Friday, October 17, 2014

Milani Constellation Gel Eyeliner Review

For Fall 2014, Milani released their Bedazzled collection consisting of 3 matte lipsticks, 3 gel liners and 2 nail polishes, all limited edition.

I wasn't able to get this collection in store, but I managed to snag parts of the collection online from the Milani website.

Now, I like gel liners. They do well on me, despite my oily lids. I've tried several brands - Maybelline, L'Oreal, Tarte, Inglot, MAC and Makeup Geek - and all of them have been great on my eyes.

So, of course, I didn't doubt for a second these would perform any better. Plus, have you SEEN how pretty they are? I had to get them!




These liners come in three shades:
  • Enchanted Lapis
  • Enchanted Black Opal
  • Enchanted Emerald
The liners all come with brushes for application, which are surprisingly good quality. I really like the brushes and found it quite easy to apply the liner with them. There wasn't any noticeable scratchy feeling or discomfort.

The packaging is plastic and feels a little flimsy. It's also quite bulky - the size appears to be quite big, but the pan holding the actual liner is quite shallow (I pressed the brush into it to determine how far it went down, and it went about 3/4 of the brush tip in).



The liners look SO gorgeous - they have a lovely glittery, very galaxy-looking appearance. Unfortunately, the glitter is an overspray, which makes me sad. Give me galaxy gel liners! I'm actually debating whether or not to mix in some loose pigment to turn them into a glittery gel liner (I have several indie eyeshadow samples I think I can use for this purpose!).


Enchanted Lapis is a satin-y deep navy blue shade. The glitter overspray consists of purple, light blue, pink and silver shimmer.


Enchanted Black Opal is a satin-y black shade. The glitter overspray consists of gold, blue and red-pink shimmer.


Enchanted Emerald is a satin-y deep green shade; it basically looks like a green shade over a black base. The glitter overspray consists of blue, pink and gold shimmer.

I'm not sure if everyone will get the same pattern and shimmer in their liners, so your mileage may vary.

Onto the swatches!


The liners go on smooth, and they are very creamy. I tried swatching them twice - once with the glitter overspray, then again after digging the brush into the liner where there was no glitter. I don't think it made much of a difference - you can see from the swatches above that they all look the same.


Here's a better look at Enchanted Lapis. It's a gorgeous blue shade, but I couldn't detect any glitter, even when I used it for the first time and disrupted the overspray.


Enchanted Black Opal actually is sheer and requires two passes to appear black. Otherwise it looks like charcoal!
Here the shimmer is very pronounced - even after I cleaned the brush between the overspray use and the subsequent swatches, there is a healthy dose of shimmer. I've noticed the shimmer on my eyes, as well, and suspect it may have the shimmer loaded throughout? 


Enchanted Emerald appears a little on the gunmetal side in the swatches, but in real-life it looks green, with a pronounced black base. I'd really like a true green gel liner - most of the once I have seem to have the black base beneath the green shade. Recommendations welcome!

Here, too, I had the same issue as Enchanted Lapis - I couldn't detect the shimmer, I think it was because of the green.

Now, remember how I spoke about how gel liners have always worked on me? Good.

Recall how I said these were really smooth and creamy, and glided on with ease?

Remember how I told you these don't set? Uhh.. didn't I? Take a look for yourself then:


Yeaaaaah. So that happens.

That was taken after I had given a minute for the liners to set. They never set, they always seem to move and slide around on my eyes!

What's even stranger is that where I originally apply the liner (see the swatch lines above), the liner stains the skin black. Yeah. It comes off with soap and water, and makeup remover, but it looks so strange, with a smear all around your eyes, and a faint ring around your lashlines where you originally applied the liner.

These aren't totally a loss, though - they work decently as eyeshadow bases, and work as gel liners over eye primer (to be on the safe side, if you plan on using these as eyeshadow bases, use them over a primer!)

I find it surprising that something from Milani - which happens to be one of my favorite drugstore brands - is the first gel liner product to not work on me. It's quite disappointing!

Now, to be perfectly fair, there are people out there who have had success with these, so again, your experience may be vastly different from mine.

