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
  • Tarte EmphasEyes Clay Liner
  • Tarte SmolderEyes Clay Liner
  • 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?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Coastal Scents Revealed Palette Review

Everyone know about the infamous Urban Decay Naked palettes. Everyone also knows about their infamous price. Everyone wants to own these palettes, but not everyone can afford to buy them.

Ergo: Houston, we have a problem.

Or do we?

A while ago, Coastal Scents came out with a 'dupe' for the Naked palettes. While the Urban Decay palettes have 12 shadows each, the Revealed palette has 20 shades. The Revealed palette is supposed to be a dupe for the Naked 1 and Naked 2 palettes, but of course, not all the shades are copied between the two (it's a numbers game; N1 + N2 have 24 shades while the Revealed has 20).

What is important, though, is the price point. The Naked palettes each go for $54. But the Revealed palette retails for $19.99 (and is often found on sale!)

Still, no point in having a cheap dupe if the quality isn't there, right? So how does the Revealed palette do?

The palette is made of cardboard. It isn't terribly sturdy, so while it won't withstand a fall, it will survive travel (provided it's packed adequately). Looking at the shades, it's clear that there's some overlap with the Naked palettes. Still, excluding the fact that it's supposed to dupe the Urban Decay palettes, it still looks like a rather nice neutral palette.

Since the shades have no names, I'll be labelling them numerically.

The palette is a nice mix of cool toned and warm toned shades. It also has a mix of mattes, shimmers and metallic shades.

Top row

Shade 1 is a matte cream shade. It's rather chalky, but performs better over primer.
Shade 2 is a matte light pink-y peach. Again, it's a little chalky but works better when a primer is used.
Shade 3 is a shimmery, almost frosty light pink. It's very nicely pigmented.
Shade 4 is a matte medium cool-toned brown. It has decent pigmentation.
Shade 5 is a matte cool-toned plummy brown. It has good pigmentation, and is a lovely shade!

Shade 6 is a metallic pink with purple undertones. It's very pigmented.
Shade 7 is a matte neutral brown. This makes a really nice transition shade for deeper skintones.
Shade 8 is a true, warm-toned, bright metallic gold. It has very good pigmentation.
Shade 9 is a shimmery warm-toned light taupe. Again, it has good pigmentation.
Shade 10 is a metallic silver tinged with a hint of blue. It has very good pigmentation.

Bottom row

Shade 11 is a shimmery, almost metallic warm-toned bronze with good pigmentation.
Shade 12 is a shimmery deeper bronze with a hint of khaki. It has good pigmentation.
Shade 13 is a metallic taupe grey with lovely pigmentation.
Shade 14 is a shimmery khaki. It has good pigmentation.
Shade 15 is a shimmery rose shade with a hint of brown. The pigmentation, again, was good.

Shade 16 is a shimmery neutral taupe brown with good pigmentation.
Shade 17 is a metallic peach gold with wonderful pigmentation.
Shade 18 is a shimmery, cool-toned deep brown. Again, the pigmentation was good.
Shade 19 is a metallic, cool-toned gunmetal grey, with lovely pigmentation.
Shade 20 is a matte black. It was a little chalky, but performed decently over primer.

Swatches of the top row

Swatches of the bottom row
Phew! With the swatches out of the way, let's talk about quality, pigmentation and performance.

These have surprisingly good quality. They feel smooth, and soft to the touch - not quite 'buttery' territory, but good enough for me to classify them as (almost) creamy. They don't feel gritty, and while they do have some fallout, if you tap the excess shadow off your brush, and use a patting motion (as opposed to swiping the shadow onto the lids) it goes a long way in minimizing it. If you're still worried about fallout, do your eyes before the rest of the face, so that cleanup will be easier!

Pigmentation actually isn't bad. The shimmery and metallic shades are much more pigmented than the matte shades. All my swatches are NOT over primer - so you can clearly see how the pigmentation is! (They're also single swipes; only the mattes had two swipes each). The mattes are a little chalky, but do better over primer. The shimmery shades are nice, and don't veer into frost territory.

Performance is also good. Over primer, they last a good 8 hours on me, with some fading. So, yes, they won't last 'all night', but they do last a typical workday, which is good enough for a lot of people. Application and blending are quite easy, and don't require excessive effort.

Finally - how do these stack up to the Urban Decay Naked palettes? Well, for starters they're not exact dupes. I also think the Naked palettes are a little more pigmented, and blend easier. Their shimmery shades seem to have a little finer shimmer.

But, you know, given the enormous price difference, the differences are minor.

To sum it up - they really are a very good, very viable, very economical option to the Naked palettes. They're definitely worth picking up (especially when they're on sale!).

BGMM Rating: A

Monday, September 15, 2014

Behold the cuteness! Etude House Missing Me Hand Cream Review

I'm a sucker for cute packaging.

There, I said it. 

As much as I like the clean and simple lines of, say, NARS products, or the beautiful aesthetics of a YSL lipstick, there's a part of me that will always melt when I see something cute, or kawaii.

