Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Em Cosmetics review - Face, eye, and lip products

Em Cosmetics came out a while ago, but it's quite expensive and I was a little hesitant to buy makeup that I couldn't see samples or testers of. But recently they lowered some of their prices, so I bit the bullet and placed an order.

Shade Play Artistic Cheek Color Palette in Wink Wink

A blush/bronzer palette is so convenient, as opposed to having a bunch of small compacts. I think this formula would be good for makeup beginners, because the powders aren't too soft, and you don't have to be careful about applying too much product . This blush is really pretty and is very true to color. Although the bronzer looks quite dark in the pan, it's a bit light for me for contouring (I'm an NC30)--it's a lot like NYC Smooth Skin Bronzer in Sunny.

I also wish they sold blushes and bronzers separately; if you wanted to try a bunch of blushes, you would have to get more bronzers as well, and I know I definitely don't need as many bronzers as I want blushes.

Shade Play Artistic Eye Color Palette in Madagascar Taupes

I really like this palette and the quality of these eyeshadows. There's a good mix of shimmer and matte colors, and they are all very smooth and pigmented. The only color that is less soft is the dark brown with copper glitter (top right), but it still has good color payoff--just make sure you tap off your brush before applying to avoid fallout. I also like that the taupe pan is a lot larger than the others, because it would definitely be the one I use the most, although I'm not sure how much sense this configuration would make in other palettes. Also, toss the brushes that come in the compact (as well as the one that comes in the blush palette). They do nothing.

*I've read other reviews on Em Cosmetics' eyeshadows, and they seem to be a little hit and miss, especially in the really large Life Palettes. The palette that I got was really good, but I would suggest looking up the swatches of the palette you want first to make sure you're not getting a dud.

Waterliner in Ro's Gold and Black Night

Left: Ro's Gold
Right: Black Night

This eyeliner is made specifically for lining your inner rim, and it does seem to last a lot longer than a lot of other pencil liners. These last about four hours on me before fading significantly (other eyeliners last less than two), but they don't transfer onto my cheeks, which I do like. They also glide on very smoothly--you get pretty full color in one swipe. Black Night is your standard black eyeliner, and Ro's Gold (get it?) is a really pretty metallic golden peach. Nude- and peach-colored eyeliners are supposed to take away the appearance of redness from your waterline and make the whites of your eyes look bigger, although I don't really like that look... I think the creators of that trend forgot the episode of Will and Grace where Will says that you can tell Jack is crazy because you can see white all the way around his pupils. Nevertheless, Ro's Gold is still a really pretty color, and it's different from lower-cost nude eyeliners that are kind of a flat, pale color.

Lip Gallery Creamy Color Sheer Lipstick in One True Kiss

This lipstick is really pigmented (although it's called "sheer lipstick") and feels really nice and creamy. However, it really enhances the look of dry flakes. I really had to make an effort to exfoliate my lips in order for it to not look crusty. Although the packaging is nice and sturdy, I'm not sure if it's worth the price, because there are so many drugstore lipsticks that I like more--Revlon Lip Butter and CoverGirl Jumbo Gloss Balm are just as creamy and full-color, but seem to glide over dead skin much smoother.

Overall, I like the products that I have from Em Cosmetics, but they aren't super unique. I don't think you should buy these products just because it's co-created by Michelle Phan, because these cheek products, eyeshadows, and lipstick don't seem to be a vast improvement compared to existing products, plus they're pretty expensive. That being said, although I can spot a few holes in the collection here and there, there are some interesting products that might be worth trying if you haven't found a holy grail yet.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tarte be MATTEnificent palette - Review and swatches

Tarte has a new palette for spring, the be MATTEnificent palette.

The packaging of the palette is really gorgeous. I'm not usually swayed by packaging--I would rather have simple plastic packaging and a lower price--but the compact is such a beautiful color, and it feels quite sturdy and snaps shut, so I would feel confident taking this when I'm traveling.

Like the name suggests, it's an entirely matte palette. You get a blush, six eyeshadows, and two powder eyeliners.

The entire palette seems pretty minimal and neutral. The blush is a muted, dusty pink, and the eyeshadows are pretty basic neutral colors, like taupe, mauve, and plum. And then, the eyeliners are dark brown and black.

The blush and eyeshadows all have a wonderful creamy texture. They're so soft and blendable, and they show up very true to color. I don't think the plum eyeshadow shows up too dark, so some purpley color actually shows. The eyeliners, though, are really dry and chalky--when I was swatching them, I actually shuddered because I got the feeling that I was running my nails down a chalkboard. However, the colors do show up quite nicely. Although I never use powder eyeliners, they're there for you and they're usable.