But I can't, in all good concience, recommend these to anyone. If you still want a galaxy liner, buy a black gel liner (Maybelline or L'Oreal make good ones!) and mix in lots of loose shimmer. It won't look as pretty, but it'll be better quality than these.

BGMM Rating: D

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

First Impressions - Lorac Pro Mega Palette

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Lorac Pro Mega Palette. When it arrived yesterday, I thought I'd do a quick first impressions post, as I believe Amazon will be receiving another shipment of these palettes on the 18th (these are unconfirmed rumours, but it's worth a shot to keep an eye out on Amazon if you're really interested in getting one of these).

I must admit that I'm not entirely thrilled with the way Lorac handled the launch of these. They were 'accidentally' released on the 1st, then pulled back and re-released on the 7th. The website had issues, they were sold out immediately, Amazon had some issues with it as well... basically, it was a huge mess. It reminds me of the whole Sephora issue with the Vice LTD palette (which is still a sore spot for me).

Now, a lot of the preliminary reviews for this palette had me worried, because of the number of beiges, creams and browns in the palette. It didn't seem very cohesive, a lot of the shades seemed repetitive, and I wasn't sure if it was going to really be worth it.

However, now that I've seen it, I can understand the planning behind the palette. The palette has 32 shades - 16 matte, and 16 shimmer/glitter. Within each of these 16 shades, they're further divided up - essentially what you're getting is 4 'mini palettes' of 8 shades each. So, you have an all-matte neutral palette, and all-matte color palette, an all-shimmer neutral palette, and an all-shimmer smokey palette. Which to me, is actually really good planning!

The outer package is standard Lorac black packaging. The palette itself is a pretty rosey-red color with gold lettering.




I meant to take comparison pictures with the regular Lorac Pro palette, but it totally slipped my mind. Oops! I can guarantee that it's much bigger than the regular palettes, though (heh).

The inside houses a nice mirror, and the shadows. The shadows are protected by a plastic insert, and the shadow names are printed on the palette itself. It annoys me to hell and back when companies don't print the names of the shadows on the palette, and instead print them on the insert. What happens when I lose the insert, huh? Did you think about that? Did you? Huh? Huh? /end rant.

The issue I have with the mirror is that while it's a good size, it doesn't stand up (there's no mechanism to prop it upright). And you also can't hold the palette to use the mirror, as it's too big. So essentially, you have a good mirror but no real way to use it (jury rigging will be required).


As mentioned, there are 32 eyeshadows arranged in four rows of 8 shadows each. The top two rows are matte shadows, and the bottom two are the shimmer/glitter shadows.


You could also look at the palette as a left-hand neutral shades side, and a right-hand color/smokey shades side.

Left side of the palette - neutral shades

Right side of the palette - colors and smokey shades
Or you could further break down the palette into mini-palettes with 8 shades each.

Top left of the palette - matte neutrals

Bottom left of the palette - shimmer neutrals

Top right of the palette - matte colors (rosey/plums and smokey eye shades)

Bottom right of the palette - smokey eye shades
Now, doesn't the shades choices make a whole lot more sense? I like that there's some thought behind how the shades are arranged, and also in the choice of shades. It reminds me of what Lorac Pro palettes are all about - essentially neutral, with a few wild cards thrown in.

Onto some swatches - these are all on bare, unprimed skin. Most of them are single swatches, except Black, which required two swatches. For reference, I'm NC42.

Swatches - first row
Swatches - second row

Swatches - third row

Swatches - fourth row
I thought the black shades (Expresso, Black, Indigo and Caviar) looked similar, so I swatched them side-by-side for better comparison:


Expresso is more ashy grey-brown, Black is more blue-black, Indigo seems to be true matte black with purple, blue and gold shimmer, and Caviar is a true satin black.

The shadows themselves are of good quality, if a tad on the powdery side. They are soft and smooth, and pretty pigmented, which I'm pleased about. I wasn't sure if this palette would work on deeper skins, but I believe it absolutely can, despite the seeming abundance of cream/beige/brown shades.

My personal favorites so far (based on swatches alone) are Camel, Dusty Plum, Mulberry, Sienna, Apricot, Merlot, Smokey Topaz, Maroon and Deep Teal. I'm sure I'll come to appreciate the other colors more once I start using them.