And having stumbled into the world of Korean and Japanese makeup, I've definitely fallen into the rabbit hole!

I came across these Etude House Missing You hand creams on a Reddit forum, and I was so curious I had to try them...because, I mean... for science?

The Missing You line refers to certain animals that are currently endangered, and how they would 'miss us' if they, well, went missing :-/

The variants are:

  • Panda Story
  • Fairy Penguin Story
  • Harp Seal Story
  • Pink Dolphin Story

Each of these have their own signature scent, as indicated on the bottle.

The Panda has a peach scent. It's a lovely soft, peachy scent that lingers for a little bit after application, but not too long.

The Fairy Penguin has a baby powder scent. I thought I would hate this scent, but it's actually one of my favorites! It smells just like a baby!

The Harp Seal has a mint scent. This isn't your run-of-the-mill mint fragrance. It reminds me of mint leaves muddled with some flowers? In any case, I'm very meh about the scent.

The Pink Dolphin has a floral scent. It smells heavily of rose to me. And not a sophisticated rose, it's the rose scent that reminds you of grandmas. It's heavy, cloying, and not very pleasant to my nasal palate.

The cream itself is light and airy. It spreads very easily, but it doesn't feel greasy. It doesn't feel like it's loaded with silicones, either. It feels quite cooling.

Most importantly, it's absorbed quickly and doesn't leave any weird residue behind. This means you can reapply and go about your day. I absolutely loathe any cream or lotion that feels like it's sitting on top of my skin, and this doesn't feel that way at all. My hands also don't feel slick when I have to wash them at some point (usually indicative of the product not being completely absorbed).

It leaves my hands feeling moisturized, and soft and smooth. The scent is quite heavy and as previously mentioned, does tend to linger for a few minutes. If you are bothered by heavily scented products, this one is not for you.

However, if you're looking for a hand cream that's light, easily absorbed, and comes in the cutest packaging ever, then you need to give these a try!

BGMM Rating: A

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lust List - The Holiday Edition

It's barely September but brands are already coming out with their holiday sets, which is making me SO excited (and my wallet so terrified). Still, given that the quality on holiday sets can be kind of iffy, I've decided to be a lot more discerning this year over the holiday sets.

First off we have the Tarte Brushed With Destiny 5- piece Bamboo brush set. This set includes
• contourtionist™ bamboo cream blush & contour brush
• the balancing act™ bamboo foundation brush 
• the buffer™ airbrush finish bamboo foundation brush
• double-ended bamboo eyeshadow brush
• undercover lover™ bamboo concealer brush
• limited-edition collector’s brush & makeup bag

I love how the set looks, especially with the bamboo handles! I've also heard good things about Tarte brushes, so I'm looking forward to this set in my grubby little hands.

Next, we have the very, very droolworthy Lorac Pro Mega Palette. Details about this palette are few, but rumor has it it will be out sometime in November at a price point of about $59. Given that the Lorac Pro palettes are $42, this is a great deal!

A few days ago there were whispers in the wind about a new Vice palette from Urban Decay. Well, those have been confirmed! The Urban Decay Vice 3 palette will be out on September 13th on the Urban Decay website. Sephora and other online retailers will have the palette on the 25th of September. I was unfortunately not makeup savvy when the original Vice palette was released, but I have the Vice 2 palette and really like it, so this definitely goes into my stash!

I'm not sure I've spoken about my love for the Tarte blushes often on this blog, but suffice to say they are one of my favorite formulas ever, which is why I'm completely thrilled about the Tarte Chic to Cheek deluxe Amazonian Clay blush set! It has four new and limited edition shades, which are
• amour (candy pink)
• classic (soft apricot pink)
• prim (plum nude)
• daydream (rosy pink)

Umm yes please with a cherry on top!

I'm sure my list is going to get longer the closer we get to the Holidays, but in the meantime, these are definitely things I'm asking Santa!

Which of the Holiday releases have caught your eye? Comment below and let me know!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Help! I'm New To The Makeup World - Let's Talk Concealers.

As part of my 'Help! I'm New To The Makeup World' series, I'm going to be talking about *dun dun dun* concealers today.

So, what's concealer?

Concealer is a product that looks similar to foundation - in that it's a tinted product - but it's main purpose is to cover under eye dark cicles, and blemishes. It's a great way to hide fatigue, illness, or just to brighten up your face.

Concealer can be worn under, or over foundation. Most of the time, I wear concealer over foundation, because I find that foundation gives me a certain amount of coverage, and I can use concealer only on those areas where I want more coverage. However, certain formulas of concealer and foundation might need tweaking - that is, sometimes applying concealer over foundation causes the concealer to slip and slide about, or causes the foundation to wear off, in which case it needs to be worn under foundation. You'll know how a foundation and concealer work together only with practice.