The only big issue I really see is that there isn't a wide range of eyeshadows in this palette. You really only have one darker color that you can use for definition (on your outer corner or for a darker crease color), so you probably can't get a ton of looks out of this one collection--I wouldn't use the eyeliners as eyeshadows, because they're quite dry and not nearly as nicely textured. However, I still really like this palette, and I would definitely get a ton of use out of it because it's so simple. I think working girls, or just people who like a really simple, natural look, will really enjoy using this palette because it's such high quality, and the colors really are very pretty!

Monday, February 3, 2014

NARS The NARSissist Eyeshadow Palette - Review, swatches and comparisons

NARS has come out with a limited eyeshadow for the spring, the NARSissist palette.

All the colors are from the permanent collection, whether they're usually singles or parts of duos. None of the pans are labeled, but the colors are listed on the back of the box.

The palette seems to be relatively neutral, although there are some muted colors, like purple and navy. They all seem to be rather cool-toned and dusty-looking as well.


What seems pretty notable about the selection of colors is that there are a lot of light colors, a lot of dark colors, but only two mid-tone shades. Several of the dark colors also seem to look really similar in swatches--the dark browns, black, and navy look almost identical.

My experience with NARS' color cosmetics has been that they're usually better in singles--when the same color is in a palette, it tends to be much less pigmented and more difficult to work with (like the cheek products). I don't have these NARS eyeshadows in single form, so I can't make that comparison here, but many of these eyeshadows feel a little dry and gritty, and not nearly as nice if you're used to Urban Decay eyeshadows. They do swatch pretty nicely, but you have to make more of an effort to build the color.

When I was swatching this palette, I didn't find the colors to be really unique or exciting. I actually thought a lot of the colors looked really similar to those in Sonia Kashuk's Eye on Matte and Eye on Shimmer palettes (available at Target). I have the limited edition Matte/Shimmer palette, which is just the two palettes combined, but they're available separately in the permanent collection. Here they are side-by-side:

Below, I've swatched some comparable colors from each palette below. Top row is NARS, bottom row is Sonia Kashuk.

I was by no means impressed by the NARSissist palette. I can definitely come up with more dupes from the drugstore, and the texture of the eyeshadows could be better. Plus, even though I compared some of the eyeshadows to Sonia Kashuk--a drugstore brand that isn't considered super cheap--the NARS palette is $79, which I think is incredibly overpriced.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Smashbox Full Exposure Palette - Review, swatches and comparisons

Smashbox came out with a neutral palette--the Full Exposure palette!

It has seven shimmer and seven matte eyeshadows, which is really good for people who want a variety of finishes.

The colors are all really, really neutral--as in, a variety of browns and grays. It also consists of half warm (left) and half cool (right) tones.

Top row is shimmer, bottom row is matte.

Something that is really important to note about the shimmer eyeshadows is that they all, excluding the center one, have the same chunky, glittery finish. It tends to have quite a bit of fallout, so you have to be very careful with them. The center shimmer shade and the matte colors, though, are really nicely textured and are super soft, pigmented, and blendable.

Matte eyeshadow brush

Shimmer eyeshadow brush

The palette also comes with a double-ended brush, with each side designated to be used with matte or shimmer eyeshadows. The matte end is a nice fluffy blending-type brush--a lot like the Sigma E25 brush that everyone loves (maybe just the tiniest bit fuller). The shimmer end is really interesting--it's half synthetic and half goat hair (the texture of the matte end). I've tried both sides to apply the shimmer shade separately, and I've found that I get a lot of fallout either way. If you use each side together straight down the middle, though, it applies and blends the glitter a lot more nicely. The goat hair side is also nice for packing on the matte eyeshadows.

Another popular palette that has the same half-matte-half-shimmer concept is the Lorac Pro palette, so I've compared them side-by-side below:

They do have some overlaps in colors, although there aren't that many. Top row is Smashbox, bottom row is Lorac.

Top row: Smashbox Full Exposure palette
Bottom row: Gold, Lt. Bronze, Slate, Espresso, Taupe, Cream, Black

Although the Lorac Pro palette is really different from the Smashbox Full Exposure palette, I would go for the Lorac one just because it gives you some more interesting colors, like Garnet, Mauve, and Pewter, and the texture of the shimmer eyeshadows are so much nicer.

Overall, I don't see the Smashbox Full Exposure palette to be a total musthave. The matte eyeshadows are really fantastic, but you do get quite a bit of fallout from the glitter, and there aren't any colors that are particularly thrilling. If you love browns, you might like this a lot, but if almost half the palette is a miss for me, it's not worth it.