I'd recommend this palette, even based on the quick swatches and first impressions I have. I will admit that most of the neutral shades can be duped, but I feel as though I have similar shades, but not the exact ones. For some reason these shades (especially the shimmers) seem more complex against my skintone? I'm not sure if it's because of the light, but once I test them out I'll report back.


Monday, October 13, 2014

First Impressions - Zoeva Brushes!

My Zoeva brushes came in! I placed an order about a week ago for some brushes, as there was a 20% discount code going around. I've been wanting to try these brushes for some time now, and I'll definitely be giving a more in-depth view later, but these are my immediate impressions!

I got the Classic Face Set, the Classic Eye Set, and a few extra eye brushes (the 222 All Over Shader, the 221 Luxe Soft Crease, the 234 Smokey Shader, the 227 Soft Definer, and the 228 Crease)

I placed the order a week ago. It was shipped the next day, and was delivered to me 5 days after shipping, which is very quick.

The shipping method used is DHL. I'm not sure how true this is, but apparently any shipment over $200 will have custom duties charged for it (I believe DHL will charge you $25, but I haven't faced that, since my order was less than that).

The box it arrived in was sturdy, and it was packaged with a good amount of bubble wrap. The brushes were wrapped very thickly with paper, and the entire lot was well protected. The single brushes had their own baggie, while the brush sets had the brushes in the bag, and the bag was placed in a polythene cover.

Everything was neat and organized, and I was quite impressed.

The brush set bags are surprisingly great quality! They are sturdy and well built, and I can see myself getting quite some use out of them. That was a nice bonus.





The Classic Face set has the following brushes:

  • 106 Powder Brush - this is a great sized brush, perfect for powder. It's super soft and dense, but not overly dense. The bristles are soft and not pokey. It's also a good size for my face - the RT powder brush is a bit too big for me, but this is great. I can see myself using it for not just powdering, but also for blending out blush.
  • 102 Silk Finish - this brush is actually denser than the powder brush. It's a nice foundation buffing brush, but I must admit I wasn't as impressed with it as I should have been. It very much resembles some brushes that I ordered from Amazon a while ago (from Royal Crown, I think). It's soft, and I'm sure will make a great buffing brush, but I have to use it to see just how good it is.
  • 127 Luxe Sheer Cheek - ugh, this brush you guys. SO SOFT. It's not dense, but not super floppy either. I think it's going to be a great brush to use with super pigmented blushes, but the angled end I want to try for contouring. It feels so lovely against my skin, so much better than the RT blush brush I have.
  • 122 Petit Stippling - a nice, sturdy brush. Soft, smooth, and the bristles aren't pokey either. I think this feels much better than the ELF stippling brush and the RT stippling brush (which had its bristles fall out after two washes, which pissed me off!)
  • 105 Luxe Highlight - one of my favorite brushes. It's so unbelievably soft, and is the perfect size for my cheekbones. So much better than the ELF Studio tapered brush. If you're going to be placing an order from them soon, be sure to pick this one up!
  • 142 Concealer Buffer - heeeeeey this looks familiar! Of course, it very much resembles my go-to concealer brush, the RT deluxe crease brush. It's much softer, though they're both of similar density. I have to try it to confirm, but I think this may have the RT one beat.




