably one of my favorite highlighters for the sneaky way it makes you look fresh and vibrant.

Availability: Still available at The Bay, Murale and Pharmparix stores. Price is 76$ CAD. (Compared to 67$ or so in the US, I believe.)

Pros: Subtle, skin-vivifying glow, with no danger of blinding anyone with vampire sparkles. Elegant, satisfyingly hefty packaging.

Cons: The price sure isn't in everyone's budget.

(I purchased this from Murale.)

January 08, 2012

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish

I adore Inglot eyeshadows. The quality is superlative, and at 5$ for a 2.7 gram pan, they are some serious bang for the buck. (That's the US pricing. They are more in Canada, which blows, but if you get them in the 10-pan palette, the price per pan lowers significantly. The palette is 14$ or so, the filled version is 79$, so that brings it to 6.50$ CAD per pan.)

There are currently only a handful of Inglot boutiques in North America, so most people order online. I know how hard it is to buy something sight unseen, so I wanted to get some swatches out there. I thought instead of doing one-by-one, in-depth reviews, I would provide a general introduction, and then swatch the shades I currently own, divided by palette. 

Inglot doesn't really provide a description key for the finishes offered, but this would be my classification:

AMC - textures range, but overall are supposed to be some of the most pigmented shades they offer.

Shine - finely milled, buildable, with lovely sheen.

Pearl - have anywhere from a light pearl, to a frosty, even metallic finish.

Matte - completely matte, and incredibly pigmented and buttery for this type of finish. Easily one of the best matte textures on the market.

Double Sparkle - tend to have a matte or satin base, with some very fine sparkle layered in.

I'll start today with my green(ish) palette.

Top row: matte 333, amc 57, pearl 414, pearl 418, shine 44
Bottom row: amc 56, pearl 412, shine 16, shine 6, pearl 419

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish
In indirect daylight.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish
With flash.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish

The following swatches were done on my bare arm, no primer.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish
Top row, in indirect daylight.
matte 333, amc 57, pearl 414, pealr 418, shine 44

Look at the matte! It's so freakin' opaque.
The last two shades look virtually identical here, but in real life the shine 44 is ever so slightly more shimmery and golden than the pearl 418. Still, you clearly don't need both.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish
Top row, with low flash.

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish
Bottom row, in indirect daylight.
amc 56, pearl 412, shine 16, shine 6, pearl 419

Inglot Eyeshadows - Greenish
Bottom row, with low flash.
My personal favorites from this palette are the pearl 419, which is an awesome taupe-gray-olive, and the pearl 414. The latter is probably the sheerest to swatch, but has this lovely, almost duochrome effect. Beautiful.

What do you think?

January 07, 2012

A England promo code

Sometimes a new brand hits a home run right out of the cage. A England is one of those brands. The concept is simple (the Arthurian cycle, interpreted as nail polish) and perfectly executed. Not a single shade seems out-of-place.

I've been dying to try their polishes, and have been coming closer to placing my order every day. The exchange rate puts these at about 14$ CAD, which is not insignificant, but not close to the prices I've paid for Chanel and Estée Lauder polishes. When they started offering free worldwide shipping, I almost pressed the buy button.

And now they're running an anniversary promo: 30% off your order with code "anniversary", good from now until January 9th. It took me all of 2 minutes to finalize and place my order. I can't wait to get these!

Oh, and check out Ommorphia Beauty Bar for swatches of the upcoming - and absolutely stunning - Legends collection. Holos!

January 06, 2012

Tarte SmolderEYES Limited-Edition Eyeliner Collection

The SmolderEYES Waterproof Eyeliner Collection was a limited edition set that came out for the holiday season. It's sold out on the Tarte website and Sephora.com, though you may have luck tracking it down in physical stores. I debated whether to do a review of this or not, but the format and formula of each pencil in this set is comparable to the regular, individual liners, so...what the heck.

The reflection of my hand taking the picture. Shiny!

When I ordered this set, I was expecting smaller-sized versions of the regular pencils, much like the Urban Decay 24/7 liner sets.

I was pleasantly stunned to realize that these were the same exact size as the individual pencils, and from the same manufacturer - 1.6 grams, made in Germany. (Sometimes makeup brands will throw together these awesome-seeming sets for the holidays, only they're made in China - or at least not by the regular manufacturer - and the quality ends up being a terrible representation of the brand. Seriously, why do that?)

This was priced at 39$, while a single pencil goes for 25$. Do the math. Did you get 7.80$? Yep, me too. That is an insanely good deal.

AND it comes with a sharpener!

Silver Black, Smoke, Espresso, Violet, Golden Beige, Moss.
These colors are exclusive to the set, and are not really comparable to any of the ones in the regular line-up. They all have a metallic sheen, and Silver Black, Violet and Golden Beige all have glitter as well. The glitter doesn't fall out as much as I was expecting, though you may experience more or less depending on whether you buff eyeshadow on top of the liner, or if you tend to rub your eyes. The glitter in Violet is fuchsia as opposed to silver, and lends that shade an incredible iridescence. Subtle, it's not. It's probably my favorite, along with Moss.

I also have the Olive shade from the regular line, and while I don't find that these equal the complexity of color visible in that one, these are still very beautiful, strongly pigmented shades that range from work-appropriate to WHOA MAMA.

These liners are marketed as waterproof, and boy are they ever. They dry down instantly, and remain pretty much unmovable until you take them off with an oil-based remover. Soap and water is not gonna cut it.

I haven't tried them on the waterline, but with the glitter and shimmer, I wouldn't be inclined to. They obviously work as eyeliners (though as big as they are that might be a challenge for finer lining) and are excellent as a smudged out shadow (work fast!) or as a base for a powder shadow.

Availability: Pretty much not, unfortunately. This was 39$ USD on Sephora and the Tarte website, though the price was closer to 50$CAD at the Sephora here in Montreal. Which is still a good price for a set like this, albeit painful to swallow with today's exchange rate.

Pros: Waterproof, intense pigmentation, they wear like iron. Great mix of colors, versatile function.

Cons: Erm...only if you don't like glitter.

(I purchased this from the Tarte website.)