That being said, concealer can also be worn on it's own! This is what I do most days, as I don't have the patience to put on a 'full face'. I use concealer under my eyes, over blemishes, and I'm done!

Concealers come in two main formulas - liquid and cream. Liquid concealers will either come in a pump (like the MAC Pro Longwear concealer) or in a tube with a doefoot applicator (like the NARS Creamy C\concealer, or the Maybelline Fit Me concealer) or even as a brush-type concealer (Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting concealer). Cream concealers tend to come in a pot (theBalm Time Balm concealer, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage). Some cream concealers even come in stick form (L'Oreal True Match concealer crayon).

Neither formula has an advantage over the other. Cream formulas tend to be more moisturizing and easy to blend, but they can also be prone to creasing. Liquid formulas are easy to blend and (in my personal experience) less prone to creasing, but they offer slightly less coverage than cream formulas.

I do tend to prefer liquid formulas over cream formulas for the under eye region, because it's easy to apply and blend out. That being said. I have cream formulas I adore, too!

Let's move on to some concealer tips and tricks:
  1. Different parts of your face require different shades of concealers.
    Under eye concealers tend to be a shade lighter than your skin tone - this helps to highlight and brighten up the area. I also use this 'highlighting' concealer under my brows, and wherever else I might want a subtle highlight (down the bridge of the nose, and my cupid's bow).
    On the other hand, if I want to cover up any blemishes, I use a concealer the same shade as my skintone. As an example, I use MAC Pro Longwear concealer in NC35 under my eyes, and NC42 (my skin tone) to conceal blemishes.
  2. Certain issues may require color-correcting.
    Some people are prone to really dark circles under their eyes. Others are prone to redness. Depending on your issue, you might need to apply a color corrector before concealing. This helps to neutralize the color, so that your concealer is better able to conceal.
    Let me explain. For example, I have dark purple-y blue under eye circles, and sometimes my concealer can't cover them. In that case, I use an orange color corrector to neutralize the color of my dark circles. Once that's done, my concealer is better able to hide them!
    As a general rule:
    Purple, or blue (usually in under eye dark circles) require an orange corrector (opposite on the color wheel). Light skins should go for a peach, or salmon color, while deeper skins need a more vibrant orange shade.
    Red (usually in inflamed areas, certain bruises, or even regular skin) require a green corrector.
    Yellow (called 'sallowness', usually comes with illness) requires a lavender/purple corrector.
  3. Prep, prep, prep!
    Your under eye are also needs some TLC! Try to prep the skin with a moisturizer, or hydrating primer. This helps to 'plump up' the skin, making the concealer less prone to creasing (or pooling up) in the fine lines under your eyes (hey, everyone has them!)
  4. It's all about the location.
    Under eye concealers don't go only under the eye. Apply it in a triangular pattern under your eye, and also to the inner eye corner .
    Here's a picture to give you an idea:

    Yellow - highlighting concealer; Red; to cover redness
    And yes, I've never looked more appealing!
    As you can see, 'under eye' concealer is more than just under your eye.
  5. Apply concealer all around the area to be concealer for easier blending.
    Concealer can be thick sometimes, and hard to spread. The easiest way to get the coverage you want, without much effort, is to lightly tap a little bit of concealer all over the area to be concealed, wait a few seconds for your body heat to warm up the concealer, then pat to blend out.
  6. Pat, not smear!
    Concealer should always be patted out, not smeared around! Patting will ensure that the concealer stays in the area its supposed to, and won't reduce coverage. Smearing will reduce coverage, and also isn't good for the delicate skin under your eye.
  7. Make a cocktail of concealer!
    Okay, so this one isn't necessarily a must-do, but sometimes I mix my concealer (if it's too thick) with some hydrating primer. This helps me to give some moisture to my under eye area, which can be a little drier than the rest of my face. You can also mix in a little bit of your color corrector, for when you have dark circles that aren't very pronounced.
  8. Set your concealer with powder.
    Powders help to set your concealer and help it last longer, but you can also use different powders to brighten up your undereye area (e.g the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders) or you can use colored powders to give some additional color correcting (Ben Nye Banana powder). So don't skip the powder!
  9. Concealers make a great subtle, everyday-appropriate highlight.
    In the picture above, you can see all the areas I apply concealer - under my brows, down my nose, on my chin. Using concealer is a great way to add a subtle highlight for your face. This is especially helpful for those with oily skins like myself - using concealers allow for a matte finish for your highlighting, so there's a lower chance of your 'glow' being attributed to excessive sebum production! Alternatively, use a concealer in a darker shade for contouring!
  10. Play around with tools and applicators to discover what's best for you.
    I used to apply my concealer with my fingers (still do!) but I've discovered that the Real Techniques deluxe crease brush is really great for blending out concealer (for me, at least). Some people use fingers, others use concealer brushes, and beauty blenders, and most people use a mix of fingers and brushes. That's okay. Try different things to see what works for you, and what doesn't.                        
I hope this has been a helpful post! Comment below and let me know if I missed out anything!