The brushes in the Classic Eye Set are:
  • 142 Concealer Buffer - same as the one in the Classic Face Set. Me likey.
  • 227 Luxe Soft Definer - this is supposed to be similar to the MAC 217 brush. I like that it's soft, dense but not overly so, and all the bristles feel the same. There's no rogue bristle going all "i'ma poke you!" on me.
  • 234 Luxe Smokey Shader - This looks similar to the MAC 239, but since I don't have the MAC brush, I can only speculate. Quality is similar to the 227.
  • 228 Crease - ridiculously soft, fits in my crease like a dream, zero scratchiness. Need I say anything more?
  • 224 Luxe Defined Crease - floppier than the 228, it looks like it's going to be perfect for adding tiny amounts of color to the crease.
  • 231 Petit Crease - smaller than the crease, so luxuriously soft. It looks like the perfect brush for the outer V.
  • 230 Luxe Pencil - WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? The perfection of it is amazeballs. It's so soft, so so soft. I cannot wait to use it to apply shadow on the lower lashline, since I'm quite sensitive there.
  • 237 Detail Shader - a soft brush, not too firm. Going to be great for 'patting' on eyeshadow in very specific spots.
  • 226 Smudger - it's nice and soft, and the bristles aren't too firm or pokey. The edges of the bristles are also soft, I didn't feel like it was going to scratch me.
  • 322 Brow Line - a nice, firm but soft brush. It's less floppy than the RT brow brush, and it's also smaller. I think it's going to be great for really getting those precise brows, and I can't wait to test it out with my Anastasia Dipbrow!
  • 317 Wing Liner - soft. Sharply tapered. Not too firm, but not overly floppy. Please brush Gods, let this be the one to finally give my eyes some wings and fly.
  • 315 Fine Liner - similar to the ELF Studio liner brush, but much softer. I think I may need to get backups of this! The end is nice and tapered, but didn't poke my eye out.

The single brushes I got are mostly extras of the brushes already in the Classic Eye set:
  • 222 Luxe All Over Shader
  • 234 Luxe Smokey Shader
  • 221 Luxe Soft Crease
  • (2 x) 227 Luxe Soft Definer
  • (2 x) 228 Crease
The 222 Luxe All Over Shader is the big sister to the 234 Smokey Shader. It's a tad too big for my eye size, but it's a good brush if I want to use a single shadow over my lids. It's a nice, soft, dense and firm brush, and I think it'll be great for patting on color.

Some comparisons:


You can see that the 222 is a similar shape to the 234, but much bigger (about twice the size would be my estimation).
The 222 is also much denser than the 227 when you look at it from the front, but the size view truly shows the difference - the 222 is much more narrower, while the 227 looks a bit 'floofy' (a real term, of course). This helps the 227 serve as a blending brush too, while the 222 looks like it will be better at laying down color on the lid.

Some final thoughts - I noticed that some of the brushes had a strange, chemical-y scent to them. If you've ever bought brushes from Ebay/Amazon, you might be familiar with it. It's not as strong, but I definitely got a whiff of it. I'm pretty sure that it'll vanish once I wash them, but I wish I knew why it was there in the first place.

I'm pleased with the brushes I got, and I know there are some that I want to get backups of. I'm also curious to try out some of their other brushes too!

#offmychest

I was debating whether or not to write this post, but then I figured, hey, this is my blog, and I can use it as a diary of sorts should I need to.

Now, it's no secret that I really, really like makeup. I'm obsessed with it for a number of reasons; the creativity it affords, the means of self-expression, the ability to look one's best, the boost in confidence, and so on, and so forth. Makeup is cool.

It's also no secret that I'm a grad student in a STEM field, which means that there tends to be a lot of frowning over anything as 'frivolous' as makeup. A girl wearing makeup is generally looked down upon - for some reason wearing makeup = lacking in the brains department (don't ask me why, I never received the memo).

For quite some time now, I've been aware of the fact that I've been hiding the fact that I like makeup from a lot of people, especially people that I know. Friends, family, people I love and respect. I kept the 'makeup' me as far away from 'science-y' me as possible. I didn't think they mixed together, I feared that when my friends and collegues discovered that I blogged about makeup, that their respect for me as a scientist would vanish.

Which is silly, when you think about it. I certainly wouldn't judge a colleague if they enjoyed makeup (I'd be thrilled to have a partner-in-crime, actually). So why was I so afraid?

I think the answer lies in my head (well, duh). I was so busy judging myself, and so busy hiding, and trying to put on all these different faces that it became too much at times to juggle everything. I haven't been posting because of the shame I felt over blogging about something as 'trivial' as makeup. But why? Is it so wrong for me to enjoy this as an artistic outlet to the logic-based profession I'm in?

I enjoy blogging. I enjoy testing out products, and working with them, and putting out reviews in the hopes that it helps other people, and I'd like to think I'm fairly decent at it. No, I'm not the best. I'm hoping to be good at this someday, but it's not urgent.

And I hope that the next time these fears, doubts and shame clouds my mind, that I can remind myself that this is my outlet, and that anyone who chooses to doubt me, to mock me, to look down upon me for this isn't really worth knowing, anyway.

Anyhow, I know this is way off subject matter, and has nothing to do with makeup at all. Meh #sorrynotsorry

I'll be back soon, no worries. I have a few new posts coming up soon!



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Battle Of The Eyeshadow Pencils!

I know I've been a little MIA the past week or so - I've been up to my tonsils in exams and work and to be perfectly honest I've only resurfaced from all the stress yesterday.

Anyway, since I'm back, I thought I'd do a 'Battle' post! This is probably going to become a series; I'm going to be putting similar products from different brands and seeing how they perform against each other.

Today is all about eyeshadow pencils. Now, eyeshadow pencils - or eyeshadow sticks - are a cream shadow housed in a stick form. They're extremely convenient, when used on their own, or can be used as a base for powder shadows.

Every brand seems to have their version of it - right from drugstore to high-end. So, what's the deal on these? Does a higher price = better quality?

Let me introduce you to the contestants:

From the drugstore

  • Jordana 12 Hr Made To Last Eyeshadow Pencil
  • Milani Shadow Eyez
Mid-end
  • Tarte EmphasEyes Clay Liner
  • Tarte SmolderEyes Clay Liner
High-end
  • Mally Evercolor Shadow Stick
  • Laura Mercier Caviar Stick



The test:

Swatches of the product were applied on the hand. I then waited 15 seconds, then vigorously and forcefully rubbed to check for smudging and wear.

The results:

1. Jordana



Price: $3.99
Verdict: The color held pretty well, but the shimmer did smudge a bit. Still, for the price point, I can't be too picky. It makes a good base for powder shadows. It also does fade during the course of the day.

2. Milani



Price: $7.49
Verdict: I don't have to tell you; it's there in the pictures! This doesn't budge. Seriously! Once you put it on, you have a very short time to smudge it out, but once it sets, it's pretty much set. It fades very minimally during the day, but not very noticeably so. I would consider this the best product in this class available from the drugstore!

3. Tarte EmphasEyes



Price: $19.00
Verdict: It takes a longer time to set, which is good because it gives you a little more time to play. However it not only rubs off easily, it also fades at an alarming rate during the day. Do not recommend.

4. Tarte SmolderEyes



Price: $22.00
Verdict: These are creamy, smooth, and do take a while to set (similar to the EmphasEyes) but they're more sturdy than the EmphasEyes. They don't smudge, and they don't fade noticeably during the day. However, I find them a little difficult to smudge, and I suspect that dry lids might find them difficult to work with.

5. Mally 



Price: $25.00
Verdict: Okay, the 'After' picture isn't very attractive at all. These take some time to set, I agree. BUT. It really makes them easier to work with. Usually with shadow sticks I find that you can only use one color; however with these, you can actually use two or more of the shadow sticks to create a more complex look. And they also don't move at all once they set, even on hella oily lids like mine. 

6. Laura Mercier



Price: $28.00
Verdict: These are raved about, and I think I can see why. They have a lovely, creamy, smooth formula. Yes, they do take >15 seconds to set, but like the Mally sticks, this just gives you a chance to use different colors. The formula is something those of you with drier lids will appreciate. I personally like using them for a quick smokey eye. However, they can be rubbed off (if you touch your eyes too much) but they don't smudge or move about or crease.


So, what do I think? Well, I definitely think that paying more doesn't necessarily mean you get a better product. I also think that sometimes paying more might be worth it, because you get a better formula.

Hmm, that seems contradictory, doesn't it?

Well, let me sum it up:
Best for the price overall: Milani Shadow Eyes
Best formula: Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks
Highly recommended: Mally Evercolor Shadow Sticks
Worst: Tarte EmphasEyes Clay Liners

The best way to buy the LM Caviar Sticks and the Mally Evercolor Sticks are during the holidays - these companies have holiday sets that have either mini-size or full-size versions of these products for a very reasonable price. So keep an eye out for those!

What do you think? Do you use shadow sticks? What are your favorites?